Saturday, November 6, 2010

Greenwashing America

By Alan Caruba

Every time you see some product being sold as “Green”, allegedly safer or beneficial for the environment, you can be sure that it is more expensive than a comparable product that does the same thing without making this claim.

Everything you eat, drink, wear or use begins as a “natural” product. It is absurd to think that calling it “Green” improves it in any fashion. Countless inspections before anything reaches the marketplace ensure product safety. To put it another way, a carrot is a carrot is a carrot.

Recently I received a news release from a public relations firm touting clients selling Green products such as “Parsley Plus All-Purpose Cleaner”, along with “stylish organic bed linens, “natural and organic clothing”, a “99.6% natural line” of shampoos, and, “100% Bamboo towels.”

In a similar fashion, every time you hear a corporation claiming it is concerned about the environment you can be sure that it is trying to protect itself against lawsuits from environmental groups or Environmental Protection Agency action that will eat into its profits and dividends.

A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Misleading Claims on ‘Green’ Labeling” cited a study asserting that “more than 95% of consumer products examined committed at least one offense of ‘greenwashing’, a term used to describe unproven environmental claims, according to TerraChoice, a North American environmental-marketing company that issued the report.”

“Environmental-marketing company”? By reading further down in the article, one learns that “TerraChoice was recently acquired by Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product-safety certification organization”, adding that both companies “could benefit if more manufacturers seek third-party verification of the eco-claims.” You think?

Consumers Union, an independent testing company, has built its reputation on its review of various products. Underwriters Laboratories has done the same, but there is no reason to believe any Green product claim, particularly since TerraChoice has announced it is probably a scam. Not surprisingly, third party certification has been offered by some major environmental organizations as yet another way to raise a few bucks.

It is no accident that the term “greenwashing” is akin to “brainwashing”, a term that came out of the Korean War when it was learned that American prisoners of war were subjected to “re-education” by their captors.

Communists have always been big on re-education, a practice of nations such as China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, and others where you were expected change your mind and learn to love Big Brother. The alternative was that you either stayed in their concentration camps or were systematically murdered for the crime of having been an intellectual, a landowner, or a bourgeois capitalist.

Communism murdered more people in the last century than all its wars combined.

Environmental organizations, in league with an unquestioning mainstream media, have been greenwashing and brainwashing the public for decades. It usually takes the form of scare campaigns and, in the case of supermarket products, it is directed at chemicals, plastics, how livestock is raised, or some other totally superfluous “issue” that has nothing to do with the quality, price or safety of the product. The object is always the same, to lay a guilt trip on the consumer, i.e., to greenwash them.

Green product claims go hand-in-hand with the metastasizing Green regulations whose bottom line raises the costs of everything in America these days. Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute is an expert on regulatory affairs. When it comes to the environment, Congress passed 1,163 new laws between 1973 and 2006. Ms. Logomasini found that only 85 of those statutes reduced government regulation, while 795 increased it. The remaining were deemed to lack significant regulatory impact.

Five of the fifty volumes containing the federal regulatory code are devoted exclusively to environmental regulation and an additional twelve also address environmental regulation in some respect. The Small Business Administration concluded that environmental regulation is the leading regulatory expense for businesses with fewer than 20 employees, averaging $3,296 per worker.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency that generates the new laws and regulations is totally out of control. It has been on a regulatory binge anticipating a Congress controlled by Republicans. Nothing rational explains President Obama’s continued reference to greenhouse gas emissions, Green cars, and, especially, Green jobs when so many Americans are out of work..

The EPA, created by Richard Nixon with an executive order in 1970, has to be downsized to its original mandate, ensuring clean air and clean water. When it began to define rain puddles as navigable waters and ordinary dust as a pollutant, you have to know just how crazed and dangerous it has become.

It will take a generation or two for Americans to shake loose of the insanity that is environmentalism. Long seen as a religion, it seeks total control over every aspect of your life.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Guy in Ohio said...

The first "green" thing I can remember was Earth Day. I was a kid, and the neighborhood I grew up in had a small lake. Earth Day amounted to getting the neighbors together to clean up the shorelines and park areas ... and it made good sense. We all pitched in, cleaned things up, and everyone benefited.

In the next few years, the environmental movement gained steam, and a lot of really serious environmental issues were addressed ... the air quality improved, the rivers ran cleaner, and we all enjoyed the benefits. There were costs involved with these changes, but most Americans were willing to absorb those costs as long as they could see a direct impact on their quality of life.

However, somewhere along the way, things got out of hand. Now, we have rules and regulations that cripple business and add phenomenal costs to our society, and in many cases, there is little or no measurable benefit to them. The EPA has been given the power to do pretty much anything they want to do, and anyone who dares to object is crucified.

It's just one more example of why it is so important to limit the size and scope of government, and place strict controls on the powers granted to it. Power breeds corruption, and the EPA has certainly become a great example of that.

Let's hope this Congress will put the EPA in their place and restore some common sense to our environmental regulations before our manufacturing sector collapses completely.

Ronbo said...

Clearly, the so-called Environmentalist Movement is nothing more than the pagan religion branch of the socialist international that seeks to reduce Western living standards to Third World norms by the repeal of the Industrial Revolution.

If this happens the West will be ripe for the tyranny of a self appointed Marxist ruling class, who will not suffer a reduction of their living standards, as The Algore and other wealthy neo-communist Environmentalists have proven over the years.

However, thanks to an army of pajama clad bloggers, like the cavalry buglers in scores of Western movies, sound the charge for Patriots at war with the international Left's latest dirty little game of world conquest.

LarryOldtimer said...

Guy said: "There were costs involved with these changes, but most Americans were willing to absorb those costs"

The fact is, Americans were never told how immense the costs would be, and in most cases, how little or how negative the so-called "benefits" would be.

The "save the planet" whackos don't seem to know that it is natural forces which control the climate and environment.

I certainly like to have a well tended yard, but it is not necessary to sterilize the soil completely to keep the weeds out.

I like clean air to breathe, but it doesn't need to be "squeaky" clean.

"Clean" streams and rivers are great, but not so clean fish and other creatures can't live in them.

Carbon dioxide has no effect on warming or cooling of this planet, and physical experiment would demonstrate this nicely. Thermometers indicate nothing but the temperature of the thermometer itself.

Higher concentrations of CO2 would only increase the greenery of this planet, and lower concentrations of CO2 would reduce the mass of green plants. Animals can't live without plants to eat, baseline.

As Alan recently wrote, volcanic activity has greatly increased as of late. If it keeps on, and it well may, anticipate rather drastic cooling of this planet, and substantial deaths of humans, plants and other animals.

It should be obvious that far more PhDs in the sciences have been granted than there is useful work for them to do. Idle hands are indeed the Devil's workshop.

As Alan writes, this "green" movement is nothing but a great swindle of persons all over Planet Earth, to enrich a relatively few.

The "greeny weinies" have great hatred of the human species, desire the extinction of the human species, and this means you, whoever "you" happen to be.

Nothing can be "sustainable" unless the price for it can be paid.

Guy in Ohio said...

I guess that was my point Larry. When the cost of environmentalism was spending a weekend cleaning up the lake, or paying $400 more for a car with a catalytic converter to reduce smog, I was all for it. Affordable improvements that yield measurable, noticeable benefits make sense to me.

However, when "environmentalism" ballooned to handing the EPA totalitarian authority, and allowing them to appropriate billions of taxpayer dollars for ridiculous and misguided programs, they lost me. Now, that simple catalytic converter isn't enough ... we have to eliminate the engine entirely, and it's ridiculous.

The power we gave them has corrupted them, and, like most other branches of the bloated federal government, it's time to reign them in.

LarryOldtimer said...

I can recall when steel companies were required to clean up what was emitted from their stacks. Good idea. But, it should have been obvious that this would increase their cost of doing business, and steel prices would rise as a result.

Instead, our government howled that this was inflationary, and raised interest rates to quell what was called "inflation".

When companies have to spend large amounts of money for this sort of large project, they have to borrow money, and to keep costs down, they don't borrow all of it at once, but do so in stages as needed. Yet the "head of the fed" immediately raised interests rates, and continued to do so causing the costs of "cleaning up the air" to substantially increase and steel prices to increase well beyond what would have been the case had interest rates not been raised.

Had those in our government been honest with us, and told us that the price of steel would increase due to environmental policies, rather than demonize the steel companies for the increased price of steel, and not call increases in prices due to government requirements "inflation", the actual increase in the price of steel and many other consumer goods would have been far less, and US companies would have not have had to move their operations out of the US, in order to stay in business.

There would be more good paying jobs for Americans than is the case had all of this sort of thing been done in a rational fashion.

retch said...

Took me much too long to realize it, but "green" is nothing but recycled chlorophyll.

Alan Caruba said...

@retch: Welcome to the blog. And green is also the color people turn with they become violently ill.