Greenpeace plant flag on seabed at North Pole

Four young people on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow. (1) The young people planted their ‘flag for the future’ four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.

The campaigners (2) held a ceremony this weekend at the geographic North Pole, led by two Arctic Indigenous ambassadors. There they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag designed by a child (3) from Malaysia, through the freezing waters to the seabed.

The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule (4) containing the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaders (5) who asked for their names to be taken to the Pole when they joined Greenpeace’s campaign calling for the Arctic to be protected from exploitation.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu this weekend joined the call for a global sanctuary, saying: “I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change.” (6)

Hollywood actor Ezra Miller — star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower — is one of the youth ambassadors who planted the flag and the names. Another is 26-year-old Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden.

“By coming to the top of the world and planting this flag, we’re hoping to inspire young people everywhere. We’re here to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person or nation, but is the common heritage of everyone on Earth,” Skerk said. “Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole. Together we’re asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry.”

The expedition coincided with the first ever meeting at the North Pole of the Arctic Council, the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states. As the expedition started, Skerk requested a meeting with the group, but was refused.

The week-long expedition to the Pole is part of a global campaign to protect the Arctic, under threat from climate change, oil companies, industrial fishing and shipping. As global warming melts the sea ice, companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Statoil are moving in to exploit the region’s oil as nation states lay claim to areas previously covered by ice.

The youth ambassadors and Greenpeace campaigners have challenged the companies and nations seeking to profit from climate change. By planting the time capsule and flag, they have drawn a line in the ice, telling the polluters and oil companies: you come no further.

The young people are part of a Greenpeace team that trekked for one week across the frozen ocean in freezing winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. They traveled around 10 km a day, each dragging heavy sleighs weighing 80kg behind them. In a remote and dangerous environment their supplies dwindled as the shifting ice took them further from the Pole. The team then hitched a ride with a helicopter that was flying in from the nearby Barneo Base, to put them within striking distance of the Pole, allowing them to ski and drift a shorter final distance and complete their journey to the top of the world.

Notes
[1] A Russian submarine, piloted by explorer Artur Chilligarov, planted the Russian flag beneath the Pole in 2007. Before embarking on his expedition Chilligarov said: “The Arctic is Russian. We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian landmass.” Wikileaks cables later revealed he was acting on the instructions of the Kremlin.

[2] The Team Aurora youth ambassadors include 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Renny Bijoux, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles; Kiera-Dawn Kolson of the Tso’Tine-Gwich’in nations in Northern Canada, and Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.

[3] The ‘flag for the future’ was designed by 13-year-old Sarah Batrisyia from Malaysia, who won a global competition run by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Greenpeace. The contest was judged by fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood

[4] The time capsule was designed and made in Amsterdam by Joris Laarman Labs. More information on the construction of the time capsule can be found here.

[5] Among those who asked Greenpeace to take their names to the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world are boy band One Direction, Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and dozens of other actors, musicians, artists, and members of the business community such as Richard Branson.

[6] Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change. The melting of the Arctic matters to every person on earth, and I believe that we must work together to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole. We owe it to future generations to protect the Arctic and keep destructive industry away from this fragile and beautiful place.” (GreenPeace)

*** Da Greenpeace bandiera al Polo Nord, creare “Santuario Artico”***

Una bandiera di titanio piantata a quattro chilometri di profondita’ sul fondo dell’oceano, nel punto piu’ a Nord del Pianeta. Dopo quasi otto giorni di cammino sui ghiacci artici, gli attivisti di Greenpeace hanno raggiunto il Polo Nord geografico e, dopo aver praticato un buco nello strato di ghiaccio, hanno calato una capsula di titanio e vetro sul fondale con la bandiera. Insieme ai rappresentati delle comunita’ indigene dell’Artico, con questo gesto gli attivisti hanno simbolicamente reclamato l’area come patrimonio di tutta l’umanita’, chiedendo l’istituzione di un Santuario Globale per la protezione dell’Artico.

All’interno della capsula, rende noto l’associazione ambientalista, ci sono i quasi tre milioni di nomi di coloro che, in ogni parte del mondo, hanno firmato per difendere l’Artico dalle esplorazioni petrolifere e dalla pesca industriale ed eccessiva. Una telecamera installata sulla capsula ha registrato le immagini della discesa sul fondale. Tra i membri della spedizione anche l’attore statunitense Ezra Miller. Nell’ultimo anno sono stati molti i personaggi del mondo degli affari e dello spettacolo a sostenere la campagna Save the Arctic di Greenpeace, tra questi anche Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz e Richard Branson. Recentemente anche l’Arcivescovo Desmond Tutu ha espresso il suo appoggio per la spedizione, che e’ parte della campagna globale di Greenpeace per proteggere l’Artico.

Approfittando dello scioglimento dei ghiacci dovuto al cambiamento climatico, denuncia infatti Greenpeace, ”compagnie petrolifere senza scrupoli come Shell, Gazprom e Statoil stanno sviluppando programmi per la ricerca di petrolio senza preoccuparsi delle conseguenze sul fragile ecosistema artico”.

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