Interview with Environmental Activist Organizing to Stop Shell


May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Short interview with Zarna Joshi, Seattle resident and environmental activist with sHellNO, which is sponsoring actions to stop Shell’s drilling in the Arctic.


Revolution: Can you tell our readers why you’ve called these protests and why people should come out to them?

Hundreds of kayaktivists take to the water during a protest against drilling in the Arctic and the Port of Seattle being used as a port for the Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer, May 16, 2015, in Seattle. (AP photo)
Hundreds of kayaktivists take to the water in Seattle during a protest against drilling in the Arctic, and against the Port of Seattle being used by the Shell Oil drilling rig, Polar Pioneer (in background). May 16, 2015. (AP photo)

Zarna Joshi: These protests are about the people of Seattle showing their opposition to Arctic drilling and the chaos of climate change. We want to send a message to the fossil fuel industry that we’ll never allow them to destroy the Arctic—not on our watch. The Arctic’s fragile ecosystem is already on the brink of collapse from climate change! We need to make a rapid and just transition to clean energies and green jobs, not keep repeating the same mistakes of the industrial revolution and continue down this path of greed and exploitation. A catastrophic oil spill in the Arctic (scientists have predicted there’s a 75 percent chance of this happening) will massively increase carbon pollution and ocean acidification and that will lead to the extinction of species all over the world. Burning Arctic oil will push the world past the level of 2 degrees warming, warmer than anything considered safe for the Arctic or humans. We must stop this disaster from happening.

Revolution: What is the basic plan and aim of the protests, what do you hope to accomplish?

Zarna Joshi: The festival of resistance is three days of direct action. May 16 is the family-friendly flotilla, where hundreds of protesters will get in kayaks, canoes, boats, barges, and whatever else they wish, and be a massive show of strength on the water against fossil fuel infrastructure. We’re going to show Shell, and any other company that wishes to drill in the Arctic, that while they have money, we have people and our people will stop this. On May 17, there will be a potluck and family picnic in Jefferson Park, which will be a chance for people in this movement to share food and music and build ties and connections in this movement. Then on May 18, there will be mass direct action on land showing Shell and the oil companies that we will never let them succeed in this plan to drill in the Arctic.

Revolution: How do you connect these actions to the larger environmental dangers, including climate change?

Zarna Joshi: These actions are about so much, including climate change. These actions are showing that the people are ready to move beyond this archaic fossil fuel economy. We want green jobs, sustainable infrastructure, investment in clean energy, justice for indigenous peoples all over the world, and protection for our fragile ecosystems and endangered species. The sHellNo movement is addressing the root cause of climate change—this system of greed, exploitation, colonialism, and racism that is ruining our planet. The people of Seattle are saying “sHellNo!” to that system.


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