As many of you are undoubtedly aware, Greenpeace has spearheaded a campaign
of vandalism and fear in their effort to eradicate agricultural biotech. It
goes without saying that this disregard for the law is not only offensive,
but also very dangerous. Fortunately, many people have decried this tide of
violence, including other members of the environmental movement (Friends of
the Earth, e.g.). It looks like Greenpeace is feeling the heat - membership
is dropping and funds are drying up. That said, Lord Melchett, executive
director of Greenpeace UK and the instigator in the destruction of a test
field last summer in England, remains unrepentant (see his quote at the end
of the article).
I would encourage you to put more heat on them by visiting the Greenpeace
parody site, http://www.greenpiece.org, and sending them a Harry Potter style
Howler to let them know they've been bad. For every Howler email that is
sent, the parody site will donate $1 to the homeless.
This is fun, and also supports a good cause.
Read the article below for details on Greenpeace's trials and tribulations.
Very truly yours,
Sunday Times says Ukraine office to close -
Sunday Times, 30 July 2000
GREENPEACE, the environmental pressure group, is in crisis. The world's best
known green campaigner has lost more than 1.6m members and seen its income
plummet by £30m.
Greenpeace International's annual report, to be published shortly, will show
that the organisation has had to slash spending, find millions of pounds to
prop up its troubled American group and rethink its strategies to try to
reverse the decline in its fortunes.
Its difficulties increased recently when Thilo Bode, 53, executive director
of Greenpeace International which oversees the 30-odd Greenpeace groups
around the world, announced his departure. This follows the resignation of
the entire board of Greenpeace US, which was once the biggest national group
but has been in disarray for several years.
In Britain membership is down to 200,000 - a 33% decrease from the
In the past few weeks the organisation has also faced a virulent attack from
one of its own founders. Dr Patrick Moore has accused Greenpeace of being
"dominated by leftwingers and extremists who disregard science in the
pursuit of environmental purity".
Greenpeace was born out of protests against American military testing in the
Aleutian islands off Alaska in the 1960s.
At its peak in the mid-1980s the organisation had more than 5m supporters
worldwide - including celebrities such as Sting, Sir Elton John and Tom
Jones, who supported its save-the-rainforest campaigns.
Fifteen years later, however, the picture is very different. By 1994 the
numbers had dropped to 4m and since then have fallen to 2.4m. In 1995
worldwide gross income reached £101m, but by 1998, the last year for which
figures are available, this had fallen to £83m.
Meanwhile, say insiders, Greenpeace has assumed some of the trappings of the
global corporations that it attacks. Recently it hired an Italian hilltop
village and flew in the heads of its national operations for a week-long
meeting on policies and campaigns.
In the face of such costs it has been forced to tighten its belt and the
Amsterdam-based international office, which licenses every other affiliated
group, has begun insisting that national groups must make a profit or face
closure. The international office and the three ships it controls, including
the Rainbow Warrior, are funded by a levy on national groups.
Last week Bode confirmed that Greenpeace International is to close its
office in Ukraine. Similar closures have already been imposed on the offices
in Ireland and Scandinavia, where national groups have been merged into a
single one called Greenpeace Nordic.
In America things are even worse. At its peak in the early 1990s, the group
there had more than 1m members, providing a cash cow for Greenpeace
International. Membership has now plummeted to 300,000. This weekend Kirsten
Engberg, the executive chairman, announced that she is to resign.
Instead of appointing a successor from within, however, Greenpeace plans to
take over a separate environmental group called Ozone Action, highly
respected in America for its campaigns against global warming, and rename it
John Passacantando, Ozone Action's founder and executive director. will
become head of Greenpeace US. Elsewhere, groups face increasing questions
over tactics. "The public is bored with seeing us chaining ourselves to
ships and cranes," said one campaigner. "The trouble is, that's what we do
Bode, who says he is leaving to seek new challenges before retirement,
acknowledges that direct action "can now look a bit tired. We have to be
careful of creating a certain fatigue".
In Britain four years ago such fears led to an intensive reorganisation of
Greenpeace UK and an angry parting of the ways with senior campaigners. The
credibility of the British organisation was also damaged by the campaign
against Shell's scheme to dump the disused Brent Spar oil rig on the sea
bed. Greenpeace made basic errors in its scientific analysis and had to
The consequent decline in the British group's profile was reversed last year
with its controversial entry into the debate over genetically modified (GM)
crops. Its decision to send activists into fields to rip up trial plots has,
however, been questioned by other green groups who say such confrontational
tactics belong in the past.
Tony Juniper, campaigns and policy director at Friends of the Earth, said
environmental groups such as Greenpeace risked being a victim of their own
success: "They helped put the environment on the agenda, but now we all have
the more difficult task of finding solutions and that requires a more
Greenpeace's critics are, however, agreed that it would be wrong to write
off the organisation. Only last week it revealed the results of a
sophisticated investigation into illegal logging which exposed the British
Museum and Heal's, an upmarket furniture store, as purchasers of illegally
felled tropical hardwoods from the Amazon.
Lord Peter Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the
organisation's fortunes were improving. "People are increasingly aware that
the environment is at risk as never before. Membership has turned the corner
and the latest figures show that it will start rising both globally and
nationally from this year."