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The Esperanza Arrives in Seattle

by chris eaton

June 5, 2012

The Esperanza in Seattle

When I moved to Seattle, WA last September I was struck by one lasting impression, and it wasnt the rain.

Seattle is inescapably a port city. From the container ships coming and going from Harbor Island to the massive fishing fleets docked in Ballard you can never lose sight of the fact that this place is a gateway to the Pacific.

It wasnt till March that the full meaning of this really occurred to me when I saw one of the harbors guests, the Kulluk. The Kulluk is a towering, 30 year old, drill rig owned by Shell oil. Any day now the Kulluk, along with its sister vessel, the Noble Explorer, will sail to the Arctic to take advantage of the melting sea ice caused by global warming to begin exploratory oil drilling.

Shell is the first company to rush into the Arctic this year, but several other international oil companies are lining up to follow in the energy giants wake. The company plans to drill wells in the remote Beaufort and Chukchi seas, places where polar bears, whales and walruses have lived without interference for thousands of years. Melting sea ice is already threatening these animals, and the arrival of heavy industrial equipment could have very serious consequences for their survival. Not the mention the risk of a disastrous spill!

So Seattle, which prides itself in sustainability, is being used as a gateway to destruction.

View of Seattle from Esperanza

View of Seattle Over Lake Union from the Esperanza's Berth

But there’s hope, if millions of people around the world rise up and demand it we can protect the the Arctic from dangerous drilling for the people and wildlife that live there.

Map of Kulluk and Esperanza Berths in Seattle

Map of Kulluk and Esperanza Berths in Seattle

This weekend I witnessed this hope when Greenpeaces ship, the Esperanza, arrived in Seattle. From here it will begin its Save the Arctic tour, for which Ill be on board.

Well be sailing north to shadow the Kulluk and Noble Discovery in the Arctic. While keeping its eye on Shell, the Save the Arctic tour will also connect the world to the Alaskan Arctic.

I hope youll follow the Esperanzas journey. Together we can make sure that the Arctic is not the new frontier for oil company profits, but a pristine environment protected for all.

By chris eaton

chris is the Senior Digital Campaigns Manager at Greenpeace USA. He's passionate about building movements and connecting change makers through digital storytelling. Follow him on Twitter at @chr15_eat0n.

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