Greenpeace co-founder and its first President Bob Hunter died yesterday aged 63 following a battle with prostate cancer.
Hunter was a journalist by training. He wanted to stop whaling and nuclear testing and in many ways succeeded with his brand new environment group Greenpeace where others had failed.
He wanted to “affect the attitude of millions”. He approached the issues from the perspective of a media war and unashamedly used propaganda.
In an insightful review of Greenpeace’s early years, Fred Pearce has written “Greenpeace was far from being the first green group to oppose whaling. But it was the first green group to ignore the scientific arguments about whale reproduction rates, population dynamics, and how large a sustainable cull might be, in favour of an undiluted ethical argument: save the whale.”
The media war was effectively reduced to the simple issue of whether or not “whales are good”.
On the issue of nuclear testing Hunter admitted “we painted a rather extravagant picture .. tidal waves, earthquakes, radioactive death clouds, decimated fisheries, deformed babies. We never said that’s what would happen, only that it could happen”.
I have previously written about attending People for Nuclear Disarmament rallies in the early 1980s. It is for relentlessly pursuing the French and their nuclear testing program in the Pacific that I would like to thank Bob Hunter.
Messages of condolence are being posted at an online BBC site.