Gerd Leipold, the current Executive Director of Greenpeace, has just come out on the BBC programme Hardtalk and admitted that they had ’emotionalised’ issues surrounding the melting of the polar ice-caps in a report released on July 15th.
Although climate change is clearly a serious issue and one that must not be dismissed, it is important that we approach such pivotal aspects of human existence through as objective a perspective as we can possibly muster. The actions of Greenpeace, both now and at various times in the past, have shown that there are some who wish to exaggerate environmental issues in order to bring about change more quickly. Whether or not this tactic is viable is still open for debate, and indeed I would argue that by doing so Greenpeace will have actually alienated many in positions of power who may have been able to make an impact.
The problem, of course, stems from the fact that by exaggerating these claims Greenpeace has opened up their whole mission to scrutiny and skepticism. Ethical organisations must ensure that they remain as honest and upfront about their findings and analysis as they possibly can, because to do otherwise can lead to suspicion and a detrimental effect to the cause that they are trying to promote.
An ethical organisation not only has ethical interests at heart, which Greenpeace certainly does, but also acts in as ethical a manner as is possible. If Greenpeace knew as an organisation that their claims that the ice-caps would disappear by 2030 were exaggerated then they shouldn’t have made those claims at all, because to do so puts their entire campaign in jeopardy and can undo any good that they may have otherwise achieved.
Honesty in all matters is always the best policy, even if some believe it may lead to complacency. Unfortunately, once you have lost the public trust it is very difficult to regain it and Greenpeace certainly seems to be on the losing side of this argument against their integrity at the moment…