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Saving the Arctic: The Expedition

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We've raised global awareness about the dangers of Arctic oil drilling, climbed oil rigs to obstruct operations, mobilized nearly three million people and celebrated as major oil companies backed off plans to drill in the Arctic.  View a timeline of our campaign. We won't stop until the Arctic is declared a global sancuary.

In 2012, six Greenpeace International activists, including Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, climbed a rig belonging to Gazprom, a Russian oil company. 

"We can't match Shell's enormous financial muscle, but we have creativity and millions of people behind us. This is the defining environmental battle of our time and we have only just begun."
-Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director

Saving the Arctic: Stopping Global Warming

Many of us may never get the chance to travel to the top of the world. Yet similar to the places often unseen, the Arctic needs our help. During our most recent Arctic excursion, a crewmember called the Arctic a "big air conditioner."That's because the sea ice in the Arctic regulates our global climate by reflecting sunlight. That ice is melting at a rapid rate meaning the ocean absorbs the sunlight resulting in a warmer earth. This of course causes more sea ice to melt. Sounds like a vicious cycle, huh?

Not only does the Arctic work to regulate the global climate, it's also home to a rich ecosystem and indigenous people who depend on that ecosystem. Polar bears, seals, walruses and whales are just some of the species that call the Arctic home. And it's all in danger.

What is the Threat?

Oil companies are eager to profit from the melting sea ice by drilling in the Arctic. While the entire oil industry is looking to move into the Arctic, Shell is leading the way. Yet they have proven several times that there are in no way Arctic ready with various mishaps including a rig on the loose and a fire aboard their drill ship The Noble Discoverer.  

Despite their very public and very embarassing mistakes, Shell is determined to profit from the Arctic, groundzero of global warming. They're planning to drill in the same spot where Greenpeace and University of Alaska scientist Kelley Newman discovered coral, recorded orca whale calls and talked to the amazing people of Point Hope, Alaska. 

Nevermind that Shell's plans to drill for oil contribute to the vicious cycle of global warming.  The climate in the Arctic can be severe and unpredictable making an oil spill likely-and catastrophic. You would think the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body of Arctic governments and citizens, would have a solid spill-response plan to prepare for this likely occurence. We were pretty shocked to read in a leaked draft that the Council had no real plan established in the likely case of a spill.

In addition to the new threat from Shell, the Russian oil industry spills 30 million barrels of oil each year. That's seven times the amount that escaped during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Every 18 months, more than 4 billion barrels spews into the Arctic.

Media Contacts:

Travis Nichols (Atlanta)

Media Contacts:

Cassady Sharp (Washington, DC)

The latest updates

 

Looking Ahead: Recommendations for the US Arctic Council Chairmanship

Blog by Mary Sweeters | April 23, 2015

The is the second in a three part series on the Arctic Council Chairmanship transition. As the US assumes the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Canada at this week’s Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit, this new role has great significance for...

On climate emissions from Arctic oil, the government has its head in the snow

Blog by Tim Donaghy | April 22, 2015

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) recently cleared away one major hurdle in the path of Shell Oil’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer. At the same time they also swept aside objections raised by Greenpeace and many others...

Looking Back: Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship

Blog by Greenpeace Staff | April 20, 2015

By Alex Speers-Roesch, Greenpeace Canada Arctic Campaign Staff Note: This is the first of a three-part series on the transition of the Arctic Council Chairmanship from Canada to the United States. This week in Iqaluit, the capital of the...

Shell’s trying to silence your voice on Arctic drilling…

Blog by Ben Ayliffe | April 10, 2015

“If somebody not from your country commits a crime against somebody not from your country in another country, should the courts in your country have any jurisdiction over the issue?” With remarkable prescience, this question was posed by Shell’s...

Big Oil wrote a report on Arctic drilling. You’ll never guess what happened next.

Blog by Tim Donaghy | April 9, 2015

This past week the National Petroleum Council released a long report on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. To the great surprise of no one at all, they found that drilling for oil in the Arctic is a great idea and that, all evidence to the...

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