• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

From Greenpeace to Greenwash

Over the past quarter-century, Greenpeace has gone from one of the more radical environmental groups around to a gateway into the corporate world. More and more a stint at Greenpeace seems to be prerequisite on the resum? of top-flight public relations honchos. Greenpeace has already seen former executive Patrick Moore defect to the timber industry in Canada and Paul Gilding (former CEO of Greenpeace International) set up a consulting firm for such corporate villains as DuPont, Monsanto and Placer Dome Mining.

The latest to cash in is Lord Peter Melchett, former head of Greenpeace UK, who has taken a position with Burson-Marsteller, the notorious US pr firm. While at Greenpeace, Lord Melchett led the group’s high-profile campaign against genetically-engineered foods, targeting, in particular, the products of Monsanto, a Burson-Marsteller client.

According to a company press release, Lord Melchett will head a committee advising companies on how to deal with thorny issues such as GM food, toxic waste, oil drilling, nuclear power, child labor and sweatshops in the developing world. Burson-Marsteller executives told the Guardian newspaper of London that he may also dispense advice on how to B-M clients can counter environmental protests.

Lord Melchett knows the protest scene from the inside. He’s been called the Jos? Bove of Britain, after he was arrested last year for destroying a plot of genetically-engineered sugar beets in Norfolk. But the Eton-educacted Lord Melchett’s knows the corporate world even better. Melchett is a member of the House of Lords, his father headed British Steel and his great-grandfather founded the ICI chemical empire.

Greenpeace executives in Britain said they saw no conflict of interest in Lord Melchett’s defection to the dark side. “Anyone who knows him will know that he hasn’t changed his agenda at all,” said Stephen Tisdale, the director of Greenpeace UK. “He sees Burson-Marsteller as a conduit to some very influential companies who would not normally talk to environmentalists. In some ways, Greenpeace held him back, and he has become more radical after leaving last year.”

That last bit is a stark admission of how thoroughly impotent Greenpeace has become. For those who have forgotten, Burson-Marsteller is the pr firm of last resort. They rushed to defend Union Carbide after the company killed 2,000 people and injured thousands more in Bhopal, India. It also ran cover for Babcock and Wilcox after the company’s nuclear reactor suffered a near meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. They’ve represented Exxon and Monsanto, big tobacco, the Argentine junta, Indonesia’s Suharto, the Saudi royal family, and Nicolae Ceausescu, the late Romanian dictator.

Lord Melchett will join some old friends at Burson-Marsteller. Richard Aylard, the former head of Soil Association (which represents organic farmers) and Gavin Grant, a former environmental adviser to the Body Shop, both now work full-time the pr giant. While the others have severed their ties with environmental group, Lord Melchett remains on the board of Greenpeace International.

In an email to John Stauber, director of PR Watch, a former Greenpeace executive lamented that Lord Melchett’s defection was a sign of the moribund condition of the big time environmental movement. “The Lord Melchetts of the activist (and now corporate) world are only one symptom of a broader contagion. Is there even a real environmental movement anymore? How accountable are NGOs to their own base? … Look how little is being accomplished in addressing Global Warming in the U.S. at a time when it’s obviously a national security issue and a global security issue. I think this is in part because the environmental groups don’t believe in mass movement building like they used to. Most of us are treated like consumer and spectator activists — expected to pay our membership dues and trust that full-time salaried activists will solve the issue — without expecting to get involved ourselves. How easy it is to confuse salaried NGO actors with real movement leaders. And when they leave to work for corporations, if they haven’t built a base that can carry on the radical push for change, how weak the organizations become that they leave behind. But alas, Lord Melchett hasn’t even fully left Greenpeace: Should Greenpeace International allow an employee of Burson-Marsteller on their board?”

The question might well be reversed. Given Greenpeace’s utter corrosion does it really serve the interests of the corporate spin doctors to recruit from their ranks anymore? These days picking up a Greenpeace staffer is little different than hiring away a pr flack from any other corporation.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink co-written with Joshua Frank. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
Jonathan Cook
Israel Prepares to Turn Bedouin Citizens into Refugees in Their Own Country
Stan Cox
Healing the Rift Between Political Reality and Ecological Reality
Jeff Klein
Syria, the Kurds, Turkey and the U.S.: Why Progressives Should Not Support a New Imperial Partition in the Middle East
George Ochenski
The Governor, the Mining Company and the Future of a Montana Wilderness
Charles Pierson
Bret Stephens’ American Fantasy
Ted Rall
The First Thing We Do, Let’s Fire All the Cops
Jon Rynn
Saving the Green New Deal
Ajamu Baraka
Syria: Exposing Western Radical Collaboration with Imperialism
Binoy Kampmark
A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Down Side of Impeachment
Harvey Wasserman
What Really Happened to American Socialism?
Tom Engelhardt
American Brexit
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail