Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth (FOE) is a public interest environmental group committed to the conservation , restoration, and rational use of the environment . Founded by David Brower and other militant environmentalists in San Francisco in 1969, FOE works on the local, national, and international levels to prevent and reverse environmental degradation , and to promote the wise use of natural resources .
FOE has an international membership of one million. Its particular areas of interest include ozone layer depletion , greenhouse effect , toxic chemical safety, coal mining, coastal and ocean pollution , the destruction of tropical forests, groundwater contamination, corporate accountability, and nuclear weapons production. In addition to its efforts to influence policy and increase public awareness of environmental issues, FOE's ongoing activities include the operation of the Take Back the Coast Project and the administration of the Oceanic Society. Over the years, FOE has published numerous books and reports on various topics of concern to environmentalists.
FOE was originally organized to operate internationally and now has national organizations in some 63 countries. In several of these, most notably the United Kingdom, FOE is considered to be the best-known and most effective public interest group concerned with environmental issues.
The organization has changed its strategies considerably over the years, and not without considerable controversy within its own ranks. Under Brower's leadership, FOE's tactics were media-oriented and often confrontational, sometimes taking the form of direct political protests, boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and demonstrations. Taking a holistic approach to the environment, the group argued that fundamental social change was required for lasting solutions to many environmental problems.
FOE eventually moved away from confrontational tactics and towards a new emphasis on lobbying and legislation, which helped provoke the departure of Brower and some of the group's more radical members. FOE began downplaying several of its more controversial stances (for example, on the control of nuclear weapons) and moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. More recent controversies have concerned FOE's endorsement of so-called green products and its acceptance of corporate financial contributions.
FOE remains committed, however, to most of its original goals, even if it has foresworn its earlier illegal and disruptive tactics. Relying more on the technical competence of its staff and the technical rationality of its arguments than on idealism, FOE has been highly successful in influencing legislation and in creating networks of environmental, consumer, and human rights organizations worldwide. Its publications and educational campaigns have been quite effective in raising public consciousness of many of the issues with which FOE is concerned.
[Lawrence J. Biskowski ]