Insanity in Business – a Guardian Special

The Guardian Environment pages seem to have taken a turn for the better, with less frequent articles telling us that the world is melting and that we can save it by cleaning our teeth less often. Leo Hickman even used his interactive blog to track down an exaggerated claim in an Attenborough documentary and get it corrected.

First they ban the sceptics from the comments, then they do the thing that sceptics have been asking them to do all along, and take the credit. Well done.

What’s happened is that green insanity has moved house and now resides on the Guardian Business pages. The thinking is presumably to attract the small ads for those millions of green jobs which are in the pipeline (oops!). Apparently no-one has told the Guardian that the majority of green job opportunities are for bus drivers, refuse collectors, ethanol petrol pump attendants, scavengers on landfill sites, etc. – not your typical Guardian reader. (though what do I know about the profile of your average refuse collector – or average Guardian reader, come to that?) See

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/climate-change-abolitionists

and

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/interactive/climate-change-abolitionists-fighting-sustainable-world

and weep.

“Climate change abolitionists: who is fighting for a more sustainable world?

It took Abraham Lincoln and others many years of campaigning to abolish slavery – but who are the contemporary figures fighting to abolish dangerous climate change? 

“Here we have a selection of climate change abolitionists, those engaging in an uphill battle to challenge the broken systems that threaten our survival. As you can see, we’ve left eighteen spaces blank – these are for your suggestions. 

“Put forward your climate change abolitionists in the comments section below, email them or tweet us @GuardianSustBiz. You can do this until Wednesday 6 March and shortly after we’ll use your suggestions to fill the empty spaces.”

In the 28 comments received before commenting was closed, suggestions included Peter Gleick, John Cook, Tamino and Polly Higgins, to add to Bill McKibben, Raj Pachauri, Jim Hansen, Michael Mann, Joe Romm, Al Gore, Jonathan Porritt , an awful lot of environmmental lawyers, David Blood – co-founder and senior partner of Generation Investment Management and Jigar Shah- founder of SunEdison, a partner at Inerjys, a fund that invests in clean energy NEEDS REWRITE.

(“NEEDS REWRITE” seems to be an internal Guardian directive. Perhaps I’d better have a look at Jiar Shah before his CV gets changed)

What’s odd is that the Guardian Environment pages, which appeal mainly to people who like bikes, organic gardening and cuddly animals, at least used to make an effort to explain and justify “the science”.

The Guardian Business pages, which presumably appeal to rational beings out to make money in a hard world, have abandoned all connection to reasoned argument and fallen victim to the delirium of climate change abolition as a moral crusade, embracing the weirdest  outer reaches of green totalitarian thinking.

The breathless teen-magazine call to vote for your fave green giant mega-hero seems to be by Hannah Gould, content coordinator for Guardian Professional.  She doesn’t get credited as author, but comments on numerous articles, thanking other commenters for their input, e.g. at

“Sustainable fashion top tweeters list

“Engaging consumers in sustainable behaviour – live discussion

“Who is fit to fund our social enterprise selling safe solar lanterns in Africa?”

and

“Can Christian philosophy strengthen the quality of business relationships?”

It’s a crap job, but it’s green, and somebody’s got to do it.

There’s no indication of who put together the list of failed prophets, has-been green revolutionaries and outright eco-fascists who account for a major part of the Green Business Hall of Fame. What on earth can Guardian Business readers hope to learn from Joe Romm and Polly Higgins, except hatred for the large majority of the human race who don’t agree with them? What kind of businessman would want to ally himself with polemicists who spit bile on the majority of his potential customers?

The accompanying article by  Andrew Winston at least attempts to make a rational argument for going green:

“…tackling climate change and building a clean economy will drive growth: it’s what billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson calls ‘the greatest wealth-generating opportunity of our generation’…

“Climate abolitionists are not fighting to eliminate growth… What we want to abolish is our outmoded, broken economic and energy systems that threaten our survival… We’re seeking a new way of powering our world that will save vast sums of money (variable costs of near zero), avoid the significant health impacts of burning dirty fossil fuels, and conserve our planet’s ability to support not only our entire $70tn economy, but our very existence”.

It may be nonsense, but it’s nonsense couched in rational terms that can be refuted. Andrew Winston is “a globally recognised advisor, speaker, and writer on sustainable business” and co-author of the international bestseller Green to Gold.

He has a blog at http://www.andrewwinston.com/. A typical article begins:

“A New Algorithm for Fast Carbon Footprinting

“Low-cost carbon footprinting is a Holy Grail for the sustainability world. But how do you measure your footprint at multiple levels — from products to business lines to the whole enterprise — quickly and cheaply? Over the last few years, PepsiCo has been working with partners at Columbia University to solve this interesting and complex business problem..”

(1 comment: “Very interesting Andrew” leading to a broken link. You’d think PepsiCo could summon up a few of their 5 billion customers to reply..)

All this may seem trivial in the greater scheme of things. What does it matter what Hannah Gould and Andrew Winston think? Shouldn’t we be concentrating on Sir Paul Nurse and co, not to mention David Cameron and Barak Obama?

It’s a seamless web though, isn’t it. Or a tangled skein. Or maybe a tangled web. It won’t matter how many caveats are introduced into IPCC AR5, or how much debate it provokes at RealClimate and WattsUpWithThat, if the government continues to dole out billions to support fake green enterprise and the fake green entrepreneurs continue to think, in all innocence, that Joe Romm and Michael Mann are the scientific geniuses of the century, and Polly Higgins is our spiritual and ethical leader.

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8 Responses to Insanity in Business – a Guardian Special

  1. alexjc38 says:

    Very curious indeed – business and the Guardian have always seemed like strange bedfellows though, in my view.

    I’m not sure where this fits into the picture, but Climate Week starts tomorrow in the UK (4th-10th March), having been dismissed by Damian Carrington recently as a “topsy-turvy conundrum”:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2013/feb/05/climate-week-protest-edf-gas

    Between them, I wonder whether the Guardian and campaign group No Dash for Gas have managed to scupper Climate Week, this year? Or not… It’s difficult to tell.

  2. hro001 says:

    Actually, Geoff, in fairness to the Guardian, these risible travesties might not even be seen by those who frequent the Business section. The posts you’ve linked to hang off Guardian Sustainable Business which (currently, at least) resides in the “Professional networks” section – along with 14 others, which range from “Careers” to “Global Development” to “Social Enterprise” to “Voluntary Sector”.

    The key word, in this instance, of course is “Sustainable” which for some time now has been drowning out and/or supplanting “global warming” aka “climate change” in green circles (and certainly in UNEP circles – as I’ve noted on my own blog from time to time😉 )

    So … in the grand Guardian scheme of things, it’s quite possible that “Guardian Environment’s … turn for the better” is merely a paradigm shift to the latest and greatest source(s) of the next big scare(s)!

    Be on the lookout for “solutions” that require “transformative changes” – which may (or may not) be in keeping with the UN General Assembly’s recently “adopted” resolutions on a “New International Economic Order”, and a “New Global Human Order” – both of which will (presumably) be “guided by” some resolution or other which calls for “Harmony with Nature”.

    [Sources for the above available at Of (CO2 driven) climate fears and the UNEP’s “transformative changes”]

  3. Mooloo says:

    I followed that link Alex. Intriguing. Carrington raises an interesting point about whether radical groups should accept corporate sponsorship or not. Of course they shouldn’t, but keeping a straight moral line when you don’t actually stand for very much is pretty hard.

    (Yes, I say the ecomentalists don’t stand for much. At least in terms of ideas which can be definitively nailed down in a practical sense. They spout loads of terms like “new economy” without ever defining what that means. Of course they stand against a whole bunch of things, but that’s quite different.)

    I wonder if Carrington ever stops to think how “his” side are tainted by all sorts of dodgy money, but the well funded denial machine is 1) not remotely as well funded, and more pertinently 2) has no reverse issue. Because, of course, finding a multi-national making it big in the new Green economy is a wild goose chase.

    They talk about all these opportunities, but no-one can make them pay. Mind you, I would expect any business reader in the Guardian to be effectively a rent-seeker in mentality, so that merges well then.

  4. steveta_uk says:

    On the topic of Leo picking up on the Attenborough mistake: I recorded the final “Africa” when first shown, but didn’t get round to watching it until this weekend.

    When it got to the claim “over 3C” claim, my wife, who is quite non-technical, and doesn’t follow such things in the news at all, asked immediately “Did he say ‘over 3C in 20 years? That’s absurd!”.

    So how is it that someone exercising nothing more than common sense could instantly spot the error but David Attenborough and the production team couldn’t?

  5. The propagandists are getting desperate. No longer satisfied with merely attempting to associate anyone who disagrees with them with holocaust denial, they are now trying to associate themselves with slavery abolitionists!

  6. Paul
    The association of scepticism with proslavery attitudes has ben put forward before.
    There’s a variant in an article by Ehrlich among others at
    http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/resources/Kinzig%20et%20al.pdf
    suggesting that governments should “get ahead of” (i.e. ignore) the wishes of the electorate when it comes to environmental regulation, citing the anti-slavery laws as examples. This is a particularly bad example, given that the anti-slavery movement in Britain in the late 18th century was a genuine mass movement, and the debate in parliament (which lasted three days) was a genuine debate. If the warmists would (a) create a genuine mass movement and (b) deign to debate with us, they’d be in a better postion to criticise us slave owners/flat earthers/ deniers.

    Barry Woods just objected to the use of the term “denier” in a comment at
    http://www.climatepsychologyalliance.org/what-can-the-climate-psychology-alliance-achieve-through-the-medium-of-a-website-by-adriantait/
    The author came back with an interesting justification, that: “Evidence of any kind of unpleasant or threatening situation (eg a terminal medical diagnosis) can evoke denial”.
    I’m not sure that being accused of refusing to face the fact that I have a terminal disease is much better than being assimilated with Holocaust deniers. I’ve added a comment, but it’s in moderation.

  7. alexjc38 says:

    @ Mooloo, I’ve found a number of Guardian Enviro articles in past years, all critical of Climate Week; it looks like they’ve been against it from the start. My feeling is that they’re not doing themselves any favours.

    It’s a bit of a tough choice for the climate movement, generally – go mainstream and acquire corporate sponsorship (and visibility) from Tesco, RBS and Nissan (I notice, by the way, that Climate Week’s sponsors this year are relative B-listers Crown Paints, Ecotricity and Andrex) or stay pure and settle for the sort of traditional activism that Greenpeace is inflicting on Knutsford this week and isn’t building any sort of mass movement. Pragmatism or gestures, as it were.

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