The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for September, 2010

Greenwash Of The Week: The Nature Conservancy and Corporate Donors [from The Good Human]

Posted by keith on 29th September 2010

From my friend David at The Good Human comes the opening gambit of a big investigation into The Nature Conservancy. This will be worth watching…

Seems The Nature Conservancy, an “enviro” org with billions of dollars in assets, has some very good rich friends who spend their days destroying the environment and our food supply. I was able to get access to their donor list from 2009, (which isn’t on their site, contrary to popular belief) and most of the list is a veritable who’s-who of planet destroyers:


And many, many more. The most awkward part, at least to me? The Nature Conservancy also has a “Leadership Council” which is, according to them, “one of the world’s leading corporate forums focusing on the challenges confronting biodiversity preservation, habitat conservation and natural resource management.” Who would you imagine would be on this council? Whomever you are thinking about, you are dead wrong. Because here are some names from the council list:

Altria Group [a.k.a. Philip Morris]
The Dow Chemical Company
ExxonMobil Corporation
Monsanto Company
Nestlé Waters North America

Notice any similarities between the donor list and those listed on the council? Yea, me too. That’s some leadership council on environmental issues!

If you remember, The Nature Conservancy took a lot of heat back in May for the fact that they “gave BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years.” This is what got me interested in looking into their corporate donors in the first place. And while looking for that information, I have discovered other strange improprieties involving TNC – land donations, trustee land sales on the cheap, charges of drilling for gas under the breeding grounds of endangered birds, and assorted other stories that struck me as quite odd for an environmental organization to be involved in. Most of this stuff is easily found in the search engines, but it is going to take a while to put everything together that we are researching.

So, why am I doing this? Because I think it is important for people to know where some of these groups get their money from. Too often, we as environmentalists donate money to these orgs in hope that they are doing the right thing; but after seeing the millions that a company like Monsanto gives to TNC (while Monsanto hires Blackwater to spy on environmentalists), I have my doubts about just who is in charge here. Monsanto has been on a mission to turn all of our food into GMO’s that they own the rights to, and suing farmers who grow crops from accidentally blown-in seeds, and yet TNC takes their millions and seemingly remains quiet about just how bad Monsanto is – while the rest of us complain daily about Monsanto. Something stinks here.

That, my friends, is why I am interested in this. And I hope you will stay tuned for more info as we gather it and publish it, and please feel free to send along anything you find that fits into this story.

Posted in Funding, NGO Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Big Alcohol Funding Anti-Marijauna Campaigns

Posted by keith on 25th September 2010

I’ve seen both the good side of recreational cannabis use (creativity and good feelings) and also the bad side (psychosis and laziness), so I’m not taking sides here as far as legalisation is concerned. On the other hand, I’ve seen a hell of a lot more aggression, violence, bloodshed and death from alcohol use than from all other mood-altering substances put together. But it’s ok, because alcohol makes a lot of people an awful lot of money.

Mason Tvert on the Chelsea Green Blog has done a fine job in exposing the hypocrisy that seems to occur when politics and money mix; especially where the legalisation of substances is concerned…

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) took to the airwaves Tuesday to decry increases in marijuana use amongst the American public and call for a ramping up of marijuana enforcement nationwide.

At first glance, some might think Smith is genuinely concerned about marijuana use and its impact on public safety. Yet it’s hard to take him at his word when he is in fact receiving money from the alcohol industry, which produces, distributes and promotes a far more harmful substance.

If Smith is so concerned about public safety he should be thrilled that more Americans are making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol when they relax and recreate. Unlike marijuana, alcohol use contributes to domestic violence, sexual assaults, and other serious problems. If promoting public safety is his motive, it’s time he explained his reason for preferring adults use alcohol — a substance whose use alone kills more than 30,000 Americans per year — instead of marijuana, which has never resulted in a single death in history.

Another explanation for Smith’s anti-marijuana action could be his ties to the booze industry, which appears to be working to keep marijuana illegal and protect its status as the nation’s sole legal intoxicant. Late last week it was discovered that the alcohol industry is financing a campaign to defeat a marijuana legalization initiative in California, resulting in headlines nationwide and sparking outrage and action amongst supporters of marijuana policy reform.

According to, Smith has received at least $20,000 from the beer, wine, and liquor industry this campaign cycle, including a $10,000 donation from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a $5,000 contribution from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, and $5,000 from Constellation Brands Premium Wine and Spirits Company.

With marijuana legalization becoming increasingly popular, it appears the alcohol industry and its good friends in Washington are beginning to recognize that marijuana legalization is imminent. So it would make sense for them to protect their turf by bashing marijuana and those who support making it legal, and working to scare the public into thinking marijuana is just too dangerous to make legal. (It should also be noted that some alcohol companies are speaking out to ensure consumers know they are NOT part of the anti-marijuana efforts.)

If that’s the fight Big Alcohol wants to pick, so be it. It has an increasingly uphill battle, but the industry has every right to take on the growing movement to reform marijuana laws. But as for Lamar Smith, he should come clean and explain what his motivation is for attacking marijuana policy reform and calling for increased enforcement. If it’s his concern for public safety, he’s a hypocrite who needs to stop and think about the impact of laws that drive Americans to drink by outlawing a safer alternative. And if it’s his ties to booze money, it’s simply unethical.

Mason Tvert is executive director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) and coauthor of “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?”

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Funding, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

IBM Financing Greenwash: 2 PCs Better Than 1?

Posted by keith on 23rd September 2010

This gem of a corporate sales pitch was sent to me by an Unsuitablog reader, which somehow turns replacing a computer twice as often as normal into a green decision. The main problem with corporate attempts to be green is that they come from corporations, and corporations exist to make profit for shareholders, so therefore can never be green: that comes across vibrantly in the document, which manages to combine bring profitable with being green so elegantly that it takes a second read before you realise that the sales pitch is not green at all. The only combination of elements is (1) saving money for the customer and (2) making sure the customer doesn’t get their arse kicked by the authorities.

Parting with your old PCs is fraught with peril. Choose the wrong disposal process and you may be criticised as an ‘enemy of the environment’. Not so great on the conscience, nor good for your company’s public relations. According to research from IDC, Gartner and the National SafetyC ouncil, there will be some one billion computers dumped around the worldwithin the next two years. And when you realise that a single computermonitor may contain up to eight pounds of lead, you begin to see the need for responsible disposal methods.

Imagine being able to improve your bottom line, while your company plays its part as a responsible corporate citizen to mitigate this looming pollution problem.

Don’t worry about disposing of your retired PCs

The proper disposal of retired PCs has become a critical business and environmental issue, yet many companies are completely unprepared in this area.Why is that? PC ownership is the usual culprit. Companies that purchase their PCs are solely responsible for deciding what to do with them when obsolescent. But confused by complex procedures, countless environmental laws, data security protocols and cost concerns, many companies choose to simplystore their old PCs away in unused rooms and ignore them.There is a better way.

Read that again.

Notice the phrases “enemy of the environment”, “nor good for your company’s public relations” and “countless environmental laws”. Damn those impediments to making shitloads of money!

The next page is a beauty:

PC Lifecycle Management from IBM Global Financing puts your disposal dilemmas to rest, and puts you on the path to a greener future. Regardless of brand, IBM handles every phase of the PC lifecycle – from planning to disposal – in compliance with applicable environmental laws, while also providing you with maximum financial return on your retired equipment.

A recent IDC report concludes that a well-managed 3-year PC lifecycle reduces cost by 20.5% annually compared with a 6-year deployment,and that many companies use leasing to enable their 3-year lifecycle strategy.

Now we’re getting to the real crux of the sales pitch: it’s not really about being “green” at all – it’s about tying the customer into a leasing agreement, and ensuring that the hardware turnover rate doubles, thus making IBM twice as much money out of “disposal dilemmas”. Twice as many computers; twice as much heavy metal; twice as much slave labour; twice as much manufacturing energy – all in a lovely “green” package.

Apart from the corporate green-speak, they have completely failed to localise the document. The address on the file shows it was sent in the UK where the WEEE Directive applies – rather than being “confused by complex procedures, countless environmental laws” any company will already know what to do with their machines (i.e. send them to a secure wiping and resell company) which makes this IBM document not only greenwash but also guilty of trying to make the issue seem far more confusing than it actually is, in order to sell their services…and their PCs.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 1 Comment »

Monthly Undermining Task September/October 2010: Unfashion

Posted by keith on 19th September 2010

Fashion! Turn to the left
Fashion! Turn to the right
Oooh, fashion!
We are the goon squad
and we’re coming to town

(“Fashion”, David Bowie)

The Unsuitablog is being fashionably late in publishing the latest Monthly Undermining Task; the main reason being that I wanted leave the previous one up as long as I possibly could, particularly in light of an article by Javier Sethness, which included the following phrase that I couldn’t possibly disagree with:

“Just as the hegemonic system McKibben mystifies—capitalism—must be dislodged and abolished, so must McKibben himself come to be displaced as leader/father of contemporary movements against climate catastrophe.”

So there you go – it’s nice not to be alone.

This month (I’m skipping into the next month too, as this is so important) we are targeting something that should be the antithesis of every environmental group, and environmental activist on Earth – but it’s not and, in many cases, is embraced by so-called environmentalists for the very reason given in the above quote. Fashion is the artificially generated desire for change. Note the word “artificial”: as humans we do, to a certain extent, desire change in order to achieve fulfilment; but only in civilised society are we bound to the idea that we should change constantly, driven by a system that ensures we are never fulfilled.

Fashion exists to keep humans in a state of psychological flux: malcontents always looking for the next thing to desire. What is especially evident in the destructive monster called Industrial Civilization is that the idea of fashion is increasingly becoming the driving force behind economic growth. Where once it was enough for industry to ensure that everyone had what most people in the industrial world would consider to be basic goods, such as a shoes, a warm coat, a television and a refrigerator; the saturation of the Western economies with such “basic” goods, along with ever-shrinking profit margins (only partly supplemented by using slave labour) means that baseline consumption has to be augmented by a constant desire for different versions of the same thing.

Once you have a computer, you don’t need another one for a long, long time; unless companies bring out software that is constantly “upgraded” to ensure that at some point you will have to buy new hardware in order to run the new software. You don’t need the upgraded software, but you are sold it in a very convincing way – to such an extent that it becomes highly desirable. At some point you feel that you do need the new software; and in order to run the new software you need to upgrade your hardware. Of course, you might be given the desire to change your hardware before you “need” to, for instance to take advantage of faster performance you never realised you needed.

Remarkably, this is only a simplified version of the full story – leaving out built in obsolescence and withdrawal of support – such is the nature of computing. More transparently, but in essentially the same way, are we given the desire for new clothing and footwear; new ways of listening to and watching things; new ways to communicate; even new ways to read books – by doing away with the books themselves. The superficial driver may be practical: personal betterment, convenience, speed, scale; but beneath all of this, including the computer example, is the idea that someone, somewhere has something you have not got, and which you have become in need of.

Fashion cannot exist without this “need”. The industrial economy, increasingly, cannot exist without fashion.

Of course, once you have the thing which you desire (or rather, “need”) then a new desire has to be created. The incremental “upgrade” – be it to a different colour or style of coat, or a more convenient way of recording television shows – is readily attainable providing you are prepared to spend the money, and ideally take out a loan; and if the upgrades are just significant enough, and just affordable enough, then you will never realise that what you desire is actually completely unattainable. It must be, otherwise consumption would eventually stop.

The iPhone 3 became unfashionable immediately upon the release of the iPhone 4. There was no need for anyone to buy an iPhone 4 if they already had an iPhone 3; but very many people were persuaded in contradiction of such an obvious point. There will be an iPhone 5 soon.

So, how is this desire for the unattainable maintained in a society where we are, apparently, so market-savvy and educated? I’ve given one of the key reasons away: the idea that the unattainable is seen to be attainable. I’ve also hinted at a deeper psychological trick: the personalisation of desire, by which a “need” that is external to the individual, eventually becomes internalised, and thus what is perceived to be a genuine need. This is nothing short of psychological manipulation; and it is one of the most powerful forces existing in modern society.

The methods by which these two con-tricks are pulled off are many and varied, and you will probably be familiar with the vast majority of them.

A very powerful – possibly the most powerful – method by which fashion is imposed upon people is social peer pressure. The idea that someone important, and possibly influential, to you has something you do not have is more than enough to create personal “need”. This factor is heavily exploited by industry, most obviously in the form of advertising that suggests collective desire (notice the number of adverts that use happy crowd or friend scenes), but increasingly through virtual social networks such as Facebook, and direct viral networking.

More subtly, but on a larger scale, is the use of targeted media such as technology and clothing magazines (who will readily promote product x in exchange for advertising revenue) along with newspaper supplements, that show new products as being “essential” or at least highly desirable. Far more cheaply, as far as industry is concerned is the blanket press release to kneejerk bloggers, desperate to be the first to report on the latest big thing – well, big in terms of potential income – and extremely willing to publish these press releases verbatim.

At a more formal level, but clearly in response to the corporate desire for continued economic growth (profit), is the relentless push by civilised governments for continual consumer spending. This can manifest itself in political speeches that ask citizens to support industry and maintain a “healthy” (ironic, considering it is destroying the global ecosystem) economy; and even government policy that may give tax breaks for consumer spending – providing that spending is on new products and, ideally, the very latest of everything. On the surface this may be suggested as promoting “eco friendly” products, when it is actually ensuring we keep the economic machine grinding on.

Incredibly, despite our knowledge of these methods, we all – at some time or another – fall for them. We fall for them because they exploit some of the most primal aspects of humanity: the need to be wanted and loved; the desire to belong; the willingness to follow strong leadership. It may just seem like a small word – fashion – but it encompasses a Pandora’s Box of manipulative methods that exist in order to keep us buying, and thus allowing the ravenous industrial machine to keep eating up the very ecosystem we depend upon for our survival.

This can be stopped.

During 2010, I have detailed all sorts of methods for undermining different aspects of industrial civilization: from mind numbing television and behaviour altering advertising to life destroying debt and child enslaving school testing; from the civilised corruption of language to the all-embracing cash economy; from the addiction of mass tourism to the placatory, fake greenness of the mainstream environmental movement.

Contained within those articles, along with the three original Unsuitablog anti-greenwashing guides are literally hundreds of potential avenues for undermining a way of life that will lead to our ultimate demise. As London Fashion Week ramps up to a screaming crescendo, and the fashion world’s commercial clock makes us once again feel inadequate in a new season – one that wild nature has been happy to repeat in resplendent glory every year since humans first colonised seasonal lands – I am turning to my readers, and fellow Underminers, to say how you would undermine the system that turns artificial, unnecessary commercial change into something we feel we need to have.

How would you create a world of Unfashion?

Suggestions can be sent to, posted on the Anti-Greenwashing Action Facebook Group, or posted as comments below this article. All suggestions that have a decent chance or working, and are practical for ordinary people to do will be published here.

Away you go…

From DVD:

Anti-peer pressure: make sure you don’t perpetuate social peer pressure and act as the opposite dissenting voice for people you know. Move against the trends too, downsize and simplify rather than buy in to them.

Adbusting: consumer advertising does a huge amount to create the unhappiness in people to need constant change – consider ways to fight back against it (

From LS:

For my part I opted out of the “fashion” game a long, long time ago. My solution embodies the principle of: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. And that is pure poison for the fashion industry. I do the following

1. Buy the highest quality garments that I can find (which is increasingly difficult of course). Don’t buy clothing that is clearly rubbish, it just encourages the retailers to replace good quality clothing with more rubbish
2. Only wash clothing when it actually needs it (not just because your wore it yesterday) and dry it on a cloths line. Washing wears out clothing faster, especially if you tumble dry
3. Repair garments to increase their lifespan
4. “Retire” clothing to wear while working in the garden as it ages and becomes unsuitable for wearing in public
5. Wear garments until they can’t be repaired any more
6. Convert unwearable clothing into rags for use around the house

I have also stopped buying new clothing to a large degree. So much perfectly good clothing is available second hand that I can provide most of my needs (often in very high quality once expensive garments) just by browsing a few second hand stores.

From Knutty Knitter:

I don’t buy fashion either and my sister who loves fashion now makes her own and does lots of swap sessions with friends. As for computer stuff – if it isn’t open source I mostly don’t have it.

All my appliances including computers are old – my stereo system is 30 years plus! It works really well so why would I need a new one.

I will have to purchase a new oven because I don’t have one yet (the last one was left in the previous house as part of the fixtures). Thats a total of one new appliance every five years or so – am I annoying enough yet?

I do buy art supplies but I don’t look at ads for that – I just go with what I actually want. Anyhow I don’t watch tv unless its recorded so I can skip the ads, don’t buy magazines or papers and don’t accept junk mail so I never know whats hot anyway :)

My friends like me for who I am not what I possess and that is the way I’ve always been – just more so since I started seriously into green. Keeping up with the Joneses was always overrated anyhow :)

From Sarah:

We’re not green. We just live simply. We’ve never used a credit card, and only have a loan for schooling of debatable use and a house that we couldn’t afford otherwise.

We cloth diaper, using a plain Chinese Tri-fold and waterproof liner. We gift handmade stuff. We sell handmade, hard-wearing kitchen stuffs. We go for weeks on end buying only groceries. (I’ve heard of “Year of no stuff” people doing that, and thinking it was some great thing, but the Amish and the Mennonites in our area have been doing that forever.) For that matter, why not take a page out of the Amish handbook, and take some sort of pious pride out of being simpler than everyone you know?

Instead of shopping for relief of that marketing-induced guilt of not being worthy on our own merit, we try to spend the time making something. We’ve made bramble baskets, all sorts of kitchen and bathroom items, painted pots and vases, made up-cycled denim bags, re-buttoned dresses and coats, pillow forts with children, hats, scarfs, Renaissance Festival Gear, campfires, s’mores, pies, sheds, crackers, and baby slings (among others). The point was we found worth in developing ourselves (like ladies of accomplishment in the Jane Austen novels) rather than just celebrating how much money we could make at a job we hate to buy things we don’t think we could make ourselves because we’re too lazy or scared.

The big thing for us is that only one of us works outside of the home (by choice and a strong in-home childcare market in our area), giving us time to make things. And if it isn’t made by our hands, it isn’t cool or worthwhile.

Thanks for all these so far.

Posted in Adverts, Government Policies, Monthly Undermining Tasks, Revenge, Sponsorship | 7 Comments »

Global Cool Self-Nomination Campaign Goes Awry

Posted by keith on 13th September 2010

Flicking through my news feeds I came across an article by George Monbiot in The Guardian entitled “Green heroes working for the right kind of environmental change”. As always, I quickly scanned it looking for anyone who was actually doing anything to undermine the industrial system, and was pleasantly surprised not to see the usual mish-mash of light green writers and campaigners, but rather quite a few real people who are working with other real people: obviously no one doing anything “naughty” but then all these people are conveniently off the radar of the mainstream media.

As I was about to go to the next article, I noticed an awful lot of comments related to George’s call for nominations for another ten people. Now, there is no way, surely, that anyone would jump upon this and orchestrate a campaign to get everyone on their mailing list to post a comment…would they?

And, as if by magic, one or two names started cropping up with efficient regularity – one of them more than any other…


10 September 2010 7:50PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes, who runs Global Cool. Her organization is pursuing a very innovative campaign to change behavior of people who are beyond the reach of traditional environmental messaging. It’s a totally different approach than what I’ve seen elsewhere, and could be a great model for other countries.


10 September 2010 7:55PM

‘I nominate Caroline Fiennes and the team of Global Cool ( – campaigns which get to the parts others don’t. Proving the concept that you can have fun living a greener life without sacrificing the things you enjoy.


10 September 2010 7:57PM

I would like to nominate Caroline Fiennes at Global Cool for doing great work to raise environmental awareness more widely and to make it, well, cool!


10 September 2010 8:04PM

I’d like to nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool.

While most environmental stuff is just preaching to the converted – and a lot of the rest is hair-shirt and sandals – Global Cool have taken on the hardest task of all – convincing the UNconverted (many would say UNCONVERTABLE) that Green is The Thing.

For sheer balls, you’ve gotta go for Caroline and Global Cool!

My second choice? Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool.

My third choice? …… You got it!


10 September 2010 8:49PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool. I like how Fiennes and her team are working to reach beyond the usual environmentalist crowd — so that eco-consciousness is truly mainstream.

Yes, there does appear to be a pattern emerging here. So let’s look at Global Cool, and see why Caroline Fiennes, or her PR company, think she is so worthy of nomination for this prestigeous award (for goodness sake, it’s only a list!).

Looking at the website, the first thing that struck me is that it was just a blog of trendy green stuff, packed to the gills with YouTube videos. I’m not sure how this makes Global Cool an “innovative” campaign, but maybe I’m just in the wrong demographic…or something. There is, fortunately, an About page, which reads as follows (without the billion YouTube videos embedded):

Global Cool is a green lifestyle organisation that inspires people to think differently and live differently. We work with celebrities and entertainment to show you how to live a greener life without sacrificing the things you enjoy.

Since 2007 we’ve worked with the likes of Sienna Miller, Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio, KT Tunstall, Josh Hartnett, Stephen Fry, Rosario Dawson, Pink, Scissor Sisters, Maroon 5, Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Amy Smart, Amitabh Bachchan, Dermot O’Leary and many more to bring you a whole host of innovative ideas for leading a greener life…

Join the 100 mph Club
We took Mr Hudson, Rick Edwards, George Lamb and Scott Mills on Traincations around Europe to show you how easy it is to get around Europe by train. We also teamed up with Eurostar and Rail Europe to make it quick and easy for you to book your own Traincation.

18 Degrees of Inspiration
We showed you how to turn up the style and turn down the heat at home with our 18 Degrees of Inspiration videos with Jo and Leah Wood, Laura Bailey, VV Brown, Stella Tennant and Adam Croasdell. We also teamed up with Facebook and ASOS to give you the chance to show off your own fabulous knitwear.

Do It In Public
We went to a whole host of summer festivals and worked with bands and artists like Keane, Elbow, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, The Killers, McFly, The Courteeners, Florence & the Machine, Jet, Foo Fighters, Paolo Nutini and many more to promote the joys of public transport.

The Art of Swishing
We hosted an official London Fashion Week party in association with Estethica to launch The Art of Swishing, the latest trend in clothes recycling.

And that’s just the beginning! To keep up to date with everything Global Cool is planning in the future, sign up to our newsletter here or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Global Cool is run by the Global Cool Foundation.

This looks terribly superficial – especially the lie that you can carry on doing whatever you do and still be green – and with the inclusion of Tony Blair (warmonger), Stephen Fry (techno obsessive) and Dermot O’Leary (Simon Cowell’s sock puppet) it’s a struggle to see an kind of consistency with the green message; but, as I say, I’m presumably not trendy or un-green enough to be influenced. Let’s go down a level and see what has actually been happening…

Do It In Public

Do It In Public is back for summer 2010. We’ve already been showing you how to get to and from this year’s music festivals without having to dig your car out of a muddy field and we’ll be travelling (by public transport, of course) to some of this summer’s festivals ourselves, so keep an eye out for our exclusive videos with some of the bands, including Lightspeed Champion, Caribou, Sunday Girl, Hudson Mohawke and Max Tundra.

We’re also celebrating the joys of reading books on buses and trains by launching our online book group, Books In Public. Find out more here. And if you’ve ever been sat on a bus or train and seen the man/woman of your dreams but lacked the courage to go and ask them out, we’ve got the perfect solution. Throughout the summer we’ve been hosting the Art of Conversation series on a restored Routemaster bus in London.

Ok, digging around a bit more, it seems there isn’t actually anything wrong with what they are doing – it is good to talk to people, for instance – but I have been digging around for far too long to find anything really useful. Apart from the fact that life is not just what you see on YouTube (especially when their embedding servers keep failing), it seems that I actually understand the target demographic more than Caroline Fiennes and her friends at Global Cool: if it takes more than a couple of clicks to get anywhere, then most people won’t bother. It’s all very well seeing trendy people talking about superficial stuff, but superficial doesn’t change anything, and thus Global Cool have backed themselves into a very tight corner in which non-famous trendy people look at videos of famous trendy people doing very little – to what aim I have absolutely no idea.

Back to the Guardian comment page, this pops up:


10 September 2010 8:53PM

this is looking rather like an orchestrated and concerted attempt at plugging the individual named above to me…

Thank you, Quercusrobur. The tide of nominations mysteriously stopped at this point…until a few comments had obscured the exposure of Global Cool’s PR stunt:


11 September 2010 12:35PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool – an innovative and inspiring charity which makes green behaviours fashionable


11 September 2010 2:11PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool – a truly inspiring campaign that engages and inspires people in a completely innovative way, who ordinarily would not be involved in green thinking

A quick web search for this exact phrase uncovered Phil Jones’ Facebook profile which, if you are on Facebook, you can see suggests that Phil works for either Global Cool or it’s related campaign Project Genie – the plot thickens.


11 September 2010 3:46PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes and Global Cool … love they way they bring green issues out of the media that more or less preach to the converted (The Guardian :)) to a media readership that are more cynical and probably have less money to spend on organic/free range/recycled etc. … It’s this broader spectrum of people in the UK who can have a greater influence on our environment.


11 September 2010 8:51PM

I’d like to nominate Caroline Fiennes from Global Cool, they are doing cool things about the environment


11 September 2010 9:40PM

We nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool for her ability to bring green issues to a wider audience.


11 September 2010 10:39PM

I’d like to nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool to stop creating sockpuppets to nominate herself…

Oh, thank you, HomeMadeLifeforum, for those refreshing words!


11 September 2010 10:47PM

I nominate Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool. It`s an organization that focuses on making environmental issues cool and appealing to young people who normally don`t care much about making environmental change. It`s a really innovative approach and very important as a way of targeting people who aren`t already committed to environmental goals.

WendyinVancouver didn’t see that, and probably just opened her “Vote for me!” email, being a few hours behind the UK.


12 September 2010 12:35AM

Nth that- Caroline Fiennes of Global Cool…….

At this juncture I would like to point you, Dear Reader, to the list of sponsors that a little bit more clicking uncovered, including:

Mr and Mrs Smith – a global travel company
ASOS – an online fashion retailer, one of many fashion related sponsors: you know, that thing that tells us whatever we have isn’t good enough and we have to change it for something else
Microsoft – another fashion company ;-)
CBS Outdoor – a company that pushes adverts in peoples’ faces wherever they go
White and Case – a legal firm that assists with the privatisation of common and national assets

The final word, though, must go to my new friend Quercusrobur, who almost managed to kill off Caroline’s nominations: only to be replaced by Darren Taylor and, as we can see here, Jenny Holden, who got all her Facebook friends to vote for her (I checked). Still, at least they don’t co-opt celebrities and planet-eating businesses in their work…as opposed to Global Cool:


12 September 2010 1:06AM

I’d like to nominate anyone who invents a spam filter that stops C******* F****** and her green-lite celeb-fawning eco-consumerist ‘cool’ website being nominated by her pals in place of people who are actually doing meaningful grass roots stuff that might just make a difference to this small planet that we live on

Posted in Astroturfs, Exposure, General Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 3 Comments »

Sony Open Planet Ideas Exposed

Posted by keith on 7th September 2010

“Just imagine if today’s technology could be re-purposed in radical ways to help solve our planet’s environmental problems? Well, a new project called Open Planet Ideas has been designed to enable you to do just that.”

Ok, thought experiment, so I’m doing just that and you can join in too. What you will probably end up realising is that very little of today’s technology could ever be re-purposed to solve environmental problems; unless you can think of a way to use a billion television sets for the benefit of the natural world, or a hundred million Playstations. Yes, this is a venture by Sony; that well-known philanthropic organisation that will stop at nothing to make our world a better place, so long as it is crammed with its consumer goods.

Sony Europe and WWF to crowdsource eco technology applications with “Open Planet Ideas”

a.. Sony Europe launches Open Planet Ideas in conjunction with WWF.
b.. Open Planet Ideas is an online platform which challenges members of the public to imagine how current Sony technologies could be repurposed to tackle environmental problems.
c.. Projects may be collaborative, with online participants sharing inspiration.
d.. Those who collaborate on the winning idea will have the opportunity to work with Sony engineers and WWF specialists to bring it to life.
e.. For more information see

Just imagine if today’s technology could be re-purposed in radical ways to help solve our planet’s environmental problems? Well, a new project called Open Planet Ideas has been designed to enable you to do just that.

Open Planet Ideas is an online community that challenges you to imagine how technologies such as gaming devices, digital cameras and GPS units could be used to address environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity and water conservation.

You can share inspirations and ideas in photographs, videos and stories, and then evaluate and vote on which concepts should be developed further. Those who collaborate on the winning idea will have the opportunity to work with Sony engineers and WWF specialists to make the project a reality.

Get involved at


Clea Gray
29-35 Lexington Street
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7025 7500
Direct: +44 (0)20 7025 7551
Mobile: +44 (0)77 7560 1121

Nice of Clea to provide to much contact information – she must have really wanted people to get in touch…later.

In case anyone is unsure later on about the environmental claims being made by Sony with regards to this project, I now quote verbatim from the website, including the robust support WWF are giving to said project:

Why is Sony doing this?

As one of the world’s biggest digital entertainment companies, it’s no big surprise that at Sony we believe passionately that technology can do good things. But we also believe that people can make really amazing things happen when they get together.

We’ve created Open Planet Ideas as part of our commitment to help create a more sustainable environment for current and future generations. And we’ve also built it to show that communities can play a vital role in accelerating the pace of technological, social and environmental change.

At Sony we believe strongly that technology can play a key role in solving some of the environmental issues facing the planet. Reflecting this philosophy, we’ve also set ourselves strict sustainability targets that include lowering energy consumption, re-using materials and recycling more. We also look beyond our products to support eco initiatives that could benefit from using our technologies and products for environmental gain.

Why is WWF doing this?

At WWF we’re always open to embracing new ideas – especially those that help raise awareness of today’s environmental issues, inspire solutions-oriented responses and ultimately benefit our one and only planet.

We also believe that we can’t do everything alone. That’s why we have a long and successful track record of working in partnership with others – including some of the world’s leading companies – to raise standards, drive sustainability and bring about positive change.

WWF’s corporate partners use their voice to make change happen. And this is exactly what Open Planet Ideas is also about: leveraging the amazing potential of modern technology to make a positive contribution to the environment and to society.

Our vision is one of a world where people live in harmony with nature. We’re positive that by working together constructively we can, and will, solve current problems. Especially if we use the great tools and resources that we have at our disposal – and above all, our ability to think creatively and innovate.

(my emphasis)

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t completely convinced that Sony were really showing “commitment to…a more sustainable environment”, given their entire business model depends upon shifting as many new electronic items to consumption slaves as humanly possible. I had a short email dialogue with Clea:

To: Clea Gray
Subject: Re: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

So, Clea, what Sony and WWF are proposing is that all Sony products sold will now have a positive effect on the environment. Yes?

I’m slightly surprised that any high complexity technology that relies on an industrial infrastructure could ever be environmentally friendly, but I’m willing to listen if you could explain the theory.



To: Keith Farnish
Subject: RE: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Keith,

Thanks very much for your e-mail.

Sony in not trying to crowdsource for new ideas on how it’s technology can become more environmentally friendly but rather trying to encourage the public to collectively create ideas around how existing Sony technology can be repurposed and redesigned to help tackle some of the worlds key environmental problems (defining a specific issue is the first stage of the Open Planet Ideas campaign).

This kind of approach to re-using current technologies was first demonstrated by Sony last year in the Forest Guard project. Working with Sony, a group of young people from California conceived the novel use of Sony’s IPELA security cameras, wireless networks and photo-stitching software to create an online community of citizen firewatchers, monitoring at-risk areas where forest fires are a major environmental threat.

I hope this answers your question, Sony and WWF are holding a breakfast media briefing event for ‘Open Plant Ideas’ on the 10th Sept at the National Geographic store on Regent Street, London which you are more than welcome to attend.

Here is a brief outline of the itinerary:

09:15 Arrive at National Geographic Store, 83-97 Regent Street, London, W1B 4EW
Coffees & welcome
09:30 Adrian Northover-Smith, Sony – introduction to Open Planet Ideas
09:40 Celebrity spokesperson
09:55 Open Planet Ideas – demonstration of key features
10:15 Dax Lovegrove, WWF
10:25 Q&A sessions
10:40 Photo shoot
11:05 121 interviews and breakout-sessions
11.30 Depart

Please let me know of you will be able to make it or if you need any more information.



So now, not only are WWF getting in on the act, but our old car advert loving friend National Geographic are hosting a conference, which I wholeheartedly recommend you attend and make your opinions felt…

To: Clea Gray
Subject: Re: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Clea

You seem to have answered every question except for the one I asked:

“So, Clea, what Sony and WWF are proposing is that all Sony products sold will now have a positive effect on the environment. Yes?”

The implication being that something like a Playstation – the function of which, at the lowest level, is to make Sony money; but at a more superficial level, to entertain people, or rather distract them from the real world – can have a net environmental benefit. I would be keen to see Sony’s calculations, as to this net benefit.



To: Keith Farnish
Subject: RE: Sony Europe and WWF launch “Open Planet Ideas”

Hi Keith,

I’m happy to talk through the Open Planet Ideas project in more detail, it might be best to do so over the telephone. Do you have a contact number I can call you on?



So call her up I did. Because Grayling are a PR company which, no doubt, want to ensure their efforts touch as many people as possible, I think it’s only fair you get the chance to hear the recording too. To add to the listening experience there are also a few links that you need to be aware of which are to pages referred to in the conversation.

Grayling’s PR activities in industry:

The NGO Perception Audit:

That dreadful gas pipeline work:

Now for that phone call.

And in case you’re wondering, no one has got back to me yet.

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship, Techno Fixes | 4 Comments »

Astroturf Alert: Rally For Jobs is Oil Industry Front

Posted by keith on 2nd September 2010

Just in from Public Citizen is a report on a series of rallies around the USA which are being organised by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on behalf of the oil industry. Here is the report:

Rallies Against Congressional Oil Spill Measures Represent Industry Views – Not Citizens

Today marks the start of rallies across the country organized by the oil and gas industry to block Congress from passing much-needed measures to address problems that came to light during the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), which is organizing the events in Texas, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and Colorado, claims to speak not only for industry workers but for “countless consumers” who are concerned about the proposals.

Don’t be fooled. This is phony grassroots. Americans were aghast at the BP oil disaster and what they learned subsequently: that the government exercises little oversight over offshore oil drilling, that there is a ridiculously low cap on oil industry liability in the event of a major spill, that technology has far outpaced the safety measures and much more.

In response, lawmakers drafted legislation that would set new safety standards for blowout preventers and other equipment intended to shut off wells in an emergency, eliminate the existing $75 million cap for oil companies’ liability for spills, restructure the industry-friendly agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, reform the royalty system to ensure oil companies pay their fair share to taxpayers for use of public land, and add protections for whistleblowers who call attention to safety violations in oil and gas operations, among other things.

By staging these rallies, API is trying to distort public perception. In fact, people want the government to ensure that another BP oil disaster never happens again. Lawmakers would be derelict in their duty if they didn’t respond to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Last summer, API President Jack Gerard sent a memo to API member groups that laid out a plan to create astroturf rallies as a tactic to oppose climate change legislation. The memo asked recipients to give API “the name of one central coordinator for your company’s involvement in the rallies.” And it warned: “Please treat this information as sensitive … we don’t want critics to know our game plan.”

Well, a year later, the game plan hasn’t changed, but the legislative focus has. We can’t let API – and its fake grassroots and well-funded media campaign – kill the oil spill bill.

The astroturfing is pretty blatant, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see API banners at the rallies; but just in case the links aren’t clear, the rallies are being organised under the banner “Rally For Jobs”, which is coincidentally the current headline graphic on the API web site. If you go to the “partners” page on the Rally For Jobs website then the American Petroleum Institute are there, standing in pride of place atop such other great social instututions as…

American Highway Users Alliance: An Astroturf, funded by Ford, UPS, Lafarge Cement, Chevron, General Motors and Toyota, among other. See their 990 filing section on 2007 Directors.

Americans for Tax Reform: A heavily funded conservative advocacy group – last filing in 2007 showed assets of over $7million.

Coalition for Affordable American Energy: A shell organisation (their website is defunct) founded by the US Chambers of Commerce

Freedom Works: An astroturf that organises huge rallies, founded as an offshoot from Citizens for a Sound Economy. In reality, Freedom Works is a free-market lobby organisation.

To be fair, though, there is no attempt to hide the more obvious sources of Rally For Jobs’ attitude towards pollution legislation (not that the legislation would have any teeth, anyway), for the list of partners is replete with industry bodies such as Air Transport Association, the Internation Association of Drilling Contractors, and the National Ocean Industries Association. In short, Rally For Jobs is Rally For Oil.

Then again, what would you expect? if you support wage slavery, then you must expect to get your hands dirty…

Posted in Astroturfs, Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »