An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone Bad
By Christine MacDonald
(Lyons Press, Hardcover, 9781599214368, 265pp.)
Publication Date: September 2008
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She was in for a shock. In "Green, Inc." she lays bare the truth about the well-heeled lifestyles of the world's top conservationists and their dubious relationships with the corporate world. This scandalous snapshot from inside a good cause gone bad scrutinizes the dealings of:
- Environmental organizations that together have more than 15 million members and operate in over 100 countries--including Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Conservation Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, and Greenpeace
- Leading conservationists, such as Peter Seligmann, Conservation International's cofounder, chairman, and CEO--renowned for his jet-setting ways and his finesse at cultivating ties with big corporations; and Adam Werbach, the former Sierra Club president, who defected in 2006 to work as a consultant for Wal-Mart, which he'd once called a "virus, infecting and destroying American culture."
- E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., General Electric, Eastman Kodak, ExxonMobil, Nissan, and Dow Chemical--which donate millions of dollars to top environmental groups in return for their lavish praise despite being named as among America's top ten worst corporate air polluters.
Christine MacDonald, a journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, was formerly manager of the Media Capacity Building Program of Conservation International’s Global Communications Division. She lives in Washington, DC.
No matter if the science of global warming is all phony climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” --Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment
An angry exposé claims that leading environmental organizations are now headed by overpaid chief executives who solicit contributions from companies that tout their greenness while continuing their predatory ways.
Freelance journalist MacDonald begins by pointing out that, unlike other activists such as labor organizers or feminists, early conservationists were not radicals but respectable gentlemen like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. Matters changed in the 1960s, when outrage over pesticides, toxic waste and nuclear power led to an influx of young militants. They changed even more in the '80s, when a proliferation of self-made billionaires, many of them former '60s militants, opened their wallets. From hand-to-mouth organizations existing on membership fees and the occasional bequest, groups such as Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club grew to own skyscrapers, private jets and overseas offices while employing tens of thousands of workers who oversee billions of dollars in spending. Fighting the still-losing battle to save the environment energizes the rank and file, but their leaders have adopted the lifestyle and priorities of private industry: increase revenue, expand markets, outstrip competitors. These leaders are taking advantage of the fact that it is no longer acceptable to sneer at conservationists. Mining and power companies, Wal-Mart, Exxon and Shell now proclaim their concern for the environment, backing this up with a little bit of action and a lot of generous contributions. These come with strings attached, MacDonald emphasizes. She offers depressing examples of polluters who contributed, announced that they were mending their ways, then enjoyed support from their beneficiaries as they proceeded with destructive projects fiercely opposed by local conservationists.
Readers who take for granted that environmental organizations are made up of long-haired tree huggers and wilderness buffs will receive a jolt to learn how Green Inc.'s newfound prosperity has led it astray. --Kirkus Review
Green Inc. is a must read. Christine McDonald reveals the seedy underbelly of the greenwashing movement where brand-name environmental groups provide a PR bonanza for some of the worst polluters in corporate America, and get paid to do it. Americans will never look at many environmental groups the same way after reading Green Inc. Green Inc. should stir a revolt among the dues-paying membership of the environmental movement against those who believe working with oil companies to improve their image is the way to save the earth. --Jamie Court, President, Consumer Watchdog, and author of Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom and What You Can Do About It
"[A] scathing indictment of the surprising profligacy and complacency of some of the world's top environmental organizations...impossible to ignore." --Publishers Weekly