Below are letters from various environmental groups responding to our March 22 cover story, "The Wrong Kind of Green," by Johann Hari. Because space in our Letters column is limited, they have been abridged. For longer versions, go to "Conservation Groups & Corporate Cash: An Exchange."
Johann Hari’s "The Wrong Kind of Green" is an irresponsible and toxic mixture of inaccurate information and uninformed analysis. Hari, who did not contact the National Wildlife Federation, has written a work of fiction that hardly merits a response, except that it stoops to a new low by attacking the reputation of the late Jay Hair, a former CEO of the National Wildlife Federation whose powerful legacy of conservation achievement speaks for itself.
The National Wildlife Federation is funded primarily by the generous donations of 4 million members and supporters. Corporate partnerships for our educational work account for less than 0.5 percent of our funding. Our dedicated staff, volunteers and state affiliates fight tirelessly to take on polluters, protect wildlife habitat, promote clean energy and educate families about wildlife and the importance of spending time outdoors in nature.
What will The Nation do next, blame polar bears for global warming?
CHRISTINE DORSEY, communications director
National Wildlife Federation
Johann Hari has made outrageous and false statements about my late husband, Dr. Jay Hair, who died in 2002 after a five-year battle with cancer. Jay devoted his life–and his considerable passion, courage and intelligence–to protecting this planet. He never betrayed that mission to "suck millions" from oil and gas companies. While Jay was president of the National Wildlife Federation, corporate contributions never exceeded 1 percent of NWF’s budget.
In 1982 Jay established NWF’s Corporate Conservation Council to create a forum for dialogue with Fortune 500 leaders. Prior to this controversial initiative, almost the only place business and environmental leaders met was in court. Jay took considerable heat, but he understood that the enormity of our challenges required that all sectors–private, government, NGO, religious–be involved and talking to one another. The council was funded solely by its members; NWF’s budget was not drawn upon to create the council, nor did corporate money from the council seep into NWF’s regular budget.
After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, Jay was the first national environmental leader to go to Prince William Sound to draw attention to the social and environmental devastation. Under Jay’s leadership, NWF initiated the class-action lawsuit against Exxon for punitive damages. He protested on the floor of an Exxon stockholders meeting. If Exxon or anyone thought that Corporate Conservation Council membership bought "reputation insurance," they clearly were mistaken.
Hari’s sloppy reporting smeared the reputation of a fine man. You owe an apology.