Articles from 2013
Greenpeace's desperation to protect their Green Economy
- Written by Nick Grealy
- Published: 17 October 2013
Since this is a children’s story, let’s start with Once upon a time. Once upon a time, Greenpeace was a respected serious organisation that successfully achieved many positive things. Sadly, those days have long gone and today UK Greenpeace illustrates all that’s wrong with the environmental movement. Greenpeace today is a recycling machine for old ideas and new money.
Greenpeace think that it’s far more important to hang on to a fun job talking about climate change than actually doing anything about it. Intern slaves like the poor guys harassing people on the street for funds are there either for a few months out of desperation or can afford to be subsidized by the Bank of Mum and Dad as they wait for an eventual opening elsewhere in the green economy. Judging by the year long gaps between successes on their web site (zero successes from the UK), you would think Greenpeace would learn that cunning stunts may make people feel better (and feed the Greenpeace coffers) but achieve nothing. What does overwhelm on the web site is ways to separate you, or young children, from your money. The real money at Greenpeace is finding a way to get a piece of the green. On that, I’m not taking the piss, but Greenpeace is giving it to you.
How this gift works ...
Non-violent direct actions are a key part of all Greenpeace’s campaigns, getting the message across to governments or corporations who are committing environmental crimes. Whether we’re closing down a power station or hanging a banner off a building, our activists may need to be sticking around for hours or even days. The last thing they need is to put themselves at risk by having to answer the call of nature, so this reusable plastic bottle (with a sealable lid!) is a vital piece of kit.
An example of Greenpeace’s tactics was their recent run-in with the hardball playing Russian FSB. This was the one where Greenpeace activists thought it would be fun to play one of their favourite games “Hang the Banner” on a Russian oil rig. Not only were 30 arrested, they’ve been cooling their heels, and probably most other body parts for the past four weeks. In this case, Greenpeace missed a trick by not dressing up as green pirates with free range rain forest parrots on shoulder, because the charges are actually for piracy.How the Russians mistook attempting to board a peaceful vessel in international waters for piracy is one for the courts.
The fact that the “activists” were even there at all is an example of their confused thinking. No doubt, a good case can be made that, whatever the actions, the cause itself remains solid. I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to go the Arctic and annoy polar bears in the boreal darkness and despite the pay, most of the workers on the rig are probably none too thrilled either.
But for this particular problem, we have a simple solution: produce oil safely at home and pay ourselves where it may be taxed to provide, among other things, more government funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Using the example of the US, the bounty released on land by oil production in Texas, North Dakota and even Pennsylvania, makes any expansion of Arctic drilling not so much politically unacceptable, as simply economically pointless.
Using oil (or gas) is the danger. Not where it comes from. It’s all about consumption of carbon, not production. We naturally consume far more carbon producing oil thousands of miles away in the high Arctic and transporting it to our selves than we would producing it in Lancashire or Sussex.We pay ourselves instead of the Russians. Best of all, we can ensure through our regulation that oil or gas that we use is safe and regulated. Despite what Greenpeace thinks, the world is using less and less energy per capita each year. Greenpeace thinks accessing UK onshore gas and oil is a sign of desperate “extreme” energy. Actually, extreme energy is in the Arctic, Deep Offshore, Amazon, Tar Sands and any number of sensitive habitats worldwide. It may be inconvenient to have four extra trucks a day in a village like Balcombe, but it’s hard to see it as extreme. No one can’t guarantee 100% that someone’s cat won’t be run over, but do people really prefer to kill polar bears so a cat might have an extra life?
Sadly, for the people not brave enough to make the cut for the Arctic expedition, the only Northern Lights the UK Greenpeace intern/slaves get to see will be Blackpool Illuminations. Here again we see that having lost the political, scientific and climate debate, the kids back home still put on a show. In this case it’s more Blue Peter than Skull and Crossbones, as the Greenpeace UK circus comes to town:
wrongmove.org is an online hub to raise awareness of the areas in Britain which could be affected by hydraulic fracturing, and help people in Britain challenge fracking companies looking to operate in their communities.
But in English law, if you own land then your rights extend to all the ground beneath it. The Supreme Court held in 2010 in Bocardo SA v Star Energy  UKSC 35;  1 AC 380 that these rights apply when someone wants to drill underneath your land. That means that if someone drills under your home without permission, or without a statutory right, it is a trespass and trespass is unlawful.
Greenpeace’s action achieves nothing.The political debate at the national level, based on science has not been successful. The people pictured at Wrongmove, are not representative of the good folk of Lancashire, but of a tiny but noisy cohort of nimbys. One thing Greenpeace don’t seem to succeed in, is doing something about cutting carbon or even contributing anything more than a banner sized slogan to serious scientific debate. Let’s check their facts:
Fracking is the destructive process of blasting water, sand and chemicals deep underground in order to get out gas or oil. (creating hair line fissures)
Energy companies want to go to extreme lengths to uncover hard-to-reach fossil fuels from under our homes and countryside (as opposed to hard to reach fossil fuels in the Arctic, Amazon, off shore ) – fossil fuels which the International Energy Agency says must stay in the ground if we are to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. (Fossil fuels: of which the worst for health and air pollution is coal, which is increasing in use in both the UK and Germany as coal is plentiful and gas, thanks to fracking protestors is getting rarer and thus expensive. Fracking threatens not only our climate, but also our countryside and water (multiple scientific worldwide have yet to find one example of damage) and most experts agree – it won’t do anything to bring down energy bills. Most experts: a 3 year old report from Deutsche Bank that the author no longer stands by.
The sad thing about Greenpeace today is not only it’s morphing from a noble organisation to just another money machine. but it allows the hijacking of noble causes by simple nimbys. Whatever residual progressive politics Greenpeace still retains are sullied by their new alliance with right wing allies in Lancashire or southern Tories.
Greenpeace risks taking down progressive politics with them in their bitter ender purist hatred of shale. But there is a better way. In the US I occasionally cross post at the Christian Science Monitor, a relentlessly liberal newspaper with a long and proud history of progressive populism. So I’m sure they won’t mind if I repeat their recent editorial.
Americans may not know it but other countries with shale deposits of gas or oil now look to the United States for leadership on two fronts:
One, how to best use the techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). And two, how to resolve the competing values of even tapping this abundant source of petroleum.
In large part because of fracking, the US is now on course to become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, creating jobs in many areas and a hope of energy security for the nation. But the US has only begun the difficult task of finding a consensus on whether fracking’s hazards outweigh its benefits, and what to do about those hazards, such as methane release and water pollution.
Both sides in the debate have long armed themselves with studies, polls, pressure groups, and even movies to promote or prohibit fracking. Local citizens living over shale formations are often at a loss, perhaps fearing the potential health effects while eyeing the potential wealth bonanza.
But some courageous individuals in the energy industry and among environmentalists have reached out with respect and dispassion to listen to each other in hopes of finding a fact-based consensus.
Please read the rest of it, but unfortunately I see little evidence in Europe of courageous individuals who want to say anything more than the childish noes of Greenpeace or the noble impracticality of the Friends of the Earth. Certainly, those two groups (in public) reject all attempts at dialogue. Much of the problem lies with the speed of the shale revolution. Having told members for years that fossil fuels are the enemy, they get inevitable push back from those bought the original message in the days when it was clear that there was no alternative to the climate problem created by Chinese coal. Today there is, but leaders fear the base will simply stop supporting them - unless they spend even more money on one liner campaigns that harden the debate and only slow down the inevitable.
It’s interesting that it’s European environmentalists who are the ones so isolated in their increasingly desperate struggle against fracking. Will I find Chinese environmentalists against fracking in Beijing next week? Perhaps. But reaching out to them will do more to solve climate change than childish tricks, be they in Siberia or cyberspace. The climate debate Greenpeace assure us is vital to stave off global catastrophe is not going to be won in Lancashire or Sussex. Setting up a website and getting people to think that friending you on Facebook cuts carbon simply by thinking about it, doesn’t replace positive action to do something about it.