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On this day in 1985: French government blows up Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior



Twenty-eight years ago today, French secret service agents blew up the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, killing one man. The tragedy took place in Auckland harbour.

The boat – named after a North American Indian prophecy – was built in 1955, initially serving as a fishing trawler in the North Sea. It was later launched as the Rainbow Warrior in 1978 and was due to lead a flotilla of boats to Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific to protest against French nuclear tests before the assault occurred.

According to Greenpeace, “It was an instance when a government chose to respond to peaceful protest with deadly force.”

The incident saw the death of Fernando Pereira, a Portugal-born Greenpeace photographer. He had joined the Rainbow Warrior crew in order to document the French nuclear testing and bring his camera skills to a mass audience. The French government has never officially apologised to his family.

Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, two French agents who had posed as Swiss tourists in order to carry out the attack, were caught and detained by New Zealand authorities. Charged with manslaughter, they were sentenced to 10 years in jail.

They only served two years of the sentence after the French government intervened, threatening to impose trade embargoes with New Zealand. Prieur and Mafart spent the majority of their sentences in France, as part of an agreement between the French and New Zealand governments and Greenpeace. One commentator described the act and subsequent political events as “state sponsored terrorism”.

On the 25-year anniversary of the attack in 2010, Nine News reported that French agents might have been spying on the ship’s layout, with the two bombs seemingly causing devastating damage in unusually quick time. Indeed, the Rainbow Warrior sank just four minutes after the second bomb was detonated.

Some even accused the Australian government and forces of contributing to the impact of the attack, with the authorities detaining other French agents for only 24 hours before being released.

Reaction and perspective

Greenpeace replaced its lost vessel with a new ship, and for 22 years, the second Rainbow Warrior assisted in the institution’s campaign against nuclear testing. The campaign group said, “In 2011, the new Rainbow Warrior – the world’s first purpose-built environmental campaigning ship – readied herself to carry on the original Rainbow Warrior’s spirit.”

The man in charge of the French intelligence service at the time of the Rainbow Warrior sinking 28 years ago said the late François Mitterrand, the French president at the time, had personally given the operation the go-ahead. In extracts from the 23-page document published by Le Monde, Admiral Pierre Lacoste, who headed France’s Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE) describes a meeting with Mitterrand on May 15, 1985, two months before the attack.

I asked the president if he gave me permission to put the neutralisation plan into action”, he wrote.

He gave me his agreement while stressing the importance he placed on the nuclear tests. I did not go into greater detail on the plan, as the authorisation was explicit enough.”

Lacoste remained adamant he would not have launched such an operation without the personal authorisation of the president.

Greenpeace has long been an opponent of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. In 2002, Greenpeace activists sought revenge for the Rainbow Warrior event by attacking a French challenger. The 25-metre yacht, owned by the Defi Areva team, was scheduled to compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challengers’ series for the America’s Cup, before a motor-powered dinghy crashed into it.

Defi Areva’s sports director Pierre Mas described the event as “an act of terrorism”.

Ironically, were Defi Areva to have won the competition, they would have taken on Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in February 2003.


Although the incident remains a tragic memory, there were several positive outcomes for green activism and idealism. The ship’s sinking was a huge propaganda victory for green institutions and followers everywhere. This, along with the panic unleashed by the catastrophe at Chernobyl in 1986, saw Greenpeace’s membership triple, whilst environmental concerns saw broader and prioritised recognition from many governments across the world.

After the bombing in Auckland harbor, the ship was given a resting place at Matauri Bay in New Zealand’s Cavalli Islands, where it has become a living reef, attracting marine life and recreational divers.

The scandal led to the resignation of Charles Hernu, the French defence minister, and Lacoste’s departure from the DGSE. To this day, it tarnishes France’s image in the South Pacific and is considered the DGSE’s worst post-war failure.

Along with the resignations and embarrassment to the French government and military, reputations have long since struggled to be resurrected.

Further reading:

Environmentalism: does active mean effective?

No Dash for Gas protested for a clean, sustainable future. And EDF is suing them for it

Joseph Iddison is a master’s student at the University of Leicester. Having graduated from the same institution in July 2013 in English, Joseph will start the global environmental change course in September.


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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