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  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

#99 -- U.N.'s Voluntary Global Compact, 18-Jul-2007

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Rachel's Precaution Reporter #99

"Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007.............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Table of Contents...

Global Warming Now World's Most Boring Topic: Report
Global warming has been identified as the topic most likely to
prompt people into feigning heart attacks so as to avoid hearing the
phrases "procrastination penalty", "precautionary principle" and
"peer- reviewed analysis" ever again.
Precautionary Riskmongers
This early attack on the precautionary principle appeared in the
Reverend Sun Myung Moon's newspaper, the Washington [D.C.] Times,
in 1997, long before the Wingspread statement on the precautionary
principle had been written. This article set the pattern for all later
attacks on precaution: it distorts and misrepresents precaution, then
attacks its own distortions and misrepresentations as if they were the
real thing. The old "straw man" tactic. We have never seen a single
attack on precaution that did not rely on this tactic.
U.N. Told To Overhaul Corporate Responsibility Pact
In early July, non-governmental organizations urged the United
Nations to strengthen its voluntary "global compact," which says
transnational corporations should "support a precautionary approach to
environmental challenges."
Business Leaders Adopt Geneva Declaration on Responsible Practices
On July 9, hundreds of transnational corporations pledged to adopt
a precautionary approach -- voluntarily, of course.
Top Executives Seek To Bolster UN Business Pact
Executives of transnational corporation say the United Nations
Global Compact provides needed rules governing corruption and
environmental protection, tacitly acknowledging that corporations
cannot do these things themselves.
UN: Global Compact with Business 'Lacks Teeth' -- NGOs
Critics say the United Nations' Global Compact is so voluntary that
it really is nothing more than "a happy-go-lucky club."
Parents: Pesticide Spraying Caused 'Heartbreaking' Harm
Two families in Indiana describe what happened to their young
children when pesticides were sprayed in their homes.

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From: The Age (Sydney, Australia), Jul. 18, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

GLOBAL WARMING NOW WORLD'S MOST BORING TOPIC: REPORT

Global warming and the debate over whether man-made carbon gas
emissions are having a detrimental influence on climate change has
been ranked as the most boring topic of conversation on earth,
according to a new report.

The issue of global warming far out-performed other contenders for the
title, such as the production of goat cheese, the musical genius of
the artist formerly known as P Diddy and media speculation over the
likely outcome of the upcoming federal election.

These topics still tracked strongly, according to the report, but
global warming was identified as the topic most likely to prompt
people into feigning heart attacks so as to avoid hearing the phrases
"procrastination penalty", "precautionary principle" and "peer-
reviewed analysis" ever again.

The study, conducted by a non-partisan think tank located somewhere
between the small township of Tibooburra and the NSW border,
identified global warming as the current topic of choice for people
who want their dinner party to finish early.

According to the parents in the survey, global warming has now
replaced the traditional bedtime story when it comes to putting
children to sleep. The study found the topic was also being used
instead of water cannon by riot police around the world to disperse
crowds.

In a key finding, the survey revealed that the amount of damaging
carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of discussing
the global warming issue now exceeds the greenhouse gas emissions of
northern China.

The survey also raised a number of important issues regarding the
global warming debate.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent said that while they understood both
sides of the issue, they did not understand Al Gore.

Participants in the study were asked whether Gore's film An
Inconvenient Truth had helped enlighten people to the importance of
the global warming issue.

The standard response was that if the issue of global warming is as
important and urgent to Gore as he keeps saying every time he is on
Letterman, then why didn't he make the movie during the eight years he
was vice-president of the United States, the second most powerful
position in the world? Why did he wait until his political career was
dead?

The issue was also raised as to why Gore personally came out to
promote his film in Australia -- a relatively insignificant market -
and then make a big deal about all the carbon off-setting he had done
to counter the pollution his trip had generated. Over 95 per cent of
those who took part in the survey wanted to know why he didn't just do
it all from his house via satellite.

Other key findings of the survey were:

* 89 per cent wanted to know how it was possible for humans to control
the climate, given that they have enough trouble forecasting it;

* 96 per cent believe those who use the term "climate change denial"
are attempting to equate it with "Holocaust denial";

* 100 per cent of these respondents also believe such people should
receive lengthy prison terms for crimes against the English language;

* 79 per cent of the bands that took part in the Live Earth event did
so because they feared the planet would be destroyed by global warming
before they had a chance to receive free worldwide television
exposure;

* 87 per cent only tuned in to watch the lead singer from Sneaky Sound
System, who is hot;

* 92 per cent of those same people watched her on mute because they
didn't want to hear that song again;

Of all the issues raised in the survey, most common was whether the
global warming debate was all just an elaborate ruse designed to sell
stuff.

The study highlighted how those who subscribe to the prophecy of
global warming automatically commit themselves to purchasing a vast
array of expensive products, whereas sceptics don't have to buy
anything to support their point of view.

Over 98 per cent of people surveyed also predicted that the standard
response from global warming proponents to that last statement would
be: "yeah, it won't cost anything -- except the future of your
planet".

To obtain a copy of the full results of this survey please send $120
to this office. Cash only, please. No student concessions available.

Copyright 2007. The Age Company Ltd.

Return to Table of Contents

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From: Washington Times (pg. A15), Jun. 25, 1997
[Printer-friendly version]

PRECAUTIONARY RISKMONGERS

By Marlo Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Precautionary Principle -- the proposition that new technologies
or products should not be permitted until we know they won't endanger
health, safety, or biodiversity -- is central to the modern
environmentalist vision and underlies most Nanny-State regulation.
Indeed, for environmentalists, precaution has become a categorical
imperative. Thou shalt not tolerate even the risk of a risk. A good
illustration of the Precautionary Principle at work is Superfund, the
government's toxic waste cleanup program. Although you are more likely
to be struck by a falling airplane than be harmed by an abandoned
toxic waste site (there is no documented case of anyone dying from
groundwater contamination caused by a Superfund site); and although
public health could often be protected by inexpensive measures (such
as surrounding a dump with a chain link fence and a warning sign), the
EPA routinely commands businesses and municipalities to spend millions
cleansing the soil to pristine cond! itions. Imbued with precautionary
zeal, EPA proudly compels Americans to pay any price, bear any burden,
to eliminate the risk of a risk.

Had this risk-averse mentality held sway since ancient times, men
would never have brought fire into their huts and caves, domesticated
wild animals, plowed and mined the earth, founded cities, crossed the
seas, unlocked the secrets of electricity and the atom, or developed
open-heart surgery. Every technology extending man's dominion over
nature has been a two-edged sword, creating some risks in the process
of reducing and eliminating others. On balance, the benefits have
outweighed the risks; technological innovation has made the world a
safer place.

But to precautionary zealots, such risk-benefit comparisons are
irrelevant. All that matters is whether a substance or technology may
do harm. If the risk of harm cannot be ruled out, then the risky
product or activity should not be permitted, period. Since no
invention is risk-free (aspirin is deadly to some people, for
example), the Precautionary Principle is a recipe for technological
stagnation -- perhaps the most perilous condition of all. Nonetheless,
better safe than sorry easily persuades a public unversed in the
hazards of overcaution.

In the great climate change debate, the precautionary imperative has
become the greenhouse lobby's trump card. Science does not support
predictions of a global warming catastrophe. The Earth seems to have
warmed half a degree since 1880, but most of this temperature rise
occurred before 1940 -- before the largest increase in greenhouse
(heat-trapping) emissions; the effect preceded the cause. Moreover,
satellite and weather balloon observations over the past 18 years
reveal no warming at all, but rather a slight cooling. Finally, a
modest warming that occurs mostly in winter and at night (which many
scientists consider the most probable scenario) would benefit mankind,
producing milder weather and longer growing seasons.

Finding science an unreliable ally, eco-apocalysts resort to
precautionary rhetoric. Since industrial civilization could be warming
the planet, and global warming might accelerate dangerously in the
next century, we should take no chances. Curbing energy use to reduce
emissions may be expensive, but what is money compared to the lives
that might otherwise be lost?

The fatal flaw in this argument -- as in environmental advocacy
generally -- is its complete one-sidedness. Environmentalists demand
assurances of no harm only with respect to actions that government
might regulate, never with respect to government regulation itself.
But government intervention frequently boomerangs, creating the very
risks precautionists deem intolerable.

Examples abound. Federal fuel-economy mandates force automakers to
produce smaller, lighter, less crash-resistant cars, causing thousands
of highway deaths per year. FDA regulations delay the availability of
life-saving therapies, killing tens of thousands over the past decade.
Banning DDT revived malaria epidemics in the Third World, afflicting
2.5 million people in Sri Lanka alone.

Frank Cross of the University of Texas at Austin notes that regulation
can kill just by misdirecting resources and destroying wealth.
Resources available to protect public health and safety are limited.
Regulatory schemes that divert attention, effort, and money from major
threats to minor risks make us less safe. For example, the millions
local governments waste on gold-plated Superfund cleanups cannot be
used to improve police and fire protection.

Even more important is the fact that, for individuals as well as
nations, wealthier is healthier and richer is safer. Precautionists
ignore the obvious connection between livelihood and life -- as if
jobs and income were not the chief safety net for most of the world's
people. Even in relatively wealthy countries like the United States,
studies indicate that every $5 million to $10 million drop in economic
output translates into one statistical death.

So how can greenhouse alarmists be sure their anti-energy policies
won't destroy millions of jobs, and that the economic hardship won't
cause the death of even one child? They can't. And how can they know
spending trillions on global warming won't impair our ability to
survive other possible calamities (another ice age, a new viral
plague, a meteor encounter)? Again, they can't.

The Precautionary Principle says we should not go upsetting apple
carts until we're sure nobody will get hurt. Since draconian energy
restrictions would jeopardize health and safety, the Precautionary
Principle cannot justify such measures. Indeed, far from mandating
drastic action to avert a greenhouse crisis that may never materialize
in any event, the Precautionary Principle forbids us to adopt risky
climate change policies.

For far too long, environmentalists have gotten away with
precautionary deception. In the global warming debate, they admonish
us not to gamble with the planet. Yet they are more than willing to
gamble with industrial civilization. They cannot logically have it
both ways.

Of course, environmentalists may allege (despite strong evidence to
the contrary) that the risks of climate change exceed the risks of
climate change policy. But if they do so, they can no longer pretend
that slogans like "err on the side of caution" settle the argument;
they can no longer posture as defenders of a categorical imperative.
They will have to make their case on prudential and empirical grounds,
weighing and balancing one set of risks against another. Which means,
they'll have to fight on unfamiliar terrain.

Marlo Lewis Jr. is vice president for policy of the Competitive
Enterprise Institute
.

Copyright 1997 News World Communications Inc.

Return to Table of Contents

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From: Reuters Africa, Jul. 4, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

U.N. TOLD TO OVERHAUL CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY PACT

GENEVA, July 4 (Reuters) -- Human rights and environmental activists
urged the United Nations on Wednesday to overhaul its seven-year-old
initiative on business responsibility, saying it needed teeth to spur
companies to improve their practices.

Amnesty International, Greenpeace and ActionAid, speaking ahead of a
summit of the U.N. Global Compact expected to draw more than 1,000
executives and officials to Geneva, said that voluntary rules had done
little to improve companies' practices.

They said the United Nations should monitor adherence to the Global
Compact's 10 principles, such as pledges to abolish child labour and
work against corruption, and sanction signatory companies who are not
upholding them.

"What is needed are legally binding regulations to control corporate
activities with respect to human rights," Aftab Alam Khan of ActionAid
told journalists in Geneva.

The Global Compact was created in 2000 as a counterweight to anti-
globalisation protests, such as those that disrupted the 1999 World
Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle.

More than 3,000 businesses have signed onto the initiative, which has
no enforcement mechanism beyond public scrutiny and the requirement
for participants to report annually on their progress in meeting the
10 principles.

Greenpeace International advisor Daniel Mittler said many of the
initiative's guidelines were so ambiguous that companies did not need
to make any changes to their policies, citing as an example Principle
7 that reads: "Businesses should support a precautionary approach to
environmental challenges."

"The principles are vague and they are not enforced," he said. "The
Global Compact is simply not delivering."

Executives from Coca-Cola Co. , Ericsson and Anglo-
American are among those participating in the two-day
conference in Geneva which will open on Thursday with an address from
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

While Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell has said some 600
firms have been delisted in past years for failing to deliver real
changes, Amnesty International said such companies were dropped for
"technical reasons", such as not filing reports on time, and not for
their performance on substantive issues.

"It is not possible to either suspend or expel participating companies
in cases of substantive breach of the Global Compact's principles,"
Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's head of economic relations,
told journalists in Geneva.

"The Global Compact must find ways to strengthen how companies are
held to account for non-compliance with its principles," she said.

In a survey of 391 chief executives of firms participating in the
Global Compact, released this week by the consultancy McKinsey & Co.,
59 percent said they were incorporating environmental, social and
governance issues into their core strategy "much more" now than five
years ago.

Another 34 percent said they were doing so "somewhat more" and 7
percent said they were integrating the issues the same amount or less
than in 2002.

Copyright Reuters 2007

Return to Table of Contents

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From: Ag-IP-news, Jul. 10, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

BUSINESS LEADERS ADOPT GENEVA DECLARATION ON RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES

Action Taken at The Second UN Global Compact Summit

GENEVA -- The second UN Global Compact Leaders Summit concluded on
Friday with a pledge by hundreds of business leaders from developed
and developing countries to comply with labor, human rights,
environmental and anti-corruption standards.

"Over these two days, it has been heartening to see such a prominent
group of leaders from business, Government, civil society, labor,
academia and the United Nations, display such a deep and broad
commitment to the principles of the Global Compact," UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon said in his closing speech.

"I am encouraged by your willingness to share and openly discuss
actions, experiences and challenges. Working together across sectors
in this way to address the most pressing issues facing business and
society is the hallmark of the Global Compact," he added.

Top executives of corporations such as Coca-Cola, Petrobras, Fuji
Xerox, China Ocean Shipping Group, Tata Steel, L M Ericsson and Banco
Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria adopted the 21-point Geneva Declaration.

Delivered by UN Global Compact Vice Chair Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the
Declaration stressed that "It is unprecedented in history to have the
objectives of the international community and the global business
community so aligned. Common goals, such as building sustainable
markets, combating corruption, safeguarding human rights and
protecting the environment, are resulting in new levels of partnership
and openness among business, civil society, labor, governments, the
United Nations, and other stakeholders."

The Declaration spells out concrete actions for business in society,
governments and UN Global Compact participants.

Some 4,000 organizations from 116 countries -- among them trade
unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and about 3,100
businesses -- have so far subscribed to the Global Compact, pledging
to observe ten universal principles related to human rights, labor
rights, the environment and the fight against corruption.

Addressing the business sector, Abu-Ghazaleh said "Your support will
exemplify your own commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR)."

"It will advance its principles and goals, will provide a concrete
principle-based approach to CSR, will contribute to a more inclusive
and sustainable economy, and will demonstrate your championship for
the fundamental goals the United Nations," he further noted.

The Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact,
within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in these areas,
these principles are:

In human rights: Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect
the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights
abuses.

While in labor standards: Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the
freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to
collective bargaining; Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of
forced and compulsory labor; Principle 5: the effective abolition of
child labor; and Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in
respect of employment and occupation.

In environment: Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary
approach to environmental challenges; Principle 8: undertake
initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of
environmentally friendly technologies.

Finally in anti-corruption: Principle 10: Businesses should work
against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

A Ministerial Roundtable chaired by General Assembly President Sheikha
Haya Rashed al Khalifa discussed the role of governments in promoting
responsible corporate citizenship. Six parallel sessions focused on
human rights, labor, climate change and the environment, UN-business
partnerships, corruption and responsible investment were held.

Global as well as local initiatives were launched at the Summit.
Through the "Caring for Climate" platform, Chief executive officers
(CEOs) of 150 companies from around the world, including 30 from the
Fortune Global 500, pledged to speed up action on climate change and
called on governments to agree as soon as possible on Kyoto follow-up
measures to secure workable and inclusive climate market mechanisms.

The CEOs of six corporations -- The Coca-Cola Company, Levi Strauss &
Co., L
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:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Rachel's Precaution Reporter #99 "Foresight and Precaution, in the News and in the World" Wednesday, July 18, 2007.............Printer-friendly version www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Table of Contents...

Global Warming Now World's Most Boring Topic: Report
Global warming has been identified as the topic most likely to
prompt people into feigning heart attacks so as to avoid hearing the
phrases "procrastination penalty", "precautionary principle" and
"peer- reviewed analysis" ever again.
Precautionary Riskmongers
This early attack on the precautionary principle appeared in the
Reverend Sun Myung Moon's newspaper, the Washington [D.C.] Times,
in 1997, long before the Wingspread statement on the precautionary
principle had been written. This article set the pattern for all later
attacks on precaution: it distorts and misrepresents precaution, then
attacks its own distortions and misrepresentations as if they were the
real thing. The old "straw man" tactic. We have never seen a single
attack on precaution that did not rely on this tactic.
U.N. Told To Overhaul Corporate Responsibility Pact
In early July, non-governmental organizations urged the United
Nations to strengthen its voluntary "global compact," which says
transnational corporations should "support a precautionary approach to
environmental challenges."
Business Leaders Adopt Geneva Declaration on Responsible Practices
On July 9, hundreds of transnational corporations pledged to adopt
a precautionary approach -- voluntarily, of course.
Top Executives Seek To Bolster UN Business Pact
Executives of transnational corporation say the United Nations
Global Compact provides needed rules governing corruption and
environmental protection, tacitly acknowledging that corporations
cannot do these things themselves.
UN: Global Compact with Business 'Lacks Teeth' -- NGOs
Critics say the United Nations' Global Compact is so voluntary that
it really is nothing more than "a happy-go-lucky club."
Parents: Pesticide Spraying Caused 'Heartbreaking' Harm
Two families in Indiana describe what happened to their young
children when pesticides were sprayed in their homes.

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From: The Age (Sydney, Australia), Jul. 18, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

GLOBAL WARMING NOW WORLD'S MOST BORING TOPIC: REPORT

Global warming and the debate over whether man-made carbon gas
emissions are having a detrimental influence on climate change has
been ranked as the most boring topic of conversation on earth,
according to a new report.

The issue of global warming far out-performed other contenders for the
title, such as the production of goat cheese, the musical genius of
the artist formerly known as P Diddy and media speculation over the
likely outcome of the upcoming federal election.

These topics still tracked strongly, according to the report, but
global warming was identified as the topic most likely to prompt
people into feigning heart attacks so as to avoid hearing the phrases
"procrastination penalty", "precautionary principle" and "peer-
reviewed analysis" ever again.

The study, conducted by a non-partisan think tank located somewhere
between the small township of Tibooburra and the NSW border,
identified global warming as the current topic of choice for people
who want their dinner party to finish early.

According to the parents in the survey, global warming has now
replaced the traditional bedtime story when it comes to putting
children to sleep. The study found the topic was also being used
instead of water cannon by riot police around the world to disperse
crowds.

In a key finding, the survey revealed that the amount of damaging
carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of discussing
the global warming issue now exceeds the greenhouse gas emissions of
northern China.

The survey also raised a number of important issues regarding the
global warming debate.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent said that while they understood both
sides of the issue, they did not understand Al Gore.

Participants in the study were asked whether Gore's film An
Inconvenient Truth had helped enlighten people to the importance of
the global warming issue.

The standard response was that if the issue of global warming is as
important and urgent to Gore as he keeps saying every time he is on
Letterman, then why didn't he make the movie during the eight years he
was vice-president of the United States, the second most powerful
position in the world? Why did he wait until his political career was
dead?

The issue was also raised as to why Gore personally came out to
promote his film in Australia -- a relatively insignificant market -
and then make a big deal about all the carbon off-setting he had done
to counter the pollution his trip had generated. Over 95 per cent of
those who took part in the survey wanted to know why he didn't just do
it all from his house via satellite.

Other key findings of the survey were:

* 89 per cent wanted to know how it was possible for humans to control
the climate, given that they have enough trouble forecasting it;

* 96 per cent believe those who use the term "climate change denial"
are attempting to equate it with "Holocaust denial";

* 100 per cent of these respondents also believe such people should
receive lengthy prison terms for crimes against the English language;

* 79 per cent of the bands that took part in the Live Earth event did
so because they feared the planet would be destroyed by global warming
before they had a chance to receive free worldwide television
exposure;

* 87 per cent only tuned in to watch the lead singer from Sneaky Sound
System, who is hot;

* 92 per cent of those same people watched her on mute because they
didn't want to hear that song again;

Of all the issues raised in the survey, most common was whether the
global warming debate was all just an elaborate ruse designed to sell
stuff.

The study highlighted how those who subscribe to the prophecy of
global warming automatically commit themselves to purchasing a vast
array of expensive products, whereas sceptics don't have to buy
anything to support their point of view.

Over 98 per cent of people surveyed also predicted that the standard
response from global warming proponents to that last statement would
be: "yeah, it won't cost anything -- except the future of your
planet".

To obtain a copy of the full results of this survey please send $120
to this office. Cash only, please. No student concessions available.

Copyright 2007. The Age Company Ltd.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
From: Washington Times (pg. A15), Jun. 25, 1997
[Printer-friendly version]

PRECAUTIONARY RISKMONGERS

By Marlo Lewis, Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Precautionary Principle -- the proposition that new technologies
or products should not be permitted until we know they won't endanger
health, safety, or biodiversity -- is central to the modern
environmentalist vision and underlies most Nanny-State regulation.
Indeed, for environmentalists, precaution has become a categorical
imperative. Thou shalt not tolerate even the risk of a risk. A good
illustration of the Precautionary Principle at work is Superfund, the
government's toxic waste cleanup program. Although you are more likely
to be struck by a falling airplane than be harmed by an abandoned
toxic waste site (there is no documented case of anyone dying from
groundwater contamination caused by a Superfund site); and although
public health could often be protected by inexpensive measures (such
as surrounding a dump with a chain link fence and a warning sign), the
EPA routinely commands businesses and municipalities to spend millions
cleansing the soil to pristine cond! itions. Imbued with precautionary
zeal, EPA proudly compels Americans to pay any price, bear any burden,
to eliminate the risk of a risk.

Had this risk-averse mentality held sway since ancient times, men
would never have brought fire into their huts and caves, domesticated
wild animals, plowed and mined the earth, founded cities, crossed the
seas, unlocked the secrets of electricity and the atom, or developed
open-heart surgery. Every technology extending man's dominion over
nature has been a two-edged sword, creating some risks in the process
of reducing and eliminating others. On balance, the benefits have
outweighed the risks; technological innovation has made the world a
safer place.

But to precautionary zealots, such risk-benefit comparisons are
irrelevant. All that matters is whether a substance or technology may
do harm. If the risk of harm cannot be ruled out, then the risky
product or activity should not be permitted, period. Since no
invention is risk-free (aspirin is deadly to some people, for
example), the Precautionary Principle is a recipe for technological
stagnation -- perhaps the most perilous condition of all. Nonetheless,
better safe than sorry easily persuades a public unversed in the
hazards of overcaution.

In the great climate change debate, the precautionary imperative has
become the greenhouse lobby's trump card. Science does not support
predictions of a global warming catastrophe. The Earth seems to have
warmed half a degree since 1880, but most of this temperature rise
occurred before 1940 -- before the largest increase in greenhouse
(heat-trapping) emissions; the effect preceded the cause. Moreover,
satellite and weather balloon observations over the past 18 years
reveal no warming at all, but rather a slight cooling. Finally, a
modest warming that occurs mostly in winter and at night (which many
scientists consider the most probable scenario) would benefit mankind,
producing milder weather and longer growing seasons.

Finding science an unreliable ally, eco-apocalysts resort to
precautionary rhetoric. Since industrial civilization could be warming
the planet, and global warming might accelerate dangerously in the
next century, we should take no chances. Curbing energy use to reduce
emissions may be expensive, but what is money compared to the lives
that might otherwise be lost?

The fatal flaw in this argument -- as in environmental advocacy
generally -- is its complete one-sidedness. Environmentalists demand
assurances of no harm only with respect to actions that government
might regulate, never with respect to government regulation itself.
But government intervention frequently boomerangs, creating the very
risks precautionists deem intolerable.

Examples abound. Federal fuel-economy mandates force automakers to
produce smaller, lighter, less crash-resistant cars, causing thousands
of highway deaths per year. FDA regulations delay the availability of
life-saving therapies, killing tens of thousands over the past decade.
Banning DDT revived malaria epidemics in the Third World, afflicting
2.5 million people in Sri Lanka alone.

Frank Cross of the University of Texas at Austin notes that regulation
can kill just by misdirecting resources and destroying wealth.
Resources available to protect public health and safety are limited.
Regulatory schemes that divert attention, effort, and money from major
threats to minor risks make us less safe. For example, the millions
local governments waste on gold-plated Superfund cleanups cannot be
used to improve police and fire protection.

Even more important is the fact that, for individuals as well as
nations, wealthier is healthier and richer is safer. Precautionists
ignore the obvious connection between livelihood and life -- as if
jobs and income were not the chief safety net for most of the world's
people. Even in relatively wealthy countries like the United States,
studies indicate that every $5 million to $10 million drop in economic
output translates into one statistical death.

So how can greenhouse alarmists be sure their anti-energy policies
won't destroy millions of jobs, and that the economic hardship won't
cause the death of even one child? They can't. And how can they know
spending trillions on global warming won't impair our ability to
survive other possible calamities (another ice age, a new viral
plague, a meteor encounter)? Again, they can't.

The Precautionary Principle says we should not go upsetting apple
carts until we're sure nobody will get hurt. Since draconian energy
restrictions would jeopardize health and safety, the Precautionary
Principle cannot justify such measures. Indeed, far from mandating
drastic action to avert a greenhouse crisis that may never materialize
in any event, the Precautionary Principle forbids us to adopt risky
climate change policies.

For far too long, environmentalists have gotten away with
precautionary deception. In the global warming debate, they admonish
us not to gamble with the planet. Yet they are more than willing to
gamble with industrial civilization. They cannot logically have it
both ways.

Of course, environmentalists may allege (despite strong evidence to
the contrary) that the risks of climate change exceed the risks of
climate change policy. But if they do so, they can no longer pretend
that slogans like "err on the side of caution" settle the argument;
they can no longer posture as defenders of a categorical imperative.
They will have to make their case on prudential and empirical grounds,
weighing and balancing one set of risks against another. Which means,
they'll have to fight on unfamiliar terrain.

Marlo Lewis Jr. is vice president for policy of the Competitive
Enterprise Institute
.

Copyright 1997 News World Communications Inc.

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From: Reuters Africa, Jul. 4, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

U.N. TOLD TO OVERHAUL CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY PACT

GENEVA, July 4 (Reuters) -- Human rights and environmental activists
urged the United Nations on Wednesday to overhaul its seven-year-old
initiative on business responsibility, saying it needed teeth to spur
companies to improve their practices.

Amnesty International, Greenpeace and ActionAid, speaking ahead of a
summit of the U.N. Global Compact expected to draw more than 1,000
executives and officials to Geneva, said that voluntary rules had done
little to improve companies' practices.

They said the United Nations should monitor adherence to the Global
Compact's 10 principles, such as pledges to abolish child labour and
work against corruption, and sanction signatory companies who are not
upholding them.

"What is needed are legally binding regulations to control corporate
activities with respect to human rights," Aftab Alam Khan of ActionAid
told journalists in Geneva.

The Global Compact was created in 2000 as a counterweight to anti-
globalisation protests, such as those that disrupted the 1999 World
Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle.

More than 3,000 businesses have signed onto the initiative, which has
no enforcement mechanism beyond public scrutiny and the requirement
for participants to report annually on their progress in meeting the
10 principles.

Greenpeace International advisor Daniel Mittler said many of the
initiative's guidelines were so ambiguous that companies did not need
to make any changes to their policies, citing as an example Principle
7 that reads: "Businesses should support a precautionary approach to
environmental challenges."

"The principles are vague and they are not enforced," he said. "The
Global Compact is simply not delivering."

Executives from Coca-Cola Co. , Ericsson and Anglo-
American are among those participating in the two-day
conference in Geneva which will open on Thursday with an address from
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

While Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell has said some 600
firms have been delisted in past years for failing to deliver real
changes, Amnesty International said such companies were dropped for
"technical reasons", such as not filing reports on time, and not for
their performance on substantive issues.

"It is not possible to either suspend or expel participating companies
in cases of substantive breach of the Global Compact's principles,"
Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International's head of economic relations,
told journalists in Geneva.

"The Global Compact must find ways to strengthen how companies are
held to account for non-compliance with its principles," she said.

In a survey of 391 chief executives of firms participating in the
Global Compact, released this week by the consultancy McKinsey & Co.,
59 percent said they were incorporating environmental, social and
governance issues into their core strategy "much more" now than five
years ago.

Another 34 percent said they were doing so "somewhat more" and 7
percent said they were integrating the issues the same amount or less
than in 2002.

Copyright Reuters 2007

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From: Ag-IP-news, Jul. 10, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]

BUSINESS LEADERS ADOPT GENEVA DECLARATION ON RESPONSIBLE PRACTICES

Action Taken at The Second UN Global Compact Summit

GENEVA -- The second UN Global Compact Leaders Summit concluded on
Friday with a pledge by hundreds of business leaders from developed
and developing countries to comply with labor, human rights,
environmental and anti-corruption standards.

"Over these two days, it has been heartening to see such a prominent
group of leaders from business, Government, civil society, labor,
academia and the United Nations, display such a deep and broad
commitment to the principles of the Global Compact," UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon said in his closing speech.

"I am encouraged by your willingness to share and openly discuss
actions, experiences and challenges. Working together across sectors
in this way to address the most pressing issues facing business and
society is the hallmark of the Global Compact," he added.

Top executives of corporations such as Coca-Cola, Petrobras, Fuji
Xerox, China Ocean Shipping Group, Tata Steel, L M Ericsson and Banco
Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria adopted the 21-point Geneva Declaration.

Delivered by UN Global Compact Vice Chair Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the
Declaration stressed that "It is unprecedented in history to have the
objectives of the international community and the global business
community so aligned. Common goals, such as building sustainable
markets, combating corruption, safeguarding human rights and
protecting the environment, are resulting in new levels of partnership
and openness among business, civil society, labor, governments, the
United Nations, and other stakeholders."

The Declaration spells out concrete actions for business in society,
governments and UN Global Compact participants.

Some 4,000 organizations from 116 countries -- among them trade
unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and about 3,100
businesses -- have so far subscribed to the Global Compact, pledging
to observe ten universal principles related to human rights, labor
rights, the environment and the fight against corruption.

Addressing the business sector, Abu-Ghazaleh said "Your support will
exemplify your own commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR)."

"It will advance its principles and goals, will provide a concrete
principle-based approach to CSR, will contribute to a more inclusive
and sustainable economy, and will demonstrate your championship for
the fundamental goals the United Nations," he further noted.

The Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact,
within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in these areas,
these principles are:

In human rights: Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect
the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights
abuses.

While in labor standards: Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the
freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to
collective bargaining; Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of
forced and compulsory labor; Principle 5: the effective abolition of
child labor; and Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in
respect of employment and occupation.

In environment: Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary
approach to environmental challenges; Principle 8: undertake
initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of
environmentally friendly technologies.

Finally in anti-corruption: Principle 10: Businesses should work
against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

A Ministerial Roundtable chaired by General Assembly President Sheikha
Haya Rashed al Khalifa discussed the role of governments in promoting
responsible corporate citizenship. Six parallel sessions focused on
human rights, labor, climate change and the environment, UN-business
partnerships, corruption and responsible investment were held.

Global as well as local initiatives were launched at the Summit.
Through the "Caring for Climate" platform, Chief executive officers
(CEOs) of 150 companies from around the world, including 30 from the
Fortune Global 500, pledged to speed up action on climate change and
called on governments to agree as soon as possible on Kyoto follow-up
measures to secure workable and inclusive climate market mechanisms.

The CEOs of six corporations -- The Coca-Cola Company, Levi Strauss &
Co., L