In 1977 environmental activist Paul Watson, believing that nonviolent direct action tactics did not go far enough to protect animal life in the world’s oceans, split off from Gandhi-inspired Greenpeace to form the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This new environmental organization raised the stakes on the high seas by using acts of destruction, such as cutting drift nets and ramming whaling ships, to attack commercial fishing operations. Whereas Watson saw himself as a savior of life on Earth, many others saw him as a new breed of environmental, or “eco,” terrorist. Years of environmental conflict led to the birth of ecoterrorism as a tactic for changing policy and alerting the public.
Although the scale of violence, particularly deadly violence, used by ecoterrorists is tiny compared to that carried out by political terrorists, the fact remains that these activists have chosen to work outside the democratic system, using illegal acts of destruction in order to bring attention to their agenda. These radical environmentalists have argued that their campaign is a struggle for liberation akin to such revolutionary acts as the Boston Tea Party. Critics maintain that ecoterrorists operate under the assumption that nature is good and humans are bad and that this is a dangerous philosophy that will ultimately lead the most radical among them to emulate the tactics of the Unabomber or, worse, to acquire and utilize weapons of mass destruction as a means of giving nature the upper hand.
Ecoterrorism provides readers with clear and essential information needed to define, understand, and research this important issue. A lively reference resource and useful research guide, it will aid all interested in ecoterrorism and environmental issues, including policymakers, administrators, attorneys, and advocacy groups as well as teachers, students, parents, and the general public.