The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 1980 and 1989 Deselect

  1. On 10 July 1989, Rainbow Warrior II was launched in Hamburg, the fourth anniversary of the sinking of her predecessor, the original Rainbow Warrior.

  2. 250 activists occupy Hoechst's site at Frankfurt and demand a halt to CFC production. On 29th and 30th August, DuPont in Deepwater, New jersey is the target. The water tower is occupied and a delivery of CFCs is blocked for 8 hours.

  3. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created in 1988. It was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to prepare, based on available scientific information, assessments on all aspects of climate change and its impacts, with a view of formulating realistic response strategies. The initial task for the IPCC as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988 was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, and possible response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate.

  4. Four activists climb a crane at the heavily guarded building site, and unroll a massive banner: "Solar energy, not plutonium"

  5. The campaign against chlorine bleaching continues in southern Norway with the ascent of a chimney stack at the "Borregaard" pulp and paper factory.

  6. Four climbers scale the chimney stack at the Luxembourg steelworks "Arbed-Belval", whose sulphur dioxide emissions contribute to acid rain.

  7. The battery industry and retailers commit themselves to accept used wet or dry batteries and power cells, and to dispose of them properly. A staged reduction in the mercury content of Alkali-Manganese batteries is also agreed. This is a significant source of mercury in domestic waste.

  8. No more leaded petrol at German petrol stations.

  9. A banner protesting against North Sea pollution by the Elbanrainer states is hung from the Georgi-Dimitrov Bridge by East German Greenpeace supporters. Water samples from the GDR prove the accusation.

  10. The Report of the Brundtland Commission - established by the United Nations - was published. The report introduces the idea of a sustainable development as a "... development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

  11. The European Union starts its Year of the Environment

  12. The first "Environmental Field Hospitals" are set up at universities and institutes concerned with public and occupational health, e.g. the RWTH Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Aachen (1987) and the Medical Institute for Environmental Hygiene in Düsseldorf (1989).

  13. Greenpeace Sweden starts the European campaign for chlorine-free paper production, unloading half a tonne of deformed fish at the door of the pulp producer Värö Bruk

  14. Shortly before a new protest against further atomic tests on Moruroa, the French secret service scuttles the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour in New Zealand. The Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira drown in his cabin. To French agents are caught and condemned by a New Zealand court. Public animosity against Greenpeace becomes so strong in France that the Paris office must be shut down. The International Court in the Hague sentences France to pay $7.5 million compensation.

  15. Two activists scale the 73 m chimney stack of the British company Tioxide; four days later, an international team seals the company's waste pipe, as it refuses to halt the dumping of Titan dioxide in the North Sea.

  16. The international campaign for lead-free petrol starts by blockading the "Essi Flora", with its cargo of leaded petrol additives, in the French port of Saint-Nazaire.

  17. The Indian project plans 30 major dams, something over 100 smaller dams and hydroelectric plants, as well as 80,000 km of canals in an irrigation and drainage system, to make desert land fertile, feed 20 million and create 1 million jobs. The water of the river most affected, the Narmada, is sacred to Hindus. In realising the project, 100,000 Dravidians (who enjoy no civil rights) must be relocated.

  18. 30 years ago, atomic surface tests by the USA contaminated the atoll Rongelap, the third largest of the Marshall islands, radioactively. As more and more children and adults become ill, the 350 inhabitants decide to resettle elsewhere. The evacuation is conducted by Greenpeace.

  19. The FEA makes its first attempt to put concrete values on environmental damage, in order to respond to the arguments of industry. Today, monetarising environmental damage is an economic tool.

  20. The FEA develops many instruments to monitor current pollution. The Environmental Survey, first made in 1985, provides a snapshot of pollution. Levels of certain pollutants are analysed in blood, urine and hair samples from a representative group of 4,000 Germans. Archives are maintained, and the Human Samples project at Münster University stores frozen organ samples for later testing, to identify long-term trends. A parallel environmental sample database is set up at the Jülich research institute.

  21. Determining exhaust gas limits and regularly checking pollutant emissions by motor vehicles is based on preliminary work by the FEA. Gradually extending and tightening regulations forces the increasing use of catalytic converters. In 1998, 71% of all journeys are made in vehicles with controlled three-way catalytic converter.

  22. New York's Statue of Liberty sports a banner: "Give me Liberty from Nuclear Weapons Testing".

  23. A banner reading " Time to Stop Nuclear Testing" flies from the face of Big Ben.

  24. To warn about acid rain, activists occupy coal-fired power station chimneys simultaneously in Denmark, England, Holland, Belgium, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia and West Germany.

  25. Greenpeace steps up protests against dumping spent acid: on the loading pier for Kronos Titan in Nordenham, in Duisburg at Pigment-Chemie Sachtleben, in Tracy (Quebec) at Tioxide of Canada. At the end of the year, Kronos Titan and Pigment Chemie announce recycling plants and promise to end marine dumping in 1988.

  26. The European WHA accepts the "health for all" strategy. The recognition that public health also depends on environmental factors led to 38 new resolutions, seven of which addressed environmental health issues, both direct and indirect, such as the psychosocial effects of the environment on health and well-being.

  27. Greenpeace demonstrates against atomic weapons testing with a balloon ("Trinity") over Berlin. After landing in the GDR, the balloonists are interrogated for five hours before being deported. In 1985, the GDR returns the balloon in exchange for "storage fees" of $4250.

  28. Six activists sail in rubber dinghies to Lorino beach on the Chukshen peninsula, where the meat of illegally harpooned whales has long been used as feed in mink farms. Shortly after filming the whaling station, the activists are arrested, except for one member, who escapes with the film. This material is presented to the Whaling Commission.

  29. Four activists break into the US atomic test site in Nevada, and demand an immediate halt to tests.

  30. Bayer halts its dumping of spent acid in the North Sea.

  31. The Greenpeace ship "Sirius" visits Leningrad to protest against Soviet atomic tests. The Sirius is forcibly towed out of the harbour.

  32. The European Community starts its third Environmental Action Programme

  33. The entire world sees pictures of the dramatic Greenpeace protest against atomic dumping vessels. On 22nd September, the Dutch government announces a halt to its atomic dumping at sea.

  34. "It's good to walk!" The public is encouraged to take part in sport, organised walks and other car-free activities - although the oil crisis has long been over. After three years, the event is shelved, not least because environmental groups lose interest. A new car-free Sunday takes place in 2000 (18th June), and a Europe-wide day is inaugurated on 22nd September.

  35. Greenpeace activists occupy the chimney of the Boehringer pesticide factory in Hamburg for 26 hours, ushering in a long-term chemicals campaign.

  36. BUND's annual Bodo Manstein Medal for exceptional services to the environment is awarded for the first time.

  37. "First the trees, then us" - the debate on dying forests becomes emotionally highly charged. This is partly thanks to the Green Party, which raised public awareness.