The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for March, 2011

Switch Your Lights ON for Earth Hour!

Posted by keith on 24th March 2011

Earth Hour Sucks tower block

Once upon a time there was just greenwash: corporations and governments went to great lengths to convince a concerned public that they were doing everything they could to help the natural environment return to its former glory. All the time they were filling their bank accounts and pumping up their career prospects. You could be green and profitable and no one would suspect the former was nothing but a lie.

Then the non-profits got involved and things started to become complicated. Partnerships were drawn up between the biggest “environmental” NGOs and the most destructive corporations on Earth, all for a tiny sliver of the corporate pie, and a large wad of environmental fuzziness. The corporations looked good; the NGOs got their funding; the planet continued to fry and die.

And then it went even further. Greenwash became partnership became parody as the NGOs fully embraced both the corporate world and the trivial activities they put forward as symbols of their committment to a better world. And a better world it would be: if all you cared about was making money, that is.

Earth Hour 2011 is nearly upon us, and it stands as the ultimate parody of this great coming together of all that is evil in the world of greenwashing. I don’t use the term “evil” lightly. A person cannot be evil; an action can. Earth Hour is evil because it not only allows corporations, politicians, urban sprawls and industrial monoliths to look good in the eyes of a naive public, it actively attacks genuine attempts to try and undermine the very things that feed off Earth Day. An ordinary person in the thrall of industrial civilization cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of a thousand buildings simultaneously switching off their lights in the name of planet Earth; how can something as mundane as building non-dependent communities compete with such glamour.

How can supergluing the valves on the Las Vegas fountains compete with the casinos on the strip switching off their lights for an hour?

How can setting up a community barter scheme compete with Canary Wharf in London switching off its lights for an hour?

How can creating food self-sufficiency compete with Sears in Canada switching off or dimming its lights for an hour?

How can groups of people finding that time spent embracing their local environment rather than jetting across the world compete with Skycity in New Zealand switching off its lights for an hour?

Well, exactly. It’s bullshit, all of it!

And that is why, for Earth Hour 2011, at 8.30pm on Saturday 26th March, if you are doing nothing more important then switch all your lights on. Every single one.

You might have to fight with that part of you that says, “This is wasteful!” but you need to fight it. That one hour spent consciously doing the exact opposite of what the industrial system would like you to think is the right thing to do is what will help cut that link between the machine and your own individual humanity.

Earth Hour is Evil.

SWITCH ON YOUR LIGHTS ON MARCH 26TH.

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage, Symbolic Action | 22 Comments »

International Atomic Energy Agency Spinning Like Crazy!

Posted by keith on 13th March 2011

Courtesy of BBC News website

In the light of the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsumani, government and internation agencies are working like crazy to ensure no news remains good news regarding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Yet from the BBC we hear the following:

There are now problems at the number three reactor – the concern is that it is overheating. They’re trying to pump sea water through it at the moment. That’s an unusual, somewhat innovative solution to the problem. But the fact that they’re prepared to consider unusual solutions like that gives you a hint of just how serious the problem is.

This is a very difficult issue for the Japanese government. There has always been concern here about the safety of nuclear power stations, about the wisdom of building nuclear power stations, on which Japan relies hugely for its energy needs, in a country which is so prone to earthquakes.

They’re also aware that they don’t want to cause panic. On Saturday we saw the exclusion zone around this plant gradually increase. First of all it was just a few kilometres, now it’s much wider. But obviously once that exclusion zone is extended, you’ve then got to get the people out. So it’s important, they would say, not to cause unnecessary panic. And that’s why they’re trying to play this down as much as they can.

The World Nuclear Association are being fairly up-front with the facts, albeit holding back on speculation about possible outcomes; thus we read from them:

Operations to relieve pressure in the containment of Fukushima Daiichi 3 have taken place after the failure of a core coolant system.

The news comes one day after the plant’s first reactor was effectively written off as a result of a hydrogen explosion and the move to inject seawater to make certain of cooling the reactor core. Two days ago were the earthquake and tsunami that have proven Japan’s worst ever natural disaster.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 were in operation at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco’s) east coast power station when the earthquake struck. Three other reactors were already shut for inspection and all three operating units underwent automatic shutdown as expected. Because plant power and grid power were unavailable during the earthquake, diesel generators started automatically to supply power for decay heat removal.

This situation continued for one hour until the plant was hit by the tsunami wave, which stopped the generators and left the plant in black-out conditions. The loss of power meant inevitable rises in temperature within the reactor system as well increases in pressure. Engineers fought for many hours to install mobile power units to replace the diesels and managed to stabilise conditions at units 2 and 3.

However, there was not enough power to provide sufficient coolant to unit 1, which came under greater and greater strain from falling water levels and steady pressure rises. Tepco found it necessary yesterday to vent steam from the reactor containment. Next, the world saw a sharp hydrogen explosion destroy a portion of the reactor building roof. Prime minister Naoto Kan ordered the situation brought under control by the injection of seawater to the reactor vessel.

Now Tepco has reported it has not been able to restart unit 3′s high pressure injection system after an automatic stop. This has left the reactor without sufficient coolant and obligated Tepco to notify government of an emergency situation.

Yet what do we hear from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which purports to speak for the entire nuclear industry and all governments that have nuclear capability:

Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that Units 1, 2, and 4 at the Fukushima Daini retain off-site power. Daini Unit 3 is in a safe, cold shutdown, according to Japanese officials.

Even the WNA are incredulous at this statement; their Twitter feed states:

#IAEA quashes reports of problems at #Fukushima Daiichi 3 #nuclear #japan #earthquake

Which leads us to the obvious conclusion that there is a huge cover-up taking place, but failing in part because there is too much obvious contradiction of information. In this situation the best approach is to listen to your nearest equivalent to a trusted news source and not listen to a word emanating from government (Japanese or otherwise) or the IAEA.

Posted in Cover Ups, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 11 Comments »

ExxonMobil Biofuel Advert Officially Pronounced as Greenwash

Posted by keith on 10th March 2011

ASA Adjudication on ExxonMobil UK Ltd

ExxonMobil UK Ltd
ExxonMobil House
Ermyn Way
Leatherhead
Surrey
KT22 8UX

Date: 9 March 2011
Media: Television
Sector: Utilities
Number of complaints: 1
Agency: Euro RSCG London Ltd
Complaint Ref: 141542

Ad

A TV ad for ExxonMobil UK Ltd (ExxonMobil) featured a scientist talking about researching algae as a source of biofuel. He said, “In using algae to form biofuels, we’re not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well.”

Issue

The complainant, who believed that any carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbed by algae would be re-released back into the atmosphere when it was burned as fuel, objected that the ad misleadingly implied that the technology would reduce CO2 levels.

BCAP Code

3.1 3.2 3.9 9.5

Response

ExxonMobil UK Ltd (EM) said one of the advantages associated with second generation biofuels like algae, was their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by partial replacement of conventional transport fuels derived from hydrocarbons. They said lifecycle analysis showed that using second generation biofuels resulted in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuels. They said this was because biofuel feedstocks absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere and therefore the CO2 emitted during their combustion did not contribute to additional CO2 emissions.

EM also provided a study from the Joint Research Centre of the European Union, which they claimed proved that second generation biofuels achieved greenhouse gas reductions on a comparative basis. They acknowledged that the study did not specifically analyse algae. They said that algae as a source of biofuel was an emerging area of scientific analysis. However, they maintained that it was generally agreed that algae had a potential for high productivity compared to conventional biofuels.

EM provided a third-party report that concluded that the world community could slow and then reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases over the next several decades by utilising a range of public policies and current and emerging technologies. The report detailed a range of actions that could reduce emissions from key sectors, including using new and emerging technologies. It mentioned that biofuels had the potential to replace a substantial part of the petroleum now used by transport.

EM said that solving the greenhouse problem could mean many things as there were many different stabilisation scenarios being discussed by the scientific and world communities. They said that a core component of any stabilization scenario was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; furthermore, it was generally recognised that biofuels could play a key part in this.

They provided information which they believed supported their view that fuel switching was commonly discussed among policymakers, scientists and industry as a means of helping to solve the issue of rising greenhouse gas emissions. They said the ad made no claim to the effect that advanced biofuels such as algae could achieve this result on their own.

Clearcast pointed out that the ad stated, “Algae could be converted into biofuels that we could someday run our cars on” and “We’re making a big commitment to finding out just how much algae can help meet the fuel demands of the world”. They said the ad made clear that the technology was still being developed. They said, in this context, viewers would understand the claim “In using algae to form biofuels, we’re not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well”, related to what the advertisers hoped the technology would achieve. They also claimed the study provided by the advertiser proved that algae produced less CO2 than hydrocarbon fuels on a comparative basis.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA noted the ad referred to “unlocking the potential in algae” and considered it had made clear it was an emerging technology. Nonetheless we considered the ad made an objective claim that algae, if developed as a source of biofuel, would help solve the greenhouse problem. We noted that, by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and then re-releasing this CO2 when combusted, the technology would not add new greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Because of this we considered the technology could have a mitigation benefit. We noted the reports submitted by EM and acknowledged that many stabilisation scenarios highlighted the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of tackling the greenhouse problem.

We also noted that the ad stated “In using algae to form biofuels, were not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well”. We considered that viewers would infer from this that it was because of the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere that using algae to form biofuels helped “solve the greenhouse problem”, by acting as a carbon sink. We considered this claim went beyond stating the mitigation benefit. Because we understood that any CO2 absorbed by the feedstocks would eventually be re-released into the atmosphere, we concluded that the ad overstated the technology’s total environmental impact and was therefore misleading.

The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 9.5 (Environmental claims).

Action

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »