Some insights about Greenpeace, from one who knows

Why I Left Greenpeace“, Patrick Moore, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, 22 April 2008 — Excerpt:

In 1971 an environmental and antiwar ethic was taking root in Canada, and I chose to participate. As I completed a Ph.D. in ecology, I combined my science background with the strong media skills of my colleagues. In keeping with our pacifist views, we started Greenpeace.

But I later learned that the environmental movement is not always guided by science. As we celebrate Earth Day today, this is a good lesson to keep in mind.

At first, many of the causes we championed, such as opposition to nuclear testing and protection of whales, stemmed from our scientific knowledge of nuclear physics and marine biology. But after six years as one of five directors of Greenpeace International, I observed that none of my fellow directors had any formal science education. They were either political activists or environmental entrepreneurs. Ultimately, a trend toward abandoning scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas forced me to leave Greenpeace in 1986.

The breaking point was a Greenpeace decision to support a world-wide ban on chlorine. Science shows that adding chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the history of public health, virtually eradicating water-borne diseases such as cholera. And the majority of our pharmaceuticals are based on chlorine chemistry. Simply put, chlorine is essential for our health.

My former colleagues ignored science and supported the ban, forcing my departure. Despite science concluding no known health risks – and ample benefits – from chlorine in drinking water, Greenpeace and other environmental groups have opposed its use for more than 20 years.

Opposition to the use of chemicals such as chlorine is part of a broader hostility to the use of industrial chemicals. Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” had a significant impact on many pioneers of the green movement. The book raised concerns, many rooted in science, about the risks and negative environmental impact associated with the overuse of chemicals. But the initial healthy skepticism hardened into a mindset that treats virtually all industrial use of chemicals with suspicion.

Sadly, Greenpeace has evolved into an organization of extremism and politically motivated agendas. Its antichlorination campaign failed, only to be followed by a campaign against polyvinyl chloride.

… We all have a responsibility to be environmental stewards. But that stewardship requires that science, not political agendas, drive our public policy.

From Wikipedia:  Patrick Moore (born 1947) is a Canadian ecologist, environmentalist , activist and industry public relations professional. He obtained a Ph.D. in ecology {no date given} from the Institute of Animal Resource Ecology, University of British Columbia.  He was a co-founded of Greepeace in 1971.   He founded Greensprite after leaving Greenpeace in 1986.


If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

6 thoughts on “Some insights about Greenpeace, from one who knows”

  1. World Development

    Some agreements were signed with China on Energy use,
    carbon emissions, etc bang in the middle of the greatest
    economic crisis since 1929. Details of those and the plan
    behind them would be useful.

  2. World Development

    There’s been relative silence on economic issues in the
    African continent during the current crisis.
    The only way to develop countries there is to establish peace;
    that requires the ability to impose sanctions against violent
    There’s a food crisis on there; pretty severe;if those
    countries go with imported GMO seeds, then future embargos
    become easy.
    No barbarian dictator can resist a ban on export of GMO seeds
    in future and when all the people starve it won’t matter
    whether it’s
    the Tutus, Hutus, Tutsis, etc various tribes that are
    being selectively made to starve.
    So there aren’t going to be any Rwandan massacres, Darfurs, Congolese wars, etc in

  3. I have nothing but scathing contempt for many, most, of the ‘official’ Green organisations (not all though and definitely not the hard working underpaid scientists who are trying to find us a way out of this mess we are in). I have even had some very close relations with some quite senior Green politicians in the past.

    This has not been an overnight conversion, just the cumulative impact of watching them:

    (1) Concentrate on trivialities. E.G. I’m watching a serious move here in Australia to ban free plastic bags from supermarkets. Whoopie do, that will make such a difference to the environment, CO2 production, the massive megatons of waste we produce every year, peak oil, etc. I feel so much better now. Watching an idiot smugly walking to a supermarket with their green (yes they are actually green coloured) bags so they don’t need any free pastic bags is living proof of my first law of humans “never underestimate human stupidity”. Note they are not getting up in arms about the much more wasteful and polluting plastic food coverings with plastic trays, etc.

    (2) Kill nuclear power. The most developed, safest, most economic alternative electricity generation to coalfired power stations (and for some countries the only real alternative).

    (3) Hit the wrong targets. An example: GM crops. Now the potential is tremendous but you have to daft not to realise there are serious issues there. But this is nothing to do with GM itself, just the system that allows major corporations to monopolise and twist the technology for their own benefit. Fight the corporations and get laws changed you dolts.

    (4) Fight the wrong financial battles. Example: I never heard a squeek from the Australian Green parties about cuts to CSIRO’s (our scientific organisation) agricultural research programs. They love to have whole swathes of land wrapped up into national parks, but where is the money to manage them! I actually saw the NZ Green parties kill the South Island forests, not dead yet, but in a generation there won’t be a tree standing.

    (5) Bow to ‘left’ wing parties. Anytime a so called ‘left’ wing party is elected (e.g. Democrats, Australian Labor, UK Labour, etc), they go to sleep and let them run rampant, missing the point that they are supposed to be neutral defenders of the environment, against any political party. Wake up call:
    left wing’ parties are just as much in bed with: coal/gas/oil/fishing/big agri-business/etc as the ‘right’ wing ones. In our last election here, big business put more money into Labor then they did the Liberal (our conservative) party.

    (6) Run off into ‘left’ wing obsessions. You want to join a left wing party and deal with other issues then go there. Green parties are supposed to be above all that and JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE ENVIRONMENT no matter who is in power. Forget tax, welfare spending, etc, etc, just focus. Never make any political trade offs on (say) welfare spending .. you are supposed to be a blasted Green party.
    (Sorry for the shouting but they drive me up the wall sometimes).

    (7) Think big picture. The classic example is plastic bags vs zero CO2 nuclear power. Forget saving the lesser spotted swing wing one legged warbler … save the rain forests and the mangrove forests. Sod whales, what about the total devestation of the major fishing grounds (in land tems the equivalent would be nuking every worthwhile piece of agricultural land .. and then sowing it with anthrax afterwards)?

    The only people who really think that the Green parties have achieved anything much is the coal companies. They would quote Lenin: who said “useful idiots”, and thank them for destroying a serious competitor … and for nothing as well.

    {Rant moment over.}

  4. “So there aren’t going to be any Rwandan massacres, Darfurs, Congolese wars, etc in

    World Development : IMHO, it’s gonna take more than just ABUNDANCE to stop ’em from killin’ one another. Bloodlettin’ seems to be unfortunately in their genes.

  5. 2 Trillion tons of ice melted
    3 Trillion tons of ice re-frozen
    Net: 1 Trillion tons of ice gained
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please do not post news headlines or info without a link. This is the internet, not graffiti on a wall. Links make the difference.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: