The history of Greenpeace

In 1971, motivated by their vision of a green and peaceful world, a small team of activists set sail from Vancouver, Canada, in an old fishing boat. These activists, the founders of Greenpeace, believed a few individuals could make a difference.

Dave Birmingham raises Greenpeace sail on Phyllis Cormack.

Their mission was to "bear witness" to US underground nuclear testing at Amchitka, a tiny island off the West Coast of Alaska, which is one of the world's most earthquake-prone regions.

Amchitka was the last refuge for 3000 endangered sea otters, and home to bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other wildlife.

Even though their old boat, the Phyllis Cormack, was intercepted before it got to Amchitka, the journey sparked a flurry of public interest.

The US still detonated the bomb, but the voice of reason had been heard. Nuclear testing on Amchitka ended that same year, and the island was later declared a bird sanctuary.

Today, Greenpeace is an international organisation that prioritises global environmental campaigns.

Based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Greenpeace has 2.8 million supporters worldwide, and national as well as regional offices in 41 countries.

For more on our history, read:

Greenpeace turned 30 in 2001 - read:
  • visit the Campaigns section for up to date information about what Greenpeace is doing now to protect the environment for the future.
You will also find lots of information about Greenpeace's history in the following books:
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