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Ted Turner: Billionaire, philanthropist, Founder of CNN, banger of Jane Fonda and owner of the largest bison herd in the world. All of these achievements pale in comparison to his greatest creation: Captain Planet. Ted’s tireless effort to brainwash impressionable children with lessons about environmentalism and begrudging acceptance of other cultures completely eliminated pollution and racism, with the added perk of inspiring some of the worst Halloween costumes you’ve ever seen.
Captain Planet and his “Planeteers” were heroes who used their earth, wind, fire, water and significantly less cool heart powers to save the world from... well... whatever the opposite of those things are. Their foes were over the top baddies who performed exaggeratedly evil deeds to teach us all that littering isn’t cool. Luckily, these villains also couldn’t exist in real life because these real life “ecovillains” would laugh them off the face of the earth for being such rank amateurs.
The pig-man gets his jollies being a shortsighted, selfish jerk. He’s been known to destroy desert “ecosystems” through recreational dirt biking, make furniture out of old trees and hatch a disturbingly high number of schemes involving marine mammal destruction.
Enter the Challenger:
Warren Anderson, former head of Union Carbide and a man so hated in India, Gandhi himself would kick him right in the jewels given half a chance.
What makes him more evil:
As CEO of the multibillion dollar chemical manufacturer, he contributed to what is cheerfully referred to as the “worst industrial accident ever”. A plant in Bhopal, India that manufactured concentrated poison (the best kind of poison) suffered a massive breach, releasing 42 tons of gas.
Authorities indicate the many, many safety flaws in the plant were known to Anderson and others before the spill. Reports of the dangers were recorded at least two years before the disaster as well as smaller incidents that were swept under the rug. While the sister American plant was kept up to code, the Indian plant was left to adopt a more “try not to inhale the deadly toxins” approach. Half a million people were exposed, tens of thousands of people died and the plant was left abandoned to keep on contaminating the soil and groundwater, because it’s not like people were using those things.
Anderson made a trip to India shortly after the leak with the promise he would not be charged. Naturally, he was promptly arrested for his role in the disaster. Recalling that the excellent exchange rate was one of the reasons for the plant in the first place, he paid the $12 US bail (or whatever) and escaped by private jet back to the States.
The plant continues to leak horrifying levels of toxins into the environment. Anderson stepped down while Union Carbide soon sold off interests and was bought out by Dow Chemical. Thanks to sweet, shuffling hand of capitalism everyone has so far gotten away without consequence. Currently there is a warrant for Anderson’s arrest on homicide charges in India but attempts to extradite him have largely been symbolic. He lives comfortably in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York.
Sport hunter and bad-boy tycoon who loves him some unethical business decisions. He enjoys ‘Scooby-Doo’ style haunting of subway systems, tricking illiterate farmers into using excessive pesticides and wiping his rear with subpoenas from the EPA.
Enter the Challenger:
Lido “Lee” Iacocca, known for revitalizing American car companies and blatantly playing the government for saps before it was cool.
What makes him more evil:
In a word, scale. When his cartoon compatriot screws up the environment, he takes his time and enjoys it on a scheme by scheme basis. Iacocca was a busy man, and instead opted to just having everyone trash the planet for him.
Iacocca started his war on the earth during his time at Chrysler and Ford, where he pioneered the “family friendly” minivan (as well as the Pinto and K-car, which were part of his wars on safety and style, respectively). The minivan, of course, paved the way for a plethora of large, inefficient vehicles including the infamous sport utility vehicle, or SUV. These were a great success for Chrysler, sacrificing fuel economy for the illusion of safety, not to mention huge profit margins.
Eventually, new legislation was proposed which would dash the profitability of the new behemoths through fuel standards. Iacocca dug deep, used his power and connections and in an act of mind-numbing evil genius, he successfully lobbied congress to classify minivans and SUVs as “light trucks”. This loophole exempted them from fuel standards and safety regulations under a provision intended for farm vehicles.
What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like auto makers would stop making quality compacts and sedans just because “light trucks” were insanely profitable, right?
Today, American vehicles make up 30% of cars, but produce half of the total pollutants produced by automobiles. While high fuel prices have reduced sales of “light trucks” (resulting in cataclysmic effects on the automakers and the economy) the backlog of the husky road hogs won’t be reduced for at least another generation. Iacocca is retired and spends his time marrying and divorcing younger women, endorsing politicians nobody likes and calling younger generations douchebags for electing those politicians.
Labelled a short-sighted and a rampant polluter, but different from 90% of people because he has a way sweeter first name. Oh and minions. Known for littering on a town-by-town basis, finding innovative places to dump trash that are arguably better than landfills and creating giant mechanical creatures of dubious functional value.
Enter the Challenger:
Denis L. Feron, non-accomplished alpine skier and owner of the largest non-mined copper refiner in the United States.
What makes him more evil:
The list of people and companies that could fit this mould is staggering: dumping waste pretty much anywhere is a fairly profitable and widespread business. Denis Feron gets the nod for the size, location and bizarre inability to pass the blame.
A proud son of Belgium, he spent his youth underperforming in several downhill skiing events in the ’52 and ’56 Winter Olympics. He then moved to the United States where he parlayed those flexible skills to the world of heavy metal smelting. He established Chemetco in 1970, subscribing to the popular “abbreviate scary words” school of business naming. Using a variety of techniques, his company recycled slag and wastes to extract copper. Chemetco was responsible for 50% of recycled US copper and in 1999 they had revenue to the tune of half a billion per year.
While profitable, copper refining is dirty work with a variety of waste products that can be expensive to dispose of. That is unless you just ignore all environmental legislation and do whatever you want. At the time, they were the biggest producer of atmospheric lead in the United States. Rather than fully separate scrap copper from computers and other consumer products, they simply burned it all, releasing huge amounts of dangerous dioxins. Waste sulfuric acid was released into farmer’s fields nearby. The damning evidence was the discovery of a secret pipe which released a cocktail of heavy metals from copper slag into a river. Every time it rained. For ten years. Delightfully, the plants location was a water source for a number of surrounding communities, farms, and wetlands, as well as being a tributary for the Mississippi river.
Upon discovery of his crimes, Feron took his cue from the great villains and fled to avoid massive fines and jailtime. Rumor has it he escaped in a balloon shaped like his own head while twirling a moustache and swearing revenge. He also had the distinction of actually being on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Most Wanted list, which turns out to be a real thing. Recently, he was caught, paid a half million dollar fine, and served no jail time. Luckily, that fraction of the fortune he made will undo all the damage he caused.
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