Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

The Willow Project and the Future of Our Climate

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

If you’re on that side of Tiktok, or you just keep up with the news, chances are you have heard of the Willow Project. If you aren’t sure what the Willow Project is, that’s okay, let’s talk about it.

The Willow Project was created by a company called ConocoPhillips, an oil refinery company based in Houston, Texas as a plan to build more drilling sites, which will go deep into the earth. The project will be based in Alaska in the National Petroleum Reserve and is projected to create 600 million barrels of oil. Originally, the project was set to have five drilling pads but was marked down to three by the Biden Administration. Since 2002 they have accumulated massive hordes of money, more money than you or I will ever have in our life; the earnings for the 2022 year being $18.7 billion, or $14.57 per share. This number was taken from their website which they proudly display. I’ve read the articles and watched the videos on Tiktok or Youtube which may or may not be credible and through it all, this will cause more harm than good.

The climate is warming, we know it is, the science is there and the fossil fuels we burn are releasing more energy into the atmosphere than energy out. That is basic climate knowledge. According to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to 100% of the warming. I’m not sure many people know this, but carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a really long time. For just thirty years of our life, only 50% of the carbon dioxide released from your car on your drive to H-E-B will remain in the atmosphere with the carbon completely leaving the atmosphere by about a thousand years. I learned this in the climate change class I am taking. My comprehension of climate science was very little before this.

I knew the Earth was warming, I just didn’t know how and why. The fact is, The Willow Project will create more unprecedented catastrophes in our lives; ecosystems will be lost, people will lose their homes, and sacred land will be violated. The arguments for the project have not been something that I care about. We do so many questionable things in our society just to create more jobs, make more money, and have more power. Profit at the expense of human life is appalling and we as young people deserve a say. How unfair it is that we have to watch as adults ruin our futures on such whims as creating more money. The power of oil is amazing, we as humans can never generate the same about of energy as fossil fuels do. If and when the pad is built it will produce 9.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and fuel about 2 million cars. I’m incapable of understanding how much a “billion” is but I imagine the carbon produced from this will stay in our atmosphere for more than a thousand years. Since fossil fuels don’t have sentient life, pay taxes, and have children, I don’t really care how much energy they create, I’m more concerned with the pollution. We contribute to society and the lives of others, we are real and tangible, it’s not right that oil and money are valued more than our futures and lives. We keep being told by politicians that they are going to fix everything, but they never do and then we get angry about it and suddenly, we are ungrateful.

I resent this; I’m allowed to be ungrateful. During his run, Joe Biden promised to stop funding all oil and gas projects which would be harmful to the earth. Obviously, that was broken and the best The Biden Administration could do was reduce the number of pads, as previously mentioned. Am I supposed to be happy about that? “It could be worse,” yes it could be and it will be if we don’t begin seriously taking steps to reduce the heating of the earth. The earth has warmed about 1.5 degrees Celsius, and it’s not going to stop. While that sounds small, the changes from this have not been and the effects will continue to worsen. We are already seeing a mass extinction of different species, climate refugees from natural disasters, and soon we will see rising sea levels. The future feels overwhelming, unpredictable, and downright frightening. The Willow Project isn’t going to save us, or create more jobs and bolster the economy. At most, it will keep the United States from buying foreign oil, which feels xenophobic and controlling. “I can forgive exploiting people of color in sweatshops but I draw the line at buying foreign oil.” Cool story bro, you are literally the worst.

We should be angry about this because the world we live in now will not be the same one in 30 years. The authorization of more greedy and grotesque oil projects like this must be stopped. This is easier said than done, but it can be done by us one way or another. I want the Earth to be treated with the respect she deserves. We have drilled and fracted the Earth so much it’s starting to fall apart. Some people are hesitant to believe in climate change either because of religion, fear, or being unbiased. Not everyone will be convinced, and at this point, it doesn’t matter about convincing everyone.

The climate is warming, this is unequivocal. The number of peer-reviewed studies on this has never been wrong. We know the science as to why and we know that corporations are to blame; who else is wanting to build an obnoxious oil drilling plant in the middle of nowhere? Money comes and goes, and people come and go but we only have one earth and we are destroying it. I encourage you to read more about this and see what you can do to help because you have more power than you think. Climate science is a very valuable tool for ensuring our future. This is our earth and we are owed democratic autonomy over it.

Knowing what will happen is a burden I wish we didn’t have to bare.

Isabella Carrillo is a Junior English major at Texas A&M University and an aspiring writer and English professor in queer and leftist literature. They joined HERs Campus at TAMU in Spring 2023 and are looking forward to making connections with members and readers. In their free time, they work out in various ways, such as yoga, running, swimming, and rock climbing. Other hobbies include reading and writing. When they are not focused on writing they can be found engrossed in their passions; worker's rights, bodily autonomy for all, LGBTQIA+ health care, and climate action.