June 7, 2010
It is coming up to two months since the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico; oil is still spilling into the Gulf and is now reaching the beaches of Florida. The images of this ecological disaster are outrageous, BP’s callousness is stunning … but where is the outrage? This should be Christmas for the mainstream environmental NGOs (remember Greenpeace’s campaigns against Exxon and Shell). But a quick scan of Greenpeace.org shows that the last internal BP mention (a small blog entry) was over 60 news stories ago and the only action Greenpeace has taken on Facebook is to ask their fans to redesign the BP logo … cute. WWF has made no mention of the biggest environmental disaster in US history, not even on their marine pages. Friends of the Earth has produced a commercial against the ‘drill baby drill’ mentality … where they ask for donations. In short, Stanley Morton III has done more to express the environmentally-concerned outrage at BP than those organisations who have assumed responsibility for protecting the planet. Why have they been so silent with BP’s behaviour, especially as their members and the public are so furious?
The Economist published a thought-provoking article last week that listed the money that BP has given over the years to environmental NGOs and conservation groups. Has BP been able to buy the silence of environmental NGOs? It looks like BP will get away with this disaster without even missing a dividend payment. Most of the outrage has come from Obama or by spontaneous grassroots movements to boycott BP (a little nuisance to BP that might mean they will have to drop a penny off the price at their pumps for a few weeks). Did the “protect the planet” NGOs drop the ball here (too busy with tuna and tigers) or is there something else going on as we watch scenes of the greatest ecological destruction ever (with the volume turned off)?
Although it is anecdotal, I agree with Frank Furedi, that the emerging net-gen values are low on sustainable commitment to causes (‘Not in my name’ is replacing ‘Hell no!’). Maybe the NGOs have concluded that a boycott won’t work. Maybe the NGOs see little fundraising opportunity during the time of tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.
How much did this silence cost BP in its “CSR years”?David Zaruk