Hennessey, Timothy [faculty advisor, Department of Political Science]
Greenpeace; Earth First!; The Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front; environmentalism
Causes of worldwide environmental destruction created a form of activism, Ecotage with an incredible success rate. Ecotage uses direct action, or monkey wrenching, to prevent environmental destruction. Mainstream conservation efforts were viewed by many environmentalists as having failed from compromise inspiring the birth of radicalized groups. This eventually transformed conservationists into radicalists. Green Peace inspired radical environmentalism by civil disobedience, media campaigns and direct action tactics, but remained mainstream. Earth First’s! philosophy is based on a no compromise approach. They took direct action tactics further than Green Peace was willing too. Earth First’s! direct action campaigns epitomize modern environmental radicalism. Tree spiking, sabotage, arson and other forms of property destruction inspired even more violent radical groups decades later. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is the top domestic terror threat in the United States today. It is the collective name for anonymous and autonomous individuals and groups that use unconventional methods of economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to halt environmental destruction. They have been compared to terrorists and criticized for lacking true commitment to environmental preservation resulting from their destructive direct action methods. My research shows that the ideology and actions of the modern radical environmental movement can only be understood by taking into account the lasting political, social and radical precedents created by the groups that inspired it. The movement today displays ideology, tactics, and enthusiasm for direct action that can only be understood from early influences in the movement. Examining individual radical groups apart from the movement provide sufficient insight and explanation for how today’s movement functions.