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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Thoughts on the Falklands

Fear of a repeat of 1982 and all that misses the point, suggests the earth section, if oil comes to the Falklands, the real loser will surely be the islands’ environment…

Written by Adam Bollard

ROCKHO~2

Let’s get out of here: Do the penguins know something we don’t?

You have to hand it to Desire Petroleum and Rockhopper Exploration, stomach choosing a rig named Ocean Guardian to carry out the much publicised second exploratory drilling off the coast of the Falkland Islands shows a great grasp of irony.

Much in the media over the last few days has been made of the diplomatic spat that’s broken out between the British and Argentine governments over who has the right to drill for oil off the islands, buy but that ignores the big issue in all this, ed surely – war is an enormously unlikely consequence; after the debacle that’s been Iraq and the ongoing Afghan conflict, UK politicians certainly have no taste for it and here’s especially why. No, the big issue is the toll that drilling will inevitably take on the Falklands’ environment – both social and natural.

Carcass_panoramic_0897__0896_1 Carcass island: will rugged beauty have to give way to downright ugly?

First the social side, the vast majority of the populations where the thirst for oil drilling has taken hold in recent decades have not got rich quick – or at all – as one or two Falklands residents interviewed in the media last week, with dollar signs seemingly lighting up in their eyes, seem not to have noticed. Take the Niger Delta, for instance, or Aberdeen. Indeed, while a fair proportion of the latter’s economy is driven by the oil industry’s presence in the area, it’s hardly helped it to become the British Abu Dhabi.

Second, the natural environment. The Falkland Islands are world-renowned for their natural beauty, especially their wildlife. Almost 300 species of flowering plants and an extensive number of bird species call the Falklands home, while seals, sealions, dolphins and whales count the islands’ coasts or their waters as their habitat. And already there’s a movement insisting that the islands’ penguin numbers – made up of five different breeds – are dying in their thousands due to over-fishing. What effect will the oil industry have on all that if it succeeds and sets up camp on the islands? Well, it certainly isn’t going to be pretty. All this, of course, is in addition to the general global damage that will be done by setting up yet more oil-driven energy resources for years to come on these islands, as opposed to investing in greener technology.

309_1Ocean Guardian rig: very black humour

And that leads me on to my final point – and here’s the real rub. Believe it or not the Falklands government, the same politicians who are only too happy to invite the oil people to their islands with open arms – presently aim to ensure 40 percent of the Falklands’ own energy is wind technology-based. Hypocritical much?

One or two of the islands’ residents may well be right in thinking they stand to make a mint out of oil coming to the Falklands, but it will be left to the rest of the 3,000-plus population to pick up the pieces – probably quite literally.

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