The Animals Saved by Shell’s Decision to End Offshore Drilling in the U.S. Arctic

Warning: polar bear cubs ahead.

Yes, that's definitely a smile. Via flickr user jomilo75

When Royal Dutch Shell announced this morning that it would abruptly end oil and gas exploration in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, plenty of people were ready to celebrate.

"This is a victory for everyone who has stood up for the Arctic," Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said. "Whether they took to kayaks or canoes, rappelled from bridges, or spread the news in their own communities, millions of people around the world have taken action against Arctic drilling. Today they have made history."

But let’s remember the real immediate winners in all of this: The good animals of the U.S. Arctic.

A final report delivered by Shell to National Marine Fisheries Service in February 2015 revealed that the company’s exploratory activities would “harass” roughly 2,500 bowhead whales (13.2 percent of the world’s population), 2,500 gray whales (13.5 percent), and nearly 50,500 ringed seals (16.8 percent), among other animals.

The harassment would take the form of continuous and pulsed sounds, loud enough to damage the animals’ hearing, Shell told the U.S. government. According to animal specialists, that kind of damage can be fatal. “A deaf whale is a dead whale,” a Greenpeace researcher told the Guardian earlier this year.

That hypothetical toll is not counting the animals that could have been trapped and possibly killed in the kind of industrial accidents that often follow oil-drilling projects. Spilled oil can coat the feathers of birds, leaving them unable to fly. It can seep into the fur of polar bears, so that they’re unable to regulate their own body temperature—or avoid hypothermia. It can impede seals’ abilities to swim (and escape predators). And it can pollute the feeding grounds of walruses.

Now, Shell has abandoned its $7 billion drilling project “for the foreseeable future,” in part because of “challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska,” as the company wrote in a statement.

So here, to celebrate, are some nice snaps of some of the denizens of the U.S. Arctic. We suspect they’re reveling in the prospect of a “foreseeable future” that is offshore drilling-free:



via wikimedia commons user Merrill Gosho, NOAA


via flickr user Day Donaldson


via flickr user Brian Gratwicke


via flickr user Martin Cathrae



via wikimedia commons user Kingfisher


via flickr user jomilo75


via flickr user jomilo75


via Liz Labunski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Polar Bears

via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


King Eider

via wikimedia commons user Olaf Oliviero Riemer

Kittlitz’s Murrelet

via Alyson McNinght, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ivory Gull

via flickr user jomilo75

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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