Bob Hunter, named one of the environmental heroes of the century by Time magazine in 2000, has been, for most of his career, a journalist with a cause. He is convinced that “an eco-shitstorm is coming down before our eyes. And overwhelmingly, we’re just watching.” In 1975 after persuading the group to change its name from the Don’t Make a Wave Committee to the Greenpeace Foundation, Bob became chairman of the organization.
“Canadians are the worst energy pigs on the planet,” says Bob Hunter, Canada’s foremost environmental activist and journalist. It seems every Canadian family releases 4.9 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year into the atmosphere and are using up fossil fuels with 15% more emissions per person than in the U.S. And, for the co-founder of Greenpeace, taking responsibility is key to bringing about change.
In September 1971, the roots of Greenpeace were sown when Bob and a boatful of Canadians set sail from Vancouver on its mission to the Aleutian Islands, intent on interrupting U.S. nuclear testing. “We all expected to be nuked by the weekend,” and there was what he mildly called a “vested interest in stopping imminent destruction.” In 1975, Greenpeace was born and the world of environmental activism changed forever.
Now retired from Greenpeace, Bob still champions ways to prevent a catastrophic environmental event in the world by making “simple but obvious” personal changes: switching to more efficient light bulbs, choosing to walk, removing his electric garage door opener, and seeking out cleaner sources of power.
Taking personal responsibility is the key to change, as is forcing players like industry and government to clean up power sources. As a media personality, Hunter still uses his newspaper columns, his role as an ecology specialist on CityTV, and new book, 2030: Confronting Thermageddon in Our Lifetime, to make global warming a hot issue.
Bob tackles the problem of how burning fossil fuels for transportation and power pollute the atmosphere, causing the globe to retain heat like a greenhouse, which he believes can lead to higher mean temperatures, drought, deforestation, melting ice caps, flooding, increased spread of tropical diseases, and ultimately, threatens human survival on Earth.
Bob’s combination of strategies has led successes on several fronts, including the emissions-reducing Kyoto accord. “Canada did the right thing [by being the 98th country to sign the accord],” he says. “We can always do more, one step at a time.”
Stop being an energy pig
• Bike instead of drive. The insurance is cheaper, and you’ll have rock solid calves.
• If you must get a car, check out new hybrid models, which operate by switching between an electric battery and gasoline.
• Get a haircut you don’t have to blow dry.
• Support politicians who believe in renewable energy sources.
• Sure, the only appliance you might be buying is a solar-powered calculator, but don’t hesitate to pay more for something that will cost you (and the planet!) less to run.
• Polyester is a petroleum by-product. Also it’s ugly. Solve a fashion crime and an eco-crime at the same time—avoid it!
• Save hot water. Shower with a friend. If your mom doesn’t go for that one, try a low-flow, high-pressure showerhead.
Editor’s note: Sadly, this Canadian hero passed away May 2, 2005
Photos above courtesy of Greenpeace and CityTV