Greenpeace Occupies Arctic Ice Breaker
Last week (May 1st), 20 environmental activists associated with Greenpeace from 13 countries boarded and “occupied” an Arctic-bound icebreaker (The Nordica) as it prepared to leave Helsinki, Finland to meet up with the Fennica, its sister ship near Alaska. The two ice-breaker ships will meet up with two drill-ships, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk to drill up to five exploratory wells for the Shell Corporation in the Beafort and Chuckchi Seas.
The Greenpeace activists locked themselves down on several parts of the ship including the mast and different cabins. What message is Greenpeace trying to get across here? They are hoping to pressure oil giant Shell to drop its plans of opening up the Arctic Seas for oil drilling.
Besides all the typical reasons one might expect out of an oil protest, this one is a little more controversial because the Arctic region is an especially fragile environment. The region is known for extreme weather and short summers which only gives Shell a short time to drill exploratory wells before winter sea ice returns. If an oil spill were to occur in the Arctic Seas, it could be nearly impossible to clean it up due to unpredictable weather and the regions remoteness. That is why many environmentalists including Greenpeace activists are protesting in such a manner.
Another major fear is that since Shell corporation is spearheading this Arctic Oil exploration by clearly making it a corporate focus, if it does strike oil, it’s almost certain that other major oil companies will follow suit with oil explorations. In other words, it could be the start of an Arctic Oil Rush.
“We are here on behalf of the nearly 400,000 people around the world who in just a couple of months have spoken out demanding that Shell cancel its reckless campaign of Arctic destruction,” said Greenpeace campaign manager in Finland Tapio Laakso. “Oil companies know full well that an oil spill off the Alaskan coast would devastate the environment and prove impossible to clean up.”
Most scientists agree that carbon emissions are causing temperatures in the Arctic region to increase faster than other places on earth. Since this is happening, the reflection of the sun’s heat back into space is diminishing which is further creating temperature changes. Potentially ruining a critical natural habitat and potentially accelerating climate change all for 3 years worth of global oil demand, according to current estimates? What do you think is the right thing to do here?
“For the first time in our history we are faced with the possibility of a world without ice at the North Pole and without a home for polar bears, narwhals and walrus. It is fundamentally wrong that Shell is making money off of a global catastrophe of its own creation,” said Finnish activist Maria Hukkamäki. “I am here onboard this ship to say no to Arctic drilling and call for the protection of one the world’s most fragile and beautiful environments.”
But on May 3rd, Greenpeace didn’t give up. Like out of some James Bond film, six more activists from Israel, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland boarded the Nordica en route to Alaska via high speed inflatables and locked themselves to the 116m ship with a message declaring “You Can #SaveTheArctic”
Then in what could only be imagined as some dramatic scene, the Swedish authorities were on the scene with a full on SWAT team to handle the situation.
Sounds like extreme measures were taken to prove a point and send a message to the oil industry that environmentalists aren’t thrilled about what they plan for the Arctic. But in a never ending quest and quench for oil, something tells me that this story isn’t over.
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