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by Bryan J. Ellison
Originally published in The New American, November 19, 1990
Because of the growing environmentalist fad of the last few years, much of the public has invested nearly blind faith in organizations claiming to play David to the Goliath of environmental exploitation. Among the leading beneficiaries of this public trust has been the international activist organization Greenpeace. The group began with a 1971 protest against U.S. testing of nuclear weapons, which it followed up with an attempt to physically block French nuclear testing in 1972 by sailing a boat too close to the testing area. Similar actions were carried out during the early 1970s, and Greenpeace offices were opened in several European nations. Restructuring in 1983 took the organization away from its previous broadly-based democratic structure, effectively concentrating policy control in the hands of a small international board; in the United States, all Greenpeace offices were united into a single national headquarters.
Greenpeace today boasts offices in some 22 countries, and has expanded its activities to include a variety of environmental issues. The group's efforts to propagate its views to the press and the public, closely tied to its fundraising efforts, include confrontational tactics such as physically damaging property and blocking the efforts of whalers, sealers, and industrial producers. These "direct actions" are not peaceful, but instead nonviolent--Greenpeace seeks to provoke violent reactions from its targets, so as not to receive blame for using violence themselves.
Whale of a Propaganda Blitz
Among Greenpeace's most successful campaigns of recent years has been its effort to stop the hunting of whales and harp seals in the North Atlantic. By widely distributing films showing alleged brutality against seals, by claiming that whales and seals have become endangered, by organizing international boycotts against fish products from North Atlantic nations, and by lobbying governments in Europe and the United States, Greenpeace has succeeded in having the importation of sealskins banned by many industrial nations.
The International Whaling Commission of the United Nations has also banned all commercial whaling in the North Atlantic for a four-year period that started in 1986. "Nine-tenths of the world's whalers are out of business," boasted two Greenpeace campaigners in the January/February issue of the journal Greenpeace, published by the organization's American lobbying arm.
Greenpeace is not a popular name in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, parts of Norway and Canada, and even Alaska. The economies of the North Atlantic have depended for centuries on the hunting of whales, seals, and fish. Now that these products have been banned, curtailed, or boycotted since 1985, people in those nations are suffering dislocations and hardships even worse than those created by their harsh climates. Families in the many small villages have been forced onto welfare or into the cities, where finding employment can be difficult. The sudden declines in productivity have left these economies reeling, just as the United States economy would be if its entire automobile industry were suddenly eliminated. The people of those nations are particularly offended by the Greenpeace campaign against their economies because of its incredible irony: Countries such as Iceland have led the world in enacting legislation for protecting their natural resources. Their people cannot understand why foreigners from Greenpeace and other multinational environmentalist groups should arrogantly decide how their resources will be managed.
Fallout from this disruption has led several journalists into an extensive, ongoing investigation of Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups. Their research has revealed some shocking truths about these widely trusted organizations: Greenpeace and closely allied groups have used fabrications, actual violence, and even destruction of the ecosystem as tools in many of their campaigns. All of which have reaped such groups huge financial benefits, while allowing them to advance a political agenda many of their sympathizers would never knowingly support. Much of this startling information has been presented in the video documentary Survival in the High North, released last year on television in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands.
Disinformation, Damage Done
Greenpeace has circulated a number of allegations regarding the hunting of mammals in the North Atlantic. One widespread misconception it has promoted holds that the hunted seals and whales are in danger of extinction. But even Paul Watson, cofounder of Greenpeace, admitted in a March 1978 interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the harp seal, long a publicity tool for Greenpeace, was never endangered as a species; according to Watson, the seal had been used because it is a powerful fundraiser, easily provoking the emotions of Americans and Europeans.
In the case of whales, the results of the largest whale stock survey ever conducted, coordinated by the Marine Research Institute of Iceland, show that all "endangered" species have recovered since the early part of the twentieth century. This includes the humpback and blue whales, as well as the pilot whales, which now number at least 100,000 in the North Atlantic. Likewise, sperm whales have probably come to exceed 500,000 worldwide, while the International Whaling Commission reports that between 75,000 and 145,000 minke whales now reside in the North Atlantic alone. More than 500,000 minke whales also exist in the South Atlantic around Antarctica.
As a result of the bans in recent years on sealskins and on whaling, seal and whale populations are now so high that they are beginning to deplete the fish populations of the area, this being the reason given by several North Atlantic governments for recently limiting fishing quotas. The major eaters of fish include not only the millions of seals in the North Atlantic, but such whales as the minke and the large humpback, which can consume as much as four percent of their body weight daily; this amounts to millions of tons of fish each year. The abundant whales are now also physically interfering with fishing nets, as they pursue the same fish sought by humans.
Some environmentalists now admit the existence of a seal overpopulation problem, but, rather than taking the blame, they accuse such nations as Iceland and Norway of causing the problem themselves by hunting killer whales, a natural predator of the seals. This allegation is clearly intended for naive audiences in the United States and Europe, since many of these people are unaware that killer whales are not hunted for food in Iceland, and that Norway has legally protected its killer whales for about two decades.
More recently, Greenpeace and other organizations have attacked tuna fishing in the Pacific because dolphins are often trapped in the nets and die. This attack ignores the adoption by U.S. tuna fishermen of methods that allow dolphins to escape the nets; U.S. tunaboats now release over 99 percent of all dolphins trapped. Boycott threats recently led several major tuna marketers to give in to environmentalist demands by deciding to catch only tuna found away from dolphins. Since this is less economical, the already beleaguered U.S. tuna fishing fleet will continue to shrink, allowing competing foreign fleets to take over more of this fishing. Ironically, the result will be greater numbers of dolphin deaths, because foreign fishing fleets on average kill 3.6 times as many dolphins per pound of tuna as does the U.S. fleet.
There are other false claims:
Perhaps the most shocking disinformation effort can be found in the films that Greenpeace and closely allied groups have so widely distributed. In 1964 a Canadian film crew released film of a Newfoundland sealer skimming a seal--while it was still alive. The film prompted widespread outrage over this supposedly common practice by seal hunters. In the years since the making of this film, Greenpeace has exploited the widespread belief in live-seal skinning, combining it with photos of dead seals for use as a fundraising tool.
Greenpeace has failed to point out that Gustave Poirier, the seal hunter in the film, later testified under oath to a Canadian Parliamentary commission that he had been paid by the film crew to carry out the seal-skinning. Seal hunters have never practiced skinning of live seals, simply because skinning dead seals is far easier to accomplish.
Greenpeace produced another film in March of 1978 also allegedly portraying hunting brutality. An unidentified Newfoundland seal hunter was filmed killing a baby seal and tormenting its mother. But the film clearly shows the hunter waiting for a signal from the film crew to begin, using colored rope to get the attention of the mother seal, and repeating the procedure to allow filming from different angles. Observations such as these have led film experts at the University of Copenhagen to conclude that the episode was faked. Seal hunters who were nearby at the time of the filming did not recognize the supposed hunter carrying out the cruel and illegal acts, nor has he ever been identified as belonging to the crew of any sealing ship, nor is he known to the Canadian Sealers' Association.
One of the largest boosts to Greenpeace's anti-sealing campaigns was the recruitment of the actress Brigitte Bardot into its promotions. One widely circulated photo shows Bardot cuddling a baby seal, supposedly hundreds of kilometers out on the ice off the Canadian coast, where she is claimed to have fought bare-handed to protect the baby seals from hunters in 1978. Sources affiliated with the Associated Press, however, have revealed that the famous photo of Bardot with the seal was not taken in Canada, but in a studio in southern France, months before she was claimed to have ventured onto the Canadian ice.
Greenpeace co-founder Paul Watson has also been filmed carrying a baby seal to safety from hunters in 1977. Not only does the seal in the film clip not move at all, but its fur is clean and well-combed. Both of these facts suggest that Watson actually "saved" a stuffed seal. Watson has been involved in other publicity stunts. As head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,. a more violent offshoot of Greenpeace, Watson distributed to media sources in the mid-1980s a film of himself broadcasting a call for help from his ship radio. In the film, he claims to be under weapons fire from pursuing gunboats of the Faroe Islands, presumably because they were angry at his anti-whaling efforts. Yet, no radio monitoring station anywhere in the North Atlantic has been able to confirm receiving the message.
The environmentalist campaign against Pacific tuna fishing has also utilized the camera to generate publicity. Cooperating with such groups as the Earth Island Institute and the Marine Mammal Fund, former National Fisheries Service observer Sam LaBudde covertly filmed hundreds of dolphins being killed by a tuna fishing boat in 1987. The film was shown in 1988 on the CBS, ABC, and CNN television networks, creating public reaction against U.S. tuna fishermen. But the actual context of the film footage was not emphasized: The ship was under Panamanian registry, owned by Spanish nationals, and lacked standard nets and equipment. The procedures in the film bore no resemblance to standard U.S. fishing practices, nor even to those used by most foreign fishing fleets.
The Greenpeace campaigns against animal products have extended even to Australia. In the mid-1980s, under the local leadership of Trevor Daley, Greenpeace acquired and distributed a film showing Australian farmers mutilating live kangaroos. The film, entitled Goodbye to Joey, was also made available in Europe and the United States. Using this tool, Greenpeace launched a determined campaign to ban kangaroo products in Europe; the organization even asserted that kangaroos were becoming endangered as a species, although every Australian is painfully aware how much of a pest the overabundant kangaroos are.
The two Australians in the Greenpeace film were convicted in a Brisbane court for their illegal act; supported by their testimony under oath, the court concluded that the two had been paid by the film crew to perform the unusual cruelty. Although Trevor Daley was certainly aware of this information, he neglected to mention it, and Greenpeace was able to use the film as a successful fundraiser.
The disinforming of the public by environmentalists has already cultivated tragic consequences. One example has been given by Bryan Roberts, a Canadian government official whose responsibilities included responding to letters during the height of the anti-sealing campaign. In a videotaped interview presented this past July to the International Whaling Commission, Roberts described his experience:
One of the most frightening things for me . . . was an entire class of ten-year-olds, 28 or 30 ten-year-olds, writing in to the minister, saying, "Dear Mr. LeBlanc, If you don't stop [killing seals], I'm going to come and kill you. . . ." Who is teaching this person to say that, that if you want to resolve a problem, you threaten somebody with murder?
Although Greenpeace insists that its activities are entirely nonviolent, growing evidence suggests that it may covertly participate in direct violence against people and property. Indeed, even animals are not exempt. As reported by Robert W. Lee in the November 20, 1989 issue of The New American, members of the group have in the past sprayed Canadian baby seals with brightly colored dyes, making their fur economically useless but also increasing the susceptibility of the seals to cold and to predators. Greenpeace also appears to work closely with other organizations that more openly boast of violence.
Formed by Greenpeace co-founder Paul Watson in the late 1970s, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has a history of taking militant action against whalers. In the early 1980s, Watson loaded his ship, the Sea Shepherd, with heavy concrete and rammed and sank several whaling ships off the coast of Portugal. Then, in September of 1987, a sabotage team from Watson's group used the cover of darkness to board and scuttle two whaling boats in the harbor of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik. That same night the saboteurs broke into a whaling station and destroyed its underground communications station.
The covert ties between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd become more apparent from investigations following the destruction of the Icelandic communications station. The Sea Shepherd saboteurs could not have found their way around the station at night without having previously scouted it. This job was probably performed by a "journalist" who had previously visited the station, since she was the only outsider who had ever gained access to the facility; this "journalist" turns out to have been a member of Greenpeace.
Greenpeace also maintains unofficial ties to the violent sabotage organization Earth First!, a group of environmentalists who destroy equipment and endanger human lives. According to the July 1990 Organization Trends, published by the Capital Research Center, some of Greenpeace's events have been organized by one of Earth First!'s founders, Mike Roselle. Greenpeace employees have also gathered signatures for a 1986 petition circulated by Earth First!, and the September/October issue of Greenpeace encouraged readers to contribute to the legal defense of four Earth First! members arrested by the FBI for trying to cut electrical power lines.
Eco-Lobby Growing Powerful
The ban on commercial whaling by the International Whaling Commission was the central topic of debate at its annual meeting in early July. While the data show whale stocks to be plentiful, the IWC has become almost completely dominated by the ecological lobby. As a result, the Commission was unable to reach any decision on whether or not to renew the whaling ban. This theoretically should allow the member nations to legalize whaling again, but none of the North Atlantic nations is likely to do so soon. The reason: The United States is threatening these nations with economic sanctions unless they continue the ban themselves. This treatment is particularly shocking, because these countries are generally considered friendly to the U.S. Nevertheless, the U.S. has been using the threat of economic sanctions since 1974, to restrict hunting by these nations.
The IWC itself appears to be completely under the control of the environmentalists. Many representatives to the Commission are either former members of Greenpeace or current sympathizers. Indeed, the new head of the U.S. delegation, chosen by Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, was a Greenpeace representative who went to Iceland in 1980 to protest whaling. Because of this loaded situation, the North Atlantic nations are now strongly considering withdrawing from the IWC following next year's annual meeting.
Greenpeace's cynical use of seals and whales, as well as endorsements by rock music stars and actors, have brought the organization millions of dollars of support from the unaware public. Nevertheless, all of the sources of its financing cannot be known, since it keeps such information confidential. This is not a trivial concern, since the organization's 1989 income amounted to about $100 million. This money pays for a large international staff, a fleet of ships, helicopters, buildings, and much other equipment. Greenpeace claims to receive money only from individual contributions, rather than from governments or corporations, but the July 1990 Organization Trends reports that U S West, Xerox, and ARCO have been among the companies donating money to Greenpeace.
"New Economic Order"
Aside from the obvious financial motives, what reasons could the leaders of Greenpeace have for their campaigns? The evidence suggests that they are pursuing ideological goals largely unknown to their supporters. Greenpeace leaders are not sympathetic to the idea of free enterprise. Interviewed by In These Times last April, Greenpeace USA's Executive Director Peter Eahouth stated, "I don't believe in the market approach. . . . When companies have a bottom line of profit you won't have them thinking about the environment." An editorial in the March/April issue of Greenpeace called for replacing the "cruel calculation of the marketplace" and the "savage capitalism practiced by the United States" with a new "social order" patterned somewhat along the lines of the "rapidly evolving social democracies of Western Europe and Scandinavia." Those nations, of course, are rapidly preparing for merger into a United States of Europe, with increasingly centralized planning of people's lives.
Greenpeace presented an article in January/February of 1989 boldly stating: "Through the 1990s, pressure groups and campaigning organizations like Greenpeace will have to take the lead in promoting the shift to a new economic order." According to the article, free market principles would be replaced by a form of socialism in which local governments would exert "ownership and control" over the economy. Barry Commoner argued in the September/October 1989 issue for "sweeping changes in the major systems of production," which "would be undertaken for a social purpose: environmental improvement. This represents social (as contrasted with private) governance of the means of production. . . ." And an article in the May/June issue for this year attacked automobile ownership, proclaiming that, in order to move into a "post-auto age," we must "restrict car ownership to one car per family on average and ration gasoline."
What sort of people run an organization favoring such ideas? The 1985 sinking, by French agents, of Greenpeace's ship Rainbow Warrior resulted in the death of Fernando Pereira, whose background was reviewed in the October 1985 issue of the intelligence newsletter H du B Reports. The official photographer for Greenpeace, Pereira had previously been a member of the Baader-Meinhof gang, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group based in West Germany. He had later become editor of the Dutch Communist Party's paper, Der Waarheld, and was finally arrested by the Dutch government as a Soviet agent. Pereira secured his job with Greenpeace through his membership in the World Peace Council, a front organization controlled by the Soviet KGB.
William Arkin, now director of the Nuclear Information unit at Greenpeace, was previously a fellow at the radical Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a think tank defending the activities of Marxist revolutionaries around the globe. S. Steven Powell, author of the 1987 book Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies, documents how Arkin released classified information regarding U.S. nuclear defenses while he was at the IPS, in 1984 and 1985. Greenpeace is also connected to the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE), a nuclear freeze organization formed by leading members of the IPS, which has sponsored such people as Italian Communist Party candidate Nino Pasti to speak in Washington DC. Covert Cadre notes that Greenpeace helped SANE form a computer network to coordinate the disarmament movement in the United States.
The high-level presence in Greenpeace of people like Pereira and Arkin raises serious questions about the true goals of the organization's leadership. Additional information in the October 1985 H du B Reports supports the suspicion: French intelligence discovered in 1985 that Greenpeace was making plans to agitate the natives in Polynesia against French control of the area, a strategic region of the Pacific in which the Soviets were already sponsoring revolutionary movements. Could the Greenpeace campaign against North Atlantic nations have similar goals? Iceland, for example, lies squarely in the corridor for Soviet naval access to the Atlantic.
Red Support for Greenpeace
Greenpeace achieved a remarkable status last year when it opened an office in Moscow. Although Greenpeace often postures as an opponent of Soviet whaling, Danish news reported that the organization was granted diplomatic immunity by the Soviet government, allowing its ships and personnel to travel with freedom unprecedented for private organizations in any country, much less the Soviet Union. The head of the new Moscow office has an interesting background: Michael Gylling Nielsen was the author of a confidential 1983 report to the chairman of Greenpeace International. This document outlined a plan to destroy the economy of Norway through American and European boycotts of its key industries.
Not only were fish imports from Norway successfully prevented, but the report also contained plans for having foreign contracts for Norwegian oil canceled, and for pressuring foreign tourist agencies not to book tours to Norway or on Norwegian cruise ships. Nielsen even suggested in the report that "we do some direct actions against the Cruise Lines." Norway shares a border with the Soviet Union, and also lies along the route used by Soviet ships and submarines to reach the Atlantic; destabilizing Norway could prove strategically useful to the Soviets.
The Soviet Union has done even more to help Greenpeace. A rock music promotional album was issued last year by the organization, featuring such major rock groups as the Eurythmics, U2, and DireStraits, and has already raised tens of millions of dollars. Known as Rainbow Warriors in Western nations and Breakthrough in East Bloc countries, the album was released as a joint venture through Melodiya, the record company owned by the Soviet government. The Soviet magazine New Times proudly announced in March 1989: "Everyone who buys the album can consider himself a member of Greenpeace, which means It will soon have millions of new members here in the Soviet Union."
Half the profits went to Greenpeace, helping to open the new Greenpeace office in Moscow; the other half went to help establish the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Humanity, described by the August 22, 1989 Financial Times as "an East-West Soviet 'think tank'." This institute is co-directed by Greenpeace and the Soviet government, and its chairman is none other than Michael Nielsen, head of Greenpeace's Moscow office. Thus, the Soviet government helps Greenpeace raise funds, while the environmentalist group helps formulate Soviet propaganda.
Leaders of Greenpeace may indeed support the goal of a world government, which is also a Soviet goal. The February 1990 issue of World Marxist Review, policy journal for the Communist Parties throughout the world, featured an interview with David McTaggart, chairman of Greenpeace International. He described his efforts as "helping to erase the borders between East and West, North and South. He emphasized that "you can't talk about the survival of your nation or your economic system or your way of life at the expense of the survival of the planet we live on." When asked what he thought were the main obstacles to global environmentalist efforts, he responded, "To my mind, nationalism is the biggest enemy of global thinking."
An article in the March/April issue of Greenpeace describes a Greenpeace-designed curriculum now being tested on eleven- to fourteen-year-old students in a number of government schools in North America, Europe, and the Soviet Union. The educational project coordinator for North America boasts that, in addition to indoctrinating students in methods of convincing the public to support environmentalist goals, the program promotes "internationalism." Summer camps and an international computer network will be included, and the program will soon be made fully available to teachers around the world.
Exposures of Greenpeace disinformation and violence have already caused difficulties for the organization. Normally accustomed to having the full cooperation of the news media, Greenpeace suddenly found itself on the defensive last year when the video documentary Survival in the High North was aired in several European nations. Janus Hillgaard, acting chairman of Greenpeace Denmark, publicly declared shortly alter the broadcast that "our future is now at stake." Greenpeace first attempted to prevent airing of the program in Denmark and Norway, and in Iceland filed for legal action to censor the documentary only hours before its broadcast; in all three cases the actions failed. Pal Bugge, Greenpeace spokesman in Norway, declared before the broadcast in his country that "we are going to try to get it banned here."
Greenpeace then threatened lawsuits against Danish television, but decided instead to sue the two journalists most responsible for compiling the devastating information. One of these reporters is Leif Blaedel, a recipient of the prestigious Cavling Prize for Danish journalism; when Greenpeace threatened him with legal action, elements in the Danish press began to turn against the environmentalist organization and its popularity slipped. Leif Blaedel's written exposes of Greenpeace's tactics led even the Danish pro-environmentalist paper, Information, to condemn the organization in 1986. One Greenpeace lawsuit over the documentary is currently in progress in Norwegian courts, with the group citing lost members and contributions as damages. Ironically. such legal actions appear to be costing Greenpeace a substantial sum of money and thereby affecting its campaigns.
Other parts of the environmentalist movement in Europe have also suffered from the exposure. Last year, the Danish newspaper DetFriAktuelt quoted Svend Bichel, chairman of the Danish Environmental Association: "All this has not only turned public opinion against Greenpeace, but against other environmental organizations as well."
If this sort of exposure spreads, public pressure may begin to force the U.S. Congress to reevaluate several policies. Seals would have to be removed from the endangered species list, allowing import of sealskins and furs, while the Marine Mammal Protection Act might have to be repealed. Further, Congress might become inclined to reduce U.S. contributions to the United Nations, at least until the International Whaling Commission lifts its whaling ban. Congress might also stop the threats by the Bush administration against the North Atlantic nations. And the rush to sign environmental treaties empowering the UN might be slowed or stopped.
An editorial in the March/April Greenpeace admitted that the true goal of environmentalism is "a natural world free of human impact." If people wish to reserve room for themselves in this world, they will need to begin questioning the environmentalist claims of the government, the mass media, and organizations such as Greenpeace.
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