The Other Half and I were having a heated discussion the other day about whether corporations will take action on something that they know to be damaging, dangerous or environmentally destructive without public pressure.
My opinion, if they know the thing that they are selling causes human suffering, environmental pollution or damage or health problems (or anything else), then they should stop selling it or change what they are doing so that such damage and destruction doesn’t happen. Why should they? Well, because the knowledge is there. They know that the actions of the business are causing human suffering and/or environmental damage.
His view – they won’t unless someone makes them! Their only obligation is to their shareholders and customers.
Oh, and if the government puts laws in place then they (mostly?) follow those, unless they can find a loophole! (my view!!)
Sadly (though please don’t tell him), he is probably right.
So who will make the bosses/owners of a major international corporation change their behaviour, change what they sell, change how they make their products, change so that they truly do minimise that corporations impact on the natural, human and social environment?
Well, in a nutshell – us.
Yup, you and me. Well we need a lot of you to help.
Who buys and uses the products these corporations make? – People, like you and me.
Who invests in them and buys their shares? – People, like you and me. Through our savings, investments and pensions.
So, how can we make them change?
If we know of the problem(s) caused we can write directly to that corporation and ask them to change or tell them we will not buy their product(s). We can ensure any savings, investments and pensions we have are not supporting that corporation and others like it. We can lobby our governments to put laws in place to stop corporations doing these things.
It is slow.
But it does work, slowly.
To make it work faster, more people need to be active.
Here are some instances that I know of where corporations know/have known of the damage that they are causing and yet use their own scientists to try and disprove the damage. Please share any that you know of in the comments.
Neonicotinoids – the scientific evidence has been mounting for at least a decade that these pesticides (some of the most widely used around the world) are killing bees (and other insects). However the producing companies – Bayer and Syngenta have produced their own reports to confuse the independent science and continue to lobby hard to ensure that governments and multi-government bodies such as the EU don’t ban them completely. Independent research by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US is finally starting to show that these chemicals are a key cause of bee decline in the US. In the EU, the 2 year ban is due to end… Take action here . The best direct action you can take is not to use any pesticides in your garden or home and if you do, use ones that are compatible with organic farming only.
Microbeads – very few people will argue that these are not a problem. They are tiny bits of plastic used in a large variety of cosmetic products from facial scrubs to toothpaste and even sunscreen. Unfortunately, they wash off our bodies/teeth and down the drains and into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Here, they are eaten by all members of the food chain that eat plankton or filter water to get their food. These animals are eaten by larger fish and they do end up in our food too (and probably our water!). Yet, they are still being made and put into products right now! I know, hard to believe. The corporations that use them want to keep using them because they are cheap, do the job and are easy to make and use.
At least in the US Obama has taken action to ban microbeads, but this will be 2 years away. Here in the UK and Europe… they are working on a voluntary code of practice!!!! You can take action by signing a Petition to the UK Government and supporting the work of the Marine Conservation Society too. Of course, you should also ensure that you do not buy products with micro-beads. If you want help in knowing what to look for, read this.
Climate Change – the big one! Increasingly we are hearing about how the large oil companies have blocked and confused the scientific information about climate change and funded research to show that human made climate change does not exist. You can read some of the stories here, here, here and here. Despite statements that they offer qualified support for the Paris Agreement, most environmentalists are skeptical.
So what can you do – well, it is hard for most of us to not buy fuel as we rely on a fuel based economy. However, supporting lobby groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth through their online campaigns is a good start. If you want to go a step further, then look at your pension, savings and investments and ensure that they are not supporting the oil business. To find out more about ethical investments and ethical consumerism, then The Ethical Consumer is a great source of information.
These are just 3 current issues. There are many more and please do share the ones you support with me.
Please also share this on.
The only people who are going to make a difference are You and Me. Please make sure that there are lots of Us!