The world is facing a polar emergency. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere on earth and corporations on every side of the Arctic are doing everything they can to start a new oil rush in the pristine Arctic waters.
This summer, Greenpeace’s ship, the Esperanza, traveled to the Chukchi Sea to document this remote Arctic region from the seafloor up before Shell’s drilling rigs arrive. The ship’s Arctic adventure (see the full story here) found new data and specimens that are now being shared openly with scientists and the U.S. Department of the Interior in hopes of more fully understanding this delicate ecosystem before Shell manages to begin drilling.
Shell’s Alaskan plans have been held back by their own incompetence again and again, but they are not the only company ready to sacrifice the Arctic for profit. Whether it’s Gazprom in Russia or Shell in the USA, these companies are drilling in the Arctic because they have no vision for a future beyond oil, and no desire to address the dramatic changes in the world’s climate that are now clearly visible.
The company names may be different, but the threat is the same. In Russia the oil industry is already causing massive problems. Russian oil companies spill more than 30 million barrels of oil – that’s seven times the amount spilled in the Gulf – on land each year, and every 18 months, more than four million barrels spew into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone’s problem. Gazprom, the state-owned oil giant, is now set to begin a risky drilling program of its own, the first ever inside the Arctic Circle.
So while the Esperanza has left Alaskan waters, on the other side of the pole, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has traveled to Russia, and The Arctic Sunrise has carried a team of expert scientists and girl guides to study the rapid changes happening to the sea ice there.
In September, the Arctic Sunrise will continue its voyage in Russian waters by traveling to the edge of the retreating sea ice to bring home the stark reality of climate change. We will continue to use creative communication, compelling images and world class science from the scene to show the world that we need international protection for the Arctic.
So while Shell attempts to lurch toward the beginning of their drilling season, our #SaveTheArctic campaign continues on many fronts. Stay tuned.