Open Letter To Shell No Haters

Yes, I saw the sHell No meme while scrolling through Facebook.

For those who need a little catching up, there is a meme floating around the world wide web poking fun at the ‘kayaktivists’ who rowed out into Elliot Bay to protest Shell’s Arctic drilling.

It read: “Irony is watching Seattle enviros protest oil… in kayaks made from petroleum.” The particular one I saw was reposted from the Facebook page of a conservative environmental group called the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. They added the comment: “They came in automobiles fueled by oil, wearing clothing made from oil, to protest oil, in kayaks made from oil. Then they tweeted their photos on phones made from all oil and drove home. Share the irony.”

Whoa. Ok. Let’s back it up because, well, duh. Realize it just cannot be helped in this oil-based economy and that this structural injustice makes it nearly impossible to forego all usage or boycott everything oil is linked to.

Also, petroleum is not necessarily bad; rather, it’s where we pull petroleum from. Petroleum can be pulled from better and safer resources. And the way Shell is doing it would wreck the environment. The nearest town the drilling will take place is not equipped with proper infrastructure to handle a possible oil spill, and spills would disrupt marine life and food webs.

Taking a step in the right direction doesn’t mean overnight perfection. So yeah, the kayaks may be made from petroleum, but it doesn’t mean we are okay with this continued structural injustice. So instead of criticizing the petroleum-made kayaks, can we talk about taking a stand against unjust means of attaining that resource?

—Bianca Sewake, Online Content Editor & Managing Editor