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McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VIII of an Investigative Report] [The “Social Capitalists”]

The Art of Annihilation

January 9, 2015

Part eight of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII


“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Prologue: A Coup d’État of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

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Ceres: “The Social Capitalists”

The Clinton Foundation, along with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was an integral participant in the creation of 1Sky. 1Sky (which officially merged with 350.org in 2011) was, in fact, an incubator project of the Rockefeller fund at its inception. Like 1Sky, Ceres would also receive accolades from the Clinton administration:

“It is immensely gratifying that our unique skills and leadership are being noticed. Our project with Yale and Marsh was saluted this fall by former President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative and this month Ceres received a prestigious Social Capitalist Award from Fast Company magazine. We also were honored to receive a 2006 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.” [Source: 2006 Ceres annual report]

Note that in 2009 (as disclosed in the SKOLL FUND CO SILICON VALLEY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION 990) the Skoll Foundation awarded Ceres with a $2,000,000 grant for the “Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.”

Ceres Key Partnership: The World Climate Summit

“The World Climate Summit provides a unique opportunity to build collaboration among investors, businesses and governments on the steps needed to enable the necessary flows of private capital to achieve a low-carbon global economy.” — Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres and Director, Investor Network on Climate Risk.

Ceres’s INCR is a founding industry partner of The World Climate Summit (WCS) (2010) [1], now operating under the auspices of World Climate Ltd, a private company registered in England and Wales (No. 07186968) [Doha: World Climate Summit 2012 | 2012 Partners] WCS founding partners include the planet’s most powerful corporations and institutions with access to more than 60 industry associations, 100 chambers of commerce, 2,500 corporations, and more than 530 investors representing more than $64 trillion in assets under management. [See screenshot below: UNEP FI Soft Launch: Conference in Cancun]

[Video: Climate Solutions – World Climate Summit 2013 – COP19 – Interview with Ursula Mathar – BMW]

Ceres Key Partnership: The United Nations

Since 2003, Ceres, the United Nations and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships has hosted a bi-annual Investor Summit (on climate risk & energy “solutions”). The Investor Summit convenes over 520 global investors controlling tens of trillions of dollars in assets from four continents “who understand that climate change creates enormous economic risks and also know that it represents one of the great financial opportunities of our time.” [Source]

64 trillion

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

“Another major policy planning group emerged in the mid-1990s with an increased focus on environmental issues, called the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which ‘instantly became the pre-eminent business voice on the environment’ with a 1997 membership of 123 top corporate executives, tasked with bringing the ‘voice’ of big business to the process of international efforts to address environmental concerns (and thus, to secure their own interests).” [Source: “Global Power Project, Part 2: Identifying the Institutions of Control”] Sourcewatch states: WBCSD was officially “formed in January 1995 through a merger between the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) in Geneva and the World Industry Council for the Environment (WICE) in Paris,” both of which were founded by billionaire industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny and Maurice Strong. “According to critics, this group was part of a strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations as it moved towards enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.” [Source: Taking Strong Action For Capitalist-Led Environmental Destruction]

WBCSD’s corporate partnerships are extensive. Major WBCSD water partnerships include but are not limited to: Ceres, AquaFed, the international federation of private water operators, CEO Water Mandate, GEMI , International Water Association, IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, Stockholm International Water Institute, UN Water and World Resources Institute.

“WBCSD collaborated with Ceres to develop a publicly available framework to help investors understand how water-intensive companies are positioned to manage water-related risks and opportunities.”

The WBCSD governance is comprised of individuals representing Unilever (chairman), ACCIONA, Toshiba, Royal Dutch Shell (vice chairmen). Members includes representatives of Toyota, Infosys, Lafarge France, Fibria Brazil and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec). Stephan Schmidheiny serves as honorary chairman.

In 2012 Schmidheiny, heir, former executive and key shareholder in construction firm Eternit, was found guilty of negligent behavior in exposing Eternit’s workers and citizens to asbestos that resulted in over 3,000 asbestos-related deaths blamed on contamination. The guilty verdict resulted in a 16-year prison sentence. Schmidheiny failed to present himself in court during the two-year long trial and was not present for the verdict. In 2013 a third appeal upheld the conviction. The court increased the prison term to 18 years from the 16-year prison term handed down by a lower court in 2012 and awarded victims €88 million in damages. Again Schmidheiny appealed. On November 20, 2014 the Italian Supreme Court acquitted the convicted Schmidheiny and overturned his 18-year prison sentence stating the evidence in the case was out of date. His acquittal has set a precedent for other corporations whose CEOs are currently being held responsible for environmental and health damages.

“With this verdict, money and power won again. Eternit’s flagrant disregard for public health and the environment is reprehensible and criminal.” — Linda Reinstein, President of the US-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation

Watch: Background: Looking back at the Eternit case:

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/embedded/looking-back-at-the-eternit-case/41124758

In an October 2014 interview with Joppe Cramwinckel (WBCSD) in response to the question “In Europe there has recently been a strong campaign for public water supply: what is your position? Do you think it is right to privatize the management of a resource like water? If so why?”

WBCSD makes it clear the shared intent on the commoditization of Earth’s natural resources (by both corporations and the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) under the guise of corporate responsibility via careful linguistics:

“We don’t have an opinion about privatizing water services, that is a choice individual countries have to make. We do believe however that a key approach to improve water management is ‘water valuation’ coupled with charging the ‘full cost’ of using water through better pricing policies. Government regulations may also enforce, or at least encourage, valuation of water. In addition, growing stakeholder and supply chain demands are likely to grow as perceptions evolve in relation to growing sustainability awareness. This whole movement towards better understanding and pricing the true value of water will have significant implications for all businesses – both in terms of risks and opportunities.”

WBCSD Members:

wbcsd org member banner

Higher Fuel Economy Standards = More Growth

In February 2008, Ceres and the United Nations Foundation brought together 450 global investors managing $22 trillion in assets to a 3rd Investor Summit on Climate Risk. [2][3] One of the highlights that came from this summit was a joint Citi/INCR research report (2007) that highlighted the growth opportunities for U.S. automakers based on higher fuel economy standards.

“In July Ceres, along with a dozen other nonprofit partners, was an invited guest at the White House ceremony where President Obama announced stronger fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for new cars and trucks. Increasing fleet average fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025 will make a significant difference for the environment and our economy.” (2010-2011 annual report)

Obama announces in 2008 that stronger fuel-efficiency that will come into effect in 2025? Seventeen years into the future? Who cares!? To add insult to injury, consider that in 1908, the gas efficiency of a Ford Model T was 25 MPG, while in 2008, 100 years later, the EPA average of fuel efficiency on all cars was 21 MPG. Further, the EPA figure was inflated, as “most drivers achieve only about 75 percent of the [EPA mileage] figures.”

Ceres – Teeming with Religious Entities

“However, to read last week that the head of the Catholic Church, His Holiness the Pope, has cautioned mankind against greed while urging world leaders to tackle the problem of climate change was so surprising that I was sure I was reading a parody of events.… Large investments with everyone from the Rothschilds of America, Britain and France to some of the most powerful multinational corporations like Shell and General Motors, the Catholic Church has and still does benefit from a free market global economy that is solely motivated by profit. — Left Foot Forward, November 28, 2014

If 350.org really wants divestment he should start with the Catholic Church. [May 31, 2011: Catholic Church has billions invested in BPI, Philex, San Miguel.] To suggest that 350.org target religious entities about divestment first and foremost is not without reason. The fact is that 350.org’s “friends on Wall Street” (Ceres) are actually teeming with wealthy religious organizations. Ceres faith-based coalition members include religious organizations such as Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Ministries, American Baptist Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist Church, Board of Pension and Health Benefits (2003). Ceres’s faith-based board of directors includes representation from The United Methodist Church, Mission Responsibility Through Investment, Presbyterian Church (USA) and many others. [View all religious affiliations 2001-2010: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010]

“Among our most valuable coalition members is the United Methodist Church General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, one of the nation’s largest denominational pension funds representing 74,000 clergy and lay members with over $14 billion in assets.” [CERES 2008 Annual Report]

Surely the churches need no convincing by 350.org nor any other NGO on the virtues of morality and ethics … so why is it they have not already divested from fossil fuels? The investments held by the Catholic Church demonstrate that religious entities are just as guilty of rapacious greed and racism as the corporation itself, which is easily defined as having the very same characteristics of a full-blown psychopath.

350.org, McKibben, Ceres, Nike and Friends | Ego Uber Alles

Bill McKibben (founder and former chair of 350.org) has been an esteemed guest of Ceres conferences in 2007, and again in 2013.

An example of 350.org’s delusional idea of environmentalism from its inception is the continuous accolades for corporate social responsibility (as if there were such a thing) such as the “greening” of Nike. This is the same Nike that exploits sweatshop workers in Southeast Asia (April 20, 2011):

“Today from 12-1pm EST, ClimateCounts.org, Ceres.org and 350.org are supporting the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s Campus to Corporation (C2C) campaign by tweeting during Bard’s open dialogue with Sarah Severn, Stakeholder Mobilization Director of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike Inc.

 

“For the third year in a row Nike topped the ClimateCounts.org scorecard and last year made headlines by resigning from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board over climate disputes.

 

“In December of 2010 at the release of the latest ClimateCounts.org scores, Wood Turner, ClimateCounts.org Executive Director, noted that, ‘There’s an emerging top tier of innovative companies leading on climate.’ Turner went on to state that ‘Climate action may have bogged down in Washington, but these companies know they can build successful businesses while tackling the climate crisis.’

 

“ClimateCounts.org and partners will be encouraging climate-conscious consumers to join the open dialogue today and tweet using the #Nike hashtag to learn more about the climate action Nike is taking.”

March 8, 2012:

” …according to War on Want, an anti-poverty charity accusing the sportswear giants of exploiting their workers in Bangladesh. In Race to the Bottom, a report released on Monday, the organization documents evidence of illegal work hours, dismal wages, sexual harassment, and physical violence in six factories contracted by Adidas, Nike, or Puma.”

In stark contrast to 350.org et al, the UK Feminista group took to the streets when it observed such exploitation:

“The group is asking people to stand in solidarity with the women producing Nike’s sportswear for the 2012 Olympics who are systematically being denied their rights. New research released by War on Want shows that Bangladeshi garment workers, 85% of whom are women, are being cheated of their maternity rights, face sexual harassment, and receive poverty pay.”

Yet this should be of little surprise. The NPIC is patriarchal; those at the helm could care less that women suffer the most under the industrialized global capitalist system. Those exploited the most, and in particular women, will suffer the most as climate impacts intensify. There is a reason 350.org no longer uses the term “climate justice.” The reality is that climate and justice will not and cannot coincide under the current economic system, as violence and exploitation are inherently built into the system.

Capitalism Doesn’t Care if Anyone Divests

“At Ceres, we understand that capitalism and sustainability are deeply and increasingly interrelated. Whether it’s energy and water needs, workplace conditions or nutrition, businesses must pay attention. These issues pose risks that must be managed proactively. They present opportunities that must be leveraged immediately.” Ceres Annual Report 2005 & Beyond, Ceres, 2006

 

“The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.” ? Against Empire

 

All money, like water, will flow somewhere. Meaning that at the end of the day even (“direct”) divestment from fossil fuels (asked to take place within a 5-year time frame) will only change the flow of investments. Examples include divesting from traditional fossil fuels to investing in the exploitation/drilling of “green” methane hydrates, rapid expansion of bio-fuels and other dangerous false solutions. The divestment campaign is of no threat to the fossil fuel industry at large because it has and will continue to expand into all the niche markets under the paradigm of the illusory “new economy.”

Campaigns of Distraction

Fossil fuel corporations will continue to rake in billions of dollars in revenues and profit. Investment funds understand that these stocks are secure. No risk. The notion of a carbon bubble in this respect … essentially referring to fossil fuels that cannot be burned – is laughable. Who is going to say no to the consumption of these fossil fuels because they are no longer part of our “carbon budget” – the U.S. military perhaps? We have not stopped on our own since climate talks began in 1979 (February 12-23, 1979 in Geneva); meaning, we’ve had 35 years to stop, and instead, only massively accelerated our consumption – an imperative under our suicidal economic system simply because the system would collapse with perpetual/infinite growth. One would be delusional to believe that we will in the future, on our own accord, make any meaningful attempt to address our consumption fetish – even as resources disappear at an accelerated rate. In the United States of Megalomania, and beyond, new generations are indoctrinated by design to be super-consumers – almost from the moment they can walk. The system demands it. Today, like deadly cancer cells, the western culture is permeating most all other cultures on our finite planet. Why would an investment firm (or their stockholders) believe that continued investment in fossil fuels would place their investments at risk when the American anthem “we will not apologize for our way of life” has become the empty dream to aspire to around the globe? The fossil fuel it takes to run an industrialized global economy built upon (and dependent upon) planned obsolescence is absolutely massive. Americans cannot even begin to comprehend the amount of fossil fuel necessary to allow such consumption to continue.

There is a reason such discussion and comments, such as the one which appears below, are highlighted on the Ceres website:

“Now, some people’s response is to demand that we end all coal production now – they say “End Coal.” Never mind that such a thing is simply not going to happen – there is no substitute now for metallurgical coal and if we stopped burning coal this afternoon and cut the power in the U.S. grid by 50 percent, as Mayor Bloomberg advocates, he’d be reading handwritten memos by candlelight this evening.”

We can cry “stop the Keystone XL!” and “Save the planet!” and “Action on climate change!” all we want. Yet, until we are willing to completely and collectively starve the corporate-machine that hums beneath our capitalist system, we remain chained to our demise. This includes but is in no way limited to: the most minimal amount of community-owned/cooperative energy (as clean and safe as possible) to meet only our most very basic needs; local and regenerative plant-based agriculture based on permaculture principles; trade/cooperative banking, etc. etc. etc. Yet, here there is a critical distinction that must be made.

Is “community-owned/cooperative energy (as clean and safe as possible) to meet only our most very basic needs” better than what we have at present? Yes. It would be difficult to argue otherwise. And yet, the question that arises is this: why are we looking (through tunnel vision) at (a global proliferation of) renewable energy infrastructure (the creation, transporting of and maintenance of, all dependent on fossil fuels) when the very societies (predominantly Euro-American) marketing/advocating the 100% renewable energy campaigns (via NGOs), the same societies creating 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, have not even succeeded, let alone even attempted, to cut our current consumption/emissions by at least half? (50% being a starting point only). After all, renewable energy infrastructure on a global scale is further ecological destruction (on a massive scale) to a planet in which planetary boundaries, feedbacks and tipping points have already being crossed.

Massively cutting our energy consumption for essentials such as heat will be very difficult if not impossible. Virtual zero carbon emissions would appear to be no easy feat. But deep and immediate cuts in emissions would be achievable simply by the eradication of, or even the collective rejection of, energy-intensive products, flying [critical][4] and energy-intensive food sources. Think no more “Black Friday.” Think the relinquishing of air conditioners, personal automobiles, fast food, flying, gadgets and everything else we believe we need, but which are in reality, for the most part, no more than short-sighted wants.

Considering that a massive amount of all energy is unnecessarily wasted (over 40% in the U.S.) while over 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are from industrialized factory farming, this could perhaps be achieved – but the fact is that we have not done so. Industrialized factory farming is perhaps the most taboo subject (along with the lethal military-industrial complex) among the liberal left and in particular the NPIC, much to the detriment of our children and billions of other sentient beings. Also not spoken of is the multitude of health benefits (let alone the immense environmental benefits) of a collective transition to a plant-based diet. We don’t talk about it despite a frightening epidemic of childhood diabetes (due to obesity) in America. One in three children born today in the U.S. is expected to develop diabetes in her/his lifetime, with black and Hispanic children having the highest risk.] Of course, such a transition (which requires no legislation) will never be championed by the NPIC simply because 1) it costs people nothing (therefore there is no profit to be made), 2) it threatens corporate power (leaving factory farming a reprehensible act of the past), and finally, 3) such a transition would leave the pharmaceutical industrial complex in the cold. Why prevent disease when we can “treat” it, further lining the pockets of big pharma? What foundations would fund such nonsense? The same foundations financing the national campaign to cut your consumption by 50%: none. Another barrier is the fact that 350.org et al, as well as the NPIC as a whole, understand their target audience well. Middle class, privileged, predominantly white. The NPIC employs and depends upon multi-million-dollar marketing companies to poll reactions – more importantly, reactions to specific language and phrases – prior to launching any campaign. They don’t “lead” with progressive/radical ideologies – they cater to corporate-driven and celebrated individualism. In other words, they give the people what the people want to hear. And to suggest to the American populace that it would be in their best interest to not eat dead animals three times a day or to consume/purchase only what is vitally necessary is to risk being nailed to a stake and burned alive.

One must question how it is at all sensible to believe the solution is “green” energy, when there have been zero attempts to curb our consumption to date. More is simply more. It is a fact that as all new “renewable” energies have come online, the end result has been more energy consumed. Perhaps one could argue for (or even believe) in “100% energy for 100% of the people” if we had achieved massive cuts in our emissions/consumption to date or even if such a process was now being taken on with war-time mobilization efforts. But they have not and are not. No doubt one will argue that once the renewable infrastructure is in place, we will de-commission all the fossil fuel plants. Yet what evidence is there that at any time we (the 1% creating 50% of the GHG emissions) will give up any energy – or anything at all? If we haven’t by now, and we certainly haven’t, why would the future be any different? The illusion of a future that runs on “clean,” “renewable” energy (by 2050) is allowing us to ignore (and continue) our rapacious consumption today. The “100% renewable” campaign serves the same purpose as the carbon “budget” (30 more years to “safely” burn) and the zero emissions by 2050 “goal.” The carefully constructed phrases, marketed and normalized by the tentacles of empire, deliberately serve the illusion that we can keep consuming, keep burning, keep killing, keep growing, as per usual. Today’s emergency is kept locked away in the future. It is easy to promise zero in 2050 when by this time the Earth will likely be uninhabitable, with little to no life, human or otherwise.

100-per-cent-for-the-one-percent-lg

The slogan that appeared for the “People’s Climate March” – “100% energy for the 100%” – is nothing but a phrase that serves to alleviate guilt. A sign/phrase based on reality would read “100% energy for the 1-3%” (the 1% being anyone who can afford to get on an airplane). Most all “renewable” energies will flow to the very same people who have always had the energy since the beginning of the industrial revolution: the empire states, the Annex I states, the privileged few. As an example, the October 29, 2014 article “Solar Power Plant in Africa to Supply Europe” states that “by 2018, a large solar power plant in the Tunisian part of the Sahara desert may start sending power to energy-hungry Western Europe.” This is nothing new. This is the norm. This is imperialism – the highest stage of capitalism. Beautiful Africa, the most resource-rich continent on Earth, ravaged and terrorized for her abundant wealth, her people purposely impoverished by colonial and imperial states. Consider that nearly 97% of the people on the planet that are without access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia – and then ask yourself why African solar is being transported to Europe, part of the 1% that already creates 50% of the GHG emissions.

It’s not what we need to add to “the existing” that should be our initial effort. Our initial effort/focus should be on what we can live without. An extraordinarily massive amount LESS. The relinquishing of what we don’t need is far more important than using what little remains of Earth’s natural resources to create additional infrastructure. The planet has already been raped and pillaged to the max. Climate science aside, humans are rapidly exhausting all Earth’s natural resources. July 7, 2002: “Earth’s population will be forced to colonise two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate, according to a report out this week… In a damning condemnation of Western society’s high consumption levels, it adds that the extra planets (the equivalent size of Earth) will be required by the year 2050 as existing resources are exhausted. The report, based on scientific data from across the world, reveals that more than a third of the natural world has been destroyed by humans over the past three decades.” October, 2010: “…our demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966 and we’re using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities. If we continue living beyond the Earth’s limits, by 2030 we’ll need the equivalent of two planets’ productive capacity to meet our annual demands.” Is it any surprise we would rather focus all of our energies on how much more/what more we need in order to be “sustainable” (an oxymoron if there ever was one), rather than focus on what we can cut out of our lives in an attempt to be sustainable … starting today. Not because it will save us, but simply because it is the right thing to do. The fact that we do not do so and will not do so reveals much about our western societies and ourselves… perhaps more than we can bear to look at. Is this critical? Consider the response by Administrator of NASA, Charles Bolden speaking at the Humans to Mars summit: “If this species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multi-planet species. We need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems.” (Note that the quest to place greenhouses on and colonize Mars is well underway.)

A transition from our suicidal economic system to a system in which knowledge, dignity, courage and compassion serve as our shared foundation is paramount. We must start somewhere. Even if the beginning of such a transition is shared collectively in ideology alone, this would represent a true turning point toward a society grounded in humility and decency with purpose.

Until we do, we remain modern day slaves numbly intoxicated with 21st century soma. Our actions speak louder than words, “likes” and clicks.

Quiet Now

Illustration by Katharina Rot via social media. Attached were the words from a daughter to her father: “love this daddy” to which the father replied: “[Y]our girl will do this someday.”

The only way to stop an uncaged monster hurtling us towards oblivion faster than the speed of light is to starve it. This requires the participation of the masses – led by those at the margins. Together, we must starve the monster to the best of our ability, until it loses strength. At this point, when the system is weak and on its knees, in a valiant and united effort, we must do everything in our power to destroy it, shifting the existing power structures back to where they belong: with the people.

 

Good for people – bad for Wall Street.

 

 

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Next: Part IX

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Established in 2010, the World Climate Summit (WCS) worked with three categories of partners: Founding, Industry and Media Partners. “WCS is building the most comprehensive coalition of companies, investment, government, industry and media partners to come to the Summit during UNFCCC COP 16.” WCS founding partners are TIME, CNN International, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, Dow Jones, The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group [a  TckTckTck partner that is no longer made public on the tcktcktck.org website], The Climate Group [a Rockefeller NGO], UN Global Compact, Bright Green, United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), The World Bank, The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Club of Beijing, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, and the support of the Mexican Government’s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, ProMexico. The World Climate Summit held access to more than 60 industry associations, 100 chambers of commerce, 2,500 corporations, and more than 530 investors representing more than $64 trillion of assets under management.

[2] “Ceres’ investor and NGO partners are already channeling the Roadmap into concrete action, including dozens of face-to-face meetings with companies. Our recent UN climate summit brought together investors who manage $22 trillion, many of whom called on the U.S. and other countries to move quickly to reduce global carbon emissions.” (2009-2010 annual report)

[3] INCR brought together 450 investors representing $22 trillion at the United Nations for the fourth Investor Summit on Climate Risk in 2010 – a fifth Ceres-sponsored Investor Summit is coming to the U.N. in January 2012. (2010-2011 annual report)

[4] Particulates, not CO2, are perhaps the greatest contributor to the melting of the Arctic. Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering in Stanford’s Atmosphere and Energy Program, believes that soot is the primary cause of melting arctic ice, stating that “[C]ontrolling soot may be the only way to significantly slow Arctic warming over the next two decades.” In a study published in 2012 Jacobson led a team of scientists to calculate the monetary cost to reroute the flights around the Arctic circle. The study found rerouting would increase costs by approx. one hundred million dollars a year in higher fuel and operating costs (47 to 55 times less than the global warming costs to the U.S. alone which would occur without doing so). The result of rerouting would be the reduction of the jet fuel emissions of black carbon by approx. 83% in the Arctic Circle. This would not only delay the loss of the Arctic sea ice but also reduce warming worldwide on a global average by 2%. [Source]

“Air traffic is the biggest source of pollution in the Arctic. Ever since cross-polar flights became commonplace in the late 1990s, flights crossing the Arctic Circle have risen steadily, surpassing 50,000 in 2010. While cross-polar flights account for only a tiny percent of total global emissions from aviation, the standard cruising altitude for commercial planes in the Arctic is the stratosphere, an extremely stable layer of the atmosphere. Black carbon and other emissions get trapped in this layer and as a result remain in the atmosphere longer, causing far more damage than emissions from flights at lower latitudes, scientists say. The research team gathered emissions data from 40,399 cross-polar flights in 2006 and used computer simulations to compare what would happen over the next 22 years if those flights skirted the Arctic rather than following their current routes.” [2012 New York Times]

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VII of an Investigative Report] [The Wolves of Wall Street]

The Art of Annihilation

December 18, 2014

Part seven of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

wolvesofws1 

 Image courtesy of Mark Gould

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

Prologue: A Coup d’État of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

 

Monetizing Natural Capital | Ecosystem Services

You may recognize Mindy Lubber’s name (President of 350.org partner, Ceres) from the Think Progress blog (excellent climate science source, funded in large part by Rockefeller) where she is referred to as “an expert on water scarcity” among the liberal left. Therefore, it should be of little surprise to anyone that a key focus of Ceres appears to be meticulously and cautiously preparing the ground for mass privatization (what Ceres refers to as “monetizing natural capital” or “ecosystem services”) of water in the United States (and beyond). [Restoring Flows, Financing the Next Generation of Water Systems, A Strategy for Coalition Building. Authors: Ceres and American Rovers, DOCUMENT]

“Unlike market development in Europe and Australia, the private sector has had a relatively small role in providing water infrastructure services in the United States. While some communities have entered into a variety of arrangements to ‘privatize’ their water services, there is a wide range of potential roles that private entities may play in the water market that fall short of being an outright full-service provider.” [Emphasis added]

 

Under “Needs and Opportunities” within the report: “Develop alternate model business plans for providers, including public, private and public:private partnerships.”

Preparing a populace – one that strongly opposes water privatization – for water privatization requires calculated language and schemes to keep the public at bay. Schemes that “fall short of being an outright full-service provider,” if outright privatization in its most pure form is not an option, are an imperative for “success.”

As president of Ceres, Lubber is well compensated for the task at hand with an annual salary from the Ceres non-profit of $193,025, with an additional $32,190 in “other compensation for the organization and other related organizations.” [Source: Form 990, 2012].

With Ceres receiving 60% of its revenues from foundation grants in the 2012 fiscal year ($5,233,360) with membership fees ($1,843,052) providing 22% of the revenues [2012 annual report] (conference fees, sponsorship, and individual family and “foundation family” account for the remainder to the tune of $8,316,636), the Ceres non-profit is in a position to pay flush salaries.

+++

The monetization of Earth’s remaining natural resources (or “natural capital,” the carefully applied term that acts as a patina masking the true intent) sounds as though it is far too vile of an idea to ever be accepted by society. Yet, the elite establishment – with the non-profit industrial complex as their pimps of pathological ideologies – have every intent of seeing the commodification of Earth’s remaining natural resources transform into capital, for complete corporate capture in the not-so-distant future.

Consider the behavioural change experiment that took place on September 21, 2014 (branded as “The People’s Climate March”).

WorldBankMarchPhoto

The People’s Climate March in New York City was a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront. Perhaps never in history have we witnessed 300,000 to 400,000 citizens (whose rights and freedoms are being systematically dismantled every day by a corporate-state that liberal elites continue to prop up) joining hands with their oppressors – literally marching with their oppressors in the streets both knowingly and willingly. This must be considered a benchmark in history by those who study behavioural change – a feat perhaps unmatched since 1929 when Edward Bernays brilliantly transformed cigarettes into “freedom torches” as the symbol of emancipated women for the tobacco industry.

[Video (running time: 2:52). Excerpt from the movie “The War You Don’t See” by John Pilger. Bernays, a pioneer of modern propaganda, persuaded woman to embrace smoking as a symbol of women’s liberation.]

torches-of-freedom--thereby-linking-smoking-with-challenging-male-authority

The Road to Riches | Monetization of Earth’s Remaining Natural Resources

The following excerpts are extracted from the article This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe published on Wrong Kind of Green (September 12, 2014). It serves as an introduction to the PR firm Purpose (Inc.) – as a glimpse into a behavioural change/economics think-tank.

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”

 

Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than nine million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined….” [Source]

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

conformity-is-unity-3

Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The expertise behind both Avaaz and Purpose is in behavioural change. Where the employment of behavioural change infused by Avaaz is on display, the double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by the empire’s U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

 “We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.Jeremy Heimans, when asked how he was going to use the $100,000 he received from the Ford Foundation

Purpose (with its co-founders), a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes, sell their consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012 it raised $3m from investors. Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, “reckons it is shaping up to be ‘one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.'” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky, which merged with 350.org in 2011) also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Make no mistake, the Yale (Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the Avaaz boys (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson, who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member.” [Further reading on the B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”

In the video published on November 21, 2012, filmed during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship,” Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut.” He states:

“…how else could movement building and mass participation help transform society? And that’s what we’re working on at Purpose. We’re thinking at Purpose not just how you build political movements but now what are some of the insights from that, that can be used to do things like scale demand for the green economy? Right? Demand for the green economy is in a rut. There isn’t large-scale demand it. What if we tried to build a movement around that and organize people in a systematic way….”

In this Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal, and the campaign to achieve the goal, are made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy”) in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

 “…Well, the results of our research really have two main conclusions I want to share with you today, and the first is a little startling and it may create a little bit of a disequilibrium… and that is that I think we need to kill the language and imagery and green in order to have any real shot at scaling sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

“So they like the idea of green, it’s kind of a value they are happy to cloak themselves in, you know it’s a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn’t there because as soon as it’s even slightly difficult they’re out the door. So what do we do? So here’s some things that I think we can do that might up-end this situation and as I said, it does require starting with killing green as a friend. We can’t lead with green, because most of the green products that are out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying, you know, ‘We’re green, do the right thing.’ We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside.”

Heimans summarizes the methodology.

“… the answer we think is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly of the new forms of businesses that are green, but don’t knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger, we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right of access to clean water and turn it into a commodity market that a public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Shah. ‘They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20% of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim “we have a water ATM.”‘” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. (One may wish to note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.)

“Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting ‘new economy’ products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee.” — The Economist, The business of campaigning, Profit with Purpose, January 26, 2013

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

+++Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Ignoring the Obvious – The Only Number that Matters Has Always Been Zero

Ceres: “60-90% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels is needed by 2050 to avoid worst case scenarios for global warming” [Source: CERES 2007-2008 Annual Report]

 

Ceres: “Companies will reduce GHG emissions by 25% from their 2005 baseline by 2020, by improving energy efficiency of operations by at least 50%, reducing electricity demand by at least 15% and obtaining at least 30% of energy from renewable sources.… The Ceres Roadmap expectations are aligned with the scientific targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that call for the U.S. to achieve reductions of 80 percent below 1990 baseline levels by 2050. —The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability current webpage [Source]

 

Reality: “There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

On May 9, 2013, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history, the highest since the Pliocene. (The daily average for May 9, 2013 was 400.03 ppm)

It is slightly ironic that 350.org succeeded so brilliantly in the complete pacification of a global civil society by promoting 350 ppm as a “safe operating limit for humanity.” Thus, the message so skillfully projected/orchestrated in tandem with media, that global citizens were not/are not in any immediate danger, provided the means to further destroy our shared environment in order to allow the very economic structure systemically destroying all life on Earth to continue unabashed. The message that can be summarized as “continue as you were” was (and continues to be) in stark contrast to the message laid out to humanity in 1988.

At the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, in Toronto, Canada, scientists, politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [*1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.” [*In 1988 the average CO2 atmospheric concentration was 351.56 ppm.]

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.”

Yet the non-profit industrial complex (in which both 350.org and its partner Ceres play leading roles) would have us believe that 25 years (over a quarter of a century) later, with atmospheric carbon emissions having exceeded 400 ppm, with planetary boundaries being surpassed, irreversible feedbacks having been set into motion, disappearing Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, mass species eradication/extinctions, and hundreds of thousands of climate-related deaths each and every passing year, we can still afford to keep burning fossil fuels under the guise of “clean” energy and so-called carbon “budgets.”

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” — Scientific & Technical Briefing to the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18, 2009 [1]

The NPIC Stop the KXL (Keystone XL pipeline extension) campaign qualifies as a brilliant and strategic, albeit suicidal, Trojan horse. Simultaneously, the campaign led by 350.org paved the way for our collective denialism to be embraced and embellished. For the past five years this multi-million-dollar campaign was relentless in the quest to ensure it was perceived as the key most important struggle in our climate struggle. Who can forget James Hansen referring to the KXL project as “the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet” and “game over” for the climate? All while dialogue on consumption/growth fetish, industrialized capitalism, militarism, Fukushima/nuclear, transition to a plant-based diet, rapidly destabilizing methane hydrates (literal carbon bombs) and Warren Buffett’s newfound rail dynasty now transporting the same tar sands oil via bomb trains, was nowhere to be found. The focus on a single pipeline granted the American populace full permission to ignore the urgent need to connect the dots, as the window for any possible climate mitigation finally closed. Keep the economy growing was the underlying message. The chosen discourse, that of 350 ppm as our global target (the maximum / uppermost limit) was and remains an excellent way to avoid facing the fact that only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool (cooling that would not even begin for centuries, if not thousands of years, after zero was achieved). Not to worry, once atmospheric CO2 reaches unfathomable numbers and the “target” of 350 ppm begins to sound ridiculous, 350.org et al will simply move on to the 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

400.org

Above screenshot: 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

Chalk up the bizarre fact that there appears to be no anger by the public whatsoever in response to this highly-financed recklessness and disregard for life. This is no doubt due to a lifetime of obedience, passivity, subservience and indoctrination – much of it hammered home, drilled into the ever more vacant minds, by the non-profit industrial complex itself. That being said, people will get mad as hell when the grocery store shelves go empty. Of course, that will be far too late.

“Even more disturbing is new research from Ballantyne, Axford et al. which says that during the Pliocene epoch, when CO2 levels were ~400 ppm, Arctic surface temperatures were 15-20°C warmer than today’s surface temperatures. They suggest that much of the surface warming likely was due to ice-free conditions in the Arctic.” [Source] Today, the Arctic sea ice is declining at an unprecedented speed. “Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea-ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water” (McKie, 2012).

+++

To clarify, only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool. [“In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilised at a constant level.” [http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-10-3.html]

The concept of the “carbon budget” (legitimized by the Carbon Tracker et al reports, Bill McKibben (350.org) and the liberal left at large) is nothing more than a crafted mechanism that serves the reckless illusion that global society can continue to “safely burn” fossil fuels for many more decades. Ignore the fact that a “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. [N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov, A. Salyuk, D. Kosmach, 2008] No, the mounting climate emergency is not today. Rather, it’s only a problem that we can put off dealing with until 30 years from now. (The so-called carbon budget will be discussed further in this report).

Apathy is slowly consuming the last vestiges of our humanity – we are slowly drowning in a sea of indifference.

Today, more than 25 years after the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, CO2 emissions have reached an all-time high. As corporate profits and corporate power have soared – so have emissions. The global community must acknowledge that the industrialized capitalist economic system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements”

The following excerpts [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex] serve as an example of how the oligarchs fund the movements.

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2]; the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999; Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004; and the Tides Network in 2006. [5]

By 2010, the combined cash flow of Tides regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010. [Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010) according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently, Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

350credo

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia], again, the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

The Tides Foundation could be described as a priceless, magical, money-funneling machine of epic proportion for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation grants to Tides – both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”), enticing novice NGOs with the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org et al transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett, to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, to Tides, and finally to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign, which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century rail empire, thus brilliantly demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements.”

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so clearly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, rather it should be considered strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty and started shipping tar sands oil by rail with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline, which was, for the most part, already built.

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approximately $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres, with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000 | 2010, $150,000 | 2009, $100,000 | 2006, $17,500 | 2004, $25,000.00]

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On October 1, 2012, in the article “Amnesty Coup,” author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

Next: Part VIII

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part IV | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

$26 Million Shades of Grey

 

September 10, 2014

 

Part four of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

 

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | TIDES

The United States of America is not a democracy, but an oligarchy – with the rich controlling government decisions and the average American having practically zero influence over public policies. Some call it a capitalist dictatorship, where “capital” does the dictating.

Here’s a good example of the oligarchy controlling the puppets. During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and Peter’s partner, Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

Ten-Top-Donors-to-Tides

Graph [1] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2], the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999, Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004, and the Tides Network in 2006 [5].

By 2010, Tides’ combined cash flow regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010.[Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010), according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital.”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia]. Again, these are the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN 

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein (350.org board member) with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

As illustrated by the intermingling of many of these behind the scenes capital investors, The Tides Foundation could best be described as a priceless, magical, money funneling machine of epic proportions for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation makes grants to Tides (to both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”) enticing novice NGOs to the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.”

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org, et al. transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation to Tides and finally, to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign (which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century oil-transporting rail empire), thus demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements” brilliantly.

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so brilliantly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, but rather strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements” | Buffett’s NoVo Foundation

Tar Sands Illustration SM

Above: Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan. Further reading: Offsetting Resistance

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline that was, for the most part, already built.

NorthAmericaPipelines

Image: Pipelines in North American Pipelines (all commodities) Source: The Globe & Mail, Feb 19, 2011

cbr-loadings---annual-2008---2013 

Image: Moving the Crude, March 10, 2014: “Three years ago, there was not that much crude oil moving by rail. Most tank cars were searching for ethanol as demand for the mandated fuel additive dropped. The Bakken oil fields were just starting to show promise, the development rush was just starting, and the Keystone XL was encountering its first real obstacles. Funny what can happen in three years. While pipelines still are the dominant method for moving both crude and petroleum products, rail is growing at an exponential rate.”

It should be of no surprise to anyone that the NoVo Foundation holds shares in Berkshire Hathaway Stock. According to the NoVo Foundation website, in 2006, Warren Buffett “promised to give roughly $1 billion of Class B Berkshire Hathaway stock to each of the foundations his children run as part of a plan to give the bulk of his fortune to charity.” Buffett’s comment would serve to be most prophetic:

“‘They’ve done everything I’ve hoped for and more with the original gifts.’ …Peter Buffett said it’s nice to hear his father praise the charitable work he has been doing and that this latest gift should enable NoVo Foundation to accomplish more. ‘It means we get to go deeper essentially.'”

According to Forbes, Buffett further pledged $3 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to his children’s foundations in September of 2012. On July 14, 2014, Buffett “donated 1,160,981 shares of Class B Common Stock to each of the Sherwood Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the NoVo Foundation pursuant to his previously announced irrevocable pledges to these foundations.” [Source] “By donating at the market value of the shares, Mr. Buffett gets credit for the appreciation in the shares, but doesn’t have to pay income tax on his gain.” (Buffett is not alone in his understanding of how to sidestep income tax. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has done the same thing. Mr. Zuckerberg donated $500 million of his Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Zuckerberg made his donation in the form of 18 million shares, translating to a $500 million tax deduction.”) [Source]

Funding Buys Both Acquiescence and Silence

“North America’s major freight railroads are in the midst of a building boom unlike anything since the industry’s Gilded Age heyday in the 19th century.” – The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2013

On July 6, 2013 rail tankers transporting Bakken crude oil derailed, annihilating the entire downtown district of Lac Mégantic, Quebec.

Up to this time, the leading NGOs that led the Keystone XL campaign only uttered the word “rail” publicly, when unable to manoeuvre the growing dialogue on the issue of expanding rail. This would be Canada’s worst rail disaster since 1864, killing 47 citizens, including children, 5 having been completely vapourized.

The Lac Mégantic tragedy was so horrific that it could not be ignored. If ever there was a time to campaign on the dangers of crude oil transported via rail, this was it. If ever there was a time to focus on the necessity to end tar sands extraction, at the source of production (which translates to a massive decline in energy consumption and economic growth), rather than a single pipeline, this was it.

Although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, it speaks volumes that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters.

Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013. [Source]

NoVo Grants to Tides

The NoVo webstate states: “Jennifer and Peter have been active philanthropists since 1997. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.” Yet 990 forms demonstrate that the NoVo foundation actually filed a tax return in the year 2000 under the name The Spirit Foundation.

NoVo 990, 2012: Warren Buffett contributed $53,089,976.00 to NoVo | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $795,000.00 (TC); $3,269,685.00 (TF) ($181,040.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Indigenous Peoples Fund $1,735,000.00) (TF); $350,000.00 (TC); $477,557.00 (TF) ($174,087.00 – Anonymous Donor Advised Funds) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2012

NoVo 990, 2011: Warren Buffett contributed $51,808,325.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $254,000.00 (TC); $350,000.00 (TC); $180,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $500,000.00 (TF); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $395,000.00 (TF); $100,000.00 (TF); $250,000.00 (TF); $25,000.00 (TF) Approved for future payment: $275,000.00 (TC); $75,000.00 (TC); $700,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2011

NoVo 990, 2010: Warren Buffett contributed $56,167,099.00 to NoVo. NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $293,000.00 (TC); $49,284.00 (TC); $535,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $1,425,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $25,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2010

NoVo 990, 2009: Warren Buffett contributed $43,874,620.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $275,000.00 (TC); $25,000.00 (TC); $1,000,000.00 (TC); 606,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $2,000,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund) (TF); $250,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $40,000.00 (Indigenous People’s Fund)(TF); $350,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF); $275,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (Indigenous Peoples Fund) (TF); $450,000.00 (Anonymous Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2009

NoVo 990, 2008: Warren Buffett contributed $62,765,356.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $330,000.00 (TC); $250,000.00 (TC); $500,000.00 (TC); $550,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $500,000.00 (TC), $2,600,000.00 (Donor Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2008

NoVo 990, 2007: Warren Buffett contributed $61,745,250.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $500,000.00 (TC); 4,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF); $1,000,000.00 (TC); $2,000,000.00 (environmental fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2007

NoVo 990, 2006: Warren Buffett contributed $52,957,500.00 to NoVo. | NoVo’s contribution to TIDES: $2,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund)(TF) $6,000,000.00 (Environment Advised Fund) (TF). (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStocks2006

NoVo 990, 2005: ***FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Spirit’s/NoVo’s contribution to Tides: $3,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF); $8,000,000.00 (Environment Fund) (TF) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2005

NoVo 990, 2004: THE SPIRIT FOUNDATION | Warren and Susan Buffett contributed $10,020.00 to Spirit. The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation contributed $10,792.00 to Spirit. Spirit’s contribution to Tides: $25,000.00 (TC); $2,940,003.50 (TC); $105,000 (TC) (Grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment.)

NoVoStock2004

 

$26 Million Shades of Grey 

 

NoVo-Grants-to-Tides

Graph [7] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

It is important to note that the many of the funds above, from NoVo to Tides, are designated, on paper, to specific campaigns. Yet at the same time one must be cognitive of the observation mentioned prior: “Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used….” With $26 million in funding, one can safely assume two things: that Tides and NoVo have a relationship that extends far beyond what is documented on paper, and that Tides will not be funding a campaign against Buffett’s crude-via-rail dynasty anytime soon.

 

Timeline:

 

  • June, 2006: Warren Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation as well as other philanthropic organizations, including NoVo.
  • 2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.
  • 2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.
  • Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.
  • August 2009: US State Department approves Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline. 350.org et al are silent.
  • Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $34 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the eighteenth largest corporation on Earth.
  • Feb 4, 2010: 86 US organizations call on President Obama to reject the pipeline.
  • 2010-2014: Warren Buffet succeeds in building a 21st century rail empire with no dissent. Crude via rail soars.

350.org-Funding

Graph [8] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett] Note: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network.

As crude via rail soars, NoVo’s own net worth soars with it. Yet, there has been no reaction to the fact Buffett’s NoVo has been the number one contributor to Tides. Rather, the symbolic “Stop the Keystone XL” campaign still drags on….

With the fight over the Keystone Pipeline still raging in Washington, a Kansas-based rail operator and an oil logistics firm are planning a rail terminal in Port Arthur that could double the number of barrels of oil sands crude flowing to the Gulf Coast from Canada…. Kansas City Southern stock jumped up as high as $110.76 a share following the announcement.” — Keystone? Who needs it? Railroad plans fuel terminal for Port Arthur, Boz Journals, July 10, 2014 [Emphasis added]

All while the majority of the public has no clue that not only has much of the pipeline already been built, much of it is in operation. Again, sadly, it appears that the right of centre is much more astute than the left. On September 5, 2013, an article appearing on The American Enterprise Institute reproduces the following from U.S.A Today:

“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration. There are six things most people don’t know that make the mystery deeper … following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks. The Keystone XL project that has received so much attention is the last phase of a larger project. [Emphasis in original]

Phase 1 has been operating since 2010, carrying oil from Alberta across three Canadian provinces and six states to refineries in Illinois (see solid brown line in map).

Phase 2 expanded the system from Steele City, Neb., to Cushing, Okla., a major U.S. oil refining and storing hub (see solid green line in map). It went operational two years ago, again with no major problems.

Phase 3, under construction, extends the pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast refineries in Texas (see orange dashed line in map). President Obama even gave a speech in Cushing in March 2012 — during his re-election bid — praising the pipeline extension as good for the economy.

Phase 4, the Keystone XL, would build another extension to the pipeline system from Alberta, crossing only three states (Montana, South Dakota then Nebraska, see blue dashed line in map).”

Tides-Tar-Sands-Campaign-Funding

Graph [9] [From part III | Beholden to Buffett]

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approx. $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres (350.org divestment campaign partner), with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000.00 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000.00 | 2010, $150,000.00 | 2009, $100,000.00 | 2006, $17,500.00) | 2004, $25,000.00]

One could argue that since the NoVo Foundation was established with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stocks (it continues to receive bulk shares), it therefore dismisses any just questioning of the funneling of revenue from Warren Buffett, into his family’s NoVo Foundation and then into the Tides Foundation. One may wish to deem this as completely irrelevant, despite the fact that the Tides Foundation was/is the key distributor of anti-pipeline campaign financing for the non-profit industrial complex. Yet the fact that the NoVo Foundation’s wealth (and power) increases when and as long as the Berkshire Hathaway stock increases (with expanding rail transportation of oil) – surely demonstrates a devious strategy on the part of both benefactor and recipient. At minimum, it demonstrates an almost criminal conflict of interest.

“Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.” — Michael Barker — paraphrased from Joel Bakan’s The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

The media’s glorification of those who profit the most from the rape and pillage of our planet acts as a shield for brilliant albeit pathologically rich human beings. The media’s glorification also applies to those selected and assigned to leadership positions within the non-profit industrial complex. The media assures us that everyone we know adores and trusts these manufactured celebrities. In Rockefeller We Trust – meekly, and cowardly, we collectively kowtow to the implanted meme insulated within the masses.

We have to consider that in 2002, prior to Buffett’s foray into concern over the environment and previous to his focus on rebuilding North America’s rail empire, there were no contributions from the NoVo Foundation (operating under the name Spirit Foundation) to Tides, whatsoever. (Warren Buffett contributed $300,000.00 to the Spirit Foundation that same year.)

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On Oct 1, 2012, in the article, Amnesty Coup, author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

 

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

[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, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Endnotes:

[1]  Activists should take note of the information/funding sources, disclosed in far-right Canadian Vivian Krause’s investigative reports/research. (“Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer. Her work raises fair questions about the science and the funding of environmental campaigns. During the 1990s, Vivian worked on community health and development in Guatemala and Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Masters Degree from l’Université de Montréal. Vivian is also a contributor to The Financial Post.” Source: Huffington Post.) From the PowerPoint presentation “Rethinking Environmental Activism Against Canadian Energy.”

[2] “Tides Foundation’s primary exempt purpose is grantmaking. We empower individuals and institutions to move money efficiently and effectively towards positive social change”. – Tides

[3] The said purpose of the Tides Center is “to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs.” – Tides | As the Capital Research Center explains:”Under the Tides Center umbrella, the new group can then accept tax deductible contributions without needing to apply immediately to the IRS for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity tax status…. Besides giving a new project its seal of approval, the Tides Center performs a notable service in showing new groups how to run an office, apply for grants, conduct effective public relations, and handle the many personnel, payroll, and budget problems that might baffle a novice group.” The Center also functions as a legal firewall insulating the Tides Foundation from potential lawsuits.

[4] The said purpose of Tides Inc. is “to provide economically, programatically and environmentally sustainable workplace facilities and other value-added social and real estate services to the Tides Family of Organizations and other nonprofit organizations that further similar charitable purposes. The said purpose of Tides Two Rivers Foundation is that it “acts as a supporting organization to the Tides Foundation, a grant making foundation, and the Tides Center, a comprehensive fiscal sponsor of non-profit activities.” – Tides | “Tides Canada is a Canadian charitable organization established in 2000 by a founding board that included Drummond Pike, also founder of Tides US. While Tides Canada’s name was inspired by Tides US, it is an independent entity with separate management and distinct organizational structure. With headquarters in Vancouver and offices in Toronto and Yellowknife, Tides Canada is made up of two separate legal entities. Tides Canada Foundation is a national public foundation that focuses on social justice and the environment and Tides Canada Initiatives Society is a shared administrative platform for 40 in-house social change projects with field staff across the country.” [Wikipedia]

[5] “The specific purposes of Tides Network includes charitable and educational activities exclusively to support Tides Foundation, The Tides Center, and Tides, Inc. and Tides Two Rivers Fund.” – Tides

[6] The REVEL award is a creation of the Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite, annual benefit REVEL event (“It was a gorgeous affair.”) To illustrate the long relationship between various leaders of the faux environmental movement, Credo’s Kieschnick (“eco” capitalist extraordinaire) and Bill McKibben (as noted earlier, Klein’s primary establishment counterpart at 350.org/1Sky), go back to at least 2007 during the days of Step It Up, McKibben’s first nationwide campaign. [After one year in operation, Rockefeller “awarded $100,000 to McKibben and Step It Up on March 13, 2008 to support its new project, an initiative called Project 350”. Source] This should come as no surprise considering Credo Mobile is a financial supporter of Democratic Party and key partner of 350.org (This relationship is strikingly similar to Avaaz, which was co-founded by Democrat and former congressman Tom Perriello, and is also a key partner, financier and ally of 350.org/1sky).

[7] [8] [9] See [1] above.

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VI of an Investigative Report] [A Glimpse of Truth in a Sea of Liars]

The Art of Annihilation

September 9, 2014

Part six of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

 

Revolving Doors | Interlocking Directorate

Prior to her role of Ceres President, Mindy Lubber held various high level positions in government, financial services and the not-for-profit sector. In 1995 Lubber worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a senior policy advisor. In 2000 Lubber was named regional administrator under President Bill Clinton. Lubber was the founder, president and CEO of Green Century Capital Management and served as president of the National Environmental Law Center.

The Ceres well-oiled revolving doors glide seamlessly and effortlessly. Green “progressives” who share the Ceres climbing ladder include Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350.org, Nina Berger of 350.org and many more on the Ceres Board of Directors (as discussed prior, within this report).

Betsy Taylor (Ceres Board Member 2002-2009) is president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions. Taylor was a key player in the creation of Rockefeller’s incubator project, 1Sky, which officially merged with 350.org in 2011. Taylor continues to serve on the Board of Directors of 1Sky/350.org. As president of the Center for a New American Dream from 2002-2007, Taylor was present on the Ceres board of directors from 2002-2009, serving as chair in 2005 and 2006.

Nina Birger (Ceres Associate, Foundations, Development) interned with 350.org Massachusetts. Birger joined Ceres in 2012 as an Associate in Development. Somewhat ironically, in this role, Birger writes foundation reports and proposals, manages grants, and oversees foundation relationships.

The Earth Day Network global advisory committee is an excellent example of how America’s disturbing preoccupation and obsession with celebrity worship can easily cloud and make irrelevant what constitutes legitimate environmentalism. This particular global advisory committee includes individuals such as Bill McKibben, Ceres Mindy Lubber, Shaquille O’Neal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and many other US-manufactured and falsely glorified “celebrities.”

The professional “activists” are mostly all one big clique going back decades. For example, Taylor was doling out foundation funding decades ago. Obedient foot soldiers like Taylor rise to a level where they both receive funding and distribute it. They are the “strategists” trusted by funders to chart a course, to spend money and to anoint others to receive it. As a second example, McKibben has long had a deep friendship and camaraderie with Harriet Barlow, who doles out money for Adam Hochschild (HKH Foundation) and has done so for the last four decades. HKH Foundation grants funds to 1Sky/350.org. As a third example, Donald K. Ross started the PIRGs for Ralph Nader. Since the 1960’s, Nader has fought harder for consumer advocacy/protection than perhaps any other single person in America. Today, Ross has his own businesses in PR and online organizing. He was the chair of Greenpeace when the organization was under the direction of John Passacantando. During this time, Ross distributed many, many millions in Rockefeller money, etc.

One can best describe the liberal funding and professional activist circles as interlocking social and business circles. Those found within this circuit go back decades, working together in a myriad of ways. It’s very similar to a country club. The concept is known as an interlocking directorate, defined as the linkages among corporations created by individuals who sit on two or more corporate boards.

Obama Throws McKibben a Bone for Good Behaviour & Obedience

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Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

On July 8, 2013, the New York Times published an article titled Old Tactic in New Climate Campaign. The article centred on a lecture by President Obama who had spoken about climate change at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013. Within this advertisement article, the New York Time’s intent of highlighting the divestment campaign is no more subtle than a Marlboro cigarette ad promoting the commodified essence of cool. The portrayal of Obama as a noble president and leader delivering “crypto-radical” covert messages is beyond nauseating:

“It was a single word tucked into a presidential speech. It went by so fast that most Americans probably never heard it, much less took the time to wonder what it meant. But to certain young ears, the word had the shock value of a rifle shot. The reference occurred late in President Obama‘s climate speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, in the middle of this peroration: “Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.” That injunction to “divest” was, pretty clearly, a signal to the thousands of college students who have been manning the barricades for nearly a year now, urging their colleges to rid their endowments of stock in fossil-fuel companies as a way of forcing climate change higher on the national political agenda.

“‘The president of the United States knows we exist, and he likes what we’re doing,’ Marissa Solomon of the University of Michigan wrote soon after. Other students recounted leaping to their feet or nearly falling off their chairs when the president uttered the word. Chris Hayes, the host of a program on MSNBC who is young enough and smart enough to have caught the reference instantly, said on Twitter that “‘invest, divest’ is the most crypto-radical line the president has ever uttered.”

“Maybe it should come as no great surprise, though. Divestment as a tactic for social change holds a fond place in Barack Obama’s memory. Mr. Obama’s first foray into politics, as a student at Occidental College in the early 1980s, was in support of demands that the trustees divest from the stocks of companies doing business in South Africa under apartheid. In what he later called a piece of street theater, he was dragged off stage by two white students dressed up as oppressive Afrikaners. (He transferred to Columbia in 1981.) The White House is not elaborating on what the president meant at Georgetown by “divest,” but the smoke signals seem to suggest that he sees direct parallels between the movement of the 1980s and the one today…. Indeed, one way to read Mr. Obama’s speech is as a plea for help. He knows that if he is to get serious climate policies on the books before his term ends in 2017, he needs a mass political movement pushing for stronger action. No broad movement has materialized in the United States; 350.org and its student activists are the closest thing so far, which may be why Mr. Obama gazes fondly in their direction.”

Money simply can’t buy this type of false advertising and false hope that preys upon and manipulates the naïve. It is critical to understand that the divestment campaign is not a grassroots campaign. Rather, it is a choice vehicle to usher in and make palatable the illusory green economy (now being marketed/branded as the “new economy”), at a global scale: designed by Wall Street, made in the USA.

Illusory Green Economy = Guilt Free Consumerism

Over and over again we can observe Ceres member organizations and Ceres Board of Directors members working together in united cohesiveness to “normalize” and promote the illusory green economy with “progressive” media echoing the repetitive messaging through the chambers. Consider the following:

“Consider this post a love letter of sorts. Last week I was at the Ceres conference where environmentalists, investors and corporations meet to discuss ways to work together to protect the environment…But before all that, back to my new love … Step It Up 2007 which was all the talk at Ceres.” — May 4, 2007

“Credit Card Charges Include Carbon Offset ‘Reward’ For $1,000 Spent, About 1 Ton of Carbon…Brighter Planet touts its environmental credibility. Its advisory board includes Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Bill McKibben, prominent environmental author and activist; and Gus Speth, dean of the Yale Forestry School and co-founder of the World Resources Institute and the National Resources Defense Council.” — Nov 29, 2007 [Note that all the aforementioned orgs are represented on Ceres Board of Directors with both McKibben and Speth affiliated with 350.org (founder of 350.org and US advisory council respectively).]

 

“British news website BusinessGreen reports the group, which includes high profile campaigners such as 350.org’s Bill McKibben, Mindy Lubber of sustainable investment group Ceres, and Friends of the Earth’s Erich Pica, praises Mr Obama’s assertion during the election campaign that ‘climate change is not a hoax.'” – Jan 9, 2013 [Note that Friends of the Earth has also been a key org. and are represented on Ceres Board of Directors]

Round and round we go. On the “Distinguished Advisory Board” of the Better Future Project, we can again find both McKibben and Massie with other “prestigious progressives” such as Junko Yoda, Managing Director, Shellingford Ltd.; former Asia Regional Treasurer, Deutsche Bank; former Vice President, Goldman Sachs.

Ceres “Principles”

“Corporate social responsibility remains businessmen’s preferred response to threats to corporate power.” — Neil Mitchell, The Generous Corporation: A Political Analysis of Economic Power (Yale University Press, 1989), pp.143-4

Ceres created a high-gloss veneer of legitimacy by creating “principles” to establish a said environmental ethic with criteria by which investors and others can assess the environmental performance of corporations. Corporations that endorse the Ceres principles pledge to go voluntarily beyond existing legislation. The small print, that the general populace is not meant to read, is as follows:

“The terms may and might in Principles one and eight are not meant to encompass every imaginable consequence, no matter how remote. Rather, these Principles obligate endorsers to behave as prudent persons who are not governed by conflicting interests and who possess a strong commitment to environmental excellence and to human health and safety. These Principles are not intended to create new legal liabilities, expand existing rights or obligations, waive legal defenses, or otherwise affect the legal position of any endorsing company, and are not intended to be used against an endorser in any legal proceeding for any purpose.”

Yet, in reality, the endorsers are “governed by conflicting interests” and any set of principles, no matter how much better, moral or safer they allow us to feel, will not make this fact any less so.

The “Ceres Principles” are comprised of the following: 1) PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE, 2) SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 3) REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES, 4) ENERGY CONSERVATION, 5) RISK REDUCTION, 6) SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, 7) ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION, 8) INFORMING THE PUBLIC, 9) MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT and 10) AUDITS AND REPORTS. [1]

Twenty-six Years Later: How to Measure the “Success” of the Valdez/Ceres Principles

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co2_trend_mlo

Above graphs: Monthly mean atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii [2] The red line represents the summer (lower, because all the greenery of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer takes up/absorbs so much CO2) and winter (higher, because the leaves are gone in the NH’s winter) CO2 levels. The black line represents the mean between the two. Note that even in such a short timeframe, one can observe the trend of exponential growth in CO2 concentrations (note: not emissions).

It is a bitter irony that the year 1987 would be the last time industrial civilization witnessed CO2 concentrations below 350 ppm (at Mauna Loa Observatory). The irony arises from the fact that Ceres was founded in 1989. Only in a world gone mad could an organization continue to boast success, voluntarily led by the world’s most powerful and destructive corporations, while simultaneously, emissions have been increasing faster than ever witnessed before. The fact is, the more “successful” Ceres has become, the more emissions and concentrations have continued to soar.

Global emissions have skyrocketed to an increase of approximately 40% since 1992. The BP oil spill has decimated the Gulf of Mexico. The Fukushima disaster (of which the media black-out continues) has contaminated the oceans with radiation. One could spend years citing incidents and facts that tell us unequivocally that these “principles,” launched 24 years ago, have not done a damn thing to protect Earth or life. As we sit on the precipice of complete ecological collapse and the probable eradication of our species, one can safely say in no uncertain terms that these principles have been an unprecedented EPIC FAIL. The “promise” to reduce, and where possible, eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards and promised disclosure of “potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations” is enough to make one put a gun to their own temple.

The only area where “success” has been achieved is in risk reduction – risk reduction for the corporation, that is. Exemption of liability is expanding for the corporate model with the pharmaceutical industry leading the way. In stark contrast, the environmental, health and safety risks to communities and the families within them have never been greater. The corporatocracy ensures that the corporation, defined by law as a legal person, is fully protected, as the living and breathing citizen and all other life forms/living systems are further exploited and decimated. All the “sustainability” reporting in the world will not make this fact any less so.

In the 1992 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Why Corporations Should Adopt the Valdez Principles, the many corporate advantages are outlined with refreshing clarity:

“There are four main advantages to a corporation that agrees to adopt the Valdez Principles. First is the positive publicity that substantially could help a corporation’s image in the eyes of its shareholders and consumers in this age of ‘green consumerism.’

 

“Second, corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.

 

“Third, corporations that voluntarily strengthen their environmental standards may avoid financially devastating environmental disasters.

 

“The fourth advantage to corporations adopting the Valdez Principles is favorable investment in that corporation by CERES members.

 

“Another factor that may encourage corporations to sign on to the Valdez Principles is the political, economic and media clout of the sponsor. Among CERES members are some of the country’s most influential environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the National Audubon Society, which collectively claim ten million members. [Emphasis added]

 

“Potential lost profits from boycotts, possible loss of investment money, and the public relations nightmare of dealing with negative publicity generated by CERES are problems that a company could avoid by voluntarily signing on to the Valdez Principles.

 

“Consumers often use the projected environmental image of a company to make decisions on what products to buy. This is the concept of ‘green consumerism.’ While some downplay this phenomenon as merely an attempt by the marketing industry to use a novel approach to sell the same products found on store shelves for years, a recent survey discovered that a large majority of consumers polled would be willing to pay more for products they viewed as environmentally responsible.”

As an example of how these principles created a discourse that allowed corporations to continue to “sustainably” plunder and “ethically” exploit, under a luminous green patina, we need to look no further than the second advantage as outlined above: “corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.” It is not by accident that for decades the global citizenry, with a focus on children via the standard educational curriculum, has focused on the “three R’s.” We all know them by heart: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The obvious word, which one can safely assume was purposely excluded, was/is “Rethink.”

The fact is, to nourish critical thinking in our youth would be to severely jeopardize today’s corporate capture in the future. Conditioned to accept a status quo “solution” like recycling, almost everyone has neglected to critically examine the root cause – which is the production of the waste in the first place. Not spoken of are real solutions such as cradle to cradle life cycle analysis and zero waste/zero emissions (ZERI) concept principles, coupled with legislation, principled and radical conservation, and ethical intelligence that would demand that we achieve zero waste. Rather, we are told to recycle. If we comply, we are as celebrated eco-citizens. Yet, even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to a mere 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. [3]

It is worth repeating this last fact: Even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to only 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. This is what happens when you have the world’s largest waste management system (Waste Management, Inc) financing and partnering with big greens, such as big oil’s WWF (which was founded by Shell and Rockefeller), and with organizations (and benefactors of the profit from waste) such as Ceres to highlight such societal failure as “success.” Of course, only if we evolve to a level of enlightenment where we are able to separate our wants from our needs while flat out rejecting consumerism and all forms of industrialized capitalism, even meticulously critiqued production will fail us.

The “Ceres 20•20” is the nonprofit vision for achieving a sustainable global economy by 2020. The plan has four key pillars: honest accounting, higher standards, scalable solutions and new policies. To suggest these voluntary pleasantries could possibly achieve a “sustainable global economy” by 2020 as the Earth continues to cross planetary tipping points is beyond delusional. It is madness.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese chief negotiator of the G77, represented a glimpse of truth in a sea of liars when he stated the following at COP15: “… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society – you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments…. Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].” [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Whitism

Pension funds benefit only a tiny minority of the world’s people. Consider that Canada’s first Old Age Pensions Act was not passed until 1927. Now consider that 90% of the world is excluded from old age pension schemes. Coverage and effectiveness of existing social protection schemes for retirement, invalidity and death in Africa – the richest continent in terms of natural resources – is weak in general, with few exceptions, due to imperialism and colonialism, which continue to destroy Africa and her people to this day.

But rather than dismantle the systems that keep such disparities and horrific conflicts intact, we instead ask our youth to focus on ensuring we keep the wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of others, many who live unbearably. Now consider on top of these gross injustices and inequalities the fact that this same minority (those who own the investments and pension funds) are the very ones creating the climate crisis. How many 350.org supporters understand that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population? [Source: page 77, Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)]

One could legitimately argue that with over 7 billion people on the planet, only this 1-25% of global populace has the capacity to slow down global warming – as they are the very ones creating it. This is true. And yet a critical distinction must be made: to simply move money from direct ownership of fossil fuel investments over to a “green” Wall Street portfolio is to essentially do nothing. It’s merely another empty gesture to be glorified by media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex. One that can easily be compared to the false solution of offsets – essentially little more than a green-sanctioned licence to continue polluting and destroying ecosystems, while simultaneously exploiting the world’s most vulnerable, in the rapid race to convert all natural resources, blood and sweat into capital. Far from calling these what they are – crimes against humanity and cultural acquiescence to global-scale progenycide – our society recognizes this as just another day on the New York Stock Exchange.

There is one message that the divestment campaign will never encourage: that all global citizens must sell all their shares in the corporations of the elites, redirecting the funds into simple collectives/co-operatives, with the intention of starving corporate power and domination into submission, with the ultimate goal being the dismantling of the existing power structures in their entirety. While it is true that powerful banks will be delighted to acquire these shares (only as long as consumer demand ensures continued growth), as author Jay Taber suggests, banks too can be brought to their knees and destroyed when citizens are united in their efforts in a global context. The system is not invincible. Yet, who would fund such a campaign/movement when it promises the most severe consequences and harsh repercussions for the victors (particularly harsh for the 1% creating 50% of the world’s emissions), even if the shared goal is a livable planet for tomorrow. Furthermore, why would citizens embrace a disciplined minimalist existence when the non-profit industrial complex promises everything and more via more energy (indeed “green” energy and biofuels), electric cars and “clean” aviation? (Promises targeting only those with privilege please note.) Such a movement is obviously of no use whatsoever to global elites who invest billions in the non-profit industrial complex. Rather, such a movement with lofty yet essential aspirations would represent a very real and direct threat to the hegemony that exists, which explains why such desperately needed aspirations, which inspire legitimate movements, will never be funded.

“There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period…” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

We refrain from looking at our reflection in the mirror to confront the truth in all its ugliness. Collectively, we throw our own children onto the altar, sacrificing them to the gods of Apathy, Gluttony and Consumption. In return, we are “blessed” with cell phones, electronics and air mile rewards. The ideology of heaven is replaced with grandeur delusions of renewable energy (for the privileged) in magnificent abundance, yet another industry full of promise for infinite growth and refinement – now presented under the auspices of a much kinder, so-called “green economy” or “new economy” (as our ecosystems continue to collapse). The fact that high tech business finances genocide, displaces Indigenous Peoples, and decimates the very life systems upon which we depend is simply unfortunate collateral damage for the things we deserve and must have. “After the Holocaust, the world united behind two simple words: Never Again. These words represent a promise to past and future generations that we will do everything we can to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated.” Yet when it comes to Euro-American privilege, it has been clearly demonstrated that, collectively, we are more than willing to walk over and ignore the bodies of the dead in order to have what we want – especially when those dead bodies happen to be black.

 

Next: Part VII

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[2] Graph: The carbon dioxide data (red curve), measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Keeling, 1976]. NOAA started its own CO2 measurements in May of 1974, and they have run in parallel with those made by Scripps since then [Thoning, 1989]. The black curve represents the seasonally corrected data. Data are reported as a dry mole fraction defined as the number of molecules of carbon dioxide divided by the number of molecules of dry air multiplied by one million (ppm). [Source]

[3] C & J Plant (1991). Green business: Hope or hoax. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part V of an Investigative Report] [A Thinking Person’s Nightmare]

The Art of Annihilation

September 4, 2014

Part five of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

Land Grabs, Green Illusions, and Privatization of Forests

As one example (of hundreds) of land grabs under the guise of conservation carried out by NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex, in December of 2011 Kenya’s Samburu people were violently evicted. The eviction occurred following the”purchase” of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). The two US “conservation” NGOs “gifted” the Samburu’s 17,100 acres of ancestral lands to Kenya’s government (November 2011) in order to create a national park to be run by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

In the above video (1:58) Nakuru Lemiruni sends a message to those responsible for evicting the Samburu tribe from their land. AWF, using funds from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), claimed they purchased the land with the understanding that no one resided on it. When the Samburu protested and took legal action, the land was swiftly “gifted” to the government. Police officers carried out the vicious eviction/attack on a Friday market day, when the men were away, leaving women, elders and children alone in their homes. Fanning out across the 17,000-acre Eland Downs Ranch, the police burned the Samburu families’ homes to the ground, along with all their possessions. Identified in the Kenyan media as “squatters,” the evicted Samburu families then petitioned a regional court to recognize their ancestral claims to the land where they lived and grazed their cattle. The suit has been filed by the Samburu against the AWF and the former President. [Source]

Pension funds began investing in commodities (including food and farmland) only recently.Capital allocated to agriculture investment grew from approximately $6 billion in 2001 to $320 billion in 2011, with hedge funds accounting for a further $100 billion. In 2011, investors expected these numbers to double within a few years. By the end of 2012, this figure rose from $320 to $428 billion. [Source]

“Farmland values across the globe between 2002 and 2010 have risen up to 1,800%, according to the Global Farmland Index compiled by U.K.-based real estate firm Savil. The biggest upswings have been in emerging markets, such as Romania and Hungary.” Global farmland offers potential for asset deals, Sept 26, 2013

The broad gains in commodity markets seen during recent years – dubbed the commodity “super cycle” – have taken a hit in 2013. It was Calpers (California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Ceres Board Member, partner) that helped pioneer pension funds’ foray into indexes that track wheat, energy, metal and other commodities. The money flooded in from big institutions (pension funds and college endowments), turning the market on its head. Economists blamed these new “index speculators,” who had no stake in the underlying commodities, for creating a volatile market. [Source] As of August 2013, the funds decreased from $428 million (2012) to $363 million (Barclays).

Yet not all “commodities” are created equal.

“Timber has attracted $60 billion of institutional money, or almost double that of agriculture, as governments and mills sold “sizable” assets, he said. The lumber market is valued at $425 billion…” Bloomberg, Dec 5, 2012

 

“Farmland has become the darling of alternative investing, sending hedge funds and wealthy investors into bidding wars for plots of land once deemed ordinary. And it is not just big money getting in on the game. From Stockholm to Chicago to Vancouver, ordinary investor money is pouring into fields around the world.” – BBC Capital, June 6, 2013

 

“According to numerous surveys within the industry, pension fund managers are seeking to invest in farmland – a new asset class offering annual returns of 10–20% – as never before.” June 20, 2011, Grain, Pension funds: key players in the global farmland grab

Included in such “green” portfolios will be massive land grabs and the appropriation of natural resources under the guise of conservation. “Sustainable” plantations (biomass/biofuels/agrofuels; feed for industrialized livestock), REDD+, Carbon Development Mechanisms (CDM) and so-called carbon sink projects comprise a green façade to justify the long-term objective of acquiring control of communally owned territory in the global South. In the long term, the goal is unbridled corporate capture of fertile land with access to cheap and plentiful water and labour, for producing export food crops that will deliver guaranteed high profits. Geo-engineering will place a further emphasis on food gentrification and large-scale monoculture industrial plantations – undoubtedly playing a pivotal and leading role in the accelerating obliteration of Earth’s natural biodiversity. Sovereign nations, peasants, farmers, campesinos, Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures will be annihilated in the process – a feat of 21st century corporate colonialism.

 “Farmland investments are particularly attractive as prices are supported by solid long-term fundamentals that have little to do with the performance of traditional assets such as equities. In the long-term, farmland values rise as demand for food weighs against a limited supply of good quality land, with farmland prices having been shown to rise in line with population growth and economic expansion in developing nations. This effectively generates a return on investment in the long term, regardless of the performance of the wider economy.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

 

“They see in farmland what they call good ‘fundamentals’: a clear economic pattern of supply and demand, which in this case hinges on a rising world population needing to be fed, and the resources to feed these people being finite.” — Pension funds: key players in the global farmland grab, June 20, 2011

 

“Of a total $23 trillion of asset under management within the pension fund space, around $100 billion is believed to be invested in commodities, of which between $5 billion and $15 billion is invested directly into farmland investments. A majority of analysts project that institutional investments in farmland and commodities are expected to double by 2015.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

 

“The Global AgInvesting Conference hosted at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan in June attracted some 600 institutional investors representing agriculture investment assets under management of almost $11 billion, and with plans to expand those holdings to almost $20 billion by 2014, a rise of almost 70%. Over 200 attendees were from the pension fund sector, and the majority intend to invest in farmland as the mainstay of their agricultural investment strategy.” — DGC Asset Management, 2011

According to Macquarie Agricultural Funds Management, agricultural land represents an $8.4 trillion market, of which institutional investors currently own approximately $30-$40 billion. This represents a fragment of the (monetary) value of farmland globally, estimated at about $8.4 trillion. Key regions targeted include Brazil and Argentina. Thus far, only 6 percent of institutional investment in primary agriculture has been in Africa due to geopolitical barriers. Yet, it is critical to note that investors perceive Africa as “having the most scope to open new areas of arable farmland.” [Institutions are blazing a trail in CIS farming, December 2, 2013, Source]

An industrialized economic system that voraciously consumes Earth’s natural resources, with zero regard toEarth’s replenishing cycles/laws of nature, ensures that agriculture is one clear and unmistakable source of pay-off for institutional investors. The new surge in money will push up global food prices (as we have already witnessed), hitting hardest those most vulnerable. As an example of investment driving up the market, food costs in 2012 came within 10 percent of the record set in February 2011 (United Nations Food Price Index). According to the World Bank, it is estimated that global food production will need to rise 70 percent to feed an additional 2 billion people on the planet. This will be a most miraculous attainment considering that as global temperatures increase beyond any temperature witnessed during the Holocene, agricultural yields will only further decline. Translation: food will be afforded, more and more, only by the wealthy.

“I see a massive change in agriculture coming … the returns on land over the long term equate to those received over the last 500 years by royal families… as food scarcity issues are likely to arise in the future, such land will rise in value too.” — Laguna Bay Pastoral chief executive Tim McGavin, Nov 18, 2013

Farmer loses farm. Investor or corporation now leases out farm (as well as related farming and irrigation infrastructure). Farmer now rents farm, etc. from investor or corporation while “the returns on land over the long term equate to those received over the last 500 years by royal families”.

Welcome to 21st century agro-colonialism.

And although Friends of the Earth knows full well that divestment does not address the finance of land-grabs (view Friends of the Earth endorsement in the civil society statementon the finance of land grabs, June 2012: Land grabbing by pension funds and other financial institutions must be stopped),they make no mention of it when promoting (one example) the divestment campaign led by 350.org.

 “Pension funds are, at present, reported to be the largest institutional ‘investors’ in farmland worldwide. Yet the money used here is workers’ retirement savings. This means that wage earners and citizens may be implicated in massive violations of the human rights of local farming communities, including their rights to food, land, water, an adequate standard of living, their cultural rights and their right to self-determination – in breach of international law.” — Friends of The Earth Press Release, June 2012

More and more tragedies involve land grabbing, which is happening at an unprecedented rate all over the planet under the guise of “conservation” and “green economy.” For example, Hundreds Left Homeless in Olkaria Eviction in Kenya due to a large-scale geothermal project that has attracted both multinational and bilateral donors, with the World Bank being the main financier of the project. (Another video of the July 26, 2013 attack on the Maasai village in Olkaria is here). The short documentary film, Seeds of Discontent, exposes how a Swedish investment firm, Dutch pension fund and Norwegian church endowment actively engaged in land grabbing in Mozambique.

In Canada, the Algonquin people are fighting threats to land and water from an open-pit mining project for hybrid car batteries. Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation, plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of the Kipawa First Nation. Rare earths are a group of 17 elements found in the Earth’s crust. They are used to produce electronics for cell phones, wind turbines, and car batteries. Rare earths are notorious for their environmentally costly extraction process, with over 90 per cent of the mined raw materials classified as waste. [Source: Toyota Prius Not So Green After All]

Welcome to the “green economy”: classist, racist and utterly disgusting.

Yet another example in Canada, the Alberta Conservation Association is just one of thousands of NGOs working with corporations (in this case Shell, Suncor, the Canadian Government – see partners below) to commodify Earth’s last remaining resources under the guise/greenwash of conservation. The newly acquired and named “Shell Forests” are just a few examples.

As with the Keystone XL oil pipeline campaign, one is wise to watch the stock market in order to gain a sense of where the economic growth is expected to boom. In addition to both Warren Buffett’s and Bill Gates’s fairly recent stock acquisitions (in addition to their newly acquired/built rail empire) of John Deere and GMO crops, amidst the global rush to control the planet’s water, Buffett has been “loading up on the agricultural giant” Archer Daniels Midland (a focus on soybeans and ethanolFebruary 20, 2013) while eyeing farmland in Africa with plans to expandMonsanto’s biotechnology for “drought-tolerant corn” onto the Saharan landscapes.

 “Brazil’s agricultural sector remains one of the most exciting markets around. Don’t take our word for it. George Soros, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, all major investors and farmers in the Bahia region of Brazil, believe Brazil to be the best location for their alternative investments…. The buzz around Brazilian farmland has sparked interest from a wide range of different institutions, from hedge funds to private investors, pension funds and even foreign government entities from China, India, Europe and Africa have been making agricultural land enquiries within Brazil.” — Brazil’s Farmland is Still Ripe for Investment, March 18, 2013

In stark contrast, what lies beyond “modern” industrialized agriculture mirrors what we left behind in our collective past – a simple, nourishing work and respect of the soil, the land, the plant, the crop. In fact, millions of farmers are already advancing agriculture for themselves utilizing the same methods that have worked to feed humans for the past 10,000 years. [Source]

There has been a steady, building backlash against pension funds investing in massive land grabs (that have increased and continue to increase food prices, displace peasant farmers, and increase poverty and hunger). Because of this backlash, pension funds have been “afraid to go into the field alone, and they want to spread their bet or their risk by having partners join them.” In some societies not yet absorbed into the (pathological and insane) industrialized western mindset, land is sacred and the sale of land in some societies is not acceptable. [March 6, 2013, Pension funds join forces to invest in farmland. Source]

A Future of Unprecedented Coups

Ukraine, the most recent state to fall to a US-backed coup, was/is not only coveted for strategic geographic/geopolitical position (aka control of oil/gas), but also for its rich black soil. Soil is the new oil of the 21st century. “Ukraine, formerly the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, is now a major crop producer for the world market. The country has over 32 million hectares (ha) of arable land, which is equivalent to roughly one third of the arable land in the entire European Union (EU). Its location on the Black Sea and its fertile black soil – it possesses 25 percent of the world’s so-called Chernozem – make Ukraine attractive to agricultural producers and investors. Moreover, agriculture is now considered as a main business opportunity in the Black Earth (Invest Ukraine, 2011).”Oligarchs and transnational capital have taken over the land with their share in the GDP at 42.3 percent, against 5 percent for farmers (Ministry of Agriculture, 2012). [Source]

Environmental Colonialism | So-called “Conservation”

“It is no secret that millions of native people around the world have been forced off their homelands to make way for oil, mines, timber, and agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a cause which is considered by many as much nobler: land and wildlife conservation. Indigenous peoples evicted from their ancestral homelands, for conservation initiatives, have never been counted; they are not even officially recognised as refugees. The number of people displaced from their traditional homelands is estimated to be close to 20 million – 14 million in Africa alone. These expelled native peoples have been living sustainably for generations on what can only be reasonably regarded as their ancestral land.” [Watch: Conservation Refugees – Expelled from Paradise (24:18)

One NGO at the helm of stealth land grab ventures is Conservation International. Since its inception in 1987, Conservation International has continued to use “its considerable financial resources, political influence and environmental sweet talk to quietly access, administer and buy biodiverse areas throughout the world and put them at the disposal of transnational corporations.” [Conservation International: privatizing nature, plundering biodiversity, October 2003] Not to be lost is the fact that Conservation International has utilized the same soft power strategies in their ecotourism ventures (also dependent on Indigenous knowledge/peoples) as they have in their land/big pharma exploits in partnership with Monsanto and Novartis. [Further reading: Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part I of an Investigative Report]

 “REDD+ is driven by profit interests and is structured to allow polluters to continue polluting while increasing profits and enclosing lands.” — A colonial mechanism to enclose lands: A critical review of two REDD+-focused special issues, Joanna Cabello and Tamra Gilbertson, June 12, 2012

21st century market-based climate mitigation strategies are merely business opportunities to further corporate power. By normalizing such opportunistic exploitation, rather than exposing/rejecting it, one is complicit in promoting, thus prolonging, the dominant development model that is unjust, unethical, genocidal and ultimately, suicidal. The WWF certification schemes are but one set of such false solutions and green illusions. At present, WWF et al are waiting for the windfall that is slowly beginning to come into fruition under the much sought-after market mechanism REDD (which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

It must be understood that REDD will not mitigate further ecological degradation and collapse (under the guise of so-called conservation). Rather, REDD will only serve to further strengthen corporate power as well as gained access and control of the Earth’s last remaining forests.

“This is an effort to address the varying assumptions from the academic journals – that REDD+ can be fixed with more governance, finance and/or community engagement – through a critique of the wider neoliberal climate regime, issues of ‘governance’ as an unproblematised category, and by exploring, from de-colonialist and environmental justice perspectives, the issues of real participation and sustainability. We conclude that REDD+ is framed within an epistemological understanding of forests and lands which supports the domination of nature by humans for economic profit, regardless of financial input, governance and/or participation from communities, and therefore will not be a successful means of climate mitigation or forest protection.” — A colonial mechanism to enclose lands: A critical review of two REDD+-focused special issues, Joanna Cabello and Tamra Gilbertson, June 12, 2012 [Emphasis added]

[Further reading on REDD: Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part II]

Millions of hectares of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia have been grossly and violently exploited. Cleared for palm oil (to manufacture processed foods for the wealthy states plagued with obesity), the palm oil plantations have destroyed whole communities, cultures, and thriving living ecosystems along with the flourishing wildlife within them. The degradation and pillage that have resulted are so severe that palm oil investors are now turning to the west coast of Africa as the industry’s next frontier. A recent forest burning in Sumatra resulted in one of Southeast Asia’s worst air-pollution crises in history, blanketing neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia with record levels of smog. As a result, in May 2013 Indonesia extended a moratorium on the issuance of new plantation and timber concessions in primary forests and peatland. Desperate to ensure growth of the vile industry, Norway has agreed to provide the country with up to $1 billion in financing to “help reduce deforestation.” [Source]

Everything Changes. Everything Stays the Same | Green Colonialism and Forest Policies in South India, 1800-1900

“Going green” has become a popular slogan in the discourse of environmental conservation, and one that has been gaining wider popularity as global warming begins to threaten the very existence of the biotic world. The global environmental crisis has created a context in which the protection of forests has become a top priority in environmental conservation strategies. The preservationist and restorationist discourses advocate forest conservation as a means to save the Earth from environmental disaster. However, in spite of this strong emphasis on the preservation of forests, their destruction continues. In most of the present-day developing countries of Asia and Africa, this contradiction between advocated preservation and effective destruction of forests is a legacy of British colonial rule.

In a bid to expand the knowledge frontier on forest conservation, the British government appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. H. Cleghorn in 1851, which produced a report on the condition of Indian forests. It’s the main point was that the process of deforestation was due to the irrational exploitive methods of the natives, most notably the shifting cultivation practised by the tribes. The committee strongly advocated state intervention to restore the forest cover, as the very welfare of the country depended upon its existence. The preservation and expansion of green cover, they argued, was necessary to save India’s climate and irrigation systems.

Dr. Cleghorn, first conservator of forests in the Madras Presidency, brought out his classic book, Forests and Gardens of South India, in 1861. It hardly discussed desiccationist ideas (the notion that cutting down a tree reduced the amount of rainfall on the spot where the tree had stood), but rather concentrated on silviculture and plantations. Nevertheless, again Cleghorn identified the shifting agricultural practices of tribes as mainly responsible for deforestation and the consequent ecological changes. It is important to note that this desiccationist discourse was informed by a presumption of racial superiority, where the colonizers branded the native farmers as destroyers of forests. Thus, desiccationist discourse was used not only as a justification for colonial forest policies, but also as a means to control the access of natives to forests.

The history of desiccationist discourse in South India shows how the British imposed scientific and moral hegemony over forests by blaming deforestation on the forest utilization pattern of the Indians although it was actually the colonial state that was responsible for the severe deforestation of South India. The desiccationist discourses of colonial scientists emanated from a context of anxiety over the wood requirements of the colonial state. Existing studies on desiccationist discourse in India project it as a moral reflection of the colonial scientific community. The history of colonial forest policies, however, indicates that it was rather a means to spread alarm and thereby facilitate the expansion of state control over forests. Desiccationist ideas were articulated not by scientists alone, but also by different sections of the colonial bureaucracy and policy makers. The narrative of the climatic influence of forests was a contested issue within the colonial bureaucracy at one level, and by the local people at another. The desiccationists advocated the protection of forests mainly on mountain slopes, where rivers originate. Their ideas, however, were used as a justification for the expansion of state control over most of the forest landscape in South India. The alarmist narratives were used as a catalyst for the imposition of the state’s administrative and legislative control over forests, but the main guiding force of colonial forest policies was the seeking of revenue and resources.

This legacy has had an explicit influence on the forest policies of independent India. Most policy interventions since independence – including social forestry, joint forest management and community forest management – have been justified with desiccationist discourse. [1] [Source: Green Colonialism and Forest Policies in South India, 1800-1900]

In 2013, the song remains the same.

Just as South India demonstrates how the British imposed scientific and moral hegemony over forests by blaming deforestation on the forest utilization pattern of the Indians (rather than those responsible: corporations and capitalism), today’s industrialized nations impose scientific and moral hegemony over Earth’s forests with the ultimate goals being 1) the implementation of REDD 2) the commodification and corporate capture of the Earth’s last remaining forests, and 3) the continuance of an ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples. And just as the British empire was responsible for the degradation they blamed on the Indians, today this transfer of responsibility is undertaken by NGOs. NGOs as key instruments of empire are utilized to manipulate the Indigenous Tribal peoples by convincing them that their ancient methods of burning are the primary drivers of climate change and destroying the planet, thereby guilting (and bribing) Indigenous Peoples into signing away their rights for their ancestral land, thus imposing REDD, thus imposing moral hegemony. In South India, the history of colonial forest policies indicates that it was rather a means to spread alarm and thereby facilitate the expansion of state control over forests. Today, climate change (very real) is grotesquely exploited by the elites as the ultimate catalyst for the commodification of Earth’s remaining resources.

 

 

The colonial scientific community’s discourse on the climatic importance of forests continues to this day, as does the underlying racism that attempts to pardon the colonizers’ greed, self-centeredness and voracious pillage.

It is critical to recognize that the push towards the illusory green economy is not driven by the vital necessity for the privileged to live within their means, rather it is serving as a driver for the infinite expansion of industrial production. This must be achieved by producing more raw materials to supply more sweatshops/factories, hence requiring more energy supplied by so-called “green” biofuels/biomass. The key words being “more”: more, more, more and more. The call of scientist Kevin Anderson (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) for a required and planned recession by developed states goes ignored.

Blue Gold

 major investment banks think the number of people served globally by investor-owned water companies is expected to rise 500% over the next 10 years.” — Energy & Capital, A Background and Primer for Water Investments, Source

 

“Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.” — Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s top economist, 2011

WaterShutOffsinDetroit

Photo: July 18, 2014.Water shut-offs continue in Detroit

“A major international conference in Edinburgh aimed at conserving wildlife is coming under fierce attack from campaign groups for trying to sell off nature to multinational corporations. The first ‘World Forum on Natural Capital’ later this month is due to attract business and conservation leaders from across the globe to debate how to give natural resources a monetary value in order to try and protect them. ‘The presence of big business, such as RBS, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto and KPMG, at the World Forum on Natural Capital exposes the event’s real purpose – putting a price on nature so that a small minority can profit…. [B]illions of people around the world depend on free access to forests, rivers and fertile soils for their survival. Putting a price on these common resources leaves all of us more exposed to the forces of the global economy.'” — Nick Dearden, Bid to ‘sell off nature’ to companies under fire, Nov 13, 2013 [Emphasis added]

Water investments represent yet another “sustainable”/green fund responsible investment that would be considered a “green” alternative to fossil fuel investment. Such investment funds are also marketed as “clean technologies.”

“They transform water from a resource openly available to all into a private good whose access must be negotiated and is often based on the ability to pay. Water grabbing thus appears in many different forms, ranging from the extraction of water for large-scale food and fuel crop monocultures, to the damming of rivers for hydroelectricity, to the corporate takeover of public water resources. It also inheres in a model of development which is underwritten by a trade in virtual water.” [Source]

The December 21, 2012 article titled The New “Water Barons”: Wall Street Mega-Banks and the Tycoons are Buying Up Water at Unprecedented Pace, published by The Market Oracle, must be considered essential reading. Author Jo-Shing Yang observes:

“A disturbing trend in the water sector is accelerating worldwide. The new ‘water barons’ – the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires – are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace. Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world….

 

“Now, in 2012, we are seeing this trend of global consolidation of water by elite banks and tycoons accelerating. In a JP Morgan equity research document, it states clearly that ‘Wall Street appears well aware of the investment opportunities in water supply infrastructure, wastewater treatment, and demand management technologies.’ Indeed, Wall Street is preparing to cash in on the global water grab in the coming decades. For example, Goldman Sachs has amassed more than $10 billion since 2006 for infrastructure investments, which include water. A 2008 New York Times article mentioned Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and the Carlyle Group, to have ‘amassed an estimated $250 billion war chest – must of it raised in the last two years – to finance a tidal wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas….

 

“In 2008, Goldman Sachs called water ‘the petroleum for the next century’ and those investors who know how to play the infrastructure boom will reap huge rewards, during its annual ‘Top Five Risks’ conference. Water is a U.S. $425 billion industry, and a calamitous water shortage could be a more serious threat to humanity in the 21st century than food and energy shortages, according to Goldman Sachs’s conference panel. Goldman Sachs has convened numerous conferences and also published lengthy, insightful analyses of water and other critical sectors (food, energy).

 

“Goldman Sachs is positioning itself to gobble up water utilities, water engineering companies, and water resources worldwide. Since 2006, Goldman Sachs has become one of the largest infrastructure investment fund managers and has amassed a $10 billion capital for infrastructure, including water.”

 

Many pension funds have forayed into the water investment sector. As an example, Canadian pension funds CDPQ (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages public pension funds in the province of Québec) and CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board) have acquired England’s South East Water and Anglian Water, respectively. [Source] There are also several water indexes, index funds and hedge funds. Credit Suisse partnered with Ceres partner General Electric (GE Infrastructure) in May 2006 to establish a U.S.$1 billion joint venture to profit from privatization and investments in global infrastructure assets. [Source]

The 2011 Ceres report Aqua Gauge is telling. All definitions within the paper are sourced from “Water for Business: Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector” (WBCSD, IUCN, 2010). The paper also notes thatBloomberg has announced plans to launch a water-focused data service that would provide supply-and-demand models, water data, and news and briefings on water scarcity. [“Our research notes, analyst reactions and market outlooks enable investors to identify upcoming changes and validate opportunities for growth.” [Bloomberg’s once-launched water-focused data service has since been removed: http://about.bnef.com/markets/water/]

The list of corporations that Ceres is strategically aligned with is far more telling. Goldman Sachs (Ceres Financial Services Companies), JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS (Bruno Bertocci of UBS serves on the Ceres 21CI Advisory Committee, acronym for The 21st Century Investor), Deutsche Bank (Ceres INCR member), Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays (Ceres financial backer), Allianz, HSBC, Bank of America (Ceres Company), Morgan Stanley, the very water barons highlighted by Yang in the above article, are all associated with Ceres funders / associates / partners / members / prominent conference speakers.

It is of interest to note that Ceres highlights many of these same banks, Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Fortis, Merrill Lynch, Mitsubishi UFJ, and Morgan Stanley as the “carbon trading leaders.” [Source: Ceres 2008 Banking Sector Report.] At this point you may wish to remind yourself that many trusted NGOs are partners with Ceres and many have served on the advisory board since its inception.

Note that in 2013, “Morgan Stanley created the Institute for Sustainable Investing with the goal of mobilizing capital to address sustainability challenges at scale, building on the firm’s existing efforts. The Institute focuses on developing sustainable investing products and solutions, thought leadership and cross-sector partnerships. As part of the Institute’s launch, Morgan Stanley announced a five-year goal of $10 billion in total client assets in investments that seek to deliver market-rate returns and positive environmental and social impact. Ceres President Mindy Lubber serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, which is chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman.” [Emphasis added] [Source]

The Ceres president serving on Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing advisory board is yet another fine example of the interlocking directorate – a contagion that thrives in the non-profit industrial complex. (The Rebecca Adamson example will follow.)

While water investments continue to skyrocket, Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc., a Ceres coalition member, and Allianz (Ceres associate)represent two of the “best” recognized water-focused mutual funds: The Calvert Global Water Fund [Class A (CFWAX)] has returned a whopping 27.65 percent over the past year; 15.98 percent over the past three years; and 16.06 percent over the past five years. [Source] The same fund (CFWAX), having held $42 million in assets in 2010, now holds assets of $564.86 million as of July 4, 2014. [Source] The Allianz Global Water Fund [Class A (AWTAX)] has had a staggering return of 25.12 percent over the past year; 11.10 percent over the past three years; and 14.34 percent over the past five years. [Source] The same fund (AWTAX) having held assets of $54 million in 2010, now holds assets of $348.3 million as of June 30, 2014. [Source] These two Ceres associates hold positions number two (AllianzGI ) and number five (Calvert) for “Best Mutual Funds” under the fund category of “Natural Resources” by U.S. News.

It is critical to note that Calvert has held a position on the Ceres Board of Directors from 2001*-2006 via Julie Fox Gorte.Gorte’s background is extensive and not limited to the following:

“Gorte serves as Chief Social Investment Strategist and Vice President at Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP Small Cap Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series, Inc.- Calvert Social Small-Cap Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Ameritas Growth Portfolio, Calvert Variable Series Inc – Calvert VP SRI Equity Portfolio, and Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP SRI Balanced Portfolio. She served as Vice President and Chief Social Investment Strategist at Calvert Group, Ltd., Calvert Variable Series, Inc – Ameritas Small Company Equity Portfolio and Calvert Variable Series, Inc. – Calvert VP Mid Cap Value Portfolio. She served as a Vice President and Chief Social Investment Strategist at Calvert Investment Management, Inc. and Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc. Prior to that, Dr. Gorte served as Director of Calvert Asset Management’s social research department, where she managed its team of social and environmental analysts as well as shareholder advocacy.” [Source] [*Several requests to Ceres for annuals reports prior to 2001 have been unsuccessful.]

Today Gorte serves as the Senior Vice President of Sustainable Investing at Pax World Management Corporation. Under Pax, Gorte has continued her board member status on Ceres from 2006 to present. “Gorte oversees environmental, social, and governance-related research on prospective and current investments as well as the Pax’s shareholder advocacy and work on public policy advocacy. She serves as Portfolio Manager of Pax World Funds Series Trust III – Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund.” [Source]

Not to be outdone, Rebecca L. Adamson, President, First People’s Worldwide, serves on the Board of Trustees of Calvert. In the March 13, 20123 article, The Corporate Buy-In, the author writes:

“As I wrote in Too Good to be True, Rebecca Adamson’s value to energy extraction corporations is that of broker, helping multi-national corporations to corrupt tribal leadership through corporate buy-ins. By making grants to tribes through investments in Adamson’s international NGO First Peoples Worldwide, Shell Oil and other notorious corporations pave the way for industrial development in the Fourth World.”

At this juncture it must be noted that Calvert has given financial support to Ceres since, at minimum, 2001, and possibly from inception.

One of the world’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase, has been at the helm of those aggressively pursuing water and infrastructure investment worldwide. JPMorgan’s own analysts estimate that the emerging markets infrastructure is approximately U.S.$21.7 trillion over the next decade. [Source] Ceres works closely with JPMorgan Chase and many other powerful banks and financial institutions in achieving their goals:

“Stakeholder engagement: Ceres, working with our coalition of investors and advocacy groups, engages with a number of financial services firms including Bank of America, State Street, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan [sic] Chase and Citi to help them assess their performance on environmental and social impacts and risks, and identify opportunities for improvement.” [Source]

In the June 16, 2014 article titled Wasted Energy: Fossil Fuel Divestment, author Jay Taber notes that “divestment won’t change a thing environmentally. It will only change ownership of some shares from public institutions to private ones – like the banks we bailed out with our tax dollars. Given the money to be made on the booming fossil fuel industry, I’m sure the banks will be delighted to acquire these shares, and in turn leave the public with no voice at future shareholder meetings.” It is more than likely that Yang (author of the aforementioned Water Barons article) would agree. In the 2008 article, Why Big Banks May Be Buying up Your Public Water System, Yang astutely notes:

“I detailed how both mainstream and alternative media coverage on water has tended to focus on individual corporations and super-investors seeking to control water by buying up water rights and water utilities. But paradoxically the hidden story is a far more complicated one. I argued that the real story of the global water sector is a convoluted one involving ‘interlocking globalized capital’: Wall Street and global investment firms, banks, and other elite private-equity firms – often transcending national boundaries to partner with each other, with banks and hedge funds, with technology corporations and insurance giants, with regional public-sector pension funds, and with sovereign wealth funds – are moving rapidly into the water sector to buy up not only water rights and water-treatment technologies, but also to privatize public water utilities and infrastructure.”

Yang’s words will serve to be prophetic as the divestment campaign unfolds.

Ceres has done a formidable job in serving the corporate interests that fund their work. With skillful precision, Ceres strategically and effectively exploited and continues to exploit the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced in order to secure and further all “climate wealth” opportunities for the oligarchs. In the wave of urgent reports published in November of 2012 [Oligarchy Sends Signal for Green Economy], Ceres promptly seized the moment. On November 20, 2012 the Guardian published the articleInfluential Investors (CERES) Call for Action on ‘Serious Climate Danger’:

“A coalition of the world’s largest investors called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies. In an open letter, the alliance of institutional investors, responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets, said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally. The group called for dialogue between investors and governments to overhaul climate and energy policies.”

Author Yang perhaps summarizes Cere’s work best:

“The elite multinational and Wall Street banks and investment banks have been preparing and waiting for this golden moment for years. Over the past few years, they have amassed war chests of infrastructure funds to privatize water, municipal services, and utilities all over the world. It will be extremely difficult to reverse this privatization trend in water.”

The Thinking Person’s Nightmare

TarSandsCoalitionImage5

 

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

As it has been clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that the Euro-American Left, collectively, far prefers fiction over reality, perhaps it is futile to explain that the Tides Foundation also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres. In 2010, TIDES granted $100,000 to Ceres, specifically earmarking the funds for a “tar sands campaign.” [TIDES 990, 2010] In 2008, Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign. [***Further information on the relationship between the Tides Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, Ceres and NoVo’s stocks in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway is disclosed in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.]

Tides 990 2010 Donation to Ceres Tar Sands Campaign

And all while, Warren Buffett built an entire 21st century American Rail Empire with absolutely no dissent. “Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation is the parent company of the BNSF Railway (formerly the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway). The railroad is now wholly owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is controlled by investor Warren Buffett.” [Source] As the crude-via-rail industry (ignored by the NGOs) continued to skyrocket, the non-profit industrial complex continued to declare glorious victories while key segments of the KXL pipeline (much of the pipeline having already been built before the campaign even began) quietly went into operation. And while a theatre performance worthy of the Palau de la Música Catalana was playing to a sold-out audience (quite literally), Ceres was expanding its tentacles throughout the globe.

Ceres GICCC

 

Next: Part VI

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] http://www.globalenvironment.it/Kumar.pdf

 

 

 

Have a Question about the State of Play on the People’s Climate March? No Problem – Just ask Rockefellers Brothers Fund …

PeoplesClimateMarch

“We are the storm we’ve been waiting for” – organized and financed by those we claim to oppose.

The latest theatrical performance in this season’s Bread and Circuses series is brought to you by V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, Avaaz, 350.org and NYCEJA.
+++
With key instruments of empire ensuring the state be protected first and foremost, the New York City Police Department has officially approved the route.
+++
From the Environmental Grantmakers Association Website (posted 08/20/2014 – 1:00pm):

“An unprecedented 550 organizations from labor, faith, environment and justice movements are coming together to make the September 21st People’s Climate March the largest ever public mobilization on climate. Join us to learn why such a huge diversity of organizations, networks, and individuals are mobilizing at this key moment, just days before the Climate Leaders Summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon. We’ll discuss how organizations are working together to bridge movements, as this effort not only seeks to raise awareness for climate impacts, but also open a significant political narrative about economic and environmental justice.

 

Speakers:

• Irene Krarup, Executive Director, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation (moderator)
• Emma Ruby-Sachs, Campaigns Manager, Avaaz
• Jamie Henn, Political and Communications Director, 350.org
• Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYCEJA”

Logo1avaazlogo350-logo-org

“This will be the first of a series of two calls – the second will be a funder-only conversation during the first week of September. If you are unable to make either call and still want to learn more, please feel free to contact Stephanie Bencivenga of Rockefeller Brothers Fund (sbencivenga[at]rbf.org) or Irene Krarup of V.K. Rasmussen Foundation (ikrarup[at]vkrf.org).”

 

Co-Sponsored by Environmental Grantmakers Association, Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, EDGE Funders Alliance, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation

 

rbf_color

cgbd-logoEDGE Funders Allianceegma

 

Screenshot | The Environmental Grantmakers Association Website (posted 08/20/2014 – 1:00pm):

StateofPlayPCM

 

 

WHAT IS THE “NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX”?

ceres-sachs-mckibben

Photo: May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors. McKibben opens his Ceres presentation with some welcome honesty, speaking of his long-standing friendships/relationships with many Wall Street darlings. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood, speaking with McKibben, served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” [Source]

Center for Syncretic Studies

March 19, 2013

by Elliot Gabriel

(This is an excellent outline to understand a phenomenon within the US which is the internal component of the Gene Sharp/NGO model of ‘Human Rights’ Imperialism abroad, as discussed in our article Gene Sharp: From Berlin Wall to Arab Spring or The Politics of Counter-Revolution – JV Capone)

WHAT IS THE “NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX”?

The non-profit industrial complex (or the NPIC) is a system of relationships between:

• the State (or local and federal governments)

• the owning classes

• foundations

• and non-profit/NGO social service & social justice organizations

This results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements.

The state uses non-profits to:

• Monitor and control social justice movements;
• Divert public monies into private hands through foundations;
• Manage and control dissent in order to make the world safe for capitalism;
• Redirect activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society;
• Allow corporations to mask their exploitative and colonial work practices through “philanthropic” work;
• Encourage social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part IV of an Investigative Report] [Marketing a Fallacy]

The Art of Annihilation

April 23, 2014

Part four of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

naturebarcode1

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

Marketing a Fallacy

There-is-No-Alternative

It is imperative to understand that the “solutions” being proposed in response to our unparalleled planetary ecological crisis will be only those that have the ability to enhance profits or build brand value, thus increasing revenues/profits. Yet, the fallacy of such “solutions” cannot be understated. The industrialized capitalist system is dependent upon growth. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible – a 5-year-old child can understand this fact because it is simple common sense (i.e., he or she would not wish to keep growing forever). Growth is dependent upon destruction of the natural world and exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people. Violence is inherently built into the system. The idea that a “green economy” under the capitalist system will somehow slow down our accelerating multiple ecological crises and climate change is a delusional fallacy of epic proportion. Ceres allows corporations to continue this delusion and constructs a paradigm that conditions a culture to believe the fallacy.

The CERE$ Network

ceres sachs mckibben

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” 

 

Intercontinental Cry

March 11, 2014

by Jay Taber

In Climate Wealth Opportunists, Cory Morningstar presents part two of her investigative report on the non-profit industrial complex, and on the oligarchs that own it. In this part of the series, Morningstar examines CERES, “the clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance.”

Creating complacency in a populace that embraces environmental protection required corporate investment in marketing a caring corporate image. As Morningstar observes, through corporate underwriting of mega NGO campaigns, “Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.”

Thus perpetuating the commodity culture that is currently devastating the planet and indigenous peoples worldwide, the corporate-financed crusades co-opt the innocent and corrupt the opportunists. What Wall Street masterminds might call a win-win situation.

 

[Jay Taber Jay 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 director of Public Good Project. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part III of an Investigative Report] [McKibben: Red, White, Blue & Gold(man Sachs)]

The Art of Annihilation

March 11, 2014

Part three of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

Preface: A Coup d’etat of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

Poisonous Apples and Agent Oranges

In the explicit plan by the fund portfolio managers to consult with universities to continue investing in the market albeit in “divested” portfolios [Document: Do the Investment Math: Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio], Patrick Geddes, Chief Investment Officer of the Aperio Group, compares apples and oranges, presenting two separate arguments, masquerading as one: 1) Is it worth investing in “environmentally sound” funds from a financial standpoint? and 2) Are “environmentally sound” funds environmentally sound?

In the document, the first question trumps the second. In fact, the paper, in its entirety, is framed in these terms. The fact that there is no such thing as an “environmentally sound fund” is moot. Rather, it’s all about whether a fund makes profit.

The webinar “Do the Investment Math—Building a Carbon-Free Portfolio” explores in detail the risk impact of divesting from a range of carbon-intensive companies, from the Filthy 15 to the Carbon Tracker 200. The panel, moderated by Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow, features Geddes (who explores the risk impact of divesting from carbon), and Dan Apfel, Executive Director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, who highlights the trend of students calling for divestment and college interest in responsible and sustainable investing.

Activist Robert Jereski wrote to Apfel of the Responsible Endowments Coalition and asked what the “clean tech” that Apfel speaks of actually is, in precise terms. Apfel’s response is as follows: “We interpret clean tech broadly so that investors can find solutions, but also work hard with students so that we can make sure schools avoid things that we consider to be false solutions – fracking, clean coal, as well as trying to figure out what is a good way to do other investment in clean tech. We’re also trying to bridge the gap to more local investments that are not always seen as investable.” The interpretation is so broad that they are apparently unable to actually define it.

In both the webinar and the Q&A period, the word “equity” arises over and over again. Yet in this divestment campaign, brought forward by the oligarchs’ appointed “leader” on climate change, the meaning of equity is that of finance, accounting and ownership. The word equity, as in fairness, does not exist in this patriarchal paradigm: white privilege harnessing climate wealth, as the solution to our global accelerating ecological crisis.

8738207633_7e3d000913_z

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

McKibben: Red, White, Blue and Gold(man Sachs)

Saturday Keynote Address by Bill McKibben at the Guiding Lights Weekend 2011.

“What can our ‘socially responsible’ investment managers say when they invest in the stocks of banks, like Citibank and JP Morgan-Chase, and government contractors, like IBM and AT&T, who are running critical parts of government as these manipulations occur – including the disappearance of $4 trillion from government bank accounts and the manipulation of the gold markets and inventory in a silent financial coup d’etat?” — Catherine Austin, March 14, 2006

McKibben opens his 2013 Ceres presentation (McKibben was also a Ceres guest speaker in 2007) with some welcome honesty, speaking of his long-standing friendships/relationships with many Wall Street darlings. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position, Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” [Source]

In the same 2013 Ceres presentation, McKibben furthers his irresponsible and negligent lie, basing it on the illusion of staying below a deadly +2ºC within an economic system dependent upon growth and the further allowance of burning fossil fuels. In reality, we’re committed to far past 2ºC today, not including feedbacks, [+2.4ºC, Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper] and looking at a +6ºC future void of most all life.

“[But] we should accept the fact that we have actually written off some of the southern hemisphere communities as a consequence of sticking to 2 degrees centigrade.” — Kevin Anderson

McKibben Promotes 2C

 “No scientist believes the 2 degree limit is safe, just corporate NGOs.” —Chris Shaw, writer/researcher | Note that the red square highlighting “2 degree Celsius” and the arrow appear in the original image/presentation.

McKibben proceeds to cite his long-time friend/associate, Bob Massie [1], an integral supporter/promoter of the 350.org divestment campaign.

Global Reporting Initiative

gri_logo_2006_bcereslogo1

In 1994, Bob Massie won the statewide primary election and became the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He served as Executive Director of Ceres from 1996 to 2003, and was on the Ceres Board of Directors from 2001-2009. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] During his tenure as executive director of Ceres, Massie increased the Ceres organization’s size and revenue ten-fold. Massie also “proposed and led the creation of the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a major gathering of public and private sector financial leaders held every two years at UN Headquarters in New York City. In 1998, in partnership with the United Nations and major U.S. foundations, he co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative with Dr. Allen White of the Tellus Institute, and served as its Chair until 2002.” [Source] [Dr. Allen White is also founder of Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) – a joint project of Ceres and Tellus Institute.]

“‘Working increasingly with the business sector as a partner, we in the UNDP welcome the Global Reporting Initiative as a critical effort to strengthen the practice of monitoring and measuring corporate sustainability.’  —United Nations Development Programme” (in Ceres 2001 Annual Report)

The Global Reporting Initiative website outlines the timeline and key events as follows:

GRI’s inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach was established early, when it was still a department of CERES. In 1998 a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee was established to develop GRI’s guidance. A pivotal mandate of the Steering Committee was to “do more than the environment.” On this advice, the framework’s scope was broadened to include social, economic, and governance issues. GRI’s guidance became a Sustainability Reporting Framework, with Reporting Guidelines at its heart.

 

The first version of the Guidelines was launched in 2000. The following year, on the advice of the Steering Committee, CERES separated GRI as an independent institution.

 

The second generation of Guidelines, known as G2, was unveiled in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. GRI was referenced in the World Summit’s Plan of Implementation. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) embraced GRI and invited UN member states to host it. The Netherlands was chosen as host country.

 

In 2002 GRI was formally inaugurated as a UNEP collaborating organization in the presence of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and relocated to Amsterdam as an independent non-profit organization. Ernst Ligteringen was appointed Chief Executive and a member of the Board.

It is of interest to note that the GRI Secretariat is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands while “Ceres continues to serve as the U.S. advocate for corporate and investor use of the GRI, and Bob Massie from Ceres serves on the GRI board of directors.” [Ceres 2003 Annual Report] The GRI’s Board of Directors [2] met for the first time on April 3, 2002. The directors included, but were not limited to, representatives from Deutsche Bank Group, Royal Dutch/Shell, Bob Massie for Ceres, and American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations.

GRI is financed by its global network; corporate and governmental sponsorships, Organizational Stakeholders, revenue from GRI products and services and its core support and grants from governments, foundations and international organizations including the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Australian government. Previous institutional supporters include the European Commission, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, UN Foundation, World Bank, International Finance Cooperation (IFC), John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation, United States Environment Protection Agency, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Soros Foundation, and governmental bodies from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Australia.

“With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things. Lots of other things. He became an ordained Episcopal minister; he was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in his native Massachusetts (in a bad year, up against the Gingrich contract-with-America GOP groundswell). And he took up the global warming fight, bringing his expertise to bear as president of Ceres, a national coalition of environmental and investor groups. He went on to found the Global Reporting Initiative, one of the first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions.” — Bill McKibben, Nov 2012

In the above quote, McKibben states “With South Africa liberated, Massie went on to other things.” McKibben either failed to recognize that the transition was from racist apartheid to economic apartheid or, perhaps, simply viewed/views the transition to the hegemonic nature of neoliberalism as a “success.” [Video source: John Pilger, Apartheid Did Not Die. An analysis of South Africa’s new, democratic regime.] It is also imperative to acknowledge that the “attempt” by Massie (as cited by McKibben above) and others within the non-profit industrial complex with their “first attempts to hold businesses accountable for their carbon emissions” has proven to be an epic fail of unparalleled proportions. Despite relentless rhetoric and marketing of such schemes/collaborations/partnerships as success stories, emissions since the launch of the Ceres (1987) and GRI (2000) guidelines have skyrocketed, having increased over 40%; atmospheric CO2 has been pushed to its highest in 15 million years, at an unprecedented rate; ocean acidification has increased 30% with the oceans being acidified faster than at any time in the past 800,000 years and soon, faster than in the past 300 million years. All the marketing and hype will not make this fact any less so. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” Failure is success. George Orwell lives on.

In 2002, Massie was named one of the 100 most influential people in the field of finance by CFO Magazine. In 2008, Massie was awarded the Damyanova Prize for Corporate Social Responsibility by the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, and in 2009 he received the Joan Bavaria [founder of Ceres] Innovation and Impact Awards for Building Sustainability in Capital Markets.

In January 2011, Massie declared his candidacy for the United States Senate and began actively campaigning for the Democratic nomination for that office. McKibben actively supported Massie’s campaign utilizing his brand 350.org. [Fundraiser with Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org: “Mark your calendars: Thursday, June 2nd, Bill McKibben, a founder of the grassroots organization 350.org, is coming to Massachusetts to speak at a fundraiser for Bob’s campaign for US Senate.”]

In March 2012, Massie became the president of the New Economics Institute.

“Ceres and GRI pursue an innovative approach to corporate responsibility which relies on transparency and reputational incentives as opposed to traditional bureaucratic regulation alone. Initially considered impractical, this approach has proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone. More than two thousand major corporations and institutional investor groups now voluntarily participate in Ceres and GRI corporate disclosure standards.” [Emphasis added] [3]

If the voluntary approach as described above has “proven far more effective and efficient at improving social, environmental and human rights performance than traditional regulatory methods alone,” it is hard to imagine what a failure would look like as we edge ever closer towards the final curtain call on what many scientists refer to as Earth’s sixth extinction or the Holocene Extinction .[4] If Coca-Cola and other like-minded corporate psychopaths receive accolades under the Ceres banner of “[H]uman rights performance” (which they do) as they continue to assassinate union leaders in Latin America, what does Ceres consider to be human rights violations? Ceres, although clearly audacious, also understands the psychology of one pining for and readily accepting what one wishes to hear – regardless of whether the facts state otherwise. Like kittens lapping up a bowl of fresh milk, psychopaths have a tendency to lap up such luxurious lies.

Seduction by Omission

In the divestment lecture by McKibben and Massie titled Divestment and the New Economy, it is relatively easy to understand why activists, well-intentioned students and citizens are easily seduced. Language is everything and both McKibben and Massie are extraordinarily experienced, perhaps even gifted, at using palatable and acceptable terminology. Key words that are recognized by many as false solutions (i.e., “green economy”) are omitted, with terms such as “sustainable enterprises” and “fossil-free portfolios” used and exercised in their place. Yet, what is far more stealthy is the language that is purposely omitted: critical discussion as to how colonialism, imperialism, racism and patriarchy are propelled forward and normalized in our commodity culture, via non-fossil fuel investments. Under the economic system of industrialized capitalism, infinite growth of any investment dependent upon Earth’s natural resources is not, and cannot be made to be, sustainable. This is the elephant in the room that no one dares speak of.

Socially Responsible Investing Options: McDonald’s, ConocoPhillips and Nike

“To assess the ‘personality’ of the corporate ‘person,’ a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social ‘personality’: it is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. Four case studies, drawn from a universe of corporate activity, clearly demonstrate harm to workers, human health, animals and the biosphere. Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a ‘psychopath.'” —The Corporation, The Pathology of Commerce, Case Histories Divest for our Future, 350.org’s divestment website, recommends “environmentally and socially responsible funds.” [5]

Social responsible investing (SRI) is to serve one purpose: the human purpose. SRI serves/benefits only those with the monetary means to invest – meaning those of privilege. In 2009 Forbes provided a list of the top ten “Socially Responsible Buys.” Number 4 was Energen – a diversified energy company involved in natural gas distribution and oil and gas exploration and production. Number 10 was Apache, which develops and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. In 2013 things don’t look much different when we view the top 25 ranked socially responsible dividend stocks. Number 20 is Consolidated Edison (natural gas). On Feb 4, 2013 Forbes reported Northeast Utilities a top socially responsible dividend stock. Note that on Feb 20, 2014, it was reported that “Northeast Utilities (NU) Opposes Solar to Protect Profits” [Source]. Most SRI funds are heavily invested in one type of fossil fuel or another. Examples are Parnassus Equity Income Fund (approx. 14% of assets are held in oil, natural gas and electric utilities), TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund (owns shares in dozens of oil and gas corporations including Hess, Marathon and Sunoco, and shale gas corporations, Devon Energy (named the “producer of the year” by Oilsands Magazine) and Range Resources), Calvert Equity Portfolio (approx. 10% of its portfolio comprised of fossil fuels with Suncor one of its largest holdings, which says on its website that it was “the first company to develop the oil sands, creating an industry that is now a key contributor to Canada’s prosperity”) and the Domini Social Equity Fund (among its top 10 holdings is Apache Corp). [Source]

Green Money Journal cited the following as one of five “top socially responsible investing news stories of 2004” as reported by SocialFunds.com:

“While shareowners have for years withdrawn resolutions when companies comply with their terms, 2004 saw an increasing number of such instances. Energy companies Cinergy (CIN), American Electric Power (AEP), TXU (TXU), and Southern Company (SO) agreed to prepare reports on the risks posed by climate change and company plans to mitigate such risks, and Reliant (REI) agreed to increase climate risk disclosure.”

In light of this top news story of 2004 applauding Southern Company’s corporate responsibility, one might wonder, eight years later, how this lauded corporation has since evolved.

It has evolved the way one would expect any psychopath to evolve:

“To insulate themselves against charges of environmental racism for poisoning poor blacks in Burke County, Southern Companies doesn’t just make wild claims about how many [new] Homer Simpson jobs … its nuclear plants will produce. Southern Companies purchased its very own civil rights organization, the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Council, originally founded by Dr. Martin Luther King himself. A Southern Companies CEO headed up SCLC’s building fund and raised over $3 million to pay for its new office buildings on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue.” June 27, 2012, Black On The Old Plantation

Giving Up Nothing

KillerCoke

“Walden Equity (WSEFX) illustrates the variety among SRI funds. Its holdings include McDonald’s, energy giant ConocoPhillips and Nike, which has had its own labor problems…. Walden, which charges 1.0% per year, has beaten the S&P 500 by 2.8 points a year over the past five years…. So, giving up practically nothing, you can get a warm feeling that your money is serving a useful purpose – even if the fund manager or index composer is deciding what that purpose should be. Not a bad deal.” — 5 Mutual Funds for Socially Responsible Investors, May, 2012

 

“Responsible But Still Profitable – Investors, however, don’t want to suffer losses on their investments, even if they are socially responsible ones. With that in mind, here are five stocks currently listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability United States Index that have produced positive returns over the past year…. limiting your investment selections to companies listed on an index such as this will likely not create an investment portfolio that perfectly matches all of your political and ethical concerns, but it will ensure that your investment capital goes into companies that are regarded as socially responsible on average compared to most companies.” — 4 Socially Responsible Stocks To Watch, Investopedia, June 26, 2012

Stocks

Image: Investopedia

Most all social fund portfolios claim that the funds will consider a company’s performance with respect to environmental responsibility, labor standards, and human rights. This claim must be acknowledged as nothing but marketing rhetoric given Coca-Cola – one of the top offenders on environment degradation, labor and human rights on the planet – is considered a “socially responsible” investment.

The idea that one can divest from Suncor and Exxon and re-invest it into top ranked socially responsible dividend stock such as Pepsi and McDonald’s, and that this is going to somehow develop a “sustainable” economy that will help tackle climate change, is more than a little hopeful. It’s delusional. Don’t like Pepsi? How about Apple? One need not worry about the modern day slaves in China jumping to their deaths from the sweatshop rooftops, just click over to SumOfUs where you can click a petition “to Apple telling them to make the iPhone 5 ethically.” [SLIDESHOW: 25 Top Ranked Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks, Nov. 22, 2013] All is good for the privileged hyper-consumer in the world of make-believe where “real change” is only a click away.

582-ipod-sweatshop-large1

Make no mistake, one can divest from Exxon and reinvest in Coca-Cola, but infinite growth – a requirement of the industrialized capitalist system – will not and cannot become tamed under a “good” investment or a “bad” one. Nor can the violence and oppression upon the world’s most vulnerable and Earth’s ecosystems, also inherently built into the system.

Under Michael Bluejay’s list of socially responsible stocks, the author writes:

“On the other hand, some say that no large company is completely clean — some are just “less bad” than others. For example, the largest plastics recycler in the world is also the largest producer of virgin plastic. And while producing bicycles is a laudable goal, critics allege that a major bicycle manufacturer uses sweatshop labor to produce its bikes….

 

“There are still yet other complications: Over the years the small eco/responsible companies I list on this site invariably seem to get bought out by a larger company, or themselves grow bigger and then attract multinational investors, or go out of business. As an example of the second case, natural foods maker Hain Foods merged with tea maker Celestial Seasonings a while back and then continued to swallow up dozens of small natural foods makers around the country, and is now a big enough player that their biggest investor is Wellington Management, whose primary investors include Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, Alcoa, Gillette, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart! Who would have guessed?”

Does divesting from fossil fuels ensure one does not invest in nuclear? Not necessarily. From the Sustainable & Responsible Mutual Fund Chart, let’s randomly look at just one fund, in this instance, Calvert International Opportunities Fund Y. Under the heading Environment: Climate / Clean Technology we find:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment – No investment in companies that own or operate new nuclear power plans, but may invest in companies with existing nuclear power if they are demonstrating leadership in alternative energy.” [Emphasis added.]

Under the heading Social: Human Rights:

“Restricted/Exclusionary Investment: Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights, including those under international and/or US sanction for human rights abuses.” [Emphasis added.]

The irony is grandiose: “Avoids investing in companies that directly support governments that systematically deny human rights.” If this were true, most every U.S. corporation would be “avoided” seeing that the U.S. government has the most appalling history of human rights abuses of all states in the entire world. Never has a single country inflicted so much pain and suffering in almost every corner of the globe.

The Right “Track” for Green Investors

On October 12, 2012 the Guardian featured an article titled How to invest ethically (“As National Ethical Investment Week begins, we look at the latest thinking on green finance and joining the ethical revolution”). Reflecting the fact that water will become exceedingly scarce as planetary tipping points continue to be crossed, perhaps it is of little surprise that the second choice for the opportunistic ethical investor is water. The article states: “Desalination will be a significant investment play for ethical investors, naming GE, Suez and Siemens as potential stock beneficiaries. And most green funds now have a portion of their portfolio dedicated to water stocks, while others, such as Pictet Water, invest only in water.” And what was the number one choice for the ethical investor? Incredibly, it is rail. Rail is highlighted as “[T]he right track for green investors.” The irony is rich – literally. Not only did those behind the creation of the Keystone Pipeline campaign distract the populace long enough for Obama’s financial advisor, Warren Buffett, to build a 21st century North American rail empire, hell, now one can even invest in his rail company BNSF under the guise of ethical investment. Move your money from tar sands investments over to the rail. This way you can watch the oil roll down the tracks, but without holding a direct investment in the oil itself. And the best part is you can feel like you’re saving the world. [From the article: “Shares in railroad companies have soared… In 2009, legendary investor Warren Buffett bought America’s second biggest rail operator, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, in a deal valuing the company at $44bn, while CSX, the third biggest operator, has seen its share price quadruple since 2004.”]

DeRailment @ Vandergrift, Pa.

February 13, 2014: A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania. On January 6, 2005  a Norfolk Southern train hauling chlorine through Graniteville, South Carolina, derailed. The result was toxic gas that poured into the town. Nine people lost their lives on the day of the accident. On June 10, 2010, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Liberty, SC spilling toxic substances.

Both Norfolk Southern and CSX rail corporations are listed among the “Top 25 Socially Responsible Dividend Stocks” in a recent ranking by the Dividend Channel (August 21, 2013). Norfolk (“Giving Mother Nature a High Five”) has also been named in the “Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list” by G.I. Jobs magazine while CSX (“See how CSX is driven to protect the environment”) is the largest coal transporter east of the Mississippi River. CSX is also prepared for growth in the oil by rail market: “CSX’s recently announced capacity expansion will support crude oil growth to the Northeast. The $26 million investment in 2013 adds passing sidings along our River Line running south from Albany, NY to provide even more train capacity to serve the crude oil market. Overall, CSX is investing $2.3 billion into our network and strategic assets in 2013. Currently, CSX has the ability to handle more than 400,000 barrels of crude per day into the Philadelphia market alone. Additionally, our network is capable of handling the largest capacity tank cars (286,000 gross weight on rail), maximizing your barrels loaded per car. This gives you the ability to ship more crude per train and lowers the per barrel transportation costs.”

The SRI Mutual Fund Industry: A Free-for-all

“Colonization, imperialism, slavery, and virtually all wars are directly attributable to oligarchies trying to achieve the highest return on investment. It is called ‘sacred hunger’ in Barry Unsworth’s prize-winning novel of the same name on the slave trade. How the SRI industry came to believe that it could use avarice to reverse the suffering that greed causes has everything to do with marketing and nothing to do with philosophy.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

 

“Clearly no large company has changed its fundamental business practices due to SRI retail investing.” — Paul Hawken, 2004

In 2004 Paul Hawken wrote:

“Imagine an organic food trade association any company could join. Members set the standards to suit themselves. Thus, any store or company can label their products ‘organic’ if they choose because there are no rules defining what organics mean. If your company does anything to improve its production methods, no matter how inconsequential, it qualifies for membership and can use the word ‘organic’ on its labels.

 

The association gives an annual prize to an academic paper, showing that if you eliminate six of the twelve pesticides commonly used on lettuce, you still get as much lettuce as before. Consumers who want to know about the food they buy can’t find out how it is grown or how it is certified. Instead of an independent outside agency, association members hire private for-profit ‘screening’ companies to determine what’s organic. The screening companies compete, each has a different screening method, and none reveal how they define or determine organic. The screening standards allow 90% of all the food produced in the world to be labeled organic. Inside this organization a small group of core producers believe organic should mean ‘no use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.’ The big food companies are amused by this group’s romanticism and see them as ‘idealists.’

 

Sound ridiculous? Yes, but this trade association exists. It doesn’t sell food, it sells investments. It is the international socially responsible investing (SRI) mutual fund industry. Like the imaginary trade group, it has no stands, no definitions, and no regulations other than financial regulations. Anyone can join; anyone can call a fund an SRI fund. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies are included in SRI mutual fund portfolios.”

Hawken’s summary:

1.     The cumulative investment portfolio of the combined SRI funds is virtually no different than the combined portfolio of conventional mutual funds.

2.     The screening methodologies and exceptions employed by most SRI funds allow practically any publicly-held corporation to be considered as an SRI portfolio company.

3.     Fund names and literature can be deceptive, not reflecting the actual investment strategy of the managers.

4.     SRI in advertising caters to people’s desires to improve the world by avoiding bad actors in the corporate world, but it can be misleading and oftentimes has little correlation to portfolio holdings.

5.     There is a lack of transparency and accountability in screening and portfolio selection.

6.     The ability for investors to do market-based comparisons of different funds is difficult if not impossible.

7.     There is a strong bias towards companies that aggressively pursue globalization of brands, products and regulations.

8.     The environmental screens used by the portfolio managers are loose and do little to help the environment.

9.     The language used to describe SRI mutual funds, including the term “SRI” itself, is vague and indiscriminate and leads to misperception and distortion of investor goals.

10.  Although shareholder activism is cited as a reason to invest in SRI mutual funds, few SRI mutual funds engage in shareholder advocacy or sponsor activist shareholder resolutions.

Perhaps the single most important and overlooked statement within Hawken’s report was as follows:

 “The single most important criterion for a company is whether its products or services should exist at all.”

The report is damning – especially in light of the fact Hawken is an avid supporter/promoter of “natural capitalism.” “In keeping with their longstanding commitment to green capitalism, in 1982 Hawkin’s coauthors Hunter and Amory Lovins founded the green think-tank and consultancy Rocky Mountain Institute, which has worked with all manner of large and small companies including Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart, and with governmental clients such as the Pentagon.” [Source]

Following this report, Hawken went on to found the Highwater Global Fund with Michael Baldwin. Highwater, with Portfolio 21, are considered to be two of the most ethical funds that exist. Yet both funds have holdings in Banco Bradesco – an investor in REDD. [“The FAS is an innovative institution, created by the state government of Amazonas and Bradesco Bank, also the maintainer. Among the other organizations that support it are Coca-Cola, Amazon Fund – BNDES, Marriott International, Samsung, and other operational partners.”] [WATCH: Indigenous Peoples Aggressively Targeted by Manipulative NGOs Advancing REDD Agenda]

“[REDD is] a policy that grabs land, clear-cuts forests, destroys biodiversity, abuses Mother Earth, pimps Father Sky and threatens the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. This policy privatizes the air we breathe. Commodifies the clouds. Buy and sells the atmosphere. Corrupts the Sacred… It is time to defend Mother Earth and Father Sky. Your future depends on it.” — Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network Oct 22. 2013

Portfolio 21 also has holdings in gas: “Portfolio 21 Investments will invest in companies involved in the transmission and distribution of natural gas as well as in utilities that utilize natural gas as a fuel source.” [Source]

The top ten equity holdings of Highwater are: Apple; Banco Bradesco; Cisco; EnerNOC; Ford Motors; Hyflux; Natura Cosmetics; Novozymes; SSL International; and Vivo Participacoes (Highwater Global Fund, 2010). Although addressing poverty appears to be a predominant area of interest in Hawken’s extensive CV, those with limited funds need not contact Highwater Global Fund anytime soon. The minimum investment bar creates yet another exclusive venue where only the monetarily rich have access to Highwater’s services, furthering class distinction and division.

It’s not that Highwater or Portfolio 21 are “evil,” rather, it is simply the nature of capitalism. The nature of the beast. Profit comes first.

“Some claim that the SRI label has become a little too elastic. In 2010, a report from ethical financial advisers Barchester Green said many UK funds cannot justify the labels applied to them. It was particularly critical of the Zurich Environmental Opportunities pension fund, whose top holdings – Shell, BP and miner Rio Tinto – resembled ‘an environmental investor’s blacklist.’ Conservative investors might approve of the Ave Maria Catholic Value fund’s screening out of supposed sin stocks, but not be keen that controversial oil company Halliburton is one of its biggest holdings.” — Ethical wrapper can contain some surprising names, October 22, 2013

From Exxon to BP

It is somewhat ironic that Ceres was launched in 1989 (presented to the public as The Valdez Principles), exploiting the Exxon Valdez spill to build its own brand recognition and value as the corporate watchdog. Jump forward to the April 20, 2010 BP oil spill, which is considered the largest, most catastrophic, accidental marine oil spill in history – surpassing the cataclysmic Exxon oil spill of 1989. How many people know that up until this disaster, BP was a top holding SRI fund. Also not to be forgotten as a top holding SRI investment before its demise in 2004 was none other than Enron – the poster child for corporate malfeasance.

“Regenerative Capitalism”

The December 27, 2012 article (Greenbiz), Why 350.org’s divestment campaign is on the money, is written by Michael Kramer of Natural Investments, another firm of mention in the 350.org divestment documents (Institutional Pathways to Fossil Free Investing).

Kramer (“Regenerative Capitalism“) makes the argument to move fossil fuel divestments to SRI funds. The article ends with Kramer announcing his firm has created a fossil-fuel-free portfolio for investors who can’t bear to invest in fossil fuels. “The time has come to put our money where our values are, and money managers and mutual funds that claim to be sustainable or socially responsible should look very closely at what these words truly mean and reflect upon whether they should use such terminology if they don’t measure up to such a standard.”

Upon further research it was found that the Natural Investments Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio is comprised of ten fixed income and equity funds and that the fund also supports a non-profit organization) (10%). When asked what actual investments comprised the fund, here was the response:

“Thanks for your inquiry. We have identified 10 such funds that meet our financial and broader environmental, social and governance criteria, but it’s certainly possible that there are other fossil fuel free funds that don’t apply such ESG criteria. But given our universe of about 200 sustainable and responsible funds, we’ve indeed found very few that qualify for inclusion. We certainly provide the names of all investments we use to our clients, but not otherwise (though all the responsible funds we consider are listed in the Heart Rating section of our website). As far as the nonprofits we donate to, 350.org is the recipient of a portion of the management fee for the fossil fuel free portfolio, and many other recipients for the rest of our 1%- of- revenues donations are listed here: http://naturalinvesting.com/charitable-contributions. Feel free to be in touch if we can be of further service. Thanks, Michael Kramer, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Managing Partner, Natural Investments LLC

The transferring of investment funds from fossil fuel investments to SRI investments is not a solution to our unparalleled ecological crisis, with the planet already having crossed a multitude of planetary boundaries. Rather, it is a two-fold distraction with epic consequences. First, it distracts from the very root causes of our ecological/planetary crisis. Second, under this veil, the illusory “green economy,” – the commodification of the planet – is going forward, full throttle, with almost no opposition. This brilliant and diabolical marketing feat employing behaviour change strategies is being carried out by the organizations, firms and NGOs working with and promoting the divestment campaign, while on the surface, 350.org’s “hands” remain clean. SRI fund promoters are not activists. One must never lose sight of the simple fact that their primary duty as a fiduciary is maximum shareholder return.

The SRI industry is not interested in reversing the anguish resulting from colonialism, imperialism, racism, patriarchy, oppression and decimation of environment, as all of this ugliness is inherently built into the system (which then externalizes these costs). The task at hand is the continuance of individualism and greed, normalized into a commodity culture, where all those with monetary means can acquiesce in our collective path to self-destruction. Such a vogue fabrication of, in essence, a kinder, gentler, more compassionate capitalism, is achievable and even preferred in a corporatized society where lies are preferred over truth. Exquisite fabrication, wrapped in opaque vellum, bestowed with a shimmering green bow. It’s not high-gloss marketing over philosophy. High-gloss marketing is the philosophy.

The Mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Such crafted veneer as the Ceres Principles can be categorized under the similar heading/guise of “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). In the article Corporate Social Responsibility as a Political Resource (February 22, 2010), author Michael Barker writes:

“In June 2003 Gretchen Crosby Sims completed a vitally important Ph.D. at Stanford University titled Rethinking the Political Power of American Business: The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility. Hardly counting herself as a political radical – Sims’s doctorate thesis was supervised by Morris Fiorina, who is presently a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution – the findings of her unpublicized study provide a critical resource for progressive activists seeking to challenge the mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the British non-profit organization Corporate Watch states, CSR ‘is not a step towards a more fundamental reform of the corporate structure but a distraction from it.’ Indeed, Corporate Watch advise that: ‘Exposing and rejecting CSR is a step towards addressing corporate power….’

 

As [Weinstein] demonstrated long ago, corporate elites adopted the principles of ‘cooperation and social responsibility’ to sustain capitalism’s inequalities, not to remedy them. To campaign for Corporate Social Responsibility in this present day is akin to demanding the institutionalization of elite social engineering. Capitalist corporations will never be socially responsible, this fact is plain to see; thus the sooner progressive activists identify their enemy as capitalism, not corporate greed or a lack of good-will, then the sooner they will be able to create an equitable world whose political and economic system is premised on social responsibility, not to corporate elites, but instead to all people.” [Emphasis added]

 

Next: Part IV

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] Bob Massie is the President and CEO of the New Economics Institute. An ordained Episcopal minister, he received his B.A. from Princeton Unversity, M.A. from Yale Divinity School, and doctorate from Harvard Business School. From 1989 to 1996 he taught at Harvard Divinity School, where he served as the director of the Project on Business, Values, and the Economy. His 1998 book, Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years, won the Lionel Gelber prize for the best book on international relations in the world. He was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1994 and a candidate for the United States Senate in 2011. During his career he has created or led three ground-breaking sustainability organizations, serving as the president of Ceres (the largest coalition of investors and environmental groups in the United States), the co-founder and first chair of the Global Reporting Initiative, and the initiator of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which currently has over 100 members with combined assets of over $10 trillion. [Source: New Economics Institute]

[2] ROGER ADAMS (United Kingdom) Executive Director-Technical, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, JACQUELINE ALOISI DE LARDEREL (France) Assistant Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics, FABIO FELDMANN (Brazil) former Secretary of Environment, São Paulo, TOSHIHIKO GOTO (Japan) Chair, Environmental Auditing Research Group, JUDY HENDERSON, CHAIR (Australia) immediate-past Chair, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd, former Commissioner, World Commission on Dams HANNS MICHAEL HÖLZ (Germany) Global Head of Sustainable Development and Public Relations, Deutsche Bank Group, JAMSHED J. IRANI (India) Director, Tata Sons Limited, ROBERT KINLOCH MASSIE (United States) Executive Director, CERES, MARK MOODY-STUART (United Kingdom) retired Chair, Royal Dutch/Shell, ANITA NORMARK (Sweden) General Secretary, International Federation of Building and Wood Workers, NYAMEKO BARNEY PITYANA (South Africa) Vice-Chancellor, University of South Africa, former Chair, South African Human Rights Commission BARBARA SHAILOR (United States) Director of International Affairs, American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations, BJORN STIGSON (Sweden) President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development PETER H.Y. WONG (China) Senior Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Hong Kong; and Board Member, International Federation of Accountants.

[3] Source: Wikipedia

[4] “However these debates will unfold, the Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.” [“Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists – including a Nobel prize-winner – who suggest that Earth has entered a new age of geological time.”] Source: Science Daily, March 26, 2010

[5] Are SRI funds as clean and green as you think? by Marc Gunther, December 4, 2012