James Cameron's "Avatar" was a futuristic take on a problem that's very much real today. Many of the planet's most beautiful places are home to not only a wide selection of rare species of wildlife, they also have large reserves of oil, natural gas and rare earth elements.
One of the most notable of these locations is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeast Alaska. The 19-million acre refuge is populated with polar bears, wolverines, peregrine falcons and caribou, but underneath the frozen tundra is what is thought to be enormous reserves of oil and natural gas.
Former president George W. Bush was one of the most notable proponents of drilling in ANWR, but Americans stood up to protect the area. President Barack Obama, who has adamantly made his stance on the importance of relying on domestic fuel sources clear, is against oil excavation in the Alaskan refuse, based on his belief that tampering with the fragile ecosystems and wildlife isn't worth the benefits of drilling, according to The Huffington Post.
The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in Alaska face a similar dilemma to ANWR. The source reports that Royal Dutch Shell will likely explore drilling projects in the northern Alaska waters, which not are not inhabited by walruses, polar bears and many different species of whales, they're also a very important part of nearby Native American communities.
Another Alaskan area that's in danger is Bristol Bay Watershed, which is currently being excavated for its copper, gold and molybdenum. The "Pebble Project," as it's been named, will break up the wildness of Bristol Bay, which is home to one of the largest salmon fisheries in the world, to make room for two-mile long, one-mile wide and 1,700 foot deep mine that The Huffington Post reports would be able to be seen from space.