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WWF Denies Palm Oil is the Problem, then Counts the Cash

Posted by keith on 23rd November 2011

It seems there is no depth to which the corporate world’s own favourite NGO, WWF, will not sink. An article in this week’s Guardian was happy to give WWF some free publicity, implying that the group actually give a stuff about the wildlife they were apparently set up to protect (or simply to ensure there is enough to shoot, as some sources suggest). The Palm Oil industry is growing month on month as new swathes of rainforest and other critical habitat are razed to the ground. According to Rainforest Action Network:

Approximately 85 percent of palm oil is grown in the tropical countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) on industrial plantations[3] that have severe impacts on the environment, forest peoples and the climate.

The Indonesian government has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020

This is just on current growth in demand, but just you wait what happens when conventional oil supplies start drying up and biofuel demand starts shooting through the roof. No more rainforests.

So, what do WWF think of the palm oil situation?

Palm oil itself is not the issue,” [Adam] Harrison [of WWF] noted. “The problem is how and where palm oil is produced.

Oh, I see. What he is saying is that we can have as much palm oil as we like so long as it’s produced in the right way. Let’s put that into context by quoting from the article some more:

The WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard, published on Tuesday, rates 132 mainly European companies, 29 of which received full marks, including 15 from UK such as Cadbury, Boots and Waitrose. No company achieved that level in the last scorecard report in 2009. At the bottom of the 2011 list are big retailers like Aldi, Lidl and Edeka from Germany, who refused to answer any questions about their palm oil policies.

“In the UK in particular we see progress,” said Adam Harrison, palm oil expert at WWF UK. “Due to several campaigns highlighting the damage caused by the rapid spread of palm plantations, companies see they are under pressure and respond.”

But he added: “Although there has been some progress on sustainable palm oil, new commitments are simply not translating fast enough into increased use of certified sustainable palm oil.” The report gives Unilever, the world’s biggest buyer of palm oil, 8 out of a possible 9.

Some companies bad, some companies good, apparently. Unilever are are the world’s largest processors of palm oil, so that should instantly put them near the front of the queue for criticism, after all if the companies didn’t put palm oil into their products then it wouldn’t be used, as was the case as little as 10 years ago when “vegetable oil” meant all sorts of different oils that invariably didn’t contribute to the removal of vast areas of rainforest. So how do WWF justify giving a company like Unilever such a brilliant score?

The Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 measures the performance of more than 130
major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers against four areas which WWF
believes show whether or not these companies are acting responsibly in terms of palm
oil use and sourcing:

• Being an active member of the RSPO;
• Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;
• Disclosing how much palm oil they use;
• Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

Let’s break that down a bit:

Being an active member of the RSPO;

The RSPO were founded by a band of palm oil growers, processing giants and WWF. According to WWF’s definition of “sustainable palm oil” the RSPO is the only organisation that has any credence; just like with “sustainable” timber WWF ignores, and positively campaigns against, any certifier other than FSC. WWF’s investment arm is raking in billions of dollars (I have been told this could be in the range of $60 billion for just one standards-based scheme in the Amazon) from the various schemes it oversees and then takes a cut from. The RSPO is just another such scheme: if WWF can convince everyone that this burgeoning market can be made “sustainable” then the potential from their founder member status for making money is enormous.

Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;

The public commitment, along with the branding on products as strongly suggested by WWF, provides further credibility for this pork barrel scheme. No other certification counts, even if the palm oil was produced in an area that always contained oil palm.

Disclosing how much palm oil they use;

This serves to show the extent to which RSPO is cornering the palm oil market. Not just that, the relationship between RSPO members and WWF is a circular one; according to RSPO:

By joining the RSPO, organizations publicly communicate their commitment to sustainable palm oil production and use as well as to raise their reputation as a pro-active, solution-oriented and socially responsible organization. Ordinary Members have the right to vote at the General Assembly and can be elected to represent the relevant sector in the Executive Board by the category in question. They can have access to all materials produced by RSPO for its members, through the RSPO website and newsletter. Ordinary Members have a say in the development of criteria for sustainable palm oil production. They also have the opportunity to network with other companies in the palm oil value chain that share their values. By demonstrating their efforts towards sustainable palm oil, they can thereby improve their access to markets and investment sources.

Become a member, especially a large-scale member, and you can even change the meaning of the word “sustainable”. More importantly, you have access to all that filthy lucre. WWF, of course, get a cut of that filthy lucre.

Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

CSPO means Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (a.k.a. RSPO Certified Palm Oil). Simply put, the more RSPO palm oil you use, the better your score. No matter that the members of the RSPO can manipulate the certification to suit the industry and it is in WWF’s interest to keep the biggest members on the table to ensure the RSPO monopoly is retained. As reported by Rebecca Zhou:

WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Manager Lydia Gaskell says that companies wanting to be certified are given action plans and targets according to ‘the size of the company and how sustainable they are.’

“To take a company off certification for failing to meet standards and criteria is at the very least, impractical,” said Gaskell. “There would be no need for the RSPO if everyone was meeting those principles and standards from day one.”

What really shouts out, though, is the text from WWF’s own report, which demonstrates in black and white how much value they really give to a sustainable future as compared to one in which industry holds sway over everything. They do not not recommend stopping the industrial use of palm oil; instead they look forward to a thriving palm oil future. I recommend a strong stomach if you are to read the following slice of corporate-friendly PR (the emphasis of doublespeak and greenwash is mine) – after which I feel only 5 more words are necessary:

Oil palm yields more oil per hectare of land than any other crop in the world. That is one of the reasons why palm oil makes up more or less a third of the 151 million tonnes of vegetable oil produced worldwide. Its wide availability and low price combined with certain unique characteristics means that it is used in many packaged food and personal care products that line supermarket shelves. Ice cream, margarine, biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, soup stock cubes, snacks, ready meals, instant noodles, shampoos, soaps, lipsticks, candles and washing-up liquids—all of these items often contain palm oil that was produced in tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is here to stay. Demand is expected to reach 77 million tonnes in 2050 to help feed the world’s growing population and the increased affluence of emerging economies like China and India. And its use may possibly grow even more if demand increases for palm oil as a biofuel.

The thriving palm oil industry also contributes significantly to the well-being of producer countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, and increasingly in the palm oil frontiers of Africa and Latin America. In these countries and regions, the palm oil sector can create employment that helps to lift rural people out of poverty.

Established brands such as ASDA , Carrefour, IKEA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, that are relatively large users of palm oil (using tens of thousands of tonnes each year) have progressed very well. Medium-sized users such as Co-op Switzerland, Co-operative Group UK, ICA, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Royal Ahold and Waitrose, have also performed well in their size class. Among the small palm oil volume retailers, Axfood, The Body Shop and the Boots Group are ahead of the curve.

There is a second group of retailers that are at the start of their journey and that WWF expects to do better in future Scorecards. These include Casino, Coles Supermarkets, Delhaize Group, E.Leclerc, Kesko Food, Metcash Trading, REWE
Group, the SOK Group and Woolworths.

Unfortunately there is still a large number of companies that are not yet performing as well as they should, and certainly not as well as the Scorecard’s leading companies show is possible.

Disappointingly, 12 out of the 44 retailers scored have still not joined the RSPO, a very basic first step in taking responsibility for the palm oil they use.

…and benefiting WWF’s financial performance.

Posted in Astroturfs, Funding, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | No Comments »

Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secrets

Posted by keith on 21st June 2011


Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.

The film examines the way the big conservation charities are run. It questions why some work with polluting big businesses to raise money and are alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth.

Conservation is massively important but few dare to question the movement. Some critics argue that it is in part getting it wrong, and that, as a consequence, some of the flora and fauna it seeks to save are facing oblivion.

Long term it can also be viewed on YouTube via

More information about Conservation International’s activities can be found at

More information about WWF’s capitalist addiction can be found at You can make your own mind up about the motivation of the various businesses.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Exposure, Funding, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

Interview With Bill McKibben, Winner of Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship and Gregory Vickrey, Winner of International Peanut Butter Subsistence Prize

Posted by keith on 24th February 2011

Climate reality writer and activist Gregory Vickrey. (L) ( Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Founder of, writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben. (R) (Photo: Nancie Battaglia /

Bill McKibben, Schumann distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, is the author of a dozen books about the environment, including “The End of Nature” (1989), regarded as the first book for a general audience about global warming. He is also founder of the global grassroots climate movement, which organized what CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Most recently, he was the recipient of the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Of this honor, McKibben said:

“I’m a beginner as an organizer; it’s a great honor to be included on this list of people who have changed America for the better. I am deeply grateful to The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute for this recognition of my work. I am even more appreciative that this award is representative of a shared conviction that now is a singular moment in our history for all people of good conscience to come together in defense of the planet. Our work has never been more urgent.”

Gregory Vickrey, Peace of the Action distinguished board member and generally unknown writer and activist, is the author of not a few critiques of environmental organizations, including “Environmentalism is Dead”, likely one of the least read articles on Counterpunch, ever. He has been lucky to work with Cory Morningstar of Canadians for Action on Climate Change; otherwise, he’d be extra-unknown. Most recently, he was the recipient of the $0 Peanut Butter Subsistence Prize. Of this honor, Vickrey said:

“It sucks to be broke and targeted, but what can I do? The entire world is at stake. So few of us stick to our guns and speak the truth about climate change – recognizing it as the greatest crime against humanity in history – I’d hate to cull myself from that group. Even if it meant I could also afford jelly on occasion.”

On that note, I interviewed Bill McKibben and Gregory Vickrey and would like to share our conversation with you.

Mickey Z.: You’ve noted that this award highlights your shift from writer to organizer. Can you tell us more about how and why you made that shift?

Bill McKibben: At some point, it became obvious to me that we were losing badly in the global warming fight, and that one reason was we had no movement. All the scientific studies and policy plans on earth don’t get you very far if there’s no movement to push them. So we’re doing our best to build that – too late and too slowly, but as best we can.

Gregory Vickrey: I think Bill is genuine here. He did realize we are losing badly in the global warming fight – and we still are. It is important to question ourselves when we endeavor to build a movement. In Bill’s case, I think one of the first questions was funding. And that’s can be a dangerous question, especially when one considers the history of the environmental movement, and even recently sees organizations like The Nature Conservancy cutting deals with Dow Chemical. Unfortunately, with the incarnations of what was to become, we find seed money from the likes of Rockefeller Brothers Fund (think big oil), and we find a pronounced effort to create a brand, rather than a movement – and that strategy was created by Havas, one of the world’s largest marketing firms.

MZ: Of your work, Derrick Jensen has said: “One of the problems that I see with the vast majority of so-called solutions to global warming is that they take industrial capitalism as a given and the planet which must conform to industrial capitalism, as opposed to the other way around.” How do you respond to this critique?

BM: It strikes me that the single biggest variable explaining the structure of the world today is the availability of cheap fossil fuel – that’s what happened two hundred years ago to create the world we know, especially its centralization. I think if we can put a serious price on fossil fuel, one that reflects the damage it does to our earth, then the fuels that we will depend on – principally wind and sun – will push us in the direction of more localized economies. Those kind of changes have been the focus of my work as a writer in recent years.

GV: What strikes me is that Bill did not respond to the question that was asked. What Bill says instead is that we should depend upon the political system that got us into this mess to get us out of it by taxing the crap out of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, we could elect Bill (or me!) as president and we still wouldn’t get the policy in place to force corporations to kill the carbon economy. Jensen is on point with the quote you provided, and Bill and corporate brand ignore that part of reality.

MZ: So many people believe they’re already “doing their part,” e.g. recycling, using CFL bulbs, bringing their own bag to the grocery store etc. How do we help them see ASAP that this isn’t even remotely enough?

BM: Well, I think we keep encouraging them to become politically active too, not instead. It’s good to do what you can around your house; and our job is to help people realize that there are ways they can be effective in a larger sphere too. That’s what movements are. And especially with climate change, the feeling that you’re too small to make a difference can be crippling.

GV: This is another arena where Bill has no forthright response at the ready, because he and are not in the business of systemic change. They believe in green capitalsm, so changing light bulbs is good, recycling is good, etc. See, the “feel good” in recycling allows us to continue consuming at preposterous rates. Changing light bulbs damns us to suffer Jevons Paradox, and corporations love that. So loves that. Instead, we should be making people aware of reality: our only chance is effective zero carbon emissions, and we must get there in a matter of years. That means dramatic systemic change. That means drastic lifestyle changes. It’s apolitical, in the end, because Mother Nature doesn’t care about having a seat at the table in DC. She doesn’t need it.

MZ: The US Department of Defense is the world’s worst polluter, the planet’s top gas guzzler, and recipient of 53.3 percent of American taxpayer dollars. How does your work address this situation and the concurrent “untouchable” status the US military has among the majority of American citizens?

BM: I’m not sure it really does, directly. Indirectly, I think the biggest reason we have the oversized defense that we do is that we rely on distant and unstable sources of energy as the core of our economy. I remember one sign in particular from the early Anti-Iraq-War rallies I went to: “How did our oil end up under their sand?”

GV: Bill’s work doesn’t address militarism at all. We need to drastically cut military spending in order to subsidize systemic change in the short term, and that mechanism is the fastest way to start cutting carbon. You won’t find that on the website.

MZ: Since 51 percent of human-created greenhouse gases come from the industrial animal food business, are you encouraging people to adopt a plant-based diet lifestyle?

BM: I’ve written time and again that industrial agriculture, especially factory livestock farming, is a bane – not only for its greenhouse gases, but for myriad other reasons. Interestingly, though, scientific data from the last couple of years is leading to the conclusion that local, grasspastured, often-moved livestock, by the action of their hooves and the constant deposition of manure, improve soils enough to soak up more carbon and methane than they produce. (This would explain why, say, there could have been more ungulates on the continent 300 years ago than now without it being a curse to the atmosphere). So there may be hope for meat-eaters as well – but only if you know and understand where your dinner is coming from.

GV: Again, Bill misses the point. Beyond eliminating militarism, we can cut into our carbon budget most drastically and immediately by scrapping the agro-meat industry. In time, Bill’s scenario providing hope for voracious meat eaters may come into effect, but we do not have the time to gradually shrink agro-meats. If we implement a strategy of incrementalism here, we are doomed to suffer the worst effects of climate change.

MZ: Is there a question you’ve always wished to be asked during an interview? If so, please feel free to ask and answer now.

BM: I’ve … done a lot of interviews.

GV: How do we get to zero? In short, the United States, Canada, and Australia must get to zero emission before 2020, with most of the cuts occurring over the next 5 years. Europe, Japan, China, India, and a few other countries must accomplish the same before 2025. The rest of the developing world must accomplish the same before 2030. Even in the best of circumstances, this scenario does not protect us from the feedback loops that are not included in any of the predictive models. But it gives us our best shot. Assuming policy-makers balk at this, we need an all-out global uprising to overcome, overwhelm, and overtake the system, and to be prepared for massive sacrifice. The system and its masters will not be easily returned to the masses. We must give them no choice.

MZ: What do you like to do when not engaged in writing, organizing and activism? What inspires you outside of those realms?

BM: I like to be outdoors – cross-country skiing most of all, or hiking. That’s why I live in the woods. And that’s why it’s tough to be on the road so much organizing. But I love the people, especially the young people, who are my colleagues.

GV: I chase dogs and kids and soccer balls. I succumb to the “need” of college basketball. I wonder where my next meal is coming from.

MZ: How can readers connect with you and get involved with your work?

BM: By going to and signing up. We spent what little money we had on a website; it works in about a dozen languages, and we think it’s pretty sharp.

GV: People can learn more about Bill’s work here and here. People can go to my website to get in touch and learn more about climate reality; it works in one language – occasionally two when I can manage to get a translator – and it’s pretty sharp considering I still owe the guy who helped me with it some cash. Maybe I can fix him a peanut butter sandwich instead.

Note: The preceding interview is not real. Mickey Z. and Bill McKibben held an interview that may be found here; their sections remain the same. Gregory Vickrey’s sections are a fictitious addition meant to bring the reality of corporate brand to the fore, and to urge everyone to get serious about climate change. Wake up. Tear down. Rise up.

Posted in Celebrity Hypocrisy, Funding, NGO Hypocrisy, Spoofs, Symbolic Action | No Comments »

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

Posted by keith on 28th October 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 September 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by keith on 19th October 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by keith on 29th September 2010

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Funding, NGO Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Big Alcohol Funding Anti-Marijauna Campaigns

Posted by keith on 25th September 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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