Rainforest Network Targets Third World Poor

Worth A Look, Environment, Frontier Centre

The radical Rainforest Action Network is trying to intimidate yet another company into adopting its narrow definition of ethics, ecology and the public interest. Past targets have included the World Bank, Citigroup and Bank of America – and the message is always the same: Pull your investment dollars out of any projects the activists oppose.

Their latest target is New York-based JP Morgan Chase, a financial services firm with $1.1 trillion in assets and operations in 50 countries. But the real targets – the victims – of all these campaigns are the world’s poorest families and children. Their countries are being deprived of investment dollars to generate electricity, create jobs, improve health, education and nutrition, build modern homes and businesses, and instill hope for the future.

To further its campaign, RAN is manipulating the naïve fears, good intentions and eco-centric worldview of elementary students. Its latest stunt took teachers and kids into the Big Apple, to deliver handmade posters to Morgan Chase, asking CEO William Harrison to “stop lending money to projects that destroy endangered forests and cause global warming.”

The second graders trekked in from Fairfield, Connecticut, led by teacher Paula Healy, who had happily recruited her young charges and indoctrinated them in Rainforest mythology. “Earth is on loan to us from future generations,” she pontificated, via the RAN press release, “and these students know the value of protecting their natural inheritance.”

A form letter, helpfully provided on RAN’s website, makes it easy for children to tell Morgan Chase that “using its money to invest in oil and other fossil fuels makes me sad, because children want to grow up on a healthy planet.”

In this joyous season, these students should thank God that they don’t have to worry about the life-threatening conditions that confront their counterparts in Africa, India, Peru and dozens of other less fortunate countries. But they should also realize that their actions are helping to perpetuate unhealthy conditions in those poor nations.

Fairfield County’s real estate prices are among the highest in America. The area is so white that it imports children from Jersey and the Bronx to give its schools an integrated feeling – so wealthy that residents happily shell out $50 apiece for Christmas trees. That’s tops in the USA and one-fourth of the annual income on which a billion of our Earth’s citizens survive.

But that certainly hasn’t stopped RAN-Healy & Friends from self-righteously demanding that Morgan Chase join them in “saving the planet” on the backs, and graves, of the world’s most destitute and powerless people. RAN rails about timber cutting and fossil fuels. Its activist allies – Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and hundreds of other “socially responsible” organizations, foundations and government agencies – oppose nuclear and hydroelectric power, biotechnology, pesticides and economic development.

The annual death toll they inflict is unfathomable, and unconscionable. Four million children and parents dead from lung infections, caused by breathing the smoke, dust, bacteria and pollutants that are ever-present in their homes and villages, because families are forced to burn wood and animal dung for fuel. Six million from dysentery and other intestinal diseases, caused by spoiled food and unsafe water, due to nonexistent refrigeration and water purification. Three million from malaria and other insect-borne diseases, because mosquitoes are everywhere and their countries are told they mustn’t use pesticides. Eleven million from malnutrition and starvation that could be alleviated with biotechnology.

Would Ms. Healy, her students and the RAN radicals “go native” 100% – and live under these conditions? Eat only what they grow themselves – organically? Do without electricity, heating and air conditioning, television, cars, Barbie and Nintendo? Without safe water, good jobs, proper nutrition and decent medical care? Highly unlikely.

“What, then gives them the right to make choices for the world’s poor?” Kenyan economist James Shikwati wants to know. “Wealthy countries want the Earth to be green. The underdeveloped want the Earth fed.”

This holiday season, Mr. Harrison and Morgan Chase could give a precious gift to the world’s poor: the gift of life. They could do what their World Bank, Citi and B of A colleagues could not bring themselves to do: Stand up to the Rainforest Action Network demagogues.

Tell students and their teachers and parents what JPMC is doing to protect the environment and make life in poor countries just a little more like what Fairfield County enjoys every day. Continue working to protect children in poor nations from real, immediate, life-threatening risks – instead of condemning them to poverty, malnutrition, disease and premature death, to prevent risks associated with conjectural eco-catastrophes.

Demonstrate what corporate social responsibility really means. And make Morgan Chase shareholders proud to be part of such an institution.

The world would be a far better place.

Niger Innis is national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (www.CORE-online.org); Paul Driessen is CORE’s senior policy advisor and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power • Black Death (www.Eco-Imperialism.com)