Progress improves lives. It brings better, cleaner, more energy efficient technology. It reduces poverty and improves working conditions, health, nutrition, living standards and social equity. It generates revenues to pay employees, churches and taxes, support government programs, and protect the environment.
There can be no progress without investors, inventors, innovators and businessmen – or without developing energy, minerals, forest products, agriculture and the economy.
People engaged in these enterprises should provide quality products and services, at fair prices, to create jobs and meet people’s needs. They should be honest and ethical in their dealings with customers, employees, neighbors and regulators; transparent in their dealings with others; and accountable for their mistakes. That is the meaning of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
CSR also means providing consumer products and reliable, affordable energy, with minimal pollution, so that people can cook, heat their homes, travel and work.
American billionaire, Chilean landowner and development opponent Doug Tompkins does not agree. He became wealthy through manufacturing and global trade – by making expensive clothing from organic cotton in big factories, using petrochemicals and metals that required more land, water, mining, oil drilling and electricity to produce. He is a capitalist and industrialist, who took advantage of modern technology and the global economy to get rich.
But now that he is rich, Tompkins has become a leader of the Deep Ecology movement, which claims the world faces an environmental apocalypse. Now, he opposes modern technology, energy, economic development, and global trade for Chile. Now, he says trade, development, consumerism, fossil fuel use, and cheap energy are not sustainable. Now, he says they will cause catastrophic climate change and a collapse of ecosystems.
He has targeted Chile, because it has rich mineral resources, ecological treasures and a successful free market economy.
He thinks it is OK for him to travel the world, have multiple homes and enjoy a very comfortable life. But it is not OK for Chile to develop further, generate more electricity, and ensure greater progress and opportunity for its people.
His Deep Ecology Foundation and other American foundations give millions of dollars every year to environmental groups to oppose HidroAysen, other electricity projects, and economic development in Chile. They also bought land in Chile. They say it was to “preserve ecosystems and genetic banks.” It was really to create kayaking and hiking areas for themselves, and block north-south travel, transmission lines, economic development and true social equity in Chile.
The foundations and activist groups are all corporations. They should operate according to the CSR standards they demand for profit-making corporations. But Tompkins and his corporations believe they should be held to different standards.
They think they should be allowed to exaggerate or misrepresent science, use scare stories that have no basis in fact, and be less than honest about what they are doing. They see no need to be transparent about who is getting paid how much by whom to oppose electricity and economic progress.
They think they have a right to dictate Chile’s future, keep families from achieving their economic dreams, and reduce government revenues and people’s living standards, by preventing new development.