Theater of Cruelty

Emperor's green clothes

The Green Lie. World saving as a profitable business model
Forfatter: Kathrin Hartmann
Forlag: Blessing (Tyskland)
The concept of "green washing" became part of our language after eco-thinking became trendy, and states and corporations realized that they could wash dirty business with beautiful promises.


If all the people on the planet were to live and consume in the same way as in rich countries, we would need three planets. This is what the researchers agree. Between 1980 and 2010, consumption of plant minerals and fossil raw materials has doubled, from 40 to 80 billion tonnes. Forests are being cut down, biodiversity is shrinking, land is eroding, greenhouse gases are increasing, and hunger is growing. How can it happen if more and more goods are "organic"? In the book The Green Lie author Kathrin Hartmann gives us proof and analysis of the thesis: "Greenwashing" stands up to all attempts at clarification. The more knowledgeable the target group, the more harmful the product, the more absurd the promises, the bigger the lie in other words, the more willing it is to be received. In this way, the exploitation of resources is disguised with a "sustainable" cloak. How is this kind of scam possible? There are many examples. Take the Nespresso Capsule: We don't even need George Clooney's coffee-brown eyes to accept that the no-frills machine, which in no time spouts out hot coffee, is a necessity everyday. That one kilogram of capsule coffee costs around NOK 800, we include in the purchase. From 2006 to today, the amount of coffee capsules sold, in 400 stores around the globe, has increased from 3 to 10 billion and has become a world success for the notorious manufacturer Nestlé. The empty aluminum capsules make up at least 8000 tons of garbage each year. Now it is no secret that aluminum extraction is environmental wastage, adding gigantic rainforest areas broke. Equivalent amounts of electricity are needed in the production process, which leads to the construction of dams. The facilities rob land of indigenous peoples, who are forced to relocate, they poison soil and water every time heavy metals leak out.

In this way, the exploitation of resources is disguised with a "sustainable" cloak.

Nestlé is one of many companies that invokes a program for "sustainable" coffee. It is not about biological cultivation or fair trade, but it sounds good, the coffee farmer smiles widely on the homepages, the consumer is convinced by the green fake news and get the feeling of contributing to a better world.

Corrupt panda?

Kathrin Hartmann has spent several years collecting extensive evidence. This is her best weapon for the accused: criticizing her for speaking to the congregation would thus pass the target. And consumers are not shooting this time. On the other hand, there are those who not only practice violence against people and the environment, but who also unscrupulously green-wash their raw material and carry out a blank disclaimer. Governments camouflage gross exploitation of small farmers, companies join forces with nonprofit environmental organizations and produce lucrative quality certificates. And here it becomes a really smelly soup: The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) – founded in 1961 by nobles, big game hunters, industrial magnates and millionaires – is one of the world's largest conservation organizations and among those who have been criticized for contributing to questionable green-washing.

green Washing
Kathrin Hartmann

The demand for palm oil is one of the main reasons for the rain forest being cut down. When big palm oil companies participate in roundtable conferences and come up with the concept of "sustainable palm oil", it is with the help of WWF. The conservation organization claims that it, as an independent partner, works with the industry to improve it. From the round table a lot of documents about alleged improvements are sent out. These circulate in government offices and corporate floors until there is "independent agreement" and signatures are in place. WWF then pastes its well-known panda on the product. Grocery manufacturer Unilever (the world's largest consumer of palm oil) is among those who can wash their hands panda green.

The fight against giants

Kathrin Hartmann gives with her investigations – also presented in the film The Green Lie together with Werner Boote (known for the documentary Plastic Planet) - support for the fight for a healthier environment and a more just society. It's a fight against giants. But the resistance of the victims is increasing, and it is increasingly heard. In a German courtroom one November day in 2017, Peruvian Saúl Luciano Lliua was facing charges against German energy company RWE AG. The company is responsible for Europe's largest greenhouse gas emissions CO2. Among other things, RWE is famous for its attempt at greenwashing through advertising The Green Giant - the green giant. With that, they cashed in the EU's Sausage Lobbyingprice.

The consumer is convinced of the green fake news and get the feeling of contributing to a better world.

In the Peruvian highlands, where Lliua lives, climate change has caused the glacier at his village to melt at a turbot tempo. The melt water has created a constantly growing pond that threatens to rupture and even the village with the earth. Lliuma demands that RWE pay a compensation of 17 euros – a microscopic sum for RWE – that will allow Peruvians to invest in protective measures against the water disaster they are facing. The outcome of the trial is open. For now, the victory lies in the fact that it takes place at all. In the time to come, it will be the result of several similar lawsuits. In the bickering battle surrounding planetary predation and the oppression of the poor, no longer a single great sinner on one side of the globe, which contributes to the destruction of entire population groups on the other, will feel secure.

See A warning to the enlightened consumer

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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