The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for May, 2009

Pimp My EcoCrib

Posted by keith on 29th May 2009

I like Marcus Brigstocke…in fact he’s one of the few people I happily break my TV fast for mainly because there’s almost nothing not to like about him. This video is a lot of fun, and it’s produced by one of the few organisations related to a government that I have a fair bit of respect for, the Energy Saving Trust, who have fought against the tyranny of the centralised, money-obsessed UK government for years just to keep doing what they do. Unlike the now sadly defunct English Nature, which also did their best to ignore government policy and just look after nature, the Energy Saving Trust have managed to cling on and dispense pretty-well apolitical energy advice to whoever asks for it.

So, back to the video: as the man says, “I’m not perfect”, but he’s starting. Wonder how long it will take Marcus to do a Rob Newman, and really get stuck into the Culture of Maximum Harm…

Oh, what the hell! Here’s Rob Newman’s “History Of Oil” because I like clever comedians doing important stuff…

Posted in Spoofs | No Comments »

Bathampton Meadows vs Park And Ride: Guess Which Wins?

Posted by keith on 27th May 2009

The water meadow to be carved up

I was taking a bus into the centre of a nearbye town a few months ago, and noticed that the development of a new “Park and Ride” scheme was nearing completion — so said the signs. It was being promoted as part of a “sustainable” transport policy, yet I was taking the bus all the way from my town to this town, but could well have caught the train instead. If I had lived a bit closer I might have considered cycling, except there are no cycle paths to speak of. This got me pondering the logic of Park and Ride with my cynical mind, and I quickly realised that it was simply a way of drawing more people from outlying areas into major towns who would otherwise shop locally, or drive to a shopping mall because there was too much congestion in the town. Park and Ride, I concluded, exists for purely economic reasons.

Go forwards to the present day, and I find this on the Save Bathampton Meadows web site:

Park and Rides are an out-moded form of traffic management, proven to have a minimal impact on reducing congestion. As Henrietta Sherwin, Vice Chair of the South West Campaign to Protect Rural England states:

“Park and Rides were conceived in the early 1970s before transport policy had moved towards demand management and trying to restrict car traffic; they are an out of date policy and no substitute for the development of an integrated public transport network particularly with an ageing population.”

“Park and Rides were initially sold as a green transport intervention until it was discovered that they can undermine existing public transport and actually create car mileage. Should limited resources be spent to encourage car access to Bath? Park and Rides are expensive and have a considerable environmental impact but a very marginal congestion benefit.”

I agree that they were originally sold as a green transport intervention, but I am willing to bet good (or bad) money that the initial motivation was economical — more people can come into a town and spend money if you let them drive most of the way rather than encourage them to go by public transport or (obviously) use their local facilities.

I wouldn’t have been so interested in an article about the further concreting over of the countryside surrounding the historic city of Bath, England, in Monday’s Guardian, had I not taken a trip there last week.

Environmental campaigners and residents are vowing to fight controversial plans to turn historic meadows close to the river Avon in Bath into a huge car park.

Bath and North East Somerset council wants to build a park and ride for 1,400 cars on land to the east of the city, though it lies within the green belt and is bordered by an area of natural beauty and a nature reserve.

More than 500 people have written objecting to the £6m plan, claiming that it will “desecrate” Bathampton Meadows. Natural England, the independent public body dedicated to protecting the urban and rural environment, has also raised concerns.

But at a heated meeting last week councillors supported the plans, which will now be sent to Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, for her approval.

Protesters say the scheme will ruin the meadows and become an eyesore visible from miles away. They are calling for the council to come up with more radical and more sustainable solutions.

It was while walking through the maze of soulless shopping streets near to the railway station, trying to dodge construction vehicles and step over temporary paving abberations, that I realised that the new Southgate Shopping Centre was utterly superfluous. Here’s a picture of what the developers think part of it might look like when it is complete:

Southgate Monstrosity

I particularly like the ironic bicycles dominating the left hand side of the scene, while the yawning commercial edifice lurks in the background, coaxing people in to buy more pointless crap that, even had they wanted pointless crap, people could already have bought elsewhere in Bath, or anywhere else they live for that matter. It is such a marvellous coincidence that the new bus station, which will act as the terminus for the Pointless Park and Ride schemes, just happens to be right next to the new Southgate Shopping Centre. So, as the Park and Riders alight from their multi modal journey (oh, sorry, that should read “largely car-based journey, which involved a considerable diversion from the original route, and had a bit of bus tacked onto the end”) they are immediately presented with a phenomenal shopping opportunity.

I have little doubt that the loss of meadow will happen, and it will keep heppening until we lose our twin addictions to driving and shopping. Maybe if the existing Park and Rides start emptying then the scheme (and the other three to be expanded, which are also going to slice further into the countryside) will be abandoned as a loss-maker. Somehow, though, I get the feeling this will be another case of the customer is always right: even if they have been brainwashed.

Posted in Government Policies, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | 1 Comment »

Crap Garden For A Crap Product: Chelsea Flower Show Sells Out Big Time

Posted by keith on 23rd May 2009

Quilted Crap

Thanks to Simon for alerting me to this blatant piece of brainwashing, in the middle of the Chelsea Flower Show. Yes, it’s the Quilted Velvet Garden; loaded with such sychophantically lovely credentials that I could barely spend enough time looking at the page in order to copy and paste this nugget:

“The Quilted Velvet Garden, created by garden designer Tony Smith, brings to life Quilted Velvet’s message of a little bit of luxury every day.”

“The garden is based on a dream, taking the form of a long, arduous journey through the everyday world of work and domestic chores, eventually arriving at a place of comfort and luxury.”

So, basically, after a hard day then nothing is better than wiping your arse on soft toilet paper! What about spending some time with your family, or enjoying a bit of nature rather than supporting a company that clear fells its “own” forests, and others across Scandinavia, leaving a pitiful 5% “set aside” for nature.

Simon takes up the story:

I’ve come to expect a dizzying assault of corporate greenwashing from Chelsea but the prize this year must surely go to the Quilted Velvet garden. If manufacturers SCA had their way you’d be wetting yourself over their green credentials. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Making toilet paper from virgin wood uses massive amounts of energy; the pulping process uses tons of chlorine and other toxic chemicals. Quilted paper is especially damaging to the environment but bizarrely this is one area of the market which is growing. Which is no doubt why SCA are sponsoring no less than three gardens at RHS shows this summer, so be prepared for even more of this crap.

So this weeks corporate slut award goes to designer Tony Smith. You’re on the list sunshine.

The garden was pretty naff too.

Cheers, Simon, couldn’t agree more.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 1 Comment »

Those Who Died In The Falklands / Malvinas War Died For Oil

Posted by keith on 19th May 2009

Falklands oil base 1

If you own an island in the middle of an ocean then you will shortly (assuming you are a nation, ravenous for oil and gas from the sea bed) have an awful lot of ocean floor in your clutches. The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) is not just a couple of dots in the Atlantic, it is a fairly sizeable, if treacherous and inhospitable, pair of islands with a land area of just under 5,000 square miles. Up to now, the potential claim for oil and gas resources at the ocean floor was in the region of 125,000 square nautical miles. With the introduction of the new United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, this extends to a maximum of 380,000 square miles. Argentina will do everything it can to prevent the UK from making such a claim; it wants the ocean bed as much as the British Government.

If you fought for the UK during the two month-long Falklands War and were injured, then you must understand that the only “freedom” you were really injured for, was the freedom to suck hydrocarbons from the ocean bed: the UK Government knew this; as did the Argentine Junta, whose invasion was almost certainly predicated on the same mineral claims.

If a relative or friend of yours was among the 900 people who died in that war, then you should know that they died for oil and gas. Across the world, throughout the history of Industrial Civilization, thousands of people died thinking they were fighting for freedom, when they were really fighting for oil. It is on this basis that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is soaked in blood.

A vast tract of the south Atlantic seabed – rich in oil and minerals – was formally claimed by the United Kingdom yesterday in defiance of Argentinian opposition.

The submission to the United Nations’ Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) has been issued two weeks after the government in Buenos Aires lodged its application to extend control over an almost identical area of underwater territory.

The British claim is contained in a 63 page document that will be posted on the UN’s website. It defines the precise limits of the extended continental shelf area around the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The islands are all British overseas territories, although ownership is disputed by Argentina. This is the fourth detailed, continental claim lodged with UN. The others concern the Ascension Islands, Rockall and the Bay of Biscay.

The Foreign Office minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, said: “Successful completion of this process will confirm the boundaries of the UK’s jurisdiction over its continental shelf, thus ensuring our sovereign rights to manage the shelf for future generations.”

The UK document deals concisely with the Argentinian counter-claim, stating: “The UK has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime area.”

The submission is one of an avalanche of last-minute claims for millions of square kilometres of the ocean floor pouring into the UN’s New York office in advance of an international deadline – on 13 May – for demarcating possession of extended continental shelves.

In the past two weeks Ghana, Pakistan, Norway, South Africa, Iceland, Denmark, France, Vietnam, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Kenya and others have delivered boxes of documents to the UN in the hope of securing valuable oil, gas and mineral resources around the world.

The hefty files of detailed paperwork – one Australian submission ran to 80 volumes – are the culmination of years of underwater exploration by each state, plotting submarine contours that mark the outer edges of the continental shelf.

The complex rules of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea permit states to extend their control and exploitation of the seabed beyond the traditional 200 nautical mile limit and up to 350 nautical miles offshore.

The precise extent of each claim frequently involves establishing the foot of an underwater continental slope, thousands of feet down in the chilly, dark oceans – and then measuring 60 miles outward.

Some claims, usually the legacies of unresolved international conflicts, are mutually exclusive, generating fresh diplomatic unease along the fissure lines of ancient boundary disputes. In the case of overlapping claims, the UN freezes the claims and asks the parties to reconsider.

As well as the overlapping claims for the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic, a dispute has emerged between France and Canada over claims to be presented for the seabed surrounding St Pierre and Miquelon, a small archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland. The French have also raised hackles by claiming the seabed near their Pacific island territories.

The 13 May deadline applies only to those states that were signatories of the original treaty 10 years ago. Other states, which signed at a later date, have more time left to submit their claims.

The United States has still not ratified the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, but the prospect of neighbouring countries such as Canada and Russia carving up the seabed for exploration is rapidly shifting opinion in Washington.

(reproduced from The Guardian)

_____

Update: I have not, at any point, stated who should be the rightful “owner” of the Falklands, although the British claim has only existed since 1833 so is hardly water-tight. The idea that the British government would continue paying to defend the Falklands without any commercial potential, either material or strategic, is ludicrous — the commenter (who will not appear here due to offensive remarks) who implied the British Task Force was mobilised for altruistic reasons really needs to read his history books.

Try this: http://nebuchadnezzarwoollyd.blogspot.com/2007/03/oil-dominates-25th-falklands-war.html

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

BabyCentre or BabyCenter: However You Spell It, They Help Fund Arms Fairs

Posted by keith on 17th May 2009

babycenter.jpg

I have been following a brilliant campaign being orchestrated by a group of mothers (and a few fathers) concerned about the support that one of the world’s biggest parenting forums is giving to a company that organise arms fairs.

The text below is copied out verbatim from the journal entry of one of the ordinary people who found they could not leave this be. It speaks for itself…

This is a blog about how i found out that Baby centre were indirectly funding the arms trade – And perhaps importantly, What i did about it.

I was browsing BC, when i came across a thread on DC lite. I like DC lite, because it is full of all different types of thread, some funny, some challenging, generally though, it makes you think!!

BlueHouser had written a thread on Babycentres Involvement with The Baby Show – Well that’s quite normal, i thought, a baby website, involved with a baby show, for parents and expectants, sounds good! I was going! Bought my tickets already, and was looking forward to spending my hard earned dosh on lovely things for my little sproggy! Things for him, things for me, Wahey!!

The Baby show was run by Clarion Events. Hmm. No worries there.

Clarion Events ALSO run Arms fairs. If your anything like me, you thought, what the scooby doo is a bloody arms fair? Introducing Google, My good friend! I found the CAAT website ( campaign against the arms trade) and wow….

I got it – Clarion run baby shows. Clarion also run arms fairs- where weapons are sold. Weapons that maim and kill familys and children and mothers and expectants. Right. Well, surely, they are regulated and policed and are really strict?

I continued to read the DC lite thread, where i came across a link to Mark Thomas’s website: http://www.markthomasinfo.com/section_writing/default.asp?id=16

He actually *attended* the DSEI arms fair ( run by Clarion). He met THREE companies, who were prepared to sell him equipment which is banned in the UK because it is considered an implement of torture – Stun Guns, Stun Batons and Leg Irons.

I dont want to fund this! I dont want to be linked, because i bought a nursing pillow at a baby show, to someone being tortured with a stun baton.

Do Babycentre KNOW about this link? Yes, it appears they did. It was brought to their attention in November 2008. So why didnt they pull out, i thought? Did they not consider that it was wrong? You buy a coffee at the baby show, a portion of the money from your coffee inevitably ends up with Clarion, who then use that money to host an arms fair, where a weapon is bought, and used on a village in africa (for instance) – On a child? On a mother? On a father?

So… What to do. A few of us thought we could make a difference. And even if we dont make a difference, We have to TRY.

Emails were sent – To BC, to sponsors, to Myleene Klass’ PR company. We were hoping she would pull out when she became aware of the link.

Baby centres upper management gave a crappy response, Posted late at night ( i assume, so they didnt get all our outrage at once!)

We thought long and hard as to whether a partnership with the Baby Show would be a conflict of interest, and ultimately decided that it’s not. (For full response, see page 10 of dc lite thread)

Needless to say, That was a pretty corporate response, with no justification. Just, they had thought about it, and decided to go ahead anyway.

Lots of people got angry. There was a vote and thread that got posted in many birth boards, mine included. I felt it important, that people be aware of the link. I felt appalled that BC were not even prepared to pull out. They didnt even consider it a ”conflict of interest.” Bounty [Ed. See comment below about Bounty's activities] and UNICEF did. Unicef wanted NO donations from ticket sales. As a charity, thats a pretty big thing to say, That even though money helps your charity, you’d rather not have it from what your fighting against.

I decided that, after speaking to DC Liters, i would still go to the show. I would go – But i would speak to the stall holders about the issue. I felt that i had a responsibility – Because the UK police/government/stallholders cant hit me with a stun baton, that sprays and stuns, so if you get covered in the liquid you still feel the stun.

Friday Arrived, and I was quite nervous. I was hoping that i would do DC Liters proud. I was hoping that i could make a difference.

I arrived, and was really *shocked* at the amount of companies marketing themselves as ETHICAL.

A gentleman approached me. He asked me if i recycled. I asked him if he was aware of the Clarion Link. He asked if i cared about the enviroment. I said i was slightly more concerned with child soldiers, cluster bombs going off and blowing kids legs off, implements of torture being sold in the uk. I asked him why his company felt it appropriate that they had a stall here. He walked off.

I saw Myleene give her talk at 11am on the prima baby stand. I was actually really disapointed – Firstly, she still felt it appropriate that she attended, and secondly, that her talk was so damn boring!! She was basically selling her summer range of baby K clothing. I attempted to approach Myleene at the mother care stand – It was a bit of a wrestling ring though, loads of people, and i was worried about my bump. I decided to give that one a miss, although i felt a bit wimpy!

I was approached by a persil representative – I asked them if they considered the Clarion link appropriate. She walked off too.

I got a few good responses – Pregnacare said they have been given an answer to tell people by their manangement – Which was they decided they could do more good by staying with Clarion, then they have financial backing with which to use as a bargaining chip in getting them to pull out.

I asked fisher price, was told to wait for a manager. 45 minutes later, I gave up waiting, but filled in the ‘cards’ with my opinion on it.

I found the smaller stalls were not really aware – They got a stall because they needed the money. I got 4 stalls to say they were going to investigate the link and would make donations to UNICEF to ”offset”. Wether they actually will or not, is up to them, but i felt great. I was concerned, and i was making a difference!

I tried my best. I raised the issue. I feel proud, of DC liters, of myself. I found out, was against it, and tried my hardest to recitfy the situation.

Ignorance is not bliss. Im glad i knew. I know that had i not been made aware of the link, I would have gone, spent loads of dosh, not given it a second thought – If i dont know about it, how can i change it?

Im glad i was given this opportunity to at least try and make a difference.

What would you have done…and what will you do when faced with something similar?

NOTES:
DC Lite = Debate Club Lite, a debating group on BabyCentre UK
Myleene Klass = Pop star and TV presenter, former member of band Hear’Say

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 8 Comments »

American Chemistry Council: Balancing Trivia With Toxic Violence

Posted by keith on 13th May 2009

ACC Ecosystem Destroy

It’s common knowledge that given a choice of two tasks, of varying impact, most people in the civilized world will choose to do the easiest, even if the outcome is of little or no importance. Given the choice of walking a mile to your destination, or getting in the car and driving a mile – regardless of the environmental and social impact of cars – most people will choose to drive. Or rather, “choose” to drive.

I put the word “choose” in quotes because it’s not really a choice at all; civilized society conspires to make the option that is of most benefit to the capital economy the most favourable “choice”, even if it means that the “choice” runs counter to what most people would do given a genuine freedom and an absence of persuasive factors (e.g. advertising, social engineering, lack of alternatives) that steer the individual in the direction of the best choice for the economy. Recycling is a serious offender, not because there is anything intrinsically bad about recycling most materials, but because it is presented by society as an environmental “choice”: you can choose to recycle and be “green” or you can choose not to recycle and not be green.

What other choice is there? What about choosing to do any number of things that are substantially more important than recycling; like reducing your primary consumption of goods, repairing what you already have, reusing what others have no need of, bartering or exchanging goods and services, or just giving stuff away because it means the recipients will buy less of that stuff new. And then there is not filling the skies with toxic gases; not pouring millions of gallons of effluent into seas and rivers; not garnishing the biosphere with a cocktail of persistent chemicals then leaving others to sort out the mess later.

The last three are the hallmark of one of the largest industrial sectors in the world: a sector that provides civilized humans with everything from computer screens to astroturf; plastic packaging to car interiors; printing ink to artificial sweetners; mercury to formaldehyde; titanium oxide to napalm; chlorine to glyphosate. The chemical industry provides the raw materials for the products of Industrial Civilization. It is a monster that needs a phenomenal amount of public relations to look good.

In general, the governments of the world’s industrial nations provide that PR, and for those nasty bits left behind, the private PR companies provide the nice words to smooth over the leaking cracks:

Over eleven billion dollars are spent each year by the business of chemistry to reduce emissions and protect the environment. Federal and State regulations for virtually every piece of our plant operations are in place and more rules are in the pipeline. End-of-pipe control programs have been implemented throughout the industry and the focus of environmental protection is now shifting to addressing any remaining risks that are deemed unacceptable. Continued improvement in environmental performance should focus on spending resources only on those policy decisions that will deliver the most improvement to reducing human health and environmental risks.

Allow me to translate:

“Over eleven billion dollars are spent each year by the chemical industry to ensure it does not kill too many people or destroy so much of the natural world that it becomes impossible to cover it up. Federal and State regulations, which we have fought against in the past and continue to fight against now are being implemented because we have no choice, although we have done our best to drag the process out for as long as possible. Systems that bring the amount of toxic crap being poured into the environment down to the legal maximum (and anything else we can get away with) have had to be put in place; but because our industry produces more waste than we can deal with, and the public are (literally) sick of it, we’ve had to pretend we’re doing something about all the other bad stuff we do. If we’re going to have to spend any more money, then were going to make sure it’s as visible as possible, even if it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.”

Does that sound more realistic? You can read more of this sanitised bullshit over at the American Chemistry Council’s web site. Bear in mind that the ACC represents just about every chemical company you can name, and lots more you have never heard of (and which I would strongly recommend you look into), and it is pretty obvious that they are not doing any of this out of the goodness of their hearts. Anything they can do to look good, they will: and what better thing than our old friend Recycling:

Beginning on April 21st, 2009, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) will host a blog summit to explore recycling efforts and trends in the United States – focusing on barriers to recycling and innovative programs to increase recycling, particularly of plastic. The blog summit is intended to be a dynamic online conversation; it is open to the public. Among those participating will be independent thought leaders with plastics or recycling expertise, industry executives and established bloggers all of whom will be volunteering their time and knowledge.

Why are we doing this?

Across the country and around the world, significant efforts are underway to decrease litter in all environments specifically near our oceans, rivers and streams. Many of the materials that end up on roadways and waterways are readily recyclable. Yet, recycling rates, particularly in the U.S., remain low. The American Chemistry Council and its member companies continue to work with state and city governments, non-profits and other stakeholders to improve the recycling infrastructure, increase access to recycling and create a culture of recycling for future generations.

Excellent. I hope you’re all feeling the warmth from the last 4 weeks of recycling goodness that the ACC have blessed you with.

No?

You’re a cynical bunch, aren’t you?

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Spoofs | 1 Comment »

Shell Sponsors Eco-Race, Continues To Destroy Planet With Tar Sands

Posted by keith on 9th May 2009

Shell Oil At any Cost

A little nugget of potential greenwashing came to my attention this morning. As you read it, keep in mind this quotation, from Shell’s own marketing brochure:

“Unconventional hydrocarbon resources is a significant area in which boundaries are being pushed to meet growing demands. Shell is privileged to be working on one of the most important unconventional resources: the oil sands project in Alberta, Canada. We report on how new and innovative technology, coupled with working closely with the local community, has made access to this massive resource possible.”

Now here is the article – you can make up your own mind what Shell’s motivation is for having an Eco-Marathon:

Petrolheads should look away now. Engineers and racing car enthusiasts are gathering in Germany today for a car race with a difference – one that does not reward the fastest car, but focuses instead on the most fuel-efficient. In this Shell sponsored Eco-marathon, the best cars could travel the entire length of Britain five times on a single gallon of petrol.

More than 200 teams from 29 countries will battle for the €1,000 (£895) top prize in this annual green car rally, which is the biggest of its kind in the world. Futuristic, lightweight vehicles will race around the EuroSpeedway circuit in Lausitz, Germany, with the goal of burning as little fuel as possible over a set distance and producing the lowest emissions.

“For participating teams, ‘sustainable mobility’ is more than just a buzzword: these are the engineers of the future who are helping to turn it into reality,” said Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Shell . “Society needs a new generation of talented problem-solvers to address the world’s energy challenges.”

From the UK, teams of engineering students from the universities of Coventry, Brunel and Central Lancashire will pit their cars against more established racing teams from other countries.

John Caulderbank, motorsport course leader at the University of Central Lancashire, said sustainability was a big part of his students’ coursework. The Central Lancashire team’s car is based around a 30cc petrol engine developed in-house, coupled with a bespoke engine management system to keep fuel consumption low, and the brakes from a mountain bike. His team plans to be very careful in the style they drive, conserving fuel by only accelerating for 20 seconds out of every minute of the race, and allowing the car to coast for the remainder of the time. “The target is 3,000 miles to the gallon,” said Caulderbank.

Each prototype vehicle is judged on how much fuel it uses to complete eight laps of the EuroSpeedway circuit – a distance of around 15.5 miles (25km). The cars have to do the full course in under 51 minutes and each team gets four attempts to use as little fuel as possible.

The current records are staggering. For a hydrogen fuel cell car it stands at 3,836km per gallon, achieved by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich in 2005. In the conventional petrol and diesel-powered category, a 2004 team from Lycée la Joliverie in France designed a car with a range of 3,410km. The record for best CO2 emissions profile was attained in 2006 by a prototype from Lycée la Joliverie with a car emitting just 0.5g/km – the average for a passenger car in Europe is around 160g/km.

Christoph Bastian, programme manager for automotive engineering at Coventry University, said that being economical with fuel was a key part of the work that modern engineering students had to do when designing cars, given that the motor industry was keen to head in this direction.

The Coventry team’s car is a three-wheeler made of tubular aluminium sections. Along with the 31cc engine from a garden strimmer, it weighs just 45kg. They reduced much of the weight using computer models. “We used some advanced engineering tools to predict where the forces are going to travel in the frame and, by calculating this load path, we were able to remove material.”

The team, which is entering the Eco-marathon for the first time this year, expects to get a range of around 1,000km for a gallon of fuel. That’s nowhere near the leaderboard for this race but Bastian says he hopes to get closer to the top in coming years. For next year’s entry, the team is already planning to focus on improving their car’s aerodynamics and cladding the body with lightweight carbon fibre rather than plastic.

At the start of this year’s race, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission said sustainable transport would be central to meeting the continent’s climate goals. “It accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s CO2 emissions and a third of our total energy consumption. We need to concentrate minds and efforts on helping reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency in the only sector in which emissions have increased since 1990. The Shell Eco-marathon is a key educational platform that encourages students to focus their minds on the challenge of maximising fuel efficiency, whether using traditional or alternative fuel sources.”

Shell have the following to say about their Eco-Marathon and themselves: “As an energy company, Shell is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its operations and products, and to help meet the world’s growing demand for energy in secure and sustainable ways. The Shell Eco-marathon inspires others to think about energy efficiency and offers a platform to work on solutions in a very practical manner.”

Now I’d like you to watch this interview between George Monbiot and Jeroen van der Veer, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell:

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

Energy Union and Friends Of The Earth : A Greenwashing Alliance

Posted by keith on 8th May 2009

Lightbulbs Not The Answer For the first time in about two weeks my garden is getting a decent smattering of rain, which might refresh the water butts so I can keep the vegetables growing during the next dry period. Things like this bother me from day to day, as I get more concerned with trying to become self-sufficient (like yesterday when I found that my garlic had grown into garlicky spring onions rather than bulbs). That said, I can’t imagine myself becoming any less concerned with the kind of dour, trivial activity that masquerades as positive action: symbolic action and inadequate solutions are just as dangerous as intentional greenwashing, and that is why it is very important that you understand the implications of the Energy Union; a collaborative project that says it has the solution to our current predicament.

I first learnt about this on Wednesday, when I received an email from someone (who I won’t name, because I believe he has been duped) working for a media company who wanted to know where he could get hold of some videos of greenwashing to assist with a project.

Hi Keith

….Its for a satirical piece for a project called Energy Union (energyunion.eu).

This looked interesting, so I went to the web site and was a little underwhelmed. Sourcing videos wouldn’t be a problem, but did I want to help out with something that was only pushing for a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020? I wasn’t suspicious at this point, merely unmotivated because I had seen campaigns like this so many times before. It also happened that I was aware of something being worked on by Friends of the Earth which had an identical carbon target.

Hi xxxxx

I’ve had a look at your site, and I’m afraid there is a little greenwashing going on there too – though it may be unintentional. You see, a 40% cut by 2020 may be tough by civilised standards, but because we need a 95% cut by 2030 — based on current work by Jim Hansen, David Wasdell et al — you are selling yourselves way short (I do realise this is a FoE project, so that would explain the conservatism). If the demand is not for a 60% cut by 2020 then you will end up compromising on 20% with everyone, including FoE (I’ve worked with them a lot in the past) going away happy: if the industrial system is happy then you know something is badly wrong.

So, I will do my best to source some good material for you, but only on the understanding that the commitment is increased commensurate with a 95% cut in the industrial world by 2030. Does that sound fair? Given that the future of humanity depends on it, then I would be a hypocrite to endorse anything else.

Best
Keith

As this point, I assumed that the correspondent had some say in the project, and had no idea who was running the show overall. He responded thus:

Hi Keith,

I realise that the reality of the science doesn’t match the efforts of some environmental NGOs and campaigns, but we are doing our best. Fyi, the project is not being run by us or by FOE. Its being run by an Munich based agency and the EC. So we don’t have any control about the political ask. Our role is to produce an audio-visual show that, amongst other aims, satirizes big corporations greenwash efforts. We’ve very much been given artist freedom and so want to push the envelope as much as possible. We would really love your help sourcing high quality video of greenwash adverts and news items but I’m afraid I don’t have the power to meet the criteria you suggest.

Can you help us anyway?

I know the future of the planet is at stake, for myself I spent many years as an wwoofer, Permaculture activist and road protester. I try and work from many angles not relying on any single avenue. Hopefully you can see the value of the same tactic.

The guy means well and apparently has artistic freedom, but to what extent? Clearly a video saying that the project he is working for is totally inadequate and leading people in entirely the wrong direction wouldn’t go down well with the agency; but given what he said about FoE not running things, I was keen to find out more.

What I did find made me angry: not only because the aims of the project were inadequate, but because the “solutions” presented played right into the hands of the system that is ensuring we continue destroying the natural world and that these solutions were being proposed by vested interests…vested corporate interests.

Hi xxxxx

I don’t think you are doing your best, otherwise you would realise that what you are working on is helping the existing system to continue taking us on the path to destruction. I’m assuming you have looked at the list of Partners, of which you are one: the Project Coordinator is a renewable energy consultancy, who presumably will make an awful lot of money out of the (trivial) 40% cut if it means driving governments into investing wholesale in renewables. Another key partner is EREC, who are an “umbrella organisation of the European renewable energy industry, trade and research associations active in the sectors of bioenergy, geothermal, ocean, small
hydropower, solar electricity, solar thermal and wind energy. EREC represents the entire renewable energy industry with an annual turnover of more than 40 billion Euros and more than 400,000 employees.” This is big business.

What is disturbing, apart from the modest cut proposed, is the list of “solutions” (http://energyunion.eu/intelligent_energy/solutions) which concentrates almost solely on converting electricity generation over to renewables, yet says almost nothing about reducing overall consumption, the *only* way the problem can be fixed. This *is* greenwash.

So, it is clear that you have either been misled, or you are happy to work with the system that dictates that we must keep the economy growing, and to hell with the consequences.

There is no way that I could ever work with Energy Union. I will, however, be putting Energy Union on The Unsuitablog, for the reasons I have stated above, and in my previous email.

Regards

Keith

N.B. The campaign lead is Friends of the Earth Europe, as I said
(http://energyunion.eu/partners)

Don’t let yourself get distracted: there is a lot of work ahead, and it doesn’t need any “help” from politicians or businesses.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Been Sawing Wood All Day So Here’s One Someone Else Made Earlier

Posted by keith on 5th May 2009

fail owned pwned pictures
Courtesy of Failblog

No comment needed.

Posted in Adverts, General Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Disney Own You…Then Plant Some Trees

Posted by keith on 2nd May 2009

Disneyworld Destruction

Strange, how I almost never seem to get responses from people who have gone to all the effort of sending me an email, telling me all about the special green ideas that their special green employers have asked them to send to hundreds of special green blogs, to which I have kindly sent back a response giving a heartfelt and honest critique of these special green ideas.

Take this response I sent out:

“Aah, how lovely. Is that one tree for every thousand children Disney have brainwashed into living the synthetic hyper-consumer dream?”

It’s got a question attached to it — you would have thought they would be kind enough to respond…

Before I show you what was in the original email, I want you to click on the thumbnail picture above. You might recognise the place; may even have been there. What do you think?

[thinking time]

A few years ago I might have thought: “Well that’s nice, aren’t there lots of trees, and look at the big lakes.”

Now I think: “What is that f****** great concrete hole doing in the middle of the Florida Everglades?”

Here’s the email:

Dear Keith

Please see below. Wonderful news for Earth Day!

Let me know if you are interested in covering this or would like any interviews or artwork?

Hope all is well.

Kind regards,
Warren Betts

—–
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STRONG ADVANCE SALES FOR “EARTH” MOTION PICTURE

BOLSTER TREE-PLANTING INITIATIVE:

500,000 TREES TO BE PLANTED SO FAR

DISNEYNATURE EXPECTS NUMBERS TO CONTINUE TO GROW

EARTH Motion Picture Opens on Earth Day, April 22

Burbank, Calif. (April 18, 2009) – “EARTH” won’t open till Wednesday, yet moviegoers have already snapped up half a million tickets to catch the movie in its opening week and have a tree planted in their honor. Disneynature’s commitment to plant a tree for everyone who sees the motion picture between April 22-28 means that already 500,000 trees will be planted—and that number is still growing with advance ticket sales on the rise and the April 22-opening just a few days away.

“With half a million new trees committed so far, Disneynature’s first film is already making an impact on the world—and ‘EARTH’ hasn’t even opened yet,” said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. “We’re so pleased that moviegoers have embraced this film and our tree-planting initiative to this degree and we expect the numbers to keep climbing.”

Disney’s goal is to ensure that it plants trees in areas that conservationists have identified as critical areas of biodiversity. Disney will oversee the planting of the trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, which is considered one of the most endangered rain forests in the world. Today, only seven percent of the Atlantic Forest remains. Disney is committed to ensuring the trees are planted to provide the greatest long term benefit for the planet.

ABOUT THE MOVIE

Narrated by James Earl Jones, “EARTH” tells the remarkable story of three animal families and their amazing journeys across the planet we call home. “EARTH” combines rare action, unimaginable scale and impossible locations by capturing the most intimate moments of our planet’s wildest and most elusive creatures. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the acclaimed creative team behind the Emmy Award®-winning “Planet Earth,” combine forces again to bring this epic adventure to the big screen.

Moviegoers need only purchase a ticket to see “EARTH” opening week to automatically have a tree planted in their honor. To find a theatre near you and to purchase tickets, go to www.disney.com/earth.

There were all sorts of alternative images I could have put at the top of this article: sweatshop workers sewing together Disney branded clothes or assembling Disney branded toys and other consumer goods; container ships full of Disney goods, crossing the oceans with wares destined for every nation touched by the rank hand of industrialisation; airports full of people waiting for their departure to one of the Disney resorts dotted around the world, or aircraft in the air pumping out greenhouse gases directly created by the desire to travel to a Disney resort; landfill sites full of Disney goods, slowly leaching their toxins into the ground; queues of gas-guzzling traffic and hyper parking lots outside shopping malls replete with Disney Stores full of toxic, climate changing, sweatshop produced consumer items; children goggle-eyed before the latest saccharine-sweet, consumer-friendly, merchandise-linked version of the world brought to you by your friendly corporation; fast food stores full of obese families drawn towards the counters by the offer of Disney toys with every Happy Meal; a globe full of brainwashed humans, on their knees, praying in the direction of a Magic Castle, that sits at the centre of a vast concrete, brick, chrome and plastic complex that used to be a swath of pristine, wildlife-rich Everglade.

Take your pick.

500,000 trees. Actually, according to the New York Times, about 3 million tickets have been sold for “Earth” so far, which is 3 million trees. Sounds a lot? If we assume there are 500 trees per hectare of rainforest, then that’s 6000 hectares, or 23 square miles of rainforest.

Every year, approximately 8 million hectares of forest is cut down globally, with at least the same amount being degraded in the same period of time.

Disney will be planting enough trees to offset 0.0004% of that destruction.

At the same time they are responsible for sweatshop workers sewing together Disney branded clothes or assembling Disney branded toys and other consumer goods; container ships full of Disney goods, crossing the oceans with wares destined for every nation touched by the rank hand of industrialisation; airports full of people waiting for their departure to one of the Disney resorts dotted around the world, or aircraft in the air pumping out greenhouse gases directly created by the desire to travel to a Disney resort; landfill sites full of Disney goods, slowly leaching their toxins into the ground; queues of gas-guzzling traffic and hyper parking lots outside shopping malls replete with Disney Stores full of toxic, climate changing, sweatshop produced consumer items; children goggle-eyed before the latest saccharine-sweet, consumer-friendly, merchandise-linked version of the world brought to you by your friendly corporation; fast food stores full of obese families drawn towards the counters by the offer of Disney toys with every Happy Meal…

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting | 2 Comments »