The second part of the Post's examination of a multi-billion dollar tax exempt corporation: "Eight years ago, Mobil Oil gave the Nature Conservancy what was one of the group's largest corporate donations, a patch of prairie that encompassed the last native breeding ground of a highly endangered bird. ... The Conservancy ... started acting like an oil company. The Conservancy sank a well under the bird's nesting ground. Drilling in sensitive areas is opposed as destructive by most environmentalists.
In the first of three articles the Washington Post takes a long look at the Nature Conservancy, "the world's richest environmental group, amassing $3 billion in assets by pledging to save precious places. ... Yet the Conservancy has logged forests, engineered a $64 million deal paving the way for opulent houses on fragile grasslands and drilled for natural gas under the last breeding ground of an endangered bird species. ...
"Earth Day, which began 33 years ago today as a nationwide rally to clean up the planet, has become the latest victim of the corporate takeover. From Houston to Hong Kong, companies are seeking to polish their green image by sponsoring Earth Day events, which grass-roots groups and cities struggle to fund. This year, garbage haulers, coffee companies and even missile manufacturers are underwriting Earth Day festivities, a public relations strategy that has divided environmentalists and led to protests of Earth Day itself. ... Houston Earth Day 2003, held this past Saturday ...
"As the Ford Motor Company scaled back expectations this week for its first hybrid-powered vehicle and backpedaled on a pledge to improve the fuel economy of its sport utility vehicles, Toyota was introducing its latest Prius, which will get about 55 miles a gallon and be the first midsize vehicle with hybrid technology. For environmentalists, the contrasting developments
reinforced the sense that only foreign carmakers care about
"Chemical industry trade association the American Chemistry Council said it selected WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and its public relations unit Ogilvy PR for its $50 million advertising account," Advertising Age writes. "The trade group is looking to its agency to develop a more positive image for the chemical industry, which is battling negative views that have been stoked in part by war talk of chemical weapons and bioterrorism. The council wants the ad campaign to improve the public's perception of the contribution of chemicals to improve consumers everyday lives."
In an effort to "preserve Iraq's oil for the Iraqi people," the Pentagon plans to prevent the destruction of Iraq's oil fields by "securing" them as quickly as possible. "In light of past acts of eco-terrorism by the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Department of Defense has developed plans to extinguish oil well fires and to assess damage to oil facilities that might occur in Iraq in the event of hostilities," a DoD release states.
"Over the last six months, the
Republican Party has subtly refocused its message on the
environment, an issue that a party strategist Frank Luntz called 'the
single biggest vulnerability for the Republicans and
especially for George Bush' in a memorandum encouraging the
new approach. The Republicans, as the memorandum advised them, have
softened their language to appeal to suburban voters,
speaking out for protecting national parks and forests,
Within an hour of posting a press release headlined "Children, Pregnant Women Need Immediate Protection From DEHP, Says Sweeping New European Union Proposal" on its website, the public interest group Health Care Without Harm
"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. ... Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness, " George Orwell wrote fifty-five years ago in his essay "Politics and the English Language." In this month's Ecologist, Paul Kingsnorth points out the relevance of Orwell's words today.