17 May 2012

Leaning back in the evening breeze, listening to the waves churning, I almost feel like I'm lying on the beach at home instead of hanging from an anchor chain near the 10 meter water mark of a cargo ship near Sao Louis in Brazil. But here I am. The Clipper Hope was due to arrive in the port days ago to pick up a load of pig iron, but for 3 days so far we've been preventing the ship from heaving up anchor by hanging on their chain.

Along with some other people, the captain of the ship didn't understand at first why we were protesting at his vessel. What's wrong with pig iron? It's used to make steel. The answer is it is a cheap and highly destructive way to make steel, and there are better ways to do it. Pig iron is made with charcoal, which is made with huge quantities of wood, and the cheapest way to get this wood is to secretly and illegally log massive areas of remote Amazonian forest and even sometimes use slave labour to burn it up.

There is more life, and more different types of life, in this forest than anywhere else, and seeing it transformed into wasteland is one of the saddest images of what is happening to our planet. The rate of deforestation of the Amazon is once again increasing because of recent government decisions.

So I hope the captain and friendly crew of the Clipper Hope will google Greenpeace and pig iron to find our new report, and learn about the consequences of the manufacture of their cargo. I hope U.S. car manufacturers like Ford and GM will learn about where their steel comes from. I hope we can all learn about the real costs of maintaining our cheap, convenient lifestyles and choose a better way. We don't have to destroy the Amazon, and we don't have to destroy our future.

Emma Briggs is a climber and the Bosun onboard the Rainbow Warrior, she is from Byron Bay, Australia.