Environmental terrorism in the Persian Gulf reminds those who still need reminding that Earth's protection is not just the province of the sensitive leisure class. And among the many magazines leading the charge, few are more vigilant than Greenpeace.

The fine print on the contents page begins: "Publishing this magazine is a poor substitute for visiting everyone in the United States and Canada and explaining what counts in the age of environmental crisis." But as of the January-February issue, with the gorgeously dignified new design (and its path-breaking use of a glossy cover stock that's dioxin-free), the magazine is infinitely superior to what it was, and it was good already.

Among the articles is Editor Andre Carothers's haunting dispatch, five years later, from the site of the world's greatest nuclear disaster, "The Children of Chernobyl," heaping scorn on the "fatuous optimism" of government officials (in Moscow and the West) about the long-term consequences of radiation exposure. Another, by Lynn Thorp, is a citizens' primer on how to stop an incinerator builder from invading your neighborhood.

Though the magazine claims friendly autonomy from its parent organization and differs with the company line from time to time, it's a consciousness-raiser among Greenpeace's global membership of 2 million. Another story in this issue records the defiant autumn sea journey of the MV Greenpeace into the heart of the Soviet nuclear testing zone.

How is Greenpeace different from all other environmental magazines? "Certainly we take the most strident position in defense of the planet," Carothers says. A Greenpeace membership donation of $20 or more qualifies you for a year's subscription. Write Greenpeace, 1436 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.

Saddam, Go to Your Room!

What explains "the very real differences between the sexes on the use of military force to solve disputes?" Ann Crittenden, writing in the Nation of Feb. 4, says it has little to do with one sex's being inherently less warlike than the other and far more to do with "the lessons women learn by raising children ... one learns, in theory and in practice, to try to resolve conflict in ways that do not involve the sheer imposition of will or brute force. One learns that violence just doesn't work."

Crittenden, who's writing a book about this general subject, says she'll go even further "and argue that men or women who have been successful, active parents may be better equipped for dealing with the great affairs of state ... more qualified to handle the complexities, the irrationalities, the sheer maddening messiness of human affairs, particularly in moments of crisis."

Bank Shots

When the National Bank of Washington closed last August, the collapse rippled and sometimes slammed into the lives of lots of people -- depositors, creditors, borrowers, shareholders, employees. Kiplinger's Changing Times follows one living example of each type of casualty in a fine February account by Janet Bodnar and Kevin McManus that is also designed to serve, if only anecdotally, as a consumer road map for depositors, creditors, etc., of other banks. I.e., you.

That's Snow Biz

The veteran Washington reporter who thinks he or she has met up with some swine in a lifetime of power coverage should take a look at Neal Koch's piece on covering Hollywood in the January-February Columbia Journalism Review. Even the most hypocritical of niceties observed here are waived when studio chieftains and other Hollywood swamis aggressively set out to co-opt the newsies.

As Ronald Reagan taught us, Hollywood treats the news media as a public relations vehicle, and so the vehicle tends to behave that way, all the way down the line. Variety's Peter Bart speaks of the entertainment industry's "pathological need to manipulate" -- and its seething hostility to a bad press. "The only people who are more thin-skinned," observes former editor and now movie producer William Broyles Jr., "are journalists."

Ghostly Voices

There are other ways of getting a good story, however, as we can see from three excellent and definitely exclusive Q&A-style interviews in the February Movieline: Charles Oakley's with Marilyn Monroe, who in this version recovered from her pill overdose and went on to star in "The Poseidon Adventure"; David McDonough's with James Dean (it was just a minor auto crash while filming "Giant"), who regrets having taken the role of John F. Kennedy in "PT-109"; and Jeffrey Lantos's with Freddie Prinze -- he won't talk about the "hunting accident" -- who tells the real story about how he got the lead in "Saturday Night Fever" away from John Travolta.

Rich, Mad and Educational

A strange, dispiriting tale of the wrecked life of the very rich: Lynn Snowden's intimate profile in the February New York Woman of the hollow Juliet Hartford. She's the 22-year-old jet-setting daughter of Huntington Hartford, whose permanent burnout and slough of despond ought to be warning enough to his transparently lost child.

Shelby Steele, says Amiri Baraka, is "settling for short term 'gains' at the expense of integrity and progressive principles and long-haul struggle." Baraka, says Steele, "suffers from a common and insidious confusion: He equates black success with Uncle Tomism." These jabs from a lively argument between the revolutionary poet and the revisionist thinker, published in February's Emerge.

How striking that any magazine would have been publishing for 100 years, let alone two of them servicing nearly identical communities. But it's true. Instructor, the more polished and classroom-oriented of the two, is a publication of Scholastic Inc. The American School Board Journal, with its emphasis on management and pedagogical issues, is published by National School Boards Association Inc. Both are out with January centennial issues.