The Arctic Warrior: a fine marine reserve in the making (photo: Greenpeace)
Like most caring, nurturing souls who believe in a cleaner, better, happier world I’m keen for the 30 Greenpeace activists currently being held on piracy charges by the Russians to be released from prison as soon as possible. If you saw last Thursday’s coverage of the issue on BBC Newsnight, you might understand why.
It featured an interview with Paul Simonon, formerly guitarist with the Clash, about his experiences in 2011 when – after getting involved in a similar Arctic rig protest with Greenpeace – he found himself arrested by the Norwegians. The way Emily Maitlis’s brow furrowed sympathetically during the interview, you’d think he’d been banged up for a year in the punishment block of Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea, not held for a day or two in a cell in Greenland. Little was left to the imagination as to where the programme’s sympathies lay; nor, perhaps, would one expect otherwise from a programme now edited by an ex-Guardian man Ian Katz.
Simonon’s heartbreakingly moving account of celebrity suffering nicely set the tone for the subsequent studio non-debate between Greenpeace’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo and a Russian journalist. Naidoo was given carte blanche to chant the green mantra: “Scientists have told us we are heading for catastrophic climate change”…”children and grandchildren’s lives at risk”…”addicted to oil” etc. Not one of these extravagant claims was challenged by Maitlis. (To be fair, she probably wasn’t sufficiently well informed to question or contradict them – and in any case had she tried to do so she would have been in breach of the BBC’s semi-official policy to big up the great climate change threat at every opportunity.)
Maitlis did at least question Naidoo on the wisdom of sending RIBs full of Greenpeace activists against an installation as high security (and vulnerable to terrorism) as an oil platform owned by the Russians. Naidoo described Greenpeace’s action as “responsible and proportionate” – apparently because the threat posed to the world by ‘climate change’ is so grave that no action to raise awareness of it could possibly be deemed irresponsible and disproportionate. (Though as Pierre Gosselin notes at No Tricks Zone, he appears to be developing a more emollient line now that he knows that Russia means business and that any more goading and grandstanding from their mouthy executive director could cost the Greenpeace 30 rather longer in the slammer than they’d anticipated).
My sympathies in this regard are mostly with the Russians. (As are Dominic Lawson’s in this excellent piece here) They’re being painted by the BBC as the bad guys for over-reacting by imprisoning supposedly harmless, peace-loving activists as “pirates.” But how, exactly, is a country meant to react when one of its most vital industries is threatened with economic sabotage? Russia – unfortunately for the Greenpeace 30 – has yet to fall prey to the kind of intellectual decadence which now afflicts much of the West on green issues. In Europe, for example, our industry has a longstanding tradition of caving to Greenpeace’s every bullying demand – as we saw when Shell gave in over Brent Spar. And even on those rare occasions when industry stands up to it – as Kingsnorth Power Station did when it sued Greenpeace for the £30,000 of damage carried out by its protestors – Greenpeace can not only afford the best legal teams you can buy when you’re a multi-national organisation with annual global revenues of £196 million but can also rely on a sympathetic hearing from juries which have been brainwashed from childhood by a farrago of Greenpeace lies, half-truths, junk-science factoids and emotive propagandising.
I understand perfectly why the Russians wish to teach Greenpeace a lesson so hard that hereafter it will concentrate its anti-capitalist activities against countries of a more surrender-monkey persuasion. But if they really want to hit back at Greenpeace they should do so where it really hurts – financially – rather than handing it an unnecessary propaganda coup in which, day after day, the likes of Kumi Naidoo and his celebrity mates Damon Albarn, Jude Law and Paul from the Clash are able to go on presenting a bunch of hard-Left activists hell bent on destroying industrial civilisation as lovable, heroic martyrs.
If they’re feeling generous, the Russians could impound the Greenpeace boat Arctic Sunrise until Greenpeace pays them a swingeing fine. If they’re feeling a bit more hard core, they could take a leaf out of the French’s book and sink it.
Personally I’d favour the second option – purely on environmental grounds, of course. As we learnt from the disposal of the Brent Spar and also of the Rainbow Warrior, a sunken boat or a sunken oil platform do quickly make a truly excellent marine habitat.