This revolution's on!

Feature story - 29 September, 2010
From the chilly waters of the Atlantic to a stage in New York City, an amazing revolution is on. You had no idea? Well, that’s because most media routinely under-report it. We thought we would correct that.

"It’s our bodies in the way of a monstrous wrong."

Greenpeace activists are halting a Chevron drillship north of Shetland. © Greenpeace

"I can't really move my hands, or arms, or feet, or turn my head, or speak, but it keeps me well toasty in the chilly Atlantic ocean," writes Leila Deen, currently on board our ship the Esperanza, off the coast of Scotland. She’s referring to the big red survival suit she’s been getting in and out of over the last days. "This is true direct action, the truest form."

The monstrous wrong – that’s the world's ongoing addiction to oil and, out in the North Atlantic, it comes in the form of a massive drillship run by US energy giant Chevron. Thanks to our brave swimmers the ship hasn’t been going anywhere for quite some time – and for good reason.

As environmental journalist George Monbiot has just pointed out again, we can’t even afford to burn the oil that has already been discovered; if we did, we would most certainly cause two degrees of global warming. For millions of people around the planet, the consequences would be devastating.

Why o why then, are the likes of Chevron trying to find even more?

Why o why are they trying to drill for something we can’t even afford to use in an environment that’s been classified as "extreme" and "hostile" by experts, making it all madly dangerous too?

Why o why are we doing the opposite of what we should be doing, when the alternative is right in front of our eyes?

Far away from our swimmers, in New York, the Greenpeace scientist Sven Teske enters a stage and confidently says: "The tide is turning." In a Bloggers’ Briefing – streamed live on Friday, and still available here – he’s presenting a future that’s clean, sustainable and a world away from accidents like the oil spill we've just witnessed in the Gulf of Mexico.

The answer's in the wind

Under the Energy [R]evolution scenario, the future is powered by wind, the sun and the natural forces of the Earth. © Greenpeace

Built on energy efficiency, this future is powered by the wind, the sun, and the natural forces of the Earth – not deadly, dirty fossil fuels. It would mean massively reduced CO2 emission, energy security, energy independence and millions of green jobs. We call it the Energy [R]evolution and here’s the part that isn’t told nearly as widely as it should be: The Energy [R]evolution isn’t just achievable.

It’s already happening.

Want a flavour? On November 9th, 2009, Spain generated more than half its electricity demand with wind power. In the same year, China built (roughly) one windmill an hour. Geothermal power provides 10% of New Zealand's electricity needs. The consultancy Price Waterhouse Cooper now says that Europe and North Africa could run on 100% renewable energy by 2050. The examples run on and on. We are already moving into the future.

Or, some of us are.

Unfortunately, the US – a country that’s been at the forefront of technological progress for decades – is still dragging its feet. Instead of positioning itself for the energy future of the 21st-century, it keeps clinging to 19th-century energy solutions. And not just the US. A political class with a prevailing attitude ranging from lean-back let-others-do-it-first, in some places, to feet-on-the-table let’s-simply-not-act-at-all, in others – that’s the ONLY barrier to achieving this vision for the future. What are they waiting for? Better weather?

How loud do we have to shout?

Let's get to work!

On October 10, thousands of individuals and communities around the world will get together to work on climate solutions for the 10:10:10 Global Work Party. © Greenpeace

Unlike politicians, people around the world have not just understood the danger posed by climate change – they are also seeing the amazing chance we have right now. For the 10:10:10 Global Work Party on Sunday, October 10, thousand of us will come together to work on local, practical climate solutions, from tree-planting in Russia to the installation of solar panels on the Maldives.

As you can see, you don’t have to jump into the chilly waters of the North Atlantic to make change happen. There are a hundred different ways to make a difference at home, at work, or in your community. For inspiration, join the crew of our virtual ship, where we take action against climate change together. Something amazing is happening right now – but time is running out. As our scientist Sven says: “We either win or lose this in the next five years.”

Let’s make sure we win it.