My name is Janni Hönscheid and I’m a surfer and model born in Germany but raised in the Canary Islands, where I grew up in a house right by the sea. My mum and dad were pro windsurfers back in the day and in travelling the world they came to Fuerteventura, and fell in love with the island's people, its calm, and the beautiful nature, so they changed their plans and stayed.
The beach was my playground growing up and I first stood on a board when I was eight. And now I actually make a living out of what I love doing the most, not only a living, but everything I am, all my friends, my passion, I even met my boyfriend of five years out in the sea (Tom Lowe). My whole life is built around this coast, and that’s just me.
When I heard that the Spanish government allowed the oil company Repsol to drill for oil in the Canary Islands – and one of the platforms would be only 9km away from Fuerteventura and Lanzarote – I was shocked. Especially given the the process has been as transparent as the oil itself. Everything that means something to me now feels threatened. The Canary Islands are a very important habitat, being home to cold water corals that host an abundance of marine wildlife, and situated in a transit zone of dolphins and whales, which could already get disorientated and die from the noises and disturbances that even a test drilling would cause.
It’s very common for seismic events to occur in this area. Studies (Geohazards Engineering) show that it’s only a question of time until an oil spill will occur.
Repsol tried the same project in 2001, but was stopped in 2004 by the Zapatero government. The Maritime International Organization declared this part of the ocean especially sensitive. If forecasts prove accurate, Repsol will produce 140,000 barrels a day. The profit would benefit private companies (Repsol, Russion Investmentfond Letter One, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd.). Jobs would go to specialized workers brought in by these corporations. The Canary Islands and their residents would be on the losing end.
Repsol themselves say in the environmental assessment that they can’t guarantee 100% safety, but also the drilling goes unusually deep (1500m under sea level plus 5000m under the seafloor), and also it’s very common for seismic events to occur in this area. Studies (Geohazards Engineering) show that it’s only a question of time until an oil spill will occur. And then there’s no way back.
The EU and UNESCO support the initiatives to make the Canaries a model for sustainability: did you know that another Canary Island (El Hierro) sustains itself 100% with renewable energy. Its dynamic approach sees territories as systems that include not only energy, but also water, mobility, food, education, business, etc. El Hierro is set to become the world’s first island to rely on 100% renewable energy. Lanzarote will follow in the next eight years. El Hierro’s combined wind and hydropower system has already reduced its annual energy costs by well over three million euros. El Hierro is closely watched by members of the international community, and plans are in place to replicate its concept elsewhere.
In my eyes that should be the example to follow. Specially here where we could use all the energy around us: wind, sun and sea. I see evolution in the world, technology, everything around us is getting better, faster, greater, shouldn’t we work together with the environment then, isn’t that what evolution is about?
I think the fact that we can protest to this madness and the chance that I get to write some lines about what I feel, are an opportunity, a gift, but more then all it’s a necessity and a responsibility: at least the small part of us human beings can actually speak and defend ourselves, now think about the whole world under water, all these beautiful beings of nature, all the energy, the part of life we can’t even put into words in our silly little minds, we are responsible! We need to stop this insanity now before it’s too late.
Having smashed the 100,000 signatory target, our goal is to add as many signatures as possible against Drilling for Oil in the Canaries before it is mailed off on April 12th. savecanarias.org, please help to save the Canaries, every voice counts, we have the power.
Keep up to date with the campaign here