The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

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Jordanian Cultural Heritage Enriched by Sustainable Star Trek Resort

Posted by keith on 25th October 2011

There is part of me wanting this to be a spoof, but most of me knows it’s real. I’m talking about the latest hair-brained scheme to tempt the mindless tourist into spending cash, in this case in the state of Jordan.

Hi Keith,

Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park is an engineering challenge in and of itself: both are traditionally water- and energy-intensive. But in Jordan, where only 10 inches of rain fall per year and energy and water security is always tenuous, achieving as much self-sufficiency as possible is a necessity.

That’s why -as you may have heard-the $1.5 billion dollar Star Trek-themed Red Sea Astrarium in Jordan is being built with on-site renewable energy production facilities, integrated grey water and solid waste management systems, and numerous other cutting edge efficiency measures.

The reduction of the potable water use of the resort buildings alone will save 57.6 million gallons per year (as compared to business as usual). That’s enough water to serve the annual drinking needs of 303,000 people.

If you’re interested, I’d like to connect you with the engineers from Arup that developed the design, for a peek behind the curtain and a frank discussion about the nuts and bolts of the project.

Arup’s plans will:
- reduce water and energy usage by up to 20%,
- reduce resort cooling demand by up to 19%, and
- allow the Astrarium to produce 15 to 20% of its energy from on-site using renewables.

Any interest?

Best,
Courtney
chamilton@groupsjr.com

You can learn more about the Red Sea Astrarium here: http://www.arup.com/Projects/Red_Sea_Astrarium.aspx

Clearly Courtney is just a hired drone who takes no interest in her copy otherwise, in the name of all that is holy, she would have realised what an unwittingly hilarious piece of greenwashing PR bilge this is. You only need to try and digest the phrase “Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park” to realise that. The obvious response is: “So why build the fucking thing in the first place?!”

But I am more polite than that:

This is a joke, yes? A “sustainable” luxury report and theme park that is completely superfluous and about as relevant to the Jordanian culture as building a copy of the Great Wall of China in New York – that’s hilarious. Well done.

Keith

No response, and how rude is that? There are three forces at work here – not in preventing a response, you understand, I’m not paranoid – in making such a concept possible in the first place:

1) A nation or corporation that promises to pay a nation, so desperate for money that they will stoop to such incredible depths to make a project like this happen. According to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal:

“Despite the absence of any significant natural resources, Jordan has succeeded in attracting foreign investments through economic reforms and has demonstrated solid economic growth rates, while the government has gradually been implementing policies to improve competition and to foster transparency. The need for such policies have gained strength under the circumstances that Jordan has witnessed and which are strongly related to the public uprisings that have swept the Arabic region since early 2011. Public dissatisfaction with government policies and the rule of law has mobilised the King and the government to initiate reforms to improve the political, economic and social climate of the country.”

Which obviously includes attracting as many tourists as possible regardless of the cultural, social and environmental implications of implementing a straight-down-the-middle capitalist attitude. The announcement of the project was made in May 2011:

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), a diversified global entertainment organization producing innovative digital animated content and location-based attractions, will design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a 184-acre themed entertainment resort located in Aqaba, Jordan, which, through a license from CBS Consumer Products, will prominently feature an amazing attraction inspired by the 2009 international hit motion picture, Star Trek. The “Star Trek” attraction is being creatively developed by Paramount Recreation.

That announcement was made today by Randa S. Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding, at the Jordanian-American Business Forum, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a special signing ceremony attended by business leaders from Jordan and the United States.

2) An engineering company determined to prove its “green” credentials, despite being a major provider of oil and gas infrastructure, aviation services, mining infrastructure and massive commercial developments. Arup are all this and far more; and as such gloss over their activities with a thick layer of greenwash, everywhere you look. The Astrarium is no exception:

The Red Sea Astrarium (Astrarium) represents an opportunity to demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to innovation and sustainable development. Resort developments, particularly those that target a global audience, increasingly reflect the global interest in sustainable development. The Astrarium will be at the forefront of sustainable resort development by implementing Arup’s infrastructure recommendations.

The Astrarium is a planned 184 acre entertainment resort and virtual reality theme park showcasing the rich cultural history and future of Jordan and the Middle East. Situated on a soaring plateau close to the Port City of Aqaba, the park includes four hotels, an entertainment district, a man-made saltwater lagoon, and two waterfront areas, one anchored by a ‘Star Trek’ themed attraction.

Brought in to provide infrastructure planning and design of the development’s energy, water, wastewater, solid waste, mobility and logistical management systems, the Astrarium presented a number of challenges to the Arup team. Located 200 metres above sea level in the mountains bordering the Red Sea, the site has no natural source of potable water thanks to the region’s arid climate while the development itself will have a substantial energy demand due to the array of attractions and amenities.

Words and thoughts consistently fail me with every sentence of this remarkable piece of rhetorical bullshit. One thing it does wrap up nicely is that there is NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

3) A PR company so willing to bend over and take whatever any corporation cares to shove in their direction that they will deliver, en masse, complete lies in order to make a fast buck.

Anyone wishing to undermine any of these three forces has my complete blessing; if you have any success let me know, I would love to see this all come toppling down.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Greenloons: Ecotourism is the New Blindfold

Posted by keith on 13th September 2011

Now that the Unsuitablog is taking a more occasional view of ethical hypocrisy (short for, “I really don’t have the time for all this!”) it takes a very special email or advert to make it to the blog. Most of them end up in my junk folder, but some of them sneak into my inbox, which usually means I haven’t heard from the agency or company in question before. So imagine my delight when something from Greenloons popped up the other day, and made me angry all over, just like the early days when I wasn’t so innured from hypocrisy. It deserves to be published in its entirety:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eco Trailblazer Greenloons Guides Families to International Rainforests with Emphasis on Educational / Sustainable Vacations

Top Five Recommendations Span Globe for Certified Green Eco Adventures

Vienna, VA, Sept. 7 – Eco trailblazer Greenloons http://www.greenloons.com/ guides families to international rainforests that are inclusive of sustainable vacation opportunities. Its top five recommendations spanning the globe offer green eco adventures that are certified by leading third party sources.

Irene Lane, Greenloons founder, believes it’s never to early to introduce children to the “lungs of the planet”, the world’s rainforests covering less than two percent of the earth’s total surface area but are home to 50 percent of its plants and animals.

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

Greenloons top rainforest destinations for families include Costa Rica, Peru, Madagascar, Borneo and Australia.

Costa Rica – Rainforest Adventure focuses on Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula that protects such endangered species (showcased by a local guide) as jaguar, puma, crocodile, tapir, poison dart frog, scarlet macaw and harpy eagle. Local beaches are major nesting sites for several varieties of sea turtles. Roundtrip ground transfers are by private taxi from Puerto Jimenez served by daily flights from Costa Rica’s Tobias Bolaños International airport in San Jose. Packages are 5 days/4 nights starting at $690 per person with year-round open scheduling.

Peru – Exploring the Amazon Rainforest showcases the world’s largest tropical rainforest with the world’s second longest river, the Amazon. A motorized canoe down the Peruvian Amazon in the Tambopata National Reserve can reveal, among other wildlife, giant otters. The Tambopata Research Center has exclusive access to untouched Amazonian forests; a local naturalist introduces ongoing projects that include visiting the world’s largest macaw clay lick. Five day/4 night trips for $999 per person depart year-round with flexible, open scheduling.

Madagascar
– Madagascar Experience encompasses an eco-system so isolated and unusual that scientists call it “the eighth continent.” The rainforests of the Atsinanana encompass six national parks that protect the large Indri lemur, tenrec, fanaloka and aye-aye. The ancient town of Antsirable transitions guests around volcanic lakes from upland rainforests to the semi-arid landscape of Isalo. The 10 day/9 night packages start at $1599 with monthly scheduled departures year-round.

Borneo – Borneo Family Adventure includes village home stays at Kinabatangan Jungle Camp and rainforest camping in tropical Sabah, part of the rainforests of Asia stretching from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. In addition to spotting macaques, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and perhaps wild orangutans, guests visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and meet orphaned orangutans. Elevenday/10 night trips start at $1375 for adults with departures in January, April, July, August, October and December.

Australia – Fraser Island & Reef Experience opens up the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island World Heritage Site, the only place in the world where along Yidney Rainforest trails and growing on sand dunes at high elevations are towering pines, rainforest trees with giant girths, rare and ancient giant ferns, eucalypt forests, lemon-scented swamp vegetation and dwarfed heathland shrubs covered in a profusion of flowers. On the water side in addition to snorkeling guests may see shipwrecks, sharks, dolphins and manta rays at Indian Head. Six day/5 night trips are offered year-round. Call Greenloons for pricing (703.752.6270).

About Greenloons:

Greenloons (http://www.greenloons.com/) guides families to travel experiences managed by certified third-party suppliers engaged in eco- and sustainable tourism. Lane founded Greenloons in 2010 for the global community of nature enthusiasts and wildlife conservationists interested in accessing detailed and reliable information about responsible, sustainable and certified ecotourism travel vacations both in the US and abroad.

Greenloons is a first-of-its-kind online resource aimed at answering the growing need for accredited eco-tours and sustainable holiday travel in the tourism industry. Greenloons.com provides ecotourism education, news, comparable certified ecotour and volunteer conservation program listings, tour reviews and booking services, plus a forum for the community to share its personal vacation stories and tips for establishing ecotourism in any corner of the world.

# # #

For photos and/or more information on how Greenloons is making a difference please contact:

Sara Widness / 802-234-6704 / sara@widnesspr.com
Dave Wiggins / 303-554-8821 / dave@travelnewssource.com
Website and Portfolio of Past Releases: http://www.travelnewssource.com/
Follow Widness & Wiggins PR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BoulderDave

Greenloons Company Contact:
Irene Lane / 703.752.6270 / irene@greenloons.com / http://www.greenloons.com/

Now, forgive me if I’m being stupid, but I had a lovely trip to the isle of Skye recently, which consisted of a 1 hour bus journey followed by about 7 hours on a couple of trains and a 30 minute ferry. I walked to the camp site. The environment in which I was camping, with a few others, and learning some useful bushcraft skills to boot, was beautiful. The journey was equally stunning. The total distance travelled: about 250 miles, which I thought was about far enough. Recently I wrote an article on The Earth Blog called, “Finding My Limit” which emphasised the importance of searching out and making the most of that which is close to you.

Such inconsequential places, and such seemingly trivial reasons to go there. Just a few words, a bite to eat, a passing smile, a friendship reignited, a love on fire. We ignore these local places because the civilized world insists that our boundaries are distant, we can achieve anything, we have no limits. The Diaspora of our mechanised, electrical, money-soaked commercial excesses has, indeed, reached round so far it hits itself on the back, and screeches past to take another lap of the little blue-green dot we live on. In universal terms Earth is a dot. In human terms it is all we can ever intimately know as a species, and as I look out of my window I can see – what? – a few hundred metres; a couple of miles if I get up high.

Why go further when what really make our days go round are those apparently inconsequential dealings with the things that are so close to us? Yet we choose to ignore them because there is a bigger world out there. I refuse to accept that and choose the places I can walk to, run through and, if I really want to open my mind up, cycle there and back. That is my limit; all I can really know, and love, and nurture.

Ecotourism is a contradiction. “Tourism” is about travel for travel’s sake – the culturally imposed “need” to explore at leisure simply because something is there. “Eco” implies ecology and the tight network within which all life is entwined. The two simply cannot go together, except in the minds of a capitalist, bent on making us believe you can have it all.

Let’s look at the quotation from Irene Lane again:

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

The mass of contradictions in this statement is mind-boggling. Irene is talking about places thousands of miles away, yet she talks about the need to “connect…in a sustainable manner”. Is she implying that we can only make deep connections with places that are in exotic locations – for that is what the sales pitch seems to be implying? And does she really expect us to believe that a composting toilet and a faux-native tour justify the burning of hundreds of gallons of aviation fuel and diesel. And what about the “Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year”? This sounds like a “see it before it’s gone” appeal.

Am I being too cynical?

Well, let’s look at a quotation from their website to check my cynicism out:

“We know that it is impossible to have a 100% carbon-offset vacation – we are humans after all!”

This is in the context of explaining how carbon offsets are used to make the travel distances no problem at all, apart from the few percent left over because “we are humans after all!” Sorry? No one forced you to travel those thousands of miles across oceans and continents. No one but civilized humans would do that. And that’s the real kicker: Irene Lane is conflating the destructive habits of civilized humanity to the whole of the human race. We do not push crap into the atmosphere because we are human; we push crap into the atmosphere because we are civilized humans, brainwashed by people like Irene Lane into thinking that it’s ok to go to Borneo, Madagascar, Australia and even Antarctica for our “eco” vacations.

The saddest irony of all is loons, an order of birds chosen to represent a migratory person that lives lightly on the land, require a pristine, food-rich marine environment to survive. The same environments that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak devastated in July 2011, and the Exxon Valdez crash coated in a thick blanket of oil in March 1989. Now what was that oil being drilled for and transported I wonder?

Posted in Adverts, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting | 3 Comments »

Lush’s Dirty Laundry [by Cory Morningstar]

Posted by keith on 23rd June 2011

In an unlikely alliance, Lush Cosmetics joins the Indigenous Environmental Network against the Canadian tar sands. The Lush campaign targets the tar sands, yet the CEO of Lush fails to target his own family’s dynasty built on the continued exploration of oil, gas and mining.

Today, the environmental movement has become inundated with front-groups, financed by dirty industries. These front groups often fall under the guise of foundations. Unfortunately, not even the best of the long-standing environmental groups are above becoming ensnared in such webs of deception as corporations, governments and, in this case, the global Lush brand. Such entities seek to become celebrated as “green” in a system that cannot be changed by the illusion of “green” growth. This system is destined to ultimately collapse – or kill us – whatever comes first. And this is where we are today.

The CEO of Lush, Mark Wolverton, belongs to the Wolverton family – of Canadian Wolverton Securities. The president and CEO of Wolverton Securities is Brent Wolverton, Mark’s brother. Wolverton Securities was founded in the early 1900s and continues to thrive today with an annual revenue of $20,735,400.

From the Wolverton website:

“Taking advantage of our expertise. Western Canada may well be the venture capital centre of the world, especially when it comes to mining and oil and gas exploration. Wolverton is a primary player in that market for this simple reason: If you look at mining operations in Siberia, South Africa or the jungles of South America, Canadians are running and financing the operations.”

Time Magazine article 2003: “Lush first made its way to North America thanks to brokerage scion Mark Wolverton of Canada’s Wolverton Securities.”

Wolverton has controlled Lush’s North American operations since 1996 – 50% in Canada and 40% in the US. According to the Retail Merchandisers, Strategy for Growth Website, approximately $90 million of the company’s global annual sales of $350 million come from its North American operations, comprising manufacturing facilities and distribution via storefronts, malls, airports, and a store-within-a-store concept in which Lush has a 300- to 500-square-foot store in the cosmetic department at 38 Macy stores. (The New Zealand Herald cites Lush sales at 595 million in 2009).

As found on the web:

“On the research side, Blackmont hired Gord Currie away from Wolverton Securities. The oil and gas analyst has 29 years of experience in the sector, including executive stints in the industry at NAL Oil and Gas Trust and Easton Drilling Fund.”

Ironically, Wolverton Securities Ltd’s Calgary office is actually situated in the Royal Bank Building. Royal Bank Canada is one of the world’s largest financier of the tar sands.

Mile long list of corporations affiliated with Wolverton Securities Ltd: http://infoventure.tsx.com/TSXVenture/TSXVentureHttpController?GetPage=CompanySummary&PO_ID=44829&HC_FLAG1=on&HC_FLAG2=on

The reason Lush CEO Mark Wolverton would support such a hypocritical campaign is nothing new. It’s fantastic branding. It makes people feel good when they buy a bar of soap. It raises awareness – without threatening the industry (or his family’s fortune) in any meaningful way. It builds brand loyalty. And I will be the first one to say – Lush executes such branding/marketing brilliantly.

Read the full story, including a host of bad news for Lush fans over here

Posted in Campaigns, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Scholastic U-Turn On Coal: Shame About Their Other Partners

Posted by keith on 17th May 2011

Well, that didn’t last long. From the first outrage to a “Move along, nothing to see here!” clean up of the website, Scholastic seem to have recovered relatively easily from what they claim was just a mistake. When Scholastic published a set of four worksheets and a printable map (see here for a cache image) that had been produced by the American Coal Institute, the group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood went into overdrive. May 11, 2011 saw the first offensive which had snowballed into a well-orchestrated furore the next day, followed a couple of days later by an apparently complete reversal of publishing policy by the much-loved American publisher of schoolbooks and materials.

Here’s how it played out in the New York Times:

Coal Curriculum Called Unfit for 4th Graders
Published: May 11, 2011

Three advocacy groups have started a letter-writing campaign asking Scholastic Inc. to stop distributing the fourth-grade curriculum materials that the American Coal Foundation paid the company to develop.

The three groups — Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Friends of the Earth — say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view of coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.

Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.

Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.

Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake
Published: May 12, 2011

Children’s books and other educational materials produced by the publisher Scholastic reach about 90 percent of the nation’s classrooms. With this enormous access to what amounts to a captive audience of children, the company has a special obligation to adhere to high educational standards.

It fell short of that when it produced a fourth-grade lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” a treatise on coal that was paid for by the American Coal Foundation, a nonprofit group. As Tamar Lewin noted in The Times on Thursday, the lessons talked about the benefits of coal and the pervasiveness of power plants fueled by it — and omitted mention of minor things like toxic waste, mountain-top removal and greenhouse gases.

The issue came to light recently when children’s advocacy groups hammered Scholastic for giving a one-sided view of coal usage. This is not the first time that the company had come under fire. Last year, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood attacked Scholastic for encouraging schools to have classroom parties with, and to collect labels from, the sugary juice drink SunnyD as a way of winning free books.

(We’ll come to that last point later)

Letters: This Lesson Plan Is Brought to You by…
Published: May 16, 2011

“Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake” (editorial, May 13) acknowledges that Scholastic’s children’s books, magazines, reading programs and Web site content are used in most American classrooms — a responsibility and trust that we have built through painstaking work through 90 years of service to teachers and schools.

A tiny percentage of this material is produced with sponsors, including government agencies, nonprofit associations and some corporations.

Your editorial criticizes a lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” about different sources of energy — coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and natural gas — primarily for its sponsorship by the American Coal Foundation.

We acknowledge that the mere fact of sponsorship may call into question the authenticity of the information, and therefore conclude that we were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship in this instance. We have no plans to further distribute this particular program.

Because we have always been guided by our belief that we can do better, we are undertaking a thorough review of our policy and editorial procedures on sponsored content to ensure that we publish only those materials that are worthy of our reputation as “the most trusted name in learning.”

RICHARD ROBINSON
Chairman, President and C.E.O.
Scholastic Inc.
New York, May 13, 2011

It is now all but impossible to find any evidence that the worksheets and map were ever on the Scholastic web site unless you search various web caches. Of course the American Coal Foundation still proudly peddle their filth because that’s what business does. There is no sense in suggesting that the coal industry stop producing these materials as the commercial model that they and all corporations work by is the need to continually generate profit for shareholders; if they don’t grow then they fail, therefore any way of getting in the minds of vulnerable individuals (including you and me) is fair game for a corporation.

Scholastic is a corporation – it may produce what it likes to call “educational” materials (a.k.a. whatever is approved by the industrial capitalist system) but it still needs to make money, so willingly takes any handouts it can from other corporations. There isn’t a lot of money in “educational” publishing, the margins are simply too low, so sponsorship is the way to go for any good corporation. As CCFC point out:

For years, Scholastic has exploited its reputation as an educational publisher to serve as a Trojan horse for all sorts of inappropriate marketing in schools—from the highly commercialized content of its Book Clubs, to marketing the over-the-counter drug Claritin in elementary schools, to urging teachers to throw parties for the sugar-laden beverage SunnyD in their classrooms. Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division offers its services as curriculum producer for hire. The program is designed “to promote client objectives” and “make a difference by influencing attitudes and behaviors.”

So this apparent U-turn and clean-up of the web site is really just a way of saving face because a lot of potential customers really do want less commercial influence in schools, enough customers to offset the losses caused by refunding the American Coal Foundation.

Not to worry, though, because there are plenty of other sponsorship opportunities available that might seem a little more acceptable to the school system. I had a look through the Science section on the Scholastic web site and, as they say, there are few overt commercial connections: I found the Lexus Environmental Challenge and the extremely blatant Count on Wet Ones Wipes (that’s for the indoctrination of tiny people). But what was more interesting was the number of resources that clearly had an extreme bias towards industry and the culture of imperialism:

What Is Technology, and How Does It Benefit Us? is such an obviously loaded title that you don’t have to read the contents to realise that technology is bound to be seen as a Great Thing. But read I did, and found this little gem (my emphasis):

Explain to students that although technology presents many benefits to humanity, there may also be by-products or issues that arise through the process of manufacturing and the development of technology. Engage students in a discussion of these benefits, as well as the by-products or issues and how these issues are being or might be addressed. If your students don’t include environmental challenges in their discussion, suggest the responsibility everyone has in controlling waste, and that recycling represents our effort to achieve that. Examples of how technology can enhance society might include: battery technology, solar power, satellites, text messaging, MP3s, gaming, plasma TVs, air and water testing, improved product designs.

Nice bit of accentuate the positive going on there.

The Culture of The Inca does a remarkable job in ignoring virtually anything to do with the culture of the Inca, including their brutal massacre by Spanish conquistadores, favouring instead to focus on llamas!

The empire of the Inca existed for many centuries in Peru. Today the descendants of these people continue many aspects of the culture, including traditional language, stories, folk songs, dance, and farming practices.

The descendants of the Inca still live in Peru. Visit them, listen to their songs, read their jokes, and try out a bit of their language at http://www.andes.org/.

[various instructions]

Did you notice llamas in the pictures you looked at? The llama was the most important animal to the Inca, and is still important today. To find out why, go to http://www.llamapaedia.com/origin/domestic.html. List at least three ways the Incas used llamas.

Extension Activity:

Llamas are also popular in the United States. You can find out much more about llamas at http://www.llamapaedia.com/index.html. Work with your classmates to research and report on different aspects of llama care, llama behavior, and how llamas are used today.

And just as I was going to wrap up the examples, I found a perfect example of state-sponsored brainwashing in the form of Save the Flag: Find out how to keep yours in shape for summer’s patriotic holidays. Are you ready?

What you need:

one 12″ x 12″ sample of each of the following: red felt, white felt, blue felt, 100% cotton white fabric
scissors
bowl of hot water
sandpaper
dirt
sunny window

What to do:

1. Discuss famous flags from U.S. history with your child — the Betsy Ross flag and the flag that inspired the national anthem, among others...

…at which point I could safely assume that Scholastic probably isn’t the best place to get information about the slaughter of Native American peoples either. Nope, thought not.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 5 Comments »

The Unsuitablog’s Worst of 2010

Posted by keith on 4th January 2011

Taking a cue from all the awards and “looking back on”s going on at the moment, it seems like just the right time to pick the very worst ethical hypocrites of 2010. Taking the year as a whole, there is a huge selection to choose from even when just looking at the pages of The Unsuitablog; and that’s going to be the focus – I could reach out to other places but I think that just throwing a few darts at a board of corporate logos is far less instructive than looking into the dark recesses of near history and seeing what can be pulled out of the grime for a further airing.

Best of all, it gives me the chance to have one more pop at those offenders who really deserve a second go at.

Worst Large Company

Lockheed Martin would deserve this award for merely having the word “responsible” anywhere on their website, but as we found out in June, it seemed that one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world had undergone a complete logic transplant.

LOCKHEED MARTIN ANNOUNCES NEW GREEN INITIATIVES FOR 140,000 EMPLOYEES, THEIR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

BETHESDA, Md. – Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) today announced new green initiatives to reach its 140,000 employees, their families and communities. The orchestrated effort is rolling out in conjunction with National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the largest organized environmental education event in the United States.

Held each year during the week before Earth Day, EE Week coordinates environmental education outreach nationwide to increase Earth Day’s impact. Lockheed Martin will celebrate EE Week and Earth Day by introducing several new company-wide employee initiatives to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior at work, at home and in local communities.

“At Lockheed Martin, it is our goal to raise awareness of natural resource conservation and to help our employees take an active role in their communities,” said Dr. David J.C. Constable, vice president, Lockheed Martin Energy, Environment, Safety & Health. “With the reach of our organization’s network, we have the opportunity to inspire hundreds of thousands of individuals – starting with our employees, their families and communities – so that as a corporation, we can make a big impact one small action at a time.”

The only response I could make was a video spoof, which still hasn’t been seen enough. It seems like a suitable enough prize for this video to be posted as far and wide as possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRfGzFMypIk

Worst Small Company

Cairn Energy is not a very small company, but compared to the other players in their sector (oil and gas) they are just a baby. Yet, for all their size, they seem to have become experts at pissing off communities and exploiting pristine environments that put even the oil giants to shame. Their efforts in greenwashing are similarly spectacular:

Below is a verbatim lift from the Corporate Responsibility page on the website of Cairn Energy. I have just highlighted the one key point that you must bear in mind when reading:

Cairn’s strategy is to deliver shareholder value through establishing commercial reserves in high potential exploration plays in various parts of the world. In implementing this strategy, the Group focuses on conducting all of its activities in a responsible manner.

Human Rights
Cairn recognises the importance of human rights. In Rajasthan, for example, we apply a ‘Rights Aware’ approach to safeguard the local community’s right to water in an area with limited water resources while accessing the water required to support our operations.

Environmental Impact
Cairn recognises that its exploration, development and production activities can have an impact on the environment. Some of Cairn’s exploration and production acreage lies in areas of environmental significance. Cairn recognises its responsibilities and focuses on the avoidance of negative impacts on the environment during its operations.

Climate Change
Activities involved in our operations, such as power generation, flaring, venting and transportation, produce emissions to air, including methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), two gases recognised as greenhouse gases (GHG). The burning of oil and gas, our primary products, also produces GHG emissions. Climate change is a complex issue with many causes both natural and due to human activity. We acknowledge that there is a growing consensus about the extent and effect of global warming. Energy is essential to social and economic progress but we recognise that we have a responsibility to take a precautionary approach to climate change. At all times, we seek to minimise GHG emissions from our operations.

People and Planet have a slightly different viewpoint:

A slide within Cairn’s presentations on Arctic oil exploration shows the melting Arctic ice. Reduced heavy sea ice makes exploration work easier around Cairn’s two most “promising” licences, off Disko Island – an area frequently visited by those inspecting the impacts of climate change first hand. What Cairn Energy views as an opportunity, Greenland’s Inuit population experience as a threat to their very survival and are increasingly vocal about the impacts which climate change is already having on them.

The prize is a free-of-charge rebranding.

Worst Industry Front

The American Petroleum Institute is a long established front for, well, the American petroleum industry, and have a strong pedigree in producing all sorts of highly damaging misinformation for the benefit of the American public. In September, the API went all Tea Party – a prime audience for their rhetoric – in organising a series of rallies against oil industry regulation, apparently to benefit the general public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their prize, in recognition of their phony “people power” is for all of you to go and buy yourselves a decent pair of shoes, and start walking instead of driving. Who knows, you might even meet some real people.

Worst Charity or NGO

Conservation International easily take the prize for being both the largest and the most corporate-friendly “environmental” organisation around. In 2010 they continued their romp with business by launching Team Earth; an astroturf with a twist, for it pretends that corporations can play nicely with the public.

One is tempted to abandon the idea that NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) have any part to play in the removal of destructive actions upon the natural world. I think that’s a fair assumption. None of the NGOs come out of this well, not even the apparently “radical” ones like Greenpeace and RAN who are still batting on the side of industrial civilization; but if you had to choose which ones to really steer clear of, and relentlessly attack and expose, a surefire way of choosing is to look for the names of “Corporate Partners”.

If an NGO partners, or receives money from a corporation, then thay are not to be trusted.

Here is one excellent example, that I found while trawling the web:

Team Earth is all of us, working together to make our world a place of clean air, fresh water, plentiful resources and a stable climate, today and far into the future. Team Earth is companies, schools, non-profits, you, your family and friends – everyone who wants to help make sure the Earth is healthy enough to support us all.

This is straight out of the corporate style book; almost excruciating in its “Hey guys, let’s put on a show, right here!” mentality. Alarm bells! Scroll down a few lines and the rationale becomes clear:

Who’s on the Team?

You. Me. The neighbors down the block. Your boss. Parents and kids across the country. People in big cities and small towns.

We are companies like Starbucks and Wrigley. Students and teachers in thousands of classrooms and schools.

Nice bit of community togetherness, and then “WE are companies” – you might be “on the team” but “Team Earth” is a group of companies who are greenwashing as though their survival depends upon it.

Another prize of a free corporate rebranding for Conservation International, or rather Corporation International.

Worst “Environmental” Campaign

So many to choose from with so many awful disasters and civilization-made catastrophes happening in 2010, but my personal choice was the unspeakably crass video produced by the 10:10 team in the UK. Now I’m all for tough messages, but the idea of blowing people to smithereens because they didn’t agree with the specific message espouced by the 10:10 Organisation (yes, the organisation that uses military style dog-tags as a branding opportunity) really pissed me off.

It also pissed off mobbsey on the Powershift forum, who stated beautifully:

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.

A prize of some blood-soaked 10:10 tags is very, very appropriate.

Worst Politician / Government

Up to the end of 2010 there were so many dodgy politicians to choose from that I would probably have had to call stalemate on this award. Then WikiLeaks released Cablegate, and the military-industrial politicians spoke as one in their condemnation of…not the crap and hypocrisy revealed in the cables, but the fact that the cables were released at all. In a scramble to be the most shrill commentator of all, few topped Sarah Palin’s claim than Julian Assange was “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands”, although various US and Canadian politicians did manage to suggest that a mass cull of everyone involved in WikiLeaks would be of benefit to humankind.

So, in tribute to the efforts of this august institution (WikiLeaks, not world government) the award goes to every politician who suggested violence in the face of freedom of speech in 2010.

The prize is a few more people mirroring the WikiLeaks website, copying the Insurance file for safekeeping, and sending on a few choice leaks to a site of your choice (EnviroLeaks is your friend).

Worst Religious Hypocrisy

It was going quite well in the religious world until Christmas, with even the Pope railing against environmental damage, and all sorts of religious institutions helping in community efforts. And then that hardy annual Operation Christmas Child came along to spoil the party of every poor child who doesn’t want Christian Evangelism shoved in their faces. Where help is concerned, missionaries have never exactly been on the side of the unconverted, but OCC are taking it to a level not seen since the Crusades:

I’d like to share with you just one story about what God did in a little village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mimbulu is a collection of mud-brick houses and thatched huts with no electricity or running water. Most of the villagers are subsistence farmers living on far less than $1 a day. You can imagine how happy and excited the children were when our team handed out shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Later, hundreds of girls and boys signed up for our Discipleship Program, and most of them made commitments to Jesus Christ through the Bible study course.

Traditional religions and occult practices are common in this part of Africa, but many people in Mimbulu have been delivered from spiritual darkness as a result of this evangelistic outreach. Three girls, all under the age of 10, confessed to being involved in witchcraft, repented of their sins, and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. One cult leader, after reading his son’s Bible lessons, renounced his false religion and surrendered his life to the Lord. Other adults turned to Christ at the graduation ceremony where they heard their children recite Scripture and listened to a pastor preach the Gospel.

The Lord is doing great things in Mimbulu, and we give Him all the glory!

We treat every single gift box as a Gospel opportunity. That’s why prayer is the most important thing we ask people to do when they pack their shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We want each person to pray for the child who receives the box and ask God to touch that child’s heart. That’s where the real power of Operation Christmas Child lies—in God’s answers to those millions of heartfelt prayers.

Another appropriate rebranding for Operation Christmas Child, along with a bonus prize of hundreds of parents raising serious complaints with their children’s schools in 2011 should the brainwashing boxes be suggested.

Operation Christmas Child convert christian samaritan's purse

The “Too Naive To Understand” Award for Accidental Hypocrisy

Sometimes The Unsuitablog is a bit too successful, but rarely do I ever feel sorry for one of the targets. In May the Green Youth Movement was soundly berated for its sloppy attitude to environmentalism; being dressed up as the kind of thing you can “do” as part of your hectic Beverley Hills lifestyle.

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…

The attack was justified on the basis that GYM hired a PR company to pump up its image – then I found out that the parents of Ally Maize were far worse than Ally herself (see the comments below the article). Too late: GYM was dead in the water, or as near as dammit. A good thing too, because if we are to bring the next generations along in the fight for environmental justice, the last thing we should be telling them is that it’s ok to just do little things.

I can’t present Ally Maize with a sense of modesty, but I think perhaps the magic curtain has been lifted a little for one deluded person. That’s reward in itself.

The “Cannibalism” Award for Self-Destruction of the Environmental Movement

Anyone who says the Environmental Movement is growing is a fool. There is no one “movement”, and even if there is something resembling a movement then it’s so diluted as to be completely ineffective. When an organisation comes along and brands itself in such a way as to imply it has all the answers, then you should expect it to be pretty damn good.

350.org are pretty damn something, but it’s not good:

Not a week goes by without some campaign or other being launched to prevent environmental destruction, or make efforts to put right that destruction. The vast, vast majority of these campaigns are based upon the same “logic” as the vast, vast majority of people who make comments to newspapers or television stations: this is the system we have, so we have no choice but to make it behave itself as best it can. That, of course, is bullshit.

As I have written time and time again, it is an utterly pointless task trying to make Industrial Civilization sustainable or “environmentally friendly”, because the nature of civilization is to destroy, to take what it wants to achieve its aims and only stop when it runs out of energy, people or space. It only stops when it collapses – it never stops of its own accord.

The mainstream environmental movement has never got this, and never will, because its very existence depends on the support of a large number of people both for income and staffing. It also depends on the good will of the system itself, that permits it to protest peacefully, speak freely and generally operate within the Law of the Land. There is an invisible line that separates the words and deeds of the mainstream from the words and deeds of the “extremist”; that same line separates that which is pointless, ineffective action from that which will actually achieve the kind of change humanity requires in order to survive.

This line is never crossed.

If you want to see this entire movement in microcosm, look no further than 350.org and the work they do which has come, in recent months, to define environmental symbolism.

350 parts per million – their lodestone number – is too high to prevent the Earth continuing to warm. The symbolic action, particularly the appeals to politicians, is not just pointless – it is extremely divisive. Symbolic action in defence of a dying planet is like a Band Aid on an amputation. 350.org should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating such a dangerous idea.

But they aren’t, because they think they are right – they have become too big.

The best prize for them is a real movement of people who get things done, and don’t accept compromise. We will see this in 2011; mark my words.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Government Policies, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Religious Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship, Symbolic Action | No Comments »

BT Adastral Plan Wipes Out “Green” Promises At A Stroke

Posted by keith on 12th November 2010

Adastral Park is part of BT’s (formerly British Telecom) Martlesham Heath technology complex, a combination of defence research laboratory and industrial park, situated close to the busy Suffolk town of Ipswich, and adjacent to a large area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can find Adastral Park by going to their website, which isn’t very well designed, but is replete with stories about how the staff of Adastral are playing such a big part in keeping the Suffolk coast clean and tidy. This is no coincidence, because when you have so many technology companies on site, dependent on your ignorance of global environmental and human rights issues for their success, then it’s always good to keep casual viewers thinking about nice things.

BT, who own the site, make a huge deal about their environmental credentials, with “Sustainable Business” (there’s an anachronism) right on the front page of their corporate web site, and the following headline statement:

As a company, we are always looking for ways to minimise our impact on the environment.

Indeed, we are very proud of our environmental management track record having set our first carbon reduction target back in 1992.

Now we’re committed to reducing the carbon intensity of our global business by 80 per cent by 2020 – so far we have achieved a 54 per cent reduction by becoming more energy efficient and by increasing our use of renewable energy.

Ah, that phrase “carbon intensity” – used worldwide by expanding economies and companies to pretend they are reducing their net emissions – but let’s ignore that one, because among their many other commitments are included all sorts of schemes for reducing carbon emissions within the business and their products, as well as their data centres. One thing missing, though, seems to be impact on habitat: I wonder why that can be:

A bit of history.

The GPO moved its research centre from Dollis Hill to what is now Adastral Park in the late sixties. One of the main attractions of the site was the amount of flat open land in the area which was essential for radio testing.

Over many years BT have put forward various proposals and plans to expand the business park activities. Nine years ago the first amendment to the Local Plan (dated June 2001) created a framework for expanding the business park but they did not link it to building any residential housing on the site. At the time BT forecast 3000-3500 additional jobs by about 2010 – but in reality we believe there are probably fewer people employed on the site now than in 2001.

As recently as 2007 BT said that they could develop the business park without the need for the income from selling land for housing.

The BT land

Despite what is said in the LDF and various BT documents the open land outside the BT fence IS greenfield. Farming is still carried out on some of it, and a license has been granted for mineral extraction on part. However that license requires that the land be returned to farming at the end of the extraction – the existence of extraction does not mean that it is no longer technically greenfield land.

At its closest the site comes within 88 metres of an AONB, and there are several sites of special status close by, which are home to protected species – eg Newbourne Springs. The new development will increase the local population by about 4,800 people, placing an unnecessary burden on these valuable protected wildlife sites. Proposals to employ a warden will not stop people visiting.

As recently as 2006, SCDC rejected a planning application for 120 log cabins on a site next to Waldringfield Road. The rejection was on the grounds that it was too near the AONB etc, and would result in an unacceptable increase in visitor numbers to those sensitive areas. BT objected to this application

In October 2008 BT wrote to the East of England Regional Assembly in response to a request for landowners to put forward further land for housing up to 2031. BT responded to this request by saying that their site could potentially accommodate up to 3000 – 3500 houses in total – ie around 8500 people – it is inconceivable that this many people would not a have major impact on the nearby natural areas.

That slice of information is from the No Adastral New Town campaign group, who seem to be a bit of a lone voice in protesting against the “development” (i.e. killing off) of a major slice of Suffolk countryside in order to satisfy the perceived need for new housing. Yet, according to Empty Homes, there were about 1,500 empty homes in Ipswich in 2008, along with nearly 1,700 more empty homes in the adjacent Suffolk Coastal district. Bear in mind also, that the projections for new homes are heavily influenced by the lobbying of housing developers, and also the organisations upon whose land the houses could be built upon, and you get a situation which is completely absurd: no new houses needed whatsoever, in reality.

But BT can make a heck of a lot of money out of this, so they are only too willing to toss aside any weasel words (apologies to weasels) they say about their “green” business commitments if it means a hefty amount of money in the company coffers.

If you live anywhere near this area, then please get in touch with the campaign group (more details here) or just go it alone and let everyone know what hypocrites BT and Suffolk Coastal District Council really are.

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

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 »

Cairn Energy Buries Truth in Business Speak

Posted by keith on 24th August 2010

Below is a verbatim lift from the Corporate Responsibility page on the website of Cairn Energy. I have just highlighted the one key point that you must bear in mind when reading:

Cairn’s strategy is to deliver shareholder value through establishing commercial reserves in high potential exploration plays in various parts of the world. In implementing this strategy, the Group focuses on conducting all of its activities in a responsible manner.

Our approach to CR is based on continuous improvement and responsible behaviour across four main platforms:

* Business relationships
* Commitment to our people
* Commitment to society and communities
* Commitment to the environment

During the course of 2008, we concentrated our Corporate Responsibility activities on eight key areas of business practice identified as having high significance through our business risk management and stakeholder engagement processes. The following paragraphs summarise these areas and the remainder of the report documents Cairn’s activities in each area.

Stakeholder Engagement
At Cairn we believe that building strong, open and lasting relationships with our stakeholders is not merely a social responsibility, it is also vital to achieving our business goals. Our activities are influenced by – and may potentially impact – a range of different stakeholders at local, national and international levels. In particular, governments and local communities can significantly affect our capacity to carryout our activities and achieve our aims.

Business Ethics
Corruption when it occurs is recognised as a major hindrance to sustainable development with an often disproportionate impact on poor communities. At its worst the impact on businesses can be considerable, impeding economic growth, distorting competition and representing serious legal and reputational risks.

Revenues paid to government and the value of contracts awarded in carrying out our activities can be significant in the countries in which we operate and in the local communities in which we work.

It is important that we operate at all times with integrity, honesty and transparency.

Employee Development
Cairn’s success is driven by its people. Consequently, employee engagement and personal and organisational development have been key focus areas for the Company and will continue to be so.

Our employee development programme is designed to ensure that the organisation delivers its objectives in support of the company’s strategy as well as providing our staff with the opportunity to grow as individuals.

Health, Safety and Security
Cairn recognises that exploring for and producing hydrocarbons carries inherent potential risks. In some areas of Bangladesh, India and Nepal in particular, the security environment may be challenging. We must, therefore, ensure and protect the health, safety and security of our employees and contractors working on our sites and the people who come into contact with our operations. We also recognise the importance of promoting and providing a healthy, positive work environment for staff to reduce absenteeism and promote morale.

Community Development
Cairn recognises that its activities can affect the social and economic environment of the communities in which we operate. This is particularly true where Cairn’s presence dominates local industrial or commercial activity as is the case in a remote and arid part of Rajasthan, India where Cairn are developing major oil and gas fields. We recognise that being sensitive to the impact we have is important if we are to sustain our activities and operate effectively. Our goal is to make a positive social impact in every area in which we are active.

Human Rights
Cairn recognises the importance of human rights. In Rajasthan, for example, we apply a ‘Rights Aware’ approach to safeguard the local community’s right to water in an area with limited water resources while accessing the water required to support our operations.

Environmental Impact
Cairn recognises that its exploration, development and production activities can have an impact on the environment. Some of Cairn’s exploration and production acreage lies in areas of environmental significance. Cairn recognises its responsibilities and focuses on the avoidance of negative impacts on the environment during its operations.

Climate Change
Activities involved in our operations, such as power generation, flaring, venting and transportation, produce emissions to air, including methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), two gases recognised as greenhouse gases (GHG). The burning of oil and gas, our primary products, also produces GHG emissions. Climate change is a complex issue with many causes both natural and due to human activity. We acknowledge that there is a growing consensus about the extent and effect of global warming. Energy is essential to social and economic progress but we recognise that we have a responsibility to take a precautionary approach to climate change. At all times, we seek to minimise GHG emissions from our operations.

Now here is a verbatim lift from the website of People and Planet:

RBS arranged the finance allowing the Scottish oil company Cairn Energy to forge ahead with oil exploration in pristine parts of Greenland’s Arctic. In March 2009, following the Treasury’s bail out of the bank with public money, RBS acted as joint arranger with Merrill Lynch, placing shares worth £116 million for “accelerated drilling” in Greenland by Cairn Energy.

Determined to tap into potential oil reserves within this untouched region, Cairn Energy are keen to lead the rush into Arctic drilling, describing Greenland as ‘a true frontier country’. It has already gained licences covering 72,000 square kilometres off Greenland’s west coast, an area half the size of England. Cairn Energy have suggested that these are just the beginning and that it hopes to expand further. The US Geological Survey has estimated that over 16 billion barrels of oil and gas could lie off Greenland’s coast. Taking this out of the ground would be an absolute disaster for global efforts to tackle climate change.

A slide within Cairn’s presentations on Arctic oil exploration shows the melting Arctic ice. Reduced heavy sea ice makes exploration work easier around Cairn’s two most “promising” licences, off Disko Island – an area frequently visited by those inspecting the impacts of climate change first hand. What Cairn Energy views as an opportunity, Greenland’s Inuit population experience as a threat to their very survival and are increasingly vocal about the impacts which climate change is already having on them.

I don’t need to say much more, although you can be sure that more will happen soon…

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

Redleaf Water: A Crash Course In Greenwash Spotting

Posted by keith on 19th July 2010

It’s always good to refresh your skills, and that opportunity came to me a couple of days ago when a reader sent me a nice example of subtle but very detailed greenwashing in the shape of Redleaf Bottled Water. Straight away the shields are up because we are talking about an entirely commercial product, as opposed to something that in very many parts of the world is either provided as a perfectly drinkable service with relatively low charges, or available naturally for free.

I’m sure almost everyone reading this does, from time to time, find themselves in the situation where they are forced to buy a bottle of water, there not being any other source available (in my case it’s basically when the bottle is in too bad a state to be refilled with tap water). I’m also sure that most people reading this would balk at describing commercial bottled water as “environmentally friendly”, yet go to the Environment page of the Redleaf web site and we hit this interesting statement:

At redleaf, we believe in making the world a better place, one sip at a time. We take our responsibility to the earth and our community very seriously and we’ve developed business practices and a production process that minimizes the impact we have on both. Not only do we source our water from a naturally renewable artesian aquifer but we also bottle at a ratio of 1:1 so that not a drop of water is wasted. These are just two of the reasons we think redleaf is the world’s most environmentally friendly water.

The opening sentence makes me a bit sick in my mouth, to be quite honest – replace the word “redleaf” with “BP” and “sip” with “slick” and you can see my point: now I’m not saying that Redleaf are necessarily as bad as BP, but bottling, transporting and selling water is not a good thing. It can’t be, so why suggest so?

Then we get into the main blurb and the greenwash words stack up: “naturally”, “artisan”, “renewable”, topped off with “not a drop is wasted”. Are you quite sure about that? What about the water used in the manufacture of the aquifer tapping equipment, or the production of the bottles, or the extraction of the oil to power the transportation of the end product? The company may claim to reduce the impact of all these aspects, but to make the claim that “not a drop is wasted” is just plain lying.

What we get at the end is the classic “comparative statement”, analagous to the car manufacturer that claims model x is more economical than model y, or the energy company that claim their coal-fired power stations are more efficient than all the other (coal) energy companies. Redleaf, again, may well produce the world’s most environmentally friendly water, but…hang on, that’s a complete load of bollocks!

Go back to the statement I made at the start: we are talking about an entirely commercial product, as opposed to something that in very many parts of the world is either provided as a perfectly drinkable service with relatively low charges, or available naturally for free. I am pretty lucky to have a river close to my house but, regardless of this good fortune, I can unequivocally say that filling my hands with river water then transferring it to my mouth is a damn site more environmentally friendly than any bottled water.

Interestingly, when you look at the Environment page, the claims do – at first glance – seem to be subtle, modest even; but take a closer look with open eyes and the greenwash really does pour off the pages. For instance, I’m not sure how it is possible that “no chemicals are used in [the] bottling process” given that absolutely everything is made from chemicals, but such mealy-mouthed statements are so easy to drop into the mix to convince the reader that so-called Ultra-Premium Water really is something special.

It would be good to open this up to you all: take a look at this page and tell readers of The Unsuitablog what greenwash you can see, in the comments section below. When I have a few comments then I’ll send the link off to the company…or maybe they would like to comment themselves, after all, they are the ones doing the greenwashing.

Posted in Advice, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

Monthly Undermining Task, July 2010: Escape The Tourist Trap

Posted by keith on 8th July 2010

Here is a picture of a cat in a deckchair, probably relaxing as cats are wont to do from time to time. The cat could be anywhere but I can bet you anything that the cat didn’t travel thousands of miles to wherever it is relaxing in the deckchair especially in order to relax in a deckchair; that cat is just chilled, in the deckchair, being a cat.

I know why many people take vacations (holidays, vacances…), and it’s for a reason that would be absurd if it weren’t so tragically true: it’s to get away from the place where they live. Not to go somewhere else – although that is often cited as the reason – but, to put it another way, to be in a place other than that where they spend most of their lives so as not to be reminded of what they do for the rest of the year. Oh, there are plenty of people I know – myself included – who go on vacations solely to see other places and/or meet other people, but they are in the minority.

You see, the vast majority of people living in the civilized world are stuck (so it seems) with a life that only releases them from its industrialised grip for a very short time once every year; or maybe twice if you can arrange things that way. Weekends, for most people, are spent doing the things that couldn’t be managed during the rest of the week because there wasn’t the time or energy to do them. Stuck in the spin-cycle of sleep-work-eat-watch-sleep-work-eat-watch…sleep-shop-clean-eat-watch-sleep… then the vacation becomes that slowly brightening light at the far end of a long, long shift that the industrialised and their families pinpoint as one of their few realisable aspirations.

What a bloody hopeless existence!

A few years ago I authored an essay called “The Problem With…Tourism” that set out the basic environmental and humanitarian issues of this pernicious industry. Here’s an extract:

As with many large-scale commercial ventures, the users of tourism are being promised a dream. That dream comes with few strings attached. That dream can be expensive, but the potential returns are good memories for life. And we are addicted to that dream; the one fantastic holiday that we want to repeat over and over again; the sense of “getting away from it all”, enjoying better weather, great entertainment, a chance to meet different people, and the cachet that goes with having done all this; all essentially selfish things, but none of them harmful as such.

As we continue to be enchanted by the riches that tourism has to offer, we fail to see the stream of people coming with us that grows ever wider, feeding on the same dream, taking advantage of the richly polluting cheap flights that deposit the hoards of people who engulf delicate habitats with concrete and suck dry the natural riches that so attracted them in the first place.

Does it have to be this way?

Do we ever stop and think of the reasons we go where we do? Do we actually consider the impact that our travelling, accommodation and entertainment are having on planet Earth?

The impact of tourism on the natural environment is huge, and growing at an enormous rate. With a current annual growth rate of about 5% in the western world, the emissions from flying are expected to triple in less than 25 years – far more if you consider the potentially enormous growth expected from China and other rapidly developing nations.

And on the surface, it is the act of tourism that seems to be the real problem – the pollution of travelling and the seasonal populations of travellers, along with the concentration camp-like existance of tourists, shut off from the outside world, economically unreachable by the people who are supposedly set to “benefit” from this tide of humanity. But as becomes clear when you analyse the way the civilized world is run – for the benefit of the corporate elites and their toadying political makeweights – tourism is even more sinister than this: it is a way of screwing every last drop of humanity from civilization’s willing slaves in return for a few weeks in the sun and, if you’re really unlucky, more opportunities to hand your money over to the corporate world.

And they call this a holiday?

Do you know the simplest way to short-circuit this horrible facade? Simply refuse to do what you are told.

I don’t have a detailed list of Undermining tasks of varying risks to offer you this month: just a simple set of ideas. Only you can make your mind up how risky they are, and whether you want to do them. But if you do take them, you may find yourself escaping far more than just the Tourist Trap…

If you are being sold something, don’t buy it.

If you are encouraged to go somewhere, don’t go there.

If you are offered incentives to make journeys or experience thrills you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, throw them back in the faceless faces of those that offer them.

If there is a way, any way, to get out of the spin cycle, slow down and take control of your life then take it!

Enjoy time your way, not the way of the machine.

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