What does it mean when human beings, and high profile ones at that, put their lives on the line to defend against a perceived threat to future lives?
These Greenpeace activists, which include their International director, have attached themselves in a small motorboat to the anchor of a massive ship poised to assist in completing the construction of an oil rig in the Arctic. Their sign proclaims “Do Not Destroy Our Children’s Futures.” How do these activists connect their “children’s futures” to the issue of this boat completing an oil rig?
On the level of our biological reality, the molecular building blocks of life (water, carbon, etc.) all interconnect and blend together through global systems. These people seem to be identifying their lives with the importance of the biological quality of life of their children’s futures–which they connect to whether or not more carbon-based fossil fuel is drilled and burned.
For many millenia, humans could survive and thrive on the assumption that our lives would be relatively free from toxic pollutants and extreme weather and temperature fluctuations that could wildly skew our ability to manage our food and water, and destroy species diversity. But now, can we really say that anymore? Oil drilling and burning has produced these effects in our lives on a planet-wide scale. My generation (I was born in 1986) is a generation not just of traditional cyborgs (whose identities are made up of both natural and technological systems), but also we have been biologically shaped by the technological consequences of our recent ancestors. People my age and younger will have never interacted with the world the way humans had for thousands of years–we cannot experience the world as being predominantly determined by a vast network of self-regulating systems. My generation’s only “natural” interactions have been with a thoroughly human-influenced landscape, whether we are considering land use, forests, fresh water, atmospheric makeup, or other biological factors once strictly considered in the “natural” domain.
What kind of consequences will this have on my generation’s consciousness? I think this photograph of direct action, in which people are putting their immediate bodies in danger in an effort to secure the safety and well-being of a broader living system, is something we will begin to see much more of.