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Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 25.04.2017 13:46:50
  • Priorities? Global military spending just hit US$1.6 trillion

    Military spending worldwide is going up.

    2016 has seen governments around the world spend US$1.686 trillion on their militaries according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Spending has grown in the USA and Europe.   

    This is an increase of 0.4% compared to 2015, but is also the beginning of a dangerous upward trend. Increases are expected to continue over the coming years. US President Trump already announced a 9% increase for the 2018 US military budget. China has also announced a 7% increase in 2017. European countries budgets are already increasing and are set to go even further in the coming years. 

    Some politicians and those who are in the business of war (manufacturing and selling weapons) say this is necessary. After all, look at the world we live in! It’s a dangerous world out there, they say. And to be sure, global instability is on the rise, nuclear war has become thinkable again, and millions still suffer the burden of war and conflict on a daily basis.  

    But to suggest increasing what we spend on weapons has anything to do with making us safe is wrong and misleading on many levels.

    It is hardly the lack of military hardware that is making our world a dangerous place - quite the contrary. Military spending worldwide is already huge, especially when compared with other forms of government spending. The US spends more than three times as much on weapons than China, which is the second biggest spender. This  massive spending has not led to peace.

    Peace Fleet protest against the presence of the nuclear warship USS MIDWAY in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1991.Peace Fleet protest in 1991 against the presence of the nuclear warship USS MIDWAY in Yokosuka, Japan.

    Real security does not come from tanks and bombs. Real security is human security. Improving quality of life, lifting people out of poverty, investing in health and education and crucially, protecting the environment that sustains us - those are the policies that deliver security. It's widely acknowledged, including by militaries around the world, that climate change already impacts millions around the world and poses an increased risk to global security –  even creating an environment where terrorism can thrive according to a new report

    And yet the amounts spent on supporting human security is ridiculously low when compared with the amount spent on waging wars. The average taxpayer in the United States paid US$14,051 in federal income taxes in 2016. Of that US$3,290.02 went to the military.  An average taxpayer paid US$91 per year for nuclear weapons, US$170 to Lockheed Martin and only US$10 for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    Surely, it’s time for new priorities.

    Greenpeace activists from Belgium climb over the perimeter fence of the air force base in Kleine Brogel to protest against the presence of US nuclear weapons stored at the site.

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children” -  President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    Politicians worldwide have been ramping up military rhetoric. They think war, or the threat of one, can help them in the polls. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book which both dictators and democratically elected leaders use to sway public opinion.

    It's happening now. “We got to start winning wars again,” said President Trump about his drive to increase the US’s military budget. But there are no winners in war, only losers. And they come at a huge cost: financial, but more crucially, human lives, broken societies and economies, and wrecked environments. The only winners are those who are in the business of war. If you’re a military contractor, war means business, and right now, business is good.

    It is time to #Movethemoney away from warplanes, guns and bombs. #Movethemoney to education, healthcare and the exponentially growing renewable energy sector which provides energy, jobs and peace. #Movethemoney to diplomacy and development, rather than the current action-reaction cycle approach to foreign policy.

    Instead of ‘winning wars’, we must start building peace. It's time we get our priorities right.

    Check out and follow the Global Campaign on Military Spending for more.

    Jen Maman is the Senior Peace Advisor with Greenpeace International

  • We can change the world with a fashion revolution

    100 billion garments are manufactured every year. Fast fashion companies like H&M, Zara, Primark and Uniqlo have helped double worldwide clothing production in the last 15 years. New collections hit stores every week. We’re wearing clothes for half the time we used to and throw them away much faster, adding to the billions of waste clothes that already rot in landfills.  

    The consequence: we don’t value our clothes anymore. As prices plummet, more of us can afford to buy new clothes without a second thought. Even though many people admit that they already own too much, we also confess that we keep buying new clothes, according to surveys conducted in Europe and Asia.

    Clothes shopping is no longer something that we really need to do. Instead, it’s a way we deal with stress, gain confidence and find self worth, connection and happiness — however short-lived. This is the dangerous addiction of fast-fashion.

    Loved clothes last

    We can break this spiral of over-consumption if we rethink our relationships to the clothes we already own. Happiness and confidence doesn’t have to come from buying more and more. We can enjoy finding new creative and stylish ways to dress ourselves — and actually have more fun with it when we don’t support a system that is exploiting people and nature. We can rediscover the true nature of fashion.

    Fashion Revolution

    This week, people around the globe are showcasing practical ways how we can create a more sustainable fashion future. As part of the Fashion Revolution, some are teaching sewing and  upcycling; others will help you repair and mend your clothes, or swap old outfits for new with people from your community. Fashion lovers are sharing how they buy and sell their clothes at flea-markets and secondhand stores.

    These are the Haulternatives we can all choose from right now. Check out the event schedule and see what’s going on near you — or organise your own.

    Join the Haulternative challenge

    If you are a fashion lover, take part in the Haulternative challenge to try out ways to make the most of what we already have. Or use the alternative fashion map to flag and find second-hand and vintage shops, DIY and craft spaces, repair shops, flea markets and clothes swapping parties near you.

    You can also share a love story of your favourite clothing piece with the world to inspire others to love their own clothes longer.

    Fashion Revolution Infographic

    When you keep your clothes longer, doubling their life from one to two years, you reduce their carbon emissions by 24%. By being more conscious about our clothes, we can save not just money, but precious water and raw materials. We can help keep chemicals and pesticides from harming rivers, soil and wildlife, and cut our use of fossil fuels. Together we can reduce the textile industry’s burden on the planet.  

    Join the Fashion Revolution!

    Lu Yen Roloff leads communications for the global Detox My Fashion campaign at Greenpeace Germany.

  • Piece by piece, Brazil is tearing up protections for the Amazon

    From the rotten meat scandal, to the ongoing corruption investigations, it’s hard to find any uplifting news from Brazil. The country is not only going through an economic crisis, but also a political one that’s shaking the foundation of its democracy.

    Meanwhile, the Amazon rainforest is being torn apart. Last week, politicians with deep ties to agribusiness pushed through two proposals that would reduce the protection of 1.1 million hectares of the Amazon — an area bigger than all of Jamaica. By recategorizing these areas (known as Conservation Units), agribusiness, mining and energy industries would be more able to destroy the forest, as some levels of protections are less restricted to economical activities than others.

    Manicoré district, Amazonas state. Recent deforestation in Santo Antonio de Matupi district, next to the Aripuanã National Forest and the Area of Environmental Protection of Manicoré Fields. 19 Feb, 2017  © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

    These proposals are not alone. They are part of what is being called “the package of evil” in Brazil — a set of bills aiming to slash social rights and environmental policies across the whole country. This package also includes an attack on other Amazon protected areas — a proposal that would completely remove one Conservation Unit from the Amazon and reduce four others by 40% only in the state of Amazonas. These changes would benefit landowners and corporations — not the Brazilian public.

    Unfortunately, amidst political turbulence in the country — including the most recent corruption scandal involving almost one third of the Senate, ministers and 39 members of Congress — these latest attacks on the Amazon rainforest have barely made the news.

    This is a crucial moment in history. We are already facing catastrophic climate disruption, and deforestation is the Amazon is on the rise again. By trying to strip the Amazon of vital protections, Brazil is both harming the forest and the communities who live there, and impacting our chance to create a stable climate.

    Aripuanã National Forest, Novo Aripuanã Amazonas state in the Brazilian Amazon. Recent deforestation. 19 Feb, 2017  © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

    Share this story and shine a light on this greedy political maneuver. Now is the time for Brazil to act in defense of the forest and the climate — not assist in their destruction.

    Diego Gonzaga is a Content Editor at Greenpeace USA.

  • Why are women more impacted by climate change?

    Women are more likely to feel the impacts of climate change. This is a fact.

    As a woman and environmental activist living in the Arab World, I often find myself focused on peace building, development, corruption and human security. I’ve realised that we won't succeed in making a positive change on any of these issues if we don’t prioritise women. 

    Ghalia Fayad, Arab World Programme Leader Greenpeace Mediterranean, aboard the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, during The Sun Unites Us tour promoting solar power in the Arab world.  © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / GreenpeaceGhalia Fayad, speaking on board the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior. 4 November, 2016

    In my work, I’ve seen how women in developing countries are treated differently. We face huge inequality when it comes to job opportunities and education, as well as facing socio-cultural difficulties with basic things, like travelling alone and legal custody over our children.

    A recent study revealed that by 2050 the number of people fleeing the impacts of climate change could reach 150 million. 80% of these climate refugees will be women and children. Women who live in rural areas and in the global South - places like Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as the Arab region - will be the hardest hit by drought, famine and extreme weather.

    Here are some of the reasons behind this disparity:

    1. Women in developing countries tend to spend more time on domestic labour, giving them less time for schooling or paid work. This means that they have less access than men to the land, money, and technology that would improve their chances to adapt to climate change.

    2. Five times more women die from natural disasters than men. Cultural constraints on women’s mobility hurt their ability to escape in time. Their lack of assets puts women at a financial disadvantage and make them more vulnerable to disasters. In the aftermath, women are placed in unsafe, crowded shelters, where they face sexual harassment, mental torture, verbal abuse, and domestic violence.

    3. Increased droughts and desertification are at the heart of the food security challenge due to reduced harvests and the loss of income this brings. While this affects entire communities, women in rural areas represent 45-80% of the agricultural workforce and are worse off when droughts strike.

    As the energy ministers of the powerful G7 club of industrialised countries gather, Greenpeace Italy activists greet them with a giant thermometer, urging them to further speed up the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and to reject the US administration’s attempted roll back on climate action.  © Francesco Alesi / Greenpeace
    Activist protests at G7 meeting in Rome. 10 April, 2017

    While it might sound like women are victims in this crisis, around the world, women are becoming positive agents of change too.

    Despite the fact that we are often underrepresented in drafting policy and strategies to tackle the causes and impacts of climate change, many women are taking action to protect the environment, their families and livelihoods. Women are often most connected to their communities and family and have a huge, unique potential to contribute to create real and lasting change, even on a small scale.  

    On International Women’s Day this year, we helped a hard-working women’s co-operative to shift to solar energy. They freed themselves from relying on expensive, dirty energy and the chronic electricity shortages that came from their old diesel generator. The benefits of solar energy meant they increased their business’s productivity, allowing them to think about expanding further and setting up new food production outlets.

    Most importantly for these women, steady productivity now means increased family time, and that has no price.

    Thanks to the incredible efforts of a local women’s club, the remote village of Irig N'Tahala, in Morocco's southern Tiznit province, now has a decentralised intelligent solar energy network with digital distribution. It has given Tahala’s residents a surge in power and confidence by providing them with clean, free energy.

    Documentation of a solar energy project in the remote southern village of Tahala, Souss-Massa-Drâa region, Morocco.  © Zakaria Wakrim / GreenpeaceInstalled solar panels on roof in Irig N'Tahala. 11 November, 2016

    Every woman has a role in helping the world Break Free from fossil fuels and shift to a renewable energy future. By supporting local activism and sharing women's stories, wherever we are, we can help put pressure on governments to support developing nations and grassroots organisations with climate mitigation. We can help the women most at risk to adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change. Because we must.

    Ghalia Fayad is the Greenpeace Mediterranean Arab World Programme Leader. This blog post is adapted from a talk given at the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) that was held in London on March 22nd

  • Pesticides are not needed to feed the world, UN says

    “Pesticides, which have been aggressively promoted, are a global human rights concern, and their use can have very detrimental consequences on the enjoyment of the right to food.”

    This is the catchy introduction of the new report published recently by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver.

    As of End-2017, 3 Agro-companies Will Dominate the Global Agro-system. 21 Feb, 2017 © Mitja Kobal / Greenpeace

    Further shocking details are revealed throughout the report. Examples such as “pesticides are responsible for an estimated 200.000 acute poisoning deaths each year, 99% of which occur in developing countries”. As the report also states, this has to do with double standards, because many of the hazardous pesticides banned in Western countries are still allowed to be used in other parts of the world. If a pesticide is considered toxic, it should be considered toxic everywhere, regardless of country or continent. Due to these double standards, corporations benefit from the different legislations because if their products are banned in one country, they can continue to sell them in other markets.

    Systemic denial and unethical marketing tactics

    The report also strongly criticises large corporations in the sector, accusing them of "systematic denial [...] of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals, and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics remain unchallenged.”

    “The pesticide industry’s efforts to influence policymakers and regulators have obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions globally.”

    “Industry has also sought to dissuade Governments from restricting pesticide use to save pollinators.”

    This demonstrates the lengths to which corporations are willing to go to ensure business. Drawing conclusions from this report illustrates that business as usual is not an option and the influence corporations have over governments has to end immediately.

    More and More Glyphosate is Being Deployed in Austria. 21 Feb 2017. © Mitja Kobal / Greenpeace

    The neverending PR myth of “we need pesticides to feed the world”

    The current system of industrial agriculture is supported by  numerous myths and they are debunked in this UN report. One of the fundamental myth is that pesticides are needed to feed the world, which was created with the ”Green Revolution” that  empowered and enriched a handful of  corporations in the world. This system was able to increase yields but at least one third of all food produced  in the world, goes straight to waste, while 800 million people are still hungry. This system cannot guarantee food security in the long run as it doesn't rest on sound, ecological, sustainable, farming practices. Industrial agriculture is  one of the root causes of climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution, inequality, injustice and depopulation of  rural environments.

    Agroecology as the only solution

    There is however, good news. Solutions already exist and are emerging strongly in every corner of the planet. One solution the report concludes is agroecology, but also other world experts in agrosystems, food security and nutrition.

    We now have enough evidence about the damages industrial agriculture does to the environment, our health and to human rights. The report from the Special Rapporteur ends with 25 clear recommendations, to create a better future and abandon the path that is leading us to a dead end. At a global level it recommends to develop a “comprehensive, binding treaty to regulate hazardous pesticides throughout their life cycle” where the promotion of agroecology must be one of the priorities. At a national level it recommends to “initiate binding and measurable reduction targets with time limits” and it concludes  with a clear recommendation to civil society: “Civil society should inform the general public about adverse impact of pesticides on human health and environmental damage, as well as organizing training programmes on agroecology”.

    Politicians must act now and it’s up to all of us to hold them accountable to ensure they take responsibility.

    Luís Ferreirim is an ecological farming campaigner at Greenpeace Spain



  • Hungary and the freedom I stand for

    In the winter of 2017, I received a call from a colleague about a small community in the Hungarian countryside, far from the busy streets of Budapest, that needed help. A Lutheran organisation had just launched a project with disabled adults, providing employment for a group of people who have very few opportunities in Hungary. We decided to join forces.

    70,000 people took to the streets in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, to protest against new laws targeting independent academia and civil society organisations. April 9, 2017  © Bence Jardany / GreenpeaceProtest against new laws targeting academia and NGOs. April 9, 2017

    Together with Greenpeace Hungary, the group is now planning an accessible ecological garden in the grounds of the centre, and starting to connect with the amazing network of organic farmers we’ve built across the country. Our supporters will help provide organic plants and materials needed to make the garden thrive. Soon there will be more than 100 people with disabilities working at the centre, growing organic food, and spreading the word about sustainable agriculture all around the countryside.

    This is the Hungary that I love and I am proud of — ambitious and inclusive. I want all children to grow up in a society where they have the courage to take action and speak out for what they believe in. This is what I strive for. Every day, civil society organisations large and small work hard to make this country a safer, cleaner, more economically vibrant place. But all this is in danger, if the current government has its way.

    70,000 people took to the streets in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, to protest against new laws targeting independent academia and civil society organisations. April 9, 2017  © Dorgo Zsuzsi / Greenpeace70,000 people march in Budapest, Hungary. April 9, 2017

    A new law has been introduced in Parliament that threatens to discredit, intimidate and undermine non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) ability to speak up for our rights and the air, water, food and nature we depend on. The law would label any group receiving a certain amount of funding from people outside of Hungary as a ‘foreign agent’ and potentially link them to money launderers — or terrorists.

    This attempt to stigmatise NGOs would come with additional and entirely unnecessary administrative burdens: we are already fully transparent with our finances and their sources. But such a stigmatising law could silence hundreds of credible organisations and mislead hundreds of thousands of people we serve.

    70,000 people took to the streets in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, to protest against new laws targeting independent academia and civil society organisations. April 9, 2017  © Bence Jardany / GreenpeaceProtestors in Budapest. April 9, 2017

    If you’re a Greenpeace supporter, you know we’re willing to challenge governments or corporations when they endanger our air, water and soil. Speaking out on things that matter is a vital part of living in a free society. Standing up for the environment and for vulnerable people is a big part of what we bring to the communities we work with around the world, and a big reason that millions of people support our work financially. But the Hungarian government is signaling that it wants to weaken certain civil society organisations who work for the well-being of people and the planet.

    Katalin Rodics, a lifelong campaigner and grandmother of five, speaks at a protest against new laws targeting independent academia and civil society organisations. Budapest, Hungary, April 9, 2017 © László Mudra / GreenpeaceKatalin Rodics addresses the crowd. Budapest, April 9, 2017

    Today, more than seventy thousand people are gathered in front of the Parliament to defend our right to speak and think freely, and to support our communities without fear, intimidation, or suspicion. Among us are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, students, teachers, activists — a diverse group, from all walks of life.

    As I’m invited on stage to speak, I feel humbled, and more determined than ever: we will never back down from defending our universities, our organisations, and our free society. Together we stand for a greener, more peaceful world. And around the world, people stand with us.

    70,000 people took to the streets in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, to protest against new laws targeting independent academia and civil society organisations. April 9, 2017  © Dorgo Zsuzsi / GreenpeaceBudapest, Hungary. April 9, 2017 

    Katalin Rodics is an agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace Hungary. A mother of three and grandmother of five, she has worked more than 40 years for a clean healthy planet where all children can grow up safely.

  • Oh Gaia! I’m a Taoist!

    I am teaching a Chinese history class for local students, introducing them to Taoist literature — Tao Te Ching, Zhuangzi, Taiping jing — and I realized: I’m a Taoist at heart. In my twenties, I learned many of my fundamental beliefs from reading Lao Tsu.

    Now, decades later, I believe the Taoist teachings help me avoid feeling depressed about the state of the world. Taoists trust the natural process of things. Taoism and modern deep ecology share a perspective about the world, how life works, what is important, and what constitutes effective action. 

    The “Lao Tzu” or “Tao Te Ching” (道德经, see note below on translations and spelling] appears to have been compiled between 600 and 300 BC. Legend tells that the “author,” scholar Lao Tzu (meaning “elder”), frustrated with society’s corruption, left his home and career in south-central China to complete his life in contemplation. A mountain Pass Keeper allegedly begged Lao Tsu to record his philosophy before he vanished, which he did in little more than a thousand characters, known today as the Tao Te Ching or “Virtuous Way Classic.”

    By Julianbce (library of Palace museum) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons石濤 tao te ching, courtesy of the Library of Palace Museum 

    This venerable book had me with the first line: “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao,” a humble beginning, reflected in 1931 by scientist Alfred Korzybski, who recognized: "The map is not the territory.” The opening stanza ends with a comparison of the “manifestations” that we see around us as opposed to the “mystery” behind it all. Such an unpretentious world view that starts with mystery appeals to me, and provides a good place to begin understanding ecology and activism.

    Taoism and action

    A central tenet of Taoism is “wu wie,” roughly meaning “doing-not-doing” or “non-contrary” action. The wise do not rush into action or take action to achieve prestige, but only act in accord with nature, a concept similar to Gandhi’s nonviolent action, or “ahimsa." In Taoism, action in harmony with nature leads to shen ling, “divine efficacy,” an effectiveness that runs much deeper than fleeting political gains.  

    The Zhuangzi, written about the same time as the Tao Te Ching, states: “If you want to nourish a bird, you should let it live any way it chooses… right action should be founded on what is suitable. The wise leave wisdom to the ants, learn from the fishes, and leave willfulness to the sheep.”

    By Anonymous -, Yongle gong bihua (Beijing: Waiwen chubanshe, 1997), p. 84., Public Domain, Taoist Temple mural

    Like modern indigenous teachings, Taoists taught that life remains rooted in place, living gracefully, with respect, accepting a reciprocal relationship with the ecosystem in which one’s life remains embedded. To embody the meaning of the Tao, one must pay attention to the details of the local and immediate context before taking action. The “environment” is not something outside of us that needs to be fixed and certainly not “managed” by human ingenuity. 

    Like Taoism, ecology implies a radical restructuring of human-centred society and our relationship to the wild world beyond human constructs. Genuine solutions to our ecological crisis are not the types of solutions promoted by modern society — mechanical, profitable, politically expedient — but will be solutions that challenge the very foundations of economic, political, scientific, and intellectual convention. 

    At the end of the fourth century CE (approximately year 3,000 in the Chinese calendar) as imperial princes fought among themselves, Taoist Bao Jingyan wrote a short treatise, “Neither Lord Nor Subject,” blaming poverty and violence on social hierarchy, on the powerful, who manipulate the weak for private gain. Fashionable society, he warned, “goes against the true nature of things … harming creatures to supply frivolous adornments.” He invoked a simpler era, when “all creatures lived together in mystic unity … enjoying plentiful supplies of food … their behavior not ostentatious.” Problems began, according to Bao, when people forgot the ways of nature, accumulated private property, and exalted themselves above others.

    Taoism and Deep Ecology 

    “Deep ecology,” as first articulated by Arne Naess, shares with Taoism a direct communion with nature. Both start with an environmental ethic, in which the human world remains entirely embedded in an ecological context. Effective action appears as practical engagement with a sense of sacredness in the natural world, a “divine efficacy.” 

    Arne Naess’s original “Eight Principles” of deep ecology reflect Taoist ideas: All life forms have inherent value; diversity itself contributes to the realization of these values; humans have no right to reduce this diversity; the growth of human population and dominance are not necessarily a benefit; human interference with the non-human world is excessive; social policies must therefore change; we must learn to appreciate the quality of life, not more consumption; and those who understand these principles have a right and obligation to take appropriate action.  

    The central theme, however, of both Taoism and deep ecology is “Self-realisation” that expands the personal identity to include all life. The “self” does not stop at the skin, and certainly not with the private ego, but includes the entire ecosystem. As Australian ethicist Warwick Fox explains, there is “no firm ontological divide between the human and non-human realms.” English anthropologist and ecologist Gregory Bateson stated this even more simply: “All divisions are arbitrary.” We make distinctions so that we can communicate, but in reality, all manifestations are connected. We talk about a “tree,” “soil,” and “atmosphere,” but ecologically these parts flow through each other in a dynamic, whole, living system. 

    Amazon Rainforest in BrazilClose up of a water drop on plant. Amazon Rainforest, Rio Negro, Serra de Araca, Brazil.  © Markus Mauthe / GreenpeaceAmazon rainforest, Brazil, 2012

    In Deep Ecology and Taoism, the ego, or isolated self is a socially-reinforced delusion. When we merge our identity with the greater “Self,” the organic whole, then compassion for all living beings comes naturally. When we achieve this deeper self-realisation, as Naess pointed out, we remain connected, and no moralising is needed to protect all of life, “just as we don’t need morals to breathe.”  

    The modern self tends to remain isolated from nature, fragmented. Taoism and Deep Ecology take a holistic perspective. All beings have inherent value, not defined by usefulness to humans. “Mainstream environmentalists,” says zoologist Dr. Stephan Harding, “still see nature as a machine that we need to repair.” In Taoism, indigenous cultures, and in genuine ecology, humanity exists in relationship with the other manifestations of evolution. Nature is not a thing, but a dynamic process of which humans remain an organic part. Comfortable, conciliatory environmentalism can overlook this larger sense of “Self,” adopt an anthropocentric view of the world, and fail to challenge the economic status quo that leads to ecological decline. 

    Feminising mystery

    Ursula Le Guin crafted a good rendering of the Tao Te Ching, using simple, direct language: 

    … do the work and let it go:

    for just letting it go

    is what makes it stay. [v. 3]

    “I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader,” Le Guin told interviewer Maria Popova, “not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul... It is the profound modesty of the language that offers what so many people for so many centuries have found in this book: a pure apprehension of the mystery of which we are part.”

    Bird Feather in the ArcticBird feather in the Arctic, Spitzbergen, Norway.  © Markus Mauthe / GreenpeaceBird feather in the Arctic, 2012

    “Modesty is a very unfashionable word,” Le Guin told Brenda Peterson, “partly because it was demanded of women and not of men, which is why a lot of womankind flinch when you say ‘modesty.’ But when you degender it, it really is a lovely characteristic… Lao Tzu … makes mystery itself a woman. This is profound .. the most mystical passages in the book are the most feminine … so refreshing and empowering.”

    People who treated the body politic

    as gently as their own body

    would be worthy to govern the commonwealth. [Verse 13]

    “Gandhi was not a Taoist. Yet – despite his enormous activism and his probably enormous ego – I can fit him into Lao Tzu’s world, because Gandhi struck at the root. He struck at inequality. He wanted the society to make itself better. He did it by the most modest means, because he refused violence.”

    ‘Lao Tzu didn’t have a god. The Tao is really an action rather than a person … a guide toward not trying to be in control … do the next thing because that’s the next thing to be done. It’s simply a sense of duty and responsibility,” Le Guin says. “Lao Tzu is very relevant at a time like ours. We’re in one of those yin-yang movements, and the yang is so extreme, but it will do what all extremes do; it will suddenly turn into the opposite.” 

    Self-satisfied people do no good,

    self-promoters never grow up. [v. 24]

    The modern ecology movement grew from simple observations that the technological, war-making, consumer, and financial growth society undermined the natural ecosystems that support us. Life can be a struggle, but life is not all competition. In an ecosystem, everything coexists and cooperates in a matrix of complex relationships and feedback loops. There exists a natural reciprocity among beings. Taoist ecological awareness is modest, not controlling, not managing everything.   

    The highest good is like water.

    Water gives life to the ten thousand things

    and does not strive.

    Taoism teaches a larger self-realization as primal for effective action, beyond the anthropocentric attitude, and even beyond the idea of “stewardship.” A genuine, deep ecological approach radically subverts social apathy with this duty to a larger realm.  This passage from stanza 13 of the Tao te Ching, expands the Golden Rule, found in all spiritual traditions — treat others as you wish to be treated — to include all beings:

    Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

    Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.




    Resources and Links: 

    Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, translated by Gia-Fu Feng (馮家福, 1919–1985) and Jane English (1942–), with an updated translation by J. English, Vintage Books, 1989; text on line at Terebess Asia. This is my favourite translation because of the simple language. The Ursula Le Guin translation is excellent: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way. English renderings of Chinese characters and spelling to render pronunciation remain challenging. English “Daoism” and “Taoism” are interchangeable attempts to render various dialects of the original. Keep in mind: “The name that can be named is not the eternal name.” There are 120 English versions, at Terebess Asia; and a parallel comparison of three Tao Te Ching translations by James Legge (1891), D T. Susuki (1913), and Dwight Goddard (1919), with a guide to the original Chinese characters. Ursula Le Guin’s interview about her renderings at Brainpickings.

    Interpretation of  道 (“Tao” or “Dao”): Shuowen Jiezi dictionary 

    Daoism and Ecology: Ways within a Cosmic Landscape, Edited by N. J. Girardot, James Miller, and Liu Xiaogan, Harvard Univ. Press.

    Daoism and Ecology, James Miller: Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

    Taoism and Deep Ecology: “The Intersection of Taoism, Deep Ecology and Praxis,” Jarrod Hyam, Oregon State University: SIEU .

    Arne Naess: “The deep ecological movement: Some philosophical aspects,” Philosophical inquiry, 1986, v. 8, No 1-2

    “Neither Lord nor Subject,” by Bao Jingyan, trans. by Etienne Balazs, Chinese Civilization and Bureaucracy: Variations on a Theme, Yale University Press, 1964. “”]  

    “The deep ecology movement: a western Daoism?”: Tom Levitt, China Dialogue.  

    Stephan Harding, Center For Humans & Nature

    I Ching, trans. by Richard Wilhelm, Cary Baynes, 1950, NY, Princeton University Press

    Cold Mountain, 100 poems by Tang poet Han-shan, Trans. by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press, NY, 1970, first edition; versions on Alibris.


  • The resistance against fossil fuels is winning. Here’s the proof.

    When we launched the call for the second Break Free from fossil fuels campaign, we were, of course, hoping to grow the coalition and increase the number of peaceful protests against the dirty energy industries. What we did not expect, however, was a booming and massive rallying of more than 200 organisations and groups - including 30 Greenpeace offices - putting together an impressive list of over 170 events.

    Break Free Action at Slovenian Government in Ljubljana  © Mankica Kranjec / Greenpeace A canine protestor in Slovenia. 29 March, 2017

    These past three weeks have seen resounding evidence that people and communities will not sit idly by while governments allow corporate interests to threaten their rights to land, water, air and life. In more than 60 countries around the world this growing movement has proven itself to be tireless, unified and unstoppable.

    With each boat race, bike ride and blockade, we sent a strong signal from the streets to parliaments and into the heart of the fossil fuel industry, governments and financial institutions. The people have turned their backs on dirty energy and are willing to fight for their right to a healthy and safe future.

    Cyclists in Zagreb Launch Global 'Break Free' Protests Against Fossil Fuels  © Branko Drakulic / GreenpeaceCyclists in Croatia launch Break Free 2017. 12 March, 2017

    The impact of this popular pressure on political and business leaders cannot be understated. In fact, we are already seeing the fruits of this intense people power emerge.

    In Slovenia, a broad coalition of 70 organisations triggered a special parliamentary session leading to a first commitment for a national coal phaseout in line with the Paris agreement. Following six activities in Australia, the coal-funding Commonwealth Bank was brought to the table; opening the door to more climate-friendly policies.

    Break Free Action in Phitsanulok Thailand  © Chanklang Kanthong / Greenpeace Break Free protest in Thailand. 17 March, 2017

    The Indian Ministry of Environment said that their emission standards for thermal power plants would not be weakened, after more than 100,000 people demanded a Clean Air Action Plan. Meanwhile, in Spain, big utilities are considering the early retirement of coal-fired and nuclear power plants following peaceful protests and demonstrations at their headquarters and in 30 cities around the country.

     Greenpeace action at Total refinery in the port of Antwerp. More than 40 activists, including Bunny McDiarmid, executive director of Greenpeace International, climb towers and chimneys at the Total Refinery in protest against Total's drilling plans in the mouth of the Amazon where a reef was recently discovered.© Eric De Mildt / GreenpeaceBreak Free protest against Total to protect the Amazon Reef. 27 March, 2017

    This is not the end. In the words of our International Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid, who took part in the Belgian Break Free action at Total’s largest refinery, “The waves of civil disobedience will keep going after the old-fashioned dirty energy system until it changes its ways. Get used to it!”

    Check out the 2017 wrapup video here


    Agustin Maggio is the #BreakFree project lead with Greenpeace International


  • Without the oceans, you wouldn't exist

    All life on Earth comes from the oceans... and they're still looking after us today.

    The oceans have protected us from the worst impacts of global warming. Our oceans have trapped 90% of the extra heat caused by greenhouse gas emissions over the last sixty years.

    Des, Surf Rescue Team at Manly Beach. © Tom Allen/ GreenpeaceDes, surf rescue team at Manly beach, Sydney, Australia, 2016

    20,000 years ago the world was just over 4°C colder on average than today, and a large part of North America was buried kilometres-deep in ice. Without the oceans absorbing the man-made heat of the past half century, we would have seen the Earth warm by an average of 36°C. Even disaster movies haven't considered anything this devastating.

    So, while we've been looking after the ocean for the past decades, the ocean has been looking out for us, for much longer.

    Our oceans are home to many species that enable life to exist on Earth. And like all nature, oceans are finite, vulnerable — and struggling to recover from companies’ crude industrial fishing practices that are stripping seas of life, and the poisons and pollutants dumped by humans.

    We're pushing ocean ecosystems to their limits and we don't know how long they can withstand it. Our oceans give us every other breath and every other mouthful of food. They regulate our climate. We have to start protecting our oceans, or they will be unable to continue protecting us.

    The solution is actually very simple. Healthier oceans with plenty of marine life, means a healthier atmosphere, more food, and greater safety from extreme weather. Achieving healthier oceans means rebuilding marine species populations and their diversity.