Saturday, October 03, 2009

Coca Cola's Lies About Sustainability Have Gone Too Far

Coca Cola's Lies About Sustainability Have Gone Too Far

"They've gone from greenwashing to outright lying.

In 2007, facing growing opposition to its water management practices, particularly in India, Coca-Cola's CEO, Neville Isdell came up with a brilliant idea. The Coca-Cola company, he announced, will become water neutral, replenishing every drop of water they use, and therefore, as the suggestion went, Coca-Cola would have no impact of water resources around the world.

Voila! Problem solved, a company using 300 billion liters of water annually would have no impact on water resources. Sustainability doesn't get any better than that. The only problem was that Coca-Cola knew that water neutrality was impossible to achieve.

In a concept paper on water neutrality that Coca-Cola developed with others, it clearly stated that, "In a strict sense, the term 'water neutral' is troublesome and even may be misleading. It is often possible to reduce a water footprint, but it is generally impossible to bring it down to zero."

But minor details such as "misleading," "troublesome" and "impossible" did not stop Coca-Cola from using the term liberally and widely. And in India, where they have faced the most intense opposition (two bottling plants have been shut down), Coca-Cola went on a fast track, announcing that they will become water neutral by the end of 2009. It took a challenge by the India Resource Center and our allies during in December 2008 to get Coca-Cola to change its tune and to admit two months later that water neutrality is controversial and they will not use it.

"Please note that the terminology "water offset," like "water neutrality" is controversial ... Until a better terminology is identified and accepted by the broader water community, we are using the term offset." -- From Coca-Cola's "Achieving Water Balance through Community Partnership," February 2009.

But the marketing appeal of a concept like water neutrality, however impossible it may be to achieve, is simply to great for a publicity driven Coca-Cola to pass by. Sharing the opening plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Walmart two days ago, Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola's new CEO, blurted out that Coca-Cola will become water neutral by 2020.

Wait a minute. Is there something new from the "broader water community" since February this year that has enabled water neutrality to be possible and not controversial? No, there isn't, and trust me, we would know if there was because we keep a close watch on Coca-Cola and its shenanigans. Muhtar Kent's blurt is truly indicative of how Coca-Cola has approached its "water stewardship" initiatives."

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Here we go. Now companies like Coca Cola will want to make us believe that 'water neutrality' is actually something that can be achieved. Just how gullible do they think we are? And of course, they can promise to not use as much water, but that doesn't mean they won't still pollute the water. Offsets whether in carbon or water are simply corporate mechanisms devised to shirk moral responsibility and should be taken at face value.

India Resource Center: Campaign to Hold Coca Cola Accountable

First "clown" in space to show urgency of global water crisis

Guy Laliberté presents The ONE DROP Foundation from One Drop Foundation on Vimeo.

Space's First Clown Reaches International Space Station

Billionaire Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte arrives at the International Space Station and -- true to form -- dons a clown nose. During his brief tourist trip to the ISS, Laliberte plans to coordinate from the ISS a 120-minute, 14-city show on Earth featuring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Peter Gabriel and U2.

Guy Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil, arrived at the International Space Station Oct. 1 and—to no one's surprise—slapped on a clown nose and began yukking it up with crew members of the space station. Laliberte is the seventh paying (reportedly $35 million) space tourist to travel to the station.

Laliberte blasted off into space early Sept. 30 aboard a Russian Soyuz craft along with Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev and American astronaut Jeffrey Williams. While Surayev and Williams are scheduled for a six-month tour of duty at the space station, Laliberte is returning to Earth Oct. 11.

"I'm adapting pretty good. I love that thing [the space station], but I ain't staying six months," Laliberte said in a video linkup between the space station and Russian Mission Control outside Moscow.

In addition to a weightless juggling show, Laliberte also said he plans to bring some levity to the usually somber space station operations, suggesting tickling the ISS' crew in their sleep and other hijinks.

But the big show is scheduled for Oct. 9, when Laliberte plans to coordinate from space a 14-city show on Earth featuring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Peter Gabriel and U2 seeking to raise awareness through "artistic illustration of the humanitarian struggles and solutions associated with water." Laliberte is founder of the One Drop Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that everyone across the planet has access to water.

The event will take place simultaneously in Montreal; Moscow; Santa Monica, Calif.; New York City; Johannesburg; Mumbai; Marrakesh; Sydney; Osaka; Tampa, Fla.; Mexico City; Rio de Janeiro; Paris; and London and will be broadcast globally. In addition, the 120-minute show will be Webcast through the One Drop Foundation.

"The Earth will gaze up at the stars and resonate to the rhythms of artists and world-renowned figures who will demonstrate their commitment to water and pay tribute to this vitally important natural resource," states a press release from Laliberte."

I truly hope this awakens people to the urgency of this crisis. Without water there is no life on Earth. Perhaps seeing it from the ISS will be a humbling act for those of us who take it for granted here. I usually look down on the rich who do this as it being an extravagance. However, in this case since it was for such a good cause I support it wholeheartedly.

Water In Crisis: Future Wars?

I see the proliferation of talk regarding the water crisis now as I did the "awakening" so to speak regarding the climate crisis. We waited until the situation was so bad to even talk about it seriously. People have been warning us since the late eighties regarding water scarcity. I myself have been writing and talking about this for the last ten years. And yet, the amount of people without fresh potable water continues to rise. Can you imagine a world where 2/3 of the population is without potable water? This is the prediction for 2030 should current behaviors continue along with the effects of climate change, primarily in the form of drought.

And while this is indeed a serious prediction that has merit, I do also have to wonder just how much governments want this to get to a true crisis situation as the climate crisis, because it seems that using the climate crisis now to warn of conflict is good business for the war machine as well. Would governments actually use water scarcity to trim down the population of the world's poor? I just cannot understand why the human race can never join together in a common purpose to do what is right instead of allowing a crisis to deteriorate to the point where war has to even be an option!

I always believed that water unlike oil, is a resource that would actually bind people together in the end because of the MAD principle, meaning, that like nuclear war, countries would not wish to start wars over water because it would only wind up hurting their own people in the process. I don't know, perhaps I have too much faith in humanity even with all of my cynicism? However, there are solutions to this and the first and foremost one is changing our agricultural practices regarding wasteful irrigation, crop rotations, what crops are grown where and when; rebuilding and fixing infrastructure; stopping the proliferation of dams that siphon water from agriculture; reforestation; wasteful industrial practices and curtailing the use of water wasteful energy sources such as coal and nuclear that use large amounts of water; conservation which so many people seem to think is a dirty word; and the big one- declaring water a human right and standing up to privitization and commoditization of it globally. Desalination (which should be a last resort) should be used in the Middle East and is needed there. However, that does not mean they should get away with building more huge dams as well and using water as a political weapon.

Future wars over water can be averted if we look beyond to seeing the big picture and how not having it will effect us all equally.

Another World Water Day Gone

We see another World Water Day pass us by. The theme, Water For All, signifies that though some progress has been made we are woefully behin...