Bearing Witness is an integral idea for Greenpeace environmentalists. Since the first Greenpeace action in 1971, when the Phyllis Cormack sailed to Amchitka to protest against US nuclear weapons testing, being, essentially, ‘in the way’ or being able to report back to the world, has been a key Greenpeace strategy. Over the decades it has meant that the general public has been informed on matters that they normally would not have seen, and this knowledge has empowered people to be able to make a stand against some environmental horrors that, otherwise, would still be happening today.
So, it’s been a very happy weekend for Greenpeace and Greenpeace supporters, especially those in the UK who were able to visit the brand new Greenpeace flagship, The Rainbow Warrior III, which was launched just a matter of days ago after years of planning, fundraising and dreaming. The new ship is custom designed for Greenpeace, which means, unlike their other ships which have been retired trawlers, The Rainbow Warrior III will have a minimal carbon footprint. It can police the seas and bear witness whilst embodying the ideals of Greenpeace.
Visiting the ship was certainly very moving. Looking at the fast release Ribs brought images from videos to mind – of brave people, taking action and often putting themselves in harm’s way to do things for the benefit of the planet. Touring the social area, campaigns room, and even walking past the cabins, served as a reminder that there are people at sea, day and night, working to protect the environment. Now, that’s a heartening thought. No matter how much we might have to be depressed about when it comes to the environment, there is a glimmer of hope – there are people devoting their lives to doing something about it.
And Bearing Witness, especially at sea, couldn’t be of more importance than it is at the moment. With illegal fishing, shark finning, and whaling continuing to be of utmost concern, not to mention arctic ice melt, we need a ship out there to be watching the world for us, and letting us know what we are up against.