Spinning for Greenpeace

By Keith Kloor | June 18, 2014 12:34 am

When Greenpeace generates global headlines, it’s often for dramatic, gimmicky stunts, like scaling an oil rig or breaking into a nuclear power plant. This week, the environmental group is making news for a different kind of high stakes behavior: losing $5.1 million on a bad financial bet.

It seems that a Greenpeace employee had been dabbling in the volatile currency trade market.

Critics of Greenpeace are chortling over this. Others, such as John Vidal, the Guardian’s environmental editor, are spinning it rather oddly. He writes:

If it only costs £3m for Greenpeace to prove to the world that speculation on risky markets to raise money is madness, then it may be money well spent.

Yes, I’m sure that will do the trick!

The comments on Vidal’s embarrassing piece are wickedly delicious, such as this one:

My theory is that said [Greenpeace] individual had been taking too much notice of Nafeez Ahmed and anticipating the immanent collapse of civilization and the flight to “safety” of the US dollar, decided to short the Euro.

Ahmed, as regular Collide-a-Scape readers know, is my favorite “tour guide to the apocalypse.” He and Vidal occupy an interesting space at the Guardian.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: environmentalism, Greenpeace
  • Leopard Basement

    I’m more fascinated how nobody seems to have reported on this beyond editorialising on what the Greenpeace press release has said.

    We don’t see any curiosity about the identity of the trader, or on the detail about how extensive the Greenpeace stock and currency trading activity is.

    Could this kind of loss have happened before at smaller scales? And only now, when the extent can’t be kept quiet, a release to a compliant media is all that is needed?

    Not a whit of curiosity is shown by the pseudo-journalists who would be all over any company that actually produced anything useful.

    Ho hum. Keep up the back-biting and opinionating, you do such a good job at that ;)

  • mem_somerville

    I don’t know if anyone here is old enough to remember the “Bad Ideas Jeans” commercial from SNL. Last night I went to bed laughing that you could replace the whole series with John Vidal’s bad ideas like “Yeah, Greenpeace should totally get into currency trading with donation dollars as an example” and “Seralini is one of the great minds of our time”.

    But if there was any doubt that he does nothing but carry water for green outfits, it’s gone now.

    And it’s so nice that we have Vidal to econosplain for us that currency trading can be tricksy–nobody would have figured that out before this.

    • JH

      “econosplain”

      Excellent! And who better than an environmentalist, all versed up in the evil ways of elitist capitalist markets from their intensive studies of nature!

    • mem_somerville

      I hope Vidal is buying up a lot of palm-oil-free lipstick, because there are more applications he’s gotta cover:

      Greenpeace losses: leaked documents reveal extent of financial disarray.

      Lotsa lipstick Johnny, lotsa lipstick.

  • Viva La Evolucion

    I am curious how long Greenpeace employees have been dabbling in currency trade, and if they have a net loss or gain in the practice.

  • bobito

    You would think this the perfect opportunity for Vidal to show he can be critical of Greenpeace. Silence his critics by bashing them for wasting the donations of Hollywood elites! But I guess old habits die hard…

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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