Year 3, Month 6, Day 22: The Check Is In The Mail…And I Love You.

Color me unconvinced:

Call it the greening of Wall Street.

In the wake of a $30 billion commitment to new environmental investments by Wells Fargo in April and a $40 billion promise from Goldman Sachs this month, Bank of America will announce a 10-year, $50 billion initiative of its own on Monday.

Facing bad publicity on practically every front, the big banks are highlighting what has quietly become a hot growth area in recent years — backing projects and companies in sectors like renewable energy, emissions reduction and reduced-carbon transportation.

Bank of America officials said the initiative encompassed steps including underwriting initial public offerings for so-called green companies, making loans to consumers who buy hybrid vehicles and helping developers to retrofit old factories as well as investing in renewable energy.

I’ll believe it once I see Bank Of America stuff and mount Don Blankenship on a pedestal in their lobby, naked, with a carrot up his keister. Sent June 11:

It’s difficult to describe $50 billion over the next decade as a half-hearted first step, but that’s exactly what Bank of America is doing. With its long history of providing finance for the fossil fuel industry, BoA has an environmental record entitling it to more than a modicum of suspicion. Yes, energy efficiency (mostly from reducing its own emissions), energy infrastructure, transportation, and the other areas mentioned are important and worthy of support — but the bank’s continued funding of the coal industry (almost seven billion dollars in 2010 and 2011 alone) provides powerful evidence that this is a Potemkin investment strategy designed to deflect criticism without making any meaningful changes.

The announcement’s timing (one week before the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) is also suggestive of a public relations strategy rather than a robust commitment to protecting our environment at a time when the climate crisis looms over our posterity.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 6, Day 13: Sexy Sadie…You Made A Fool Of Everyone

The story finds a few legs in England (not much Stateside, though — gee, I wonder why?):

Some of America’s top companies are spending heavily to block action on climate change or discredit climate science, despite public commitments to sustainable and green values, a new report has found.

An analysis of 28 Standard & Poor 500 publicly traded companies by researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists exposed a sharp disconnect in some cases between PR message and less visible activities, with companies quietly lobbying against climate policy or funding groups which work to discredit climate science.

The findings are in line with the recent expose of the Heartland Institute. Over the years, the ultra-conservative organisation devoted to discrediting climate science received funds from a long list of companies which had public commitments to sustainability.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. All ya ever do is bitch. Sent June 3:

I can remember the launch of the “New Nixon” in 1968 — a cynical public relations gambit that provided a discredited politician sufficiently shiny new trappings to get him elected president of the USA. H.L. Mencken famously noted that “no one ever went broke underestimating the American public,” an observation verified by countless advertising campaigns in the ensuing decades.

When major American corporations make public statements about the seriousness of climate change, our first instincts should be ones of suspicion: are their words supported or undercut by their actions in the policy domain? The Union of Concerned Scientists’ report confirms yet again that the “corporate persons” exerting such disproportionate influence on US governance are morally deficient hypocrites driven entirely by greed.

As an intensifying greenhouse effect brings us perilously close to a planetary emergency, we cannot afford to let capitalism run amok, crassly savaging Earth’s resources in the service of profit.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 4, Day 27: Just Make It Stop. Please. Make It Stop.

Wherever Watertown, Wisconsin is, I just picked up a little squib noting that the SCOTUS is going to hear another climate-change related case:

As the EPA considers rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, Republicans in Congress lead an effort to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. Arguments will be heard Tuesday, April 19, before the U.S. Supreme Court over the ability of states and groups such as the Audubon Society to sue large electric utilities and force power plants in 20 states to cut their emissions.

With regard to our current Court I am extremely pessimistic despite the presence of Kagan and Sotomayor.

Sent April 17:

The upcoming Supreme Court case addressing the rights of states and organizations to bring utility companies to court over issues of greenhouse gas pollution will pose a pretty conundrum for the court’s conservative majority. In conferring “personhood” on corporations, the Citizens United decision should make it easier for these actions to proceed — but the Court’s overwhelming bias towards the interests of the very wealthiest elements of our society may well make their upcoming decision an example of egregious hypocrisy. It is a grave misfortune that the ideological majority of America’s judicial branch is so firmly lodged in the pocket of giant, greedy, and irresponsible corporate entities. Corporate greed and scientific ignorance make a lethal combination, and it would be especially tragic if this combination of venality, stupidity, and cupidity served to hinder the work of states and environmental groups attempting to mitigate the potential damage from global climate change.

Warren Senders