In the early days we debated complex issues openly and often. It was a wonderful group to engage with in wide-ranging environmental policy discussions. The intellectual energy in the organization was infectious. We frequently disagreed about specific issues, yet our ultimate vision was largely shared. Importantly, we strove to be scientifically accurate. For years this had been the topic of many of our internal debates. I was the only Greenpeace activist with a Ph. D in ecology, and because I wouldn't allow exaggeration beyond reason I quickly earned the nickname "Dr. Truth." It wasn't always meant as a compliment. Despite my efforts, the movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s, just as society was adopting the more reasonable items on our environmental agenda.
Some activists simply couldn't make the transition from confrontation to consensus; it was as if they needed a common enemy. When a majority of people decide they agree with all your reasonable ideas the only way you can remain confrontational and antiestablishment is to adopt ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in favour of zero-tolerance policies.
The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Confessions of a Branch Gorevidian
Here's a great read from one of the founders of Greenpeace...............