11 moments that broke the internet in 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, we reflect back on some of the people powered moments that pulled our heart strings, filled us with passion or simply inspired us.

Here are a few of them, from Greenpeace and beyond…

1. Imagine if we all did this just a few times a year

Tommy Klein cleaned up a heavily polluted waterfront on his way to work in a week of half hours. He filled up one garbage bag at a time until the work was done.

1 person did this in a week of half hours. Imagine if we all did this just a few times a year.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 21 April 2015

2. Can you help make your country next?

It caused a mini meltdown in England when it was introduced spawning countless hilarious tweets. But many countries and cities, including Hawaii, Rwanda, and Montreal, have started to ban plastic bags. Do you think your country could be next?

Hawaii just banned plastic bags. Can you help make New Zealand the next? >> http://ift.tt/1QTKK4p were you…

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 14 July 2015

3. “The biggest environmental crime of the 21st century”

It’s been labelled so many names by news reports: from a “crime against humanity” to the “greatest environmental disaster this century”.

Indonesia’s forest fire crisis has affected several neighbouring countries, from Singapore to Thailand and as far away as the Philippines.

There have been 500,000 reported cases of acute respiratory tract infections since 1 July… and up to a third of the world’s orangutan habitat has been threatened with destruction.

Since 2007, Greenpeace Indonesia has been building dams in peatland canals to restore the dried-out wetlands and prevent future fires. 

10 shocking facts showing how palm oil and paper companies are *still* trashing Indonesia’s rainforests >>…

Posted by Greenpeace International on Sunday, 22 November 2015

4. I am his hands. He is my eyes

Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi are two 53-year-old men from China who have faced incredible challenges in their lives. Haixia is blind and Wenqi lost both of his arms.

Together, the pair have managed to plant over 10,000 trees over the past 10 years.

“I am his hands. He is my eyes.” When your calling is bigger than your limitations. #NothingIsImpossible

Posted by Greenpeace International on Saturday, 14 November 2015

5. This story broke our hearts, not just the internet

Captured in July 2012 at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, park ranger Patrick Karabaranga was seen consoling a mountain gorilla whose mother was killed by poachers.

So much respect for park rangers like Patrick, protecting gorillas in Virunga National Park. SHARE to spread the love.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, 23 September 2015

6. Because to change everything, we need everyone

The most beautiful thing about this movement is that different individuals are taking spontaneous action as they see fit.

Yesterday, kayaktivists in Seattle formed a human blockade — stopping Shell’s rig from heading to the Arctic for…

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 16 June 2015

This moment leads us to one of the biggest victories this year…

7. Goodbye Shell! The Arctic won’t miss you

In an extraordinary display of people power, Shell succumbed to global pressure and pulled out of Arctic drilling after spending more than US$6 billion over three years.

Give a big WHOOP! This moment is for the 7 million people worldwide who’ve stood in defence of the Arctic, the polar bears, the whales and the walruses.

GOODBYE SHELL!Shell pulls Arctic drilling program after 3 years, $6 billion and no ARCTIC OIL! This is the sweet taste…

Posted by Greenpeace International on Monday, 28 September 2015

8. I am woman. Hear me roar

From Sri Lanka to South Africa, women are on the front lines leading fight in the poaching wars.

“We have discovered that if you want a project to succeed, have the women of the community run it.”

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, 8 July 2015

9. Demanding justice

In November 2015, two mining dams collapsed in Mariana, in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. This environmental disaster is the one of the worst in Brazil’s history.

River Doce, the largest in the southeast region, is at risk of death. Thousands homes are destroyed and lives were lost.

Greenpeace aims to expose the disaster’s impact on the environment and demand justice!

One of the worst environmental disasters in Brazilian history is happening right now. Two dams holding millions of cubic…

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

10. Leaving nature to do what it does best

An abandoned fishing village in Shengshi was reclaimed by nature and the result is stunning.

Nature has reclaimed this abandoned village in China… and it’s extraordinary!

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 9 June 2015

11. It’s only the beginning, not the finish line…

As the final details of the Paris climate agreement were being hashed out, Greenpeace France activists used eco-paint to create a shining sun around the Arc de Triomphe.

Renewables for the climate! ☀As #COP21 enters the closing stretch, activists use eco-paint to create a shining sun around the Arc de Triomphe to demand action on climate change.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Friday, 11 December 2015

It always seems impossible until it’s done and we’re not done yet. We, the people, have the power to change the world!

Join the movement here.

Stefanus Wongsodiredjo is a Content Editor at the Asia Pacific Communications Hub.

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This is what YOU made happen in 2015…

It may have been the warmest year on record, but one thing’s for sure: 2015 signalled hope and change for the enviro-movement.

Here are 9 things you helped happen in 2015.

A large scale visual message made by hundreds of people during the COP21 climate summit. A large scale message made by hundreds of people during the COP21 climate summit

1. You helped accelerate the end of coal!

From the tiny village in Turkey that took on a “land grab” by a major power plant; to BOTH sides of the Norwegian parliament agreeing to divest from coal, the big ol’ black rock had a pretty terrible year.

In Australia, approval of a major coal project that planned to be right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef was overturned by the Federal Court. This was followed by major banks pulling out their investment leaving Adani, the company behind the mine, in a major ditch. But the fight isn’t over – Adani has been persistent – and the power and passion to protect the Reef will continue to grow.

Over 145,000 have signed the petition to #SavetheReef, that led to major banks pulling out of investing in a coal project that would have endangered Australia’s rich marine life and made serious carbon emissions.Over 145,000 have signed the petition to #SavetheReef, that led to major banks pulling out of investing in a coal project that would have endangered Australia’s rich marine life and made serious carbon emissions. 

2. You joined Greenpeace activists to say #ShellNo!

Slacktivism is lazy right? WRONG!

When 13 Greenpeace USA activists suspended from St. Johns Bridge in Portland to block a Shell vessel from leaving port for Alaskan waters, you supported them with your Tweet love, Facebook shares, petition signing, and all the encouraging messages that poured into our inbox. Because of your support, the ship was forced to turn back to port temporarily.

13 climbers vs 1 giant ship. But in the end #PeopleVsShell won!13 climbers vs 1 giant ship. But in the end #PeopleVsShell won!

In the UK, Aurora our giant polar bear was erected outside Shell’s headquarters and refused to move until they agreed to pull out of drilling in Arctic. And then…they did!

Actor Emma Thompson and Greenpeace activists with Aurora, the polar bear. In September, Shell quit drilling in the Arctic. Actor Emma Thompson and Greenpeace activists with Aurora, the polar bear. In September, Shell quit drilling in the Arctic.

3. You saved the little guys…

…like the vaquitas. These rare species of porpoise are on the cusp of becoming extinct due to them being caught up in nets intended for another endangered fish – the totoaba.

But 100,000 of you stood up and demanded the vaquitas be protected. USA and China agreed to tackle the smuggling of the totoaba fish, and Hong Kong fined the operators of two dried seafood shops that sell bladders of the endangered fish.

These totoaba bladders can fetch up to USD 645,000. But you’ve helped pressure governments to end trafficking this product.These totoaba bladders can fetch up to USD 645,000. But you’ve helped pressure governments to end trafficking this product. 

Mexico announced a temporary ban on fishing nets in the vaquita habitat. Though the rare marine mammals need more protection from all countries involved, we’re closer than ever to protecting them.

Only 57 vaquita are left in the world. Thanks for helping protect them. Only 57 vaquita are left in the world. Thanks for helping protect them. 

4. …and the big guys too.

Indonesia’s forest fires have been labelled a “crime against humanity”, driven by companies clearing land for palm oil and endangering the lives of the orangutan.

But hundreds of thousands of you took action to force major brands including Nestlé, Unilever, P&G and Mattel to cease buying the products linked to deforestation. As a result, Indonesian paper giant APRIL this year agreed to stop pulping the rainforest.

Thanks for help protecting the home of the orangutan!Thanks for help protecting the home of the orangutan!

As the fires continued throughout the year, you also helped us pressure President Jokowi to stop the fires for good, and we delivered over 250,000 of your messages to the man himself.

At the COP21 climate talks in Paris we handed over a petition signed by 253,800 people around the world to halt forest and peatland destruction. Thank you!At the COP21 climate talks in Paris we handed over a petition signed by 253,800 people around the world to halt forest and peatland destruction. Thank you!

5. You lent a small hand in a big fight

Russia also suffered from fires and land clearing, and your support helped us send firefighters out there to battle the blazes.

In November, the Russian government banned the burning of dry grass on agricultural land and conservation areas.

Stopping dry grass fire took 6 years, and this year it finally happened!Stopping dry grass fire took 6 years, and this year it finally happened!

In the Amazon, you stood with the Ka’apor indigenous community by working with  them to monitor and protect their lands from the invasion of illegal loggers.

Also called “forest dwellers” the home of the Ka’apor has been strengthened by technology to document the invasion of logging trucks inside their territory.Also called “forest dwellers” the home of the Ka’apor has been strengthened by technology to document the invasion of logging trucks inside their territory. Here, a trap camera is being set up to monitor the indigenous territory in areas used by illegal loggers. 

And in India, a disputed forest block that was up for auction was given back to the community after years of campaigning by Greenpeace India!

6. You said NO to cheap throwaway clothing

Major retailers like Aldi, Lidl and Tchibo listened to your demands for a toxic-free world and committed to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their textile products by January 1st, 2020.

Thanks for helping to build the #detox movementThanks for helping to build the #detox movement

7. You pressured Internet giants to go renewable

If the Internet were a country it would be the 6th largest power consumer. We’ve pressured Google, Apple, and Facebook to go renewable, and in June Korean Internet giant Naver committed to 100% renewable energy.

Almost everything is online these days. That’s why we need to pressure the people behind data centres like these to be powered by renewables.Almost everything is online these days. That’s why we need to pressure data centres like, this one in North Virginia to be powered by renewables.

8. You scared off fossil fuel companies

It’s time for climate justice! This year, we supported island nation Kiribati to call for a moratorium on all new coal mines.

During the Paris climate talks, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights announced it will investigate major polluters like Exxon, following a global people powered petition, gathering over 100,000 signatures.

The Philippines launched the world’s first ever national human rights investigation into 50 big polluters.The Philippines launched the world’s first ever national human rights investigation into 50 big polluters.

And in the US, a fight that had been raging on for years finally came to an end when expansion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States was flat-out rejected by President Obama. Yes, people power won!

9. You cared about changing the out-of-control tuna industry

The world’s tuna stocks are decreasing, fuelled by an industry using slavery and aggressive fishing methods to clear out the ocean. Greenpeace ships have been out in the sea keeping an eye on the practices of the tuna industry; and in China we exposed and stopped the dodgy actions of a company that was trying to raise millions of dollars to fish for some of the most vulnerable species in the Pacific.

Slavery and overfishing - the tuna industry is out of control, but your consumer choice and voice is helping to change that.Slavery and overfishing – the tuna industry is out of control, but your consumer choice and voice is helping to change that.

World leaders are paying attention to the threat of climate change, renewables are on the up, and around the world the environmental movement is strengthening. There’s a global shift happening, and YOU are at the centre of it!

Bring on 2016!

Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter @shookiewah

Want to help make 2016 an even better year for the world we live in? Join us! 

 

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After Tianjin blasts, families struggle to piece their lives back together

Since the Tianjin accident, workers have been laying out fresh turf next to the centre of the blast site. There are plans to build a 43 hectare harbour eco-park, as well as a primary school, kindergarten and other public amenities.Since the Tianjin accident, workers have been laying out fresh turf next to the centre of the blast site. There are plans to build a 43 hectare harbour eco-park, as well as a primary school, kindergarten and other public amenities.

Just before midnight on August 12 2015, two chemical blasts ripped through Tianjin, a major port city in northeastern China, about two hours away from the capital Beijing. So powerful were the explosions they could be seen from space, and terrifying footage of the accident was circulated around the world.  203 people lost their lives that night and thousands more were left homeless, injured, shocked and afraid.

Triggered by a concoction of flammable chemicals that ignited at a warehouse run by Ruihai Logistics Warehouse, the impact was equivalent to detonating up to 20 tonnes of TNT, blasting windows out of frames and flattening rows upon rows of shipping containers.

People living in residential compounds, Harbour City and Qihang Jia Park – both around 300m from the blast site – had no idea that they were living under the shadow of a ticking time bomb. Despite pressure from media and the public, the investigation report of the Tianjin chemical accident still hasn’t been released, and neither have full details of the safety assessment of the Ruihai Logistics Warehouse.

All across China, there are facilities just like the Ruihai warehouse, housing dangerous chemicals in residential areas. This means that right now there are more ticking time bombs, located next to schools, homes and office buildings, that could go off any time.

Two months after the explosion, the people whose homes were destroyed that night are still struggling to piece their lives back together. Greenpeace East Asia, Beijing spoke to five families about how the experience has changed them, and their hopes and concerns for the future.

“I thought it was the end of the world”

Qing Ying in what was once her bedroomQing Ying was asleep when the blast shook her apartment, sending shards of glass from shattered windows into her thigh.

By the time the second explosion occurred she had already grabbed her son and bolted out of the building. Due to her injuries she could barely walk, but her son forced her to keep going. As soon as she got outside, her neighbour helped her find a car amongst all the chaos and took her to the hospital.

“For me, the most precious thing were the relationships between neighbours. It’s unusual to find such a close-knit community nowadays, but we had that,” recalls Qing Ying.

“I was so happy to finally have a place to call home. I never expected that after two years it would be completely destroyed.”

Chen Qiang with his daughterChen Qiang and Fang Li moved into their new apartment in 2013, a prized possession after working hard to save and borrow money to make a purchase together.

Fang li and their daughter were out of town on the night of the explosion, but Chen Qiang was home. Glass from his window pierced his left eye when the first explosion happened. By the time his wife arrived at the hospital his eye had already been removed.

 “Everyone is slowly forgetting about what happened…but we can’t.”

Chen Qiang and Fang Li are now facing a future of uncertainty. They have moved closer to the city center to make it more convenient for Fang Li to get to work, as she now shoulders more of the responsibility for providing for the family.

Even now, Chen Qiang doesn’t feel safe. “It happened once, so it could happen again.”

“If anyone had known that the container yard stored hazardous chemicals, we would have acted to change that.”

Mr Song with a piece of shattered glassSong was at a conference in nearby Tanggu district on the night of the explosion, but his father was staying at his house. When Song heard about the explosion he rushed home to find his father, who fortunately was fine apart from a few cuts and bruises. 

“I used to worry about small things. If I went away for a trip I would think, ‘who will look after my plants while I’m away?’ Now there’s nothing to take care of.”

Like any first-home buyer, Song did thorough research before buying the apartment. When the building was under construction, he made sure to investigate the structural safety of the building. “I checked and double checked. I thought this place was safe.”  

 He knew there was a storage area close to the apartment building but he had no idea it was used to store enormous quantities of dangerous chemicals. “If anyone had known that the container yard stored hazardous chemicals, we would have acted to change that.”

“The doors and locks are gone, but it’s a symbol of trust.” 

Baozi holds out his neighbour's keys “Just when we had started a family, settled down and were ready to have a future, the explosion happened.”

 Baozi’s family moved into Harbour City in April 2013. Under his roof lived three generations – his parents, him and his wife, and their child.

“It was such a lively neighbourhood before the explosion. There were a lot of young families here – at night teenagers would play basketball, elderly people would dance in the square and there was a place for the kids to play.”

Now, the once bustling community is like a ghost town.

Baozi showed us his neighbours’ keys that he kept as a memento of his lost neighbourhood.

“The keys are useless now, because the doors and locks are gone, but it’s a symbol of trust.”

Many of his neighbours had scrimped, saved and sacrificed to build a life in this place.

“We have friends who used up their parents’ entire savings to move here. Some couldn’t afford any furniture when they first moved in. They just arrived with a mattress and slowly purchased the things they needed one by one.”

“All of a sudden you can lose your child or your home.”

The Chen familyThe Chen family had only been living in Harbour City for three months before the explosion happened. On that night they went to bed early, but were suddenly woken by the first blast. Glass from the windows imploded, falling on 14-year old Xiaofeng. His back and legs are now covered in scars.

As Xiaofeng ran from the building, he saw a young woman on the phone to her husband.

“We don’t have a home anymore!” she cried.

Since the explosion, Xiaofeng’s parents now think differently about life and expectations of their son.

“Being alive is the most important thing. All of a sudden you can lose your child or your home. The government can rebuild our houses, but they can’t return a life that’s lost.”

Qian Cheng is Assistant Campaign Manager for Greenpeace East Asia’s Toxics Campaign

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120-150W LED Driver with 10kV Lightning Surge Protection and Smart Over-Temperature Protection

Power Partners announces the release of their 120-150W LED Driver, the PDL120U-C Series. The PDL120U-C devices provide 10kV lightning surge protection and smart over-temperature protection, while including additional protection features to withstand disastrous equipment failures.

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Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey

Dear Friends,

As I look out my window here in Amsterdam, winter is nearly here, and with it comes the retreat of another year, and the passing of what has been to make way for the spring and the new. As the days get shorter and the weather colder, I’m thinking ahead to days of renewal and new beginnings.

As many of you know, I’m soon moving on from my post as Executive Director of Greenpeace International. I don’t think of it as leaving Greenpeace, however. I think of it as exchanging my lofty title for a far more powerful one: that of a Greenpeace Volunteer. It’s been an amazing journey with all of you, and I’ve loved every minute of challenge, every day of struggle, every week of progress, every month of triumph, every year we’ve been building a better world together.

It’s hugely gratifying to be able to depart knowing the Paris climate agreement unanimously signalled the end of the era of fossil fuels by 2050. As imperfect as the agreement may be in how we get there, it marks a stark contrast and a huge advance over my first days with Greenpeace at the Copenhagen climate summit, and it gives me some small notion of closure: the world has taken an important step down a very long and difficult road, but the journey has now unquestionably begun.

Greenpeace had me stepping out of my comfort zone many times. And that, of course, is the place where you learn the most about yourself, when you stand at that line between courage and fear, weighing personal risk against what you believe to be right. I’ve spoken to so many of you who have had the same experience. People who spoke out, or stood up, who volunteered or took some small step or giant leap for the sake of a better future. So often those steps and leaps take us beyond what we thought we’d ever do – either because we were inspired, or angered, or feeling a bond of unity with others. If anything Greenpeace has ever done has catalysed one of those moments, we’re doing our job. We’re setting off a chain reaction of contagious courage.

For me, a series of ever escalating life choices eventually led me to a moment I will always cherish from my time at Greenpeace: the boarding of an oil rig in the Arctic, having an icy water cannon trained on me as I struggled to climb a ladder to oppose the absurdity of Arctic oil drilling. Experiences like that change you. And by “like that” I don’t necessarily mean that extreme form of activism: I mean any action that disrupts your sense of self or your idea of who you are and puts it in a larger context of the human journey and the future of our world. It resets your notion of what you’re capable of. And in so doing resets your notion of what humanity is capable of. And in so doing redefines your sense of what’s possible.

I came to Greenpeace wanting to break the dichotomy between the environment and development. I knew, rationally, that there is a link between addressing poverty and human rights and addressing environmental injustice and climate injustice. But my time with Greenpeace drove this awareness deeper into my heart. Once you see it, you can’t stop seeing it. From the woman who can no longer fish the African coasts for her family because European factory trawlers have emptied her seas, to the child in India choking on ash and coal dust in a village pillaged by the coal industry, to the infant breathing in toxic fumes in an electronic waste dump in China while his mother sets fire to a circuit board to scavenge components, to the devastated family living in a cardboard box after their home was destroyed by typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines: the people who pay the highest price for overconsumption and pollution are those who see the least benefit.

Greenpeace strengthened my belief in the power of nonviolent direct action and my conviction that civil disobedience is essential to addressing this core injustice, to bringing about a truly transformational change not only in the way we feed and fuel our world, but in how we think about wealth, growth, and value – how we reinvent the future in the face of what Naomi Klein has described as an incredible opportunity disguised as a crisis.

In the six years I’ve been with Greenpeace, we’ve secured so many victories – from Shell’s decision to abandon Arctic Drilling to Italian energy giant ENEL’s turning its back on fossil fuels. From dozens of major retailers agreeing to Detox their clothing lines to agreements with major deforesters to end peatland destruction in Indonesia. From Facebook’s agreement to friend renewable energy to new Marine Reserves that have increased the size of our protected waters. But these are but small contributions to the vast changes that a far wider movement is driving – from the unprecedented court decision in the Netherlands that the government is negligent of its duty to protect its people if it doesn’t cut CO2 by 25% by 2020 – driven by tiny NGO Urgenda – to Elon Musk’s decision to open source the design of the Tesla electric car and the PowerWall smart battery, to crowdfunding campaigns for oceans plastic cleanup and prototype solar roadways to new models in the sharing economy to The Guardian’s coal divestment campaign. I have found myself on podium after podium speaking from the same agenda of climate urgency as Sharan Burrow, the head of the global trade union movement. I leapt from my chair in celebration after reading the Pope’s recent encyclical on stewardship over the Earth. From every category of human endeavour, from every continent, we’re witnessing an awakening – an unprecedented conspiracy of courage and commitment to change.

To my successor I leave unfinished business and great challenges. The organisation is still licking its wounds from setbacks that have occurred on my watch – times when we have failed to live up to the values we champion. And while we can never promise to stop falling short of our own standards and expectations, we can commit to learning from those failures. They make us stronger.

My greatest hope is that my successor will continue the unfinished journey of ensuring that Greenpeace becomes more truly global and diverse, more open, better able to unleash the energy and creativity of our supporters and volunteers, more articulate about what we stand for and the solutions we champion, more cooperative in working with movement partners and using our reach to lift up the work of others, more willing to dare to risk – and achieve – the impossible.

As for me, I’m returning to one of the most beautiful places I know in Africa, Rustlers Valley in the Free State, South Africa near the border with Lesotho. There I will continue to work with the EarthRise Trust that is developing an activist school, ecological farming projects, educational development, and economic empowerment programmes. I’ll be working alongside Greenpeace in the struggle against nuclear power and to reform the rules of the financial world to stop the flow of money toward projects which are holding back a more beautiful, sustainable, and equitable future for all humanity.

My friends, I leave you with a final thought. As you look around you, remember what the history of the human journey teaches us. The greatest struggle we face is not inventing clean technologies or fundamentally changing the way we produce value or measure growth: these are small challenges compared with how we have changed the world and our own civilization over the course of the few centuries that we’ve risen up. I refuse to believe that the pace of change for survival will be slower than the pace of change for profit. In times of war, in times of threat to our families or nations we’ve found unforeseen strength, and we’ve done impossible things.

But there’s an essential ingredient. Without it, the burst of efforts and evidence of change that we see today will remain too little, too late.

That ingredient is hope. It’s the belief that change is possible. I saw with my own eyes what happened to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa once people in large numbers came to believe change was possible. I look around today, and I see more and more evidence that we can beat the worst ravages of climate change. It will take fast action. It will take courage like we have never witnessed on a global scale before – from banks, from corporations, from artists, governments, religious and labour leaders, the charity sector, the billionaires, and from every one of us. Every time the world takes a step forward, be it Apple powering all of its data centres on renewable energy, be it Obama saying no to Arctic oil, be it your university’s decision to divest from coal, your neighbor’s decision to grow their own vegetables, your parent’s decision to volunteer for a cause, or your colleague’s decision to eat less meat – whenever anyone makes a contribution to building that better world we know in our hearts it is possible, we have a duty. A duty to share. To tell the world. To make that courage contagious. Make it a norm. Make it an expectation that this is how the world works. Belief requires evidence, and the stories we tell one another evidence our beliefs: some stories propel us forward. Others hold us back. We can believe that change is impossible, or too expensive, or naive, and consign the fate of this earth to death by business as usual. Or we can fight back. We can stand up and say that a better world is not only possible, it’s being built right now, by the individual and collective acts of courage of every one of us.

To all of you reading this, to all my colleagues at Greenpeace, to all of us working for a better world, thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I wish you strength. I wish you happiness. I wish you courage.

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