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Web Letter

I am confused by the statement of the representative of the National Wildlife Federation regarding foundation and corporate funding. Is a href="http://www.thenation.com/bletters/20100322/hari#dorsey">Ms. Dorsey saying that the total income from corporate contributions amounts to .5 percent? Does this include corporate foundations and large anonymous donations from individuals from corporations too?

Once can easily check on the financial status of any nonprofit organization by simply examining the organization’s Annual Information Return. All nonprofit organizations that make over $25,000 annually are required to submit an Annual Information Return (IRS 990) annually. They are generally all available online for free. Additionally, many of the annual reports are also available via guidestar.org.

So in the case of the National Wildlife Federation, a quick check of their IRS 990 Form for 2008 and their annual report for the same year shows the following income distribution:

NWF 2008 Income from IRS 990 Form & Annual Report
Direct Public Support (Includes large anonymous donors) [$]45,754,563.00 48.38 [percent]
Foundation and Corporate Contributions 16,436,000.00 17.38
Indirect Public Support 5,650,537.00 5.97
Government Grants 195,775.00 0.21
Program Services 10,758,889.00 11.38
Membership and Dues Assessments 10,692,635.00 11.31
Interest on Savings 55,542.00 0.06
Dividends and interest on securities 157,054.00 0.17
Net Rental Income 14,988.00 0.02
Other investment income -103,419.00 -0.11
Special Events -177,221.00 -0.19
Sales of merchandise 287,317.00 0.30
Other Revenue 4,851,168.00 5.13
Total Revenue 94,573,828.00 100.00

Interestingly, there is a discrepancy of over $6 million dollars in income between the IRS 990 Form (which reports a net income of $94 million), and the Annual Report (which shows $88 million). This is not unusual, and is usually due to different accounting methods. Even using the higher amount, the data supplied by the National Wildlife Federation shows that foundations and corporations account for over 17 percent of their income. So where does the .5 percent figure come from?

In my opinion, the NWF is among the more responsive environmental organizations. They have a representative form of organizational governance, and some accountability to their members. Many other organizations, such as EDF or NRDC do not. What is important is that these nonprofit organizations need to be held accountable for their actions. It is quite easy to examine the finances of these organizations. Additionally, information on who makes up the board of directors is also available via the IRS 990 form. Research has shown that the makeup of the board of directors has a great deal of impact on the nature of the actions of different environmental groups. I urge interested readers to examine these organizations and find out for themselves about the actual extent of connections to foundations and corporations.

Robert Brulle

Philadelphia, PA<a name="dorsey"></a>

Mar 9 2010 - 7:10pm

Web Letter

This article is an irresponsible and toxic mixture of inaccurate information and uninformed analysis. The author, who did not contact the National Wildlife Federation for this story, 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.

In case The Nation is interested in publishing facts, 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 half of 1 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

Washington, DC

Mar 8 2010 - 11:03am

Web Letter

The worst threats to the environment are green Luddites, global warming ideologues and small-d democrats. The more advanced a technology is, the less harmful it generally is, including nuclear power. Global warming is a good excuse to ignore all other environmental concerns, and if the worst predictions are true, stopping all greenhouse gas emissions is insufficient. Emergency measures to reverse global warming would be necessary. Most of all, we need strong, rational, honest government. So-called democracy is incapable of taking the draconian measures necessary to save what is left of the natural world.

Mark Scott Oller

Alexandria, VA

Mar 7 2010 - 4:07pm

Web Letter

Curiously absent Hari's article is any mention of population growth and its domestic face, immigration. It is a fools errand to champion CO2 reduction and saving rainforests, etc. without addressing the juggernaut of the aforementioned dual horsemen.

Every "environmental" organization should devote significant resources to population issues, i.e., forestalling the next forecast 50 percent increase in the numbers of Homo sapiens devouring the planet. At a national level this means being honest and reining in immigration numbers so the United States can have an honest shot at a sustainable future.

It is inexcusable how the Sierra Club, the Population Connection (a k a ZPG) and the Southern Poverty Law Center work to undermine this laudable goal, choosing denial or calculated smear of racism to avoid the glaring truth: the United States will bloat to 1 billion people unless these issues are faced.

Wanda G. Berger

San Francisco, CA

Mar 7 2010 - 12:17am

Web Letter

Responding to comments by Glenn Hurowitz: First of all I think this is an excellent article, and thank Mr. Hari for his courage to challenge these big, powerful, "environmental mainstream" groups that have lost their principles. The problem is not restricted to big conservation groups, actually, but much larger. Groups in the US Climate Action Partnership are prime examples, fiercely promoting market fundamentalism, in which they are deeply entrenched.

Mr. Hari's article certainly was not advocating that we should not try to save forests. Just the contrary. He is saying that we should take truly effective steps to save forests, instead of using forests in elaborate offset schemes that will only benefit the scheme's promoters, and logging companies, but not the forests, the climate or the indigenous peoples.

Instead of using REDD as offset projects so that polluters can continue to pollute (therefore offsetting any avoided emissions from reducing deforestation), we should not allow any efforts to end deforestation to be used as offsets. In fact, there should not be offsets of any kind, forests or otherwise, in any scheme to fight global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Real emission reduction from polluters must be demanded, on top of and at the same time as ending deforestation.

Mr. Hari didn't even go into the dirty laundry of how "forest" is defined in REDD, which perversely incentivizes replacement of native, biodiverse and carbon-rich natural forests with monoculture plantations of tree crops, yet still gets pushed along by those big influential "green" groups.

As for the Noel Kempff National Park project in Bolivia, even the Bolivian government admitted it was a thorough failure, and decided to stop supporting REDD schemes, as it recognizes now that they do not truly reduce emissions, even though they represent a cash source for the country.

Maggie Zhou

Arlington, MA

Mar 6 2010 - 8:10pm

Web Letter

In the clarity and uncompromising light of Mr. Hari's article, I am confounded by those who use such terms as "angry whining" and claim that he doesn't offer solutions, only problems. His accomplishment is that he concisely lays out the scope and severity of the climate crisis and its implications, which I believe to be the biggest story, indeed, of human life on this planet, and an appropriate next step would be to come together, at the grassroots level and craft solutions, and to vote with our wallets and our ballot boxes.

It's time to talk to our neighbors, appeal to that part of us that has enabled this species to continue for over a million years in an unbroken line of survivors. We must come together because this is after all the only game in town. To cast aspersions on him for living in "magical unicornland" only detracts from the letter-writer's credibility. Let's stop wasting valuable time in a childish display of pique. Let's find ways to ensure that indigenous ("first") nations are given their rightful voices, and that political states are held to a level of responsibility. We are all stakeholders.

Judith K. Canepa

New York, NY

Mar 6 2010 - 6:30pm

Web Letter

What a fantastic article. Thank you! The author has spoken out loud about what many people have suspected for a long time. And I like most his contrast between "political reality and physical reality." Physical reality *will" prevail whether we want it or not. We'd better start acting now.

Thank you, Johann, for your great report.

Irina Ignatova

Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland<a name="brulle"></a>

Mar 6 2010 - 1:03pm

Web Letter

Mr. Hari has produced an excellent article about the professionalization and financial steering of the dominant environmental organizations in the United States. Over three decades of empirical research into the US environmental movement have shown that over time, the once vibrant grass-roots based and participatory environmental movement has become increasingly bureaucratic and professional, and that the dominant organizations have increasingly moved toward becoming "protest businesses." Fundraising is based on the use of junk mail appeals from dispersed individuals and grants from private foundations. This form of fundraising allows private foundations to exercise exceptional influence on the activities of the movement organizations. Research shows that this steers the organizations away from political activism and toward noncontroversial, apolitical activities. It is not just a coincidence that the Nature Conservancy, by far the richest environmental organization in the United States, does not engage in political action. As Mr. Hari shows, their antiquated strategy of land preservation has been rendered futile by the onset of global climate change.

Additionally, the professionalization and bureaucratization of the environmental movement has contributed to its lack of political impact. These "protest businesses" substitute professional advocacy for citizen action. Few of the leading national environmental organizations offer members the chance to participate in a concrete, meaningful way. For example, try to go to a meeting of the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace or the Natural Resources Defense Council and have input into the organization's policies and plans. You can't. You can't even attend a meeting of these organizations.

In most national environmental organizations, members are reduced to contributors who just send in their annual contribution checks. The original link between environmental movement organizations and their memberships has, for the most part, atrophied. If it is to be meaningful, the environmental movement must help the general public to connect the dots between personal, local concerns and the dramatic, global threats. Without a grassroots focus that will engage citizens to take specific actions to stem the tide of environmental degradation, today's environmental movement can't lead us where we need to go. Mr. Hari's article points toward a different and more effective participatory movement. This shift is needed to restore the political capacity we need to effectively advocate for social change.

(The author is a professor of Sociology and Environmental Science at Drexel University.)

Robert J. Brulle

Philadelphia, PA

Mar 6 2010 - 9:43am

Web Letter

If you truly want to move this agenda forward, we nbeed to go back and evaluate, fairly and honestly. Too much credibility has been lost because of the exposure of climate fraud masquerading as science.

There needs to be an open commission representing scientists of all viewpoints, political people of all viewpoints and other interested groups. Give it say, a max of four years to report. Openly re-evaluating the evidence with proper safeguards for all minority viewpoints, we can get a basic idea of what we are dealing with.

Only the pro-fraud forces have anything to lose. Why else would anyone oppose truth-finding?

I am reminded of the Novostni report from December that the IPCC group ignored the majority of weather stations in Russia, in order to create a false picture of non-existent warming. Such items are not "climate science" but fraud, which needs to be corrected to restore any credibility.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Mar 6 2010 - 2:58am

Web Letter

The arguments about using a national vs. subnation approach to REDD omits a very important issue--the fact that most tropical forests are located in countries where national governments are plagued by corruption. Global Witness has written reports on this issue of corruption in countries with tropical forests. As the author acknowledges, a national approach would mean that money flows through national governments. If these governments are terribly corrupt, the money will probably end up in Swiss bank accounts! It would be far better for the money to go to forest communities and indigenous people or those people who actually care for the forest. Subnational projects could provide an opportunity for money to reach these people rather than line the pockets of corrupt officials. The article's failure to address issues related to corruption, the need for reform in land tenure laws and a number other important issues is a gaping hole in his reasoning. I was at Copenhagen, and numerous environmental organizations were addressing these issues in a serious manner.

I think that the article raises some important and serious issues, but the author's credibility is undermined by his apparent superficial understanding of the complicated issues.

Janet McGarry

San Francisco, CA

Mar 5 2010 - 9:59am