82. GREENWASHING BY CHEVRON
Shepherd Bliss is an astute fellow with some interesting comments on Chevron's willyoujoinus.com (see #80):
Chevron, Oil, and China
by Shepherd Bliss
"It took us 125 years to use the first trillion barrels of oil," notes Chevron Corporation's two full-page ad that began appearing in July in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Financial Times and elsewhere. "We'll use the next trillion in 30," the ad continues, thus quietly admitting to the Peak Oil that the industry has not previously disclosed.
"One thing is clear: the age of easy oil is over," the ad reveals in a folksy letter from "Dave," Chevron's Chairman and CEO David J. O'Reilly. Most Americans are still unaware of the pending Peak Oil or try to deny the tremendous impact it will have upon us. Chevron proudly presents itself as "the Good Guy" by informing the public of the lessening supply of petroleum at a time when the demand is soaring, especially in China, India, and other industrializing countries.
Chevron's multi-million dollar global corporate goodwill effort includes TV teaser ads throughout the US, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Airport locations in Beijing, Moscow, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere broadcast the ad, also available online.
Meanwhile, Chevron CEO O'Reilly speaks out of both sides of his mouth. While sweet-talking to the world in the ad campaign, he is tough-talking against China's attempt to outbid Chevron for Unocal. After China's state-owned CNOOC offered $18.5 billion for Unocal, besting Chevron's $16.6 billion offer, the American suitor raised its bid to $17 billion. "Our increased offer has been driven by competitive circumstances," an aggressive O'Reilly stated on July 19, the day his folksy letter appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Behind the scenes Chevron and other corporations are pressuring Congress to reject the CNOOC offer as a national security risk and Un-American, should the Chevron shareholders accept the higher bid at their Aug. 10 meeting.
Meanwhile, the Chevron ad is classic green-washing. Whitewashing is a superficial coat that makes something appear cleaner than it is; green-washing is an attempt to present something that is environmentally damaging as clean. Now that most oil experts agree that Peak Oil will happen, Chevron wants to appear to be the oil company to act for the public good by informing people that we are indeed running out of oil.
"The same Madison Avenue firm, Young and Rubicom, that put together Bush's TV ads in 2004 and the Army's 'Be All You Can Be!' campaign prepared these ads," according to attorney Matt Savinar.*
We should ask“the tough questions,”fatherly Dave advises in his friendly letter.“What role will renewables and alternative energies play? What is the best way to protect our environment? How do we accelerate our conservation efforts?”
One would almost think that the Chevron chairman was in fact the chairperson of the Sierra Club. Dave makes it sound like one of the world's most polluting companies in one of the world's most polluting industries is actually on the side of the Earth, rather than merely trying to maximize profits by extracting natural resources that lead to global climate changes.
Chevron's ad is part of Big Oil's struggle to maintain power. Dave's folksy letter seems inclusive when it talks about "every citizen of this planet" and even calls upon environmentalists to "be part of reshaping the next era of energy." Don't be fooled. Beneath it is an attempt to shore up Big Oil's threatened power base.
As the struggles around Peak Oil and its consequences heighten we can expect more such calculated public relations language to point to Big Oil as the Earth's friend. Seeing through such green-washing will be important. Lets not make the same mistakes during the 21st century that we made in the last century by letting one country, the US, hoard too much of the world's resources, and one industry, oil, concentrate too much power.Source
*) This fact was actually sniffed out by Grimnir of peakoil.com when willyoujoinus.com first appearedSource. The WHOIS record has since been changed.