Vivere con le
L'opzione nucleare la "green economy"
i danni maggiori vennero dai media
nucleari non rappresentano un rischio
riprocessamento del combustibile nucleare
aristocratiche dei movimenti verdi
Il WWF in Africa
Il mondo poco pacifico
Il rischio di cancro per
Una confutazione completa della "Linear no Threshold
Prof. Bernard L. Cohen
Una misura scientifica del
Prof. Bernard L. Cohen
The not so
peaceful world of Greenpeace
band of scrappy protesters in rubber rafts, saving whales. That's the
Greenpeace image. The reality: a multinational organization accountable
only to itself, with large revenues and a brilliant ability to
manipulate the press and the public.
"The secret to David McTaggart's success is the secret to Greenpeace's
success: It doesn't matter what is true, it only matters what people
believe is true.... You are what the media define you to be.
[Greenpeace] became a myth, and a myth-generating machine."
The cynical description of the organization Greenpeace comes not from
some right-winger annoyed at the excess of the environmentalist movement
but from Paul Watson, cofounder of Greenpeace and now the director of a
rival ecology group, the Sea Shepherd Society.
Watson, who left Greenpeace in 1977, was talking about how the
organization grew from a ragtag band of hippies to the largest
environmental organization in the world, with a membership of 5 million
and offices in 24 countries. Not the least ingredient in this success
was the clever myth-creation referred to by Watson.
Under its recently departed guru, David McTaggart, 59, the $157 million
(1990 revenues) Greenpeace became a skillfully managed business,
mastering the tools of direct mail and image manipulation - and
indulging in forms of lobbying that would bring instant condemnation if
practiced by a for-profit corporation. Ironical, this, considering that
McTaggart marketed Greenpeace as very much the nemesis of the powerful
The mythic image is of a band of young daredevils hanging off a refinary
smokestack or thrusting themselves in the path of the whaler's harpoon.
This image has made a mighty impression. Greenpeace Germany, for
instance, second-largest branch operation after Greenpeace U.S.A., had
revenues last year of $36 million and 700,000 members, of whom 320,000
permit Greenpeace to automatically debit their bank accounts annually
for the dues of 50 deutsche marks ($30).
But all is not peaceful in the inner workings of Greenpeace these days.
The myth is fraying a little around the edges. Beginning this spring,
German publications have carried revelations of millions of marks of
donations being funneled into Greenpeace savings accounts rather than
used to fight pollution.
Greenpeace underwent a major shakeup on Sept. 2 with the announcement by
its international headquarters in Amsterdam that Davod McTaggart had
resigned as chairman after 12 years in the post. Replacing him was
Helsinki civil rights lawer Matti Wuori, 46; McTaggart became honorary
chairman and says he will spend his time, among other things, on helping
the Soviet Union clean up its environment. The timing was interesting,
to say the least. There is some reason to believe that Wuori was brought
in as a Mr. Clean to scrub Greenpeace's now somewhat bespattered image.
Who is this somewhat mysterious David McTaggart, regarded by many as a
near saintly figure? McTaggart's skillful image manipulation begins with
his own life story. There is the official version, as told in the 1989
book, The Greenpeace Story, and repeated over the years in many
newspaper and magazine stories about the organization. According to this
official version, McTaggart was once a successful real estate executive
who saw the light at age 39 and decided to save the planet.
This version is myth. People who knew McTaggart in his earlier life say
he was a failed real estate promoter who left investors and relatives in
the lurch and departed before his projects failed (see box, p. 176).
Gertrude Hubertry, mother of the third of McTaggart's wives, and one of
several people who lost money with him, remembers him as a ruthless
businessman. "David once told me that when you want something badly
enough, you have to be willing to do anything to get it," she says. "Anything."
One thing he wanted badly was the leadership of Greenpeace. In 1979 a
fierce fight broke out between the Vancouver operation and loosely
affiliated rivals in the U.S. over the use of the Greenpeace name. By
then McTaggart was active in Greenpeace's European operation, and he was
famous for having been beaten by French agents when he tried to
interfere with a French nuclear test. The Vancouver founders filed a
lawsuit to win control of the name. Many say it was an open battle
between David McTaggart and cofounder and president Patrick Moore. Moore
had the support of the Canadians, but the U.S. and European affiliates
were squarely in McTaggart's camp. McTaggart emerged in 1980 with the
chairmanship of Greenpeace International. Moore remained head of the
Greenpeace Canada affiliate.
Of course, the millions of people who gave money and allegiance to the
myth knew little of this internecine battling. There's a paradox here.
Outfits like Greenpeace attack big business as being faceless and
responsible to no one. In fact, that description better fits Greenpeace
than it does modern corporations that are regulated, patrolled and
heavily taxed by governments, reported on by an adversarial press and
carefully watched by their own shareholders. There's little
accountability for outfits like Greenpeace. The media treat them with
kid gloves. Press Greenpeace and it will reveal that McTaggart's salary
was $60,000, but it won't say anything about any other forms of
compensation - something a U.S. corporation would be compelled to reveal
in its proxy statements.
While affiliates like Greenpeace U.S.A. and Greenpeace Germany have
their own boards, the real power and much of the money belong to the
international organization, which until his resignation was ruled by
McTaggart from his olive farm in Perugia, Italy and/or the Greenpeace
office in Rome.
Amsterdam has the power because of all the cash upstreamed from the 12
most prosperous national organizations, which must pay a kind of royalty
for use of the name. The royalty is set at 24% of their net take from
fundraising. Power is further consolidated at the center as no national
office can start a campaign without the approval of the international
How has Greenpeace used this power? Ruthlessly. There is a kind of
ends-justify-the-means mentality at work here. Greenpeace pressured the
University of Florida into firing marine biologist Richard Lambertsen in
1986. Lambertsen's offense: doing research that required tissue samples
from whale organs, research that Greenpeace had decided wasn't
scientifically useful. Greenpeace made the preposterous claim that
Lambertsen was just a front for commercial whalers. Lambertsen, now at
the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, says his research was aimed at
identifying whale diseases. Greenpeace's tactics, he says, included
trucking protesters to the campus and flying over football games with
banners that said "U of F stop killing whales."
While the media were enthusiastically recording Greenpeace staffers
dodging harpoons from Zodiac infratable dinghies, McTaggart was helping
to pack the International Whaling Commission.
The commission was formed in 1946 in a treaty among whaling nations to
prevent the overhunting of whales. The most closely affected nations
were Japan, Iceland, the Soviet Union and Norway, but membership in the
commission was open to any country that was willing to pay an annual fee
of roughly $20,000 to $30,000 plus the cost of sending its
representative to meetings. According to Francisco Palacio, a former
Greenpeace consultant on marine mammals, he and McTaggart, working with
their friends, came up with a way to bend the commission to the
Greenpeace view that there should be an outright ban on whaling.
The whale savers targeted poor nations plus some small, newly
independent ones like Antigua and St. Lucia. They drafted the required
membership documents for submission to the U.S. State Department. They
assigned themselves or their friends as the scientists and commissioners
to represent these nations at the whaling commission. For instance,
Palacio, a Columbian citizen based in Miami, arranged to be the
commissioner from St. Lucia. The commissioner from Antigua was Palacio's
friend and lawer, Richard Baron, also from Miami. McTaggart's friend
Paul Gouin, a Moroccan-born French expatriate living in Nassau, Bahamas,
served as commissioner from Panama. According to Palacio, the
Greenpeace-inspired commissioners enjoyed an annual all-expenses-paid
ten-day trip with a $300-per-diem perk to attend commission meetings.
Palacio says the group paid to fly a U.N. ambassador home to talk his
government into going along with the plan.
Between 1978 and 1982, Palacio says, the operation added at least half a
dozen new member countries to the commission's membership to achieve the
three-fourths majority necessary for a moratorium on commercial whaling,
which passed in 1982.
This project cost millions, says Palacio, including the commission
membership payments picked up on behalf of cooperating members. "In
membership fees the payments amounted to about $150,000 [a year], and
then we had all the grease money throughout the years," says Palacio.
The Frenchman Gouin, then in his 30s, was the angel, funneling the funds
through a Miami-based "foundation" called the Sea Life Resources
Institute. Where did Gouin get that kind of Money? From trading
investments, he says.
Greenpeace campaigns, like the save-the-whale one, often seem open and
almost spontaneous. But they are carefully orchestrated, beginning with
a network of investigators who collect tips from government officials,
truck drivers and sympathetic employees at corporate targets of
Greenpeace antipollution campaigns. One insider says that the
intelligence gathering includes a clandestine operation in Zurich, a
point that Matti Wuori denies. This much is clear: With its network of
contacts, Greenpeace has turned itself into a vigilante group - vigilant
in enforcing antipollution laws, but acting as judge and jury whenever
it decides that government enforcers aren't forceful enough. That little
of this is widely understood is not surprising. A sympathetic press has
always been a Greenpeace ally.
Greenpeace's biggest fundraiser was a tragic event that Greenpeace didn't
plan at all. In 1985, French government agents, attempting to thwart a
Greenpeace obstruction of nuclear testing, blew up Greenpeace's ship
Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand. Photographer Fernando Pereira,
who was on board at the time, was killed. The incident brought instant
martyr status to the organization.
Greenpeace was not slow to exploit the publicity. Between 1985 and 1987
Greenpeace U.S.A. revenues tripled to $25 million.
But the martyrdom was somewhat sullied by allegations that Pereira was
allied with terrorists. A German intelligence official says that German
and Dutch intelligence agencies had files on Pereira describing him as a
"contact" of a political front man for the terrorist Second of June
Movement gang, and as a contact with the Soviet KGB in planning
antinuclear missile protests in Western Europe.
Greenpeace denies these allegations, and says that the stories of the
terrorist connections are fabrications planted by a French foreign
security agency trying to take the sting out of the ugly event in
The truth on that score may never be known, but Greenpeace reaped huge
publicity dividends from the tragedy while the police allegations got
scant attention in the media. When unfavorable publicity does surface,
Greenpeace frequently takes to the courts. In the last year Greenpeace
has filed suits against three German publications that have said things
about Greenpeace it didn't like. Feeling free to criticize others,
Greenpeace does not seem to feel others have the right to criticize it.
Reykjavik, Iceland-based independent filmmaker Magnus Gudmundsson can
testify to this. Gudmundsson's 1989 documentary Survival in the High
North shows the struggle between hunting peoples of the far north and
environmentalists. It paints a dismal picture of welfare dependency and
rising suicide rates among the hunting populations of Iceland, Greenland
and the Faroe Island, where the seal hunting business was devastated
after the successful campaign by Greenpeace and animal rights groups to
ban sealskin imports to Europe.
Gudmundsson's film reexamines evidence produced in 1986 by award-winning
Danish journalist Leif Blaedel, which shows that one propaganda film
used by Greenpeace was faked by using paid animal torturers. Blaedel
cites gruesome scenes in the film Goodbye Joey, which Dirranbandi,
Australia, court records had confirmed were faked by its producers.
These scenes, he reports, were staged by paid kangaroo shooters who were
later fined for torturing kangaroos for the film. Court documents
confirm that the film's fraudulence was a matter of public record in
1983, three years before the last known time Greenpeace Denmark sent it
out on request - to Blaedel himself. Greenpeace media director Peter
Dykstra says Greenpeace stopped distributing the film in 1983, when it
discovered the film's "integrity problems."
Greenpeace has tried to silence Gudmundsson, with demands for
injunctions and/or damages in the courts of Iceland, the U.K. and Norway.
Gudmundsson has spent about $40,000 in legal fees so far.
If Greenpeace's ends justify such means, what are these noble ends? It's
impossible to say precisely, though unmistakable is a hatred of business
and free markets. Greenpeace U.S.A. Executive Director Peter Bahouth
told the newspaper In These Times in April 1990: "I don't believe in the
market approach.... It results in treating toxics or pollution as a
commodity.... When companies have a bottom line of profit you won't have
them thinking about the environment."
German environmental consultant Joseph Huber, talking about militant
elements in Greenpeace Germany, sums up an informed outsider's view: "These
Greenpeacers do not know what they are longing for. But they do feel the
strong need to protest the perceived destruction of the earth by
industrialism and capitalism. The Marxist elements are interspersed with
a new kind of romanticism and anarchism."
There is nothing in environmentalism that says it has to be statist and
antimarket to work. The Bozeman, Mont.-based Political Economy Research
Center, for instance, endorses a property-rights approach to solving
environmental problems, and even the mainstream Environmental Defense
Fund favors marketable pollution permits. But Greenpeace, at least the
pre-Wuori Greenpeace, would have no truck with the free market. Its
philosophy is that pollution is a sin, not a cost, and should be
outlawed, not taxed - even if that means shutting down industry.
Robert Hunter was a cofounder of Greenpeace and to some its spiritual
leader. He is now an environmental filmmaker based in Toronto. In 1979
he wrote a chronicle of Greenpeace, Warriors of the Rainbow. It says: "Machiavellianism
and mysticism alike played their parts in the shaping of the
consciousness [that Greenpeace] expressed. It embodied at times a
religious fervor, at other times a ruthlessness that bordered on
savagery.... Corruption and greatness both played their part and both
took their tolls."
Ruthlessness and religion are a combustible mixture, the more so when
combined with an absolutist certainty. Greenpeace gives research grants
but doesn't fund research on cleaning up toxic or nuclear wastes. Why?
Greenpeace says its role is to prevent pollution rather than cleaning it
up. It seems that finding solutions to the safe disposal of such wastes
undermines the Greenpeace objective of eliminating the industrial
processes that create the waste.
Greenpeace U.S.A. recently commissioned a report from forestry expert
Randal O'Toole on the economics of the U.S. timber industry. O'Toole
concluded that eliminating government subsidies to the U.S. Forest
Service and allowing it to charge recreation fees would reduce the
Forest Service's incentives to overcut trees. According to O'Toole,
Greenpeace didn't allow publication of the study's recommendations under
its name. Says O'Toole, "I had the feeling that someone higher up in
Greenpeace didn't like my conclusions."
In its money-raising literature, Greenpeace often invokes its allegiance
to the nonviolent rhetoric of Mahatma Gandhi and the Quaker notion of "bearing
witness." But Gandhi believed passionately that good ends do not justify
evil means; Greenpeace's devotion to this ideal is questionable.
Take, for example, its support for Earth First, an eco-terrorist group
whose methods would have horrified Gandhi - and whose cofounder, Michael
Roselle, is now on Greenpeace's payroll. It is famous for driving spikes
into trees, which can injure sawmill workers. (Roselle says Earth First
now "discourages" tree-spiking.) When a car bomb explosion led in 1990
to the arrest of two Earth First members injured in the blast,
Greenpeace formed an alliance of environmental groups that paid their
bail and private investigation fees. Roselle, still an Earth First
member, offers the theory that the Earth Firsters were innocent victims
of attempted murder by anti-environmentalists. No charges were filed.
It seems clear that Greenpeace's benign image and name, so redolent of
goodness, are a cover for a disdain for capitalism. Not surprisingly,
international board member Susan George and military expert William
Arkin used to work at the notoriously leftist Institute for Policy
In many of its utterances, Greenpeace is less an institution dedicated
to saving endangered species than it is an advocate of a Big Brother who
would run the world the way Greenpeace insiders would like it to be run.
This is clearly spelled out in an editorial in the March/April 1990
issue of Greenpeace magazine. The editorial compares Eastern Europe's
command economies to the West's "savage capitalism." Mindless of the
environmental devastation caused by socialism, the editorial concludes:
"From a purely ecological perspective, the two competing ideologies were
barely distinguishable." That outrageous statement would hardly sell in
the newly freed countries of Eastern Europe, although Greenpeace has
recently opened two offices there, but in the pampered West it
apparently finds believers.
Can Greenpeace's new chairman check this anticapitalistic fervor and
bring Greenpeace into the mainstream of environmentalism? Matti Wuori
seems to be serious about infusing his more moderate views into the
organization - and he plans to create an internal audit unit. But to the
extent that he curbs Greenpeace's worst tendencies, Wuori risks damaging
the reputation for militance that has done so much to build Greenpeace's
November 11, 1991. By Leslie Spencer with Jan Bollwerk and Richard C.