Annie Leonard, democracy and the environment

I’m a bit of an Annie Leonard fan – I love the way she can turn very complex topics into interesting and engaging short videos we can all understand. I should also give kudos to the animation team as their talents are crucial in driving the messages home.

I’ve mentioned two of Annie’s videos in the past – The Story Of Stuff and The Story Of Cosmetics. If you haven’t seen them, they are well worth a look.

Annie’s (and her team’s) latest effort is the The Story of Citizens United v. FEC. It’s basically about the story of democracy gone awry. While very U.S.-centric, there are lessons for all countries that claim to have a democracy.

No, I’m not going all political on you here – there is a very strong tie to environment. I’ve mentioned in the past that governments don’t run countries, big business does. We should never underestimate their power or the potential for it being misused.

In my article “Triple Bottom Line” I mentioned a very unsettling point – of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are businesses; the other 49 are countries.

That is a lot of power tied up in very few entities and it’s behind some of the biggest environmental disasters of our time. We might sometimes shake our heads and ask “why does the government let this happen?” – it’s because sometimes government has been bought. Sad as it is, it really is that simple.

Anyway, Annie explains it far better than I can:

Democracy – for the people and by the people? Perhaps in a perfect world. I pretty much lost what remaining faith I had in the system when Australia joined the Iraq invasion. Australians said “no”, our government ignored us. 100,000 dead Iraqi citizens later, the people were right and the government proven wrong. We should never, ever forget that. If 100,000 Iraqi lives can be brushed off, how much easier is it to create and brush off environmental catastrophes when it suits?

You can check out more of Annie Leonard’s videos at the Story Of Stuff Project.