The Arctic is in a state of crisis. We have put out an urgent call for financial support. But what will we do with £100,000? One of our supporters took the time to ask us on facebook. And I’d like to take the time to fully respond.
As you no doubt know, we've set out to win one of our most ambitious campaigns to date: to save the Arctic, by seeing a sanctuary declared in the unclaimed area around the North Pole, as well as a ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic. This is no small task. And it will take a lot of our resources. At the start of September, as the Arctic sea ice hit a record low, and as oil giants Gazprom and Shell were moving into position to drill for oil, we launched an emergency appeal to build our resources to fight to save the Arctic.
Our Arctic appeal is indeed urgent - whilst most climate computer models had indicated that we would see an ice free summer in the next 30-40 years, this year’s summer melt was dramatic and more consistent with studies from scientists that predict the summer sea ice will be gone by 2016. This urgent appeal reflects the fact that to save the Arctic from exploitation, and limit the impact on the planet of a vanishing ice sheet, we need to move even faster than planned. And that requires financial support. If we want to be really ambitious we need to know how much we have to spend.
It’s the first time we’ve ever tried anything like this online in the UK and we’ve been blown away by the response. Already this month, the generous donations of thousands of supporters smashed our initial target of £25,000 and have since helped to raise a total of £80,000. During this same period, this money helped support our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, on a scientific voyage to the Arctic to study the sea ice and its disappearance during the historic seasonal low. The donations we received also supported our Polar Summit, with scientific experts, country representatives and Arctic indigenous people, at the United Nations in New York this week. There we began the process of building support for a global sanctuary in the Arctic with the international community.
That’s what’s happened so far. But what will we be doing next?
Firstly, we will continue to build relationships with country missions at the UN, introducing them to the facts and developing the necessary support for an internationally agreed global sanctuary.
Also, just as Shell are planning to continue oil drilling next year, we will carry out investigations into other oil companies looking to drill in the Arctic Ocean, like West Disko in Greenland, the Barents Sea and the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Our researchers are using state-of-the-art technology to ensure we have the capability to confront them and expose what they are doing to the rest of the world.
Elsewhere, our teams are keeping a close eye on the industrial fishing fleets that are looking to follow the migrating fish stocks into the far north, threatening to open a new resource scramble in the fragile and pristine Arctic environment.
We also have plans that can’t be published for security reasons. We have taken non-violent direct action against Shell and Gazprom for their activities that threaten the Arctic, and we hope to continue to confront the companies that plan to put the Arctic at risk. Stay tuned.
Katies Comrades is right to ask. Everything we do is thanks to supporters like Katies Comrades. We don’t take a penny from companies, or governments – it’s all down to individuals.
Those were my words Katies Comrades was quoting and I feel like I may have let her down by not explaining more sooner. But more than anything, I am grateful for all of the trust and support that people have invested in our campaign to save the Arctic.
Is £100,000 all it takes to save the Arctic? Sadly, no. We don't have a fraction of the resources to spend protecting the region that our opponents have (Shell has spent $5 billion, Gazprom has spent more than $4 billion). But we have your support, and that's something they'll never have. Our appeal ends this month, just as Shell's Arctic drilling window closes. With your help we'll reach £100,000. But either way we'll continue to fight to save the Arctic with everything we have.