History

Theres an old joke that in any bar in Vancouver Canada you can sit down next to someone who claims to have founded Greenpeace. In fact, there was no single founder, and the name, idea, spirit, tactics, and internationalism of the organisation all can be said to have separate lineages. Heres a few facts. In 1970, the Dont Make A Wave Committee was established its sole objective was to stop a second nuclear weapons test at Amchitka Island in the Aleutians. The committees founders were Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, Ben and Dorothy Metcalfe, and Bob Hunter. Its first directors were Stowe, Bohlen, and a student named Paul Cote. Canadian ecologist Bill Darnell came up with the dynamic combination of words to bind together the groups concern for the planet and opposition to nuclear arms. In the words of Bob Hunter, Somebody flashed two fingers as we were leaving the church basement and said Peace! Bill said Lets make it a Green Peace. And we all went Ommmmmmmm. Jim Bohlens son Paul, having trouble making the two words fit on a button, linked them together into the committees new name Greenpeace. Marie Bohlen was the first to suggest taking a ship up to Amchitka to oppose the U.S. plans. The group organised a boat, the Phyllis Cormack, and set sail to Amchitka to bear witness a Quaker tradition of silent protest to the nuclear test. On board were Captain John Cormack, the boats owner Jim Bohlen, Greenpeace Bill Darnell, Greenpeace Patrick Moore, Greenpeace Dr Lyle Thurston, medical practitioner Dave Birmingham, engineer Terry Simmons, cultural geographer Richard Fineberg, political science teacher Robert Hunter, journalist Ben Metcalfe, journalist Bob Cummings, journalist Bob Keziere, photographer Stowe, who suffered from seasickness, stayed on shore to coordinate political pressure. Cote stayed behind too, because he was about to represent Canada in an Olympic sailing race. Bob Hunter would take the lessons of that first voyage forward and improvise upon them to the point that he, more than anyone else, invented Greenpeaces brand of individual activism. The Amchitka voyage established the groups name in Canada. Greenpeaces next journey spread their reputation across the world. In 1972, David McTaggart answered an ad placed in a New Zealand newspaper by Ben Metcalfe, calling for a ship to go to Mururoa Atollto protest nuclear weapons testing there. McTaggart chose the following crew Nigel Ingram, exRoyal Navy Roger Haddleton, exRoyal Navy Grant Davidson, a good cook Their ship was rammed, and on his return the next year McTaggart was beaten by French commandos to the point where he lost vision in one eye. An epic battle played out in media around the world as a tiny ship challenged one of the greatest military forces on Earth. For the next two decades, McTaggart would vie with the French government over nuclear weapons testing at sea and in the courts, and rise to the leadership of Greenpeace worldwide. At a point when separatist Greenpeace national and regional entities were taking legal action against one another, the successful businessman and athlete stepped in and settled the arguments by founding Greenpeace International.

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Founding Year:

1971

Ended:

Still active

Type of Group:

Organisation

Primary Focus:

Conservation

Geographic Sphere:

National

Primary Location:

Australia

Australia