Hundreds of Seattle activists put on their best wetsuits and life jackets this past Saturday and jumped into kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and other vessels in order to stage a protest against Royal Dutch Shell’s intention of drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.
The “Paddle in Seattle” protest was organized by “kayaktivists” with the group Shell No, who were quoted as saying that the company’s drilling in the Arctic Ocean would endanger the environment.
It was held just a few blocks from where Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig was docked at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5. Once they got out on the water, kayakers gathered in formation and raised signs that read “Climate Justice”, “Oil-Free Future” and the more elaborate “We can’t burn all the oil on the planet and still live on it”.
Many activists also armed themselves with posters and red scarves that showed Shell’s logo crossed with kayak paddles underneath, resembling a skull and crossbones design like those commonly found on pirate flags.
They eventually ended up paddling over to the base of the towering Polar Pioneer drilling rig and peacefully protested by singing songs, chanting and displaying their banners.
Annie Leonard, executive director of environmental group Greenpeace USA, explained that there are many reasons why companies shouldn’t go drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
She did not understand why Shell would invest in an energy source that scientists say is killing the planet and leading us to catastrophe. She suggested that our focus should be on renewable energy in this critical time of climate change, not on dirty fuels that are doing more harm than good. Potential oil spills are another major issue that motivated Leonard and many of her colleagues to protest.
Eric Day, with the Swinomish Indian Tribe, was one of many indigenous Americans who participated in the event. He agrees with Leonard that Shell’s plan is a poor one, highlighting yet another concern: drilling in the Arctic would hurt those who live off of the land. He gave a statement saying “This is our livelihood. We need to protect it for the crabbers, for the fishermen. We need to protect it for our children”.
Greg Huyler on the other hand believes that the protest “is a bunch of crap”. The 51-year-old scuba diver basically called the participants hypocrites by saying that all of the kayaks are petroleum products, and now the people who use them are the ones complaining about drilling for oil. He added that 90 percent of the activists drove to the protest in cars that use petroleum products
Alli Harvey, Alaska representative for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, explained that science couldn’t be more clear when it comes to drilling in the Arctic – the only safe place for these dirty fuels is in the ground.
Jonathon Berman, of the Sierra Club informs that at the centre of the “Paddle in Seattle” protest was the People’s Platform, a 4,000-square foot (372-square metre) barge powered by renewable energy. It was used during the event as a stage for speakers, a live band and a tall screen that showed sequences of people expressing their opposition on Shell’s plans.
The protest comes after President Barack Obama made an announcement earlier this month allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic, a move that has angered environmentalists even further.
Image Source: businessinsider.com