This is an interesting little segment of news, that amuses me but doesn’t surprise me. And why should it? A ship of well-meaning hippies that floats around the Seven Seas, harassing oil rigs is just the place where we are likely to find that sort of stuff (that stuff being opium straw and morphine). This revelation is highly questionable, as we are entirely dependant on Russian authorities for the information. Which is never good. Greenpeace deny it of course, and so on and so forth.
What’s really interesting about this case is the question which is underlying: Should international vigilante groups be able to roam the seas, generally making a nuisance of themselves to oil-rigs and other such enterprises?
My environmentalist heart says yes, the part of me which wants to be A.N. Wilson says no. Violence is never justified, unless used by a government. Although it sounds silly to say, its a rule we generally abide by. The Taliban uses violence to achieve its ends, and we hate it because we dislike its ends. I wonder how we would feel if the Taliban were campaigning for compulsory MacDonald’s? I would like to say that our opinion wouldn’t change, but the West has been known to support more than one or two questionable regimes and groups in its effort to spread disgusting, force-fed consumerism across every inch of the earth’s surface.
Why should it be any different for Greenpeace? I believe their cause is excellent, and worth defending, and I’m not overly keen to compare them to the Taliban. But equally, there can be no justification for direct action of a violent or destructive nature. To believe that one cause is so special as to deserve exception from that rule is to go against logic.
On another level, what Greenpeace stands for, and its end goal, is something most would find it hard to argue with. Oil drilling is a process whereby the sea bed is pierced by a long drill, in order to obtain crude oil. That crude oil is then fractionalised into various sorts of fuel which are burnt to power our factories, schools and hospitals, not to mention our thousands upon thousands of Ipads. The burning of hydro-carbons result in water and Carbon Dioxide, which pollutes our atmosphere and traps the sun’s heat, causing the ice-caps to melt, and sea levels to rise.
Which we shouldn’t be overly keen about, considering that human civilisation is mapped mostly along the coasts: