Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World
In the late 1960s, as cultural upheaval swept the world and American war resisters flooded north, a disarmament and ecology movement took shape in the streets, pubs, and private living rooms of Vancouver, Canada. In the decade from 1969 to 1979, the loosely-knit protest group adopted the name “Greenpeace” and transformed itself from an effective, but decidedly underground, international heckler into a mobilized, global “eco-navy.” This is their story.
Greenpeace recounts the exploits and conflicts of these pacifists, ecologists, musicians, journalists, attorneys, teachers, sailors, and scientists as they attempted – and often succeeded – to disrupt American and French nuclear bomb tests, Japanese and Russian whaling ships, and Norwegian infant harp seal hunters. With outlandish pranks and media savvy, they pressured governments, corporations, and private citizens to take a fresh look at their responsibility to the earth and future generations.
From Greenpeace: “The nuclear test Castle-Bravo on March 1, 1954, had been no ordinary nuclear bomb. It was something special, designed by the US military in response to the Soviet Union’s first nuclear test in 1951… common citizens around the world began to hear strange new words like “fallout” and “genetic mutation.” Two of the millions influenced by the nuclear bomb were Irving and Dorothy Strasmich in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1954 the young couple had been married for a year and Dorothy was pregnant with their first child… Dorothy and Irving were unsettled by the militarism of the American and Soviet governments. They joined the Quaker Society of Friends, became committed pacifists, and joined protests against nuclear weapons. Irving and Dorothy were attracted to the Quaker idea of “bearing witness,” which meant not only witnessing events, but also speaking out, bearing witness to others. The Quakers believed that a witness to atrocity becomes an agent of change.”
From Greenpeace: “By six o’clock, the sea had picked up a light chop from a southerly breeze. Walrus shrieked and pointed from the mast. Whale blows rose from the water in front of the Vlasny two miles ahead. With the harpooner over top of them, the whales dove again. To our surprise and elation, the harpoon boat turned back, toward us. Presumably, the frantic sperm whales had turned underwater and now led the whalers right at us. When they were about a half mile away, Hunter said, “Okay, this is it. Zodiacs.”
Greenpeace insiders have debated about “founders” since the group became famous in the mid-1970s. In the early years, no one thought about it or cared.
“We sat quietly and rocked in the mounting breeze. The skipper came into the galley and surveyed his crew. “Storm,” he said. “Will. George.” He turned and walked out onto the deck trailed by Will Jackson and Korotva. I followed. Paul Watson and Carlie Trueman stood ready on the deck. We lowered the stabilizer poles as the wind whipped up spray. We were 100 miles from the coast, over the top of Mendocino Ridge, heading northwest. The storm intensified to a full gale, blowing dense foam across the deck and limiting visibility. Walrus climbed high in the rigging. We heard a loud crack, like a gun going off, as one of the stabilizer poles snapped in a squall and flopped over in the waves.