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Green Movement

GREEN MOVEMENT

Green Movement is the term used to describe peasant resistance to the Bolshevik government during the Russian Civil War.

The first rebellions against the Bolshevik government began in 1918 and increased with frequency and intensity through the civil war period. In 1918 and 1919 peasant rebellions were poorly organized and localized affairs, easily suppressed by small punitive expeditions. In 1920, however, after the defeat of the White armies, the Bolsheviks faced large, well-organized peasant insurgent movements in Tambov, the Volga and Urals regions, Ukraine, and Siberia.

The causes of the rebellions were similar. After the failure of Committees of the Rural Poor to bring a reliable government to the countryside, the Bolshevik regime relied on armed detachments to procure grain and recruits, and to stop the black market in food and consumer goods. The depredations of these detachments, the only representatives of the Soviet government that most peasants saw, became increasingly severe as war communism ground down the Russian economy. By 1920, many peasants had little grain left, even as communist food supply organizations made greater demands on them. Large numbers of young mendeserters and draft-dodgers from the Red Armyhid in villages and the surrounding countryside from armed detachments sent to gather them.

The Soviet-Polish war, beginning in August 1920, increased the demands on peasants for food and recruits, and stripped the provinces of trained, motivated troops. This allowed peasant uprisings that were initially limited to a small area to grow, with armed bands finding willing recruits from the mass of deserters and draft-dodgers. By early 1921 much of the countryside was unsafe even for large Red Army detachments.

The Green Movement of 1920 and 1921 was qualitatively different from the peasant rebellions the communist government had faced in 1918 or 1919. While many peasant insurgents fought in small independent bands, Alexander Antonov's Insurgent Army in Tambov and Nestor Makhno's forces in Ukraine were organized militias whose members had military training. Enjoying strong support from political organizations (often made up of local SRs [Socialist Revolutionists], Anarchists, or even former Bolsheviks), they established an underground government that provided food, horses, and excellent intelligence to the insurgents, and terrorized local communists and their supporters. They were much harder to defeat.

By February 1921 the communist government suspended grain procurements in much of Russia and Ukraine, and in March, at the Tenth Party Congress, private trade in grain was legalized. The end of the Soviet-Polish war in March also freed elite armed forces to turn against the insurgents. In the summer of 1921 hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers, backed by airplanes, armored cars, and artillery, attacked the insurgent forces. In their wake followed the Cheka, who eliminated support for the insurgents by holding family members hostage, making villages collectively responsible for guerilla attacks, shooting suspected supporters of the insurgents, and sending thousands more to concentration camps. Facing drought and terror, and with the abolition of forced grain procurement and military conscription, support for the Green Movement collapsed by September 1921. A few leaders, such as Makhno, slipped across the border, but most were hunted down and killed, such as Antonov, who died in a shootout in June 1922.

See also: civil war of 1917-1922; committees of the village poor; socialist revolutionaries; war communism

bibliography

Brovkin, Vladimir, ed. (1997). The Bolsheviks in Russian Society. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Figes, Orlando. (1989). Peasant Russia, Civil War: The Volga Countryside in Revolution, 19171921. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Malet, Michael. (1982). Nestor Makhno in the Russian Civil War. London: Macmillan.

Radkey, Oliver. (1976). The Unknown Civil War in Soviet Russia. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

A. Delano DuGarm

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green movement

green movement Campaign to preserve the environment, and to minimize pollution or destruction of the Earth's natural habitat. The green movement formed its own active pressure groups, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, in the 1970s. It gained political representation shortly afterwards in the form of various European Green Parties. In affluent Western societies, effects of the movement included the production of environmentally safe products and a concern with the recycling of waste products such as glass, paper and plastics.

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Green Movement

Green Movement

Introduction

The green movement is a diverse scientific, social, conservation, and political movement that broadly addresses the concerns of environmentalism. It encompasses an array of political parties, organizations, and individual advocates operating on international, national, and local levels. Unified only by a desire to protect the environment, but otherwise diverse in philosophy and strategy, the various factions of the green movement have succeeded in heightening public awareness of environmental issues.

Historical Background and Scientific Foundations

The modern green movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Its growth reflected popular and scientific concerns about local and global degradation of the physical environment. However, history is dotted with incidents of environmental protest. Moreover, conservational groups have long campaigned to preserve natural environments and wild species. In Europe, organizations such as Friends of Nature and the National Trust date back to the nineteenth century, while the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was founded in 1963.

The relative newness of a broad green movement can be seen by examining citations under “environment” listed in The New York Times index. In 1955, the word is not indexed; the newspaper did not discuss environmental issues. In 1960, there is a single citation; by 1965 there are two. By 1970, the year of the first Earth Day and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), there are 86 citations for the environmental movement. In 1990, there were 172; by 2001, the year President George W. Bush withdrew final U.S. support for the Kyoto Protocol, there were more than 3,000. The increased media coverage of environmental issues indicates a growing public concern for the environment and a blossoming green movement.

Although numerous conservation societies predated the 1960s, it was the ensuing decade-and-a-half that saw the birth of hundreds of grassroots green organizations and ultimately large-scale national and international groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Localized concerns—nuclear power, toxic waste, acid rain, road building—found an expression in the era's increased political activism. Works such as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) and Barry Commoner's Science and Survival (1965), which found popular audiences, heightened the educational efforts of conservationists and raised awareness of human-made degradation of the natural environment.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, mass environmental advocacy organizations, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, started to emerge. Greenpeace was initially an extension of the hippy movement, first emerging in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1969 as the Don't Make a Wave Committee of activists opposed to U.S. underground nuclear testing in Amchitka, Alaska. The committee's motivations were a mix of environmental concerns about the fate of the island and its wildlife and a philosophical opposition to nuclear weapons. A mission to disrupt a nuclear test failed but excited huge interest, eventually leading the United States to end nuclear testing on the island. In 1971, the committee was renamed Green-peace. Daring stunts to prevent French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, including mooring a vessel within the testing exclusion area, brought Greenpeace global fame when they resulted in French abandonment of atmospheric testing.

David McTaggart, a Canadian businessman who led the Pacific seaborne protests, utilized this publicity and his business acumen to transform the Vancouver outfit into a global organization. McTaggart formed Greenpeace in Europe, finding like-minded souls to set up national organizations. This array of national associations was unified in 1979 as Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace's second great cause, from the mid– 1970s, was Save the Whale, a campaign that captured the global imagination. In a series of spectacular protests, Greenpeace activists would chase whaling fleets and interpose themselves between the harpoon of a catcher ship and a fleeing whale. As with the protests against French nuclear testing, film and photographic footage was widely circulated, prompting huge numbers to join its membership rolls. Green causes began to permeate mainstream politics in the 1980s, when Greenpeace and other groups brought issues such as species extinction, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforests, and climate change to the global agenda. Worldwide support for Greenpeace (defined as people who donated money) peaked in 1991 at 4.8 million, but has since fallen by up to half.

In the United Kingdom, Friends of the Earth was formed in 1971, initially to protest against a lemonade manufacturer's use of non-recyclable bottles. Like Greenpeace, its protests captured popular imagination, enabling it to expand its interests to such issues as road building, whaling, and climate change. Friends of the Earth now claims to be the largest international network of environmental groups in the world, covering more than 54 countries worldwide. Many other international environmental groups—such as the Environmental Investigation Agency—have also emerged from local origins to assume international reputations.

Others, such as the World Watch Institute, originate from environmentally conscious philanthropists; or, like, Conservation International, as non-governmental organizations that obtain funding from a mixture of private and public sources.

Operating beneath these large organizations are tens of thousands of protest and campaign groups operating on a regional, national, or localized basis. Over the past two decades, support for green causes has greatly shifted to these grassroots groups who espouse a range of local environmental causes from opposition to highway building to water pollution. Moreover, operation on a smaller scale has allowed nascent environmental groups to prosper in places like China, where larger organizations would usually fall foul of state controls.

In the early twenty-first century, the green movement has evolved in different ways. The decline in support experienced by larger environmentalist organizations has been accompanied by the rise of so-called envirocelebrities, such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and rock stars such as Bono and Sting. These individuals have used their public prominence to raise awareness of climate change and related environmental issues. Gore, who jointly won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in promoting the understanding of climate change, produced an Oscar-winning film about climate change—An Inconvenient Truth—and helped organize the Live Earth concerts in 2007.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the growth in mainstream green organizations precipitated the rise in ecoconscious political parties. Britain had the Ecology Party from the mid–1970s. Former West Germany was among the first countries to have its Green Party—Die Grünen— around 1980. Some 60 national Green Parties have been formed since then, most in developed countries, but also in nations such as Saudi Arabia (where it has been forced underground) and Somalia. Though all national Green Parties have unique policies and agendas, they are unified by a commitment to environmentalism, grassroots advocacy, nonviolence, and social justice.

Impacts and Issues

Previous favorite causes, such as whaling and nuclear testing, seem insignificant in comparison, yet groups like Greenpeace and national Green Parties have failed to influence governments to reach agreement on the radical action necessary to counteract global warming. As a consequence, membership has ebbed, while being further eroded by mainstream political parties, which have increasingly adopted green agendas as part of their electoral strategies. Although membership in large environmental protest groups has declined, green issues have become more visible in the media. More people describe themselves as an “environmentalist” today than ever before, but most engage environmental issues through personal action like recycling at home, carpooling, or eschewing the use of plastic grocery bags. More U.S. voters than ever before rank global climate change and environmental regulation as key issues.

It is now normal for mainstream political parties to adopt green issues into their political platforms. For example, Britain's Conservative Party, traditionally considered anti-regulation, now extols environmentalism as one of the central tenets of its political platform. However, governments and environmental protest groups have sometimes been at extreme odds. In 1985, as Greenpeace prepared another flotilla to try and avert French nuclear testing at Moruroa atoll, French special forces, acting under the direct orders of President François Mitterand, attached two bombs to the hull of the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior. When the two bombs detonated they sank the ship, killing a Portuguese photographer. The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior caused international outrage, and the French government went on to pay the New Zealand government considerable compensation, as well as offering a formal apology.

Elsewhere, environmental groups have suffered direct state repression. In Saudi Arabia, the local chapter of Greenpeace has been forced underground. In China, where such groups are generally tolerated, state crack-downs on green protests and demonstrations are not uncommon, particularly in its more outlying provinces. Nevertheless, a minority of political analysts have expressed optimism in the growth of the green movement in spite of repressive regimes.

Sections of the green movement are also considered extremist by many governments and law enforcement agencies. Eco-terrorist organizations have splintered from the peaceable, mainstream Green Movement and turned to direct action campaigns that employ vandalism, property destruction, violence, and life-endangering sabotage. Some of these extremist branches of the environmental movement formed after becoming frustrated by a lack of radicalization within the Green Movement. Examples of these include Earth First!, which was founded by disaffected mainstream environmentalists in 1979 and boasted at least 10,000 members worldwide by the late 1980s. Although Earth First! has always publicly disavowed violence, its members have been linked to sabotage at ski resorts and nuclear power plants, including a plot to simultaneously attack power transmission lines in Arizona, California, and Colorado. In general, mainstream members of the Green Movement support several of the same environmental causes as the movement's extreme fringe, but condemn the use of violence and vandalism as means of protest.

WORDS TO KNOW

EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (ELF): An underground group in North America that describes itself as “an international underground organization that uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the destruction of the natural environment.” The group claims to have destroyed $100 million worth of property. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation declared it the number one domestic terror threat as of March 2001.

FACTION: A dissenting group within a larger group such as a political party. A faction is usually outnumbered by other members of the larger group.

GREEN PARTY: Any of a number of political parties in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, whose policies are centered on environmentalism, participatory democracy, and social justice. About 70 countries have Green Parties: in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, a number of Greens have been elected to Parliament. The German Green Party is particularly powerful.

GREENPEACE: Nonprofit environmental group formed in 1971, originally to protest nuclear testing and whaling. The group remains active, now addressing a wide range of issues, including climate change.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA): U.S. federal law signed by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 1970. The act requires federal agencies to produce Environmental Impact Statements describing the impact on the environment of projects they propose to carry out.

More radical still is the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Formed in Great Britain in 1992, and also active in Canada and the United States, it is modeled after its sister organization, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and is a loose-knit amalgam of cells, with no centralized leadership. It is bound together only by a common set of core guidelines, as published on the ELF Web site:

  • To inflict economic damage on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment.
  • To reveal and educate the public on the atrocities committed against the earth and all species that populate it.
  • To take necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.

ELF engages in sabotage against companies involved in logging, energy production, and construction and is described by the FBI as “one of the most active extremist elements in the United States.” ELF members are accused of over $100 million in property damage since 1997. An overwhelming majority of environmentalists reject the methods employed by fringe groups like ELF. Most use the media to distribute information and raise awareness, to work within the confines of the political process, or to employ tactics of peaceful protest and civil disobedience.

Although environmental issues have entered into mainstream politics in many areas, the electoral and legislative success of dedicated Green Parties has been mixed. In some countries, they are important elements in the political landscape, partaking in coalition governments and exacting a huge influence upon their country's politics. In Germany, which has one of the oldest and the most influential Green Party in the world, members have participated in several coalition governments and been responsible for huge policy shifts, such as the phasing out of nuclear power stations. In other large countries, such as Britain and France, Green Parties are on the peripheries of mainstream politics, rarely gaining more than a couple percent of votes in national elections. Britain has never had a Green Party member of parliament (MP), although its public has elected a number of local councilors since the party's formation in 1985. The addition of a Green Party candidate to the ballot made a significant impact on the outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

See Also Environmental Policy; Environmental Protests; Sustainability.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Burchell, Jon. The Evolution of Green Politics: Development and Change within European Green Parties. London: Earthscan, 2002.

Dryzek, John S., et al. Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Norway. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

Liddick, Donald R. Eco Terrorism: Radical Environmental and Animal Liberation Movements. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.

Rootes, Christopher, ed. Environmental Protest in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

Rubin, Charles T. The Green Movement: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism. New York: Free Press, 1994.

James Corbett

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Green Movement

Green Movement

Introduction

The green movement is a diverse movement that forwards the concerns of environmentalists, that is, persons who see the integrity of the non-human world as worthy of preservation both for its own sake and for the sake of human survival. Its membership is extremely diverse: scientists, political activists, rich and poor persons in all countries, and people with many different religious philosophies.

Since the 1980s, global climate change has been one of the green movement’s main concerns. Other concerns include organic agriculture, pollution, preservation of both multi-use undeveloped landscapes and wild places, protection of endangered species, resistance to genetic modification of crops and livestock, and opposition to nuclear power. The movement comprises an array of political parties, advocacy organizations, and individual activists operating on international, national, and local levels. Unified by a desire to protect the environment, but otherwise diverse in philosophy and strategy, the various factions of the green movement have succeeded in heightening public awareness of environmental issues, have won some significant legal victories, and have influenced government policies, especially in Europe.

Historical Background and Scientific Foundations

The green movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Its growth was driven by popular and scientific concerns about local and global degradation of the physical environment. However, history is dotted with incidents of what we would now call environmental protest or activism, such as the efforts by the American naturalist John Muir (1838–1914) and others in the late nineteenth century to establish the U.S. National Park Service. Moreover, conservational groups have long campaigned to preserve natural environments and wild species. In Europe, organizations such as Friends of Nature and the National Trust date back to the nineteenth century.

The relative newness of a broad green movement can be seen by examining citations under “environment” listed in the New York Times index. In 1955, the word is not indexed; the newspaper did not discuss environmental issues. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary does not list any use of the word environment as a synonym for nature until 1956. In 1960, the New York Times used the word once; in 1965, twice. But in succeeding years, use of the word grew rapidly. By 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, and the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there were 86 citations for the environmental movement. In 1990 there were 172; by 2001 there were more than 3,000. Increased media coverage of environmental issues has reflected a growing public concern for the environment and a blossoming green movement.

Although some conservation societies predated the 1960s, the ensuing fifteen years saw the birth of hundreds of grassroots green organizations and of large-scale national and international groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. Concerns about nuclear power, toxic waste, acid rain, and road building found an expression in increased political activism and in altered patterns of personal choice regarding how to live, what to buy or not buy, and more. Works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Barry Commoner’s Science and Survival (1965), which found large popular audiences, heightened the educational efforts of conservationists and raised awareness of human-made degradation of the natural environment.

Greenpeace first emerged in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1969 as the Don’t Make a Wave

WORDS TO KNOW

EARTH LIBERATION FRONT (ELF): An underground group in North America that describes itself as “an international underground organization that uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the destruction of the natural environment.” The group claims to have destroyed $100 million worth of property.

FACTION: A dissenting group within a larger group such as a political party. A faction is usually outnumbered by other members of the larger group.

GREEN PARTY: Any of a number of political parties in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, whose policies are centered on environmentalism, participatory democracy, and social justice.About 70 countries have Green Parties: in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, a number of Greens have been elected to Parliament. The German Green Party is particularly powerful.

GREENPEACE: Nonprofit environmental group formed in 1971, originally to protest whaling. The group remains active, now addressing a wide range of issues, including climate change.

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA): U.S.federal law signed by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 2007. The Act requires federal agencies to produce Environmental Impact Statements describing the impact on the environment of projects they propose to carry out.

Committee of activists opposed to U.S. underground nuclear testing in Amchitka, Alaska. The committee’s motivations were a mix of environmental concerns about the fate of the island and its wildlife and a philosophical opposition to nuclear weapons. A mission to disrupt a nuclear test failed but excited huge interest, eventually contributing to the United States’s decision to end nuclear testing on the island. In 1971, the committee was renamed Greenpeace. Daring actions to prevent French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, including mooring a vessel within the testing exclusion area, brought Greenpeace global fame.

David McTaggart, a Canadian businessman who led the Pacific seaborne protests, utilized this publicity and his business acumen to transform the Vancouver outfit into a global organization. McTaggart formed Greenpeace in Europe, finding like-minded souls to set up national organizations. This array of national associations was unified in 1979 as Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace’s second great cause, from the mid-1970s, was Save the Whales, a campaign that captured the global imagination. In a series of spectacular protests, Greenpeace activists would chase whaling fleets and interpose themselves in small inflatable boats between the harpoons of catcher ship and fleeing whales. As with the protests against French nuclear testing, film and photographic footage was widely circulated, prompting huge numbers to join the group. Green causes began to permeate mainstream politics in the 1980s, when Greenpeace and other groups brought issues such as species extinction, the destruction of the Amazonian rain forests, and climate change to the global agenda. Worldwide support for Greenpeace (defined as people who donated money) peaked in 1991 at 4.8 million, but has since fallen by up to half.

In the United Kingdom, Friends of the Earth was formed in 1971, initially to protest against a lemonade manufacturer’s use of non-recyclable bottles. Like Greenpeace, its protests captured popular imagination, enabling it to expand its interests to such issues as road building, whaling, and climate change. Friends of the Earth now claims to be the largest international network of environmental groups in the world, covering more than 54 countries worldwide. Many other international environmental groups—such as the Environmental Investigation Agency—have also emerged from local origins to assume international reputations.

Others, such as the World Watch Institute, originate from environmentally conscious philanthropists; or, like, Conservation International, as non-governmental organizations that obtain funding from a mixture of private and public sources. The nature conservancy and land-trust movement seeks to preserve landscapes by purchasing land or the development rights to land. By 2008, the largest of these groups, the Nature Conservancy, had chapters in over 30 countries, employed more than 700 full-time staff scientists, and had protected more than 183,000 square mi (473,000 square km) of land worldwide.

Operating beneath these large organizations are tens of thousands of protest and campaign groups operating on a regional, national, or localized basis. Over the past two decades, support for green causes has greatly shifted to these grassroots groups who espouse a range of local environmental causes from opposition to highway building to promotion of organic foods and energy conservation to opposition to water pollution. Moreover, operation on a smaller scale has allowed nascent environmental groups to prosper in places like China, where larger organizations would run afoul of state controls.

In the early twenty-first century, the green movement has evolved in different ways. The decline in support experienced by larger environmentalist organizations has been accompanied by the rise of so-called envirocelebrities, such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and rock stars Bono and Sting. These individuals have used their public prominence to raise awareness of climate change and related environmental issues. Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for his work in promoting the understanding of climate change, produced an Oscar-winning film about climate change—An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and helped organize the Live Earth concerts in 2007.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the growth in mainstream green organizations enabled the rise of eco-conscious political parties. Britain had the Ecology Party from the mid-1970s. Former West Germany was among the first countries to have its Green Party—DieGrünen—around 1980. Some 60 national Green Parties have been formed since then, in most developed countries, but also in nations such as Saudi Arabia and Somalia. Although all national Green Parties have unique policies and agendas, they are unified by a commitment to environmentalism, grassroots advocacy, nonviolence, and social justice.

Impacts and Issues

Greenpeace and national Green Parties have succeeded in convincing many governments to agree, at least in principle, that action is necessary to counteract global warming. As a consequence, membership has ebbed, while being further eroded by mainstream political parties, which have increasingly adopted green agendas as part of their electoral strategies. Although membership in large environmental protest groups has declined,

green issues have become more visible in the media. More people describe themselves as an environmentalist today than ever before, but most engage environmental issues through personal action like recycling, carpooling, traveling less, using less electricity, or eschewing the use of plastic grocery bags.

Environmental concerns have become ubiquitous in modern global culture. More U.S. voters than ever before rank global climate change and environmental regulation as key issues: As of 2007, 93.1% of American adults polled said that they would be more likely to support a political candidate who promised to help the environment—with concern for a strong military coming in second. Some corporations engage in greenwashing campaigns, spending many millions on advertising to persuade the public that they are “green,” while many other companies do incorporate measures that reduce their environmental impact. Moreover, there is some opposition to environmentalism: Far-right conservatives often view the green movement as irrational, unscientific, and corrupt.

It is now normal for mainstream political parties to adopt green issues into their political platforms. For example, Britain’s Conservative Party, traditionally considered anti-regulation, now extols environmentalism as one of the central tenets of its political platform. However, governments and environmental protest groups have sometimes been at extreme odds. In 1985,

as Greenpeace prepared another flotilla to try and avert French nuclear testing at Moruroa atoll, French special forces, acting under the direct orders of President Francois Mitterand, attached two bombs to the hull of the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, as it sat at dockside in Auckland, New Zealand, an ally of France. When the two bombs detonated, they sank the ship, killing a Portuguese photographer. The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior caused international outrage. The bombers were convicted of manslaughter in New Zealand court, and the French government paid the New Zealand government about $6 million in compensation, as well as offering a formal apology. However, it later gave military promotions to the agents directly involved in the bombing.

Environmental groups have also suffered direct state repression elsewhere. In Saudi Arabia, the local chapter of Greenpeace has been forced underground. In China, where such groups are generally tolerated, state crackdowns on green protests and demonstrations are common, particularly in its more outlying provinces. Opposition to such projects as the gigantic Three Gorges Dam of the Yangtze River is not permitted. Nevertheless, a minority of political analysts have expressed optimism in the growth of the green movement in spite of repressive regimes.

Small splinters of the green movement are considered extremist by many governments and law-enforcement agencies. Several radical organizations have split from the peaceable, mainstream green movement and turned to direct action campaigns that employ vandalism, property destruction, violence, and in a few cases life-endangering sabotage. Most famous of these radical splinter groups is the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Formed in Great Britain in 1992, and also active in Canada and the United States, it is modeled after the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and is a loose-knit amalgam of cells with no centralized leadership. It is bound together only by a common set of core guidelines, as published on the ELF Web site:

  • To inflict economic damage on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment.
  • To reveal and educate the public on the atrocities committed against the earth and all species that populate it.
  • To take necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.

ELF engages in sabotage against companies involved in logging, energy production, and construction and is described by the FBI as “one of the most active extremist elements in the United States.” ELF members are accused of over $100 million in property damage since 1997.

An overwhelming majority of environmentalists reject the methods employed by fringe groups like ELF. Most participants in the green movement use the media to distribute information and raise awareness, working within the confines of the political process and employ tactics of persuasion, peaceful protest, and civil disobedience. Although Greenpeace has snipped dolphin-killing driftnets at sea and blocked effluent pipes on occasion, violence against human beings is rare in the green movement, a remarkable fact considering how large it is and how high passions run over environmental issues.

Anti-environmentalists, including state legislators (e.g., in Pennsylvania) and some federal officials (e.g., in the Federal Bureau of Investigation) have sought to extend the definition of terrorism to include attacks on property, calling groups such as ELF eco-terrorists: However, this departs from the United Nations’s definition of terrorism, which states that “Any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”

Although environmental issues have entered into mainstream politics in many areas, the electoral and legislative success of dedicated Green Parties has been mixed. In some countries, they are important elements in the political landscape, partaking in coalition governments and exacting a huge influence upon their country’s politics. In Germany, which has one of the oldest and the most influential Green Parties in the world, members have participated in several coalition governments and been responsible for huge policy shifts, such as the phasing out of nuclear power stations. In other large countries, such as Britain and France, Green Parties are on the peripheries of mainstream politics, rarely gaining more than a couple percent of votes in national elections. Britain has never had a Green Party member of parliament, although its membership has elected a number of local councilors since the party’s formation in 1985.

Primary Source Connection

The following news article examines going “green” as a fashion or trend, in comparison to actually changing the way one thinks and acts in terms of benefiting the environment. From fashion magazines to corporations advertising their earth-friendly philosophies to carrying a trendy green-message handbag, the trend to go green is almost a prerequisite for new businesses, and a lifeline for many established ones. However, this article recognizes the often empty words behind many of these green slogans and products that merely pose as benefiting the environment, and outlines some of the broader implications of committing to a green lifestyle.

CAN ‘GREEN CHIC’ SAVE THE PLANET?

Green, it seems, has gone mainstream. Magazines like Elle, Fortune, and Vanity Fair have published “green issues” in the past year, and the Academy Awards were carbon neutral. The Vatican recently announced plans to offset its 2007 emissions, while Costa Rica pledged to arrive at “net zero” by 2021.

Green has also gone trendy. Last week, Whole Foods Market released a limited edition, $15 cotton bag with “I’m not a plastic bag” emblazoned on its side. When the bag went on sale at outlets in Taiwan, a stampede followed. In Hong Kong, throngs shut down a shopping mall. In New York City last week, lines formed at dawn. Later that day, bags were offered on Craigslist for between $200 and $500. “These bags are walking billboards,” says Isabel Spearman, a spokeswoman for the bag’s designer, Anya Hindmarch. “You do have to make

something trendy, and it becomes a habit. That’s the whole point.”

Savvy marketers have clearly tapped into something. But the green craze has many asking how, if at all, it addresses what many characterize as an impending climate catastrophe.

In what it implies about changing consumer awareness, some see “green-lightenment” as heartening. And since it creates demand for more environmentally friendly products, many think it’s moving in the right direction. Yet, as one professor put it, “We’re basically rushing toward a cliff, full speed ahead.” Can a fad save us? Experts’ replies run the gamut from “it’s a mockery,” to it’s the beginning of—and maybe a catalyst for—greater changes to come. But no one thinks that green consumption alone can get humanity out of its climate predicament. As Alex Steffen, cofounder of world-changing.com, an environmental- commentary web site, writes: “There is no combination of purchasing decisions which will make the current affluent American lifestyle sustainable. You can’t shop your way to sustainability.”

The problem, say experts, is the magnitude of the problem. According to the World Wildlife Foundation’s Living Planet report, as of 2003, the demands of humanity as a whole exceeded Earth’s capacity by 25 percent. Americans, the biggest consumers, consume at a rate that’s twice what the planet can sustain.

Saving the planet requires nothing short of overhauling civilization’s energy infrastructure, say many. This would include a multipronged effort to increase energy efficiency and advance renewable technologies, while also rethinking cities, agriculture, and public transportation, among other things.

Some compare the effort needed to achieve this to that of World War II, when, in the face of a clear and substantial threat, American society mobilized—and sacrificed—toward a common goal. (The analogy breaks down when you recall that Americans intended to return to “normalcy” after the war. But as Dale Jamieson, director of Environmental Studies at New York University points out, getting off carbon implies a permanent shift.) Others compare it to Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Era, a time when corporations and other private interests had accumulated much power at the expense of public institutions and society at large.

But the most apt comparison may be to the founding of the United States, when, with history as their guide, the framers of the Constitution attempted to establish a socially and politically “sustainable society.”

“These were people who were looking very far into the future and saying, ‘Let’s design a government that will last,’ “says Dr. Jamieson. “This is a little bit like that.”

Michael Dorsey, a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., calls it “the practice of citizenry.” He points to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed $8 congestion tax on vehicles. However unpopular it may be with cabbies, it’s an idea designed to benefit the greater good, he says.

“We need people not to be thinking like consumers, but like citizens in a society,” he says. “Bold decisions from a collective of bold leaders working with bold citizens that aren’t afraid to take bold steps is the only thing that will avoid a climate catastrophe. That’s it. There’s nothing else.”

Many say it’s more complex. “You’re talking about the greatest consumptive society in the history of the world trying to change its footprint,” says Jamieson, comparing it to changing the Roman Empire into a Vermont village. Green consumerism driven by green faddism “is necessary, but not sufficient,” he says. “If you’re going to get change, you need this kind of energy and enthusiasm. But that just gets you in the door.”

The green consumption movement has some built-in limits. By definition, consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products are a small bunch, says Michael Shellenberger, a managing partner at American Environics in Oakland, Calif. They tend to be an educated and affluent “elite,” but because they are so few, their ability to effect change through purchasing power is limited. In polls, Mr. Shellenberger has found that most green consumers harbor no illusions that environmentally friendly consumer choices alone are sufficient. They see green consumption as an ethical choice—”a kind of mindfulness,” he says. But “almost everyone acknowledges that there needs to be political action.”

Or, as Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming Program, says: “Government has to act; so consumers, to close the loop, need to understand that they need to vote.”

And it may be at the polls where the reasons for “going green” matter most. People consume products for both their “manifest” and “latent” functions, says Christopher Henke, an assistant professor of sociology at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

The manifest value of a canvas bag, for example, is to carry things without using plastic. The latent value of a Whole Foods-issued, $15 Anya Hindmarch-designed bag emblazoned with “I’m not a plastic bag”—echoing surrealist artist Rene Magritte’s famous “this is not a pipe” painting—is almost entirely unrelated to this manifest utility.

“You’re trying to present a certain image of yourself where you’re someone who cares about the earth, shops at a [certain] store, and someone who’s up on a particular trend,” Professor Henke says. “But in the end, if it’s just another thing people will grab and use for a month, then it is kind of a waste.”

So while faddism may influence people’s marketplace choices, many still ask the million-dollar question: What will happen when the canvas bag-toting, hybrid car-driving, “green” credit-card-wielding (GE just announced a card with carbon footprint-reducing rewards) consumer goes to the polls?

“That’s the key,” says Jon Isham, a professor of international environmental economics at Middlebury College in Vermont. “That’s where we need to go above and beyond the idea of a fad.”

If the defeat last November of a state initiative to tax oil extracted in California is any indication, what’s chic in handbags is still far from what’s cool at the polls. But there is one certainty, says Dr. Isham, paraphrasing the economist Herbert Stein’s famous dictum: “If something can’t continue, it won’t.”

Moises Velasquez-Manoff

VELASQUEZ-MANOFF, MOISES. “CAN ‘GREEN CHIC’ SAVE THE PLANET?” CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR (JULY 26, 2007).

Primary Source Connection

The following news article discusses Cun Yanfang, a woman of the indigenous Naxi people of southwest China. Cun meets with the people of her own village as well as other rural villages to share understanding about conserving and protecting the environment in hope of saving such endangered species as the golden monkey. Through her environmentally aware program, Cun has reached many villages in terms of what is healthy for the environment, and in turn their communities; instilling pride in—and awareness of—their local environments.

RELENTLESS ADVOCATE ‘GREENS’ RURAL CHINA, VILLAGE BY VILLAGE

“If I rest, I rust.”

It’s not quite clear how actress Helen Hayes’s piece of potted wisdom reached the ears of Cun Yanfang, a member of the indigenous Naxi people from one of southwest China’s more remote villages.

“But that is quite true for me,” the diminutive, apple-cheeked Ms. Cun adds with a laugh. “I cannot stop.”

Her restless energy has brought Cun a long way. Born 31 years ago to an unschooled mother in Yunnan Province on the banks of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, she is now just one English exam away from entering a master’s program at Cornell University.

But today, her mind is on a more immediate task. At a gathering of local worthies in this grubby one-horse town, 12 miles from paved roads, Cun is wrapping up the program she runs to help save one of the world’s most endangered species, the Yunnan golden monkey.Few of the two dozen or so men and three female schoolteachers ranged at desks around the town hall’s simple meeting room—seem very comfortable expressing themselves in public. Some officials come from distant villages, and know nobody.

The subdued atmosphere does not faze Cun, whose surname rhymes with “soon.” Barely 5 feet tall, she bounces into the middle of the room and launches into her pitch about the value of the work her listeners have done over the past three years to promote environmental values. The Yunnan golden monkey, which ranges over a wide variety of habitats, is their standard bearer for the effort. Just 1,500 to 2,000 of those monkeys are thought to exist—split into small, probably genetically unsustainable, groups by loggers who have denuded hillsides.

Speaking in a local dialect rather than official Mandarin, waving her arms and breaking into smiles, she cracks jokes, teases, cajoles, explains, and organizes a game that soon has participants banging on their desks, laughing like schoolboys, and eating out of her hand. “I’m from a village around here and that’s an advantage,” says Cun. “I can get closer to them.”

These village teachers, forestry officials, municipal officials, and local Communist Party bigwigs have been at the forefront of Cun’s campaign to make people in this remote and startlingly beautiful valley appreciate the value of the natural resources with which they have been blessed.

For centuries, they lived more or less in balance with their surroundings. But a growing population, converted to a get-rich-quick mentality by China’s economic boom, has put unbearable pressure on the mountain’s forests, valuable mushrooms, wild animals, and medicinal plants.

“We used to get everything from nature but we used it ourselves,” says Cun. “Now it’s the demand of the market and the requirement to get rich.”

So villagers have ignored the law and cut down trees on the forested slopes above their homes where the golden monkey once lived, hunted animals for their pelts, and dug up prized matsutake mushrooms to get the last little bits, rather than leave stalks to grow again.

Cun’s campaign, funded by two US groups, The Nature Conservancy and Rare, has not only installed biogas feeders and solar panels to reduce local villagers’ need for firewood. It also has aimed to change attitudes. “We want to use people’s pride in their hometowns to make them responsible for their own places,” explains Cun. “It shouldn’t be because of law enforcement.”

So Cun has traveled village to village trying to drum up that kind of pride and teach people how conservation can make economic sense, using commercial marketing techniques adapted to social issues.

She has plastered exhortatory billboards on village walls, handed out fliers explaining the law on hunting and logging, dressed assistants up in golden monkey suits for visits to schools, organized village quizzes on conservation issues, and offered prizes for the best performance on an environmental theme at village festivals.

And at meeting after meeting, she has encouraged villagers—more accustomed to listening obediently to local leaders—to voice their own suggestions for a better campaign. “At one meeting a new mayor came, and afterward he said he had never been to such a democratic meeting,” Cun recalls. “Everyone was speaking.”

The campaign has not enjoyed the spectacular results that Cun—by her own admission, too much of a perfectionist—had hoped for, but it has got through to people. A survey last year found that the number of villagers aware of alternative energy sources had increased by nearly 50 percent, as had the numbers who knew that hunting the golden monkey is punishable by jail time.

“People here now have the sense that they should protect the environment, which they didn’t before,” says He Xuefan, headmaster of Shitou’s elementary school. “There are some guys who go on hunting and logging, but now they come in for criticism by other villagers.”

Among schoolchildren, the learning curve was steeper; before the campaign, only 9 percent of them said they had done something recently to promote conservation. After it, 51 percent could name something they had done, from nagging fathers not to cut down trees to refraining from littering. “There is still a long way to go, but the work is worth doing,” says Cun.

That sort of attitude has propelled her through college, majoring in English at a university set up for ethnic minorities, and then into a job as a tour guide, where she ran across a visiting team from The Nature Conservancy(TNC).

They piqued her interest (she says she used to spend hours as a girl lying in the forest listening to the wind in the pines when she was meant to be collecting firewood), and when a friend told her the US charity was looking for local staff, she went for an interview.

“She stuck out,” with “her incredible amount of energy and love for her home town,” says Graham Bullock, the TNC staffer who gave Cun her first job with the organization. “She worked out great.”

Though Cun is most at home in the hardscrabble villages of her native region, her work with foreign charities has given her an international sheen as well as a taste for fashion accessories rarely seen on Naxi women’s heads, such as her natty tweed shooting cap.

RARE sent her to the University of Kent in England for a course on environmental education, and she has attended conferences in the US and Brazil. Next September, if all goes well with her English exam, she will be off to Cornell for a two-year master’s program in natural resource management and policy, funded by the Ford Foundation.

She says she is not daunted by the prospect, though she is nervous about a mandatory economics course.

“Because I’m Naxi, I have a strong sense of roots and belonging,” she says. “I always take my national costume when I travel; I like people to know who I am. So maybe I won’t get lost when I am overwhelmed by so many cultures and different things.”

Peter Ford

FORD, PETER. “RELENTLESS ADVOCATE ‘GREENS’ RURAL CHINA, VILLAGE BY VILLAGE.” CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR (NOVEMBER 23, 2007).

See Also Eco-Terrorism; Environmental Protests; Kyoto Protocol; Natural Reserves and Parks; Organic and Locally Grown Foods; Recycling; Sustainable Development

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Burchell, Jon. The Evolution of Green Politics: Development and Change within European Green Parties. London: Earthscan, 2002.

Dryzek, John S., et al. Green States and Social Movements: Environmentalism in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Norway. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003

Liddick, Donald R. Eco Terrorism: Radical Environmental and Animal Liberation Movements. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.

Rootes, Christopher, ed. Environmental Protest in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Rubin, Charles T. The Green Movement: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism. New York: Free Press, 1994.

Web Sites

European Green Party.http://www.europeangreens.org/cms/default/rubrik/9/9034.htm (accessed May 4, 2008)

Greenpeace.http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/ (accessed May 4, 2008).

United Nations General Assembly. “Report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.” http://www.un.org/secureworld/ (accessed May 4, 2008).

James Corbett

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