The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for April, 2008

Racing Industry And Air Industry Fight It Out: Hilarity Ensues

Posted by keith on 30th April 2008

Riders Newmarket

There are few things more entertaining than when two different businesses, both loaded with money, battle it out for supremacy , with the only losers being one or other industry. This particular battle is taking place between the multi-millionaire (billionaire) stable owners of Newmarket, in the English Midlands, and the air industry, led by National Air Traffic Services, a recently privatised air infrastructure business. It has become a turf war…literally.

From the point of view of the avid greenwash spotter, anything that promises to dent the imperialism of the air industry has got to be good news; yet the racing industry is run by people who spend their lives dashing from one international stable to another — by plane, of course — only interspersed by journeys in their leather and burnished walnut lined Range Rovers to and from large lunches where they discuss how much more money they can make.

Surprisingly, I don’t have any sympathy for either side. Here is the Observer newspaper taking up the hilarious story:

Plans that would see up to 33 planes an hour, circling over a major horse breeding area, threaten to drive away the world’s top stud owners, including the ruler of oil-rich Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and Kirsten Rausing, the Tetra Pak heiress.

Owners and trainers have hired aviation and planning law expert John Steel, QC, to force the National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the UK’s leading air-traffic management company, to rethink its proposals, which they say could result in the death of Newmarket as headquarters of the racing industry.

‘The proposed stacking is right over the top of the horse-breeding area,’ said Alastair Watson, chairman of the Newmarket Stud Farmers Association and manager of Rausing’s Lanwades stud. ‘Breeders have chosen the area for its quiet environs. There is obviously the possibility of them moving away.’

An urgent meeting to discuss the proposals was attended by representatives from Sheikh Mohammed’s stud, as well as from the Newmarket Stud Farmers’ Association, the National Stud, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association and Tattersalls, the UK’s leading bloodstock auctioneers. ‘Brood mares come from around the world to be covered here. It could really knock confidence,’ said Louise Kemble, chief executive of the breeders’ association.

Oh, how I laughed!

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Good News! | 1 Comment »

Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil: Snake Oil!

Posted by keith on 28th April 2008

Palm Oil Forest Fire

Ever get the feeling you’ve been had? It’s an iconic quote from a punk legend, but as with all great sayings, it can be applied in many different places. This is one example: the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry talking shop if ever there was one and, like the ineffectual light-green environmental groups who “fight” for changes to government policy and send out gleeful press releases whenever a corporation promises to behave itself, the RSPO are actually making things far worse than if the public were left to their own devices. Sustainable palm oil is simply snake oil in a clever diguise: it doesn’t exist and it never will do.

Here’s how it works.

1) As a group of big businesses whose primary interest is to ensure the expansion of the lucrative palm oil industry – retailers, traders, processors, growers, investors; that sort of thing — set up a shell organisation that claims it is going to make the industry “sustainable”.

2) Call in some gullible (yes, I said “gullible”) NGOs and environmentalists and say that they can have a seat on this august, influential body if they allow business to continue as before — but they will be allowed to suggest changes to the industry providing it doesn’t affect the business model.

3) Repeatedly announce to the world, through member companies such as Sainsburys and Unilever, that agreements are being reached and work is moving on swiftly to make plantations sustainable, but that we have to give them time because this is a tough job, and there are so many products that contain this oil it is just “impossible” to do this any other way.

 4) Do almost nothing for years while counting the massive profit that has been made from cheap oil being grown on recently deforested land using cheap labour.

5) After a few years say that the there are so many plantations that no more deforestation has to take place. Meanwhile the South East Asian rainforest has ceased to exist, carbon levels through wood and peat burning have boosted the greenhouse effect, and people have still not realised they have been well and truly greenwashed.

Alternatively, you could, like Meridian Foods, just take palm oil out of your products until it is sustainably produced. I’m not in the habit of promoting companies, but you have to give them credit as they didn’t even publicise the change.

The RSPO have an impressive roster of members, but it’s the board that matters, so here is their board membership, in full:

President:
Unilever : Jan Kees Vis (massive food multinational)

Vice-President I:
WWF Malaysia : Darrel Arthur Webber (NGO — history of corporate partnerships)
 
Vice-President II:
Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) : Derom Bangun (growers and producers trade body)
 
Vice-President III:
Malaysian Palm Oil Association : Mamat Salleh (growers and producers trade body)
 
Vice-President IV:
New Britain Palm Oil Limited : Simon Lord (Papua New Guinea’s largest oil palm plantation and milling operator)
 
Treasurer:
Aarhus Karlshamn UK : Ian McIntosh (Palm Oil trade “solutions” company)
 
Members:
 
Federation of Migros Cooperatives : Robert Keller
IOI Group (Malaysia/Netherlands) : Don Grubba
Cadbury Schweppes plc : Tony Lass
WWF-Indonesia : Fitrian Ardiansyah
Oxfam International : Johan Verburg
Sawit Watch : Rudy Lumuru
HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad : Paul Norton
FELDA : Mohd Nor Kailany
Co-operative Insurance Society : Samantha Lacey

You will notice that there is only one organisation represented on the board management that has any interest in ensuring the palm oil becomes sustainable, and that organisation is one of the most business-friendly NGOs in the world. Overall, NGOs and small growers are outnumbered three to one on the board. They will always lose in voting.

Add to this their pathetic “aspirations” as a body:

RSPO is an association created by organisations carrying out their activities in and around the entire supply chain for palm oil to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders.

In other words, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is an industry body that has absolutely no intention of producing or using sustainable palm oil all the time there is more profit to be made from the type that comprises 100% of all palm oil currently being produced. Clearly they also have no intention of scrapping the use of palm oil all the time it is unsustainable.

*** UPDATE ***

A post in Tempo Magazine Indonesia (via the Dear Kitty Blog) has justified my decision to attack the RSPO:

Novi Hardianto, manager of the habitat program at the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) said on Thursday last week (4/9) that two big palm oil companies, IOI Group and Agro Group, have cut down forests that were known to be the habitat of orangutan.

This was despite the fact that these forests were included in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Not content with members refusing to keep their word, they somehow try to smooth it over in this appalling example of sycophancy:

Meanwhile, RSPO spokesperson Desi Kusmadewi said that RSPO would check out the area mentioned by Greenpeace.

“If it is true, we will give chance for the company to repair what they have done first before being removed from RSPO,” said Desi.

Repair!
How can you repair the destruction of pristine ancient rainforest?!

The rest of the article makes for equally depressing reading, putting the lie to the claim that there can ever be such a thing as “sustainable” tropical forestry where governments and corporations are involved.

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | 21 Comments »

Survey: Britain’s Worst Greenwashers Named

Posted by keith on 25th April 2008

The results of a fascinating survey have just been released by the PR company Chatsworth Communications, which show clearly that Britain’s journalists, bloggers and other “opinion formers” are not being fooled by the tide of greenwash slopping over the nation’s shores. The press release states:

The results reveal an increasing cynicism as to whether UK business will ever aim for anything more than ‘greenwash’ without clear leadership and legislation from the government on environmental issues.

Nick Murray-Leslie, Chatsworth, comments: “The general public is much more aware of both the issue and the role big business has to play. As a result they are increasingly scrutinising businesses’ sustainability programmes. It should be every company’s priority to make sure they communicate honestly and effectively.

“Supermarkets continue to come under particular scrutiny because of their prominence in our day to day life. Our findings shown that the brands with the most well-publicised sustainability campaigns are also thought of as green washers, so the correlation between investment in publicity and a positive perception by the public does not necessarily always apply.”

This is really enlightening news — the message of The Unsuitablog and the many other sources of information that are helping expose greenwash is most certainly getting through. It also shows that perhaps the public aren’t so taken in by faux-green messages because the stark environmental warnings of the last few years are also getting through.

Some of the comments made with reference to certain companies most certainly echo this site’s sentiments; three of those below have already been featured here:

Green Washers Chatsworth

Let’s keep the ball rolling, and keep greenwashing out of society.

Posted in Unsuitablog News | No Comments »

USA Energy Corridors: A Plan For Big Energy And Nothing Else

Posted by keith on 23rd April 2008

Energy Corridors

Wasn’t it only six short days ago that President Bush stood before the nation and called for the halt of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025? Then why is the federal government, led by the Department of Energy (DOE) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), planning to power Western cities with a new utility grid that bypasses renewable energy and that incentivizes more coal, oil and natural gas production? 

Called the West-Wide Energy Corridors Process, the reality of this plan is that it’s little more than a scheme to build nearly 6,000 miles of “corridors” through nearly 3 million acres of public lands, including national parks and national monuments. Averaging over 2/3 a mile wide and capable of holding up to 35 natural gas pipelines, these corridors will have massive and long-term effects on public lands.

During a congressional hearing last week, energy experts and county, state, and tribal officials testified against the plan and criticized the DOE for not consulting with local stakeholders when designating the corridors. Representative Raúl Grijalva said that on a map the corridors looked like “giant extension cords to existing coal sources.”

How can we realistically lower greenhouse emissions if we continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels? Lowering emissions requires a serious commitment to the development and sustainability of renewable energy, but the proposed corridors leave renewables without access to the grid. The feds needs to go back and consult with local and tribal officials, provide access to renewable energy and protect our public lands.

This guest article was written for The Unsuitablog by James Navarro of the Wilderness Society.

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

Earth Day: Why I’m Doing Nothing Different

Posted by keith on 22nd April 2008

Reclaim Earth Day

I’ve had enough of the sanctinomious, corporate marketing of Earth Day, and it looks as though a group in Toronto have had enough too. The Toronto Climate Campaign ran an event on Sunday which reflected almost exactly what I wrote earlier:

In April, 1970, the environmental movement burst onto the political stage with one of the largest grassroots demonstrations ever seen. Between 20 and 25 million people, mostly in the United States, answered the call on the first Earth Day. Event organizers were shocked at the response and marveled at the crowd that drew from every constituency: students and seniors; inner cities and small towns; faith groups and hippies. 

Over the years, corporations began to fund and sponsor Earth Day events, some out of sincere interest, more out of desire to buy “green” credentials. This shifted the emphasis from public rallying to put pressure on politicians and policy makers, to predominantly innocuous and symbolic events. Large scale, interconnected mobilizations were out. Decentralized photo-ops were in. The unfortunate result was, most activists began to ignore Earth Day.

Which is why I will be doing nothing different today. In fact, what I will be doing is what I have been doing every day for years — trying to make my own life as sustainable as possible, while also trying to generate change at all levels.


I said I would probably get more self-promoting bandwagon e-mails between my last article and today, and so I did. Here is a choice selection, with the pertinant points highlighted. Bear in mind that these are from people who purport to be “green” but somehow can’t help selling stuff:

Why You Need a Plastic Bag Ball

OSSINING, N.Y. (April 15, 2008)-Boredom has lent itself to building balls of rubber bands, and street fairs across America have begged the question, “Can you guess how many jellybeans are in this jar?” As we near Earth Day on April 22, Eco-Bags Products, Inc. is asking green-minded citizens to collect 1,000 plastic bags and build PLASTIC BAG BALLS, to visualize and understand the impact on our planet. Earth Day celebrators are encouraged to document their ball builds and submit photos or video to the community blog My Greenest Hour. Up to ten participants who demonstrate the most environmental prowess will receive one ECOBAG® to carry along on their next grocery trip.

(The full e-mail contained 9 separate mentions of their registered trademarked, incorporated product)

GREENOPIA COMES TO NEW YORK!

New York, NY (April 21, 2008) – A must-have on the West Coast has finally arrived in New York just in time for Earth Day:  Welcome the first edition of Greenopia New York City, a guidebook to green businesses in all five boroughs – from car services and hotels, to nail salons and burial services.  Hitting bookshelves this week, Greenopia New York City makes living an eco-friendly life in the Big Apple easier than ever! 

Featuring more than 1,300 listings of local green businesses and resources, Greenopia New York City is sold online at Greenopia.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Macy’s and other area bookstores and specialty retailers. 

The book’s suggested retail price is $17.95.

(Just blatant marketing)

Low Carbon Diet Takes Bite out of Global Warming: Earth Day event and online calculator lower carbon footprint of America’s favorite foods

Experts available:

* Chefs on Bon Appétit’s low carbon eating strategy, from menus to operations management. Celebrity chefs also available.
* Spokespersons from company headquarters, local cafes, and the sustainable food movement

Where:        

* Bon Appétit Management Company cafes in 28 states and major metro areas including: Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Portland, Seattle, and Boston. 
* Visit a cafe in your area on April 22nd to report on the action on Low Carbon Diet day’s low carbon meals, educational activities, and diners’ reactions to the event.

(I wonder why they are asking you to visit their cafes?)


So have fun this Earth Day. See how much more hypocrisy and marketing you can spot. Sent it to news@theunsuitablog.com and I reckon there is a good chance it’ll be published!

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Promotions, Should Know Better | 1 Comment »

The Nature Conservancy: Partnering With Poisoners

Posted by keith on 19th April 2008

Nature Conservancy Business

I sometimes get the feeling I’m shooting fish in a barrel, writing this blog — not that I would ever shoot a fish — with the targets getting easier and easier to pick off. This is never so true as with the “environmental” charities that huddle up, all cosily, with business in the vain attempt to get them to play nicely.

They really don’t get it — business doesn’t want to “play nicely”, business wants to do business, and will not do business if it doesn’t make a profit. In order to make a profit the business must get more more out of a process than it puts in; and if you are a manufacturer or a producer of raw materials then that extra either comes from cheap labour or the extraction of something you didn’t have before — like oil or timber. If you are a retailer or an investment bank, the profit you gain is dependent on selling something for a greater value than you bought it — you are dependent on the manufacturer or producer of raw materials having something you can resell at a profit, so they must reduce their costs as much as possible. In order for these costs to be reduced they must cut corners, so they treat workers badly; pollute the land, water and atmosphere; use their commercial muscle to ensure they don’t have legislation to comply with…and so on. If you are an advertiser or PR company, your job is to make all these companies look good.

In short, business is unsustainable, at all levels.

If you are the Nature Conservancy, one of the largest and most respected environmental charities in the world, then it would make sense not to work with profit making businesses, especially not the most damaging of them…you know, companies like Alcoa, BP and Cargill — really, really bad companies.

Actually, if you are the Nature Conservancy, you say the following:

The Nature Conservancy works with the business community to find common ground between conservation and industry. We accept their financial and land donations, engage in cause-related marketing, foster direct conservation action, and participate in event sponsorship.

As you can see, they really think there is common ground between business and conservation, and will happily provide branding for any company that pretends they are doing good things. They are good enough to provide a list of these companies — here are some really nasty ones:

Alcoa — massive polluter and consumer of energy
American Electric Power – coal burning (73%) electricity producer
Bank of America — will invest in anything, regardless of impact
BP – oil giant and greenwasher supreme
Cargill – food giant, GMO user on massive scale
Caterpillar – provides military equipment to repressive regimes

And many more, including Monsanto, Proctor & Gamble and Georgia-Pacific. All of the nasty companies The Nature Conservancy have partnered with continue to be nasty — but look great, because of their links with TNC.

In fact the history of the Nature Conservancy shows that they were only able to grow as they did in the 1960s because of a cash injection from Ford Motors, which allowed them to employ an IBM executive as their first President. Now please humour me and read this web page about their cosy relationship with General Motors, and tell me if I am being paranoid:

http://www.nature.org/joinanddonate/corporatepartnerships/partnership/generalmotors.html

I think I need to lie down…

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | 15 Comments »

It’s The Economy – Because I’m Stupid

Posted by keith on 16th April 2008

 gordonbrown-custom.jpg

On the day China was announced as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide* (well, about as official as we can get at the moment) Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the UK announced that he was going to focus on just one thing – and I’m not surprised considering how important this thing is:

“Next month’s University of California report warns that unless China radically changes its energy policies, its increases in greenhouse gases will be several times larger than the cuts in emissions being made by rich nations under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Sorry? Did I get that wrong? Oh, it isn’t the changing global climate – the event that now guarantees to cause irreversible ecological damage that will affect us dramatically — that Gordon Brown is focusing on; it is the economic climate. Silly me. I do forget sometimes that if we don’t all go to the shops to buy piles of crap, fly off on sunny vacations and keep using more and more natural resources to ensure that the global economy keeps on growing then we are doomed! Doomed to what, exactly?

Here’s what Gordon actually said:

“Every day that I wake up is about keeping this economy moving forward, keeping stability in the economy and keeping growth…we will do everything in our power to keep the economy moving forward”

To everyone who has an inkling of knowledge about both ecology and economics, this statement reeks of a complete disregard for climatic stability, indeed you could just substitute “global warming” for “economy” and you would get a pretty accurate rendition of what all Western governments, and those non-Western governments that have adopted the growth-lust of the West, are doing to the planet:

“The problem is that growth has to come from somewhere, and it can either come from some artificially created value, such as property prices, which could collapse at any time, or some resource, such as oil, coal, cropland, rock or metal, that is continually being used at an increasing rate. In short, if companies do not accelerate their use of resources then the global economy will not be able to carry on as it is. The economy is hell-bent on consuming the Earth’s finite resources in order to survive.”

(from http://earth-blog.bravejournal.com/entry/17630)

Next time you hear Gordon Brown mention the environment, climate change or anything else vaguely green, just ignore him: he is just another cretin who thinks that money is more important than life.


*This is what I said in 2006: “China has overtaken the USA in absolute numbers of televisions and refrigerators, but with a population 4 times higher, the per capita use is still well below that of the USA for these, pretty representative, items. China’s total carbon emissions have just exceeded (as of 2006) those of the USA.”

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

World Environmental Organization: What Are They About?

Posted by keith on 14th April 2008

Trademarking The Earth

I was having a bit of a browse yesterday looking for useful environmental groups that might help out with a project I am doing and stumbled across the World Environmental Organization. They don’t do things by halves, these guys, clearly the domain name www.world.org didn’t come cheap, and to proudly proclaim yourself as the World Environmental Organization, i.e. an organization that represents the environment of the world, must mean you have a truly global presence.

WEO don’t exactly say a lot about themselves: they seem to have just the one office, which is in Washington DC, and a board of directors that includes Jeff Gold as Chair. Jeff made lots of money from selling internet domains, particularly go.com and q.com, and he currently holds solar.org which is “A project of the World Environmental Organization”, and is also a showcase for GE Energy products. Now I don’t need to tell you what GE have done for the planet, I’ll let Corporate Watch do it for me. I wouldn’t let GE, or any of the other energy behemoths anywhere near my work.

What really pisses me off, though, is the list of sponsors which WEO shows on its site:

Eco-Partners ($5,000+)
GE Energy
Ford Motor Company
Viking
Platinum Sponsors ($1,000+)
Bosch
Southwest Windpower
Xantrex
Grundfos
Takagi
SMA America
Vermont Castings
Trojan Battery Company
Exeltech
Samlex America

 

Like WWF, which I featured a while back, it seems that for a small stipend, and despite any history that company may have, they can be associated with an “environmental” organization (the World Environmental Organization, no less) and thus an extra layer of slippery green oil can be applied to their filthy, polluting bodies for the cost of a big corporate lunch.

And if having a list of highly dubious sponsors wasn’t enough, WEO (or rather, Jeff Gold) has gone on to trademark everything on the site: the logo, the domain and even the name; despite World Environmental Organization being a widely discussed global concept that could potentially be vital for overseeing the activities of the greenwashers that blight this planet.

As it is, WEO is a small, very worthy, East Coast USA based setup that really should learn to be a little more modest, and careful with the people it decides to do business with.

 

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | 1 Comment »

How To Spot Greenwash

Posted by keith on 10th April 2008

Greenwash Painting

I have a pretty good radar for greenwash, which is how it’s so easy to find subjects for The Unsuitablog; but the adverts, the policies, the promotions and the speeches full of bright green spit keep on coming. Someone is lapping this all up and it’s the consuming public: if not then why would companies and organisations keep on doing it?

My aim with The Unsuitablog is twofold, and you can all help me with it:

1) To make everyone adept at spotting greenwash as and when it is trotted out.

2) To make greenwashing as socially unacceptable as consuming hard drugs in front of your grandmother.

Without the first aim, the second aim cannot come true, which means that greenwashing will thrive, and those responsible will carry on doing their Earth killing behind closed doors.

If you are a regular reader of The Unsuitablog then you will already be quite adept at seeing how it is done, but here are some tips for everyone who wants a little help:

  • Be suspicious of all environmental claims. Don’t trust any claims unless you have verified them yourself.
  • If a company, in particular, takes out a large advertisement in a newspaper, or runs a TV advertisement saying how great their green credentials are — then they are hiding something, guaranteed. If someone is trying sell their “green” credentials then ask yourself, “why?”
  • If a company has a bad history it is highly unlikely to have changed overnight. Use web sites like SourceWatch and Corporate Watch, as well as this site, to find out the truth behind the mask.
  • Look out for poor use of scientific facts, especially when listening to politicians: “Reducing carbon emissions will protect the ozone layer”, “this technology is sustainable”, “emissions can be offset”, “the greenhouse effect is not certain” etc. All examples of rubbish that has no basis in fact, even the last one (think about it).
  • Look out for buzzwords that put a gloss on reality: ”carbon intensity”, “sustainable development”, “carbon offsets”, “clean technology” etc. Another clear sign that something is being covered up.
  • Use your common sense and your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.

And can I just ask a little favour? Please tell everyone you know about The Unsuitablog, and link here if you have a web site: the more people get to see the truth, the fewer lies will be told.



Now you have found the greenwash, it’s time to start really investigating it and getting the things you need to expose the greenwasher. If you fancy it, then read How To Investigate Greenwash…

.

Posted in Advice, Revenge | 27 Comments »

US Air Force: Leading The Way In Stupidity

Posted by keith on 8th April 2008

Above All We Kill People

Bad Unsuitablog, having a go at the glorious reich, sorry US Air Force. I’m sure there are some good people in there, but it’s leadership that counts, so what is the leadership of the USAF saying about climate change:

“The Air Force will meet the law’s requirements”. That’s Air Force Assistant Secretary William Anderson actually pretending that the Air Force are subject to the law. It’s not exactly a glorious history — observing national, or international law isn’t exactly high on their list of strategic aims — and if you know anything about US law then you will know that the US military are exempt from all clean air legislation. And, anyway, what laws exist in the USA to prevent greenhouse gas emissions?

But I digress, the big thing here is that the US Air Force are planning to convert coal into jet fuel to stave off the need to import oil:

Air Force officials said the plants could help neutralize a national security threat by tapping into the country’s abundant coal reserves. And by offering itself as a partner in the Malmstrom plant, the Air Force hopes to prod Wall Street investors — nervous over coal’s role in climate change — to sink money into similar plants nationwide. “We’re going to be burning fossil fuels for a long time, and there’s three times as much coal in the ground as there are oil reserves,” said Air Force Assistant Secretary William Anderson. “Guess what? We’re going to burn coal.”

(from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080322/ap_on_bi_ge/military_coal)

This, frankly, ludicrous suggestion would be more at home in The Onion, but as with all good satire it’s dangerously close to the truth, despite the best efforts of various scientists and Representatives to make a mockery of it. Bear in mind also that even if coal were used — along with its sky high cost in greenhouse gas emissions — it is going to start to tail off in the next couple of decades.

So what are the US Air Force going to be doing with all that lovely coal-based jet fuel? Probably patrolling the USA shooting at anyone who dares break the marshal law that will be in place when all the fuel runs out…

Posted in Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »