A Response to Commentors in the Oregonian: On Being a Portland Kayaktivist and Living in an Oil Dependent World

This posting was written by one of our members, but its contents reflect the shared perspective of the Portland Raging Grannies.

The post is in response to the comments made on the Oregonian/OregonLive article about the event.

            I am one of the Portland Kayaktivists who took to the river Saturday to bring greater awareness to the community at large of the very grave danger we are all in due to the extractivist economy we are all part of – whether we want to be or not.

Some of you point out that these crazy kayaktivists most probably drove their cars to the starting point and then climbed into their kayaks made of petroleum products.

Yes.  We are painfully aware of this apparent contradiction.  And we do all within our power to participate in the extractivist economy to the least degree possible.

Quite a few kayaktivists and land activists rode their bicycles to the starting point and then used the rental kayaks to join the flotilla.  The rental kayaks arrived about fifteen to a vehicle – so the least possible amount of petroleum product was used to transport them over land.

Others, like me, drove our cars.  I use my car very little.  I ride my bike to do the bulk of my errands.  If I need to go into the city, I take the bus.  I use twelve tanks of gas per year.  I keep records for tax purposes and I know I have accurate figures on this.  I use bus, train or, regrettably, airplane, for longer trips.  This is the economy I live in.  I choose to see my grandchildren several times per year because they bring so much joy into my life.

It is very difficult to look at extinction point blank.  It takes a great deal of courage.  It is really hard to live with the knowledge that we may be one of the last generations to inhabit this earth – that human beings, like the DoDo Bird, are subject to extinction.  Nobody wants to live in the interminable state of depression this knowledge can bring to one’s life.  Most people choose to look in a different direction.

One way to deal with it is to make fun of the people who choose to look into the future, no matter how bleak it may look.

Another way is to say, “They may be right, but if it’s true, I’m just going to live my life as happily as I can.  There’s nothing I can do about it anyway.”

Others say it must be God’s will.

I’ve heard people say, “What’s so wonderful about humans, anyway?”

If it were only humans it might not be so bad.  Unfortunately, we’re probably talking about most, if not all, life forms.  That’s a pretty awful spectacle – and far be it for me to blame folks for not wanting to look.

The way I’ve chosen to deal with the reality I cannot hide from is to do things like the Kayaktivist Flotilla.

We had a lot of fun telling the folks on the Fennica Ice Breaker to go as slowly as possible repairing the leaky vessel that is required by its Obama-gifted licensure to be up in the Arctic next to Shell’s drilling rigs before they can legally (not morally, just legally) drill for oil in the extraordinarily sensitive Arctic waters.

The longer the repair takes, the less time they have to drill.  The drilling season is still pretty short.  Of course, as Climate Disruption continues, we can expect that the time available for drilling will become longer!

I choose to deal with  Climate Disruption by becoming active with people and activities I enjoy while remaining aware of the incredible danger we are all in and remaining open to new knowledge about how to hold it off and eventually to overcome it.