Monday, May 09, 2005

OBT/ENV: Bob Hunter

Robert Hunter, a founding member of Greenpeace, died on May 2 of prostate cancer. He was 64.

The Manitoba native wasn't an apt pupil in school. Instead of doing his homework, he would draw or write novels. Hunter's interest in more creative pursuits led him to drop out of high school and join the media. In the 1960s, he worked as a reporter for the Winnipeg Tribune, then became a popular counter-culture columnist for the Vancouver Sun.

Hunter always had an interest in environmental issues, but it wasn't until 1971 that he switched from observer to activist mode. That year, he and a group of 11 friends sailed an 80-foot fishing boat from Vancouver to Alaska in an effort to stop the American military from conducting nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. Their demonstration led to the cancellation of the testing program and the island's transformation into a wildlife sanctuary.

In 1972, the crew joined forces again to form Greenpeace, an international environmental movement with more than 2.8 million members. As the organization's first president, Hunter helped turn Greenpeace into the most powerful environmental lobby in the world. He dyed the white coats of baby harp seals to make them commercially worthless, stood between Russian harpoon hunters and their whale prey and coined the terms "eco-warrior" and "media mind bomb." Time magazine even named him one of the 10 "eco-heroes" of the 20th century.

Hunter returned to journalism in the late 1980s as an ecology reporter for City TV. He hosted the popular morning show "Papercuts" in his bathrobe, and entertained audiences by reading newspaper headlines and commenting on the stories. Hunter also wrote more than a dozen books, penned scripts for the syndicated TV series "The Beachcombers," and made several documentaries, including one about his fight with prostate cancer. For his environmental and journalistic efforts, Hunter won five Western Magazine Awards, a CanPro Award and the Canadian Environmental Award.

From The Blog of Death

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