Thousands participate for a global bike ride raising Arctic awareness

by Gustavo Ampugnani

September 16, 2013

Activists on bicycles pose at a Shell station in Northeast Washington joining thousands of activists in more than 75 cities around the world to mark the annual Arctic sea ice minimum as it occurs.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

Ice Ride Day of Action in Hong Kong

Yesterday 24,000 people took the streets in 36 countries to demonstrate their willingness to save the Arctic by riding their bicycles in the Global Day of Action organized by Greenpeace.

And Washington, DC was part of it. Together with Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo and local activists fromEnergy Action Coalition(EAC),Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), Southwest Workers Union (SWU) and the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), we grabbed our bikes under the hottest sun I could imagine in DC (I live in the cooler Berkeley, California) and we rode nearly eight miles across DC.

Bike Ride for the Arctic

As part of our route we stopped in front a big Shell gas station to peacefully demonstrate our rejection to Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the US Arctic. And like us, other Arctic defenders did the same around the world.

There, Kumi shared with us his always inspiring words regarding the importance of keep building a global movement to protect one of the most pristine places that exists in our planet. This movement now has nearly 4 million people and is growing every day. If you are not part of it, join now!

Even Shell made a pause in its attempts to drill for Arctic oil last January after a long chain of mishaps. Shell won’t let those mishaps keep them from trying again though. It’s preparing to try again in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the Alaskan coast.

Bike Ride for the Arctic

DC Arctic Ride Organizer Falon Shackelford and Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo at the beginning of the DC Arctic Ride.

The Ice Ride demonstrated what we’ve known all along. The support for Arctic protection transcends borders from London to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam to Washington, DC.

From the Shell gas stationwe headed to the Capitol Power Plant, located a couple of blocks behind the Capitol, a dirty energy symbol that hosts the US House of Representatives and Senate.

A local activist from a climate justice group that joined the ride told the group how detrimental the Capitol Power Plant is to surrounding communities and neighborhoods causing serious health problems for local families and residents.

After 20 minutes under the shadow of trees, enough to hydrate and charge up some positive energy, we biked over a bridge crossing the Anacostia River to We Act Radio in Anacostia. We relaxed in cool, comfortable chairs and enjoyed plenty of food, water and good music.

Two years ago Greenpeace started a global campaign to save the Arctic from the big oil companies taking advantage of climate change impacts in the Far North to drill for more oil. The same oil is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and creating climate chaos and melting the Arctic.

It’s like a bad joke. And the only way to stop companies from going to the Arctic is standing up, or riding, to clearly communicate that as global citizens, we want an Arctic full of ice, not oil offshore platforms.

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