Next week is the annual Earth First! Summer Gathering. To mark the event we take a look at some historical points in the struggle against environmental destruction. Whilst people have been taking direct action against environmental destruction for as long as people have been harming it we will be looking at action taken in recent decades as a precursor to our own movements.
Silent Spring by biologist Rachel Carson is published. The book cataloged the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is established. site
Earth First! is formed in the USA.
First Earth First! tree sit in Oregon, USA
A bomb goes off in the car of Earth Firster Judi Bari’s car, shattering her pelvis and also injuring fellow activist Darryl Cherney. They are later arrested in suspicion of creating the bomb themselves though they where released due to lack of evidence. Bari died in 1997 but in 2002 her estate and Darryl Cherney where awarded a total of $4.4 million after a federal lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland, California police. Eighty percent of the damages were awarded for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights during the course of investigating the bombing.
First Earth First! Summer Camp in the UK
Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching is first published
Action taken under the moniker Earth Liberation Front is thought to have first taken place in Brighton, England. Direct action performed by individuals acting under the title have now taken place in 17 different countries including Mexico, the USA, the UK, Colombia, Spain, Sweden and Australia.
Do or Die is first published in the UK. The annual publication documents action taken in defense of the earth from a radical perspective. It runs for another 11 years until finaly calling it a day in 2003 but not before publishing the infamous ‘Down with Empire! Up with Spring!‘.
Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Group is formed. www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk
Anti-road protests start over the Newbury Bypass. There are over 800 arrests and £5 million spent on policing in the two years it takes to build the 9mile road. 120 acres of woodland are cut down to lay way for the new road. Widespread direct action and protest camps against roads through out the 90’s severely disrupted the planned road building scheme in the UK.
Continued direct action taken against the building of the Itoiz dam in Spain. The campaign lasts well into the next decade.
GM maize is ripped up at test sites ruined across the country. A concerted campaign of direct action against all GM test sites along with much public distrust of the new technology has prevented the growth of GM industries in the UK.
First protest camp set up against destruction of Iceland’s wilderness. See savingiceland.org
Rossport Solidarity Camp is set up to directly confront the planned Corrib gas pipeline and refinery. The campaign continues despite extreme repression. http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/rsc/
A protest camp and blockade is set up in the heart of Southern Tasmania’s forest, the Upper Florentine. The camp uses blockade and direct action tactics in an attempt to prevent the logging of old growth forest (See ‘The Story of the Upper Florentine Blockade‘)
This is just a fraction of the more recent and notable events to take place. Many of these campaigns as well as countless others continue around the world.
For more information on direct action being taken to confront, stop and reverse the destruction of the earth visit http://earthfirst.org.uk. You can also read an interesting history of Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network at http://www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk/about/history.html