Greenpeace Blocks Two Major Oil Rigs to 'Save the Arctic'
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Greenpeace activists from 12 countries blocked two separate oil rigs destined for offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
“The Arctic matters to us all, and protecting it demands a truly global response,” said Ben Ayliffe, a Greenpeace International campaigner. “We cannot let a reckless club of international oil companies hunt for the last drops as the ice melts away."
In the Dutch port of IJmuiden, a group of 30 activists from Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands scaled and occupied the GSP Saturn, an oil rig contracted by Gazprom, Russia's state-owned energy company, where they unfurled a banner reading, "Save the Arctic." After five hours, officials removed and detained the activists.
In the Norwegian Arctic, a group of 15 Greenpeace activists from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Fiji, UK and the Philippines occupied the Transocean Spitsbergen, an oil rig contracted by Norway’s state owned company, Statoil, as it prepares to drill the world’s northernmost well in the Barents Sea.
“Shell has already shown just how difficult it is to work in the U.S. Arctic, where extreme cold and remote conditions led to a series of embarrassing failures," said Ayliffe. “Over five million people are now telling these companies that Arctic drilling isn’t worth the risk, either to the environment or their own reputation.”
Greenpeace is calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable industrial fishing in the Arctic, as well as a protected sanctuary around the North Pole. Last September, a Greenpeace protest against Arctic drilling at a Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea was apprehended by Russian forces who arrested and imprisoned the 30 participating activists. Dubbed the "Arctic 30," the group's action led to an international outcry and a renewed focus on oil development in the Arctic, attracting the support of more than five million people, including 11 Nobel peace prize winners, Sir Paul McCartney and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“The websites of Shell, Gazprom or Statoil might look different but their willingness to ignore the reality of oil spills and the human cost of climate change is exactly the same,” Ayliffe concluded.
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By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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