Posted by keith on April 19th, 2008
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:
I think I need to lie down…