Greenpeace activism

Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, July 5th, 2015 - 23 comments
Categories: activism, Conservation, Environment, sustainability - Tags: , , ,

Herald columnist Paul Little has done some good stuff in the past, but today’s effort on Greenpeace is a disgrace. Nothing but ill-informed prejudice on parade:

It’s stunt season for show ponies

Friends don’t let friends work for Greenpeace. When one of my friends told me he was thinking of getting a job with them, I suggested he apply to a different circus.

He’s a smart and tough guy, hard-headed and practical but with a crusading streak that probably clouded his judgment in this instance. Because if you want to make the world a better place, isn’t Greenpeace the last outfit you’d hook up with?

The fiasco that saw a clutch of its members climb on top of Parliament and wave some signs around for a few hours recently can best be seen as the beginning of 2015’s stunt season.

Look forward to the next few weeks seeing publicity whores and show ponies saddle up to do the sort of good works that will get the maximum number of people looking at them and have minimal effect.

This is, of course, Greenpeace’s specialty. The organisation’s modus operandi has always been to gain vast amounts of attention by arranging and performing elaborate and eye-catching feats which have zero effect. ….

And so on.

I don’t know what Little’s problem with Greenpeace is, but he should grow up and get over it. Greenpeace does more good for the world every year than The Herald (which exists to sell advertising and make a profit) has or will manage in its lifetime.

For some reading on Greenpeace’s “zero effect” start with this list of Greenpeace victories. There are well over 100 entries stretching back to the 1970’s, and containing a few classics:

July 2010: New Zealand’s government announced a complete u-turn on plans to mine New Zealand’s best conservation land. There will be no mining in Schedule 4 land or any of New Zealand’s national parks now or in the future.

May 2010: Nestlé agrees to stop purchasing palm-oil from sources which destroy Indonesian rainforests. The decision caps eight weeks of massive pressure from consumers via social media and non-violent direct action by Greenpeace activists as the company concedes to the demands of a global campaign against its Kit Kat brand.

March 7, 2007: The New Zealand government announces cancellation of proposed coal-burning power plant Marsden B. Greenpeace and local activists had mounted a four-year struggle which involved a nine-day occupation, highcourt challenges, protest marches, a record numbers of public submissions, Surfers Against Sulphur, public meetings, and a pirate radio station.

2002: The European Union, followed by Japan, ratifies the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Intensive Greenpeace lobbying must continue because, for the protocol to enter into force, 55 parties to the convention must ratify it.

1992: France cancels this year’s nuclear tests at Moruroa Atoll, following the Rainbow Warrior visit to the test zone, and vows to halt altogether if other nuclear nations follow suit.

1982: After at sea actions against whalers, a whaling moratorium is adopted by the International Whaling Commission.

1975: France ends atmospheric tests in the South Pacific after Greenpeace protests at the test site.

Or try this much shorter piece:

Greenpeace’s Biggest Victories Against Corporations and Politicians

Greenpeace has secured one of the most high-profile victories in its history, after pressuring Lego to drop its contract with Shell. It’s the latest in a long line of victories Greenpeace campaigners have claimed, often using guerrilla tactics in order to do so. …

For example:

Kingsnorth Power Station

Police surround protesters during a sitdown protest at the gates of Kingsnorth Power Station near Rochester in Kent, southeast England August 9, 2008. Climate protesters breached security to enter the site of the coal-fired power station in southeast England on Saturday but German firm E.ON, which runs the plant, said output had not been disrupted.Reuters
Greenpeace activists ran a long and high-profile campaign to close down the Kingsnorth coal and oil-fired power station in Medway, Kent and have claimed they were instrumental in the plants’ decommissioning in 2012.

Specifically, the station closed as a result of the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, but Greenpeace has claimed success in the government’s decision to shelve plans for a new coal-fired plant on the same site, calling it “the British climate movement’s biggest victory”.

Over a period of three years, a series of Greenpeace activists occupied the power station, occupying their chimneys, causing tens of thousands of pounds in damage and stopping boats from delivering shipments of coal to the station’s terminal.

Greenpeace Campaigner and one of the so-called Kingsnorth Six Ben Stewart said: “Little did we know, as we dragged ourselves up 1053 rungs of a ladder, that a year later we’d be acquitted by a jury which believed the plant posed more of a threat than we did, and that, a year after that, E.ON would kick plans for its new power station into the long grass.”

And so on.

Thank you Greenpeace. Thank you Greenpeace activists for your bravery and for the work that you do. You make the world a better place.

23 comments on “Greenpeace activism”

  1. Paul 1

    Before attacking Greenpeace, Paul Little should ask himself what does he do to avert climate catastrophe?
    Wonder how much the fossil fuel industry paid him to write the article.

  2. Greenpeace and their activists deserve our highest praise and respect and that is what they get from me. Paul Little – sounds like he is envious because he hasn’t done shit to help the planet.

    • Paul 2.1

      As just another captured member of the MSM, he is in fact partially responsive for restricting serious debate on the subject.

  3. Bill 3

    If a message is getting out on an issue, but there is a gap between the volume of the message and the reaction to the issue, then that gap will be filled with people crying ‘fail’.

    I’m all for publicity stunts, they certainly have their place (small numbers of people getting fair media traction) .

    I might have doubts around using those tactics when the issue and the potential levels of participation and buy-in is large, unless they used in a series of high profile rolling actions.

  4. Reddelusion 4

    Green peace do need a PR make over, they loose more people than they gain with their silly stunts, keeps the hard core happy like the above poster, but that’s about it

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      Have you forgotten the old maxim about advertising, ‘50% is wasted but I dont know which 50%’

      Every group with limited resources has a target market. You just are too old or too conservative or both to matter for Greenpeace.

      I think greenpeace know exactly what they are doing, and Im sure it works for them. As an activist group they have to be seen as active in getting publicity about their issues. And it worked !

      Look at Nick Smith in his publicity stunt going around ‘vacant crown land’ to be used for housing. All it produced was an epic fail, and showed that he was incompetent, if you didn’t already suspect it.

    • Paul 4.2

      As if you care about the environment.
      Shill for the 1%.

  5. Enough 5

    Rather a “publicity whore” than a tow-the-Herald line whore!

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      Dont you mean ‘No Herald journalists were taken out to lunch for this story’

  6. red-blooded 6

    Publicity stunts are not enough, by themselves, to solve entrenched problems, but can certainly be part of the mix – especially when so many people try to avoid thinking about the kinds of issues that Greenpeace focuses its energies on. Greenpeace represents care for our planet and each other. What does Paul Little represent?

    • In Vino 6.1

      He represents a veneer of quasi-sophistication over a core of triviality combined with wilful ignorance.

  7. Sable 7

    Yep pretty revolting stuff but then what can you expect from what I consider to be a a turgid right wing rag. This is yet another example of why I don’t trust the MSM in general….

  8. Charles 8

    So further down the Herald article it gets into the central message from Paul Little, “Thou hast much volume”:

    Stephanie from Bootstheory blog has a post on “volume/tone control” when presenting opinions, it was posted here recently,

    “The tone argument is a form of derailment, or a red herring, because the tone of a statement is independent of the content of the statement in question, and calling attention to it distracts from the issue at hand. Drawing attention to the tone rather than content of a statement can allow other parties to avoid engaging with sound arguments presented in that statement, thus undermining the original party’s attempt to communicate and effectively shutting them down.”

    The irony is that these voices are already marginalized. Shouting is often the only way to get heard….

    This obviously applies to tone of written or spoken word, inherent, she says, in the topic being disputed, and that’s true. But now Paul Little says an act, – a scientifically, measurably, quiet action – can have “volume”. That is also true. Climbing Parliament building was a fiasco, he says, “too loud”, it turns people off. All that moving around. All that actually being see in public. Children know better than to be heard. Adults shouldn’t be seen or heard.

    In actual fact Paul isn’t arguing volume anymore, at least not tone, because he contradicts himself:

    “…But if you want to make a real and dramatic change to someone’s life and you don’t need a fuss made of you for doing so, teaching people to read, so that when they get out of prison their chances of getting a job and functioning in society are higher, is about as good as it gets….”

    Here is a quiet act, with potentially “much volume”. So what’s the difference between quietly climbing something and quietly teaching prisoners to read*?

    Culture.

    Children should be seen and not heard.
    Adults should not challenge symbols of authority.
    Parliament buildings are a symbol of authority.
    Only a child would challenge authority so brazenly.
    Those protestors aren’t adults, they’re worse than naughty children.
    They aren’t one of us.

    Greenpeace transgressed the values of a very specific culture. That’s where the volume came from. A bit like using the dessert spoon for your soup course. It’s terribly disconcerting. The lie inherent in the claim is that the members of the culture Paul Little belongs to never were and never will be interested in Greenpeace’s message. They miss the biggest part of the message entirely.

    In quietly and creatively protesting their message the way they did, not only did they shout in the face of the right people (they knew both sides of their potential audience), they presented a way for Stephanie’s “marginalised voices” to out-shout the absurdly restrictive culture of the NZ Herald set.

    No one ever believed that a banner on parliament building was going to end Climate Change, influence National Party policy, or change John Key’s mind. What it did was change the current climate of protest, in irreversible immediate ways. That’s what scares the establishment. No one can stop the various ways to quietly undermine culture. Greenpeace emphasised how to loudly protest the culture that is the root of the problems in NZ: Quiet is the new Loud.

    *There’s another wee catch to his theory of simple quiet success in his example: he does not point out (but certainly illustrates) that the most substantial hurdle standing in the way of ex-cons reintergrating into society isn’t their reading age.

  9. Facetious 9

    The big multi-national corporation called Greenpeace is very adept at political stunts to attract gullible people to donate money to its coffers. Nothing wrong with their business smarts.

    • stever 9.1

      Yeah…sadly being effective costs money.

      I guess you’d prefer they had no money and were therefore ineffective.

  10. Heather Grimwood 10

    Greenpeace activities over the years remind us that to be responsible global citizens, ensuring we move out of our comfort zone and work in whatever ways we can to enable a viable existence for those that come after us. Denigrators have heads in the sand ( quicksand !).

  11. maui 11

    Greenpeace are definitely leading the way in NZ in getting this message out there, the other protest groups are a bit behind but catching up. Who can forget a Lawless up a rig in Taranaki, the cutesy polar bear that gets itself into mischief in more temperate climes -(https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/article-1342460620360-14153dbe000005dc-16005_636x402.jpg), and now the latest action taking it to government.

    The selfless will keep on getting society to where it should be while the selfish will keep getting in their way. But the tide is turning and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.

  12. The Real Matthew 12

    Paul’s piece was enlightened and bang on the money.

    We need more pieces like this to expose these organisations for what they are whilst focussing on the people who actually make a difference in their day to day lives yet don’t receive the accolades.

    The fact you respond quoting Greenpeace propaganda says it all.

    • In Vino 12.1

      “Paul’s piece was enlightened and bang on the money.”

      It was a trite load of cacklemush.

      I do not believe that you understand what ‘these organisations’ really are, nor what is worthy of what you call ‘accolades’.

      And since what Greenpeace says is ‘Propaganda’ in your view, you obviously also approved of French Nuclear tests in the Pacific, as well as the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. and the wholesale destruction of whales…

      When people take a simple, vague piece of waffle like ‘Greenpeace Propaganda’ and claim that it ‘says it all’, it simply indicates that they really like to over-simplify everything to suit their fantasies.

      Or have I misunderestimated you?

    • Anno1701 12.2

      “We need more pieces like this to expose these organisations for what they are’

      ok then smart guy

      what exactly ARE Greenpeace ?

  13. Even Captain Paul Watson thinks Greenpeace have lost the point of why he helped set them up.
    I had my doubts about them when they were protesting the nice little baby fur seals being clubbed to death, yet nothing about the cows, chickens or pigs, etc ?
    Then they gave the Anti Vivisection Socity zero support, as if ‘we’ didn’t exist?, AVS managed a 500 ish strong march through Wellington, and a shit load more thanks to mainly one womans efforts (can’t remember her name sorry) And a 100,000 + petition.
    Not that burning bunker oil for the sake of whales is much better.

  14. Save NZ 14

    Go Greenpeace.

    Who bother’s to read the herald these days, anyway. Like TV3, they have gone too far down the propaganda line to be credible, and soon it will be embarrassing for decent journo’s to be associated with them.

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