Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Protest at Arctic Council Events in Portland

Today 25 of us gathered in Portland, Maine at noon to protest outside an event being held inside the Museum of Art by corporate entities promoting the coming possibilities of 'exploitation' of the Arctic region due to the escalating reality of climate change.

Maine's Sen. Angus King gathered some federal seed money to attract the Arctic Council's annual meeting in Portland.  All week various entities, including a couple of the big corporate legal firms, are holding events in conjunction with the Arctic Council's official meeting - which by the way is a secret meeting, no public citizens or even the media are allowed to attend.

I knew that Sen. King had gone on a US Navy nuclear submarine ride under the Arctic sea in 2014 and has been a big promoter of the idea of exploitation of the region - particularly for Maine.  While Sen. King does talk about climate change, and was once a proponent of wind turbines being put in the Gulf of Maine, he lately has shown much greater interest in development possibilities to 'take advantage' of melting ice as well as the militarization of the Arctic region.  In fact when I called into a statewide radio program he was on a couple of days ago he suggested I go protest in Moscow after I had commented on his participation in efforts to demonize Russia over control of the Arctic.

Also on the 2014 submarine ride was Adm. Jonathan Greenert, at that time the chief of naval operations.  In a New York Times Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman, Adm. Greenert said, “In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it....We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.”

Our protest today was covered by a local TV station (CH 6) and Maine Public radio.  We made a couple key points:

What we need are national and international efforts to deal with climate change. We call for the immediate demilitarization of the Arctic. We can’t afford to turn the Arctic into a war zone, nor can we have a mad rush to drill for fossil fuels across the region. The Arctic Council should work to prevent these things from happening, not promote them. Thursday's protest was intended to show the Arctic Council and Sen. Angus King that the public is deeply concerned about climate change and is watching what they do. We also call for the conversion of the military industry complex so our tax dollars can be used to build commuter rail systems, solar power, wind turbines and tidal power systems.  Studies show that we'd get more jobs from building sustainable technologies which could help in a small way to deal with the coming ravages of climate change.  But we must act now to transform our fossil fuel dependent culture.  The public must speak out loudly now before it is too late!

At the protest I also talked about how Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic. One key reason why the US-NATO are pushing for regime change in Moscow is because the fossil fuel extraction corporations are itching to break Russia up into smaller countries so it would be easier for these oil interests to cut deals with weaker and more isolated nations to drill off their Arctic coasts.  Russia of course sees the writing on the wall and has defensively moved to ensure that the western pirates are not able to come and steal the treasure that was once inaccessible under the ice along their northern coastline.

Thanks to those who came out today to help direct some public attention onto this important issue.  Poco y poco.....



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