The “almighty dollar” seems to be top priority here. Big Money buys political power: (support via campaign contributions), political power gets money for supporting Big Business – and it’s a vicious cycle ad infintum. The old saying “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” comes to mind.
In September 2013, 30 Greenpeace activists from 18 countries protested Russia’s drilling in the Arctic. In response, their ship, Arctic Sunrise, was seized by masked commandos, and these men and women were charged with piracy and thrown into the Russian prison system. Read their story in Don’t Trust Don’t Fear Don’t Beg,yours to own with a donation to Truthout. Click here to order this gripping book today!
Truthout recently interviewed Ben Stewart, who heads media relations for Greenpeace International and is the author of Don’t Trust Don’t Fear Don’t Beg.
Mark Karlin: What was the action that members of Greenpeace on the ship Arctic Sunrise undertook in 2013?
Ben Stewart: It was September, and the codename we gave this action was Azeroth. The plan was to sail the Arctic Sunrise towards the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and do something to stop its drilling and simultaneously draw global attention to what was happening up there. At that point the Prirazlomnaya was the most controversial oil platform in the world; it was trying to be the first rig to pump oil from the icy waters of the Arctic. It was at the vanguard of the new Arctic oil rush.
There were 30 people on board our ship – 28 activists and two journalists. The plan was to scale the side of the rig and hang a one-ton survival pod off the side. Some protesters would live in the pod, tweeting and Skyping from it. It would stop the drilling and allow them to communicate why they were there.
Why was the activist effort to stop Arctic oil drilling by the giant Russian oil and natural gas company Gazprom so urgent?
We felt we had to take a stand against Arctic oil drilling. You can’t clean up an Arctic oil spill – if a Deepwater Horizon-style disaster struck, it would be a calamity. It took 6,500 boats to “clean up” the Gulf of Mexico; that kind of deployment is not possible in the polar regions. And if there was a blowout, the return of winter ice could very quickly stop the drilling of a relief well. That would mean oil spilling for months, gathering under the ice and circulating around the pole.
Then there’s the irony of drilling for oil there. It’s only possible because climate change has caused the summer sea ice to retreat. We’re drilling for the fuels that caused the ice to melt, and when we burn it we’ll cause the ice to melt more, letting them drill for more oil. Most people see the melting ice as a warning for humanity. The oil companies see it as a chance to drill. It’s insane.
What is the status of Gazprom’s exploration for oil and natural gas in the Arctic as of June 2015?
Gazprom ended up pumping oil in 2014, and delivering it to Rotterdam. Sanctions against Russia have affected their ability to fully exploit the Arctic this season, but the company (and Putin) are determined to push deep into the Arctic region.