The idea of Greenpeace was formed in 1971 by a group of activists who sailed from Vancouver, Canada in an old fishing boat named "Phyllis Cormack" and later "Greenpeace" to witness to the United States' underground nuclear testing at Amchitka, Alaska. Amchitka was home to over 3000 endangered sea otters and also bald eagles and peregrine falcons, not to mention countless other forms of wildlife for which this was a last refuge. The activists' boat was intercepted before they reached the island, but the public's interest had already been sparked and the bomb was detonated anyway. As a result of the public awareness about the issue, nuclear testing ended on the island five months later and it was declared a bird sanctuary.
In 1973, Greenpeace sailed to Moruroa in the "Vega" to protest nuclear testing by the French. The boat was boarded by commandos who beat David McTaggert, the boat's owner. When McTaggert prosecuted the case in French courts, the government said, "It is very possible that McTaggert's attitude, reinforced by the reactions of certain countries and certain groups, caused the government of France to think again." The French limited their testing to underground testing the next year and in 1975 Greenpeace opened its first offices in the United States.
Later causes and victories included protesting the seal hunt in Newfoundland in 1976 which produced worldwide bans on seal hunting and restrictions on the trade of seal products, the banning of sperm whaling by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1981 and all commercial whaling by 1985, an end to toxic waste incineration by 65 countries by 1994, an international ban on mining and drilling in Antartica until 2048, and the end of nuclear testing by the five nuclear powers in 1996.
Today Greenpeace is based in Amsterdam and has over 2.8 million supporters across the world and offices in 41 countries. On their web site, they say they organize public campaigns for:
- The protection of oceans and ancient forests.
- The phase out of fossil fuels and the promotion of renewable energy to stop climate change.
- The elimination of toxic chemicals.
- The prevention of genetically modified organisms being released into nature.
- An end to the nuclear threat and nuclear contamination.
- Safe and sustainable trade.
They do not accept funding from any government, corporation or political party since it feels that donations from these and other donations could affect the organization's independence, aims, and objectives. Instead, the organization relies on the donations of individuals and grants from foundations and claims to have no permanent allies or enemies.
Greenpeace has a fleet of ships which are used to sail to remote areas to "bear witness and take action against environmental destruction." They fleet includes:
- The MV Esperanza - The newest and largest boat in the fleet, launched in February, 2002
- The SV Rainbow Warrior - The ship's name was inspired by a North American Indian prophecy which influenced the group on the first Greenpeace voyage
- The MV Arctic Sunrise - A former sealing ship bought through a company called Arctic Sunrise Ventures Ltd in 1995
- The MV Argus - The smallest boat in the fleet which works mostly along the North Sea coast of the Netherlands and monitors pollution
- The Greenpeace balloon - Carries a pilot and two passengers and needs a ground crew of three. It has flown over the Berlin wall in 1983, the United States nuclear testing site in Nevada in 1987, and over the Taj Mahal during nuclear protests in India in 1998
You can "join" or rather donate to Greenpeace online here: https://www.greenpeace.com/forms/gpicontr.html