April 15, 2013
Greenpeace Aims To Protect The North Pole With “Flag For The Future”
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
In 2007, Russian explorers dived down below the North Pole in a submersible and planted a national flag to make the point that it had rights to the energy riches of the Arctic. Now, a group of activists planted a "Flag For The Future" in the same area.
The move by the environmentalists, backed by Greenpeace, is meant to try and declare the region "a global sanctuary" that is "free from exploitation." The group also planted a time capsule on the seabed that contained the signatures of nearly three million people.
"A group of young people has just returned from the North Pole, where they went to declare it protected on behalf of all life on Earth. Backed by millions, they planted a flag for the future on the seabed and called for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole," Greenpeace wrote.
The activists held a ceremony at the North Pole, where they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag through the freezing waters to the seabed.
"I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was a signee on the document in the time capsule.
The team had to trek for a week across the frozen ocean in winds and temperatures well below freezing. They traveled about six miles a day, each dragging sleighs with up to 176 pounds of equipment behind them. The group had to hitch a ride with a helicopter towards the end of their journey after supplies dwindled and the moving ice took them further from the Pole. The helicopter placed them within striking distance of the Pole, giving them a shorter distance to complete their journey.
"I can´t feel the tips of my fingers or toes but my head and heart are filled with a newfound determination. Melting ice is a catastrophe, not a profit-making opportunity. To see it as such is utter madness. Three million people have now joined this movement to declare their commitment to save this vital part of our earth," said Ezra Miller, who was part of the team. "This is a collective responsibility. It´s up to all of us, and especially the youth, to change the way that humanity treats this amazing planet we love and rely on so completely."
Josefina Skerk, a 26-year-old Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden, said they hope their mission to the North Pole inspires the youth.
"Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole," Skerk said. "Together we're asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry."
When Russia first made its claim of the North Pole, Canada mocked the move, and said it was nothing more than a show.
"This isn´t the 15th century. You can´t go around the world and just plant flags and say ℠We´re claiming this territory´," Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay told CTV television in August, 2007.
Although Greenpeace and Russia have symbolically staked their claim at the Pole, international law says that five states have territory inside the Arctic Circle, including Canada, Norway, Russia, the US and Denmark due to its control of Greenland.