Criticism of Greenpeace

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Throughout its history, the policies and objectives of the non-governmental environmental protection and conservation organization Greenpeace have been criticized by a number of groups, including national governments, members of industry, former Greenpeace members, scientists, and political groups. The organization's methods, such as the use of direct action, have also led to controversy.

Prominent critics[edit]

Patrick Moore has reversed his positions on forests, nuclear energy, and more since being asked to leave Greenpeace staff[1]
Phil Radford disputes Moore by claiming that the U.S. can be powered by 100% clean energy, does not need nuclear energy.[2][3]

Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, a former Greenpeace founding member, is a critic of the organization.[4] Moore's main criticisms have been leveled at the campaign to protect the forests of British Columbia. In addition, Patrick Moore had once spoken out against nuclear power in 1976,[5] but today he supports it, along with renewable energy sources.[6][7][8] In Australian newspaper The Age, he writes "Greenpeace is wrong — we must consider nuclear power".[9] He argues that any realistic plan to reduce reliance on fossil fuels or greenhouse gas emissions need increased use of nuclear energy.[6] Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace US responded that nuclear energy is too risky, takes too long to build to address climate change, and by showing that the U.S. can shift to nearly 100% renewable energy while phasing out nuclear power by 2050.[2][3]

Criticisms[edit]

Shell oil storage buoy[edit]

In 1995, Greenpeace mounted a successful campaign to force Royal Dutch Shell, co-owner of the Brent Spar oil storage buoy, to dismantle the platform on land rather than scuttling it at sea, which involved the platform's occupation by Greenpeace members. A moratorium on the dumping of offshore installations was adopted in Europe soon after the affair, and three years later the Environment Ministers of countries bordering the northeast Atlantic sided with Greenpeace, (PDF) adopting a permanent ban on the dumping of offshore installations at sea.

After the affair, it came to light that Greenpeace had miscalculated the amount of toxic waste present aboard the Brent Spar. Greenpeace admitted that its claims that the Spar contained 5000 tons of oil were inaccurate, apologizing to Shell on September 5.[10] However, Greenpeace dismissed the importance of the amount of oil on board, pointing to wider industrial responsibility as the main issue at hand, as the Brent Spar was to be the first offshore installation to be dumped in the northeast Atlantic ocean; Greenpeace claimed that it would likely have been followed by the scuttling of dozens or hundreds more platforms, setting what they consider to be a dangerous precedent. The organization went on to point out that Shell's decision to scrap the platform had been taken before Greenpeace announced the existence of an incorrect amount of toxic waste, and that their mistake therefore did not influence Shell's decision.

Anti-DDT campaign[edit]

Greenpeace supports the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a legally binding international agreement which aims to phase out substances such as DDT.[11] Both the Stockholm Convention and Greenpeace allow DDT to be used for malaria control.[12][13] However, according to Roger Bate, a libertarian critic of Greenpeace, the organization's campaign to shut down the last major DDT factory in the world located in Cochin, India, would make the eradication of malaria more difficult for poorer countries.[14]

Greener Electronics campaign[edit]

In August 2006, Greenpeace released its first "Guide to Greener Electronics," which ranked leading mobile phone, PC, TV, and game console manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers. Greenpeace encouraged manufacturers to clean up their products by eliminating hazardous substances and to take back and recycle their products responsibly once they become obsolete.

The Version 1 Guide to Greener Electronics[15] stated "the ranking is important because the amounts of toxic e-waste is [sic] growing everyday and it often ends up dumped in the developing world. Reducing the toxic chemicals in products reduces pollution from old products and makes recycling safer, easier and cheaper." It ranked Nokia and Dell near the top, but essentially gave failing grades across the industry, ranking Toshiba thirteenth, and Apple Computer in eleventh place out of the fourteen brands. The report singled out Apple for its low rank, saying: "Already, many of the companies are in a race to reach the head of the class - that is, except for Apple, who seems determined to remain behind rather than be the teacher's pet we'd hoped for." This caught the attention of tech media news sites, and was widely reported. Greenpeace gave Nintendo a score of 0.3 / 10 based on the fact that Greenpeace has almost no information on the company, which, by Greenpeace's grading system, automatically results in a zero for the affected categories.

Daniel Eran of RoughlyDrafted criticized the guide in an article,[16] saying the Greenpeace guide's "ranking puts far more weight upon what companies publicly say rather than what they actually do. It is also clear that Greenpeace intended the report more as an attention getting stunt than a serious rating of corporations' actual responsibility." In response, Greenpeace attacked RoughlyDrafted's credibility, pointing out that it has in the past been called "the lunatic fringe of Mac fandom" by other bloggers after comparing the cost of Windows and Mac OS X.[17]

It was alleged that Greenpeace had no factual evidence, instead relying on unsubstantiated official company information for the report in order to garner publicity, as well as political and monetary support. The Environmental Protection Agency's 2007 report EPEAT showed Apple leading the ranks in all categories. ArsTechnica called the 2006 Greenpeace report a fraud[18] after factual substantiation was questioned.

Greenpeace responded to the criticisms in a rebuttal also published by RoughlyDrafted. Along with the Greenpeace rebuttal, the article[19] further presented the results of a second Greenpeace report, called "Toxic Chemicals in Your Laptop Exposed," which RoughlyDrafted called an 'apology' for the initial claims Greenpeace made in the Greener Guide rankings. While Greenpeace itself has never used the word "apology", they did restate several of their initial claims in a response to Keith Ripley, another reviewer of the report.[20] For example, the data reported findings of minimal traces of TBBPA, an unregulated fire retardant in the Apple computer; the Greenpeace press release said Apple "appears to be using far more of this toxic chemical than its competitors". This is despite the fact that the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks concluded in March 2005 that TBBPA "presents no risk to human health"[21] and "the World Health organisation conducted a scientific assessment of TBBPA and found that the risk for the general population is considered to be insignificant."[22]

More criticism of the statement in the Greenpeace press release followed in:[23] "The most recent report, 'Toxics in Your Laptop Exposed,' did credible scientific tests, but then threw out the data to instead present a lathered up, misleading and deceptive press release that was simply a lie. No amount of credible science is worth anything if you ignore the findings and simply present the message you wanted the data to support."

Greenpeace published an article on its website, addressing the criticism so far, with a special focus on scientific issues.[24]

The Guide to Greener Electronics has been continually updated with new rankings of the electronics manufacturers, and as of May 2010, 15 editions have been produced.[25]

Greenland indigenous complaints[edit]

In 2010, when Cairn Energy found initial traces of natural gas in one of its test wells that indicate the possibility of much larger hydrocarbon deposits, Greenpeace sent its ship, the Esperanza, into a stand-off with the Danish navy near Cairn's oil platforms. Many members of the community were angry with Greenpeace telling youngsters not to eat whale or seal, which the Inuit have eaten for centuries. As a result, Cairn Energy has gotten a warmer welcome than many environmentalists has hoped for. One person said this was "because it is for the greater good." A reference to the potential revenue energy exploration could bring to offset the $500 million annual grant from Denmark which could transform the economy and lead to Greenland independence.

However, Aqqaluk Lynge, from the Inuit Circumpolar Council, said an influx of foreign companies and workers could mean the natives "risk being a minority in our own country." He added that "One thing is for sure, yes Greenland has a chance to be rich, it's something that is essential for the people of Greenland to discuss and then decide if we want forced industrialisation." Greenpeace also stopped the trade of sealskin, something Greenlanders have never forgotten.[26]

Neo-luddism[edit]

Several publications have accused Greenpeace of being anti-technology. In an editorial in the Register,[27] Andrew Orlowski cites Greenpeace's opposition to research on nuclear fusion. Orlowski points out the incoherent and contradictory argument by Greenpeace that nuclear fusion is non-viable but then warns of the dangers that commercial nuclear fusion posed on the environment despite their claims that nuclear fusion is an impractical, technological deadend. Other publications also criticized Greenpeace's stand against genetically-modified crops[28][29] and the unlawful destruction of those crops by its members.[30]

Opposition to Golden Rice[edit]

In September of 2013, several prominent scientists published a letter condemning Greenpeace and other NGOs for their opposition to Golden Rice. In the letter they state, "If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as by individuals, against Golden Rice."[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lobbywatch
  2. ^ a b Energy Revolution, Greenpeace report - pdf
  3. ^ a b "Radford, New Greenpeace Boss on Climate Change, Coal, and Nuclear Power". The Wall Street Journal. April 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ Moore, Patrick (April 22, 2008). "Why I Left Greenpeace". The Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ Patrick Moore, Assault on Future Generations, Greenpeace report, p47-49, 1976 - pdf [1]
  6. ^ a b Moore, Patrick (2006-04-16). "Going Nuclear". Washington Post. 
  7. ^ Washington Post Article, Sunday, April 16, 2006 - Going Nuclear [2]
  8. ^ The Independent, Nuclear energy? Yes please! [3]
  9. ^ The Age Greenpeace is wrong — we must consider nuclear power, article by Patrick Moore,December 10, 2007 [4]
  10. ^ Toufexis, Anastasia (October 16, 1995). "Its not easy being Greenpeace". Time. 
  11. ^ Greenpeace press release "The Stockholm Convention's entry into force a victory for the environment and our future" 18 February 2004 [5]
  12. ^ Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants "DDT Overview"
  13. ^ Nicholas D. Kristof: "It's Time to Spray DDT" The New York Times, January 8, 2005
  14. ^ Bate, Roger "A Case of the DDTs: The war against the war against malaria" National Review May 14, 2001, Vol. LIII, No.9
  15. ^ Guide to Greener Electronics (PDF)
  16. ^ Top Secret: Greenpeace Report Misleading and Incompetent
  17. ^ Technovia. Roughly Drafted's not a good thing.
  18. ^ http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/1/6/6507
  19. ^ Greenpeace Apologizes For Apple Stink. September 18, 2006.
  20. ^ The Temas Blog. Musings about the Evolution of Consumer, Environmental & Health Policy in Latin America & the Caribbean. 30 October 2006.
  21. ^ EMS now. EU Scientific Committee confirms that TBBPA presents no risk to human health. October 13, 2005.
  22. ^ EPC. Environmental and Health Issues.
  23. ^ Greenpeace Lies About Apple
  24. ^ Greenpeace. Responses to criticisms about the Greenpeace campaign for a greener electronics sector. No date.
  25. ^ Greenpeace International: Greener Electronics
  26. ^ http://blogs.aljazeera.net/europe/2010/09/14/oil-riches-greenland
  27. ^ Orlowski, Andrew. "Greenpeace on fusion: Whatever it is, we're against it-Luddites 2.0"Greenpeace on fusion: Whatever it is, we're against it-Luddites 2.0" 22 October 2008
  28. ^ Swain, Frank. "What's next Greenpeace, burning books?" [6] 28 July 2011
  29. ^ Jones, Steven Edwards, Against technology: from the Luddites to Neo-Luddism [7]
  30. ^ Scopelianos, Sarah, "Cops investigate GM crop damage" [8] 15 July 2011
  31. ^ Alberts, et al, "Standing Up for GMOs" [9] 20 September 2013