Environmental April Foolers

Sunday, April 4, 2010

by Andy Bichlbaum & Joseph Huff-Hannon, HUFFINGTON POST, April 1, 2010

Third Place: The Dow Live Earth Run for Water

dreamstime_6982690 This one had to be in our list for its sheer ballsiness. The Dow Chemical Company is coming to a neighborhood near you later this month with its "Dow Live Earth Run For Water." Wait, is that really the word "water" there at the end of that name? And is that the same Dow that refuses to clean up the groundwater in Bhopal, India — site of the largest industrial disaster in human history, committed by Dow’s fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide — so that children continue to be born there with debilitating birth defects? Is this the same Dow that has dumped hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemical byproducts into wetlands of Louisiana? The Dow that has literally poisoned its own backyard, leaving record levels of dioxins downriver from its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan? Yup, that’s the one.

So if your sense of irony needs to be exercised, strap on your running shoes to show how much you support Dow’s latest venture into promoting the "Human Element." Then again you could just skip the middle man and give the $50 entry fee to a somewhat more trustworthy cause. It’s not quite as funny of course, but it might actually do some good.

Second Place: the Coalition for Chemical Safety

We now turn our attention to our friends at the Coalition for Chemical Safety, a "public interest coalition" made up of "people like you," and looking to reform our nation’s chemical safety laws. The coalition couldn’t have come along at a more auspicious moment, given that this year Congress has promised to update the archaic Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which currently regulates only a tiny fraction of the 80,000 chemicals on the market.

The CCS counted among its earliest supporters a prominent marine biologist, Holly Lohuis of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Future Society, who has long spoken out about unregulated chemical dumping and its dangerous impact on marine ecosystems.

Oops! What a prank. Lohuis quickly figured out she’d been duped, and that those "people like you" were actually a coalition of chemical industry players led by the American Chemistry Council. Their pitch-perfect astroturf campaign even mimicked the website of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF), a real public interest coalition of 200 public health and environmental groups who are fighting for aggressive reform of our chemical safety laws. Some of those other "people like you" included the Fertilizer Institute, Ashland Chemical Company, PVS Chemicals, Polymer Ventures… and the Dow Chemicals Company.

Lohuis dropped her endorsement like a bad habit, and signed on with the SCHF. Their rallying cry? "Don’t be duped."

That was that for the CCS hoax, though the CCS website remains. But since one measure of a successful hoax is its longevity, the April Fools’ hoax grand prize winner is none other than…

Grand Prize: Climategate

No, not that Climategate, the one where the emails of a few peeved and defensive scientists, later exonerated by the British parliament, were stolen and used to discredit decades’ worth of peer-reviewed science on the seriousness of man-made climate change.

While that hoax was hugely effective — leading to a precipitous drop in Americans’ belief that climate change has manmade causes — we’re talking here about a much bigger Climategate, the mother of all hoaxes, pulled on the entire planet by a single American company, Koch Industries.

Over the last decade, Koch — a $100 billion-a-year conglomerate dominated by petroleum and chemical interests, with investments in coal, oil exploration and pipelines, and owned by the 19th richest man on the planet — has poured over $70 million into climate-denying think tanks, into TV and print advertisements, and into the political campaigns of Congressional representatives and Senators who oppose any and all legislation that would mandate even modest cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

A recent report in the Guardian lays out how the company has for many years now outspent even ExxonMobil in the crusade. While this hoax has been perpetrated for over a decade, the fact that we’re only now just hearing about it (from those Debbie Downers at GreenPeace) wins these guys the prize. [Read entire article]

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Water: Our Most Precious Resource: by Marc Devilliers. This highly readable report on the looming global water crisis is amazingly informative on water issues around the world from China to Texas.