So that’s the Arctic saved, then

Yesterday, you probably would’ve heard about the six female Greenpeace activists climbing London’s newest and tallest tower, the Shard. At first glance, I’ll admit I was unsure as to the reason why. Was it a protest against the fact the Shard looks so unfinished? I mean, why didn’t they make it pointy instead of all jagged and splintered? The organisational freak in me cannot handle it. But it wasn’t. Their aim was to draw attention to the Save the Arctic campaign, saying: “Shell is leading the oil companies’ drive into the Arctic… A worldwide movement of millions has sprung up to stop them, but Shell is refusing to abandon its plans.”

Shell added: “We work extensively with global Arctic stakeholders to research and develop standards and best practice on biodiversity, ecology, marine sound, oil spill prevention and response, safety and health.”

Whether you think the volunteer climbers were brave or foolhardy, their fifteen-hour stunt certainly got attention from the press. And Twitter. And the police. The day ended with the six spending the night in a cell.

Karen, 49, an Event Organiser, didn’t know of the plans to drill for oil. Having once sat in front of a bulldozer herself, she says she’s “grateful to the six climbers who risked their lives to bring attention to the plans of Shell.” Karen goes on to say: “It makes me angry to think big companies feel they have the right to destroy our planet, then use the excuse that it’s in the public interest. There was a Twitter frenzy yesterday and it was good to see #IceClimb trending.”

“Some naive people have since asked if they got permission to do the climb, but we all know there’s no way permission would have ever been granted. I think it’s great they were prepared to take this risk. We have a duty to do what we can to save our planet and to educate people, often through crazy stunts, as that’s very often the only way the world will sit up and take notice, as proven in yesterday’s climb.”

Karen takes her hat off to Greenpeace and to everyone who braved the elements to highlight the plight of the Arctic. “This gives me and everyone else hope. The law enforcers should have cracked open a bottle of champagne for these women, not put them in a police cell! I know Shell is not the only company that wants to drill in the Arctic, but hopefully any other companies thinking of doing so will be taking a second look at their plans.”

Laura, 32, a Digital Project Manager, says she couldn’t be prouder of the girls. As an activist and climber, she’s pro peaceful demonstrations and understands what great physical and mental efforts the six women put themselves through. “We need inspiring people like the ice climbers in order to be heard within the overwhelming amount of distractive information and misleading mainstream media chaos that is brain-storming us on a daily basis,” she says. “These women have a truly genuine point to prove, a principle, an ideal, a vision and they’re ready to go the extra miles to achieve it.”

“Their achievement is clear already: they’ve put the drilling high on the news and politic agenda. It’ll be harder now for politicians to dismiss the the topic and for Shell (or the likes) to avoid attention. The aim wasn’t stopping the drilling – six women alone can’t do that – but they’ve achieved a great goal yesterday: world attention!”

Laura truly feels it’s the right thing to do as they weren’t harming anybody. “Police intervention was to be expected but, in my opinion, unnecessary. I can see they’re trying to do their job (or have to!) but escorting the women out the building would’ve been enough. We’ll all know it was a stunt, and so do they.”

David, 28, a Press Officer for a British charity, thinks differently. He admits he’s no fan of Greenpeace and, after getting wind of their actions on Wednesday evening, he was far from impressed. “What I found, and still find, most confusing about their stunt was the decision to scale the Shard. They wanted to stop Arctic drilling, yet chose to make a point about this in central London. My question is simple – why?”

“My girlfriend says it’s about getting exposure and spreading their message. This is true, but only to an extent. Think back to the famous image of the stand-off in Tiananmen Square. ‘Tank Man’ made a massive difference to his cause. He wanted peace, so he stood in front of the tanks. ‘Swampy’ shot to fame in the mid-nineties after chaining himself to a tree in the path of the construction of the A30, therefore directly halting their progress.”

With this in mind, he can’t understand why the activists didn’t head to the Arctic and directly influence the very thing they’re campaigning against. “Instead,” David says, “they’ve just looked a bit silly, boasting about the six women in prison. They’ve wasted valuable police time, money and resources. It’d be interesting to know how many crimes took place during their PR stunt.”

David knows he’ll never see eye-to-eye with Greenpeace. “I’m all for campaigning about the cause you believe in, but if I wanted to stop Arctic drilling, central London would be the last place I would go.”

What about you? Did you support the girls, or do you think it’s just too ineffective to really bring about any change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!