Sustainability is a very nebulous and malleable concept. It can mean whatever one wants it to mean. Environmentalists use it to dupe the public. Teachers use it to dupe students. Politicians use it to dupe voters. Corporations use it to dupe consumers. And BP uses it to dupe investors. 

If you are a shareholder in a so-called socially responsible or sustainable mutual fund, you may also be an owner of  BP, the company responsible for the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

When BP’s oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on April 20, the company was a major holding of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index–which calls itself an index of “the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.”

BP was also held by Pax World Funds (”sustainable investing is a better smarter, way to invest”), by the MMA International Fund, which is part of a fund group that is “guided by Christian values,” and by the Legg Mason Social Awareness Fund, which, as of March 31, had BP as its single biggest holding.

It is somewhat fitting that the environmentalists have fallen for their own rhetoric. But as in all things, caveat emptor applies. When you hear anyone claiming or advocating “sustainability” it is best to walk away.

ht: Newswatch: Energy