This article provides information about major issues and circumstances that led to the emergence and growth of green peace movement:
Green Peace was founded in 1971 in the basement of the Unitarian Church in USA by a small group of people who were motivated by a vision of a green and peaceful world. These activists, the founders of green peace, believed that individuals could make a difference. The founders linked peace, ecology and a talent for media communications and went on to build the world’s largest environmental activist organisation.
Taking its name from a slogan used during protests against United States nuclear testing in late 1969, the Committee came together with the objective of stopping a second underground nuclear bomb test code named Cannikin by the United States military beneath the island of Amchitka, a tiny island of the West Coast of Alaska, which is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone regions. A small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canada, in an old fishing boat.
Their mission was to “bear witness” to US underground nuclear testing at Amchitka. Amchitka was the last refuge for 3000 endangered sea otters, and home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other wildlife. When though their old boat, the Phyllis Cormack, was intercepted before it got to Amchitka, the journey sparked a flurry of public interest. The test was not stopped, but the voice of reason had been heard and the organisation of the committee laid the groundwork for green peace later activities. Nuclear testing in Amchitka ended that same year and the island was later declared a bird sanctuary.
Although the movement started its activities opposing nuclear tests, in later years, the focus of the organisation turned to other environmental issues as well, including bottom trawling, global warming and genetic engineering. Green Peace also gained international attention for its efforts to save whales and for its opposition to the killing of baby seals off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada.
In 1985, Green Peace members planned to use their ship Rainbow warrior to protest against French nuclear tests in the South Pacific. But an explosion sank the ship in the harbour at Auckland, New Zealand, and a Green Peace photographer was killed. French government officials admitted responsibility for the sinking, and the defence minister resigned.
By 1986 Green Peace was established in 26 countries and had an income of over $100 million per year. In 1986 the mainstream of western society had started adopting the very environmental agenda that had been considered radical only fifteen years earlier. By 1989 the combined impact of Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez, the threat of global warming and the ozone hole clinched the debate. All but a handful of reactionaries joined the call for sustainable development and environmental protection.
Whereas previously the leaders of the environmental movement found themselves on the outside railing at the gates of power, they were now being invited to the table in boardrooms and caucuses around the world. For environmentalists, accustomed to the politics of confrontation, this new era of acceptance posed a challenge as great as any campaign to save the planet. Presently, Green Peace is an international organisation that prioritises global environmental campaigns. In 2005, Green Peace has 2.8 million supporters worldwide, and national as well as regional offices in 41 countries, all affiliated to Green peace international based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.