Arctic melt-down


On No. 1, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were imprisoned in Russia. The “Arctic 30,” as many call them, were documenting and campaigning for a global sanctuary to protect our polar ice cap against Arctic oil drilling. The group — two of whom are Canadian — peacefully protested the Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform, the world’s first offshore Arctic oil platform.

The group was first detained on Sept. 18, on charges hugely disproportionate to their actions. At first they were tried for piracy, but this was later changed to hooliganism — action that could result in imprisonment for seven years.

The Arctic is an incredibly volatile place to drill for oil, due to its ever-shifting, poorly understood, and remote nature. If there is a spill, the likelihood of a proper cleanup is slim to none. Surrounded by oil disasters every day, is this worth the risk? We are travelling to the ends of the earth and destroying our already threatened ecosystems in the name of profit.

Needless to say, the oil that companies like Gazprom are looking to extract is the very reason that the pristine Arctic is at risk of drilling in the first place. It reflects a twisted and dark cycle of climate change and fossil-fuel addiction. The peaceful activists were held at gunpoint, sprayed with water in an Arctic environment, and are still being detained in Russia on disproportionate charges labelling them as dangerous and violent, all in response to peaceful protesting.

If we are capable of destroying this planet, we are capable of redesigning our energy reliance.

As oil and state become as coupled as salt and pepper, we risk the very foundations of democracy. Environmental justice is possible, but it is frowned upon. Unable to create change from within institutions of control, creative activism is necessary to draw attention to the peril our planet and our species are now facing.

I have never felt more fearful than when talking to friends and family about this, and hearing nothing but doubt and reservation about our ability to make the changes necessary for our children to live on this planet. If we are capable of destroying this planet, we are sure as hell capable of redesigning our energy reliance.

The notions of change begin and end at our ability to question where the power within our society is being held. Demanding transparency and radical change with our government is not a choice. I am paying Stephen Harper’s bills through my tax dollars — and today I am paying him to demand the release of the “Arctic 30” from illegal detainment. I am demanding for a shift away from oil and gas subsidies, and shaking the status-quo. We deserve better. The “Arctic 30” deserve freedom.

Stewing in public apathy, I am blown away by the idea that Canada will not fight for two of its own citizens to be released in the face of injustice. As the tar sands grow, and Canada reaches a fever-pitch of carbon emissions and human rights violations citizens have to wake from their stupor. We have an obligation to our loved ones and our future children to demand a green and peaceful world — a demand that starts with releasing the “Arctic 30” from Russian jail. We are accountable for the actions of our government, and we must hold our government accountable to us.

Where is justice? It is starting to look like it will just be us.