Shell Burns Priceless Art in Latest Greenpeace Arctic Video

by Cassady Craighill

May 27, 2015

British artists KennardPhillipps have created a new version of the painting 'Christinas World' by Andrew Wyeth. It shows a girl in an oil covered landscape.

© Greenpeace / KennardPhillipps

Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign has created a shocking video targeting oil giant Shell and its plans to drill in the US Arctic this summer.

In the film, three replicas of famous landscape art are set on fire, and as they burn away, new versions by famous British montage artists Kennard Phillipps are revealed. In the new artworks, the landscape has been transformed by Shell drilling infrastructure, devastating oil spills and explosions.

“Shell could be risking disaster by drilling for oil in Arctic waters in less than six weeks. We made this video to expose that, and show how its plans affect all of us too – because the impact of climate change affects the places we all live in.” – Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner Elena  Polisano

In March the Obama Administration decided to validate Shell’s drilling lease in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, so as long as it acquires the right permits, it can start exploratory drilling this July.

But a movement of nearly seven million people is standing up to oppose Shell’s plans. Just over a week ago, ‘kayaktivists’ came together in Seattle for a three-day ‘festival of resistance’ and many more protests are expected in the next few months.

“We sorted through hundreds of photos of oil accidents. We have superimposed these real oil spills onto the American dream and the pristine icebergs of the Arctic.

“The poet Shelley wrote that as artists and writers, ‘we must imagine what we know’. We have tried to imagine through images what we know about oil exploitation. We must imagine what we know about Shell. We know that whatever the consequences to life, they are drilling for one thing – dollars.” – Artist collective KennardPhillipps said.

Climate change is melting the Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate, and this March the Arctic experienced the lowest sea ice maximum ever recorded. As the ice recedes, it becomes easier for oil companies to reach further into the Arctic and extract the vast reserves of oil and gas buried beneath the ocean floor.

But the extreme Arctic conditions, including giant floating ice-bergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky. The US administration itself acknowledged a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill over the lifetime of the developed Arctic wells. And scientists say that an oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up, endangering the Arctic’s unique wildlife.

And earlier this year, researchers concluded Arctic drilling is incompatible with limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed by most governments.

Shell’s past attempt to drill in the Arctic in 2012 was plagued with multiple operational failings culminating in the running aground of its drilling rig, the Kulluk. Shell will return to the remote Chukchi Sea this summer with the same contractor, Noble Drilling, which pled guilty to eight felonies following its last Arctic venture.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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