Life choices, and hopes for the future
8 April 2015
Blog post by Andreas Widlund on board the Polar Pioneer My name is Andreas Widlund. I am 27 years old, and I grew up in Umeå in the Northern part of Sweden. As you read this, I will have boarded Shell’s oil rig, Polar Pioneer, that is on the way to the Arctic to drill for oil. We are an international climbing team of six, who are the middle of the Pacific Ocean to send a clear message on behalf of many more. But before I go deeper into why, I would like to tell you how I got here.
For the last five years, I have been living in Oslo, Norway, where I have been working as a rope access technician. I started out by working in central Oslo doing maintenance such as window washing and other tasks on the outside of tall buildings, but the company, I was working for was closely associated with Norwegian oil industry as well. For a long time, however, I avoided taking the opportunity to travel offshore to work on oil rigs, since it simply did not feel right.
After working in this environment a few years, I somehow forgot my beliefs and in a way, I think I lost myself. The last two years, I have been traveling all around Norway, working on different rigs for different companies. For the first year, I did not think so much about it. I just did my job and enjoyed the money and all the free time that followed with the job.
Every time I was back on shore, I spent most of my time in the mountains, climbing and doing other alpine sports. I love being in the nature, especially during winter. Every weekend during the coldest months of the year, I go ice climbing, which is both more challenging and fascinating than any form of climbing, at least to me. It is not about reaching the summit as much as it is being out there, in the remote places almost only climbers go, far away from the loud city life.
The more time I spent out in the Norwegian mountains, climbing, trekking and enjoying what nature created, the more I started to question myself. Am I really doing the right thing? Do I really want to work for those who are polluting the oceans? Those who speed up the global warming, those who perhaps unintentionally – but well aware – are leading to suffering of people and animals by extracting the last drops of oil this planet has to offer.
Not that long ago, I heard about Shell’s plan to return to the Arctic following the nearby disaster during their last attempt. After going back and forth over a few days, this ultimately led to one of the biggest decisions in my adult life and the one that I am most proud about taking. I decided to start listening to myself again and not be afraid of the consequences. I quit my job, rented out my apartment and took this opportunity to act in accordance with my beliefs. It feels like such a relief!
Being here in the middle of the Pacific, finally, I have the chance to stand up for myself, my own future and for all the people that suffer great losses just for a few barrels of oil. By doing this, I hope the message we are trying to send stops Shell from going up to the Arctic, to go up where whales, walruses, polar bears and people lives in a way we need to respect. And I hope to inspire others to take a stand and follow their beliefs.
The more people making their voices heard, the more difficult it becomes for the oil companies to keep doing what they are doing. This is what they fear the most. It is us against the polluters and right now, right here, I am telling Shell to get the fuck out of the Arctic. I know I am running a personal risk, but I feel supported and confident and should I end up before a judge, my hope is that he or she will understand the importance of the message we are attempting to send on behalf of far more than just six people.
Beyond that, I hope for a future climbing and working on windmills, instead of trying to fix a broken oil industry, which is much more about the past than the present and future I want to live in.
– Andreas Widlund on board the Polar Pioneer