Launch Of The Modern Environmental Movement

By Roy L Hales

Greenpeace exploded into the public’s awareness after confronting the Russian Whaling fleet off the coast of California. This kind of environmental action was unheard of  in 1975! The next day, there were photographs around the world. Looking back today, Rex Wyler thinks that, in some ways, that moment was the launch of the modern environmental movement.

Launch Of The Modern Environmental Movement

Ron Precious (left) and Rex Weyler, Greenpeace whale voyage, 1976. – Courtesy Rex Wyler

(There were other organizations of course, and other stories.)

In the podcast above, Wyler says he was one of the 50,000 to 60,000 draft dodgers who came to Canada during the Vietnam War.

Speaking as a former peace activist, he came to the realization that they stopped the war – but could still trash the planet.

The organization he helped found was a coming together of the environmental and peace movements. (Hence the name “Green” + “Peace.”)

Rex Weyler, with Greenpeace co-founders Dorothy Stowe and Dorothy Metcalfe, 2004.

“We wanted to create an ecology movement on the scale of the peace movement,” he says.

Wyler’s  personal reflections stretch from the early days of the movement – they did not set out to form an organization – to opposing the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion into British Columbia’s most populated area.

Coming Home To Cortes Island

Weyler, wife Lisa Gibbons (kneeling), sons and friends, 2012, Cortes Island. – Courtesy Rex Wyler

“It was nice to be helpful on a large global scale, but ultimately we had to embrace a place and look after that place and be committed to it,” he said.

That was what brought Rex, and his wife Lisa, to Cortes Island.

(Rex tells this story in far greater detail, in the podcast above) 

In Part Two of our Interview, Rex Wyler talks about Climate Change and our hopes for the future on a planet that is heating up.

Top Photo Credit: Rex Weyler (hands raised ) with Bob Hunter (right) and Greenpeace crew, returning to Vancouver from whale campaign, 1975. 

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