May 22, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

The Green Rift 

Has the Environmental Movement Been Torn Apart?

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In 1975 he and some fellow activists made history when they sailed into San Francisco harbour after confronting a Soviet whaling fleet off the coast of California. They returned intact with pictures of harpoons flying over their heads.

By then the DMWC had morphed into Greenpeace and began spreading its environmental fervour throughout the world - inspiring protests against Newfoundland's sealing trade and drawing celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot to their cause.

The sealing protests proved a turning point for Moore and his involvement in the environmental movement. It was the first place that the found his scientific background running headlong into Greenpeace's public message.

"One of our members was quoted in the media saying that the seals were in danger of extinction if the hunt continued," he says. "I knew that this was not true. I never thought that the seal campaign was about endangered species. It was about cruelty to animals, in particular about bludgeoning baby seals in front of their mothers while they're still nursing."

Greenpeace members eventually took Moore's advice about contextualizing the hunt within the issue of endangered species, but he had another fight coming - this time over chlorine.

Fellow directors on the Greenpeace board, of which Moore eventually became a member, wanted to start a global campaign against chlorine. They wanted a global ban on the substance for a variety of reasons, among them that it had been seen to cause sterility in mammals.

For Moore, it was foolish to try and ban a chemical that could help give people clean water.

"Where I finally lost the argument was over the subject of chlorine," he says. "My fellow directors, none of whom had any formal science education... they would not take my advice that chlorine was very important in medicine and very important in public health and they said ban chlorine worldwide.

"I know that if we were to ban chlorine in drinking water you would have cholera epidemics breaking out."

Moore officially left the organization in 1986 and says it has since adopted more campaigns he doesn't agree with. Since departing the organization he's gone on to work as a keynote speaker on environmental issues and as a sustainability consultant with Greenspirit Strategies - a firm he started in 1994.

In his new guise he's done work with various industries such as energy, plastics and forestry - drawing his own comparisons to Judas Iscariot in the process. He's also become a kind of pundit on the worldwide environmental movement.

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