The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for October, 2010

BBC Radio Uses Industry Funded “Expert” for Balanced View on CCS

Posted by keith on 28th October 2010

I like the BBC. It manages to do a very difficult job being the national, public-funded broadcaster of the UK, while at the same time generally refusing to kow-tow to the demands of the state and it’s corporate owners. On the other hand there is a lot to criticise the BBC for, in particular its insistance that economic growth is a good thing, and that Strictly Come Dancing / The Apprentice contestants qualify as subjects for the news.

Sometimes, though, the BBC does stupid things just because it fails to research something properly. Take today’s episode of the really quite interesting radio programme, Material World, which you can listen to for the next week by clicking on the link below (the question is raised about 25 minutes in):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vhg9y

The item in question concerned carbon capture and storage, which had been correctly identified by a listener as a commercial failure waiting to happen, to which everyone involved in opposing the industrial system would no doubt add is just another way of keeping the machine of destruction running.

The respondant was Professor R. Stuart Haszeldine, announced as Professor of Carbon Capture & Storage at Edinburgh University. He responded that although there were potential losses in energy, big improvements would be made in the future. The technology was certainly not commercially problematic.

What the BBC failed to point out was that Professor Haszeldine’s full title is Scottish Power Professor of Carbon Capture & Storage, Edinburgh University: just two more words, but two words that reveal a huge conflict of interest. A quick internet search uncovers this recent announcement by Scottish Power:

ScottishPower Sponsors UK’s First Academic Alliance to Focus on Carbon Capture and Storage

9 September 2010

ScottishPower has announced its sponsorship of the UK’s first alliance between industry and academia to focus specifically on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is the ground-breaking technology designed to remove CO2 from the exhaust gasses at fossil fuelled power stations. This will be known as the ScottishPower Academic Alliance, SPAA.

SPAA has been designed to match the needs of the UK’s fast developing CCS industry with the research capacity of some of the country’s leading academics from Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh. It will focus specifically on technical innovation around the capture and offshore storage of CO2, the policy and regulatory aspects of CCS and look at what the UK needs to do to capitalise on the commercial opportunities the technology offers – especially in developing a national skills capacity.

ScottishPower is investing almost GBP5 million over the next five years which will fund up to 12 full-time researchers working at University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London. ScottishPower will seek to leverage this funding through further contributions from Government and international sponsors which it hopes will consolidate the UK’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence for this embryonic industry.

Nick Horler, ScottishPower’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a terrific step forward for ScottishPower and will help us in our ambitions to make CCS a reality in the UK by 2014. I am enormously proud to be associated with the work of some of the world’s leading authorities on CCS. Their input will be vital to improve our understanding of this essential technology and help us to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate change.”

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, ScottishPower Chair of CCS at University of Edinburgh, said: “Developing a CCS industry in the UK will capitalise on our established offshore and engineering expertise and make a significant contribution to the economy of the country, creating new jobs and skills. I am pleased to be building on the CCS research results the University of Edinburgh has already achieved with ScottishPower, and to welcome Imperial College London as partners. The expertise of all three organisations will help to maintain the UK’s leading position in CCS.”

Thanks for that unbiased and balanced opinion on CCS, Stuart; and thanks BBC for that superb boost to Scottish Power’s CCS efforts – truly an excellent investment on the part of the energy industry…

UPDATE: As a result of a formal complaint that I made (and possibly this article) the text accompanying the podcast has been amended to read: “…and Professor Stuart Haszeldine, whose chair at Edinburgh University is supported by Scottish Power for research into carbon capture and storage.” I suspect this kind of oversight will not happen that often now.

Posted in Funding, Media Hypocrisy, Offsetting | No Comments »

After The Yes Men’s Chevron Spoof, What Next For YOU?

Posted by keith on 26th October 2010

Strike while the iron is hot, or take a breather and think about your next move. The feelings of an Underminer during a hot spoof are often confused, but in some cases a retrospective look is necessary in order to understand what effective action really means. Case in point, the action by the Yes Men in undermining Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign, which for reasons Googley, I’m not going to link to.

At 07:37 BST (that’s 02:37 EST) an email popped into my mailbox purporting to come from Chevron Corp. Fortunately I was up at around this time, read the email, examined the headers, looked at the links and concluded it was a spoof: a very good spoof. Here’s the email:

From: Chevron Media Relations
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 7:37 AM
To: Keith Farnish
Subject: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

To view this release on the web, please click here

Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims

By honestly featuring oil industry misdeeds, Chevron “We Agree” campaign scores ad industry first
SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) has announced a new global advertising campaign aimed at showing Chevron as a “real people” corporation, and admitting to problems that companies usually try to hide.

“We want the world to know that we’re just like you and me,” said Chevron Vice Chairman George L. Kirkland. “We’ve got problems and challenges, and we too make mistakes, but we’re telling truths no one usually tells, and looking wide-eyed into the future.”

The candid advertising campaign, created by award-winning long-time Chevron ad partner McGarryBowen, features real people on the receiving end of Chevron controversies in Ecuador, Nigeria, the U.S. Gulf Coast and elsewhere. Each print ad is designed with an authentic pop-culture street-art aesthetic, and features a sincere slogan followed by a big red “We Agree” stamp, the signature of Chevron executives, and the Chevron logo.

“Chevron is making a clean break from the past by taking direct responsibility for our own actions,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs.

“Oil Companies Should Clean Up Their Messes,” reads one ad; the small print refers candidly to the damage done by oil companies around the world. “For decades, oil companies like ours have worked in disadvantaged areas, influencing policy in order to do there what we can’t do at home. It’s time this changed.”

Another ad, “Oil Companies Should Fix The Problems They Create,” is just as topical. “Extracting oil from the Earth is a risky process, and mistakes do happen. It’s easy to pass the blame or ignore the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, we need to face them head on, accept our financial and environmental responsibilities, and fund new technologies to avoid these mistakes in the future.”

“We were asked to show an agreeable, involved, of-the-people face for Chevron, and we think we came up with some really great ways of doing that,” said Gordon Bowen, Chief Creative Officer of McGarryBowen. “But what’s unique and different here is the honesty. We’ve never been able to do this before.”

“We’re telling truths no one usually tells,” said Zygocki. “We’re changing the way the whole industry speaks.”

“BP’s response to the Gulf tragedy was widely perceived as perfunctory and insincere,” noted Bowen. “Chevron has big problems too, like in Ecuador – but they’re really stepping up to the plate.”

The “We Agree” campaign is an evolution of Chevron’s “Power of Human Energy” campaign, which launched in 2007 with a series of print, online, broadcast and outdoor ads that all sought to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the major issues facing the energy industry. Though the exact cost of “We Agree” remains confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

“‘We Agree’ conveys that Chevron is all for people,” said Zygocki. “Just as ‘We’ is inclusive, so Chevron is inclusive. It’s time we were on the side of people, no matter where those people are from.”

Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. The company has about 58,000 employees, and Chevron’s subsidiaries conduct business in approximately 180 countries. Chevron operates across the entire energy spectrum – exploring for, producing and transporting crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing and distributing fuels and other energy products; generating power; designing and marketing large-scale energy efficiency solutions; and commercializing the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, Calif.

Please visit http://www.chevron-weagree.com for more on the “We Agree” campaign. More information about Chevron is available at http://www.chevron.com.

At this point, some people other than me were bound to have uncovered the ruse, but rather than making a big deal of it, I chose to keep quiet and let things take their course: what is the point of supporting something if you’re going to uncover it in public in the same breathe? I also wanted to think that this wasn’t the work of the Yes Men.

A strange sentiment? Well, after popping back a quick note to the originators…

That is very clever – don’t worry, I won’t tell. But if you need any help then let me know. Good mask on the domain names too.

K.

…I noticed that this bore far more of a resemblance to the kinds of spoofs that I have been discussing on my blogs, and even (ahem!) carrying out myself. I really wanted this to be from at least a Yes Men spin-off, if not a completely independent entity, because it would mean that the PR companies and corporate killers were starting to lose control of things.

Later on in the day, it was becoming clear that the Yes Men were being fingered with the spoof, the spoof itself (partly “thanks” to various smartarse bloggers) having been exposed fairly quickly. Following this exposure period something happened which gave new legs to the action – another press release from “Chevron”:

From: Chevron Corp.
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 5:45 PM
To: keith-farnish.plus.com
Subject: STATEMENT: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options


Chevron has added a news release to its Investor Relations website.

Title: Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

Date(s): 18 October. 2010

For a complete listing of our news releases, please click here

Chevron Deplores Subterfuge, Investigates Options

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Earlier today, a group of environmentalists cyber-posing as Chevron officials illegally spoofed Chevron’s just-launched “We Agree” advertising campaign, confusing reporters (link). While such a campaign does exist, its official URL is Chevron.com/weagree. The advertisements released earlier today, at Chevron-weagree.com, were an elaborate subterfuge and must not be mistaken as real.

“Chevron does not take this attack lightly,” said Hewitt Pate, General Counsel for Chevron. “We invest extremely heavily in our campaigns, and we take them extremely seriously. Such actions can never be tolerated.” Though the exact cost of “We Agree” must remain confidential, Chevron routinely spends $90 million per year on US advertising alone.

Pate also noted that the environmentalists have made libellous allegations regarding Chevron’s record and obligations in Ecuador and beyond. “Despite what some will say, we are not obliged to abide by decisions that Ecuadorian judges make or do not make. This is because we have binding agreements with the Ecuadorian Government exempting us from any liabilities whatsoever, granted in exchange for a $40 million cleanup of some wells by Texaco in the 1990s.”

“We have always upheld the best values of every country to which we are attached,” added Pate.

“This hoax is part of an ongoing effort to blame Chevron for 18 billion gallons of toxic waste dumped in the Amazon during drilling operations,” said Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “This blame game continues despite Chevron’s long-standing agreement with the Ecuadorian government which very obviously puts the issue behind us.”

For further information please visit Chevron’s official press page. For more information about Chevron please visit www.Chevron.com.

What was going on here was an attempt to inject some confusion into the story, by using a fake press release site to disseminate fake anger at a real spoof, while also adding fuel to the fire of Chevron’s abuses in South America.

Again, I fired off a quick response, and then kept schtum:

Oh, that’s wonderful. Slight coding error on the website (“stories” and “global issue”s toplinks are broken) but otherwise a brilliant bit of “heading them off at the pass” just as people realise it was a hoax. *I’m* not convinced you’re the Yes Men, though

Keith

I didn’t get a response, as responding in the affirmative is something you should never do when trying to cover your tracks, but they did fix the links – someone was on the ball here.

Someone at Business Week clearly wasn’t on the ball, as their article the next day clearly attests to. They may have been taken in by the further fakery related to Advertising Age, for not only was the Chevron site a fake, there was a fake AdAge web site to boot, something that is recorded in some detail by the real Advertising Age:

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — First BP was targeted with a satirical Twitter feed, and now oil giant Chevron has been hit by pranksters hijacking its corporate-public-relations efforts. While the prank may go unnoticed by consumers, it does raise issues for both marketers and media.

The hoax that Chevron is now grappling with is far more elaborate and is timed to the launch of an ad campaign from the San Ramon, Calif.-based company and its lead agency, Dentsu-owned McGarryBowen.

Not only was a fake website created that parodied the real campaign, but fake press releases were sent out, including one posted to a site that looks remarkably similar to Chevron’s actual website. That release uses fake quotes by Rhonda Zygocki, Chevron’s VP-policy, government and public affairs, and Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer of McGarryBowen.

As part of the prank, there was even a fake story planted on a fake Ad Age site. Ad Age received calls Monday morning from someone purporting to be a Chevron spokesperson saying an erroneous story was posted to the AdAge.com. While the story looked real — the masthead and frames were swiped from a Marketer of the Year story posted to AdAge.com and the text was replaced with a Chevron story — the URL was a fake, one that misspelled the “advertising” in advertisingage.com (and there was no byline on the piece).

So that is that, it seems. The story has all but blown over and, with more irony that a professor of linguistics could muster, Chevron’s latest press release is trumpeting a new attempt at large-scale deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

But that is not that!

It doesn’t take a computer genius or expert in public relations to dream up and execute something that could do great damage to a company or even an entire government; something I will be writing about at length in my new book. People who follow my writing may have come across this article on The Sietch a couple of years ago. You will have to take my word for it that at least three more spoofs have been carried out in three entirely different ways since then, with varying success.

And I am just one person.

What about you?

Posted in Advice, Exposure, Good News!, Spoofs, Subvertising | No Comments »

BHP Billiton: New Chair, Same Old Story

Posted by keith on 22nd October 2010

From the wonderful London Mining Network comes this report of the BHP Billiton. I have emphasised key phrases that demonstrate the hypocrisy of one of the most destructive companies ever to grace planet Earth.

At today’s London AGM of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, new company chair Jac Nasser and CEO Marius Kloppers spoke at length about climate change. They explained that the company fully accepts the science and believes that greenhouse gas emissions need to be limited so that the increase in average atmospheric temperatures can be held at two degrees above the pre-industrial average.

But BHP Billiton believes that it is for society and governments to decide on the way forward. Meanwhile it will continue with its plans to increase production of coal, oil and gas in the hope that currently unavailable technical solutions might one day help limit the effects of burning them. Jac Nasser did not rule out future involvement in the massively destructive and controversial tar sands exploitation in Canada or deep sea oil drilling in the Arctic.

Part of the solution to climate change, in the company’s view, is increased reliance on nuclear energy – unsurprising, given its investment in uranium mining expansion in Australia, expansion opposed by Aboriginal communities in both South and Western Australia.

Not that the company wishes to go too far towards accepting Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Marius Kloppers explained that accepting the right to Free Prior Informed Consent as envisaged in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could violate the terms of company leases if it conflicted with national governments’ views on Indigenous rights. The company believes only national governments have the right to decide on mineral development.*

Siti Maimunah of JATAM, the Indonesian mining advocacy network, drew attention to the destructive impacts of existing opencast coal mining in Kalimantan (Borneo) and called for BHP Billiton to cancel its plans to begin coal mining in Central Kalimantan. She accused the company of trying to change the boundaries of protected forests to enable it to mine in areas currently off-limits. Both Nasser and Kloppers assured her that the company had not attempted to change the boundaries of protected forest areas and that the company would not begin opencast mining within protected forests.

Siti Maimunah accused the company of allowing its subsidiaries to continue exploring in an area where permission had been withdrawn. Marius Kloppers said that he was unaware of this; Siti Maimunah pointed out that the Indonesian Department for Forestry had made the information public in March 2009.

What the company would not do was commit to pulling out of Kalimantan: it refuses to take no for an answer.

Communities removed for mine expansion around the company’s 33% owned Cerrejon Coal mine in Colombia complained of the continuing slow pace of progress in implementing relocation agreements. The mine workers’ union sent a statement in which it said that an increasing number of workers are suffering work-related illnesses and the company is failing to assist them adequately, while the six thousand sub-contracted workers at the mine are denied union rights. Jac Nasser said the company would investigate the complaints and continue to work with Cerrejon Coal to improve its performance.

Questioned on the company’s plans to buy Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Jac Nasser claimed it was too early in the negotiations to comment and so pleaded ignorance of the details of Potash Corp’s involvement in phosphates mining in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Ken Ritchie of the Western Sahara Campaign pointed out that buying phosphates from an illegally occupied country is itself against international law and would be in violation of United Nations resolutions. Nasser said that the company was still conducting its ‘due diligence’ on Potash Corp and would avoid violating its own business principles.

BHP Billiton sees itself as indispensable to the prosperity of the world. Millions of the world’s poor are apparently relying on it to help them embrace the urbanised life of high consumption which it believes to be their destiny. Those who have a different view – like Indigenous communities in Kalimantan or small farmers in Colombia – have to be moved out of the way. BHP Billiton plans to continue mining, burning and irradiating its way towards a vision of the future that its board finds inspiring and which many of its critics reject as apocalyptic.

A set of case studies related to the behaviour of BHP Billiton, entitled “BHP Billiton 2009-10 – other sides to the story: case studies questioning the company’s record on human rights, transparency and ecological justice”, can be downloaded via this link (MS Word Doc)

*Note: National governments formalise corporate policy.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

NAU Receives $1 Million to Teach Native Kids How Great Industrial Civilization Is

Posted by keith on 19th October 2010

Northern Arizona University have been given $1 million by the National Science Foundation to create a program to teach rural and indigenous people (you know, those people whose land was stolen from them in order to extract minerals and oil, and grow industrial scale crops) science and technology.

The National Science Foundation is a US government institution that exists to promote industrial science for the benefit of the industrial system. It was founded in 1950 with the following Mission:

“To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense….”

(The full text of the National Science Foundation act of 1950 can be found here)

Dig deeper and apart from the sinister undertones of “secure the national defense…” we find the following statement which sums up very well what the true rational of NSF is:

The National Science Board (Board) firmly believes that to ensure the long-term prosperity of our Nation, we must renew our collective commitment to excellence in education and the development
of scientific talent.

A key component of innovation is the development of new products, services, and processes essential
to the Nation’s international leadership. Just as in generations past, there are talented students from every demographic and from every part of our Country who with hard work and with the proper opportunities will form the next generation of STEM innovators. The vital importance of innovation to the U.S. economy led the Board to embark on a 2-year exploration of this issue.

In the NAU statement (reproduced below in full) the authors not only reflect the desire to encourage economic growth through science but, and even more abhorrently, are determined to exploit the generosity of indigenous teachers in order to feed back into native cultures a new desire for industrial scientific principles. In short, because indigenous cultures value sustainability above all other aspects of life, then they are clearly in conflict with the desires of a rapacious industrial nation, and therefore must be taught that industrial civilization is the only way of living.

A $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation is putting Northern Arizona University in a leading role to increase public understanding of global climate change and help prepare the next generation of scientists and educators.

As one of 15 institutions nationwide that was awarded NSF funding as part of the foundation’s Climate Change Education Partnership program, NAU will focus its outreach effort on Native American and rural communities on the Colorado Plateau, targeting students who are historically underrepresented in science and math education.

“One of the things this grant allows us to do is go into these rural communities and meet with teachers and leaders to teach about climate change science and solutions in culturally and regionally relevant ways,” said Jane Marks, NAU biology professor and principal investigator for the project.

Marks said the constantly evolving nature of scientific research makes it a challenge to introduce school-age children to cutting-edge science—a matter complicated by the interdisciplinary nature of climate science, which does not fit neatly into any given science class.
“The topic of climate change has become so politically charged,” she added. “Misinformation and biases often lead to the perception that climate change either is not a real problem or that it is a problem too large to solve.”

In an effort to tackle these challenges, Marks and a team of NAU researchers from the Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research, the Program in Community Culture and Environment, the Center for Science Teaching and Learning, the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies and the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability will use the new funding over the next two years to design a middle- through high-school climate change curriculum for the region.

If successful, the team will be eligible for long-term funding from the NSF to implement the program across the Colorado Plateau.

Drawing on the traditional knowledge and relationships that members of Native communities have with the land and its resources, the researchers will incorporate these ideologies into the curriculum.

“We will call on local people, including Native artists, musicians and community leaders, to generate an excitement and interest among the region’s young people about alternative energies, conservation and land use,” Marks said.

Rom Coles, director of the Program in Community Culture and the Environment, said one of the most innovative pieces of the program is that it will “connect the teaching of climate to many of the bold initiatives being advanced by people in the non-profit, private and public sectors to generate a green economy based on energy alternatives that are not carbon-intensive, such as solar and wind power.”

An added goal is to spark an interest among Native and rural students in science, technology, engineering and math—also called STEM disciplines—which Marks said will connect these underserved populations to vital economic and career opportunities.

Words fail me in expressing how deep my loathing is for this brainwashing program. All I really need to do is quote again from the article: “An added goal is to spark an interest among Native and rural students in science, technology, engineering and math—also called STEM disciplines—which Marks said will connect these underserved populations to vital economic and career opportunities.

For thousands of years indigenous people have known how to live without screwing up their land, so it’s about time NAU taught them how to screw it up good and proper.

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

Million Letter March: Just Say No!

Posted by keith on 15th October 2010

If anyone sends anything to you asking to join the Million Letter March, treat it like spam.

Look, I’m being serious: it’s the idea of Lester Brown, head of the Earth Policy Institute, who’s primary driver doesn’t appear to be saving the global ecology or humanity in general, but saving civilization. Yep, that’s right: civilization – that thing which is utterly incompatible with saving humanity or the global ecology.

He has teamed up with our friend Bill McKibben and Jim Hansen (or perhaps press-ganged the latter) to start a campaign to raise some kind of fee or other to put into renewable energy and stop cap and trade. In a world where climate science permitted the current levels of greenhouse gases without causing the atmospheric-climate system to produce a global mass extinction echoeing the end of the Permian Era (90% of all life on Earth gone) then that would be fine: just go for it Lester, Bill and Jim; keep us writing those letters to “our” Senators (as opposed to the Senators who have always worked for corporations?) and pretend political changes will have any effect on our future at all.

But this is not a world like that, it is reality: a reality where we have to finally realise that NOTHING WITHIN THE EXISTING INDUSTRIAL-POLITICAL SYSTEM OFFERS US A SURVIVABLE FUTURE!

Still want to be all symbolic and lovely? Watch the excruciating video the Million Letter March has produced, and see if you can see anything at all which would make a blind bit of difference to greenhouse gas levels:

And is it just me or are there just a few too many creepy moments there?

Posted in Campaigns, NGO Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action, Techno Fixes | 5 Comments »

What I Am Doing For 10/10/10

Posted by keith on 9th October 2010


After all, it is a special day.

Posted in Advice, Sabotage | 3 Comments »

Brilliant Rant About Symbolic Action and 10:10

Posted by keith on 8th October 2010

I have been sent a link to this wonderful “rant” – no, it’s not a rant, it’s telling it like it is – on the Powershift forum.

Here’s the Richard Curtis video he refers to, and if Mr Curtis would like my opinions on 10:10 then I would love him to bring his little red button to my house so we can discuss it…

Yeah, but what about the climate impact of the detergents and water to clean up afterwards? ;-)

This is just sick; not the fake blood (cinematic suicide bomber chic?), but the whole belief in piffling measures like low energy lights and the like as being the way we can cut emissions. We have to offer a vision outside of the present consumer paradigm that encourages a shift in lifestyle rather than the substitution of existing consumption trends. Actions like this are a simplistic exhortation to change brand or product, not to change the nature of the human system and its impacts on the biosphere. And if, in the rhetoric of “10:10″, this is just something easy to get people interested, that’s absurd too — a lot of recent work on issues around behavioural economics demonstrate that such incantations to change only work where the change is insignificant or equivalent, but fail when it requires a real and difficult realignment of lifestyle patterns.

I’ve just been sent the blurb — AGAIN — on the Crude Awakening demo in London — http://www.crudeawakening.org.uk/

Yet another example of people who want to “save the planet” and keep their iPods (OK, I’m generalising on that point!), when in fact it’s their atrophied, consumer-oriented outlook on the potential of their lives that’s the problem. Their perception of the drivers for the “problems” they seek solutions to are wholly divorced from reality, and rely on the simplistic media-spun agenda that is shaped by the very same forces that they state their opposition to. E.g., there’s no discussion of the resource supply issues related to oil (and other) as a source of energy — why do you think the industry is drilling in deep water/the Arctic in the first place?

There is no climate solution within the paradigm of consumption; that’s a demonstrable fact. We have to shift our lifestyles to a new economic and organisational structure that restricts demand, but unfortunately none of the self-proclaimed leaders of the eco-establishment appear to have the guts to promote such a concept at the leading edge of their agenda (of course, you might find such exhortations in the small print, but they won’t lead their sound-bites on this approach).

It doesn’t matter if, at present, most people “won’t like it”; it’s the only option that is able to address the drivers of the human suicide cult called “growth economics” — physical reality doesn’t negotiate, doesn’t compromise with ‘political reality’, and for that reason the eco-establishment as much as the political and economic establishment are going to be thrown into crisis by these trends as they arrive over the next two or three decades. Personally I think I’d rather be disliked for making a case based on evidence rather than promoting an eco-delusion assimilated by market forces. More importantly, people might not “like it” today, but if that argument is not put because of the movement’s adherence to the shibboleth of growth then the public will never have the choice of considering any option other than the market-centric solutions offered by all mainstream parties/groups.

As far as I can see, initiatives like this are just spinning a delusional rope that will in the near future hang them! Clearly, in the reversal of McLuhan’s observation, “the message has become the media”; and in the process the actions that they promote are conceptual extrapolations of reality (aka. ‘hyperreality’), not a realistic commentary on our situation that the public are able to assimilate and act upon. These “environmentalists” should stop using the Web 2.0/digital media that are driving IT emissions up and resource availability down, ditch their mobile phones and other lifestyle gadgets, and start living a more simpler way of life where we reduce consumption not for the motivation of “reducing emissions” (which, by many measures, does not have this effect on the economy as a whole) but rather to avoid the need to earn income and therefore the need to work long hours — in the process creating the spare time to engage in more activities that create a less consumptive and more local/resilient system, thus creating a feedback loop that reduces their lifestyle impacts further.

Simplicity is the future, not the illusion of some carbon-friendly ecotopia.

Another 10% next year? I don’t think so.

Posted in Adverts, Celebrity Hypocrisy, Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Symbolic Action | 1 Comment »

Reveal Handbags : Revile Fashion

Posted by keith on 6th October 2010

> Dear Keith,

> For your next high-fashion piece, consider REVEAL, the hottest eco-luxury handbags. made of recycled plastic bottles. REVEAL just launched their new Recycled Collection, and it’s perfect for women who are SEXY with SUBSTANCE. You know which women we are referring to. it’s your super stylish and smart girlfriend who manages to look hot while she juggles the balance of life, with an amazing career, adventure, friends, and travel, all while caring about the planet. Sound familiar? Yes. we are talking about you, too.

> I’d like to introduce REVEAL bags, an innovative, sustainable handbag and accessories line. The line features eco-luxury fashion accessories for the modern and mobile lifestyle. REVEAL’s earth and animal friendly products include women’s handbags and wallets, men’s messenger bags and bamboo accessories, and eco-modern mobile accessories for your iPad and iPhone. With REVEAL, you don’t have to choose between fashion and a better planet.

> All REVEAL products are meticulously designed to represent the real you – a fashion-forward trendsetter who cares about our planet and believes that together we can make a difference. To review the entire collection, please visit: www.revealshop.com.

> Rachel Wiley

> (619) 955-5285 Office
> (717) 676-8198 Cell
> 350 W. Ash St. #103
> San Diego, CA 92101
> www.oliveprsolutions.com

– ——–

Dear Rachel

For your next undermining piece, consider THE UNSUITABLOG, the hottest anti-hypocrisy website…made of recycled words. THE UNSUITABLOG just launched its new article called “Unfashion”, and it’s perfect for people who are RADICAL with PASSION. You know which people we are referring to…it’s your super sustainable and smart friend who manages to undermine the industrial-capitalist system while he or she juggles the balance of life, with amazing home cooked meals, rewilding, community, and localisation, all the while ignoring the fake-green corporate PR system. Sound familiar? Yes… we are talking about you, too.

I’d like to introduce THE UNSUITABLOG, an innovative, anti-capitalist website. It features articles that expose the hypocritical greenwashing of the corporate world. THE UNSUITABLOG’s radical and informative articles include monthly guides to Undermining the industrial system, guest articles from fellow anti-greenwashers, and investigative journalism to expose hypocritical organisations. With THE UNSUITABLOG you don’t have to choose between great reading and a better planet.

Reveal Handbags

Many UNSUITABLOG articles have been meticulously written to expose the true face of the fashion industry – an ever-growing, ever-destroying consumer behemoth which will stop at nothing in its hypocrisy to protect the lie that profit and economic growth are essential to society. To review the latest one, please visit: http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2010/09/19/monthly-undermining-task-septemberoctober-2010-unfashion/

Keith

Posted in Adverts, Advice, Corporate Hypocrisy, Subvertising | 6 Comments »

10 Things That Will Actually Make a Difference On 10/10/10 (and Any Other Day)

Posted by keith on 5th October 2010

As I write, thousands of activities are being planned around the world to coincide with the date 10 October 2010, which has been fortuitously chosen for its parallels with the aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by the end of 2010 (well that’s one plan blown, then).

Anyone on any mailing list of any mainstream “environmental” group will, in the last month or so, received at least one email and/or letter, imploring you to take part in some event that demonstrates your willingness to be part of a great movement for “change”. I put that last set of quotes in on purpose, because I too received an email from 350.org:

Dear Friends,

I don’t quite believe it.

I’ve been double-checking our numbers, and it’s beginning to look like we might shoot past the total of events from last year’s International Day of Climate Action. As I type this message, the counter is at 5203 events.

You might remember that there were 5248 events in 181 countries last year, and you can watch the compilation video from that day for a reminder of just how beautiful it was. And how massive it was: CNN said that it was “most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” I was worried we couldn’t top that for the Global Work Party on 10/10/10–in part because “experts” kept saying people were too discouraged after the failure of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

But it’s looking like “experts” were wrong, and this movement is more energized than ever. When we see our leaders failing, we want to show them how it’s done. We want to get to work. We’ll let you know the minute we set a new record–you could help by emailing friends far and near to encourage them to take part.

And in case you needed a tiny bit more motivation to spread the word, this video just arrived from a friend of ours–Ellen Page.

Ellen is not only a great actress (you may have seen her in “Inception” or “Juno”), she’s also a devoted student of permaculture and sustainability. She wrote me the other day to say that Los Angeles had just set a new all-time temperature record, 113 degrees. From Los Angeles to Laos, it seems that we’re all in this together.

We’ll be in touch soon, but I have the feeling the next bit of news I send will be very, very good indeed.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team

Regular readers will remember the last big event that 350.org organised; the one Bill proudly quotes as being called, the “most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Not that we would want to make comparisons with, say, the No War For Oil protests in 2003 (around 2 million participants in the UK alone, in dozens of separate marches), but I think it’s a pretty good comparison if hyperbole is what Bill McKibben wants: one day of mass “action” across the globe, a real feeling of genuine achievement amongst the participants…and absolutely nothing achieved.

The war took place.

The emissions continued.

I responded to Bill, obviously knowing that my email would get nowhere near him:

Well, that’s nice Bill. And what has 350.org achieved so far – and what is it likely to achieve? I’m talking real change not number of events, banners, signatures, petitions, participants…whatever – I’m talking real change.

Please enlighten me.

Keith

The response was surprisingly quick, and from one of the senior people in the 350.org office:

Keith,

What does real change look like to you?

Thanks,

Phil Aroneanu

This was actually a very good question – what does real change look like? I thought for a while what appearance real change would take, and it became clear that, like the act of Undermining, Change (with a big “C”) invited nothing symbolic. It is something that fits into a neat progression towards humanity having a survivable future on Earth. Here is my response, highlighted, as I think this is critical.

Hi Phil

Success is:

- Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels back to pre-industrial levels (280ppm CO2e)

- All global ecological biomes functioning at full efficiency

- All synthetic chemicals removed from biosphere

- Species extinction and evolution rates returned to pre-civilized levels

Anything between the current situation and “Success” can be considered “Progress”; the process of achieving that is “Change”.

Change and progress are tangible. Action is not.

Why celebrate anything that is not tangible?

Makes sense to me.

Keith

The conversation continued, with Phil clearly not having understood the gravity of our current situation; nor the massive gulf between the symbolic level of 350.org’s goals and Bill’s celebration, and that which I stated above.

Keith -

Still unclear why people planting trees, painting bike lanes, installing solar panels…etc. on 10/10/10 alongside citizen lobbying isn’t action towards reducing CO2?

Phil

Because tangible progress towards the things I stated below has not been achieved.

As I said, action does not equal change.

Keith

No response was forthcoming, but rather than let this disappear into the ether as another lost opportunity to connect, I am being completely mercenary and hitching something onto the back of so-called 10/10/10 by giving you 10 things you can do any day of any year (until, perhaps, they are no longer needed) and really make a tangible difference:

1) Deface and tear down or otherwise remove commercial advertising.

2) Start paying for things, and offering the things you might sell, by barter.

3) Send fake press releases to newspapers and radio stations telling the truth about corporate activities.

4) Switch off televisions in public places, remotely if you have to.

5) Set up a knowledge sharing scheme in your community to counter pro-consumer schooling.

6) Cook something fresh or make something from scratch and give it to a neighbour or friend, unbidden.

7) Make a nuisance of yourself whenever you see a politician being interviewed.

8) Relabel museum exhibits to reflect the true history of Empire, Colonialism and Exploitation.

9) Lock up already locked retail premises and car parks with your own chains.

10) Start a meme using the words “Economic growth is ecological death” by any means possible.

And that’s just ten things; there are many more here and here. Have a great time, but don’t restrict your fun to just the one day – real activists are always active, not just when we are told to be.

Posted in Exposure, Sabotage, Spoofs, Subvertising | 4 Comments »

Rebecca Spillson’s Propaganda Machine Undermined

Posted by keith on 2nd October 2010

Everything’s fine on the Alabama coast, especially at Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, especially now it’s Shrimp Festival time. Hey! Those persistent organic toxins aren’t going to eat themselves:

Yes, that really was posted on YouTube in the last few days, [dreamily] almost as though nothing had happened in the Gulf…

Jerry Cope at Huffington Post seems a little suspicious:

In its continuing effort to protect the public from toxic chemical exposure due to crude oil and Corexit dispersants, the City Of Orange Beach, Alabama, is hosting the Thunder on the Gulf boat races to bookend the 39th Annual National Shrimp Festival the weekend of Oct. 15. Although the vast majority of locals will not go in the water or on the beaches much less consume seafood caught in the Gulf, thanks to enthusiastic misinformation from authorities and intentionally lax testing methods such as the infamous “smell test,” tens of thousands of people will be exposed to toxic chemicals through inhalation, skin absorption and ingestion.

And it’s thanks to Jerry, and his damn suspicions that I have no option but to repost this redux version of the above…

Not too sure about the politics of the poster, but I think it would be rather fun if everyone posted these two videos together, just to show a few people what propaganda really looks like:

The original (the lie): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08GhZHgIt7A

The spoof (the truth): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxz5pD5TCS8

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Political Hypocrisy, Spoofs | 1 Comment »