". the ideological environmental movement [which] is a powerful $4 billion-a-year US industry, an $8 billion-a-year international gorilla. Many of its members are intensely eco-centric, and place much higher value on wildlife and ecological values than on human progress or even human life."Driessen is quick to point out that even though this ideological movement is wealthy and powerful, its true membership is frequently less than 0.01% of the population of the communities or countries in which it is active. The actual nature of the movement and the scale of its influence is hidden from public scrutiny. One of Driessen's main complaints is the hypocrisy inherent in the anti-corporate activists who call for greater transparency within the corporate world yet operate in an even greater realm of secrecy themselves.
Another complaint Driessen has is that the international environmental movement is continuously putting out highly misleading information. Examples of this abound, and more will be mentioned below, but a few of the more glaring examples he cites include the 1995 Brent Spar affair wherein Shell Oil, with a permit for the UK Ministry of Environment, planned to sink the Brent Spar offshore oil platform. Greenpeace launched a $2 million public relations assault alleging major environmental damage would result from sinking the platform. Thus, Shell was compelled to dismantle the platform at huge expense. Greenpeace later admitted its campaign was fraudulent. Similarly, the much-publicized oil field mess in Nigeria was not the result of normal oil drilling as was alleged but rather was the result of deliberate sabotage by rent-seeking local tribesmen. Perhaps the lie most successfully disseminated by the environmentalists is the claim the world's wilderness areas are small and disappearing. Driessen quotes a little-publicized 2002 report of Conservation International (hardly an anti-eco group) which concluded half the entire earth's surface remains untouched wilderness and most of the world's tropical rainforests remain unmolested.
Driessen believes the environmental movement's goals are best expressed in two documents, the oldest of which is entitled Agenda 21. This manifesto was signed by world leaders, including Margaret Thatcher and George Bush Sr., at the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. Agenda 21 (as in agenda for the 21st century) calls for a new world order in which the United Nations, operating through a lattice of international NGOs, compels national and local governments to impose strict, conservative land development and energy-production policies. The stated motives for creating the new international order are to "save the planet from environmental destruction". The second, and related, document, Restructuring the Global Economy: Eradicating Breton Woods and Creating New Institutions, was written by Randall Hayes of the Rainforest Action Network and Jerry Mander, founder of the International Forum on Globalization (a coalition of 60 anti-development groups). Restructuring was first aired in March 2002 at a Johns Hopkins Symposium on Foreign Affairs. The document views "economic globalization as the greatest single contributor to the massive ecological crisis of our time". The sources of the problem, according to the document's authors, are the pro-development and trade liberalizing policies of the World Bank, the IMF, and GATT (now the World Trade Organization). They call for wresting power from these institutions and the "corporations" and strengthening the United Nations Environment Program. The document states that environmentalists now "realize that the most important environmental policy is, in fact, economic policy". They want to "ecologize" capitalism.
Particularly annoying to Driessen is the growing list of corporations who have capitulated to the Green agenda by joining the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and similar organizations. These companies are for the most part seeking to appease, and avoid being targeted by, the environmentalists even though it is against the business community's long-term interest to do so. He reminds the reader of Churchill's maxim: "An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." Others in the world of big business have embraced environmentalism for even more devious self-serving reasons.
Driessen holds out tycoon Ted Turner as a case in point. Turner sponsors elistist bison hunts and uses killer fences to snare and strangle wildlife around his ranches. He owns 1.8 million acres of ranch land in the US and additional spreads in Argentina. He bulldozed an entire hill to improve the view on his Montana ranch. Turner, as with many other celebrity energy scolds, does not practise what he preaches when it comes to personal energy consumption. He drills for fossil fuels on his lands and junkets around in a private jet. Turner campaigns to stop "other people's" cruelty to animals and "other people's" fuel drilling and "other people's" land development. His campaign to prevent resource extraction from public lands while he develops his own private lands is clearly self-serving. Turner gets a free ride from Big Green because of the hundreds of millions he donates to The Cause.
The trend towards "Green big business" has multiple downsides. For example, both Ford and General Motors have both recently decided to abandon their environmentally-correct electric car programs. They discontinued these impractical programs after Ford had sunk $100 million and GM $1 billion into fruitless research and development. To Driessen these are good examples of the consequences of allowing ideology, not economics, to dictate business decisions. And if the ideological environmental movement is bad for business, it is even worse for the poor of the developing world. The much-used phrase "sustainable development" in reality translates into "restricted development" which to the wretched of the earth basically means genocide.
Driessen's view of what ails the Third World, at least with regard to the environmental agenda, is encapsulated in a quote from South Africa's Richard Tren:
"We need the liberty and freedom to use whatever [energy and pesticide and food] technology we require, without interference and restrictions from organizations like Greenpeace that have little interest in human life. We need free trade and individual liberties that made the US the wealthiest and most powerful nation of earth. We don't need the racist, misguided, and life-threatening anti-growth campaigns run by eco-imperialist Greenpeace."The elitist First World imperialist nature of environmentalism was vividly reflected in the recent international eco-summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2002 over 80,000 delegates from companies, environmental NGOs, and government agencies flew to Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Japan alone brought 500 members in its official delegation. Authorities drove out street vendors and the poor from the area around the summit, creating what one African commentator called "a White Group Area with all signs of Africa removed". Driessen took heart from the sharp divisions evident at the summit between countries seeking to escape poverty and countries seeking to impose "sustainable" (i.e. restricted) development on the Third World.
There are many horror stories of environmentalist suppression of economic development in the Third World. Driessen relates a few choice examples. In India, the Narmada Dam project, which would have provided electricity for 5,000 villages and clean drinking and irrigation water for 35 million people, was successfully killed by Friends of the Earth, who got funding agencies to pull out. Local residents called the decision a "crime against humanity". At the same time, the environmentalists applauded when locals were violently driven from their lands to make way for sprawling wildlife preserves. When the Chipko people of India attempted to build a road to gain access to Himalayan forest resources, they were confronted by the international Green movement led by eco-priestess Vandana Shiva. The campaign led one Australian professor to accuse international eco groups of "supporting coercive conservation tactics that weaken local claims to resource access for sustaining livelihoods".
Big Green opposes large hydro-dams and large coal plants in the underdeveloped world. In place of these economically sound proposals, groups like the Body Shop, Greenpeace, and the European Wind Energy Association call for the Third World to rely on "renewable biomass energy" for heat and cooking fuel. This means the burning of cow dung and wood scraps even though the World Health Organization has stated nearly a billion people, mostly women and children, are exposed to (and an estimated four million per year die from) severe indoor air pollution from the burning of these types of fuels.
Environmentalist anti-corporate and anti-globalization activists are also wreaking havoc on the working poor of the Third World. Throughout the 1990s "anti-globalization" activists, often playing the "child labour" card, successfully targeted garment, shoe, and carpet companies using Third World labour. As a result of these campaigns 50,000 young workers were fired in the garment industry in Bangladesh. "Oxfam International later found that thousands of these children became prostitutes, turned to crime, or starved to death." UNICEF reported, "An international boycott of Nepalese carpets in the mid-1990s caused plants to shut down, driving thousands of young girls into the sex trade." When campaigns by anti-sweatshop groups, particularly on college campuses, against Nike and Reebok resulted in shoe factories being shut down in Pakistan, "again thousands ended up as thieves, beggars, and prostitutes". India had developed a thriving waste management industry primarily disassembling old batteries and computer components from the First World, but the eurocrats' Basel Convention on the Trans-Boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste killed this industry, causing not just the predictable job losses but also the curtailing of India's domestic recycling industry. Contrary to the rhetoric of trendy campus activists, Nike pays its Indonesian factory workers far more than the national average. In Vietnam Nike's factory workers are paid more than local doctors.
One of the most insidious eco-imperialist campaigns is the well-funded effort to eradicate the spraying of DDT in the Tropics. When Rachel Carson penned Silent Spring, 99% of DDT use was for agricultural purposes and, as such, enormous quantities were being poured into fields. Modern use, particularly in the Tropics, is for health reasons alone and involves far less use of the chemical. Of mosquito-borne diseases, malaria is the worst. In the year 2000 malaria infected an estimated 300 million people, killing over 2 million, mostly children, in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1972, 50 million have died from malaria. 1972 was the year EPA head William Ruckelshaus began prohibiting the production and export of DDT to the developing world.
Wherever DDT is used, malaria infections plummet and human populations climb. South Africa had been using DDT prior to 1996 and had kept its incidence of malaria to one of the lowest rates in Africa - 10,000 per year. In 1996, under pressure from Big Green, the South African government phased out DDT, resulting in one of the worst epidemics in the country's history. By 2000 there were 62,000 reported cases. DDT was reintroduced, and within two years incidence of the disease was back to pre-1996 levels.
DDT is not carcinogenic or harmful to humans. A South African researcher is quoted as saying, "In the 60 years since DDT was introduced not a single scientific paper has been able to replicate even one case of actual harm from its use." It also can be quite safe for the environment. Mosquitoes are far less likely to build immunities to DDT than they are to some of the new chemicals now being recommended by the environmentalists.
The heavy hitters of the international environmental movement - the United Nations Environment Program, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, Greenpeace, et cetera - are unanimously and adamantly opposed to DDT usage in the mosquito-infested developing world. In the place of DDT they recommend bed nets, which work poorly at night and not at all during the day. They also recommend using expensive pharmaceuticals on those infected with malaria rather than preventing the infection in the first place, which is an obvious nonstarter made all the more so by the fact that the parasite causing malaria is definitely developing resistance to these drugs. The ecos, not too surprisingly, recommend breeding more wild fishes to eat mosquito larvae, an idea so stupid it isn't worth the ink to denounce it.
Between 1950 and 1972 the US Government was involved in the Global Malaria Eradication Campaign. They spent $1.2 billion on swamp drainage and DDT spraying. Now, they, along with the Europeans, refuse to fund even indoor spraying. The eurocrats go further, threatening to turn away any agricultural produce if traces of DDT are found. Many in the developing world, fully aware of the consequences of this change in policy, are understandably outraged at this "lethal form of eco-imperialism".
The environmentalists are also very actively seeking to prevent the developing world from benefiting from modern agricultural technology, especially recent breakthroughs in genetically-modified (GM) crops. The recent campaign against GM foods in the Third World has led even the Director of USAID to call environmentalists "revolting and despicable" and an official US trade representative to refer to them as "immoral Luddites".
In sub-Saharan Africa, while nearly 14 million were on the brink of starvation, the eco-imperialist eurocrats were lobbying hard to get them to reject US food shipments because the food contained bio-engineered corn. In Zambia alone, 2.5 million were facing starvation. The US shipped 26,000 tons of corn. The government of Zambia under pressure from the EU and the Greens declared this food unsafe for consumption. The eurocrats accused the US of using Africans as guinea pigs, and environmentalists circulated rumours amongst the locals that the food would make them sterile or give them AIDS. This is part of what The Wall Street Journal has exposed as a coordinated five-year $175 million campaign specifically targeting the Third World to prevent them from developing GM products. Greenpeace opposes all forms of GM food, which they call "genetic pollution". The Sierra Club is calling for an international moratorium.
Driessen provides other examples of the eco-imperialist anti-GM campaign. In Uganda bananas are an important staple. The Ugandan banana crops are threatened by certain funguses and nematodes. Scientists have come up with a GM solution to the fungus and are working hard on the root-killing nematode problem. But the EU, threatening trade sanctions, is holding back implementation of the crop-saving technologies with a "precautionary principle" demand that the Ugandans prove beyond a shadow of a doubt no harm will come from the new technologies. In Brazil, even though many farmers were eager to use "Roundup-ready" GM soybeans because the plants were herbicide-resistant, Brazilian president Lula da Silva, again bowing to the EU, declared Brazil a "GM-free zone". African scientist Dr. Wambugu was working on a GM sweet potato resistant to a virus that was wreaking havoc on this important staple crop in her homeland. Earth Liberation Front goon squads demolished her lab and her test crops.
This violent eco-terrorist activity is now rampant in the First World. Greenpeace and other eco-zealots have repeatedly ripped up experimental GM crops, thereby preventing the very research needed to win approval of GM innovations.
Another effective eco-tactic is to conduct a biased and shallow study producing the desired alarming results and then rush it to the willing mass media before the rest of the scientific community has had an opportunity to properly review the research. Hence, The New York Times, and many newspapers of lesser repute, seized upon "studies" finding GM corn to be harmful to Monarch butterflies and GM potatoes to undermine lab rats' immune systems. It was later shown GM corn was beneficial to Monarchs and that the rats' immune system was undermined only because they were fed a nutrient-deficient potato-only diet. Invariably the correct information is given nowhere near the amount of publicity the biased, alarmist studies were given.
The debate about "genetically-modified" food is largely semantic. Humans have been modifying plants and animals since the Neolithic Revolution. Since the turn of the 20th Century, techniques such as wide-cross hybridization, micro-cuttings of plant tissue, and radiation have been used to create thousands of what are now regularly-consumed plant products. But environmentalists ignore these "GM" products and zero in on the "Frankenfoods" derived from new gene-splitting technologies which, if anything, are safer and more precise than conventional GM. At present, 34% of corn produced and safely consumed in the US is GM, as is 78% of its soybeans.
The scientific community is overwhelmingly on the side of continued biotech advancement. Biotech has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the French Academy of Sciences, with the latter concluding "there has never been a health problem . or damage to the environment" associated with biotech crops. Over 3,200 scientists (including 20 Nobel laureates) have signed petitions supporting biotech foods.
European resistance to GM foods is rooted not in scientific or public health considerations but in conservative European food culture and in their strong desire to protect European peasants from foreign competition, particularly from US agribusiness. Primitive or "organic" agriculture is threatened by modern agricultural technology. But modern agricultural technology has innumerable humanitarian and even environmental benefits. For instance, The Wall Street Journal claims that over the eight years since the introduction of biotech corn and cotton, pesticide use has been reduced by 46 million tons of active ingredients. Renowned farmer and agricultural researcher Dr. Norman Borlaug is quoted as saying, "There are six billion people on the planet today. With organic farming we could only feed four billion of them. Which two billion would volunteer to die?" Economist Indur Goklany calculates that to feed the world's current population on pre-1961 technology would require the cultivation of 82% of the earth's available land as opposed to the current 38%, thus requiring the ploughing under of many a forest and the irrigating of many a desert. According to professor C.S. Prakash, the only thing organic agriculture "sustains" is "poverty and malnutrition". In spite of all this, arch-Luddite Jeremy Rifkin remains convinced that GM foods are "every bit as deadly as a nuclear holocaust".
This same sort of revealing and preposterous Rifkinesque hyperbole is applied by the leading ideologues of environmentalism to the subject of energy. According to the world-famous neo-Malthusian Paul Ehrlich:
"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun."While, according to environmentalist Amory Lovins:
"It'd be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it .
"We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs but won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other."Driessen does a good job of pointing out the limitations of the eco-imperialists' favourite energy solutions: wind and hydrogen. Regarding wind power, he cites the much-ballyhooed wind farm being built in Wales, consisting of 39 turbines each 400 feet high, with a total maximum rated capacity of 60 MW. However, a more realistic estimate of its generating potential is merely 18 MW. Thus, a cheap conventional coal-fired 2,000 MW plant, which could be placed on a football field, puts out more juice than 4,500 of these wind-powered monstrosities. A single recently-built 555 MW gas-fired plant in California generates more electricity each year, at a mere 72% of its capacity, than does California's entire forest of 13,000 wind turbines.
Regarding hydrogen power, Driessen believes:
"Hydrogen (H2) may be abundant, but separating it from other molecules is expensive and takes more energy than is generated by running pure hydrogen through fuel cells. Per unit of heat generated, more CO2 is produced by making H2 from fossil fuels than by burning the fossil fuels directly."Moreover:
"A single tank of gasoline contains 2 million Btu of energy. A 5 gallon propane tank full of hydrogen at 150 psi holds only 7,000 Btu - meaning 285 barbeque tanks would be needed to equal a tank of gasoline."One solution would be to use super-high-pressure hydrogen tanks, but this runs the risk of "Hindenburgian" explosions.
As with other eco-skeptics, Driessen takes to task those who believe we are reaching the limits of the earth's fossil fuel reserves. Although counterintuitive, the reserves of oil and gas are getting larger, not smaller. This is because a "reserve" is what is commercially and technologically accessible. As our understanding of the location of fossil fuel reserves improves and as our drilling, pumping, piping, and refining capacity advances, the reserves grow ever larger. Hence, in 1947 global "proven reserves" of oil were 68 billion barrels. Over the next 50 years, 583 billion barrels of oil were consumed; yet in 1998, proven reserves were over 1 trillion barrels. In 1964, proven reserves of natural gas were 1.04 trillion cubic feet (tcf); yet after consuming 1.88 tcf over the next 32 years, we were left with untapped reserves of 5.14 tcf. In May 2003, Canada increased its proven reserves from 4 to 180 billion barrels through the stroke of an accountant's pen that more properly included the vast tar sands of Northern Alberta. The depletionist argument used to be one of the mainstays of the environmental movement, but it has been thoroughly discredited.
Driessen also exposes the fallacy of the depletionist argument regarding other technologies and commodities:
"Because of incremental improvements in extrusion technology, aluminum beverage cans are now 30% lighter than they were in the 1960s, dramatically reducing the amount of metal needed to make a billion cans. Improvements in tensile strength and architectural design mean modern high-rise buildings require 35% less steel than did their counterparts a mere 20 years ago. Today, a single fibreoptic cable made from 60 pounds of silica sand (the most abundant element on earth) carries hundreds of times more information than did an 'old-fashioned' cable made from 2,000 pounds of copper, technological eons ago in the 1980s"
On the issue of energy, once the depletionist argument was exposed as erroneous, the environmental movement switched to claiming the burning of fossil fuels was destroying the atmosphere. Here the main argument has been "global warming". The "science" behind this hypothesis has been thoroughly trashed. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Petition Project collected over 17,000 signatures from scientists who believe there is "no convincing evidence" that humans are disrupting the atmosphere. A 2003 NASA study clearly indicates changes in solar radiation output related to sunspot activity is the principal cause of climate change. "Historical records of solar activity indicate that solar radiation has been increasing since the late 19th Century," says lead author Richard Wilson. If sustained over many decades, such trends "could cause significant climate change".
Renowned MIT atmospheric physicist Richard S. Lindzen, an outspoken critic of the global warming fraud, is quoted by Driessen as saying:
"Science in the public arena is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both reports of the International Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions. A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty - far more than the advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge."In spite of the raging controversy within the scientific community, the US Federal Government and other governments have operated as though there was consensus supporting the anthropogenic global-warming hypothesis.
"The White House alone spent some $18 billion on global warming research and education between 1992 and 2000, during the Clinton-Gore administration. The United Nations spent billions more, as did the European Union."The whole campaign is predicated on a tissue of lies and wild projections. Who knows how much fuel humanity will be burning 100 years from now? Yet this is a central variable in the prediction. One UN study supporting Kyoto, relied upon by our governments, actually predicts that Libya and North Korea will have higher per capita incomes than the US by 2100.
Driessen's information debunking global warming is old hat to anyone in the resistance to eco-fascism, but what he relayed about the role played by Enron was refreshingly new. Several internal Enron memos have come to light showing how Enron could exploit the Kyoto Treaty and its emissions-trading scheme for tremendous profit:
"A December 12, 1997 memo asserted that Enron had 'excellent credentials' with many environmental groups that, the memo claimed, referred to Enron 'in glowing terms'. It argued that the Kyoto Treaty would 'do more to promote Enron's business' than any other initiative and said the treaty's emissions trading authority would be 'good for Enron stock!! .
"An August 4, 1997 memo to Enron president Ken Lay sought to prepare him for a White House meeting on how to persuade the United States to embrace the climate treaty. Present at the meeting were President Clinton, Vice-President Gore, and BP CEO Sir John Browne. The memo described BP as Enron's 'international equivalent', presumably because of the UK giant's global reach, similar policy objectives, and generally good reputation with environmental groups .
"Enron hoped to cash in on Kyoto by masterminding a worldwide trading in which major industries could buy and sell credits to emit carbon dioxide."BP (formerly British Petroleum) has surpassed even Enron in seeking ways to capitalize on Kyoto. BP is at the forefront of efforts to ratify the protocol. Although Driessen does not adequately expand upon this point, BP has a substantial interest in natural gas, which is touted as a global-warming-friendly fuel because one energy unit derived from gas results in a third as much CO2 than would be produced from burning oil or half as much as would result from burning coal. BP has become a powerhouse of enviro-funding and propaganda, and Driessen highlights the self-serving and hypocritical nature of this. BP's Beyond Petroleum campaign was a $100 million a year self-congratulatory environmentalist propaganda extravaganza. BP also spent $200 million installing solar panels at some of its retail outlets. However, this is small potatoes compared to the $91 billion it has recently spent purchasing other oil and gas companies or the over-$27 billion budget it has set aside for new oil exploration. And BP is no eco-angel, having been repeatedly fined and penalized for environmental violations. In a similar vein, Shell Oil, the other major eco-oil company, now operates a fledgling wind power business; and after the purchase of Siemens' solar photovoltaic operations, Shell is now the fourth largest solar power company in the world.
As an aside, BP is the largest operator on Alaska's North Slope with huge lease holdings, and they would, if they could, consider producing oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) according to one of their vice-presidents. Nevertheless, in order not to tarnish its environmental image, it pulled out of the pro-development lobby group "Arctic Power". ANWR is estimated to be able to supply 6 to 16 billion barrels of oil using old extractive technology and probably twice this amount using modern equipment and techniques. Hence, there may be oil deposits equal to 60 years' worth of Saudi Arabian imports. The environmentalist concerns over impacts to the caribou and the local Indians are bogus. ANWR's oil would be drawn from scattered sites over a mere 2,000-acre site (one-twentieth the area of Washington, DC), so it would visit minimal inconvenience on the migrating caribou herds. After a quarter century of drilling in nearby Prudhoe Bay, the caribou population increased from 5,000 to 34,000. The impoverished local Indians support development of ANWR's oil fields by a margin of eight to one. The Gwich'in Indians, who are trotted out by the ecos as local opponents of oil drilling, actually live 140 miles away from ANWR and were more than willing to have drilling done on their land. The Gwich'in formerly supported pipeline construction on their own land, and their leadership is now taking large sums of money from environmental groups.
Not all oil and gas companies support Kyoto. The major odd-man-out within big energy multinationals is Exxon Mobil. Exxon has been demonized by the international environmental movement even though the company has a fairly progressive record. The company reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35% over the last 25 years. They have developed extensive cogeneration (waste-heat utilization) equipment. Exxon pours money into fuel-cell (and other alternative energy) technologies, and its "Save the Tiger" land preservation project was listed by the World Wildlife Fund as "the most significant corporate contribution to endangered species conservation ever".
As Exxon Mobil refused to play along with Enron, Shell, and BP, the environmentalists formed "Campaign Exxon Mobil" to pressure the company into compliance. Campaign Exxon Mobil is a front group for the Texas Fund for Energy and Environment Education, which in turn is a front for the Energy Foundation, itself a front for several big foundations (Rockefeller, Pew, MacArthur, Packard, et cetera) with combined assets of over $20 billion. Campaign Exxon Mobil members and advisors include North Texas Islamic Association, UPROAR, Anarchist Black Cross, Ruckus Society, Industrial Workers of the World, and the Monkeywrench Collective. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Driessen's book is its effort to expose the connection between the black-clad attack squadrons who adorn the streets of every Western city and the mercurial big-money lobby who these "anarchist revolutionaries" unwittingly serve.
Another major contribution of Driessen's little book is the light it sheds on the battle in the boardrooms for control over corporate policy. These are the real front lines of the eco-fascist campaign. The main players on the side of the environmentalists are groups like the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Institutional Shareholder Services, and Claros Consulting. Claros Consulting is a UK-based firm in the business of providing information and advice on socially-responsible investment for institutional investors. It publishes an online Guide to Socially Responsible Investment for Pension Funds. Institutional Shareholder Services was founded by much-quoted shareholder, activist, and ethical-investing guru Robert Monks to research companies and offer advice to 750 institutional investors, primarily pension funds. ISS has a staff of 300. (Monks is a major advisor to, and funder of, Campaign Exxon Mobil.) The Dow Jones Sustainability Index tracks the performance of 300 global companies that have been given the Green seal of approval from another outfit called Sustainable Asset Management. CERES defines itself as a "leading US coalition of environmental investor and public interest advocacy groups, working together for a sustainable future". The coalition includes 70 corporations that have endorsed the ten-point code of eco-conduct and lists the Rainforest Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Friend of the Earth as members.
The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, Monks, and Campaign Exxon Mobil paid for a shareholder value analysis by Mark Mansley. He concluded Exxon Mobil's market capitalization would fall by 10% because of the company's "refusal to take global warming seriously". He also concluded the company would lose up to $50 billion from damaged reputation and would face a wave of lawsuits for damaging the planet as well as a loss of insurability. However, at a teleconference Mansley admitted his analysis was seat-of-the-pants speculation based on unfounded worst-case scenarios about catastrophic climate change.
In fact, Exxon Mobil is a solid corporation with a blue-chip stock. In 2001 it was the most profitable company in the US. Its price-to-earnings ratios are far better than its main competitors (Shell and BP). Real (non-ideological( stock analysts give it the highest grades. Hence, the Mansley & Company analysis is little more than a politically-driven bit of fraudulent libel. To Driessen:
"When Claros claims Exxon Mobil's fossil fuel, climate change, and renewable energy strategies put it at a competitive disadvantage, what it really means is that radical activists have singled the company out for boycotts, protests, and agenda-driven shareholder resolutions . When Claros says institutional investors are making climate change a high priority in their investment decisions, it actually means Claros, its allied groups, and other Green activists are lobbying them to do so and intend to continue their high-pressure protection racket tactics."The struggle for control of Exxon Mobil's industrial strategy is but one battle in a wide war over large, widely-held public corporations and investment funds. Institutional investors like pension and mutual funds today own $8 trillion in assets; they are the largest owners of US companies. The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is perhaps the most influential investor in the US. As a result of environmentalist pressure and intrigue, Robert Monks is now a key advisor to CalPERS, and he and his ilk can use CalPERS's clout to pressure a great many companies into compliance with the Green agenda. They are benignly referred to as "investor activists", and they frequently bring forward shareholder resolutions like their demand that American Electric Power disclose how its status as a CO2 emitter may cost the company money in the future. Not surprisingly, this milieu views the solution to global warming as "closing coal-fired power plants and shifting to natural gas". Yet they are also opposed to the drilling for natural gas. A Wall Street Journal editorial about CalPERS is quoted as saying the fund:
". has begun to tailor more of its investment calls to an ideological agenda. CalPERS's fiduciary duty is to its1.3 million public employees and their families, who expect a solid return on their money. [CalPERS] claims to watch over business, but someone is going to have to keep a more watchful eye on CalPERS."The great business acumen of these ideological extremities is demonstrated by the fact that CalPERS has invested in Enron, WorldCom, BP, and Argentina. They lost $20 billion between 2000 and 2002. Their ethics were well demonstrated when they pulled their investments out of Malaysia because of NGO and protectionist pressure, thereby inflicting severe unemployment and privation on the desperate and destitute guest workers of that developing country.
The main call to action of Driessen's book is to apply the same standards of transparency, disclosure, and accountability that the environmentalists are crying out for to the "pro-eco, anti-corporate" movement itself. He wants "government oversight and better enforcement of ethical principles for activist non-profit organizations". As a small "r" republican, he believes in "a single legal system that applies equally to all citizens, does not permit selected groups to live by different standards". His beef is:
". not-for-profit corporations, activist groups, investment advisory firms, institutional investor funds, and major foundations all exert enormous influence on our economy, public policies, and the performance of individual companies [yet] our system allows these selected groups to play by very different rules."He's a little shy on the details as to how we little mice are to bell this big cat.
Before criticizing Driessen's effort I will say Eco-Imperialism's footnotes alone are worth the book's purchase price. However, the book falls well short of its billing. As a "conservative" he is ideologically proscribed from focusing on the oligarchy behind environmentalism - apart from a few shots at nouveau riche Ted Turner. Amazingly, he does not connect the massive population control campaigns in the Third World with the Green agenda - two movements that are hand-in-glove. He repeatedly uses the phrase ideological environmentalism as though there was another kind. And finally, for such a short book on such a massive topic, one would think there would be little room for extraneous politicizing, but Driessen's "free enterprise" rhetoric consumes such space. One would think this was the only path of industrial development available, which, of course, it is not.
by William Kay
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