CINCINNATI - The international environmental group Greenpeace's brazen propagandist initiative hundreds of feet in the air at Procter & Gamble’s corporate headquarters was loud and clear , but the men and women responsible have since been tight-lipped.
After the nearly three-hour performance, which included a man wearing a tiger suit riding on a zip line hundreds of feet in the air, the protesters re-entered the P&G facility and were arrested without incident.
There were no comments or provocative gestures when they were taken into custody.
It was a similar reaction Wednesday when the suspects were paraded in front of a judge in a Cincinnati courtroom, just a few blocks from where the high-wire acts took place. And there were no stunts when they were released from jail after Greenpeace paid the $450,000 bill to cover their individual $50,000 bonds.
As a company with such an active voice, the silence is deafening.
What Is Greenpeace?
Founded in 1971, Greenpeace is a nonprofit that describes itself as the "leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future."
The group says it doesn't openly solicit funds from government or corporations, nor will they endorse political candidates. It provides virtually all of its funding through individual contributions, made directly through the organization's website.
It claims it has about 350,000 members in the United States and approximately 3 million members worldwide.
According to its 2012 990 tax form, the organization’s total revenue that year was $32,791,149, most of which came from its U.S. membership.
Part of the reason for its popularity is its tendency to employ guerilla tactics to achieve its goals, particularly as it relates to combating the Japanese whaling industry and ocean-based drilling practices in the Arctic.
One example took place in 2010. When the company Cairn Energy found initial traces of natural gas in one of its test wells that indicate the possibility of much larger hydrocarbon deposits, Greenpeace sent its ship, the Esperanza, into a stand-off with the Danish navy near Cairn's oil platforms.
“The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in the Arctic to protest Cairn Energy's drilling here,” the group wrote on its YouTube page .
“Greenpeace activists left the Esperanza aboard inflatables, successfully evaded the Danish Navy and scaled the Stena Don drilling rig. Four climbers are currently occupying the rig in an attempt to halt the drilling operation," the group wrote.
The group frequently receives armed and political threats from various groups, whether it be whalers or unsympathetic governments.
On Nov. 8, 2013, the organization posted "previously unseen" video of one of Greenpeace's boats being boarded and towed away by the Russian government, according to its YouTube page.
The perceived bravery it took to stand up to such odds -- whether it be oil workers or armed whalers or risking their lives on small inflatable boats out on open water -- has won them praise from many environmentalists.
While its popularity is on-par with many other environmental groups such as The Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace's methods have received negative feedback in recent years. The criticism stems from both its tactics and, in some instances, the causes it decides to champion.
Some critique the group as being myopic in its worldview, picking environmental issues over what some would call the "common good."
During the same interaction with Cairns Energy in 2010, some sociologists chastised the group for telling young people in the Inuit community not to eat whale or seal, which is part of their ancestral history.
Others have gone after the profound but shortsighted marketing approach originally implemented by one of the group's founders, Robert Hunter.
According to an article in Ask Men , Hunter's marketing style was to "utilize the power of visually arresting images — baby seals being clubbed, dolphins getting slaughtered, Greenpeace activists courageously challenging whalers at sea..." in order to reduce "complex issues into a matter of good versus evil, leaving no question as to who was who."
The criticisms of Greenpeace extend far beyond cultural insensitivities.
Author Ross Bonander highlights in Ask Men two instances where Greenpeace was criticized for using deliberately deceptive tactics and giving intentionally misleading information to promote their cause.
In 1995, Greenpeace activists occupied an oil platform owned by Royal Dutch Shell in an effort to get the company to dismantle it on land
rather than deliberately sinking it.
Ultimately, it was proven that Greenpeace miscalculated the amount of toxic waste aboard the platform and the 5,000 tons of oil figure it told the public was inaccurate.
Despite the apology, the organization dismissed the amount of oil aboard the platform as insignificant and pointed to the bigger issue about it being dumped in the Atlantic ocean.
In 2006, critics attacked the group’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” in part because of “its lazy criteria (‘companies are ranked solely on information that is publicly available’)” and lacking factual evidence to support their claims.
They also felt as though Apple was unfairly singled out because it made a sexier headline than other electronics companies. It finished 11th out of the 14 brands on the list.
The article points out that Apple was considered an “environmental leader” with groups such as the Sierra Club and its compliance with the European Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS).
Regardless of their tactics and the causes they choose to champion, Greenpeace is a force to bereckoned with.