Last week more than 500 paddlers blockaded a massive drilling platform in Seattle’s Elliott Bay to protest Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. The so-called sHell No protest drew worldwide attention, with coverage by the BBC, New York Times and hundreds of other news outlets. Now we have footage from inside the protest, thanks to National Geographic filmmaker and kayaktivist Trip Jennings.
The footage shows Allison Akootchook Warden, a 42-year-old Iňupiaq artist and rapper, who told Rolling Stone magazine‘s Antonia Juhasz that her people are from Kaktovick, a village on the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, east of where Shell currently plans to drill.
Standing in a large native canoe and with Shell’s massive Polar Pioneer rig behind her, Warden says “they will have you believe that the Iňupiaq people are for this kind of stuff, and we are not.”
“There’s a 75 percent chance that this will fail in our precious ocean, our garden,” she says, referring to a draft Environmental Impact Statement that, according to High Country News concludes there is a “75 percent chance of one or more large spills occurring over the 77-year period, and a 25 percent chance of no spills occurring.”
Critics of the protests say it’s hypocritical to demonstrate against oil drilling using plastic boats. Petroleum is an essential component of plastic.
Jennings was involved in organizing the protest, and has become a noted climate activist and environmental filmmaker. He also is an accomplished expedition kayaker who made notable whitewater expeditions in Papua New Guinea and Africa’s Congo River.