In 1971, a motley crew of anti-nuclear activists set out on a fishing trawler to protest US nuclear tests in Alasaka. The ship was christened Greenpeace for the voyage (you can just see the "P" of the original name -Phyliss Cormack" under the new sign.

In 1971, a motley crew of anti-nuclear activists set out on a fishing trawler to protest US nuclear tests in Alasaka. The ship was christened Greenpeace for the voyage (you can just see the "P" of the original name -Phyliss Cormack" under the new sign. This is seen as the origin of the now huge international movement
Photo Credit: Robert Keziere / Greenpeace

History: Sept 15, 1971, the Canadian origins of Greenpeace

Share

The Greenpeace environmental movement is known worldwide now, with offices in over 40 countries, and almost 3 million supporters.

It is generally agreed that this date, September 15, 1971, marks the beginning of the international movement that began in Canada.

It was on this date that a ragtag group of 12 activists set out on a fishing trawler from Vancouver, British Columbia to protest US nuclear testing in Alaska.

It had humble beginnings however.

The Phyliss Cormack/Greenpeace in Alaskan waters. It would be turned back by the US Coast Guard before reaching its goal of Anchitka Island, but the media interest brought enough pressure that the US stopped its nuclear testing.
The Phyliss Cormack/Greenpeace in Alaskan waters with the recently minted symbol of the peace movement on its sail. It would be turned back by the US Coast Guard before reaching its goal of Anchitka Island, but the media interest brought enough pressure that the US stopped its nuclear testing. © GREENPEACE / ROBERT KEZIERE

In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, the worlds ecoloby and environmentalism were unknown to the vast majority of the population.

The “peace movement” was fairly well established however, and the idea of protecting the environment was in it’s infancy.

It was the combination of these two concepts that led to the creation of Greenpeace.

2006 Canary Islands  Greenpeace activists blocked a Chinese trawler full of fish caught in Guinean waters. They wanted Spanish authorities to confiscate the illicit cargo http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/10-000-boxes-of-stolen110406/
2006 Canary Islands Greenpeace activists blocked a Chinese trawler full of fish caught in Guinean waters. They wanted Spanish authorities to confiscate the illicit cargo http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/10-000-boxes-of-stolen110406/ © Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace

In the late 60’s a few small groups had formed in Vancouver to promote peace and environmental action, one was the Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Society (SPEC), another was the “Green Panthers” and another was created as an affiliate of the US-based Sierra Club.

From 1965 on, the US had been conducting underground nuclear tests on Amchitka Island in Alaska.

In 1969, they announced a huge test of a one-megaton bomb would take place.

Vancouver journalist Bob Hunter wrote that the blasts near a fault line could trigger an earthquake and a destructive tsunami. In the Vancouver Sun newspaper he wrote, “The United States will begin to play a game of Russian roulette with a nuclear pistol pressed against the head of the world.There is a distinct danger,that the tests might set in motion earthquakes and tidal waves which could sweep from one end of the Pacific to the other.

Soon a campaign began called “Don’t Make A Wave” in protest of the nuclear tests.

In October 1969, the one-megaton blast , 4,000 feet deep on Amchitka, registered a 6.9 shockwave. In November the US announced a five-megaton test would take place in 1971.

2008 photo -originally an anti-nuclear peace movement, Greenpeace is now more focussed on the environment and ecology
2008 photo -originally an anti-nuclear peace movement, Greenpeace is now more focussed on the environment and ecology © Naomi Toyoda / Greenpeace

The origin of “Greenpeace”.

In February at a meeting in a church basement, a member of one of the groups proposed the Quaker idea of “bearing witness” and sailing into the blast zone to protest.  At the end of the meeting one member flashed the recent peace sign of  two fingers in a V shape and said “Peace”.  Bill Darnell then added, “let’s make it a green peace”.

The idea was printed in the Vancouver Sun as a Sierra Club idea, but the California group was against the idea, but the “Don’t Make a Wave” committee was for it.

Meanwhile another article appeared in the Vancouver Sun, dropping the Sierra Club reference and saying the ship would be called “Greenpeace” the first time the term appeared in print as a single word.

With funds from a benefit concert, the group chartered a fishing boat, the Phyliss Cormack, and renamed it “Greenpeace” for the voyage and the group of 12 people set off on this date.

“Rainbow Warrior”.

A couple of years earlier someone had given Bob Hunter a book, which he took with him on the voyage. It was called-Warriors of the Rainbow: Strange and Prophetic Dreams of the Indian People.”  One tale told of a prophecy where the people of the world would join together to save the world from destruction.

The original Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French  scuba commandos in July 1985 in New Zealand. The ship was about to lead a flotilla to Moruroa Atoll to protest French nuclear tests. The commandos planted two bombs below the waterline. A Portuguese photographer was killed in the bombing.
The original Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French scuba commandos in July 1985 in New Zealand. The ship was about to lead a flotilla to Moruroa Atoll to protest French nuclear tests. The commandos planted two bombs below the waterline. A Portuguese photographer was killed in the bombing. © Greenpeace

The ship never made it to the blast zone.  It was intercepted by a US Coast Guard ship, charged with a Customs infraction and sent back.

Interestingly, several crew members of the Coast Guard ship signed a letter of support. On the way back to Vancouver, the group proposed to change their name formally to the Greenpeace Foundation.

Although the peace activists never made it to Amchitka, the media attention resulted in an end to the nuclear attention.

Meanwhile, the Don’t make a Wave committee was debating whether to fold, but decided to continue with protests against French nuclear tests. This morphed into the World Greenpeace Foundation in 1972.

The
The “Rainbow Warrior III” was christened in October 2011 in Bremen Germany. The name comes from a book given to one of the original members of Greenpeace back in 1969 © Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

While Greenpeace had started as an anti-nuclear peace organization, it began to concentrate more on environmental issues when joined by two New Zealand scientists in 1975 who were strongly against whaling due to an incident they had witnessed years earlier in British Columbia. They had studied communications between whales trapped by fishermen and those which had managed to stay free.

That experience had turned the scientists completely against whaling, and thus began an additional new focus for Greenpeace.

Also by the mid 70’s people with similar pacifist and environmental goals had founded organizations using the name Greenpeace in Toronto, San Francisco, London, Paris, and Auckland. Paul Watson and David Garrick (Walrus) launched the first Greenpeace seal campaign in the spring of 1976.  Watson would later break off to found an even more action-oriented group called the Sea-Shepherd society.

June 17,2015 Audrey Siegl, a Musqueam woman from British Columbia, Canada, who is also a renowned public speaker, drummer and singer, stands in a Greenpeace rhib launched from the MY Esperanza holding her arm out in front her, defiantly signaling Shell's subcontracted drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to stop
June 17,2015 Audrey Siegl, a Musqueam woman from British Columbia, Canada, who is also a renowned public speaker, drummer and singer, stands in a Greenpeace rhib launched from the MY Esperanza holding her arm out in front her, defiantly signaling Shell’s subcontracted drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, to stop © Greenpeace Keri Coles

Although the name Greenpeace only became official in early 1972, it is generally accepted that the origin of this vast movement began with the group in Vancouver who set out from the harbour on September 15, 1971

CBC- Greenpeace turns 40 (2011)

Greenpeace Facebook

Greg Laden Blog- Patrick Moore- Greenpeace founder?

Share
Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Economy, Environment, International, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*