Right now there is an oil drilling platform, owned by Shell, just off the coast of Washington State, within kayak distance. I know that last part because on Saturday, May 16, approximately five hundred kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even one swimmer went out meet it. This was no welcoming party: they were there to say sHell No to drilling in the Arctic.
In brief, here are Shell’s plans:
- Stay in Seattle for repairs and outfitting with equipment
- Move to the north coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea
- Drill for oil
- Cause catastrophic climate change
That last bit is not an exaggeration. It is not an accusation. It is actually part of their plan – more specifically, their New Lens planning document, which is not available to the public. However, a few quotes from this document are available:
“Both our (oceans and mountains) scenarios and the IEA New Policies scenario (and our base case energy demand and outlook) do not limit emissions to be consistent with the back-calculated 450 parts per million (Co2 in the atmosphere) 2 degrees C.
“We also do not see governments taking steps now that are consistent with 2 degrees C scenario.”
The publicly-available outline is available here.
In other words, Shell has accepted 4-6 degrees C of warming. From a World Bank press release:
“The report says that the 4°C scenarios are potentially devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher under and malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased intensity of tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.”
This is to say, the specific consequences are uncertain, but the general idea is undisputed, even by climate deniers: we do not want to experience a world that is an average of 4°C warmer than the world on which we evolved.
At 7am on Monday, May 18, hundreds more people, gathered to participate in mass nonviolent direct action, shutting down part of the Port of Seattle for several hours. Why did they do this? Because they do not want a world where California is a desert and Seattle is flooded; where polar bears are extinct and millions or billions of people have died.
It is not a political statement or the newest environmental fad to fight against the fossil fuel industry. It is a fight for our communities, our livelihoods, our natural areas.
In a very literal sense, it is a fight for our lives, and the lives of every living thing on Earth.