November 17, 2014
Many of us have seen the shocking footage on the weekend of Spanish naval speedboats ramming two Greenpeace boats attempting to attack an off-shore oil rig and injuring a very young Greenpeace volunteer. “Thugs, bullies, fascists! They could have killed someone”. These are claims echoing around social media this weekend, and the Risk-Monger agrees, except, he is directing these charges at Greenpeace.
Greenpeace is no longer an environmental organisation (their campaigns do more harm than good to the planet and human health and they avoid real environmental issues). Rather, they have become a PR firm in a green marketplace where the narrative is hotted up on key push-button issues every November-December (donation season). So this November, as is the trend, Greenpeace needed to make some shocking news in order to meet their annual year-end fundraising objectives. But it is getting harder for Greenpeace to generate stories in a short-attention-span social media world so they need to push the envelope, be more extreme, document the footage of their volunteers getting beaten up and then press the rage-button across their PR networks. Last year, they got 30 naïve volunteers thrown in a Russian jail through the Christmas giving season. This year, to get into the news, they got one of their volunteers injured. Next year someone might be killed. For what? All in a vain attempt to elevate their PR and combat their rising donor fatigue. The Risk-Monger finds this behaviour outrageous.
Ignored Fair Warning
Looking at their cleverly edited video montage, you can see that Greenpeace’s intent was not, as they claimed, a peaceful protest. The naval authorities gave them fair warning to stay away by side-swiping one of the boats more than 400m from the installation – letting Greenpeace know they were intent on enforcing the law. The film was cut until they arrived at the ship, but we can assume somewhere between 400m and their arrival at the ship base that further warnings had been given that the consequences of continuing would be severe. In other words, if Greenpeace had intended to only launch a peaceful protest, they should have known better and turned around after that initial warning. I suspect the Greenpeace crew were under instructions to let the authorities “knock the piss” out of their volunteers (in front of Greenpeace film crews on each boat) – a PR stunt that went badly wrong and resulted in the injury of one of the Greenpeace volunteers – breaking the leg of a 23-year-old woman (hardly a seasoned, trained activist for such an operation). Fortunately no one died, but I fear it is only a matter of time as Greenpeace continues to escalate the audacity of their attacks, with younger and younger volunteers.
Knowing how PR and crisis communications machines work, I expect that Greenpeace has stand-by statements ready should volunteers be killed, “martyring” them and launching fundraising campaigns to set up memorials in their honour. I am sure they would deflect responsibility for any loss of life by attempting to transfer liability onto the targets of their attacks (furthering their campaigns on the outrage over the tragic loss of life). Last year, when their attack on a Gazprom oil installation went horribly wrong and 30 naïve campaigners found themselves languishing in a Siberian jail for piracy, Greenpeace management did not take responsibility for this folly, nor did they apologise to the parents of these young people, but rather upped their PR rhetoric, using stories of the “Arctic 30 heroes” against Gazprom. The jihadist-style video vignettes of each of the Arctic 30 campaigners (filmed before the attack) implied that the Greenpeace management were prepared to see these innocents arrested or killed. They got a good four months of easy PR from their Free-the-Arctic 30 campaign.
Encouraging Young Eco-warrior Heroes
Greenpeace is behaving in a reckless and irresponsible manner by putting innocent, young volunteers into harm’s way. They encourage these followers to strive to be heroes for Planet Earth and to fight to save the environment – their guru, Saint Kumi, stated he is prepared to die for the planet. They even created a Greenpeace superhero for young people to emulate when fighting to save the world. These young, innocent, but highly motivated volunteers, whether they have clipboards on street corners or fastened to speedboats preparing for acts of piracy, are quite naïve and surely not aware of how they are being used by the Greenpeace PR machine.
Almost 100 Million in Fundraising Expenditures (35% of total revenue)
The fundraising is getting harder for the group as it tries to continually grow the organisation. According to the 2013 Greenpeace Annual Report, the group had to raise its fundraising expenditure by 9% against 2012 figures (see page 40), now pushing its fundraising budget to almost €100,000,000 or 35% of Greenpeace’s total income. They need to work a lot harder and generate bigger PR return for every euro they receive (or should I say, for every €0.65 available to use after fundraising costs are deducted). This is enormous – if you factor in fixed costs, only around half of every euro donated to Greenpeace goes to their campaigns (then again, as Greenpeace does not plant trees, clean up beaches or help in soil remediation, zero actually goes to conserving the environment).
No Commitment to an Ethical Code of Conduct
Putting their volunteers’ lives at risk for flash PR stunts is unethical. The Risk-Monger has been calling on Greenpeace and other NGOs to adopt ethical codes of conduct for their employees and volunteers (like most governments, universities, religious organisations and companies). This would involve obeying the law, not lying, not putting lives of volunteers at risk and being accountable when the consequences of their lobbying results in large-scale loss of life. It is not going to happen because Greenpeace prefers to operate like modern-day pirates (a word used more and more frequently in connection with the group’s activities) answering to what it believes is a higher call.
At least pirates have a code of honour.