What happened when #ShellNo protestors went toe-to-toe with Big Oil in a daring standoff

It was only a stall, but it got the world's attention.

Drilling for oil in the Arctic? Ohhhh #ShellNo!

The Arctic's icy Chukchi Sea. Photo by NASA HQ PHOTO/Flickr.


At least that's what Greenpeace USA and its supporters say.

Shell oil company recently got its hands on limited permits for preliminary drilling in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea, just west of the northern tip of Alaska, and was all set to get operations underway this week (despite plenty of warning that a devastating oil spill is all but inevitable if drilling occurs).

Until 13 activists got in the way. Literally.

Here's what happened.

Earlier this week, Shell deployed a 380-foot-long icebreaker called the MSV Fennica to the Arctic.

The Fennica is crucial to Shell's drilling operations in the way, way, way north because it carries a special spill containment system called a capping stack that has to be on hand before any drilling can begin (though the capping stack is far from a reliable solution).

After wrapping up some repairs at a Portland, Oregon, shipyard (Shell recently crashed the ship into an iceberg and ripped an enormous hole in the hull, d'oh!), the Fennica was all set to hit the open water.

The St. John's Bridge in Portland is all that stood between the MSV Fennica and a clear path to the Arctic. Image from Google Maps.

And then Greenpeace happened. Go, Greenpeace.

To physically block the Fennica's passage out into open water, Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge.

Stop, hammock time! Photo by carissabee/Instagram used with permission.

Loafing around in a hammock isn't usually a good way to get things done, but this might be the exception.

Protestors dangled colorful hammocks from the bridge, secured by heavy-duty climbing equipment. Activists in kayaks (kayaktivists!) also joined in the fight on the surface of the water below, forming a human blockade.

The kayaktivists! Photo by Backbone Campaign/Flickr.

The protestors arrived around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, prepared for the long haul. Most brought food, water, and entertainment to last them a number of days, with Portland residents contributing even more rations and supplies to the cause.


At one point on Thursday, Shell's icebreaker was forced to turn back and return to port.

A temporary but significant victory.

The protests ended on Thursday night, but the activists' message was heard loud and clear.

Some activists "hanging" out. Photo by opiopanaxx/Instagram used with permission.

Greenpeace had to know they couldn't keep the Fennica at bay forever.

But with Shell planning layoffs, watching its profits tank, and desperate to get started on its Arctic drilling project, the oil company couldn't afford any delays. Which is why Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, told MSNBC, "Every second we stop Shell counts."

Thursday afternoon, a federal judge in Alaska ordered Greenpeace USA to pay a $2,500 fine every hour as long as protestors continued to impede the Fennica, with the fine set to increase every day. With hard-hitting fees heading their way and arrest threats looming, the Greenpeace activists were forced to pack it in.

The dramatic final moments of the protest. Photo by Twelvizm/Flickr.

But not before growing huge international awareness of the dangers of Arctic drilling.

Greenpeace says drilling in the Arctic could be catastrophic. And the experts agree.

The harsh conditions make it really difficult to access Arctic oil safely, or at all. Shell itself has poured more than $7 billion over the course of 10 years into trying to make this happen. Most of its competitors have given up for now.

Experts agree the risks are huge. One federal report recently estimated a 75% chance of at least one large oil spill over the life of Shell's 77-year drilling lease, which could absolutely devastate marine life in the Chukchi Sea and beyond.

A recent article in Time magazine also warned that drilling in the Arctic could release large amounts of methane and black carbon, two extremely potent greenhouse gasses. Black carbon is especially dangerous, as large buildups of the stuff collect solar energy at a rapid clip, warming the ice and water even faster.

The hammocks may have come down, but #ShellNo is still going strong.

This fight isn't over.


Greenpeace says the Obama administration has shown a willingness to change environmental policy based on public outcry, so they're encouraging people to continue amplifying the issues and voicing their displeasure.

Right now, the MSV Fennica is on a course for the Chukchi Sea. But after this incredible display of international concern, revoking Shell's drilling permits certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility.

Heroes

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

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