Greenwashing—[a compound word modeled on "whitewash”] a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly.
John Muir must be rolling over in his grave.
The organization he founded in 1892, the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and largest environmental group, have been in cahoots with the worst of the worst corporations in recent years. They’ve been paid tens of millions of dollars by the fossil fuel industry, tyrannical billionaire mayors and Wall Street in exchange for cleaning (and greening) up their public images. Not only have they acted as a green public relations firm for the bastions of wealth and power, but have also sold out frontline communities most impacted by extractive industry.
Corporations rule our world with an unyielding iron fist. They poison and literally explode local communities with fracking and mountaintop removal. They profit off of dirty extractive industry with multi-billion investments. They empower a police state to repress democratic people’s movements drawing a line in the sand against Corporate America. But they also insidiously mitigate the power of grassroots resistance movements with a complicit non-profit industrial complex. Most environmental non-profits actively serve as a buffer zone between our people’s movements seeking real change and a corporate state hell bent on sucking every last bit out of the planet and its people before the impending ecological collapse.
In recent years, there has been an expanding critique of the big greens. Corporate executives and the super wealthy occupy the donor rolls and boards of many green non-profits. Organizations like Environmental Defense and Natural Resources Defense Council have actively partnered with the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a front group that helped stop climate legislation in 2010. A 2010 expose in The Nation by Johann Hari revealed that Big Oil made large donations for decades to organizations like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy to negate bad press over human rights and environmental abuses. Essentially, the big institutions of the environmental movement have been bought and sold.
Sadly, the Sierra Club which boasts a democratic governance system and a healthy grassroots base of local chapters have become part of the corporate world’s equation for control. They’ve partnered with, and been funded by, natural gas corporations to promote gas as a “bridge fuel.” They’ve taken large donations from New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg even as he’s attacked labor unions and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and released his racist police force to harass and demonize the Muslim community. They’ve even been business partners with the worst of the worst Wall Street banks, Bank of America, in greenwashing schemes to repair the bank’s damaged public image to the environmental community.
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