51 Years of Greenpeace: One of Earth’s most ardent advocates
by Ebony Twilley Martin
September 15, 2022
We are literally fighting to be able to live, to survive, to have a secure future. We deserve to thrive.
© Jeff Tan / Greenpeace
Over the last 51 years our movement at Greenpeace USA has grown. The organization has evolved and changed massively over the years – from a small group of predominantly male, white, Canadians and Americans taking action on local issues to a globally diverse organization operating in every continent on earth and working on root causes – the very power structures and mindsets which enable ongoing environmental destruction – as part of an ever growing international ecological movement. With over 3 million Greenpeace supporters, our Earth warriors have helped to save the whales, protected seas from dumping of toxics, curbed deep sea bottom trawling, and rappelled down bridges to block fossil fuel projects. Within the last few years alone we have brought to light illegal fishing of Bumblebee Tuna fisheries, called on big brand companies to Ditch the use of Plastic, called out corporations like AT&T to Stop Funding Voter Suppression, supported (and won!) CA State Legislature that passed, which secured cleaner air and safer lives for nearly 3 million Californians, and so much more.
There are many challenges facing the United States today — from the increase in gun violence to the decrease in reproductive freedom, and of course the rampant attacks on the fundamental principles and practices of our democracy. Wildfires continue to wreak havoc across thousands of miles in California, causing extreme heatwaves and blackouts that seem to have no end date. Our brothers and sisters in Jackson, who have had to find clean water to drink because of pollution in their water that stems from a climate injustice that is prevalent throughout this country. And while we must confront all these issues, the threats that the climate crisis poses to our very existence is an existential crisis that looms above all. We are literally fighting to be able to live, to survive, to have a secure future. We deserve to thrive.
For Greenpeace, our activists, supporters, and volunteers have been making a difference for 51 years. Over the years, we have learned that we cannot tackle the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, economic inequality, systemic racism, and the health of our communities in isolation because they are all interconnected. This has led us to strengthen our relationships with environmental justice, labor, and democracy groups.
Millions of people, especially Black and Brown communities, are being denied and blocked from participating in our democracy because of restrictions on voting rights and the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics. That is why in 2020, Greenpeace and climate groups across the country invested in unprecedented levels to get out the climate vote. We collectively contacted and mobilized many voters from various districts.
We only have a few more years left to reduce the power of oil and gas companies, and other corporations polluting our communities and democratic systems, before surpassing climate thresholds and finding ourselves at a catastrophic point of no return. The same people that are polluting our air and water, are the same ones polluting our democracy. Extremist politicians are actively building barriers to silence our voices, but we refuse to be silenced.
Today, we have a chance to save our democracy and our climate from complete catastrophe. This week over 70 members of Congress are fighting an audacious attempt to trade our lives for Big Oil profits. To be perfectly clear, Manchin and Schumer’s Dirty Deal, called the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 – negotiated in secret with the detailed contents still unknown – is dangerous. It would fasttrack a number of energy projects, including new oil and gas projects that would lock in the very pollution that is driving the climate crisis. And equally bad, it would limit impacted communities’ use of two bedrock laws – NEPA and the Clean Water Act. It would allow the oil and gas industry, which is responsible for over 1 in 5 premature deaths, to fast track projects that could contaminate more air, water, and land — especially in Alaska, Appalachia, West Texas, New Mexico, and the Gulf Coast. This deal also attempts to silence any voices that dare to stand against them by gutting environmental reviews and public comments. These are some of the only ways our communities can make our voices heard when coal, oil, and gas projects threaten our health, lands, and waters. This is not permitting reform, it is a straight-up giveaway to Big Oil.
So we are asking congress to oppose any side deal that fast tracks fossil fuel projects and weakens environmental laws; AND letting Speaker Pelosi and Members of Congress know the importance of being the climate leaders that the movement, the public, and the country need right now. Urge them not to attach this dangerous permitting reform bill to the CR and oppose it in a stand-alone vote. Dismantling NEPA would be straight out of Trump’s playbook-we are giving our leaders in Congress the chance to do the right thing.
It is time for congress to have our backs and give President Biden the tools to protect our environment and our shared future. Especially as President Biden makes good on progressive promises to undo generations of systemic pollution of Black, brown, and Indigenous communities. We need congress to have our backs now and choose to stand with our children, choose to stand with communities of color, and choose to stand up for a safe and healthy future for all of us. We must make the CHOICE to protect and defend who we are and what we stand for.
Ebony Twilley Martin, co-Executive Director