530 pages, 32 plates with colour & b/w photos
Pete Wilkinson grew up in Deptford, south London, in the 50s. Somehow he got to grammar school and was spat out of the education system in 1962 with a few GCE 'O' levels and no idea of what to do with his life. The 60s rock 'n' roll scene, motor scooters and free love offered a mild distraction but, as a general malcontent, he drifted from job to job, uncertain of where life would take him. He was feisty, easy to provoke and had a fierce sense of what decency and justice should look like, qualities which found their natural home when he finally found – unlike U2, a band which would ultimately provide the justification for his jaundiced view of environmentalists – what he was looking for.
Pete helped establish Friends of the Earth, leaving after suffering three years of the classism which prevented his natural campaigning flair to flourish, and then joined Greenpeace UK. He was a co-founding member and became a central figure in the UK's embryonic green movement. His friendship with the charismatic father of the modern Greenpeace phenomenon, the late David Fraser McTaggart, and his naturally strategic mind helped Wilkinson to the highest positions in the organisation from where he ran what one journalist called 'some of the most important and successful environmental campaigns of the 80s'.
And they were campaigns that he and his colleagues won: radioactive waste dumping at sea, whaling, Canadian sealing, the Orkney seal cull, captive cetaceans, the fur industry, Sellafield: no company or industry was too big for Greenpeace to take on. Even Antarctica. After finally falling foul of the growing Greenpeace hierarchy, Wilkinson was despatched by Greenpeace to Antarctica where, over six consecutive seasons, their campaign succeeded in protecting the entire continent from exploitation for 50 years. This is Wilkinson's story told in his own gritty style and containing his unabridged Antarctic diaries which build into a fascinating insight into the Greenpeace world as it was, but as it is no more. Includes many campaign photographs.
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As a young man in the 60s and 70s, Pete Wilkinson had seventeen jobs in three years, driving lorries, hawking encyclopedias, selling curtains. After his time at Friends of the Earth, as Greenpeace UK's campaigns director and as a Greenpeace International Director, he set up his own environmental consultancy promoting collaborative working with environmental adversaries rather than confrontation and built bridges between protagonists. In this capacity, while never wavering an inch from his environmental principles, he acted as a consultant to industry and government departments, working tirelessly to look for ways to resolve perennial environmental problems around energy in general and nuclear power in particular. In 2003, he was appointed to the government's Committee on Nuclear Waste Management and today still acts as a consultant to the Office of Nuclear Regulation, has many independent clients in business and industry and was recently appointed as Director of the NGO Nuclear Information Services. He is a member of the government's Geological Disposal Implementation Board, a founding member of nuclear Waste Advisory Associates and a co-opted member of the Sizewell site stakeholder group.