The Battle of ANWR Images

Now that the Senate has approved drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the battle to characterize the place seems to have begun in earnest. I’ve had at least one comment describing the refuge as a “barren wasteland”; several of my eco-blogging colleagues have addressed this point by posting pictures of the refuge: Compostlandia has a picture, and Organic Matter has several photographs up in response to a similar comment.

While I’m glad to see these images, I have to wonder if we’re not getting off track in letting the argument move to aesthetic considerations. Ultimately, we’re talking about largely subjective evaluations. What isn’t subjective is the potential harm to ecosystems in the refuge. At the same time, I realize we’re a visual culture — are these photographs the only hope we have of showing people what we might destroy by drilling for oil?

In all fairness, I should point out that drilling advocates have also entered this battle: see the pictures on the Federalist Blog.

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