Friday, July 9, 2010

Hands Across Sand calls for end to offshore drilling around the world

Photos from Hands Across the Sand, Yokohama, Japan

On February 13, 2010, over 10,000 concerned people in Florida, USA joined hands on nearly 100 beaches along the entire state coastline to demand an end to the dangerous, contaminating practice of coastal oil drilling.

Two months later, in one of the worst disasters in recent history, the entire southern U.S. Gulf Coast was threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill--a catastrophe whose full extent is still unfolding.

Aiming to prevent future similar disasters, the Florida organizers put out a call for a similar event to take place worldwide this past June 26th. From the official Hands Across the Sand website:
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is a wake up call. Even as the Gulf disaster grows, British Petroleum and other oil companies continue to push for new offshore drilling anywhere oil might be found regardless of the risks they pose. The offshore oil industry is a dirty, dangerous business and no one industry should be able to place entire coastal economies and marine environments at risk.

America could be, should be the world leader in expanding cleaner energy sources yet our political process is paralyzed by oil money. It is time for our leaders to take bold, courageous steps and open the door to clean energy and renewables and free our country from its addiction to oil.
Footprints on the Path to Clean Energy, the official blog of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, reports:
On Saturday, June 26th tens of thousands of people gathered at more than 900 locations in 39 countries to be part of an event called Hands Across the Sand. The message was simple, clear and powerful: NO to offshore drilling and YES to a clean energy future that will end our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels. This worldwide event transcended social and political lines to become one of the biggest grassroots phenomenona since the first Earth Day in 1970.

The 26th of June marked the 68th day since the world’s most technologically-advanced deepwater drilling rig exploded, killing 11 people and injuring others. After burning for two days, the rig sank on April 22nd, ironically the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Since then, tens of millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico and there is no definitive relief in sight. Thousands of square miles of ocean are devastated, shorelines and marshes are covered in tar and sludge, precious wildlife are dead and coastal communities, still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, are economically crippled.
The full report may be read here.

An interactive map from the Hands Across the Sand website shows the worldwide locations where events were held. Three took place in Japan, including one in Yokohama, where participant Cylinda Marquart had the following inspiring message to share:

"Most of us were strangers before we met up on the beach, and yet there was a powerful energy that seemed to run through our chain of linked hands," Marquart also commented. "It felt hopeful, somehow. For fifteen minutes I held the tiny hand of a two-year old that I had met only moments before, and he just beamed this amazing smile out at the ocean. I couldn't stop wondering what he was thinking."

The Hands Across the Sand event in San Francisco happened to coincide with a previously organized event titled Slash Oil, where more than 500 participants (including members of the antiwar group Code Pink) gathered for a creative human formation spelling out the event's name. Photos are available at the event website here. Event organizer Brad Newsham is a San Francisco-based taxi driver who organized several "Beach Impeach" events during the presidency of George W. Bush, and who blogs on the fascinating interactions that ensue when he offers one free ride to a taxi customer every day. His website is here.

Videos and photos from other events taking place worldwide are available on the Hands Across the Sand gallery page, as well as the up-to-the-minute Facebook page.

Naomi Klein's "Gulf Oil Spill: A Hole in the World", published recently in the Guardian, is the latest example of her masterful probe into the destructive forces of the neoliberal capitalist mindset that allowed the Deepwater Horizon disaster to occur.

Recent additional excellent, in-depth reports of the incident also include "The Devil Went Down to Louisiana: Disaster in the Gulf" from Curve magazine, and "The Spill, The Scandal and the President" from Rolling Stone Magazine.

--Kimberly Hughes


Drea said...

:( This spill is so depressing. Being on an island, I can't even imagine what a spill like that would do to our islands' communities. It's so sad how many lives are being so directly affected by the spill and then ofcourse the devastation to the environment and all the life in the Gulf.

TenThousandThings said...

Thanks for the comment, Drea. You are absolutely right. And of course the true extent of the tragedy is so hard to fathom for those of us so far away. We can only keep up the momentum, and hope that these citizen efforts somehow will make a difference...

Thanks again,
Kim at TTT