Spaceship Earth

Solutions in Sight: Environment

Working for the Environment with Greenpeace

by Chad Pecor, A Teen Editorial Board Member

February 1999

Greenpeace is an international environmentalist organization which uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future. Founded in Canada in 1971, Greenpeace is now the largest environmental organization in the world, with three million members and offices in 30 countries. It is a non-profit organization which relies on donations from the public this allows it to remain independent from governments, political parties and industry.

The InSite: In the 27 years of it's existence, what has Greenpeace accomplished?

Greenpeace: We've helped to create positive change around the world. Some of our more notable specific achievements include:

  • The International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling
  • A moratorium on ocean dumping of radioactive materials
  • A world-wide ban on the incineration of waste at sea

TI: Impressive! Do teens participate in the Greenpeace organization?

Greenpeace: Not currently. But we are working on finding different Teen Campaigns to offer young people who are interested in helping out.

TI: How does Greenpeace go about educating the public to the many problems facing our environment?

Greenpeace: We publish materials, i.e. reports, fact sheets; we have public outreach programs; and we utilize the media by organizing direct actions to reach hundreds of viewers at one time. It is very important to reach out to young people and speak to them of environmental issues and hope they will embrace some of the values needed to protect the environment.

TI: What kinds of values should teens in particular be aware of?

Greenpeace: Well, it seems we are becoming a more consumer - material society and that is not good for the environment.

It seems we are becoming a more consumer - material society and that is not good for the environment.

TI: What are some important ways we can help the environment?

Greenpeace: (One way we could all help the environment is by) eating lower on the food chain. A lot less resources go into growing fruits, vegetables or grains than into producing meat. Another important way to help our environment is by reducing your consumption. Things like paper, plastic, car use, gasoline use, energy, anything disposable or pre-packaged all have environmental consequences. The more we use the more we pollute, therefore using less is gentler on the earth. Another way is to eliminate products in your household which are toxic or not biodegradable. Many popular household cleaners are industrial cleaners packaged for the general consumer and are harmful to our health. In most cases, we do not need to disinfect our homes regularly.

TI: What about pesticides? I know that lots of people use bug sprays and things in their homes and in their gardens.

Greenpeace: Pesticides are extremely harmful. They are poisoning our soil, water and food. They are also completely unnecessary for a beautiful lawn or garden. Pesticides are also not necessary for food production. Organically grown food is much safer and tastes far better.

TI: Will any of this really make a difference in our environment?

Greenpeace: Yes (in our homes, communities and in our own country) but we also need to be aware of how our consumer habits contribute to environmental degradation in other parts of the world. For example, shrimp farms in Ecuador are destroying their endangered Mangrove Forests. Most of the shrimp is exported to restaurants in the United States. Many of the investors of shrimp farms are foreign to Ecuador and do not care about the negative impact the industry is having on the local people. As long as shrimp is a lucrative market, the Mangrove forests will continue to be destroyed.

They do not care about the negative impact the industry is having on the local people. As long as [there] is a lucrative market, the ... forests will continue to be destroyed.

TI: We hear a lot about global warming becoming a problem. What is that exactly?

Greenpeace: Global Warming or Climate Change is pollution, such as smog and carbon dioxide, caused by the burning of fossil fuels; coal, oil and gas. Carbon dioxide traps heat generated from the earth which then increases the earth's temperate. Climate change will destabilize the temperature of the planet. That, in turn, will destabilize many other cyclical rhythms of the earth we've come to depend on for our food, life style and economy. Today we are dumping so much of this into our atmosphere we're now changing the very fiber of the atmosphere.

TI: What is the most important thing any individual (no matter what his/her age) can do to improve the environment?

Greenpeace: (Educate yourself!) ...understand the problems facing our environment, take responsibility for your own actions and let your concerns be known to your elected officials and producers or manufacturers of goods that you want your products produced in a manner that is sustainable and non-polluting.

TI: What are some of Greenpeace's goals for the future?

Greenpeace: Some of the things we're focusing on in the next 25 years are:

  • BIODIVERSITY/OCEAN ECOLOGY: Greenpeace protects marine life through campaigns to halt over fishing, change destructive fishing practices, end the hunting of whales and stop pollution which destroys marine habitat.
     
  • BIODIVERSITY/FOREST ECOLOGY: Forests are the Earth's "lungs," vital for our survival and home to over half the plant and animal species. Greenpeace protects forest ecosystems by opposing indiscriminate logging practices, and encouraging sustainable logging practices and value-adding activities for wood harvested.
     
  • CHLORINE-FREE FUTURE: Chlorine is one of the most pervasive toxic substances in our environment. It's in some of the most dangerous poisons and pesticides and has been linked to cancer and other health-related problems. Greenpeace is calling for a worldwide phase-out of chlorine.
     
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: An increase in hurricanes, violent windstorms and dramatic ice melts in the polar regions may be the first signs of climate change, brought on by increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels. Greenpeace encourages reductions in fossil fuel use and switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar power.
     
  • NUCLEAR-FREE FUTURE: Greenpeace is determined to stop the proliferation of nuclear technology by ending the production, testing and use of nuclear weapons; and the phasing out of nuclear power and replacing it with conservation and efficient renewable sources of energy.

     

TI: Congratulations to Greenpeace on its 27 years of amazing work for the benefit of the planet and all living things. Your goals should be the goals of all of us who care about the Earth.

(Educate yourself) ... understand the problems of our environment, take responsibility for your own actions and let your concerns be known. 
To find out more about Greenpeace, visit their web site at:


www.greenpeace.org

 

Email Chad at: [email protected] 

  


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