The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for January, 2009

Greenpeace Lose The Plot

Posted by keith on 29th January 2009

Greenpeace Lose The Plot

I’ll admit it, I signed up to the Greenpeace “Airplot” scheme, putting my name down to be a joint owner of a piece of land adjacent to London Heathrow Airport which would have to be compulsorily purchased should the airport be expanded. Make no mistake, this is a good idea and I applaud Greenpeace for doing it: one of the few good ideas they have had in the last few years (I think wasting 6 months trying to convince Woolworths to ban incandescent light bulbs might go down as one of their worst).

I mentioned the awful hypocrisy of film actress Emma Thompson speaking on behalf of Greenpeace about the need the prevent airport expansion a few days ago. For a moment, I thought that maybe Greenpeace had not briefed her properly and that her statement “This is not a campaign against flying” was just a foot-in-mouth moment.

Then it got worse…

From: Emma Thompson, Greenpeace
To: keith@theearthblog.org
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 4:15 PM
Subject: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

My fellow plot owners,

On Wednesday there will be a vote in parliament on a third runway at Heathrow. Ahead of this vote we urgently need your help to put pressure on Labour MPs to vote with their conscience and say NO to a third runway. We already have the support of the LibDems and Tory MPs.

Send a letter to the 57 Labour MPs who have opposed Heathrow expansion.

The government is treating us as if we’re stupid. They’re asking all of us to reduce our energy consumption while they build another runway at Heathrow. I think it’s the most egregious piece of hypocrisy I’ve seen in a long time…

I thought I’d highlight that last bit. I’m not sure what you call a hypocrite who accuses someone else of hypocrisy. Maybe a Hypocrite Squared. I responded in the only way I could.

From: Keith Farnish
Sent: 23 January 2009 16:22
To: Webteam
Subject: Re: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

Great, does that mean Emma Thompson isn’t going to fly any more?

Keith

Well, you would, wouldn’t you? This astonishing reply came back:

From: info
To: Keith Farnish
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:45 PM
Subject: RE: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

Dear Keith,

Thank you for your email.

We are not campaigning to stop people from flying altogether, but we do want to prevent the number of flights from growing to dangerous levels – the growth in aviation is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change.

This campaign is against airport expansion, and if you would like to find out more please do visit the following pages of our website:

www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/does-economic-case-third-runway-stack-20090114
www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/the-case-against-heathrow-expansion-a-briefing
www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/10-reasons-to-stop-heathrow-expansion

Many thanks for your support and best wishes,

Donna

Donna Hayter
Supporter Services
Greenpeace UK

www.greenpeace.org.uk

Very polite, but horribly naive, and possibly the most concrete evidence so far that the environmental mainstream are not trying to save the Earth or the future of humanity, they are merely trying to salvage Industrial Civilization, whatever hypocrisy it takes, and however pointless and fruitless the task.

My response was hardly worth it, given the incredible denial Greenpeace are now swimming around in, but I made it nonetheless, because if there is a chance that Donna might understand, then she might get out of Greenpeace and do something tangible.

Dear Donna

Flying, and carbon emissions in general are already at dangerous levels; massive reductions in excess of 90% by 2030 are needed to prevent runaway climate change. Are Greenpeace saying that we can leave global carbon levels at 385ppm and still be safe?

If the campaign is not against flying then how are you going to prevent airport expansion – or are Greenpeace staff still flying around the world, as they were when I was a volunteer?

Regards

Keith

I did not get a response.

Posted in Celebrity Hypocrisy, Government Policies, NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | No Comments »

Nicholas Stern Is A Dangerous Idiot!

Posted by keith on 26th January 2009

Nicholas Stern - Not A Solution

When the Stern Review on the economics of climate change was released in 2006, a big crowd of environmental campaigners leapt into the air and waved their arms about. This was not a form of yogic exercise, but a genuine reaction to a document that was meant to radically change the relationship between economics and environmental thinking: no longer could you consider profit margins and growth without considering the effects of climate change. The only problem was that you could still think about profit margins and economic growth – very much so, because the Stern Review was not a report designed to prevent economic growth, it was a report designed to ensure that economists took climate change into account before investing in whatever artifact of Industrial Civilization they were going to invest in.

The Stern Review was not just greenwash, it was a complete whitewash: a way of rebranding economics as a holistic way of looking at the world’s systems, including the ecological systems that we depend on for our survival. Many environmentalists found solace in this: things would get better because economists were starting to care, regardless of the fact that everything in the Stern Review was about maintaining economic growth and keeping the industrial machine ticking over.

This week, New Scientist published a comment by Nicholas Stern called “Decision Time”. I would love to reproduce it in whole here because it screams of a man desperate to maintain his environmental credentials, while clearly not having a clue what he is talking about. To save space, though, I will comment on some of the more pertinant and – quite frankly – scary things he says…

So, whereas our review recommended that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases should be stabilised within a range of 450 to 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent, it now seems that our target should not exceed 500 ppm. That’s if we are to keep down the risks of potentially catastrophic impacts which could result from average global temperatures rising 4 °C or more above pre-industrial levels.

This is dangerous garbage. 500ppm is close to a guarantee of runaway global warming. The only reason he is comfortable, as an economist, with this figure is that it is well within the capabilities of Industrial Civilization to — at first — level off carbon levels at this figure. The environmental impact of 500ppm is ignored (see this paper by James Hansen), as is the result of such a high concentration of carbon dioxide causing numerous positive feedbacks in the soil, oceans and permafrosts, increasing the figure to something far greater and more catastrophic.

He goes on to say that global emissions must fall to “half their 1990 level by 2050″, again denying the reality of required emissions reductions.

This requires policies and measures that remove barriers and provide incentives for technological development over three timescales.

First, action is needed to further spread existing low-carbon technologies, such as “green” household appliances. This can be done by creating carbon markets in which the price of emitting carbon reflects the potential impact of those emissions, and by introducing energy-efficiency standards to incentivise innovation, for example.

Creating a global carbon market is the primary outcome goal of the Grantham Research Institute, of which Stern is chair. The GRI is funded by billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham, whose raison d’etre is to make money quickly for very rich ($10m+) clients. Carbon markets exist to allow corporations and governments to buy their way out of reduction committments.

Second, we need more support for the development and scaling-up of technologies that could become commercially viable within the next 15 years, such as second-generation biofuels – which do not directly affect food production – and carbon capture and storage.

CCS is crucial for countries with fast-expanding economies, such as India and China, which currently rely on coal-fired power stations for growth. We need about 30 CCS demonstration projects, on a commercial scale, carried out in developed and developing countries over the next 10 years. This technology needs to spread through international and public-private collaborations.

Second generation biofuels may not directly affect food production, but they most certainly do directly affect habitat: millions of acres of switchgrass at the expense of what? For this and CCS, you only have to turn to page 30 of the same New Scientist to hear what James Lovelock thinks:


Your work on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons led eventually to a global CFC ban that saved us from ozone-layer depletion. Do we have time to do a similar thing with carbon emissions to save ourselves from climate change?


Not a hope in hell. Most of the “green” stuff is verging on a gigantic scam. Carbon trading, with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It’s not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it’ll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning.

What about work to sequester carbon dioxide?

That is a waste of time. It’s a crazy idea – and dangerous. It would take so long and use so much energy that it will not be done.

Never forget that Nicholas Stern is an economist: he was Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank for 4 years, and has seemingly not lost his touch for pretending to care while serving the market system he so adores. When Stern speaks, he is speaking for the economy, and nothing else.

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Emma Thompson vs Geoff Hoon vs Planet Earth

Posted by keith on 22nd January 2009

Another Way To Fly

The combined political and corporate power of UK Government Plc, the British Airports Authority (BAA), British Airways and others too numerous to mention, want to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport in London. Geoff Hoon, Secretary Of State for Transport, nicknamed “Buff Hoon” by some (buffoon) has essentially signed in blood the desire of the UK Government to build this 3rd runway: if it all goes to pot, Buff gets it, but then again if it goes ahead then Buff gets it. I almost feel sorry for the guy; he’s probably no worse than most politicians, just a power-hungry imbicile that does what he is told in order to climb the greasy pole.

Then you have Emma Thompson, fine actress, media luvvy and – apparently – a green activist. Greenpeace has shown her a field to the north of the existing airport and requested she talk up the case against flying; except this is a bit of a problem when you are the kind of person who regularly jets around the world between homes, offices, film sets and studios in order to earn lots of money. Oh, and you also have Greenpeace, whose head-office staff I am reliably informed are also not averse to the odd jaunt across the world for pleasure (I hear New Zealand and India are very popular).

This film tells the story…

So, Emma Thompson suddenly doesn’t like planes! Funny that.

Here’s how The Guardian reported the who malarky that ensued:

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon picked on the Oscar winner Emma Thompson who emerged as a leading figure in the campaign to stop the third runway at Britain’s biggest airport.

In an interview with the Guardian, Hoon was outspoken in his criticism.

“She has been in some very good films. Love Actually is very good, but I worry about people who I assume travel by air quite a lot and don’t see the logic of their position, not least because the reason we have got this problem in relation to Heathrow is that more and more people want to travel more and more,” he said.

He added: “BAA do not wake up in the morning and think ‘we need a bigger airport’ and airlines do not say ‘we need to put on more flights’ unless there is a demand for it. So the point is about not just Emma Thompson, but lots of people. If someone living in LA says he did not think it was a good idea to expand Heathrow, well the last time I looked the only way to get from LA to Britain is Heathrow.”

Thompson, who has helped Greenpeace buy an acre of land on the site of the proposed new runway, gave an equally tart reply: “Get a grip Geoff. This is not a campaign against flying – we’re trying to stop the expansion of Heathrow in the face of climate change.

“It sounds like the transport secretary has completely missed the point. Again.”

They both sound like complete arses. Geoff: BAA and the airlines exist to make a profit, and a third runway will make operations less costly, increasing profits — all they need is a corporate-friendly government to give the nod and concrete will be laid. And Emma, darling, if you don’t want to look like a hypocrite, cut out the flying.

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

No Clash Of Cultures In The Greenwashing Gala

Posted by keith on 20th January 2009

ICCF Bullshit

I wonder how they are all feeling this morning – the morning after the International Conservation Caucus Foundation 2009 Inauguration Gala. It was a chance for people to talk about the way forwards in preserving the planet for the future, in the light of promised change in the political landscape (isn’t Hope wonderful?); it was a chance for corporate-friendly conservationists and politicians to network with each other; it was an opportunity for some of the most destructive corporations on Earth to talk up their ‘green’ credentials; it was — in short — a Greenwashing Gala.

Climate Progress takes up the story:

Q. If an inaugural gala is sponsored by ExxonMobil, can it still be green?

A. No.

The NYT reported yesterday on tonight’s two big “Green Galas”:

The first gala is being held by Al Gore, the former vice president and Nobel laureate. His event is also joined by a no-compromise crowd long frustrated with the Bush administration. Among them, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council….

The second gala is being held by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, comprising the goliaths of international and animal wildlife conservation like the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Federation.

Inexcusably, “Exxon Mobil is a prominent sponsor of the event.” The oil giant has spent millions of dollars over the years as a principal sponsor of the global warming disinformation campaign aimed at stopping efforts to conserve a livable climate — even after they said they stopped such funding. Chris Mooney has an excellent piece on ExxonMobil’s two-decade anti-scientific campaign



The non-green gala has other non-green elements:

Roses will be flown in from Ecuador. Marinated beef is being flown in from Texas to Virginia, where it will be grilled and then trucked to the auditorium.

Wow, that’s a two-fer — beef and air shipment!

While in general I don’t think individuals or groups should obsess about these kind of individual actions, it’s absurd for an environmental or conservation organization to flaunt unsustainability:

“We are not into symbolism,” David H. Barron, the caucus president, said unapologetically. “We are focused on a much bigger impact.”

Mr. Barron says that personal efforts to lower energy use are admirable; he himself uses low-energy LED’s at home. But more gets done to protect the environment, he says, when big corporations get involved in a committed way.

This may explain why Exxon Mobil is a prominent sponsor of the event.

Climate Progress has focused on ExxonMobil, but as you will see in my comment below the piece, virtually everyone attending — whether corporation or ‘environmental’ group — is swilling in the same trough…

What a load of stupid f*ckers. I’m not going to tone down my language [ok, I did for The Unsuitablog]: when you see not only ExxonMobil, but JPMorganChase (they invest in anything bad), AFPA (clearcutting apologists), Chevron (just as bad as ExxonMobil), Unilever (massive user of palm oil), Nestle (baby milk murderers) and a host of others doing this it just makes my teeth grate.

It’s a greenwashing beanfeast, and I have no doubt they know this. Let’s just say it’s a great opportunity to lobby and network for the next stage of the denial plan – after all, we know what has gone wrong, now we all need to be shown how corporations are going to save the world.

As for WWF; they are corporate-loving symbolists (http://www.thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2008/01/15/wwf-buy-yourself-a-new-corporate-image-part-1/) who will feel very much at home there. The Nature Conservancy don’t even deserve a comment, this will do instead: http://thesietch.org/ mysietch/ keith/ 2008/ 04/ 19/ the-nature-conservancy-partnering-with-poisoners/

Keith

It’s worth reading the rest of the comments, too: if you think greenwashing, corporate-conservation love-ins and politicians pretending to care while keeping their pockets open (for that is what ICCF is all about) is what these things are all about, and refuse to accept them, then you are not alone.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | No Comments »

IBM Public Relations: A Very Embarrassing Mistake

Posted by keith on 16th January 2009

Don’t hear, don’t see, don’t talk (Copyleft: Bruno Girin, Flickr)

every week I get the usual splurge of emails from companies, big and small, and sometimes PR people representing some of the biggest of the big; like this example sent by IBM Public Relations on behalf of Bosch, Xerox and DuPont, all companies that have a less than excellent record in environmental and social behaviour.

From: Michael Maloney
To: keith@theearthblog.org
Subject: Xerox, DuPont and Bosch Join Eco-Patent Commons

Keith,

I want to let you know that today Xerox, DuPont and Bosch have joined the Eco-Patent Commons, a first-of-its-kind business effort to help the environment by pledging environmentally-beneficial patents to the public domain. The newly-pledged patents include:

— A Xerox technology that significantly reduces the time and cost of removing hazardous waste from water and soil;
— A technology developed by DuPont that converts certain non-recyclable plastics into beneficial fertilizer;
— Automotive technologies from Bosch that help lower fuel consumption, reduce emissions, or convert waste heat from vehicles into useful energy;
— Technologies developed by founding member Sony that focus on the recycling of optical discs.

The Eco-Patent Commons, launched by IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes and Sony in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in January 2008, provides a unique opportunity for global business to make a difference sharing innovation in support of sustainable development. The objectives of the Eco-Patent Commons are to facilitate the use of existing technologies to protect the environment, and encourage collaboration between businesses that foster new innovations.

The new pledges more than double the number of environmentally-friendly patents available to the public. They are available on a dedicated Web site hosted by the WBCSD (http://www.wbcsd.org/web/epc). Many of the original patent holders have been contacted directly about their patents and we know of at least three patents that have already been used by others since the January launch of the Commons.

Nothing too terrible about this, until you look into the organisation behind this move, the WBCSD — a blatently business-friendly trade organisation that…well, here was my response:

To: Michael Maloney/Somers/IBM@IBMUS
cc: christian.fronek@de.bosch.com ; daniel.a.turner@usa.dupont.com ; Elissa.Nesbitt@Xerox.com ; keith@theearthblog.org ; obm@wbcsd.org ; Shusuke.kanai@jp.sony.com
Subject: Re: Xerox, DuPont and Bosch Join Eco-Patent Commons : The WBCSD are trying to kill us

Dear Michael

The WBCSD are proposing a trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions towards 550PPM by 2050 (http://www.wbcsd.org/web/tmp/policy-low.pdf). This is in stark contrast to the actual scientific findings by NASA chief climatologist Jim Hansen that 350PPM is the maximum permissible to prevent irreversible climate change (http://www.sub350.org/). 550PPM, which all of the contacts on the email below support in principle, will lead to catastrophic and deadly climate change leaving a world where prior human activity is utterly impossible, let alone the business as usual strategy that the WBCSD are pursuing.

No matter, it seems that industrial civilization is on the verge of collapse, and IBM will go the same way as Du Pont, Xerox, Bosch and Sony — all irrelevant icons of a past in which humanity was brainwashed into thinking that this toxic existence was the only way to live.

I recommend you and your colleagues read A Matter Of Scale (http://www.amatterofscale.com – free online), particularly Chapters 11, 13 and 16, and consider whether your job is part of the solution or the problem.

Kind regards

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

Basically, what I did was to CC the company PR people he had listed at the bottom of his original email, and included my own email address in the CC list. If I had thought about it, I would have followed my own rule of putting my address in the middle of the CC list, but in this case it didn’t matter, because Michael panicked:

From: Michael Maloney
To: christian.fronek@de.bosch.com ; daniel.a.turner@usa.dupont.com ; Elissa.Nesbitt@Xerox.com ; keith@theearthblog.org ; obm@wbcsd.org ; Shusuke.kanai@jp.sony.com
Subject: Re: Xerox, DuPont and Bosch Join Eco-Patent Commons : The WBCSD are trying to kill us

Sorry everyone. I’ve sent this blogger news in the past and he hasn’t jumped down my throat like he does below. I don’t recommend that we respond. I guess you can’t please everyone.

Michael Maloney
IBM Media Relations
Energy & Utilities, Chemicals & Petroleum, and Environmental Issues
P: 917-472-3676 T/L: 522-3676 M: 516-578-5535
E: maloney2@us.ibm.com

My emphasis, but do you see what happened? He clicked on “Reply All” and asked his colleagues to not engage me in discussions, essentially because they might say something that the IBM PR machine didn’t approve of.

Well, I wasn’t having that:

To: christian.fronek@de.bosch.com ; daniel.a.turner@usa.dupont.com ; Elissa.Nesbitt@Xerox.com ; keith@theearthblog.org ; obm@wbcsd.org ; Shusuke.kanai@jp.sony.com; Michael Maloney/Somers/IBM@IBMUS
Subject: Re: Xerox, DuPont and Bosch Join Eco-Patent Commons : The WBCSD are trying to kill us

That’s right, everyone, you do as Michael says – rather than make a coherent response, just ignore any attempt to suggest that there is
another way to live.

Now, if I were in your shoes I would consider what the responder has said, read the relevant sections of the book and act like a free-thinking human being.

Your choice, and that’s what life is all about.

Kind regards

Keith

P.S. If being presented with some stark information and choices is “jumping down my throat” then maybe PR isn’t Michael’s ideal vocation ;-)

Sadly, that was that, but I do wonder what they thought of Mr Maloney afterwards, and whether anyone on the list had second thoughts about what they were doing in their current line of work.

Posted in Advice, Astroturfs, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | 5 Comments »

You Cannot Pick And Choose Ethics

Posted by keith on 14th January 2009

Elephant In The Room

I have a lot more time for small companies than big ones; one reason is that they do not generally conform to a corporate aspiration of global dominance (although I suppose the owner might have such dreams), they exist to serve a much smaller market and therefore are far more receptive to positive change. There is no chance of a corporation ever being sustainable, but there is every chance of a small company becoming something that can potentially be sustainable: it has to get rid of the profit motive before it can actually be sustainable in any sense.

Given that, it does make me extremely frustrated, not to say angry, when a very small business that says it is making efforts to be sustainable decides to choose only one facet of sustainability, makes a really big deal of it, and ignores the bigger picture. In effect it is choosing its ethics to suit a particular image: it is greenwashing, however innocuous that may seem.

One example I came across recently (and I bet you can thing of lots of them) is a very small American retailer of baby products. I won’t name them, because they are just one of many, and there are far larger baby product retailers who do far worse things — this is just to illustrate a point. This company have, as their Unique Selling Point (USP) the use of “non-toxic” materials:

While searching for safe feeding gear, I realized how limited the information was and how few options were available. What started as a growing awareness of toxic plastics, became a mission to care for my own children and newborn nephews. A highly motivated search team grew out of my concerned family members and now we work together to find the highest quality non-toxic baby care products for our children and yours.

I then came across an item on their web site which must have been in response to the concerns of a fairly large number of people, otherwise it wouldn’t have been displayed quite so prominently. This item explained why the vast majority of their products were made in China, emphasising that the products were no less safe for that, and still remained “non toxic”. I thought about this for a bit and, basically because I realised they were digging a hole for themselves, sent them this email:

I was very interested in your statement about Chinese made products, and very disappointed indeed upon reading it. I take it from what you say, that the only factor in you stocking a product is that it is toxin free, but does that really imply that you don’t care at all about the toxins that are created in the supply chain, and the fate of the sweatshop workers in the manufacturing zones where your products are created? Are you aware of the appalling state of health amongst children whose surroundings have been blighted by the runaway expansion of industrialization in the Chinese development zones? Are you aware that 90% of China’s electricity (which makes your products) is produced using high-sulphur coal, meaning that Chinese electricity produces around 40% more carbon dioxide than American electricity and produces vast quantities of toxic ground level gas (Mexican electricity is nearly as bad, being based around coal and fuel-oil, in case you were thinking of going there for your cheap imports)?

It may seem that you can turn a blind eye by thinking “at least the end-product is safe”, but a major reason the Earth is in the perilous state it is in, is that we have learnt to conveniently ignore whatever we cannot see; globalization has made this so easy. Just keep using your “non toxic” products, so long as you forget about the people at the other end of the supply chain, dying to make them.

The response was disappointing to say the least, and underlined my concerns: they basically washed their hands of the bigger ethical concerns, blaming the USA chemical industry and globalization for everything:

While I agree with some of the statements that you’ve made about the supply chain of products made in China. It always interesting to me how much brainwashing that we employ in the US. Do you really think that the chemicals are really made overseas? Most of the toxic chemicals are actually made in the US. In fact, we are producing chemicals that have been banned by every country on the globe and can’t even export some of our products to Mexico, which most people view as a third-world country. There is zero question that a world-wide clean up in necessary and we recommend it and wholly embrace it…

Which didn’t address my concerns at all. What about slave labour? What about carbon emissions? What about China’s huge, unregulated chemical industry (does he not realise)? Sadly it comes down to that USP again: we sell “non toxic” products, that what we do, and if we have to do it at the expense of other ethical concerns then that’s not our problem!

You cannot pick and choose your ethics, however passionate you feek about something: things don’t go away if you ignore them, and often they keep getting worse.

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

Future Heathrow: Ripping Sustainability Off Its Hinges

Posted by keith on 12th January 2009

Future Heathrow Is Bleak

Here’s a quick question: what is the most unsustainable thing you can do?

Stock car racing, maybe; or perhaps pouring a gallon of cyanide into a river. What about things that lots of people do on a regular basis? Yes, it’s obvious really, but flying is the answer — only a complete numbnuts would claim that you can zip around the world in a heavier that air machine, kept off the ground by the combustion of oil, and consider what you are doing as “sustainable”.

Yes, that world “sustainable”: it’s been horribly misused recently, to the extent that it seems that you can even have “sustainable economic growth”, which is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard. If you want an economy to grow, you have to get the source of that wealth from somewhere, and if it isn’t nicking it from another country (which is one way, I suppose) then it’s going to come from using resources even more intensively.

Sustainability means leaving something in the same or a better condition than it started. That’s really simple to understand; so simple that, as I said, even a complete numbnuts could fail to understand it: or lots and lots of numbnuts in lots of self-interested groups that don’t give a flying (pun intended) f*** about the state of the planet for future generations.

Which makes the phrase “Future Heathrow” (Heathrow being the biggest airport in the UK) so ironic.

Here they write about Climate Change:

It has been suggested that the environmental costs of Heathrow outweigh its economic benefits but if capacity at Heathrow continues to be constrained, foreign hubs such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris will grow instead. This will not provide any climate change benefits but would severely damage the UK’s global competitiveness and UK jobs.

Well, I hate to criticise, but if you don’t have lots of airport capacity then not as many people can fly and — worse for all the tour operators, fuel companies and airport operators — you cannot achieve the economies of scale necessary to lower the cost of flying, meaning that even fewer people will be able to fly.

People, in this spoon-fed consumer culture have learnt to follow the path of least resistance: they won’t go to Frankfurt or Amsterdam, they just won’t bother flying.

What, in fact, Future Heathrow mean when they say “Supporting sustainable growth” is ensuring that the aforementioned vested interests keep on making money out of the air industry, until the oil runs out and (perhaps) people start to understand that by being rampant consumers of products, services and energy is actually a very bad thing indeed.

(And just in case there are a few typing errors, or short memories, you might want to try out www.heathrowfuture.com, www.heathrowfuture.org and www.futureheathrow.org.uk :-D )

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Coca-Cola And WWF: Exploitation Is Apparently Good

Posted by keith on 9th January 2009

Coke Polar Bears

Environmentalists like polar bears, and it’s not hard to appreciate why: not only are they extraordinary hunters, survivors and an integral part of the polar ecosystem, they are a vital marker to indicate the impact of global warming on this ice-dependent species, and they look pretty good on campaign posters too — if that’s your kind of thing.

Coca-Coca loves polar bears, and it’s not hard to appreciate why: they are a powerful symbol of survival in a isolated environment, they make great TV and they look really funny and quirky with a bottle of carbonated soft drink stuck between their paws. Since 1993, Coca Cola have made the most of the “Aah!” factor of polar bears.

It’s no surprise that the Coca Cola Corporation have a big carbon footprint: 7.4 million tonnes in 2007, according to their own carbon disclosure, which is the same as the emissions for Honduras. Along with this they have a terrible history of extracting water illegally, or otherwise taking far more than is sustainable, along with all sorts of other unacceptable social and environmental behaviour (see this damning report by War On Want for more information).

So along come WWF Canada to take Coca Cola by the hand and lead them into a better place…except it’s not WWF who are doing the leading, despite what they would like to think. Despite WWF’s clumsy attempts to suggest that by partnering with such a nefarious corporate monster, the monster can be tamed to be a good environmental steward, and even assist with the preservation of the polar bear, Coca Cola are clearly laughing on the other side of their collective face.

Yes, what else would Coca Cola do but make some fantastic commercial capital out of this partnership — or should I say, sponsorship, because that’s what it is.

Since 1993, the Coca-Cola Company has celebrated the polar bear as a symbol of holidays and togetherness. Sadly, the polar bears are now at risk from the effects of climate change. As the Arctic warms, the sea ice is melting, limiting their abilities to successfully reproduce and feed their cubs.

Deck Your Halls…

…with exclusive polar bear downloads, plush bears, holiday ornaments, and more! There’s something for you, and everyone on your holiday list.

Buy Stuff.

Who needs irony when you have WWF?

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

Pay Monsanto Or Starve

Posted by keith on 7th January 2009

Monsanto Bloody Corn

“We want to make the world a better place for future generations.”

That is taken directly from the website of Monsanto, one of the largest producers of agricultural chemicals in the world, and by far the largest “owner” of genetic crop patents on Earth.

Now read this, written by Craig Mackintosh at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia…

Imagine yourself as a farmer. I know it’s not easy, since few do it anymore, but give it a shot. Picture yourself as a seasoned farmer on the Canadian prairies. You’ve been working your farm for fifty years, with your wife working at your side. Despite the vicissitudes of life, and heavy pressure from ever-enlarging mechanised farms around you, you’re still there. Then, one day, you find a large seed and chemical company has filed suit against you – because they’ve found their genetically engineered plants on your land. Firstly, you’re wondering how representatives of this company came to be sniffing around on your land without your knowledge or permission, and secondly, you’re perplexed because you’ve never bought the seed they accuse you of using. In fact, you’ve deliberately avoided using such seed, and have survived competition by saving your own, developing improved strains through the age-old process of natural plant breeding. Furthermore, despite their genetically modified seed having contaminated your own natural crop – an irreversible action with major long term biological and financial implications for you and any farms around you – you find the courts are only interested in protecting the rights of the ‘copyright holder’ of the seed, even while acknowledging that the seed may have blown in from neighbouring fields or passing trucks. It turns out that it doesn’t matter how the seed got onto your property, or whether or not you knew it was there. It’s on your land, so you have to pay.

But it doesn’t stop with individual farmers — as bad as GM contamination is, the intentions of the GMO corporations go far further than simply selling (or suing for) GM seed and the chemicals that work with it. They want to change the stuff of life itself, for profit — and screw the consequences.

Ecological issues aside, as alarming as they are, these seeds that are blowing all over the place are making the whole world a potential ‘captive market’ for the seed companies. Pollen and seeds are uncontrollable, and at the moment the ‘lucky recipient’ must surrender to the demands of the company – essentially becoming a legally obliged subscriber to a service they not only never asked for, but that operates on a biological and economic philosophy they may wholly reject. The central issue here, is this ability for a company to patent life. A small genetic change to an organism can enable an organisation to seek intellectual copyright, and charge technology fees and other costs for its use. With life forms, unlike a widget on a conveyor belt, the ‘product’ is self perpetuating (unless that ‘feature’ has been removed by the company – a whole other problem on its own). This effectively means, if unchecked, organisations that megalomaniacally tinker with the building blocks of life (seeds, or otherwise), can take control of everything that makes this planet tick.

And just in case you think that all of the environmental NGOs are fighting against this pathological behaviour, bear in mind that Monsanto have become partners with no less than the Nature Conservancy (remember them?) and Conservation International: both fighting for the right of massive multinational agricultural corporations to make a profit and greenwash at the same time.

What is it that Monsanto say on their website?

“We want to make the world a better place for future generations.”

They forgot to add, “of Monsanto executives.”


You can read the whole of this excellent article at http://permaculture.org.au/2009/01/03/pay-monsanto-or-starve/

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