Fracking greenwashers spawn funny examples of slimeball spin
Have you ever wondered if you have the chops to be a world-class spin doctor?
Have you ever listened to some politician or industrialist spewing bilge about the beneficial (i.e., “green”) aspects of some environmentally ruinous practice and thought you could do better? Do you admire the person who came up with the phrase “clean coal”?
If so, you’re a dick.
But if you just think it’s good tactics to know thine enemy, to climb into his skin and think like him in order to be better prepared to meet him on his own astroturf, then maybe it’s a good idea to learn the art of greenwashing.
It can be fun, too. Good, dickish fun.
A U.S. colleague, Sue Sturgis, writing for North Carolina’s Independent Weekly, was thinking about greenwashing terms recently as NC legislators grappled with the reality of the huge rise in applications for hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) operations in her state.
Fracking is a method of releasing heretofore-unrecoverable underground natural-gas deposits from between layers of rock by angle-drilling and forcing large quantities of water into the rock at extremely high pressure, which fractures the rock.
Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are used in the injected solutions, and chemicals and gas sometimes contaminate local water tables where fracking operations are happening.
Sturgis was taking note of the euphemisms used by fracking proponents, who seem to think that the word fracking is uncomfortably close to the sound of the word fucking (not to mention the whole Battlestar Galactica connection).
She thought it would be fun to think like a greenwashing professional and come up with a few alternative names for the process. As Sturgis wrote: “How would we rebrand fracking to make it sound noble, conscientious—even sexy?”
Here are some of her scrubby suggestions:
• methane emancipation
• subsurface massage
• aquifer beautification
• drill-facilitated stimulation
• chemically assisted purification
• dinosaur reclamation
• shale enhancement
We thought that perhaps the Georgia Straight and its readers could come up with a few of our own, including some that would apply to specific regional polluting industries or proposals.
• For oil pipelines: "fossil-flow facilitator" or "horizontal hydrocarbon delivery system"
• For fish farms: "salmon spa (with 24/7 hydration therapy)" or "finfish boot camp"
• For mining operations (like the proposed Prosperity Mine at Fish Lake): "piscine relocation project" or "mineral exfoliation"
Do you have your own greenwash examples for any of the above? Got any that apply to increased tanker traffic on our coast and through Vancouver harbour, or ones that rebrand the tar sands? (How about “sandbox decontamination”?)
Post ’em below and share with us.