Greenpeace Uses LEGOs to Save Polar Bears

Published on November 7th, 2014 | by

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The summer sea ice volume in the Arctic has shrunk 75% in the last 30 years. Impacted by climate change, melting arctic sea ice is subsequently speeding up the rate of global warming. The ability of the arctic ice to reflect some of the sun’s heat back up into space has always played an important role in stabilizing Earth’s temperatures. But as global warming speeds up, further threats to arctic sea ice are placing people and wildlife in that region in jeopardy. Ultimately, we can’t afford to underestimate the significance of this issue. Loss of arctic sea ice is threatening world economic stability, due to changing weather patterns impacting global food production.

Greenpeace Goes Into Action

Famously at the forefront of environmental activism, Greenpeace is working tirelessly to focus the world’s attention on the crisis of melting sea ice in the Arctic. Hoping for 10 million supporters, they are well on their way, with over 6.3 million signatures when I added my name to the petition a few days ago.

The stated goals of Greenpeace include saving the planet, defending polar bears, and preventing oil spills. They hope to accomplish this by blocking oil companies Shell, Gazprom, Statoil, Exxon, and others from invading the fragile Arctic. Initiating campaigns to block the major oil companies, Greenpeace is employing a strategy that targets major oil company partners, as well.

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Launching the Attack on LEGO

After a three-month campaign launched by Greenpeace, and supported by more than a million people worldwide, LEGO has proven that the strategy works. Succumbing to pressure, LEGO lately announced it will not renew a major contract with Shell. In a recent statement by the CEO of the LEGO Group, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp announced that LEGO will not renew the co-promotion contract with Shell when the present contract ends.

“Children are our major concern and the central focus of our company,” stated Knudstorp. “We are determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet that children will inherit. Our unique contribution is through inspiring and developing children by delivering creative play experiences all over the world.”

Children Raise an Inspiring Protest…

One of the more important tactics in Greenpeace’s campaign against LEGO involved an ingenious use of LEGOs. Using that creative inspiration to make a stronger statement, young LEGO fans set up camp in front of Shell’s London headquarters. Then they built LEGO Arctic animals to join them in protesting their favorite toy’s partnership with the destroyer of Arctic ice and wildlife.

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A LEGOlution Ensues…

Toy LEGO people joined the movement, as well, forming a LEGOlution that spread from Hong Kong, to Paris, to Buenos Aires. Miniature LEGO people held small but significant protests against their LEGO bosses’ partnership with Shell. In a particularly brilliant act of protest, LEGO plastic people hacked a Shell gas station just outside of Legoland in Billund, Denmark.

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A Video Goes Viral…

A viral YouTube video involving a hot tub, a Game of Thrones character, a remixed popular song, and a very sad polar bear received massive media attention, and almost six million views. YouTube took the video down, citing a “copyright” issue, but after 18 hours of huge public outcry, the video was reposted.

LEGO Lashes Out…

Unhappy with the huge media pressure generated against LEGO, the company lashed out at Greenpeace. “As we have stated before, we firmly believe Greenpeace ought to have a direct conversation with Shell.” Knudstorp continued whining, saying “The LEGO brand, and everyone who enjoys creative play, should never have become part of Greenpeace’s dispute with Shell.”

Greenpeace counters that “LEGO is helping Shell look like a responsible and caring company – rather than a driller intent on exploiting the melting Arctic for more oil.”

“To maintain respectability in the face of growing opposition to Arctic drilling,” says Greenpeace, “Shell needs to surround itself with decent and much loved brands – museums, art galleries, music festivals, sports events. LEGO’s announcement is an important step towards blowing Shell’s cover.”

…And Finally LEGO Caves

LEGO entered the current long-term co-promotion contract with Shell in 2011, and LEGO states that the company will honor this contract “as we would with any contract we enter.” However, with the help of one million people over the course of a stiff three-month anti-LEGO campaign, the toy company caved. There will be no future renewal of the contract with Shell.

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But Time is Still Running Out

As of 2014, the Arctic sea ice cover has reached one of its lowest points on record. Although the recently enlightened LEGO Group is now planning to leave Shell, Shell has no plans to leave the Arctic. Recently announcing plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic in 2015, Shell is continuing to place corporate greed and the fossil fuel industry ahead of environmental protection.

Greenpeace hasn’t let up on pressuring Shell. Intently campaigning for public support, the following message is offered on the Greenpeace website, “Save the Arctic:”

“The Arctic is home to incredible wildlife, from majestic polar bears to blubbery walruses and mysterious narwhals. But all Arctic species depend on sea ice to survive, and the ice is vanishing with terrifying speed.

“Unless we take action soon, experts warn that polar bears could disappear completely from the Arctic in the next 100 years. Without sea ice to hunt, rest, and breed, the very survival of polar bears and other wildlife is under threat. Mother polar bears, weak and starving, have trouble reproducing. Their cubs must fight the odds to survive into adulthood.

“If oil companies are allowed to drill in one of the world’s most extreme, isolated, and unpredictable environments, a deadly oil spill is not a question of if – but when. Toxic oil could leak unchecked beneath the ice for years, polluting the lands and livelihoods of people who have called the Arctic home for millennia.

“Ask world leaders to create a global sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole, and a ban on oil drilling and destructive fishing in Arctic waters.”

Please consider signing the Greenpeace petition to help save the Arctic. Every little action adds up, every single signature represents our awareness of the crisis, and informs the world that we are interested in achieving solutions.

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About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid is a native of Long Beach, California, residing in Egypt. Besides being the Site Director and a writer for InspiredEconomist.com, she also writes for PlanetSave.com and EdenKeeper.org. A retired Computer Engineer with the U.S. Dept. of Defense, her latest work published for the DoD was "Personal Financial Management." Commissioned by Congress, this award winning 10-course training set is hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, and is mandatory financial training for every branch of the US Military.