Between forest fires and flood disasters, between species extinction and climate crisis, to talk of hope – isn’t that naïve? No, it isn’t. It is not only the youth that stands up for change, but also an organisation that was founded 50 years ago that uses peaceful means to expose environmental sins: Greenpeace. The history of Greenpeace began in a small fishing boat on 15 September 1971. Since then, the environmental protection organisation has been changing the world with non-violent actions.

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in the port of Amsterdam (Source: Hollandse Hoogte/imago images)

On 15 September 1971, a small group of activists set off in a converted fishing boat to the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska to prevent a planned US nuclear test there. Today, Greenpeace has over 55 country offices and more than three million supporters worldwide. As an international, non-partisan environmental organisation that is independent of politics and business, Greenpeace uses direct non-violent action to campaign for the protection of life’s foundations and for a world without armaments and armed conflict. The founders of Greenpeace have shown that a handful of people who are courageous and determined can change the world. 

Greenpeace has also been mentioned in music. The ship “Rainbow Warrior”, which was sunk by agents of the French secret service in Auckland, New Zealand, on 10 July 1985, is still remembered. In the composition Rainbow Warrior, composer Kees Vlak depicts the countless battles of the Greenpeace boat. The Rainbow Warrior sets out into the Arctic Ocean in search of a whaler stalking its prey, which is listed as an endangered species and therefore protected. The sea is rough. The whales are harpooned relentlessly as the Rainbow Warrior interferes with the whalers’ actions and demands an immediate end to the hunt. An icy silence descends on the scene, a brief moment of respite before hostilities resume.

In Meltdown Marco Pütz describes the “life” of a nuclear reactor, from its construction (birth) to its destruction (Super G.A.U.) and is meant to be understood as a kind of “musical protest” against the nuclear lobby. At the same time, the work is seen as a reaction to the weakness of people in the face of this power and the danger it poses. Due to the powerlessness, the 6 episodes of this work have titles that sound somewhat sarcastic in part, but are perhaps intended to provoke thought for that very reason. This piece was composed in 1992 as a reference to an anti-nuclear advertisement of the same name by Greenpeace.