21st June is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and traditionally a day of festivals and celebration. In the high North, past the Arctic Circle, it’s the first first day of the ‘midnight sun’ period in which the sun does not set for the rest of the summer, somewhat of a contrast to the winter months when the sun never rises. It is also the time of year in which the fragile Arctic environment is increasingly at its most vulnerable, due to the fact that the Arctic ice is thinner than ever and less abundant due to climate change, opening up the previously frozen over Arctic to traffic and exploitation.
This summer, the oil giant Shell will be drilling in the Arctic for the first time, therefore on this, the longest day of the year, Greenpeace has launched its campaign to protect this Northern polar region. This ecosystem is deeply vulnerable to oil drilling, an oil spill would be near impossible to clean up according to several experts who specialises in oil spills, and Greenpeace want the UN to turn the Arctic region into a Global Sanctuary just as the global community protected Antarctica, the Southern polar region, 14 years ago.
To counteract the decision by Russia to plant plant a Russian flag on the seabed of the north pole, Greenpeace will plant an Arctic scroll on the bottom of the seabed with a million signatures all calling for a halt to Arctic offshore drilling and mass industrial unsustainable fishing, the Arctic scroll already contains the names of celebrities like Paul McCartney, Thom Yorke, Penelope Crux, Richard Branson and the list goes on.
Furthermore, Greenpeace declared Saturday, 23rd June 2012, as an International Day of Arctic Action, in which over 2000 international Greenpeace volunteers across the world were hitting the streets to secure more signatories to the Arctic Scroll which have now reached more than 100.000. In London several public engagement activities occured, culminating with a massive group photo with the large Shell HQ building in the background.