Letter: The environment is much more than a single issue

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: As the Shetland oil disaster recedes from the memory and disappears from the media, the accusations of your editorial ('Were we conned?', 16 January) may stick in the public mind. You grant that Greenpeace is 'a necessary phenomenon' but a 'single-issue' pressure group 'with tunnel vision and a streak of fanaticism'.

You pin this accusation on us using a throwaway but much repeated remark by a Shetland health official that groups 'such as Greenpeace' were guilty of 'scaremongering' over the Braer. That charge, we now know, was in fact mainly aimed at a doctor whom the official would not name because of medical etiquette and a Norwegian group whose name he had forgotten. But your editorial converts this one-hair brush into a tar-bucket job with which to paint your prejudices across much of the environmental movement and Greenpeace in particular.

Greenpeace works on issues from nuclear reprocessing to Gatt reform, from global warming to dolphin protection and development of ozone-safe refrigeration. 'The environment' is an issue: 'single' it isn't.

Yesterday Greenpeace published Energy Without Oil, a study of energy in the future world economy. It is a vision, yes: one of how the world can phase out fossil fuels. But it is also the result of 18 months work by the Stockholm Environment Institute, not the product of 'incipient totalitarians . . . divorced from reality'.

Greenpeace is still conducting science surveys and animal rescue in Shetland. The effects of the spill will continue even if media interest does not. A Greenpeace ship arrived within hours because it was doing unpublicised fisheries research off Scotland: if you find we are on the spot again, please bear in mind that we work on these matters day in, day out. The media has to rush to disasters, but it shouldn't rush to


Yours faithfully,


Programme Director


London, N1

20 January