Artivists take to the seas to save the Arctic

My name is Mike and I have been one of the three judges of the #SaveTheArctic poster competition, and what an honour that has been. In a meeting recently we chose the top entries to the competition. Soon I will meet the three lucky young winners; Anastasia, 21, from Russia; Sara, 18, from Spain; and Emile, 20, from Canada. I will meet them in the Arctic where it will be my pleasure, as captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, to welcome them on board for a voyage where the sun will never set.

Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Anastasiya Terekhova / Greenpeace  Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Sara Medina Rodriguez / Greenpeace Arctic poster competition winner. 2016 © Emile Maheu / GreenpeaceArctic poster competition winners

I followed the competition closely and can confidently say that I’ve seen every single one of the over 2000 original posters from people in 75 countries around the world. I’ve tweeted some of my favourites along the way, like Bear Walks into a Bar.

There were other funny ones – like giraffes poking their heads above the rising sea level. Some dramatically scary but powerful entries – a fist of dollars throttling a polar bear. Life of Pi made it there in a lifeboat filled with Arctic mammals. A few displaced penguins made it to the Arctic – I had to point them South. It was really difficult to choose amongst the creative images because each one left impressions that a thousand scientific journals could not do. I was exposed to “artivism”.

Urban 'Art Festival' for the Arctic in Barcelona, with more than 35 artists painting around 600 meters of walls (1.500 square meters). 9 April 2016. © Greenpeace / Carlos AlonsoUrban ‘Art Festival’ for the Arctic in Barcelona. 9 April 2016. © Greenpeace / Carlos Alonso

M. K. Asante, author of It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop describes the artivist: The artivist (artist + activist) uses her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary. The artivist knows that to make an observation is to have an obligation.

While I was moved by many of the posters in the contest, it was Sara, Anastasiya, and Emile that captured this so strongly that I was swept into the feeling of their work, and my eyes kept returning their pieces.

Arctic poster competition entrant. 2016 © Marijke Wehrmann / GreenpeaceArctic poster competition entrant. 2016 © Marijke Wehrmann / Greenpeace

The latest season in the saga of the Arctic is about to begin and there is always something you can do to help. You don’t have to join the boat to be part of the crew. With social media you can amplify everything and together we can #SaveTheArctic.

View a gallery of some of the top 55 posters at Save The Arctic.

Mike Fincken has been sailing with Greenpeace for over 20 years. This summer he captains Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship to Svalbard, Norway to document the effects of destructive fishing in the Arctic.

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Samsung’s LED Component Test Lab Approved by UL for UL Total Certification Program

SEOUL, Korea – May 26, 2016 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in advanced component solutions, today announced that its test lab for LED packages and modules has been qualified by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a widely-recognized global safety science organization, to operate the UL Total Certification Program (TCP), one of the highest levels of testing and qualification under the UL Data Acceptance Program (DAP).

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The Value of Dark Skies – About Environmentally Friendly Lighting by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)

For many years no one worried about light pollution: on the contrary, the brighter the better. Then it became evident that darkness also has its value. J. Scott Feierabend, executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), presents and explains in detail, the latest findings and
suggestions published in the “New IDA LED Lighting Practical Guide” and “New IDA Standards on Blue Light at Night”. He also discusses how to illuminate public areas while avoiding excess light pollution.

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INFOGRAPHIC: What you should know about the heart of the Amazon

The Tapajós River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the entire Brazilian Amazon. But this river in the heart of the rainforest and the people and ecosystems that depend on it face a serious threat.

Here’s what you need to know. Click to zoom in:

Infographic: The Tapajós River in the Amazon Rainforest is under threat.This infographic is based on information from the Greenpeace Brazil report The Battle for the River of Life.

Now that you know the threat the Tapajós faces, take action! Help protect the heart of the Amazon. 

Alia Lassal was an intern with the Americas Communications Hub at Greenpeace USA

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Create Colorful and Bright LED Light with an LED Matrix Dimmer by Linear Technology

RGB LEDs are quite common and used in many applications today. More advanced multi-color solutions like RGBW, RGBA or RGBWA offer huge advantages over RGB solutions, but several aspects are more complicated. Keith Szolusha, applications engineering section leader for power
products at Linear Technology explains the advantages of RGBW systems, how they work, how to set up such systems, and how to drive them correctly using Linear Technology’s LT3965 8-switch LED matrix dimmer in combination with the LT3952 boost-buck LED driver as an example.

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What my grandmother would say about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

World leaders are meeting in Japan for the G7, but on a side trip, President Obama is doing something no sitting US president has done before: visit Hiroshima. The city was flattened during World War Two by the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. Now more than ever, we need leadership to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. We need to go nuclear-free.

Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima

The people of Hiroshima have waited nearly 71 years for a sitting US president to visit their city, and witness the scars from the first nuclear bomb ever used in war.

My grandmother won’t be there to welcome Mr Obama as she no longer lives in the city.  She is a Hibakusha, one of the survivors of the bomb who was exposed to its radiation. For the past few years, I’ve been listening to the stories of the Hibakusha after attending a peace ceremony in Hiroshima in 2013 and hearing one of the survivors tell her story. She begged me: “Please, listen to my story while I am still alive”.

There were nearly 16,000 children in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped. Thousands of others had been evacuated to the surrounding countryside. But they were all affected. Some died instantly, others days or weeks later from radiation poisoning. Many of those who were spared the bombing lost their families. They became known as the A-bomb orphans, and there were 6,500 in Hiroshima alone after the war.

Peace Memorial Museum testimonies

If you go to the museum of the bombing in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, you can listen to the voices of those who were there.

“The world was dark. There was nothing. People lay dying in the streets, their heads soaked in water because of the burning. There were dead horses. Dogs, cats and birds had all disappeared. After the bombing, people kept dying. A smell like fish filled the town.”

Photo provided by Mr. Noboru KatayamaPhoto provided by Mr. Noboru Katayama

The people in this photo lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. They all died in the bombing.

When you examine the photo, you see only women and young children, those who could not be evacuated to the countryside. Most of the men were enlisted as soldiers. About 90% of the people remaining in Hiroshima were women, children and the elderly.

The people in this photo were at Ground Zero when the bomb dropped. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover.  

The suffering of survivors

A survivor of the bombing, Tadamichi Hirata remembers his mother’s words: “I want this war to finish. I want us to live together as a family.”

This wish was never granted. The mother and her younger child died in the bombing.

Some of the survivors, even now, do not want to talk about what happened to them. Their suffering didn’t end with the bombing. Thousands died of radiation sickness after the war. Others faced years of discrimination in employment and marriage because of fears of the radiation they had suffered.

My grandmother also didn’t talk much about those terrible moments. But when she did, her words were very simple “Everything collapsed. Every living creature perished. We should never make such a big mistake again.”

If she had been able to be at Hiroshima for Mr Obama’s visit, I think that is what she would have told him.  And I hope it is what other survivors tell him.

There has been a lot of talk about an apology.  But stronger than an apology, I think, would be the words “Never again”.

Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima

President Obama has made a courageous step to come to Hiroshima. But the US, which still has 4,700 operational nuclear warheads, is not learning from the mistakes of the past. Rather than rid the world of nuclear weapons, President Obama’s administration has proposed a US$1 trillion plan to update and expand his country’s nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. That’s at the same time the US is cutting funding for nonproliferation efforts.

No more. It’s time we reimagine global security not around war, but on peace. As my grandmother told me: “We should never make such a big mistake again”.

No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more war.

Daisuke Miyachi, is a former staff member at Greenpeace Japan. Shortly after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, he was part of  Greenpeace Japan’s radiation team checking radiation levels in Fukushima. He is originally from Hiroshima and has been working as a storyteller – remembering and recounting the stories of victims of the atomic bombs.

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Shell spills again: Pipeline leaks 20,000 gallons of oil in northern California

For the second time in two weeks, Shell has spilled thousands of gallons of oil, this time in California’s Central Valley.

Shell Pipeline Oil Spill in California, 24 May, 2016, @ Noah Berger/Greenpeace

Less than two weeks after dumping nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Oil is at it again. The company’s San Pablo Bay Pipeline, which transports crude oil from California’s Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area, leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons into the soil near in San Joaquin County this week.

Responders are on the scene to clear oil that’s reached the surface, which county officials say covered roughly 10,000 square feet of land. As of today, Shell representatives claim the pipeline has been repaired, but have not resumed operations.

Local government officials and Shell responders are investigating the cause of the leak, and currently report that no oil has entered drinking water sources or populated areas.

Responders work to repair sections of the broken pipeline, 24 May, 2016, ©Noah Berger/Greenpeace

While two large oil spills in two weeks may seem like a pretty epic failure — particularly for a company that just said “no release [of oil] is acceptable“ — in reality this is what business as usual looks like for an industry built on polluting our environment and driving climate disaster.

In fact, this same pipeline sprung a leak just eight months ago in almost the same location, spilling roughly the same amount of oil into the ground.

Adding irony to injury, the spill occurred on the site of one the state’s largest wind energy developments, the Altamont Pass Wind Farm. Wind energy, it should be clarified, does not release toxic chemicals into the soil or contribute to runaway climate change. Perhaps Shell responders on the scene will take note.

Containers of oil-contaminated soil sit among wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm near the site of the spill, 24 May, 2016, ©Noah Berger/Greenpeace

Interestingly, Shell officials decided to wait three days before releasing a statement to the public about the spill — after shareholders convened at the company’s Annual General Meeting in The Hague, Netherlands. The spill was first detected early Friday morning, but not publicly reported until Monday evening Pacific time.

Environmental watchdog groups are still monitoring the impacts of Shell’s spill in the Gulf, some pointing to the oil industry’s history of under-reporting the extent and impact of spills as reason to stay vigilant.

What’s increasingly clear is that companies like Shell aren’t going to stop polluting in pursuit of fossil fuels we can’t afford to burn on their own — we’re going to have to rise up to stop them.

History shows us that the more fossil fuel infrastructure we have (and we have a lot in this country) the more spills like this we’ll see. So let’s not build more — business as usual for the fossil fuel industry cannot continue.

Help put an end to leaks, spills and fossil fuel pollution while fighting for the climate at the same time. Tell President Obama to end all new offshore drilling today!

Ryan Schleeter is an online content producer at Greenpeace USA.

A version of this blog was originally posted on Greenpeace USA.

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Hunting for ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff

Not a lot of people know this, but the North Sea is one of the most beautiful places in the world to make a dive. On a perfect day, the visibility is endless, the water is a beautiful blueish green and – if the tide is calculated right – there is almost no current.

On the seabed, you can find hundreds of old wrecks. Some heavily damaged, some still looking like a ship. They are almost magical time capsules. They are little paradises, full of live. Without exception the wrecks areheavily overgrown with anemones: brilliant white and soft orange colours. You see schools of fish swimming between throughout the wrecks. n nooks and crannies you find the homes of hundreds of big North Sea crabs. Sometimes you see impressive lobsters as well. And if you look closer, you’ll see all sorts of colourful little animals: nudibranchs for example, or fragile looking tube worms.

I have been diving since 2001, after I took a course during a holiday in Malawi. After I got my first diving c-card I made some dives in tropical waters. But it didn’t take long to learn to appreciate the wonderful cold waters of Northern Europe. My first North Sea dive was in 2002 and from that moment I was hooked.

Unfortunately, since those early dives I have seen a big change. The schools of cod disappeared from the wrecks. We started to find more and more lost fishing gear. And sometimes, when you arrived to a wreck, it was like entering a graveyard. There would be big lengths of lost gillnets, draped over the body of the sunken ship. In them the last cods, that you can find in this place. Dead, rotting… Of course this would attract other animals. Scavengers, like the North Sea Crabs. They also get stuck, they die very slowly.

In 2009, with a group of volunteer divers, we started to clean up this mess. Removing the nets and fishing lines, so no more animals could get stuck. But also documenting — making pictures –so that everybody could see what the problem is,maybe even more importantly, show them the beauty of our cold waters. If nobody knows how special the North Sea really is, there is no change and this fragile nature can’t get the protection it needs. When in 2012 the Ghost Fishing Foundation was founded, I joined immediately.

And here we are today, onboard the Arctic Sunrise, one of the famous Greenpeace ships. Greenpeace Germany is targeting the big pile of lost and abandoned ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff, a beautiful area of the North Sea that desperately needs the protection it deserves. This is a protected area, but in reality the protection is only on paper. The campaign team asked the Ghost Fishing Foundation to help. Of course we said ‘Yes!’

We are here with nine volunteers divers. The conditions are almost perfect, except for the visibility. At the moment, blooming algae are a bit of a problem, but hopefully they will disappear soon.It is sunny, no wind, the sea is almost as flat asa mirror. Two times a day we jump out of the pilot door, into the water (eight degrees at the moment). Today we were hunting ghost nets on an unknown steel wreck at a depth of 23 meters. Old: it has a steam engine. And yes, there are ghost nets. As a matter of fact, we have hit the jackpot. There is a big lost trawlnet hooked on the sharp steel parts of the wrecks. But also loads of gill nets. We have put lift bags on the big trawlnet and are carefully cutting it loose from the wreck. It is a special feeling when you see big parts of the net leaving the wreck and floating to the surface of the North Sea. Bye bye, good riddance.

Tomorrow we will go down again. The hunt for ghost nets is not over. If you are looking for them, you will find them on every wreck. The coming days, we would like to show you the problem. But hopefully we can also show you the beauty of the North Sea and Sylter Aussenriff.

 

Annet van Aarsen, 47, from Leiden, the Netherlands is a volunteer diver onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

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Hunting for ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff

Not a lot of people know this, but the North Sea is one of the most beautiful places in the world to make a dive. On a perfect day, the visibility is endless, the water is a beautiful blueish green and – if the tide is calculated right – there is almost no current.

On the seabed, you can find hundreds of old wrecks. Some heavily damaged, some still looking like a ship. They are almost magical time capsules. They are little paradises, full of live. Without exception the wrecks areheavily overgrown with anemones: brilliant white and soft orange colours. You see schools of fish swimming between throughout the wrecks. n nooks and crannies you find the homes of hundreds of big North Sea crabs. Sometimes you see impressive lobsters as well. And if you look closer, you’ll see all sorts of colourful little animals: nudibranchs for example, or fragile looking tube worms.

I have been diving since 2001, after I took a course during a holiday in Malawi. After I got my first diving c-card I made some dives in tropical waters. But it didn’t take long to learn to appreciate the wonderful cold waters of Northern Europe. My first North Sea dive was in 2002 and from that moment I was hooked.

Unfortunately, since those early dives I have seen a big change. The schools of cod disappeared from the wrecks. We started to find more and more lost fishing gear. And sometimes, when you arrived to a wreck, it was like entering a graveyard. There would be big lengths of lost gillnets, draped over the body of the sunken ship. In them the last cods, that you can find in this place. Dead, rotting… Of course this would attract other animals. Scavengers, like the North Sea Crabs. They also get stuck, they die very slowly.

In 2009, with a group of volunteer divers, we started to clean up this mess. Removing the nets and fishing lines, so no more animals could get stuck. But also documenting — making pictures –so that everybody could see what the problem is,maybe even more importantly, show them the beauty of our cold waters. If nobody knows how special the North Sea really is, there is no change and this fragile nature can’t get the protection it needs. When in 2012 the Ghost Fishing Foundation was founded, I joined immediately.

 

And here we are today, onboard the Arctic Sunrise, one of the famous Greenpeace ships. Greenpeace Germany is targeting the big pile of lost and abandoned ghost nets on Sylter Aussenriff, a beautiful area of the North Sea that desperately needs the protection it deserves. This is a protected area, but in reality the protection is only on paper. The campaign team asked the Ghost Fishing Foundation to help. Of course we said ‘Yes!’

 

 

We are here with nine volunteers divers. The conditions are almost perfect, except for the visibility. At the moment, blooming algae are a bit of a problem, but hopefully they will disappear soon.It is sunny, no wind, the sea is almost as flat asa mirror. Two times a day we jump out of the pilot door, into the water (eight degrees at the moment). Today we were hunting ghost nets on an unknown steel wreck at a depth of 23 meters. Old: it has a steam engine. And yes, there are ghost nets. As a matter of fact, we have hit the jackpot. There is a big lost trawlnet hooked on the sharp steel parts of the wrecks. But also loads of gill nets. We have put lift bags on the big trawlnet and are carefully cutting it loose from the wreck. It is a special feeling when you see big parts of the net leaving the wreck and floating to the surface of the North Sea. Bye bye, good riddance.

 

 

Tomorrow we will go down again. The hunt for ghost nets is not over. If you are looking for them, you will find them on every wreck. The coming days, we would like to show you the problem. But hopefully we can also show you the beauty of the North Sea and Sylter Aussenriff.

 

Annet van Aarsen, 47, from Leiden, the Netherlands is a volunteer diver onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

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We’re calling ‘lights out’ on Thai Union’s ocean destruction

Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean at night is incredible: you feel the vastness of the sea around you, the raw power of the waves, and the thick darkness.

Now imagine from miles away, you see a glowing mass on the horizon. As you get closer you make out the source: intense beams of light from an array of approximately 80 high-powered lamps, searing into the water all night long. Marine life is teeming under the surface, drawn to the brilliance of the light.

The supply vessel Explorer II in the Indian Ocean. Activists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza peacefully confront marine operations at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain, the latest in a series of global protests against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. At 06.00 local time, activists in inflatable boats deliver a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel using an underwater seamount to perch on and contribute to massive depletion of ocean life.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

That’s what we found when we encountered the Explorer II, an ominous-looking vessel in tuna giant Thai Union’s supply chain. It’s not like any ship we’d ever seen, and its lights seem to only have one purpose: a controversial method used to attract all kinds of ocean animals before other fishing vessels come and set nets around the lot.

That’s right: everything.

Activists on board the Esperanza have been out in the Indian Ocean for over five weeks cleaning up Thai Union’s supply chain; tracking and removing destructive fishing gear which plays the same role as the Explorer II. Marine life gathers underneath the gear and then ships come and set their nets around it. But the Explorer II is a whole new scale of operation and the potential for overfishing and indiscriminate harm to marine life is huge.

The supply vessel Explorer II in the Indian Ocean.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

Unlike other ships, the Explorer II doesn’t move around. It anchors itself to one spot – we’ve repeatedly found it using the underwater Coco de Mer seamount north of the Seychelles – so fishing vessels know where to find it. Then it just sits there, beaming light into the water to attract fish.

With the help of citizen research by supporters in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Italy, we know that this ship’s Spanish owner, Albacora Group, is supplying Thai Union and its European brands including John West, Petit Navire and Mareblu.

And what we’ve found points to the Explorer II likely engaging in reckless fishing practices – the kind that are killing marine life indiscriminately, driving overfishing by emptying our oceans and robbing local fishing communities of their livelihood.

Greenpeace Activists confront supply vessel Explorer IIActivists on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza peacefully confront marine operations at the heart of Thai Union’s supply chain, the latest in a series of global protests against the tuna giant’s destructive fishing practices. At 06.00 local time, activists in inflatable boats deliver a cease and desist letter to the deck of the Explorer II, a supply vessel using an underwater seamount to perch on and contribute to massive depletion of ocean life.  © Will Rose / Greenpeace

We couldn’t sail by and let business as usual continue. So we’ve confronted the vessel, blacked out their lights with environmentally-friendly paint and driven them from their perch on the seamount. They didn’t like the attention and fled – we pursued and, as we write, we’re still on their tail.

And just today, at a political summit on tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean, the use of the kind of lights on vessels like the Explorer II was banned.

It’s easy to feel small in this vast sea, but we as humans are impacting on it massive ways. It takes a movement of hundreds of thousands of people to demand change and respect for our oceans, but fortunately, that’s exactly what we have.

Why don’t you join the wave?

Tom Lowe is Multimedia Editor at Greenpeace International, on board the Esperanza.

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