Featured Cause: Greenpeace*

January 30, 2006 · Print This Article


By Brenda Clemons
2006.01

In June of 1992, the four members of U2 climbed aboard a Greenpeace ship to protest the Sellafield nuclear reactor—a British reactor whose contaminants are believed to be responsible for numerous health and environmental problems in communities along the Irish Sea. Dressed in radiation suits and wading knee deep through freezing, possibly contaminated water, it was clear what lengths the band and Greenpeace members would go to in order to protest the reactor’s poor safety record and the building of another plant.

Whether it is an end to nuclear threat, the protection of ancient forests and oceans or safe, sustainable trade, Greenpeace uses non-violent, creative confrontation to bring media attention to expose problems and demand solutions.

Greenpeace had its beginnings in 1971 when a small group of activists (including an Olympic athlete, a law student and a U.S. Navy deep sea diver, among others) set sail in a tiny fishing boat in an effort to protest the United States government conducting underground nuclear testing in Amchitka, Alaska. The boat was intercepted before it reached its destination but the flurry of media attention helped put an end to nuclear testing in an area that was later declared a bird sanctuary.

This group of activists became know as Greenpeace when an onlooker gave them the peace sign. Greenpeace became a foundation in 1972 and has since grown internationally with activists in 125 countries and territories. The organization relies on private donations and fundraising events and does not accept money from corporations or governments.

Though a non-violent organization itself, its activists are often met with hostility by local police and governments. Activists are often arrested, prosecuted or even killed.

The organization does offer many less hands-on opportunities to become involved, including e-zines, action forums and blogs. To learn more about Sellafield or other campaigns led by Greenpeace, visit www.greenpeace.org.

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