Some of you may know me from the actions Greenpeace took in the Arctic in the last few years. I climbed an oil rig last August in the Russian Arctic to protest against Gazprom’s plans to drill there. A year before that I was arrested in Greenland and spent 4 days in prison after entering an exclusion zone and scaling an oil rig, operated by Cairn Energy off the coast of Greenland.

I believe saving the Arctic from Big Oil is the defining environmental battle of our century and climate change is the biggest threat to world peace and security.

I have been an activist almost all my life and I strongly believe in the power of civil disobedience ( – the first struggle I joined was against the apartheid regime in South Africa, which is where I am from.

Here is my full bio:


UPDATE: Thanks for all your great questions. I appreciate both your critical and supportive remarks – all this feedback is very useful if we are to remain on track as an organisation.

I am off to play football with my colleagues here at Greenpeace. Thursday is football (soccer) day for some of us, followed by drinks.

I am sorry I was not able to get to all your questions, but I think we should do this again. My apologies for the typos as well.

Please stay in touch through FaceBook: or Twitter: and check out my blog on Greenpeace’s website:

Comments: 196 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

OtthoHeldring37 karma

What have you done to transform Greenpeace itself?

When I worked for Greenpeace International (see my username) it was a place full of despotism where the official stance was that Greenpeacers were by default not suited for management positions. I have seen department heads driving to work in their huge Volvo estates, publicly declaring that they only work for Greenpeace because it looks good on their CV and literally sabotaging any initiative towards accountability.

People who cared about results instead of procedures were fired, sometimes on the spot and often with many years of dedication and experience. Basically the place was ran by corporate rejects who smooth talked their way into a comfy position where they could do what they wanted without anybody asking any questions. Even when everybody protested the outsourcing of email to Google it was simply pushed through.

I also never seen so many people cry at their jobs...

So what have you done in that respect? Has Greenpeace embraced democracy or is it still 'Management by Terror'?

KumiNaidoo2 karma

Your user name is the address of our office, sure. But to be honest that is all I recognise from your question. I work in an office that while of course it has a hierarchy it is a place of honesty and openness -- in fact its open plan.

I see people arriving by bike, push bike, like I do.

I lead a management that holds drop in sessions with the staff in which anything can be discussed. In fact it is not only on Reddit that people can 'ask me anything' they can do it all day long in the office, by email or even on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

IrishPidge18 karma

Hey Kumi! Greenpeace and most of the broader environmental movement has long been opposed to nuclear fission, for reasons of safety, proliferation, grid integration etc.

Any thoughts on what GP's attitude is likely to be to potential future tech like nuclear fusion? Does any sort of nuclear reaction necessitate a negative response, or do you think changing tech leads to changing attitudes?

KumiNaidoo-9 karma

Even those who truly believe in nuclear fusion, admit that it will not be available for large scale energy production in the next 50 years or so. Irrespective of the potential dangers that are associated with the technology (there is no knowledge yet on e.g. the amounts of nuclear waste), we do not have the time to wait and see whether this will work or not. We need to shift our energy system to a clean and sustainable one in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to do it now.

We have the soutions to our energy needs now, we have renewable energy sources that will not only meet our needs, they will fuel economic development and can be deployed in developing countries to help lift whole populations out of poverty. Fusion can't do that. It can't do it now. Why would we wait for yet another nuclear promise when we can take a renewable energy guarentee.

darkestsideofthemoon14 karma

Afternoon Kumi,

We've met a few times, and it's a pleasure to have you here on reddit. Diving right into it -

  • Greenpeace seems to have lost its "militant" nature that it was infamous for, why the trending towards a more corporate approach? i.e. with the marketing/facebooking etc.

  • While you advocate sustainability and homegrown foods, why not outright veganism or at the least vegetarianism?

  • Lastly, I hope you've kicked the smoking habit :)

  • Again, thanks for doing this. All said and done, I do hope my 10 dollars a month makes a difference in the end.

KumiNaidoo9 karma

At Greenpeace we want the world to switch to ecological farming in order to get out of fossil-energy dependency in agriculture, GE and toxic pesticides while feeding everyone with a healthy diet.  Obviously we need also to reduce the huge food waste (at least 30% of the food produced in the world never feed anyone) as well as reduce meat (over)consumption specially in continent or countries like north-america and Europe.  Obviously vegetarians and vegans should be congratulated for their contribution and more people should also be encouraged to do so.  Current meat-eaters should also be encouraged to reduce their meat consumption and shift to meat that is fed with organic products and that guaranty better animal treatment.  However, we have also to acknowledge that some animals (raised on pasture) are also required for fertilisation of the soil and help with some of the tasks specially as we need to get out of our oil-dependency.   You can read our document on ecological livestock :

Bananamoneyad12 karma

What is the most effective method of advancing a cause? It seems that you've worked for a number of different causes, i.e. anti-apartheid, women's rights, and now environmental issues. Are protests actually effective, or other methods such as lobbying and communicating directly to the corporate or government level a better use of time?

KumiNaidoo8 karma

We always need a toolbox or menu of activism that has several elements. Effective activism is about aligning these different strategies. However, without peaceful civil disobedience I do not think we can push our governments and business leaders to change as fast as the science says we MUST CHANGE.

logicop11 karma

Do you believe reducing human population growth is critical to curbing climate change?

KumiNaidoo10 karma

Our planet is reaching various boundaries which cannot be further extended. Reducing population growth will help. But equalising consumption patterns is equally important. On average it takes one african to equal the consumption of about 50 people in developed countries for example. Reducing population growth is best served by pushing for gender equality and women's empowerment.


Hi Kumi,

How confident are you that we can avoid sea level rise that will submerge the world's major coastal cities?

KumiNaidoo8 karma

At the rate our governments are colluding with big fishing interests I worry that our oceans are facing disaster. In fact, because of the triple whammy of overfishing, dumping of toxics, and ocean acidification our Oceans could collapse in 40 years. Add to that the melting of the Greenlandic Ice Sheet in the Arctic also poses fundamental threats to rising sea levels. We can stop this but it requires political will.

pierluc10 karma

When I talk to Greenpeace members or employees (I am an ex-one), they often talk about Greenpeace's victories (obviously). So here's my question: what do you consider to be Greenpeace's biggest failure?

KumiNaidoo7 karma

Hi Pierluc, Greenpeaces' biggest failure is that it's still necessary :-)

darkestsideofthemoon13 karma

Upvote for the meta answer Kumi but to reiterate pierluc.

What was greenpeace's biggest fuck up?

KumiNaidoo26 karma

No question, Greenpeace as an organisation with human beings serving it as made tactical and other errors of judgement over time. However, history has shown that Greenpeace has been at least 20 years ahead of time in terms of raising the alarm on pressing environmental, social and security issues. Different people will answer your question differently. For me the biggest error we made in the early days was not always working in a hamornious partnership with Indigenous peoples and I am pleased that we are building bridges and are working with indigenous peoples who have been the best stewards of the environment historically.

baghii10 karma

Hi Kumi, I saw your video about helping to end violence against women (, how do women's rights connect with your work on environmental issues?

KumiNaidoo-4 karma

Hi Baghii, Even the CIA and Pentagon now accept that the biggest to future peace and security will come from the impacts of climate change. We know that all conflicts affect women and children disproportionately. And it that sense the struggle for climate justice and the struggle for gender justice are intertwined. There are several other examples to. Working for sustainable agriculture in Africa is not possible without taking into acccount that the majority of African farmers are women.

surfstoked410 karma

Hi Kumi, what's the one thing you do consistently (personally) that you feel has a biggest impact on the environment?

KumiNaidoo10 karma

Invest and engage with young people because they genuinely "get" climate change and I think it is young people who will save this planet and sadly it is the adult generation that is living with no sense of intergenerational solidarity.

BENWILEY40009 karma

What happened in your life that made you want to climb oil rigs and not just sit around like a normal person? p.s. proud member of the greenpeace usa student network here!!

KumiNaidoo9 karma

I read a Mahatma Gandhi quote as a teenager that said: We shall pass this way but once, any good therefore that we can do, or any kindness we can show, let us do it now. Let us not neglect it or defer it since we might never walk this way again. I have also lost friends and family in the struggle for justice in my own country and elsewhere and their memory inspires me to keep on struggling for environmental and social justice.

KumiNaidoo9 karma

Well to be honest I never really wanted to climb an oil rig in the arctic -- really not a natural place for a boy from Durban. There are many trite answers all of which are in there way true: for example 'for evil to triumph all it takes is for good men and women to do nothing". i paraphrase of course. The insanity of arctic oil drilling cannot go unchallenged. The thought that we would misinterpret the melting of the arctic ice as an invitation to drill and spill rather than a warning to stop burning fossil fuels is a defining moment for our civilisation. We need to heed that warning, we need to take action, we need to say to the oil industry 'you go no further'.

I grew up under apartheid, inaction was not an option. While times where hard, lives where lost, the cause was just and inspirational. Those memories and the great many friends and inspirations drive me on.

Its great to hear from a fellow activist and member of our great US student network. Its important to remember that an activists life is not always about sacrifice and hardship, its about celebrating life, about collaboration and great friendships that last a life time. And I genuinely believe that activism can be fun and even sexy :-)

ipopov9 karma

Hi Kumi, last year you came to Russian Arctic to stop Gazprom plans to drilling Arctic, but they continue work in Barents sea. Would Greenpeace make something to stop them forever and throw away their monster "Prirazlomnaya" from our beatiful seas?

KumiNaidoo4 karma

The struggle to defend the Arctic continues. Watch our Greenpeace website to see further our efforts. We do not want to say exactly what we plan here so that Gazprom can strategise against us :-) But rest assured all companies planning to destroy the Arctic from Shell to Gazprom will confront resistance from Greenpeace, Indigenous peoples of the Arctic and our growing allies in the Save the Arctic Campaign.

lookitzpancakes7 karma

Hi Kumi, are you at all concerned that your job title can be abbreviated to IED?

Just wondering.

KumiNaidoo12 karma

Generally I am not too fussed about titles. However, I am okay with that. You should know that I am a great Improviser, I can be occasionally Explosive, but never Divisive - IED :-)

Splenda6 karma

I haven't seen Greenpeace saying much about global warming's "new math "--the idea that we can only burn carbon at present rates for less than ten years, and that we must write off 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves completely. Why not?

KumiNaidoo7 karma

Global warming's "new math" makes clear that we simply cannot allow much of the fossil fuel reserves to burned. A report we published this year "The Point of No Return" identified the 14 biggest fossil fuel projects in the world that must be stopped to avoid catastrophic climate change. And that's why we're working, alongside many allies, to stop fossil fuel extraction and transport projects like Arctic drilling, tar sands development and the Keystone XL pipeline, and massive coal mining and export proposals in the United States and Australia.

agoldwynn6 karma

how are you thoughts about Greenpeace considered as the New World Order Propaganda ??

KumiNaidoo10 karma

Greenpeace was influenced by the quaker movement in since its early days which calls for BEARING WITNESS against injustice. We base all our interventions on objective science and research. Do we occassionally get things wrong? Of course we make mistakes. But we do not engage in conscious misleading of people like some of our governments and businesses often do.

sehric6 karma

Hi Kumi! Thanks for all your great work, with Greenpeace and before. I want to ask you, with the increased attention being paid to geoengineering techs (specifically research programs into Solar Radiation Management) at universities (Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins) and gov agencies in the US, Canada, Europe and China, and the funding coming from folks like Gates Foundation, Exxonmobil, etc, and even inclusion in the new IPCC AR5 draft (chapter on aerosols), isnt it time that civil society engage the public on this? A concern is that the conversation remains directed by those with particular perspectives (technocrats who tend to see only technological 'solutions' as relevant) and motivations? Shouldn't GP and others be responsible to its members and the public to help foster a conversation on technological responses to climate, and the implications for climate justice? So far you've not engaged, worried either about the moral hazard argument. But the science is moving, and the conversation is happening without you. thanks for doing an AMA! cheers

KumiNaidoo11 karma

Climate change is a geoengineering experiment with very frightening consequences. We need to work with nature not against it. We should harness its energy rather than seek to control it. Geoengineering is an extremely dangerous distraction from what we actually need to do to stop runaway climate change. What are the chances that governments will suddenly be strong and brave enough to act on behalf of people and the planet just because some miracle technology emerges? The reality is, we already have the technology to solve the problem—renewable energy like wind and solar, and systems that put people and the environment first.

ggsmith6 karma

Mr. Kumi,

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. As a person who wants to see the environment protected, sometimes I feel a little embarrassed about how Greenpeace spreads their message. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions.

  • I’ve seen videos of you guys dancing and partying on your yacht and wearing stupid costumes, accosting people on the street. Isn’t that immature? Do you think that stuff is effective?

  • One of your captains – Casson Trenor-- claims that he runs a sustainable restaurant in California. But I heard he gets food from companies that use the sources you complain about elsewhere. How do you justify that contradiction?

  • A lot of people’s impression of Greenpeace is that you’re a bunch of environmental do gooders who can’t find real jobs. What do you say to those people?

  • What do you think about the Mexican government pushing the U.S. to loosen dolphin-safe tuna standards? What side are you guys on on that issue?

KumiNaidoo5 karma

Good questions. Thanks. The video that was done on the Rainbow Warrior to gangnam style was in my judgement a good attempt to take our message of Ocean protection to people who are not thinking about activism or environment but appealing to their own interests. Gangnam style took the world by storm and we were using the video to reach out to the supporters of that. I have learnt that good activism is not about trying to be pious and too serious but connecting to peoples consciousness rather than projecting our consciousness on the people we are trying to mobilise.

thezombine5 karma

Hi Mr. Naidoo, thanks for doing this AMA. As an environment student from Canada looking to pursue a career in environmental policy, I have some questions:

  1. Do you ever worry about losing credibility by being labeled as a "radical environmentalist", seeing as you have been sent to prison fighting for the cause?

  2. What can I do individually (and any concerned citizen, for that matter) to call attention to the issue of Arctic drilling and the very real dangers of climate change?

  3. Pragmatically, do you think that there exists (or ever will exist) a way to weane Canada off our dependency on oil and tar sand development?

Thanks again!

KumiNaidoo-2 karma

I believe the struggle for justice is not a popularity contest and I am not worried about labels that get thrown at us. At the end of the day we have to be accountable to our consciences and I feel we speak truth to power.

Ariannagreenmx5 karma

Kummi I know that you colaborate with Mandela, what you could share with us about that great experience.

KumiNaidoo8 karma

I have had the privilege to meet Madiba several times, and for that I consider myself extremely lucky and honoured.  I first met him when I was in my late 20s, in 1993. I was helping facilitate an African National Congress workshop to plan its media strategy. For someone who is rarely lost for words, I was choked, I was humbled, I could barely utter a sentence when Madiba shook my hand: "It’s an honour to meet you, Madiba" – and I couldn’t get a word out after that. He was an enormous presence, yet remained simple, without pretension. After lunch he asked the manager of the hotel we were meeting in if he could thank the workers who provided the food. He went to the kitchen and greeted each and everyone. I followed and saw him shake everyone’s hands – a simple honest gesture of appreciation that meant so much to all of them.

In 1995 I met him again when I was heading the Adult Literacy Campaign in South Africa. On International Literacy Day I took kids and adult learners to the Parliament to meet Madiba. They were excited to have their picture taken with him – the image was to become a poster for our campaign to promote adult basic education – but everyone was anxious; they where asking me what they should say and how they should approach meeting the President! Taking no chances most had prepared sentences, planning to thank him for making the time to see us. But when Madiba emerged from his Cabinet meeting he turned the tables. He walked in and thanked everyone for taking the time to see him. “I know how busy you all are and I thank you for taking time to meet me,” he said. In that moment he closed the gap. He was just a human being, a person like them, and everyone relaxed.

dsfgorg5 karma

Hi Kumi, thanks for doing this AMA! Are you scared at some point that greenpeace will be too big for its own good? With that I mean the massive machinery that needs to operate it with desk-people rather then activists? Thanks again Edit: spelling

KumiNaidoo3 karma

Great question and one we constantly ask ourselves. As an organisation it is always possible to lose sight of your purpose and get caught up in your own survival, to get caught up in the systems needed keep the organisation healthy. Fortunately, we have a great many passionate and involved activists, volunteers and supporters who help us keep it real and maintain the balance. Our staff certainly don't just sit behind their desks, most of them can't wait to get out and take action, after they have completed the meticulous research and arrangements to make sure non violent direct action happens at the right time, in the right place for the maximum change.

Take a look at our web sites you will see that everyday, together with our supporters, we are out in the world taking action for change.

MartinSantosB2 karma

Do you drink Coca Cola? (I´m looking for titles)

KumiNaidoo7 karma

Used to drink a lot as a kid. Have given it up for mutiple reasons, including the fact that my doctor and dentist have advised me to do so :-)

mrdarren2 karma

Given that we've seen recent violence directed towards the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) community in Russia - apparently condoned by the authorities who have pushed through anti-LGBT legislation - and that this appears to be part of a wider move by the Russian authorities to close down democratic space - a move which has also impinged on the rights of NGOs to act within Russia's borders to protect Russia's wider interests - do you, Kumi, who has been active in Russia against the incursions on the Polar region, see linkages between the environmental and social justice movements, especially around the issue of sexual self-expression, and do you have any words of encouragement for those who are being persecuted in Russia today for daring to be free?

KumiNaidoo2 karma

The links between social justice and environmental justice is fundamental and at greenpeace we have been arguing that there must be a connection between human rights, environmental sustainability and poverty. To try and restrict rights of the LGBT community is fundamentally wrong and I have been personally inspired by the resistance we have seen to these moves and the inspiring solidarity offered by people around the world to those who have been victims of such homophobic interventions, which I consider conscious distractions from the real issues facing Russia and the world.

reddit_user31 karma

If you compare classical private conversations in confidence (lobbying) and open social media campaigning (facebook, twitter & co.) - what's more important for Greenpeace nowadays? (short answer enough)

KumiNaidoo5 karma

Both are important but increasingly turning our gaze from those with power to those who are powerless and organising them to resist is becoming increasing more useful and impactful. In the era of smartphones private conversations of politicians seems to make it into the public domain, for example, wikileaks.

lula24881 karma

Are you looking forward to Breaking Bad returning?

KumiNaidoo6 karma

As Executive Director of Greenpeace one of the key ingredients is optimist, and therefore I cannot help but hope that think there's a chance Walt lives. We'll has been a long break and I can't wait :-)

[deleted]-6 karma


KumiNaidoo6 karma

While Greenpeace is winning several major battles (see our annual report we recognise that we are not winning the war and securing the planet. The main reason is the capture of our democracies by polluting industries, particularly, oil, coal and gas. The tremendous amount of resources they have to contaminate public debate also holds us back.