The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for November, 2008

ExxonMobil And Liberty Science Center: Pretending To Be Objective

Posted by keith on 26th November 2008

Exxon funding

I could probably do about a million articles like this, given ExxonMobil’s long and nefarious history of throwing money at “educational” projects and hoping some of the contaminated information sticks in the minds of the young people they are trying to brainwash, but this one is related to another article I wrote back in June about the Science Museum in London. Just to see whether anything had changed I looked at the “The Science Of” web site, to find that the exhebition had moved to the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey.

Lo! and Behold! It is still sponsored by the same three awful corporations that were doing their best to brainwash minds in the UK:

I sent a quick note to the press office at LSC:

Dear Dina [Head of Public Relations]

I have just noticed that LSC has started hosting the corporate exhibition “The Science Of Survival”. This is not an objective exercise in encouraging children to be environmentally sustainable, it is a way to allow the sponsors and other corporations who support high technology to make a case for their own “solutions” to the environmental crisis.

I would be grateful if you were to read my article at http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2008/06/03/science-museum-london-letting-corporations-control-young-minds/ which related to the very same exhibition being hosted by the Science Museum in London.

Maybe you could pass it on to whoever was responsible for putting the exhibition on, so they can consider whether it is appropriate to allow corporations to have such a free reign over young, impressionable minds.

Kind regards

Keith Farnish

It was while writing this, and checking out a few other parts of the web site, that I realised there was absolutely no chance of the Liberty Science Center doing anything about their greenwashing exhibitions: they were hosting one called “Energy Quest” sponsored by that bastion of objective and sustainable thinking — ExxonMobil.

Meeting the needs of the future

Energy is one of the greatest concerns facing humanity today. Where will it come from in the future, and what will it do to our planet? Can we balance our ever-growing need for energy with its impact on the environment? Energy Quest – the only exhibition held over from our former building – takes you on an unprecedented journey through the five major sources of Earth’s energy in search of the answers.

Help me with this, please: do you think the exhibition will be saying we need to stop using so much energy, especially the non-renewable kind? It’s a tough one.

And no wonder it’s the only exhibition held over from their former building, one member of their Board of Trustees is Vice-President of ExxonMobil’s research and engineering branch. In fact their Board of Trustees list reads like a roll call of the very people you most definitely would not want to entrust your planet to.

Too bad that there is nowhere for kids to get objective environmental information from: guess we’ll all have to start working things out for ourselves.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | No Comments »

Sainsbury’s: Redefining Eco Friendly For Commercial Gain

Posted by keith on 25th November 2008

Spray Something New Today

Let’s start with some facts:

Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.). (Allan Woodburn)

Approximately 10% of all pesticides sold for use in U. S. agriculture were applied to cotton in 1997, the most recent year for which such data is publicly available. (ACPA)

Fifty-five million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on the 12.8 million acres of conventional cotton grown in the U.S. in 2003 (4.3 pounds/ acre), ranking cotton third behind corn and soybeans in total amount of pesticides sprayed. (USDA)

Over 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to conventional cotton in 2000 (142 pounds/acre), making cotton the fourth most heavily fertilized crop behind corn, winter wheat, and soybeans. (USDA)

The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2000 in the United States as “possible,” “likely,” “probable,” or “known” human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (EPA)

In 1999, a work crew re-entered a cotton field about five hours after it was treated with tribufos and sodium chlorate (re-entry should have been prohibited for 24 hours). Seven workers subsequently sought medical treatment and five have had ongoing health problems. (California DPR)

This information, from the Organic Trade Association in the USA makes it pretty clear why conventional cotton is a bad thing, and why it would be utterly impossible for any company to get away with labelling something containing conventional cotton as “environmentally friendly” or “eco”.

So I was rather taken aback when, on one of my ocassional jaunts to Sainsbury’s — there are a few things I can only get there, and it gives me a chance to switch off all the televisions — I came across a product called Sainsbury’s Little Ones Eco Fragrance Free Wipes. Yes, you did notice the word “Eco” there, which would imply that they must be biodegradable at least, and perhaps made of organic materials, and at the very least fully recyclable.

Yeah, right!

Eco Wipes Audio – Click To Play

If you listen to the audio, you can hear a poor customer services representative trying to justify why they should be labelled “eco”. She doesn’t do a very good job, and how could she? After all, they are not organic, they are not biodegradable and they are not recyclable. Even the ingredients are suspect:

Water, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Chamomilla Recutita, Aloe Barbadensis, Tocopheryl Acetate.

She said it wasn’t oil based, but apart from the packaging, three of the ingredients are derived from oil: Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol and Panthenol; which means that the wipes themselves are not even what they claim.

So, Sainsbury’s, if you are reading this — you have been sussed, and I’m never going to trust your labels ever again.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

General Motors: Emptying The Ocean With A Thimble

Posted by keith on 20th November 2008

GM Global Murder

Following my little pop at General Motors yesterday, Phil Colley, an account executive at MSL Communications (take a look at their fabulous client list here) took issue with some things I said, commenting as follows:

I’m with GM and we’re sorry that you, like some in the green community, choose to attack any effort to help the environment – short-term or long-term – that doesn’t come from your pre-existing “approved” list. If you are interested in moving from rhetoric and accusations to questions or genuine dialogue about E85 and longer-term efforts, we are ready. In fact, our discussions with other E85 critics on the blogs have been beneficial for everyone involved, including us.

People are often surprised to learn that since the 1970s, GM has reduced smog-forming emissions from our vehicles by more than 99 percent. Our new vehicles are so clean today that painting a room with one gallon of water-based latex paint will generate more smog-causing emissions than driving a GMC SUV from Toronto to Vancouver and back again. Over the last three decades, the average fuel economy of our car fleet has increased 130 percent and our light truck fleet average has almost doubled. We offer more models that get 30 miles per gallon or better on the highway than any other manufacturer, and 13 of our last 15 new product launches in the U.S. have been cars or crossovers.

You can see my response right after his, but I have no intention of stopping there, because a company like General Motors deserves more than just one article on The Unsuitablog: there are so many dispicable activities to choose from (both past and present) that I only have space here for a few of them.

1. The Global Climate Coalition

The GCC was set up in 1989 as a corporate counter to the emerging strong evidence that carbon dioxide was a major factor in changing the global climate: General Motors was a founder member and major funder to this grandaddy of astroturfs. In fact, the GCC were instrumental in George Bush Jr’s 2001 decision to reject to Kyoto Protocol — GM may have left in 2000, but by that time their work was done, and they decided to get out before their public image took too much of a pasting. This is not ancient history, and General Motors have a very recent history of climate change denial funding…

2. Other Deniers

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, most famous for its “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life” advertisements, is a long-term, powerful AGW denial lobby group, which received funding from General Motors for many years.

Tech Central Station is a global warming denial advocacy group which, with General Motors as a major funder until 2006, was singled out by the US Senate as one group “whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, of whom General Motors is a key member, have been running adverts pushing against decent fuel economy standards, in order to protect the SUV and light truck market.

This is just a sample of the groups GM has funded.

3. Environmental Lobbying

The US Government demand that lobbyists file quarterly reports of lobbying activity, details of which are available at the Lobbying Disclosure web site. General Motors spend a lot of money on lobbying…here are the details for the last four quarterly reports:

Q3 2008 (http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/pdfform.aspx?id=300102461): $2,700,000 total spend

Bills targeted include: Climate change (S.2191), CAFE (H.R.5560, S.2555), Biogenerics Legislation (S.1695 et al), Railroad Antitrust Enforcement (H.R.1650, S.772), Ban Asbestos etc. Act (H.R.3339) — for other quarters, see individual links.

Q2 2008 (http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/pdfform.aspx?id=300077983): $3,031,000 total spend

Q1 2008 (http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/pdfform.aspx?id=300044651): $4,050,000 total spend

Year End 2007 (http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/pdfform.aspx?id=300023856): $4,040,000 spend per quarter

That’s nearly $14 million just for one year’s lobbying to one government (which doesn’t include the amount spent lobbying the EU, or the amount of funding given to 3rd party lobby and PR firms).

What I really want to know, and maybe you can help me here Phil, is what representations did General Motors actually make to the Senate and the House over the bills listed above — I would love to know. My bet is that it’s not to ensure strict regulations on pollutants, safety or freedom of information, but I’m willing to be proven wrong if someone can send me the documents.

4. Other Items Of Interest

General Motors own Hummer, a company that does not disclose its emissions on its USA web site, but according to the UK government their standard model produces enough carbon dioxide to put it in the very worst emissions band there is. Hummer, for their part, really do seem to be taking caring for the planet seriously:

If you consider “caring” to mean “driving all over it”.

And finally, we have General Motors Global Vice Chairman and US Chairman, Bob Lutz, pronouncing that Global Warming is a “total crock of shit” which is not the kind of thing you really want to be saying if you are serious about the protecting the planet.

Hey, maybe everything GM say about the environment is just greenwash and they don’t give a shit about the planet at all. You decide.

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

General Motors And The NEVC: Greenwashers United

Posted by keith on 19th November 2008

GM E85 Vehicles

Eco Spam of the week goes to the National Ethanol Vehicles Coalition, as promoted by that true friend of the planet General Motors. Here’s the email, with a few salient points picked out…

Keith,

As your readers make their annual snowbird trek to warmer climates, let them know that their trip could help kick our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Snowbirds traveling along the I-65 Biofuels Corridor, the first national, cross-country corridor of E85 ethanol stations, can drive from the shores of Lake Michigan in Indiana all the way to the Gulf Coast in Alabama and be at least a quarter of a tank from an E85 pump. New stations along this stretch of highway have opened over the past year in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama giving consumers the option to refuel with E85. Flex-fuel vehicle owners can refuel with ethanol to help reduce the nation’s dependence on petroleum and reduce carbon emissions.

Your readers can find stations along their route by visiting the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition’s (NEVC) website -http://www.e85refueling.com/.

If you’re interested in learning more, please let me know. I’d be happy to provide additional information about the I-65 Biofuels Corridor and GM’s efforts to pursue alternative fuel solutions.

Best,

Bethany Ciampa
Mullen for General Motors

Ok, so what do we have here? First is the incredible assumption that “my readers” (who she assumes are all based in the USA of course – as people like this do) like to take annual trips south to their second homes, clocking up thousands of miles in the process and emitting tons of carbon dioxide as they go. In her defence — if there is any — she actually sent it to Green Seniors, which I help run, but still completely ignored the fact that “my readers” aren’t so dumb to be taken in by the oily words of one of the world’s largest (for the time being) corporations.

Second, that E85 — a mix of ethanol and petrol — actually has any environmental benefits. In the first instance, corn based ethanol is very energy inefficient to produce so even though it is plant-based, it is almost always heavily fertilized, processed, blasted with heat to distil it…all of which produce a great deal of greenhouse gas. If that weren’t bad enough, this is a classic case of Business As Usual Ethics making people think that because something is “greener” then they can carry on using it to their hearts content, without thinking of the repercussions of their continued high-consumption way of life: this is what the corporations want, and this is why they greenwash.

Finally, GM itself has as its (thankfully shrinking) core business, huge investment in the kind of trucks and SUVs seen in the photo: by showing an interest in E85 and making their gas-guzzlers able to take this fuel, they can carry on selling them, without having to compromise their abhorrant business in any significant way. The vehicle in the photo does a combined 17MPG!

Here was my response:

Bethany

General Motors, environmentally friendly? Don’t make me laugh!

Remind me at what point GM decided to stop marketing gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups to the general public, and what marvellous strides GM have made to bring the USA’s emissions down by the required 90% by 2030? Sorry, I must have missed that among all your other efforts to screw up the planet.

http://stopgreenwash.org/casestudy_gm

Regards

Keith

P.S. For your greenwashing efforts, you have just booked yourself a spot on The Unsuitablog (www.unsuitablog.com)

I strongly recommend you follow the link, and find out what GM are really all about.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 4 Comments »

The Magic Of Responsible Reporting (Or How To Fool A Newspaper)

Posted by keith on 17th November 2008

Billiton Child

Big companies know they have to look good: that is why Corporate Social Responsibility — one of the most blatant misnomers of all time — was created. Produce a nice thick report saying all the good things you have done in the last financial year, and outlining all of the charitable giving, sustainability projects, improvements to your environmental and social impact and other great things you are planning and you have the means to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone who can’t be bothered to scrape off the surface veneer and look at what you really do as a company.

It is a truism that if a company is included in any of the major global stock indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the FTSE-100 it will be unsustainable: that is, it has to have made a whacking great profit in the previous indexing period and, as such, will have to have made that profit at something else’s expense. If you want to make a profit out of oil, simply extract, refine and transport it at less than the amount someone is prepared to pay you for it — oil may be running out, but while people continue to burn it, and you have the means to produce it, you can still make a profit; if you want to make a profit out of retail, simply produce the goods and retail them at a cost less than you sell the product for — consumer goods may be selling slower, but while people still want to buy crap, and you have a million factory slaves working for you, you can still make a profit.

Basically, if you are a successful company, you will have got there by screwing either people, the planet, or more likely both.

But if you can produce some nice reports saying how responsible you are, you can still get to the top of a list of “Good Companies”, like the one published in The Observer this week.

In order to get into the Top 20, you will have to have been more than three-quarters perfect, according to the scoring system:

The idea is that the index should be helpful to investors who wish to hold shares in or deal with companies that try to make a positive contribution to society and follow good corporate governance practice.

Ethical investment is subjective – different people have different views on what they consider acceptable – and we do not make any judgment about the social usefulness or otherwise of particular industries. Some companies that would normally be excluded by ethical and green investment funds, because they operate in areas such as tobacco or arms, are included.

The maximum possible score is 100, with marks awarded on three main sets of criteria:

1 How companies report on their social and environmental risks and manage their impact – for instance, how they deal with workplace relations and environmental issues, and how well they perform in undertaking charity work. This accounts for 40 per cent of the overall score.

2 The quality of corporate governance. This includes the independence of the board, the quality of executive pay policies and the alignment of interests between executives and shareholders. This accounts for 30 per cent of the total score.

3 Sector issues – how companies address issues specific to their industry. For instance, food retailers are graded on responsible sourcing of products, labelling and sustainability; for a power company, these would include progress towards a lower-carbon portfolio. This accounts for 30 per cent of the total score.

The main source for the assessments is companies’ own reporting.

Surely this kind of system wouldn’t encourage companies to be a little flexible with the truth, would it? Take a look at the list of companies and see whether any of them strike you as rather less than good:

1 Scottish & South’n Energy 93.40
2 Kingfisher 87.05
3 BT Group 86.64
4 Mondi 85.94
5 Royal & Sun Alliance 83.00
6 Shaftesbury 82.82
7 Vodafone 81.50
8 Mouchel 81.27
9 Aviva 80.42
10 Johnson Matthey 79.89
11 Rolls-Royce 79.58
12 GKN 78.41
13 Smith & Nephew 77.28
14 BG Group 77.16
15 Hammerson 77.07
16 Tui Travel 76.89
17 Bhp Billiton 76.82
18 Marks & Spencer 76.61
19 Interserve 76.59
20 Atkins 76.41

You will probably not have heard of all of them, but I bet you have heard of, say Rolls-Royce (who produce engines for civilian and military aircraft), BG Group (whose entire business depends on people burning fossil fuels), Atkins (advisors to road builders, oil companies and the military) and our good friend BHP Billiton, who have pride of place on The Unsuitablog as uber-greenwashers.

Among the other companies are a military helicopter firm, a number of large-scale retail and business property developers, an air travel company and a company that specialise in selling cheap mass-produced goods.

Lists like this are a travesty — they seem to exist solely to pump up the appalling reputations of undeserving businesses who, in a time when the commerce boom is deflating should really be questioning their very existence. Or perhaps it’s people like us who should start learning to reject the very foundations of a society that considers a multi-billion dollar company to be “good”.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Promotions, Should Know Better | No Comments »

Cash In Your Seasonal Conscience At Overstock.com

Posted by keith on 14th November 2008

Overstock Ecostore?

Short of cash in this time of economic downturn? Want to be environmentally and socially responsible?

Well, why not forget about buying people lots of crap for Christmas and instead offer to help them out with something they couldn’t do on their own; or perhaps make something yourself; or maybe give them something you have grown; or, perchance, forego the seasonal rush for pointless gifts and just spend a bit of time with your family and friends enjoying each other’s company.

What would Jesus have done?

According to overstock.com, he would probably have bought a Chinese Lacquered Altar Cabinet for $875…

Dear Editor,

Kill two birds with one stone — or rather save them by buying green gifts this season — You can provide your loved ones with unique gifts and at the same time preserve our eco system and give back globally to those in need. Overstock.com offers a lush selection of green and eco-friendly goods.

Choose from a vast selection eco-friendly bamboo home decor gift items, as well as, gifts and handmade jewelry from Worldstock, Overstock.com’s socially responsible division, which supports underprivileged artisans from around the globe– therefore sustaining cultures and helping to end world poverty.

Everyone is counting their pennies this Christmas due to the downward economy, but it doesn’t mean holiday gifting has to be compromised. Overstock has been able to acquire more inventory than usual this season due to brick and mortar woes’ and the overflow from cancellations on their orders.



Powerstrip Productions
Public Relations
Contact:
Lea Yannetti: Melissa Miller:
lea@powerstripproductions.com melissa@powerstripproductions.com
(917) 463-3692

Yes, my eco-spam of the week comes courtesy of a company which made $32m in profit during the last financial quarter, and is reaping the rewards of the economic crunch by buying all the stuff that other stores couldn’t sell, at cutdown prices. On the other hand, they are apparently “helping to end world poverty” and helping “preserve our eco system” — which is a bit odd coming from a company which stocks 300 different types of MP3 player; 500 types of digital camera; 300 different televisions, including 30 with a screen size of more than 50 inches; 500 types of laptop; even 200 different snowboards!

Now, I think if you have to buy something, and you cannot get it from somewhere local, then fairly traded goods are the next best option and, to be fair, Overstock do have lots of these kind of items; but “preserving our eco system”? I don’t think so — not when the vast majority of their goods are mass consumer, mass produced, luxury goods of dubious origin. Worse still, if you look closely you find that many of those which are “fairly traded” (not that we should necessarily take their word for it) use materials which are likely to have been unsustainably logged:

Mahogany Wooden Table from China
Rosewood Stand from China
Mahogany Cabinet from China

Here’s my tip: just because a company says they are good, doesn’t mean they are good — especially when they send you emails trying to bang that point home.

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

Thank Goodness For The ASA

Posted by keith on 12th November 2008

ASA Logo

Quite often, when I’m not dreaming of a different world that reflects my primal longing for wildness and self determination as part of a deeply connected community of like-minded souls, I do feel pleased that I live in the UK. One reason — it’s not a great one compared to the longing dreams, but we are talking about Industrial Civilization here — is that I can call on the services of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Unlike in the USA, for instance, where advertising is sort of regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, in a horribly convoluted and haphazard way, the ASA deals with virtually every form of advertising in much the same way as a well-tuned combine harvester: the grain goes in the hopper, and the unwanted straw is baled up and chucked out the other side – usually with a tart note saying, “Don’t do it again!”

This week alone the ASA, in response to complaints and general looking out for bad stuff, made 11 formal adjudications — these things are pretty thorough — upholding 7 complaints and rejecting 4. Bear in mind that a complaint might be made by a rival advertiser, or for spurious reasons, so these figures are not particularly significant: what is significant, though, are the number of complaints upheld against greenwashing advertisers.

In July, the ASA launched a report, focusing in greenwashing in advertising, which was introduced as follows:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today published a report detailing the findings of a stakeholder consultation seminar entitled ‘Environmental Claims in Advertising: Is Green a Grey Area?’. The ASA used the seminar to engage with industry, environmental and consumer groups on establishing where problems arise and setting parameters for environmental and ethical claims.

The June event was held in response to rising concern over what consumers and campaigners see as ‘greenwash’. Claims about CO2 emissions such as carbon ‘neutral’, ‘zero’ or ‘negative’ are particularly open to challenge, as are absolute claims such as ‘100% recycled’ or ‘wholly sustainable’.

The ASA acknowledged that the increased public awareness of environmental issues coupled with fast evolving scientific knowledge and the prolific rise in green initiatives pose a tough challenge for advertisers in ensuring their claims comply with the rules and regulations. A key objective of the consultation event was to give advertisers greater clarity about the current rules on environmental claims to help prevent consumers from being misled or confused, and to gauge stakeholder opinion on the challenges they face.

Now, obviously, the ASA is not anti-advertising per se, it is, after all their raison d’etre (this is like an excerpt from Finnigan’s Wake!), but simply the recognition that advertisers are regularly overstepping the mark is significant in itself. When you look at the adjudications for the last calendar year, using the keyword “environmental”, it gets even more heartening:

Try the search for yourself…

There are some pretty big hitters here: Shell, Lexus, Boeing, British Gas, ExxonMobil…all of whom have been told to change their advertising or not use it again. One example, by Shell advertising the “environmental benefits” of their oil sands abortion includes this damning comment by the adjudicators:

The ASA noted Shell’s argument that they were committed to meeting the world’s energy needs in social, economic and environmentally responsible ways. We understood that oil sands were composed of sand, silt, clay, water and bitumen, which could be upgraded into synthetic crude oil. We also understood that the Canadian oil sands covered over 140,000 square kilometres of Alberta, with each individual mine ranging from 150 to 200 square kilometres, and contained 173 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen. We further understood that the oil sands were either strip-mined from open pits or, where the oil sands were deeper, bitumen was heated so it could flow to a well and be pumped to the surface for in situ extraction.

We noted that a 2006 report by Canada’s National Energy Board, the independent federal agency that regulates Canada’s energy industry, stated that the large scale of the oil sands developments had considerable social and environmental impacts, including those on water conservation, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), land disturbance and waste management. We understood from that report that approved oil sands mining projects were licensed to divert 370 million cubic meters of fresh water per year from the Athabasca River, but that despite some recycling, almost all of the water withdrawn for oil sands operations ended up in waste tailing ponds. We also understood that demand for freshwater for in situ projects was projected to more than double between 2004 and 2015. We noted the report stated that the mining of bitumen and synthetic crude oil from oil sands produced higher GHG emissions than from the production of conventional crude oil, and had been identified as the largest contributor to GHG emissions growth in Canada…

Sheer bureaucratic poetry.

The advert was banned: up yours, Shell! Thanks, ASA!

Posted in Advice, Good News! | No Comments »

The Triangle Of Peace Foundation: Redefining Sinister, Shitting On Us All

Posted by keith on 10th November 2008

Triangle Of Peace?

What can you say about an advert that fills an entire page of a broadsheet newspaper, containing a title (“The Triangle Of Peace Foundation”), a heavy duty strapline (“The birth of Philanthropical Capitalism, a new global responsibility.”), an address in New York (“Triangle of Peace, 420 Lexington Ave, Suite 518, New York, NY 10170 USA”) and a section of some kind of stylised monolith, all tastefully decked out in black and white?

My instincts say, “What the hell is this?”

I am writing this article completely cold, and I want you to come with me, because everything about this advert says “sinister”; it says “hypocrisy”; it says “cover up”; it says “business as usual”. It says lots of things and none – because you are only meant to wonder. There is no telephone number; there is no web site.

It is aimed at big business, and my bet is that it is the start of a new club in which the remaining “masters of the universe” reposition themselves as the saviours of the human race.

Let’s see if I am right.


Google search: “the triangle of peace foundation” = no hits.

Google search: “triangle of peace” = 59,000 hits.

A quick browse finds www.triangleofpeace.tv and a video which puts the United Arab Emirates in the driving seat:

http://www.triangleofpeace.tv/?bcpid=1827892797&bclid=1825927544&bctid=1840665880

“Peace and stability through trade”. What do you think of that? Trade is ultimately the cause of all anthropogenic global warming, and a leading cause of social hardship (think slavery, sweatshops and urban deprivation). Is this The Triangle Of Peace Foundation?

There is an Invitation to a star-studded Reception Dinner, based at Jumeirah Essex House, New York. Let’s find the address of this hotel…

…it’s at NY 10019, so not far away from the address given above. But this looks too similar to the sense of the print advert, so let’s find out more. Back to the Google search…

Bingo! It is launch day, today, in the UAE, according to Cityscape Intelligence. The article says:

The Triangle of Peace initiative has been launched by a collective led by Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Dhabian Holdings and the World Trade Centers Association and the World Trade Centers Management Company are all behind the $3.2 billion proposal which is hoping to provide a programme which will help build sustainable communities.

More than one million corporations are to be involved in the project when it is officially launched in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on November 10th.

Guy Tozzoli, president of World Trade Centers Association, said: “The Triangle of Peace Initiatives are essentially three programs for building new and restoring and rejuvenating existing cities.”

They offer a higher quality of life as well as a variety of social and economic benefits united by a vision of peace brought about by trade, he added.

On September 23rd the project was officially announced in New York and enrolled in the United Nations’ Global Partnerships programme.

There is so much wrong with this whole concept, I don’t know where to start, but I do know that we have found the source of the advert, and also that the following organisations are involved:

- The government of the United Arab Emirates (an oil-rich dictatorship, dependent on global trade)

- Many, many corporations (which would obviously define trade as being the most important thing…ever)

- The Clinton Global Initiative (members only global projects body)

- World Trade Centers Association (a organization dedicated to expanding world trade, strapline “Peace and Stability Through Trade” – where have we seen that before?!)

- United Nations Global Partnership Program (I can’t find any official reference to this, but as an example of the kinds of bodies enrolled in this Program, take a look at this one, which offers courses in everything you need to f*ck up the planet!)

What is particularly significant, but not surprising given the level of stupidity practiced by many people in the public eye, is the level of support this work is garnering outside of the commercial arena (or at least being shown as support); especially as this does indeed appear to derive simply from one, very small, very rich playground: Dubai. So sad, yet so symptomatic of how dumb civilization can be.

Given that information, I’ve decided to add the rather unsavoury, but accurate subtitle, “Shitting On Us All” to this article.

Ok, so where now? Well, it’s clear that The Triangle Of Peace Foundation is a front for expanding global trade, under the pretence of peace and sustainability, but far more than that, it appears to be both fronting a number of massive development projects to enrich the bank accounts of its members (see this press release to see the level of glee one real estate web site expresses over the idea), and also acting as a focus for many of the worlds richest and most powerful people to make themselves richer and more powerful.

I was right.

Open your eyes.

Posted in Astroturfs, Celebrity Hypocrisy, Corporate Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 10 Comments »

Barack Obama: Greenwasher Elect

Posted by keith on 5th November 2008

You Have Owners, You Have No Choice

I’m going to make a prediction, and you can hold me to this: within a year of taking office, Barack Obama will seem like just another President of the United States. I feel sorry for him because — having an instinct for these things — I think he really does want to make change happen, at least in a social context, yet he has but one choice: toe the line or face the consequences.

A few months ago I wrote a highly contentious article called “Obama Or McCain: Who Cares?” which said the following:

Sorry to upset your political sensibilities — if you feel that party politics is a big deal — but it makes no difference at all who becomes president; and here is why.

It has always been the foreign policy of all civilized nations to maximise the amount of resources it can obtain, whether that be fossil fuels, metals, farmland, fish or slaves — like the people who make most of our clothes and consumer goods. Civilization requires natural resources and labor in order to keep it running: failure to secure these is economic and political suicide. The USA is no different: neither Obama nor McCain will change that policy, because one of them will become head of the most powerful civilized nation on Earth. Their raison d’etre will be to ensure the continued success of that nation on the world stage, and so their primary objective will be to secure resources — that’s the way it has always been; that’s why all civilizations have sought to create empires.

Don’t get me wrong, the man in office may want to change, but his head will be on the block from Day One. Should he choose to make sweeping changes to the healthcare system that are detrimental to the income of the pharmaceutical industry, those changes will be watered down or canned via the House or the Senate (whichever has the ear of that industry); should he choose to implement tough new emissions regulations on vehicles (detrimental to the motor and oil industry), those changes will be watered down or canned; should he choose to impose strict rules on employee exploitation, which hurt the bottom line of retailers, those changes will be watered down or canned; should he choose to ban all logging and toxic releases in protected areas, and expand these protected areas, those changes will be watered down or canned.

Should he try and defy the powers that be, he will put himself in serious danger. There is a precedent for this.

Worse still, none of the changes described above will actually make a significant difference to the net impact of civilization upon the lives of people, and the environment which we all depend on: the President operates within a context of continuing to expand Industrial Civilization. The President has no choice but to work with the system. The President will do the bidding of the system because he represents the system, in all its toxic glory.

That is why Barack Obama will become a greenwasher — it’s his job, whether he likes it or not.

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

Pepsi: Greenwashing Their Global Dominance

Posted by keith on 2nd November 2008

Pepsi Recycle Earth

Let’s suppose you have a global brand that you know full well is responsible for mass ecological and social damage, not only directly through the consumption of water, energy, metals and land, along with annual greenhouse gas emissions of 3.8 million tonnes (the same emissions as the whole of Paraguay); but also indirectly through the huge commercial infrastructure that exists to produce, distribute, promote, sell and dispose of your products; and not least the great efforts you spend trying to homogenise entire cultures in order that you can sell as much of your product as humanly possible.

So, given that — and the fact that your company group also does the same, and worse, through its other products, including a vast array of snack food and, through contractual guarantees, gains incredible marketing presence via some of the largest junk food outlets in the world — you might just want to improve your image a bit in a market that, at least commercially, values being “green” as increasingly a good thing.

What you don’t want to do is send a press release out to an anti-greenwashing web site extolling the commercial advantages of such a move; especially as the web site is likely to print the press release in full to show how utterly hypocritical you are, with the more important points show in bold:

Pepsi, today, is launching not one, but two Web sites trumpeting its eco-friendly efforts [1]. PepsiEcoChallenge.com and Pepsirecycling.com both spotlight Pepsi-Cola North America’s slew of sustainability programs.

The more promotional site, Pepsirecycling.com, offers consumers 100 Pepsi Stuff points for taking a quiz about recycling. Points can be redeemed for prizes, like shirts made from recycled materials, and entrance into a sweepstakes for a Smart car [2]. Pepsirecycling.com offers a myriad of information about recycling as well as origami instructions for used 12-pack cartons [3].

“We’re putting recycling front and center and giving our customers an incentive to do their part for the environment,” said Victor Melendez, vp-marketing, sustainability for PCNA, Purchase, N.Y., in a statement. “Pepsi has always stood for fun and now we’re channeling that Pepsi spirit into raising environmental awareness.”

PepsiEcoChallenge.com reads more like an interactive brochure [4] that explains how the company is working to save energy and water as well as working to create sustainable packaging. The home page reads: “Many Pepsi fans remember the days of Pepsi challenge . . . Today we heed a different call and face a different challenge, one that cuts across brands, companies, industries and even continents-the challenge of environmental stewardship, protecting our planet’s resources for generations.”

It points out Pepsi is working to reduce its U.S. plants’ water consumption by 20%, electricity usage by 25% and fuel consumption by 25% by 2015.

Because a segment of consumers demand eco-accountability from their favorite brands, such efforts are of increasing importance [5], said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, Bedford Hills, N.Y. “There is certainly growing interest among consumers in buying products from socially responsible companies,” he said. “It’s important that big companies like Pepsi reach out and show decision makers and decision influencers [6] that they are taking a lead in this.”

Pepsi spent $11 million online last year [7] and $9 million for the first seven months of 2008, per TNS Media Intelligence.

A few comments from the above:

[1] Why “trumpeting”, surely just doing it is what matters – if you are an “eco friendly” company, then you don’t have to tell everyone about it, do you?
[2] Yes, what about a Smart Car, that’ll make the customer feel better and, more importantly, make them think the prize giver is a real swell company.
[3] I wonder why they haven’t talked about just doing craft for the sake of it? Could it be they want you to buy some 12 pack cartons?
[4] Well, of course it’s a brochure, because we are talking about corporate marketing here.
[5] Here’s the big “reveal”: because it’s what “consumers demand”, then it would be commercial suicide not to appear “eco friendly”
[6] Slightly sinister, this: by showing “decision makers” what they are doing, it prevents “decision makers” from making laws and policies that might force Pepsi to make significant changes. This is a self-protection mechanism.
[7] Why on Earth would this be relevant, unless it was aimed at those who want to also gain commercially from Pepsi’s efforts – maybe by getting Pepsi to advertise on their “eco” web sites. Hmm!

Something also struck me, while I was browsing the Carbon Disclosure information about PepsiCo. The following statement makes very clear that the Earth Institute at Columbia University is nothing more than a commercially funded set of projects designed to benefit monied corporations — I will be following up on this later…

As for PepsiCo — they are just another corporation desperately trying to look good in order to take a bigger slice of the market.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 3 Comments »