When Carola Rackete is consulted if she is interested in giving an interview, she replies, dry: “The world does not need another white hero.” She does not use the word “heroine,” as she prefers to be called “captain” instead of “captain” when commanding a ship. He argues that his status as a woman is evident enough to need to twist the words in feminine. On board the Arctic Sunrise, of the Greenpeace organization, Rackete travels through Antarctica as part of the crew. He knows that the rumble of the breaking glaciers, several times a day, is the soundtrack of a planet in climate collapse. Antarctica melts. To cope with overheating, summon the global community to conjugate the verb to disobey. And live what he preaches: Rackete is a disobedient.
For disobeying, in 2019 he became known throughout the planet. On June 12, he led the humanitarian ship Sea watch 3 when they found a drifting boat in the Mediterranean full of people fleeing violence in Libya. Rackete disobeyed. Instead of returning them to the country they had fled from, as the coast guard demanded, he welcomed them aboard. He claimed that Libya was not a safe place for survivors. With his ship loaded with refugees, many of them embroidery because of the torture, he tried to dock on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The then Interior Minister, the ultra-rightist Matteo Salvini, prevented him. While she waited for an always postponed solution, the health of the passengers deteriorated. On June 29, Rackete disobeyed again: he landed without authorization at the port of Lampedusa with his desperate ship. And they arrested her.
She is vegan and her house is where she owns her backpack. Always carry a Kindle and do not watch movies or series, read
Rackete does not speak Italian, but German, Spanish, English, Russian and French. More than German, he prefers to identify himself as “European,” a statement that becomes more meaningful after Brexit. He grew up in a town around Celle, in Lower Saxony, and as a teenager his main activity, in addition to studying and sleeping, was to play World of warcraft in the computer. His father is an electrical engineer who came to work in the arms industry and his mother is an accountant. There was no magical awakening to global warming. It was, as she defines, “a journey.” When working on ships doing scientific expeditions, I listened to the researchers, witnessed the effects of climate change and saw their desire to learn increase. After graduating in Nautical Sciences, he did a master’s degree in Environmental Conservation.
He has no address for eight years. It goes from project to project, many volunteers. If you are forced to live with money during the intervals, you never spend more than 500 euros a month. He has dreadlocks because it is very windy in the oceans and he prefers not to waste time fixing his hair. On his horizon there are no children or marriage. Your loved ones are a community made up of friends scattered all over the planet. It is vegan, although it accepts the vegetarian menu if there is no other option. Rackete’s house is where his backpack is, where he carries a tent, a sleeping bag, half a dozen items, two pairs of shoes, 10 panties, a computer and a Kindle with about 100 books. Rackete doesn’t watch movies and series. Read.
Attacks the dogma of economic growth. Faced with the collapse of the planet, he says, worse would be to obey
Last summer, the Italian judge who released her said Rackete had done her duty to save people on board. But Rackete still has two pending charges in Italy and his future is uncertain. How to move in a world where people are arrested for saving lives? Where the authorities of so-called democratic countries criminalize humanitarian rescue by calling it trafficking in persons or stimulating illegal immigration? Rackete’s response is to live according to his own rules, which means “confronting the system directly”: fighting for collective well-being instead of individual, cooperating instead of competing, caring for the other instead of protecting him.
At 31, she represents a new type of human emerged at the edges of climate warfare. Unlike rebels from other historical moments, it does not move by hope, but by what it calls “humanitarian imperative.” Its logic is not to win, but to fight. Not alone and yes next to all who are willing to create a society capable of living without leaving the planet exhausted. “The Earth has not run out because there are too many people, but because a minority has consumed most of the resources,” he says. In his first book, It is time to act (Paidós), is positioned next to the thinkers who attack the dogma of economic growth: you can not grow more, you have to distribute the wealth that exists equitably.
While touring Antarctica, the geography where he spends more months a year, Rackete is dedicated to thinking about how to face the economic system. The future may be very difficult from a climatic point of view, but there is an opportunity to create a more just society. Quickly, because there is no time. This captain already has a course: “The problem is not civil disobedience, but obedience.” It is time to act. And to act, he says, is to disobey.