Organizational Sign-On: Alaska Native Orgs Demand Stop to Microbeads Research Project
Indigenous communities who are least responsible for Global emissions are the first to experience the impacts of global warming. Those who are the most responsible for expediting our extinction meet and agree on very reckless policies that use language such as “Net Zero” emissions and “Nature Based Solutions” and we recognize these are cheat codes that really mean business as usual.
A Cap and Trade Carbon Market that allows for “offsets” also equates to greenwashed disaster capitalism, such as dangerous theoretical geoengineering techno fixes that are tested on Indigenous Lands. All of this is done without Free Prior and Informed Consent, and in the US, it’s done without following federal guidelines for meaningful consultation. One example of such a research project is Leslie Field’s Arctic Ice Project, which proposes to spread synthetic silica microsphere beads onto the arctic ice to make it more reflective.
Projects like this are developed in universities far from the areas of their intended use. Arctic Ice Project was originally developed at Berkley and MIT. The research group is already in their testing phase and are doing outdoor testing in Utqiagvik without any Tribal Government consultation, and without Free Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous Peoples who are directly impacted.
A project without meaningful consultation and FPIC does not consider the concerns, options and expertise of the Indigenous peoples who have been in relationship with their land for time immemorial. Multigenerational place based learning equips tribal communities with a wealth of knowledge unmatched by western structured academia.
Testing whether a material will help ice thicken or will slow its melt is a one dimensional research question in a multidimensional environment. For example: sea ice is a life system that requires sunlight. The living sea ice system is a critical component within the complex living Arctic. Each component thrives harmoniously with the marine plant and animal life, Indigenous Peoples, as well as with the tundra plant and animal live. Testing whether a product has an impact on the thickness of sea ice will not consider the impact on the rest of the living Arctic. This is just one concern. Silica in even in its natural form is
Testing these geoengineering technologies in a way that “properly” observes its impacts on its environment is really an act of deployment. And in the same thread, deployment itself is a form of experimentation, because of the considerable amount of complexity the research group does not consider.
Additionally, even if the project received FPIC of Indigenous Peoples and the product was deemed “safe” Arctic Ice Project would be implemented within a flawed system which allows for the use of projects like this as a form of “offset”. Large polluters promote and invest in greenwashed technologies because it is good for PR and it also provides loopholes in pollution accountability. These offsets can come in many forms, including carbon credits, carbon equivalent credits, and biodiversity offsets. These offset programs are often promoted as pollution reducing, however, the true nature is quite the opposite. The offset scheme simply allows for more pollution. You can read about the truth about these schemes in “Hoodwinked in the Hothouse” “The Big Fix” and “Carbon Pricing”.