Why I Faced Off Against the Polar Pioneer
By Bob Barnes, PSARA Environmental Committee member and kayaktivist
There’s a whole bunch of reasons why I decided I had to try to stop the Shell oil rig. Naomi Klein, in her book This Changes Everything — Capitalism vs. the Climate, lays it all out, back to the beginnings when the colonial extractivists started running things in our country, right up to crazy people coming up with plans for seeding the atmosphere to deflect sunlight from reaching the surface of our planet so we can keep on polluting without cooking ourselves in the process. She also offers incredible hope for a movement capable of actually changing the course of history so humans might continue living on earth for a while longer. Read the book. Start a study group. We’ve even got some study questions we’d love to share.
Maybe what got to me most in the book was that we are living in Decade Zero — we have but a few years left to turn this climate crisis around. Every credible scientist and climate expert is telling us that drilling and extracting oil from the Arctic will likely mean game over. That’s pretty dire stuff. It means no more debate over jobs vs. the environment. It really is jobs and the environment — or neither.
Several years ago, I vowed to chain myself to a bulldozer or some other heavy object if the fossil fuel industry attempted to drill in the Anwar oil field in Alaska. Then this big yellow, phallic oil rig from sHell showed up in our harbor, and I knew that I didn’t have to wait for something to happen in Alaska — it was right here in our back yard. And it was here without permission, arrogantly looming over Harbor Island. We had to stop it!
I can get all theoretical and scientific about our planet not sustaining human life, but it got real personal and un-theoretical for me when I found out that I’m going to be a grandpa soon. So when you ask me why we put our little kayaks in front of that big death rig, I can say I did it for my grandkids — and mean it!