Rockall 1997 – No new oil

Rockall 1997 - No new oil

Rockall is the tip of a volcano, a micro-continent far out in the North Atlantic, a rock 20 metres high in an ocean that sometimes has waves that big.

In 1997 we lived there for 42 days in a climate protest; watch the slideshow, it’s worth two minutes, and/or read on for more.  Almost nobody understood climate protest then.

The British claimed Rockall in the 1970s, and so claimed any under-sea oil within 200 miles. London started selling oil exploration licences round it in the 1990s. But the UK’s legal claim to the seabed and oil was very weak, because a UN convention said uninhabitable offshore rocks could not claim such rights.

By 1997 the Carbon Logic was clear: fossil fuels were cooking the climate, and burning even half of the oil we had ALREADY discovered would cause global chaos. Therefore it was clearly stupid to ‘discover’ more oil if we could never burn it. (read more on Carbon Logic).

Greenpeace challenged the deep-sea oil developments round Rockall by living on the rock that summer, to establish a stronger ‘territorial claim’ than the UK government’s;   to stop the exploration and raise awarness of this terrible ‘Carbon Logic’.  From the Greenpeace ship, volunteers for six weeks jumped in front of seismic survey ships, pushing them offcourse for hours each time and stopping their data-gathering for weeks. Oil companies bought a ship to follow us, the government put special forces commandos on it.

The ‘Global State of Waveland’ was started with a flag-raising ceremony on Rockall, it was an online ‘virtual nation’ in the early days of the internet; 15,000 people received citizenship certificates worldwide, hundreds of passports were issued. Waveland lived on for some years external to Greenpeace, but the hosting company went under. In much diminished form, it was revived and you can still apply for citizenship at

We installed a solar powered lighthouse the day we left Rockall, and on the way home we stumbled across an oil rig north of Scotland. The Stena Dee was a few miles from her next job – connecting the final plumbing for the first deep-water oil well in the Atlantic. People jumped into the water in front of her, and boarded her when she stopped. We hoisted up the pod and she could not move for the next week. Our captain was charged with piracy, a very serious crime with a possible life sentence. Oil rigs are not cheap – BP seized Greenpeace UK’s bank accounts in a demand for 1.4 million pounds, a foolish move that brought the story to the font pages. They soon backed down.

No New Oil was our slogan, and we called for 20% cuts of CO2, (compared to 1990 levels) by 2005. Ahh, if only people had listened – but back then most didn’t believe in climate change, didn’t see an urgency, and didn’t believe our carbon addiction was to blame.

A decade later, the fools are still wasting time and money looking for oil out there in the deep, dark, wild ocean.

See the slideshow, it’s worth two minutes

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12 responses to “Rockall 1997 – No new oil

  1. Pingback: Eco-Geekery » Post Topic » Rockall 1997 - A little inspiration for Blog Action Day

  2. hurray a picture of meeee!

  3. Guess what….Global warming happens oh and Global cooling too. All without us having to do anything or unable to do anything about it. It’s just a natural process…..Global warming caused by CO2 has been shown for the tax scam that it is/was. No more scare mongering please.

  4. lol @mark… really? that position is so uninformed it doesn’t even deserve a response anymore!

    What an interesting story, and the Rockall photoset on picasa was fantastic. This post, and Greenpeace/Rockall is even more relevant than ever– especially with BP’s mess in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Can you disprove his point with actual verifiable facts ?( remember figures from computer models are not facts)

    • @Chris – the way you have answered only showed Mark was right.
      Eco-fanatics and your eco-religion are similar to christianity of the medieval period. No evidence – no facts – no talks – “it as TRUTH you have to believe. And if you dont – we will burn you…”
      Its so un-scientific… its eco-fundamentalism tha is very dangerous.

      Btw.. it was 5 deg C this morning.. Its end of May -where is the global warming.
      And if its now cooling caused by previous warming then that means climate is self stabilising it self (?) Isnt it?

  5. LooneyTunes activists in search of what? Global warming/cooling
    is an academic pig trough of research funding. Next in line, the
    Earth First! idiots will think up something equally as bizarre.

  6. Nice story and slide show!

  7. Not sure about this global warming malarky! Part of me thinks if there’s even a small chance we’re ruining the planet for future generations we need to change our ways. Part of me wants to challenge greenpiece about using nylon/goretex waterproofs , fishing gut , marine deisel , paints , plastics etc etc ALL OF WHICH OWE THEIR EXISTANCE TO THE OIL INDUSTRY !! It’s a hard one especially for a wee Glasweigan Fireman who’s easily confused !

  8. Nice photo of a rough place. Camping place little vulnerable to forces of nature tough…

    I used to be a global warming believer myself, but then started to read skeptics’ blogs and lo and behold, I became convinced. Now I am a total convert from my previous beliefs.

    I suggest you read what the sceptics write. They are so much better informed than green/alarmistic/greenpeace -lobby.

    Greetings, V.

    PS. I must add, that I have a university degree from chemistry and physics. Just for perspective and background…

  9. I invest most of my money in oil, particularly oil sands companies. Global warming is a total myth and you have wasted your lives fighting it – though perhaps you have had some fun doing it.

  10. I’m a geologist. We’re due for the next ice age about now. Presumably you won’t be keeping yourself warm with any fossil fuels or man-made fibres. It’ll be pretty cold in your felt yurt shivering around a fire made of sustainable dried sheep dung…..

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