The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for June, 2008

Coast Is Clear, Let’s Suck The Oil Out!

Posted by keith on 30th June 2008

iRaq

“Ok, guys, we’ve spent billions of dollars clearing out anyone who might have got in your way — just as you asked. We couldn’t really afford it but the arms guys needed a big battle to clear out the warehouses, and we know how persuasive they can be — if you know what I mean. The police are nearly trained up and if it wasn’t for all those big bombs going up in the towns we could pretend everything was alright. Trust us, the oil fields are protected.”

“What do you mean you want more help? Ok, we know which side our bread’s buttered — tell us what you want us to do…”

A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq, American officials say.

The disclosure, coming on the eve of the contracts’ announcement, is the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq’s oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism.

In their role as advisers to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, American government lawyers and private-sector consultants provided template contracts and detailed suggestions on drafting the contracts, advisers and a senior State Department official said. [link]

“No, we’re not going to do your greenwashing for you: you’ve shown how good you are at that already — even Exxon are making out they’re saving the world. If I didn’t know how many shades of bullshit makes up your logos I might even have been taken in.”

At a time of spiraling oil prices, the no-bid contracts, in a country with some of the world’s largest untapped fields and potential for vast profits, are a rare prize to the industry. The contracts are expected to be awarded Monday to Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron, as well as to several smaller oil companies. [link]

“Give it a rest, guys, we’re working as fast as we can. You’ve got your profits; we’ve got a nice little earner going — hell, the voters still think they’re going to change things: where do you think Mugabe got all his best tricks from? I know you think Canada are doing a better job, but how were we to know they would try and f*ck up the entire planet themselves digging sand out of the ground?”

“Ok, just one more, and that’s it. Two years, alright? We’ll send you a map of Tehran when we’ve finished bombing the shit out of it.”

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Eco Towns: A Smokescreen For Property Developers

Posted by keith on 25th June 2008

Eco Town Protest

Tim Henman, erstwhile British tennis hero, is on the rampage, as only a tiger can be (ok, I’m stretching the truth slightly) — but something must be up when a former mild-mannered sports personality takes to the streets protesting about a development. In fact these developments, all ten of them in the final list, are supposed to be the very kinds of things that we should have been protesting to have more of. As the UK Government web site states:

At the beginning of the 21st Century our greatest environmental challenge is from climate change. As housing accounts for 27 per cent of carbon emissions, we need to substantially cut emissions from new homes and work towards zero carbon housing and development.

It also says:

We have seen strong support across the private sector, local government and local communities for building more affordable homes alongside higher environmental standards. Now we want local areas to come forward with ideas on how to put these principles and ambitions into practice – with a new generation of eco-towns.

Now why, I wonder, would the strongest support have come from the private sector? Tristram Hunt of The Guardian, takes up the story:

All too predictably, Britain’s leading developers are using the eco-town template to dust off long-rejected proposals and re-submit shoddy housing schemes. It is up to housing minister Caroline Flint to save this Brownite policy from descending into another predictable fight between Nimbys and developers.

Unfortunately, the response of the housebuilding industry has been a series of cunning attempts to revive planning permission for previously rejected projects. In Micheldever, Eagle Star Insurance has been trying to develop a London-Basingstoke commuter settlement since the mid-1970s. But with a sprinkling of “sustainable development” and “carbon-neutral” buzzwords, the bog-standard scheme for 12,500 homes on a pristine, greenfield site has magically transformed itself into an “eco-town”.

The private companies get their developments, the government gets their eco-credentials, and the councils — who ultimately make sure everything is done in the right way — get a few nice back-handers, just as all councils have done since time immemorial.

It’s not looking good for anyone who actually wants to find a better place to live, according to The Daily Telegraph:

An official report on eco-towns will today find that only “two or three will have real eco credentials” and most of the 15 proposals are “just housing estates in the countryside with a green label attached”.

The report by a panel of leading experts in town planning, house building, transport and environment issues will send most of the proposals back to planners with a “must do better note”.

A source on the panel told The Daily Telegraph: “No more than two or three will really be eco-towns. But pressure from ministers will demand 10 [be built] even if some do not meet the environmentally friendly criteria.”

Why do we need “eco towns” anyways? Here’s a list of things the development enthusiasts in governments, private companies and councils of the world will never contemplate, because there’s nothing in it to fill their pockets:

1) Refurbishment of existing housing stock – refurbishment has far lower “embodied energy” simply because new construction materials aren’t required. Construction materials in new homes take decades of “zero carbon” occupation to offset.

2) Redevelopment of unwanted or obsolete commercial buildings – again, lower embodied energy, and also a far greater potential for communal / community living.

3) Opting out of conventional housing completely – whether it’s in a roundhouse, a yurt or something else off-grid and rewilded, this requires a reconnection with the real world: something civilization simply will not tolerate.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

George Monbiot Slates ExxonMobil

Posted by keith on 23rd June 2008

Despite being nearly two years old, this is an excellent article about the lengths oil companies (and not just ExxonMobil) will go to keep people buying oil.

Original link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at0T7Fi5l_I

The new ExxonMobil advertising campaign purports to care about its impact on the global environment, yet ExxonMobil continues to lobby hard in order to continue its wantonly destructive activities, while coating it all in a green sheen that people are still being fooled by. If an oil company says it is concerned about the environment, then ask yourslef, “Why is it still pumping oil, then?”

Simple answer: Because it is greenwashing.

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

American Express: Just Sod Off Please

Posted by keith on 20th June 2008

AMEX CONSUMER

First prize for the most infuriating and patronising e-mail of the year so far goes to American Express for this hideous gem:

Good Afternoon,

Your readers have the next four weeks to think about their ideas to make a positive impact in the world.

Today, we’re announcing the return of Members Project, the online initiative that enables Cardmembers to submit, discuss and vote on projects to make a positive impact in the world that American Express will fund with $2.5 million. Last year, Members Project brought clean drinking water to children across Africa.

What happens this year can be up to your readers. There are great tools on www.MembersProject.com available now to help people prepare ideas and build a network to bring their ideas to the forefront. Please encourage them to start thinking now and get ready to submit their ideas starting July 22.

The announcement with more details is below. I’d love to discuss this further and I’m available to answer any questions!

Best,

Adam
212-373-6106

Just a few points I’d like to pick AMEX up on here:

1) “My Readers” can do whatever they damn well like with their time, and have far better things to do than post ideas that will ultimately lead to AMEX looking really good.

2) The $2.5m “Members Project” is just one project for the year — that’s it. $2.5m is less than 0.01% of the annual revenue of this global corporate giant. Not exactly a generous piece of philanthropy, is it?

3) American Express is probably the largest travel company on Earth, selling flights to millions of people every year, warming the Earth up just that bit more.

4) With anything between 50 and 100 million card holders, Amex is responsible for a considerable proportion of the global credit market; credit is one of the key drivers of the global economy — if people do not have credit then they are far less likely to buy goods. It is the acquisition of consumer goods and services that ensures that the planet will continue to be degraded.

Actually, this is far too polite. Here was my response to Adam (who I don’t know from Adam, and had spammed me…):

Adam

If I may say so, the statement “your readers have the next four weeks to think about their ideas to make a positive impact in the world” is utter bollocks.

My readers are actually doing things, rather than using their AMEX cards to buy stuff which funds the industrial economy, which destroys the planet.

I will have great pleasure featuring this on The Unsuitablog (www.unsuitablog.com)

Welcome to reality, Adam.

Regards

Keith Farnish

To which he responded:

Keith,

I’m sorry to hear to you feel that way.

The reality is, through last year’s Members Project, one Cardmember’s idea improved access to safe drinking water to more than 3.5 million people in Africa for at least two years and significantly reduced waterborne diseases by promoting household water treatment, safe storage and a healthy environment.

If you change your opinion, let me know.

Thanks.

Adam

To which I respond: if it wasn’t for the degradation of the global environment and the increasing drive for resource extraction, and the greed driven corruption (greed for the trappings of the industrial economy), all of which are hitting Africa incredibly hard, causing conflict, disease and famine; then those 3.5 million people — a lot more in fact — would not need your piddling bit of help.

In fact, why do we need Amex to fund clean water, when that $2.5m could come from the defense budgets of the world’s industrial nations: about the cost of a couple of ground-to-air missiles, if I’m not much mistaken?

No Amex, you’re not fooling anyone with your philanthropy promotions…

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | No Comments »

The Tools Of Greenwashing: 3. Company Policies

Posted by keith on 17th June 2008

Company Policies

Here’s one for everyone who works for a company: that’ll be just about everyone who’s reading this, I guess (and, while possibly stating the obvious, the last year since leaving the corporate machine has been the best year of my life).

No doubt you will have heard about your company driving forwards with Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Policies, Green Certification and any other mixture of one or more “green” word along with a “serious” word to suggest how serious the company is. I want you to take a long, hard look at the policies that your company has produced, and see if you notice anything odd about them. Here’s my guess:

Not one of the policies will, in any way, try to undercut that company’s bottom line.

Ok, it seems pretty obvious that companies exist to make money — more than that, they exist to make a profit, and keep growing so that the shareholders or owners can get richer. In short, company “environmental” policies are not worth the paper they are written on, or the bytes they occupy, because the company is a business: it exists to consume resources at an ever increasing rate; whether those resources are coal, oil, fish, metal, land, trees, water, people…whatever the company uses to ensure its continued growth.

Here are a few examples:


ExxonMobil

It is our policy to conduct our business in a manner that is compatible with the balanced environmental and economic needs of the communities in which we operate. We are committed to continuous efforts to improve environmental performance throughout our operations worldwide.

(from http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/community_ccr_envpolicy.aspx)

JP Morgan

This is a big policy, but you can get an idea from this…

Private equity investments

Our private equity divisions conduct an environmental review as part of their investment decision process for direct investments in companies in environmentally sensitive industries. The review process analyses our prospective portfolio companies’ compliance with applicable environmental laws, regulations and international norms. The environmental review process is an integral part of our private equity area’s thorough due diligence review of companies and their management.

Once an investment is made, through their membership on a portfolio company’s board of directors, our private equity divisions monitor their portfolio company’s operations with respect to environmental compliance issues.

(from http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmc/community/env/policy/risk)

EDF Energy

We think continual environmental improvement is as important as any other business objective. We’ve implemented ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems in many of our power plants to help achieve this.

As we use coal and gas to produce electricity in this country, any changes we make will make a big difference to the UK’s carbon footprint. We know that millions depend on us to provide reliable, affordable energy. For this we need a diverse range of energy sources, including renewables and nuclear power. We also provide ways for our customers to play their part too. Using energy more efficiently is the surest way to reduce costs to our customers and to the planet.

(from http://www.edfenergy.com/about-us/energy-generation/environmental-policy/index.shtml)

And here’s a cracker, from Weyerhaeuser:

It is Weyerhaeuser’s core policy to be responsible stewards of the environment wherever we do business. We will practice sustainable forestry, set and meet goals to reduce pollution, conserve natural resources and energy, and continually improve our environmental performance.

All employees and leaders worldwide are accountable for managing and operating our businesses to:

– Comply with all applicable environmental laws.
– Follow company environmental standards.
– Meet other external requirements to which the company commits.

Business activities will be conducted to:

– Employ environmental management systems to achieve company expectations.
– Manage the environmental impacts of our business activities and products, including innovative and advanced technology solutions.
– Promote environmental laws, policies and regulations that are based on sound science and that incorporate incentive-based approaches to improve environmental performance.
– Adopt company standards to protect the environment.
– Manage forestlands for the sustainable production of wood while protecting water quality; fish and wildlife habitat; soil productivity; and cultural, historical and aesthetic values.
– Audit compliance with environmental laws, policies, regulations and company requirements.
– Resolve noncompliance conditions promptly, including curtailing operations when necessary to protect human health and the environment.
– Track and publicly report on our environmental performance.

(from http://www.weyerhaeuser.com/Sustainability/EnvironmentalPolicy)


What do you think? On the surface, they suggest the companies are committed to being good global stewards, but read again and it is clear that this is just business as usual:

– A company that commits to abide by environmental regulations is just saying that it doesn’t fancy breaking the law — even though it is the companies themselves that are responsible for shaping most of the laws through their lobbying work.

– A company that says they are “working towards” something can say this forever, and still look good.

– A company that talks about “sustainability” is actually referring to balancing economic and environmental requirements in their own terms. The only true definition of sustainability (leaving things in no worse a state than they were when you started) is not enshrined in any law or any company policy.

– A company that advises others on their environmental impact does not have to take responsibility for outcome of their advice: it is a way of passing the buck.

– A company that says that economic and environmental needs can be balanced is on suicide watch.

Feel free to add your own, and let me know what kinds of Policy Greenwashing your company is taking part in by contacting news@unsuitablog.com — so long as you ask then I won’t say where I got the information from.

Posted in Advice, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Video: You Can’t Spell “Greenwashing” Without “Green”

Posted by keith on 13th June 2008

“When you hear about an oil spill that’s killing thousands of birds…think of deer laying in a field — in slow motion. Look, dolphins!”

Download it and pass it on at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLIbIdgrIaE.

Posted in Spoofs | No Comments »

Holland And Barrett: Healthy Doesn’t Mean Green

Posted by keith on 11th June 2008

Holland and Barrett

I like to keep fit and healthy. Much of my day is spent walking, running, keeping busy around the house and, of course, eating a healthy diet. I could, if I wanted to get some exercise, drive to my nearest gym (about 2 miles away) and walk for four miles on the treadmill, then drive back again — or I could walk to the gym and walk back again without ever setting foot in the gym: both would be about equal in terms of fitness.

“But surely,” I purport to hear you cry, “it’s not environmentally friendly to drive to the gym?” That’s not the point — I only said that if I wanted to get some exercise then I could drive to the gym. True, you will find that people who live a life more connected with nature do tend to enjoy good health for longer than those who don’t, but that is confusing “health” with “environment”, as civilization likes to portray the terms. A “health food shop” is not a “green shop”, however green the signs may be and however caring the clientel are.

Holland and Barrett, the largest Health Food retail chain in the UK, as well as being big in the Netherlands and Ireland, are trying to make their customers equate the two in a most confusing way. I walked into my local store this week to buy some dried pulses and fruit for the cupboard (dried stuff lasts for a lot longer and takes a lot less energy to transport) and noticed a big poster next to the door. It was advertising Holland and Barrett’s “Plan-it Green” campaign which, on the surface seems like a set of sensible measures to lower the store’s environmental impact.

I read the poster and my face dropped. There were seven points in all, five of which had almost nothing to do with being “green” (apart from the colour of the lettering):

- No hydrogenated fats (This usually implies the use of palm oil, which is not green at all)
- No artificial colours or flavours (Many natural colours and flavours are unsustainably produced)
- No nasty E-numbers (E- numbers are simply a European classification of additives, natural or artificial. And what’s with this subjective “nasty”?)
- No over refined ingredients (This is so vague it means nothing)
- We aim to source our ingredients sustainably (“Aiming” for something does not mean it has happened)

The manager gave me the head office phone number, but then I thought, if a company has gone to such lengths to produce posters purporting to be “green” when they are nothing of the sort, why should I give them a chance to defend themselves? The posters are in hundreds of stores all round the UK, being read by tens of thousands of customers every day — that’s greenwash!
 

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions, Should Know Better | 3 Comments »

United Biscuits: Palm Oil Guzzlers Without A Plan

Posted by keith on 6th June 2008

UB Helping Destroy Rainforests

United Biscuits are a big snack company: they are worth at least two billion US dollars, and have huge market share in north west Europe. According to their web site:

UB owns three of the top selling five biscuit brands in the UK. McVitie’s is among the best-known brands in the UK and McVitie’s biscuits are purchased by 85% of UK households. The addition of Jacob’s brands increases UK biscuit market share to 33%.

UB is the leading manufacturer and marketer of biscuits in UK and second in France, Netherlands and Belgium. UB is number two in the UK branded savoury snacks and crisps market.

This information is repeated verbatim on the Roundtable For Sustainable Palm Oil’s web site, for United Biscuits are a member. We met the RSPO on The Unsuitablog a few weeks ago, when it became clear that they were nothing more than an industry talking shop designed to make people think that something was being done about the extraordinary amount of destruction taking place in south east Asia just to provide food oil and feedstock for biofuels.

United Biscuits were happy to talk to me over the phone for a while. I wanted to find out if I could eat McVities biscuits without contributing to deforestation. The answer was pretty clear, and I can say this without fear of comeback:

All McVities biscuits are likely to contain palm oil derived from non-sustainable sources.

Given that United Biscuits have been pushing hard to remove hydrogenated vegetable oils from their products — so that people who can’t stop eating crisps, biscuits and cookies can keep eating them without risking a coronary — UB must be using a huge amount of palm oil instead. But they wont tell me — in fact they have cut off communications. Here is the initial e-mail I received from their head of communications, Bob Brightwell:

Keith

We spoke earlier in the week re palm oil and I mentioned that we were working on a new statement that I hoped to let you have at the end of this week.

Unfortunately it is not yet ready and will probably take a week or two as we continue to explore sourcing options. On the positive side I mentioned that we had already achieved a 17% reduction in the amount of palm oil we use since 2005. As I recall you were not that impressed and said that you would have preferred a 70% saving. Well I am pleased to confirm that with the plans we have in place we expect to more than double our 17% saving by next year so will be more than half way to your 70% goal!

Have a good weekend

Bob Brightwell
United Biscuits
Hayes Park
0208 234 5104

Realising that I couldn’t judge their progress without some meaningful figures — after all, a million tonnes (or whatever) of palm oil minus 17% is still a hell of a lot of palm oil — I asked for clarification…

Dear Bob

Thanks for the update. I have just realised, however, that the percentage figure is meaningless without an indication of the volume of palm oil actually used. A 17 or 35 percent reduction for UB could equate to the total consumption for a small nation. Could you please provide me with the gross volumes for McVities and UB overall for 2005 and subsequent years, along with the projected consumption figures?

Kind regards

Keith Farnish

And there it stopped. Four weeks later, I am still waiting for (a) a response and (b) the palm oil statement that was meant to be ready in a week. The statement hasn’t appeared on their web site, nor has it appeared in the press. Clearly UB don’t have a clue how to get themselves out of the destructive mess they have got themselves in to, but are trying to hide behind silence for fear of revealing the truth about their contribution to deforestation.

I eagerly await a response from them…

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Science Museum, London: Letting Corporations Control Young Minds

Posted by keith on 3rd June 2008

Corporate Kids at the Science Museum

It’s very rare for me to be able to take an image straight from a web site and use it, completely unchanged. In the case of this one from London’s famous Science Museum, it says so much, how could I make it any worse? “Your Planet Needs You” juxtaposed with “Sponsored by BASF, HSBC and NISSAN” makes me think that either the public are really stupid (possible, but probably not) or the people who arranged this exhibition are so in awe of the greenwashing lies of the corporate sponsors, and their money, that they let anything pass.

Speaking to various people at the Science Museum and the company arranging the exhibition, The Science Of…, it seems as though there is some sympathy with my concerns, yet when you look at the companies doing the sponsoring, and the jury-rigged press information, you realise that this one has been greenwashed to the hilt:

Sara Milne CEO of The Science of… said “We are delighted to be working with BASF, HSBC and Nissan. Together we are confident that launching this project, which investigates one of the biggest challenges ever faced by mankind, will have a positive impact on society. With the support of our sponsors we have developed a compelling interactive journey that delivers these messages in a highly entertaining and accessible manner. The Science of Survival cuts through the confusion of climate change concerns to provide a positive experience which shows a sustainable future really is possible if we work together.”

The three global sponsors of The Science of Survival have made a five year commitment to see the exhibition through to the end of its global tour. BASF, HSBC and Nissan. are committed to tackling the important issues addressed in the exhibition, not only through their business operations but also by their investment in education and the environment.

(http://www.scienceof.com/download.php?id=89)

Ok, nothing too surprising here — The Science Of are part of the trading arm of the Science Museum, and exist to make money which can then be funnelled back into the museum. A pity it’s dirty money, but that’s what happens when you open up public services to commerce. And that “five year commitment”; well, five years of having your company name associated with a world tour of a childrens education environmental exhibition is manna from heaven for the greenwashing corporate.

The sponsors themselves appear to be great environmental stewards:

BASF, HSBC, and Nissan all share a commitment to a more sustainable future.

BASF’s portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products, agricultural products and fine chemicals to crude oil and natural gas. BASF develops new technologies and uses them to meet the challenges of the future. The company strives to combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility, thus contributing to a better future.

For HSBC, corporate responsibility means managing its business responsibly and sensitively for long-term success. HSBC lends and invests in areas such as low carbon energy, water infrastructure and sustainable forestry, sharing responsibility for the environment with governments and citizens to minimise the damaging effects of human activity — pollution of land, water and air and the depletion of resources.

Nissan’s philosophy towards the environment, “Seeking a symbiosis of people, vehicles and nature,” describes the company’s ideal for a sustainable mobile society, now and in the future. They initiated the Nissan Green Program with specific objectives to realise this vision, and are now pursuing it energetically and passionately.

(http://survival.scienceof.com/12/partners/overview.html)

Let’s see: one of the world’s largest chemical and biotech companies; one of the world’s largest commercial investment banks; one of the world’s largest motor manufacturers — all sharing “a commitment to a more sustainable future”. That would be economically sustainable wouldn’t it? I can’t think of any other type of sustainability the big players in Industrial Civilization are interested in.

But what about the kids; the real targets of the exhibition? For a start they will go away thinking that big companies are really nice friendly things trying to save the world — greenwashing for kids is big business. Not only that, there is a cast of four characters that guide the children through the exhibition; each of them has a particular characteristic, and I have to reproduce this in full so you don’t think I’m making this up:

Science of survivalBuz
Buz is what they call a people person. She is the one that keeps this group of friends together. Buz ‘s approach to a sustainable world is to make sure everyone’s needs are met, no matter who they are or where they live. She wants us all to agree on solutions which work for everyone, not just a few people. But sometimes keeping things equal and fair means making sacrifices that the others aren’t always happy with.

Tek
Tek really likes her technology. And she likes to talk about it too, though sometimes she is a bit hard to understand. Tek reckons that technology can come to our rescue and help us live more sustainably, conserving resources and minimising effects on the environment. Though developing new technology can take energy and resources, Tek thinks it’s well worth it.

[N.B. Tek is the only character on the main picture, just in case you didn’t realise what this exhibition is really trying to say…]

Dug
Dug likes tradition and would stick to the way everything used to be done, if he could. Dug reckons we don’t need new technology or approaches for us all to have a happy future. If we think about what we value, Dug thinks we can use what we already know to reduce our impact without radically changing how we live. He is thoughtful and likes to take time – a lot of time – to think about things.

Eco
Eco likes nature, man. He is always out and about doing the outdoors thing. He thinks that preserving all the natural environments on the planet and rebuilding some that humans have destroyed – is key to a sustainable future. And whilst he wants to keep us all from messing with the planet, he can be a bit annoying when he tries to show us how to do it.

Two problems here: Dug likes tradition, so why does he think we can reduce our impact without radically changing how we live? Surely if he doesn’t want technology then he would insist on getting rid of it: but then that would run counter to the needs of the sponsors, so that option is conveniently removed.

Eco is even more badly misrepresented: apparently he is “a bit annoying”, well of course he is because he doesn’t want hi-tech corporate solutions; he wants to do the obvious, most sensible thing. That’s really annoying, isn’t it.

This exhibition is an atrocity — no one should tolerate companies messing with childrens’ minds. The Science Museum should be ashamed for letting this corporate toy into their halls.


ADDENDUM:I received the following comment about this post on Indymedia, which shows that I am not some lone crazy on a mission…

The whole thing stinks of turning environmentalism into a brand (not that they’d be the first, but it is rather blatant here). Apparently we are “the Eco-Generation” (complete with capital letters, how special we feel now!), presumably the successors to “the Coca-Cola Generation”, and “the MTV Generation”. This is one of the most serious threats to attempts for a sustainable human way of life – the whole movement, and in particular, the more primitivist/radical/etc elements being marginalised and recuperated by big business.

Pathetic.



Here is the email exchange between myself and Chris Rapley, Director of the Science Museum – it’s a pity he didn’t feel able to response to my second email. You can decide for yourself why he chose not to…

Dear Chris

I have just spent a few hours chatting to various people at The Science Museum, The Science Of and their press agency about your exhibition The Science Of Survival. My main concern was the use of large corporate sponsors to fund an exhibition which is supposed to be informing children about the damage being done to the global environment (damage that is largely the fault of the selfsame large corporations), and what can be done about it.

In short, this exhibition is nothing short of a greenwashing exercise, and I am surprised that a man of your calibre could have been taken in my this kind of thing. It really does put the Science Museum in a very bad light. My findings and comments are here:

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2008/06/03/science-museum-london-letting-corporations-control-young-minds/

This article will be syndicated to a number of other blogs. I would have given notice, but considering your Does Flying Cost The Earth exhibition is sponsored by EADS (http://www.eads.com/1024/en/Homepage1024.html) and your Can Algae Change The World was sponsored by Siemens (http://www2.sea.siemens.com/Industry%20Solutions/Chemical/Biofuels/) then I really don’t think it would make any difference.

Yours sincerely

Keith Farnish

keith@theeearthblog.org

Dear Keith,

Pity – since we have the same main objective in mind – alerting humans to the serious nature of the environmental crisis and helping them (us all) find the path to a sustainable future – which we are far from following at present.

My view is that that outcome is more likely if one includes all the key players, including the corporations, especially since it is they, not government or the individual (though they have major roles to play) who will determine the true shape and character of the future. You assume that the companies involved in sponsoring the Science Museum do so in bad faith. That is not my judgement or experience. In any case, the SM retains full and absolute editorial control of the content of our exhibits, and draws on respected independent experts to ensure that the information and messages provided are as truthful and balanced as we can achieve.

I note that your website has many sections on hypocrisy; I wonder if for completeness you should add a section on your own – I assume that you eat, travel, use commodities and merchandise, all of which will have been produced by the corporations you so despise. In the meantime it is not clear what you contribute yourself. I would be more impressed by a constructive approach, rather than one which seeks to polarise and divide.

Regards,

Chris Rapley

Dear Chris

Thank you for responding.

Ultimately, and there is a very good reason for saying this, the answer lies with the individual and not governments and most certainly not corporations which are the primary reason that Industrial Civilization is so destructive. There is a great deal of information on my Earth Blog (http://www.theearthblog.org) which shows in more detail where I am coming from. In a few weeks time you will be able to read a complete and detailed analysis of the causes of and the solutions to the global environmental crisis when my book is release, for free at www.amatterofscale.com.

As for my apparent hypocrisy, I have been undergoing a continual distancing from corporations for many years and would suffer far less than most should every corporation disappear from the face of the Earth. I think it would be rather foolhardy of me to run an anti-hypocrisy web site if that were not so.

It surprises me tremendously that you should have such a pro-corporate viewpoint (at least from the tone of your message), given your background — it is not a question of “bad faith” on the parts of the sponsors as simply “business as usual”: they exist to make money and if the Science Museum can provide them with a tinge of green, or whatever tinge they require, then they will have no hesitation in stepping into whatever breach is presented.

On a separate note, the BAS has always, in my eyes, been a bastion of straight-talking, agenda-free science: it would be wonderful if the Science Museum could become similarly distanced from outside influence.

Yours sincerely

Keith Farnish

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | 4 Comments »