The current paper is a summary of Paul Wapner’s “Greenpeace and Political Globalism” (2004). The author stresses that the modern social environment contributed to the emergence of new forms of social cooperation and political movements. In particular, the role of non-governmental organizations tends to increase. Wapner examines the strategies of transnational environmental groups in the field of global civic politics. The main focus is on the environmental impact of their policies. The author explains that transnational activists significantly affect world political events. The main conditions are created by these forces.
The majority of current operations take place at the global level, and separate states cannot exert a large influence on this trend. The structure of modern life is mostly determined by the dominant culture and ideas. In this context, environmental groups try to address a number of issues regarding the importance of the environment. Government programs may serve as the “base” while cultural and social aspects may constitute the “superstructure” (Wapner, 2004, p. 378).
Although legal and cultural factors significantly differ, they should not be analyzed separately during the investigation of topical environmental issues. All factors interact with one another and contribute to the emergence of the complex social reality. Formal laws and cultural norms are closely related as people should regard rules as being just and fair in order to support them. A number of environmental practices may be analyzed from a political perspective. They are political not because they are supported by the government but because they enable the use of power in influencing the ultimate behavior and state of affairs. Therefore, ecological sensibility allows necessary changes taking place. Moreover, it encourages people to behave in a responsible way and to understand the significance of the environment under modern social and economic conditions.
Greenpeace plays the central role in promoting environmental awareness worldwide. It had over 6 million members in 1994, and this numer tends to increase continually. The area of its concern tends to grow as well. In the beginning, the organization was focused on nuclear weapons; nowadays, Greenpeace deals with a large set of global environmental problems. The organization tries to maintain and restore the existing ecosystem. There are four main areas of interest that are selected by Greenpeace; they include energy and atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial ecology, nuclear issues, and toxic substances (Wapner, 2004, p. 379). Corresponding campaigns are organized in relation to each area. At the same time, the organization concentrates on a number of sub-problems. For example, ocean ecology includes whales, fisheries, sea turtles, dolphins, etc.
It is determined that almost all spheres of the global environment are subject to the influence of environmental factors. Greenpeace introduces programs that may address all these issues in a complex way. The executive board of the organization is Greenpeace Council; a number of regional trustees exist as well. In this way, different aspects of the organization’s strategy are coordinated. Taking into consideration all modern challenges, the organization focuses on the global level rather than the national or regional ones. Only this approach may allow addressing the most fundamental environmental issues. Different Greenpeace activities are coordinated in such a way that the general effect is supposed to be maximum possible. The organization’s employees try to focus on the specific external environment of different countries and examine corresponding cultural, environmental, and governmental factors. Thus, the main organization’s principles are the same all over the world, but the actual tactical measures may be different. The geographical and political context plays an important role in determining the ultimate strategy of Greenpeace.
All levels are structuralized in a specific way in accordance with the selected objectives and available resources. The organization uses different strategies in different directions of its operation, but all of them contribute to the realization of the organization’s mission. The Greenpeace’s policy is based on the assumption that people typically do not harm the environment intentionally; they merely have to respond to the existing structure of incentives. People do not act like robots or machines; they use logical reasoning in order to select the style and tactics that will maximize their subjective utility. Consequently, if the incentive structure is affected by inadequate influence of different factors, people have to change their behavior. People may sacrifice the interests of the environment if it is the only way of maximizing their own happiness and reaching their objectives. Thus, the organization should address general interpretation and conceptions. In fact, ecological sensibility should be promoted in all possible directions.
Another important aspect is the moral motivation of people. When individuals face a morally objectionable act, they have to make the optimal decision. They cannot simply refuse to make choice; people should either act morally or abstain from behaving morally, which will lead to the emergence of immorality and negative social consequences. The organization pays additional attention to the examples of incorrect behavior and presents this information to the audience worldwide. In this way, people’s understanding of the problem tends to increase, and the general situation may improve in this context. The necessary political reforms should be implemented through different forms of passive resistance in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi.
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Greenpeace often uses various media channels in order to spread its ideas and information. It is generally recognized that the majority of people are under strong influence of the visual content. Different dangerous actions of humans are presented and evaluated. Thus, the viewers can make their own conclusions and adjust their behavior accordingly. Indirect measures that are implemented by Greenpeace have become widespread recently. In the previous periods, it was difficult to influence the global politics in such a way as only direct measures may be effective. In particular, it is important to use modern information technologies in addressing the key organization’s message. Nowadays, Greenpeace has the possibility of reaching various audiences in different countries of the world. It is also reasonable to assess the impact of the organization’s campaigns in different regions and adjust the actual measures accordingly.