This is a global challenge, as the oil industry’s record in the Russian Arctic makes clear; tons of oil are spilled on land each year, and every 18 months more than four million barrels spews into the Arctic Ocean – nearly as much as BP spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. As other oil companies seek to exploit the melting sea ice and begin drilling in Arctic waters, we know we need a global movement to draw a line in the ice and protect this fragile region. More than a million people have come together calling for a global sanctuary in the high Arctic, and a ban on offshore drilling and unsustainable fishing in Arctic waters, and more are joining every day.
I leap from our small boat into the surf to step onto the beach at Pt. Hope, the longest continually inhabited place in North America, and the community on Alaska’s most north western point. The Mayor, Steve Oomittuk, waits at the top of the sandy bluff to welcome the first boatload of Greenpeace visitors coming ashore from the Esperanza, anchored a few miles off the point. We’ve come to visit with the community, to hear from the people who live on the edge of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic, where Shell plans to begin drilling for oil in a few weeks time. We’ve been invited to have a meeting with the community. We want to tell them of the research we will be doing here, taking a small submarine down into the Chukchi to see what life is at risk on the seafloor close to the sites where Shell plans to drill. We want to hear what they have to say about drilling in their waters. Continue reading →