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One Fallacy of Green Capitalism

October 28, 2011

There are many fundamental problems with Capitalism’s recent greenwashing approach to marketing. We have been highlighting some of these problems, flaws and fallacies in our Dissection Green Capitalism section for a little more than a year.

Corporate America constantly provides us with examples of the shallowness of Capitalism’s claim to sustainable and eco-friendly.

One such example is a recent Media Release from the Sterling Heights, Michigan office of General Dynamics. The Media Release was part of the MiBiz weekly Michigan Loves Manufacturing e-newsletter.

The focus of the message from General Dynamics was the company’s Sterling Heights location, which just awarded LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.

The Media Release reads in part:

The company’s 450,000 square-foot Sterling Heights complex achieved LEED certification for efficiencies in energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as for incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, LEED-certified buildings save money, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and contribute to a healthier environment for the community. This facility is one of only 17 buildings in Michigan to achieve the LEED certification in the category of Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.

The Media Release then cites the director of Manufacturing Development for General Dynamics Land Systems who states, “General Dynamics Land Systems is committed to protecting the environment and has designated key resources to ensure our green program is successful.”

This all sounds really wonderful doesn’t it? The company received certification for their energy efficient building and is stating that they are committed to protecting the environment.

However, there is one glaring problem with this otherwise green wonderland. At the Sterling Heights facility General Dynamics manufactures armaments. The Media Release even acknowledges as much at the very end by saying, “the company provides a full spectrum of land and amphibious combat systems, subsystems and components worldwide; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions.

So, while the building might be “green,” what General Dynamics makes not only kills human beings and destroys buildings, what they make destroys nature. Whether it is the munitions or the military support vehicles, both contribute significantly to the destruction of the environment and both are major contributors to global warming.

The best investigation we have seen to date is Barry Sanders’s The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism. It’s a detailed examination of the environmental impact of US military practices—which identifies those practices, from fuel emissions to radioactive waste to defoliation campaigns, as the single-greatest contributor to the worldwide environmental crisis.

The absurdity of General Dynamics claim is bad enough, but the business press is also complicit here since MiBiz was promoting the company’s green capitalism. This is one of the fallacies of green capitalism – you can have green packaging, but the product is at its core ecologically destructive!

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