The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for the 'General Hypocrisy' Category

Ready the Fire Extinguishers: The Coca-Cola Olympic Torch is Coming!

Posted by keith on 10th November 2011

The Olympic torch relay does not have an auspicious history. The modern torch relay, as a symbol of local pride enmeshed in the Olympic ideal, was introduced in 1936 to herald the opening of the Berlin Olympics. It was nothing less than a propaganda exercise to show the world the superiority of Aryan athletes over the rest of the world:

It was planned with immense care by the Nazi leadership to project the image of the Third Reich as a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence.

The organiser of the 1936 Olympics, Carl Diem, wanted an event linking the modern Olympics to the ancient. The idea chimed perfectly with the Nazi belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich, and the event blended perfectly the perversion of history with publicity for contemporary German power.

The first torch was lit in Greece with the help of mirrors made by the German company Zeiss. Steel-clad magnesium torches to carry the flame were specially produced by the Ruhr-based industrial giant Krupp.

Media coverage was masterminded by Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, using the latest techniques and technology. Dramatic regular radio coverage of the torch’s progress kept up the excitement, and Leni Riefenstahl filmed it to create powerful images.

Coca-Cola were there, a friend of Nazi Germany, as a major sponsor proud of its associations with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and seemingly proud of it’s links with National Socialism and the Third Reich (Coca-Cola Gmbh remained producing throughout World War Two, and even invented a new drink – Fanta – when Coke syrup became unavailable). In 1925 the Coca-Cola Corporation, perhaps naively, produced a watch fob in the shape of a Swastika to represent “good luck”. It has since come to represent something far more sinister; as has the name of Coca-Cola.

The website “Killer Coke” has highlighted some of the abuses carried out by, or in the name of, Coca-Cola over the last few years. The 1936 shame of Coca-Cola’s association with the Nazi regime is no distant, shameful memory; it is kept alive and kicking by the corporation’s continued activities:

Colombia and Guatemala

According to “The Coke Machine,” by Michael Blanding, published in September 2010, “…the union members do look to the lawsuit and the Killer Coke Campaign as the reason they are still alive.”

Some find it unbelievable that human rights abuses — systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder — are occurring at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. But it’s not the first time Coke has committed such atrocities.

In a 1987 booklet, “Soft Drink, Hard Labour,” the Latin America Bureau in London said:

“For nine years the 450 workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City fought a battle for their jobs, their trade union and their lives. Three times they occupied the plant — on the last occasion for 13 months. Three General Secretaries of their union were murdered and five other workers killed. Four more were kidnapped and have disappeared. Against all the odds they survived, thanks to their own extraordinary courage and help from fellow trade unionists in Guatemala and around the world.

“A huge international campaign of protests and boycotts was central to their struggle. As a result, the Coca-Cola workers forced concessions from one of the world’s largest multinational food giants and kept the Guatemalan trade union movement alive through a dark age of government repression.”

The kind of violence directed against labor leaders at Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City in the ’70s and ’80s has been happening at Coke bottling plants in Colombia over the past couple of decades and unfortunately is being repeated again in Guatemala.

Turkey

In Turkey, in 2005, 105 workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Istanbul joined a union and were terminated. They organized a lengthy sit-down strike in front of the main offices of Coca-Cola in Turkey. After several weeks of protesting, Coca-Cola workers entered the building to demand their reinstatement. While leaders of the workers were meeting with senior management for the company, the company ordered Turkish riot police to attack the workers who were by all accounts peacefully assembled, many with their spouses and children. Nearly two hundred of them were beaten badly and many required hospitalization. Lawsuits are pending.

El Salvador

In addition to abuse of workers, Coke has been involved in the exploitation of children by benefiting from hazardous child labor in sugar cane fields in El Salvador. This was first documented by Human Rights Watch in 2004 and in footage taken in 2007 for a nationally-televised British documentary and highlighted in Mark Thomas’s book “Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola,” published in 2009 in the U.S.

Representatives of the International Labor Organization interviewed company representatives at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants in 2008 to ascertain whether they exercised any control of suppliers of raw materials (such as sugar) to ensure that they did not use child labor. The manager at the Coke plant in Cali said that their suppliers should not use child labor, but added “that the enterprise [Coca-Cola] did not yet exercise oversight over this issue.”

India

Of the 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, India reportedly has the fastest-growing market, but the adverse environmental impacts of its operations there have subjected The Coca-Cola Co. and its local bottlers to a firestorm of criticism and protest. There has been a growing outcry against Coca-Cola’s production practices throughout India, which are draining out vast amounts of public groundwater and turning farming communities into virtual deserts. Suicide rates among Indian farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed are growing at an alarming rate. Every day for years there has been some form of protest, from large demonstrations to small vigils, against Coca-Cola’s abuses in India.

One target of protest has been the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, which has remained shut down since March 2004 as a result of the community-led campaign in Plachimada challenging Coca-Cola’s abuse of water resources.

The International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report in 2007 that stated, in part, “The deterioration of groundwater in quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca Cola Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these problems…The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes. All these points to the gross violation of the basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws.”

It is not so much a case of Coca-Cola having hard questions to answer as people realising that this company stand in the unenviable position of being one of the most unethical corporations in history. In May 2012 the London Olympic Torch will begin its long route through the United Kingdom, raising publicity for the Olympics and giving an opportunity for thousands of people to share in the Olympic ideal. The London 2012 website states:

The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer – including celebrations of local culture, breathtaking landscapes and dynamic urban areas.

The main sponsor of the Olympic torch is Coca-Cola. In 2011 the corporation ran a competition to select the young people who would bear the torch on its way around the country; in essence, if you wanted to bear the torch then you had to bare your soul to the Coca-Cola Corporation. The competition contained the following, stomach-churning propaganda, not a million miles away from the same propaganda that Joseph Goebells utilised so effectively in 1936:

The Olympic Flame is coming to the UK in 2012, and for the eighth time, Coca‑Cola will be a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay. The route will stretch the entire length of the country, starting at Land’s End on May 19th 2012, and finishing in the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27th 2012. We’re using our involvement to shine a light on young people across the UK, and celebrate the great things they get up to every day.

Through our Future Flames campaign, we’ll be giving young people who are using their passions to inspire others the once-in-a-lifetime chance to carry the Olympic Torch next year.

Enough! It’s time we had another way of looking at the Olympics and opposing the way it and the torch relay has become a corporate party; a way that reflects the Olympic ideal, “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.

So how about being a Future Rebel? Young people who agree with the Olympic ideal, but disagree vehemently with the corporate ties that the modern Olympics are so ravenously embracing. These corporate ties are so embedded that if you so much as bring a soft drink into an Olympic stadium that isn’t made by the Coca-Cola Corporation you will, at best, have it confiscated, and at worst be refused entry. Now I don’t really care whether I can take my choice of soft drink to an Olympic venue – I won’t be attending because of the sheer scale of commercialism. But I do care about the drowning of the ideas of friendship, solidarity and fair play in the tide of commerce. If you are in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, then as the Olympic torch passes through your neighbourhood I would love a band of people to be there, at every corner, on every street, subvertising the sponsors with alternative images; telling the press, radio and television reporters how commercialism is destroying childhood, sport and life in general; and generally pouring water on the brands that have come to dominate every aspect of our lives.

Or, for that especially ironic touch, you could use something other than water.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Exposure, General Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Sabotage, Subvertising | 1 Comment »

London 2012: Crass, Commercial and Completely Acceptable

Posted by keith on 25th July 2011

The Olympic Charter reads as follows:

Fundamental Principles of Olympism

1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing together of the world’s athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.

4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.

5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.

6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.

Notice the highlighted points, particularly those mentioning Universal Fundamental Ethical Principles and Human Dignity – they are key to the next set of information, which you might find runs rather contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism. The more you know about the activities of the corporations mentioned, the more appalled you are sure to be.

Coca-Cola is proud to be a Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, and looks forward to helping to spread the magic of the Olympic Games well beyond London, inspiring communities across the UK to participate in the biggest celebration of world sport.

Coca-Cola’s partnership with the Olympic Flame began in Barcelona in 1992, and London 2012 will mark the eighth time the company has served as a Presenting Partner. Coca-Cola will draw on its unrivalled heritage of involving people in the excitement of the Olympic Torch Relay to bring the Olympic Games to doorsteps across the UK. Find out more at www.cokezone.co.uk/olympicgames

(http://www.london2012.com/games/olympic-torch-relay/presenting-partners/)

The London 2012 Organising Committee today announced Rio Tinto as their 40th domestic sponsor for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Rio Tinto will provide the gold, silver and copper to produce 4,700 medals for the London 2012 Games. The company, a leading international mining group headquartered in London, will become the Official Mining and Metals Provider to London 2012 and the 24th domestic Tier 3 sponsor.

London 2012 will be the second Games at which Rio Tinto has supplied the metals, having previously done so for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002.

LOCOG Commercial Director Chris Townsend commented, ‘The medals are one of the great traditions and enduring images of any Olympic or Paralympic Games, so Rio Tinto will play a significant role in the successful delivery of London 2012. We welcome them to the London 2012 family and we look forward to working with them to ensure that our medals will be both spectacular and sustainable.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2011/04/london-2012-secures-rio-tinto-as-sponsor.php)

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has appointed Heineken UK, Britain’s leading brewer, as Official Lager Supplier of London 2012 in a Tier Three sponsorship deal.

As part of the deal, the company’s flagship premium beer, Heineken, will be the branded lager served at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Heineken UK will have exclusive pouring rights for its portfolio of beer and cider brands at all London 2012 venues where alcohol is served.

As an official supplier of the London 2012 Games, Heineken will also be able to utilise exclusive hospitality and marketing opportunities associated with the event. It will also enjoy sponsorship and venue supply rights associated with the British Olympic Association, Team GB, the British Paralympic Association and ParalympicsGB.

Chris Townsend, LOCOG Commercial Director, said: ‘Like many major events, the provision of food and drink is a part of the overall experience and this year sees our plans in this regard move up a gear. We are especially pleased to be working with Heineken, as we have a shared goal of encouraging adult visitors to our venues where alcohol is served to celebrate responsibly. We welcome Heineken to the London 2012 family and look forward to working with them between now and the summer of 2012.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2011/02/london-2012-signs-heineken-as-latest-sponsor.php)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that Procter and Gamble (P&G) will join The Olympic Partners (TOP) Programme.

P&G will be an official Olympic worldwide partner in the ‘personal care and household products’ category until 2020, including the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of the agreement, P&G will also partner the IOC and the National Olympic Committees around the world.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said: ‘Procter & Gamble is a first-class company, and we are absolutely delighted to announce that we will be partnering with it until 2020. P&G’s global reach and consumer insight will be a real boost in our efforts to communicate the Olympic values to a worldwide audience, and its financial support over the next decade will benefit the entire Olympic Movement, including the athletes themselves.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2010/07/11th-olympic-worldwide-partner-announced.php)

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is pleased to confirm ArcelorMittal as a Tier Two sponsor of London 2012 and Official Steel Supporter of the Games. The deal follows confirmation that ArcelorMittal will fund the construction of a 115m-high visitor attraction in the Olympic Park in time for the Games. The attraction will be designed by artist Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond and named ‘The Orbit’ during the Games.

As part of the deal, LOCOG will benefit from the sale of tickets to visit the viewing platform of the tower, as well as being able to provide hospitality in the tower at Games-time. The tower is expected to be completed by May 2012 and will be an iconic presence on the skyline as well as providing visitors with spectacular views across the Olympic Park.

LOCOG Chair Seb Coe commented: ‘The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are already transforming east London and the addition of the Tower at Games-time will provide an added dimension to the Park. We are thrilled to have ArcelorMittal on board as a sponsor and I have great pleasure in welcoming them to the London 2012 family.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2010/05/london-2012-confirms-arcelormittal-as-tier-two-supporter.php)

The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) today announced BMW as the official Automotive Partner of the London 2012 Games. BMW becomes the seventh Tier One partner and 24th domestic partner overall.

The company will supply around 4,000 vehicles to transport the ‘Games family’ during the Olympic and Paralympic Games – including athletes, technical officials, the media and International Sports Federations.

BMW is also a ‘Sustainability Partner’ and has committed to provide a low emissions fleet. It will showcase electric vehicles and also provide bicycles to help athletes and LOCOG staff get around at Games time. The measures will help deliver LOCOG’s objectives of a ‘low carbon and ‘healthy living Games.

LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said: ‘Operationally, an automotive deal is vital for any Organising Committee and so I’m thrilled BMW is on board. They share our vision to stage a sustainable Games in 2012 and will be a valued partner.

‘On a commercial level, signing another Tier One Partner in this challenging environment is a fantastic achievement but it goes to show the inspirational power of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/11/bmw-signs-as-newest-london-2012-tier-one-partner.php)

GE [General Electric], a worldwide partner of the Olympic Games, has today announced plans to donate £4.8 million ($8 million) worth of medical equipment, including foetal monitors, incubators and MR scanner, to Homerton University Hospital in Hackney, East London.

Hackney is one of the five Host Boroughs of the London 2012 Games. The hospital is the nearest to the Olympic Park.

The pledge will enhance the hospital’s care of premature and sick babies. It will help reduce infant mortality rates across the borough and make a significant contribution to the Government’s policy agenda on maternal and infant care.

Paul Deighton, Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: ‘We applaud GE’s donation – which is a great example of a tangible legacy left by a corporate sponsor beyond the 2012 Games.

‘This is what Olympic legacy is all about – giving the people of East London access to world class facilities on their door step – in this case healthcare – which will help improve lives for generations to come.’

As a worldwide partner of the Olympic Games, including London 2012, GE will provide GE infrastructure solutions for Olympic venues including power, lighting, water treatment, transportation and security. It will also supply hospitals with ultrasound and MRI equipment to help doctors treat athletes.

The donation is part of a GE Healthcare programme ‘healthymagination’, using innovative technology to improve healthcare around the world.

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/06/ge-donates-4-8m-pounds-to-host-borough-hospital.php)

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) today announced The Nielsen Company as its official Market Research Services provider.

Working in collaboration with the LOCOG marketing team, The Nielsen Company will undertake all of LOCOG’s market research services requirements, including developing a market research strategy, undertaking tracking studies and organising online panels and surveys.

LOCOG chair Seb Coe welcomed the appointment: ‘This is more fantastic news for the project, as we’ve signed yet another market-leading company to the commercial programme. The Nielsen Company will assist us in the decision-making process by testing our ideas in the marketplace. One of our challenges – and opportunities – is connecting with young people. Nielsen will help us to do this and will, I’m sure, prove to be a huge asset to our marketing push, which is moving up a gear in 2009.’

‘Nielsen is pleased to partner with LOCOG in support of London 2012,’ said Susan Whiting, vice-chair of The Nielsen Company. ‘The Olympic and Paralympic values are shared by Nielsen’s employees, and we look forward to providing critical consumer and media insights that will deliver an Olympic experience that London and the UK can be proud of.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/06/london-2012-appoints-market-research-services-provider.php)

London 2012 Sustainability Partner EDF Energy has launched an annual ‘Green Britain Day’, aiming to show the world how Britain can lead the world in the race against climate change.

Inspired by the Games, people are being invited to join Team Green Britain and use the day, 10 July, as the start of a journey to be more sustainable.

Advice can be found on the Team Green Britain website on ways to be more sustainable across five themes: home and garden, food, lifestyle, travel and money.

Olympic and Paralympic champions including cyclist Victoria Pendleton and Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds are among those who have joined the team.

Over 450 schools have signed up to be part of activities, as part of EDF’s online ‘POD’ educational resource; 1,000 more have downloaded materials to help them ‘do something green for the team’ on the day. There will also be 20 community events running across the UK.

The project is running in association with the Eden Project, who are holding a concert featuring Paul Weller and Florence and the Machine to round off the day.

Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Organising Committee Chair, said: ‘London 2012 is all about using the power of the Games to inspire change and it’s fantastic to see EDF Energy, the first sustainability partner of London 2012, taking this on in their activation. The Green Britain Day campaign is a great way for people to come together and make a difference.

‘Sustainability underpins our planning for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It will be a key part of our legacy and Team Green Britain will, I hope, grow as we head towards 2012 and live on after the Games have gone.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/06/edf-energy-launches-team-green-britain.php)

Tier Two Supporter Cadbury [Kraft] has extended its existing deal with London 2012 so that they will supply all confectionary and packaged ice cream sold at official London 2012 outlets at Games time.

As part of the extension sugar-free gum Trident becomes the fifth Tier Three brand to sign to London 2012.

London 2012 Chief Executive Paul Deighton said: ‘This deal is a great opportunity for Cadbury to extend its partnership with the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and for us to continue to develop our commercial programme and raise more private finance to host and stage the Games.

‘Cadbury has a long tradition of sports sponsorship, both in this country, and of supporting major international events, and are proving a strong addition to our team of world class commercial partners.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/03/cadbury-extends-partnership.php)

Atkins is the latest Tier Three provider for the London 2012 Games, as the partnership programme continues apace.

Atkins is the official Engineering Design Services provider for the 2012 Games. Their services include help with building services design, acoustics, fire and accessibility advice for temporary Games venues in London and across the UK. These include Horse Guards Parade, Greenwich Park and Footballing venues St James’ Park, Hampden Park and the Millennium Stadium.

Atkins has been part of the design team for the Olympic Park site since late 2005, working with partners to help with aspects of clearing and cleaning the site, road and bridges and ecological support.

London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe said: ‘We are now at the half-way point between winning the bid and staging the Games, and the appointment of Atkins is a real sign that the project is developing at a rapid pace and that we are well on track.

‘Atkins is a world class player in this field, with a fantastic record of working on major projects. They know the project inside out and will be a valuable partner on the road to 2012.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2009/01/atkins-announced-as-latest-tier-three-provider.php)

BP has been announced as the sixth Tier One Partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As the official Oil and Gas Partner and a Sustainability Partner, BP will provide the fuelling facilities for Games-related transport. It will also provide Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for catering, vehicle washing facilities and technical support services, including a system for tracking and reporting carbon emissions.

Following a strong tradition of supporting the arts, BP will promote and support the Cultural Olympiad with exhibtions and outreach programmes around the UK.

LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said: ‘From the moment the Olympic flag is handed to London, the eyes of the world will be on the UK. So I am delighted that we have the best of British companies joining us on our journey to 2012 to deliver a truly memorable Olympic and Paralympic Games.’

The number of Tier One Partners signed so early is unprecendented. They will help fund the cost of staging the Games as well as helping to spread the message of the Games, to inspire change.

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2008/07/bp-announced-as-latest-tier-one-partner.php)

British Airways has been announced as the newest Tier One partner for the 2012 Games, in the airline category.

A firm supporter of the London 2012 bid, the airline will now have marketing rights to the London 2012 Games and provide flights to athletes for the Beijing Games this summer and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

As part of the deal announced at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, British Airways will also provide support for volunteer training and a travel bursary scheme for aspiring athletes.

Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: ‘British Airways is a natural partner for London 2012 and we are proud to become part of the team that makes the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games a success.

‘As one of Britain’s most high profile and iconic brands, it is right that we should sponsor the Games in our home city. We supported London’s bid in 2005 and we will be proud to welcome the world to London when the global spotlight falls on the UK in 2012.’

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2008/02/british-airways-announced-as-tier-one-partner.php)

Leading energy company EDF was today announced as London 2012′s next Tier One domestic sponsor and a sustainability partner.

As Europe’s lowest carbon-emitting energy company, EDF will help make sure the 2012 Games are sustainable and will encourage people and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint through a ‘Green Lane’ campaign.

The company now have exclusive marketing rights for the utility services sector, including use of the new London 2012 logo, plus exclusive access and category marketing rights to Team GB and Paralympic GB for Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010.

The announcement was made at an event at 2012 venue Greenwich Park, where a ‘Green Lane’ was created to show how homes can be made to be environmentally friendly.

EDF has a strong connection with the Games and its UK subsidiary was the first company to sign up as a partner during the bid for 2012.

Pierre Gadonneix, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDF, said: “I am delighted that EDF will be an official partner of London 2012.

“With these Olympic and Paralympic Games, we want to deliver the vision of inspiring future generations and leaving a lasting legacy, in sport and in society.”

Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee said: “Sustainability is at the heart of London 2012 and we’re looking forward to working with EDF to make London 2012 truly sustainable Games, delivering a lasting legacy benefiting sport, the environment and the local and global community.”

(http://www.london2012.com/news/2007/07/edf-announced-as-london-2012-sustainability-partner.php)

Commercialism in sport! Who’d have thought?

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 1 Comment »

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…

rebeccajg

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.

Hugs1

10 September 2010 7:55PM

‘I nominate Caroline Fiennes and the team of Global Cool (http://www.globalcool.org/) – 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.

Sanjiv

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!

Lesq1

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!

Mihrimah

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:

Quercusrobur

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:

mlb7

11 September 2010 12:35PM

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

philjhjones

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

http://www.globalcool.org/

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.

IJKLondon

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.

newhouser

11 September 2010 8:51PM

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

AngusAndKath

11 September 2010 9:40PM

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

HomeMadeLifeforum

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!

WendyinVancouver

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.

PlinyCC

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:

Quercusrobur

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 »

Pat Michaels Lets His Funding Veil Slip

Posted by keith on 17th August 2010

After umpteen years denying the (civilized) human influence on climate change, and in parallel denying he was influenced financially or otherwise by fossil fuel interests, uber-denier Pat Michaels let slip some of the source of his funding – and by implication, some of the source of his climate change denial philosophy. Let’s not forget how powerful a man Michaels is; as well as his regular appearance as a commentator on climate change in newspapers and on television broadcasts across the globe, and his influence on American energy politics, “Michaels is widely known as one of the most active and vocal global warming deniers. Michaels is a professor at the University of Virginia and according to a search of 22,000 academic journals, Michaels has published 50+ original research papers in peer-reviewed journals, mainly in the area of climate.” (source, DeSmogBlog)

The CNN interview below does spend time farting around with the trivial issue of carbon tax, but watch what happens at 6′ 20″ – bizarrely, the “40% funded” response passes without comment; even more bizarrely because the 40% figure is only for “the petroleum industry”. How much more money for Pat’s thinktanks comes from mining, industrial chemicals (almost all based on petroleum) and other corporations dependent on maintaining the status quo?

But at least part of the funding has been admitted on paper – now “all” we have to do is ensure Michaels’ words are treated as though they are covered in sticky brown crude…

Posted in Astroturfs, Cover Ups, Exposure, General Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Boycotting BP Is Like Choosing Your Least Favourite Genocide

Posted by keith on 2nd July 2010

Which is your least favourite genocide?

I don’t know about you, but if I lived in Rwanda then the genocide of 1994 that took the lives of a million people in some of the most brutal ways imaginable would certainly be at the top (or is that bottom) of my list. Then again, anyone who follows the Jewish faith or, indeed, lived through World War II, would have no hesitation in selecting the Holocaust as their least favourite genocide. Then there is the “lost” genocide of Armenia, which modern day Turkey still refuses to acknowledge – certainly not popular in the Caucasus.

I think it’s probably time to stop, don’t you?

Way back in the prime of my naiveté I played a significant part in the Stop Esso campaign in my part of Britain. Also known in the USA as “Stop ExxonMobil”, the Greenpeace-led campaign was inspired by the fact that the then-President of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond, refused to acknowledge the human element in global warming. Thus, it was reasoned that ExxonMobil / Esso was the “bad boy” of the oil industry and must be suitably chastised.

For about 5 years I, and thousands of fellow campaigners, were tied up in the myth that somehow boycotting and protesting against a single huge oil company would actually make a difference. This was wrong on three counts:

1) Not a single non-political boycott has ever been shown to have a significant impact on the activities of a large corporation. Aside from political trade sanctions or embargoes, the profit margins and sheer scale of these companies are large enough to absorb the impact of such activities. Campaigns that call for boycotts are even less likely to achieve any satisfactory outcome, simply because only a small minority of people ever heed such calls.

2) The aims of the boycotts are, almost without exception, about getting an existing corporation to change its ways. Now in the case of an oil company, what exactly is it that the company is expected to do? Stop selling oil? I’m no financial expert, but this sounds to me like requesting the company effectively ceases trading, which is certainly not what the vast majority of campaigns aim to do. The campaign line ends with accepting a moral compromise which, as anyone who has studied ethics will attest to, is a morally unstable position at best.

3) Single company boycotts are, in effect, condoning the activities of other companies in the same business. I’ll give you an example: when I organised a serial protest of 45 Esso service stations in one day, those taking part in the protests encountered lots of resistance even to such minor demands as getting an oil company to admit to anthropogenic global warming; but more than that, we also encountered a number of very well informed people, one of whom had experienced at first hand the brutal treatment of Nigerians in the Niger Delta by Shell sponsored thugs, and the appalling conditions suffered by people due to the constant flaring of gas and pollution of watercourses. We were asked why we weren’t protesting against Shell, to which the best we could muster was: “That’s not the focus of today’s campaign.” That may have been the case, but by making a single oil company (Esso) out to be the bad boy, as far as the public were concerned, any other oil company was ok.

You may take part in your single company protest, confident that in your heart of hearts you also despise any other company that operates in a similar manner; but unless you make that explicit, or widen your target to include the entire operational gamut, then you are also publicly giving the other companies the green light, in more senses than one.

Posted in Advice, General Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Symbolic Action | No Comments »

Green Youth Movement: The Frightening Face of Young Consumerism

Posted by keith on 14th May 2010

An impending sense of dispair tends to fall over me when I open my mailbox in the morning. Alongside the genuine spam comes a pile of cut-and-paste guff that spews from the keyboards of public relations firms who have been paid a few bucks to send out sycophantic press releases on behalf of their clients: rather like opening a tin of spam and finding, rather than the glutinous pink stuff you expected, it has also acquired a green fungal glaze.

I have been holding back from opening one particular mail for a few days, maybe expecting it to gently expire and bury itself in my Junk folder. But it refuses to die, and so I have just opened something entitled: “Girl Meets Green”. Even the title is wrong: did “Girl” come across a pulsating blob of verdant matter and politely introduce herself? Maybe “Girl” fell in a vat of paint, was heroically rescued, and has looked in the mirror for the first time since this life-changing event.

Or maybe it’s just lazy PR-speak for another light-green bit of eco-hypocrisy

Hi Keith,

Get ready, because the world is about to get a little
greener, thanks to one ambitious 17-year-old.

The “Green Teen,” a.k.a. Ally Maize, and founder of the Green
Youth Movement is joining forces with the internationally-recognized
environmental company, RecycleBank, to change the world, one city at a time.

Would you like to read the full press release and find out how?

Best,

Annie

What would be the point of reading an even longer version? I’m off to the website of the Green Youth Movement, to see how they are going to make the world greener.

Green Youth Movement’s goal is to educate kids all over the world on living green, and to one day establish this very important information as part of the curriculum in our elementary schools. The mission of GYM is to educate kids and teens about environmental awareness, eco-friendly behavior and small steps that collectively embraced by this age-group can make a big difference for the future.

My name is Ally Maize and I am passionate about the environment and I am taking a stance to help with issues regarding global warming. I have built this site not only as a resource for those people seeking information but for those people who want to try to make a difference and help our environment.

As founder of GYM, I hope to one day garner the support of politicians and educators to create a practical and research based environmental course of study that would ultimately become integrated in every elementary school education curriculum across the nation.

It is my belief that providing youth with meaningful and practical methods of conserving and utilizing resources is the key to changing the direction of global warming. As the effects of global warming continue to advance from a theoretical construct to a reality, it is necessary that each of us assume responsibly to make a difference. Establishing The Green Youth Movement has been my way to embrace what I regard as one of the most significant issue that plagues our future.

GYM aims to enlighten young children and their parents about the vulnerable state of our environment and challenge them to think about the world around them.

I have met some incredible young people with vision, passion and the willingness to stick two fingers up at the system in order to create some kind of change. I have learnt from some young people what it feels like to be a concerned person in a society that values shopping, celebrity and vacations above the fundamental need to have a functioning ecosystem. I have seen young people cry – including my own children – at the thought that certain types of humans are capable of such horrific acts in the pursuit of wealth and status. Oh, that I had such knowledge at such an early age – what could I have done by now?

Well, if I had been Ally Maize, I could have got to meet Miley Cyrus, Renee Zellweger and that prime example of eco-conscious thinking, Paris Hilton. I could also, as per the above introduction to GYM, have become utterly deluded that small, superficial actions create big change; adopted the lie that politicians have any part to play in a sustainable future; in order to alienate part of my audience entirely, I would have referred to “teens” as “young children”; and finally, I would have got my parents to by me an electric car for when I passed my driving test – well, she does live in Beverley Hills…

Oh, but it gets worse – far worse!

The web site is packed full of tips for a Green Lifestyle, the vast majority straight out of high school textbooks, but also plenty that have been conveniently melded to suit the high-flying, Beverley Hills lifestyle that all Green Consumers should also aspire to. Here’s some classic advice on standby power:

Most people think that when you turn something off, it actually turns off. Most people assume that it stops drawing power. Unfortunately, that’s not true in the case of most electric devices. Most of them just hover in standby mode.

The “Phantom load” is the energy that is sapped by appliances when they are plugged in, but not turned on. By turning everything off or unplugging, you save big on your energy bill. In the average American home, 40% of all electricity is used to power appliances while they are turned off.

* Turn off lights, TV, computer, DVD player, cell phone charger, and stereo when finished using them.
* Reduce your demand. Do you really need 2 TV’s in one room?
* Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not charging.

So what does this actually tell us? First, that it’s ok to have loads of gadgets in your house as long as you switch them off, and by “loads” I mean a TV in every room (so long as it’s not TWO TVs in every room). Second, that despite other advice talking about air conditioning (“Installing a programmable thermostat to keep air conditioning at 78 degrees F when it’s hot outside”), somehow devices on standby (or rather “turned off”) consume 40% of electricity in the home – clearly utter nonsense!

Let’s see what GYM tells us about travel – I would assume it would be to avoid flying and driving, and to try to base your life around your local area as much as possible:

The greening of the travel industry-whether away for business or pleasure is now required.

Here are some tips to help you choose where to spend your travel dollar and green-up your trip:

* Greening your travel starts even before you leave home by unplugging unused appliances, turning down the thermostat of the hot water heater, adjusting your AC/heater thermostat and stopping your newspaper.
* Book flights electronically and book flights with airlines that recycle the waste created when serving food and beverages to passengers.

Stop right there! Why are you booking flights, electronically or otherwise – and what difference does it make how you book “your flights” when you are intent on taking a hunk of metal into the air in opposition to gravity? Ah, I see, it’s ok if the airline recycles their waste – don’t worry about the carbon dioxide. Do I sense the Beverley Hills lifestyle clouding Ally’s view of what sustainable travel is?

I would also love her to explain why she is heating water in her house when she has gone on holiday…

Sprinklers:

Use a sprinkler timer. Timers will automatically shut off your sprinkler system after a set period so you dont have to remember. Also use sprinklers that emit large drops of water, low and close to the ground (not the sidewalk or street), and water early in the morning. This will ensure that the water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating.

Whoa! Where did that come from? Ok, it came from the section called “Green for Home and Work“, which strangely omits to mention the option of using water butts, watering cans and getting rid of that water-hogging lawn because LIFE IS NOT A FASHION SHOW!

Some might say I’m being harsh on a 17 year old, but then not all 17 year olds have their Mom and Dad to buy them an electric car with custom plates, employ a huge “Board of Advisors” or pay for a PR company which doesn’t even bother to check the nature of the people to which they send out press releases – yes, it was sent to news@unsuitablog.org.

If this is the face of the future then I would rather sew my eyelids together.

Posted in Celebrity Hypocrisy, General Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Promotions | 8 Comments »

It’s What You Put In The Bags That Counts

Posted by keith on 11th January 2010

Empty Bags

Unless you are, by some remarkable turn of events, completely self-sufficient in food — which, believe me, I would dearly love to be, except that I live in a society that doesn’t want me to be — then you will have to go out and buy stuff from time to time. Today was one such time; so after walking my younger daughter to school (or, to be accurate, walking about 30 metres in front of her while she chatted to a friend) I continued slipsliding on the surface of pavements covered with just-melting ice, and eventually reached the small National Trust property where I do some wardening two or three times a week. The gate was locked due to the snow and ice being quite treacherous, so I let myself in and spent a happy 30 minutes walking around picking up the odd piece of litter, and generally enjoying the bewhitened landscape, replete with squirrels, crows, chaffinches and a slightly confused mistle thrush.

I left through the top gate, then continued my slidey walk through the town in search of a charity shop woolly hat (£1 from Cancer Research), a mug of coffee (to accompany the planning of The Unsuitablog’s next major campaign), some potatoes and onions from the corner veg shop, and various food items from the Co-op (formerly Somerfield). It was while putting the porridge oats, vinegar, butter, bread flour etc. on the conveyor belt at the till that I noticed the woman in front, dutifully packing all of her items into a range of “bags for life”, that had been bought at Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks & Spencer.

After you’ve clicked on the links in the last sentence, see if you have the same thoughts about bags as me…

See what I mean, especially that last one?

I can’t remember exactly what she was putting in the bags, but it was an awful lot, and most of it didn’t look like staple foods; more the kinds of things bought to satisfy the endless cravings brought on by a life spent in front of advert-strewn television sets. Now, I don’t want to bash this particular person: look at any supermarket queue and you will see the same thing, and far worse in the form of two-litre bottles of Coke and spring water, multi-packs of crisps, loaves and loaves of sliced bread (especially when the weather’s cold, for some reason), ready meals and prepacked meats and pre-washed vegetables and pre-peeled potatoes and pre-grated cheese, bars of chocolate, boxes of cakes…piles and piles of food in shopping carts, of which about 30% will be thrown away, and the rest gorged upon in an orgy of consumer loyalty. This is normal; perfectly normal.

And it’s fine, because it’s all neatly packed in eco-friendly reusable bags.

Posted in Adverts, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, General Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Animal Eating “Vegetarians” On The Rise?

Posted by keith on 5th November 2009

Courtesy of BBC News

I really shouldn’t have to justify my diet — I don’t eat meat, eat a bit of dairy and a few eggs and have a ravenous taste for vegetables of all sorts. In short, I’m a typical healthy adult vegetarian; not a vegan, not a fruitarian, and certainly not a “pescetarian”. The last one is where it starts getting silly, because as far as I, the Vegetarian Society and Viva are concerned, if you eat fish then you aren’t a vegetarian of any sort, regardless of your reasons for eating it.

In terms of ethical hypocrisy, there are few things that sit more solidly in the realm of ethics than the decision over whether to kill something for food. If you buy a processed microwaveable beef lasagna from a supermarket, you are still responsible for the cow’s death — you can’t get away from it. What you eat is your choice, unless it imposes seriously upon others; but if you call yourself a “vegetarian” when you still eat fish, or chicken (yes, people do) then you are are being a hypocrite, and also making life a bit more difficult for real vegetarians.

Here’s an excellent story from the BBC News website, which makes all of this crystal clear.

The conversation usually goes something a bit like this:

“Yeah, I’m a vegetarian.”

“But that looks like fish you’re eating.”

“Oh yeah, I eat fish.”

Confusion, perplexity and occasionally heated debate can follow as the “vegetarian” and their interrogator cover the issue of what is an animal and whether fish feel pain. But the Vegetarian Society, which has acted as the custodian of British vegetarianism since 1847, has a simple definition.

“A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacean, or slaughter byproducts,” it says. They can make that even more pithy: “We don’t eat dead things.”

The society tackles the issue of fish-eating vegetarians with a page headed in red capitals: “VEGETARIANS DO NOT EAT FISH.”

Juliet Gellatley, director of the vegan and vegetarian group Viva, is also clear on the issue of whether fish eaters can use the term vegetarian.

“They cannot. The definition is very clear. It’s someone who doesn’t eat anything from a killed animal.

“It does cause confusion if someone who calls themselves a vegetarian goes into a restaurant and orders a prawn cocktail.”

Many of the fish-eating vegetarians will be making a dietary exception for health reasons. The government advises the consumption of at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish. This intake is thought to help fight heart disease. Vegetarian organisations have to counter by noting that some nutritional benefits of eating oily fish can be gained from elsewhere. They recommend things like flaxseed oil and walnuts.

VARIANTS
Classic vegetarian: Eats no part of any dead animal
Vegan: Eats no animal product
Meat-avoider: Tries not to to eat meat but has occasional lapses
Meat-reducer: Is trying to eat less meat, probably for health reasons
Green eater: Avoids meat because of environmental impact


There may also be a tendency among some fish-eating vegetarians to assign a different ethical equation to the consumption of fish. It is something that is vehemently rejected by vegetarians.

“There is ample evidence in peer-reviewed scientific journals that mammals experience not just pain, but also mental suffering including fear, anticipation, foreboding, anxiety, stress, terror and trauma,” says Revd Prof Andrew Linzey, director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and author of Why Animal Suffering Matters.

“The case for fish isn’t so strong, but scientific evidence at least shows that they experience pain and fear. Anyone who wants to avoid causing pain should give up eating fish.”

But there is a wider problem of identification.

“Fish don’t invoke the same compassionate response that a calf, lamb, piglet, or duck does,” says Ms Gellatley. “We are mammals, we relate much better to other mammals. When we see a pig in a factory farm and you can see that animal is in pain that has a very direct effect on people.”

Vegetarian escalator

And then there’s the issue of depleted fish stocks.

Fish-eating vegetarians used to have their own term – “pescetarian” – although it seems not to be in common use today. But, Ms Gellatley says, there is a rise in the use of a new term for the part-vegetarian.

“The name ‘flexitarian’ is coming into use. It’s fairly meaningless really.”

But for vegetarian activists, anybody taking on the vegetarian badge can be a positive, even if they fall short of the strict definition, says Ms Gellately, alluding to a virtual vegetarian escalator.

“People are moving along a pathway – the positive thing is that they see vegetarianism as aspirational.”

While activists might offer anecdotal evidence for trends like fish-eating vegetarianism, concrete numbers are not easy to come by.

There is a view that after a period of healthy growth in the 1990s, classic vegetarianism is now stagnant. It rose from 0.2% of the population during World War II to 1.8% in 1980, according to the consumer research company Mintel.

The firm’s most recent survey suggested 6% concurred with the statement “I am a vegetarian”. But the Food Standards Agency’s recent Public Attitudes to Food Issues survey found just 3% of the population was strictly vegetarian, and 5% partly vegetarian.

Viva cites a survey done on behalf of the Linda McCartney vegetarian food brand which suggested a figure of 10%.

Easy label

She was raised mostly as a vegetarian, but given fish for health reasons. She became an orthodox vegetarian at university but then returned to eating fish later. It’s now the only meat that she eats.

“I was brought up as a vegetarian. We were given the choice when we were young. It was all about animal rights and how animals were factory farmed. [My parents] told us the the reasons and we agreed with them.

“We were fed fish. It’s important for your brain to have oily fish [when young]. When I became a proper vegetarian I started to get quite ill and tired.”

Her objection is mainly to the way meat is produced, not to the idea of eating an animal. She uses the term “vegetarian” almost for the sake of convenience. If she is dining with people for the first time, it makes things simpler.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to assess the level of vegetarianism is because of the multiple definitions of the term.

It is clear, however, that meat-free and meat-substitute meals make up more and more of what we eat. The marketers and the activists are dealing with new groups of people, known as meat-avoiders and meat-reducers. Outside those who have a clear philosophical platform for eschewing meat, there are increasing numbers of these people, either cutting down on meat or trying not to eat it where possible, but without necessarily ever calling themselves “vegetarian”.

Mintel categorises 23% of the population as meat-reducers, people attempting to eat less meat, probably mainly for health reasons. Another factor of climate change – livestock rearing produces methane, which is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It identifies 10% as meat-avoiders, people who plan to eat little or no meat but sometimes lapse, and who might well accept the ethical basis of vegetarianism.

“More than a quarter of people say they eat less meat than they did five years ago. There is a shifting change in the diet,” says Ms Gellatley. “A third of our membership are meat reducers.”

Many people will start by giving up red meat for health reasons, then give up white meat, and so on. Despite initially doing it for non-ethical reasons, these people can then take on the philosophical mantle, says Ms Gellatley.

But despite the health messages about certain kinds of meat, and the arguments over the amount of energy it takes to produce meat, the vast majority in the UK still eat meat. And one-fifth, according to Mintel, like to have meat every day.

Posted in Advice, General Hypocrisy | 4 Comments »

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

Posted by keith on 5th May 2009

fail owned pwned pictures
Courtesy of Failblog

No comment needed.

Posted in Adverts, General Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Nicholas Stern Is A Dangerous Idiot!

Posted by keith on 26th January 2009

Nicholas Stern - Not A Solution

When the Stern Review on the economics of climate change was released in 2006, a big crowd of environmental campaigners leapt into the air and waved their arms about. This was not a form of yogic exercise, but a genuine reaction to a document that was meant to radically change the relationship between economics and environmental thinking: no longer could you consider profit margins and growth without considering the effects of climate change. The only problem was that you could still think about profit margins and economic growth – very much so, because the Stern Review was not a report designed to prevent economic growth, it was a report designed to ensure that economists took climate change into account before investing in whatever artifact of Industrial Civilization they were going to invest in.

The Stern Review was not just greenwash, it was a complete whitewash: a way of rebranding economics as a holistic way of looking at the world’s systems, including the ecological systems that we depend on for our survival. Many environmentalists found solace in this: things would get better because economists were starting to care, regardless of the fact that everything in the Stern Review was about maintaining economic growth and keeping the industrial machine ticking over.

This week, New Scientist published a comment by Nicholas Stern called “Decision Time”. I would love to reproduce it in whole here because it screams of a man desperate to maintain his environmental credentials, while clearly not having a clue what he is talking about. To save space, though, I will comment on some of the more pertinant and – quite frankly – scary things he says…

So, whereas our review recommended that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases should be stabilised within a range of 450 to 550 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent, it now seems that our target should not exceed 500 ppm. That’s if we are to keep down the risks of potentially catastrophic impacts which could result from average global temperatures rising 4 °C or more above pre-industrial levels.

This is dangerous garbage. 500ppm is close to a guarantee of runaway global warming. The only reason he is comfortable, as an economist, with this figure is that it is well within the capabilities of Industrial Civilization to — at first — level off carbon levels at this figure. The environmental impact of 500ppm is ignored (see this paper by James Hansen), as is the result of such a high concentration of carbon dioxide causing numerous positive feedbacks in the soil, oceans and permafrosts, increasing the figure to something far greater and more catastrophic.

He goes on to say that global emissions must fall to “half their 1990 level by 2050″, again denying the reality of required emissions reductions.

This requires policies and measures that remove barriers and provide incentives for technological development over three timescales.

First, action is needed to further spread existing low-carbon technologies, such as “green” household appliances. This can be done by creating carbon markets in which the price of emitting carbon reflects the potential impact of those emissions, and by introducing energy-efficiency standards to incentivise innovation, for example.

Creating a global carbon market is the primary outcome goal of the Grantham Research Institute, of which Stern is chair. The GRI is funded by billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham, whose raison d’etre is to make money quickly for very rich ($10m+) clients. Carbon markets exist to allow corporations and governments to buy their way out of reduction committments.

Second, we need more support for the development and scaling-up of technologies that could become commercially viable within the next 15 years, such as second-generation biofuels – which do not directly affect food production – and carbon capture and storage.

CCS is crucial for countries with fast-expanding economies, such as India and China, which currently rely on coal-fired power stations for growth. We need about 30 CCS demonstration projects, on a commercial scale, carried out in developed and developing countries over the next 10 years. This technology needs to spread through international and public-private collaborations.

Second generation biofuels may not directly affect food production, but they most certainly do directly affect habitat: millions of acres of switchgrass at the expense of what? For this and CCS, you only have to turn to page 30 of the same New Scientist to hear what James Lovelock thinks:


Your work on atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons led eventually to a global CFC ban that saved us from ozone-layer depletion. Do we have time to do a similar thing with carbon emissions to save ourselves from climate change?


Not a hope in hell. Most of the “green” stuff is verging on a gigantic scam. Carbon trading, with its huge government subsidies, is just what finance and industry wanted. It’s not going to do a damn thing about climate change, but it’ll make a lot of money for a lot of people and postpone the moment of reckoning.

What about work to sequester carbon dioxide?

That is a waste of time. It’s a crazy idea – and dangerous. It would take so long and use so much energy that it will not be done.

Never forget that Nicholas Stern is an economist: he was Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank for 4 years, and has seemingly not lost his touch for pretending to care while serving the market system he so adores. When Stern speaks, he is speaking for the economy, and nothing else.

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »