The most dynamic social protest in the west in the later 1970s tended to be environmental campaigns, which mounted some major direct action protests against nuclear power. By the 1980s environmental groups like Greenpeace were also taking direct action against nuclear tests, and green protests often overlapped with peace activism. These protests also developed new styles of informal democratic organization for mass demonstrations. Green resistance to logging, dams, motorways, toxic dumps and other environmental hazards mounted during the 1980s and 1990s and continues today in various contexts. Uprooting genetically modified crops was widespread in the early 2000s. Opposition to ‘fracking’ (releasing gas from shale) has become a key issue in the second decade of the 21st century. An overarching threat to the global environment is the impact of climate change, and promoting means of limiting change and resisting economic activities which accelerate climate change has become central to green thinking and campaigning.
Green activists have taken up nonviolent direct action with daring and imagination, greatly extending the range of tactics used. Some greens have also used forms of sabotage (ecotage), raising questions about the limits of nonviolence. But, alongside direct action, environmental campaigners have also developed sophisticated lobbying techniques, some have moved towards closer cooperation with corporations and governments, and others have developed green political parties to fight local, national and (where relevant) EU elections. As in many movements, greens are divided over strategy, so moderate (‘realistic’) approaches are opposed by the more radical groups. The ideological range stretches from ‘deep ecologists’ to people protecting local neighbourhoods. Direct action against roads and airports, for example, is often undertaken by committed environmentalists, but many may also be supported by local residents trying to minimise disruption to their locality. Opposition to nuclear energy and the dangers of radiation leaks was a focus for many green s in the 1970s, but growing concern about climate change has meant that some green advocates now see nuclear energy as less dangerous than more immediately destructive forms of energy releasing CFCs. However, the destructive impact of the earthquake and tsunami on the Fukushima Dalichi reactor in March 2011 aroused widespread fears about the extent of radioactive fallout inside Japan, and reminded others of the potential hazards of nuclear power. The Japanese government’s decision in March 2014 to restart two nuclear reactors (all had been closed down in the aftermath of the accident) led to protests.
Environmental concerns have not of course been confined to developed states. Many countries in the Global South have been exposed to devastating pollution through the activities of irresponsible corporations – oil pollution created by Shell in the Niger delta over decades, and the release of poisonous gas from the explosion of the United Carbide Bhopal chemical plant in India with deadly results – are two well known examples. There are many others, for example pollution of the Peruvian Amazon by oil companies for over 40 years, a danger increased since the Peruvian government made three quarters of the rain forest available to corporations for drilling in 2008. Many local and indigenous communities are engaged in bitter struggles to preserve their land, livelihood and way of life from logging, mining, oil drilling or, more recently, widespread commercial planting for biofuels. (For references to resistance to multinationals engaged in mining, logging and oil drilling see A.4.a. and A.4.b, and for some indigenous campaigns see B.2.a. and B.2.b.)
Development of environmental protest can sometimes be a prelude to more widespread resistance in politically repressive regimes, both because individuals may be mobilized by specific environmental issues and because focusing on pollution etc. is a less direct challenge to the regime than specific political opposition. There was a rise in environmental awareness and protest in the Soviet bloc during the 1970s and 1980s, sometimes linked to nationalist discontent (as in the Baltic states); and green protest is one strand in the opposition to Putin today (see Vol. 1). There have also been many environmental protests in China since the 1990s, where the regime has gradually become more responsive to environmental concerns, increasing penalties for industrial pollution in amendments to an environmental protection law in April 2014. Even in less authoritarian regimes, wider political dissatisfaction may be sparked by a specific green issue, as happened in Turkey in June 2013, when protest to save Gezi Park in Istanbul developed into a major movement (see H.1.c.).
Warnings and analyses of possible environmental disaster by scientists have become increasingly common since the ground-breaking book by Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962. Green theorists and activists have also developed new interpretations of economics – exploring sustainable development, political thought, philosophy and spirituality. These literatures are not covered here.
Relevant periodicals: The Ecologist has long been a useful source of information on green issues and campaigns; in September 2014 it merged with Resurgence, which had adopted a nonviolent green agenda, to form: Resurgence and Ecologist. Environmental campaigns are also covered by movement periodicals such as Peace News and New Internationalist.
Online sources are now numerous: see for example, Earth Tribe Activist News, Reporting the Environmental Movement: http://www.earthtribe.co
For the many green campaigns involving indigenous peoples see: Survival International: http://www.survivalinternational.org
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Collection of writings (from Nov. 1982 to June 1985) by former East German dissident and radical ecologist. Covers issue such as North-South relations, the peace movement and the crucial role of communes in rebuilding an ecologically sound society. Includes his statement on resigning from the German Greens, claiming that they ‘have identified themselves -critically- with the industrial system and its administration’.
Explores high carbon footprint of military defence, argues for an alternative nonviolent defence, and advocates ‘active resistance’ of kind pioneered by Australian environmentalists.
Compares North American Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Part I covers environmental philosophy and green political thought; Part II Green parties and NGOs; Part III policy making at international, national and local levels. This is a textbook, which gives guidance on other sources.
Examines development of Green movement in Western democracies. Argues that environmental interest groups are important new participants in the contemporary political process and that, if the movement is politically successful ‘it may at least partially reshape the style and structure of democratic processes in these countries’.
Discusses role of nonviolence in Green thought (and in original policy of German Greens) and case for nonviolent protest.
Comparative study of successes and failures of four environmental movements since 1970, exploring implications of inclusion and exclusion from political process.
In the early 1980s, there were mass protests across the Western world with varied goals, for example to support different models of economic development, promote anti-militarism and non-violence, or redefine urban and social spaces. Many, however, saw safeguarding the environment as their primary goal and identified nuclear energy as their main target. The authors investigate the movement for as afer environment and how it mobilized large sections of society and provided people with new tools of civic expression.
Deals with the anti-nuclear power movements and government responses to them and their demands in eight West European states – Austria, Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and West Germany.
Defends new forms of radical direct action, including ‘ecotage’, arguing that violence should be measured by harm inflicted, not use of physical force.
Includes campaigns against logging, tree plantations, factories and tourist facilities and in defence of nature reserves. Argues environmentalism in Asia has a local focus and is often a form of cultural and political protests where overt political opposition is too dangerous.
Covers range of environmental campaigns in different parts of the world, including Ireland, France, Israel, Japan, India and Indonesia.
Explores impact of political, economic, cultural and religious conditions on environmental activism.
Despite its title, this is not primarily about protest, but the international /state context in which protest occurs, stressing the UN and international agreements.
Primary emphasis on sociological analysis of how environmental movements change, with statistics on participation in them. Chapters on Germany, Spain and Southern Europe and the USA. Derek Wall writes on ‘Mobilizing Earth First!’ in Britain. Jeff Haynes, ‘Power, Politics and Environmental Movements in the Third World’ (pp. 222-42) includes specific references to the Chipko, Narmada and Ogoniland movements, as well as other forms of environmental action in Kenya and the role of the WTO.
(also Southgate Press 2010 and Kali/Women Unlimited 2011).
An eco/feminist argument about the special role of women in preserving the environment.
Analysis of the roles of different types of transnational organizations and their impact on environmental ‘discourse’, including Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife fund. Chapter 3 is specifically on Greenpeace, direct action and changing attitudes. See also: Wapner, Paul , Politics beyond the State: Environmental Action and World Civic Politics World Politics, 1995, pp. 311-340 .
Discusses early resistance in 19th and 20th centuries and contemporary campaigns against destruction of forests, dams, pollution and over-fishing of seas, and mining. Akula also describes Jharkand separatist ‘tribal’ struggle to own their historic land and promote sustainable use of resources.
Discusses major crisis of water scarcity in India, due not only to climate change (failures of monsoons since 2012) but commercial exploitation of water sources, which leaves small farmers and citizens without water supplies and often reliant on tankers run by 'water mafia'. The government still tends to favour dams rather than localised measures to preserve water, and political pressures promote crops such as sugar cane in unsuitably environments. The author also notes an example of local good practice. The women's organization, the Mann Deshi Foundation, has in last few years promoted rehabilitation of streams and the local river in a semi-desert area of Maharashtra, before creating a reservoir which was handed over to the local village council.
Survey from early concerns about conservation through the ‘second wave’ 1945-72, and the campaigns of 1973-83 up to the subsequent professionalization of the movement. Chapter 4 ‘Taking to the Streets’ covers ‘green bans’ and the anti-uranium campaigns; ‘Taking to the Bush’ looks at direct action on a number of issues, culminating in the 1982 blockade of the Franklin Dam; and Chapter 6 ‘Fighting for Wilderness’ assesses further protests around Australia. Chapter 8 considers the role of the Green Party.
General analysis of movement in 1990s and case studies of individual environmental organizations.
A study of community power and regional planning on the environment, based on US case studies.
Discusses protest through letters, petitions, law suits and sometimes demonstrations and sabotage, against pollution, soil erosion, contaminated water, etc.
Case studies of a range of environmental conflicts in Britain over urban development, water supply, power lines, M4 motorway, juggernaut lorries, the Cublington airport campaign, and the genesis of the Clean Air Act. Focus on pressure groups.
Essays include a survey of British environmentalism 1988-97 in the changing political context, assessments of different types of environmental activity and role of the media. Brian Doherty, ‘Manufacturing Vulnerability: Protest Camp Tactics’ looks at evolution of nonviolent direct action tactics and transnational influences. There is some discussion of the incidence of violence and media (mis)perceptions.
History stretching back to origins of the republic, covering key individuals, NGOs and governmental responses.
Analysis by expert on issues of ecology, development and the role of women in conflicts over natural resources in India; includes references to Appiko protests to save forests and satyagraha against mining.
Argues environmental NGOs becoming more visible in Chinese environmental politics and seizing opportunities offered by the media, internet and international NGOs. Author concludes environmental NGOs both sites and agents of democratic change.
Covers voyages to challenge nuclear testing at Amchitka Island, Alaska and at Mururoa Atoll, but also the voyages protesting against nuclear waste disposal and pollution, and to protect marine mammals.
By a founder of Earth First!
(Published in USA as Warriors of the Rainbow: A Chronicle of the Greenpeace Movement, New York, Rhinehart and Winston, 1978)
The story of Greenpeace from its emergence in the 1970s to the time of the book’s publication. Autobiographical account by a founder member of Greenpeace International.
Study of the militant US movement founded in 1980, which split between what the author terms ‘millenarian’ and ‘apocalyptic’ wings, the former seeking to educate others and the latter trying to save biodiversity before it is too late.
(also published as: Unbowed: My Autobiography, Anchor 2008)
By prominent Kenyan woman who promoted mass planting of trees by women at grassroots level through the Green Belt Movement (founded in 1977) to reverse effects of deforestation. She also undertook vigils and fasts for human rights under the dictatorship of President Moi. See also her book: Maathai, Wangaari , The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experiences  New York, Lantern Books, , 2004, pp. 117
Anthology of 44 essays by noted writer and activist on green issues, including climate change (with some more personal reflections).
Concise outline of campaigns by group distinct from the better known international organization. See also: Vidal, McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial (A.4.c. Food and Drink Multinationals) for their epic struggle against McDonald’s.
By a founder of Greenpeace International, focusing on the 1970s.
Account by sympathetic environmental journalist of evolution of Earth First! and its tactics of guerrilla theatre and direct action.
Explores the strategy and tactics of the anti-nuclear energy movement in Tokyo developed in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, points to the existing dissatisfaction with both the nuclear industry, and the decaying institutions of Japan’s capitalist developmental state, as the foundations upon which the anti-nuclear energy movement has become the longest social movement in Japan.
This book explores social movements and forms of political activism in contemporary Japan, arguing that the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident led to a resurgence in social and protest movements and inaugurated a new era of civic engagement. Re-examines older and recent forms of activism in Japan, as well as provides studies of specific movements that developed after Fukushima. The book considers structural challenges that activists face in contemporary Japan, and how the newly developing movements have been shaped by the neo-conservative policies of the Japanese government. The authors also considers how the Japanese experience adds to our understanding of how social movements work, and whether it might challenge prevailing theoretical frameworks.
Describes the history of the atom in the US and the UK; the combination of civilian/military use and how people and movement developed an understanding of the risks associated with nuclear power since the 1960s.
Analyses anti-nuclear struggles globally, with particular attention to how each movement relates to the state promoting nuclear power.
Evaluates the worldwide impact of the Fukushima disaster in Japan and provides an account of the dynamics of the anti-nuclear power movement in Indonesia.
Includes large section on the transnational movement against nuclear power.
Gives an account of massive anti-nuclear protests that took place in Taiwan, one year before the election in the country, to protest against calls by nuclear proponents to extend the operating permits for several reactors that were due to expire.
To learn about anti-nuclear march in Taiwan, commemorating the Fukushima incident in Japan, in previous years see also https://newbloommag.net/2017/03/12/2017-anti-nuclear-march/; https://thediplomat.com/2016/10/orchid-islands-nuclear-fate/; https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2016-03-12/71061; https://newbloommag.net/2015/03/16/fukushima-four-years-on-in-taiwan-and-japan/; https://newbloommag.net/2015/01/30/anti-nuclear-activism-in-taiwan-and-japan/ and https://thediplomat.com/2014/04/taiwan-rocked-by-anti-nuclear-protests/.
Examines the political contexts, nature of the movements against nuclear power and their tactics, and government responses.
Account of ‘nuclear-free-zone’ protesters who blocked nuclear-power vessels from entering port with ships, boats and canoes.
Uses experiences of West Germany anti-nuclear energy movement to discuss how repression impacts on protest.
General analysis of evolution of movement in the US and the groups and organizations involved. Chapter 4 examines direct action groups and their protests.
Translation and abridgement of La prophetie anti-nucleaire.
Article and audio defining important moments of the history of the Pilgrim nuclear energy plant, located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, from 1967, when it was built by the Boston Edison Company, up to 2019, when it shut down thanks to year of anti-nuclear activism and legal fighting against re-licensing the plant.
See especially chapter 6 ‘The Moment of Direct Action’ and chapter 7 ‘Networking: Direct Action and Collective Refusal’.
Argues that these movements should be seen as a process of ‘capacity building’.
Brownell has been involved in a seven year campaign which succeeded in protecting half a million acres of Liberia's tropical rainforest from the Southeast Asia-based Golden Veroleum company, which had been granted t the right by the government to clear and use the land to grow palm oil. He took up the cause of the indigenous community in Sinoe County whose forests and cultural sites were being destroyed by the company. The article outlines how the campaign succeeded and Brownell's wider role in creating the Alliance for Rural Democracy throughout Liberia to work for environmental justice. He had been forced by death threats to move with his family to the USA.
Brownell took up the case of indigenous people living in the rainforest against abusive violence and imprisonment for resisting the destruction of their environment and cultural monuments by the Southeast Asian agro-industrial company Golden Veroleum (GVL) planning to grow palm oil. Brownell's seven-year campaign invoked help from global NGOs to support a complaint to the Roundtable on sustainable Palm Oil, which froze GVL's expansion. He succeeded in saving over half a million acres of rainforest, but he had to flee to the US. He has also established a rural network - the Alliance for Rural Democracy - throughout Liberia to work form environmental justice.
Emphasizes local roots of movement. including development of ‘non-secessionist regionalism’ in Uttarakhand. The epilogue, written in 1998, adds historical perspective on the movement’s achievements and reports on-going struggles. Seeks to offer ‘corrective’ to romanticized western and ecofeminist interpretations.
Reports on anti-logging campaign in British Columbia, Canada, in 1980s and 1990s and discusses shift from pressurizing state to directly confronting lumber camps. Critiques approach leading to establishment of global regulatory body, the Forest Security Council, but supports offering ‘carrot’ of ‘certification’ in combination with ‘stick’ of campaigning for a boycott.
Account of preparation by indigenous communities to resist the destruction of the rainforest by farmers, miners and loggers backed by far right President Jair Bolsonaro. The article focuses on the discussions, held in the small riverine community Manolito in Terro do Meio, between indigenous people and international activists, including Extinction Rebellion UK organisers, Belgian activists in the School Strike and from the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot. Watts outlines the wider Brazilian context, and discusses how international participants revised their ideas and campaigning plans as a result of the meeting, which was named 'Amazon: Centro do Mundo'.
Traces development of the ‘tree hugging’ movement to protect Himalayan forests, stresses the importance of the Gandhian style legacy in the strategy and tactics of the movement, discusses the role of women and profiles the leading men.
Examines growing significance of environmental movement in Thailand since the success in stopping proposed dam in 1988.
Analysis of two case studies in Thailand: the Raindrops Association encouraging villagers to resuscitate the natural environment; and the opposition to planned Kaeng Krung Dam.
Focused particularly on the controversy over the major Narmada River dam projects, but also provides comparative perspective by considering dam projects in Brazil, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Lesotho, where the World Bank and other lenders were persuaded to withdraw funding.
See also: Khagram, ‘Restructuring the Global Politics of Development: The Case of India’s Narmada Valley Dams’, pp. 206-30; and Smitu, Kothari, ‘Globalization, Global Alliances and the Narmada Movement’, pp. 231-44.
Journalist Nina Lakhani draws on numerous interviews, including with Caceras herself, legal files and corporate records to recount the years of environmental protest by this indigenous Honduran activist, who received the Goldman Prize in 2015 for her successful campaign to halt the hydroelectric dam being built on a river sacred to her people, and was assassinated in 2016. She had been under threat for years, and many colleagues had been killed or forced into exile. Lakhani attended the trial of Caceres' killers in 2018, when employees of the dam Company and state security were implicated in the murder by hired gunmen. But the trial failed to reveal who had ordered and paid for the assassination.
Interview with Peter Lallang, campaigning in Sarawak to defend its biodiverse rainf orest and indigenous people against the Malaysian government's plans for megadams. He briefly describes the Save Rivers campaign that included river flotillas in towns and rural areas and a two-year blockade to stop dam building. The campaign also made international links with the Green Party in Australia to lobby parliamentarians about links to a Tasmanian company, and also top renewable energy experts at the University of California, who provided alternative energy proposals for the region. After five years the Malaysian government agreed to cancel the dam, but campaigners fear it may revive the project.
Commentary by Booker-winning novelist and prominent Narvada Dam activist on struggle against the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the wider implications of government policy on building dams. Also available in various forms on the internet.
This article covers a major struggle for indigenous rights and environmental protection in Brazil, opposing construction of 49 dams on the Tapajos river and its tributaries to generate electricity and to create a canal to a major new container port. The scheme is backed by the Brazilian government and includes finance and engineering from Chinese and European companies, and would provide power to soya growers and mining companies. It threatens the home of the Munduruku tribes and an area of pristine rainforest. The protesters gained a partial victory in 2016 when the Brazilian environmental agency suspended the license for one dam, but the local people fear renewed pressure.
General analysis of impact of opencast (strip) mining which spread in Britain in the 1980s. Chapter 7 ‘Changing Patterns of Protest’ (pp. 167-206) looks at the collaboration between the National Union of Miners’ Support Groups and environmental groups to oppose mines creating pollution, and examines the turn from conventional protest to direct action.
Examines dilemma of growth versus environmentalism, and how Japan has resolved it, with focus on how anti-pollution protests 1960s-1973 changed government policy , using the movement in one prefecture as a case study.
See also: Earthworks ‘No Dirty Gold: Rosia Montana’: http://nodirtygold.earthworksaction.org; Solly, Richard ‘Festival of Resistance to Romanian Gold Mine’, London Mining Network, 18 Aug . 2014: http://londonminingnetwork.org
Sources for 15 year long local resistance in Romania to open-pit gold mine (which would use cyanide), proposed by Toronto-based Gabriel Resources, and for the evolution of government policy and legal challenges. The mine became a focus of national resistance in September 2013. The local opponents propose that the site should become a UNESCO heritage area (the open cast mine would destroy the original Roman gold mine) and a centre for farming.
Study of ‘Citizens’ movements’ against industrial pollution.
An Australian case study.
Traces how a movement developed in the US out of official debate and television coverage into the formation of thousands of neighbourhood groups, and over a decade the establishment of strong civic organizations tackling different toxic threats.
Report on development of fracking, its technology and implications, and the widespread resistance to it around the world. Larger coalitions of opposition listed at end.
Account of two major struggles by local people in conjunction with a wide range of external activists to defend their local territory: 1. against building a new airport near Nantes in France by ZAD (Zones a Defendre) and 2. against a high-speeed rail line (Treno ad Alta Velocita) in northern Italy by No TAV. The resistance has developed into alternative forms of social and economic organization within the defended territories. The book discusses the role of different strategies and tactics, and how to maintain alliances between diverse groups through dialogue.
See also: Jordan, John, 'Battle of the ZAD', Red Pepper, Jun-Jul 2018, pp. 24-29
Analysis of major campaign by agricultural community against loss of land for Narita airport.
On the initiation of ‘green bans’ – work bans by unions to prevent redevelopment of working class neighbourhoods and destruction of historic buildings and urban green spaces in Sydney. Between 1971 and 1974 42 separate bans were imposed and linked unionists with middle class conservationists. See also: Mundey, Jack , Green Bans and Beyond Sydney NSW, Angus and Robertson, , 1981
Account of three months struggle against Newbury bypass.
Compares Australian and US environmental activism in relation to their political and social context.
Tamlit writes as one of the 13 activists, giving a brief account of the occupation of a runway at Heathrow using locks and chains, and of the trial where the defendants pleaded 'necessity' to prevent local harm and harm caused by climate change. He also provides a summary history of the development of a broad anti-aviation campaign from 2000 against, the creation of Plane Stupid in 2005, which became a direct action network, and the Climate Camp at Heathrow.
See also: Mortimer, Caroline, 'Plane Stupid Climate Change Activists Block Heathrow Runway in Protest at Airport Expansion', Independent, 13 July 2015 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/heathrow-protest-live-plane-stupid-climate-change-activists-block-runway-in-protest-at-airport-10384280.html
Well known critic of neoliberal globalization analyses its impact on climate change, argues against the adequacy of technical fixes and for fundamental social change. She also examines the developments in the environmental movement and suggests how campaigns against fracking and tar sands are front lines in the struggle against climate change.
Summary account of following organizations and their campaigns: 350.org (founded to combat climate change globally); the Sierra Club; Greenpeace; Idle No More (founded 2012 in Canada mostly by Native North Americans to combat government tar sands plan); and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Examines techniques of community organizing adopted by some environmental and climate change activists, and notes this approach alien to institutionalized and hierarchical NGOs.
Discusses evolution of alternative media campaigning from the 15th UN Climate Conference in December 2009.