The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for March, 2008

Ching Hai: Supreme Master…Of Hypocrisy

Posted by keith on 31st March 2008

Supreme Master With Blonde Highlights

If I’m not here tomorrow, do not weep, I will have been struck down — in my disrespect — by Ching Hai, Supreme Master, and self-styled “God’s Direct Contact”. A mere lightning bolt will not be sufficient: I expect a plague of SUVs.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from Shaam Ven, presumably a follower of GDC (well, if the leader of the industrial West is GOP, then why not?) and a believer that any message of concern is a good message:

Hi.

I  read  about  your  website.  I  wanted  to  email  you  immediately  about  Supreme  Master  Ching  Hai’s  efforts  to  halt  global  warming.  Supreme  Master  Ching  Hai  is  a  God-Realized,  living,  enlightened  Master,  who  initiates  Truth  Seekers  into  the  Quan  Yin  meditation.  To  learn  more  about  Master  and  the  Quan  Yin  meditation,  please  go  to  www.godsdirectcontact.org  or  www.godsdirectcontact.com

Master’s  message  is  simple:  if  we  human  beings  don’t  take  steps  to  halt  global  warming  within  the  next  two  years,  after  that,  it  will  be  too  late  and  we  could  see  all  of  life  vanish  from  this  planet  by  the  year  2012.

The  fastest  way  to  stop  global  warming  is  to  become  a  vegan.  It  is  not  difficult  to  do  considering  all  the  veggie  food  out  there  that  tastes,  looks,  and  smells  exactly like  meat  and  seafood. 

Please  consider  going  to  one  of  the  above  websites,  click  on  the  red  SOS  link,  and  read  the  flyer  and  if  you  are  so  inclined,  please  put  this  flyer  on  your  website  or  a  link  to  one  of   the  above  websites.  Thank  you.

Shaam

As a vegetarian, and one of the first people to point out the above point about veganism — maybe Supreme Master read my article — then I’m all for this kind of message, regardless of the source. With my Greenwash Radar on, though, I scanned the site and it didn’t take long before I found some words worthy of Shell or Ford at their most hypocritical. Immediately I wrote back:

Dear Shaam

Thank you for this information. It is good to see the increased uptake of the most vital message for humanity – in pragmatic terms – by religious groups; that humans are changing the planet in a dangerous and potentially irreversible way.

This statement on your web site ensures that things will continue to get worse (http://godsdirectcontact.us/sm21/enews/www/123/pw3.htm):

“The more we develop this world, the more Heavens there will be. We will create a new Heaven. It is just like when we go to a very deserted land with no water or trees, and we begin to dig wells, and we plant trees, vegetables, etc. We make a useless wasteland become a fertile, green, beautiful place. Then we create a new park, a new garden or new living quarters that otherwise had not been there. It did not exist before we came. And from a lousy place, with all kinds of shrubs and thorny bushes growing all over, we make living quarters, a small paradise.”

“That’s how we better the world. Similarly, we will do it on a greater or larger scale. As we move along spiritually, we will move along in helping the world, in beautifying the environment and helping with the poor and the needy. We have to help the whole world, not only one nation. And that is our vision of the future.”

In other words, “The changes humans make to the world are better than those which nature bestows on the planet.”

I find the use of the phrases “useless wasteland” and “lousy place” abhorrent.

The mixture of sensible science (meat production produces excessive greenhouse gases), and bizarre unfounded statements (“if we poison our systems with intoxicating things or impure foods such as meat or animal products, then the cells of the body and the brain will also become contaminated and confused”) ensures that any followers of your ideas will remain in a confused state.

Regards

Keith Farnish

Surprisingly I have yet to receive a response, so I have to assume that it came as a bit of a surprise :-)

And what about that picture of her glowing Supreme Master-ness? Did God put those highlights in (she was originally dark haired) to make her look even more ethereal? Were they done at the heavenly hairdressers? I demand answers.

Posted in Religious Hypocrisy | 50 Comments »

Alberta’s Carbon Emissions Still Missing, But Are Officially Rising

Posted by keith on 28th March 2008

Alberta Carbon Intensity

As I reported back in February, the Government of Alberta, Canada, have gone to great pains to pretend they are making progress on greenhouse gas emissions they try to demonstrate by using the completely discredited Carbon / Greenhouse Gas Intensity statistic. They still are. A simple analysis showed that Alberta’s emissions were going through the roof, and now this rise has been officially confirmed in an e-mail from Environment Minister, Rob Renner which I reproduce in full here*:

Premier Ed Stelmach has forwarded a copy of your recent letter regarding Alberta’s greenhouse gas intensity.  I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Government of Alberta (GoA).

Alberta has been using emissions intensity as a standard of measurement for a number of years.  Overall emissions in Alberta are rising, partly as a result of increasing development in the oil sands and partly as a result of increasing demand worldwide for petroleum products.  Emissions intensity shows that while our economy continues to rise, the emissions per unit of economic output are decreasing.  This demonstrates that production is becoming more efficient.

The GoA recognizes that global climate change is real and that progressive, immediate action is required to effectively respond to this important issue.  The GoA remains committed to doing our fair share to reduce emissions while at the same time ensuring that our efforts are practical, achievable and allow for continued economic prosperity in the province.

Alberta was the first jurisdiction in Canada to develop a comprehensive plan to address climate change and the first Province to pass climate change specific legislation, which requires large industrial emitters to reduce their emissions.

Developed after extensive consultations with Albertans, Alberta’s 2008 Climate Change Strategy outlines the framework that ensures the GoA remains at the forefront of this issue, focusing our efforts on those opportunities that can deliver real, meaningful reductions.  Our strategy will achieve real reductions that will be achieved over the short (2010), medium (2020) and long-terms (2050). The reductions will be realized through actions in the areas of carbon capture and storage [Ed: 70% of the total], conserving and using energy efficiently and greening energy production.

The GoA recognizes there is a need to reduce emissions; however, we cannot immediately stop emissions without severe disruption to our economy, which is also a major driver for national growth.  The GoA believe the long-term nature of the strategy is the key to its success. By beginning now to reduce the rate of emissions, we will ensure that significant and lasting reductions will occur.  The plan is focused on being practical and achievable, as well as encouraging innovation in Alberta industry.  The strategy also commits us to develop a more specific climate change adaptation strategy to ensure that we minimize our risks to the real impacts of a changing climate.  This is a realistic approach for our province.

The GoA is on a path to ensuring meaningful reductions through fundamental shifts in how we develop and use Alberta’s energy resources in ways that respond to the full range of needs of our customers across North America.  The GoA will continue to work with our partners in industry, with other governments, including coordination with federal efforts, and all stakeholders, to put in place the technologies that will reduce emissions in ways that maintain the quality of life Albertans enjoy.

If you would like further information on the strategy, I encourage you to visit the GoA’s website at: www.alberta.ca.

Sincerely,

Rob Renner
Minister of Environment

c.c. Hon. Ed Stelmach
Premier

After some reflection about the complete lack of conviction in Alberta’s desire to reduce its global emissions contribution, I sent this reply which, again, I reproduce in full:

Dear Rob

I’m afraid this is the kind of response that makes me understand why governments are not to be trusted to deal with the climate crisis -  I presume you have seen the latest news about the West Antarctic ice sheet; or perhaps you were distracted by the promise of new economic “opportunities” when the ice is all gone?

“The GoA recognizes there is a need to reduce emissions; however, we cannot immediately stop emissions without severe disruption to our economy, which is also a major driver for national growth.” No one is asking for an immediate cessation of emissions – this is what is known as a “straw man” argument: making an absurd suggestion in the face of a reasonable one in order to divert the attention from the reasonable suggestion. I wouldn’t expect anything else from a politician.

The reasonable suggestion is a year-on-year 10% reduction in emissions, in concert with a movement away from the hierarchical growth-driven economy that guarantees environmental catastrophe.

I think you will find this helpful:

http://earth-blog.bravejournal.com/entry/17630 [link to now defunct article]

Kind regards

Keith Farnish
www.theearthblog.org
www.unsuitablog.org

Remember, if it smells like hypocrisy, it probably is.

(*The disclaimer reads: “If you are not the named  addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail.” I was the named addressee.)

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Procter & Gamble: Suddenly It All Becomes Clear

Posted by keith on 26th March 2008

Pur?

I tend to rely on my instincts a lot. When I saw an advert linking Procter & Gamble with a regional water authority in the newspaper this week I was concerned. I mentioned instinct, and here’s why: the advert didn’t mention P&G, instead it talked about a product called Pur — a water purification device that is apparently saving lives all around the world and could be good for the consumer too. A quick search found the P&G link, and lots of web sites talking about the work P&G are doing in raising awareness of water borne diseases, and supplying purification packs to countries like Kenya.

“Much of their water is filled with pollutants, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. With every drink, children and adults face the risk of illnesses, such as severe diarrhea, which can result in death.

“The introduction of the Pur Purifier of Water gives hope by helping transform contaminated water into clean drinking water. Watching the Pur Purifier of Water work seems almost magical. This innovative method has dramatically reduced contaminated drinking-water-related illnesses, thereby saving the lives of many children worldwide.”

All well and good — water filtration is a potential life saver (though the poor state of water supplies in poor nations owes almost everything to human damage and mismanagement than any natural abberation) and is definitely more environmentally friendly than bottled water. But I can’t get over the idea of Proctor & Gamble as water philanthropists.

For a start, here is a roll of some of P&G’s best selling products:

Always feminine hygiene products
Ariel washing powder/liquid
Bounty paper towels
Cascade dishwasher detergent
Cheer laundry detergent
Dawn dishwashing detergent
Downy/Lenor fabric softener
Dreft laundry detergent
Head & Shoulders shampoo
Fairy dishwashing liquid
Joy dishwashing liquid
Luvs disposable diapers
Pampers disposable diapers
Tampax tampons
Tide laundry detergent 

I’m not quite sure how much of this stuff is annually put into the water supplies of the world, but to take the example of Ariel –  a “billion dollar brand” which, incidentally, is not sold in the USA due to its historically high phosphorus (brightener) content – this detergent contains benzene based brighteners, which are classified as “toxic to not harmful” (i.e. they can be toxic) to fish, algae and crustaceans. P&G confidently state “they are highly removed by wastewater treatment, which results in very low concentrations that will not adversely affect organisms in the environment.” Except, from their own data, primary wastewater treatment only removes 30-55% of toxic materials — primary wastewater treatment is a relative luxury in many parts of the world; goodness knows what is left behind in untreated sewage.

Tampax and Always are also Billion Dollar Brands, the detritus of which litters the beaches of the world providing interesting playthings for children. They are extremely common items to find in all coastal environments. Tampax applicators have been found in the maws of seabirds

The common link between sanitary protection and detergents here is that P&G seem to be depending on the good will of the public and the waste removal systems in order to reduce the impact of the products they sell in such huge numbers. Where are the totally biodegradable detergents? Where are the sanitary products that leave no traces in the water? With production comes responsibility: you cannot make billions of dollars out of a selling a heavily marketed product and then say, “It’s not our problem.” It really doesn’t seem as though Procter & Gamble are taking their responsibilities seriously.

Procter & Gamble are enthusiastic purveyors of a product that creates safe water for millions; yet they are also, and primarily, purveyors of multiple products sold to billions of people, that help turn seas, rivers and groundwater into a toxic, litter-strewn miasma.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions, Sponsorship | No Comments »

China’s Solar Industry: The Dirty Side Of A “Green” Industry

Posted by keith on 24th March 2008

Solar PV Waste

Few people will be surprised at the revelations of a recent Washington Post article which highlighted the toxic waste being dumped by the manufacturers of solar photovoltaic panels and films into the waterways, soils and other ecosystems of China. The demand for Solar PV largely comes off the back of businesses that want to greenwash their way into our consciences by slapping an acre of solar panels on the roof of their headquarters, knowing full well that solar PV is totally inadequate for powering large-scale offices, data centres and industry. Few of these businesses consider the real benefits to be had from reducing their energy consumption in the first place: after all, governments and corporations say the economy has to keep growing, don’t they?

But at what cost? One cost is the massive offshoring of manufacturing to places where environmental and human working conditions are, quite frankly, atrocious. This is solely to gain the most product for the least cost. Compact fluorescent lamps are another area where a similar trend is being seen (and which I may cover in a different article). In principle, the use of CFLs is a good thing, but again, at what cost? It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Worldwatch institute have this to say about the despoilation of China’s environment:

“Technologies exist to recycle the chemical byproducts of solar-cell production, but some Chinese polysilicon plants, including Luoyang Zhonggui, are cutting costs and corners by avoiding significant extra investment in pollution control. The cheaper prices of their products, which do not currently factor in environmental costs, are projected to fan the rapid expansion of Chinese-made solar PV systems around the world, especially in industrial countries that can afford the still-expensive units.

“Although China will eventually benefit from this green technology as well as costs decline further, for the time being the industry continues to tread the traditional path of ‘pollute first, clean up afterwards.’ At stake are the underrepresented groups in Chinese society, especially rural farmers who depend on increasingly polluted lands for a living. China’s shining solar industry, while enabling blue skies elsewhere, is leaving behind a scarred landscape at home.”

The shift of manufacturing towards the production of goods that are environmentally “neutral” (i.e. they actively reduce the pollution / emissions that would otherwise be generated) would be a good thing if that manufacturing was not simply in addition to producing all of the other needless goods we voraciously consume. Sadly, not only is this manufacturing in addition, but it is being carried out at considerable environmental expense. This cannot be accepted: a “green” product is not green just because of what it says on the box. There needs to be a genuine cultural shift.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, General Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Americans for Balanced Energy Choices: Belching Lies About Coal

Posted by keith on 21st March 2008

America’s Dirty Power

Americans for Balanced Energy Choices: it sounds sensible enough, balancing the different kinds of energy with the need to massively reduce the amount of energy consumed. Except that ABEC is doing nothing of the sort. Like the Oregon Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute (notice that they are all “institutes”, a nice homely monicker, but also rather close to “institution”) before it, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices is a very public front for the coal industry.

The idea of such setups is to provide a friendly face for something that is inherently unfriendly: the coal industry in the USA is responsible for 36 percent of all national carbon emissions. This has been the same since 1990, despite the headline claims that the coal industry is getting cleaner - and that is precisely why I have changed the image above from the ABEC website to read 0.0% CLEANER rather than the absurd 70% CLEANER on the original front page. You can find out more about their claim here.

Except you can’t, because they don’t justify the “70% cleaner” claim in any way: maybe it’s sulphur dioxide, maybe it’s sooty ash, maybe it’s something else – it most certainly isn’t carbon dioxide, the pollutant that really matters!

So, who are these Americans who want “balanced energy choices”. Do I have to spell it out?

AMEREN Corporation, American Electric Power, Arch Coal, Inc., Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., Basin Electric Power Cooperative, BHP Billiton, Buckeye Industrial Mining Co., Buckeye Power, Inc.,Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., CONSOL Energy Inc., CSX Corp., Detroit Edison, Duke Energy, First Energy Corporation, Foundation Coal Corp., Hoosier Energy, Norfolk Southern Co., Peabody Energy Corp., Southern Co. , Tri-state Generation & Transmission Assn. Inc., Union Pacific Railroad, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative.

Hmmm, wonder what all of these companies have in common?

ABEC is what is known as an “Astroturf”:

Campaigns & Elections magazine defines astroturf as a “grassroots program that involves the instant manufacturing of public support for a point of view in which either uninformed activists are recruited or means of deception are used to recruit them.” Journalist William Greider has coined his own term to describe corporate grassroots organizing. He calls it “democracy for hire.”

(from Sourcewatch)

I urge you to explore these Astroturfs when you find them: you can have great fun working out what they don’t say. As for ABEC — they are downright dangerous, and deserve every bad-mouthing they get.

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy | 7 Comments »

Plane Stupid Turns Nasty, Gets Some Anger

Posted by keith on 19th March 2008

It’s always interesting to see what happens when the target of an Unsuitablog article reads that article. I know they do, and I have had a few interesting responses from companies in particular, as well as a couple from political offices. I made the decision from the outset that nothing would be exempt from this site if there was a good reason for including it: there are lots of reasons ranging from simply exposing a hypocritical company to making an organisation question their motives.

On the occasion of publishing this item I was prepared for a backlash. Some of the most stubborn personalities exist within environmental groups, and unlike businesses who take criticism as part of the job (no CEO genuinely believes they are doing business for the good of the planet), NGOs and the like really think the way they operate is for the best: or rather, the people who run the NGOs think they know what is best. I know several committed current and former NGO members who really are doing the right thing, but from all my dealings over the last umpteen years with these groups (I have taken part in more actions than I can remember), it is clear they are in the minority.

Stubbornness can be directed in a positive way, as can anger: in fact, anger and stubbornness are vital elements in ridding the world of a system that constantly seeks to brainwash and coerce individuals into thinking that the way of life it promotes is the only life you can have. When anger becomes disproportionate, and manifests itself in petty threats, though, then you realise that the perpetrator is feeling both threatened and out of control. Here are two examples:

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2008/03/07/plane-stupid-plane-pointless/#comment-304

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2008/03/07/plane-stupid-plane-pointless/#comment-309

I’m big enough to look after myself, but am not going to waste time taking up the offers: I have far more important things to do than try and convince an angry person that they are targeting their passion in the wrong direction; when they have calmed down then that will be the right time. But better than that, I believe that the person in question is genuine, and just needs to understand that their symbolic actions are fruitless – the system will not change, people have to reject the system entirely and work towards something better. How that happens is manifold, but it must happen.

Posted in Advice, Unsuitablog News | 2 Comments »

UK Government : The Case Of The Missing Emissions

Posted by keith on 17th March 2008

Missing Aircraft

There are two phrases that everyone concerned about the environment needs to be aware of – both are widely used by policy makers, and particularly those parts of society involved in environmental subterfuge.

The first is “externalities”, which is another way of saying the emissions or pollution that a company or government doesn’t directly produce, but arises because of activities they are involved in. The second is “international bunkers”, which are greenhouse gas emissions that no one country is willing to take responsibility for.

Both of these phrases should be borne in mind when reading this lengthy extract from a dynamite article in today’s Guardian:

Britain’s climate change emissions may be 12% higher than officially stated, according to a National Audit Office investigation which has strongly criticised the government for using two different carbon accounting systems. There is “insufficient consistency and coordination” in the government’s approach, the NAO said.

Using one system, which the government presents to the UN and in public, Britain emitted 656m tonnes of CO2 in 2005, and claims an improvement on 1990 figures. However, the lesser-known but more accurate data in the government’s national environmental accounts show emissions to be in the region of 733m tonnes in 2005, a NAO report says today.

“There are two different bases on which the government reports emissions: that required for the UN, and the environmental accounts prepared for the Office of National Statistics … [which are] more comprehensive as they include aviation and shipping emissions. They present UK progress in reducing emissions in a markedly different light”, says the report.

The report says there have been “no reductions in UK emissions” if measured by the national accounts method.

The figures contained in the report fly in the face of consistent government claims that it is reducing emissions. Last week the environment minister, Phil Woolas, said in a Commons written answer: “UK greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 16.4% since 1990. We remain on course to nearly double our Kyoto Protocol target over the 2008-12 period.”

This 12 percent understating of greenhouse gas emissions is unfortunate, to say the least, and puts the lie to the UK government’s claim to be a leader in greenhouse gas management. In fact, the UN allowance for the calculation of national emissions to exclude the “international bunkers” of air and shipping, makes it pretty easy for governments to shrug off these emissions as “not our problem”, when they are quite clearly a big and growing problem that must be tackled with considerable urgency.

The problem with such a hands-off attitude is that there is no ownership of these international bunkers. Just like a corporation that takes no responsibility for the pollution caused by the use of its products, governments can “externalise” with aplomb and pretend they are doing a better job than they really are. This must not be allowed to continue: whenever you see government statistics for greenhouse gas emissions, ask the authors whether they are really true, or not…

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

BHP Billiton : Olympic Sponsors – Toxic Tyrants

Posted by keith on 14th March 2008

BHP Billiton Tonnes of toxic waste

The largest mining company in the world isn’t, by definition, ever going to be a cosy environmental partner; more of a partner who regularly stabs you in the face with a sharp instrument to remind you that they are, indeed, the daddy, and you are just a lowly human. BHP Billiton turned over $47.5 billion in 2007, and made a profit in excess of $13 billion – more than enough, you would think, to take a serious look at their activities and use their money (a la Stern) to replant, say, the entire Amazon Rainforest.

But no, as a company they really are the essence of corporate destructiveness: for example, having exposed thousands of indigenous tripal people in Papua New Guinea to thousands of tonnes of polluted “tailings” (mine waste, to you and me) they tried to cut and run, despite admitting that the output of the Ok Ted mine was an environmental disaster. Their destructive operations are spread around the world, and where BHP Billiton go, they leave a trail of toxic waste, along with diseased humans and degraded habitats in their wake.

Like all destructive companies, BHP Billiton are engaging in some striking greenwash: in fact they have just agreed a new Climate Change Policy, which is not surprising considering their operations emit nearly 52 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere every year (that’s about the same as Denmark – yes, the entire country!) It’s a pity they have entirely failed to commit to any reductions in greenhouse gases at all. Exactly what kind of Climate Change Policy is this? One that ensures the climate will change, I suppose.

And now, BHP Billiton are proudly sponsoring the Beijing Olympics. This is one olympic games that, as I have written, is threatening to become the most notorious in history, and with BHP Billiton as a key sponsor of the Olympic Organizing Committee, it will only get worse.

I wonder why a mining company would want to be part of a global event taking part in a country that uses more coal and concrete than any other nation on Earth. I wonder.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

Lexus Hybrids : A Load Of Green B******s

Posted by keith on 12th March 2008

Lexus Not Green

One advertisement that infuriated me more than almost any other in the last year (and there are SO many to choose from), was that for the Lexus RX Hybrid. At the time I first saw it, green was not the colour in my mind — more a sort of splashy, angry red — and I decided to write about it.

Now, with the advert having been unceremoniously banned for – quite frankly — lying, Lexus have turned to Saatchi & Saatchi, the ailing but global ad agency, who have decided that a world without “h” is a terrible world. Obviously this needs explaining, so here’s the official guff:

“The TV commercial presents a glimpse into a world without h.  The h is missing from key landmarks, computer keyboards and the alphabet in schools.  The viewer begins to wonder where the h has gone.  Then they see, it has moved to a better place, a world with the Lexus hybrid—a place that looks forward and believes in change.  There is no better place for an h to be than on the rear badging of a Lexus hybrid vehicle.”

Run that past me again. Lexus have stolen all the “h”s, screwing the world’s keyboards and schools because they want to look good. Talk about honesty in advertising!

Perhaps this isn’t quite what they meant to get over, but hey, that’s what you get for trying to be clever.

At the same time Lexus have launched something called Lexus Living which is, quite frankly, hilarious. They have a big list of tips to make you a more hybridized greener person. Some of them just have to be listed (with a comment or two):

- Install a tankless hot water heater, and you’ll never run out of hot water (great, we can burn gas forever)

- Set your sprinklers to water at night. This saves water because there is less evaporation (or maybe, not use sprinklers)

- Keep a canvas bag in your car so you’ll have it handy when you go grocery shopping (making sure you always drive to the shops)

- Dimmer switches use less electricity, and the light is often more flattering (no they don’t. Dimmer switches are transformers, and they prevent the use of low energy lightbulbs)

etc…

What they are really saying is that rich people can carry on their rich lifestyle (they suggest you tell your gardener to use a broom rather than a hose : what, to stick up his arse and do a dance for you?) and still feel good while they are screwing the planet.

Lexus, The Unsuitablog salutes your utter load of b******s!

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | 6 Comments »

Netherlands Government (Yes, All Of It) : Even More Runways

Posted by keith on 10th March 2008

Schiphol Airport

All the time the people from Plane Stupid are planning their devastating (sic) t-shirt walk around the new Heathrow Terminal 5 on its day of opening, something far more unexpected is being ignored by the world’s media. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is planning a seventh runway. Campaigners opposing this move (via a personal e-mail) take up the story:

“In the Netherlands, the debate is centered on the development of a SEVENTH RUNWAY, called Kaagbaan II, at Schiphol Airport. The expansion may represent a competitive move. If a race for market share between Amsterdam vs.
Heathrow gets started, how far will they go? Amsterdam already has six runways, to Heathrow’s two.”

Even if air transport weren’t as potentially damaging as it promises to be, Schiphol Airport already has ample capacity for massive expansion in its six runways. This suggests very strongly that the motivation may be a combination of land-grabbing by the developers so they can reap the rewards of a large capital project, and a nice bit of posturing by the owners. 

Schiphol Airport is 100% owned by the Dutch national and local government. The interests in operating the airport are public only, therefore you would expect air transport to be right at the bottom of the list of a government that prides itself on being a model of environmental sustainability. Not so.

Go to the Dutch Transport Ministry web site, and you find some hopelessly conflicting statements:

“The Dutch government has set ambitious targets for improving air quality, aiming to reduce CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. The negative environmental impact of increased should be limited, by stimulating innovative solutions in road transport, shipping and aviation.” (from this page)

Just one click away from this is the following:

“As well as having a positive influence on the area surrounding airports there is no doubt that air traffic can also have a negative impact. Although airports create jobs for the local community, they are also a source of noise pollution. Municipalities have limited options for expansion because they must comply with strict regulations governing construction in the areas surrounding airports. In addition, the emission of hazardous substances has an impact on air quality.” (from this page)

Incredibly (or not, depending on how you feel) climate change is not mentioned at all. Guess why. Because, like every other Western government, the Dutch Government are scared of upsetting the companies that operate in their territory.

Money is power, and governments never upset companies that have the potential to make money if they can get away with it. If the Dutch people don’t decide to rapidly change their focus from making money to giving themselves a chance of surviving the next couple of decades before the polders flood, then their government will carry on supporting environmentally damaging projects.

I suppose the only funny thing is that Schiphol Airport is 3 metres below sea level. The flood defences won’t last much longer: what a monumental irony.

Posted in Political Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | 2 Comments »