Forestry's Green Warrior
Forestry's Green Warrior
Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore now works for change from within the industry.
Profile:Branded a turncoat by his former Greenpeace colleagues, Dr. Patrick Moore, now with the BC Forest Alliance, has spearheaded positive change in the industry and in the public's perception of the working forest. The first of a two-part look at the man and his ideas.
By L. Ward Johnson
The sagacious years of the 1960s put North American society on a collision course with itself. Significant strides in industrial processing, combined with an insatiable desire for a higher standard of living, awakened an industrial monster that began consuming without conscience. The results were quite incredible. Not only were there more and better consumer goods available, there was also plenty of money to buy them, and society embarked on a binge of self indulgence.
Having a better standard of living was the right idea, but we ran into problems over our disregard for the earth and its ecosystems. The methods we were employing to achieve our objectives were short term and ultimately self destructive and it was obvious we couldn't stay the course. What was needed was someone to alert us to the reality of what was taking place and that someone emerged in the form of Dr. Patrick Moore.
Moore is one of the founders of Greenpeace and led the eco-brigade from 1971 to 1986. During that time he helped change the world's attitudes on environmental and ecological issues and established Greenpeace as a watchdog and proactive force for initiating change.
But while Greenpeace was busy changing the world's attitudes towards things environmental, the organization itself was changing and by the mid 1980s, Moore found his views divergent with those of his colleagues. In 1986 he left Greenpeace and now continues promoting his outlook on ecology and the environment in cooperation with the forest industry. 7
Always a devout environmental activist, Moore has been responsible for many favourable changes in the industry, including the Principles of Sustainable Forestry, the bible for logging and forestry operations today. His recent book, Pacific Spirit, published by Terra Bella Publishers Canada Inc., West Vancouver, B.C., details his convictions that the forests of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest are as healthy as any in the world. Moore substantiates his claims with a lifetime of experience, an education in forest ecology and a career in environmental activism. Deemed a traitor, a sellout and an eco-Judas by the current environmental movement, Moore says he cannot agree with claims made to the world by some of his environmentalist colleagues about the totally destructive impact of forestry in general and clearcutting in particular.
He says his aim is now to help improve forestry practices through dialogue and positive action. In addition to being Chair of the Forest Practices Committee of the Forest Alliance of BC, Moore operates an environmental consultancy called Greenspirit, from an office in Vancouver, BC.
Not surprisingly, he has some interesting ideas regarding current logging activities and practices, and about where he sees the industry headed.
Moore's experience with the forest industry started early. He grew up in a logging camp at Winter Harbour, BC on the west coast of Vancouver Island. With his primary education completed in the woods and in the camp school, he attended boarding school in Vancouver, then found his way to the University of British Columbia, where he enrolled in the faculty of forestry.
Moore says a turning point in his university years came during his second year of forestry, at a lecture staged by Vladimir Krajina. Krajina had strong views on forest ecology and his lecture that day dealt with the relationship between forest species and their environment. "It shocked me to attention," says Moore, "and in a few moments, his words transformed my intuitive, almost subconscious thoughts about the natural world into a realization that ecology was not just about food chains and nutrient cycles. It was a new way of seeing the world and I realized ecology was capable of linking rational thought with spiritual wonder, that through a holistic appreciation of nature, one could gain insight into the meaning of life."
With help from Dr. Oscar Sziklai, a UBC forest geneticist, Moore fashioned an academic study program that gave him a combined degree in biology and forest biology, which eventually culminated in a Ph.D. For his 1969 Ph.D. thesis, Moore chose the case of a copper mine that was planning to dump waste into Rupert Inlet, near his home in Winter Harbour.
The mine was of the opinion that the waste would sink to the bottom and have no effect on the productive surface water. Moore proved otherwise, and backed up his findings with a challenge. "I challenged the mining company in public hearings," he says, "only to find that the public process had little or no impact on the final decision. To top it off, my professors informed me that they had been advised that if I ever wanted a job when I graduated, perhaps I should change the nature of my inquiry." Moose says the experience led him to become involved, in 1971, in forming a new organization called Greenpeace, which was being put together to protest US nuclear testing in the Aleutian Islands.
For the next 15 years, Moore was active in that organization, which grew into the world's largest environmental activist group, with branches in 26 countries and an annual budget of more than $100 million.
The Greenpeace philosophy at the time, Moore explains, was to link the tradition of nonviolent protest with the newly emerging awareness of ecology and the environment. It was a highly effective philosophy and the organization accomplished much during Moore's time there.
Moore left Greenpeace in 1986, tiring of the constant eco-trench warfare and with the internal politics growing out of divergent views within the organization. He says he was largely satisfied that Greenpeace had accomplished the task of ringing an ecological fire alarm over the global predicament.
Greenpeace could define the problems, he says, but did not necessarily have the solutions, nor was it equipped to put them into practice. That required the combined efforts of governments, corporations, public institutions and environmentalists. As far as Moore was concerned, the war was over.
Unfortunately, states Moore, some of his former colleagues and other environmentalists didn't see it that way. "There has always been a minority of extremists who took a 'no compromise in defence of Mother Nature' position. They were the monkey wrenchers, tree spikers and boat scuttlers of the Earth First and Paul Watson variety."
According to Moore, these extremists had always been considered totally unacceptable by the mainstream of the movement, who subscribed to a philosophy that was trans-political, trans-ideological, and trans-national.
"The traditional sharp division between left and right," says Moore, "was rendered meaningless by the common desire to protect our life support systems. Non-violent direct action and peaceful civil disobedience were the hallmarks; violence against people and property the only taboos. "In recent years," he continues, "this original broad-based vision has become increasingly threatened by a new philosophy of radical environmentalism.
Faced with the widespread adoption of the environmental agenda by the mainstream of business and government, environmentalists had to choose between switching to working with their former enemies or always adopting more extreme positions. Many chose to become more hard line," Moore says.
Next issue, we ask Dr. Moore about today's forest industry and where he sees it going in the future.
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