Sometimes I wonder about Greenpeace. Is it a peaceful environmental organization or is it a bunch of environmental terrorists who think they have a right to bully companies that they feel are harming Mother Earth and all its creatures?
In action, Greenpeace members challenge fishing fleets, particularly Japanese whalers, and always feel they are the protagonist in a high pressure battle of wills that leads to ship collisions, name calling, trespassing and sometimes aggravated battery.
Last week, if you watched the trending news on the Internet, a Greenpeace crew may have overstepped its bounds. Crew members were arrested and their ship seized for piracy by the Russian Coast Guard after two Greenpeace members boarded an oil drilling platform in the Barents Sea.
According to a Yahoo news article, Greenpeace had been trying to highlight the dangers of Russian-led efforts to develop the Arctic as ice floes break up due to global warming.
On September 18 it sent a team of inflatable boats to a platform owned by Russia’s giant global energy company Gazprom from the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker and hitched two activists to the side of the rig. The pair tried to scale the platform but eventually slipped into the freezing water and were recovered by the Russian Coast Guard.
Agents from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) seized control of the activists' vessel the next day by descending onto the deck from helicopters in a commando-style raid.
The Russians, incidentally, are catching some negative flack about how they responded. But don’t think we wouldn’t do the same thing if a shipload of zealots, whose intentions weren’t exactly known, tried to board oil platforms off the Louisiana coast.
The Arctic Sunrise has an international crew including some Russians. They now face up to 15 years in prison.
Their cause is noble. But they are attacking legal fishing fleets and oil platforms that operate within the laws of their respective countries. The harassed workers on these ships and platforms are trying to make a living and surely could care less about environmental politics.
Greenpeace is clamoring for world attention to bring pressure on these industries, but damaging property and endangering human lives is going a bit too far. And in countries that may not view environmental issues as we do here in America, Greenpeace treads on thin ice, as does Sea Shepherd, another direct-action group that was popular on Animal Channel’s network that has run afoul of the law and faces charges in Japan.
Groups like these could be more effective and better tolerated by civilly documenting what these companies do and then promoting their agenda through global communications and diplomatic lobbying. Instead, paradoxically, they directly confront lawfully-operating companies until their actions reach a point that they become the lawbreaker.
As Grandmama used to say, “You can attract more flies with sugar than vinegar.”