How Greenpeace Works

You'll see Greenpeace in the places you'd least want to be. The crews of Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) face down whaling ships in the North Sea, perch atop abandoned oil rigs and float through the forbidden zones of nuclear test areas. Gre­en­peace ­uses sensational, nonviolent confrontations to expose governments and corporations that abuse environmental laws. Such bold tactics create journalistic buzz, get the public's attention and frequently influence national and international environmental and conservation policies.

Greenpeace members
Andre Durand/AFP/Getty Images
French police arrest Greenpeace members
protesting a movement of plutonium.


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No organization embodies daring environmentalism quite like Greenpeace, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving endangered species, protecting the environment and educating the public. However, Greenpeace is more than just a group of radicals on RIBs willing to put themselves in harm's way. Greenpeace International (properly Stichting Greenpeace Council) is a large International Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) with national and regional chapters in 40 countries. It has 2.8 million supporters worldwide who donate money and volunteer time. Greenpeace cultivates a large support base because it does not accept donations from governments, corporations, political parties or multinational bodies like the United Nations or the European Union.

Although some environmental groups criticize Greenpeace for its tactics and argue that such organizations should focus solely on research and lobbying, Greenpeace has had marked success in its more than three decades of protesting. In this article, we'll learn about Greenpeace's mission, its history, its victories and its fleet of ships.

In the next section, we'll learn about Greenp­eace's mission and goals.