Greenpeace occupies Shell oil rig

I’ve long been troubled by the unequal power dynamic that allows a wealthy person to poison thousands of poor people, without having to fear those poor people acting in self-defense to end that attack. Instead, the victims must play a game of papers and rhetoric with rules written by and for the wealthy. If they rise up, well, that’s violence you see, unlike the chromium in their water, or mercury in their air. If they rise up, they just have to be crushed for the public good!

It’s not an easy thing, figuring out how to get systemic change in a system designed to prevent just that. At what point does the law, in protecting the rich and powerful, lose its legitimacy? The answer to that is going to be different for everyone, and it’s worth remembering that, because we are all vulnerable to propaganda, there’s an ongoing effort to influence how we think about it.

The problem is, while we are trying to figure out what we can do to change course, the whole system continues barreling onwards, crushing countless lives, and carrying us towards climate catastrophe. Our future – the future of all humanity, is being burned before our eyes, and yet we must keep paying rent, and keep paying the arsonists for the privilege of getting to live in the present, and to read by the light of that fire.

I suppose in a lot of ways I’m one of the people who’s “still deciding”. I certainly haven’t done much beyond my effort to make this blog a viable source of income, which is why I’m glad for people like the Atlanta forest defenders, and Greenpeace. Say what you will about that organization, but it does me good to see them occupying another oil rig:

In an effort to call attention to the company’s planet-wrecking drilling projects, several Greenpeace International campaigners on Tuesday boarded and occupied a Shell-contracted platform in the Atlantic Ocean as it headed toward a major oil and gas field in the U.K. North Sea.

Greenpeace said in a press release that the platform is “a key piece of production equipment that will enable Shell to unlock eight new wells in the Penguins North Sea oil and gas field,” an extraction effort that the climate group has attempted to block in court.

Four Greenpeace activists—Carlos Marcelo Bariggi Amara from Argentina, Yakup Çetinkaya from Turkey Imogen Michel from the U.K., and Usnea Granger from the U.S.—managed to board the Shell vessel using ropes after reaching the platform in three boats deployed from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño, who tried and failed to board the platform, said in a statement that Shell “must stop drilling and start paying.”

“We’re taking action today because when Shell extracts fossil fuels, it causes a ripple of death, destruction, and displacement around the world, having the worst impact on people who are least to blame for the climate crisis,” said Saño, the former lead climate negotiator for the Philippines.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. The CEO of Shell is the guy who told John Stewart that maybe a goal of 1.5 degrees by 2100 means we pass that by 2050, and then spend the second half of the century cleaning up. I’ve written before about how this attitude is not only reckless, but also a horrifically callous dismissal of those people whose lives are already being destroyed or disrupted by the climate change that is lining that fucker’s pockets.

Excuse my Anglo-Saxon, it’s just infuriating to see a rich scumbag like that just sort of politely writing off countless lives. Personally, I think the temporary occupation of a drilling platform is the gentlest of responses. As far as I know, Greenpeace doesn’t even do any damage to the equipment when they do this stuff. They’re just making a statement, but even that is too much for the sensitive souls at Shell:

A Shell spokesperson claimed in a statement that the Greenpeace campaigners’ demonstration is “causing real safety concerns, with a number of people boarding a moving vessel in rough conditions.”

But the spokesperson signaled that the company has no intention of altering its development plans in the North Sea, despite warnings from the scientific community that continued drilling will usher in catastrophic climate outcomes.

“Shell and the wider fossil fuel industry are bringing the climate crisis into our homes, our families, our landscapes, and oceans,” Saño said Tuesday. “So we will take them on at sea, at shareholder meetings, in the courtroom, online, and at their headquarters. We won’t stop until we get climate justice. We will make polluters pay.”

Greenpeace’s latest direct action came days before Shell’s earnings report, which will follow the banner profit announcements of competing oil and gas giants such as Chevon and ExxonMobil.

On Tuesday, Exxon said it raked in a record $56 billion in profits in 2022.

Yes I’m sure Shell really cares about safety.

The reality is that these corporations have no more right to plunder the world than did the colonial empires that built their foundations. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve never had legitimacy, and I don’t see how one can look at their history and conclude otherwise. I fully support this occupation, and I hope to see many more like it in the future.

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  1. StevoR says

    I think the Greenpeace people should find a way to destroy that oil rig. make a statement and a permanent difference and cause Shell some real financial pain. Of course I’m not brave enough or knowledgeable enough to do that myself..

  2. says

    I think that re-establishing a distinction between people and property is a key part of the change we need to make. Conflating them is how they get away with calling a burned construction vehicle “terrorism”, even though there was never any danger of someone getting hurt.

    But yeah, I’m no front-line warrior.

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