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Listen: Don’t Take Movements at Face Value: Reading Cory Morningstar’s Research into Environmental Activist Greta Thunberg

Listen: Don’t Take Movements at Face Value: Reading Cory Morningstar’s Research into Environmental Activist Greta Thunberg

Ghion Journal

September 5, 2019

By Stephen Boni

 

 

A few years back, I was working on a writing and interview project for a national nonprofit in which I spent time with professionals who focused on sustainability. I wasn’t hanging out with Julia “Butterfly” Hill or the descendants of Edward Abbey. These were people who were firmly part of the professional class and operating inside the system to varying degrees. Not everyone’s a radical and I found many of my interview subjects to be fascinating individuals who had accomplished worthwhile things.

However, one issue threw me for a minor loop. During a discussion with a guy who was involved in the financial end of foundation work on climate change and ecosystems, he termed the natural processes occurring in ecosystems as “ecosystem services” that need to be quantified monetarily. “That’s weird”, I thought, so I probed and he enthusiastically explained how financializing the functioning of ecosystems would help the foundation he worked for create “deals” to structure the ways in which they would use their resources to help preserve or restore ecosystems in various parts of the world.

His explanation made a certain amount of sense at the time, but the framing of natural processes to fit within a concept of markets and payments troubled me. On a planet undergoing constant (albeit often barely perceptible) evolutionary change, as well as continual stress due to the massive impact of capitalist economic models enacted on its ‘body’, I wondered how helpful it was to frame the millions-of-years-old interdependently balanced functioning of ecosystems as, essentially, an enterprise. Enterprises within capitalism seek growth at all costs. Ecosystems and the atmosphere don’t conform to or care about these constructs, so what was this financialization effort really all about?

In the years since I conducted that interview, I’ve continued to look askance at the idea that we can avoid catastrophic ecosystem collapse by conceptualizing earth’s materials, relationships and processes as nothing more than a new set of markets within capitalism.

With this uncomfortable feeling remaining near the surface of my consciousness, earlier this year I discovered the investigative journalism of Cory Morningstar (an admittedly late discovery, since she’s been writing for 10 years or more), who does in-depth research into the connections between nonprofits, startups, marketing, movement building, and the long-range planning of politicians and the capitalist class. Her series, the Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg, has helped me get a lot more concrete about the disquiet I experienced as I interviewed sustainability professionals.

With the backdrop this week of the AOC-allied climate group ‘The Sunrise Movement’ praising presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren (who has done next to nothing for the climate during her time as Senator) for environmental plans she discussed on a recent televised town hall, I thought it would be helpful to continue our podcast reading series—recently given the title “The Words of Others”—with the first section of Morningstar’s 6-part investigation into media celebrity Greta Thunberg and the climate organizations to which she’s connected.

Morningstar’s work (all six pieces have also been compiled in book form) may prove instructive as those of us who are concerned about our survival on this planet try to focus on what activity can genuinely make a positive difference for the climate, the atmosphere and the health of our ecosystems.

Listen here:

 

 

[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.]

I’ll Tell You Why The 99% Is Not In Revolt

I’ll Tell You Why The 99% Is Not In Revolt

Popular Resistance

October 16, 2019

By Cliff Willmeng

“I’ll Tell You Why The 99% Is Not In Revolt”

 

The Natural Capital Coalition, that seeks the assigning of monetary value to nature, global in scale, promotes the Green New Deal.

The Natural Capital Coalition, that seeks the assigning of monetary value to nature, (the financialization of nature) global in scale, promotes the Green New Deal.

 

A Response to Ralph Nader

We do the work.

Well-known political commentator and activist Ralph Nader was recently featured in a Truthdig article titled, “Why Aren’t the 99% Revolting?”. The points made in the article sharply illustrate the scale of growing crisis and conflict across the US and globally. It covered issues as wide-ranging as medical care, climate change, and the titanic disparity of global wealth distribution. It concluded with the following, hollow statement. “I could go on and on. Pick up the pace, readers. Senator Elizabeth Warren has correctly called for “big structural changes.”

Of course, we are all asking ourselves the same thing. How bad does it have to get before widespread rebellion? How many unarmed people of color will be gunned down by police? How many civil rights are going to be stripped? How rich can the elites get off of our labor? How much pain do we all need to feel before we rise up? It’s a natural question to ask by anyone suffering the nature of US capitalism. Unfortunately, Nader’s article rings tone-deaf. Like so many liberal arguments, it places the burden of rebellion on working class people while ignoring the mechanisms that kill revolt wherever and whenever it threatens to spark into life.

Although the elements that prevent substantial rebellion are many, they really boil down to just three. They are the not for profit industry, the leaders of what is currently mislabeled as, “The union movement”, and the Democratic Party. These three elements, all loyal to each other and working in unison, act as the front-line protective mechanism for US capitalism and the political class that serves it.

Many of you will be tempted to flail at this stage of the discussion. Aren’t the Republicans so much worse? Why would anyone attack the forces that are on our side after all they have done, even if they have some traits we may disagree with? The answer is quite simple. These forces are not allied with the types of changes our world desperately needs. They are not there to build, nor even prepare the ground for those types of changes. They act, instead, as the professional brokers of negotiated surrender for communities, workforces, and the environment. They are not building movements; they are preventing them.

What is a Movement?

What is a movement anyway? We hear the term tossed about as often as references to Martin Luther King Jr in every venue from the election of politicians to online petitioning. Although movements have changed the course of US politics for centuries, the essential qualities of movements are nearly forgotten today. In the 50 years that have passed since the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, the definition of “movement” has become the possession of the same institutions that have been most consistent in keeping new movements from forming.

Let’s look at some basic qualities of movements throughout history:

  1. Although movements may build their own leadership, they do not look for change to come from above. Instead, movements build politically independent power from below.
  1. Movements understand that injustice is not an accidental or coincidental outcome of the political system, but the system working according to design.
  1. All movements, recognizing the systemic nature of the problem, will organize ways to break the rules of that system, not simply appeal to it.
  1. Through building independent political power and organized mass disobedience, movements force the system to do things it was otherwise unwilling to do.

All of these qualities, synonymous with victories and grassroots power historically, are omitted from the dominant and promoted activism of today. Let’s take a look at who is writing the current narrative.

The Not For Profit Industrial Complex

Alongside any injustice taking place nationally, a cottage industry of professional activists and organizations arises. This occurs as soon as any outrage, protest, or other grassroots formation builds to the point of exerting even a minor amount of uncontrolled political power. As soon as sufficient people and attention are involved, not for profit organizations will be dispatched to commandeer, tame, and control the process. The not for profits are funded by foundations, dark money donors, or otherwise politically connected individuals. It’s easy to see why communities or other efforts fall into their influence. They have staff, networks, and resources that we don’t normally possess at the grassroots level. But in the end, they will lead people into the predictable forms of activism that have been the hallmark of the last 50 years of retreat before Wall Street and Washington D.C. The not for profits help you feel better about negotiating the terms of your defeat. They will not lead an effort, however, that threatens the political and economic elites in any meaningful way.

The Union Leadership

The US working class has been on a downward spiral for generations. Once a power that shook the ground and terrified the rich, and sent their politicians scrambling for ways to save US capitalism, the unions have seen decades of defeated strikes and retreat. Today, despite historic popularity, unions continue to lose strikes and membership, all the while handing hundreds of millions of dollars of hard-earned dues money over to politicians. What happened to the thunderous power of the labor movement? Was this what rank and file workers wanted?

After record-setting strikes in the 1930s and 1940s, US financial interests were able to gain dominant influence within union leadership. Throughout the 1950s revolutionaries were expelled from locals as the labor bureaucracy strengthened its ties and acceptance of the generalized dominance of the rich and powerful. The unions became a force that negotiated better conditions of exploitation and traded their power for a comfortable relationship with the bosses and political class. It became so dominant of a strategy that union officials coined the Orwellian term, the “Team Concept”, which promotes the idea that CEOs and workers can overcome their opposing interests and work together. It has meant ruin for the American working class and an unparalleled race to the bottom for workers globally.

Today the strategies of major victory are all carefully avoided within the union hierarchy. Even when places like Puerto Rico show definitively the effectiveness of efforts like a general strike, any discussion around such an idea is opposed by union leaders in the US. Why? Because it would risk the relationship of the union leaders and the owners of industry and government.

The result is that 13 million union members, who could collectively bring the functioning of the largest capitalist economy to a halt, have been reduced to scripted measures and political spectatorship.

The Democratic Party

All resources, assets, time, labor, money, ideas, organizing and initiative are offered to and consumed by this dominant organization of US business interests. The Democratic Party, we are informed, is the alpha and omega of our efforts to organize for justice. The power of the Democratic Party is so accepted that conventional activism has come to mean a simplified lobby effort aimed to influence their operations or talking points. No movement in history started out with the hope that electing the right politicians would save us. No movement ever exploded onto the world stage with the position that powerful interests were open to moral persuasion. But this is the promoted conclusion and focus leveraged upon all grassroots formulations.

When we accept this conclusion, that we can’t build a movement independent of the Democratic or Republican parties, by what force do we expect that they will change? And, even more, if we accept that the Democratic Party is our only political path forward, what specifically are the costs of maintaining that relationship? Given the nature of the Democratic Party, its owners, its ability to co-opt and control entire populations, what is the opportunity cost to staying within its good graces? It can only be one thing: The disarming of our power and any real threat of revolt. That is the price to ride.

The consequences of this are not academic nor intellectual. Simply look at the state of the environment, the conditions in any major city, the US prison population, the decline of the working class, the wars, systemic racism, poverty and deepening crisis everywhere and you will see the objective consequences of a people outsourcing our power to politicians.

The potential for forceful and effective revolt will be defined by its relationship to these three political forces. The more ties that exist between threatened rebellion and these forces, the more predictable and inert that rebellion will become.

Is There Any Other Way Forward?

Yes. Organized revolt has built occupations, urban insurrections, general strikes, and formed politically-independent organizations throughout history. The labor movement, the abolitionists, and the civil rights struggles all created political power sufficient to throw the system onto its heels and compel deep changes to government and industry. The examples aren’t confined to history either. In places like Kentucky and Virginia, rank and file teachers defied all convention and organized statewide strikes resulting in historic wage increases. Within the last five years, rebellion against racism and police brutality erupted in cities after the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. Standing Rock saw a historic assembly of First Nations to protect the water of the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Just this year a general strike in Puerto Rico removed Gov. Ricardo Rosselló from power. And let’s not forget that the work stoppage of rank and file airline attendants that defeated Trump’s attempt to keep the US government closed. It took all of 48 hours for that victory.

In every moment throughout history, forces from below threaten to find expression. It means the system has had to develop elaborate mechanisms to keep these forces in check, predictable, and historically inert. The role of regular people then, the working class, has to be to recognize how we are being maneuvered and by whom, and to overcome those mechanisms so we can build something powerful, independent and existentially threatening to the old order. If we can achieve that, revolt is only a moment away. And when it happens, it will rise to the level of the crisis that compelled it.

References:

Ralph Nader: Why Isn’t the 99% Revolting?

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/ralph-nader-why-isnt-the-99-percent-revolting/

 

 

[Cliff Willmeng is a registered nurse, writer, and activist in grassroots labor and environmental struggles. Born in Chicago, Cliff co-founded the Chicago Direct Action Network after participating in the historic uprising against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, 1999. As a union carpenter in UBC Local 1, he was in the leading body of Carpenters For a Rank and File Union which organized successful fights for building trades members across Chicago. After moving to Colorado, Cliff was at the center of the fight against oil and gas drilling known as “fracking”, and helped to found Labor For Standing Rock in 1996. He ran for Boulder County Commissioner as an independent socialist and union official in 2018, receiving nearly 13,000 votes. Cliff lives with his wife and two children today in Minneapolis, Minnesota.]

 

Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

October 19, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

 

 

The recent UN Climate Action Summit in New York delivered both spectacle and much ignored signifiers of political will. I would say it was a failure in terms of any meaningful or effective action to deliver anything like a fossil fuel phase out. At the centre of the spectacle was Greta Thunberg, the perfect distraction, urging us to honour Paris targets, recognise ‘the science’ and act on climate. Greta laments inaction from world leaders like most of us do, this is a continuing theme. And like most of us Greta sees inaction as a result of the political will failing to deliver on decades of rhetoric. Sadly though, the mitigation plans of the powerful, the key signifiers of political will for continued relentless extractivism never enter the public conversation.

Perfect distractions come with talking points and bring framing to the issue they come to embody. Like the Extinction Rebellion leaders, and Green New Deal proponents, Greta, under advice from a range of experts, leaves the fantastical assumptions in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mitigation plans well alone. Kevin Anderson who has given Greta advice in the past despairs at the “technical utopias”, unfathomable quantities of biomass burning, and as-yet-not-invented air capture machines that fill 3 of the 4 IPCC mitigation ‘pathways’. I’m astonished that even the 1 pathway commissioned by the IPCC that could be called a ‘degrowth’ pathway is also rarely discussed.

While the IPCC present fantastical mitigation plans supposedly representing the global consensus but with little basis in reality; the statements, networking activities, and research & development investments of fossil fuel giants tell another story. Events held, messages provided, and statements released during the UN Climate Action Summit show that the oil and gas industry are getting exactly what they want. Relentless extractivism in service of the consumer economy was the big winner around which climate action plans will be built.

Political will and the UN Climate Action Summit

On September 22 the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) met for a dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Emily Atkin reported on this event in her ‘Heated’ newsletter providing a transcript of a message presented by the Special Adviser to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The transcript of Guterres’ message is the primary source for a significant moment. It wasn’t till the next day, the same day Greta was giving her “how dare you” speech that the substance of the OGCI mitigation plans was revealed.

Chris Lang from Redd-Monitor laid out how the summit failed saying “Obviously, none of the “action plans” involved leaving any fossil fuel in the ground.”, and noting that the OGCI also support the #NaturalClimateSolutions (NCS) campaign promoted by George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg.

The International Energy Agency’s Clean Energy Ministerial made public an embargoed media release from the OGCI at 12.01am on September 23 announcing their “Kickstarter” initiative in partnership with the OGCI to “unlock large scale investment” in CCUS with an emphasis on “low carbon industrial hubs” for CO2 export. [SOURCE]

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

 

On September 19, just in time for the summit George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg became spokesfaces for #NaturalClimateSolutions on the Guardian News, Youtube channel.

Stephen Corry from Survival International responded to the new video in worthy style pointing to the corporate relationships and big philanthropy behind the hashtag. In a September 20 Twitter thread Corry takes Monbiot to task pointing to corporations that partner with the#BigConservation NGOs behind the NCS campaign.

On September 21, International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, Gary Graham Hughes from Biofuelwatch and Souparna Lahiri from Global Forest Coalition sounded a warning to Greta and those who would meet under the banner of #NatureBasedSolutions at the summit. They made their position, a challenge to Greta and summit attendees very clear saying “Acres of monoculture plantations, bioenergy, and offsets are false solutions – bad for climate, undermining real solutions and bad for humanity.”

On September 26 Cory Morningstar published her detailed write up of the the extensive networks behind #NaturalClimateSolutions. The  networks explicated demonstrate the deep connections between the corporate world, big conservation, environmental NGOs, media, governments and the global consensus apparatus of the United Nations.

Any well resourced emissions wonk at the summit would have known what the fossil fools want to do. Our global corporate energy leaders reveal certain details of their plans and they have to spruik their plans to particular people in particular ways. I suspect they’re grateful for the lack of scrutiny from the mainstream media and the NGO aligned press who routinely fail to report or unpack the political will.

When the Atlantic Council hosted the 2019 Global Energy Forum in January it was made very plain that CCS was necessary for any future energy plans. A panel discussion included representatives of the International Energy Agency, OGCI, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, The Institute of Energy Economics-Japan, and Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer, Ahmad Al Khowaiter made a statement at this panel discussion that really stuck out for me. “CO2 is a valuable feedstock, we should not forget that”. It’s a statement that acknowledges a barely understood reality: the oil industry has retained latent demand for liquefied CO2 for decades. [SOURCE]

It stands to reason that the oil industry would fight to access liquefied CO2 as the best means to do enhanced oil recovery to get the last remaining drops of oil from depleted oil fields and get paid a subsidy to sequester CO2 in the process. The global consumer market demands throughput of oil for the full range of products derived from oil, not merely the transport fuel products.

National Defense Authorization Act

On April 10 I watched the C-SPAN live stream of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) as it met to discuss and vote on the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (USE IT Act). The USE IT Act is crucial to the expansion of the 45Q tax credit which is an effective subsidy for CO2 enhanced oil recovery and the full gamut of carbon capture and storage projects including ‘clean coal’ and ‘clean hydrogen’.

The meeting began with chair John Barrasso outlining the purpose of the meeting before offering an opportunity for members to comment on the bills before the committee. Ranking member Tom Carper spoke to the bills before John Barrasso called a recess so that Democrat members could make quorum at which point Tom carper said “I’ve asked my staff to reach out far and wide to get as many  Democrats here as quickly as we can so thank you for your patience.”

While C-SPAN may provide livestreamed content, the archive of video, audio and transcripts available on the their website is subject to the discretion of the individual committee chairs. The EPW committee did not provide video to the C-SPAN archive preferring to post an edited video to their Youtube channel and archived webcast on their website. They did however provide audio of the complete proceedings of the April 10 meeting. [C-SPAN audio] [Archived webcast]

In April a WKOG member called the EPW Committee office to check the attendance records for both the February 27 and April 10 meetings. They discovered that On February 27, 3 of the Green New Deal cosponsors were in attendance, but Bernie Sanders was absent. None of the 3 Green New Deal cosponsor spoke to the USE IT Act on February 27. On April 10, all 4 Green New Deal cosponsors were absent. This means that Bernie Sanders was absent for both meetings. Was the absence of the 4 Green New Deal cosponsors the cause of the recess called by John Barrasso at the April 10 meeting? Were the 4 Green New Deal Resolution cosponsors absent to manufacture the eventual unanimous vote for the USE IT Act?

On June 27 the USE IT Act passed the Senate 86 votes to 8 as part of S. 1790 National Defense Authorization Act 2020. The 4 Green New Deal cosponsors, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders voted against the bill.

In an amendment to S. 1790 before it was voted up in the House of Representatives on September 17, Sec. 6001 which contained the USE IT Act provisions was removed.

[SOURCE]

On August 30 the Carbon Capture Coalition sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services asking that USE IT Act provisions be included as an amendment to HR. 2500. National Defense Authorization Act 2020.

It is time to pass this important and widely-supported climate and energy legislation, and the NDAA provides an appropriate opportunity to do so.

[SOURCE][SOURCE]

The vote on the House of Representatives NDAA will likely take place on November 20 or 21.

If the USE IT Act provisions pass then it will unleash an unstoppable wave of CCUS projects including fossil hydrogen projects and CO2 enhanced oil recovery projects. The success of the USE IT Act provisions will ensure the success of the 9+ bipartisan bills designed to deliver R&D, new pipelines and a raft of bureaucratic measures to support the implementation of 45Q tax credits. Cory Morningstar outlines most of these bills in her detailed investigation into the ‘Design to Win’ philanthropies.

Mitigation plans and technology

The truth about the mitigation plans of the powerful is masked in the public discourse by language, conflated logics and expansive silence. The political will that has been demonstrated for carbon capture & storage for fossil fuel extraction & refining should be held in contrast to the ‘pathways’ developed through the global consensus building processes of the IPCC.

3 of the 4 IPCC pathways rely heavily on what are called ‘negative emissions technologies’ (NETs). The ‘technology’ on which the IPCC rely most heavily is called BECCS or biomass with CCS applied. Biomass is currently being used in Europe in place of coal and is regarded by some as a ‘renewable energy’. Biomass is used as an offset against emissions created when it is burned in place of coal as it is regarded to have sequestered carbon when it was part of a plant. When you read articles about renewable energy beating out fossil fuel energy in the UK or Germany you can be sure biomass offsets helped.  The implementation of BECCS will require access to geological storage of CO2, the preserve of fossil fuel extraction companies like Equinor, Chevron, Woodside and Shell.

A ‘negative emissions technology’ is not a technology as such, but rather it is a collection of processes that upon the application of certain accounting can be said to have produced zero emissions. Geological storage of CO2 is a crucial process in transforming biomass burning into a negative emissions technology. If any implementation of the IPCC pathways were to take place any time soon then access to geological storage of CO2 would be absolutely necessary for BECCS to be effective.

On September 5 the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell-Borge Freiburgh called for “international support” to amend the London Protocol to allow for under sea geological storage and export infrastructure to support the implementation of CCS. The full title of the London Protocol is the ‘London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’. It is an international agreement to assist in making regional agreements. Amendments to the London Protocol have long been seen as the last regulatory hurdle to large scale under sea storage of CO2. [SOURCE]

The IPCC has 3 working groups covering three key areas: science and carbon budgets, social and ecological impacts, and mitigation.  As observed by Kevin Anderson on Twitter, Greta Thunberg does not speak about the mitigation pathways presented by Working Group 3 on mitigation, rather she focusses on Working Group 1 on “physical science”. Having followed the discourse on mitigation pathways following Thelma Krug’s unheralded presentation at last year’s GHGT-14 conference in Melbourne I can say with certainty that none of the 4 pathways have ever been discussed by XR leaders, Greta Thunberg or Green New Deal proponents. Indeed the climate justice friendly media mouthpieces have rarely if ever examined the IPCC pathways.

[SOURCE: Thelma Krug]

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

 

One of the unexamined pathways presented by the IPCC Working Group 3 is called P.1. or Grubler et al ‘Low Energy Demand’ scenario which is the only degrowth scenario they provide. Grubler LED is also the only scenario/pathway not reliant on BECCS. Jason Hickel writing in Real-World Economics Review outlines degrowth as a radical and positive strategy for tackling climate targets. It is highly significant that so very little has been said about the Grubler LED pathway as it is the only pathway that provides any opportunity to deliver a fossil fuel phase out, which is, at least through suggestion, a principle objective of all climate justice groups including XR leaders and Green new Deal proponents.

People should study what Kevin Anderson has to say about IPCC scenarios. He’s very concerned at the abundance of negative emissions technologies. He can’t see how the 3 BECCS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) ‘technologies’ can deliver enough mitigation in time. In a video called ‘Delivering on 2 degrees‘ he notes that the IPCC scenario data base is loaded with NETs reliant scenarios.

In his response to the UK government’s “net zero” proposal following it’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ makes it very clear that the fantastical quantities of BECCS and reliance on undeveloped air capture machines were already damaging the possibility of decisive action.   

Already the tentative potential of NETs is being used to undermine the requirement for immediate and widespread decarbonisation, passing further unacceptable burdens and risks onto the next generation.

[SOURCE]

Shortly after announcing a ‘climate emergency’ the UK’s Committee on Climate Change indicated that they would much prefer to produce ‘clean’ hydrogen from steam reforming LNG than through renewable energy and electrolysis with water. Steam reforming is a process where fossil gas is coverted into hydrogen and other gases producing a stream of pure liquefied CO2 for enhanced oil & gas recovery, geological storage or other commercial applications. Clearly the renewable option was being discarded by the Committee on Climate Change, but this was not a concern for the XR leaders  who don’t appear to be doing what it takes to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  

Our scenarios assume that hydrogen production at scale is done via gas-reforming with CCS rather than electrolysis

[SOURCE]

Here is a remarkable interview with the Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 4 (on mitigation) of the IPCC AR6 Special Report, Heleen de Coninck. It’s remarkable because it reveals how the language and framing of technologies and extractive processes has shifted around carbon capture and storage over several IPCC reports. The interviewer was compelled to ask a rather absurd sounding question that highlights how IPCC reports have framed and reframed technologies and extractive processes in producing mitigation scenarios.

Ah, so you’re saying in AR3, CCS was still weird?

[SOURCE]

Rob Urie is one of the few writers to take an honest look at the technologies that the IPCC modelling requires. I think this is one of the most important pieces of writing that any informed person can read to understand where we are right now and where we are likely to be heading in the near future.

Three of the four scenarios to keep the rise in global temperatures at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius presented by the IPCC in their 2018 paper require ‘negative emissions’ technologies— methods of actively removing carbon from the atmosphere. Some of these, like reforestation, are superficially attractive to the environmentally inclined. The problems come both through the fine print and the focus on climate rather than the environment.

 

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

 

 

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg, Green Barbarism and #ClimateStrike

By Azhar Moideen

Greta Thunberg,
Image Courtesy : Twitter/@GretaThunberg

 

Every few years, in a crisis situation, a child captures the attention of the world and plays a huge role in convincing nay-sayers, silencing critics and seemingly ties the hands of the global ruling establishment into taking swift action. It happened in Afghanistan more than once, in Iraq and recently in Syria.

Now it has happened all over the world thanks to the passionate and compelling Greta Thunberg. In a world devoid of real adult heroes, children become unlikely superheroes to look up to. In just about a year after Thunberg began striking school to protest, alone, outside the Swedish Parliament, she has appeared on the cover of Time, featured in a Vice documentary, addressed climate and political conferences including the World Economic Forum and the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit, published a collection of her speeches (under the Penguin catalogue), won praise from world leaders, influenced the European Union’s budget and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. All this, for spearheading a global climate strike, which included protests in India.

‘India’s Greta Thunberg’: Seven-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from Manipur

In most respects, mobilising millions of people the world over, including trade union representatives, for what became the largest climate protest ever, is no mean feat. However, if the past be our guide, the working class should be cautious while extending support. Instead of being carried away by the number of people mobilised and the positive media coverage Thunberg got, the Third World needs to ask whether the movement has their best interest in mind. After all, even Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was used by Western imperialist interests and discarded when she spoke against them.

Alongside the meteoric rise of Thunberg, last year bears witness to dubious new environmental NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion and We Mean Business. Over the same period, ideas like the Green New Deal also captured new ground. Investigative reportage (such as by Cory Morningstar) exposes the non-profit-industrial complex that boosts and benefits from the popular surge of interest that ‘influencers’ gain.

The coterie managing Thunberg’s media appearances include the world’s biggest philanthropic foundations, whose contributions to the climate debate have essentially weakened plans to mitigate the effects of climate change. Their interests controlled the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement, which treats worst-case scenarios as an acceptable 50:50 chance. Dire warnings of negotiators from developing countries were conveniently forgotten.

These handful of philanthrocapitalists, despite contributing 0.1% to climate finance, have significantly influenced the climate debate: developing and promoting voluntary, market-based and bottom-up approaches can only be deemed a failure. They have erased the radical nature of grassroots environmental movements and propped up capitalist-friendly solutions such as carbon-trading instead. They call for “net-zero” emissions by pushing technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which have delivered poor results so far and only offset fossil fuel emission—or burn even more fossil fuel through Enhanced Oil Recovery.

If this is not enough, they now plan to implement “negative emissions” technologies such as the unproven BECCS, which, apart from uncertain benefits and large known nitrous oxide emissions, also requires vast tracts of land, fertilizer production and freshwater consumption. One scenario, for example, would require land three times the size of India. Such requirements have already led to large-scale land grab. Researchers are already talking of a new type of appropriation of nature called ‘green grabbing’. No wonder, the likes of Extinction Rebellion pit themselves against established climate activist groups.

The Green New Deal is another new buzzword, advertised through glitzy ad campaigns and supermodels. It is well known that funding NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion helps corporates mobilise people into backing a consensus created by them. Political leaders such as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States (US), whose plans amount to Climate Imperialism, will end up forcing debt onto poor countries to purchase US-manufactured climate tech.

These “clean” technologies demand large amounts of minerals, which are currently being mined from Third World countries in unsafe environmentally-hazardous conditions. This is social engineering under the guise of action against climate change. And Greta Thunberg is their figurehead.

Thunberg famously was invited to make a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos and what she said was replete with the talking points and keywords these organisations use. She later appeared on a video sponsored by the WEF, along with David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, who frequently espouse neo-Malthusian ideas such as blaming over-population for climate change—a debunked racist myth being revived in climate-mitigating talks. They also raise fears over migrants and climate refugees, which later popped up in banners during the Climate Strike. All this, when the average American’s annual carbon footprint is around 2,000 times that of a Chad resident, and the average Briton’s carbon dioxide footprint in a day matches that of a Kenyan in an year.

The WEF, composed of big capitalist firms from all over the world, recently announced a Strategic Partnership Framework with the UN—a move roundly criticised for weakening of the role of nations in global decision-making. Apart from the Paris Agreement, they have dipped their toes into collaborations with Bill Gates’ Mission Innovation to develop instruments for public-private investment in clean energy.

Their promotion of “nature-based” climate solutions got a big boost when Thunberg and George Monbiot ran a campaign endorsing it. The list of “allies” they mention include the main promoters of the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme as a carbon-trading mechanism, including The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and Nature4Climate.

The businesses which are planning to use these solutions to drive indigenous communities from their sources of livelihood and mint a seven-fold return on an annual investment of US$320 billion include Unilever, whose CEO is on the record that such climate action is the only way to grow the economy. No wonder, Shell has announced $300 million for it while burning fossil fuels. And the UN quietly complies.

Gone are the days when equity and common but differentiated responsibilities were integral to climate negotiations. Thunberg advocates that elected representatives “listen to the scientists”, but the background paper of the UN Climate Action Summit, United in Science, prepared by a “scientific advisory committee” abandoned any references to equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, thus placing the major burden of future mitigation on India and other developing countries.

The Climate Strike that led up to the Summit backed the call to declare a Climate Emergency, a move that could pave the way for governments to dig into public money to support green big business under the pretence of taking urgent action. Urgency has replaced equity as a basic element of climate action, poorer nations be damned.

It should not surprise that in all these plans, there is no talk about anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, the bedrock of the radical environmental movement. No understanding that the exploitation of labour and nature go hand in hand. No mention that the US military is the biggest institutional polluter, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than most countries on the planet. No denunciation of war, an inevitable corollary of Imperialism, as a significant cause of environmental damage. No account for the colonization of the atmospheric space that is needed for the use of fossil fuels for the development of the global South. No acknowledgement that the effects of climate change exacerbates already existing global inequality, and environmentalism itself delivers enhanced revenue streams for corporations under this system. No space for indigenous people who fought for the cause, nor people’s agreements on climate change (which they led) that recognised that what was needed was the end of capitalism.

Capitalism is “in danger of falling apart” and the bourgeoisie are here to save it. This is environmental activism brought to you by the captains of the industry. The ‘NGO-ization of resistance’ ensures that there is a manufactured consent for the ruling class agenda – the ‘unlocking’ of public money to finance huge capital investments. Class consciousness has been erased and the oppressed are made to identify with the oppressor. It is no different in India.

The people organising the protests claim most Indians lack awareness about the issue and that the only ones conscious are the middle and upper class elites. They hide the fact that the poor, organised by progressive and democratic mass movements, are fighting for some measures required for mitigation—provision of public transport, prioritising basic needs over luxuries, and radical redistribution of wealth. They forget that adivasis are at the forefront of the fight against capitalism and its destruction of the environment.

Thunberg was one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year. It did not happen. But there will be more of her and #ClimateStrike in the near future. “We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change,” says she, but what we see is capitalist “solutions” that demand our acquiescence. The rhetoric of the Left, of women’s empowerment, poverty-reduction, fighting inequality, rights of the disabled, and so on will all be used.

The  should not be distracted—it will not be long before imperialist attacks are sold under the name of the environment and, closer to home, authoritarianism is greenwashed. It is either Socialism or Climate Barbarism.

 

[Azhar Moideen is doing his Masters in Humanities at IIT Madras.]

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)

    Green washing

    The Central Hill Estate

    Built between 1966 and 1974, the Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace contains 476 dwellings that are home to around 1,200 residents. In 2016, against the wishes of 77 per cent of residents, the estate was condemned to demolition by Lambeth Labour council, and is awaiting redevelopment by Homes for Lambeth, a council-owned commercial venture financed by private investment partners. The redevelopment scheme will result in the permanent loss of 340 secure council tenancy homes for social rent in a borough with 28,000 people on the housing waiting list.

    In 2016 ASH commissioned a report from the green engineers, Model Environments, on the Embodied Carbon Estimation for Central Hill Estate. This contains the following findings:

  • ‘The office of the London Mayor has set a target to reduce London’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 60% based on 1990 levels by 2025. Homes are responsible for 36% of London’s CO2.’

  • ‘The concrete industry is one of the world’s two largest producers of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. About half of the emissions come directly from the heating of limestone in its manufacture, and around 40% are emissions associated with burning fuel.’

  • ‘A significant fraction of the carbon emissions a building will make over its lifetime is locked into the fabric by the time the building is constructed. As improvements in efficiency reduce carbon emissions from energy in the operational phase, increasing attention is being given to the issue of embodied carbon, examination of which can provide cost-effective carbon savings.’

  • ‘When a building is demolished, there are carbon emissions from the energy used in the deconstruction, removal and disposal of the waste. There may also be CO2 emissions released by chemical processes as the building fabric is broken up.’

  • ‘The vast majority of the embodied carbon is sequestered within the building fabric itself. The carbon emissions released by any deconstruction of the buildings is 40 times greater than the emissions from the energy needed to carry out the demolition.’

  • ‘Demolishing a housing estate of some 450 homes will exact a high carbon price on the environment and detracts greatly from the London Borough of Lambeth’s contribution to tackling climate change.’

  • ‘A conservative estimate for the embodied carbon of Central Hill estate would be around 7000 tonnes of CO2. Those are similar emissions to those from heating 600 detached homes for a year using electric heating, or the emissions savings made by the London Mayor’s retrofitting scheme in a year and a quarter.’

  • ‘For the demolition phase a conservative estimate of 3 months (480 hours) with 4 excavators using 30 litres of diesel per hour equals 57,600 litres. A conversion factor of 2.68kg of CO2e per litre of diesel suggests a figure of approximately 154 tonnes of CO2.’

  • ‘Annual domestic emissions per capita in Lambeth were 1.8 tonnes in 2012. Therefore, the emissions associated with the demolition of Central Hill estate equate to the annual emissions of over 4,000 Lambeth residents.’

  • ‘Other environmental impacts from the demolition such as air pollution and water pollution should also be considered in further studies.’
  • In January 2019 Lambeth Labour council declared a ‘climate emergency’ and brought forward its ‘target for becoming carbon neutral to 2030’. In July, Green Party councillors introduced a motion that quoted this report by Model Environments as an example of the kind of impact assessment Lambeth council should produce before making the decision to demolish any estate. In response, Lambeth Labour council redacted all reference to the report and its impact for its estate demolition programme from the motion as follows:

    While no fixed plan for their redevelopment of Central Hill estate has as yet been published, in order to recoup the costs of demolition, compensation for leaseholders and the replacement of the demolished homes, at least 50 per cent of the new-build properties will have to be for market sale, with the remainder a mix of affordable housing. As usual, the majority of these will be shared ownership properties, with the rest a mix of rent-to-buy products and so-called affordable rent. One proposal by PRP Architects, Lambeth’s favoured practice for masterplanning estate demolitions, increased the housing capacity to 1,530 properties, over a thousand of which would be for market sale and rent. PRP, which has also colluded in the demolition and redevelopment of the Crossways, Myatts Field North, Mardyke, Haggerston, Kingsland and Portobello Square estates, is one of the signatories to UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency, which commits them to:

  • ‘Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.

  • ‘Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.

  • ‘Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.

  • ‘Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.

  • ‘Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.

  • ‘Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.’
  • The Aylesbury Estate

    The ‘regeneration’ of the Aylesbury estate in Camberwell was initiated by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997. From its completion just 20 years earlier, the Aylesbury has provided 2,758 homes for around 7,500 residents. Since 2004, however, it has gradually been decanted of residents and their homes demolished by Southwark Labour council. It is currently awaiting redevelopment by the newly-merged Notting Hill Genesis Housing Association, whose proposals will result in the loss of 778 homes for social rent in an Inner London borough with 11,000 households on the housing waiting list.

    In 2017 two architects, Mike Kane and Ron Yee, published an article in the Journal of Green Building in which they estimated the carbon cost of demolishing and removing one of the Aylesbury estate’s slab blocks. At fourteen storeys high and over 200m long, Chiltern House is only 1 of 7 super-scale slab blocks on the Aylesbury estate. With 172 flats, it contains 6 per cent of the Aylesbury estate’s residential units, but less than that of its entire structure, with communal facilities, housing offices, schools, playgrounds, sports facilities, car parks, garages and other amenities contributing to the total built environment. This is what they write:

  • ‘The carbon cost of constructing Chiltern House was extremely high. The reinforced concrete structural frame (excluding partition walls and internal elements) is estimated to weigh in excess of 20,000 tonnes, which equates to approximately 1,800 tonnes of emitted CO2 for the concrete alone.

  • ‘This figure is significantly increased with the remainder of the construction process and transport emissions. Demolition of Chiltern House would require in the region of 800-plus HGV truck journeys through London’s congested streets, and the use of heavy demolition machinery will greatly add to the figure again.

  • Clearly, the CO2emission cost of reaching just the cleared site (after only 40 years of housing use) is very high. Moreover, if the replacement building is of conventional construction (with only 30-year warranty), then the overall environmental cost of providing additional homes is enormous.’
  • On the 16 April 2019, Southwark Labour council ‘reinforced its commitment to combatting carbon emissions and rising global temperatures by joining the international Climate Change Campaign and declaring a Climate Change Emergency.’ Architectural practices colluding in the demolition and redevelopment of the Aylesbury estate include HTA Design, Hawkins/Brown, Levitt Bernstein and Mae, all of whom have signed up to the UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency.

    Tell the Truth

    Robin Hood Gardens estate

    Robin Hood Gardens estate

    Heygate estate

    Heygate estate

    Central Hill estate

    Central Hill estate

    Aylesbury estate

    Aylesbury estate

    Albert Embankment Plaza

    Albert Embankment Plaza

    Central London

    Central London

     

    P.S. The socialism of the 20th Century was taken up in countries that had in mosty cases not undergone, or had only partially undergone, industrialisation. And it was expanded massively after the Second World War, when large swathes of Europe and South-East Asia required rebuilding and rehousing. Under those conditions, the environmental impact of construction was barely considered, and so socialism became equated with massive industrialisation. Socialism is, by definition, an economic and social system serving the needs of all members of society equally; so a socialism of today — as we are seeing in Cuba — must be one that addresses climate change. Socialism is not founded, as liberal environmentalists argue, on perpetual growth. That’s capitalism, which is structurally committed to infinite growth through the consumption of the world’s finite resources. No promises of a capitalism without ‘financialisation’ will change that, which is what the promoters of the Green New Deal are suggesting.

    It should be clear by now that only an economy ordered under socialist principles can even hope to reverse the environmental damage capitalism has done. Unfortunately — and partly thanks to Extinction Rebellion’s promotion of a Green New Deal for capitalism and its refusal to consider socialist solutions — it isn’t. If Extinction Rebellion has a role to play in raising awareness of the seriousness and imminence of the threat to our environment, the first thing it needs to do is identify the causes of its deterioration, and the second is to propose solutions based in a socialist re-ordering of the economy. It’s done neither.

    I can well believe that Extinction Rebellion started with a radical and even revolutionary programme, but exactly as happened with the housing movement of 2015 before it was taken over by the Labour Party under Oh Jeremy Corbyn, it is now being used in the service of an expanded capitalism, the social, environmental and economic costs of which are there for everyone with eyes to see. Protest is not an end in itself. What’s important is what ends it serves. That’s very hard to control, and the entire edifice of Neo-liberal capitalism is working to control what those are in the UK; but denouncing anyone who questions those ends is not the way to go about it.

    Why can’t you just feel good about the fact that XR and Greta Thunberg make you feel good? Why do you have to denounce those whom XR and Greta Thunberg don’t make feel good as ‘part of the problem’? Since ‘feeling good’ appears to be a lot of XR supporter’s motivations, why do you feel this overwhelming need to repeatedly dismiss those of us who apply other criteria to XR, such as reading their policies? I’m glad you’re feeling good, but do your feelings have to be dependent on demonising anyone who doesn’t share that feeling? And if they are, doesn’t that make those feelings religious feelings, responding to all the usual emotional, messianic, apocalyptic slush employed by the Church to deceive its flock? Isn’t it about time you and other followers stopped the hymn-singing, the self-flaggelating, the shaming and donating, and read XR’s Bible to find out exactly who is on their stairway to heaven?

    To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

    To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

    Greanville Post

    October 16, 2019

    “To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough”

    By Rainer Shea

     

     

    As I’ve watched young people around the world take part in the climate actions of the last month, I’ve gotten the sense that I’m watching a spectacle which has been orchestrated to create the illusion that we’re still in an earlier, more stable time for the planet’s climate. Legitimate as the passion and commitment of this generation of teen climate activists is, their efforts are being packaged by the political and media establishment in a way that encourages denial about our true situation. These ruling institutions neither want us to recognize the real solutions to the crisis, nor do they want us to see the irrecoverable and massive damage that’s already been done to the climate. We’re told that if we restructure capitalism with the help of the “green” corporations and NGOs that are backing Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, a catastrophic outcome can be prevented. Supposedly radical politicians like Bernie Sanders promise that by making an appeal for corporations to partially reduce emissions within a capitalist framework, we can save the world. People want to believe the claims of these “green” capitalists because they want to believe that our living arrangements won’t fundamentally need to change in order for humanity to survive.

     

    Sustainable Brands website, August 30, 2019 [Source] [Extinction Rebellion website]

    These sources of false hope let Western capitalist society continue to ignore the primary role that imperialism and militarism have in the climate crisis, to view the capitalist governments as legitimate, and to not try to break away from the philosophy of capitalism and endless growth. The lifestyle tweaks that we’re told will save the planet—eating less meat, carpooling, flicking off the light when you leave the room—won’t be able to solve the problem even if society were to largely adopt them. The climate solutions that the capitalists present to us are designed to make us feel better while we keep letting the system move us closer to apocalypse.

    To survive, we must recognize two truths about this crisis: that it’s no longer possible to avert a substantial catastrophe, and that global capitalism must be toppled in order for the human race to have a future. Once we understand the former fact, it becomes easy to accept the latter.

    When you examine the state of the world, it’s not hard to see that something needs to drastically change. Extreme inequality amid neoliberal policies and rampant corporate power has made the Western countries in many ways part of the so-called Third World. As American power declines, the imperialist wars are continuing and tensions between the most powerful countries are escalating. Another global recession looms at the same time as a stable and comfortable life has become impossible even for most Americans to attain. Refugees are fleeing the worst dangers in their home countries, and are being met with inhumane treatment by the reactionary governments of the core imperialist nations. All of these capitalist crises are intertwined with the climate collapse that’s threatening the foundations of civilization.

    The goals of the Paris climate agreement, which require reducing emissions by around 45 percent before 2030 so as to avoid a 1.5 degree Celsius warming, most definitely aren’t going to be met. Global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in 2018, indicating that we’ll be at 1.5 by 2030. The climate feedback loop will quickly turn this into 2 degrees in the following years, which will turn into somewhere between 3 and 5 degrees by 2100. It’s estimated that with just 2 degrees of warming, sea level rise will engulf 280 million people, earthquakes will kill 17 million, and over 200 million will die from droughts and famine.

    Just ten years from now, this transition will be far enough along that the basic structures of capitalist society will no longer be stable. In June, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights issued a report which said that more than 120 million people could be forced into poverty by 2030 due to the destroyed property and resource scarcity that climate change-related disasters will cause. In response, more social services will be cut, society will become more militarized, and more immigrants will be deported, imprisoned, or left to die in disease-riddled concentration camps.

    Such cruelties against the victims of climate change are realistic, and are all already being carried out because in a world that’s falling to pieces, the feeling of desperation drives a survival instinct that makes people devalue the lives of their fellow human beings. Capitalism, with its fixation on competition, is a key driver behind this impulse to exclude and eliminate the immigrants who seek to share in the West’s relative stability. This is why Philip Alston, the author of the U.N.’s June report, said that barring radical systemic change, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

    As the warming continues, increasing food and water scarcity, flooding, deadly heat waves, epidemics, and inequality will set off wars and civil unrest. Where stable states still exist, the prevailing paradigm will range from heightened government vigilance to outright martial law. Otherwise, borders will become less clearly defined and the existing governments will lose their power, making for a global version of the Middle East in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Syria. The vacuum will be filled with militant groups. In the Arab world these new monopolies on violence have been ISIS and Al Qaeda, and in North America they could easily become white supremacist paramilitaries.

    None of this can be prevented by voting for Democrats, or changing one’s personal lifestyle, or participating in climate demonstrations that are sanctioned by the corporatocracy. The momentum of the climate’s destabilization is unstoppable, and the fascistic political forces that have emerged amid the crisis aren’t going away. However, my message with this essay isn’t to become apathetic in the face of what’s happening to us, but to embrace a worldview of realism that allows us to actually combat the problem.

    We in the Western world must take guidance from the colonized people who are struggling for their liberation from imperial control and the capitalist carbon economy. Our goal should be not to reform capitalism, but to overthrow the capitalist centers of government and replace them with ecosocialist power structures. This is what the Chavistas are trying to do in Venezuela, which is moving towards an ecosocialist revolution where the country weans itself off from dependence on oil markets. Bolivia, whose socialist president Evo Morales has given the environment legal protections that are equivalent to human rights, provides further inspiration for the new systems that we’re capable of building.


    The path to taking over the power of the state and seizing the means of production, as the socialists in these countries are trying to do, requires building mass movements that aren’t co-opted by the influence of the capitalist class. Our objectives need to be unambiguous: an end to capitalism and an end to all forms of imperialism, which entails decolonization.

    The people of Venezuela and Bolivia are lucky to have been able to use electoral means to install a government that attempts to pursue these goals. In the U.S., where electoral politics are rigged against third parties and a deadly police state has been created, freedom will only be gained by working to usurp the authority of the capitalist state. India’s Maoist gurriellas (or the Naxalites) are doing this by taking territory away from their region’s government, as are Mexico’s communist Zapatistas. These groups are building strongholds for the larger movements to take down capitalism, which gain greater potential for victory the more that capitalism’s crises escalate; capitalist regimes that are under threat of being overthrown can already be found in Haiti and Honduras, whose U.S.-backed governments may well soon be ousted through sustained proletarian rebellions.

    To replicate these liberation movements worldwide, we must stop denying the extremity of the crisis and fight capitalism with the knowledge that we’re fighting for our survival. To commit to their battle against India’s corporate-controlled government, the Naxalites have had to experience the desperation of living in a severely impoverished underclass that’s increasingly suffering from water shortages amid the climate crisis. We Westerners can’t be kept complacent by the fact that our conditions are marginally better than theirs.

    In the coming years, we’re not going to be living out a scenario where capitalism changes itself into something sustainable. We’re counting down to the collapse of civilization’s current configuration and, in my view, all that can save us now is the construction of a new ecosocialist civilization in its place.

     

    [Rainer Shea uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch]

    A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

    A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

    October 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

    “To even embark on a strategy of rebuilding and realization-to renew a liberating vision of justice and human rights – we must be clear about the strengths of state power and be prepared to defend ourselves against that power. The repressive apparatus is powerful, with its fingers stretched into every crevice or crack in the state’s hegemony it can find.”

     

    — Marilyn Buck

     

    “They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.”

     

    — Malcolm X

     

    We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

    We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

     

    We must learn how the unprecedented wealth accumulation among the very few ends up protected by layers and layers of moneyed social institutions co-ordinating to perpetuate the system, while progressively oppressive financial pressure and state violence against the already oppressed keep herding people into the capitalist framework. When we face the sad reality of the public embracing policies that allow the powerful minorities to exploit and subjugate them over and over, what we need is not a popular mobilization guided by vague slogans easily subsumed by the imperial framework. Such a method would lead to draconian enforcement of corporate “solutions” according to their definition of “problems”. It is a recipe for bringing about a fascist order. What we need is openness and willingness to learn how we are domesticated by the authoritarian framework so that the actions are guided by the interests of the people in forming a society that allows our true liberation in a mutually respectful and harmonious manner.”

    — Hiroyuki Hamada, artist

     

    On August 20, 2018, Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time posted the “lonely girl” tweet. The tweet featured Greta Thunberg. This was the first day of her climate strike. She sat on a sidewalk and said nothing beside a sign. Just two months prior, social media accounts had been created in her name. Rentzhog, whose tech corporation is partnered with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, tagged five Twitter accounts: Greta Thunberg, Zero Hour (youth movement), Jamie Margolin (the teenage founder of Zero Hour), Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and the People’s Climate Strike Twitter account.

    The third person to respond to Rentzhog’s tweet was We Mean Business co-founder Callum Grieve. Grieve responded to Greta with a personal message adding the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime. We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019] The founding partners of We Mean Business are BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), and the WBCSD. Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution. To save a global economic system teetering on collapse.

    September 22, 2019: "Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy", We Mean Business Twitter account

    September 22, 2019: “Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy”, We Mean Business Twitter account

     

    The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

    The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

     

    Grieve is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling. He created Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group which launched in 2009. He has also coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies. He also manages the Every Breath Matters campaign founded by Christiana Figueres, the former UNFCCC executive secretary credited with the Paris Agreement.

    In response to the Thunberg tweet, Grieve added the following accounts to Rentzhog’s original tweet: The Climate Museum, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”.

    [Further reading: ACT IV: They Mean Business]

    Suffice to say that tweet was code for “it’s started”. Covered by media on day one, within 12 days Thunberg would be featured in The Guardian. The rest is history.

    The NGOs and foundations learned how to “herd cats” successfully for the People’s Climate March in September 2014, but never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that in September 2019 they would so easily herd millions.

    September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

    September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

     

    On September 25, 2019, the United Nations answered the global strikes with the call for a Global Green New Deal. It is quite fascinating that none of the groups and leading proponents who have mobilized the populace to demand a “Green New Deal” are sharing the UN announcement with the corresponding 201-page report. Perhaps it is because with this report, in which the word “growth” appears 392 times, it will be difficult to convince a populace that this is anything but what it actually is – a desperate attempt to save the global capitalist economic system destroying our planet.

    UN calls for ‘Global Green New Deal’ to boost world economy:

    “In a fresh report, the UN trade, investment and development agency (UNCTAD) called for countries to join forces and enable trillions of dollars in public sector investments to help reboot the global economy… What is needed, he told journalists, is to apply the same ambitious model used in the United States to overcome the Great Depression in the 1930s and apply it “at a global scale”… Looming global recession… UNCTAD’s flagship Trade and Development report painted a bleak picture of the global economic outlook, warning that the world risks slumping into recession next year… Even ignoring the worst downside risks, the report projected that global growth would fall to 2.3 percent this year from 3.0 percent in 2018, cautioning that global recession in 2020 was now “a clear and present danger“. [Emphasis added]

    Even the reference to “climate” within the report is recognized as both a means and justification for global growth. (“A climate for change: The case for a global green expansion”)

    One must wonder when the marchers and strikers will be notified.

     

    “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

     

    — Malcolm X

     

    Volume I:

    ACT I: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [https://bit.ly/2XkVrTR]

    ACT II: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Youth Co-optation [https://bit.ly/2VibAYp]

    ACT III: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [https://bit.ly/2tBHp2B]

    ACT IV: The House is On Fire! & the 100 Trillion Dollar Rescue [https://bit.ly/2TZyUKd]

    ACT V: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [https://bit.ly/2TZyOlP]

    ACT VI: A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature [Crescendo] [https://bit.ly/2U7YBbx]

    Addenda I: The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — By Any Means Necessary [https://bit.ly/2kpDDIv]

    Volume I in book form: https://amzn.to/2kV6Jj9

    Volume II:

    An Object Lesson In Spectacle [An introduction to Volume II] [https://bit.ly/2kKLAZc]

    ACT I: A Design to Win — A Multi-Billion Dollar Investment [https://bit.ly/2mjmYXF]

    ACT II: Controlling the Narrative [https://bit.ly/2msdlpP]

    ACT III: To Plunder What Little Remains: It’s Going To Be Tremendous [https://bit.ly/2m61flO]

    ACT IV: They Mean Business [https://bit.ly/2mkPZSP]

    ACT V: The Behavioural Change Project “To Change Everything” [https://bit.ly/2mr3pwL]

    ACT VI: Natural Climate Manipulations [https://bit.ly/2MjT1zZ]

    [ACT VII forthcoming]

     

     

    [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.]

    The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline

    The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline

    October 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

    Addendum to The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series, Volume II

     

    Financial Times, September 16, 2019

     

    No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline:

  • 2009: G20 gathering in London: The world’s major economies come together to stem the global financial panic triggered by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US (and subsequent unprecedented bailouts for corporations and banks). They assure society that they will establish a more stable growth path going forward.
  • 2009: UN works on the prospect of a Global Green New Deal to reboot the global economic system. It simultaneously works on tools to assign monetary value to all nature, global in scale, with the goal of creating new markets (TEEB – later to be absorbed by the Natural Capital Coalition).
  • 2009-2019: In the years that followed the 2009 assurances to contain panic in markets and salvage a battered financial system, growth – crucial to keeping the capitalist economic system afloat – failed to find a firm footing.
  • 2011: IMF: “We have entered what I have called a dangerous new phase… today, we risk losing the battle for growth. With dark clouds over Europe, and huge uncertainty in the United States, we risk a collapse in global demand. This challenge could not be more urgent. In our interconnected world, we are all on one boat. Any thought of decoupling is a mirage.” — The Path Forward—Act Now and Act Together, opening address to the 2011 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund
  • 2014: Global economy continues to spiral downward. “Capitalism is in danger of falling apart”, Al Gore, Generation Investment, The Climate Reality Project
  • 2014: Purpose (PR arm of Avaaz): Language of “green economy” is killed in order to save “green economy”. They will build it, but they won’t say they are building it.
  • 2014: People’s Climate March. The march was organized by GCCA/TckTckTck (co-founded by 20 NGOs including 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation), the Rasmussen Foundation and USCAN.
  • 2014: We Mean Business is launched. Created with the assistance of many including then UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres, Purpose (PR arm of Avaaz), and Greenpeace.
  • 2015: Global Youth Summit takes place (Keynotes: UN Figueres, Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace, 350.org McKibben), Climate Strike website is created.
  • 2015: The Paris Agreement largely attributed to Christina Figueres comes into fruition. [Further reading: This Changes Nothing – Clive L. Spash]
  • 2015: Mission Innovation (Breakthrough Energy, Bill Gates, Richard Branson et al.) partners with 23 states and the EU. Similar coalitions and partnerships follow (Under 2C, The Climate Group, etc.).
  • 2017: World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab: “Capitalism is in crisis”
  • 2018: A teleconference led by a 350.org/Fossil Free representative with Climate Reality Project (Al Gore’s NGO) proposes a large climate march. Greta Thunberg partakes in this call as well as others that transpire. The idea of a strike is presented. Thunberg is receptive
  • May 2018: Ingmar Rentzhog, founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time, is featured at a climate event with Greta’s mother Malena Ernman.
  • June 2018: Greta Thunberg social media accounts are created.
  • Summer/Fall 2018: The Green New Deal (promoted by UN in 2009) is resurrected.
  • July 2018: The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business, promotes This Is Zero Hour climate strikes in the US utilizing the hashtag #WeDontHave Time [“Join the youth revolution!”]
  • August 20 2018: Greta sits on a sidewalk with a sign. Rentzhog discovers “the lonely girl”. We Don’t Have Time, partner of The Climate Reality Project, and Global Utmaning (Global Challenge) are interconnected by board relationships.
  • August 20 2018: On the first day of strike, the third person to respond to the “lonely girl” plight on Twitter is We Mean Business co-founder Callum Grieve. He adds the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime and tags five additional accounts: The Climate Museum, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”.
  • We Mean Business

    We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019]

    We Mean Business Founding Partners

    The founding partners of We Mean Business are BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), and the WBCSD. Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution – pushed by the World Economic Forum.

    We Mean Business Co-founder Callum Grieve

    Grieve is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling. He also created Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group. Grieve has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies.

    Behavioural Change Campaigns and Storytelling

    Grieve also manages the Every Breath Matters campaign founded by Christiana Figueres, the former UNFCCC Executive Secretary credited with the Paris Agreement. Every Breath Matters “champions” include Leonardo DiCaprio and Greta Thunberg.

    World Economic Forum UN Partnership Effective June 13, 2019

    The co-founder of Counter Culture is head of climate initiatives at the World Economic Forum, and former campaign director of the We Mean Business RE100 initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.

  • August 20 2018: Also on the first day of the strike – the “lonely girl” plight is shared Sasja Beslik, international financial expert (WEF), head of Sustainable Finance, Nordea Bank.
  • Fall 2018: New Deal for Nature and Voice For The Planet campaigns commence. Exploiting an increasingly anxious citizenry, utilizing emotive images and language, these campaigns are in fact, not to “save nature”, rather, they are to monetize nature, global in scale.
  • September 1 2018: Only 12 days after her first day sitting on a sidewalk, Greta is featured in The Guardian.
  • September 2018: The largest-ever philanthropic investment to combat climate change is announced by ClimateWorks, largest recipient of climate philanthropy in the world.
  • September 26 2018: Thunberg appears at a seminar organized by The Climate Reality Project and Global Utmaning (Thunberg’s father denies any relationship or affiliation with Global Unmanning).
  • September 26 2018: The Climate Finance Partnership – a vehicle for blended finance – is unveiled at the One Planet Summit.
  • October 31 2018: Launch of XR global expansion is highlighted by The Guardian and endorsed by an array of liberal celebrity signatories.
  • XR global expansion takes place in partnership with The Climate Mobilization Project.
  • January 3 2019: “Global economic growth ‘now in free fall'”
  • January 2019: Christiana Figueres brings Greta Thunberg to Davos where they share accommodations.
  • January 2019: International media amplifies “The House is on Fire” Thunberg speech delivered at WEF. The message and delivery mirror the stratagem laid out in The Climate Mobilization (XR partner) paper “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement.” (“Imagine there is a fire in your house.”)
  • January 2019: Davos, Switzerland – “Standing outside in the pitch-black cold at the World Economic Forum on January 23, 2019, a panel including Future Earth and partners announced to a live audience their intent to launch an Earth Commission.”
  • February 2019: Joint event with European Commission president and Thunberg where it is announced that 25% of the EU budget will go to climate change initiatives. Unbeknownst to the public, this decision was made in 2018.
  • July 2019: Business For Nature is launched. The coalition founders are We Mean Business, the World Economic Forum, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, the Natural Capital Coalition, the World Resources Institute, the IUCN, The Food and Land Use Coalition, Confederation of Indian Industry, Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE), Tropical Forest Alliance, and the International Chamber of Commerce.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: An international media assault on the populace featuring Greta Thunberg, adored and promoted by the ruling classes, corporations, institutions, World Bank and finance – this is coupled with apocalyptic media saturation. In effect – the multiple ecological crises which have been increasing over decades, is now being fully exploited as a means to manufacture consent. Corporations and institutions seek 100 trillion dollars for “climate solutions”. The unlocking of pensions is identified as a prime target.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: The emergence of a green fascism. Those criticizing the said solutions or “movements” designed by the ruling class for our collective consumption are ridiculed and subjected to hate.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: Western “environmentalism” creates demand for the further plundering of the planet in order to “save” the climate – in essence, a globally mobilized de facto green lobby group. The planned “climate” infrastructure eyes the Global South. The scale is massive: equates to the building of a New York City – every single month for the next forty years. Despite the fact that this cannot be squared with protection of biodiversity or the climate, the populace clamours for those in power (who are responsible for the crisis) to “do something” and align with the suicidal Paris Agreement.
  • February 20 2019: We Mean Business and Global Optimist (founded by Christiana Figueres, funded by We Mean Business), highlight the reaction to the climate campaign now well underway: “People are desperate for something to happen”.
  • April 2019: The Rockefeller Foundation closes its 100 Resilient Cities initiative, joins the Atlantic Council to launch a new center. [Explored in Volume II, Act VII]
  • June 13 2019: The World Economic Forum – representing the richest and most powerful people on the planet – forms a partnership with United Nations.
  • July 2019: “US philanthropists vow to raise millions for climate activists” – The Climate Emergency Fund is launched. Serving on the board is 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Margaret Klein Salamon founder and executive director of The Climate Mobilization (partner to Extinction Rebellion) and author of the paper “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement.”
  • September 2019: Greta Thunberg sails across the ocean in a yacht to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit organized and led by We Mean Business and the World Economic Forum (now partnered with the United Nations).
  • September 16 2019: The Financial Times unveils its largest campaign since 2009: The New Agenda – a re-booting of the capitalist system
  • September 18 2019: Conservation International and the *Food and Land Use Coalition finance the “Natural Climate Solutions” promotional video featuring Guardian’s Monbiot and Greta Thunberg. The video reaches more than 1 billion people in less than 24 hours. [*Member foundations include ClimateWorks, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Good Energies, and Margaret Cargill.]
  • September 19 2019: WEF releases promotional video featuring Greta Thunberg for “Voices For The Planet”. This is the WEF-WWF campaign for the financialization of nature, global in scale (payments for ecosystem services) that accompanies the “New Deal For Nature” promoted by WWF, CI, The Natural Capital Coalition, TNC, etc.. Supported by Greenpeace, 350.org, etc. who are not yet publicly promoting it.
  • September 20 2019: Global Climate Strikes take place.
  • September 2019: Many smaller NGOs, including those from the Global South oppose the WEF-UN Partnership. Avaaz, Greenpeace, 350, etc. are conspicuously absent from the signatories.
  • September 26 2019: The UN calls for a Global Green New Deal (bailout).
  • September to October 2019: Arnold Schwarzenegger arranges a Tesla for Greta to tour Canada and visit Standing Rock reservation.
  •  

    Take Away Points

    We dance to the tune of our oppressors

     

    “The ruling class exists, it’s not a conspiracy theory. They operate as a class, too. They share the same values, the same sensibility and in Europe and North America they are white. They act in accordance with their interests, which are very largely identical. The failure to understand this is the single greatest problem and defect in left discourse today.”

     

    — John Steppling

     

  • Climate change is real – but capitalism is the crisis.
  • The structure of the system is working exactly as it is designed to. The NPIC exists to insulate the current power structures and capital itself.
  • Economic growth is sacrosanct – to those in power, and those it serves. Economic growth trumps all priorities including life itself.
  • The Thunberg campaign belongs to the ruling class, not to the people.
  • A decade of social engineering (“together”) has effectively erased class analysis, which is a massive blow, and even a betrayal, to the working class and peasantry.
  • The West is under the rule of a corporatocracy, therefore voting is a massive distraction and spectacle that will never solve or mitigate our ecological crisis.
  • The same system that created the crisis will not and cannot now rectify the crises. The same people that protected and defended this system will do anything and exploit anyone to keep it intact.
  • The NGOs comprising the NPIC must be isolated, shamed and abandoned. The exact methods they use against radical activists and radical grassroots groups. Without the support of the people, they lose all power and influence (and then funding).
  • A litmus test must be placed on all organizations that claim to fight for ecological and social justice: They must be united in opposition to imperialism/colonialism, militarism, white supremacy and patriarchy – all leading drivers of climate change and ecological devastation.
  • Capitalism will destroy everything in its path. Either we kill capitalism, or capitalism will kill us.
  •  

    [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.]

    No Class

    No Class

    Dissident Voice

    October 4, 2019

    By John Steppling

     

     

     

     

    In class society, everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.

     

    — Mao, On Practice, 1937

     

    That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think it a matter of no great consequence.

     

    — Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood, March 6, 2007

     

    I think that most of the confusion in this respect has been the product of a failure to develop a class analysis of these changes. From a class perspective, it is clear that what we are seeing is the growth of various movements in the fascist genre (whether prefascism, protofascism, classical fascism, postfascism, neofascism, neoliberal fascism, ur-fascism, peripheral fascism, white supremacism, or national populism—you can take your pick). Fascist-type movements share certain definite class-based characteristics or tendencies. Although it is common in liberal discourse to approach such movements at the level of appearance, in terms of their ideological characteristics, such an idealist methodology only throws a veil over the underlying reality.

     

    — John Bellamy Foster, Interview, Monthly Review, September 2019

     

    The purveyors of free-market global capitalism believe that they have a right to plunder the remaining natural resources of this planet as they choose. Anyone who challenges their agenda is to be subjected to whatever misrepresentation and calumny that serves the free market corporate agenda.

     

    — Michael Parenti, Interview with Jason Miller, 2016

     

    When environmentalism unfolds within a system of heightened inequality and inadequate democratization, it does so unequally and autocratically. The result is not a “saved” climate, but rather enhanced revenue streams for corporations.

     

    — Maximillian Forte, Climate Propaganda for Corporate Profit: Bell Canada

     

    John Bellamy Foster noted that it was a lack of class analysis that has stifled left discourse over the last twenty years. And I have noted that when one does engage in class analysis the first response, very often, is to be called a conspiracy theorist. Now, this is largely because any class dissection will tend to unearth connections that have been hidden, consciously, by Capital — that those hidden forces and histories are experienced by the liberal left and faux left as somehow impossible. Class analysis means that the non-marxist liberal left is going to be faced with the malevolence of the ruling class, and in the U.S. certainly, the ruling class tends to be adored, secretly or otherwise, by the bourgeoisie.

    When the U.S.S.R. dissolved the West intensified its propaganda onslaught immediately. And a good part of this propaganda was focused on the denial of class. On the right, the FOX News right, “class warfare” became a term of derision and also humour. And among liberal and educated bourgeoisie the avoidance of class was the result of a focus on, and validations of, rights for marginalized groups — even if that meant inventing new groups on occasion. Class was conspicuously missing in most identity rights discourse.

    And the climate discourse, which was suddenly visible in mainstream media early 2000s, there was almost never a mention of class. Hence the new appropriation of that discourse by open racist eugenicists like “Sir” David Attenborough, and billionaire investors and publishers. Even by royalty. By 2015 or so there was what Denis Rancourt called the institutionalisation of a climate ethos. I have even seen of late self-identified leftists suggesting the “Greta” phenomenon was the working class finding its voice. (No, I’m not making that up). I have also seen many leftists — many of whom I have known for years — simply hysterical around the subject of this teenager. Her greatest appeal is to middle aged white men. I have no real explanation for that. But then these same men quote, often, everyone from Guy McPherson (who I think needs a padded cell, frankly) to Bill McKibben — an apologist for militarism and wealth… here ….

    Gosh kids, let’s rely on big Wall Street money.  That’s a gall darn good idea. What an unctuous fuck he is.

    The Attenborough and Greta (and Jane Goodall) video was absent content, really. Terms like *tipping points* were used several times but not identified. And they were not identified because they don’t have to be. This is the near religious end of the climate spectrum. I hear people angrily denounce someone as a “denier”. This is the tone reserved for all apostates. For heretics.

    Now before continuing I find it very interesting that those predicting the most dire effects of climate change, those who say we’re dead in twenty years or thirty — they are still publishing books, still marketing those books. It’s still a business. I guess I might expect climate Sadhus to appear — naked mendicants, covered in dirt and dried mud, hair matted, living off alms. Or like preachers standing on the street corner, a sort of eco Asa Hawks, Bible in hand (or climate bible in hand) offering spiritual solace to the multitude. But instead we get TED talks and more rather expensive books.

    I want to make clear, the planet is getting warmer. It’s already happening. To say otherwise is irrational. That does not mean there are not many questions left answered, and increasingly undiscussed. Nor that alarmism isn’t in full swing (fear and sex pretty much form the basis of all advertising). There is very little serious adult debate about what must be accounted the most serious subject, or one of two most serious subjects, in contemporary life. The other would be the global rise of fascism. And neither of these topics is given a serious public discussion. The entertainment apparatus is, at this point, ill-equipped to handle anything serious.

    I do not consider the side show carnival of Greta and the Prince of Monaco, Arnold and Barack, and eugenicist scum like David Attenborough (as an Brit friend of mine referred to him, “that old racist tosspot”) as serious. The Green New Deal is western Capital laying claim to a new market. And Attenborough and Goodall both are members of the anti immigration (Malthusian) group Population Matters. This has been exhaustively catalogued by Cory Morningstar, but then she is now being smeared as a “conspiracy theorist”. And this is, again, because class figures rather prominently in her writings.

    This reminds me of my Wall Street days, I mean all the new markets, the high yield markets, different convertible markets — this is how they all start.

     

    — Mark Tercek, CEO, The Nature Conservancy, 2015.

    Now, the bourgeoisie is perfectly happy to let the ruling class lead and be the decision makers. It is startling, really, how indigenous activists from the global south are so conspicuously missing in all this. So invisible in media. And to complain of this means one is met with just a myriad of apologetics about Greta and this carnival. And the paternalism that demands nobody ‘beat up’ on the teenager. There was never such outrage at criticism of Rachel Corrie. And amid all the young girl propaganda props (Nayirah al-?aba?, Bana Alabed, Park Yeon-mi, et al) the only constant is that PR firms are doing a lot of business. But the new investment in Green technology (sic) will really only result in — as it always does — a further growth in unemployed labor and an uptick in low end minimum wage service work. This is straight out of Capital, the general law of capitalist accumulation.

    But if a surplus labouring popUlation is a necessary product of accumulation or of the development of wealth on a capitalist basis, this surplus-population becomes, conversely, the lever of capitalistic accumulation, nay, a condition of existence of the capitalist mode of production. It forms a disposable industrial reserve army, that belongs to capital quite as absolutely as if the latter had bred it at its own cost.

     

    — Karl Marx, Capital. Volume I: The Process of Production of Capital, September 14, 1867

    And it is not even that, really. The ruling class set in motion an environmental program sometime around the year 2000. But the Rockefeller group, remember, founded the Club of Rome in 1968. The aim was to plan for resource depletion and limits to growth. It had a decided eugenicist bent. They issued a report in 1991, and formed a think tank in 2001. Among the members are Al Gore, Maurice Strong, The Dalai Lama, and Robert Muller of all people. And dozens more including Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, George Soros, and Bill Clinton. You get the idea.

    The point is that the current explosion of climate awareness is brought to you, at least partly, by the captains of western capital. And it is very white and very worried about birth rates in dark skinned countries. So the question becomes, in the midst of a real crises of pollution, and a warming planet, what and who is one to believe and where is one to turn? My first response is NOT to the people who helped create the problem in the first place.

    In fact, class itself is something of a verboten word. In the mainstream media, in political life, and in academia, the use of the term “class” has long been frowned upon. You make your listeners uneasy (“Is the speaker a Marxist?”). If you talk about class exploitation and class inequity, you will likely not get far in your journalism career or in political life or in academia (especially in fields like political science and economics).

    So instead of working class, we hear of “working families” or “blue collar” and “white collar employees”. Instead of lower class we hear of “inner city poor” and “low-income elderly.” Instead of the capitalist owning class, we hear of the “more affluent” or the “upper quintile’.

     

    — Michael Parenti, “Class Warfare Indeed”, Common Dreams, 2011

    There is a new religious tenor to climate discussions. And it reflects (among other things) a reductive world view. Global issues and forces and global relations on both a macro and micro level are being simplified. The template resembles a cartoon more than anything else. ‘Our demise is immanent’ is something I have read or heard at least a dozen times. People are enjoying the coming apocalypse. If they really believed that the end is nigh, they would be behaving very differently. But for many on the left the decades of marginalization has left them emotionally raw and psychologically battered. It’s so seductive to just give in to the coming apocalypse. And additionally there is a clear pleasure to be found in taking on the role of excommunicating climate Angel — come to smite the deniers with the sword of eco-piety.

    Still, there are genuine and committed ecologists and activists working on preserving nature and protecting the wild. Many are from indigenous peoples in South America, Central America, Asia and Africa. They are all but invisible in mainstream media. And increasingly they are being murdered. (See Berta Caceres). One hundred and sixty four activists were murdered last year, with thirty in the Philippines alone. Twenty-six in Colombia. None of this is front page news. Why? Why is a blond teenager now nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (usually reserved for war criminals) meeting with Obama and the Pope while the defenders of Nature in poor countries remain nameless and anonymous? The answer is because white people care about white people. And because Western capital sees those poor countries as places to exploit, burden with debt, and de-populate. The ruling elite, including those backing the Extinction Rebellion and Green New Deal, are on the side of those who murdered Caceres. Look at big mining in the global south, enormously polluting, destructive of land and community and people. A just very cursory glance at who runs this mega mining concerns is illuminating. Who sits on the board of Newmont Goldcorp, for example. While based in Colorado, its primary mining operations are in Ghana, Suriname, and Peru. Well, one is Gregory H. Boyce, who also sits on the board of directors for Monsanto and Marathon Oil. Or Rene Meldori, former executive director for DeBeers. Or take the infamous Barrick Gold, on whose advisory board sits Newt Gingrich, former secretary of defense William Cohen, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg former German defense minister, and Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada. But it’s better than that…here is a bit of background from Jeff St. Clair… and here is more.

    Or what about Rio Tinto, where Jean-Sébastien Jacques holds an advisory position, after leaving Tata Steel (TISCO) in India. Just surf the web and read the bios. There is a deep connection with big oil, with coal, and with nearly every other massively polluting industrial enterprise around the world. Teck is another huge mining company. It is based in Canada. I suggest reading the first article on this page….

    The concern over water scarcity does not breed environmental strategies for reduction, only new ways to extract and plunder during the coming scarcity. For that is the logic of all capitalism.  There is an enormous land grab going on in Africa, for example.

    When the fog that fascism creates in all countries clears away, behind it one sees an all-too-familiar figure. This character is, of course, neither marvellous nor mysterious, he brings no new religion and certainly no golden age. He comes neither from the ranks of the youth nor from the mass of the petty bourgeoisie, even if he is an expert at deceiving both these groups. He is the counter-revolutionary capitalist, the born enemy of all class-conscious workers. Fascism is nothing but a modern form of the bourgeois capitalist counter-revolution wearing a popular mask.

     

    — Arthur Rosenberg, Fascism as Mass Movement, 1934

    And here

    Those billionaire donors are not subsidizing Amazonian tribes fighting for their own survival and the survival of the rain forest. They are not subsidizing activists in the Philippines or in Africa. And they are never once mentioning the U.S. military and its role in despoiling the planet. (just look at AFRICOM, which saw an exponential growth in bases and troops under Obama). But here — two links for general perusal — and here.

    (Hat tip to Jacob Levich for some of this).

    The land grab is going to be enforced is the message here. These donors are investing. And alongside their investment runs the spectre of global fascism. Read these links and then consider if a state of emergency is not in the works. Of course, the bourgeoisie, the white bourgeoisie, are begging for such an emergency. The climate fear and its cultish response amid the liberal and leftish is resulting in a willingness, even a desire for, their own servitude. This is where someone is going to say, oh, conspiracy theory. But is it? Read those links. Consider the unthinking reflexive adoration of Greta and the kids. And then consider the history of capitalism, of neo-liberalism. Consider just the history over the last thirty years. Greta is not anti-capitalist. She has carefully never said capitalism is a system destroying the planet.

    There is a critical pollution of land and water globally. Not just plastics, but Depleted Uranium and all the waste of military and digital technology. And from pesticides and various other industrial and agricultural chemicals. How many participants in any of the climate meetings were without brand new smart phones? I don’t believe in our extinction. I do believe life is going to change, and to mitigate the suffering that comes from that change one must reject the advice of billionaires and celebrities. Change must stop being spearheaded by WHITE privilege and the western white ruling class.

    Pollution is the most urgent crises I believe. Pollution from mining of ores, and rare earth minerals (leaving pollutants such as chromium, asbestos, arsenic, and cadmium) is on a scale hard to even imagine. Or the recycling of lead-based batteries, an under the radar but massive industry that pollutes with lead oxide and sulphuric acid. Tanneries have always been an infernal and accursed industry, and pollute with chromium and soda ash, as well as large amounts of solid waste, all of which is usually contaminated with chromium. Lead smelting, which is centered in the poorest countries and which releases iron, limestone, pyrite and zinc. This is not even to touch on pesticides, or the dye industry. And then we come to the military. In particular the U.S. military. The levels of pollution are nearly Biblical in dimension and scale.

    Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among others. In 2014, the former head of the Pentagon’s environmental program told Newsweek that her office has to contend with 39,000 contaminated areas spread across 19 million acres just in the U.S. alone. U.S. military bases, both domestic and foreign, consistently rank among some of the most polluted places in the world, as perchlorate and other components of jet and rocket fuel contaminate sources of drinking water, aquifers and soil. Hundreds of military bases can be found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of Superfund sites, which qualify for clean-up grants from the government. Almost 900 of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sites in the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs, not counting the military bases themselves.

     

    — Whitney Webb, Eco Watch, May 2017

    Contemporary capitalism is coercive at every level. The privilege of white westerners is stunningly absent from all critiques I see relating to climate change. David Attenborough has a far larger carbon footprint (to the power of ten) than a Somali sheep herder. And yet that herder is being subtly cast as a threat to global survival. The new focus on global warming (and the de-emphasizing of pollution) is the real threat to survival. For the new green capitalists the intention is to further plunder. The new corporate Green raiders want to privatize nature.

    Across the world, ‘green grabbing’ – the appropriation of land and resources for environmental ends – is an emerging process of deep and growing significance. The vigorous debate on ‘land grabbing’ already highlights instances where ‘green’ credentials are called upon to justify appropriations of land for food or fuel – as where large tracts of land are acquired not just for ‘more efficient farming’ or ‘food security’, but also to ‘alleviate pressure on forests’. In other cases, however, environmental green agendas are the core drivers and goals of grabs – whether linked to biodiversity conservation, biocarbon sequestration, biofuels, ecosystem services, ecotourism or ‘offsets’ related to any and all of these. In some cases these involve the wholesale alienation of land, and in others the restructuring of rules and authority in the access, use and management of resources that may have profoundly alienating effects. Green grabbing builds on well-known histories of colonial and neo-colonial resource alienation in the name of the environment – whether for parks, forest reserves or to halt assumed destructive local practices.

     

    — James Fairhead, Melissa Leach & Ian Scoones, “Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?”, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 2012

     

    When is a contract ‘voluntary’? The answer is, probably never.

     

    — Jairus Banaji, Theory as History, March 22, 2010

    There will never be environmentally friendly Capitalism. That is like creating de-hydrated water. The ruling class exists, it’s not a conspiracy theory. They operate as a class, too. They share the same values, the same sensibility and in Europe and North America they are white. They act in accordance with their interests, which are very largely identical. The failure to understand this is the single greatest problem and defect in left discourse today.

    In terms of relevance to the indigenous nations often referred to as the Fourth World, the rollouts from the COP21 gathering of UN member states, Wall Street-funded NGOs, and the global financial elite resemble colonial initiatives undertaken as a result of similar 19th Century gatherings to carve up the world for capitalism. Then, as now, indigenous territories and resources were targeted for expropriation through coercion, with Africa being a prime target.

     

    — Jay Taber, Heart of Darkness, SI2, 2017

     

    The Global Witness report said much of the persecution of land and environmental defenders is being driven by demand for the land and raw materials needed for products that consumers utilise every day, from food to mobile phones and jewelry. Also recording a high number of environment and land-related fatalities were Colombia with 24 deaths, India with 23, and Brazil at 20. Meanwhile, in Guatemala, a boom in private and foreign investment has seen large swaths of land handed out to plantation, mining and hydropower companies, ushering in a wave of forced and violent evictions, particularly in indigenous areas, the report said. This has stirred fears of a return to the large-scale violence the country suffered 30 years ago. The report said Guatemala saw the sharpest increase in the percentage of murders with a five-fold rise. At least 16 people defending their land and the environment were killed there in 2018.

     

    — Al Jazeera, 2019

    In the Philippines nine farmers were murdered, likely ordered by the landowners of the sugar cane plantations. Not much has changed since colonialism. Global Witness notes that mining is the industry which has caused or ordered the most killings of indigenous activists. In Africa, in particular, mining corporations hire expensive private security firms (American, Israeli, or British) to keep the local population outside of not just the mine, but the area *around* the outside of the mine. Acacia Mining (a subsidiary of Barrick Gold) is notorious for beatings and rape, and for contamination from the massive mine at North Mara, Tanzania.

    Here is a report from The Guardian‘s Jonathan Watts from this year…

    The nearest general hospital in Tarime was treating five to eight cases of gunshot wounds from the mine every week from around 2010 to 2014, according to Dr Mark Nega, a former district medical officer. “I saw so many people shot and killed. Some had gunshot wounds in the back. I think they were trying to run away but they were shot from behind.” Such killings were initially played down or denied. Journalists who tried to investigate found themselves harassed by police, or believed their stories had been spiked following pressure from state authorities.

     

    After pressure from activists and lawyers, Acacia acknowledged 32 “trespasser-related” fatalities between 2014 and 2017. Of these, six died in confrontations with police at the mine.

     

    International watchdog groups say at least 22 were killings by guards and police during the same period. Tanzanian opposition politicians have claimed 300 people have been killed since 1999.

     

    For such a high number of violations to have occurred outside a conflict zone in a business context is shocking and exceptional,” said Anneke van Woudenberg, the executive director of Raid, a UK corporate watchdog.

    Class analysis is not conspiracy theory. Full stop. Class exists and is part of the hierarchical system of global capitalism. The so labeled *Climate Change* crisis — as it exists on the level of Green New Deal or Extinction Rebellion — has very little to do with protecting Nature. Global warming is a fact that humanity will have to adjust to and learn to live with. So much of the rhetoric and identifications that exist in the Greta narrative are driven by a subterranean belief in technology to fix any problem. Global warming can’t be fixed. And there are enormous difficulties for the entire global population, really. Nature and planetary life move slowly, normally. It is western narcissism that demands things happen NOW. The planet is warming and the consequences will require big change. Critical change that must take place, especially regards pesticides and contaminated land. And changes in packaging, which means in many respect changes in how we eat. The incursion of technology into nearly every waking moment of the daily life of the Westerner has conditioned a populace, one that doesn’t read, to see the acceleration of everything as natural. But it’s not. Nature doesn’t care about us. But humanity will have to care about Nature. And capitalism is not compatible with the direction those changes and care must take. Risking the direction for needed change by allowing capital investments to chart the course is a very dangerous idea.

    War is always partly a war on Nature. But as I have said before, equality is the real green. The United States has erased the voice of the working class and the poor. But it is exactly those voices that have to be heard. The techno/scientific clergy are of a class, too. The bourgeois academic and researcher are stamped by their class just as much as everyone else. I think that should be remembered.

    Class analysis!

     

     

    [John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwrighting. He’s had plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. He has taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. Plays include The Shaper, Dream Coast, Standard of the Breed, The Thrill, Wheel of Fortune, Dogmouth, and Phantom Luck, which won the 2010 LA Award for best play. Film credits include 52 Pick-up (directed by John Frankenheimer, 1985) and Animal Factory (directed by Steve Buscemi, 1999). A collection of his plays was published in 1999 by Sun & Moon Press as Sea of Cortez and Other Plays. He lives with wife Gunnhild Skrodal Steppling; they divide their time between Norway and the high desert of southern California. He is artistic director of the theatre collective Gunfighter Nation. Read other articles by John.]

    Climate Hypocrisy

    Climate Hypocrisy

    September 29, 2019

    By Jay Taber

     

     

    Patterns of conformity in the behavior of youth–misled by pied pipers of the non-profit industrial complex–are easy to see when one removes the blinders of bliss. We’ve now seen three rounds of mass outpourings of manipulated kids, in synchronized colors, on tour buses provided by oil industry sponsors. Without the spectacle, selfies and free pizza, you’d hardly know what this nonsense was about. I mean, it’s not like first world kids burning petroleum to attend climate change festivals is going to alleviate the utter misery of globalized poverty required to make their lives easy as texting.

    The third and fourth world societies–plundered for their high-tech minerals devoured by the first and second world–are simply expendable.

    [Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]