When I first caught wind of this story, I’ll confess that I was somewhat surprised to hear it, but at the same time, it reflected some thoughts I’ve had over the years myself. People involved in social movements of all stripes can start out with a genuine interest in doing something good, seeking to donate their time to make the world a better place in some small way. But as these movements grow, it’s not uncommon for them to begin to take a dark turn. Such seems to be the case with Greenpeace, at least in the view of the group’s founder.
Real Clear Energy wrote an interesting paragraph about the founder of Greenpeace and his views of modern environmentalists:
“As Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, explains, the ‘80s ushered in the age of environmental extremism. The basic issues, for which he and Greenpeace fought, had largely been accomplished, and the general public was in agreement with the primary message. In order for the environmentalists to remain employed, they had to adopt ever more extreme positions. Moore says: “What happened is environmental extremism. They’ve abandoned science and logic altogether.” Their message today is “anti:” anti-human, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-trade and globalization, anti-business and capitalism, and ultimately, anti-civilization.”
That’s a pretty frank admission, and one which activists would do well to consider. As Greenpeace become more and more radical in an attempt to remain relevant, stay in the headlines and attract support, they created a space for groups like the Environmental Liberation Front (who we’ve written about here before) to thrive. But as I said, the pattern crosses over into other areas.
One of the biggest examples, of course, is PETA. I’ve crossed swords with them in the past over things I’ve written, but the comparison is too obvious to ignore. I’ve worked with a number of animal welfare groups in my life, and there are so many of them which do such a great job helping pets. Local groups like the Animal Care Council run shelters to place cats in new homes, host spay and neutering clinics and rescue homeless animals. I imagine that PETA was probably like that in the beginning, but over the years they have become the face of radicalism, turning themselves into a running punchline and hurting other, legitimate groups doing actual good work in the same field.
Patrick Moore has apparently observed the same thing happen to the group he founded, and it’s made him sad. And that’s a loss for everybody.