May 22, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

The Green Rift 

Has the Environmental Movement Been Torn Apart?

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The Patrick Moore factor

Gordon Campbell's about-face on the environment ultimately helped him take the issue away from such fanatics, according to Patrick Moore, a former president of Greenpeace Canada and now an environmental consultant.

Moore, it should be said, has endured a split of his own with the environmental movement. While a student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he once studied under then-genetics researcher David Suzuki, he took part in massive protests that accompanied a campus visit by Jerry Rubin, one of the "Chicago Seven" and an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.

It was a turbulent time at UBC, where he went on to earn a PhD in ecology.

Students occupied the University's Faculty Club in numbers that wouldn't be matched until the APEC protests in 1997 - and Moore was among them. Radicalized academics jam-packed Suzuki's lectures to hear him go beyond genetics and into issues such as the war and racism in America. He was a key influence on students at the time - including Moore.

"A lot of the professors rejected the revolutionary sort of element within the University," he says. "David made a point of reaching out and speaking to us, those of us who were becoming radicalized because of the war in Vietnam. He was always very personable."

Caught up in a radicalized atmosphere, Moore found his way into the environmental movement through the Don't Make a Wave Committee (DMWC), which went on to become Greenpeace.

Moore joined the group in the spring of 1971 as part of a campaign to protest bomb tests in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. He was one of 12 people to sail the first boat north to Amchitka Island, a national wildlife refuge that was slated for an underground nuclear test by the U.S. Department of Defence.

The group worried that the tests could create a tidal wave similar to the 17-foot monster just five years earlier that rocked Seward, Alaska and much of the Gulf Coast.

Moore, a member of the first group to directly confront the tests, later helped organize a campaign against atmospheric testing in French Polynesia in 1973, and claims he played a role in all the Save the Whales campaigns in the Pacific.

"If you'd ever seen one killed you would never want to see one killed again," he says. "It's impossible to do it humanely. They drive a grenade into the backbone and blow it up. And then they spend half an hour to an hour suffering and dying."

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