When I spoke to my friends and family this weekend I was unanimously scolded. After Friday’s 15-hour occupation of Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, they all said “you’re getting too old for this!” With blue hands and feet from the cold, and in the midst of being treated by our ship doctor Marcelo for hypothermia, for a moment I thought they could be right.
But then I returned to the spirit on board our ship the Arctic Sunrise; the eager faces of my fellow activists Sini, Jens, Lars, Basil and Terry, the determination of our Captain Vlad, and the rest of the committed crew who were standing up for what they believed was right. Coming back to this I knew that the risks had been worth it.
For me, an action like the one we’ve just completed in the Arctic is Greenpeace at its best. Teams united in the one goal, taking a risk to confront dangerous industry at the frontlines of destruction, shining a light on an environmental crime that happens out of the sights and minds of most regular people.
I’ve been an activist since the age of 15. I’ve seen the inside of a prison cell for the cause, but nobody – even with experience – can honestly say that there is no fear when you set out to take action involving risk to personal safety, or the risk of imprisonment. We were feeling it acutely in the days preceding the action as we traced through our different scenarios and plans. But I felt encouraged, we gave each other confidence.
And then our time came. We sailed early morning towards Gazprom’s oil platform, and soon some of my worst fears came true. During my first attempt to climb, I got knocked off course by a big swell and did not make it up. I spent several minutes in the icy water fighting with the rope. Defeated and fighting the cold, I had to retreat to the boat. Continue reading