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arcticAlmost three-quarters of people surveyed are in favor of creating an Arctic sanctuary, according to a recent Greenpeace poll. 

Respondents from around the world voted overwhelmingly in favor of protecting the waters around the North Pole from exploitation. When asked if the Arctic Ocean should be free from oil drilling and other types of heavy industry, on average 71 percent of those polled said yes. The most support came from Italy, Spain, France and Argentina, whose responses were in the 80th percentile. In the United States, only 69 percent were in favor.

Sixty-four percent of respondents agreed that oil drilling, oil transport and industrial-scale fishing should also be banned in the Arctic Ocean. When asked if they trusted oil companies to successfully clean a major oil spill in the Arctic, respondents were split almost right down the middle.

The poll was conducted online between August 8 and 28 and represents 30,679 respondents (ages 18 and up) from 30 countries.

As global warming heats ocean waters, the ice covering the North Pole has begun to melt. Studies have shown that the breakup of Arctic ice is causing increased winds and higher waves in the area, but despite the more extreme conditions, the lack of ice has made the Arctic a more enticing prospect for shipping and drilling companies. Russia’s Gazprom, the largest gas company in the world, is building a port in Siberia’s Nadym, a city that was once surrounded by a frozen sea.

As ice continues to melt, scientists predict that more ships will use the area for transit. In preparation, Gazprom is building a fleet of “ice-class” carriers.

Click here to view the Greenpeace Arctic Survey (pdf file).

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