• What Are Kayaktivists? And What Do They Want?

Fuel for Thought

What Are Kayaktivists? And What Do They Want?

Jun 17 2015

We’ve all heard of forest lovers chaining themselves to trees, animal activists throwing red paint at fur clad celebrities and Sea Shepherd advocates storming whaling ships. But the kayaking campaigners taking on Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs are a whole new concept. The flotilla has been nicknamed the ‘kayaktivists’ and as the name suggests, paddlers use a fleet of kayaks to let Shell know that they’re not impressed. Lately, the kayak clad protestors have been cruising around Shell’s freshly drilled Arctic rig that they claim is cashing in on the newly melted waters.

To read more about the Shell’s Arctic oil rigging read, Is Shell Withdrawing from the Arctic?

What’s got Arctic advocates all hot and bothered?

So what do they want? Put simply, the kayaktivists’ are on a mission to stop Shell from putting the Arctic at risk by drilling into waters that are already far too warm. Carrying out large scale drilling projects in the region will only serve to increase water temperatures, fast-track rising sea levels and worsen global warming. 

As well as indicting Shell the kayaktivists are also pointing their fingers at Barack Obama, who more or less invited the company to drill in Arctic waters. While he argues that he can’t put an end to global drilling in the Arctic kayaktivists maintain that he shouldn’t be endorsing Arctic drilling in US territory.

While kayaktivists are immediately targeting Shell, the long-term aim is to encourage the world to develop coordinated international action when it comes to combating climate change. Putting pressure on Shell, as well as Obama and the United Nations is part of a grand plan to ban Arctic drilling.

It’s not all smooth sailing

Unfortunately, the kayaktivists have encountered a major hurdle in the form of a  Greenpeace injunction that bans paddlers from protesting within 500 yards of restricted areas (or as Shell likes to call them, the ‘safety zones’) as vessels transit through Seattle’s Puget Sound. The injunction was issued by an Alaskan federal judge and while it doesn’t yet apply to the Arctic drilling rigs, Shell recently reissued the document to Greenpeace as a brash reminder to keep their distance, or else.

Kayaktivists not only maintain that Shell is risking the health of the Arctic but the world as a whole. Today CO2 emissions sit at 400 parts per million in the Holocene which is alarmingly past the atmospheric safety zone. The results are drought, uncontrollable wildfires and other environmental crises that are simply out of our control.

Of course, there is also a hint of malice to the kayaktivists crusade, with paddlers hoping to remind the world of Shell’s irresponsible history. As John Ashton, former chief climate envoy for the UK says, Shell is a “narcissistic, paranoid, and psychopathic” organisation and kayaktivists want to shout about it.

If you’d like to know more about other protests that have taken place against the Shell Arctic rigging see: Seattle Raging Grannies vs. Shell – Who Will Win?

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