IN SPITE OF THE DAUNTingly hectic pace of life as a Greenpeace “eco-wage slave,” I’ve finally found time to kick off my battered old Birkenstocks and respond to your comprehensive and witty Aug. 18 cover story (“Save the World, Six Bucks an Hour”).
First off, let me say thank you! Bill Gifford’s article is a refreshingly fair and balanced portrayal (with only a modicum of mandatory Washington City Paper glibness) of life as a grass-roots environmental activist. What came through the article in painful clarity is that the single greatest challenge facing our society today, unfortunately, is our nation’s own apathy in coming to grips with global environmental problems and the role mankind’s conspicuously consumptive, path-of-least-resistance lifestyle has played in creating this malaise.
Enjoyable and humorous as Gifford’s article was, I must confess a bit of disappointment with the fact that in six whole pages, he failed to give a little more space to some of those very environmental injustices that the world is currently facing: nuclear testing, toxic-waste dumping, climate change, overfishing, and deforestation. To name just a few. Also barely mentioned was Greenpeace’s considerable success in fighting these injustices. Try these on for size. In the past few years Greenpeace has: thwarted Shell’s plans to dump a waste-laden oil rig into the North Atlantic; confronted France’s planned nuclear testing in the South Pacific; gotten an international moratorium stopping the dumping of radioactive waste at sea; brokered a treaty to protect the entire continent of Antarctica; and, locally, carried out substantive and much applauded work to defend the Anacostia River.
Much of this would be impossible without Greenpeace’s noble canvassers, who not only play a tremendous role in raising money, but also in educating people all over America, five nights a week, rain or shine, about the critical environmental issues that affect their health and livelihoods. Incidentally, much of Greenpeace’s success on these fronts would also be impossible without those generous people who are kind enough to take time out from their evenings and dinners with their family to listen to those canvassers and support us in our quest to save this planet.
If you happen to bump into Gifford in the hallway, let him know that all of us granola types say hi. He’s welcome to join us any night for a little post-work Hacky Sack session. Coordination-impaired as he was, he brought a measure of comic relief to the game that we rarely find.
Local Office Director, Greenpeace D.C., Shaw