Sustainability | Ecotrope

Radical activism vs. sensible environmentalism

Ecotrope | Jan. 7, 2011 6:33 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:42 p.m.

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Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has a fascinating first-person piece in the Vancouver Sun today that traces his evolution from a “radical activist” to what he calls a “sensible environmentalist.” In it, he explains two key events that led him in the 1980s to drop out of the organization he helped to form and criticizes the modern Greenpeace policy of confrontational and militant environmentalism.

He offers a list of his current views on environmental issues – including a lack of concern about climate change, support for wood products, genetic science and hydroelectric dams, and objection to over-regulation and activist misinformation campaigns. He also plugs his new book, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist.”

Here’s how he starts out:

“You could call me a Greenpeace dropout, but that is not an entirely accurate description of how or why I left the organization 15 years after I helped create it. I’d like to think Greenpeace left me, rather than the other way around, but that too is not entirely correct.

The truth is Greenpeace and I had divergent evolutions. I became a sensible environmentalist; Greenpeace became increasingly senseless as it adopted an agenda that is anti-science, anti-business, and downright anti-human. This is the story of our transformations.”

I’m intrigued by his claim that some environmentalists are anti-human. In one section of his essay, he says parts of the environmental movement are stuck in a 1970s mentality that glorifies poverty, opposes all large developments, and considers human evolution to be “some kind of mistake.” I’ve heard this argument echoing in numerous debates over issues in the Pacific Northwest. Where do you draw the line between radical activist and sensible environmentalism?

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