U2 Go Green as Pop Stars Embrace Greenpeace Environment Cause

Reuters, by Paul Majendie (1989-06-23)

U2 have gone Green.

Ireland’s rock superstars, who have sold 50 million albums worldwide with their own unique brand of politically committed rock anthems, have nailed their colours to the Greenpeace mast.

Hailing the environmentalist group for getting the world to sit up and listen to doomsday predictions on the environment, U2 have joined 30 other major pop stars on an album to promote the green cause.

The group’s guitarists, aboard the Greenpeace flagship in Dublin harbour to launch the album in Ireland, were also jubilant over Green successes in last week’s European and Irish elections.

“If you plant a seed, it grows,” bass guitarist Adam Clayton said after Ireland had sent its first Green Party candidate to the Dublin parliament and the Greens had doubled their seats in the European chamber.

Dismissing any suggestions that the Greens were a bunch of bearded, sandal-wearing cranks, Clayton laughed. The clean-shaven guitarist, sporting a pair of open-toed sandals, observed: “If the Greens can mobilise the young voters, that is fantastic.”

Lead guitarist and composer Dave Evans, known universally as the Edge, was quick to praise Greenpeace for its campaign to close the British nuclear reprocessing plant just across the Irish Sea at Sellafield in northwest England.

“As the father of two girls I am disgusted it is still going on. I am concerned about Sellafield and that the Irish Sea is the most radioactive in the world,” he said at an impromptu press conference on the sun-kissed deck of the Greenpeace.

Just one day before, the same ship had piped aboard Roger Garland, a 59-year-old accountant who had become Ireland’s first Green member of parliament.

Running a cash-starved campaign with just 600 members nationwide, the Greens made their breakthrough under their election slogan “Other parties promise the Moon. Only the Greens promise the Earth.”

Pop idols can wield tremendous power in getting teenagers around the world to adopt the causes they believe in.

Irish pop star Bob Geldof launched the hugely successful Live Aid concert for African famine relief. English singer Sting is campaigning to save the Amazonian rain forests.

Both Sting and U2 have donated tracks to the Greenpeace album known as Rainbow Warriors.

It is named after a native American myth which says that when the planet is sick and the animals are dying, the “Warriors of the Rainbow” will emerge to save it.

The Edge went to Moscow in March for the launch of the record there. The album sold 500,000 copies on its first day of release in the Soviet Union.

When it was launched in London with all the hype so beloved of the pop industry, Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart said: “With this album we’re sending a message to young people around the world about saving the planet. It’s a soundtrack for survival.”

Even the record notes are environmentally friendly. The album sleeve is made from recycled paper.

Greenpeace, which boasts 2.5 million members worldwide, plans to use profits from the album to open new offices in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Japan.

The album proceeds will also fund campaigns to save whales, stop toxic waste dumping and secure a nuclear-free future. U2, who claimed a clutch of coveted U.S. Grammy awards for their album The Joshua Tree, played to three million fans last year on a 15-country tour. Next in September come concerts in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The Joshua Tree was an amalgam of often harsh and bitter songs about a British miners’ strike, the civil war in El Salvador and the road accident death of a young New Zealander in the band’s tight-knit road crew.

Before roaring off from the Dublin quayside on a psychedelically-coloured three-wheel motorbike, the Edge was in jubilant form because he thought that the Emerald Isle was now truly going green.

Returning to Garland’s election to the Dublin parliament, he concluded: “It is great. It shows people want a change from conventional politics. They want to be involved in their environment and the world.”

© Reuters, 1989. All rights reserved.

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