Beyond Fossil Fuels: Protest and Awareness on the Eve of Katrina’s 5th

Three days ago, Greenpeace activists held up a banner (seen above) during testimony by Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to remind the Commissioners and federal officials that safe offshore drilling is a pipe dream. The direct action statement preceded an official statement by Greenpeace marine biologist, John Hocevar. Hocevar insisted, “What is clear at this stage is that where we have offshore drilling, we have risk of serious accidents that can neither be cleaned up nor quickly recovered from – either ecologically or economically. As this Commission assesses appropriate responses to the BP Horizon disaster, Greenpeace urges you to recommend a ban on new offshore drilling, beginning with the extremely risky operations planned for the remote and pristine waters of the Arctic.”

Greenpeace ships have been present during the cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico, and the ship, Esperanza, is currently poised near Greenland, at an Arctic site chosen by Scottish oil company, Cairn, for new offshore drilling. The potential Cairn site puts the arctic in the same danger as the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps more due to the extreme weather conditions. Just last month, a pipeline in China burst, spilling 400,000 gallons of oil into the Yellow River. Firefighter, Zhang Liang, died while assisting in the clean-up. Most people will look at the news today, see that 4 Tibetans were shot dead yesterday by Chinese police while protesting a mine, and think that we lead precious lives in the USA. That we are so well looked after. Those people will have forgotten that 11 people have already died due to the Deep Horizon spill, and thanks to the policy of forbidding respirators to “avoid public hysteria,” many more are likely to perish. Like the Esperanza, the whole world is poised to stop the slaughter of human and non-human life and the murder of our planet. It is clear what is holding us back.

This Sunday is the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Our friends at Mobilization for Climate Justice—West (MCJ-West) will be throwing a teach-in in the San Francisco Bay area, followed the next day by a rally, march and non-violent direct action. Events commemorating the disastrous event are being held throughout the US. The BP spill, which still lurks in the waters of the Gulf, serves as a reminder of how corporations and the government have continuously failed the people of the Gulf Coast. In an interview with The Root, popular film director, Spike Lee, insists that the making of his new HBO movie on Hurricane Katrina, If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, has opened his eyes: “The thing that affects me the most — and I don’t know how it would affect other people, but me personally — is that we have to get off our addiction to fossil fuel, and it really enlightened me, so I’m going green now. I’m fanatic on the lights, man, lights off. We never recycled at my office, 40 Acres and a Mule, before, but now we’re on it. Because I was ignorant like a lot of people who were [thinking] that this was some white, hippie, you know … but that was ignorant thinking on my part. This is everybody’s earth, everybody’s planet.”

From thousands of Germans flooding the streets in protest against new infrastructure projects to the ongoing actions of sabotage against development in Spain, the new wave of environmental resistance is just beginning. It may not have an end in sight.

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