She may be best known for her performance as Xena, the Warrior Princess, but actress Lucy Lawless is clearly not afraid of battling for the sake of good in real life too. Over the weekend in New Zealand, Lawless and six other Greenpeace activists staged a protest onboard a Shell-owned oil drilling rig slated for use off the waters of the Arctic Ocean. After four days the group was arrested, but not before making a compelling argument against the potentially disastrous pursuit of fossil fuels in one of the world's most ecologically sensitive regions.
The Greenpeace protest began last Friday when Lawless joined activist in boarding The Noble Discoverer, a vessel operated by Shell which was scheduled to embark on an exploratory drilling operation near Alaska. Although after 77 hours atop the rig's main platform, the activists were ultimately arrested by New Zealand police, the demonstration helped spread the word about the dangers of drilling in the Arctic.
According to Greenpeace New Zealand, over the weekend some 133,000 people send emails to Shell urging them to scrap their plans to drill. From high up on the rigs platform, the activists unfurled a banner, and the group's most famous member aired her opposition online.
"Seven of us came up the tower on @Shell's drillship but 4 days later 130,000 will come down. In solidarity we can #savethearctic," said Lawless after her arrest. “We will continue to stand in solidarity with the communities and species that depend on the Arctic for their very lives until Shell cancels its plans to drill in this magical world, and makes the switch to clean, sustainable energy.”
From Greenpeace NZ:
Shell is the first major international oil company to make exploitation of the Arctic a major focus. If the Noble Discoverer strikes oil this summer, other global oil giants will quickly follow and spark an Arctic oil rush. The company has a very tight window in which to drill for oil. Freezing temperatures, extreme weather conditions and a highly remote location pose unprecedented challenges, and make an Arctic oil spill virtually impossible to contain and clean up. (1) According to a senior official at a Canadian firm that specialises in oil-spill response, “there is really no solution or method today that we’re aware of that can actually recover [spilled] oil from the Arctic.” (2)
Total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would both contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local ecosystem. (3) Numerous reports show that through energy efficiency and clean energy, global energy needs can be met while leaving the Arctic untouched. (4)
Last Summer, the U.S. Department of Interior granted the Shell Oil Company conditional approval for arctic drilling, much to the dismay of environmentalists who warned of the long-term catastrophe which would result in the event of a Gulf-like oil spill.