As a general rule, whenever a ferocious public debate doesn't seem to make sense, there's an inconvenient but fundamental fact that both sides recognize and both don't want to discuss. In the case of abortion that fact is probably the extent to which abortion is birth control for the 'underclass'. In the case of ANWR it's that geologists believe there could be a huge amount of oil in the arctic:
As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound - New York TimesThis is an awkward fact for both sides, so it's not mentioned. Environmentalists want to point out how little oil there seems to be in ANWR, oil companies don't want to admit they intend to rape the entire Arctic -- and ANWR is only a tiny beachead.
Last year, scientists found tantalizing hints of oil in seabed samples just 200 miles from the North Pole. All told, one quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources lies in the Arctic, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The interesting question is why journalists don't seem to care to reveal the 'awkward fact'. They're often very capable people, they probably know what it is. Why don't they write about it? Is it because they fear to spoil the party? I'd love to know.
By the way, the Times series on global warming is commendable journalism. Note the byline on this particular article: "Clifford Krauss reported from Canada for this article, Steven Lee Myers from Russia, Andrew C. Revkin from New Hampshire and Washington, and Simon Romero from Norway. Craig Duff contributed reporting from Canada, Norway, Russia and Alaska." Craig likes to travel.