When Big Green Meets Big Money: The Nature Conservancy Caught Greenwashing Corporate Pollution

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Yves here. Thomas Neuburger identifies some bona fide actors in the conservation/nature protection space as opposed to greenwashers. I am sure readers can add to his list.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at God’s Spies

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of those potentially game-changing solutions. The TPP is a trade agreement designed to promote economic growth by enhancing trade and investment among twelve TPP partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including the United States…. It’s not often that large-scale opportunities arise to help protect our planet. And surprisingly enough, the TPP, if it is done right, can offer a valuable way forward.

—Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, in Conserving Nature Is Good Trade Policy, February 28, 2014

“When you’re the only one with cash, everything in the world is for sale.”
—Yours truly

People have had second thoughts about the effectiveness (and even the goals) of a number of “Big Green” organizations for a while. Some are remarkably good — 350.org seems to be one of the best, and the national Sierra Club has also conducted itself rather well for a fair stretch of years.

On the other side of the coin sit groups like World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). As you can see from the quote above, the WWF is fully aligned with the goals of corporate America, meaning the goals of predatory capitalism.

Why its CEO’s statement is a whitewash — or in this case, a greenwash — is captured in the phrase “done right.” When has any corporate trade giveaway been “done right”? One could call anything a “potentially game-changing solution,” including the Trump presidency, if it were “done right.”

Corporate-aligned, and to a large extent mainstream-Party-aligned environmental and climate groups, too often show the same priorities as the mainstream Party itself — corporate donors first, organizational loyalty second, and public-benefiting policy eighth and last.

Today it’s the The Nature Conservancy’s turn in the barrel.

What Is The Nature Conservancy?

The Nature Conservancy is an older organization — the original group was founded in 1915 — and it has changed its mission and its stripes several times over the years. You can read about that history here. Today most people think of The Nature Conservancy as a “green” (environmentally friendly) organization that purchases land in order to protect it from despoilage. As a result of its many purchases, The Nature Conservancy has been called the “largest environmental non-profit organization by assets and revenue in the Americas,” and perhaps in the world, with assets topping $7 billion in land and other real estate holdings.

The Nature Conservancy is, by any measure, rich beyond the dreams of any other “eco-friendly” liberal non-profit.

It’s also not what it seems or presents itself as being.

The Nature Conservancy Caught Greenwashing Corporate Pollution

Here’s more on how TNC operates, from SourceWatch, written in 2008 and quoted here:

The group eschews political work in favor of the relatively noncontroversial project of buying land. Calling itself “Nature’s real estate agent,” the Nature Conservancy purchases private land and then sells it to state and federal agencies, often, according to its critics, at a considerable mark-up. Last year, the group violated its apolitical policy to concoct the compromise rewrite of the Endangered Species Act with a secret coalition of corporations and trade associations, including the National Homebuilder’s Association and timber giant Georgie-Pacific. The group is led by John Sawhill, former energy aide to Nixon and Ford and a fanatical proponent of nuclear power, who has enjoyed lucrative positions on the boards of Procter & Gamble, North American Coal Company and Pacific Gas & Electric. [emphasis added]

It’s corporate ties are many. Wikipedia notes this (links in the original, emphasis added):

The Nature Conservancy has ties to many large companies, including those in the oil, gas, mining, chemical and agricultural industries.[35] As of 2016, its board of directors included the retired chairman of Duke Energy, and executives from Merck, HP, Google and several financial industry groups.[36] It also has a Business Council which it describes as a consultative forum that includes Bank of America, BP America, Chevron, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, General Mills, Royal Dutch Shell, and Starbucks.[37] The organization faced criticism in 2010 from supporters for its refusal to cut ties with BP after the Gulf oil spill.[38][39]

Writer and activist Naomi Klein has strongly criticized The Nature Conservancy for earning money from an oil well on land it controls in Texas and for its continued engagement with fossil fuel companies.[40][41]

For a more complete list of TNC’s corporate partners, read this now-deleted web page, “Companies We Work With,” from TNC own site. It’s stunning. I would think the people at Duke Energy, BP, Dow Chemical and Shell Oil think they’re getting their money’s worth for their engagement with TNC.

But it gets worse. More recently comes this, from Bloomberg Green in a report entitled “These Trees Are Not What They Seem: How the Nature Conservancy, the world’s biggest environmental group, became a dealer of meaningless carbon offsets“:

At first glance, big corporations appear to be protecting great swaths of U.S. forests in the fight against climate change. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has paid almost $1 million to preserve forestland in eastern Pennsylvania. Forty miles away, Walt Disney Co. has spent hundreds of thousands to keep the city of Bethlehem, Pa., from aggressively harvesting a forest that surrounds its reservoirs. Across the state line in New York, investment giant BlackRock Inc. has paid thousands to the city of Albany to refrain from cutting trees around its reservoirs.

JPMorgan, Disney, and BlackRock tout these projects as an important mechanism for slashing their own large carbon footprints. By funding the preservation of carbon-absorbing forests, the companies say, they’re offsetting the carbon-producing impact of their global operations. But in all of those cases, the land was never threatened; the trees were already part of well-preserved forests.

Rather than dramatically change their operations—JPMorgan executives continue to jet around the globe, Disney’s cruise ships still burn oil, and BlackRock’s office buildings gobble up electricity—the corporations are working with the Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental group, to employ far-fetched logic to help absolve them of their climate sins. By taking credit for saving well-protected land, these companies are reducing nowhere near the pollution that they claim. [emphasis added]

JPMorgan, Disney and BlackRock are certainly getting their money’s worth for their engagement with TNC.

The Nature Conservancy initially defended this practice, an indictment in itself. (Note the use of “creative” in the first sentence below. A less corporate-friendly publication might have used the word “fraudulent.”)

Now, with an increasing number of companies looking for creative ways to cut emissions, the nonprofit has accelerated its work on carbon projects. But a review of hundreds of pages of documents underpinning those projects and interviews with a half-dozen participating landowners indicate that the Conservancy is often preserving forested lands that don’t need defending.

“For the credits to be real, the payment needs to induce the environmental benefit,” says Danny Cullenward, a lecturer at Stanford and policy director at CarbonPlan, a nonprofit that analyzes climate solutions. If the Conservancy is enrolling landowners who had no intention of cutting their trees, he adds, “they’re engaged in the business of creating fake carbon offsets.”

The Conservancy defends its carbon-offset projects, saying that all adhere to peer-reviewed methodologies developed by independent registries and that each project is validated by third-party auditors. “We have absolutely no motivation to not achieve real climate solutions,” says Lynn Scarlett, chief external affairs officer at the Conservancy.

TNC has since backtracked, claiming it’s now “conducting an internal review of its portfolio of carbon-offset projects,” according to a Bloomberg followup piece.

Kudos to Bloomberg and Ben Elgin, the writer of both articles, for this exposé. Shame on TNC for the practice itself, and shame on them for their tardy (and publicity-forced?) response: The original exposé was published in December; the announcement of TNC’s “internal review” appeared only this month.

What To Make of This?

It would be easy (and safe) to take a non-cynical approach and say The Nature Conservancy got sloppy, got caught, and eventually got religion.

But really, it’s almost impossible not to read this as how a willing corporate-aligned front group and greenwashing organization knowingly cheated the public on behalf of its mega-rich “partners,” then pretended to be surprised when the news they were desperate to hide broke into the public light. If it quacks like a duck, as they say, it’s a willing corporate-aligned front group.

But there’s a larger takeaway. The Nature Conservancy is not alone in scamming the public by pretending to be the right kind of green while chasing the wrong kind. As noted above, the WWF was a TTP advocate and likely will be again if Biden resurfaces some flavor of that Obama-loved trade abomination. The League of Conservation Voters was a notorious endorser of Republicans, like Susan Collins in 2014 when Shenna Bellows, a much more progressive candidate, was mounting a viable challenge. There are other well-funded “Big Green” front groups like them.

The problem is very broad. Everything Big Money touches, it eats and destroys. When you’re the only one with cash, everything in the world is for sale.

The lesson here is simple: Big Money cannot be coddled or cooperated with. It can only be bowed to or defeated.

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  1. Alice X

    The corruption of purpose. $$$…

    The lesson here is simple: Big Money cannot be coddled or cooperated with. It can only be bowed to or defeated.


  2. PlutoniumKun

    It’s sad to read this about TNC. WWF has always been rotten, right from its origins as an imperialist/corporate project (even though it has individual good projects, its overall impact is probably malign).

    I did quite a bit of voluntary work with green NGO’s in years past and it is extraordinarily difficult to balance the need to raise money and do deals while keeping your integrity. Back in the 1990’s I was involved with an opposition group against a major (and horrible) waste development. We took funding and aid for the campaign from a pretty nasty bunch of business people who had a vested interest in stopping the project and saw a Green organisation as a means to their end. I don’t regret taking the money – it all went to a good (and successful) cause, and the campaign would have been almost impossible without it. But its easy to see how those good intentions could slide. I’ve also seen really good projects that only happened because some sort of compromise was needed – maybe turning a blind eye to what local farmers are doing in order to get them on board with a conservation project is sometimes the best thing to do. But it leads to a slippery slope.

    Sometimes its the people within the organisations that go rotten (green and development NGO’s seem a magnet for a certain type of narcissist), and sometimes the organisations themselves are taken over. I’ve personal experience of seeing how a very good, small, well focused development charity was deliberately taken over and co-opted by a businessman who saw it as a useful vehicle for his investments in Africa. It was quite breathtaking to see how easy it was for him and how he was enabled by naivety (and also greed) from insiders. It was also heartbreaking to see a friend, who had put her heart and soul into the charity, get casually pushed out because she was seen as an obstacle.

    I can see the logic of an organisation like TNC thinking that if they give directorships to retired CEO’s, this will give them access to millions of dollars that can be put to good use. But once you create a professional class who see expanding the organisation (as opposed to achieving the organisations goals) as their main role, and then put in cuckoos in the nest by having oil execs sit on your Board…. well, you are only going to go in one direction.

    Whats the answer? I don’t really know. More financial transparency obviously (seeing NGO senior staff on big six figure salaries is a good indicator of something wrong), and stricter rules on things like carbon offsetting would help.

    1. Monte McKenzie

      it seems money will alwayse come out on top in any argument!
      In america and most of the world money rules the agenda and almost all news media so the people get almost no other story / so stay ignorant of facts ! for instance , america could have switched to nuclear ,thorium liquid salt reactors 60 years ago saving billions of dollars and the 3mile, fukushima etc. & replacing all dangerious hydro Dams (paid for by increased fish runs, instead of more problems! if the FF industry together with forever war industry haden’t interviened ,
      now China is about to give the world a cheap U233 liquid salt electric generation Am. trashed in1966! sure they improved it , they are about to start building u233 electric gen’s and dump FF electric gen as fast as possible/ America is in the grips of a fossil fuel industry and no technology or inovation will replace it tell the 1% no longer run America ! EVEN CHEAPPER ELECTRICITY IS AVailable ,as cheap as 1 cent per KWH from @!st century Geothermal Electricity available over much of western America & WV. Google : SMU GEOTHERMAL REPORTS WV & … read their report.

  3. coboarts

    Dear Yves, thank you so much for posting this. You have the skills and temperament to handle this kind of engagement, although I’d say the environmental scam far surpasses in scale and professional charade the CalPERS scam. As a volunteer, I attended the “Global Climate Action Summit” in San Francisco a couple years ago, and I tried to express what I saw so clearly here on NC, but I can’t. I’m so cynical and burned out for trying that I can’t and won’t ever again try to make sense to those already hypnotized.

    Not only are the realities of environmental degradation not acknowledged, the scams to counter the faux threats are only vehicles for furthering the goals of those who have put the Earth and the Human Race in such dire straights. And bringing out some natives, especially in an era of IdPol is so reprehensible, like the natives aren’t for sale, because they love the Earth, hahaha. Ask the Mayans with memory of the Hidalgos in the Caste Wars, or the Native Americans who tracked and murdered their brothers and cousins with the cavalry in the US west. Thankfully, a current example came up: https://thegrayzone.com/2021/05/04/ecuador-election-us-pachakutik-lasso-yaku/

    The Sierra Club also doesn’t get a pass, either, although it operates at a different level. Please let me illustrate: after an interesting session with a working group of the Bay Area Council, I had the pleasure of accompanying some of the participants upstairs to the 30th floor or so, with a wonderful view of San Francisco Bay. There, one of the attorneys with the sponsoring firm, a guy I would want fighting for me, explained to me how passing these “environmental” legislations created so many jobs and benefited the economy, the individuals hired to enact, and the country as a whole. In a nut shell, that has been the role of environmental organizations, like the Sierra Club, since the environmental movement of the early 70s was co-opted. And it’s totally real for the PMC and their minions, but it does not, and was never designed to be a real solution for the ecological degradations that the Human Race and our friends, the critters and trees….. need to fight to survive.

    This is the real fight, or I’m just a crazy fool. I’m ok with that.

    1. Keith Newman

      I had a disturbing experience with the Sierra Club in Canada about 20 years ago that illustrates your comment. I should note that the director, board, and staff of the organisation are all different today so hopefully the situation there has changed.
      Some 20 years ago I was a senior staff member of a large (for Canada) private sector union. I regularly attended an annual meeting with a variety of other unions and “progressive” groups to coordinate our positions on a number of issues including the environment. My union represented workers in the oil industry, including thousands in the tar sands, in addition to many other workers. It had very good positions on the environment, including on the reduction of green house gases (GHGs). Essentially it amounted to saying oil industry GHG emissions should be capped at existing 20 year ago levels and slowly reduced from there. Country-wide we called for reductions by improved industrial processes, a decreasing hard cap on emissions and carbon taxes.
      Back to the meeting: when we began our discussions on the environment I was astonished to discover my union’s positions on GHGs were substantially tougher on than those of the Sierra Club. This was a change from past meetings. I pressed their representative to clarify the Sierra Club positions. Understand this was at a private meeting of about 20 unions and other groups so you could be quite framk. Their position remained weak, far weaker than my union’s position, the union representing workers in the tar sands!
      My puzzlement ended after I subsequently contacted friends in the environmental movement. The Sierra Club had made a deal with the oil industry! Ostensibly practices there would be improved in exchange for support by the Sierra Club. However no significant improvements occurred that I could detect and it was my job to follow these things. The group had been co-opted, perhaps because the leadership was naive, I don’t know.
      Ever since that experience I have been quite cautious about who I give money to or support in other ways. However I am very generous to people and organisations that I am certain I can trust.

      1. Ignacio

        This is a reply to both you and coboarts [and thanks for your comments]. I attended some sessions in the Climate Change Summit in Madrid in… 2019 (now it seems so long ago!). Some of these where about environment protection and fire prevention, some about contamination and some were presentations of start ups offering their ‘solutions’ to climate change (usually quite tangential to the issue) as well as big companies white-green-washing (we will have definitely to coin the ‘greenwashing’ term). I am old enough to know this was going to happen and my only consolation is to think that all the pigs will be seen naked when the tide goes down. Only, and only when the sessions where chaired or participated with public authorities at municipal, regional levels you could really transpire real preoccupation in some cases turning frequently to greenwashing when public authorities were representing whole countries. It was for me a pleasure to attend several presentations from municipal representatives in Latin America cities. Very educative, even enlightening in some cases.

  4. mwbworld

    Yup. Though it doesn’t cover everything and you need to look at other factors to evaluate how useful/worthy a group is – one of the things I look for is how open they are to volunteers and active they are with them. Sierra Club and 350 (at least here in Boston) have active volunteers who staff committees, do work, take actions, etc. Versus groups that don’t want the plebs involved (leave it to the pro-corporate PMC to handle things…) and just want you to be an open wallet they can feed upon.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Whether well intentioned or corrupt, the better Green Movement organizations seem all too effective at keeping people occuppied and busy — spinning their wheels. I do perceive a shift in the flows of power toward public funding for building large scale Green infrastructure, while leaving the funding for Big Oil and Big Agriculture subsidies unaffected.

      The lawn mowing and weed wacking seasons have begun. I might begin believing in a real commitment to Green if there were some respite to the din of lawn care by 2-banger dirty combustion engines.

  5. Becca

    Environmental Defense Fund also takes money from fossil fuel (and their 501c4 donates to republicans, including Susan Collins). They conducted a “study” that was funded by foundations tied to the natural gas industry, and basically the recommendations of the study were to invest billions of dollars in upgrading natural gas infrastructure to reduce leaks (basically a giveaway to the industry), rather than advocating for investing that money in a tradition to solar or wind.

    When we only have less than a decade to radically transform our energy infrastructure to avert more than 1.5 degrees of warming, why in the heck would it make any sense to invest more money in fossil fuel infrastructure that has a lifespan of 50+ years? Especially when the technology to make a transition to renewables is possible today.

  6. No Use For a Username

    It may have had flaws, but for a movie, I loved Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans for these reasons. It took on everyone. Max Blumenthal had a helpful breakdown of industry’s coordinated response.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I also watched Planet of the Humans. I thought it was very illuminating. After watching that film I have trouble agreeing with this post’s assessments of 350.org and the Sierra Club. I do not doubt that 350.org and the Sierra Club have conducted themselves rather well compared with The Nature Conservancy. To me, the scene in Planet of the Humans where Bill McKibben responded to the filmmaker had very bad optics.

      1. John Wright

        I wonder when 350.org will update its url.

        The world is currently at “409.org” and shows no sign of doing anything other than increasing the CO2 ppm measure.

        Maybe sticking with 350 is a “stretch goal” rather than an admission that the organization has not had much, or any, impact.

        1. Jason

          Name changes take money. Gotta change the letterhead and all that. Maybe the Rockefellers et al couldn’t spare the change this time round. There’s so many problems to solve and they’re not about to give all their money away.

  7. LowellHighlander

    I learned, first-hand, of the scam in which most people employed at organizations like TNC and WWF were perpetrating while I was living in the Imperial Capital. When I told such people that, yes, I am a member of an environmental organization – I was registered in, and donated to, the Green Party – the looks and subsequent ostracization from these likely “professional managers” were all I needed to know about their sincerity to the cause.

    It still happens to me, by the way.

  8. Rod

    Damn, the Truth really harshes the Feel Good Advertising.
    That Planet of the Humans really plucked a nerve–certainly nothing to see there so move along.
    Compromise leaves me feeling sooooo dirty now-a-days, ’cause it’s all we get offered for “our progress and their profit”

    To paraphrase a comment here a week or so ago: Capitalism is The Institution of Racism and Systematic Inequality is how it prospers. (sorry to the insightful person that said it better)

    1. Ping

      Award winning film “Banking Nature” is equally if not more sobering than Planet of the Humans. It can be viewed in entirety on UTube.

      Everything, EVERTHING in nature is monetized down to individual species for financialization. There are even “species portfolios” …..wait for it….that can be SHORTED.

  9. nick

    While many of the examples in the Bloomberg article just scream “FRAUD” –for instance when TNC staff lay claim to more knowledge of forest in a bird sanctuary than the person who manages it–there are significant methodological problems related to carbon offsets related to forest protection that they should be viewed suspiciously in just about any case.

    I used to do quite a bit of work in spatial allocation models of land change, and was even involved with standards development about a decade ago. The fundamental problem is mentioned in the article: projected baseline change in many of the “best” cases where management is possible does not indicate a threat. Project designers can try to get around this by expanding or altering the spatial extent of the study (and, for follow up purposes determining areas of “leakage” forest loss) but there are not very good standards for how to do that soundly. There are also substantial issues with remotely sensed data inputs such as length of data record, ability to measure short-duration changes, and changes in sensor precision (well, lower radiometric precision in the past). And this is even for the well-intentioned cases.

    When this money finds its way to, say, cash strapped municipalities or supporting indigenous communities continuation of traditional livelihood strategies then that is a good thing. But there is no real climate change mitigation, and it is a distraction from what might in fact help.

  10. Jokerstein

    These problems are endemic in many (most?) medium to big 501(c)3s in the country. If the PMC can get sinecure positions (six-figure salaries) for not much real work, and can look at expanding their comp by expanding the org, then it’s lost. Entryism will eventually turn it into the antithesis of its ostensible identity. And capital knows this too, and when capital and PMC are aligned, nothing is going to stop it in today’s US.

  11. Jokerstein

    Forgot to add – if salaries and benefits are not overly generous, orgs CAN keep their soul, but they will always struggle financially to keep alive, unless there is a really strong board.

  12. Chris

    This, particularly the carbon offset scams, is old news. The sad part is that it’s still written of as “news” decades later.

    As for 350.org… See how they come off in “Planet of the Humans” https://planetofthehumans.com/2020/04/30/response-to-bill-mckibben-regarding-planet-of-the-humans/ While they certainly do some good stuff, they are a key piece of the virtue-signaling-instead-of-solving complex. As this post shows, virtue-signally is the predominant operating model for most of these organizations, and not just environmental.

    Having lost the “goal” of 350 ppm a decade ago and continuing to lose ground to it, a non-self-interested organization, like a sports team that keeps score, would have fired the players years ago and tried something different instead of moving the goal posts annually.

    Your reference, Naomi Klein, can also be referenced for saying how most organizations’ main focus is actually self-preservation rather than stated mission.

    1. Jason

      Bill McKibben Pretends Not to Know His Funders:


      For those who have lost their sense of sense: He’s so transparently full of (family blog) here. “Err, oh yeah, the Rockelfeller’s gave us some money to get started…that came in handy.” What a clown.

  13. PKMKII

    The logic with those offsets sounds like a husband telling his wife, because he didn’t spend $60,000 on a new boat, that means it was really like spending nothing when he bought a $60,000 sports car.

  14. Jason

    No mention of Mark Tercek taking over at The Nature Conservancy. Tercek was in the news more recently when he stepped down for the sexual harassment and workplace misconduct going on there. But why was a banker who sees the world through the lens of commodification, markets, economic growth, etc. ever put in charge of an alleged environmental organization in the first place? The New Yorker did a good article on him a while back. Some choice quotes:

    The key idea is to create tools that can assign monetary value to natural resources.

    Tercek, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, thinks that environmental organizations rely on fuzzy science and fail to harness the power of markets.

    [The problem of viewing the environment through the scientific lens is a different discussion…the linear, rational-objective approach to nature in fact serves to magnify our alleged separation from nature, which can then more easily lead to the ultimate commodification of everything, which is what they are attempting to carry out – a global development scheme, if you will, run by bankers and a technocratic elite, with the spook agencies and all their offshoots and the not-knowingly-employed-in-any-official-capacity operatives carrying out the dirty work.

    So, the objectifying nature of the scientific method and the mentality it breeds in all of us, to one degree or another, lends itself much more easily to the acceptance of the ultimate commodification and domestication of practically every facet of life, and of this process not being seen or experienced as grossly abnormal as it in fact is.]

    More from the article:

    The assumption is that if you want companies to care about nature you must put a price tag on it. Otherwise, as one Nature Conservancy economist told me, “it implicitly gets a value of zero.”

    These guys run the world. The choice in their minds is nature doesn’t matter at all or else it’s commodified. Once they put their price on it, then I guess they’ll trade it amongst themselves? These people are psychopaths. Much more in the article. Well worth the read:


  15. chuck roast

    Tom needs to get a few of his facts straight:

    Sierra Club appears happy to promote sprawl. A few years ago the SC was promoting a commuter rail project from Portland ME to Bangor. Their local “land use” specialist was was realtor who “donated” his time and his cronies produced the glossy 3-color CR promo material. It was all a scam to open up the farmland for bougy sprawl tract housing.

    Sheena Bellows was NOT progressive. She was simply NOT Susan Collins.

    Here is a template for Nature Conservancy operation. Rich guy (club, corporation) has very large, private tract of land that he (they) wants to continue to enjoy, but really doesn’t want to pay the taxes on any more. Enter the NC. The rich guy (club, corporation) donates a strategic portion of the undeveloped land as a wildlife/nature easement to the NC. Rich guy (club, corporation) gets nice income tax break and lowers property taxes all while enjoying the the land just as before. Rich guy (club, corporation) kicks cash back to NC for another tax deduction and local government gets a kick in the shins.

    1. Margaret bartley

      I remember that was a big scandal about twenty five years ago – made the mainstream papers. I was thinking of that as I read the above article, wondering if any legislation had changed it. I guess not! That’s where they get the trees that are not in danger to use as “off-sets” for the carbon off-sets.

  16. James McFadden

    “Some are remarkably good — 350.org seems to be one of the best, and the national Sierra Club has also conducted itself rather well for a fair stretch of years.”

    I’d have to disagree.
    My experience is that both 350.org and the Sierra Club run the other way if someone talks about socialism, or suggests that capitalism is the problem. Both have promoted Green Capitalism — hell, the Sierra Club promoted fracking till its members called it out. I’ve seen McKibben shoot down questioners, avoiding the questions, when someone points out his compromises with capitalists — or talks about the contradiction between capital’s requirement for infinite growth and the environmental consequences. Their answers are soft peddled compromises to get a minor near-term concessions — discounting the future just as economists due for benefits today. Like nearly all big environmental NGOs, the Sierra Club and 350 leaders generally sellout to capital in order to rub elbows with corrupt politicians in the hope of getting small concessions which they can use to fundraise. As a leader of a big NGO, their primary function is to grow the NGO, not to make a system change as needed to assure the planet is habitable 100 years from now. I am not criticizing those people at the grass roots who work hard at NGOs for a good cause — but the leadership ultimately sells out for access to political power.

  17. diptherio

    TNC has been awful for at least the last 20 years. My buddy and I discovered this after being transferred from doing door-to-door fundraising for our local Public Interest Research Group, to door-knocking for The Nature Conservancy. We did a little research on our new employers and it didn’t take long, even in the early 2000s, to dig up some pretty damning dirt on them. Specifically, their practice of buying already protected land and then selling it cheap to their trustees/directors, who would then proceed to drill it for oil. We complained loudly and bitterly and were allowed to spend the rest of the canvassing season raising funds for national PIRG instead.

  18. Thomas Neuburger

    Thanks for the comments, all. I especially appreciate those critical of 350 and Sierra. Will look into this further.


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