As I write this, friends and colleagues and a ship I love are in custody in Murmansk because they made a stand against big oil.
The place they chose to make their stand was in the Russian Arctic, where Gazprom and Shell are building the first rig to exploit a new opportunity to drill where drilling was once impossible: the newly ice-free waters of the once-frozen North.
Two Greenpeace activists boarded the Prirazlomnaya platform to hang a banner, to throw a spotlight on the dangers of oil drilling in the arctic in particular, and our continued reliance on fossil fuels in general. Gazprom was having none of it. Shots were fired at our activists, knives were brandished at them, the coast guard sent a helicopter with armed agents to seize our entire ship — an illegal act under the Law of the Sea against a Dutch-flagged ship in international waters.
But this wasn’t about law. This was about message. And the message was painfully clear. Our activists and the two journalists accompanying them were told to shut up. With jail cells. With a very public show of force to let us, and everyone else who might consider speaking up against them, know exactly who is boss, and what fate awaits those who might consider this a cause to join. They’re talking to you.
This is the dystopic vision of a world in which democracy has been bought with petrodollars, in which human rights can be suspended,
ignored, trampled upon. It’s a world in which Planet Earth is occupied by a global tyrant: the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading