Thursday, December 2, 2010

Voyage of Greenpeace flagship may be over, but not its causes

The voyage may soon be over for Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior. But definitely not for the environmental causes which the international volunteer organization has been fighting for.

The ship, which is set to retire next year, arrived in Manila Saturday for the final stop of her “Turn the Tide” tour of Southeast Asia, promoting solutions to the threat of climate change.

To welcome the ship’s arrival, more than 500 Greenpeace volunteers conducted a “March for Renewable Energy” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City as they called on the Philippine government to commit to a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2020.

They also urged President Aquino to set an example for the rest of the world by signing the country on to an Energy Revolution road map.

In response, Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Amor Amorado said the government supports the group’s campaign.

“The government supports the development of renewable energy. The government believes that there is no other way but through renewable energy if we hope to survive further in this kind of environment. We have seen the ill-effects of coal plants, that’s why we support Greenpeace in their endeavors,” he said.

Greenpeace is known for its attention-grabbing campaigns to make people aware of the abuses suffered by Mother nature. The Rainbow Warrior is the ship the organization uses to visit mainly countries in Asia and the Pacific.

The ship’s arrival also coincided with the 10th anniversary of Greenpeace operations in the region.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which was established in 2000, has been campaigning to protect forests, promote renewable energy, advocate sustainable agriculture and to stop water pollution.

Key battleground

“Southeast Asia is one of the key battlegrounds where the fight to save the planet will ultimately be won or lost. The furious pursuit of economic growth at all costs by Southeast Asian countries over the last 10 years has resulted in some of the worst case of environmental abuse and destruction we have ever seen. This makes Greenepeace’s mission to protect the region from further ecological ruin and to be a rallying point for awareness and action even more critical,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Von Hernandez.

According to JP Agcaoili, Greenpeace media campaigner, the organization is now in the process of building the new Rainbow Warrior—a purpose-built environmental campaigning ship—as the current ship is heading for retirement after 52 years at sea.

The ship that visited the Philippines is actually the Rainbow Warrior II. The original vessel (Rainbow Warrior I) was sunk in 1985 by agents of the French government in an attempt to foil protests of their nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.

In 1989, Greenpeace was able to get a hold of another ship, a former fishing vessel, which they converted into the Rainbow Warrior II.

The vessel’s name was inspired by a North American Indian prophecy “which foretells a time when human greed will make the Earth sick, and a mythical band of warriors will descend from a rainbow to save it.”

The Rainbow Warrior II has had a long and colorful history of campaigning, supporting people in their fight to have a cleaner, safer environment.

It not only acts as Greenpeace’s messenger, sometimes it is at the core of risky operations like blocking the path of a nuclear warship or a ship known to be carrying toxic wastes.

Arguably, Greenpeace said, the ship’s greatest moments were in her decades-long struggle to end nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.

“Despite being rammed, bombed and subjected to every form of intimidation and opposition imaginable, she carried on the fight for a nuclear-free Pacific,” the group said.

The new ship will be purpose-built and better equipped to tackle the great environmental threats of our time, according to the Greenpeace’s official website.


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