Science gone Political: A Lesson in E-Petitions
Date Added: May 3, 2001
A Vermont 13-year old started with a science project about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Her research led her to start a political movement to stop oil drilling there. What she got was a lesson on the downside of e-mail activism.
My name is Sierra Pell, I live in Marlboro VT, I am in seventh grade, am 13 years old and I home school. My science tutor, Joan, and I are studying environmentally related political matters: The issue that I found extremely interesting, and information packed was Bush's plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
1. Let's Put It Simply! Our new President, George W. Bush, wants to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. In fact, the Bush family has been campaigning to open ANWR to oil drilling since 1980 when former president George W. Bush argued for it. At this time, word has it that Senator Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) is pushing to change the name of ANWR to "AOR"- (Arctic Oil Reserve.) The Alaskan people are being offered financial incentives from oil earnings to support drilling. This is only a short term solution to Alaska's financial problem but will create long term ecological affects.
2. ANWR was established in 1960 by President Eisenhower as one of the last untouched wildlife places on earth. It was doubled in size to 19.3 million acres in 1980 by the Carter Administration. The lands that the Bush administration wants to drill in are the 1.5 million acres north of the Brooks Range and east of the Canning River.
Each Spring, one of the worlds biggest Caribou herds travels over 400 miles just to give birth in ANWR'S almost perfect nursery. Pregnant or nursing Caribou can be very sensitive and, at any disturbance, may leave the nursery and their calves.
Each Summer, millions of graceful Snow Geese, Sand Hill Cranes, Red Throated Loons and many other bird species come to nest in this precious place before starting their long journey south.
Each Fall, more pearly Polar Bears than anywhere else, come ashore to birth their cubs and build their dens. Pregnant and nursing Polar Bears are very sensitive and if disturbed they might leave their dens, resulting in fatal consequences for their cubs.
All throughout the year, over 350 cumbersome Musk Oxen (one of our few survivors of the ice age) roam the fragile plains that they depend on so much, the plain that gives them shelter, food and a place to be! They depend on this land!
If we let the Bush administration destroy this land that the animals depend on, our age old survivors may die! It may sound strange that they can survive the NATURAL ice age and yet not survive UNNATURAL land destruction; but it's true!
All year round, along with the Musk Oxen, Grizzlies, Wolves, Arctic Foxes, Golden Eagles, Snowy Owls and many others live off the hospitable land of ANWR. Do we really want to see such magnificent animals or their homes become destroyed?
3. President Bush has listed 2 main reasons why we should support his plan for drilling:
Reason #1: Our fuel and energy prices are TOO high and the ANWR oil will help to lower them.. In fact, the oil in the ANWR is such a small amount that it would never equal more than 2% of the U.S oil supply, a microscopic spot in the pail of daily demand.
Reason #2: We can't rely so much on foreign countries for our energy supply, in other words, we have to be "energy independent!" The oil in ANWR is not enough to last us any more than 6 to 11 months, and the cost of ANWR oil could be higher than most foreign oil. Plus, the oil will take 10-15 years to put on the market, making the outcome of this situation some other presidents responsibility. If we truly want to be energy independent, we need to look toward renewable sources, NOT expanded oil drilling.
4. Another environmental issue that this administration has failed to address is: TRANSPORTATION! One company, BP AMOCO, now lobbying to drill in ANWR, was responsible for 104 oil spills in Arctic waters between January 1997 and March 1998. That's 104 spills in a little over 1 year. AND, lets not forget the EXXON VALDEZ disaster of 1989, when nearly 11 MILLION gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound polluting over 1,000 miles of Alaskan shoreline and waters!!!!
Please join me by signing the petition against the President's proposal to drill in the ANWR'S unspoiled landscape. Help me save these animals homes and lives. Together we can stop them, but alone we are helpless, and alone the animals are as good as dead! So SHOUT IT OUT!
To sign the petition below: DO NOT FORWARD.instead, HIGHLIGHT the message portion of this e-mail (not the addresses at the top of the page) and copy into new email. Add your name and SEND it to as many people as you wish!
Signing the petition below is agreeing to have your name sent to the White house, and represents the statement that you do not want the ANWR opened up to oil drilling.
When you are the 60TH person to sign, please make sure to send it to someone else and also send it back to me, Sierra Pell at Kpell@mack.com. if you do not wish to sign the petition, please try to send it to someone you think would!
Thank you very much and I hope that together with many others we can stop the plan.
We the undersigned do not support purposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
1. Sierra Pell, Marlboro, VT
The mack.com e-mail domain given in the letter belongs to the Mack Molding Company of Arlington, VT. I found it unlikely that they would let a 13-year old run a petition on their e-mail servers, so I sent a note to the company to see if they had any knowledge of it and/or endorsed it. After a couple of days, I got the following reply from Katrina Pell, the mother of the petition's author:
(5/3/2001) I must first state that I am not directly representing Mack. My husband is an employee there and it was ourdaughter, Sierra, who originated this petition. It was a Science research project gone political, and, from our point of view is completely legitimate. She worked hard on her data collection and on creating the petition.
When we let her send it out over email through the Mack.com domain, we did not realize the implications that would have. Our daughter has recieved some incredible reponses to this petition and we feel she has done a job to be proud of, in spite of the difficulties.
Obviously now this is a potential problem for Mack and their server and we would like to do the right thing to resolve any further complications. We have added a "deadline" of May 5th for signatures and forwarded that date to all our original recipients, in the hopes that that would in turn be forwarded to theirs and hopefully catch up and stop some of the responses.
The only option we see available to stop the petition at this point is to shut down my personal email address (kpell @ mack.com) which is what will be done.
As a petition, this one fails four of the seven tests of Armchair Activism (expiration, focus, privacy and validity). Break this chain!