The former Beatle, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday
, joined other big names such as Richard Branson, Thom Yorke, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Robert Redford in supporting the petition. Greenpeace eventually hopes to have more than 1 million names added.
"It seems madness that we are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find the last drops of oil when our best scientific minds are telling us we need to get off fossil fuels to give our children a future," McCartney said. "At some time, in some place, we need to take a stand. I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic."
Greenpeace's new campaign comes in response to the recent Rio+20 United Nation's conference on sustainable development, which the group slammed as a "failure of epic proportions.
“The Arctic is coming under assault and needs people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it,” Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International said. “A ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable fishing would be a huge victory against the forces ranged against this precious region and the 4 million people who live there."
With up to a quarter of the world's untapped gas and oil reserves locked up in the Arctic, countries such as the U.S., Canada and Russia are rushing to lay claim to parts of the region. Greenpeace hopes enough people around the world will recognize such a threat and work together to stop it.
"A sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole would in a stroke stop the polluters colonizing the top of the world without infringing on the rights of indigenous communities,” Naidoo added.