The Rise of Underwater Protests

I started looking up underwater protests, which as far as I can tell involve these occasions: in addition to the 2009 Maldives underwater cabinet meeting, which was held in response to sealevel rise and the impending submergence of their entire island nation, there have also been Green Peace protests in Cancun protesting sea rise.  However these seem like vacations compared with what’s currently going down in India: a group of people in Madhya Pradesh who stood in neck-deep water for over two weeks, protesting their loss of land after the government increased dam-level water.  They ended up with terrible rashes, rotting, and foot sores and wounds from fish trying to eat them.  Another creative protest to a nuclear power plant was held on the beach in ocean waves, with protesters hanging onto ropes for security with each other.   What seems so compelling about this form of protest is the extreme risk to the body that it involves, especially with damage to the skin, being around fecal matter, and other disease risks from the water.  I don’t think I could do it.  I have been privileged to consider my interactions with seawater and freshwater mainly in terms of recreation, but these protests–effective as spectacles–involve such a degree of risk that really compels attention.  It’s interesting that the underwater protests are primarily NOT about saving the oceans, but about politicizing the loss of land: this is true with the river, the Maldives, and to a certain extent the building of a nuclear power plant (although this one involves many other risk factors, including the decimation of local fisheries, so it is more about ocean health).

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