Today is Foreign Affairs Day, a holiday for the US Department of State, where Greenpeace will be among world diplomats communicating with Secretary Kerry. Our message: the United States loves the Arctic! We delivered a photo album to Secretary Kerry with photos from around the country of people showing their love for the Arctic. And we delivered that message in a very unique way: with a marching band and Arctic cheerleaders!
An increasing amount of attention is focused on protecting the Arctic Ocean. The White House is apparently holding emergency meetings to discuss the urgency of the melting Arctic, and hopefully improve the policies set by President George W. Bush. For the most part, Arctic policy has focused on national security and scientific research. But, as we are all too aware now, much of the attention on the Arctic now is due to serious ecosystem impacts from global warming. It doesn’t help that big oil companies like Shell and ConocoPhillips want to go drill where their carbon pollution is making more accessible due to melting polar ice.
Lucky for the planet, Secretary Kerry has a long record indicating he cares about the Arctic. His effort to promote climate policy is well known. He even introduced a bill making it illegal to drill for oil in polar bear habitat until the bear is listed as an endangered species (the polar bill is still unlisted). Now, Kerry is in charge of developing and implementing much of the policies we need.
On May 15th, Secretary Kerry goes to northern Sweden to meet with countries who are part of the Arctic Council. Kerry can use the opportunity to take positive steps toward international protection. More than 40,000 Americans have already signed onto a petition asking Secretary Kerry to be an Arctic champ.