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Fund-Raising as the World Burns: Shell Drills the Arctic, Takes a Timeout and Big Green Declares “Victory”

Counterpunch

September 29, 2015

by Michael Donnelly

 

“Michael Donnelly drops a dose of reality on the absurd orgy of self-congratulation from Gang Green over Shell’s market-driven decision to post-pone drilling in the Arctic until oil prices rise. In fact, any rational analysis of Shell’s decision would lead one to conclude that the battle is being lost, not won. The price of oil is low because so much oil has flooded the market, with more on the way thank’s to the lifting of the embargo on Iran. More oil at lower prices means less incentive to conserve and more carbon released into the atmosphere. By any standard, this is terrible news for the climate–and polar bears and the Arctic environment. Of course, Gang Green has never been a rational enterprise.” — Jeffrey St Clair

 

Arctic OffShore Drilling

“Activism is the antidote to despair.”

–Joan Baez

 

“Claiming false “victories” crushes activism and leads to more despair. ?Claiming false “victories” in order to fund raise is shameless and stupid.”

– The Donnelly Codicils

 

I awoke this morning to an in-box filled with bleats of “Victory” from all the usual “Climate Campaigner” suspects. The top news story on NPR began, “Environmentalists claim victory…”

“Big oil has sustained an unmitigated defeat. They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions. For three years we faced them down, and the people won.´­­”

— Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven

 

Royal Dutch Shell had announced it was suspending Arctic drilling operations after having found insufficient oil to recoup a profitable Return on Investment given today’s low oil prices. Green Central, in a slew of fund-raising missives capitalizing on Shell’s announcement, would have one believe that Shell saw the light due to the courageous actions of the “kayaktavists” who staged showy, excellent protests, yet failed to stop the deployment of the rigs that conducted the very drilling that has come up so empty.

As with George W. declaring Mission Accomplished in Iraq, the claims of victory emanating from Green Central are beyond premature, they are groundless. Neither Shell, nor the consortiums of other oil companies and governments that have their eye on the Arctic have withdrawn. The Obama Administration has not rescinded any drilling Leases and there is deafening silence from the “victors” on that. Obama’s “all-of-the-above/Drill, Baby Drill energy “plan” is very much alive and on-going. Again, the proximate cause of Shell’s pullback is economic and had nothing whatsoever to do with futile protests.

The Greens unanimously parrot talking point claims that “social pressure” from the fruitless protests caused a huge corporation like Shell to back off, while at the  same time giving Obama a free pass on his own resistance to their rather feeble, if present at all, “social pressure” over the approving the drilling Leases in the first place.

Nope. What we have here is akin to a time out called by one’s opponent for their own reasons – with every intent to resume play once the winter and the era of low oil prices are over and no change at all in a Administration Arctic Drilling Policy; not a “victory,” by any measure – other than fund-raising and self-congratulations … both  unwarranted.

The same Greens declared victory all over social media in June when the Shell icebreaker attempting to leave Portland backed off for a mere few hours after Greenpeace flew climbers in (on Wings of Tar Sands!) from around the planet to dangle off the St John’s Bridge. They claimed then that preventing the icebreaker SS Obama, err, Fennica from leaving port would prevent Shell from doing the exploratory drilling — when Shell was already drilling at the time!

The National Audubon Society, which had next to nothing to do with it, went so far as to immediately send out a fund-raising letter: “Shell didn’t find the oil and gas it expected to find this summer. But make no mistake: The public pressure you’ve helped apply is a key part of today’s victory for birds. Without intense public pressure to keep Arctic waters safe, Shell might have continued pressing ahead.

In spite of Shell’s herculean attempts to drill, you kept up the pressure. And birds won.” —- David Yarnold, President and CEO National Audubon Society

Yep. A major international corporation bowed to public pressure, but not Obama! Somewhat understandable, given the lack of pressure pointed in his direction.

Just as the sole victors in Bush’s Iraq adventure were his weapons manufacturer cronies, the sole “victors” here are the bottom line fund-raising efforts of the corporate Big Greens.

A History of Activist Malpractice

“All of our victories are temporary, and all of our defeats are permanent.

– David Brower

“And, some are far more temporary than others.”

– A Donnelly Codicil

The Environmental Movement is at least 45 years old in the US – the Non-Profit Complex gives the first Earth Day in 1970 as its birthday.  Since that origin, half the terrestrial species on the planet that were around then are now gone forever – extinct. Yet, groups like the panda cash machine World Wildlife Fund have metastasized with an annual budget of over $100 million, while species WWF purports to defend have disappeared across the board.

In that time, billions, yes – tens of billions – of dollars have been spent on environmental groups and issues. The Nature Conservancy alone holds assets worth over $20b. Hundreds have made their living as green professionals. Hundreds today are paid Climate Campaigners. Yet by every habitat-scale measurement, things have been on an increasingly downward spiral all along: every biome on the planet is currently dying. Lots of money raised and spent and little to show for it. By any Gaian-based measurement, it’s devastating failure all around, no matter how much “victory” spin the pros put on it.

Green Groudhog V-Day

We’ve seen this over and over. Over-stated “victories:” “Clinton saves the Ancient Forest” was blared repeatedly when Bill Clinton came to the Northwest and actually restarted Ancient Forest logging, after it was shut down completely by Injunction under Bush the Elder. Every group that peddled that spin was handsomely rewarded by the pro-Democrat foundations of the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGAd). Groups that pointed out the actual state of the emperor’s at the time were ostracized clothing – groups that had a hand in saving vast acreages .

Since then, Pacific Northwest Ancient Forests continue to be logged. Just the other day I saw a loaded log truck that was filled by just three logs. “Baby” old growth (mature and younger forests) is being logged at rapacious rates. The same “Green” professionals have been pimping  the ludicrous idea that “thinning the forests” will make them “less fire-prone” and that  burning the thinnings and other trees in steam boilers for electrons (Biomass – a process  1.5 times more polluting that coal!) instead of coal or gas – is somehow Green.

Already twenty-some years since Clinton “saved” them, the Ancient Forest-dependent Indicator species for the health of the Ancient Forest ecosystem – the Northern Spotted Owls – have declined by over 60% across their range, and continue to decline 2.9% per year, likely well below the point of no return.

Then, when Al Gore ran to succeed Clinton, the Big Greens pulled out the stops. Just prior to the election, we were regaled with the “Clinton saves 60 million acres” toothless Roadless Rule. Not a single tree or acre was set aside inviolate under the now-forgotten Roadless Rule election year scam.

We also had the great Seattle WTO protest “victory.” While it is grand that we can catch the oligarchy off-balance once in a generation like what happened at WTO, what was the follow-up? WTO runs along unimpeded and as rapacious as ever – when was the last time you even heard of it? We now have “Free Speech Zones” err, cages and unaccountable, gladiatorial cops defusing protests and even more Obama Administration infiltration, spying  and repression of activist circles. Seattle WTO is no longer viable in any sense.

The Mythical “Victory” over Coal

Then there is the recent, deadly example. All the time of late, one reads about the “Hard Times for Coal;” the end of Mountain-top Removal (MTR) and the bankruptcy of Big Coal. Yet the mountains of Appalachia continue to be blown up for coal extraction, poisoning the ecosystem and the local population. Coal extraction in Wyoming leads the world. Daily, hundred-car coal trains rumble from Wyoming and down through the Columbia Gorge on their way to the export docks in Washington.

In addition, coal is still the #1 source of the electricity in the grid. 40% of US electricity still comes from coal. Fracked Natural Gas provides 27% Nukes 19% and Hydro dams/dead salmon 6%. Solar is at 0.4% and wind at 4.4% despite billions in subsidies and massive PR campaigns – overstated victories and Democrats aren’t the only things Big Green consistently oversells.

It’s our Carbon Addiction – Big Carbon is merely the pusher. The pusher will always find a way to get the product to the addicts/consumers.

“The environmental movement needs shaming at this point.”

– Denise Boggs

Already, the Big Greens and the Democrats are fully on board with Biomass. In Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and the paid greens are pushing discredited plans to “thin” over 9 million acres of public forest; while, at the same time, arraigning government-backed loans for Biomass companies to build or convert power plants burn the “product.” Local Oregon green groups speak loudly to the need to keep lumber mills open in order to thin the forest, bringing them back to “health” using chainsaw surgery. The biggest timber sale in Southwest history was developed by The Center for Biological Diversity and their cronies!

Germany and Britain import ground-up trees (pellets) from the US southeast, the Amazon and British Columbia. They then burn them and claim Carbon Credits for doing so –said Credits are then used to off-set increased coal use – Yes Virginia, those constant memes about Germany’s “Clean Energy” are false. Germany does not get “all its energy from solar.” Germany has not reduced coal use, much less “Fazed out coal.” In fact, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France have increased their coal burning by over 16% from 2009 -2013.

Things are just too desperate for such nonsense. The planet is at Stage Four and we are the cancer. It all boils down to Carbon, Biomass and Collapse.  Unless we drastically reduce consumption, we either burn that “leave it in the ground” carbon or like Europe, we simply switch to burning Nature and trash and calling it Green.

All these false claims from the top-down foundation-dependent “green movement” destroy any ability grassroots citizens may have to hold governments and corporations accountable. Again, Shell is on hiatus from drilling the Arctic for economic reasons. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the “kayatavist” protests – with “public pressure.”

In the past three years, “we’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.”

Barack Obama, April 17th, 2012

If Obama, the guy who gave the pushers the go-ahead even feels any (again, if there is any) public pressure from those now claiming victory, it certainly hasn’t been an effective strategy, i.e.: producing results. As long as organizations rely on false claim fund-raising – putting institutional and personal success above the successful survival of Gaian species – we will get nowhere positive in our efforts to save our own very life support system.

Whenever an artificial victory is claimed, the “troops” fold their tents and go home – confident that they won. It then becomes next to impossible to get the real activism soufflé to rise again.

The bottom line is: we could power the grid on unicorn farts; but if we keep on consuming at the same, or likely higher rates, we still eat the planet. Addressing and greatly lowering First World Consumption is key. There is no “Green energy” solution. There is only less use. As such, it is well beyond time for Greens themselves to walk the talk – no more gratuitous carbon use; no more enviro groups flying their entire staffs to South America for workshops/retreats, no more flying to conferences around the planet to decry carbon pollution, no more flying guys in polar bear costumes around for photo-ops (I half-expected to see him hugging the Pope), etc. Period. And, no more distractions and insufficient, at best, victories.  There is no time for it. They already have all the pipelines they need. The Methane Plumes are for real. As I noted; every single forest biome and the oceans are dying. Now!

[MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com]