This weekend, journalist Rosslyn Beeby with the Canberra Times in Australia drew connections between Sea Shepherd and Earth First! in a follow-up story about the three activists detained on a Japanese wailing ship last week. Below are some highlights from the article, touching on the history of Earth First! and Ed Abbey:
“Earth First!” That’s the sign-off used by West Australian activist Simon Peterffy in a farewell Facebook post before embarking on a hazardous night journey – in one of the Sea Shepherd’s ocean pursuit inflatables – to board the Japanese whaling vessel, Shonan Maru No 2. The move was planned, in strict secrecy, as a protest against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.
”I love my life and love you all! Thanks everyone for their commitment to defend the Redtails and the earth. Earth First!” the founder of the WA anti-logging group Forest Rescue wrote. The forest red-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso) has become a rallying symbol for the fight to save the state’s south-west forests. Protected under WA law as a bird that is ”rare or likely to become extinct”, the cockatoos live in marri, karri and jarrah forests which are rapidly disappearing. The federal recovery plan for the species lists habitat loss for ”agriculture, timber harvesting, woodchipping and mining” as the principal cause of their decline.
Peterffy, who boarded the Japanese ship with fellow Forest Rescue activists Glen Pendlebury and Geoffrey Tuxworth, has red-tail feathers tattooed on his arms, as well as the Earth First! symbol—a stone axe and monkey wrench. And on the Forest Rescue website, the WA forest conservation group Peterffy founded some years ago, the symbol is accompanied by the Earth First! motto—”No compromise in defence of Mother Earth.”
So who, or what, is Earth First? Anyone familiar with American author Edward Abbey’s eco-activism classic The Monkey Wrench Gang knows the answer. They may even wistfully be eyeing paint aerosols in the local hardware store, wondering whether to daub ”Hayduke lives” across a billboard. Continue reading