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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Activism Spotlight: Protesting Arctic Drilling

Drilling in the Arctic is a big issue right now- the Arctic is one of the last great wildernesses in the world, and is home to polar bears, caribou, Arctic foxes, whales, seals, and much more. Not only does the Arctic house amazing creatures, but the ice reflects massive amounts of sunlight back into space, keeping the Earth cool. If we drill in the Arctic, we risk polluting and damaging an important ecosystem that is already melting away from global warming. As recently as this week, I’ve signed petitions demanding that the Arctic be left alone, along with thousands of other people. I’m sure many have sent letters and called their representatives on the issue. Several organizations are working hard to keep oil companies out of the North Pole.

However, six Greenpeace activists went above and beyond with their advocacy for the Arctic in London. They did much more than make a phone call or sign a petition. They made quite the scene: on July 11th, friends Wiola Smul, Ali Garrigan, Sabine Huyghe, Sandra Lamborn, Victoria Henry, and Liesbeth Deddens climbed the tallest building in Europe, the Shard, to protest drilling in the Arctic. They began their climb in the early morning and reached the top at approximately 7:10pm, where they were promptly arrested for aggravated trespass.
 Picture courtesy of: @GreenpeaceUK

The Shard was designed and named after ice, making it the ideal building to climb for the protest, coupled with its height and the attention it would bring. Greenpeace explained that the Shard was chosen because it was in sight of three Shell bases, a major energy company involved in offshore Arctic drilling. 

In the last thirty years, 80% of the Arctic sea ice has been lost. Scientists say the North Pole could be ice free within the next few decades. The last time the world was devoid of Arctic sea ice was 800,000 years ago. Without the large amounts of ice reflecting back sunlight and keeping methane from bubbling up to the surface, our atmosphere and planet could be in big trouble. This is why these six brave women spent an entire day climbing the Shard, raising awareness, and risking arrest.

So, what are you willing to do for the Arctic? The rainforests? Renewable energy? Wildlife protection? Don’t be afraid to make a bold statement for the environment. The Earth’s natural habitats and creatures don’t have a voice, so we must speak for them. If we don’t, we may not have an Earth to live on.

To learn more about this amazing act of civil disobedience, check out @GreenpeaceUK  and #iceclimb on Twitter.

Animal of the Month Update

Thankfully, with the help of conservation efforts, the population of mountain gorillas has been growing over time. In 2010, in was estimated that the gorillas were experiencing a 3.7% population increase each year. In 1981, only about 254 mountain gorillas remained in the Virunga population, which grew to 380 by 2003, and then to 480 in 2010. In Bwindi, the population count was 320 in 1997, which increased to 340 by 2006, according to census.

    Currently, there are about 880 total mountain gorillas in the wild. Despite their population increases, the gorillas are still heavily dependent on human conservation efforts for survival. 

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