AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, April 15, 2013 (ENS) – Four trekkers on a mission with Greenpeace International planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole on Sunday. The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule containing the names of 2.7 million people who joined the Greenpeace campaign to Save the Arctic.
After a tough week-long trek across the frozen ocean, over giant pressure ridges and around pools of icy water with their support team, the four volunteers planted their “flag for the future” 4.3 kilometers (2.67 miles) beneath the ice.
They called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary to protect the warming Arctic from industrial development, noting that they planted the environmental flag at the same place where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic in 2007.
“We came to the Pole to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person and no nation, that it is the common heritage of everyone on Earth,” the four blogged from the North Pole.
Although Shell Oil has withdrawn its plans to drill in Arctic waters in 2013 after a difficult 2012 drilling season, and ConocoPhillips and Norway’s Statoil say they will not drill there in 2014, Greenpeace is still concerned.
As part of its Save the Arctic campaign, the nonprofit organization says, “There is no government or army to protect the Arctic, only countries and companies looking to carve it up.”
The four trekkers blogged, “We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples across the Arctic whose way of life is threatened by the unchecked greed of industry. We’re asking that the area around the Pole be made off-limits to oil companies, industrial fisheries, and the claims of nation states.”
Before lowering the pod, the four ambassadors held a ceremony at the top of the world, offering their wishes for the future, their dreams for a different tomorrow.
Film star Ezra Miller is one of the four who skied to the North Pole. The 20-year-old actor, who starred in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower, said during the North Pole ceremony, “We imagine a new politics that respects the next seven generations ahead and understands the connections between all things.”
“By creating a sanctuary we will take a symbolic first step towards redefining our relationship with Mother Earth,” Miller said.
Trekker Josefina Skerk from the Indigenous Sami community in Sweden is a member of the Sami parliament. She said, “Yet the world’s most powerful companies and governments are not trying to slow this melting. Instead they want to exploit the place where we stand today. We offer these words with respect for those who came before us, and hope for those yet to be born.”
Trekker Kiera Kolson is a Tso’Tine-Gwich’in woman from Denendeh, Canada who is a songwriter, spoken-word artist and defender of indigenous rights. She said, “We wish to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole and keep destructive industry out of the Arctic. We see a world where the rights and culture of Indigenous Peoples are honored and respected.”
Trekker Renny Bijoux said, “Young people like us are living in a world that has been shaped by others. We deserve a chance to set a different course. I come from the Seychelles, a beautiful island which could disappear under rising seas. The melting of the Arctic matters to my people, and billions more.”
“We ask our leaders to recognize that climate change is upon us and to work together to fight it, for of us and for our children,” said Bijoux.
In a blog post before setting out on the trek to the North Pole, Bijoux explained why he came from an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometers (932 mi) east of mainland Africa to participate in this campaign.
“Why do I care so much for the Arctic, you ask? Just come live a day in Seychelles, and you’ll understand. On my home island the temperature reaches up to 33 degrees Celsius and you can imagine how hot that is. There are even countries where the temperature is even higher! The Arctic helps in cooling the earth, thus making our lives much more bearable,” Bijoux wrote.
“If we all turn a blind eye to the coming threat of destructive industrial development, the ice cap at the top of the world will melt as it has started to, changing the weather patterns in the world, making the land-based ice sheets like Greenland melt faster,” wrote Bijoux. “That of course this will bring about a rise in sea level whereby Seychelles and other island states and low-lying countries will be affected.”
“We are all in this together,” Bijoux wrote. “This is our planet and we all need to look after her just like she’s been looking after us for centuries. If we don’t fight for her, who will??”