Last Sunday I attended what I thought was going to be a vigil to remember the victims of the tsunami in Japan organised by Greenpeace in Hong Kong which was held at Central Statue Square. What I hadn’t bargained on was that it would be hijacked by them as an anti-nuclear demonstration instead.

Serious Questions

While I think most people had attended in good faith I found it somewhat disingenuous that the plight of a nation had been twisted towards Greenpeace’s own agenda. The people of Japan are suffering from the effects of a natural disaster (earthquake + tsunami) and the nuclear situation is simply a byproduct of this – NOT the cause.

Remembering Japan

Greenpeace is campaigning specifically in Hong Kong to try to raise awareness around the risks involved in the development of nuclear energy in the region and to ultimately halt proposals for expansion. In all fairness they do have a compelling argument but this isn’t the point; people had come to remember Japan, not be lectured about the dangers of nuclear energy.

Anti-Nuclear Talk

What really annoyed me was that they were showing images of victims and the destroyed cities on a projector screen while discussing nuclear safety when the two are entirely separate. To me it was morally and ethically wrong for Greenpeace to hijack the disaster to promote their own propaganda.

Illumination

My own personal opinion is that nuclear energy is a necessary evil required until renewable technology is sufficiently developed to replace it. It’s clearly not ideal but we are left with little choice in a society so hungry for electricity – asking people to reduce their consumption just isn’t going to work unless they are personally impacted in some way.

Candle in the Wind

As was pointed out here, an aging atomic reactor has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and considering the scale of the catastrophe is holding up remarkably well. Before jumping to conclusions or pointing fingers lets take a moment to remember the people who have lost their lives and those who are still suffering the after effects of its impact.

Comments

  1. This kind of act isn’t uncommon for Greenpeace. They dilute the facts to promote their own agenda. I’m not anti-Greenpeace, I think they have their place since they help to provide balance. However, this type of act is distasteful.

    Like you said, the problems in Japan are the result of a natural disaster and were not caused by the reactor itself. This disaster is also only likely to occur once every 600 years, so I’ve read. How do you plan for this?

    I am also in agreement about your opinion on nuclear energy. It is the only viable source of energy right now.

    • David says:

      Thanks Matt – I’m glad I’m not the only person feeling an unpleasant taste about this. In a world full of extremes why can’t people act in moderation?

  2. I would have to agree with you David, now is not the time to be harping on any agenda.
    There are obvious problems associated with the use of nuclear power just as there are with any form of energy production. Greenpeace and other organizations do serve a useful service to the world in the sense that they help to point out the need for conservation and restraint. At the same time by capitalizing on this tragedy they go too far and run the risk of alienating those they hope to influence.

  3. Joshua says:

    Wow, what a despicable thing to do. I’ll say that this makes me question any support for the organization – this is the type of tactic that religious zealots would try.

    With that said, I’ve attended an anti-nuclear rally to photograph it here in Taiwan. I also see nuclear power as a necessary evil for small nations, but supported the people in that they were directly standing up for their beliefs.

    • David says:

      Thanks Joshua – it’s a tricky situation which requires sensitive handling, something Greenpeace seemed to forget this time.

  4. How can Greenpeace hijack an event that they themselves organized? If they staged an action at a vigil organized by other groups, then fair enough, you may have a point, but it seems a little harsh to criticize them knowing full well that the event was organized by them.

    Greenpeace have long campaigned on this issue and no one should expect anything other than an anti-nuclear demonstration if organized by them.

    • David says:

      The point is it was billed as a vigil for Japan, not an anti-nuclear rally. People came expecting to remember the plight of Japan and instead got a lecture on the dangers of nuclear energy. Perhaps I’m being naive?

      • I don’t know but a quick scan of news archives shows that it was also billed as a demonstration against nuclear energy. It would be irresponsible of Greenpeace not to speak of the dangers.

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