Search

Results for "extinction rebellion"
Capitalising on Crisis: Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal for Capitalism

Capitalising on Crisis: Extinction Rebellion and the Green New Deal for Capitalism

Architects for Social Housing

October 10, 2019

By Simon Elmer

 

“‘Hey Pal! How do I get to town from here?’ And he said: ‘Well, just take a right where they’re gonna build that new shopping mall, go straight past where they’re gonna put in the freeway, take a left at what’s gonna be the new sports centre, and keep going until you hit the place where they’re thinking of building that drive-in bank. You can’t miss it.’ And I said: ‘This must be the place.’”

 

— Laurie Anderson

 

‘The climate crisis is a life-threatening symptom. But it is only a symptom. The disease is capitalism.’

 

— Maria Kadoglou

 

Extinction rebellion

Solutions to the Climate Emergency

One of ASH’s working principles is that the wrong solution to a problem is not ‘better than nothing’, as we are inevitably told by those proposing it; it is, in practice, worse than nothing. Not only does it consume funding, energy, time, political will and other resources that could and should be put towards the right solution, but the wrong solution deceives the public into believing that the correct solution has been found. How long did it take the public — and not just housing campaigners — to learn that ‘affordable housing’ was a euphemism for demolishing social housing and replacing it with a hodge-podge of shared-ownership scams, rent-to-buy products and higher rents with reduced rights? And even after 20 years of demolition, social cleansing and privatisation, politicians from all political parties are still able to argue that estate ‘regeneration’ is the answer to our crisis of housing affordability. Imagine what could have been achieved with the vast sums of public money thrown at subsidising affordable housing and market-sale properties at the point of both production and consumption. Enough, surely, to have refurbished every estate in England and Wales up to the Decent Homes Standard. Enough, perhaps, to have built however many new homes for social rent for which there is such overwhelming housing need. Instead, the enormous profits made by developers, builders, housing associations and investors have been publicly funded with Right to Buy, Help to Buy, Buy to Let, Affordable Housing subsidies and the privatisation of huge swathes of council- and government-owned land in the UK. So how do they get away with it?

The answer to that question is: the same way the propagandists of Neo-liberalism have got away with ten years of fiscal austerity that has cut public spending and workers’ wages while overseeing the exponential rise in the wealth of the richest. Or the same way we have committed to a never-ending War on Terror that has made the British people the legitimate target of terrorists for generations to come. They did it by declaring a ‘crisis’. Whether it’s the security crisis kicked off by the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001; or the sub-prime mortgage crisis in which 6 million people lost their houses in the USA alone; or the subsequent financial crisis in which UK banks were bailed out by the British taxpayer to the sum of £850 billion; or the housing crisis that ensued as global capital looked for a secure commodity in which to invest its profits: the discourse of crisis, of declarations of emergency, are always employed to push through increasingly repressive measures against the very people it is claiming to save while increasing the power and profits of the institutions and corporations nominated to impose them. We’re seeing the same thing happening right now with the increased surveillance, stop-and-search powers and punitive measures granted to the police and law courts in response to the ‘crisis’ of knife crime in the capital, while leaving the economic and social causes of that crime untouched.

So why should we expect anything different from the environmental crisis? Over the past year we’ve seen the rise of Extinction Rebellion, whose calls to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ have been adopted by Parliament if not yet by Government, by the Greater London Authority, by councils across London, and by architects across the UK. However, of the more than 600 architectural practices that have signed up to the recent manifesto, UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, many of the largest and most influential companies continue to promote, implement and financially profit from the estate demolition programme, including many of the founding signatories:

  • Adam Khan (Tower Court and Marian Court)

  • Alison Brooks (South Kilburn and South Acton estates)

  • Allies and Morrison (Heygate, Gascoigne, Acton Gardens and West Hendon estates)

  • David Chipperfield (Colville estate)

  • dRMM (Heygate estate)

  • Hawkins\Brown (Agar Grove, Bridge House, Aylesbury and Alton estates)

  • Haworth Tompkins (Robin Hood Gardens estate)

  • HTA Design (Ferrier, South Acton, Waltham Forest, Kender, Aylesbury, Ebury Bridge, Ravensbury, New Avenue and Clapham Park estates)

  • Levitt Bernstein (Aylesbury, Eastfields, Winstanley, York Road and Rayners Lane estates)

  • Maccreanor Lavington (Heygate and Alma estates)

  • Mae (Knight’s Walk, Agar Grove and Aylesbury estates)

  • Metropolitan Workshop (Leopold and Robin Hood Gardens estates)

  • Mikhail Riches (Goldsmith Street)

  • Pollard Thomas Edwards (Lefevre Walk, Packington, Alma, Thames View East and South Lambeth estates)

  • PRP (Crossways, Myatts Field North, Mardyke, Haggerston, Kingsland, Portobello Square and Central Hill estates)

  • Studio Egret West (Ferrier and Love Lane estates)
  • That’s just on the estate redevelopment schemes we’re aware of, and doesn’t include the deposit boxes for money laundering being designed along the Thames by such corporate architects as Foster + Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects. The only major estate-demolishing architectural practice notable by its absence from this list is Karakusevic Carson (Claredale, King’s Crescent, Bacton, Colville, Alma, Nightingale, Fenwick, St. Raphael, Joyce Avenue and Snell’s Park estates). Quite apart from the tens of thousands of residents socially cleansed from their homes by these and other schemes, it beggars belief that this catalogue of architectural practices colluding in the estate demolition programme are now trying to pass themselves off as defenders of our environment. Or rather, it would be if it wasn’t so glaringly apparent that this collective call for a ‘paradigm shift’ in the ‘behaviour’ of UK architects is a cynical example of ‘green-washing’.

    It’s no surprise, therefore, that the only mention in this manifesto about the environmental cost of demolition is watered down with the same get-out clause used on the 2017 Architects Code to ‘advise your client how best to conserve and enhance the quality of the environment and its natural resources . . . where appropriate.’ Although now declaring their intent to ‘upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build’, this is immediately qualified by the tacked-on caveat: ‘whenever there is a viable choice’. In this context, ‘viable’ means ‘financially viable’, which means after the developer has taken their 20-25 per cent profit according to a viability assessment produced by them that is not available for public scrutiny under the get-out clause of ‘commercial confidentiality’. Once again, therefore, the environment is being subordinated to the profit margins of developers and investors, in which it represents a slice of expenditure in capitalism’s pie.

    All this accords with Extinction Rebellion’s trenchant refusal to identify capitalism as the primary cause of our environmental situation. In the more than 5,000 words its website devotes to explaining ‘The Truth’ about climate change, not a single one of those words, incredibly, is ‘capitalism’. Despite the fact that, by its own admission, half of carbon dioxide emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1750 have been released since 1988, Extinction Rebellion has instead found a new culprit in the fashionable term ‘anthropocene’, which attributes the globe’s recent and rapidly increasing species extinction and climate change to the humanist, anthropological and a-historical abstraction called ‘man’. But then the leadership of Extinction Rebellion is composed of directors of non-governmental organisations and lobbyists for multinational energy companies, whose promotion of a ‘Green New Deal’ for capitalism — carefully erased of any reference to socialism — has been readily adopted by the Labour Party. Indeed, the Green New Deal’s 20,000-word report, published this October, on their proposed Decarbonisation and Economic Strategy Bill mentions ‘capitalism’ only once, and even then qualifies it with the word ‘financialised’, as if the two can be separated. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the architects of ‘green architecture’, employed by the same political party to demolish around 190 council estates in London alone and replace them with supposedly ‘carbon-neutral’ properties for investment by global capital, find common ground with this recourse to that old chimera of liberals that many point to but few have seen: capitalism with a human face.

    One of the more cynical examples of the building industry capitalising on the ‘climate emergency’ is councils and other registered providers of social housing quoting the lower thermal performance of post-war estates when compared to new-build housing in order to justify demolishing the former, while ignoring the carbon cost of demolition. This is exactly what Leeds City council tried to do with the council homes on Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close, and the Cambridge Housing Society is doing to push through its plans to redevelop the Montreal Square estate; and yet neither local authority nor housing association has produced an impact assessment of the huge environmental costs of demolishing, removing, disposing of and replacing these perfectly serviceable homes.

    In contrast to this manipulative discourse of ‘crisis’ that seeks to retain and strengthen capitalism’s iron grip on the world, ASH proposes principles and practices of a socialist architecture that intervene in, oppose and propose alternatives to the capitalist cycle of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. It is within this economic cycle — which from an environmental perspective is the unsustainable cycle of extraction, construction, demolition and disposal — that the development process is entrenched by current housing legislation, policy and funding. Confronted with the ruinous and catastrophic consequences of this cycle — which began with the industrial revolution but continues to increase exponentially with the hegemony of global capitalism — promotions of a ‘green industrial revolution’ and the implementation of ‘green architecture’ are little more than window dressing to more false solutions in the service of expanded markets, corporate competition and the increasingly militarised struggle for dwindling natural resources.

    Rather than declarations of ‘climate emergency’ that serve to push through new capitalisations on the environmental crisis on a wave of orchestrated public feeling that silences public scrutiny under the newly imposed orthodoxies of climate activism, what we need is to remove all housing provision from the capitalist cycle of production. Within this cycle, the environment is accorded no more than a slice of the financial pie that is spent on the false solutions of so-called ‘green architecture’, in the same way that the social dimension of architecture is discharged by a portion of funding spent on the equally false solution of so-called ‘affordable housing’. But the environmental dimension of architecture, like its social, economic and political dimension, is not a component of a whole that is always, in current practice, subordinated to the profit margins of landlords, developers and investors. Rather, each dimension constitutes that whole — which today is that of an inhabitable planet. However much capitalism tries to separate them into portions of a financial viability assessment, in our social practice, in our economic growth, in our political policies, and in the environmental consequences these will have for us, they are indivisible. The answers to the planet’s climate change and species extinction cannot be separated from the social, economic and political system that is causing them. Any proposed solution that does not clearly identify global capitalism as their cause is the wrong solution.

    Forever in our Minds

    One of the lessons that emerged from the Grenfell Tower fire is that, following the Climate Change Act 2008, the retrofitting of social housing tower blocks with highly flammable, aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems like the one that caused the deaths of 72 people was widespread, and included at least 430 public-sector, high-rise residential buildings. Not only that, but over 320 private-sector, high-rise housing blocks had also been retrofitted with cladding. And that’s just the tower blocks, and the ones with ACM cladding systems similar to that on the Grenfell Tower. The total number of buildings in England and Wales that have been retrofitted with some form of cladding system is unknown, or at least not made public, but could run into the thousands, with one estimate that nearly 1,700 high-rise or high-risk buildings have been clad with combustible non-ACM materials.

    Why? Why was this vast programme of retrofitting carried out? The justification was that it would improve the thermal performance of these buildings, reduce the energy use of their occupants and residents, and therefore lower the carbon emissions from the functioning of these buildings, bringing them closer to the thermal performance of new buildings. In fact, from reading the planning application and other documents relating to the cladding of Grenfell Tower, the cladding was primarily cosmetic, on a tower that the council had originally decided to demolish and redevelop. However, after Kensington and Chelsea failed to find a private development partner following the financial crisis, it instead voted to cover Grenfell Tower explicitly in order to ameliorate the negative effect that post-war reinforced concrete council housing has on the latent value uplift in the land, and therefore on the property values of the high-cost market-sale houses the council planned to build in the surrounding area.

    It would be precipitous to generalise from this individual example of the Grenfell Tower refurbishment to every other cladding retrofit in England and Wales, even on the numerous council housing point blocks; but to accept the official reason for this programme at face value would be extraordinarily naive. More than that, it would be to close our eyes to the political dimension of housing in this country, the ongoing process of its demolition and privatisation, and the role of global investment in financing this process.

    But the other answer to this question of why so many buildings were retrofitted with cladding is: because of extensive and ongoing lobbying of government departments and ministers by the peddlers of so-called ‘green’ architecture, ‘green’ finance, ‘green’ industry and ‘green’ technology by multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, developers, builders, estate agents, sub-contractors and manufacturers — by, in other words, the entire building industry and its associated hangers-on of financiers, investors and profiteers looking to capitalise on the climate crisis.

    The immediate result of this is that we now have around 24,800 homes in high-rise blocks that we know of, and probably far more, that are covered in ACM flammable cladding systems that circumvents the fire-safety of these buildings, that the owners of the buildings are refusing to pick up the bill for removing and replacing, that are putting the lives of over 60,000 residents at risk, that the government that privatised housing provision and deregulated building control, and that the councils that handed out the development contracts to the private development and management companies and stock-transferred the estates to housing associations, has turned its back on.

    This is all a matter of fact, established by the benefit of hindsight following the public attention on the disaster of the Grenfell Tower fire. Without that attention, few of us would be aware of this programme, or of the threat it presents to the safety of the thousands of residents living in buildings clad in flammable materials ostensibly applied to improve their thermal performance. And yet, when — with those responsible for the Grenfell Tower fire still not arrested let alone charged, when the public inquiry is not even addressing government responsibility for this programme of retrofitting, and when the police investigation into its causes is set to take at least another two years — some of us dare to voice our doubts about the same lobbyists, the same NGOs, the same think-tanks, the same companies and the same political parties now calling for a Green New Deal, a Green Industrial Revolution, ‘green’ architecture, ‘green’ finance and ‘green’ growth under a ‘green’ capitalism promoted by a sixteen year-old girl sailing round the world in a ‘green’ yacht, we are denounced and trolled as sexist, misogynist, anti-autistic, ageist, sectarian climate-change deniers — and all the other idiotic insults with which the blindly faithful respond to challenges to their beliefs.

    It does seem, contrary to the judgement of Abraham Lincoln, that you really can fool all the people all the time; but you’ll excuse those of us who would rather not be one of them if we retain our faculty for critical thinking, continue to be suspicious of everything politicians tell us, question what ends the spectacle of street protest is serving, and interrogate every solution proposed by capitalism to solve the latest crisis served up for public consumption. Grenfell should remain forever not just in our hearts, but also in our minds.

    Big Science

    One of the catchphrases repeated by Greta Thunberg is ‘Listen to the science!’ This is directed at politicians, above all, and is intended to oppose the truth of science to the lies of politics. However, science has always been linked to, and for over a century has been indivisible from, political power. The US military, in addition to being one of the greatest producers of carbon emissions in the world, is also one of the greatest funders and controllers of scientific research. Security services implementing ever more intrusive regimes of surveillance and policing both at home and abroad are another source of both funding and technological innovation, including artificial intelligence and robotics. And, of course, the extraction of resources and mechanisation of production by capitalisation is another driver, funder and user of the ‘truth’ of scientific research. Scientific truth, in other words, is profoundly political, and to assert otherwise is itself a political attempt to depoliticise the financial framework of scientific funding and the military, security and industrial uses of scientific research and its technological applications.

    This is most obviously the case when we ask to whose science Greta Thunberg is demanding we listen. The social scientists behind the orthodoxies of non-violent social change being imposed on environmental activists by Extinction Rebellion? The environmental scientists promoting ‘green growth’ based on massive mineral extraction from developing countries in the sights of Western imperialism? The economic scientists arguing for a Green New Deal for capitalism from which global finance has somehow been extracted like a cancerous growth rather than its circulatory system? The political scientists orchestrating the spectacle of street protest to publicise and promote policy demands into which protesters have no input? The popular scientists who manufacture and promote the discourse of ‘crisis’ that silences debate and denounces those who ask questions as ‘climate deniers’?

    Or these scientists? Antarsya UK, the Greek anti-capitalist, revolutionary, communist left and radical ecology front based in the UK, are one of the most interesting organisations I’ve come across this year. On 5 October they held a debate at SOAS titled ‘Are Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss reversible under Capitalism?’ You can listen to the presentations and ensuing debate on the recording above, and I recommend it to anyone interested in hearing the debates around the causes of, and solutions to, climate change. In response to the questions ASH has raised in response to the actions and declarations of Extinction Rebellion, all we’ve received in return from their followers so far is denunciations, insults and trolling alongside imperious demands for our own solutions to this ‘crisis’. In other words, the reaction has been no different from that ASH has received from publicising the Labour Party’s role in the estate demolition programme from the followers of Oh Jeremy Corbyn, who plays a similar role for Labour as Greta Thunberg does for Extinction Rebellion. However, although far from being experts on carbon emissions and climate change, ASH has published several articles on the environmental dimension of architecture, and in particular on the carbon costs of demolishing and redeveloping council estates; and, again, I recommend these to those still interested in listening to arguments and engaging in debate rather than policing the limits of what can and cannot be thought and said.

    As ASH maintains as a principle, and own interventions seek to practice, that the environmental dimension of architecture is indivisible from its social, economic and political dimensions. This is a principle of communist thought that the capitalists behind Extinction Rebellion have explicitly denied by describing their movement as ‘apolitical’, insisting that ‘no-one is to blame’ for the climate crisis, and refusing even to use the word ‘capitalism’ when identifying what its causes might be, let alone mention the word ‘socialism’ when proposing its solutions.

    If you’re interested in hearing about the social, economic and political dimension of climate change and the consequences of the solutions the organisations seeking to capitalise on this crisis are proposing, listen to the scientists in this debate: Elia Apostolopoulou from the University of Cambridge, whose research is on nature-society relationships in capitalism with an emphasis on the political ecology of nature conservation and urban political ecology; Gareth Dale from Brunel University, whose research is on the growth paradigm and the political economy of the environment, particularly climate change; and Maria Kadoglou from ‘Anti-Gold Greece’, whose research is on the impact of the large-scale metal mining required for so much so-called ‘green’ energy and technology. From listening to their presentations I wouldn’t say they share a single position — and with Gareth Dale being a staunch Corbynite I have to wonder whether he’s aware of merely the carbon costs of his party’s estate demolition programme; but they’ll tell you a very different story to the one that’s being written by the social, environmental, economic, political and political scientists imposing the orthodoxies of thinking and action being orchestrated under the umbrella of Extinction Rebellion.

    Greenwashing (some examples)

     

    Please read the rest of the article at the Architects for Social Housing website:

    https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2019/10/10/capitalising-on-crisis-extinction-rebellion-and-the-green-new-deal-for-capitalism/

     

    Extinction Rebellion Training, or How to Control Radical Resistance from the ‘Obstructive Left’

    May 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

     

    “New Power” – “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want”

    – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz, B Team Expert

     

    Above: XR local coordinator training document. Diagram: The “US” circle on the top signifies Extinction Rebellion. The middle circle identifies “mostly obstructive” political activists (“hard left”) that must be bypassed in order to reach the bottom circle. The bottom circle represents the non-political citizens, the target audience of XR.

    Background

    Extinction Rebellion (XR) officially launched on October 31, 2018. On November 2, 2018, a video was uploaded to the Extinction Rebellion YouTube account. The video documents the training session held by XR co-founder Roger Hallam: “This was filmed at the Extinction Rebellion Local Coordinator training in Bristol. Roger Hallam explains some the key dynamics of building a mass movement from the level of personal resilience to creating system change.”

    Here, it is critical to remind oneself, that this is the XR mass organizing model for the mobilization of a global citizenry. Consider between the official launch on October 31, 2018, in the UK, to December 6, 2018, it grew to over 130 groups, across 22 countries. By January 29, 2019, the Extinction Rebellion groups spanned across 50 countries. On April 27, 2019 XR reported they were nearing 400 branches globally.

    The global expansion is being led by Margaret Klein Salamon [Source], founder of The Climate Mobilization, who launched the Extinction Rebellion US Twitter account on October 31, 2018 – the same day as the launch of Extinction Rebellion in the UK. The Extinction Rebellion demands are not only complementary to The Climate Mobilization’s emergency strategy now in motion; they are a mirror image of it with the slogan, “Tell the Truth”. [Further reading: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The House is On Fire! & the 100 Trillion Dollar Rescue, ACT IV]

    Training the XR Local Coordinators

    Above: Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam

    During the training session, Hallam draws a chart with three circles. The small circle on the top signifies Extinction Rebellion – people that want to get things done. The middle circle is quickly identified as the contentious one. This circle identifies the “mostly obstructive”, highly political, a “hard left”, which must be bypassed in order to reach the bottom circle. The bottom circle, the largest in size, represents the non-political citizens, the target audience of XR: “The people who’re shitting themselves and want something to be done but aren’t highly political.” [Source: XR Local Coordinator Training]

    Hallam:

    “I’m just going to finish on something that’s a bit of a taboo subject, okay? But it’s another major issue you’re going to find when you organize, which is difficult, political people.

     

    Okay, so I’m going to do a little chart here.

     

    You usually find, like most of us people in this room, that are really political, but we’re really practical because we want to get some things done. Okay?

     

    And then below us, in inverted commas, there’s another group of people that are really political and don’t want to get things done, because they’re so political. (lots of laughter). I will separate those people out in a minute.

     

    And then below that, this is like a thousand times bigger, they really want to do something well there actually not political, you see what I mean.

     

    These people really want to get things done. Then they go down here and try to involve these people, and these people basically grind it to death.”

    Hallam speaks of the dangers posed by the “extreme hard left” viewpoints, “extreme intersectionalism” (“we need to be all perfect and that sort of stuff”), extreme desire for diversity, “extreme veganism”, etc. His examples are deliberately misleading and ridiculous. His mention of anarchism provokes more laughter.

    Hallam concedes “and often they’re right” yet has zero interest in empowering this group to further empower the bottom “non-political” masses targeted by XR. Rather, his aim is to recruit the ones that can be persuaded into adopting pragmatism, while silencing those that refuse to conform.

    In the Rebellion business, ethics isn’t a driving force, rather it is a detriment:

    “Look, all the most effective movements have a central concept and that concept is balance. Balance the pragmatic need and the ethical imperative to change society versus the need to be eternally ethical.”

    The message is clear – target the practical and pragmatic. Distance yourself from the self-centered “purists”.

    “They’re [the 20%) not actually interested in political effectiveness. They’re interested in a political approach that makes them feel good.”

    Although XR claims, “We are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive” – this runs in stark contrast to XR’s own conduct:

    “The name of the game is to bypass these people, or at least recruit the little bit of them that get it … and go down here. And that’s how we’ve managed to mobilize thousands of people in three months. By having a public meeting. And if the public meeting is constructed around participative principles, you won’t have the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] guy standing up at the end. Everyone’s feeling good and he does a rant about how it has to be socialist, otherwise it’s rubbish. Which brings everybody down. It happens over and over again. And how we do that, we don’t have a Q & A. Q&A’s encourage nerdy people and absolutists, (laughter), we all know this, right? I mean you can have a Q&A if you’re super confident and you’re in a group of people that are generally like, in the real world, but if you have a public meeting 8o% of the people will be normal people, who are basically interested in the issue, and 20% of the people will be political absolutists. And they will there to appropriate your energy.”

    And this ideology upheld by Hallam is the very foundational ideology being taught, encouraged and nurtured by Extinction Rebellion. Hallam: “This is how you mobilize lots of people.”

    This , in essence, forms the key strategy of Extinction Rebellion. To isolate radical voices and to dominate the narrative. While targeting the non-practical and pragmatic. A narrative and an orchestrated campaign that serves the ruling class. To give a faux sense of inclusion, while mocking those who have, first and foremost, an allegiance to the Earth. Framing those who recognize that the very capitalist system destroying all life on our finite planet, will not and cannot be magically reformed to save us, as “political absolutists”. As Hallam effectively frames those identified in the middle circle as not “normal”, he seeks assurances from his students by ending sentences with a pleasant “yeah?” and “okay?”, at which point – largely due to the power of conformity in a group setting – they agree. Laughter ensues. There is no challenge to Hallam’s diatribe. The deliberate framing of those that do not conform as “obstructive” is effective social engineering.

    Although Extinction Rebellion takes no position against capitalism, Hallam has no issue with taking a swipe at socialism. Using the Mondragon experiment in Spain as an example, Hallam explains that the central concept must be balance, “not socialism or anything”.

    These are the main points captured by/for the XR Local Coordinators:

    “They’re [the middle group] not interested in political effectiveness, they’re interested in things being perfect and good. This is not a personal judgment, but it won’t help.”

     

    The majority, to be herded like cats (GCCA/TckTckTck – Global Call for Climate Action) are “[T]he people who’re shitting themselves and want something to be done but aren’t highly political.”

     

    “Don’t have a Q & A. This allows the extreme people who want it to be one way to bring everyone else down.”

     

    80% are normal people [and] 20% political absolutists. There to appropriate your energy.”

     

    “It’s not about climate change information, it’s about the emotional way that we say it – needs to create that emotional response, personal reactions are incredibly powerful.”

    For XR leadership, the enemy of Rebellion is not corporate dominance such as Unilever or Volans (as recently confirmed by XR Business). The enemy of Rebellion is not the capitalist economic system devouring everything in its path. The enemy of the Rebellion is the radical activist, prepared to defend the Earth “by any means necessary”.

     

    Pacifism as Pathology

    “In certain situations, preaching nonviolence can be a kind of violence. Also, it is the kind of terminology that dovetails beautifully with the ‘human rights’ discourse in which, from an exalted position of faux neutrality, politics, morality, and justice can be airbrushed out of the picture, all parties can be declared human rights offenders, and the status quo can be maintained.” —  Arundhati Roy, How to Think About Empire

    Hallam recommends to his students that they study: “The Psychology of Persuasion“, “The Radical Think Tank” (“How to Win“), and “This is an Uprising” by Mark Engler (with glowing forewords by 350.org’s Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein).

    Here, is another orchestrated and ongoing effort to further pacify the working class in servitude to the state. One would be wise to toss “This is an Uprising” and instead read “Bloodless Lies: Book Review of This is an Uprising” (November 7, 2016). This is an excellent example of what those enmeshed in the non-profit industrial complex do not want you to read.

    Rather than educating citizens why it is paramount that we become revolutionaries in order to protect the last vestiges of the natural world, Hallam encourages his newly-minted coordinators to embrace the role of “generalists”. [XR Generalists: “run meetings, be good with people, know how society changes, etc.; Revolutionary theorists – hard work is already done!; Books to read – This is an Uprising (Mark Engler)”] [Source]

    +++

    The Elites in Service to Capital

    As touched upon in the conclusion of the Manufacturing Greta Thunberg for Consent series, ACT VI, Extinction Rebellion ties to some of the world’s most powerful NGOs at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex (Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace et al.). A largely white-led movement serving white power.

    XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook, is also highly influential with decade-long ties to the tech industry. In his workshop, Hallam chuckles when he laments, “Like Gail, she’s got these connections with the elites. She’s on the phone with George [Monbiot]”. Bradbrook’s “connections with the elites” is no exaggeration. Featured in “The Financial Times”, the prestigious publication writes of Bradbrook: “Clad in a crimson coat and matching hat as she dashes between fundraising discussions with a London hedge-fund owner and meetings to rally Extinction Rebellion volunteers…” Indeed, “activism” has never been so en vogue, and a £50,000 donation by a hedge-fund owner to Extinction Rebellion [Source], raises no eyebrows whatsoever. It is safe to say that the hallowed out remnants of Western environmentalism have reached a new stage of commodification and normalization of such. This is not rebellion. This is business. Of course Bradbrook is not the only elite at the helm.

    Above: Farhana Yamin at the prestigious Extinction Rebellion headquarters [Photo: Vice]

    Farhana Yamin is “one of the movement’s leading voices” in Extinction Rebellion (Financial Times). Yamin who “spent 27 years in UN climate negotiations” and “helped midwife the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions” serves as a board member/trustee to Greenpeace. [Source: The rise of Extinction Rebellion, The Financial Times, April 12, 2019]

    “Yamin, the international lawyer, who is also a trustee of Greenpeace UK and will soon take up an advisory role at the World Wildlife Fund, wants to build a bridge with existing organisations to forge a much bigger “movement of movements”. “We need to tap into the new form of leadership that’s being asked of us now,” she says. [Source: “Extinction Rebellion, inside the new climate resistance”, The Financial Times, April 10, 2019]

    Former Vogue “climate warrior” (2015), Yamin is the founder and CEO of Track 0: “Track 0 is an independent, not-for-profit organization serving as a hub to support all those transitioning to a clean, fair and bright future for future generations around the world compatible with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. We convene leaders and provide strategic research, training, advice, communications and networking support to governments, businesses, investors, philanthropies, communities and campaigns run by civil society.”

    Partners of Track 0 include GCCA (TckTckTck), CAN (Climate Action Network), Avaaz, ClimateWorks (The Climate Group, We Mean Business), The Rockefeller Foundation, E3G (founder of GCCA), The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, European Climate Foundation and Chatham House. [Full list]

    Advisory members of Track 0 include Sharon Johnson, “CEO Havas Media Re:Purpose”. This is incredible yet not surprising as Havas created the 2009 TckTckTck campaign a decade ago. Other advisory members include Betsy Taylor (served on boards of One Sky which merged with 350.org, Ceres, The Climate Mobilization, etc.), and Bernice Lee, Director, Climate Change at World Economic Forum.

    One can glance through the Track 0 “Individuals & Organizations on Track” section to understand who is considered “on track” for “net zero” by Yamin et al. Certainly not those obstructionists found in Hallam’s middle circle.

    In addition to founding Track 0, Yamin is an associate fellow at Chatham House and a member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change at the World Economic Forum.

     

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

    Yamin served as an adviser to the European Commission on the emissions trading directive from 1998-2002, later serving as special adviser to Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action. “She is lead author of three assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on adaptation and mitigation issues. She continues to provide legal, strategy and policy advice to NGOs, foundations and developing nations on international climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC.” [Source]

    As discussed in “A Decade of Strategic and Methodical Social Engineering”, while the International Policies and Politics Initiative and GCCA controlled the “movement” at COP15,  the same forces also controlled the message via the Carbon Briefing Service (CBS). The news service was launched by Jennifer Morgan (WWF, WRI, Greenpeace,etc.) and Liz Gallagher (E3G) in late 2014 with additional funding by the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the Villum Foundation and Avaaz. [Source] Yamin was a participant of the invitation only group. [Source]

    In 2015 Yamin attended a week-long retreat hosted by Avaaz. [Source]

    Those who have read my past work as well as the Greta series, will know Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund are both founders of GCCA (TckTckTck) – and are both at the helm of this faux movement. These NGOs and others at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex are tasked with creating another “Paris moment” momentum needed for the coming financialization of nature to be implemented in 2020 (#NewDealForNature) – as well as the unlocking of monies needed for the fourth industrial revolution (to save capitalism itself).

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

    Above: Avaaz endorsement by Christiana Figueres [Source: Avaaz website]

    Above: Track 0 highlights, September 24, 2014

    Here we witness the social-organizational psychology experts grooming tomorrows “new champions“, “global shapers” and “new power” “thought-leaders” as determined and ultimately dictated by the world’s most powerful elites. In the 21st century, psychology is not only an extremely important tool in influencing public opinion, it is now considered to be perhaps the single and most important tool. The necessity to comprehend the mental processes, desires and social patterns of the populace at large cannot be understated. Working in lock-step with controlled media and the best marketing executives foundation money can buy, today’s faux activists, thought-leaders and media lapdogs are the very mechanisms of modern-day perception.  – The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

    +++

    [Further reading: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature, ACT VI – Crescendo]

    +++

    In 1966, Stokely Carmichael stated: “And that’s the real question facing the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?”

    This is the real question facing legitimate activists today. Are we tearing down the institutions, or keeping them propped up? Extinction Rebellion has been tasked with the propping up of the very institutions we must dismantle. There is a reason manufactured “environmentalists” and celebrities are recognized as key influencers. It is a deliberate undertaking that Hallam recommends “Rules for Revolutionaries” (based on US Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential run), rather than highlighting true revolutionaries such as Marilyn Buck, Malcolm X, or the land defenders on the frontlines today. The ones who often receive no press (until they are murdered). The ones that would belong to Hallam’s middle circle. It is a burying of radical political resistance. A reframing of resistance – into an obedient compliance. Note that Rules for Revolutionaries is written by Zach Exley, current advisor to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is notable that praise for the book, from a bevy of authors includes Robert B. Reich, author of Saving Capitalism.

    The influencers for the ruling classes are worth their weight in gold.

    We Mean Business – Top Ten Climate Change Influencers, Twitter

    British actress/celebrity Emma Thompson, Extinction Rebellion festivities, April 19, 2019

    Emma Thompson for Global Optimist. The Climate Optimist campaign was launched in 2017 by The Climate Group in partnership with Futerra

    Emotion – Not Information

    Another critical imperative Hallam highlights for mass mobilization is “emotion – not information”. Hallam laments that the people who will lead the “rebellion” will be young people:

    “The last thing to reiterate is the emotion – not the information … so the people that are going to lead this rebellion are going to be young people, 14 & 15 year olds …omg – a 14 year-old is in tears, right?, on television, about what’s happening…”

    Thus, a key strategy for XR was (and continues to be) “How to engage with younger people – youth mobilisation, talks in schools/colleges, figuring out how to engage on ‘youth’ social media.” [Source]

    We Mean Business is ecstatic over the climate strikes. As is Christiana Figueres.

    Figueres, an anthropologist, economist and analyst having studied at London School of Economics and Georgetown University presided over the negotiations that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been recognized as “forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy”. With almost four decades of experience in multilateral negotiations, high-level national and international policy, coupled with extensive involvement in the corporate/private sector, in 2016, TIME magazine named Figueres one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    Today, Figueres serves as vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy; member of the board of directors of ClimateWorks; World Bank Climate Leader; B Team leader, leader of Mission2020 (“exponential transformation” focusing on six sectors that will play a key role in municipal governments and “Green New Deals”); and board member of the World Resources Institute.

    Christiana Figueres (top right corner) podcast series: It’s Going To Be Tremendous

    When the oppressor and the oppressed find themselves cheering as one, this is indeed “tremendous” for the elites. Yet, as the designs of the ruling elites take hold, which is already well under way, we will soon recognize that the citizenry themselves were grossly manipulated to usher in a nightmare that would only further their own demise.

    [Further reading: So who exactly is Christiana Figueres?]

    Above: The We Mean Business newsletter, April 30, 2019

    April 30, 2019: “Welcome to the April edition of the We Mean Business coalition newsletter…Amid fresh waves of protests demanding accelerated climate action, more and more businesses and policy makers are stepping up and delivering the level of systemic change required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

    We Mean Business – “a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.” The founding partners of We Mean Business are: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) (full membership and associate members list), CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

    The Climate Group was incubated by Rockefeller Brothers Fund as an in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution.

    Together, these groups represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, salivating to unleash trillions of dollars for the fourth industrial revolution. This, coupled with the financialization of nature, will create new markets, reboot global economic growth, and most importantly, rescue the global economic capitalist system that is destroying our biosphere.

    We Mean Business, February 20, 2019: “People are desperate for something to happen.” Twitter

    Christiana Figueres, B Team Leader [Source]. The B Team is a founder of We Mean Business

    Emotion To Mask Information: BioEnergy Carbon Capture Storage

    “The Institute has a unique and unrivalled membership including governments, global corporations, private industry and academia. Amongst its representation, are the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Australia, and multinationals such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Toshiba, Kawasaki and BHP.” — The Global CCS Institute, website

    In the May 3, 2019 Extinction Rebellion newsletter (#20), the subject line reads “Parliament meets our first demand!” In the body of text: “There’s plenty of more obvious good news, though – most prominently Parliament’s declaration of climate and environment emergency.” What XR does not share with the public is that the UK CCC climate legislation was a victory for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry. In similar fashion to the financialization of nature, carbon capture legislation and projects are making huge strides behind closed doors – with zero opposition.

    Global CCS Institute, May 2, 2019, Twitter:

    “The Institute welcomes @theCCCuk report, which recommends that the UK commits to cutting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero by 2050 and highlights the crucial role #carboncapture and storage needs to play to achieve this goal.  #NetZeroUK #climateaction”

    A zero emissions industrial civilization is not possible. For the continuance of industrial civilization, CCS is a necessity.  This is the promise of unabated business as usual. The future of energy will be dominated by the burning of our remaining forests, coupled with CCS. Akin to the depleted uranium left for future generations to contend with, CCS will inject the increasing CO2 into the ravaged Earth. This is the gift to be left to Greta Thunberg and the youth she inspires.  A gift to span generations.

    More than this, “net zero” does not mean zero emissions. And it never did. Yet another inconvenient truth is that ‘The terms ‘net zero emissions’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ are interchangeable. This is the beauty of language and framing.

    “Carbon Neutral is a term used to describe the state of an entity (such as a company, service, product or event), where the carbon emissions caused by them have been balanced out by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere in the world.” Carbon neutrality is most often sought/achieved through carbon offsetting (purchasing offsets, trading and projects).

    Question by Richard Branson’s The Elders NGO to Farhana Yamin (2014): How is carbon neutrality different to ‘net zero emissions’?

    Answer by Yamin: “The terms ‘net zero emissions’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ are interchangeable.”

    Q: Global News, Dec 3, 2018: What is net-zero emissions?

    A: Catherine Abreau, executive director of the Climate Action Network: “In short, it means the amount of emissions being put into the atmosphere is equal to the amount being captured.”

    Militarism – as one of the key drivers of climate change, ecological devastation, and death of millions, remains a non-issue. The global “green new deals” guarantee further imperialism and an escalation in wars. These realities have been deliberately and successfully removed from the conversation. They are buried in the 20% circle with the purists.

    “The evidence makes it clear. CO2 needs to be removed from the atmosphere, known as carbon dioxide removal (CDR), using negative emissions technologies (NETs) to meet global warming targets. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is emerging as the best solution to decarbonise emission-intensive industries and sectors and enable negative emissions.” — March 14, 2019, Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage, The Global CCS Institute

     

    “[F]or BECCS technology to be truly effective in reducing CO2 emissions, massive tracts of arable land need to be cultivated and these are not always available, or easily utilised.” The Global CCS Institute

    Emotion to Mask Information: The Financialization of Nature

     

    The next phase for the implementation of the financialization of nature commenced April 29, 2019 with the IPBES Global Assessment gathering (the IPCC for Biodiversity).

    The “first global biodiversity assessment in 14 years”, will be released on May 6, 2019, with the expected “summary for policymakers” section. We can expect a top “scientific endorsement” for a full package of financialization of nature policy tools, including global metrics for valuation, commodification and offset schemes.

    The five-day gathering was held last week at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, ending on May 4, 2019.

    There were no protests.

    Above: John Elkington: Co-founder of Volans, B Team expert (founded by Richard Branson, The B Team is a co-founder of We Mean Business), member of the WWF Council of Ambassadors, and Extinction Rebellion Business signatory (along with Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion)

    Together, these deals read like the biggest land grab since Britannia ruled the waves. This is the big deployment of measurement and financial instruments that the corporate sector, finance and ruling classes have developed. Every little bit of sequestration will be used to further satisfy natural capital ambitions under the guise of climate protection.

    The public face of this grotesque undertaking are the campaigns “New Deal For Nature” and “Voice For The Planet”. These are being led by WWF – co-founder of GCCA. The NGOs comprising the GCCA have played the lead role in orchestrating the global mobilizations for climate change over the past decade, in full servitude to their funders.

    The “Voice For the Planet” is especially egregious, as it is presented by the World Economic Forum “Global Shapers” youth group.

    The gross exploitation of youth for capital expansion rivals only the gross exploitation of Indigenous peoples. The appropriation and utilization of Indigenous imagery to promote market solutions is long documented.

    The world’s most powerful corporations and NGO partners appropriate Indigenous culture imagery for emotive branding as they unleash and uphold market “solutions” which further displace Indigenous peoples. They undermined the 2010 Indigenous led People’s Agreement and then buried it. They speak of Indigenous protection – while they actively promote “green” marketing schemes and “green new deals” that will further displace Indigenous peoples. That will further accelerate the ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

    Promotional illustrations/video for Green New Deal by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis for support of the New Green Deal

    +++

    They exploit the global youth to steal the natural world the beneath their feet.

    They exploit the love for nature – to further enslave nature.

    As GCCA co-founder WWF aids and abets Indigenous displacement, beatings and deaths, under the guise of conservation, GCCA partners are silent. This is the normalizing of a continued colonization repackaged under the guise of conservation and “green”.

    Industrial civilization – is the enemy of the natural world. We defend industrial civilization – or we defend the planet. This is the choice. The question is, which side are we on?

    And the answer to that question is perhaps the most terrifying thing of all.

    “No One Believed in Capitalist Schemes and Promises Any More” part of the new “Scenes from the Revolution” series. Acrylic on canvas, 30″x30″, Artist: Stephanie McMillan

     

     

    [Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

     

    Further resources:

    “Trees don’t grow on money – or why you don’t get to rebel against extinction”, by Tim Hayward

    Climate Capitalists, by Winter Oak Press

    “This Changes Nothing, The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality”, by Clive Spash

    Video: Selling Extinction, by Prolekult

    Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

    “New Power” – “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want” – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz, B Team Expert

    Extinction Rebellion or Socialist Revolution

    Architects for Social Housing

    April 24, 2019

    By Simon Elmer

    On Easter Sunday, after a week of protests and over a thousand arrests, Extinction Rebellion’s political circle coordinator, the climate change lawyer Farhana Yamin, announced that the week of protests in London would now be ‘paused’ as commuters went back to work and shop. This would show, she said – although she didn’t say whom it would be showing – that ‘we are not a rabble’.

    Above: L-R: Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International, Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project, Generation Investment, Farhana Yamin, Track 0, Extinction Rebellion. Yamin helped “midwife” the Paris climate agreement

    This is not language that anyone who has organised or participated in popular protest, and has seen their efforts dismissed as the actions of a ‘rabble’ by politicians, newspapers and the BBC the following day, would ever use. Its implications are that any popular protest that can’t be switched on and off by its leaders, or at least its lawyers, is a rabble. As such, the statement is taking great care to differentiate the Extinction Rebellion protests from, most contemporaneously, the 23 weeks of Gilets Jaunes protests in France.

    And, indeed, where the protests of the Gilets Jaunes have been a genuinely popular uprising that has avoided leadership and allegiance with already existing political parties or unions, has so far refused to be dragged to the negotiating table by offers of concessions from politicians, and has physically stood up to the violence of the French police, Extinction Rebellion, in contrast, appears to have a leadership – although it’s not clear who that is at present – and, according to its official announcement, is directing its protests specifically towards the negotiating table. It is also very deliberately non-confrontational with the British police.

    This appears to be based on a prior agreement with the Metropolitan Police Force. From both Extinction Existence spokespersons and the Met there have been widely reported statements about the light-touch the police have taken towards protesters. There have been claims, from people I spoke to on Waterloo Bridge on Wednesday night, that there are simply ‘too many’ protesters for the Met to clear; that the ‘passivity’ of the protesters, as one tabloid reported, has disarmed the police; that police have been ‘really, really nice’, as I heard a protester with a microphone tell the listening crowd from a parked truck, to those they have arrested; and that the police ‘don’t do kettling anymore’.

    Now, this is all rubbish. The Met alone has 50,000 officers, and even without the various other armed forces the Mayor of London and UK government can draw on, they could quite easily clear away the protests on Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus, Parliament Square and Marble Arch in a matter of hours, and they could do so, as they usually do, under the cover of darkness having sealed off the relevant streets from the press, media and public. They could also quite easily charge each and every protester, no matter how passive they are, and issue them with a dispersal order making their return to the sites of protest a criminal offence. And I can report from first-hand knowledge that a cop spraying someone in the face with CS-gas or punching them in the throat compels even the most peace-loving hippy to raise his or her arms in protection, and that’s all it requires for a charge of ‘Assault PC’. Extinction Rebellion requires that all participants ‘maintain nonviolent discipline both externally and internally’, which may be very admirable but does not dictate how violent the police are in return. As for not kettling anymore, that’s exactly what the police did in Oxford Circus, although it didn’t stop them allowing Emma Thompson through (and presumably back again) to address the press from the pink yacht moored there.

    Extinction-rebellion-peaceful

    So the otherwise inexplicable circumstances that have permitted a truck and a yacht to block two of the major thoroughfares in London for a week can only be explained as a result of a prior agreement between the leadership of Extinction Rebellion and the Metropolitan Police Force, most likely through the accommodations of the London Mayor, who likes to depict himself as an environmentalist while doing nothing to curb CO2 emissions and authorising the destruction of our green spaces for new developments.

    Something very similar to this happened in July 2017 when the Tories Out! demonstration was held in London, and the whole thing kicked off in Portland Place, just up the road from Oxford Circus, with an even bigger truck than the one Extinction Rebellion parked on Waterloo Bridge. At the time I wondered how the organisers of the march had got permission for such an occupation, but it quickly became clear that, behind its ostensibly ‘grass-roots’ and popular appearance, this was a Labour Party-organised event that had appropriated the language and spectacle of street protest to serve its parliamentary aspirations.

    not_one_day_more-11

    Earlier that year, in February 2017, a demonstration against Donald Trump, also purporting to be popular, was held in Parliament Square, on which had been erected a huge stage, with a lineup of musical acts, performance poets, a gospel choir and speakers from the Houses of Parliament. Again, I was struck by the fact that this ‘protest’ was in a Government Security Zone, where the Metropolitan Police Force has free reign to arrest and otherwise assault you on the mere suspicion that you’re about to do something anti-social let alone illegal, and that holing a march there requires prior authorisation from the London Mayor – who had in fact given it. And, once again, it turned out that this ‘popular’ protest was in fact organised by Owen Jones, the Socialist Workers Party, the People’s Assembly against Austerity, Unite the Union, Momentum, and other fronts for the Labour Party.

    To its credit, Extinction Rebellion has distanced itself – at least verbally – from any political party or pre-existing organisation, such as the Green Party or Greenpeace, and in this it has common ground with the Gilets Jaunes. And in doing so it is strategically different from the so-called ‘grass roots’ Labour fronts that have reduced the equally effusive housing movement of 2015 to the obedient acolytes for Jeremy Corbyn of 2019. But apart from its adoption of the spectacle of street protest, which has presumably drawn into these protests far more people than are aligned with the umbrella organisation, Extinction Rebellion also clearly has more than a few quid behind it. The first thing I thought when I saw the pink yacht moored in Oxford Circus was not: ‘What a great way to block the busiest high street in London!’, but: ‘Who’s got a yacht to spare?’ (though I have no doubt it will be returned by the police to its rightful owner – the right to property being the only human right observed in the UK). So, where’s the money coming from?

    On its website Extinction Rebellion says that its raised £180,000 in the past six months, some of it from donors, a lot from grant funds, even more from crowdfunding. This doesn’t strike me as anything like enough to pull off the stunts it has. And even if it is, it doesn’t explain the far greater influence it has on the London Mayor, the Met, Transport for London, the media, and all the other forces of the establishment that might otherwise have been expected to rally in organising opposition to it, as they have for instance, in silencing the protests against London’s housing crisis and homelessness.

    A clue might have been let slip last Thursday when, on the advertisement that is wrapped around the front and back pages of the London Evening Standard, beneath the headline: ‘Fourth day of chaos from climate protests’, Adidas has taken out a double-page spread with the sales-pitch: ‘We can’t change the world in one day. But we can take the first step.’ This was followed by a masterpiece of salesmanship specifically designed to appeal to the youth market:

    ‘For the past 6 years we have been working on a product that you’ll never throw away. A shoe that is made to be remade. You buy them – wear them – and when you’re done you give them back to us. We remake them. It is our first step. A statement of intent to end the problem of waste. We have a problem with plastic waste. We buy, we use, we throw away. But there is no away. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence somewhere on our planet. In our ecosystem. Poisoning our earth. Before this makes-use-waste e-system changes everything, we must change it.’

     

    For some time now I’ve been arguing that protesting is the new clubbing, and just as multinational corporations very quickly turned the underground scene of acid house and rave into a form of stadium rock in the 1990s, so the same corporations – which shape and mould our desires and future far more than the Houses of Parliament – have cottoned on to the fact that in the 2010s the newest popular social phenomenon on which they can capitalise – and in doing so subsume that phenomenon into a reaffirmation of capitalism – is protest.

    Why else, if not in order to appeal to a teenage consumer market, has Extinction Rebellion chosen a 16-year old Swedish girl in pigtails to be its global spokesperson? Protesters might argue that in doing so they are using the strategy of mass marketing against itself, but in that struggle there can be only one winner, and its name is Adidas, Nike, McDonalds, Coco-Cola, etc.

    But besides finding new markets for their environment-consuming commodities, why else would multi-national corporations be interested in climate change?

    Please read the rest of the article at the Architects for Social Housing website:

    Extinction Rebellion: Socialist Revolution

     

    REBELLION EXTINCTION: A CAPITALIST SCAM TO HIJACK OUR RESISTANCE

    Winter Oak

    April 24, 2019

     

    Special report

    XR logo

    [UPDATE. WEDNESDAY APRIL 24 2019. FOLLOWING WIDESPREAD GRASSROOTS DISQUIET OVER THE XR BUSINESS WEBSITE, IT HAS BEEN TAKEN DOWN. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR XR AND ITS POSITION ON CAPITALISM IS NOT YET CLEAR. WE WILL PUBLISH FURTHER REPORTS AS INFORMATION COMES IN]

    When Extinction Rebellion first burst into action in the UK last November, it felt as if something was finally going to change.

    Their high-profile arrival on the political scene had a noticeable effect on awareness of environmental issues and gave people permission to speak more freely than before about our society and its relationship to nature.

    Yes, there were many criticisms of XR tactics and language from the likes of the new Green Anti-Capitalist Front and activist Emily Apple.

    But when this month’s big week of action in London got underway, with Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus blocked and Marble Arch occupied, it felt as if something important and radical was happening.

    And perhaps it was, because, presumably, the vast majority of those who turned out, including the nearly 1,000 who were arrested, genuinely believe that our civilization needs to change course if life on this earth is to survive.

    But the integrity of XR as an organisation was dealt a fatal blow on Easter Monday, when its Twitter account started plugging links to a new website called XR Business, which had been announced in a letter to The Times.

    Among the signatories was Gail Bradbrook, director and shareholder of Compassionate Revolution Ltd and Holding Group member of XR. This is just not some separate support group, but an intrinsic part of the XR apparatus.

    The very existence of the site was bad enough, but the home page was (and is) hideous. A corporate satellite view of Europe lit up like a Christmas tree. What sort of environmental movement would choose such imagery?

    xrbusiness

    We should have seen this coming. We had, after all, already read investigative journalist Cory Morningstar’s excellent digging into the “climate change” industry on her Wrong Kind of Green blog.

    But somehow we wanted to give XR the benefit of the doubt and even naively plugged the London protests in our last bulletin.

    The XR Business site, however, is a declaration of Rebellion Extinction. This is now officially an ex-Rebellion, shorn of all pretence of radicalism.

    Instead, what we find is a list of “business leaders” who have identified environmental catastrophe as yet another get-rich opportunity.

    And they are prepared to hijack and exploit people’s real love for life and nature in order to push their profiteering agenda.

    First name on the list of these so-called “leaders” is Seb Beloe, partner at WHEB

    XR-sebbeloe
    Seb Beloe

    WHEB describes itself as “a positive impact investor focused on the opportunities created by the transition to a low carbon and sustainable global economy”.

    It adds: “We focus on nine sustainable investment themes with strong growth characteristics, derived from providing solutions to major social and environmental challenges”.

    On a page headed “thought leadership” WHEB announces that it is “actively involved” in organisations “at the leading edge of sustainable and responsible investment”.

    These include the Global Impact Investing Network, which explains in turn on its website that it brings together “impact investors and intermediaries who have the capacity to invest and intervene at scale, making multi-million dollar investments and aggregating funds large enough to access institutional capital”.

    Another XR “business leader” is Amy Clarke, co-founder of Tribe Impact Capital LLP, which boasts the snappy tagline “A New Wealth Order”.

    XR-amyclarke
    Amy Clarke

    Clarke is very proud of having “spent time” at investment firm EY (“helping clients embrace industry disruption as an opportunity“), PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), Microsoft, and the Bank of America.

    Needless to say, Tribe Impact Capital shows little interest in challenging capitalism (the clue is in the name!) or in calling for degrowth. Its goal is, rather, “long-term positive impact and growth for everyone”.

    XR “business leaders” John Elkington and Louise Kjellerup Roper, come from Volans Ventures Ltd.

    They are involved in the Tomorrow’s Capitalism Inquiry backed by companies like Aviva Investors, The Body Shop International, Covestro, and Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.

    XR-paulpolman
    Paul Polman

    Paul Polman, until recently CEO of Unilever plc, is also on the XR roll of honour, in fact.

    And Jeremy Leggett, very active in promoting XR Business online, is founder and director of Solarcentury Ltd, which names Unilever as one of its “partners”.

    Another XR business groupie is Jake Hayman, whose Ten Years’ Time programme “is tailored for the next generation of high-net worth families who are looking to invest capital into ambitious new ideas rather than following the crowd to safe ground”.

    It’s that c-word word again!

    Another XR Business enthusiast for “green” technology is Samer Salty, co-founder and managing partner of the infrastructure and private equity fund manager, Zouk Capital LLP.

    Its site tells us: “Zouk’s infrastructure strategy capitalises on the global shift to greater sustainability.

    XR-samer-salty
    Samer Salty

    “The fund targets a diverse range of sectors across Europe, including emerging utility-scale battery storage projects as well as wind, solar, waste-to-energy, electric vehicles and geothermal”.

    It was announced in February 2019 that Zouk is entering into exclusive negotiations to manage the UK Government’s £400m CIIF investment fund aimed at helping to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK.

    No vested interests involved there, then, nor with XR supporter Michael F. H. Bonte-Friedheim, CEO and founding partner of NextEnergy Capital, “the leading international solar investment and asset manager”.

    XR Business also boasts the support of Tomas Carruthers, CEO of Project Heather: “We’re building a stock exchange for the 21st century. It’s time to add ‘impact’ to ‘risk and reward’”.

    The key to understanding the XR phenomenon comes perhaps from its business backers Charmian Love and Amanda Feldman.

    They are co-founders of Heliotropy Ltd, terming themselves “Builders of a brighter future”.

    XR-heliotropy

    On the surface everything seems yummy and wholesome. Explaining its name, the site says: “Heliotropy is a phenomenon in nature where certain plants (or parts, like flowers) grow in response to the stimulus of sunlight, so that they turn to face the sun.

    “We believe humans are similarly motivated by the power of heliotropy. We will grow taller, faster and stronger when motivated by light, warmth and positivity, rather than fear and despair”.

    Heliotropy says it is all about “Mobilising Movements”. It declares: “Today’s problems are interconnected, and movements must join forces to solve them. We are convening emerging leaders from global movements to imagine new ways of collaborating”.

    But Heliotropy is a microcosm for the world of XR as a whole. Beneath the nicey-nicey surface lurks something rather nasty-nasty.

    If you click on the section entitled “Reimagining Corporate Capital” you are taken to a site called Corporate Impact X.

    XR-corporateimpactx

    This explains: “Corporate Impact X is a practitioner-led project designed to support corporations in developing high impact venturing, collaboration and investment strategies”.

    It offers a report called “Investing Breakthrough: Corporate Venture Capital”. Sadly the link does not work properly, though it does point the would-be investor towards Volans, the aforementioned buddies of XR, Tomorrow’s Capitalism and Unilever.

    The link to a second report, “Beyond the B1nary – Delivering Profits and Purpose Through Corporate Venturing” does work.

    The “Thank You for Reading” section here is extremely revealing:

    “Thank you to Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, for managing this project and to the Inclusive Business Action Network (IBAN), a global partnership implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for providing the funding. We are grateful for the support of Global Corporate Venturing and Saïd Business School, Oxford University”.

    It adds that the project was developed and delivered by Charmian Love (CorporateImpactX), whose email is given as charmian@corporteimpactx.com

    Just to be clear, this is Charmian Love of the fluffy-sounding Heliotropy Ltd, who is one of XR’s select band of business leaders.

    XR-corporateventure
    This Corporate Venturing project was developed and delivered by Extinction Rebellion’s Charmian Love. Well done Charmian!

    It should be clear to anyone who has taken a look at the snarling capitalist agenda behind XR’s smiley eco-mask that they are not to be trusted.

    If the movement is as democratic as it claims to be, it may still be possible for genuine environmentalists to wrest control of XR. Who knows?

    Otherwise, decent people should get out as fast as they can and form new networks of resistance which fight to bring down the ecocidal industrial capitalist system, rather than to prop it up.

    As the eco-activist Judi Bari put it: “There is no such thing as green capitalism. Serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”.

     

    Trees Don’t Grow on Money – or Why You Don’t Get to Rebel Against Extinction

    Tim Hayword 

    April 29, 2019

     

    Money doesn’t go on trees, and although people can make money out of trees, they cannot make trees out of money. This much may seem platitudinous, but it is worth keeping in mind.

    What is true of trees is true of the natural world as a whole, including the human beings that are part of it. Nature is real; money is an abstraction. If money seems real that is because our institutions and practices are so deeply premised on beliefs in it. There is an important sense in which those institutionalized beliefs – in crediting it with a certain value – make money real; but it is not real in the way the natural world is real. If a bank goes bust, if a whole economy crashes, the social upheaval that follows may be immense, but life goes on – people will pick themselves up and start again (and some people, meanwhile, will likely have found a way to profit from it!). By contrast, if a species goes extinct, if an ecosystem collapses, then there is no prospect – certainly not on human timescales – of a recovery. The threat of extinction to our own species is the ultimate threat.

    Extinction Rebellion has given publicity to critically important concerns of our time – the ecological crises as exemplified by dangerous climate change and biodiversity loss.[1] But it also gives rise to some perplexity.

    A circumstantial puzzle is how an apparently spontaneous social movement of protest comes to have the energetic backing of big business interests and even to receive notable support from influential sections of the corporate media.

    On deeper reflection, what does it even mean to stage a rebellion against extinction? Rebellions usually involve a group of people rising up to protest or overthrow another group that wields unjust or illegitimate power over them. How can you ‘rebel’ against extinction? It is not as if you can choose to disobey the laws of nature.

    The website that asserts the copyright © Extinction Rebellion, states certain demands directed at government.[2] The moral clarity of their seemingly simple message, however, could be deceptive.[3]

    Two key demands are: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”

    These may sound like goals that any ethically rational person could wholeheartedly endorse, and yet, as a recent critical study by Cory Morningstar has demonstrated, what their pursuit entails does not necessarily correspond to what people might imagine.[4]

    First, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero does not mean eliminating emissions, or even necessarily reducing them at all. It refers to the possibility of engaging in other activities to offset them. The offsetting may be accomplished by various means of  technological fixes and/or accounting innovations, but what these means have in common is that they will be profitable to engage in. As was made explicit some years ago in the influential Stern Review of climate economics, a policy approach allowing emissions offsetting creates great opportunities for businesses and the financial sector.

    ‘Capital markets, banks and other financial institutions will have a vital role in raising and allocating the trillions of dollars needed to finance investment in low-carbon technology and the companies producing the new technologies.’ (Stern 2006: 270)

    ‘The development of carbon trading markets also presents an important opportunity to the financial sector. Trading on global carbon markets is now worth over $10bn annually’. (Stern 2006: 270)

    By attaching a price to carbon, a whole new commodity is created over which the distribution of rights represents a new income stream. So it’s good for shareholder profits, but what about nature? How confident can we be when its protection relies on a new multi-billion dollar market involving the same people responsible for the global financial crisis?

    The other key goal, to halt biodiversity loss, sounds like one that should not allow wriggle room for profiteers to game it. And yet, consider for a moment how one might propose – even with the best and purest of intentions – to bring biodiversity loss to a halt. The sheer extent of activities around the world that are undermining habitats and ecological systems is so great and complex, it is hard to conceive what exactly could and should be done, even given determined political will to do it. The proposed policy in reality, therefore, is not literally to stop doing everything we are currently doing that compromises biodiversity. Instead, it once again centres on putting a price on the aspects of nature that market actors attach value to. The premise is that if we accept it is not possible to halt the destruction of biodiversity in some places, it is still possible to protect and even re-create biodiversity in others. Thus, just as with carbon emissions, the ideas of substitution and compensation play a pivotal role: biodiversity loss may not be literally halted, but it can be offset.

    And how is biodiversity loss to be offset?[5] Here comes the familiar move: in order to weigh the loss in one place against a putative gain in another they must be subjected to a common scheme of measurement. Biodiversity being something of value, the way to record how much value any instance of it has is taken to be by reference to monetary price. Hence we learn that ‘biodiversity conservation and the related concept of “natural capital” are becoming mainstream. For instance, the Natural Capital Coalition is developing the economic case for valuing natural ecosystems and includes buy-in from some of the biggest players in business, accountancy and consulting. And the financial industry is moving toward more responsible investing.’[6]

    Yet this unidimensional quantification of value completely disregards the point that biodiversity is a complex and quintessentially qualitative phenomenon. It is of the essence of biodiversity that its biotic components and their environments are diverse. Being diverse means being different in ways that cannot be reduced to the measure of a single common denominator. Hence the essence of biodiversity is an irreducible plurality of incommensurables. The idea of ‘compensating’ for loss of biodiversity of one kind by the protection or enhancement of biodiversity of another kind elsewhere means disregarding the very meaning of biodiversity.[7]

    The idea of biodiversity offsets, then, does not have its rational basis in ecological concern but in the expansionary logic of capitalist profit seeking.

    A rebellion that really has any prospect of fending off disaster for our biosphere and ourselves needs to be based on a proper understanding of who and what needs to be rebelled against.

    Extinction Rebellion publicity material says that it is apolitical. Yet there is nothing apolitical about the real struggle that is required for people to seize the power currently concentrated in the hands of plutocrats. And to those who say – rightly – that ecological issues are greater than mere politics, it may be responded that this is why we cannot let it be “dealt with” by those who currently so misuse their political power.

    Asking governments to enact policies that corporate and financial backers are lining up to draw massive profits from is not what the people protesting against impending ecological disaster have in mind. It needs therefore to be clear that you can’t actually protest against disaster. You need to take on those who are driving us towards it. So you need to know who they are and how they are doing it. It’s a good idea to look carefully at who is shaping the demands you are being enlisted to make, and what exactly they entail.

    land-savings

    [1] For other, less discussed but no less significant problems, see Rockström et al. (2009).

    [2] Why they are directed at government without reference to the central role of powerful corporations is not completely obvious, and nor is the reason why the site also says the protest is ‘apolitical’, a question to be returned to.

    [3] We humans, especially the worst off – and not even to mention members of other species we share the planet with – certainly have powerful reasons for concern at the ecological crises being provoked by our collective global exploitation of the biosphere. But what “we” can do about that is nothing like as clear.

    In fact, there is no “we” that can act as a collective. There are multifarious different people, groups, tribes, classes, and nations that have competing interests. “We” are not organized to respond in a concerted, ethical and rational manner.

    On the other hand, a very small group of people – who alone command as much of the world’s aggregate resources as half the rest of the world’s population put together – is very well coordinated. At the highest levels of corporations and financial institutions they hold great power. With their immense wealth comes control over those – including politicians, journalists and various “thought leaders” – who exercise greatest influence over publics. Their power to manipulate public perceptions vastly exceeds most people’s awareness of it.

    So we – ordinary members of the public, whether old or young – can protest and engage in symbolic actions and go green in aspects of our lifestyle, yet to real little effect. In our heart of hearts we may know this, and yet we may still believe it important to try and to act as we think all should. So when the makings of a real social movement appear, we energetically embrace the opportunity it appears to present for making some more noticeable impact. Hence the enthusiastic welcome of Extinction Rebellion, in which school kids and pensioners have united around the moral and existential cause.

    But what sort of ‘rebellion’ is it that is conjured into action by a consortium of corporate-backed organizations and given extensive positive coverage in the corporate media? The commitments and beliefs of the multifarious individuals and groups on the ground are various and sincerely held, and they do tend to converge around something like the headline goals stated in the publicity material ©Extinction Rebellion. But the exact goals being endorsed focus on two very specific demands: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.” And in this post I am arguing that it is very easy to be misled into thinking these capture what we really want to achieve, whereas in reality they may in fact capture our acquiescence in the further extension of corporate power over the natural world and our own lives.

    [4] Morningstar’s set of six articles makes for somewhat demanding reading, and her purposes have sometimes been misunderstood or misrepresented on the basis of apparently rather casual perusal. Certainly, this has been noticeable in comments on Twitter, so I tried to distil some of her key points, without her detail or her critics’ distractions, in a Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/Tim_Hayward_/status/1120748645069021185

    [5] Some useful introductory sources are World Rainforest Movement: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/green-economy/; Clive Spash 25 minute talk: https://vimeo.com/33921592; and the collection of material here: http://naturenotforsale.org/author/berberv/

    [6] Richard Pearson, ‘We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?’, The Conversation, 26 Oct 2015 https://theconversation.com/we-have-15-years-to-halt-biodiversity-loss-can-it-be-done-49330.

    [7] For a pithy presentation of the basic ideas here see the short video ‘Biodiversity offsetting, making dreams come true‘ https://vimeo.com/99079535.

    References

    Rockström, Johan et al. (2009), ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, Nature 461: 472–75.

    Stern, Nicholas et al. (2006), Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, London: HM Treasury.

    WATCH: Selling Extinction

    WATCH: Selling Extinction

    Prolekult Films

    Published April 26, 2019

    “Selling Extinction is a short introduction to the capitalist notion of a “Green New Deal”, the NGOs that support it and the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in London.” [Running time: 23:43]

     

    [Prolekult is a Marxist film, writing and culture platform based in Birmingham, England. The project is presently run by James Bell (writing and narration) and Alex Bushell (editing and filming). The purpose of the project is to provide high-quality film content looking at world politics, culture and economics from a Marxist perspective. You can support them on Patreon and follow them on Twitter.]

    The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

    The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

    Environmental Values 29 (2)

    April 2020: 121–130.

    By Clive Spash

    © 2020 The White Horse Press. doi: 10.3197/096327120X15752810323968

     

     

    Calls for ‘systems change, not climate change’ have been minority positions that have gained ground over the last year or so, aided by the likes of Extinction Rebellion, and the school strikes of FridaysForFuture, fronted by the now iconic figure of Greta Thunberg. These new environmental movements have pushed into the background the mealy-mouthed talk of avoiding negative ‘framing’, supressing terms that disturb people and dismissing catastrophic scenarios. I have previously noted problems with the promotion of such a conformist and conservative rhetorical strategy (Spash 2018). The plain speaking of the new environmental movements places emphasis on an imminent ecological crisis, which has become increasingly more real for many given the steady rise in the frequency of major extreme weather events. The planetary havoc promised by human induced climate change is deemed an ‘emergency’ entailing a sense of ‘urgency’. A primary and repeatedly expressed concern of Greta has been that politicians should ‘act’ on scientific advice; how they should act is left open but with the admonition that they have done little or nothing but talk for decades. Yet, the ‘new’ environmentalists appear to lack insight into what specific action is required, to what they stand in opposition and more generally the political and economic context within which they (as social movements) are operating.

    The new environmental activists have not addressed the structure of the economic system, the dominant corporate institutions of which it is constituted, the political processes that maintain it, nor how such a system of political economy can realistically be transformed. There is much wishful thinking in their statements. While these movements are internally diverse collectives, elements of both Extinction Rebellion and FridaysForFuture have argued against becoming ‘political’, while simultaneously engaging in political acts of protest and having agendas that are highly political. There appears to be a belief in objective science informing a political elite, who can be nudged into action, regardless of the structure of the dominant economic system and its power relations. The primary concern has also been narrowly focused around human induced climate change, and often even more narrowly carbon emissions, not systemic social-ecological issues. The failures here go across the board from the political naivety of the protesters (both young and old) to the apologetics for the capital accumulating growth economies made by the exponentially increasing community of academics commenting on environmental policy and specifically climate change.1 A prevalent claim is that ‘the system’ can be ‘adjusted’ without removing corporate or capitalist structures let alone the global imperialism they have created under the guise of ‘free’ trade and unregulated
    financialisation.

    That neoliberal political leaders and the World Economic Forum (WEF), commonly known as the Davos elite, have been hosting Greta and promoting her speeches, raises the question as to what they expect to achieve by doing so. For example, the WEF website promotes a speech, given by Greta in Brussels last year to the international press corps, in which she calls for a new political system without competition, a new economics and a new way of thinking that includes living within planetary boundaries, sharing resources and addressing inequity.2 Greta has also been cited as calling for corporations to be held responsible for knowingly perpetrating harm and regards this as ‘a crime against humanity’ (Aronoff 2019), but how are they to be held responsible and what for exactly? And what is the appropriate ‘punishment’ for their crime? Diverting such general and unspecific criticism and calls for systems change away from radical and revolutionary reform would seem a likely concern for those profiteering from the current system. After the Paris Agreement the world’s five largest oil companies spent $1 billion on ‘green’ rebranding, while simultaneously undermining legislation and establishing new oil supplies.3 The Davos elite are also adept at borrowing their opponents’ language and far from averse to adopting and redirecting a sense of emergency and crisis.

    The fact is that political and economic elites around the world have long been taking ‘environmental action’, to protect not Nature but themselves, against environmentalists and environmental regulation. The public relations end of the spectrum has been corporate social responsibility, green accounting, investment in new technologies, sustainable development and the rhetoric of a ‘Green circular inclusive sustainable smart economy’. The opposite end involves corporate funding of denialism and anti-environmental think tanks, media control of the popular discourse, lobbying and funding politicians, capture of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and personal attacks on scientists. Most directly, protesters and activists are subject to police harassment and brutality, surveillance, infiltration and repression, and are being branded as terrorists, e.g. British police attempts to officially list Extinction Rebellion as such. The toll on both activist and academics is something recently highlighted in this journal (Spash 2018), and especially with regard to those opposing climate change (Hoggett and Randall 2018). In some countries environmental activists are also subject to assassination, especially where they oppose enforced and unjust ‘development’ in the rush for economic growth.

    Indeed, urgency and emergency empower authoritarian regimes in overriding just, legal and democratic processes. They can also be used more subtly to create a sense of insecurity. The last two decades have seen the fear of ‘others’ being escalated and used to deconstruct post World War II multilateralism and create a new era of unilateralism, in which free-roaming American assassinations are openly bragged about, and respect for the law is increasingly replaced by a lynch-mob mentality. The rise of the extreme right and nationalism has relegitimised sexism, racial hatred, anti-immigrant policies, fortress building, promotion of imperialism, securitisation and militarisation amongst voters of the supposed democracies. The climate crisis, with its threat of mass migration, can therefore play to those claiming to protect jobs, maintain business as usual and defend the existing economic and social structures within which people have created their sense of self and community. However, environmentalism must then be neoliberal and corporate rather than revolutionary.

    So the time is ripe for a new neoliberal agenda that adopts calls for urgent radical transformation and uses the environmental movement to support growth and financialisation of Nature. To this end a range of environmental ‘deals’ were announced in 2019, such as the European Commission ‘Green Deal’, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ‘New Deal for Nature’, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ‘Global Green New Deal’. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has stated that ‘Supported by investments in green technologies, sustainable solutions and new businesses […] The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. It will help us cut emissions while creating jobs’.4 Typical of all these ‘deals’ are claims of coordinating and organising stakeholders, having civil society and government work with, or more accurately for, ‘industry’, with promises of economic growth, jobs and climate stability. Similar ideas are touted under the term ‘stakeholder capitalism’, the theme of Davos 2020. In this ‘new’ era of corporate capitalism the environmental non-governmental organisations also have their role to play.

    We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

    We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

     

    A prime example of the strategy in operation is the capture of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, which has fully committed itself to corporate capitalism since appointing Pavan Sukdev as its President in 2017. He was developing new financial instruments for Deutsche Bank, before heading a UNEP backed project on ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) with goals of capturing value and mainstreaming the economics of Nature (Spash 2011). Cynical financiers, out to make as much money as possible from bits of paper they transfer from one to another for profit, have been keen to join the environmental bandwagon: expanding emissions trading, wetland banking and biodiversity offsetting. Enter the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). This is a partnership of the UN with the global financial sector. Its mission is to promote ‘sustainable finance’, which includes ‘hardwiring biodiversity and ecosystem services into finance’ (UNEP Finance Initiative 2010).

    The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

    The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

     

    The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.5 The public face is fronted by Sukdev and Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She, Sukdev and WWF are meant to provide the corporate executives, bankers, billionaires and financiers with an air of respectability and environmental concern. After all, they desperately need it, given that investor returns, or more simply making money grow exponentially, has nothing to do with sustaining anything, let alone Nature, biodiversity or ecosystems.

    As Schoppek explains in this issue of Environmental Values, neoliberalism was selected by powerful actors as conforming with their view of the world. It has been institutionalised in rules and regulations helping form identities and strategies. As a hegemonic discourse it promotes ideas of meritocracy, the individual as an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (innovative, independent and responsible for all that goes wrong in their lives), utility  maximisation, commodification, economic efficiency, and the market economy as the sole legitimate institution for social organisation. This dominant economic imaginary helps embed the system and ensure its reproduction. Forms of environmentalism that engage in the rhetoric of sustainable growth then evidence a Gramscian passive revolution. That is, a top down strategically designed alternative to radical environmentalism is offered to maintain business as usual. A successful passive revolution absorbs external critique, transforms it and stabilises existing power relations. The aim is to silence more critical perspectives and supress power disrupting alternatives. Ecological crisis is therefore altered into an opportunity for growth and profiteering via commodification and financialisation of Nature.

    Shoppek then questions the extent to which even the apparently more radical degrowth movement has the potential to be co-opted. Her core argument is that degrowth contains elements that are counter-hegemonic but also those that are sub-hegemonic. She illustrates the point with two degrowth positions identified in the work of Eversberg and Schmelzer (2018). That of a politically informed progressive left, supporting an anarchistic continual struggle for freedom, is argued to be counter-hegemonic. This is described as supplying a structural critique in addition to the kind of moral perspective found under the second position, termed self-sufficiency discourses. This latter position, as advanced in Germany by Niko Paech (e.g., Paech 2017, 2012), is argued to be compatible with neoliberal thought and so sub-hegemonic. Its failure is due to the over-emphasis on individual action that actually supports spreading the concept of an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (e.g., the sharing economy) while ignoring the structure of the economic system. This encourages the creation of organisations that substitute for the role of the State in the care of those at the bottom, and so reduce the potency of those individuals contesting the system and its ever-growing inequities. Thus we might reflect upon how a neoliberal consumerist society, such as the UK, encourages the role of charity shops that assuage the guilt of the consuming middle classes while substituting elements of a Welfare State, and doing nothing to address the causes of poverty.

    The importance of a structural systems perspective is also identified by Boscov-Ellen. He highlights the failure of environmental ethicists (e.g. Dale Jamieson, Simon Caney, Peter Singer and Henry Shue) to address the systemic aspects of human induced climate change and as a result to over-emphasise the role of individual agency and responsibility in debating who is meant to take action and what action they should take. Environmental ethicists are criticised for focusing on acts of consumption and their related emissions, ignoring production and producers, and so reducing humans to their role as consumers with ethical preferences. Historical and contextual understanding of poverty, wealth and inequity are lacking. There are also some clear strands of liberal political thought behind several of the ethicists’ positions, and an inherent conservatism (e.g., the unquestioned permanence of Nation States and capitalism). The supposed solutions of the likes of Jamieson and Singer adopt neoliberal polices of pricing and trading carbon despite their flaws (Spash 2010). In contrast, once the existing social and economic structure is identified as a causal determinant of ecological crises then attention shifts to an ethical responsibility to change that system.

    As Boscov-Ellen remarks, current ethical debate has produced ‘a framing that dovetails perfectly with the longstanding (and successful) efforts of liberal governments and corporations to individualise responsibility for systemic ills, even as they single-mindedly pursue growth’. He goes on to develop the case for undertaking radical change in economic and political structures as a moral imperative. This would require expanding collective causal responsibility for harm to account for structural mechanisms that limit and shape behaviour. The emphasis is then placed on solidarity, as part of a collective, seeking political and economic transformation, rather than on individual actions.

    Identifying the organisations and institutions reproducing the political and economic structure is necessary in the process of seeking radical change in those structures. Corporations are obviously key in modern society and their activities are directly linked to global greenhouse gas emission. In recent years the term ‘carbon majors’ has become associated with the 100 corporations most responsible for creating and perpetuating the climate crisis, as noted by Boscov-Ellen and picked up as the central focus of the paper by Grasso and Vladimirova. These top 100 polluters produced over 70% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gases (1988–2015), with just 25 producing 51%. The top 100 include 43 state owned or government run  corporations.6 Grasso and Vladimirova regard these corporations as moral agents whose activities they review in terms of their having violated the negative responsibility of doing no harm to others. Beyond a consequentialist causal aspect, they invoke a more stringent set of requirements related to appraising agents’ intentions, something they refer to as ‘moral responsibility’, which seems directed more towards assessing culpability (the phrase seems somewhat misleading, given that causal responsibility is also ‘moral’). The authors then assess this culpability in terms of corporate responsibility for human induced climate change, with specific reference to a priori knowledge of creating harm, awareness of doing so over a long time frame, capacity to avoid harm, denial of the truth (amounting to spreading lies in their own interest), and self enrichment by their harmful actions. Having been found guilty as charged what is the outcome?

    Grasso and Vladimirova make the case for corrective justice involving decarbonisation and reparation. The former would involve gradually reducing emissions to zero, with some notion that an increasing supply of ‘cleaner energy’ will ‘avoid disrupting the global energy demand’ (something that seems highly unlikely given the scale and extent of fossil fuels in the economy). The latter is, on rather unclear grounds, restricted to corporations relinquishing part of their accumulated wealth from activities related to creating harm. Reparations are discussed in terms of restitution, compensation and disgorgement (relinquishing historically ill-gotten gains). There are perhaps more questions raised than answers given in the ensuing discussion, e.g. ideas of not endangering the wealth of the rich, not pursuing shareholders’ or employees’ gains and concerns over protecting pension funds. Most problematic of all is the claim that actions should ‘not financially prevent carbon majors from engaging in the just transition required by the duty of decarbonisation’. This idea of ‘just transition’ is itself problematic and is employed to justify the preservation of carbon majors in order to avoid being too disruptive to the ‘socio-economic system’. The contradiction is that the system and its capital accumulating corporate form is the problem that needs to be addressed and this cannot be avoided. The idea of a ‘just transition’ appears to offer a get out of jail free card to the corporations who will (as they are doing) argue for offsetting, subsidies for transition, waiting for new technologies and maintaining business as usual for as long as possible.

    An interesting question that arises in light of the discussion by Grasso and Vladimirova is why stop with carbon emissions? These same one hundred corporations produced 91% of global industrial emissions in 2015 (Griffin 2017: 7), and would therefore be culpable on the same grounds for the plethora of associated harms to human health and the environment. Grasso and Vladimirova have made a strong case for recognising that these corporations engage in deliberate cost-shifting, and are not innocent victims of unforeseen externalities that can be blamed on markets having the wrong prices. If all the other cost-shifting activities of corporations were taken into account, the grounds for maintaining such institutions would seem to disappear.

    Private Property 2019, Anahita Mobarhan

    In practice, the attempts by corporations to avoid any claims of wrongdoing in polluting activities have been extensive and have involved public relations firms being hired to strategise the undermining of science and scientists (Oreskes and Conway 2010). Responsibility for reparations is frequently shifted to the public purse, and ‘solutions’ displaced into the future via technologies, often requiring public funding both in research and development and (where realised) implementation. This technological strategy is evident in the increasing promotion of geoengineering for solar radiation management and/or greenhouse gas removal (GGR): e.g., direct air capture, enhanced rock weathering, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. The related ‘negative emissions’ approach is totally embedded in the hundreds of scenarios run by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).7 This allows business as usual with no reduction of greenhouse gases, and indeed their potential increase, because they are assumed to be removable after emission by application of an appropriate technological fix. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon note how media coverage has created a discourse on geoengineering that removes issues of justices, equity, fairness and distribution, while framing it as an ‘essential’ action in the face of the climate emergency. Similarly, in mitigation scenarios informing policy, GGR is not an additional policy measure but is rather modelled as critical for stabilising global average climate temperature at international target levels. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon are concerned to probe into the content of the related discourse and debate as occurring amongst experts (defined as those with pre-existing knowledge and opinions). Their research involves interviews with 17 people from the UK and USA, the majority of whom represent academia and the remainder the private sector, NGOs and policy/regulation. The two themes they find across the interviews are ‘risk’ and ‘responsibility’.

    In terms of risk, GGR is described by interviewees as part of a ‘portfolio’ of measures, in contrast to the IPCC, media and policy framings. Reduced  energy demand and increased renewable energy supply are regarded as coming first and foremost. Urgency (i.e., doing something immediately), and the need to avoid dangerous climate change, support regarding GGR as essential, but this discourse is also noted by some interviewees as being top-down, expert driven and potentially dangerous for democracy. A classic risk and portfolio investment managers’ approach then raises the question of who gets to decide on the risks and the investments? This leads into how societal decisions are made, and an implicit technocracy appears to surface with the key players mentioned by interviewees being experts, policy-makers and (high emissions) industry. Although mistrust of the latter two was also evident, a naïve pragmatism appeared in a readiness to acquiesce to the wealth of corporations and their power to get action, summarised as ‘working with powerful institutions is more pragmatic than working against them’. GGR then offers a potential means for corporations and  governments to opt-out of actual emissions reductions, and plays the role of a ‘mitigation deterrent’. GGR measures, such as widespread use of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), were also seen as likely to have unjust outcomes, due to their being undertaken to maintain the lifestyles of the rich and powerful while being imposed on vulnerable communities who suffer negative consequences (e.g., land grabbing).

    Such pragmatic arguments contrast strongly with the moral arguments against corporations of Grasso and Vladimirova, as well as with the case for revolutionary change made by Boscov-Ellen, and both link to the need for addressing the social and economic structure highlighted by Shoppek. In  the discussion by Cox, Spence and Pidgeon these conflicting positions appear as a core aspect of debate about human induced climate change, where the main question becomes the extent to which ‘strategies should aim to work within existing incumbent capitalist systems’. GGR then indicates failure to adequately challenge the system and instead to support top-down ‘solutions’ that maintain existing structure, power and wealth and so become part of another ecological modernist passive revolution. This appears as technological optimism, claiming sustainability and economic growth are compatible, and the legitimisation of corporations as profit seeking organisations and their beneficiaries as justified in their accumulation of wealth and power. There is today an on-going struggle for how environmental issues are to be perceived, described and explained, which determines what knowledge and which voices are deemed admissible to the policy debate.

    The construction of knowledge and what knowing something means is a longstanding issue in philosophy. The term co-creation (mentioned by Cox et al. and Mancilla Garcia et al.) has become popular of late, and it covers a range of ideas that have for some decades been part of debates around participatory decision process and post-normal science. Mancilla Garcia et al. highlight the roles of process and relations, epistemology and ontology, and empiricism. Whether the social process involved is important to conceptualisation has divided philosophers, with the implications extending from the extremes that knowledge requires total exclusion of values (in a naïve objectivist methodology), to knowledge being a totally cultural and socially determined perspective (under a radical relativist position) (Sayer 1992). Both these extremes assume flat ontologies (the former empiricist and latter actualist) without attention to underlying structure. When trying to identify what lies behind experience and actualised events, and indeed to  understand our experiences, what come to the fore is the role of non-empiricist conceptualisation and inference (e.g. deductive, abductive,  retroductive), along with metaphysical concepts. The basis for the validity given to knowledge claims remains contentious, but what the papers on climate change in this issue hold in common is their identification of the same fundamental social and economic structures in human society as being central to the reproduction of the ongoing ecological crisis.

    Stephanie McMillan

    That the discourse of the environmental movement has been failing, captured and adopted by a ‘new environmental pragmatism’, is more evident every day with the spread of financialisation and commodification of Nature, often legitimised by environmental NGOs acting as fronts for corporate interests. For corporate capitalism the environmental crisis is not about the dangers posed by collapsing biophysical systems, but the threat of environmentalism to the growth economy and capitalism’s continuing existence. An escalation of attempts to reinforce the status quo means more passive revolutions, orchestrated by the incumbent leaders of the capital accumulating systems, who adopt even the apparently radical discourses of urgency, emergency and crises. Calls for immediate action without direction play straight into the hands of those seeking to maintain their hegemonic economic and social power. Those seeking social ecological transformation increasingly face the stark choice of either conforming to or opposing the structures reproducing social, ecological and economic crises. The former promises a technological future dependent upon experts and the noblesse oblige of billionaires, corporate interests and their protectors. It offers those living well today the comforting vision of a system that maintains their position in an increasingly divided and divisive world. The papers in this issue of Environmental Values set out a range of ethical arguments and concerns that bring corporate capitalism into question or oppose it, and reflect upon ethical responses to its ongoing infliction of harm on the innocent. They make it clear that conformity to the system that produced the crisis will not deliver the necessary revolutionary social ecological transformation.

     

    1. For example, in 2019 over 3000, mainly American, economists, including twenty-seven Sveriges Riksbank (‘Nobel’) Prize winners, endorsed a ‘carbon tax’ because ‘[s]ubstituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth’. (Economists statement on carbon dividends. https://www.econstatement.org/ Accessed 7th May 2019.)

    2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/climate-strikes-greta-thunberg-calls-for-systemchange-not-climate-change-here-s-what-that-could-look-like

    3. Report by think tank InfluenceMap ‘Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change’ cited by
    Aronoff (2019)

    4. https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en Accessed 11
    January 2020.

    5. https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance/ Accessed 11 January 2020.

    6. ‘The highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total, and BHP Billiton. Key state-owned companies include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India, Pemex, and CNPC (PetroChina).’ (Griffin 2017: 8, emphasis original).

    7. Kevin Anderson (2015: 899) notes that 344 of the 400 IPCC scenarios assume the successful and large-scale uptake of negative-emission technologies.

     

    References

    Anderson, K. 2015. ‘Duality in climate science’. Nature Geoscience 8 (12): 898–900.
    Crossref

    Aronoff, K. 2019. Don’t Be Fooled by Fossil Fuel Companies’ Green Exterior. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/dont-be-fooled-byfossil-fuel-companies-green-exterior-850285/ (accessed 22 January 2020).

    Boscov-Ellen, D. 2020. ‘A responsibility to revolt? Climate ethics in the real world’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 153–174.

    Cox, E., E. Spence and N. Pidgeon. 2020. ‘Incumbency, trust and the Monsanto effect: Stakeholder discourses on greenhouse gas removal’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 197–220.

    Eversberg, D. and M. Schmelzer. 2018. ‘The degrowth spectrum: Convergence and divergence within a diverse and conflictual alliance’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 245–267. Crossref

    Grasso, M. and K. Vladimirova. 2020. ‘A moral analysis of Carbon Majors’ role in climate change’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 175–195.

    Griffin, P. 2017. ‘The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017’. London: Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) UK.

    Hoggett, P. and R. Randall. 2018. ‘Engaging with climate change: Comparing the cultures of science and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 223–243. Crossref

    Mancilla Garcia, M., T. Hertz and M. Schlüter. 2020. ‘Towards a process epistemology for the analysis of social-ecological systems’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 221–239.

    Oreskes, N. and E. M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

    Paech, N. 2012. Liberation from Excess: The Road to a Post-Growth Economy. Munich: oekom verlag.

    Paech, N. 2017. ‘Post-Growth Economics’. In C. L. Spash (ed), Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society, pp.477–486. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Sayer, A. 1992. ‘Theory, observation and practical adequacy’. In A. Sayer (ed), Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, pp.45–84. London: Routledge.

    Schoppek, D. 2020. ‘How far is degrowth a really revolutionary counter movement to neoliberalism?’ Environmental Values 29 (2): 131–151.

    Spash, C. L. 2010. ‘The brave new world of carbon trading’. New Political Economy 15 (2): 169–195. Crossref

    Spash, C. L. 2011. ‘Terrible economics, ecosystems and banking’. Environmental Values 20 (2): 141–145. Crossref

    Spash, C. L. 2018. ‘Facing the truth or living a lie: Conformity, radicalism and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 215–222. Crossref

    UNEP Finance Initiative. 2010. ‘Demystifying Materiality: Hardwiring Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Finance’. In CEO Briefing. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative.

    UNEP Finance Initiative. 2020. ‘The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance’. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative. unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance

    2020 Spash Editorial EV

    WKOG Response to the Slander & Empty Accusations Made by the Scientists Warning Group

    WKOG Response to the Slander & Empty Accusations Made by the Scientists Warning Group

    WKOG

    December 12, 2019

     

     

    “I’m going to tell it like it is. I hope you can take it like it is.”

    — Malcolm X

    Collection of images, TIME, December 11, 2019

     

    Foreword:

    While Greta Thunberg is considered the consummate pristine vessel of youthful purity, Wrong Kind of Green’s steadfast position has not changed since we published the first segment of our series in January of this year. Considering we have never said anything disparaging against Miss Thunberg personally, we need to ask why are those surrounding this young person allowing her image to be used by the most nefarious of individuals and groups? … Barack Obama using Thunberg as a photo op for his chosen political party to attach her popular visage to its hopeful success in the coming 2020 elections? … Al Gore using his symbolic embrace of Thunberg to promote his ideology of “green capitalism” that will both enrich him personally and his descendants while at the same time supposedly saving the planet? … Leonardo DiCaprio, a symbol of privileged white male avarice if there ever was one from an ethnic, gender and class perspective, using Thunberg’s camaraderie as a sign of his laughable attempt at saving the Earth and his aforementioned privilege at the same time? … And as these various personages comprise the upper class from any type of unbiased analysis, a legitimate question to ask is why do the adults who are allegedly looking out for the best interests of Thunberg personally and, even more importantly, the professed message she is attempting to convey which is conservation of the planet for the entirety of humanity, allow her to congregate with the enemies against the actual implementation of her message? Those are legitimate questions if nothing else with all the evidence at hand.

    In an analogy of what this kind of blind hero worship can elicit when not questioned, WKOG would like to proffer the previous mainstream adoration of the quintessential cherub of yesteryear named Shirley Temple. This child was in a total of four films with the black tap dancer and entertainer, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson. In these films, Bill ‘Bojangles’ played the cinematic man servant reminiscent of the house slave to the young madam of the manor during chattel slavery times on the plantation. In fact, Robinson actually did play a slave to Temple’s “innocent” slave master even at that young age in the film “The Littlest Rebel”. And even given the argument that Shirley Temple was a cute child, the fact of the matter was that she was used as a tool to foster the emotional and psychological support of white supremacy as a benign component of the acceptable social dominance of one people over another. As she was a child at the time, Temple’s use from a social aspect is more than likely not representative of particular placement in these films as a personal choice. But, it must be asked at some juncture as to when and where she stopped being a mere tool, and actually became a purveyor of this same ideology she was used as a symbol of in her youth. Hence, as she was an octogenarian over a decade ago when she died, Shirley Temple continued to benefit personally from her usage as an infant from that time until the end of her days, even though it was personally disavowed to her death. As Temple’s memory is still utilized as an unquestioned sign of youthful purity from an ethnic aspect, it is seen as an assault against her personally to intellectually question her visage – not only back then, but even today as a continuous symbol of white supremacy.

    Even though the aforementioned cinematic relationship was fictional in nature, the emotional response from those in current mainstream society, “coincidentally” comprising those who have absorbed the efficacy of “white supremacy” at a conscious and even a reflexively subconscious level, is reminiscent of the past atmosphere that presently cloaks the mere presence of Greta Thunberg in a cocoon of compromised and unquestioned fealty. As no person’s presence on the planet can go unquestioned regarding the various ways that an individual’s placement by the people in power may be utilized to their advantage, it must always be asked why certain people are allowed to reside in the hallowed ground in which they inhabit, and any legitimate questioning of said residence elicits the most toxic response imaginable by the majority.

    Our direct responses to the slanders and accusations put forth by Scientists Warning are as follows:

    Scientists Warning: “Why Some So-Called Adults Are Attacking A Child – Greta Thunberg, the now famous Swedish child and prominent environmental activist who has focused the world on the risks posed by global warming, is being attacked by climate deniers, right wing politicians, major conservative media outlets like Breitbart, even President Trump and random bloggers like Lord Monckton, Miranda Devine, Cory Morningstar, climate skeptic Bjørn Lomborg, and many others.”

    WKOG response: Our series published on WKOG in early 2019 (which Scientists Warning deliberately chooses not to link to) contains no attacks whatsoever on Greta Thunberg. To anyone who refutes this, we would ask for a specific example to be provided. Our only question relates to the SYMBOLISM of her presence and not her as an individual.

    Scientists Warning: “This misogyny and defamation may be expected from the far right, but things have also been amok at far left wing media outlets as well. Wrong Kind of Green recently posted a blog asking Is Greta Thunberg a sock puppet for green capitalism? by Cory Morningstar who has repeatedly attacked Thunberg’s activism, while riding her coattails and even writing a for-profit book about Thunberg that further assaults Greta’s family and choices.”

    WKOG response: The level of gutter journalism here is quite breathtaking. 1) The post titled “Is Greta Thunberg a sock puppet for green capitalism?” (June 16, 2019) was not published by Wrong Kind of Green, or by Cory Morningstar. It was published by the blog “Situations Vacant”, to which we have zero affiliation. We have never referred to Miss Thunberg as a “sock puppet”, nor do we ever have any intention of doing so. 2) Morningstar can hardly be accused of riding young Thunberg’s “coattails” having been an activist and independent journalist for just under two decades. Further, the series, volumes I and II, are accessible to all with no charge and no advertising on the WKOG website, which is run with zero funding in a volunteer capacity by a small working collective. A self-published book of the first volume is available for those who prefer reading offline. The book was also created by a volunteer. As for the accusation that the book (the series in book form) “further assaults Greta’s family and choices”, the author has been careful not to make any personal attacks, instead focusing on how genuine concerns are being exploited by vested interests. In fact, in one passage of the book Miss Thunberg is described of beautifully articulating her thoughts. If we are serious about tackling the root causes of climate change and ecological devastation, it is imperative that we all call out those seeking to profit from our concerns. Those offering false solutions which will only aggravate the crises we face, and more importantly only result in a boon for wealthy industrialists who increasingly drive policy decisions at a time when capitalism is in crisis while impoverishing further those groups least responsible for climate and ecological breakdown.

    Scientists Warning: “Cory Morningstar’s take on Greta is part of a wider world view shared by Morningstar and others who reduce global events to the actions of the big powers over pipelines, and treat the masses as dupes and pawns without agency. This a fake left conspiracy theory that lumps eXtinction Rebellion (XR) and Greta together with other ‘actors’ who are supposedly manipulated and duped by powerful elites into defending capitalism.” – Redrave

    WKOG response: This is a common trope administered by many in trying to lump that which is left activism and misconstrue it as “extremist” leftism with no basis in reality or fact and placing it in the same bucket of conspiracy theory that can at times be found on the right or admittedly on the left. In that vein, it is a facile attempt to denigrate the countless hours of research invested into the series by Cory Morningstar and a handful of volunteers who assisted her in this painstaking endeavor. This is a blatant attempt at marginalization for those who are unable to find anything wrong with the actual research. Hence, it is easier to question the motives of the work and even more easily, that of the author. In that regard, WKOG would just ask that anyone point to any conspiracy narrative that is in any portion of the work. Short of that, WKOG stands by every scintilla of the research and takes umbrage at the slander of conspiracy theory directed at the work by those attempting to marginalize it by such unfounded accusations.

    “It never ceases to amaze me how many journalists today still don’t realise that calling someone a ‘conspiracy theorist’ is admission of having nothing intelligent to say to them!”

     

    Tim Hayward, professor of environmental political theory at the University of Edinburgh and director of the university’s Just World Institute, Who’s Afraid of Conspiracy Theory?

    Scientists Warning: “Morningstar and Wrong Kind of Green followers are sometimes called “collapsitarians.” Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE) groups (encouraged by Guy McPherson) also fall into this category.  Anti-natalist groups are also sometimes joining forces here. These groups desire devastation and collapse. Thus, they direct commentary in a well-maintained subterfuge campaign rife with psychological warfare techniques that barely camouflage the promotion of human extinction. In carefully contrived subtexts, they proffer extinction as the only solution for humanity (which they see as parasitic) in what has become a kind of popular, post-modern malaise-faire nihilistic doomer trope.

    These groups have multiple hidden agendas. They rally behind inaction, defeatism, destruction, and ultimately avoidance of the issue through distraction and deflection. They assail Greta Thunberg while hypocritically claiming to support her. They often begin their attacks with virtue signalling and sociopathic distancing statements like “I fully support the 16-year old activist.” But then they proceed to openly marginalize Greta Thunberg’s activism by connecting it to neoliberal greenwashing or troubled political campaigns like the Green New Deal (GND) which they conveniently see as too little, too late. But they fail to notice that Greta Thunberg herself has criticized the GND as well, and they forget that Greta constantly reminds us that she is neither a politician nor a scientist; she’s a child activist.”

    WKOG response: A common misconception is that those who are considered “doomers” are people who are one, the cause of the ongoing environmental catastrophe (that merely INCLUDES climate change, but is not the entirety of the problem) and two, the impediment to actually addressing climate change or any and all other environmental issues. “Doomers” are those who look at all of the intersecting planetary issues and are simply not willing to embrace the so-called solutions offered by the mainstream. Solutions which ultimately fail to address the root cause of  the problem and a desire to simply kick the can down the road. Corporate solutions to a problem caused in large part by corporate power represent a blatant attempt to continue to foist today’s problems upon coming generations, so that those groups who have caused the most damage can abdicate any responsibility to deal with the issues immediately, because doing so would ultimately hurt their bottom line. Thus, “doomers” are simply unwilling to set aside the truth in order to appease those around them for personal comfort and acceptance.

    WKOG has never written anything about what particular people, group, organizations and/or legislation Greta Thunberg does or doesn’t support other than what has been documented through Thunberg’s own words or chosen affiliations. We have made no insinuations as to Thunberg’s positions outside of her own verbal positions carefully ensuring we do not put words in her mouth or trying to decipher her thoughts on things through clairvoyance. We have simply documented her presence and acceptance by individuals and institutions that support legislation which will not solve the climate crisis and only enrich a handful of people, groups and corporations with the price being the continued destruction of the planet.

    Here we must also note that the lack of full disclosure by Scientists Warning. The fact that the We Don’t Have Time tech company is prominent member of Scientists Warning is one that readers deserve to be aware of. As We Don’t Have Time was the primary focus of investigation in the first segment of the series, this relationship  must be considered relevant. Further, Scientists Warning founder Stuart H. Scott maintains a personal relationship with Greta Thunberg and family, having made the arrangements for Thunberg and her father to attend COP-24 in Katowice Poland. [Source]

    In conclusion
    :

    Scientists Warning present themselves as an austere and fervent group of academics and experts. The list of team members and advisory board members suggests that this is the case. It is advised by well networked people in positions of public regard, people such as Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute and the Scientists Warning founder Stuart H. Scott who played a role in supporting Greta Thunberg’s rise. The publication of anonymous, poorly referenced and gross mischaracterizations presented as “debunking” is well beneath the standards of journalism expected of any group of “scientists” or academics. Scientists Warning ought to rise above the editorial turpitude that is so abundant among the ecological and leftist media, and provide authorship details for their debunkings. Most importantly, Scientists Warning should identify and commit to journalistic standards that reflect their commitment to good science and honest academic research. Smears and mischaracterizations only serve to defend narratives, and at this time in history we need the truth.

    WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash

    WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash

    November 10, 2019

    “WATCH: The Ethics of Voluntary Carbon Offsets – Professor Clive Spash”

     

    “Sales of so-called carbon offsets are soaring: Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit whose clients include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reported a five-fold uptake in its credits in a year. At Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest discount carrier, the number of customers making voluntary offset payments has almost doubled in 18 months.”

     

    — Bloomberg, August 10, 2019

     

    “Gold Standard [WWF] has reported a fourfold increase in income from individuals and small businesses paying for carbon offsets through its platform….‘We are seeing the Greta effect, the impact of Extinction Rebellion, the impact of the words of David Attenborough, the school strikes, all of these coming together.'”

     

    — The Guardian, November 8, 2019

    The following clip is an excerpt from the lecture The Brave New World of Carbon Trading by Professor and ecological economist Clive Spash, who discusses the limitations of emissions trading schemes. Video published March 11, 2010.

    “Corporate power is shown to be a major force affecting emissions market operation and design. The potential for manipulation to achieve financial gain, while showing little regard for environmental or social consequences, is evident as markets have extended internationally and via trading offsets. At the individual level, there is the potential for emissions trading to have undesirable ethical and psychological impacts and to crowd out voluntary actions. I conclude that the focus on such markets is creating a distraction from the need for changing human behaviour, institutions and infrastructure.”

    In 2009 Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) wrote to New Political Economy demanding that the paper entitled ‘The Brave New World of Carbon Trading’ not be published. [Nov 7, 2009: Censorship of Critique of Emissions Trading and Carbon-Offsets Schemes]

    Website of Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria: https://www.clivespash.org/

     

    Listen: How to Sell a Pretend Climate Movement: Reading Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s Series on the NGO Industrial Complex

    Listen: How to Sell a Pretend Climate Movement: Reading Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s Series on the NGO Industrial Complex

    Ghion Journal

    September 18, 2019

    By Stephen Boni

     

     

    About 43% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. After the establishment of the United States government, over a near 250-year period, the number of lawyers in Congress has, by-and-large, mirrored that original percentage. In fact, our current Congress is made up of 43% lawyers. This is a powerful voting block of like-minded people.

    Additionally, it isn’t much of a secret how important legal expertise is to modern corporations and how many lawyers exist among their executive ranks. And America’s most prominent corporations represent the financial backing of nearly all members of Congress.

    The way lawyers have been trained to think, the skills they possess, the way they maneuver, and what they maneuver for casts a massive shadow over what kinds of decisions get made for our society—and what kind of loose consensus (or acquiescence) gets achieved in order for those decisions to stick.

    What I’m talking about is how those decisions are sold to us. Because, at this point, there are very few societal decisions that are made from the ground up by regular citizens.

    As I sat in front of the Words of Others podcast mic this week to read Act IV of Cory Morningstar’s multi-part series on how the corporate elite are using a string of nonprofits, foundations and advocacy organizations to engineer a specific set of likely ineffectual responses to the climate and pollution crisis, I noticed how she highlighted elite use of nuanced language—language that smacks of lawyerly thinking—as one of the key methods members of the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) industrial complex use to mask the basic assumptions behind the solutions they want the world to adopt.

    It’s interesting to me that it was this aspect of Morningstar’s piece that jumped out. The issue of precise but deceptive language is not the focal point of the article. What her piece zeroes in on, actually, is the evidence of a coordinated, psychologically thought through marketing campaign cutting across the entire swath of NGOs currently inserting themselves into the climate crisis movement.

    But a marketing campaign is about storytelling—and storytelling is, in large part, about the use of language. And the language used to sell us a movement is consciously connected by its salespeople to the language used to sell the movement’s solutions.

    About a quarter of the way through the piece, Morningstar notes the use of a very specific phrase in the proposals of NGO-connected elites to define their specific goal for reducing carbon emissions: “Net Zero Emissions”.

    As she explains, this is a very precise modification of carbon goals articulated by NGOs in previous years, and certainly a departure from what grassroots climate activists seek. Because “net zero emissions” doesn’t mean a massive reduction in the amount of carbon we’re pumping into the atmosphere:

    Rather, it is the amount of emissions being put into the atmosphere being equal to the amount being “captured.”

    To achieve that carbon capture, the NGO industrial complex is seeking huge investments for carbon capture storage technology, investments they don’t want to make with their own money but want to take from pension funds and our tax dollars. And, as Morningstar laid out in Act III of her series (which you can listen to here), they want to securitize these investments in green technology so they can become a series of financial products that invigorate growth in a now perpetually sluggish capitalist economy.

    This tricky use of language as a sales technique is remarkably precise. It’s not just marketing-ese. It’s downright lawyerly. “Net Zero Emissions” sounds good, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t mean genuinely cutting carbon emissions, reducing consumption, or pollution, or anything, honestly, that would hinder corporate profits.

    Since the biosphere has not a single care about what our economic system is, and is only reacting to our very physical waste, “net zero emissions” is no solution at all. There is nothing adaptive about it. It places perceived economic needs over the healing needs of the Earth—which we need healthy for our own precarious wellbeing. But you would only know that by digging into the phrase, and most of us don’t parse the world like that or have the time to think about such things too deeply.

    These lawyerly manipulations are not only effective at diverting us from genuine adaptive solutions to climate change and pollution, they’re also tailor-made to make sense to the lawyerly sensibilities of Congress, which, as we remember, is made up of people who have a vested interest in pursuing “solutions” (and use of the public purse) that meet the needs of their corporate donors.

    In both politics and astro-turfed movements, we see this linguistic move time and again. Barack Obama was one of the most gifted practitioners when he was campaigning to be president. He knew—as the elites who run the world’s NGOs know—that citizens understand instinctively that things are so bad that only some kind of systemic change will make them better. Since that type of change was not his goal, he concocted a rhetorical style so open to interpretation, so precise and conscious in its use of vague language, that he was able to convince most of the voting public that he was their voice for sweeping change.

    Even thought he wasn’t.

    That particular use of precision; precision as a way to conceal, is built in to marketing to be sure, but even more so, it’s built in to legal language. In our Constitution itself, written by men steeped in legal thinking, we can see the good and evil sides of legal language’s ability to both reveal and hide meaning.

    We live in a complex, often faceless society. Inverted totalitarianism, as theorized by famed historian Sheldon Wolin, gets expressed through the anonymity of the corporate state. Large nonprofits, foundations, NGOs and their backers on Wall Street are an embedded part of that corporate state.

    In her extensive research and her journalism, Cory Morningstar is not trying to shit on Greta Thunberg or the Extinction Rebellion activists currently shutting down parts of London. She’s trying to tear apart that legalese-influenced language so we can inoculate ourselves against propaganda—and pursue ground-up solutions that actually have a chance of ensuring us a healthier planet, a healthier society and a healthier life.

    After all, wouldn’t it be interesting if those taking part in these movements, armed with a little knowledge on who’s running these organizations, turned on their putative masters and spun the movement out of their control?

    Now wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants?

    Incidentally, here’s how you can listen to the first three parts of Morningstar’s series:

    Act I

    Act II

    Act III

    As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening.

     

    [Stephen Boni is both Ghion Journal’s current editor and a contributing writer. His main interest is in analyzing the workings of empire and exploring ways to dismantle and replace systems of oppression. A conflicted New Englander with an affinity for people, music and avoiding isms, he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and young daughter.]

     

    %d bloggers like this: