How to Change the World
It isn’t too hard to be an environmentalist.
You have to do three things: believe what the scientists say, recycle, and root against the bad guys (corporations and Republicans). That’s about it.
If you genuinely believe that humans are destroying the world right now, however, I would think that you’d have to do more. A lot more.
If I genuinely thought that my actions were killing the planet, I would have to move out of my apartment immediately. I’d have to move into a place that is within walking distance of work and sell my car for scrap.
I would have to avoid reproduction at all cost to reduce my carbon footprint. I would obviously have to go vegan because of the negative effect that animal husbandry has on the land. I would never buy a product that isn’t locally made. I would do my best to grow my own organic food. And I’d never travel so as not to unnecessarily burn fossil fuels.
Being an environmentalist is easy. Changing the world is hard.
“How to Change the World” introduces us to some legendary heroes of the radical environmentalist movement.
The documentary begins in 1971. The US government was planning on conducting yet another nuclear weapons test on the pristine Alaskan island of Amchitka.
A ragtag group of Vancouver hippies decided to risk their lives to stop the test. With a lot of bravery – and a lot of facial hair – the activists sailed through the treacherous Behring Sea and into history.
Though the Coastguard sent them back. The activists returned home as conquering heroes. The Nixon Administration quality closed down the Amchitka testing site a few months later.
Along the way, the group decided on a name for their organization. Since it consisted of anti-war activists and environmental activists, they chose the name: “The Tree-Hugging Dove Alliance.”
Just kidding. They called themselves Greenpeace.
Riding the wave of success from the Amchitka mission, Greenpeace founder Robert Hunter obtained a larger crew and a bigger boat. Then he threw the environmentalist community a big curveball. He decided that their next mission was to Save the Whales.
Greenpeace’s first mission to thwart a Soviet whale hunting ship is exciting and tense.
I’ll be honest with you: I’m not especially anti-whaling. I judge myself harder for eating a Sausage McMuffin last week than I judge a whaling crewman for doing his job. The pig lived its entire life as a meaningless commodity on a factory farm while the whale lived in pure freedom with its family up until its last breath.
Nevertheless, the sight of Greenpeace’s little speedboats standing between a monstrous harpoon and an innocent whale is unforgettable. Greenpeace forever turned the tide of public opinion against whaling.
“How to Change the World” shows how much sacrifice and bravery it takes to really make a difference when you are fighting against powerful businesses and governments. It also shows, frankly, how hard it is to remain philosophically pure when you become powerful yourself.
On Greenpeace’s second mission, the film admits, Robert Hunter had already begun to sell out. He was using maps given to him by the CIA that showed just where the Soviet whaling ships were going to be. And his boat was fueled by government money.
It turned out that Washington loved Greenpeace. Because it was embarrassing Moscow.
In the end, even Greenpeace learned that changing the world is hard. This would be a huge problem if the radical environmentalists were right about their claim that humans are destroying the world. Thank goodness they are wrong. We are not.