Amanda Hooper


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Do extremist tactics push environmentalism forwards or backwards?

Burning down buildings, spiking trees, bombing whaling ships, and poisoning fruit juice. These are examples of protest by groups known as eco-extremist or eco-terrorism groups. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) describes eco-terrorism as, “ the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.” Simply, ecoterrorism can be thought of as acts of violence in support of environmentalism.

The documentary-style reality show “Whale Wars” follows an extremist group that throws bombs at whaling ships to discourage them from whaling. Instead of convincing them to stop, the bombs anger the whalers. Groups like Greenpeace have been working peacefully to negotiate the termination of whaling, and they have been successful. For example, in 2010 Greenpeace Japan activists worked with retailers to significantly cut the demand for whale meat, which in turn decreased the number of whales hunted. Also through campaigning, Greenpeace has helped the people of Japan become aware of corruption in the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) and the whaling industry. The FAJ has since acknowledge this corruption and started to right the wrongs of the Japanese whaling industry, resulting in a reported 30% drop in whale meat sales as of January 2011.

Can extreme tactics ever result in forward progress similar to the progress Greenpeace has made in Japan?

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    Jun 4 2012: I don't have an opinion on this topic but I do have an observation. As a massive geek I've spent unreasonable amounts of time on forums and such discussing the morals of various fictional characters, and comparing those to conversations like this one, people are far more likely to support extremists in fiction, even if they're villains and clearly portrayed as such.

    Now the obvious answer as to why is that there's a big difference between fiction and real life and that undoubtedly does play a part, but these character discussions are serious discussions and people are at least trying to think of things from a real world perspective. So, what are the reasons for this discrepancy? Is it because in fiction we are given a chance to know the extremists, as opposed to in real life they are often little more than a name or a face? Does it have to do with the way writers tend to frame situations and issues, as opposed to how, say, the media does? Is it simply a difference in view between the type of people who usually talk about real world issues and people who usually discuss fiction? Going back to the difference between fiction and real life, does our detachment from friction prevent us from looking at it logically? Or conversely, does our investment in the real world prevent us from looking at /it/ logically? If so, is that a good or bad thing?

    Just some food for thought.
  • Jun 3 2012: This question is loaded. Sea Shepherd Society threw stink bombs not explosives. Butyric acid is industrially prepared by the fermentation of sugar or starch, brought about by the addition of putrefying cheese, with calcium carbonate added to neutralize the acids formed in the process. It smells bad... that's about it.
    Eco-terrorism is a very weird concept, because as far as I can tell the ones causing terror to the ecosystem are the ones over-exploiting it. It is a deliberate attempt to draw attention away from the real criminals, and to allow over-zealous prosecution of those who would interfere in the ability of a corporation to profit.
    You can only push people so far before they feel the need to take action and get justice. If laws aren't enforced, and petitions ignored, is it moral to turn a blind eye?
    If ecosystems continue to be over-exploited, if species are threatened by commercial activity, if in 50 years the sea has risen a meter and is empty of fish, if the climate is causing crop failure, etc, etc (and I see no end to our over-consumption) then we may look back at these days and recognize that the heroes of the day were the ones who were more than just armchair activists and petition signers.
    The best way to stop extreme environmentalism is to make laws based on the latest scientific data and enforce them. The vast majority of terrorism has been against environmental groups, not by them. Remember the Rainbow Warrior?
    I am not a violent person in the least, but I can imagine if some profiteer was killing the orcas in my area I would reach a moral crossroads where after exhausting other avenues, the only option left would be to physically stop the people responsible. What would you do? And how would you explain it to your grandkids?
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      Jun 5 2012: It is true, the Sea Shepherd did only throw stink bombs. This example was used because of the amount of people who have heard about or have seen this show.

      In regards to your last question, I agree with you that I would likely also feel the need to physically stop people the people responsible. However, I would also likely have to ask myself if there a way to somehow physically stop the killing without becoming violent? On that note though, I honestly cannot say what I would do in that situation because I am not in it, and I am a true believer in until you are in a situation you don't really know how you will react.
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    Jun 6 2012: Crimes are not and will never be non-crimes even under the slogan of GREEN.
    In my view. The extreme tactics themselves are against the purpose of environmentalism, which is to better the earth, the environment, for all human beings. If extreme actions, especially those aims to harm other human beings, are taken, then the so-called environmentalists are not environmentalists at all.

    GREEN is just camouflage of crime
    • Jun 6 2012: Charles,
      I completely agree with you. Not only are the tactics used by these "eco-terrorists" counterproductive, they are also an insult to those of us who truly care about the environment and wish to see a change. Fighting fire with fire is not an appropriate solution to the problem our environment is facing. The best we can hope for is that these groups do not encourage further retaliation. These violence centered groups give a bad reputation to environmentalism, and yet because their acts often make the news, they are what many citizens are coming to see as the "face" of environmentalism. This is unacceptable.
      All that being said, it is not hard to see what these groups are hoping for. When you build up enough anger at a situation, it is often difficult to channel such passion conscientiously. If environmentalists who do not believe in these extreme acts were to reach out to these radical groups, try to help them see the harm they are causing, and provide alternative ways for them to channel their energy, perhaps we can incite a change?
    • Jun 6 2012: The original focus of the environmental movement was simply the protection of the environment from human harm. Nowadays the focus of the mainstream environmental movement seems to be all about sustainability and allowing the continuation of consumer society with some consideration for it being sustainable but it mustn't threatens jobs or the economy. To me the movement has lost some of it's original focus.

      Don't get me wrong I think that some sort of post industrial society with the benefits of technological advance is desirable and possible, but the main thrust of the environmental movement should return to protecting the environment first and worrying about jobs and industry a very distant second, if at all, time is running out folks...
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        Jun 6 2012: There is _some_ connection between jobs and the environment though. In various polls, the recession seemed to have caused people to put environmental issues at back of their minds, because they need jobs to make a living and provide for their families. I think for a lot of people, if they have no source of stable income, they'll do whatever they feel they need to.

        Also, wasn't there some sort of correlation between poverty and increased habitat destruction? There's a reason why people are cutting down rainforests in South America.

        My point is, I think the focus of the environmental movement started 'shifting focus' as you say, because people are realizing more and more that it's all connected. People, jobs, social issues, environmental issues, and so on.

        We should still protect the environment, and all the ecosystems, but it's going to be connected to people no matter what, is what I'm trying to say.
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    Jun 4 2012: No extremist action moves any cause forward in the long run. An extremist approach tries to play billiards when the game you need to win is chess. Smart, common sense, clear communications on a subject will always be more effective than extremism, because people can react positively to such media more easily, and in this way a cause can gain supporters more quickly. Persistence is important, but shock and awe tactics, especially extremist ones, cannot solve long term problems.
  • Jun 4 2012: -Extremism almost by definition implies lack of balance and perspective. Any activity extreme enough to be characterized as "terrorism" is probably going too far for its own ultimate good.
    -There is as much extremism on the right as there is on the left and not many of a more moderate or liberal bent tend to see that as a good thing.
    -As some have noted, there may be a good cop-bad cop aspect to extremism, clearing a path for more moderately stated views, but it is pretty hard to show cause and effect. We had demonstrators at my university who wanted it to stop burning coal, but I am pretty sure it was the cost of Hg remediation of flue gas and falling natural gas prices that were the real drivers for the eventual decision to switch fuels.
    -I've heard it said that extremists are usually right about the problem and usually wrong about the solution. I haven't had a lot of experience to contradict that viewpoint.
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      Jun 4 2012: "Usually right about the problem but wrong about the solution." Love that saying. And it fits in perfectly my thoughts on the subject. Yet I would suggest that there are far more instances of extremism on the right than on the left, just as a result of the nature of the worldviews. Its interesting to think though, given this, that we see more extremism on the left in the world of "eco-terrorism". This might be reflective of the way that conservation has typically not been a subject critically close to the conservative heart, traditionally.
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      Jun 5 2012: I agree with Bill but have to slightly disagree with Mitchell. Extremist are right about their problem, be it the left or the right, it is just a matter of their view. There is as much extremism on the left as the right. This discussion points out the fact that extremism is only extreme to people that appose the view taken. On the left would be an Eco-terrorist that bombs whalers, on the right would be a Eco-terrorist fisherman that fishes an endangered species or a keystone species from a fragile ecosystem. We mostly see left extremists because we are given media from conservative outlets.
  • Jun 4 2012: Extremist tactics are the downfall of grassroots organizing. Instead of looking for the most direct solution to a problem eco-terrorist attack the symptoms of problems (like the whaling ships instead of the whaling industry). Often times these tactics also cause more environmental damage than just letting the process happen would, for instance when all of those ski lodges were being burnt down in Colorado, they still got built it just took three or four times as much equipment, timber, and carbon emissions. Non-violent protest and campaigning can cause a lot more change, and actually changes behaviors permanently instead of causing temporary rage or frustration. As long as we live in the society we do we must look for change within the market, and change behaviors and life styles that way.
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      Jun 4 2012: I agree that extremism can be counter productive, I especially like your example about burning down ski lodges. While I think who engage in environmental extremism may have the right motive, they also are an alienating factor and something the opposition can point to and make generalizations about the movement as a whole. That being said, I think they are also a necessary part of the movement because they do gain a lot of media attention and make people evaluate their own lives. I don't think that the "market" has the answers because that is just as irrational as extremism. Nonviolence is a good solution because makes those who use violence look bad, for example the civil rights movement, and then that in turn helps the movement gain sympathy. When you engage in violence it is sending the message that you think violence is okay and it makes it easier to justify violence as a response.
      • Jun 5 2012: I guess I was using the market as an example of nonviolent action. Changing people's behaviors changes their consumer habits changes the products that are made removes environmentally harmful products from the market. Though there are definitely other ways of having non-violent action I think we see most of their ramifications in market changes.
    • Jun 5 2012: In addition to the increase levels of environmental harm some extremist movements cause, they also negatively change the perception that the average citizen feels about the subject. When extremist groups do very drastic or harmful demonstrations it pushes the middle ground away further and further and ultimately it is the middle ground that will end up swaying legislation or popular favor in a particular direction. For example when PETA was throwing red paint on celebrities wearing fur, average people felt that supporters were extremists and alienated them. PETA's new "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaign is much more subtle and tends to be favored much more by the average citizen.
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      Jun 5 2012: I think Ellen presents a great point. I never really considered the negative impact that extremist could have, outside of negative publicity. The issue of fighting symptoms of problems reaches outside of Eco-terroists as well. If activists on either side are not well informed then they could be spending a great deal of resources fighting symptom with no great outcome.
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      Jun 5 2012: I agree with Ellen. For instance the ski resort example, I don't think a lot of people (including me) ever gave much consideration to all the resources that went in to building the resorts and the carbon emissions that resulted from it. Burning them down doesn't solve anything, but just exhausts resources and contributes unnecessary negative outcomes. I think that was a good point.
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    Jun 4 2012: Extreme tactics are examples of forward progression. I went to a conference about environmental activism, there when we spoke of extremists the conversation defined them as a group of people purposefully positioned to do extreme activities that seized the attention of the public. In this way extremists make actual activists, for example Greenpeace, and their demands seem less severe or extreme in comparison and in turn these demands are met with less opposition than if there were no extremists and nothing to compare activists demands to.
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      Jun 4 2012: While I agree that extremist actions get attention, how can you say for sure that they create any forward movement of a cause? Many people see extremists fighting for a cause and get turned off by it, further distancing themselves from what is occurring.
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        Jun 4 2012: The point I'm making is that non-extremists activists that are making demands for change seem less menacing when there is an extremist group to compare them to. In this way, the presence of an extremist group AND an activist group that make points about the same issue, together are progressions of a forward movement. The presence of an extremist group lessen the extremity surrounding the actual activist group seeking change and ultimately allow the activist group to seem less demanding in comparison to the extremists thus encouraging greater support. When talked about during the conference, an example was made of the Black Panther Party and the civil rights movement. In this example the Black Panther Party were the extremists, for instance their presence and high demands made the simple demands of the civil rights movement more acceptable to the public.
        • Jun 5 2012: I think this is a really good point. While I usually tend to think extremist groups are counter-productive, I never acknowledged their usefulness in drawing attention to a larger cause. The example of the Black Panther movement is interesting to me because it really carries over to current environmental problems. While some extremist groups are really "out there" in their approach, they are still bringing awareness to a larger cause, which I generally think is a good thing.
      • Jun 4 2012: Can you Trevor say for sure that they don't create forward movement on an issue? Many people are also inspired by people whose intellect, passion and commitment to a sustainable future do not allow them to be simply armchair activists. Personally I would look to a more creative form of protest, but in the big picture, or in a few decades it may turn out that extreme environmentalism is the only alternative to the juggernaut of our materialistic/consumer/industrial society. It is actually one of my biggest fears that I will one day look out on an environmentally fractured and impoverished world filled with suffering and will know that I could have done more when there was still time to step back from the precipice.
    • Jun 4 2012: This is a very legitimate point that I did not consider. Just as diversity is important on the species, and ecosystem level, diversity in culture and expression of protest also is important. Where one strategy may be most useful in some cases, there may be situations where extremism, or even the threat of extremism is the best strategy for causing real change.
      • Jun 4 2012: While I think that it is possible that extremist behavioral draw he public attention to an issue, I think that history has shown that the dangers of extremist activity is that it causes anger between the opposing parties that can foster actions based on the desire for revenge. Anger can inspire the desire for revenge and retaliation. This could steer decisions from being motivated by what is best for the environment and instead toward what would be the best retaliation. This should be kept in mind because not only would the focus on these actions be lost, but as many others have mentioned, more harm could result than good for these extremist actions.
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        Jun 5 2012: We want to move forward as a society and violence should no be supported in any way. Not in raising children, not in getting a point across, not for controlling someone or a situation, not because we disagree with the way others think. We are humans and are capable of communicating and thinking creatively in order to inform and persuade others. There is no reason for violence, it just leads to more violence. Yes, extremist's acts raise awareness, but such feelings of hatred cannot be good in leading any type of change.
        • Jun 5 2012: Stephanie, I think the best point that you made is that as humans we can communicate. I do not think these extremist acts work as effective methods of communication. You clarified my thinking. These acts of violence muddle the message that these people may actually be trying to get across. This is counter-productive. What is more, extremist actions are often considered unattributed and may drive people away from the problem in the first place so to avoid being associated with the negative connotations of those extremists involved.
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    May 31 2012: If no-one listens to polite and peaceful protest about important issues such as environmental destruction, then unfortunately extremist tactics will be the ultimate resort. Extremist tactics are always seen at face value and in isolation - not least by the media, who do not always report the full story and the reasoning behind a protest movement

    Powerlessness is a significant cause of antagonism and rage. Extremist tactics give any movement a very bad name and ruins its credibility, but it does go some way to empower those who feel powerless, if moderate protest has not worked in the past - or is ever likely to work in the future.

    So who do we blame? The disempowered many who need to be listened to - or the dysfunctionally empowered few, who refuse to listen?
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      May 31 2012: I feel that using extreme tactics in environmentalism results in the movement becoming even more powerless because of the negativity attached to these actions. Most people would not want to support a cause that is associated with violence and such dramatizations.
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        May 31 2012: I agree Kadie. It's just that many people see violence as their only resort
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        Jun 2 2012: These extreme acts though do provide media coverage for their cause. The awareness it provides, not matter how detrimental, will make people look into the matter. The power is in the number of people with knowledge and pushing for change.
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        Jun 3 2012: I agree using extreme tactics make movements become more powerless and negatively thought of in society. Some people may see violence as their only resort but that doesn't usually get them anywhere. As seen with Greenpeace, peaceful movements can make huge differences, although it may take longer, more positive attention will be given to peaceful movements than violent attacks where the leaders may even be killed or thrown in jail. This makes no forward movement, but backwards because society will see these violent attacks and not support their cause. People are more likely to attend protests and want to help if they think they are safe doing it, which will help the cause.
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      May 31 2012: I agree with your comment, Allan. We cannot blame extremists entirely for their potentially harmful measures because the US (and foreign) political climate is often such that many people lack a significant voice in the decision making process. I think there are many extremists who recognize the intensity of their attacks and truly feel that they have no other way to make a point. However, they must be careful in who and what is harmed if they want to be heard rather than demonized. People like Edward Abbey (famous for The Monkey Wrench Gang) seem to have a clear image that severe actions often have to take place, but that mass human destruction and harm is not necessary or useful to make a political statement.
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      Jun 3 2012: I don't think that anyone is really to blame. I think that they are doing this because they feel like no one is controlling or enforcing law on the issue and so they have to step in and do something. I feel like there is an equal responsiblilty to be shared between the protesters, the ones committing the "crime", those who are suppose to enforce the "crime", and society for not creating specific laws about what is considered acceptable and what is not.
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    • Jun 6 2012: If you associate "extreme" with "violence" you are correct. However this association is tenuous. This doublespeak troubles me because it overshadows the real perpetrators of violence which are almost always political groups and governments, religious groups, and some corporations.
  • MR T

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    Jun 6 2012: Greenpeace had excellent success with Japan and I fully advocate what they did. However greenpeace on GM crops is a different story, in my opinion their policy takes no account of scientific evidence, its ludicrous reading it, and yet they destroy GM test crops on a yearly basis. Actions within both of these topics have been illegal, the difference is, that one I support and one I don't.

    Were Greenpeace's actions more violent towards the Japanese than the actions of the Japanese towards the whales?


    Were Greenpeace's actions towards GM crop trails more violent than the violence that could be incited from the success of those GM crop trials.



    The law acts as a very good rein on environmental extremism, it is all too common for young environmentalists in the UK to be swayed by media, idealism and distortion of facts as opposed to straight science. The problem is the law is not progressive enough to permit direct action in circumstances where there often should be, and the evidence supports radical change.

    heres a thought: will climate change stay keep under 2C under current trends, without radical change?
    • Jun 6 2012: Agree completely with your last points. It will take radical change, of some-sort, to keep climate change under the 2C mark and the law is not progressive enough to permit direct action where the evidence supports radical change.

      On GM crops, if the action is based on scientific ignorance and a general fear, then it's wrong. If the action is based on higlighting that a certain biotechnology company is imbuing resistance towards pesticides that it manufactures in order to maximise it's profits and sell more pesticide then it's right.
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        Jun 6 2012: Thanks, yes there is certainly a darker side to GM and I am not an advocate of all the ways in which it is used.

        I think GM can be seen in the same way that a spade can, hit someone with it and it will hurt, but it is a tool and can be put to useful purposes. It is not GM, nor the spade that is inherently bad, they are both tools for which their morality or immorality is determined by the users intent and implications of their use.

        This distinction is what seems to have surpassed the acknowledgement of current greenpeace policy.
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    Jun 6 2012: I do not think that extremist actions are good or necessary, in fact I think they are probably detrimental more often than not. When extremists attack people they do not agree with nothing good can happen, it will only anger the people they attack. Activists bombing whalers in Japan is a prime example of just how terrible extremist tactics are. The bombing will only anger the whalers and make them want to go against the activists even more. I think a lot more good can be done in the world by educating people and having civil discussions and debates.
  • Jun 6 2012: I am an environmental activist and I'm president of an environmental youth organization, so just so you know I'm totally invested in "saving the Earth." But in no way do I believe in extremist actions. They are not only plain wrong and irresponsible, but they turn people off and give the environmental movement a bad name. I find myself getting so angry when I see things in right-wing blogs saying environmental extremists care more about birds and ants than families and jobs, but eco-terrorism just gives those people the right to say that?

    A big challenge I've faced in activism is getting people to care about the environment. Many people feel that the environment is just the animals and the trees and that the whiny environmentalists care about animals too much. What I try to make people understand is that the environment and people are connected, and that we are not whiny and radical, but trying to help this world. As an environmental activist it is important to NOT BE TOO RADICAL in order to have a connection with the public. Eco-terrorism is a total barrier in this way.
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    Jun 4 2012: The activities of eco-extremist groups and eco-terrorism associations should not be placed in the same category as an environmental group like one which bills itself as 'striptease for trees'.
    This group relies on the topless protesters strategy. Women bare their breasts in order to stop logging trucks and engage the mostly male loggers in a dialogue about the perils of deforestation.
    Such extreme expressions may attract more media attention.

    But it is still better for pro-environment organisations to be fair in their fight, and to be percieved to be fair.
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      Jun 6 2012: I must say I really like this striptease for trees group what a great idea! I think everyone can agree that sex sells or at the least can distract someone from almost anything. I think a little skin can go much further than tree spikes which may kill someone. You bring up a great point Feyisayo and I can't help but wonder in what other ways could we use sex instead of violence or extreme measures not just to sell cars and 6 packs but to protect the environment!
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    Jun 3 2012: What is our alternative to extremist acts? Although Amanda related extremist tactics to eco-terrorists, I don't believe the two are mutually binding. Eco-terrorists employ extremist tactics but not all environmental extremists are eco-terrorists. Do we consider the group of individuals that chain themselves to a tree to keep the old-growth forest from being torn down as terrorists? I hope not, but the government may deem them as so because they are hampering our corporations.

    Reading through the comments on this post, I see a lot of focus on education. Austin Diamond, in particular, wrote about targeting the media because they have such a profound influence on the public. What if education isn't fast enough? Climate change and environmental degradation are happening at an excruciating pace and our method of affecting how corporations conduct business by consumer demand is slow. It is especially slow when you're implying to the consumer that they can't buy or do certain things.

    Extremist tactics tend to turn people off because most people are moderate. And consumer education could be too slow to adequately address the issue of climate change. How do we deal with the issues of climate change, then? In the end, the different tactics towards change are based on opinion. Congratulations, we started a Ted Talk where most people, who are largely unaffected by the negative impacts of environmental degradation, can talk about how extremist tactics hurt humans. I would argue the opposite and say that many extremists are very humanitarian and see the negative effects that these practices have on marginalized communities. But rather than sitting on their computer and signing an online petition to a senator who probably won't care, they are out in the field trying to change it. I'm just bringing perspective. It's easier for many of use to support the slow route, but many people, and ecosystems, can't wait that long. Neither side is absolutely right nor wrong.
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      Jun 4 2012: I suppose I feel that we are treading very delicate waters here in regard to extremist action. I do agree that we may come to a point where it becomes obvious, to the majority, that nothing on Earth that we try is working, and an act of extremism is the only thing that can knock people to their senses.

      The problem is that many of the small-scale extremist acts just tick people off. And of course the problem with this catastrophic extremist act I'm talking about is the fact that it's catastrophic.
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        Jun 4 2012: But even when we come to that point where we realize that nothing is working, will we make any changes for the better? I've already encountered numerous people who, after discussing it with me, became convinced that nothing we are doing is drastic enough. Nevertheless, when I asked them if they would make "x" change, they resoundingly responded with a "no" because a lot of the necessary individual, and even systemic, changes may require shifts in our way of living that reduce our already gratuitous comfort. The small scale extremist tactics, not necessarily the violent ones, tick people off because it highlights the things in their life that they are doing to support the environmental degradation. Many people, myself included, get defensive when told that they are passively harming the environment. But I think these extremist tactics make people think but when the mainstream media gets a hold of it, it just becomes a one-sided story about which corporation lost X amount of money. At that point, the only thing people are thinking about is how evil these people are. And I've seen that sentiment throughout this conversation. There is little appreciation for the work they do.
        • Jun 4 2012: Oh Matt, co-directing the CJL with you is going to be a blast! We took completely different stances on this issue (though neither of us is strongly for or against extremist tactics). Maybe we should discuss this issue in terms of the change we as students want to see... like a carbon neutral campus by 2020. It's not going to happen because of our administrators, but attacking the administrators (I mean that in the most figurative way) wouldn't change the situation except to get us new admin who are still just as slow and bureaucratic. Ignoring the education component, a public campaign that is media heavy and attacks the institution where it hurts would be much more effective than egging Steve Mital's car. LTEs in the Oregonian this summer?
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          Jun 5 2012: Matthew
          I agree with you that not all extremist tactics can nor should they be considered terrorism. In regards to your last comment about how once the media gets ahold of the actions extremist preform they get turned into a one-sided argument about how corporations were hurt, do you think this is always the case no matter what the extremist act? Is there anyway for extremists to somehow communicate with the media so that their tactics were portrayed in a positive way that can inform the public of the issue at hand?
    • Jun 4 2012: I disagree that sitting on your computer and signing a petition is not an effective way to cause change. I'm not saying it is a great way, and I am certainly not saying our system is set up well to encourage senators to care what we sign, but it is something that is easy for people to do. A petition takes nothing more than a signature or a click, and I personally have attached my name to plenty of things I feel our senators should know I care about. petitions are an easy way for people to attach their support to something without requiring them to take too much out of their normal day.

      Now of course, peaceful or extremist active participation is a more effective way of bringing attention to an issue. These people are needed, including in my opinion the extremists. But this form of activism is for the dedicated believers in a cause. The majority of people may want more environmental protection, but they also want a multitude of other things. Activism to bring the issues to light, petitions for the majority to get behind numerous different issues. You probably don't have enough time to be active on multiple different issues, but you do have time to sign multiple different petitions.

      Now all that said, actively seeking signatures on petitions on campus is freaking annoying. This should be done by having to get permission from the EMU to set up a booth, and then letting people come to you on their time if they find your issue to be important. If you try to stop me when I've got to get from one side of campus to the other in 10 minutes you're going to have a bad time. And I think posting petitions online on popular message boards like Reddit for people to see and sign there is a much more effective way of getting signatures than standing outside looking for them.
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        Jun 4 2012: Valid points. I do disagree with the petition-gathering aspect. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time as a petitioner, simply setting up a booth and waiting for people to sign is not effective, at all! There are deadlines to gathering these signatures and if these deadlines aren't met, the entire cause is wasted until the next term. I understand the sentiment that people are oftentimes too busy to stop and sign a petition. But I have talked to many people who thank me for stopping and informing them about the issue because they wouldn't have actively sought it on their own.

        Also, your annoyance by these petitioners is an opinion. I'm glad they are there. I may be asked 3 times in a day whether I've signed a petition that I signed last week. But if they weren't there, I would be saddened by their absence. A lot of people are annoyed by petitioners, but I, and many others I know, are not.

        Online petitions are an interesting topic. They are worth much less to a decision-making body than a written petition in the same way that an email is worth more than a signature. Point-and-click signatures are looked down upon because it takes very little effort to sign one. But that is the point. Many people find face-to-face interaction with petitioners to be annoying so they opt for the online signature. Online signatures are also easily distributed to the people. Each form of petition has its pros and cons. That is fine but I would rather see written signatures where there is an opportunity for discussion between the signer and the petitioner.
        • Jun 4 2012: Well yeah, I guess nothing is ever perfect. I have signed a few petitions when I'm stopped on campus, but I've blown off many more that I would've supported if I hadn't been stopped while trying to get to class. It isn't exactly a petition, but I have seen Reddit have tremendous success with gathering people's attention on an issue Congress is about to vote on, and getting those people to send an e-mail or make a phone call to their senators. The best example was the push to stop SOPA. Of course Reddit would be all over that, but they had a top post on the front page that listed the names, states and phone numbers of every senator. It made it so easy for people from all over the country to call in and get their opinions heard.
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      Jun 4 2012: I agree with you Matt in that our measures to ensure the stability and restoration of our ecosystems and climate are not drastic enough. However, at what point do these drastic measures become too drastic? Do we draw the line at the popular TV show that destroys property and potentially endangers human lives, or do we draw it somewhere more towards the moderate end? I think it's important for us to have extremists simply because they do what no one else wants to do, but what do we do when they go too far?
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        Jun 5 2012: And I guess that is the big question. First, what do we call too far? You and I may have a different definition of that. But there is really no way to define it. We could use our legal system to define it but if this is our basis for rules, then corporations should be subject to this the same way extremist environmental groups are. But I can guarantee that they are held to much lower standards of "acceptable" behavior. Unfortunately, this issue will not be resolved anytime soon and I will continue to give my solidarity to those working on the front-lines, getting their hands dirty. I do NOT support the harming of human life, however.
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    Jun 3 2012: It is not in me to be an eco terrorist or an occupy style anarchist but I do believe that extreme circumstances require sometimes extreme actions and can cause a dynamic shift in policy and practice where normal diplomatic or legislative processes fail or are too slow.

    I am involved now in an effort to de rail an outrageous private 4 lane toll road through Miane's wllderness. I decided to drive one of the remote logging roads that is to be used myself to get a first hand feel for it and through a chain of circumstaces a fried I invited invited several friends and it ended up being a caravan of Earth Firsters..national eco terrorists and grass roots organizers.

    I rode about half way with one of the leaders of that group and was impressed with the depth of knowledge and history that group possesed and also with their commitment. They don't employ these tactics because its fun to cause trouble. They do it when the conditions are extreme..

    They would be more helpful and constructive if they could also sometimes just be at the table in less extreme situtaions and share theiir knowledge like other advocates and activists but of course that never happens so the world only sees their violence and excep for the remarkable example of Greepeacee, rarely has a voice in the world.

    The Greepeace model of activism is the way to go using eco terrorism as a tool only when it is a very extreme situation.

    I have to also say as a nationally recognized exert in superfund and environemntal risk amangement, we did it all wrong legislatively as well. When we make a commitment to a national policy that requires extensive retooling and refabrication for almost every phase of operations, we have to do more than just dictate the law and give everyone so much time to comply. We have to comit as well to helping affected companies make the transitions and put some investment in solutions and alternatives.
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    Jun 2 2012: There is a idea that says that the most beautiful and powerful acts are the ones that seek the median, it was said by Aristoteles in ancient Greece. Therefore, extremist tatics even in eco-moviments are wrong, ecological activism doesn`t need that. They must pursue the midterm between urban and nature, this is only way to put their discussions in a higher level where they can be supported by private companies through out the world. The problem is: sometimes eco-groups aren`t worried about the other society sectors thoughts. I think that this is the main reason for these groups been a little bit away of the political discussions. Eco-groups If you really want to change the world now, you must start thinking on that.
  • Jun 2 2012: Extremism in general is bad. When you fight fire with fire you create more fire. By committing violent and destructive acts to get your message across you are no longer an activist but an enemy and potentially a terrorist. Also with extremism the message tends to be lost because people will focus more on the extreme act and not the cause it's self. To fight for environmentalism is a great thing but when you do it through violent and destructive behaviour you have made your self just as bad as the ones you fight.
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    May 31 2012: Talk about fighting injustice with injustice.
    Extremist tactics strips environmentalism of its humanity.
    Environmentalism would be loved for its nobility if it is carefully communicated to more people.
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      May 31 2012: I completely agree. These acts are scary and giving environmentalists and environmentalism a bad rep. I feel like environmentalists who use these tactics are so desperate to get their message out there and feel like time might be scarce, it is sad and I hope that one day awareness can be created without bombing whaling ships or poisoning juice.
    • Jun 4 2012: It is hard to argue with this. I only wish to point out two things. First off, not all extremist acts are the same. A group that refuses to leave a grove of trees about to be cut down are labeled extremists, but they are not the same as a group that sets logging equipment on fire. Secondly in the case of environmental extremism the extremists bring media attention to issues. If they keep extremist activities to a minimum and know when to stop I believe extremism should be tolerated.
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    May 31 2012: I think the amount of credibility PETA has about explains how successful most extremist groups are. They're treated like a joke for good reason: most of their tactics muddy the waters and ruin any kind of credibility they may have had. ACORN was another group that did far more harm than good, and took away credibility from legitimate groups. All the extremists do is give those people against the changes fuel for the fire, by allowing them to point to the antics of the extremists and lump all the moderate and sensible groups in with the crazy people. I do think there is a place for publicity stunts in environmentalism, but I do not think that those stunts should ever involve violence.
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      Jun 1 2012: I agree with you. I think that just like PETA has made talking about issues concerning animal cruelty an awkward conversations, extremist environmentalists are having the same effect. By making bad choices they're turning people that would otherwise be willing to listen away from the topic simply because they associate it the extremist groups.
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      Jun 3 2012: This is very true with the credibility that movements have if they use extreme tactics such as violence. Violence is never the answer, it causes the loss of credibility and makes people not want to fight for them. Extreme groups can exist and fight for their cause peacefully, but won't be seen as legit or worthy if they use violence as a means to fight for their cause. If they use violence they will lose many supporters. I think that any movement that uses violence is a step backwards because of the loss of credibility and supporters.
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      Jun 4 2012: Well PETA is a very interesting example. Their problem lies less with how extreme they are and more with how crazy they are. I mean certainly if they were merely extremist in their methods they would attract a lot of opposition and backlash, but not as bad as what they've been getting. They aren't just disagreeable, they're funny. If someone told me that some of the actions PETA has taken were actually by another group trying to parody PETA, I'd say that makes more sense than the truth. And a lot of the time they display a understanding of what they're fighting for so terrible it borders on comical.

      My point here is not that PETA is a bad example of an extremist group but rather that they are perhaps an example of one of the problems with extremist groups; they sometimes tend to attract those who are somewhat unhinged and/or have a poor grasp of the situation. I don't by any means mean this is true for every extremist group but it does make sense that brash individuals would be the first to seek extreme solutions. I don't know whether or not extremist movements can be effective, but I do know they would need incredibly smart leadership, and I think that's something they're lacking. Certainly PETA is.
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    Jun 6 2012:

    Just wanted to share this link- an interview with Jeff Luers- the man that set fire to 3 SUV's in Eugene, Oregon back in 2000. He was originally sentenced to 22 years in prison but after many years of appeals was reduced to about 10 years.

    I wonder how many people living in Eugene in 2000 remember this story, and if his actions made any significant advancements or setbacks for environmentalist locally in Eugene and throughout the United States?
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    Jun 6 2012: Progress towards goals, any kind of goals, will almost always work more efficiently/easily if there is a beneficial cycle instead of a vicious cycle between groups, more specifically with the public. Environmentalists need the public in order to establish real change, and if they get the support that they need, things go smoothly.

    Potentially though, by using extreme tactics (especially from the get-go), there lies a (rather large) risk of establishing a 'with us or against us' mentality on _all_ of the various parties, which can severely cut down or sabotage any line of communication/compromise.

    Those on the opposite sides of an issue might become further entrenched, seeing the other side and all who support them as the 'Enemy', while those in the middle/on the bench don't know what to do or don't want to get involved with it at all.

    In other words, in the short term, extreme tactics might work in doing or preventing something immediate, but it isn't sustainable and (as others have said previously) could potentially end up alienating people, putting them in a bind.
  • Jun 6 2012: To me one of the central ethical questions of this debate is what are you as an individual prepared to allow to continue? If the overwhelming majority of the public agree that something is wrong but a certain section of the population still keep on doing it what should you do? If the public are educated and informed fully and if all the scientific evidence points to a thing being damaging but the government and the legislators are unwilling to act what should you do?

    Would you be prepared to accept defeat, would you carry on organising petitions or would you take direct action to oppose the problem? Doesn't need to be violent but it does need to be effective.
  • Jun 6 2012: Backwards. For example PETA often makes mistakes because they actually know little about animals. When people find out PETA is wrong, they conclude that all animal welfare/rights concerns are bogus.
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    Jun 6 2012: Wow! Lots of comments on your provocative question, Ms. Hooper. I hope you will post a closing statement with a synopsis of the replies you received. I'm sure there is value in there. Thank you!
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    Jun 6 2012: In my opinion, extreme tactics bring more attention to the action than cause. Whenever I hear about these types of protests/acts 90 percent of the time I gain no real understanding of the cause the group is "defending". Even organizations like Peta are over dramatic and too radical for my taste.
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      Jun 6 2012: I agree with you, Emil. Extremists often omit the informational piece during their protests and actions. True, people may understand what they are fighting, say animal cruelty or hunting, but their reasoning is often left out. It's one thing to take a stand for what you believe in with extreme action, but in order to initiate real change you need public support. Very few people will stand behind a person with crazy tactics if they can't or don't explain the issue and the reasons for their actions.
    • Jun 6 2012: Perhaps you are being distracted by how the "extreme" protest is reported by mainstream media. The protestors are often portrayed as over-zealous hippies. I have never seen a protest where I couldn't figure out what problem they were concerned with, though at times I have had to do more research to educate myself on the matter. Many environmentalists are absolutists and overly passionate/extreme but very rarely are they doing their actions for immoral reasons. Is it moral to allow the last patches of virgin rainforest to be logged for short-term profit regardless of the legal right that company has to slash and burn? Who gave them that right to deprive future generations of the biological wealth? Who gave oil companies the right to extract a non-renewable resource at such prodigious rates? Let's burn all the oil but let's take 10,000 years to do it, not 35 more!
      I suggest you all know, or can find out very quickly the details of the issues that environmentalists are concerned with, but most of you don't want to be associated with people who have been vilified and portrayed as wackos, violent or otherwise.
  • Jun 6 2012: As Amanda and I have already agreed upon lower on this page, the Sea Shepherd Society threw stink bombs at the whaler's ships not explosives. Butyric acid is industrially prepared by the fermentation of sugar or starch, brought about by the addition of putrefying cheese, with calcium carbonate added to neutralize the acids formed in the process. It smells bad... that's about it.
    Just want to get the facts straight. In 1985 the French Foreign Intelligence Service sunk the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior with real bombs and killed the photographer Fernando Periera. Now that is pretty fricken' extreme!
  • Jun 5 2012: I've always had disdain for extremism and unlawful tactics. I still do! However, and unfortunately I believe such tactics can advance an environmental agenda by drawing attention to issues, and, when it comes time to negotiating a solution it makes more moderate and thoughtful people seem downright reasonable, and their ideas more palatable. Thusly is progress made.
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      Jun 6 2012: While extreme actions bring attention to the environmental agenda, they bring negative attention and seem to turn people off because they do not want to be associated with extreme behavior. In addition, I think that people who resort to extremism are not taken as seriously as those who seek peaceful action because the extreme actions are taken outside the accepted forums for solving problems.
      There may be isolated cases where extremism helped the movement, but I think that in general the actions detract from environmental credibility.
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    Jun 5 2012: There is a difference between extremist actions and violence. If extreme actions are what are needed to draw attention to an issue and gain widespread support, then they are necessary. But we mustn't resort to violence or any sort of action that could backfire and actually cause more harm than good (i.e. the burning of buildings and bombing whaling ships).
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      Jun 6 2012: What would you give as an example of an "extreme" action that should be used?
      • Jun 6 2012: Good question that shows that the term "extreme" is subjective and relative. I remember during the blockades of the Walbran Valley (magnificent old-growth on Vancouver Island) there was this guy who smeared himself with his own excrement. No one would touch him or the bulldozer he was chained to! Poo-man they called him. In an interview he said that he ate organic foods so was pretty comfortable with using his own by-product, unlike everyone else.
        Extreme? What do you think? Effective? Moreso that the other protestors. It is an idea I like to have in my toolbox, just in case! Now it is an option for TED aficionados as well!
        You're welcome.
        • Jun 6 2012: Personally, it seems that the condition of our planet right now is "etreme" in any sense of the word. If people can be presented with the facts about what is ALREADY happening, and not feel moved to act, I find it unlikely that any act on our part, such as bombing boats or burning buildings, is going to rile these people to incite a change. Once again, the problem goes back to encouraging people to see what is already happening. This should be extreme enough for anybody.
  • Jun 4 2012: I have taken part in what could be called extremist action by some. In my more youthful years I took an active part in sabotaging fox hunts in my native UK. The activity of fox hunting is now banned, well just about, though I notice that as the law is rarely enforced it seems to be making a come back now that the fuss has died down...

    I would like to say that my actions were nothing to do with self-agrandisment or wishing to inflict suffering on those doing the hunting it was all about tying up the time of the hunters so that they couldn't hunt foxes, my motivation was about saving the foxes.

    And oh I should say that covering the scent trail of the foxes and controling the hounds through signals that the hunters use were the methods that we used to sobotage the hunting. Where as being ambushed in woods, hit round the head with shovels and attempts to trample us under the hooves of the horses were the actions the hunters used against us as we conducted our protest/sabotage.
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    Jun 4 2012: Interesting topic of debate. Seems like most people don't agree in extremism. I have issues with it too. I have a friend who is part of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee and has been for many many years. He says that the extreme actions of groups like Sea Shepherd don't always have positive outcomes. Quite often the stuff they do irritates the Japanese so much that it closes their minds to moving forward through negotiations. The thing is, the issue with the whaling is a more complicated problem and going out there and bombing ships doesn't get rid of the root problems.
    We definitely need a world with a variety of thinkers using various tactics to save what little is left. I just wish there was an alternate way. So perhaps we need a few who step outside the box and are willing to throw themselves out there?
    • Jun 5 2012: It is interesting to me that extremist actions can actually turn people away from a cause. Maybe this should be acknowledged by more of these sorts of groups because ideally they really are trying to turn public perception but in reality they can be doing just the opposite. Unfortunately, the less aggressive groups never get as much attention as the extremists so, like you said, both types of activists are vital to any cause.
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      Jun 6 2012: I really like how you brought up how the actions of people similar to the Sea Shepherd end up cutting off or hurting negotiations because it is true. When a truce is called during war, peace is supposed to reign but if one side breaks that truce then all out war resumes. While countless groups are undoubtedly working very hard to stop the bigger issue of over harvesting whales, these members are causing damage to all sides of the argument. Undoubtedly they bring attention to their issue through the media but it seems highly unlikely that any nation will ever be able to completely stop whaling as it is. Native American tribes have hunted whales for thousands of years and so have people across the world. So maybe it is best to come to a conclusion where the greater whale population is protected from decimation but maybe a few could be retained annually as a means to come to a solution? I have no idea whether or not this will work but it is important to think of both cultures included in this argument and see that there has to be a compromise to meet both side's goals.
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        Jun 6 2012: Hey Trevor...valid points and actually, the IWC does allow for aboriginal whaling. Communities that have a culture of whaling are allowed to continue to do so and have quotas. These are usually small scale and very localised. The problem really arises when whaling occurs in other territorial waters and at a factory scale. Again, like I said the reasons why Japan continue whaling are really contentious and complicated and while actions of extremist groups do bring attention to the problem they do little else. They just get alot of people's backs up and perhaps even put a spoke in the hard work of peaceful negotiators just like you pointed out. There must be other ways but we need to think about them and perhaps think way outside the box.
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    Jun 4 2012: Although I don't always agree with extremist acts I believe they are sometimes necessary for change. When the extremist's acts are founded with good judgement and performed in a correct manner, they can be very effective. These acts need to state the problem clearly and give the citizens a mode or idea to fix it. If a extremist group poses a very good argument without a solution, the group will have very little following. Most extremists act in ways that harm without helping the citizens to care or solve the issue. However, our history, as said before, is defined by extremist acts. Though mediation groups like Greenpeace are often useful and productive in solving the issue, we need "extremist groups" in order to get the issue into the media. So, although most extremist groups are destructive, I would argue that we need them to focus on the issues that plague the world today.
    • Jun 4 2012: I do not agree that we need extremist groups in order to get issues into the media, although their tactics certainly ensure that an issue is more likely to get public notice. Unfortunately, when a group uses violence to get across an opinion about an environmental problem, it seems that rather than focusing on the reason why extremist tactics were employed, the public focuses on the fact that people were hurt and damages were incurred. The story becomes "environmental terrorists attack innocents," and viewed through that lens, the environmental issue at hand is ignored; instead of effecting change, all that happens is a demand for the punishment of the perpetrators. Both the general public and the victims of the violence are, in my opinion, far more likely to respond to the actions of an extremist environmental group with an attack of their own and an attempt to imprison the group members than they are to take action to fix the environmental issue for which the violence was allegedly warranted.
      • Jun 4 2012: It is important to distinguish between acts of violence and "extremist" acts. Is an act of vandalism an act of violence? Not in my lexicon. Is harpooning of whales an act of violence. I say, yes. Is a clear-cut an act of resource extraction, environmental vandalism or an act of violence? Depends who you ask, or what species you allow to be part of the answer. The tree and the bird say yes. The shareholder doesn't seem to care one way or the other. Is pouring sugar in the gas tank of a feller/buncher an act of violence? Only to the media and corporate spin doctors. It is illegal for sure, but violent, no. But people who do this get labelled and prosecuted as eco-terrorists.
        You are right in how stories are spun, but that is simply perspective and/or propaganda and doesn't make the action invalid. History is full of examples where people break laws to change the stays quo. Gandhi was a criminal. Mandela was a criminal until attitudes changed and they became heroes. In a few decades Paul Watson may be the viewed as a principled hero with the courage to stand up to an industry that threatens the existence of a sentient species. I wish I had the same courage.
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        Jun 5 2012: Helen, I agree with you that most of the time the acts by extremist groups are more harmful than helpful. However, a select few of these acts can change the views of a population. These extremists need to shed light on an issue without alienating the population. Violence and chaos is not the method to create a positive uprising. Instead, as you said, it often brings about negative feelings towards the issue at hand. Therefore, like Gandhi or MLK, these groups need to use nonviolent methods to "mainstream" the issue.

        The real argument between you and I arises from our definitions of extremist groups. With all the negative media coverage, I understand why you associate extremists with violent acts. I would encourage you to broaden your definition. An extremist group, in my mind, is any group that uses unconventional methods to make the public aware of an issue that needs to be addressed. Though this does include acts of violence, it is not restricted to these acts.
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    Jun 3 2012: What is it in history that people remember? The revolutions, the wars, the guy that lit the torch. I'm not saying that extremists are doing what they do to be immortalised but the people who sit outside Wall Street everyday protesting aren't the ones who are going to be accredited for a social reform after somebody blows up the bank. Extremism can lead to immediate change whereas peaceful change can take years and while peaceful change is always more preferable - especially when talking about environmental issues - sometimes it takes a wake-up call rather than nagging to get something done.
    These aren't necessarily my views just something for you guys to think about.
    • Jun 4 2012: The change caused be extremists is most often short term and surface change. They attack the symptoms of problems not the root of the problem. If you wanted to stop this country's dependence on oil, you would not drive to Texas and tear down oil wells one at a time. A) that's a symptom and B) it only incurs a short term change. Real change that is meaningful and permanent happens through the changing behavior of the American public. "Peaceful" campaigns can be extremely public and aggressive, like if Occupy had a mission statement with tangible actions.
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      Jun 6 2012: This view is very different from many of the others here. I do agree that the extremist get most of the attention and shed light on the actual event; this is why you can watch "whale wars" on TV and not some peaceful group of activists. It does help in getting the attention of the general public, and may lead them to act upon the issues as well in their own way. There is no such thing as bad press.
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    Jun 3 2012: Amanda, The "extreme" tactics you talk about are, de facto, a form of vigilante justice, and as such are not to be tolerated. I was confronted by this in the 1970s in San Francisco during the "Fur Wars" where protesters were throwing red paint (to resemble blood) on folks wearing leather and fur. My response was to punch the guy in the mouth because he assaulted me. While these folks DO have a right to their opinion, they DO NOT have a "right' to use violence to enforce that opinion on others. Bottom line...violence begets violence, and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
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    Jun 2 2012: I don't likie to be pushed in any manner. You hurt my family it is going to get real personal. Groups like greenpeace and global warming pull in millions of dollars and millions of volunteers. Perhaps there should be a audit of the money. People like Al Gore are in it just for the money and continue to have giant carbon prints. The volunteers seem pasionate about the cause but I have serious doubts about the rest. Obama spent millions of my money (public) in companies that had poor track records and they immediately went bankrupt and skipped with the money. He also has put Cap and Trade into effect by Executive Order after Congress (Democratic Majority) rejected it. That will put the coal burning plants out of business and cause electrical prices to skyrocket.

    SUMMARY: Extreme tactics and lousy exective decisions have made me extremely cautious of decisions to go green and worry about global warming. Billions of dollars and millions of volunteers have not accomplished what the efforts of cooperative retailers did in one year.

    As a last thought .... I hear about Doctors, scientists and other authorities that say this and say that. One day it is bad for you and the next day it is good for you. I don't trust them. They are compensated for their "opinion". It is sort of like a lawyer finding a "expert witness". They have a list of who will be for and who will be against anything. Don't believe everything you hear or read.

    All the best. Bob.
    • Jun 3 2012: Ignoring the degradation of the ecosystem is hurting your family sir. Think of your great-grandchildren. Your arguments would have merit if we practiced natural capitalism with a triple bottom line, but we don't. Would there be any blue or right whales if Greenpeace hadn't started their campaigns in the 70s? Certainly their actions led to quicker legislation.
      You don't trust scientists who use data to back up their assertions. Who do you trust? Who do you believe?
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        Jun 3 2012: Lawyers and all agencies depend on finding "creditable experts" to be the public face. You find one for and I'll find one against. I do my own research and review all of the available data and find what I believe to be middle ground. Ice cores from 2000 feet show the atmosphere and tempatures have not varied more than 1 degree in thousands of years.

        So the short answer to your question is that I am not a sheeple and do not follow blindly. We are of different minds. Shall we agree to disagree about extremist tactics. You are for extremists and I am not. Thanks for the reply.
        • Jun 4 2012: Extremist is a relative and subjective term. I find people that support the status quo to be the "sheeple", not the ones who deduce that we need to change the way that we as a species interact with our environment. 97% of publishing US climate scientists agree global warming is happening and is primarily caused by humans. How do you balance your research, and have you looked into who is funding climate skeptics? In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused mainly by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view, though a few organisations hold non-committal positions. (Yes I got these numbers from Wikipedia:
          There is this wacky idea that scientists created this big climate change scam to make money, and while it is true that much of science is publicly funded, it is also true that the oil and coal industry get about 40 billion dollars in tax incentives every year. Guess what they are spending some of that money on! If you follow the dollars it is pretty obvious who profits from business as usual. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
  • Jun 2 2012: Perhaps the major issue with the extremist tactics that you mentioned is that they try to hurt people in some way (psychological, physical, economic). They seem to be built around vigilante justice: "now you will feel the pain of the whale, the cuts you put into the tree will be yours, and you will drink the poison you spray on Mother Earth."

    These acts are not productive, because of their motivation in gunslinger justice. They are not intended to be productive, just exhibitionary empowerment of the perpetrators by turning them into judges and executives.

    Let's consider a different sort of "extremist" act, one that we have enshrined in U.S. history ... the Boston Tea Party, carried out by a small group with a minority agenda. It worked. Why? Because it was a statement not of revenge or hatred, but of resolve. (It worked, but that doesn't mean it brought a good thing - it may have set the U.S. on a path of self-serving bullying, even within the country, and toward slaves. Patience and partnership in Australia and Canada led to societies very similar to the U.S. , yet with much less violence over the last 230+ years.)

    There is a time for breaking laws and standing up. But not for dominance, revenge, or sadism.

    I think we can all tell the difference, and we are repelled by some acts, and drawn to others on the basis of their motivation.
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    Jun 2 2012: After reading through some comments it seems that there is a consensus that extremist tactics are not the answer. Is there anyone who thinks that they are necessary? It seems that the phrasing of the question also is partial to saying extremist actions are negative as well as the structure of social norms.
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      Jun 2 2012: I don't agree with extremist tactics, however, they might be necessary in some instances. They certainly draw attention to themselves and the issue at hand. Their methods might be useful for creating awareness about a particular issue and inspire some people to take action in a similar or perhaps less extreme way. That being said, they can also draw attention in a negative way and turn people off to environmentalism all together.
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        Jun 3 2012: Although I do not agree with the extreme tactics, I do agree with the fact that they draw attentinon. For example with whale wars, if they had not used the tactics that they do, they probably would not have ever gotten a deal with a television network. If they had not gotten that deal, a lot of the United States would still be really naive about the subject of whaling.
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          Jun 4 2012: How much has that show helped the cause?
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          Jun 5 2012: Has whale wars made people of the United States more aware of the subject of whaling or has it has it made people more aware of the actions some people take against whaling ships? What I mean is, do you think that this show has made the general public more knowledgeable on the subject or when they see this show do they just remember the actions of the activists and not what they are actually fighting to stop?
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          Jun 5 2012: I was thinking the same thing Theresa, however, Matthew has a point. Awareness is only the beginning. Are these extremest tactics actually helping action take place for these environmental concerns?
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          Jun 5 2012: For me personally after I watched that show it never inspired me to do anything about it. I just thought they were crazy. The acts of extremists do make for a good TV show but does it actually make people want to take action?
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          Jun 6 2012: The Whale Wars program might also encourage some to find a new tactic to help the whales even if they do not necessarily agree with what they see on TV. There is no such thing as bad press, especially with topics that require immediate action.
    • Gu E

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      Jun 2 2012: A possible argument for extremist action can be that --the targets for extreme action are themselves causing extreme destruction (not to mention that they are also at an advantage financially and politically) and therefore extreme action is therefore justifiable.

      I figure that these extremists have sought out the alternative strategies that are more peaceful and less radical and have been routinely met with failure.....that sort of consistent failure to generate real solutions and change while being emotionally invested in your cause can understandably push someone to entertain more provocative measures.

      It then becomes a question of whether or not going the extreme route is actually producing results as opposed to whether or not it is justifiable.
      -It could be considered successful because we are talking about it

      Still, I do believe that these sorts of extreme tactics sullies the positive message and reduces the power of their movement-- essentially giving the other side ammunition to discredit the cause.
      Keeping integrity is still very important!
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        Jun 5 2012: It is true that some targets of extreme activism are themselves causing extreme damage however what about the case of extremists poisoning POM juice to protest for animal rights. Were the consumers of this poisoned juice guilty of extreme destruction? In this case, is it possible there was a better way to try and stop the selling of the juice? Possibly by educating the public on POM's use of animals?
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      Jun 2 2012: I agree with Christina on this one. Many people hear the word 'extreme environmentalists' and they automatically think crazy and inefficient. But they are in fact a controversial subject. Because they do participate in extreme acts, they end up catching the attention of someone out there. However, they are almost hypocrites because on the way of trying to save our environment, they are harming the environment with their bombs , fires, etc. And many people question if this is the most efficient way to catch people's attention.
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        Jun 6 2012: I don't think that their actions really bring about much awareness at all. When eco-terrorists burn down housing developments I believe most people think "oh, wow that person is crazy" not "oh, wow housing developments suck". And in terms of non-terrorist extremists, organizations like Peta are super inflammatory. It's really hard to take a cause and organization seriously when they disregard social conventions. And yeah they are hypocrites.
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      Jun 4 2012: Perhaps the extremists have to result to these extravagant tactics because there isn't enough support for the issue. Using an extremist tactic can allow a small group of people to create an impact of similar magnitude as a larger group using a peaceful tactic. For example, if you saw a group of ten people marching with signs would you really pay attention? What if they were marching with fireworks, or roping themselves to trees? What if there was 100 people instead of ten? What does it take to bring attention to the issue?
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        Jun 5 2012: Kirsten

        Do you think their actions will bring attention to the issue or will it just bring attention to their actions? Is there a way to make sure that extreme actions that grab the world's attention are able to also inform the world of the issue at hand and not just have to focus be on the actions they just preformed?
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          Jun 5 2012: Interesting question. I think the only way that the attention can be brought to the issue rather than the action would be if the action somehow was capable of demonstrating some aspect of the issue. How this can be achieved, I really don't know. Given the state of modern technology, and the possibility of things spreading like wildfire through the internet, extremist tactics seem to be a thing of the past (depending on what is considered an extremist tactic).

          Since the probability of people reacting negatively towards extremist tactics and therefore not wanting to support the cause is so great I would think that advocates would choose to take a different route. The key to success in any kind of tactic would be the headlines of articles. Being labeled an extremist in the press probably won't garner support from majorities and negative public opinion would lead to the downfall of any advocate group.
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      Jun 5 2012: Although I don't think that extremist tactics are optimal, they do serve to do their job effectively: they increase public awareness. It doesn't seem to me that extremists have a tangible goal of public policy and legal parameter change in mind when they're doing their thing. Extremists rely on the shock factor to alert the public that something problematic is going on that they might not know about. I do not want to be an extremist or fire-bomb places that are being environmentally unfriendly and I do not condone this activity, but I can at least see the merit in their consequence even if I don't endorse their method.
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    Jun 1 2012: Extreme and violent tactics are both immoral and ineffective. The general public will be much less likely to follow a group if they use violent tactics to get their point across. I do think that movements should have the freedom to protest and inform the public through the media and internet, but resorting to violence won't make the issue go away. However, bringing about change through a peaceful environmental movement can be difficult since change generally has to occur at the level of government.
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      Jun 2 2012: Health,
      I agree , impulsiveness and force are not the right methods to change the minds nor ways of those engaging in inhumane acts against nature . All they they do is make a worse name for themselves. They startle the media and public but do not focus around the core of the issues. All I ever hear from the public relating ecoterrorism is animosity but not support.
      • Jun 5 2012: I agree with your point of view. Additionally, the actions of extremist groups tend to push individuals further away from supporting the cause. In the case of the individuals the extremist group is acting out against the actions cause callusing which ultimately closes their minds to any idea of change. Extremist groups need to cater more to the middle ground if they want efficient and effective change.
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    May 31 2012: In my book, any extremist act that throws life into question is immoral. Wars are fought because one side feels it has the righteous cause. It doesn't matter what the end result is: even if one side is successful, and the end result is a better nation or world, the fact remains that there are better ways around it. "Eco-sabotage" (rather than all-out violence) is fine if all it does is throw a wrench in the works--like destroying a crop of strawberries in a huge industrial corporation--but not OK if it completely destroys someone's livelihood (like an act, say, committed against one farmer who has no recompense against this action). Of course, in my qualification system of whether something is OK or not OK, it turns out that acceptable acts are those that barely scratch the evil-doer.

    The media should be a target of environmental education. They are the ones informing the opinions of the public. To continue the analogy of war, every time that I see a headline in the paper saying "US to insert/remove 2,000 troops from Afghanistan, I can't help but think, why on Earth are we telling the "enemy" this? In the case of the recent economic Depression, the way to get out of a Depression is by consumers spending as they used to do, and not getting paralyzed by the fear of other people NOT spending. But how are people supposed to feel confident when every day they hear on TV, read from the newspaper, "DOW Continues to Plummet"? (I am absolutely not advocating the war and increased consumerism. I am only using these as examples.)

    I'm not asking for the media to only publish feel-good beatifically happy stories. All I'm asking is for a little more rose-colored glasses. Environmental organizations and individuals should start increasing their focus on the media because they are the power players of public perception. When reporters become more concerned about the environment, they will be less amenable to producing stories that threaten it.
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      May 31 2012: I agree that extreme tactics that threaten human and non-human life are not warranted no matter the importance of the situation. These kinds of activities will only anger opponents of environmental movements and make it harder for different sides to come to terms. That being said, I think it is critical for extremist movements to be maintained. When the extreme opinion is pushed to the limits, it provides a broader range of "moderate" opinions. We need someone to be pushing strong attitudes so that the moderate views actually make a difference. Though extreme measures do not take place all at once, it is important to have them as a guide for slow change that will eventually reach a radical end.
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      Jun 1 2012: You make a great point about the media's impact on our views. They have a great opportunity to change a large majority of peoples thoughts and opinions on a multitude of matters simply because the media is so prevalent. If they were to focus on educating the public on the issues and what they can do to help, in a peaceful way, I think this could have a profound effect on eco-extremist tactics.
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    May 31 2012: The following is not so much about environmentalism, but it is about the efficacy of non-violent protest (against Middle East dictatorships).

    This film by Ruaridh Arrow is about Gene Sharp, a guy whose book 'From Dictatorship to Democracy' inspired peaceful, yet very effective protest in Egypt.

    Take a look at this clip:

    The full film came out on dvd in 2011.

    Gene Sharp in Wiki:

    Environmentalism and other movements could learn a lot from this great man, in my opinion.
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      Jun 1 2012: I totally agree with you. I almost feel as if the extremist tactics used involving the potential loss of human lives and monetary damage these groups are responsible for are giving the other side (whalers, et. al) more ammunition to fight for their cause. These hostile tactics are alienating the rest of the population since most people fail to feel much of a connection with ramming ships, throwing chemical bombs and using any number of tactics that these people are doing.
      While they are usually slow to start, peaceful methods can garner a much more unified backing by the people as a whole while not alienating those who are needed most to support your cause.
  • May 31 2012: Commercial whaling is and should remain illegal under the terms of the IWC moratorium of 1982 which came into effect in 1986. I would like to see the moratorium enforced in the case of Iceland which currently ignores the ban and resumed it's commercial whaling activity in 2006. The so-called scientific whaling which various countries carry out is clearly a disguise to allow commercial whaling to continue, the whale meat is sold as a 'byproduct' of this 'scientific' research. Yeah right.

    Disrupting an illegal/banned activity which continues under a thin veneer of legality or simply continues in violation of the regulations is surely just enforcing those self-same regulations?
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      Jun 1 2012: Great point Terry! I think a lot of the extremist acts directed towards commercial whaling comes from the frustration of non-enforced policies and loopholes in the system. Japan is allowed up to 935 "scientific permits" for Antarctic minke whales per year, 50 for fin whales (endangered!), and 50 for humpback whales (endangered!)! This is a horrible management practice under the IWC, especially for populations of cetaceans that are endangered. I am not a proponent of using violent demonstrations, but I do sympathize with the activists in regards to their anger towards commercial whaling. I have only watched Whale Wars a handful of times...but I found myself rooting for the eco-terrorists out of my passion for saving cetaceans!
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      Jun 3 2012: Terry, While I agree with you that the '86 ban on whaling should be enforced, in full with no exceptions, I do not believe that eco-terrorism is the way to do it. It becomes a prime case of the pot calling the kettle black. If these groups want to do something effective they need to PUBLISH the votes of the legislators supporting the illegal activities world-wide. Evil and hubris can not stand the light of day...
  • May 31 2012: Using extreme methods will always hurt the cause more than it helpes. Whale wars is a case in point to the fact. People watch the show, and generally only remember the antics and the people accomplishing nothing.
    "It's that lame of a subject that you actually side with the guys killing whales" ... "let's move on, I'm pissed"

    If you truly want to make a difference, you have to prove yur point using peaceful methods. Force the issue, and people will shun you.
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      Jun 1 2012: Sometimes people won't listen to peaceful methods because they are too "quiet". Is there a way to make people care and have issues be heard in a peaceful way? Although people mostly remember the antics of the people on the show, they remember that they are preforming these to try and stop whaling. Therefore, are these extreme antics not also contributing to the fight against whaling in a positive way by making people aware of the issue?
      • Jun 2 2012: Contributing? Perhaps! Damaging the cause/issue? Definately! In order to make a real difference you have to raise peoples awareness of the issue. Raising peoples awareness is possible through peaceful methods just the same as through extreme/violent methods. However by doing it through violent measures you also alianate many people from siding with you.
        Example: You can get into the news just as easily blocking heavy machinery from deforrestation by peacefully standing in its way as you can by blowing up it's wheels/tracks. However by peacefully standing in the path, people will notice while at the same time seing that noone is hurt; so they can support you. By doing it violently people will think of the damage you have done, and the potential injury to others your action could have done. And so will be reluctant do support you.

        For instance, when thinking about sea shepherd I do not think of how many animals they may have saved. I think of how much damage they have done to the environment by dumping tons of robes, bottles, acid and even boats in the oceans.
  • May 31 2012: I believe that no matter the final cause, using violence and fear to spread your message is not the way to make change in today's democratic system. While environmentalists (or any other group of protestors) may feel powerless against larger, better funded, corporations and landowners, they must remember that extreme and violent actions are almost always viewed negatively by the general public and will ultimately turn people against your cause.
    While education campaigns are slower and MUCH more difficult, they are the only way to ultimately sway public opinion. People will only put effort in if they expect rewards as a consequence, so the goal of Environmentalism should be to educate people on the rewards they will receive from supporting these policies, as opposed to trying to scare people into Environmentalism with doomsday predictions and threats.
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      Jun 4 2012: I agree that violence will usually turn the public off on the movement and distract the public from the real issue at hand. With the internet, education campaigns can spread much more quickly than ever before; from videos on Youtube, to conversations in forums and other social media sites, there are many ways the public can become informed on a vital environmental issue.
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    May 31 2012: Hi Amanda,
    This is a very good topic , as you rightly pointed out , protests has to be done in a peaceful manner . Awareness , spreads like a wild fire among people. The more people are aware of the current environmental situations,more environmental concerns get addressed in a very quick way .

    So obviously ,extremist tactics push environmentalism backwards.

    • May 31 2012: I agree that extremists push environmentalism backwards for the most part. In a way voices need to be heard (at times extremists are the only ones to step up to the plate). However, it is apparent that most people are turned off by the extremists fighting the battle than jump on board to share the battle.
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        May 31 2012: Hi Molly,
        Like I mentioned , we must use peaceful means first to resolve an issue. If that doesn't work , then we must protest peacefully again and again till the solution is resolved.

        Through Peaceful protest,we gain respect from the opposition and it ll really make them think about the issue at hand.

        Whereas .Extremist behaviour leads to hostility among parties and it will spoil relationships between or among the concerned parties.

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        May 31 2012: Hey Molly,

        Do you think that extremist are the only ones stepping up to the plate, or are their actions the only ones that are widely publicized due to the outcomes of their actions? Is there a way for both voices to be heard as well as encourage others to join the fight using less extreme tactics?
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    May 31 2012: People can not relat to extreme behaviour. In fact it almost always caters to the opposition because they capitalize on it to point out how impossible or how far from the middle of the road these tactics are implying that the heart and mind really belongs in their camp. What a victory! They never have share their crazy position, it is never up for consideration as they simply reap followers who run far and fast from the extremists to keep their impressions of themselves viable.
  • May 31 2012: hi
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    May 31 2012: The use of violent and destructive actions contradicts the very idea of environmental conservation.
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    May 31 2012: Terrorism is a cowardly way to push your views onto someone else through violence. Problems rarely, if at all are solved this way and it doesn't set the right example for how to deal with tough situations. The only positive way to more forward is to convince everyone that change is needed, allowing them to make their own decisions because they view it as the right thing to do. No matter how bad something might be, if you force me to change I'll resist. So it is clear to me that a bombing will only create more tension and hatred for the other party. When peaceful tactics are used, each side is respected and ultimately whatever the people want is the way things will go. This is demonstrated in Japan with whale meat sales.
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      May 31 2012: I agree with your point that when you force someone into something they are more likely to resist. For example I have no problem cleaning my house but when my roommate tries to force me to clean I automatically don't want to do it. There are much better ways of handling things than force. Legislation without consequences built in is often enough to keep people from doing something that is harmful.
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    May 31 2012: I think extremist tactics are often what drives many of the negative views on certain advocate groups like environmentalists. And if they don't already, they certainly will, if we begin more extreme approaches to get what we want done. I also think that in regards to making political changes such as environmental progress, violence almost never works.

    Extreme acts like the examples Amanda points out are reasons that the government or policy makers would not want to consider the extreme environmentalists' wants. As a parent, you don't give your child what they want if they are screaming and crying about not getting it. If you do, it sets a precedent that that kind of behavior is what needs to be done to get what they want. And as children, we learned that that is not how you get things that you want or feel strongly about. Extreme and violent actions, even if they are done for a good cause makes the people doing them look like whiny children.
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      Jun 1 2012: I totally agree with your views on extreme tactics. I understand that people get frustrated and this drives some to try and capture the attention of the public in extreme ways, but this is very similar to a temper tantrum. I think that to get respect in the community and to face this issue in a fitting manner, more reasonable approaches must be taken.
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    May 31 2012: In a 2005 article in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, Brendon Larson addresses militaristic language in the context of invasive species. He argues that militaristic metaphors about invasive species are detrimental to conservation efforts for three reasons: they inaccurately portray invasive species, they create public misunderstanding and diminish scientific credibility, and they promote a militaristic mindset which contradicts the goals of conversation.

    I would definitely agree with all three points. The first two points are the most significant, in my opinion, because they outline how much extremists can jeopardize conservation efforts by misconstruing them. It reminds me of how “green washing” of so many consumer goods has somewhat taken credibility away from those who try to live as sustainably as possible. I wonder what other people's thoughts are on Larson's ideas.

    I believe the article can be openly accesses at the following address if anyone is interested.
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      May 31 2012: Drew
      This is a great connection! I agree with you that the last two points are significant in regards to the topic of eco-terrorism. I think that the first point can also be applied to eco-terrorism, in the way that these extreme acts have the potential to inaccurately portray environmental activism efforts
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      Jun 1 2012: I read that article a while back for another class, and I remember thinking how similar the invasive species "war" is with the war on drugs, at least as far as the language component. People come into the situation believing that the "battle" can be won, when in reality it is an ongoing and constantly shifting problem that will probably always exist in some capacity or another.
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    May 31 2012: Well first off, I feel like I have to make some corrections to the comments about the show, "Whale Wars." I don't recall them ever using bombs on any Japanese whaling ship. The tactics I do see them using are splattering the side of the whaling ships with red paint, throwing stink bombs at them, using prop foulers to slow down the movement of the ships, etc. In my opinion, they are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum ranging from peaceful negotiations to violent, lethal tactics. Getting back to the original debate, I do not believe violent protest is the answer. Just look at all the things that have been accomplished in this country by peaceful protest, like the Civil Rights Movement (which was mostly peaceful protest).
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      May 31 2012: Andrew
      Do you think these "middle of the spectrum" extremist tactics are more effective than some other tactics that may be on the more violent end of extremist environmentalism?
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        May 31 2012: In my opinion, yes. The less violent a protest/action you take against something, the smaller chance you have for backlash from those you protest against as well as those that would have supported you had you gone about the situation in a more peaceful manner. I understand why the people featured on that show do what they do, though. They're so passionate about something, and feel that their government and other organizations aren't doing enough to help. They just want to make a difference, I'm sure...
        What do you think?
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    May 31 2012: Backwards!!!
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    May 31 2012: extreme tactics can only result in forward progress if the so called tactics are civil. Killing and extreme violence wont result in positive progress.
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      May 31 2012: Even if the actions are not violent, do you not think that "civil" extremism is a productive means of manifesting change? Personally, I think extremists (peaceful and otherwise) give environmental science and stewardship a bad reputation. I equate it to having someone yell their opinions to an audience in an attept at pursuasion, which is often followed with the covering of one's ears. People tend to not want to listen to extremists, and for that reason, I think forward progess in this manner is rare.
      • May 31 2012: Drew, you have a really good point about giving associated organizations/causes/and activists a bad reputation. I have struggled with my opinion on the most effective means of any kind of activism are. Clearly there needs to be a balance between actively pressing, educating and fighting for an issue and not appearing too aggressive. Some individuals of whom I have tried to worked with led me to not want to partake in some environmental acts because of their anger towards the opposite side. It is sad to say that the reason in which these extremist people are the way they are is because they are passionate about what they are fighting for. It disappoints me that passion has turned into extreme polar anger. I think that it is important for all people to place themselves in the opposing sides' shoes (extremist or not). This is, in my opinion, the most effective way people can find that fine line between extreme and effective.
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    May 30 2012: No no no. Extremism never works.

    Think of every extremist organization which you hear about everyday. Al Qaeda, Black Hand, KKK, Black Panthers, Nazi's, Bolsheviks, and more are all spawned by and motivated by an ideal. But they kill and destroy to reach a desired effect which is fear and submission.

    If you want to make a difference use common sense and statistics. Use Love and Understanding. Don't add more violence to the world. We have enough as it is.
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      May 31 2012: First of all, every group you referred to wanted another group of individuals killed. Of course their method was detrimental to the world because their goal was detrimental to the world. Eco-terrorism uses small acts of violence to mitigate the damages to the world. The ideal is still that the ends justify the means which is a discussion I'll let consequentialist and deontologicalists hash out.

      As per the topid on hand, I wouldn't say it never works. Extremist acts at least raise awareness which can then further power the movement through the media. I personally didn't know much about whaling until "Whale Wars" came out. I didn't know about chicken farms until PETA started protesting KFC. I didn't know about animal testing until Rodney Coronado fire-bombed a laboratory at Michigan State University. In the short term they are a fantastic method for at least informing the greater public of the issue at hand, but in the long run, I agree it does more harm than good.
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        May 31 2012: I am glad that you see that in the long run extremist acts are detrimental but I must point out that each group which I named started as a small organization.

        "Eco-terrorism uses small acts of violence to mitigate the damages to the world." I would guess that a small act of violence which affected you would not be so small?

        Extremist acts have hurt the cause to a point in which ordinary people (potential activists/advocates) become disgusted by the violent acts and dissociate themselves from the cause.

        To suggest an alternative I would recommend documentaries to inform the public as they are quite effective, one documentary on Netflix which outlines problems, solutions, and travesties will reach millions.
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          Jun 1 2012: Documentaries would help, but that means I have to have access to the documentary, be informed of the issue, and have the time to watch it. I watch the news, and it is brought to me. Extremist acts bring my attention to the issue, and even if I believe what they are doing is wrong, it persuades me to investigate the issue. Right now there is an issue with shark finning, but I'm more inclined to go view MIB 3 than a documentary on it, purely because shark finning and the thousand other environmental tragedies is a back burner issue for me. If some extremist goes and blows up some shark finning vessels and the media brings that to my attention, I will be more inclined to explore that issue because someone is crazy enough to commit a violent act to stop it. If someone is that passionate about stopping shark finning, then it must be a huge issue. From there I can assess the situation and then make a difference. Extremist acts give us that glimpse of the issue and draw our attention, from there we can handle it ourselves. Extremism gives us that jump start.
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        May 31 2012: I agree that certain extremist acts can bring more awareness to an issue. However, do you think that sometimes extremist acts are glorified by the publicity they receive? Is there a better way to bring about awareness without highlighting the acts of eco-terrorist groups?
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          May 31 2012: I would take the route that the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation has taken. They use the pink ribbon as a symbol and they spread it using events, TV ads, and even football. Gallup revealed in a wide study of Americans that everyone cares about the environment, Republicans and Democrats. We all live on Earth and we all love animals. I am doing my best to raise awareness through my newspaper but I have found in my interaction that PETA is a bit of a joke due to their paint and makeup activism; especially since the lipstick covered rabbits photo was revealed as a fake.

          Statistics with photos change the world but they must be devoid of emotion upon delivery. I have found that a "matter of fact" approach w/o anger is the most effective.
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          May 31 2012: I agree with Adam's previous idea for documentary film as a device for spreading awareness. In my experience, film is a powerful tool, and one which can captivate and motivate millions of people if done effectively.

          I would aso suggest that there needs to be more public forums for environmental discussion. It would be great is more scientists held public seminars where they could share their knowledge and research with the general public. Not only would this spread awareness, but I believe it could inspire new generations to seek careers in the environmental sciences.
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        Jun 5 2012: I agree, Rishi. Extremism ultimately is more harmful than beneficial, but it is a very clear way to make an unaware public notice a problem. Although I don't advocate for fire bombing animal facilities or laboratories that use animals in their research (as I'm sure you don't, either), this genre of techniques tend to get a lot of publicity and media attention. Without providing a spotlight to a problem, it is difficult to make people take a stance on something.

        Documentaries would be a good tool to get around extremism, but the people who usually watch documentaries tend to be people who decide for themselves that something seems interesting to learn about and then they dive into the subject matter. Since this small group of self-selected individuals does not even approach the majority of society, relying on documentaries to provide public awareness is simply not effective enough. Additionally, for documentaries to be an effective mode of delivering information, a majority of people who need knowledge of and access to the film, which is no simple feat.

        Ultimately, extremism is dangerous and destructive, but sends a message and heightens awareness, which is something that other mediums have a difficulty accomplishing.
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    May 30 2012: The simple answer to this question is: Yes, extreme tactics by eco-terrorists can be very useful to incite positive environmental change. For instance, if they bombed every whaling ship, there would be no more whale hunting. Simple right?

    But, do the ends justify the means? Can two wrongs make a right? Cliches aside, ultimately it is more important to go about improving the outlook of the environment using peaceful, insightful, and cooperative methods. Bombing high-polluting factories would not change the mindset of those polluting. Factories would be rebuilt and the cycle continues. I think for real change to occur, profitable alternatives to current environmentally destructive practices will have to be developed.
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      May 30 2012: I definitely agree that there can be changes at a cost. The reason why "Whale Wars" has gained so much attention is because of the extreme activities of the crew members. This garners attention and, while it may not necessarily shed a positive light on them I feel like it at least has broadened the audience that knows more about the whaling industry. The issue here I believe is more cultural however. How can we create a cultural shift to where people won't hunt endangered species like some of the whales seen on the show? Also, how might our culture come to allow the harvest of sustainable mammal populations without encountering significant extremist intervention?
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    May 30 2012: Extremist are definitely not helping at all. All they do is give there group and other ecowise groups bad reputation due to there brash actions. I fully understand that Greenpeace is working and doing there best and change never comes quickly that is the nature of politics unfortunately. As had as it is to sit and watch nothing happen it is important to fix these crimes against nature the right way and not make things worse.