Four Greenpeace activists on August 31 scaled an oil rig off the coast of Greenland, forcing a British energy company to shut down its oil drilling operation in the Arctic, according to a report in The Guardian.
How did they do this? Here’s what Greenpeace stated: “At dawn this morning our expert climbers in inflatable speed boats dodged Danish Navy commandos before climbing up the inside of the rig and hanging from it in tents suspended from ropes, halting its drilling operation.”
A Halt to Drilling for Oil in the Arctic
Greenpeace continued, “If they succeed in stopping drilling for just a short time, then the operators, Britain’s Cairn Energy, will struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete the exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year.”
Is this the latest Tom Cruise action-adventure movie to hit the big screen? No, this is really happening in Greenland, thanks to activists like Sim McKenna, who said, “We’ve got to keep the energy companies out of the Arctic and kick our addiction to oil, that’s why we’re going to stop this rig from drilling for as long as we can.”
Suspended from Ropes 50 feet above the Arctic
What does this mean for these climbers? They are right now hanging from the oil rig 50 feet above the icy Arctic ocean in those tiny tents. And they have enough supplies to occupy their hanging tents for several days. That kind of action takes real commitment and real guts.
The Danish navy said that it had no immediate plans to remove the activists, explaining that it was up to police in Greenland, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, to decide what to do.
Stop Drilling for Oil in the Arctic!
Some background: the four activists were able to evade a small flotilla of armed Danish navy and police boats which have been guarding the rigs in Baffin Bay off Greenland since the Greenpeace protest ship Esperanza arrived last week. These oil rigs belong to Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy, which last week raised concern amongst environmentalists when it disclosed that it had found the first evidence of oil or gas desposits under the Arctic. As a result, Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and several other multinational companies are waiting for permission to begin deep sea drilling in the Arctic.
A Monumental Disaster in the Making
Kudos to Greenpeace for such a brave and inspired action. Of course there should be no drilling in the Arctic, for a multitude of reasons. As Greenpeace points out, the Arctic drilling program is extremely perilous because of the intense weather conditions in the region. According to the organization, the risks posed by this operation go “far beyond” the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Arctic an oil spill would destroy the region’s vulnerable and untouched habitats, while the cold water would prevent any oil from quickly breaking up. And of course, any emergency operation dealing with such a disaster would encounter huge problems in such a remote area.
The bottom line? All oil drilling in the Arctic should stop. And these four activists deserve a medal.
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