The Arctic 30

On 18 September, a group of twenty-eight activists and two journalists traveled by inflatable boat from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise to Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil drilling platform. In a peaceful statement of protest, they intended to hang a banner from the platform calling for an end to drilling in the Arctic. Prodded by the oil company, Russian authorities boarded the Arctic Sunrise the next day and arrested everyone at gunpoint. All thirty were taken into custody and were sent to a detention camp for two months pending an investigation.

Initially, the "Arctic 30" were held on charges of piracy, which carries a 15-year sentence. Although they managed to get those charges dropped, they were still held for weeks on hooliganism charges, which come with a 7-year sentence. It reminded me of what happened with the girls from Pussy Riot who are still in prison for protesting against Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Arctic 30 were eventually released after three months in captivity.

It's pretty horrific, this heavy-handed approach where the authorities say, "Oh, screw you! You did something we didn't like? We'll throw you in jail!" However, this protest was totally peaceful. It took place in international waters. And these people were locked up in terrible conditions for trying to increase awareness about how oil companies are destroying the environment in order to continue turning massive profits.

Greenpeace called on people all over the world to protest the detention of the Arctic 30. While some oil companies are getting behind those of us who believe this is completely unacceptable, Shell is a major exception. Shell signed a major deal with Gazprom and in order to preserve that relationship, they kept quiet on this issue. Many of the Greenpeace protests took place outside of Shell petrol stations and since there's one right down the road from me, I made my own little banner and joined in. The amount of support we received just from passers-by was amazing. The group grew and grew as more people approached us and asked about the Arctic 30.

I'm really passionate about environmental issues and I've taken big steps to be as earth-friendly as I can. It's true, to keep up my career I have to travel by airplane now and then but I actually haven't driven my car since May. I've been cycling all over London as much as I can and using public transport the rest of the time. I love cycling--it makes me feel like a kid again and it's great for your health as well. London is trying pretty hard to be friendlier to cyclists and I'd love to see the same for other major cities.

Obviously, we can't stop using oil overnight because society would break down. However, we can take progressive steps to reduce our dependence on it. We need to support companies that are developing alternative fuels and make sure those technologies come to light instead of being suppressed by governments and oil companies who only want to protect their profits. I'm always looking for more ways to decrease my own consumption because being aware isn't enough. I hope people hold me to that as well. I'll surely hold myself to it.

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Liv Boeree
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