Greenpeace Turns 50

Credit: Original article can be found here


Fifty years ago, on September 15th 1971, a ship named the
Greenpeace set out to confront and stop US nuclear weapons
testing at Amchitka, one of Aleutian Islands in southwest
Alaska.

The crew of twelve never made it to Amchitka,
but so contagious was the courage of their action, so
compelling was their story of peace and ecology, and so
audacious was their mission to confront a nuclear
super-power that it sparked a movement.

The US ended
nuclear testing at Amchitka the next year and Greenpeace
grew into an organisation that is now a major part of a
global movement. With a presence in over 55 countries, and a
fierce independence made possible by tens of millions of
volunteers, donors, and supporters, Greenpeace remains a
formidable force.

For 50 years Greenpeace has fought
and won countless campaigns. We have stood alongside
communities, Indigenous people, and allies on the frontlines
around the world in the fight to ensure a just, green and
peaceful future. We’ve shown that when we stand together,
we can win.

Alongside our allies we put an end to
nuclear testing and the dumping of toxic waste at sea. We
established a base in Antarctica and won a 50-year
protection for the continent. We stopped offshore oil and
gas exploration in Aotearoa, and we put an end to driftnet
fishing on the high seas. Our investigation and
confrontation of polluting corporations has been relentless,
and time after time we’ve held them to account. Year after
year, we have put our bodies on the line, between whales and
the whalers’ harpoons, in front of oil the giant ships of
the oil industry and in protection of the world’s
rainforests.

Still, there’s more to be done. That
same exploitation and destruction of nature which sparked
the very first Greenpeace voyage, continues to worsen and we
now find ourselves at a tipping point.

Greenpeace
works to preserve our natural environment, to reduce our
global emissions in order to prevent the most catastrophic
impacts of climate change, to transform systems that affect
our food production, to protect global oceans, to restore
ancient forests that are key to biodiversity, and to seek
climate justice on behalf of vulnerable communities already
impacted by the ongoing climate emergency.

Greenpeace
International Executive Director, Jennifer Morgan
said:

“As we mark 50 years since the first Greenpeace
voyage, biodiversity loss is accelerating, the climate
emergency is deepening and inequality is
growing.

“Over the last five decades there have been
many campaigns and victories to demand a green, peaceful,
and just future. Greenpeace continues to work as part of a
global movement for system change to ensure that people and
planet are put before profit and pollution.

Greenpeace’s
story is one of hope in action
. It’s a story of
people-power, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
It’s a 50 year story which demonstrates that together we
can force radical change, we can do what at first might seem
impossible.

“Now, more than ever, we need to stand
together in defence of nature, which nurtures and sustains
us. We need to stand for equity, on which we build a lasting
peace. We need to take back our shared future. The millions
must become billions before it’s too late.”

A long
history in Aotearoa

The loose network that formed
around the first protest voyages that sailed from Aotearoa
to protest the French Government’s nuclear tests at
Moruroa Atoll in the early 1970s led to the founding of
‘Greenpeace New Zealand’ as an incorporated society in
1974, one of the first national Greenpeace offices to be
established in the world.

Now known
as Greenpeace Aotearoa
, the organisation and its
flagship SV Rainbow Warrior have had a huge impact over the
years here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and achieved a
long list of significant wins
for people and planet,
says current Executive Director, Russel Norman.

“From
being the launching point for the successful international
campaign to protect Antarctica, and having a central role in
the campaigns to stop French nuclear testing, driftnet
fishing, whaling and toxic pollution, through to eliminating
single-use plastic bags and Government funded irrigation
schemes, and establishing the Ross Sea Ocean Sanctuary,
Greenpeace has been pivotal in a string of successful
campaigns spanning 5 decades.

“One of the most
significant of recent times has been the successful campaign
to end offshore oil and gas exploration here in Aotearoa,
and alongside iwi, hapū and many others, Greenpeace played
a key role in that.

“Our main focus now is shifting
the dominant agricultural model here in New Zealand away
from intensive dairying to regenerative
organic farming
. Agribusiness is to New Zealand what
coal is to Australia, or the tar sands are to Canada, in
terms of pollution. We need healthy farms for healthy land,
healthy water and a healthy climate,” says
Norman.

Greenpeace Aotearoa is also running
campaigns
aimed at stopping seabed mining here and in
the Pacific, protecting ocean biodiversity from industrial
fishing, and eliminating unnecessary single-use
plastics.

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary,
Greenpeace Aotearoa has released an updated history of
Greenpeace in New Zealand
. Making Waves II is written by
author and former Greenpeace Campaign Manager Michael Szabo,
and continues the story from the original Making Waves book
written by him and published in 1991.

It is intended
to be an online educational resource that is relevant to the
social studies curriculum, and the new NZ curriculum which
comes into effect next
year.

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