Think of the last company or organisation you worked for - not the small corner shop or family farm, but the big firm that employs more than a few dozen people and has a turnover of more than a million Dollars / Euros / Pounds / Yuan etc. Most people in industrialised nations have worked for a company like this.
Do you feel loyal to that company?
What do you think mattered most to that company: money, people, the state of the planet? Unless you worked for a particularly enlightened company then the bottom line would have been money - even if they told you otherwise. People usually come a poor second and, despite the rhetoric, the planet is just taken for granted. BP never went "beyond petroleum" - 95% of their income is from oil, and they were instrumental in the battle to open up the Alaskan wilderness for oil exploration. Ford and General Motors make vehicles that burn oil that heat the planet, and to make it worse campaigned for years against the science of climate change. Wherever you look companies are saying one thing, yet doing ten others.
Now, what would you have done if you had discovered something bad while you were working for that company - political corruption, toxic waste dumping, inhumane working conditions, unreported carbon emissions? In most countries, you would have risked losing your job, or worse. Many people take the risk and some get away with it, with striking results – some of the more well known ones are listed here but behind the headlines there are people people tirelessly working to reveal the truths behind the million dollar public relations campaigns, and risking so much.
But you are no longer working for the company! What have you got to lose now? Time may have passed but old dogs don't learn new tricks too quickly, and with your information you have the capability of making a huge change in how a company (or a government office) operates.
In his “4 Essential Ways To Save The Earth”, Keith Farnish wrote:
BigCorp…have been a staple of the oil and chemical industry for many years. Unknown to the general public, they have been lobbying the US Government to ensure that climate change never reaches the top of the government agenda; the Government has been responsive and has done its best to ensure the public don’t worry about climate change.
In the UK a conscientious employee in the IT department sees a blocked e-mail coming to the CEO of BigCorp from the UK organisation the Confederation of Big Business. It was blocked because it contained a very large attachment. The subject line of the e-mail is ‘Re: Government climate policy. Lobbying successful.’ The employee is worried enough by this to invoke the company Whistle Blowing Policy, and also speaks confidentially to a friend who works for a local newspaper.
In India, a local environmental activist, concerned that an oil refinery is about to be built on an area of wetland by BigCorp India, invokes the Freedom Of Information Act to find out how planning permission was granted. After a delay of 4 months a redacted letter between BigCorp Inc. and the local state government is sent out, which shows clearly that BigCorp had threatened to pull out of India had the refinery not been granted planning permission.
Frustrated by the lack of internal action, the UK employee asks her journalist friend to publish an article citing an anonymous source, which suggests that the UK Government has caved in to a lobbying exercise by the CBB on behalf of BigCorp. Someone in the USA carries out a search on Google News and comes up with a UK online newspaper article about BigCorp’s suspected lobbying activities. He is interested enough to invoke the USA Freedom Of Information Act to find out whether any Senators have interests in BigCorp. It turns out that there are three Senators who have sat on the board of BigCorp Inc.
The Indian activist gets to the last item in his FOI request and finds a redacted letter from one of the American ‘BigCorp’ Senators sent to the Head of Planning for the Indian state that is being put under pressure. It contains misinformation about the usefulness of wind power and how India needs to accept the continued growth of fossil fuels.
The American and Indian activists go public. In the USA the Washington Post publishes an article about the oil interests of American Senators, using their contacts to expose a web of BigCorp misinformation. In India, the activist decides to contact the BBC World Service web site, who publishes an article including the two redacted letters.
Two months later, BigCorp admits that climate change is partly caused by humans and that they are about to commence the largest renewable energy investment in living memory.
"But," you say, "How can I do that? I'm a loyal person." So I ask you again: What do you think matters most to that company? Is it more important to protect the financial bottom line of a company doing great harm to the environment, or to protect the very substance that everything, including you own family, friends and former co-workers, depend upon?
Seniors are in a wonderfully privileged position where they are not dependent on the wages of companies to sustain them, and they are free to tell the truth about their former employer. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but please remember this - when you left work your responsibility to that company ended, but your responsibility to the thin shell of life that sustains us all will never go away.