Thursday, 23 August 2012



Capitalism and environmental protection are not compatible. The capitalist is driven to maximise profits, the ecologist  to safeguard nature. The United Nations declares that we should be concerned with ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
The capitalist will claim the loyalties of the investors and their workers in order to maximise profits for the company. It is 'grow or die!'.  The executives of Corporations and governments will assert that they operate to protect the environment and the interests of communities. They will endeavour to ‘green’ their products. But statements of Corporate Social Responsibility are a sham, a con trick perpetrated by companies to protect their commercial interests.
Social Ecologists argue: it is grow and die! Economic growth leads to the destruction of the biosphere, and to the deaths of many people. Major health problems such as lung cancer, brain tumours, mesothelioma, starvation, have become associated with capitalist enterprise. Medical authorities should take action to minimise the effects of pollution on people, and ban the products. The corporations and the governments persist with the production of  tobacco, asbestos, oil, mobile phones, among others, on the basis that the customers choose to buy and so are responsible for any harm that they suffer. Governments rely on the taxes raised on these products. In effect, there is no corporate social responsibility.


The new laws in Australia, Aug 14, mark a significant shift in attitudes to smoking tobacco.
Obviously, the Tobacco corporations have a different notion of Corporate Social responsibility to any other organizations and they are examples of social ir-responsibility!
Tobacco companies see nothing wrong with selling products that infect and kill their customers…….it is estimated that 6 million die each year across the world from the effects of smoking tobacco. They have been making cigarettes for many years, knowing that they were increasing the risks of chest infections and disease amongst their customers. Chris Woolston  [] reported that in the early 1960s, researchers at Brown & Williamson, one of the world's largest tobacco companies, made a sickening discovery......... Smoking causes lung cancer. But, in public, the company claimed cigarettes were perfectly safe: smoking is good for you. Behind closed doors, their scientists searched for ways to remove cancer-causing compounds from cigarettes. As their own internal documents show, the search for a safe cigarette was doomed from the start. The researchers found that burning tobacco produces a stunning collection of dangerous chemicals, no matter how it's grown, treated, or packaged. Simply put, cigarettes are not safe! are not good for you! In the USA, this finding was confirmed in 1964 by the report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health which declared that cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer: the more you smoke, the more likely you are to contract lung cancer.........and chronic bronchitis........... and chronic bronchopulmonary diseases.
Today, of course, the facts are well known. Everyone from the Surgeon General to the kid on the street corner knows smoking causes lung cancer. In fact, it causes the vast majority of all lung cancer, a disease that killed an estimated 160,000 Americans in 2007. Even the tobacco companies are now willing to admit the obvious. A statement on the Philip Morris Web site says it all: ‘We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that
cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other serious diseases such as throat cancer, bladder cancer.’ Despite this, their drive for sales continues. Their profits expand and grow, and many of their customers die from smoking their cigarettes! In 1980 their research indicated that secondary smoke from cigarettes was toxic, but this was not made public for 20 years.
Australia last year, 2011, passed legislation requiring all tobacco to be sold in plain packets with graphic health warnings from 1 December 2012. It is the first country to pass such stringent packaging legislation. August 2012, the law requiring all packets to be plain and have graphic warnings about cancer, along with pictures of cancers was upheld by the High Court.

Countries such as the USA, Britain, Canada and

New Zealand and the EU, are considering similar

moves, but are still talking.
Why don’t health authorities simply ban tobacco

products ? make them illegal, and prosecute the

tobacco corporations for selling products that
they all know  damage and/or kills their customers?

The recent developments in Asbestos, Quebec mark the hypocrisy of producers.
But even when a product has been banned, like asbestos, its effects continue. Asbestos fibres can cause various forms of cancer. The World Health Organisation estimates that 170,000 people die world wide annually from asbestos poisoning. People who worked with asbestos 50 years ago are coming forward with mesothelioma today. Others who were present when buildings exploded, such as the World Trade Centre in 2001, were exposed to asbestos fibres, and many have died of asbestos cancers. The  MAA Center [] is one of the centres  that monitors the many different ways in  w
hich the companies producing asbestos continue to endanger the workers and users of asbestos through the spread of mesothelioma.             
The dangers of asbestos were known 100 years ago. Companies like Bendix, Borg Warner,Chevron, Chrysler, Dow Chemicals, Kodak, Ford, General Electric manufactured and sold asbestos products.  Its use, and the profits generated, were more important than the lives of the workers and the consumers. Mining and processing was banned  in the EU, 2005: but continues in Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Canada, Brazil. China is the major producer, and consumer  of asbestos. Canada has long banned the use of asbestos, but allows the mining and export of up to 120,000 tons of white asbestos each year from Quebec.  The asbestos is to be exported to India, Indonesia, and the Philippines for use in the construction industry.             
What is the point of making statements and policies of CSR  when they mean nothing in practice, and only represent the double  standards of governments and corporations?
This is despite the fact that asbestos fibres are the cause of various forms of lung cancer. http// This is despite the fact that the Government  knows of these dangers, and actively removes asbestos from buildings, and forbids its use in building operations in Canada. These actions are tantamount to hypocrisy driven by the desire to 'make money'.
 It is worth noting that Asbestos products have not been banned in the USA, and the Surgeon General did not issue a health warning until April, 2009.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Toxicology Program, and the Environmental Protection Agency all declared asbestos a known human carcinogen decades ago. And yet U.S. imports of crude asbestos fibers rose by 235% between 2009 and 2010. Worldwide nearly 2 million tons of it were mined for use in things like cements, automotive
parts, protective footwear, and textiles. All of Europe, many countries in South America, and Saudi Arabia and others have banned asbestos. However, the United States has not seen fit to ban asbestos.
The health effects of asbestos are wide ranging, from an asbestos-related lung condition called asbestosis,  to mesothelioma, which is a tumor that affects the lining of the lungs, in the pleura, the lining of the abdomen, and this is a tumor that is unique to asbestos. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, has now designated asbestos as cause of laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, and other forms of gastrointestinal cancer.  So it’s one substance that has had a wide variety of use but has been associated with multiple types of diseases including respiratory disease and cancer. More than 60 countries have banned asbestos.

December 10th 2009 marks the start of the 'trial of the century' in Italy.  Two executives of the company, Eternit, have been accused of  causing an environmental disaster leading to the deaths of 2,200 workers, and ill health of hundreds of others, due to asbestos poisoning in four factories.
February 13th 2012 the court in Turin found ETERNIT guilty, and sent the two executives to prison.     

Oil: who is to be trusted?
With the exploitation of oil, action can be taken to protect local communities from pollution. But as the legal battles between Chevron and the government of  Ecuador show, such actions are never straightforward and can drag on for years.
October 2009, the multibillion-dollar legal case between Amazon peasants and Chevron over oil pollution in Ecuador’s rain forest keeps unfolding more like a mystery thriller than a battle of briefs.  Since the oil giant released videos in August 2009 that were secretly taped by two businessmen, Ecuadorean officials and Chevron have accused each other of gross improprieties, including espionage. Chevron gambled that the disclosure of the videos would enable it to cast doubt on the integrity of the trial, and the honesty of the Ecuadorean legal system. But the tapes have also raised questions about its ties to the men who made the recordings, potentially opening the company to a new legal fight. The tapes were the latest turn in a legal marathon over oil contamination left by Texaco years before it was acquired by Chevron.  The fight has become one about 'damages' not about environment. On Monday 14th February, 2011, after 17 years of legal battle, the second-largest oil company in the US, Chevron, was found guilty by Ecuadorian courts of massive environmental contamination of the Amazon. Chevron was ordered to pay a fine of $9 billion in damages. This is the largest judgement ever made against a US company for environmental contamination and is the first time that indigenous and farming communities have won judgements in foreign courts against a US company for environmental crimes abroad.
From 1964 to 1990, Chevron made billions of USD in profits through oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In the long- running trial in US and Ecuadorian courts, Chevron admitted to deliberately discharging around 18 billion gallons of toxic waste-water into the water systems of the Amazon. The company committed a series of environmental crimes, such as spilling 17 million of gallons of pure crude oil from ruptured pipelines and abandoning more than 900 unlined waster pits which leeched toxins, contaminating the air, soil and water. Chevron ordered workers to destroy records of these crimes and never carried out any environmental impact studies.
May 2010 witnessed the oil pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, and the shorelines of Louisiana, following the destruction of  the Macondo platform. The chief executives of BP, in public, were more concerned with minimising the significance of the oil spill, asserting that the quantities of oil were minor in comparison to previous spills. To say this, is to ignore the horror of the catastrophe for the local communities, and the destruction of fisheries, and marine life.  The US government has declared the oil spill the biggest ever ! If such oil companies as BP  took corporate social responsibility seriously, they would not have  drilled for oil in such ocean localities in the first place: the Deep Water Horizon well extracts oil from a depth of 2 miles! July 2010 - the CEO of BP has paid the consequences of his public indifference by being dismissed.
Nov. 2011 the exploitation of the tar sands in Canada has led Shell into conflict with the First Nations of Athabaska for failure to meet contractual agreements.
In Nigeria, Shell are legally obliged to restore Ogoniland from the effects of oil pollution. 'Fracking', a process whereby oil and gas are forced out of the ground by water, has resulted in earthquakes in Lancashire, UK. What sort of madness is this?
Mobile phones
Multi-tasking in a vehicle leads to distracted drivers.
And how should we regard Motorola or AT&T? and  the marketing of cell phones/mobile phones ? During the 1960's both corporations have admitted that they knew that 'multi-tasking' by the driver in the car, with a cell phone causes distraction, and accidents, and death....... So, of course, they mounted a campaign against the use of these phones by drivers? Not a bit of it. Motorola mounted a campaign promoting their use by lorry drivers.  Now, they have developed 'hands-free' mobile phone kits fitted in the car and lorry. This is despite the fact that they are aware that  'multi-tasking' is dangerous: leading to 2,600 fatal crashes, and 570,000 accidents in the USA, in 2007.  In Dec 2009, the BBC reported that the Transport Research Lab.UK revealed that in London the use of mobile phones in vehicles was on the increase, despite the fact that it was illegal.
January 2010, the lawmakers of the USA are drawing up legislation to control 'distracted driving'. Four bills are pending in Congress that would push the States to regulate various types of cellphone use by drivers, including banning texting, requiring hands-free devices or prohibiting motorists under the age of 21 from using any devices. In the USA, generally, States regulate their roadways — which is why, safety advocates say, the actions of state lawmakers play such a critical role in addressing the issue. (Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. ban texting while driving, and six states and Washington require use of hands-free devices by motorists talking on phones.) In December, 2009, the House of Representatives passed an order banning 8,000 House staff members from texting while driving (following  an order signed in October by President Obama banning 4.5 million federal employees from texting in state-provided cars or phones or during work hours).
Nov.2011; a court in California ruled that using a hand held phone at a traffic lights is part of the ban, and illegal.
December 14 2011, the US  National Transportation Board issued a report  urging all states of the US to ban all use of mobile phones in automobiles. Their research into the links between distracted drivers  and accidents over the last 10 years had forced them, in the face of opposition from phonemakers and carmakers, as well as lawmakers, to draw the conclusion that mobile phones in autos are dangerous!

December 2011, there are 3 billion users of mobile phones across the world. To put it another way: 3 billion people are  directly subject to the effects of micro-wave radiation, and may be subject to  skin rashes, brain tumors, sleeping disorders. Mobiles can damage your health. Governments and manufacturers know this, but say nothing...... However, on April 26 2012, the Health Protection Agency in the UK  issued a report that declared that there is no hard evidence of bad health effects from mobile phones.
The report confirmed that the greatest dangers of mobile phones is their use in cars and lorries, leading to 'distracted driving'.

CSR and pollution
McDonalds has been encouraging the growth of soya beans, which has led to the resumption of clearing of forests for farmland in the Amazon valley.
Elsewhere, in the forests of Indonesia, Wilmar, a palm oil producer, has been caught by Friends of the Earth, violating its own CSR policies by cutting forests and occupying land without permission.  
Ethics World tells us that there can be a lot of ‘greenwash’ ! Ethics World newsletter tells us that reports :Much of the past fifty years has been characterized by a corporate attitude of denial or obligation. Only over the past fifteen to twenty years have companies begun to look at social and environmental challenges as business opportunities by "greening" their current products and processes. For example, Walmart declares its food products ‘organic’ and ‘green’ so as to attract customers ……….even though there is evidence from WalmartWatch denying these claims;they suggest that for Walmart sustainability is a public relations campaign.

No comments:

Post a Comment