SOURCE: 'The Mail on Sunday' May 7 2000:
Dr Patrick Moore, the academic and renowned ecologist, was
a founder member of Greenpeace, and later became its
president. He helped to create the direct-action campaigning
style which made the environmental protest group famous
throughout the world. But now he is appalled by what it has
become and in this searing attack he condemns the extremists
who, he believes, have taken over Greenpeace, and the
celebrities who have flocked to support the rainforests
The great Green con-trick
by Dr Patrick Moore
For 15 years, as founder and director of Greenpeace, I was
a leader in the most successful environmental pressure group
the world has ever seen. I was a veteran of frontline
battles against everything from nuclear waste to whaling.
We sailed our ship into the blast zones of US and French
nuclear tests. We placed ourselves in the firing line of
But having spent half a lifetime courting danger and arrest,
I now look at the mainstream environmental movement that I
loved and can barely recognise it. Why? Because it has
abandoned science to follow agendas that have little to do
with saving the earth.
Of course, there were always extreme, irrational and mystical
elements within our movement but they tended to be kept in
their place during the early years. Then in the mid-Eighties
the ultra-leftists and extremists took over. After Greenham
Common closed and the Berlin Wall came down, these
extremists were searching for a new cause and found it in
environmentalism. The old agendas of class struggle and
anti-corporatism are still there - but now they are dressed
up in environmental terminology.
What has been lost are the principles of the early
environmental movement: that all campaigns should be based on
valid research. We won public support because our protests
were founded on logical, scientific arguments.
That has largely gone now, to be replaced by a policy of
sensationalism, misinformation and never-ending conflict.
Activists would have you believe Amazonia and large tracts
of my native Canada are being stripped bare by greedy
multinational logging companies. The only way to save the
world, they say, is to save the Amazon's 2,700,000 square
miles of near impenetrable woodland.
Greenpeace says that in the past four years an area the
size of France has been destroyed. William Shatner - Star
Trek's Captain Kirk - came down to earth to narrate a
National Geographic video saying: 'Rainforest is being
cleared at the rate of 20 football fields per minute.'
They portray the forests as the 'lungs of the earth' -
absorbing carbon dioxide and pumping out oxygen without
which we would all suffocate on a mess of polluting hydro-
carbons. But it is all nonsense. You could burn every
forest in the world, never mind the Amazon, and it would
have an insignificant impact on oxygen levels in the
It amazes me to see the movement behaving the same way over
forestry - our most sustainable primary industry - as it
did about nuclear war.
And into this heady brew came pop singers and actors,
anxious to create a caring impression. I place the rock
singer Sting in the same category as a lot of the eco-
warriors. He has good intentions - but we all know what
the road to Hell is paved with.
These celebrity campaigners were at it again in New York's
Carnegie Hall last month for the 11th annual Save the
Rainforest rock concert. Sting, Sir Elton John, Billy Joel
and Tom Jones joined unlikely hands with Ricky Martin,
Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder before a sell-out crowd of
1,800. People in the front paid $2,000 for the privilege.
'When the trees are bulldozed, a way of life is destroyed,'
Trudie Styler, Sting's wife and the driving force behind
the Rainforest Foundation, told the audience. She also said
the foundation would fund natives of Guyana to study law so
they could fight their own battle to save their land: 'They
want to know how to help themselves.'
But a growing body of opinion says the only people they
need saving from are Mr and Mrs Sting.
Certainly, the environmental movement continues to campaign
on many fronts that are backed up by science. Nuclear waste
dumping at Sellafieldm excessive use of fossil fuel (and
subsequent concern about climate change) and toxic
discharges are legitimate issues.
I have a pragmatic view about people and the environment,
however, we have to co-exist. There are six billion people
in the world who require things every day for their survival.
It is no good wishing that there were no people on the
planet, which is what many of these new activists appear to
want. I think we are as much a part of Nature as any other
With a group of other forestry experts I visited eight of
Brazil's 26 states. We flew over the Amazon rainforest and
met all the environmental authorities, the World Wide Fund
for Nature and conservation groups. We studied satellite
pictures of the entire area, and we found more than 80 per
cent of the forest intact.
But if the rainforest was being destroyed at the rate critics
say, it would have vanished ages ago.
So where do the statistics come from which supposedly prove
we are rapidly advancing towards the total destruction of the
rainforests? Basically, the figures are a sophisticated con-
trick based on bad science.
What is happening is that land is being counted that is being
cleared following a programme of replanting. It is not virgin
forest. The same pieces of land are being counted over and
over again. If you keep adding up these areas, Man has cut
down 50 times the size of the Amazon already.
It is this cavalier disregard for scientific truth which has
left me so disillusioned with Greenpeace. Other examples
include the misguided assault on genetically modified crops,
the admitted misinformation about toxic wastes on the Brent
Spar oil rig, and the boycott campaign against Canadian forest
I spent years fighting for what I believed in, and felt that
by about the mid-Eighties we had achieved the breakthrough.
By them most people agreed with us. Big business and
governments wanted to co-operate with environmentalists.
To me, at that point it is logical to make the transition
to working with people to find solutions based on science
and reason. Our cause had become mainstream. But, of course,
that's not what the activists wanted, nor did it fit in with
their political agendas.
Instead, we have an environmental movement that is run by
people who want to fight - not to win.
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