“When someone whines about what they can possibly do if it’s really true that voting won’t fix everything, hand them this book. When someone proposes violence as the only serious option available, hand them this book.”David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org & OpEd News
Greenpeace is the largest environmental NGO in the world, and the most publicly visible. Today it’s based in Amsterdam and works in forty-five countries, but it started with Vancouver activists sailing to Amchitka Island in 1971 to protest nuclear testing. Greenpeace’s hallmark is a combination of disruptive action and “bearing witness,” best evidenced by their fleet of three ocean-faring boats used to interrupt and document everything from coal mining to Arctic oil dumping. They’re also good in court. One amazing example is the 2008 Kingsnorth Case, in which six Greenpeace activists were arrested for painting “Gordon” — meaning then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown — on the smokestack of a coal power plant before trying to shut the plant down. The defense argued that stopping emissions from Kingsnorth would ultimately protect property elsewhere in the world, and in an unprecedented application of the “lawful excuse” defense, the six were acquitted. Greenpeace’s policy of refusing donations from corporations and governments is well publicized, and it supports itself mostly through individual contributions solicited online and by its street teams.