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Green, Inc. March 11, 2010

Posted by Jill S. Schneiderman in book review, John Burroughs.

Democracy Now has a good piece on Green, Inc.: An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone Bad, by Christine MacDonald. 

In short, MacDonald is a journalist who worked for Conservation International (CI), an organization whose stated mission, paraphrased, is to build on a foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration in order to empower societies to care responsibly and sustainably for nature for the well-being of humanity. Though founded in the late 1980s, I hadn’t heard of this environmental nonprofit; from information on its website, it seems to strive towards a people-focused environmentalism.

In her interview with Amy Goodman however, MacDonald charges that CI and other major environmental groups, essentially operate satellite public relations offices for polluting corporations. I’m not surprised by the claim. Robert Gottlieb, years ago pointed out in his book Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement, that there was an “Iron Triangle” between government agencies, corporations, and congressional leaders that sets the framework for policy based largely on economic interests. It sounds to me like MacDonald in Green, Inc. might offer some 21st century proof of Gottlieb’s contention.

What MacDonald had to say reminded me of the fact that President Teddy Roosevelt took nature writer and bird enthusiast John Burroughs on a camping trip to Yellowstone in 1903  in order to soften TR’s image as a large-mammal slayer. Burroughs seems to have allowed his persona to be used by Roosevelt, as well as by industrial titans E.H. Harriman, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison on other excursions into Nature. Perhaps Burroughs justified being coopted in the same way that environmental organizations today soft-pedal their ‘collaboration’ with corporations, as being for the greater good.

In any case, I want to read this book.


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