Greenpeace "Founder" Patrick Moore Not a Founder at All

For more than 20 years now, industry lobbyist Patrick Moore has touted himself a “co-founder” and sometimes even a “founder” of the global environment group Greenpeace. 

But a document making the rounds shows that Moore's claim to be a founder or a co-founder of Greenpeace is simply not true. 

A letter from 1971 shows Patrick Moore applying to take part in a Greenpeace trip and protest against nuclear testing in the Arctic ocean. A response from one of the actual co-founders of Greenpeace, Paul Cotes, on Greenpeace letterhead no less, acknowledges receipt of Moore's interest in taking part in Greenpeace activity.

How the heck can someone apply to be part of an organization that is already founded and then claim later to have been a founder? 

Here's the letter:


In many ways, Patrick Moore has built his entire reputation off this myth or, at the least, it has served Moore very well as a powerful talking point.

To be a pro-nuclear energy industry spokesperson or someone who claims there is no scientific proof that climate change is caused by human activity is one thing. In fact, there are lots of people who jump on Fox News and say the things Moore says.

But to say such things as a founder of one of the largest, most recognized environment groups in the world is what makes Moore newsworthy. And over the years Moore's story of being a former environmentalist who has seen the error of his ways has gotten him a lot of press.

In fact, Moore even wrote a book a few years back called, “Confessions of a Greenpeace Drop Out.”

Looking at Moore's credentials, I would suggest that if Moore had never claimed the mantle of a founder of Greenpeace, I bet he would not have gotten even an inch of column space, compared to the hundreds of articles and television appearances he has gotten over the years. 

Here's a 2004 profile in Wired magazine telling the tale of Patrick Moore's evolution from founder of Greenpeace to a “mouthpiece” for industry.

Case in point, watch this 2012 interview with Canada's right-wing mouthpiece Ezra Levant and you tell me if Moore's story is at all interesting if you take out the now-proven-false claim that Moore was a founder of Greenpeace:

See what I mean? There's just not much of a story.

Without his claim-to-fame, Patrick Moore is nothing but a guy with some opinions, and it blows my mind that he was able to keep up this myth for so long. 

Image credit: Dictadura Verde


On the other hand Moore used to be listed on Greenepeace's hompage as one of the founders:

It's rather odd, actually. Back in 2005 Greenpeace listed the founders of the “Don't make a wave committe” (origin of Greenpeace) as Paul Cote, Jim Bohlen, Irwin Stowe, Patrick Moore and Bill Darnell, while if you proceed to 2007 the founders have been changed to Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, Ben and Dorothy Metcalfe, and Bob Hunter. I guess things weren't very formal back then, but I don't think you can make too much of the fact that Moore claims to have been one of the founders since even Greenpeace themselves can't keep their story straight. In any case there is no doubt he was an important member for many years.

Moore may be getting too much press today based on his historical role in Greenpeace, but at least it is an authentic role unlike, for example, Lomborg who as it seems made his membership up to gain credibility.

Your link is to Greenpeace International, not Greenpeace Canada. GP International is a separate organization and was formed years later when the story of who the exact founders of Greenpeace were may have changed over time or were perhaps misremembered.

No doubt Patrick Moore was a very early member and was also onboard the first voyage of the first ship Phyllis Cormack (re-christened The Greenpeace). But was Moore an actual founder?

The Don't Make a Wave Committe was formed in 1969. It was made up of members from SPEC, UBC Alma Mater Society and Sierra Club. The name of this committee was changed to Greenpeace in early 1970.

From Rex Wyler's website and chronology:

February 8, 1970: Marie Bohlen, inspired by the Quaker boat Golden Rule, came up with the idea to send a boat to Amchitka to protest the nuclear tests. The Vancouver Sun announced the plan as a Sierra Club campaign, but when the Sierra Club in California rejected the idea, Vancouver’s Don’t Make a Wave Committee embraced it. At a meeting at the Unitarian Church that week, as Irving Stowe flashed the “V” sign and said “Peace,” Bill Darnell, replied modestly, “Make it a green peace.” 

Rex Wyler wrote a lengthy book on the history of Greenpeace and does not list Moore as one of the founders, who were by and large, the original directors of the Don't Make a Wave Committee.

It seems logical then if someone were on the BoD of the Don't Make a Wave Committee, then they were essentially one and the same founders of Greenpeace, since the former merely changed its name to the latter.

I disagree with this postulation:

“Looking at Moore's credentials, I would suggest that if Moore had never claimed the mantle of a founder of Greenpeace, I bet he would not have gotten even an inch of column space…”

Moore would definitely have garnered the same amount of interest and sympathy from the corporate news media had he not declared himself a cofounder of Greenpeace. The fact is the corporate news media loves a good turncoat story. Anyone who comes over to the side of the establishment from the environmental movement is championed as someone who saw the “error” of their ways. From an industry propaganda perspective, this helps to discredit environmantalism. Whenever this happens (see the case of Mark Lynas regarding GMOs) it represents a small victory for industry's side, which they are only too happy to tout and exploit via their buddies in the media. Whether the turncoat was an actual founder of some group makes little difference.


Peter, it is interesting to note that AGW deniers and GMO promoters use very similar tactics in supporting their MNC sugar daddies. It is disgusting the amount of lies and misinformation that they spout in defending their corporate sponsors. Another example is Matt Ridley who as well as suporting fossil fuels and the agricultural biotech industry spreads misinformation about the banking system.

It always puzzles me that their misinformation is so obvious to anyone studying it that they are not called out on it. In fact the opposite is true, they get invited to private meetings with politicians who also happen to be in the pockets of these MNC's. They get invited to all sorts of fancy places to spread their misinformation.

Here is a good example showing the similarity between AGW deniers and GMO promoters:

Thanks for making that connection.

Just to add to my previous post: Bob Hunter often called Patrick Moore an “eco-Judas”, playing on the analogy of religious apostacy. I didn't particularly like that term for that very reason. But Bob Hunter was an original founding member of Greenpeace and he never (as far as I'm aware) considered Moore a cofounder. Also, to his credit, Paul Watson never referred to himself as a cofounder of Greenpeace, even though he and Patrick Moore joined around the same time. (Watson was not on the first voyage to Amchitka, but served as shore crew).

Kevin, there are more problems with Golden Rice than discussed in that article. I will not comment here since it will high jack the thread but if you want to know more about Golden Rice and real problems with GMO's please send me an e-mail. The promoters of these crops are seriously lacking in a knowledge of metabolism, biochemistry and logic. They are even more dishonest in their GMO claims than when denying AGW.