On December 3rd of 2020, the Trump Administration announced its plan to auction off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge only 2 weeks before the Biden Administration would step into office. This land is solely dedicated to preserve the wildlife and natural resources in an area of 19.64 million acres or equivalent to about 30,687 miles. This land is essential to the world’s ecosystem, much like the Amazon’s rainforests as it is the largest protected area in the United States and the second in the world. It is home to bears, wolves, caribou, musk oxen and hundreds of other species. This is also one of the only areas left in our country that protects the way of life for indigenous tribes. After the Trail of Tears, the government vowed to never have a repeat of this event, leaving land like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska untouched for the wildlife and indigenous people. The people that live here depend on this land to feed their communities and sustain their way of life. Destroying this land by drilling will not only fasten climate change but destroy the lives of thousands of people. NRDC.org (Natural Resources Defense Council) explains “(T)he administration is moving to allow dangerous seismic testing on the coastal plain. Seismic testing would be incredibly destructive to wildlife—taking place in critical habitat for polar bears, right in the middle of denning season—and the fragile landscape.”
In response, social media has taken to the internet to spread the news of the auctioning across several platforms, the most effective being TikTok. Even though the platform has it’s contingencies, it’s widespread viral videos worked just enough to not only rally the voices of thousands of people, but invoke enough emotion to halt this plan altogether. By using links, users of these platforms were able to submit letters to their state governors which were able to pass it onto the house and the senate, therefore filibuster this bill. Since the Biden Administration is to step in during this process, it is now likely that this land will stay protected.
Protect the Arctic (the council in charge of sending these letters) posted a response on Instagram: “Today the Protect the Arctic team delivered more than 5 million letters to the Fish and Wildlife Service…We’re particularly excited that so many letters have come from Gen Z and young Millennial social media users who understand that the future of the Arctic Refuge impacts everyone, everywhere.” Congratulations on saving our wildlife, Gen Z’ers!