The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for July, 2009

Is Sustainable Development Sustainable? (Do Bears Fly?)

Posted by keith on 31st July 2009

Sustainable Crap

Sustainable Development is greenwash; it has always been greenwash, ever since the term was first coined nearly 40 years ago, not because Gro Harlem Brundtland was particularly hypocritical, but because there was never any chance of the word “sustainable” having anything like the significance of “development” in civilised society. A great article by Luis de Sousa on this subject was published on The Oil Drum a couple of weeks ago, and it was so good that rather than write the same thing myself, I asked Luis if I could repost it here, which he kindly agreed to.

Consulting an on-line Dictionary, a definition for Sustainability can be retrieved as the ability to perpetuate existence. In the same resource the definition for Development will be given as growth or progress. A concept gathering these two words together forms what the Greeks termed an oxymoron, an idea devoid of logical sense. Can Sustainable Development be sustainable? Naturally not, for merging together two antonymous concepts, it simply cannot exist.

So why is this oxymoron in the order of the day? Why does it get such attention? Why are so many so willing to discuss it so passionately?

Sustainable Development is one of several philosophical concepts (having as much eeriness as mythology) that emerged in the wake of a series of decades of breathtaking, unprecedented growth. Growth as in development, the physical expansion of the Human-sphere, its population and interactive processes with nature, harnessing energy and concentrated matter, deploying waste heat and dispersing matter. These mythological concepts are simply a reflex of a society intoxicated with growth in front of the first signs of physical constraints to its development.

Sustainable Development became the language of those that promise perpetual growth, and more, the profits that should come along with it. It is the language of those that do not want to reconsider their way of life. Of those who expect the XXI century to be the same as the XX century. Of those that expect to run all the cars on french fry oil or firewater. Of those who call Carbon Capture and Sequestration an energy source. Of those who promote the Hydrogen Economy, forgetting about the Nuclear energy system for which it was conceived. Of those touting Nuclear as Salvation. Of those touting Nuclear as Condemnation. Of those who expect Carbon Trading to reduce the OECD’s dependence on OPEC. Of those dreaming with a CO2 atmospheric concentration of 1000 ppm by 2100, accompanied by a 6ºC global temperature rise. Of those saying that the Earth’s hydrocarbons are not fossil fuels. Of those drilling their way forward. Of those waiting for the Free Market to replace Fossil Fuels. Of those thinking all they need is changing light bulbs to continue living in 400m2 cardboard houses. Of those claiming to be in their hands a reduction of Fossil Fuels consumption.

Sustainable Development is the philosophy of those fooling themselves, thinking that the Earth is flat, refusing to accept that the planet is a spherical object and thus finite. Of those refusing to face reality, refusing to wake up from their dreams.

A decade from now Sustainable Development will be out of the agenda. By then the word of the day shall be Survival. The Survival of a Culture, a Social and Political Framework, a Civilization.

Hopefully some will be able to wake up in time, leave the intoxicating dreams behind and face reality, however grim. Because then they’ll be able to devise a New Future. A Better Future. A Future founded on the real physical entities that run through our Economy, not in abstract, growth dependent, illusions. A Future where each man and woman have their place and are not enslaved by a spiral of virtual accumulation and spending. A Future where having more than the next man isn’t a goal in itself. A Future were work and excellence are rewarded by things that have real physical and meta-physical meaning.

A Future.

Published under a Creative Commons non-commercial license.

Posted in Advice, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Protest Mediators: A Plan To Make Protests Even More Benign

Posted by keith on 28th July 2009

State Approved Dissent

What is the point of protest?

To create change. I would have thought that was obvious; it is the only rational response to the question. So why has so little change happened as a result of protest in the Western world in the last 30 years? This is obvious, too: because the activities that masquerade as “protest” in the modern age, have as little to do with protest as a Toyota Prius has to do with environmental sustainability. The vast majority of “protests” organised by groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, are simply expressions of feeling; they are not even expressions of intent, because it is clear that there is no intention of going further than marching up and down the street, waving banners and placards, shouting slogans, beating drums and singing sings.

As I wrote in A Matter Of Scale:

So, go and protest, make some noise, wave some banners, sign a petition: just make sure you stay within the law. I mean it – protest of some form or another is permitted in most nations, but the severity and the type of protest allowed depends on the legislation that is in place; both standing legislation and the widely used “state of emergency” which, in fact is simply an extension of the existing laws. As the Zimbabweans ponder their electoral fate, the Mugabe regime has imposed “emergency” laws to prevent any form of gathering that may threaten the government. What the Mugabe regime knows only too well is that in Zimbabwe, as with many other African, South American and Asian states, protest often takes an entirely different form to the type of protest the people of the industrial West have become accustomed too. The Mugabe regime know that real protest is capable of overthrowing governments; whereas in the USA, for instance, it almost goes without saying that protest will lead to nothing more than a warm feeling in the hearts of those taking part…The laws in each country are tailored to suit the appetite of the population for change: a country full of people that want to fight for change needs to be kept tightly controlled; a country full of catatonic, drip-fed consumers can march all they like, be given a well-controlled soapbox on TV – and the voltage on the tasers can be turned right down.

As with any mass gathering of people, there will be friction between those on one side and those on the other, and in the case of the G20 marches and sit-ins, there were a number of inexcusable events that took place, including one death:

On the “protestors'” side, there were also a number of inexcusable activities, at least equal in quantity to the number of people who went along to the event thinking that by marching peacefully, they would make any difference at all. Of course they wouldn’t, and it is with this in mind that the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights have decided to take advantage of the submissiveness of mainstream environmental and human rights groups (the ones who organise such “protests”) and proposed that a system of Objective Mediation be set up, ostensibly to protect the human rights of people taking part in such events.

Independent Northern Ireland-style go-betweens could ease tensions between police and protesters, say MPs.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights said poor communications lay at the heart of problems at the G20 protests on 1 April.

Its report says a decision to “kettle” some of the London demonstrators had failed to recognise their rights.

The Metropolitan Police said it learned lessons from G20 and was committed to working with all protest groups.

One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.

The committee said there was a “long way to go” before police put human rights at the core of their planning and live operations.

In its review of the G20 protests, the MPs and peers argued that the Metropolitan Police became heavy-handed after a lack of communication between the two sides.

“Both protesters and police must share information,” said the report. “Whilst this happens in many cases it is clear that at least some aspects of communication at the G20 protests were poor.

“Mutual distrust was apparent and the police and protesters seemed to have different expectations of what the dialogue should be about and how it should proceed.

“This ineffective communication led to frustration on both sides and, possibly, to the police taking a more heavy handed approach to the Climate Camp protest than would otherwise have been the case.”

(BBC News)

It will come as no surprise that the real reason for such “mediation” is simply to further dilute the already benign nature of public protest. As Ward Churchill states in Pacifism As Pathology:

One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing…and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others…their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest

Set up a mediation system, and those running the “protest” have even more control over their charges by virtue of their elite status as official communicators with the mediators. Set up a mediation system, and the police have even more information with which they can micromanage the events as they unfold. Set up a mediation system and “protest” becomes little more than a state-sponsored media spectacle which threatens nothing, and leads to no change whatsoever.

Real protest doesn’t unfold according to a pre-agreed agenda; real protest is illegal; real protest creates change. The gulf between symbolic and non-symbolic action is widening as I write — it may be your last chance to jump over to the side which is actually going to achieve something.

Posted in Government Policies, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Technofixes by Corporate Watch: A Bit Of Holiday Reading

Posted by keith on 20th July 2009

Technofixes Corporate Watch

The Unsuitablog is going to be taking a break for a week so I can have a bit of a recharge, but while I rest I’m going to finish reading a document produced by the UK research and campaigning group Corporate Watch. This was released in 2008, but for some reason I hadn’t come across it until now: but what a find!

As you may know, The Unsuitablog has a particular hatred for the Technofix; the idea that the world’s problems can be solved by technical means rather than through major social change. Corporations and their political lap-dogs adore the Technofix because it allows the system to continue pursuing its toxic, profit-motivated dream. Of course, we know that Technofixes are exactly what they seem — a fix.

You can take that two ways: a temporary repair job that masks the root cause of the problem, and something that is put in place to make sure that only one side wins. Both of these are true for Technofixes:

Technofixes are very appealing. They appeal to leaders who want huge projects to put their name to. They appeal to governments in short electoral cycles who don’t want to have to face hard choices of changing the direction of development from economic growth to social change. Technofixes appeal to corporations which expect to capture new markets with intellectual property rights and emissions trading. They appeal to advertising-led media obsessed with the next big thing, but too shallow to follow the science. They appeal to a rich-world population trained as consumers of hi-tech gadgets. They appeal to (carbon) accountants: technological emissions reductions are neatly quantifiable, if you write the sum properly. Technofixes appeal, in short, to the powerful, because they offer an opportunity to maintain power and privilege.

The Corporate Watch report is very well written indeed — based on what I have read so far, as I said, I’m still reading it — and contains a lot of information that was new to me; these people really do know their stuff. Of course, it is not the last word on Technofixes, and some of the conclusions may be too conservative for our current situation, but it is still (unsurprisingly) far more radical than anything produced by any corporation, political group or mainstream environmental organisation.

To download the article, click on this link.

Posted in Advice, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

Npower Climate Cops: Filthy Energy Merchants Invade UK Schools

Posted by keith on 17th July 2009


It’s the concept that gets me: “Climate Cops”, as though it’s necessary to have some kind of enforcement regime taking down anyone who causes climate change; so long as that regime is the existing system — “Cops”, enforcing law and order in the battle against climate change.

Am I being too cynical?

Let’s go back to 2005, when RWE npower decided that it needed a place to dump thousands of tonnes of toxic spoil ash from its Didcot power station in the south of England. Not surprisingly, some of the locals weren’t too pleased at the thought of a local beauty spot and nature reserve being filled in by the remnants of the burning of coal to make electricity. Thus started the Radley Lakes campaign, and a chain of events that was to lead to a blanket ban on all media coverage in the area; brutal enforcement of anti-trespass measures by private security guards (climate cops?); the near-death of a protester being held in custody, but who simply wanted to protect the trees; and the final decision by RWE to instead sell the spoil to resurface roads.

That company, RWE npower, own the energy retailer npower, which thought up the idea of the “Climate Cops”. Here’s the boring administrative version of their website, which just happens to mention that those well-known environmental stalwarts Piers Morgan and Fearne Cotton (jet-setting celebrity arse-lickers, actually) are on the team; hmm, I can’t imagine what use those two people would be in encouraging teenagers to take part in the programme…

Anyhow, what happens is that schools sign up to the Climate Cops programme, and are sent all sorts of lovely “educational” materials to do with reducing energy use. This is already starting to sound like the sinister supermarket schemes I documented in so much detail last year.

The companies operating the schemes provide large amounts of promotional materials for the schools that have registered with them: these include headed paper which which to write introductory letters to parents; branded collection boxes for classrooms and common areas; posters and large banners to attach to internal and external walls, school boundary fences and other visible areas; curriculum resources including resource packs, information sheets and other information related to the scheme. Not forgetting the branding of the vouchers themselves, which always contain a supermarket logo.

Teachers and students alike can download packs, quiz cards and worksheets from the Climate Cops website, and you might like to as well:

Fun Pack:


Door Hanger, for your child’s bedroom:

The more observant of you will have noticed three key things:

1) The happy characters adorning all the materials, armed with toolbelts and grins; as well as — bizarrely — a polar bear doing a “thumbs up” sign, because we all know the good stuff npower’s Climate Cops are doing for the planet.

2) The incessant branding of all the materials with the “npower” logo, just in case you ever forgot what fine company was responsible for all this great climate fighting gear. If you use the door hanger, then your child’s bedroom door can also be sponsored by npower.

3) The complete absence of any mention of RWE npower’s main business…

…which just happens to be the generation of electricity through the burning of coal, gas and oil.

Gas-fired power stations

Didcot B, Great Yarmouth, Little Barford, Cowes
total output: 1,900 MW

Coal-fired power stations

Aberthaw, Didcot A, Tilbury
total output: 4,900 MW

Fuel Oil-fired power stations*

Littlebrook, Fawley
total output: 2,500 MW

Combined Heat and Power

13 sites in UK
total output: 2,000 MW

RWE npower are also proposing to build 2 new gas-fired power stations and one new coal-fired power station in the UK.

Now, if you clicked on the “Fun Pack” link above, you will notice also lots of mentions of wind energy, so you would think that npower were really big generators of wind power and other renewable sources. After searching around their electricity generation web site, I had started giving up hope that I would ever find details of their renewables business. I eventually found their renewable power arm, RWE Innogy (presumably a play on the words “Innovation” and “energy”) which revealed that RWE’s total UK installation of wind power is around 420 MW.

This means that the total electricity generation portfolio, for a company that is proudly trying to produce a force of Climate Cops, consists of:

3.5% low carbon (renewables)
33.3% medium carbon (gas and CHP**)
63.2% high carbon (coal and fuel oil)

Would you trust this company with your children’s environmental education?

*fuel oil is the same oil that is used to power ships; when used to produce electricity it is even dirtier than coal, which is one reason it is so rarely used
**CHP depends on low-density heat, so is not terribly efficient.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

Dow Chemical Runs Scared From B’Eau Pal Water

Posted by keith on 14th July 2009


On the night of Dec. 2nd and 3rd, 1984, a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate. None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal. Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 20,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site.

These ailments include blindness, extreme difficulty in breathing, and gynecological disorders. The site has never been properly cleaned up and it continues to poison the residents of Bhopal. In 1999, local groundwater and wellwater testing near the site of the accident revealed mercury at levels between 20,000 and 6 million times those expected. Cancer and brain-damage- and birth-defect-causing chemicals were found in the water; trichloroethene, a chemical that has been shown to impair fetal development, was found at levels 50 times higher than EPA safety limits. Testing published in a 2002 report revealed poisons such as 1,3,5 trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane, chloroform, lead and mercury in the breast milk of nursing women. In 2001, Michigan-based chemical corporation Dow Chemical purchased Union Carbide, thereby acquiring its assets and liabilities. However Dow Chemical has steadfastly refused to clean up the site, provide safe drinking water, compensate the victims, or disclose the composition of the gas leak, information that doctors could use to properly treat the victims.

(from The Bhopal Medical Appeal website)

After 25 years of greenwashing and denial of their abhorrent abandonment of thousands of chemically-scarred people, Union Carbide and subsequently their owners Dow Chemical appear to have met their match. The temporary abandonment of the London site says more about Dow Chemical than any press statement or defensive advert ever could have: it says, “We refuse to face up to reality. We are in denial of the facts, and wish to remain in denial until the poisoned of Bhopal have died, and the world has moved on.” The people living with disease and deformity will eventually die, and the world will move on — probably because some other even more toxic event overshadows this one — which is why it is vital to keep reminding, and keep attacking those responsible.

The Yes Men take up the story of this brilliant stunt:

A new, beautifully-designed line of bottled water – this time not from the melting Alps, nor from faraway, clean-water-deprived Fiji, but rather from the contaminated ground near the site of the 1984 Bhopal catastrophe – scared Dow Chemical’s London management team into hiding today.

Twenty Bhopal activists, including Sathyu Sarangi of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, showed up at Dow headquarters near London to find that the entire building had been vacated.

Had they not fled, Dow employees could have read on the bottles’ elegant labels:

B’eau-Pal: Our Story

The unique qualities of our water come from 25 years of slow-leaching toxins at the site of the world’s largest industrial accident. To this day, Dow Chemical (who bought Union Carbide) has refused to clean up, and whole new generations have been poisoned. For more information, please visit

The launch of “B’eau-Pal” water came as Bhopal prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal catastrophe, and coincides with the release of an official report by the Sambhavna Trust showing that local groundwater, vegetables, and breast milk are contaminated by toxic quantities of nickel, chromium, mercury, lead, and volatile organic compounds. The report describes how a majority of children in one nearby community are born with serious medical problems traceable to the contamination.

The attractive yet toxic product, developed by the Bhopal Medical Appeal and the Yes Men with pro-bono help from top London creative design firm Kennedy Monk , highlights Dow’s continued refusal to take responsibility for the disaster.

Though Dow has consistently refused to clean up the mess in Bhopal, they have taken numerous steps to clean up their image. In a recent press release, for example, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s Chairman and CEO, noted that “lack of clean water is the single largest cause of disease in the world and more than 4,500 children die each day because of it.” He went on to assert that “Dow is committed to creating safer, more sustainable water supplies for communities around the world.”

The Yes Men met Liveris’ attempt to greenwash Dow’s environmental record with a challenge.

“Since Liveris earns $16,182,544 per year, he could give each of the children who die worldwide for lack of clean water $10 per day to buy Evian, Fiji Water, or Perrier,” said Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men. “Or, for vastly less money, he could build them clean-water pipelines, like the ones that Bhopal so badly needs.”

Dow’s greenwashing comes while Bhopal is experiencing an extremely rare drought, just three years after facing its greatest floods ever. “Even though people are already dying by the hundreds of thousands, and we know that climate change will kill many more, companies like Dow are not being forced to cut back on emissions,” said the Sambhavna Clinic’s Sathyu Sarangi. “Bhopal should be a lesson to the world – one we must learn before it’s too late for all of us.”

B’Eau Pal

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

Obama Kick-Starts The Corporate Takeover Of Africa

Posted by keith on 11th July 2009

Obama Stars

I was cleaning the front room and switched on the TV for a few minutes to reduce the boredom; the BBC News Channel was relaying some grainy, greenish-tinged footage of Barack Obama speaking to a large crowd in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Just another diplomatic speech, I thought, but I listened all the same. Clearly what I was listening to was the meat of the speech as, based on the White House release, I had missed the preamble.

But this was no mere diplomatic feel-good spiel; there was considerable substance, and menace, in these words:

America can also do more to promote trade and investment. Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way. And where there is good governance, we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity; capacity-building that trains people to grow a business; and financial services that reach poor and rural areas. This is also in our own interest – for if people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, new markets will open for our own goods.

Say that again?

“we can broaden prosperity through public-private partnerships that invest in better roads and electricity”

Where have I heard that before? These were not the words of a caring, socially-responsible man: they were the words of the World Bank; an American-led organisation that exists primarily to lend money to governments in exchange for granting private companies the rights to operate and profit from public services. Companies like Bechtel, the largest private engineering firm in the world.

“If people are lifted out of poverty and wealth is created in Africa, new markets will open for our own goods.”

Oh, my goodness — I thought — he’s talking about Imperialism! This is essentially the same attitude that the British Government had when ably assisting the British East India Company for nearly 200 years during the most brutal periods of colonialism; using government policies to increase the wealth of corporations. The markets were opened, the people and resources were exploited, and the promised wealth for the people never materialised.

Corporate Africa

There is no need to read deeply into the speech to tease out this agenda; a section that followed shortly afterwards was enough to seal my suspicions:

One area that holds out both undeniable peril and extraordinary promise is energy. Africa gives off less greenhouse gas than any other part of the world, but it is the most threatened by climate change. A warming planet will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops, creating conditions that produce more famine and conflict. All of us – particularly the developed world – have a responsibility to slow these trends – through mitigation, and by changing the way that we use energy. But we can also work with Africans to turn this crisis into opportunity.

Together, we can partner on behalf of our planet and prosperity and help countries increase access to power while skipping the dirtier phase of development. Across Africa, there is bountiful wind and solar power; geothermal energy and bio-fuels. From the Rift Valley to the North African deserts; from the Western coast to South Africa’s crops – Africa’s boundless natural gifts can generate its own power, while exporting profitable, clean energy abroad.

And who, I may ask, will be running these giant engineering projects, and benefiting most from “Africa’s boundless natural gifts”? Certainly no large companies in Africa have the necessary expertise to set up a global trading system for energy; there are experts across the water who are straining at the leash to get out there. The spectre of biofuels hangs over that last paragraph too; relegated to the end, but the baby of corporations like Cargill, there is massive opportunity for profit from crops.

You don’t have to be terribly creative to suggest other massive “opportunities” for American companies, deified by Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and now Obama: there is timber, gold, gas, sugar, cocoa, constant war and disease-ridden populations, all lined up for the onslaught of corporate America. A brave new colonial future: but instead of being ruled by European nations, Africa ends up being ruled by corporations.

You wouldn’t expect a political leader to set out such an agenda in the clear, but with the words above, Obama has said enough to start the ball rolling. While millions of Africans remain in thrall of Obama’s “message of hope”; the real agenda setters are planning their next moves.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Green Britain Day? Greenwash Britain Day, More Like!

Posted by keith on 9th July 2009

Greenwash Britain Day

Heard the one about the giant electricity generation company that wanted people to use less energy?

No, neither have I — why would an energy company want you to use less energy, given that would mean they are getting less money from the energy being used? But if appearing to want to make people use less energy could give you the bigger market share you’re after, then sponsoring a “green” day is a guaranteed winner.

This blog has already had a few words to say about the dodgy tactics of EDF Energy (see this article), so it’s no surprise that they are still greenwashing all the way to the bank. With their blanket sponsorship of the Team Green Britain website and activities then anyone getting involved couldn’t help but be impressed by the credentials of EDF Energy; especially given that some of the things on the web site (walking instead of driving, swapping stuff and meeting your neighbours) are all decent things to do in themselves.

But I couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be no overall body behind it; wherever I clicked just took me round in circles — no contact details, no credits, just various organisations and companies “supporting” the project. The Team Energy page says: “EDF Energy is supporting Team Energy. They’re the energy experts [Hmm, are they?] and know that the less energy we all use, the less CO2 we produce which is believed [A little bit of scepticism here] to be one of the main causes of climate change. That’s why they’re doing what they can to cut down their own energy emissions as a company and to help their customers reduce the energy they use at home.”

Not being able to phone anyone, I resorted to a DNS Lookup, which is how you find out who owns a domain name on the internet. By querying DNSStuff I got back the following:

Domain ID:D154858173-LROR
Created On:08-Dec-2008 17:52:54 UTC
Last Updated On:07-Feb-2009 03:52:53 UTC
Expiration Date:08-Dec-2010 17:52:54 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Group NBT plc aka NetNames (R60-LROR)
Registrant ID:758771515-NBTo
Registrant Name:EDF Energy PLC
Registrant Organization:EDF Energy PLC
Registrant Street1:40 Grosvenor Place
Registrant Street2:Victoria
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:London
Registrant State/Province:London
Registrant Postal Code:SW1X 7EN
Registrant Country:GB
Registrant Phone:+44.442082988292
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:+44.442082988364
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant **************

Team Green Britain, and Green Britain Day is owned by EDF Energy, a company with a UK generation capacity of 4.8GW, of which 83% is coal: the dirtiest mainstream form of power generation there is.

This appalling contradiction was exposed by Fred Pearce of The Guardian, a few days ago. He was unequivocal about the depth that this greenwash sank:

Just two months ago, EDF Trading was patting itself on the back for bringing the largest load of coal ever to Antwerp, when the 300-metre-long ship Bao Guo docked 163,000 tonnes from Richards Bay in South Africa, destined for the company’s French coal-fired power stations.

Well done, guys. But don’t call it green.

But what can we expect? Judging by this link, EDF seems to have (shall we say?) borrowed the idea of a green union flag from its rival Ecotricity, a genuinely green power provider.

But back to EDF’s Green Britain Day press release, a model of Greenwash that its hirelings at Lexis Public Relations may well be proud of. “EDF Energy will be asking people to ‘do something green for the team’ on Green Britain Day, creating a wave of tangible actions across the UK,” it reads.

Perhaps, dare I suggest, EDF should join the party and “do something green” itself by committing to getting out of coal.

That, and the fact that Team Green Britain is run by EDF Energy, makes the statement, “That’s why they’re doing what they can to cut down their own energy emissions as a company”, look rather disingenuous, doesn’t it? They are talking about themselves, but speaking in the third person; this Astroturf methodology is pretty sophisticated greenwashing.

And not only have they tried to greenwash the public big time, with their avalanche of posters across the whole of Britain, they have even stooped so low as to steal the Green Union Flag idea from another, much less environmentally damaging energy provider; Ecotricity:

The most amazing thing has happened.

Our Green Union Jack – the one that Ecotricity’s been using for the last three years or so, has been ‘borrowed’ by another energy company.

We’re used to the Big Six energy companies behaving badly, but this is something else.

One of them decided that they liked the idea of a green union jack and the idea of a Green Britain so much – they’ve just gone and adopted it – lock, stock and barrel.

That would be shocking enough but the culprit is none other than EDF.

And that’s all the more shocking because of what the letters EDF stand for – Électricité de France, which seems just a little at odds with the adoption of the green flag… :) And of course the fact that they are a Nuclear power company [Ed. And a coal power generator in the UK] (not everybody’s idea of Green).

A French, state owned, Nuclear power company – using ‘our flag’ (or one very close to it) to green itself up – you couldn’t make this stuff up. And they’ve submitted a Trademark application… they want to own the Green Union Jack!

You know what I’m doing on Green(wash) Britain Day? I’m going to make sure as many people know what a bunch of arrogant, money-grabbing, carbon-belching turds EDF Energy are.

Please join in.

Posted in Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

Showerhead Saves The World!

Posted by keith on 7th July 2009

Shower Head

Well, I don’t know what to say. It’s clearly time for us all to stop worrying; I shall certainly be closing down my blogs and pulping all unsold copies of my book — in fact I’m going to fly round the world and dig a few million tons of coal out of the ground, and destroy the odd rainforest when I pop over to Brazil to check on my massive, methane-farting herds.

Why the big change?

Because there is a new showerhead for sale — that’s why!

Hi Keith,

Many Americans are changing their lifestyle habits in an attempt to become more eco-friendly, but “going green” does not mean giving up all of your earthly possessions and moving into a biodegradable shack made of clay and bales of hay. Making an effort to make a difference is as easy and simple as buying a new showerhead. Showertek, Inc., a Napa Valley-based company, has a new product available at all local Costco and Wal-Mart stores, which allows users to conserve water and control the water pressure depending on their personal needs. The Green Choice showerhead can even save customers up to $250 on their water bill each year.

Would you be interested in learning more or trying out the new product?

Please let me know!

Halie Jespersen

You can imagine my excitement; I wrote back straight away…

Really? So your showerhead will save the world will it? Guess I can start driving, flying, eating meat and buying loads of crap from WalMart if I buy your new showerhead then.

Great, problem solved!


Strangely, he hasn’t got back to me yet – I guess the company must be preparing for their imminent Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

From The Earth Blog: The Logical Absurdity Of Climate Change Denial

Posted by keith on 2nd July 2009

Floating Man

Excuse the partial reposting of my own article, but because there is a big chunk about Greenwashing, and also that Climate Change Denial is one of the major manifestations of environmental hypocrisy, the article is extremely relevant to The Unsuitablog.

And I also put an awful lot of work into it, so why not?

If someone doesn’t want to believe something then what can you do to change their mind? Trust me, it’s more difficult than you think: it isn’t just the simple case of someone not believing something, the key word is “want” – if they don’t want to believe then there is almost nothing you can do about it. Even if all the evidence is against them.

I see this all the time: on the TV news, in the printed media, on blogs and discussion boards, and in the streets; this constant battle between two entrenched positions – be it over religious idealism, abortion, vaccinations or anything else that invokes emotional involvement – is almost unbearable to witness. For the most part, this battle will grind on and on until the various parties give up trying to convince the other side, through lack of energy, lack of time, illness and even death. People have died for their beliefs, in their millions – but there are always others to take their place.

The battle between the two sides over climate change, or anthropogenic global warming (AGW), won’t be ending any time soon; and there will be blood, mark my words. This is more than a battle for intellectual superiority – it is battle over an idealistic principle, and that principle is…actually, let’s come back to that. First of all, given the title of this essay, I think we need to consider the words “denial” and “denier”.

Put simply, denial is an unwillingness to accept a position: I deny that white people are racially superior to black people, which to most of us is a reasonable position to take. The opposing position is less common, but nonetheless can be couched in similar terms; the denial that black people are racially equal to white people. Go back less than 100 years, though, and the second position would stand you in pretty good stead as a European or American citizen wanting to get ahead in the civilized world.

A denier is someone who adopts a denial position. For instance, I deny that economic growth is a necessary characteristic of human society, which places me very much in the minority of people in the civilized world. I’ve discussed the reason for this elsewhere, needless to say the opposing position – that economic growth is a necessity – is far more cultural than based on an absolute body of factual evidence. That is important, because it helps understand why denial positions are so difficult to deal with: if someone is deeply inculcated with a particular belief, such as economic growth being a necessity, then no matter how much contrary physical evidence is presented to them, they are highly unlikely to change their position. If that physical evidence is overwhelmingly contrary to their belief system then we say they are “in denial of the facts”.

That, of course, often only serves to inflame things.

The Danger Of Denial

I make no bones about my belief in anthropogenic global warming, for various reasons, and not just the scientific evidence; so if you are reading this and thinking about clicking somewhere else because you don’t agree with me, then click away – this essay is aimed at those people who more or less have the same mindset as myself, and are in the all-too-common situation of feeling they have to defend that position. To you, dear reader, I offer the following words: you are in danger of losing your sanity.

As we have seen, and probably realised from experience, arguing with a Climate Change Denier is like wrestling in a deep, muddy pit: it can be filthy, exhausting and, worst of all, there seems to be no way out. Personal issues aside, the wider danger is that the other side might get their way – and that person, or group, or business, or government, will then be able to spread their own beliefs in the knowledge that there is no-one willing to take the opposing position. The many people who are wavering, or even understand that AGW is fact, can then be easily tipped into denial. This is what happens in totalitarian states: the ruler’s position becomes the de facto belief.

In ecological terms, this would be disastrous should it happen against AGW, for there would not even be enough dissenters to restart the process of change, let alone carry it through. It’s strange in a way – all the time it has seemed like an endless game of factual table tennis, it has in fact been a battle for the future of humanity, played out in a million places across the globe.

You can read the rest of this article at The Earth Blog.

Posted in Advice, Astroturfs, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »