About 200 people gathered on the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage on Monday afternoon to protest offshore drilling in the Arctic and to speak in favor of stronger measures to fight climate change.
Danielle Redmond with Alaska Climate Action Network helped arrange the protest, which featured a model of Shell’s drilling rig with the moniker “Polar Profiteer” instead of “Polar Pioneer.” She says they’re glad that President Obama is in Alaska and has spoken about climate change, but he hasn’t done enough.
“The message that has become clear to us is it’s absolutely up to us, to ordinary people, to create the political space that is needed for real change.”
Redmond says it’s hard for Alaskans to speak against the human causes of climate change. “People are terrified and they feel like they’re the only ones and are alone. Because we’re an oil state. Our economy depends on it. And so it is a challenging thing to confront that and face that reality and to find solutions on how to move forward in a better way.”
“I’m here at the climate rally is because I feel pretty strongly that the way to look at this topic is through science,” says Anchorage resident Terri Pauls as she waved a dark blue Earth flag. “I just find it super disappointing that so many people chose to ignore or dismiss solid science. I believe we have over 12,000 studies from many decades now.”
Carl Wassilie from Western Alaska joined the event. He also attended protests against Shell in Seattle. He says he objects to offshore drilling because he says the oil industry has not helped Alaska Natives and infringes upon their rights.
“We’re still in the same situation we were 40 years ago, getting third world diseases in the villages. Adn that’s with 40 years of drilling onshore, primarily onshore in the Arctic. We don’t need to go offshore. It’s not going to help the planet and it’s not going to help the people.”
Others spoke about the impacts of drilling on wildlife and subsistence hunting.
Americans for Prosperity had also planned a rally, but it was canceled for logistical reasons.