Last week on Sea Change Radio, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, a researcher and author who believes that Walmart’s sustainability efforts over the past five or six years have only disguised, not improved the tremendous detrimental effects caused by the world’s largest retailer. This week, we hear from a business and sustainability reporter who has a different perspective on Walmart’s green campaign. Marc Gunther thinks that while Walmart still has a long way to go to become a truly responsible corporation, the company’s work in this area represents important steps in the right direction. Gunther and host Alex Wise discuss the parallels of Walmart and Apple’s supply chain troubles including slave-like labor conditions in China, and look at the Walmart situation from both a management and consumer perspective. After hearing both Stacy Mitchell last week and Marc Gunther this week, Sea Change Radio invites you to draw your own conclusions about this retail giant.
Walmart. What does the name of the world’s largest retailer evoke for you? Do you think of its reputation as a poor employer and its anti-union tactics? Do you lump it in your mind with other large corporations who worship profit at the expense of environmental and social justice? Or perhaps you’re among those who respect Walmart’s more recent initiatives to improve its environmental impact, cut back on energy use, and reduce packaging. Today on Sea Change Radio, we begin a two-part series in which we speak with two writers for whom the name Walmart evokes very different things.
This week, host Alex Wise talks with author, researcher and advocate, Stacy Mitchell who recently published a 6-part series for Grist on Walmart’s sustainability efforts. Mitchell believes that the company’s purported efforts to improve its sustainability profile are mostly window dressing, a ploy to change the media narrative of Walmart’s poor track record without actually changing its overall negative global impact. Next week we will hear a contrasting opinion from reporter Marc Gunther who’s written extensively on Walmart, as well. Gunther is more impressed by the company’s sustainability efforts, believing that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and that when a giant like Walmart makes moves toward environmental responsibility it is worth taking notice. But first, our discussion with Stacy Mitchell.
Green jobs are all the talk nowadays, which has predictably led to healthy debate. On today’s Sea Change Radio, Co-Host Francesca Rheannon talks with GreenBiz Senior Writer Marc Gunther about his controversial article, “The Phony Green Jobs Debate.” Bob Pollin of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, author of a report criticized by Gunther, responds. To end the show, Rhennon speaks with David Johnson about Transition Towns.
[amazon-product align=”right”]0547085974[/amazon-product]The 18th century British author Jonathan Swift wrote that under the enclosure movement in Britain, “sheep eat men”. That’s because large landowners threw thousands of tenant farmers off their land to make way for raising sheep on an industrialized scale, in order to feed the textile mills of the new industrial age. Something of the same could be said of our current system of producing food. It was supposed to solve the problem of hunger in the world. The so-called “green revolution”, with its massive use of herbicides and pesticides, did usher in the era of cheap, abundant food. But Paul Roberts says that era is coming to an end. In his book, [amazon-product text=”The End Of Food” type=”text”]0547085974[/amazon-product], Roberts says the technologies meant to end hunger don’t fit the conditions in the very countries they were supposed to feed. Small farmers are squeezed off the land, their families go hungry, and suicide sweeps their ranks. Rich countries are vulnerable, too. In a globalized food system, plant diseases could wipe out major food crops like wheat, fish stocks are crashing, and antibiotic resistance threatens both our meat animals–and ourselves. Roberts says the global industrialized food system is overextended, under threat of disruptions and unsustainable.
CWR News Analysis — The 24th Anniversary of Bhopal:
—International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
—EarthRights International: Bano v. Union Carbide Case History
—Press Release: “Victory Against Union Carbide Corp.: Court Reverses Dismissal of Pollution Claims”
—Second Circuit Appeals Court Decision in Bano v. Union Carbide
—Press Release: “Chevron Found Not Liable for Killings, Shootings, and Torture of Nigerian Peaceful Protesters”
—FindLaw: “Chevron Wins an Alien Tort Statute Case – But the Victory May Be Less Important than It Might Seem”
CWR ViewPoint — Are NGOs and Corporations Too Cozy?
On Monday, the Washington DC offices of the NGO Environmental Defense were “invaded” by grassroots climate activists from Rising Tide North America. Dr. Rachel Smolker, daughter of a co-founder of Environmental Defense, protested ED’s collaboration with corporations, particularly its involvement in the US Climate Action Partnership, an alliance of NGOs and big companies that advocates for carbon cap-and-trade. The activists label this a “false” solution to the climate crisis, and lampooned the NGO with “Mr. Green” and “Mr. Wash” scrubbing the ED offices clean.
Last month, Fortune magazine’s Sustainability Columnist Marc Gunther blogged and wrote an article on the “cozy” relationships between NGOs and corporations. For the Corporate Watchdog Radio ViewPoint, we caught up with Marc from his home office in Bethesda for his take on this issue.