Greenpeace Activists Not Pirates
Battle for the Arctic
Greenpeace activists arrested in their attempt to board an oil exploration platform in the waters of the Arctic have been declared non-pirates. This has brought some relief to the environmental activists known for their peaceful protests in defending the environment. Their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, has been confiscated and the activists jailed.
A high seas confrontation with the Russian coast guard off the coast of Murmansk saw two activists hanging from ropes, being pummeled with water cannons from above and harassed by coast guard members from below. Greenpeace members in zodiacs were held at gun point. Warning shots were fired from the oil platform into the water near the inflatables.
While President Putin has declared that it is obvious that the protesters are not pirates, nine of the Greenpeace people have been told that they will remain in jail for two months while awaiting charges of piracy. Others of the crew will be detained for lesser times.
The melting of the Northern ice-cap has led to a rush for exploiting the rich deposits of petroleum believed to sit under the Arctic Ocean. Exploring for oil in the world’s oceans is always a risky endeavor as we have seen in the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It is even more risky to the environment as the temperature drops. Oil spilled in cold temperatures becomes almost impossible to clean up as we have seen in the sub-Arctic spill of the Exxon Valdes. Despite cleanup efforts done over 20 years ago, oil continues to pollute Prince William Sound.
Russia is not the only country eying the possible riches as the world climate warms.