Thousands take to the streets to protest Arctic drilling


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Thousands of people from across 70 cities in 27 countries, joined together to demand major polluters, like Shell, pull the plug on their Arctic drilling operations.

Across the world protesters took part in a series of “Ice Rides”, cycling part the petrol station owned by companies looking to drill in the Arctic.

Arctic rides took place across 23 countries, including Hong Kong, the US, Lebanon, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria and South Africa.

In London, Greenpeace constructed a double-decker bus sized polar bear which was the centrepiece of a spectacular procession that converged on Shell’s British HQ to deliver their message.


They joined they 3 million people who have already signed up to Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign, whose names were carried on the fur of the giant polar bear, Aurora.

The campaign calls for a ban on drilling and fishing in the Arctic, hoping to prevent companies from extracting more of the fossil fuels that are already putting this region’s future in jeopardy.

In the last 30 years, the Arctic has lost as much as three-quarters of its floating sea ice cover, which is shrinking at a rate so fast that some scientists warn it is now in a ‘death spiral’.


Yesterday’s global action roughly coincides with the date when the Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest level for the year.

Despite a fast retreat of sea ice during the first half of July, it is unlikely this year’s summer low will break the record-breaking melt experienced in 2012.

This lead to a series of misleading media reports that Arctic sea ice “grew” 60% in 2013 compared to 2012 levels, and fallacious claims that the world is now heading into a “cooling period”.


Last year, the sea ice in the Arctic fell to just 3.41 million square kilometres, the lowest levels since satellite records began in 1979 – breaking the previous 2007 record. This year’s sea ice minimum is expected to be higher – measuring 5.41 million square kilometres last week.

This is not unexpected by scientists, who warn that despite a recovery on 2012 levels, the sea ice extent in the Arctic continues to track well below the average levels (average 1981-2010).

Walt Meier, from NASA warned that “even if this year ends up being the sixth – or seventh lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents record have happened during the last 10 years.”


Scientists say the weather is the main reason more ice has remained this summer. Last summer was unusual – warm temperatures helped melt the ice, while a summer cyclone helped break the ice up and disperse it, further exacerbating the long-term decline.

Different weather patterns mean temperatures in the Arctic have been much cooler this summer; meaning less ice has broken up and drifted away.

New data from the European Space Agency’s Cryosat mission has also shown that the volume of sea ice is in decline, hitting new lows this past winter, underlining the long-term decline of the floes.


Often described as global warming’s canary in the coalmine, the Arctic is highly sensitive and is being profoundly impacted by climate change.

Most scientists see what is happening in the Arctic now, as a sign of things to come across the globe.



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