Nature Conservancy is a worldwide organisation that does
terrific work patrolling sensitive rain forests, coral
reefs and other habitats threatened by human activities.
You can this is a quote from
their website www.nature.org
"follow a hawksbill turtle on her migration
across the Pacific Ocean's Coral Sea and learn how The
Nature Conservancy is working to protect imperiled marine
habitats". While Saving our Seas, they are also "Rescuing
or I, captivated by the macaws, turtles and other charming
beasts that inhabit The Nature Conservancy's website,
may experience an uncontrollable urge to dip into our
pockets. But it isn't the likes of us that gave TNC a
bank balance last year of $593,123,898. The big money
comes from corporate backers - companies like General
Motors, which has given well over $10,000,000 in cash
and trucks over the past decade. Most environmental organisations
might baulk at allying themselves to a company whose products
are the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in
the US, but the Nature Conservancy positively welcomes
corporate polluters. It even offers them the sanctuary
of its name and reputation. They can become "Brand
Identity Partners" and "can align their products
or corporate image with the Conservancy."
Odd, because "as a nonprofit organization, The Nature
Conservancy is prohibited from endorsing the products,
services, or viewpoints of any company or organization"
(quoted from TNC's own legal small print).
tells us that Alcoa Foundation (Alcoa is the world's largest
aluminium company) will give $500,000 over five years
"to help protect five critical forest systems around
the world." The five forests include the mangrove
forests of Brazils Amazon basin, and Mexicos
Ajos-Bavispe National Forest.
aye, this is odd. It's less than a year since Corpwatch
the world's largest aluminum company, has announced plans
to construct at least three large dams in the Brazilian
Amazon. These dams will guarantee a supply of energy for
Alcoa's Alumar plant in São Luis (a project of
Alcoa, BHP Billiton, and Alcan), and will permit the plant's
expansion. This comes at a time when Brazilian consumers
have been required to cut back their energy consumption
due to power shortages. Alcoa is the single largest consumer
of electricity in Brazil, and its Alumar plant receives
one-quarter of the energy generated by the Tucuruí
dam, which has had an enormous impact on the rainforest
and its inhabitants. The dams planned by Alcoa will flood
indigenous reserves, including the territories of the
Surui-Aiwekar, Karajá, Apinajé, Gavião,
Krahô, and Krikati peoples, as well as protected
ecological reserves and other critical wetlands in the
rainforest. Tens of thousands of families will lose their
homes and livelihood, including family farmers, fisherfolk,
babaçu palm nut gatherers, and ceramic makers.
the forests? From whom? Check
Alcoa's environmental attitude here. Also
And while you're at it,
what really fascinated us was The
Nature Conservancys International Leadership Council,
full of names you will recognise. There is
accused of aiding the genocides of Burma's SLORC junta.
Exxon, of Exxon Valdez fame, the strangest of partners
to an organisation which seeks "to protect imperiled
marine habitats". There's that darling of the environmental
movement, Monsanto. And Enron, last word in corporate
Motors, of course, is an ILC member. Its Chairman Jack
Smith sits on the Conservancys national Board of
Governors and co-chairs the Conservancys billion
dollar Campaign for Conservation.
No, you are not dreaming. This
is the same General Motors which was recently forced
to spend $500 million cleaning up a site on the St Lawrence
River into which it had dumped tons of waste screamingly
rich in PCBs (highly toxic polychlorinated biphenyls
wait a minute, aren't we supposed to be "Rescuing
the Rivers"? From whom?)
is the list of TNC's chosen few membership is by
invitation and, needless to say, payment of a fee.
AOL Time Warner
American Electric Power Company
Bank of America
The Boeing Company
The Coca-Cola Company
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
Dow Chemical Company
Duke Energy Corporation
Eastman Kodak Company
General Electric Company
General Motors Corporation
The Home Depot
Johnson & Johnson
Leucadia National Corporation
Lockheed Martin Corporation
MBNA America Bank, N.A.
The Procter & Gamble Company
Public Service Company of New Mexico
S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.
Toyota Motor Services of North America
One found oneself wondering - was there in fact a single
decent corporate citizen in the entire list?
set about a little rudimentary gumshoeing. Nothing that
anyone armed with a browser and cognisant of Google couldn't
do for themselves in an afternoon. We found that this
organisation that professes to be saving rivers has on
its Leadership Council five of the top-ten polluters of
US rivers with cancer-causing chemicals. And six of the
top-ten polluters of US rivers with birth defect-causing
Both lists include Dow Chemical. Only one company on the
ILC has (so far as our brief researches could establish)
not been involved in pollution, environmental despoliation,
child labour, abuse of animal or human rights, or been
indicted for corporate crime.
our findings here.
* PIRG Report: 'Troubled Waters, 1998' based on figures
from US EPA Toxic Release Inventory
are the desperados who booed when their swanky luncheon
was interrupted by the jhaadoo of Bhopal.
we doubt if they were shocked to learn that criminal charges
are pending against Carbide and will soon be applied to
Dow. In the last dozen years, just three members of The
Nature Conservancy's International Leadership Council,
Boeing, AT&T and General Electric, have between them
amassed 113 offences (including felonies to which they
have pleaded guilty) and paid out in fines, penalties,
restitution or settlement a total of $1,356,922,555.00.*
*Project on Government Oversight, 'Federal Contractor
consider these facts about The Nature Conservancy's favourite
corporation, General Motors. Even after GM spent $500
million cleaning up its site on the St Lawrence River,
one lagoon remains to be dredged. This place is so polluted
that it is known to local Akwesasne
Indians as "Contaminant Cove". It is still a
potent threat to the health of Indian families. Fish from
the river cannot be eaten, wells which once provided drinking
water to families living near the GM facilities are unusable
and families have to use bottled water.
million to clean up a polluted site?
Poisoned water? Severe
danger to health of Indian families?
aye, where have we heard that before?