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"Η γη δεν μας ανήκει. Την έχουμε δανειστεί από τις επόμενες γενιές. Ας επενδύσουμε όλοι στις ανανεώσιμες πηγές ενέργειας. Είναι μία επένδυση ζωής για εμάς και μία κληρονομιά ελπίδας  στα παιδιά μας!"

 

 

Alternative and

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Turning ocean destruction into brighter ideas

Deployed in their thousands and killing non-target species in their millions, fish aggregating devices (FADs) are a scourge to our oceans, devastating marine life to supply companies like Thai Union.

Made up of nets, metal and bamboo frames, buoys and ribbon, these marine snares also have beacons which tell their owners where they are and often the amount of sea life that has gathered beneath them. This bundle of electronics is made up of rechargeable batteries, solar panels, LED lights and circuitry.

But it’s not just the damage they do at sea – this gear often ends up either in huge trash heaps on land, or washed up on reefs. So, while the crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza have been recovering and dismantling every one that we find in the Indian Ocean, our enterprising on-board whizzkids have been using some nifty tricks to recycle – or upcycle – the components to provide shade from the elements as well as rugged, solar-powered power supplies and lamps.

The shade part is easy: just prop the FADs up on stilts and – ‘hey presto’ – there’s your shelter from sun, wind and rain.

 Crew beneath a FAD-shade on the lookout for marine snares © Will Rose / Greenpeace 

But the power supplies and lamps are the clever part. So with these things potentially washing up somewhere near you, we’ve made a walk-through guide on instructables.com so you too can learn how to convert some of the most commonly-found types of FAD beacon into lamps that can provide light for an entire night, or charge cell phones and laptops using the power of the sun.

A Greenpeace crew member makes the first FAD lamp prototype. The lamp is made from reconstructed parts from a FAD (fish aggregating device) beacon, utilising the beacon's solar panels and batteries. These lamps will eventually include a USB charger and will be given to local communities  © Will Rose / Greenpeace 

We’ve put the other parts of the FADs to good use too: the buoys will go to coastal communities for artisanal fishing.

Greenpeace Esperanza Indian Ocean 2016, Buoyes collected from recovered FADs hang on the poop deck.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

Also, via a local NGO, we're passing on the solar panels to village tinkerers to find their own creative uses for the them.

Why not check out the instructable, or tweet @gp_espy with your ideas about what to do with an old FAD?

And join us in fighting unsustainable fishing practices.


Eric is the Bosun onboard the Greenpeace Ship Esperanza for the #notjusttuna Tour.

Artivists take to the seas to save the Arctic

My name is Mike and was one of the three judges of the #SaveTheArctic poster competition. What an honour it has been! We've just chosen the top entries and soon I will meet the three lucky young winners; Anastasia, 21, from Russia; Sara, 18, from Spain; and Emile, 20, from Canada. It will be my pleasure, as captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, to welcome them on board for a voyage to the Arctic where the sun will never set.

Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Anastasiya Terekhova / Greenpeace Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Sara Medina Rodriguez / Greenpeace Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Emile Maheu / GreenpeaceArctic poster competition winners.

I followed the competition closely and can confidently say that I've seen every single one of the over 2000 original posters from people in 75 countries around the world. I've tweeted some of my favourites along the way, like Bear Walks into a Bar.

There were other funny ones – like giraffes poking their heads above the rising sea level. Some dramatically scary but powerful entries – a fist of dollars throttling a polar bear. Life of Pi made it there in a lifeboat filled with Arctic mammals. A few displaced penguins made it to the Arctic – I had to point them South. It was really difficult to choose amongst the creative images because each one left impressions that a thousand scientific journals could not do. I was exposed to "artivism".

Urban 'Art Festival' for the Arctic in Barcelona, with more than 35 artists painting around 600 meters of walls (1.500 square meters). 9 April 2016. © Greenpeace / Carlos AlonsoUrban 'Art Festival' for the Arctic in Barcelona.

M. K. Asante, author of It's Bigger Than Hip Hop describes the artivist: The artivist (artist + activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression – by any medium necessary. The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.

While I was moved by many of the posters in the contest, it was Sara, Anastasiya, and Emile that captured this so strongly that I was swept into the feeling of their work, and my eyes kept returning their pieces.

Arctic poster competition entrant. 2016 © Marijke Wehrmann / GreenpeaceArctic poster competition entrant.

The latest season in the saga of the Arctic is about to begin and there is always something you can do to help. You don't have to join the boat to be part of the crew. With social media you can amplify everything and together we can #SaveTheArctic.

View a gallery of some of the top 55 posters at Save The Arctic.

Mike Fincken has been sailing with Greenpeace for over 20 years. This summer he captains Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship to Svalbard, Norway to document the effects of destructive fishing in the Arctic.

Hunting for ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff

Not a lot of people know this, but the North Sea is one of the most beautiful places in the world to make a dive. On a perfect day, the visibility is endless, the water is a beautiful blueish green and – if the tide is calculated right – there is almost no current.

Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise documenting the stones underwater off the Sylter Aussenriff in the North Sea.  © Uli Kunz / Greenpeace

On the seabed, you can find hundreds of old wrecks. Some heavily damaged, some still looking like a ship. They are almost magical time capsules. They are little paradises, full of life. Without exception the wrecks are heavily overgrown with anemones: brilliant white and soft orange colours. You see schools of fish swimming between throughout the wrecks. in nooks and crannies you find the homes of hundreds of big North Sea crabs. Sometimes you see impressive lobsters as well. And if you look closer, you’ll see all sorts of colourful little animals: nudibranchs for example, or fragile looking tube worms.

I have been diving since 2001, after I took a course during a holiday in Malawi. After I got my first diving c-card I made some dives in tropical waters. But it didn’t take long to learn to appreciate the wonderful cold waters of Northern Europe. My first North Sea dive was in 2002 and from that moment I was hooked.

Unfortunately, since those early dives I have seen a big change. The schools of cod disappeared from the wrecks. We started to find more and more lost fishing gear. And sometimes, when you arrived at a wreck, it was like entering a graveyard. There would be big lengths of lost gillnets, draped over the body of the sunken ship. In them, the last cod that can be found in this area. Dead, rotting… Of course this would attract other animals. Scavengers, like the North Sea Crabs. They also get stuck, and die very slowly.

Greenpeace activists and divers from the Dutch organisation Ghost Fishing recovering lost fishing nets (ghostnets) in the North Sea Sanctuary (Sylter Aussenriff) off Sylt.  © Cees Kassenberg / Greenpeace

In 2009, with a group of volunteer divers, we started to clean up this mess. Removing the nets and fishing lines, so no more animals could get stuck. But also documenting - taking pictures -so that everybody could see the problem, and maybe even more importantly, show them the beauty of our cold waters. If nobody knows how special the North Sea really is, there will be no change, and this fragile nature won't get the protection it needs. When in 2012 the Ghost Fishing Foundation was founded, I joined immediately.

And here we are today, onboard the Arctic Sunrise, one of the famous Greenpeace ships. Greenpeace Germany is targeting the big pile of lost and abandoned ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff, a beautiful area of the North Sea that desperately needs the protection it deserves. This is a protected area, but in reality the protection is only on paper. The Greenpeace campaign team asked the Ghost Fishing Foundation to help. Of course we said ‘Yes!’

Greenpeace activists and divers from the Dutch organisation Ghost Fishing recovering lost fishing nets (ghostnets) in the North Sea Sanctuary (Sylter Aussenriff) off Sylt. Banner reads: "Save our Seas!"  © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace

We are here with nine volunteers divers. The conditions are almost perfect, except for the visibility. At the moment, blooming algae are a bit of a problem, but hopefully they will disappear soon. It is sunny, no wind, the sea is as flat as a mirror. Twice a day we jump out of the pilot door, into the water (eight degrees at the moment). Today we were hunting ghost nets on an unknown steel wreck at a depth of 23 meters. It's old - it has a steam engine. And yes, there are ghost nets. As a matter of fact, we have hit the jackpot. There is a big lost trawlnet hooked on the sharp steel parts of the wrecks. But also many gill nets. We have put lift bags on the big trawlnet and are carefully cutting it loose from the wreck. It is a special feeling when you see big parts of the net leaving the wreck and floating to the surface of the North Sea. Bye bye, good riddance.

Tomorrow we will go down again. The hunt for ghost nets is not over. If you are looking for them, you will find them on every wreck. The coming days, we would like to show you the problem. Hopefully, we can also show you the beauty of the North Sea and Sylter Aussenriff.

Annet van Aarsen, 47, from Leiden, the Netherlands is a volunteer diver onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

INFOGRAPHIC: What you should know about the heart of the Amazon

The Tapajós River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire Brazilian Amazon. But this river in the heart of the rainforest and the people and ecosystems that depend on it face a serious threat.

Here’s what you need to know. Click to see the whole infographic:

Click to see the whole infographic! The Tapajós River in the Amazon Rainforest is under threat.This infographic is based on information from the Greenpeace Brazil report The Battle for the River of Life.

Now that you know the threat the Tapajós faces, take action! Help protect the heart of the Amazon.

Alia Lassal is a former intern with the Americas Communications Hub at Greenpeace USA.

What my grandmother would say about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

World leaders are meeting in Japan for the G7, but on a side trip, President Obama is doing something no sitting US president has done before: visit Hiroshima. The city was flattened during World War II by the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. Now more than ever, we need leadership to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. We need to go nuclear-free.

Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima

The people of Hiroshima have waited nearly 71 years for a sitting US president to visit their city, and witness the scars from the first nuclear bomb ever used in war.

My grandmother won’t be there to welcome Mr Obama as she no longer lives in the city.  She is a Hibakusha, one of the survivors of the bomb who was exposed to its radiation. For the past few years, I’ve been listening to the stories of the Hibakusha after attending a peace ceremony in Hiroshima in 2013 and hearing one of the survivors tell her story. She begged me: “Please, listen to my story while I am still alive”.

There were nearly 16,000 children in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped. Thousands of others had been evacuated to the surrounding countryside. But they were all affected. Some died instantly, others days or weeks later from radiation poisoning. Many of those who were spared the bombing lost their families. They became known as the A-bomb orphans, and there were 6,500 in Hiroshima alone after the war.

Peace Memorial Museum testimonies

If you go to the museum of the bombing in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, you can listen to the voices of those who were there.

“The world was dark. There was nothing. People lay dying in the streets, their heads soaked in water because of the burning. There were dead horses. Dogs, cats and birds had all disappeared. After the bombing, people kept dying. A smell like fish filled the town.”

Photo provided by Mr. Noboru KatayamaPhoto provided by Mr. Noboru Katayama

The people in this photo lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. They all died in the bombing.

When you examine the photo, you see only women and young children, those who could not be evacuated to the countryside. Most of the men were enlisted as soldiers. About 90% of the people remaining in Hiroshima were women, children and the elderly.

The people in this photo were at Ground Zero when the bomb dropped. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover.  

The suffering of survivors

A survivor of the bombing, Tadamichi Hirata remembers his mother’s words: "I want this war to finish. I want us to live together as a family.”

This wish was never granted. The mother and her younger child died in the bombing.

Some of the survivors, even now, do not want to talk about what happened to them. Their suffering didn’t end with the bombing. Thousands died of radiation sickness after the war. Others faced years of discrimination in employment and marriage because of fears of the radiation they had suffered.

My grandmother also didn’t talk much about those terrible moments. But when she did, her words were very simple "Everything collapsed. Every living creature perished. We should never make such a big mistake again.”

If she had been able to be at Hiroshima for Mr Obama’s visit, I think that is what she would have told him.  And I hope it is what other survivors tell him.

There has been a lot of talk about an apology.  But stronger than an apology, I think, would be the words “Never again”.

Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima

President Obama has made a courageous step to come to Hiroshima. But the US, which still has 4,700 operational nuclear warheads, is not learning from the mistakes of the past. Rather than rid the world of nuclear weapons, President Obama’s administration has proposed a US$1 trillion plan to update and expand his country’s nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. That’s at the same time the US is cutting funding for nonproliferation efforts.

No more. It’s time we reimagine global security not around war, but on peace. As my grandmother told me: “We should never make such a big mistake again”.

No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more war.

Daisuke Miyachi, is a former staff member at Greenpeace Japan. Shortly after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, he was part of  Greenpeace Japan's radiation team checking radiation levels in Fukushima. He is originally from Hiroshima and has been working as a storyteller - remembering and recounting the stories of victims of the atomic bombs.

Shell spills again: Pipeline leaks 20,000 gallons of oil in northern California

For the second time in two weeks, Shell has spilled thousands of gallons of oil, this time in California’s Central Valley.

Shell Pipeline Oil Spill in California, 24 May, 2016, @ Noah Berger/Greenpeace

Less than two weeks after dumping nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil is at it again. The company’s San Pablo Bay Pipeline, which transports crude oil from California’s Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area, leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons into the soil near in San Joaquin County this week.

Responders are on the scene to clear oil that’s reached the surface, which county officials say covered roughly 10,000 square feet of land. As of today, Shell representatives claim the pipeline has been repaired, but have not resumed operations.

Local government officials and Shell responders are investigating the cause of the leak, and currently report that no oil has entered drinking water sources or populated areas.

Responders work to repair sections of the broken pipeline, 24 May, 2016, ©Noah Berger/Greenpeace

While two large oil spills in two weeks may seem like a pretty epic failure — particularly for a company that just said “no release [of oil] is acceptable“ — in reality this is what business as usual looks like for an industry built on polluting our environment and driving climate disaster.

In fact, this same pipeline sprung a leak just eight months ago in almost the same location, spilling roughly the same amount of oil into the ground.

Adding irony to injury, the spill occurred on the site of one the state’s largest wind energy developments, the Altamont Pass Wind Farm. Wind energy, it should be clarified, does not release toxic chemicals into the soil or contribute to runaway climate change. Perhaps Shell responders on the scene will take note.

Containers of oil-contaminated soil sit among wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm near the site of the spill, 24 May, 2016, ©Noah Berger/Greenpeace

Interestingly, Shell officials decided to wait three days before releasing a statement to the public about the spill — after shareholders convened at the company’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague, Netherlands. The spill was first detected early Friday morning, but not publicly reported until Monday evening Pacific time.

Environmental watchdog groups are still monitoring the impacts of Shell’s spill in the Gulf, some pointing to the oil industry’s history of under-reporting the extent and impact of spills as reason to stay vigilant.

What’s increasingly clear is that companies like Shell aren’t going to stop polluting in pursuit of fossil fuels we can’t afford to burn on their own — we’re going to have to rise up to stop them.

History shows us that the more fossil fuel infrastructure we have (and we have a lot in this country) the more spills like this we’ll see. So let’s not build more — business as usual for the fossil fuel industry cannot continue.

Help put an end to leaks, spills and fossil fuel pollution while fighting for the climate at the same time. Tell President Obama to end all new offshore drilling today!

Ryan Schleeter is an online content producer at Greenpeace USA.

A version of this blog was originally posted on Greenpeace USA.

We’re calling ‘lights out’ on Thai Union’s ocean destruction

Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean at night is incredible: you feel the vastness of the sea around you, the raw power of the waves, and the thick darkness.

Now imagine from miles away, you see a glowing mass on the horizon. As you get closer you make out the source: intense beams of light from an array of approximately 80 high-powered lamps, searing into the water all night long. Marine life is teeming under the surface, drawn to the brilliance of the light.

The supply vessel Explorer II in the Indian Ocean. Activists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza peacefully confront marine operations at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain, the latest in a series of global protests against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. At 06.00 local time, activists in inflatable boats deliver a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel using an underwater seamount to perch on and contribute to massive depletion of ocean life.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

That’s what we found when we encountered the Explorer II, an ominous-looking vessel in tuna giant Thai Union’s supply chain. It’s not like any ship we’d ever seen, and its lights seem to only have one purpose: a controversial method used to attract all kinds of ocean animals before other fishing vessels come and set nets around the lot.

That’s right: everything.

Activists on board the Esperanza have been out in the Indian Ocean for over five weeks cleaning up Thai Union’s supply chain; tracking and removing destructive fishing gear which plays the same role as the Explorer II. Marine life gathers underneath the gear and then ships come and set their nets around it. But the Explorer II is a whole new scale of operation and the potential for overfishing and indiscriminate harm to marine life is huge.

The supply vessel Explorer II in the Indian Ocean.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

Unlike other ships, the Explorer II doesn’t move around. It anchors itself to one spot – we’ve repeatedly found it using the underwater Coco de Mer seamount north of the Seychelles – so fishing vessels know where to find it. Then it just sits there, beaming light into the water to attract fish.

With the help of citizen research by supporters in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Italy, we know that this ship’s Spanish owner, Albacora Group, is supplying Thai Union and its European brands including John West, Petit Navire and Mareblu.

And what we’ve found points to the Explorer II likely engaging in reckless fishing practices – the kind that are killing marine life indiscriminately, driving overfishing by emptying our oceans and robbing local fishing communities of their livelihood.

Greenpeace Activists confront supply vessel Explorer IIActivists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza peacefully confront marine operations at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain, the latest in a series of global protests against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. At 06.00 local time, activists in inflatable boats deliver a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel using an underwater seamount to perch on and contribute to massive depletion of ocean life.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

We couldn’t sail by and let business as usual continue. So we’ve confronted the vessel, blacked out their lights with environmentally-friendly paint and driven them from their perch on the seamount. They didn’t like the attention and fled – we pursued and, as we write, we’re still on their tail.

And just today, at a political summit on tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean, the use of the kind of lights on vessels like the Explorer II was banned.

It’s easy to feel small in this vast sea, but we as humans are impacting on it massive ways. It takes a movement of hundreds of thousands of people to demand change and respect for our oceans, but fortunately, that’s exactly what we have.

Why don’t you join the wave?

Tom Lowe is a Multimedia Editor for the Communicaitons Hub at Greenpeace International, aboard the Esperanza.

This is BIG! McDonald’s, Tesco, Young’s Seafood... commit to safeguard the Arctic

Amazing news! Today an entire industry including major global brands McDonald’s, Tesco, Young’s Seafood and Iglo agreed to push back against destruction of our pristine Arctic waters.

The Hornsund Fjord on Svalbard/Spitzbergen. 11 Feb, 2008 © Bernd Roemmelt / Greenpeace

Together with the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Fiskebåt, which represents the entire Norwegian oceangoing fishing fleet, Russian Karat Group including Ocean Trawlers and Europe’s largest processor of frozen fish, Espersen, these brands are saying “no” to the further expansion of cod fishing into the previously-frozen Northern Barents Sea.  

This is huge. Never before has an industry stood up for Arctic protection and YOU made this possible. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world took action against bottom trawling in the Arctic — to stop heavy nets scraping marine life from the seabed. Today’s announcement shows how we can create real change by acting together.

So what does this mean?

We are witnessing a truly important moment when global brands in the fishing industry start to say “no” to Arctic destruction and agree to prevent fishing fleets from expanding their search for cod into sensitive and previously ice-covered areas in a region twice the size of France.

Fishing industry moratorium on expansion of cod fishing in the Arctic © Greenpeace

There’s now a self-imposed industry-wide moratorium on the expansion of bottom trawling in one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. Vulnerable animals, including the polar bear, bowhead whale and Greenland shark are now one step closer to safety from harm.

But our work is not over yet. Long-term Arctic protection is going to need commitment from the government. Let’s use this momentum to ramp up pressure on Norway’s Environment Minister, Vidar Helgesen, to follow the seafood industry’s lead and create a Marine Protected Area that is off limits to all extractive industries.

Call on the Norwegian government now to protect this truly unique and vulnerable area. It’s high time they acknowledge the growing demand to protect the fragile Arctic environment, not only from millions of individuals but also from the industry.

The Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, will be in the Arctic this summer to see that the fishing industry lives up to its commitments and to make sure that the Norwegian government follows this corporate initiative with firm legal protection. 

Frida Bengtsson is a Senior Ocean Campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic.

Breaking free from fossil fuels – the risk we take is not taking action

Last week, #BreakFree2016 wrapped up across the globe. Greenpeace joined with many inspiring organisations in a global wave of peaceful actions that lasted for 12 days and took place across six continents to target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

In places like the Philippines, Germany and Indonesia, thousands of people gathered together to take action. They occupied mines, blocked rail lines, linked arms, paddled in kayaks and held community meetings in 13 countries.

Break Free Action in Jakarta: Thousands of people have taken to the streets in a carnival atmosphere to urge the government to end Indonesia’s addiction to coal. 11 May, 2016  © Afriadi Hikmal / Greenpeace

The wave of activity is stemming from a growing global awareness that the impacts of climate change are real and increasing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that April 2016 marked the 12th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe. Research released by Greenpeace India reveals that in India coal is the largest overlooked source of air pollution and identifies air pollution emission hotspots in India visibly linked to thermal power plants in the area. Whether it be local air pollution or climate impacts, the impacts of fossil fuel on people is clear.

A global wave of peaceful direct action

Communities on the front lines of climate change aren’t waiting for governments or corporations to act. They are taking bold action to defend their communities, and the world needs to listen.

Activists march to the Holiday Inn to disrupt a U.S. Bureau of Land Management sale of mineral leases on public land in Colorado. 12 May, 2016  © Robert Meyers / Greenpeace

Communities like those in Colorado who told the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to “keep it in the ground” when the BLM were holding an auction to sell off fossil fuels on public lands. Or those who took over a fracking site near a school.

In the UK, hundreds of climate protesters took control of the largest opencast coal mine to shut it down for a day. In South Africa, hundreds stood up to South Africa’s most powerful family with a march that delivered coal to their front door, despite their attempts to silence civil society by pressuring police to revoke permits for a march.

In Aliaga, Turkey 2,000 people marched to the gates of the Izmir region’s largest coal dump, and surrounded it with a giant red line, as a call to end plans for the massive expansion of coal in the country. In Germany, 3,500 people shut down one of Europe’s biggest carbon polluters, occupying a lignite mine and nearby power station for over 48 hours, reducing the plant’s capacity by 80 percent.

In the Batangas, the Philippines, 10,000 marched against a proposed coal plant. There were many more and the numbers just kept growing.

Each case was its own success, and together, they demonstrate a growing global climate movement.

Where to from here?

People are demanding elected officials and multinational corporations end destructive investments and be held accountable if they do not #BreakFree from their dependency on fossil fuels.

We need to continue to unmask and hold accountable elected officials and the corporations behind the tax breaks, lax regulations and back door deals that trample human rights, cause insufferable poverty and deplete our natural resources. 

In addition to breaking free from fossil fuels, people’s demand for alternative energy options is growing louder. Communities are demanding investment in ambitious renewable energy projects. They want renewables and sustainable solutions that move us away from toxic air pollution, rivers of sewage, polluted oceans and deforested lands and provide them with clean energy. With the falling costs of renewables, and the ability to install solar in small villages, people can #BreakFree to a healthier way of living.

Raising a Wind Turbine in Durban: Greenpeace and Tcktcktck volunteers raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa. 26 Nov, 2011  © Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

We need to continue to use peaceful direct action as one of the key tools we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

We must take a stand to protect our climate and the health and welfare of people and communities. Doing nothing is not an option.

#BreakFree2016 was just the beginning – not the end – of the people’s fight against dangerous fossil fuel projects. We ask you to join in the fight for climate justice and for a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy, keeping oil, coal and gas in the ground.

Jennifer Morgan is an Executive Director at Greenpeace International.

Why there's no place I'd rather be than on a Greenpeace ship in the North Sea

Everything is different on a ship. Walls are bulkheads, ceilings are deckheads, floors are decks, right is starboard, left is port, back is stern and front is bow. At sea, the ground wobbles beneath our feet, rocking us to sleep in our bunks, knocking us around the mess, which is a dining room, the galley, which is a kitchen, or the lower hold, which is a storeroom. I've been working as a volunteer deckhand on the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, for just over a week.

Paloma sends a message to 'keep the North Sea alive'. Greenpeace is calling on governments to take action to to stop the dumping of discarded fishing gear that is endangering whales and other marine life. © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace

We're sailing in the Sylt Outer Reef, off the coast of Germany. Thilo Maack, our German deep-sea diving campaigner onboard, explained that this area is actually a marine sanctuary, where dumping and drilling are banned in an effort to set limits on the relentless exploitation of our world’s oceans. The problem is, industrial fishing has not been banned. Bottom trawlers continue to gouge the seabed, giant walls of net catching brown shrimp and everything else in their path, including endangered harbor porpoises. Unbelievably wasteful, up to 80% of the catch in this industry is "bycatch", the innocent bystanders of the ocean, thrown back dead and dying into the sea. And that’s just one of the many fishing industries still allowed to operate in a "sanctuary" where already a third of species are at risk. 

Disappearing worlds

It was nearly six years ago that it really sunk in for me what we humans were doing to the sea. I was working for Greenpeace on the Frontline team as a canvasser, stopping people in the streets of Los Angeles to tell them about the campaigns and sign them up as members of the organization. I remember being blown away when I learned that 90% of big fish are already gone, eaten by us in the last 60 years alone. Since then I've learned about what’s so incredible about our seas and worth protecting. Through reading books, watching documentaries and finally, this year getting my Open Water certification for scuba diving, I've fallen in love with life under the sea in all it's strangeness, vivid colors, and alien intelligence.

Over lunch, I asked Thilo about his favorite North Sea creatures. His eyes lit up as he told me about the spiny dogfish, a kind of shark that lives up to 70 years, rears only three offspring, and is commonly killed for a small piece of it's belly. Like many places in the world, whole populations have been eradicated from the North Sea, like the incredible bluefin tuna, with unparalleled swimming abilities, able to go 100 kilometres an hour and turn on a dime, unmatched by any human construct. They're all gone, taken for granted and literally chopped up for pet food.

Greenpeace activists and divers from the Dutch organisation Ghost Fishing recovering lost fishing nets (ghostnets) in the North Sea Sanctuary (Sylter Aussenriff) off Sylt. Greenpeace Ocean Campaigner Thilo Maack. © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace

Things add up

Being on a Greenpeace ship is not all high-speed boat chases and confrontational direct actions. Whether you're volunteering to make calls at a phone bank to organize your community to go to a rally or cooking a vegan meal for a group of activists, whether you're standing bundled in the streets of Chicago in the winter, canvassing to raise money and get petitions signed, or scrubbing the toilets with vinegar on the lower deck of a protest ship, it's the little mundane tasks that add up, collect, and finally tip the balance of power in favor of, to paraphrase Irving Stowe at the first Greenpeace benefit concert, a culture of life.

As I tie my bowline knots, mop the decks, or inventory gear lockers, I think, this is what activism looks like. I may not always know what I'm doing, I'm still learning a lot about life on a ship, but I do know exactly why I'm doing it.

Greenpeace activists and divers from the Dutch organisation Ghost Fishing recovering lost fishing nets (ghostnets) in the North Sea Sanctuary (Sylter Aussenriff) off Sylt. © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace

The sun sparkles over the undulating fabric of the North Sea as our green rainbow flag flies on the mast. I think of the Phyllis Cormack and the Vega, the first Greenpeace protest boats that sailed into nuclear test zones and kickstarted a global organization, and wonder what beautiful things will spiral out of our actions today, your actions today.

Paloma Henriques, 28, from Los Angeles, California, USA, is a Volunteer Deckhand onboard the Arctic Sunrise.


        

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