23 OCTOBER, 1:30PM: JUST SPOKE TO AN EXCITED KINNU (G.
Krishnaveni) who at the instant of writing is sitting
dressed in sari, bindi and sundry finery in a downtown
Houston photo-shop waiting for pictures of the coup she
and friends mounted against Dow Chemical CEO Michael Parker
at what was trumpeted by its organisers Nature Conservancy
as: "Largest Annual Nature Conservancy Luncheon Event
who had gone to a $75 a head luncheon in the city's upmarket
Hyatt Hotel to receive an award for - if you can believe
it - Dow's contribution to the environment, was stunned
when a camera-woman taking pictures of him at the foot
of the stage turned out to be none other than long term
adversary Diane Wilson, famed shrimp-boat-captain-turned-activist
and merciless scourge of Dow.
Diane interrupted Parker's remarks about Dow's commitment
to the environment and said she had an important announcement
to make. At this point local Dow staffers (including their
Seadrift plant's foot-in-mouth specialist Kathy Hunt)
recognised Diane and began gesturing frantically at their
hapless chief, but Diane, utilising the power of lungs
fortified by years at sea, told Parker that he had no
business accepting an environmental award when his company
had yet to clean up its toxic mess in Bhopal. "We
have someone here from Bhopal with a better award for
you," she told him in front of 500 bemused guests.
Dow contingent at tables near the stage were booing and
shouting "siddown", but fell silent when Kinnu
appeared in her sari bearing two genuine Bhopali jhaadoos.
Kinnu made her way to the stage and held out the brooms
to Parker who, at this point, was as much at sea as ever
Diane had been. Kinnu told Parker that he was a liar to
say that Dow had no liabilities in Bhopal. She told him
that women living near the abandoned factory have mercury
and other toxins in their breast milk and demanded that
Dow take immediate action to clean up its mess.
flapped, and began repeating his old formula about remembering
where he was in 1984 when he heard the news about Bhopal.
Any activist who has written to Dow about Bhopal will
be able to quote it word for word. Meanwhile, Nishant
Jain mounted the stage and stood silently beside him holding
a banner that read DOW, CLEAN UP YOUR TOXIC MESS IN BHOPAL.
Greenpeace's Jackie Downing displayed another saying DOW,
THE PEOPLE OF BHOPAL DEMAND JUSTICE.
the problem would be so much better than useless PR
Aguilara, a local Houston activist had the most fun",
Kinnu reported. From the moment Diane began the interruption,
Karla started leafletting all the tables starting right
at the back. By the time the organisers noticed - their
attention was fixed on the plight of poor Michael Parker
- Karla had done thirty tables, including the Dow tables
which she had marked from the outset (placards bearing
company names obligingly identified each table.) Says
Kinnu, "So Karla made sure she not only distributed
quite a bunch of leaflets on both these tables but also
gave them a piece of friendly advice 'Investing a bit
of capital in taking care of this issue would be so much
better than this useless PR'."
people, neither of whom were at the Dow tables, threw
back the leaflets at Karla, everyone else just took them!
When Karla was finally escorted out to the parking lot,
she leafletted the fancy cars parked there.
Conservancy believes in the "Polluter Pays"
principle. Polluter Pays Nature Conservancy.
Conservancy is a creature of the corporate PR industry
- an organisation funded by rich, polluting corporations
to praise their token gestures (Dow paid $30,000 to fund
the luncheon) and gloss over their misdeeds. It does this
by selling its name and endorsement to corporations which
give it money.
Identity Partners," says the Conservancy's own literature,
"can align their products or corporate image with
the Conservancy. The strategic marketing efforts help
raise awareness of environmental issues and the Conservancy,
and also help partner companies garner consumer support
and loyalty." Oy vay.
Dow-sponsored luncheon was being hosted by Nature Conservancy
Texas to honour its "Brand Identity Partner",
that well-known champion of the environment General Motors.
What - we hear you ask? - the same General Motors which
Superfund polluter and which with other
air polluters has conspired
to "gut" U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
plans to protect and improve air quality in and near national
parks. Yes, that General
over the past eight years, GM has donated over $5,800,000
in cash and more than 140 trucks to Nature Conservancy.
It has also of course donated approaching $1 million just
in Anti-Superfund PAC Contributions to Members of Congress
from 1991-1998, let alone other anti-green
a web-page decorated with blue and yellow macaws Nature
Conservancy describes its mission as "To preserve
the plants, animals and natural communities that represent
the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands
and waters they need to survive."
"How about protecting the land and water Bhopali
women and children need to survive?" Kinnu asked
the shell-shocked Parker, whose response was to shake
his head and claim that Dow had no liabilities in Bhopal
and that Carbide's liabilties had been fulfilled. Even
as he was uttering these old, tired stock-responses, Karla
was distributing to the 500 guests material which showed
him to be a liar.