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Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist Paperback – 22 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Beatty Street Publishing, Inc.; Rev Upd edition (22 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986480827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986480829
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Yelzab on 26 Feb. 2011
Greenpeace Iconoclast

This book makes it clear as to why Patrick Moore (not to be confused with the astronomer of the same name) seriously fell out with Greenpeace and lost nearly all his close friends in this organisation and is still much reviled today by many fundamentalist Greenpeace activists as a renegade and traitor to their holy cause. But he has a broad lumberjack's back and got used to it. Moore departed from Greenpeace, fifteen years after he helped to create it, to become amongst other things an environmental consultant. A new Green Messiah always willing to help steer repugnant big business and industry to a greener, friendlier and of course more profitable future with much enhanced public relations. Nobody can feel neutral about Moore after reading this book or confused about what the words Renewable, Clean, Sustainable and Green, really mean. At the end of 376 closely packed pages the reader is probably going to be rather less neutral and more seriously informed. There is no doubt that this is a most significant book; an opinion former and changer of some merit. It is a mystery why it is not yet more well known - but watch this space. Moore says of it: "My engaging firsthand account of many years spent as the ultimate Greenpeace insider, a co-founder and leader in the organization's top committee." It also has the advantage of being a highly readable page turner.

Patrick Moore born 1947 was raised in rugged Winter Harbour on Vancouver Island and grew up in a family with a long history of logging and fishing. An outstanding student he obtained his Ph.D. in ecology at the University of British Columbia. In 1971 he became radicalised and joined a small group of anti nuclear activists planning to disrupt hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. E. Adams on 22 Sept. 2013
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This is a great read written by someone who looks at the science involved with the environment as opposed to environmental activists who making bland statements which have little substance. If you want an unbiased view on 'perceived' global environmental issues, Confessions Of A Greenpeace Dropout is where you should start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elanor Whythe on 10 May 2013
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Great book, easy to read, honest and the truth.

There should be more people writing about these issues. loved it
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on 29 Oct. 2011
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One thing's for sure: deep ecologists, anarcho-primitivists, Anthroposophists and the Unabomber sure won't like this one...

You have been warned.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
The most important environmental book of the decade 19 Feb. 2011
By Bill Muehlenberg - Published on
The book chronicles Patrick moore's involvement with Greenpeace and his eventful disillusionment with it. The first half looks at all the now famous activities of Greenpeace and his involvement with them. There are all the stories of anti-nuclear activism, anti-whaling programs, campaigns against chemicals, and so on.

We learn about how he became involved in radical environmentalism; how he became president of Greenpeace in 1977; how he reacted to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland; how he grew aware of ideological and politicised agendas amongst his peers; and how he eventually decided he had had enough of a once important organisation.

He describes in detail his growing disillusionment with Greenpeace. He came to see that these people were ideologically-driven activists, not scientists, so they were often going off half-cocked, lambasting things which were not in fact harmful or dangerous.

The last straw was when Greenpeace decided to run with a global ban on chlorine. "This is when Greenpeace really lost me. As a student of advanced biochemistry, I realized chlorine was one of the 92 natural elements in the periodic table and that it is essential for life. You don't just go around banning entire elements, especially when life without them would be impossible!"

A number of related concerns eventually led to his decision to leave. He was tired of the politics, the grandstanding, the propaganda, and the radical, inflexible warfare mentality of Greenpeace. He knew there must be a better way to have genuine sustainable environmental outcomes.

"I wanted to move from constant confrontation, always telling people what they should stop doing, to trying to find consensus about what we should do instead. I had been against three or four things every day of my life for the past 15 years. I now decided to figure out what I was in favour of for a change. I wanted to find solutions rather than problems and to seek win-win resolutions rather than unending confrontations."

In 1986 he finally parted ways with the organisation he helped to form some 15 years earlier. The second half of the book examines the various major environmental issues, examining how Greenpeace has been more interested in activist politics than in sound science.

Thus Moore looks in some detail at all the big issues, including nuclear energy, climate change, the nature of chemicals, population issues, biodiversity and endangered species. While still a committed environmentalist, he now has moved in polar opposite directions in many of these areas.

Take the issue of nuclear power for example. Moore now knows that nuclear energy is one of the safest energy sources we have. Compared to other major energy sources, it is very safe indeed. While many deaths occur in other areas, "no nuclear worker has ever been killed in a nuclear plant accident in the West, and only one accident has caused fatalities."

Chernobyl was the exception to the rule, and despite propaganda to the contrary (Greenpeace claims over 90,000 died because of the accident), the UN-based Chernobyl Forum concluded that only 56 people died as a direct result of the episode.

Environmentalists are right to want us to get off our dependence on fossil fuels. But nuclear energy is the most efficient and least expensive alternative to fossil fuels. Yet greens are totally opposed to it. "How did we get to the point where environmental groups reject the most cost-effective, feasible, and timely solutions to the very problems they are most concerned about?"

Or consider the issue of chemicals. It is one of the most abused and misused words around, certainly in green circles. As Moore reminds us, "our food is made entirely of chemicals. Water is a chemical. Our medicines are all chemicals. Without chemicals there could be no life, never mind civilization."

After a detailed discussion of chemicals, toxicology and related issues, he offers these concluding generalisations:
-All material things are made of chemicals.
-No chemical is inherently evil.
-Under certain conditions some chemicals can be quite dangerous.
-Many chemicals have both negative and positive attributes.
-Bans should be placed on the way a chemical is used, not on the chemical itself.
-The benefits of many chemicals far outweigh any toxic impacts.

He also talks good solid sense on the contentious issue of climate change. He reminds us that climatology science is only a few decades old, and there is a great deal of diversity of opinion within the community. And climate science is about two quite different things: current facts versus future predictions. It is in the latter area that we often get into so much trouble.

He offers plenty of detailed discussion on this issue. Scare-mongering about polar bears is one case he tackles head on. The truth is, in 1960 there were around 6,000 polar bears, whereas today there are some 20,000 to 25,000. It is not weather conditions but hunting that is mainly responsible for their numbers.

Moore he points out how greatly global temperatures vary, and how there have been warmer periods in the earth's history. He believes that CO2 emissions may in fact be mostly beneficial, "possibly making the coldest places on earth more habitable and definitely increasing yields of food crops, energy crops, and forests around the entire world."

In sum, he believes that groups like Greenpeace have in many ways been selling us a bill of goods. The environmental movement "is partly a political movement that aims to influence public policy, but it is also partly a religious movement in that many of its policies are based on beliefs rather than scientific facts....

"Environmentalism is to a large extent a populist movement that challenges established authority and appeals to the disenchanted, social revolutionaries, and idealists. `Pop environmentalism,' like popular culture in general, tends to be shallow and sensational, moving from fad to fad. The pop environmentalists are generally self-assured, even smug in the belief they know the truth."

He is alarmed by how the political left has hijacked the environmental movement, given how there are clear examples of good environmental policies which can be found on both the left and right side of politics. He concludes with a list of causes he thinks we should be tackling, such as:

-grow more trees;
-move to hydroelectric and nuclear energy;
-deal with the most pressing environmental problem: poverty;
-relax about climate change which is always taking place;
-make use of advances in genetic science.

This is a very important book. Simply going by the amount of flack he has come under since making his move tells us about its importance. Indeed, whenever a person leaves a group of true believers, be it atheism, Islam or other totalist ideologies, such a move will always be considered to be treasonous.

So Moore is now considered to be an apostate and a heretic by many of his former fellow-travellers. Well, so be it. The time has well and truly come for the radical, loony activism of so many greens to be replaced by realistic, science-based and sensible environmentalism. We can all be grateful for Moore taking the lead in this.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
A Sensible Stance on Environmentalsim 21 Feb. 2011
By Dale Smith - Published on
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Unlike many environmentalists, Patric Moore is a trained scientist and uses that training to take reasoned positions on many environmental issues. As a founder of Greenpeace he participated in many of that organization's early actions to save baby seals and whales, and their protests against nuclear bomb tests. He defends those actions vigorously and convincingly. He parted with his old Greenpeace collaborators when they strayed from sound science with their positions. He makes convincing arguments for nuclear power, aquaculture, genetically modified seeds and managed forestry as being good for the environment and humanity. The book has a valuable and scientifically based critique on the validity of the catastrophic claims of the climate change advocates. This book is filled with common sense, science backed positions on the controversial environmental problems of our times.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Sane Environmentalist Whom Allcomers Can Respect and Love 19 Dec. 2011
By Stephen Harper - Published on
Patrick Moore takes us on an autobiographical journey which charts his maturation from a young, eager and idealistic environmentalist to an adult, rational and realistic environmentalist. Being on the spot as a co-founder of Greenpeace, we get the inside view on the world of environmentalism as it rose to prominence in the world.

The first part of his book deals with his early formative experiences, friendships forged, campaigns that were run (including to save the baby seals) and the general we-are-changing-the-world euphoria of the young man on a mission. It is a fascinating account and gives us a valuable insight into the personal relationships, the highs and lows and the motivations his group of young and idealistic people who helped to change our world.

Then at a 1982 UNEP sponsored conference in Nairobi attended by 85 NGO environmentalists Moore's world-view was altered forever. He came away from Nairobi still a committed environmentalist but with a new more nuanced and sophisticated approach. The concept of "sustainability/sustainable development" entered his consciousness for the first time. This new concept required a compromise between environmentalism and industrial civilisation: a balancing of environmental, social and economic values; and a recognition that there were around 7 billion people on the planet who had needs and rights that ought to be considered and accommodated.

This shift in Moore's thinking began to put him at odds with the hard-line, uncompromising, `black and white' line taken by Greenpeace (and other environmental groups). The group he helped found had become deeply ideological and intolerant. Increasingly, issues were seen through a `good versus evil' prism; and a zero tolerance position was adopted in relation to nuclear power, clear cutting (of trees), GM crops and chlorine (and PVC).

It was Greenpeace's focus on chlorine that led Moore to break with the organisation. Radically improved diagnostic tools had enabled the measurement of trace elements in industrial processes down to parts to billion and parts per trillion. Dioxin, a known carcinogen, was detected in paper making. Despite the extremely low levels of dioxin Greenpeace started a campaign for "chlorine free" paper mills (an ongoing campaign today). The industry responded and introduced new processes which removed dioxins from the paper making process altogether . Soon the campaign morphed in to one to ban chrlorine from ALL industrial processes including PVC! This was the last straw for Moore.

Moore, being a student of advanced biochemistry, knew that you couldn't just ban an element of the periodic table. He looked around and noticed that no-one else had any scientific qualifications besides himself. His fellow environmentalists were all social and political activists and what he terms "environmental entrepreneurs". The penny dropped. This wasn't rational; this wasn't about sensible environmental goals anymore. The movement had turned into a crusade that ignored the lessons of science. So, although proud of his achievements whilst at Greenpeace (as he puts it: stoping the bomb, saving the whales, and the stopping of toxic discharges into water and the air) Moore wanted out and he left the organization in 1985.

Moore spends the second half of the book discussing various issues with which he is at odds with the deep green environmental movement (which includes most of his former colleagues at Greenpeace). He looks at forestry, aquaculture, nuclear power and GM food. He discusses all the options for the energy we need to run our advanced, energy-hungry, industrial societies. He throws cold water on some deep green icons such as wind and solar power and calls for a re-think on nuclear power (which he says is the only major thing he got wrong whilst at Greenpeace - Greenpeace opposed nuclear energy).

Moore calls out ideological environmentalists who have taken their crusade to ever greater extremes: he debunks the exaggerations of species and habitat loss and the shameful scaremongering over global warming. And he defends the use of chemicals (and highlights the laughably unscientific phobia of the ideologues who consider all chemicals to be unnatural); and he defends the right of humans to exist and to make use of the earth's natural resources. The extreme environmentalists think that they have reached the pinnacle of moral rectitude in standing up for Gaia - and they think that humans have virtually no rights. Moore is sane - and acknowledges that both Gaia and humanity have rights and presents a case for peaceful co-existence.

At the end of the book he returns to the theme of sustainability and presents a blueprint for the future, asking readers to consider the merits of hydro-electric power, nuclear power and genetic science. He sees wood as an ideal renewable resource (including as a fuel); he pooh-poohs the economy-harming, restrictive regulation of fossils fuels and argues instead that we focus on finding new and better technologies; he notes that poverty is the worst environmental problem (a wise observation completely lost on your average greenie zealot). And he does the full circle as he ends by proclaiming that no whale or dolphin should be captured or killed anywhere, ever.

So Moore is still an environmentalist - he has just become a more thoughtful, rational and mature environmentalist. He eschews the extremism of the deep-greens (who can be observed spewing out bile as they attempt to smear and belittle Moore as a turncoat), and he presents us with a well argued case for a society imbued with environmental values that does not throw the (human) baby out with the bath water. All in all "Confessions of Greenpeace Dropout" is a very readable, human, enjoyable and rational book which I heartily recommend to all comers. It will appeal to everyone except the most sad, blinkered extremists for whom no accommodation with the needs of humanity can be contemplated nor tolerated.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Little Windy But.... 26 Mar. 2011
By Robert W Hickman - Published on
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More detail than I ever wanted; especially about Greenpeace activities. Despite this complaint, this book should be required reading. Patrick Moore has confirmed many of my previously held beliefs about Greenpeace and the environmentalist movement. I even went to the Greenpeace and read what they have to say about Mr. Moore. Their comments read like someone pointed at them and said "the king has no pants". Even if a quarter of what he says is true, we have been lied to and led down the wrong path.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout - through a physical scientist eyes. 12 Aug. 2012
By Wallace W. Souder - Published on
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I just finished reading "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout - The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist" by the founder (one of a handful, but he was the driving force by far) Patrick Moore.
After a short chapter of introductory frustration over the change of course Greenpeace has made, which made him drop out, he gives a great history of how they single-handedly launched successful campaigns against atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, illegal hunting of whales, clubbing of tens of thousands of seal pups, and quite a few other activities that I think were worthy endeavors in protecting our environment. He also protested building nuclear power plants, but has now done an about face on that. One could skip over this and start with page 37, "The Beginnings," if the introductory part hasn't enough interest.

Much of the book is spent on refuting the reasons Greenpeace has for their campaigns on genetic alteration of crops and animals, use of chemicals in industrial products, global climate change, and so forth. He states (very correctly) that the evolved Greenpeace bases nearly nothing on science or real data (or what I would call "common sense"), but is obsessed with winning converts and battling authorities and industries. His writing about forestry is very well done, as he was raised in a lumber town in British Columbia and has been involved in forestry most of his life. His contention is that lumber is our greatest renewable resource and that the forestry industry is NOT destroying the forests, but expanding them. He makes great arguments in favor of nuclear power (he didn't mention this, but I love the bumper sticker I've often seen "more people have died in the back seat of Ted Kennedy's car than in US nuclear accidents").

I wasn't aware that Greenpeace is trying to have the element chlorine declared a toxic material and that it should be banned in manufacturing or used where it can expose people. Amazing. What do we use to "salt" our food? How can we have sanitary swimming pools? Etc. It is a fairly long book, but contains a huge list of footnotes referencing his sources (many accessible by websites). If nothing else, read chapter 20 "The Climate of Fear" where he puts forth a great argument that the earth pretty much does as it wishes, as far a climate is concerned, and that yes, we may be affecting it to some degree, but the earth has been much warmer in the past, has had much higher CO2 (even in cool times!), and that the current warming trend, which started around 18,000 years ago, with occasional short cooling periods, is much better for us than a prolonged cooling period would be.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book (as a scientist, I like approaches based on facts and integrity), despite not agreeing with a few comments (US needs government health care, which was only a sentence or two). Perhaps I liked it because I agree with nearly all his assertions about the real intent of Greenpeace and the lack of credible science. I think they have evolved from a very useful organization into an anti-industry group seeking notoriety and exerting muscle disproportionate to their causes.
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