Campaigning through research

Nieuws | de redactie
13 juni 2013 | Many still think that science is divided over human induced climate change. Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo realizes this and sees a task for scientists, media and for environmental organizations. “As Open Data initiatives progress, this is certainly a way in which we would bring data sets into the public domain.”

During a meeting with students from the University of Leiden Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International explained that a lot of research done by environmental NGO’s worldwide is sabotaged or neglected. To increase the impact of their research Greenpeace cooperates with the British University of Exeter. “In these Research Laboratories we have multi-disciplinary teams that carry out work in relation to the various Greenpeace campaigns. The in-house instrumental analytical capacity provides data to support the work of our offices around the globe.”

This laboratory works on a variety of fields. “The laboratory has recently contributed a lot to our work on the conservation of bees in Europe… [But] our current focus is on industrial water pollution in developing countries.”

Key factor in increasing the credibility

Currently, “the Greenpeace Research Laboratories publish data both in peer reviewed journals and as a series of technical notes and reviews. We make all its results available on a website. The work produced by the laboratories has been a key factor in increasing the credibility of research carried out by the organization. Much of this work has had high impact, such as the work on the precautionary principle and on chemical regulation.”

“In the future, it will be important to strongly network the internal scientific capabilities within the organization to further increase effectiveness and address external perceptions which may exist about possible bias in the work. And as Open Data initiatives progress, this is certainly a way in which Greenpeace would bring appropriate data sets into the public domain. However, in over 25 years of operation the work of the laboratories has rarely been questioned.”

A large portion of the population thinks that many scientists still disagree over climate change, while more than 97% of the scientists agree on human induced climate change (consensus project, Cook et al, 2013). “The environmental movement certainly has a role in clarifying this and in exposing the work of climate deniers and skeptics. Undoubtedly the scientific community could also do more to make clear what is, and what is not, mainstream thinking on the issue of climate change, while media could also help to balance the debate and clarify scientific thinking.”

A massive role for an informed youth

Greenpeace is constantly changing and reviewing its approach, thinking and methods for maximum impact. “While our classic approach of bearing witness on the environmental front-lines, taking action to prevent environmental abuse and lobbying government and corporations to change their polluting ways will never go out of fashion, will never lose its impact, we are constantly adding new approaches.”

“Providing information about the extent of the ecological threat and what can be done to stop it or reverse it has always been a key activity for Greenpeace, what has changed is our ability to use the web to get that directly to an audience, to concerned citizens of all ages.”

“An informed youth will have a massive role to play in deciding whether society will choose more and more equitable and ecologically sustainable future. They will engage in new forms of democracy inspired by technological innovation that we can barely imagine, well beyond the already available powerful social media driven engagement tools.”

Hopeful technologies

“We are working with all generations to demand an end to the current paradigm of putting profit and power before the interests of people and the planet. Decisions taken today are of profound importance and will have an irreversible impact on the future. In a sense, the most encouraging signs relate to the increased willingness of society to question and reject technologies and technological developments which clearly place humanity on an unsustainable footing.” 

Yet some new technologies do not only help to address issues or get in contact with supporters around the globe, they also give hope for a better future. “The developments in the renewable energy industries, for example, give hope that ultimately the climate change issue can be resolved.”

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