20 May 2012

© Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace

Less than a year old, and the Rainbow Warrior is causing trouble already. But being a Greenpeace ship that’s just what nature intended.

Five days into a major direct action here in the Amazon and the new ship is holding up well. We’ve been painting banners below deck, taking urgent media calls from the campaign office and eating Walter’s fantastic food in the shiny new mess. Occupying an anchor chain for nearly 140 hours has required all the tools at our disposal, and we’ve been hoisting inflatable boats on and off the ship like clockwork. The Bosun’s workshop has seen sawing, chopping, gluing and creative improvisation (we’re cooking up a pretty dramatic little number right now – watch this space). The conference room has been turned into a makeshift recreational area, allowing the crew somewhere to listen to music and chill out in between shifts for the action.

There’s a real sense of excitement about this situation because this is what Greenpeace ships are made for. Our community engagement work is an important part of campaigning with the ship. We’ve used the ship to host community meetings, open boat events and spread the world about the Zero Deforestation Law, but now is the Rainbow Warrior’s time for action. Now we can finally use some of the special features that we have onboard. We’re incredibly lucky to have things like lithium iron batteries in the boats, state-of-the-art communication equipment and comfortable cabins to rest our weary heads. And that’s thanks to every single one of your 100,000 individual donations that helped bring the Rainbow Warrior into the world. No corporate money, no investors demanding a return – just the good will of our supporters like you from every corner of the globe.

Last night one of the crew told me he expects this ship to be with Greenpeace for the next 35 years at least. That’s quite a thought. To be here at the very start of this epic story is an honor, considering that I will hopefully have retired before the ship does. What will the environmental challenges of 2048 look like? Flying cars pumping out helium pollution into our vertical cities? E-Waste from domestic robots clogging up our countryside? (OK, fairly standard predictions. Add your own guesses in the comments).

But here’s another important thought: will Greenpeace even exist in the middle of the 21st century? Perhaps humanity will have moved beyond its current blind spot, and we’ll recognize that our oceans and forests are things to be protected and respected rather than exploited for short term profit. Lots of people think that this is impossible, that we’re destined to use up the planet’s resources with our heads buried in the sand. I don’t, and I hoped you don’t either. That mindset is nothing more than an escape hatch for people who don’t have the stomach for the (nonviolent) fight that lies ahead.

We’d all like to retire this ship before her time, safe in the knowledge that the job is done and the Rainbow Warrior has served her purpose for the world. They say that you can’t sink a rainbow, but perhaps she can sail off into the sunset for a relaxing final few years in Tahiti. But somehow I suspect this won’t be the case. My guess is that we’ll still be sawing, chopping and improvising in the Bosun’s workshop for quite a few decades to come.

Image: © Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace