Dow Chemicals hoisted with its own petard

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Yes Men deliver a resounding "˜no' to greenwashing at Earth Day event

A Dow Chemical public relations stunt aiming to remake the company's image as an environmentally conscientious firm backfired badly last weekend.

The much publicized "Live Earth: Run For Water" event, which the company billed as "the largest solutions-based initiative aimed at solving the global water crisis in history," turned into a fiasco with a group of determined and creative activists exposing its hollow pretensions.

"Dow has chosen Earth Day weekend to try to promote the idea that it is a company that is concerned about the environment and access to clean water, when in reality, nothing is further from the truth. This is a company that has taken zero responsibility for the legacy of suffering that it has left in Vietnam, in Bhopal, India"¦, here in the US, the company has plenty to account for in terms of its past and current toxic crimes," one activist wearing a skull mask told the Huffington Post.

Others, holding up placards reading "Dow, Stop Running, Start Cleaning" and "Dow Clean Up Your Mess: Agent Orange Still Kills" chanted "Dow poisons water" as the small number of participants in the event began running.

Among the activists was 12-year-old Akash Vishwanath Mehta who told the Huffington Post that he was there to support the children of Bhopal, capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where a gas leak from a Union Carbide factory 26 years ago horrifically killed thousands of people. The accident has claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people over the years. Dow Chemicals, which owns Union Carbide, has steadfastly refused to clean up the contaminated environment that continues to claim victims to this day.

"We support Live Earth and we support clean water, but we will not let Dow get away with greenwashing their crimes at a time like this," Mehta said.

"Vietnam is still polluted, and children, three generations after the Vietnam War, are being born with really atrocious birth defects and Dow won't clean up this mess and it keeps on happening," said another activist.

The coup de grâce, however was delivered by the Yes Men, who assembled a "giant team of PR flaks" and shouted down protestors in a theater of irony they have perfected over the years, handing out brochures exposing Dow Chemical's record with the slogan "Run for your Life" to unsuspecting participants.

The Yes Men team, dedicated to "Identity Correction," have successfully carried out many impersonation campaigns exposing "big-time criminals" who "put profits ahead of everything else."

In Sunday's event, they countered the protestors with chants of their own, paraphrasing a popular peace chant among anti-war activists:

"What do we want?"  "Profits!"

"When do we want it?" "Now!"

In an article posted on their website, Yes Woman Whitney Black said:

"We thought it must be a joke when we first heard that Dow Chemical Company was sponsoring a run for clean water. Sadly, it was not. One of the world's worst polluters trying to greenwash its image instead of taking responsibility for drinking water and ecosystems it has poisoned around the world? What an awfully unfunny way to start off Earth Week. We decided the event needed a little comic relief."

Fittingly, the final irony of an event purporting to save water was supplied by Dow Chemical itself when it dumped the large quantities of unused water it had arranged for the run.

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