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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: 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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