Green with Greed

Green with Greed

Horner Op-Ed in Tech Central Station
September 13, 2002

"Green" groups do quite well for themselves courtesy of business and foundations derived from corporate wealth (Pew, Ford, Rockefeller, Heinz, MacArthur). Still, the green machine is not free from financial challenge. History has proven they cannot rely upon industrial mishaps despite their lucrative bombast in response. Revenue problems forced even the icon Greenpeace to merge with a fairly obscure rival.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development earlier this month, however, industry and greens got even cozier in a desperate move to suppress the availability of energy. Some of these businesses merely continue the wildly unsuccessful pattern of seeking to apologize their way to acceptance. Others, like natural gas giant BP which spoke for industry in Jo'burg, seek to use "green" restrictions to defeat their competition. This coalition deserves further scrutiny. Revelations that the greens' impressive funding may not be "sustainable" beyond current levels include a recent survey showing belief in global warming closely tracks that of UFOs and astrology. The collapse of Soviet funding of green agitators didn't help matters. This, of course, was capped by the demise of Enron's booty call. Columnist Robert Novak did the world a tremendous favor by exposing "the Enron Papers," internal memos exposing an extensive campaign to muscle out competitor energy sources by, inter alia, funding greens to scare the world into a "global warming" treaty. But the Enron gravy train's derailment by no means signaled the end of businesses sacrificing their future to fund groups dedicated to corporate demise. "Rent-seeking" entities seeking to disable their competition or seek a preference through installing green, anti-growth policies, are a common, if regrettable, presence. In fact, if this "World Summit" proved anything, it is that industry is still widely ready to line up in homage to the green agenda. Among those "greening" their image in Jo'burg, BMW, for example, paid handsomely to occupy the main square for a massive display burnishing its credentials. Companies showing their neediness for a green seal of approval often get caught instead in a bit of a running shakedown. BP represents something far worse. It is the post-Enron rent seeker, far more high-profile than even Enron in advocating policies ensuring short-term profit but which, long term, will result in untold human suffering. Enron was the world's leading proponent of the theory of "catastrophic man-made global warming" for one obvious reason: greed. Their revealing memos demonstrate a scheme to get wildly rich by effectively banning the burning of coal. One of the Enron Papers was an August 4, 1997 memo to Ken Lay preparing him for an Oval Office meeting on the topic of whether and how to get a "global warming treaty." The meeting included not only President Clinton and Vice President Gore, but BP's Sir John Brown. The memo unflatteringly described BP as Enron's international equivalent. Indeed. Still striving to live up to this billing, BP has aggressively made Washington aware of its newfound status as a behemoth U.S. gasoline retailer. In the international arena, BP is picking up Enron's slack, and their agreement in Johannesburg through a surrogate group shows that big industry continues to chase greenbacks and green kudos wildly contrary to the well-being of its customers. In Johannesburg, BP's efforts yielded further commitments to the green community that will doom affordable energy. At a joint industry-green press conference, BP represented the membership of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBSCD). The WBCSD is the international version of the U.S.'s Business Council for Sustainable Development previously chaired by, yes, Ken Lay. Political considerations clearly played a role in Lay and Enron lowering their profile as the 2000 political campaign gained steam, though that did not cause Enron to scale back their efforts to lock the U.S. in an energy suppression regime that, within a few short years, would necessitate massive economic slowdown and individual privation. Similarly, WBCSD's blue-chip membership all appear to be businesses who would profit by near-term institution of carbon dioxide caps, for reasons particular to their products and operations. WBCSD and the greens "agreed to set aside their differences" in the name of pressuring nations into accepting the Kyoto Protocol. It is time to fully expose, and call these so-called "responsible" companies to answer for, this agenda. Sellouts should give it up. Even lead sellout BP received an "Oscar" here for using its green programs "to cover up the practices which collectively have led to the current crisis in the world's environment." Greens will never sincerely recognize good faith efforts, nor the steady and improvement in environmental conditions. They will merely use you until their campaign to destroy you succeeds. Grow up. Compete like adults. And for heaven's sake, care about people, not just profits.