50 Years of Change

Release date: September 2021

Author(s): Alexey Drozdovskiy

Language: English

Project website

Make it a green peace!” was first uttered, in Vancouver, 1970. A humble retort to the standard hippie “Peace!” salute of the time. It marked the close of the meeting of the Don’t Make a Wave Committee, where it had just been agreed to send a boat to Amchitka to confront US nuclear weapons testing. They did not have a boat, the funds to buy one or the skills to sail it even if they had!

A year later, on September 15, 1971, the Phyllis Cormack, bearing the banner Greenpeace across its bridge, left Vancouver bound for Amchitka determined to “confront the bomb”. It was still doubtful if the funds would last or if the skills would be sufficient.

The “Greenpeace” never arrived and on 6 November an underground atomic bomb was exploded, rupturing the island, opening fissures and pushing deadly radiation into the surrounding environment.

The first of many “mindbombs” – an idea so powerful that it changes mindsets – had also exploded in the collective consciousness. The crew’s courage and powerful storytelling ignited mass opposition to future tests and the all powerful US Atomic Energy Commission reluctantly declared it would abandon the Amchitka site “for political and other reasons”. A stunning victory for daring to care and caring to dare!

50 Years of Change

That initial fusing of peace and ecology – Greenpeace – had a percussive effect, growing to encompass countless campaigns for a safer, fairer, future. Greenpeace organisations can now be found in 57 countries, and counting, with thousands of staff, tens of thousands of volunteers and many tens of millions of supporters.

All are bound by a common mission and values to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity. We take personal responsibility and act peacefully. We are independent of those we seek to change, taking no money from governments or corporations. We seek to promote solutions to the problems we oppose and expose.

Over fifty years – on all continents and oceans – together we have spoken truth to power, borne witness, stopped, blocked and placed our bodies in the way of environmental destruction. We have investigated and documented ecological contamination and crime. We have conducted scientific studies, litigated and lobbied. We have tried, failed and tried again. We have also succeeded!

As we commemorate, and celebrate, 50 years since the Greenpeace set sail, we are painfully aware of the gathering storm wrought by inequity, greed and corruption, of accelerating habitat destruction and the deepening climate emergency. We look to the past for learnings on how to face the future. We celebrate the passion and commitment of all who make Greenpeace possible.

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