Archives

Sierra Club

Where’s the Democracy in the Environmental Movement?

The Media Co-op

September 10, 2033

by Dru Oja Jay

Struggles against tar sands and fracking in Canada are missing an ASSE or a SNCC

The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn't know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn’t know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.

With tar sands, fracking and mining all on the rise, there’s never been a more important time for a strong environmental movement in Canada. Surveying the landscape of organizations, one thing is missing: democracy. Which is to say, meaningful informed participation among equal participants.

The images are familiar. People gathered together, making pivotal decisions about their collective direction in community halls, church basements, and conference rooms. Heated debates, pivotal votes, historic gatherings and galvanizing speeches. These are symbols of something that is basic to what it means for people to band together to fight powerful forces and change things.

Movements often have an organization that embodies their spirit. The US civil rights movement in the 1960s was driven forward by the Southern Christian Leadership Congress and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The anti-nuclear direct action in the 1970s had the Movement for a New Society (MNS), and the “antiglobalization” movement of the 1990s and 2000s was an interwoven web of spokescouncil meetings and coalitions. Quebec’s epic student strikes in 2005 and 2012 were initiated by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ).

These and many other movement organizations made historic decisions democratically. They chose their leaders, or chose to have spokespersons instead. They debated, analyzed and decided on strategies and actions. It may not have been perfectly equal, but everyone agreed on the intention.

Today’s environmental movement in Canada is different. There are a few small, member-based, grassroots groups, but there is nothing on the scale of SNCC, MNS or ASSÉ. These groups organize local events and actions, but lack the scale to set the direction for national or even provincial campaigns. The only national-level groups are Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs).

ENGOs are somewhat diverse politically, ranging from the David Suzuki Foundation, whose chair moonlights as a consultant for Shell Oil, to the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign, which fights for Indigenous sovereignty as the best way to stop environmental destruction. But almost all of them have a two things in common: their staff-driven structures depend on foundation funding, and none of them hold meetings where a membership meaningfully and democratically sets the agenda or selects leadership.

(The Council of Canadians is the only exception to both; it is member funded and holds an annual meeting of members. Greenpeace has some financial independence with an authoritarian structure. Organizations like the Sierra Club hold elections, but are dependent on grant money for their operations.)

Instead, strategies for Canada’s environmental movement are formulated at island retreats, in boardrooms, and on staff conference calls. You won’t find any public record of these decisions, and if you do, someone will likely get in trouble. Local activists and community members are enlisted to be a part of campaigns, often at the last minute, but are shut out of the larger discussions.

So, who makes the decisions for Canada’s environmental movement? The lack of transparency makes it impossible to know for sure, but the handful of foundations that ENGOs rely on for funding have considerable sway.

A leaked 2008 strategy paper for the “Tar Sands Coalition” illustrates the power dynamic. Michael Marx, who was the director at the time, authored the document. In it, he declared that the “coalition,” which sets the overall strategy for anti-tar sands activism by ENGOs, “shall remain invisible to the outside.”  “Foundations investing most heavily in the campaign,” Marx explained, “have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.” And that’s why they created an invisible coalition of ENGOs who depend on them for funding.

That coalition exists today, and continues to hold secret meetings to decide on the future direction of anti-tar sands work. At a week-long retreat attended by ENGO reps last fall, participants agreed to not talk about what was decided at the meeting, or to speak about the individual who is in charge of the “coalition,” who controls the distribution of a few million per year in foundation funding.

Because contemporary ENGOs rely on foundation money for all of their operations, they are forced to accept absurd levels of non-transparency, and are susceptible to a high level of foundation control of their activities. (Some fight for their independence more than others, but those who do must compete with more obsequious ENGOs for funding.)

This is not to say that ENGO staff, many of whom are idealistic, highly competent people, don’t have any influence. It is to say that activists, members of the public and residents of directly affected communities have no direct influence at all if they’re not occupying staff positions. In their quest for “exercising some control,” funders are continuously driving a wedge between ENGO staff members and all other movement participants.

It wasn’t always this way. The environmental movement made far and away its largest gains before foundation funding entered on to the scene. Starting in the 1960s, environmental activism became an massive phenonenon, with 20 million people participating in Earth Day 1970. Hundreds of groups sprang up. Many of the larger ones, as Naomi Klein recently put it, had “elite roots.” But grassroots, community-based groups came up with the most impressive victories.

The movement was powerful enough to make then-President Richard Nixon — of all people — enthusiastically sign the largest pieces of environmental legislation the US has seen before or since. Logging companies, nuclear energy advocates and polluters were on the run from hundreds of dedicated volunteers and small organizations.

In the 1980s, foundations like Pew Charitable Trusts began to funnel resources to the most moderate and authoritarian environmental groups, balooning their capacity in relation to lean, local volunteer-based groups. The effect was to reign in activism by demanding less and less while spending more and more. Environmentalists started talking about landing jobs instead of participating in a movement.

In the 1990s, the foundations — led by Pew — landed in Canada. Many groups already had top-down, non-transparent leadership structures. Some, notably Greenpeace, had recently made the decision to adopt a more authoritarian style.

But there were some holdouts. Groups with large, active memberships like the BC Sierra Club, were pulled in with the promise of funds. As Mehdi Najari, a former BC Sierra Club board member told me recently, the BC Sierra Club barely had two staff in the 1980s, but regularly packed out auditoriums across the province during public meetings. Thousands across BC were participating on a volunteer basis.

In 1991, in the wake of an NDP victory in British Columbia, Canadian ENGOs got their first taste of foundation cash. “There was this idea that all that was missing was money,” said Najari. “They went and got big places, big staff,” and NGOs didn’t have to mobilize their members anymore. “Their money was coming from a different channel, they were less and less active.”

It didn’t take much. Najari says the first payment to BC Environmental groups was a little over $600,000, though it later inflated to millions. “For corporations, this is pennies; by spending that amount of money, they could totally change the dynamics of environmentalism in BC.”

Democracy in member-based groups gave way to grant-dependence. Some groups simply used their top-down structures to mold themselves into the image foundations desired. Foundations created entirely new groups like ForestEthics, separate from any membership or popular mandate.

Corporate collaboration became the order of the day. The new game plan was a two step campaigning model. Step one: mobilize a noisy public campaign with lots of volunteer energy to stop destructive activity carried out by corporations. Step two: stop this campaign in its tracks, and enter into negotiations with those corporations behind closed doors.

The result was deals like the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). In both cases, activists involved in the campaign had no idea what the overall strategy was, and were surprised when foundation-coordinated groups yanked funding for organizing and entered negotiations.

While one might imagine that there is some upside to centrally-controlled campaigning, the results are not promising.

Both agreements were trumpeted as quantum leaps for conservation, but in fact represented very limited gains. Ten years in, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement (which infuriated local activists for its low-ball conservation requirements when it was signed, prompting Rainforest Action Network to withdraw its name) is still not being fully implemented. Four years after its signing, the CBFA is in disarray after Greenpeace and Canopy withdrew. Greenpeace is being sued for $7 million by forestry giant Resolute.

This limited vision is built in to foundation funding. Some foundations like Pew have strong ties to oil companies and have a track record of investing in the same corporations they supposedly are working on stopping. Some, like Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have historic ties to oil companies. Some, like Hewlett, position themselves with green energy. But with very few exceptions, they are run by powerful people with deep social and financial stakes in maintaining the aspects of the status quo which benefit their class.

Greener capitalism is the overall goal. Large foundations seek to legitimize capitalism by giving it a friendlier face. (Some radical foundations exist, but they are much smaller.) As one might expect, maintaining an economic system that gobbles up resources and generates ever-increasing consumption while also trying to be more environmentally friendly usually amounts to doing very little indeed.

Because of these underlying interests, foundation-run projects often fail to meet even modest conservation goals. As Naomi Klein recently noted, “if the environmental movement was going to decide to fight [neoliberalism], they would have had to give up their elite status. And weren’t willing to give up their elite status.” Corporate collaboration, she concludes, has been a “disastrously losing strategy.”

Though it is so often in direct opposition to foundation funding, democracy has many benefits. When thousands of people are involved in debating and deciding on strategies, the sense of ownership and investment they feel marks the difference between holding a banner and being a part of a process of societal transformation.

And because people draw on numerous sources and their own experience, their conclusions often exceed what leaders see as realistic. As Gary Snyder put it in 1978, “without knowing it, little old ladies in tennis shoes who work to save whooping cranes are enemies of the state, along with other more flamboyant figures.”

Direct experience, whether with whooping cranes or a refinery next door, can transform people and unleash creativity within movements — and if we’re lucky, within society at large.

Working at the pace of volunteers instead of full-time staff also opens the door to a more diverse set of participants. Elders, parents and students can be a part of the mix, bringing their unique energies and wisdom.

The model of environmentalism which is currently dominant makes widespread participation and empowerment into a liability. It relies on tight control over activities to execute campaigns where the creativity is in-house or farmed out to an advertising firm for top dollar. It’s a self-fulfilling mentality. If your goal is to control the activities of hundreds of volunteers to get a predetermined result, then those volunteers being empowered, opinionated and self-organized is a liability. (The oft-forgotten history of union-busting in ENGOs highlights this attitude.)

The most important benefit of democracy is the ability to change direction and leadership collectively. Right now, Canada’s environmental movement is a large collection of individuals. Each participant has their own thoughts and opinion on the overall direction of the movement, but none of us has a venue to express that opinion collectively or do something about it collectively. It’s a fundamentally disempowering situation.

Every other movement has had to deal with a wide array of organizations who are in some way at odds with the core of activists pushing things forward. The Civil Rights movement had the legally-oriented NAACP opposing direct action tactics. ASSÉ had to fight FEUQ during both student strikes while it fought the Quebec government at the same time. Having moderate groups around who try to slow things down and blunt the edges is nothing new.

But Canada’s environmental movement is in a more exclusive club: movements which have no independent democratic venue which includes activists and volunteers. Where is our ASSÉ? Where is our SNCC?

We have nothing like them.

This, I should say, is not a new problem. 16 Greenpeace founders signed a letter declaring that “Greenpeace’s leaders are paid too much, have lost their focus and must become more democratic.” That was in 1996.

The struggle for a democratic movement is a long haul, but the need which drives it is nonetheless pressing. The shadowy foundation-controlled Tar Sands “Coalition” has launched the “Tar Sands Solutions Network,” a name that strongly hints at future corporate collaboration deals coming down the pipe. While many of the individuals receiving the funding are surely against this. Indeed, one prominent tar sands campaigner has been quoted as saying he’ll quit if corporate dealmaking comes to the tar sands. But is that enough to change direction?

Only time, and silent struggles within the coalition, will tell. That is, unless an independent, democratic alternative emerges.

An unfortunate side effect of foundation money coming to Canada every year is that it makes starting truly democratic grassroots efforts much more difficult. The expectations of staff pay and resources are much higher, and talented organizers tend to get picked off and hired by ENGOs. Often, they take their social networks with them.

But it is possible.

The most successful movements in history thrived without foundation money. Without them, the world would look very different today. The first step is a developing a recognition of the need for a democratic venue where movement participants can make decisions independent of foundations. The second is finding the will to build it.

 

[Dru Oja Jay is a Montreal-based writer and organizer. He is co-author, with Nikolas Barry-Shaw, of Paved with Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism.]

 

Must-Read White Paper: The Politics of a New York State Fracking Moratorium

sierraclub2

Above: A picture worth a thousand words ….

“[P]romoters of “safe fracking” like the Natural Resources Defense Council (“we need better information”), the National Sierra Club (“let’s secure strong safeguards”), and the National Wildlife Federation (“reasonable compromise”; the parent organization of Environmental Advocates of New York), Environmental Defense Fund (partnering with Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other industry players in the “Center for Sustainable Shale Development,” PDF), Citizens Campaign for the Environment (pushing for a moratorium, “Let science guide the process”), and New York League of Conservation Voters (whose 2013 spring gala partners included Chesapeake Energy, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and other industry polluters) would like to have an apparent easy win to headline their fundraising letters. Even while many of their staffers recognize the need for a ban, these same staffers have been discouraged from publicly supporting a ban. The grassroots must stand firmly for this position to help these staffers use the courage of their convictions.”

CPNY | Coalition to Protect New York

June 16, 2013

Knowing that the whole country, indeed the whole world, is looking to New York State to stop fracking and lead the way for others to piggyback on our success, we find it especially important that we get it right. We can help not only ourselves but also every other citizenry affected, and we can change the course of history. We cannot waste time; too much is at stake. We can’t play games. We must demand what we need to survive. And we must win.

1. What is the effect of calling for a moratorium? Doesn’t a moratorium buy us time to organize for an eventual ban?

We understand and are tempted by the respite that a moratorium seems to promise. Who wouldn’t like to buy time for rest and recuperation, and to fight more fiercely down the line?

However, after careful examination of the political and economic landscape, we realize that the price of a statewide moratorium is clearly too high — it works against our achieving our ultimate goal of a total and complete ban.

Democracy in Reverse | Non-Profit Disaster Capitalism on the Gulf Coast

July 11, 2013

by Elizabeth Cook 

GulfOilSpill2

The most recent public meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, held in Belle Chase on June 12, was an exercise in democracy in reverse.(1)

It is an undemocratic process that is largely for political theater, in my view, so I used it as such. I was as dramatic as possible in presenting the most important points, in my view, of the reality on the Gulf. People have only three minutes to speak. The funding is a long way off, so why not have round table discussions, that can go on all day, where people wander in and out depending on their schedule? No, in three minutes, you have to state all of your concerns about the gulf, BP, oil, the Corexit (2), bioremediation or the lack thereof in the marshes, the dying marshes (3), the culpability of the government in the use of Corexit (4), the fact that the Feds want to expand drilling to Florida (5) and the Corexit is being stockpiled all up and down the Gulf coast (6). If there another major oil well blowout in the Gulf and the Corexit is used in massive quantities again, then this restoration process will have to start all over. Common sense folks (yes, I did say that). 

Working for Warren: Corporate Greens

 

buffet

Intercontinental Cry

June 4, 2013

By Jay Taber

 

In Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse–Part II, Cory Morningstar examines the political theatre of the non-profit industrial complex around the transport of oil, and how corporate greens — financed by oligarchs like Rockefeller, Gates and Buffett — are effectively destroying any meaningful activism in the US. At a time when half the total energy produced in the US is wasted due to inefficiencies, protesting pipelines only to have oil shipped by rail is arguably a meaningless activity. But as Morningstar explains, it is funded.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]

 

Under Empire, All Life is Imperiled

index6

One Year On

Counterpunch Weekend Edition May 24-26, 2013

by JAVIER SETHNESS CASTRO

“After the catastrophes that have happened, and in view of the catastrophes to come, it would be cynical to say that a plan for a better world is manifested in history and unites it.”

– Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics

Channeling Adorno, it would I think prove difficult today to characterize the prevailing world-situation as anything other than highly negative.  Such an interpretation is arguably seen most readily in reflection on environmental matters—specifically, the ever-worsening climate emergency, not to mention other worrying signs of the ecological devastation wrought by the capitalist system.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Manufacturing Discourse

The following article is the second installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped by corporate interests into the non-profit industrial complex, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.

+++

Counterpunch

June 4, 2013

Part two 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]

 

2013-04-15-NGO-is-born

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan, Minimum Security

On April 8, 2013, PRWatch asked the question: “Seven State Keystone XL Resolutions – Where Are the Environmentalists?” The author reported the following observations:

The cleanup is still underway from a massive pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, but you don’t hear anything about it at public hearings across the nation dealing with the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Resolutions supporting the controversial KXL pipeline have now been introduced in seven states, but while TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying in force for the bills to pass, there have been few opposing voices by either Democrats or environmentalists at public hearings dealing on the measures….

 

In February, CMD reported on state resolutions calling for the approval of the KXL pipeline project in Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri. The language in three of these resolutions closely matched a “backgrounder” from TransCanada. The forth resolution, introduced in Missouri, mirrored a resolution from the American Legislative Exchange Council….

 

In the last few months, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana have introduced very similar resolutions, which also feature paragraphs from TransCanada’s own materials. Although these resolutions are non-binding, they will be showcased by industry lobbyists as evidence about how state legislators (and by extension the public) feel about the pipeline project in an attempt to influence the pending State Department decision on KXL. While opponents of KXL have been active on many fronts, their absence from state legislatures nationwide has been notable….

Industry Turns Out in Force, But Face Little Opposition…

 

[P]ro-pipeline groups certainly seem to be organized in a coordinated national effort, with lobbyists from TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (or their local affiliates like Kansas Petroleum Council), and the Chamber of Commerce all attending committee hearings. But the attendance from environmental groups has been patchy at best and the support for their efforts from Democratic lawmakers has been weak.

 

On February 12, 2013, the Michigan resolution – SCR6 – received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, at which industry groups turned out in force. Lobbyists from the API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy were all there to make the case for KXL, but as shown in the minutes there was not a single member of the public recorded as opposing KXL. The vote passed 5-1, with two committee members leaving the room just five minutes before the vote. And when two weeks later a vote was held on the House version of the bill in the House Energy and Technology Committee, again lobbyists from API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy – as well as from Michigan Laborers Union – turned up to support the resolution. There was not a single voice of opposition and the Committee passed the resolution 16-0. The bill passed a floor vote in the House 88-20 on March 5, 2013. [Emphasis added]

The author of the above article makes reference to the fact that although 58,000 activists have pledged to be arrested, there is little opposition at the state level. Perhaps never before has there been such a clear case study that solidifies the fact that “clicktivism” is slowly and effectively destroying any meaningful activism. In the Havas Worldwide (global media giant and creator of TckTckTck) 2010 report, Who Cares Wins, The Rise of the Caring Corporation, one key element to further corporate loyalty and profit is to “Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” One could draw strong analogies to the 5 second “click” campaigns, which require (and demand) zero analysis and an abhorrence for critical thinking, when the Havas Worldwide campaign affects the psyche in a very similar fashion.

As found in the Nov/Dec 2012, Jan 2013 issue of Bakken Oil Business Magazine:

BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years. ‘In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012,’ said Dave Garin, BNSF group Vice President of Industrial Products….

 

I received the following response from Jane Kleeb after contacting her about Bold Nebraska’s oppositional stance to the KXL pipeline’s new suggested route through Nebraska: “We are waiting for all the conservative politicians who say they care about property rights and family farmers and ranchers to actually give a damn and stand up against this pipeline. We welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets.”

 

The leg from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast refineries has already been approved by the states through which it is being laid, as it did not require presidential approval and does not run through Nebraska. On March 12, 2012, President Obama personally announced his approval of “fast tracking” the southern leg of the KXL pipeline to relieve pressure on the WTI crude oil inventories for shipment to the Gulf Coast. Construction has started and is expected to be completed sometime in late 2013….

 

The main contributor to Bold Nebraska is Dick Holland, who has financially supported this progressive political movement in its opposition to the KXL pipeline. Bold Nebraska’s NIMBY approach will only cause further delays in completing the KXL.

 

Mr. Holland is a good friend of Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of the world’s most successful investors. Any delay in the process by the U.S. State Department in recommending approval for the completion of the full route of the KXL by the President of the United States, will solely benefit the BNSF.

Holland and his wife were two members of the small group that invested with close friend Warren Buffett in the original Berkshire Hathaway, which dates back to the 1960s. University of Nebraska Omaha reports: “[O]ne version of Buffett’s “Oracle of Omaha” story says $10,000 at the start (less than the Hollands invested) grew to roughly $280 million.”Forbes states that the BOLD Nebraska campaign has been largely funded by Dick Holland.

Jan 26, 2012, Forbes, Obama’s Keystone Rejection May Provide A Buffett Bonanza:

The Obama administration’s original decision to postpone Keystone approval until after the 2012 elections followed loud opposition on environmental grounds led by an anti-pipeline group called “Bold Nebraska”….

 

The BOLD Nebraska campaign was largely funded by Dick Holland, a close Buffett friend and business associate since the 1960s and an original Berkshire Hathaway investor.The two men share a similar political philosophy and are strong Democratic Party contributors.

Although BOLD Nebraska has openly stated “[W]e welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets,” it is nonetheless a partner of both 350.org [1] and Tar Sands Action.org [2]. Yet in real life, this is really no big deal. Where BOLD Nebraska may receive funding directly from a corporate interest, all organizations involved in this campaign are also funded via corporate interests, the only difference being that the funds (i.e. investment) are funnelled through foundations, which essentially serve as tax-exempt marketing agencies for neoliberal ideologies, programs and policies. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that Holland is actually forthright and transparent in his financing of BOLD Nebraska and doesn’t feel the need to conform to the political theatre in which the foundations are a key prop.

A far more serious issue is that a non-elected, self-appointed NGO, who claims to speak on behalf/represent of civil society (as all NGOs claim), that is in reality, founded/initiated/financed by elite families of hegemony (Rockefellers and Clintons predominantly at onset) has declined to disclose the source of certain monetary “donations”. The fact that an NGO that claims to represent civil society refuses to disclose all funding sources, demonstrates unequivocally a great lack of respect not only for full transparency, but for the “followers” they claim to represent. [“What 350.org’s list of donors fails to convey is that some foundations provide only US$5,000 or US$10,000, while two unidentified donors provide half of 350.org’s budget for 2011, according to its financial statements. Four grants accounted for two-thirds of 350.org’s budget. 350.org declined to identify the donors of those grants” [as referenced in part I].

Behind the curtains of the political theatre we find the prestigious marketing agencies and public relation firms that “grassroots” groups are miraculously able to afford. These firms and agencies write and develop the scripts and design the sets. They bring the stories to life, strategically exploit and manipulate and our emotions, ultimately ensuring we come to accept and partake in their politically acceptable means of discourse – discourse sanctioned (and financed) by the empire. In the case of BOLD Nebraska, partner and marketing agency, Justin Kemerling Design Co, boasts a client list of 350.org, MoveOn.org, Avaaz, the Obama campaign and many more. Another example is the corporate communications and public affairs agency Hoggan & Associates (DeSmogBlog co-founder Jim Hoggan is president and founder), whose client list includes corporate creation TckTckTck, Canadian Pacific (Rail), Shell, AMEC and many more. A planetary crisis for our Earth, which is on the verge of unprecedented, global ecological collapse, has never felt so far away. And the hustle, polished and refined in an emerald green patina, has never made us feel so damn good. Destruction of the planet and the oppression/displacement/annihilation of non-white peoples has been internalized as a completely normal, day to day part of our everyday existence.

The name of the game: allow us to subconsciously (and consciously) protect our privilege all while we’re up to our necks in blood, drowning within a system where violence and exploitation of people and planet are inherently built in. We may fiercely chastise Apple – but we’re not about to actually give up any of the corporations products. In our collective, oblivious minds, the Congo does not exist nor do the Congolese, just the SumofUs petition which Westerners sign (click) dishonestly knowing it will have no meaningful effect. (Instead we toss the latest iPhone sweatshop accessory to our average eleven year-old Euro-American populace, sanctioning rampant corporate pedophilia and indoctrination, all while we steal their very future out from under them.) DeSmogBlog may “expose” Shell on occasion, yet Hoggan & Associates has no problem raking in Shell cash to perhaps, in their own words, “…help clients identify the optimum frame and establish it in the public mind. In a crisis, we can help lift a story out of a frame that might have been set up by critics.” Not surprisingly, note that Hoggan has been a member of the David Suzuki Foundation Board since 2001 and has served as Chair since 2007. It’s all one big happy, delusional, and very privileged, family.

YES LOGO | The McKibben-Klein Doctrine

 obama3 shep_large2 poster_forwardonclimate

forwardonclimaterally

forwardonclimaterally2

Above: 350.org DC rally signs (far right and bottom two) clearly promote the powerful Obama brand. Above left: MoveOn.org (founder of Avaaz), front group for the Democratic Party. Image to right of MoveOn.org poster: 350.org “Forward on Climate” poster/logo. Top image: Obama 2012 campaign poster/logo.

“Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes).” — Naomi Klein, author of No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition). Klein now sits on the board of directors of Rockefellers’ 1Sky/350.org

obama2McKibbenKlein2012

“… A lot of times when he’s at a podium what you’ll see is, centered right beneath him, at the very top of the blue field that usually says something like ‘Change You Can Believe In,’ it’ll be just that little symbol, functioning in the same way the Nike swoosh does. People look at that and know what it means, even though it’s just an ‘O’ with some stripes in it…. The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would basically be done in the same typeface…. If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font. Every time you look, all those signs are perfect. Graphic designers like me don’t understand how it’s happening. It’s unprecedented and inconceivable to us. The people in the know are flabbergasted.” — Expertinent: Why the Obama “Brand” Is Working, Feb 27, 2008

“Attitude” branding is essentially defined by the ability to elicit/represent/instill a larger, more powerful feeling on an emotional, subconscious level. It need not be connected with the product or the consumption of the product whatsoever. At a deeper level, attitude branding drills into the consumer psychology of (“attitude”) choice –as much as the term “choice” is applicable in the 21st century of accelerating social engineering. The brand “Obama” does not represent nor sell a president, rather it embodies an emotional chimera of “hope” and “change” that we can choose to believe in. One could quite safely describe attitude branding as a very sophisticated and calculated method of indoctrination, perhaps one of the highest (and most subtle) forms of psychological manipulation/brainwashing.Corporations excelling in “attitude” branding include Apple and Nike, to name two. Branding a person is not fundamentally different from branding a product. In 2008, Obama-the-brand beat out the aforementioned Apple and Nike, capturing first place for Advertising Age’s marketer of the year.

The Obama brand utilized by 350.org et al for the Forward in Climate – Reject Keystone XL Pipeline was strategic and cunning. Anyone who believes otherwise is beyond naïve. Perhaps this feat could be considered a unique and compelling example of the indoctrinating attitude branding that Naomi Klein describes as “fetish strategy” in her 2000 book No Logo.

Video: John Pilger – Obama is a Corporate Marketing Creation (running time: 5:29)

Although it is obvious that the No KXL campaign logo shares remarkable and purposeful semblance to the infamous Obama logo (sunrise over stars and stripes), allowing the pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer to illuminate at almost 100% transparency, a natural line of defence by 350.org would be that of course they utilize what 350.org board member, Naomi Klein, refers to as “the perfectly calibrated logo” to their advantage, as, they would argue, the Obama administration is the target of their campaign.

And anyone who understands advertising, social engineering and the power of the brand, such as Klein, would understand that this line of defense is bullshit.

The KXL campaign imagery absolutely reinforces Obama’s ubiquitous “brand.”

“Brand recognition is most successful when people can state a brand without being explicitly exposed to the company’s name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogans and colors.” — Investopedia

The money that the modern power elite have pumped into 1Sky/350.org via their tax-exempt foundations has proven to be an investment with such incredibly high dividends, it would make even Warren Buffet blush. [“Reports make it official: Oil and gas are booming…. the Railroad Commission issued 3,722 permits during the first two months of the year, ‘the strongest start to a year in the entire history of the TPI [Texas Petro Index],’ he said.” [April 4, 2013]

The Obama branding/marketing campaign was planned and executed with clinical precision. The Obama marketing team established brand leadership by ensuring Obama owned the “change” ideology in the voters’ minds. The KXL campaign successfully reinforced/reinforces the illusion that this same iconic “change” is still sitting right in front of us, ours for the taking, if only we believe. Like the Obama brand, the 350.org brand (along with many thousands of other NGOs) recognizes and focuses on the desire for an authentic “product,” which simultaneously reinforces our society’s collective thirst for the lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality – and perhaps more importantly, disregard our collective role in it.

On 16 January 2010 the Guardian publishes the article Naomi Klein on how corporate branding has taken over America. Ten years after the publication of No Logo, Naomi Klein switches her attention from the mall to Barack Obama and discovers that corporate culture has taken over the US government [Extracted from No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition) by Naomi Klein, to be published by Fourth Estate on 21 January at GBP 9.99]

When Obama was sworn in as president, the American brand could scarcely have been more battered – Bush was to his country what New Coke was to Coca-Cola, what cyanide in the bottles had been to Tylenol. Yet Obama, in what was perhaps the most successful rebranding campaign of all time, managed to turn things around. Kevin Roberts, global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, set out to depict visually what the new president represented. In a full-page graphic commissioned by the stylish Paper Magazine, he showed the Statue of Liberty with her legs spread, giving birth to Barack Obama. America, reborn….

 

So, it seemed that the United States government could solve its reputation problems with branding – it’s just that it needed a branding campaign and product spokesperson sufficiently hip, young and exciting to compete in today’s tough market. The nation found that in Obama, a man who clearly has a natural feel for branding and who has surrounded himself with a team of top-flight marketers. His social networking guru, for instance, is Chris Hughes, one of the young founders of Facebook. His social secretary is Desirée Rogers, a glamorous Harvard MBA and former marketing executive. And David Axelrod, Obama’s top adviser, was formerly a partner in ASK Public Strategies, a PR firm which, according to Business Week,”has quarterbacked campaigns” for everyone from Cable­vision to AT&T. Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes); expert viral marketing (Obama ringtones); product placement….

 

Indeed everything Obama and his family touches turns to branding gold…. “We have the best brand on earth: the Obama brand,”…. “Our possibilities are endless”….

 

Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents such as FDR, follows the logic of marketing: create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts (which, granted, constitute a not inconsequential demographic in the United States). Advertising Age had it right when it gushed that the Obama brand is “big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate enough feel to inspire advocacy”….

 

Yet rereading No Logo after 10 years provides many reminders that success in branding can be fleeting, and that nothing is more fleeting than the quality of being cool. Many of the superbrands and branded celebrities that looked untouchable not so long ago have either faded or are in deep crisis today. The Obama brand could well suffer a similar fate. [Emphasis added]

The task at hand is to ensure Obama does not suffer this similar fate that Klein aptly describes. Hence, the millions funneled into MoveOn.org, the front group/non-profit organization for the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org takes the visible pro-Democrat position, at the forefront of the non-profit industrial complex which, for the most part, keeps their political ideological leanings hidden in order to appear both non-partisan/independent and legitimate. One should note that MoveOn is the key founder of Avaaz along with Res Publica. Both MoveOn.org and Avaaz are partners of 350.org, Avaaz being a 350.org key partner/affiliate. [FURTHER READING: AVAAZ: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War]

When Klein stated that Obama followed the logic of creating “an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts,” who would have known she was describing, with astounding accuracy, the very faction that she affiliated herself with, the following year on April 7, 2011. Whether Klein’s words were a self-fulfilling prophecy or simply bad judgment, one can only speculate. However, one thing is certain, the “committed wing nuts” Klein speaks of have only become more delusional in the years that have followed as Obama leads the world in the race to the bottom. Who knew that fascism, invasions, occupations, corruption and drones could be so appealing?

Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Brilliant is the person that could inspire a nation to stand up and systematically destroy the system that is killing us. These people are not brilliant. Rather, they are diabolical. The foundations that support them depend upon industrialized capitalism to grow their investments. The non-profit complex can only be sustained if the foundations’ wealth continues to reap the “rewards” of infinite growth. It is unsustainable (not to mention deadly). Without infinite growth,the non-profit complex will collapse. Gone will be the six-figured salaries of the progressive greens. Yet, every day that this system remains intact, turning Earth’s remaining natural resources into monetary capital, we are one day closer to our collective annihilation. There will be no winners in this game of 21st century Russian roulette.

+++

After the first segment of this report was published on April 12, 2013, there was still much difficulty in acceptance for the privileged few, especially those with affiliation to the corporate greens behind the KXL campaign. The dominant belief that still encapsulates the progressives is that rail is not a viable option in the future. Therefore, let us, one more time, delve back into reality.

Stock Markets and Media Tell the Story

Barack-Obama-Proposes-Buffett-Rule-906682

National Post Opinion (April 9, 2009) |CN idea a winner for oil sands:

Within months, CN will be shipping 10,000 barrels daily from producers whose reserves are now stranded. The railway will deliver the oil sands production through the use of insulated and heatable railcars or by reducing its viscosity by mixing it with condensates or diluents.

 

But the “scalability” of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars. Shipping four million barrels a day is possible with current rail capacity, said Foote. [Note that this article (cited in part 1 of this series) appeared simultaneously with the April 9, 2009 Huffington Post article titled Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass US for Asia written by Diane Francis. Francis was also the author of the National Post opinion piece. Although Huffington Post is now a Time-Warner acquisition, green progressives remain quite devoted to it.]

Feb 7, 2011, CN, CP push for a pipeline on rails, Globe and Mail:

[CN] has begun sending oil sands bitumen to California; heavy oil from Cold Lake, Alta., to Chicago and Detroit; and crude from the Bakken, a fast-growing play in southern Saskatchewan, to the U.S. Gulf Coast…. CN boasts that its tracks lie within 80 kilometres of five million barrels a day of refining capacity, which is more than double Canada’s entire U.S. exports….

 

The idea of a “pipeline on rails” has been quietly pursued by both CN and CP in recent years…. “Our unparalleled market reach and flexibility, we feel, gives shippers, buyers … and refineries new options to explore and new ways to reach different markets,” James Cairns, vice-president of petroleum and chemicals with CN, told an Insight Information conference….

 

Rail cars can also ship pure bitumen, the very heavy crude produced in the oil sands. Bitumen is so thick that it needs to be mixed at about a 70-to-30 ratio with a thinner hydrocarbon – called diluent – to flow in a pipeline. Diluent then needs to be returned to the oil sands, creating substantial additional pipe costs. Rail cars, which are already used to transport asphalt, can take undiluted bitumen….

 

“There’s a lot of talk about is it pipe? Is it rail?” Mr. Cairns said. “Our view is pretty simple. It’s a big pie.” [Emphasis added]

Nov 3, 2011, Oil aboard! Railroads shipping more Alberta crude:

A year ago, almost no Alberta crude traveled by rail. Now, Canadian railroads can’t find enough cars to ship the gooey stuff. That’s part of the reason Canada’s two biggest railroads, CN (Canadian National Railway) and CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) are wrapping up the year on an upswing. CN’s third-quarter profit climbed 19 percent… Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. But as oil companies grow more comfortable shipping by rail, analysts say, there’ll be a lot more crude in – actually, on – their pipelines on rails.

March 1, 2012, Bloomberg News:

Gains in mineral and chemical carloads helped BNSF pay a $1 billion distribution to Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway last month….

 

Oil and gas-field servicing are “exploding very healthily” for BNSF, said Paul Bingham, economics practice leader at consultant CDM Smith in Arlington, Va. “In the West I think the BN disproportionately benefits from that.”

March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks Are In Service:

Okay, it’s time to reveal the big secret. Last Saturday (March 17), while waiting at Galesburg for the expected arrival of a rare (for the past several years anyway), Decatur-bound Canadian National “haulage” (by BNSF) grain train, I decided to check out the new tracks that have been built at BNSF Railway’s Galesburg Yard during the past several months….

 

Anyway, the three new long tracks were empty, and just as I thought how cool it would be to see a train actually using one of the tracks, a North Dakota oil train came into view and pulled onto one of these tracks!

A BNSF Railway petroleum crude oil train uses one of three new “Long Tracks” at Galesburg, Illinois classification yard Saturday, March 17, 2012

June 27, 2012, Southern Pacific Resource Corp. completes arrangements to transport and market bitumen via CN to the U.S. Gulf Coast:

Southern Pacific Resource Corp. (“Southern Pacific” or the “Company”) (TSX: STP) announced today completion of a long-term arrangement to transport its bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast via the rail network of CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI)….Given recent regulatory delays around additional pipeline capacity to accommodate growing bitumen volumes from Alberta, the Company has now secured direct and immediate access into the Gulf Coast market….In 2012, CN expects to move a total of approximately 25,000 carloads of crude oil, up significantly from approximately 5,000 last year.

August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks:

It also allows producers additional options for getting oil to market. Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. Some estimates say it costs $3 to $6 to move a barrel of crude through a pipeline versus $15 to move it by rail. The rail option, that did not exist even 2 years ago, will continue grow.

Jan 3, 2013, UPDATE 1-U.S. petroleum rail shipments up nearly 50 pct in 2012

Shipments of petroleum on U.S. railroads rose more than 46 percent in 2012 as shale oil producers put record amounts of crude on trains to overcome pipeline capacity constraints…. Major U.S. freight railroads carried 66,000 carloads of crude in 2011, up from only 11,000 carloads in 2009. By the third quarter of last year, daily shipments of crude oil were exceeding 500,000 barrels per day, roughly equivalent to the output of OPEC’s smallest member, Ecuador. If growth patterns hold, crude by rail could “easily” blow past 600,000 barrels per day by early 2013, AAR said… By the end of the third quarter last year, about 430,000 barrels per day of crude moved out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale play by rail, up from nearly nothing in mid-2010, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. [Emphasis added]

January 7, 2013, Alberta bitumen makes it to Mississippi by rail:

EDMONTON – The first oil from Southern Pacific Resource Corp.’s startup thermal oilsands facility near Fort McMurray reached Mississippi by rail this week after a 4,500-kilometre, two-week journey. The Calgary-based firm was in the news this fall when it announced it would avoid the bitumen pipeline bottlenecks and very low prices being paid to Canadian oilsands producers by contracting for new terminals and a fleet of rail cars to carry its product to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The first shipment of diluted bitumen left the Lynton rail terminal, located just south of Fort McMurray, on Dec. 22 and landed in Mississippi on Jan. 6. It will be off-loaded at the Genesis Natchez terminal where Southern Pacific has exclusive terminal capacity, the company announced Monday. Initial production at the firm’s steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility 45 km northwest of Fort McMurray was 1,200 barrels per day in December. It could take at least another year before the design capacity of 12,000 bpd is achieved. [Emphasis added]

Feb 5, 2013, Macleans Canada: Oil Sands Bust:

Meanwhile, another group of businessmen is backing a $10.4-billion plan to construct a new, 2,400-km “purpose built” railroad to carry oil from Alberta to Alaska, where it could then be shipped overseas on tankers. [Emphasis added]

Feb 18, 2013, Price differentials boost rail transport of blended bitumen:

A surge in rail delivery of crude oil and oil products in the US last year reflects, in part, a textbook system of price leapfrog, known more formally as location arbitrage. Although oil is far more expensive to move by railcar than by pipeline, tracks connect more places than pipes do. So when production surges somewhere not fully served by pipelines, such as the Bakken play in North Dakota, oil finds its way into tank cars. The Energy Information Administration reports Association of American Railroads data showing last year’s rail delivery of crude and oil products exceeded the prior year’s total by 46%. [Emphasis added]

March 6, 2013, If Buffett Were Canadian, He’d Want This Stock:

In late 2009, Buffett’s buy big mentality led him to a well-positioned railroad play. But instead of just adding to his shares, Buffett bought out Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF)…. Since his purchase, railroad stocks have been burning up the tracks. For reference, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which started as a simple gauge of railroad activity, is booming….Railways across America are booming from a sea-change of energy flow. In fact, things are going so well for the rail industry, besides hitting brand new highs yesterday, something else amazing is happening. Today, in Houston, the CEO for BNSF, Matt Rose, is giving a talk on North American energy, “The New Abundance and What it Means.” This is huge. Just the fact that an executive for a railroad company is speaking at the IHS Cera Week event, is an amazing milestone. [Emphasis added]

May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking:

Enter trains. In 2008, the largest railroads carried 9,500 carloads of crude. Last year: more than 200,000….

If all the proposed oil terminals are built, the traffic could hit nearly 3,000 loaded trains a year, not counting direct trips to refineries.

That could come on top of coal traffic. Three proposals for Northwest coal export terminals would generate nearly 7,000 coal train trips a year at full capacity on already congested tracks in Spokane, the Gorge and along Interstate 5.

BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year. [Emphasis added]

Let’s take one moment to acknowledge that there is truth in the first article cited above (CN idea a winner for oil sands, November 9, 2009) when it states “As for Canada’s environmental concerns, the oil sands is absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians.” And while the progressive greens bitch about the Venezuelan government utilizing their oil wealth to lift their people, who have been oppressed and exploited under imperialism for centuries, out of poverty, perhaps this is a good time for reflection and some unadulterated “truth”. Demand & consumption is what pushes extraction. As long as professional activists and all other privileged activists/citizens that fall into the 1% category (with the 1% essentially being anyone who can afford to get on an airplane) continue to fly all over the world and while activists and celebrities fly in and out of KXL protests on the front lawn of the White House (which have been nothing more than state-sanctioned photo-ops and pro-Democratic parties), don’t expect anything to change – except for more pipelines and extraction. It is the wealthy that create the climate crisis. As an example, Venezuelan emissions account for only .056% of global emissions while the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all GHG emissions … and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. More recently (no doubt after the engineered financial crisis of 2008), esteemed scientist Kevin Anderson has stated that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population. [3] Rib-eyed steaks, Coca-Cola, shopping malls, air conditioners and western consumption do not correspond with mitigation on climate change. Perhaps one of the very few options left is to eat the rich.

Language

The pipeline corrosion and safety issues (the primary focus being that of pipeline oil spills) have been the focus points in the Keystone XL debate. This is not by accident. Again, let us for a moment consider the language used in 350.org et al’s “Defend Our Coast” campaign.

The stated goal of the campaign is essentially that they want the Obama administration to “reject a Canadian company’s application to construct the $7 billion, 1,702-mile pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from the oil sands mines of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.”

Meaningful language would state unequivocally that the main reason to shut down the production of all tar sands is simple: if we do not shut down all tar sands production, we will annihilate our species. It is that simple. By framing our demands with “reasonable” and “politically correct” language, we lock ourselves willingly into the “acceptable” limits as dictated by the industry operating within the industrialized capitalist system – which we must oppose and destroy if we are to simply continue to live. Working within the confines of the acceptable language as constructed by the system ensures absolute subservience, obedience and, always, failure. 

Video: Using the Discourse of Revolutionary Opposition (Running time: 2:16)

The intent of the language employed by corporate greens is to create a feeling of trust/safety, effectively pacifying resistance, and to “normalize” our acquiescence to corporate culture and abuse. The state will never fear what it can control. [Further Reading:  Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement | Part I]

Avoiding Systemic Change Promises Global Ecological Collapse

“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” — Elizabeth Stanton

Internationally, 32,000 km of new pipelines are constructed each year: this is a $US28 billion business, and 50% of these new builds are expected in North and South America. Additionally, 8,000 km of offshore pipelines are being built per year: this is a $5 billion business with 60% in northwest Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. [Source: OIL AND GAS PIPELINES: Yesterday and Today by Phil Hopkins, Chairman, 2006-7]

 

Considering that the Keystone XL represents a mere 1,702-mile pipeline out of a yearly 32,000 km of pipeline being constructed each year globally, and considering that stopping the KXL will not stop the expansion of the tar sands as we now have a booming rail industry in place, it might be worth asking why we are focusing on a single pipeline rather than the root causes of climate and environmental disruption. Yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we do know why (greed, lack of ethics, lack of respect for/separation from our natural world, trappings, denialism), so instead, why don’t we re-visit the root causes of our multiple crises. 

More than half (58%) of the total energy produced in the US alone is wasted due to inefficiencies (Phys.org – April 2011). The US military (alone) consumes as much as one million barrels of oil per day (source: author Barry Sanders) to steal resources from sovereign states while simultaneously moving trillions in tax dollars from hard-working people into the hands of global corporations. Millions of men, women and children have been murdered in the process. Approximately 51% of all GHG emissions are created from industrialized livestock. Butwhereas bio-fuel (aptly coined agro-fuel) is an acceptable topic within the constructed left paradigm, industrialized livestock is not.Theblatant hypocrisies of the privileged once again shine transparent on this critical yet unspoken issue. Progressive greens correctly identify that running our cars, etc. on ethanol has already contributed to the world’s food shortages and that the consequences of converting forest land for growing corn for ethanol, etc. are profound. Most activists would agree with these excellent observations and argue against corn ethanol based on these facts and further damning facts simply because it is common sense. Yet, it is clear that the progressive greens are unwilling to collectively identify these very same arguments when it comes to industrial livestock. [4] What are our proposed solutions to the fact there has been a 158% increase in methane (72-100 times more powerful than CO2 in the short-term) as we approach and surpass accelerating feedbacks and irreversible topping points? Maybe the current NOAA methane graphs are terrifying only to the atolls slipping under the rising oceans. The root cause of climate disruption is our global, industrialized capitalist economic system. Yet on these issues, the most critical issues of our lifetime, there is no discussion within the non-profit industrial complex. There is a reason. The complex is financed to the tune of billions of dollars to ensure the right discourse in order to protect the system.

Timing is Everything | Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company Landmark Settlement

January 13, 2013, Indigenous Environmental Network:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 DES MOINES, IA – Today, the Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company announced a landmark settlement that requires the Iowa utility to phase out coal burning at seven coal-fired boilers, clean up another two coal-fired boilers and build a large solar installation at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The announcement also pushes the total amount of coal generation retired or announced to retire since 2010 to over 50,000 megawatts, almost one-sixth of the nation’s coal fleet….

“Iowans are joining a growing number of citizens around the country who are helping to end our nation’s dependency on coal and move the U.S. toward a cleaner energy future,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies has contributed $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign….

“Today’s settlement marks an important national milestone to end the scourge of coal, as well as an important milestone in our ongoing discussion with the Warren Buffett family of companies about combating climate disruption,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Beyond Coal campaign. [Emphasis in original]

Most interesting is the fact that Nilles makes absolutely no mention of Buffet’s expanding rail empire transporting oil across North America. Rather, the release goes on to state:

However, Nilles also took aim at two other parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings, his western utility, Pacificorp, that owns and operates six existing coal-fired power plants and Mr. Buffett’s BNSF, the largest hauler of coal nationwide. “Pacificorp continues to be a laggard on clean energy and BNSF is one of the very worst actors when it comes to lobbying and promoting expanded coal use nationally and internationally,” Nilles said. “Over the coming months we will be stepping up our engagement with Paciforp and BNSF to urge them to follow the examples of other forward-looking parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings.” [Emphasis in original]

One might wonder what holdings appear “forward-looking” in the eyes of Nilles. One must also contemplate which undisclosed non-profit was chosen as the beneficiary of a massive financial contribution from Warren Buffett.

On Feb 4, 2013, Time-Warner/AOL’s Huffington Post reports:

Buffett revealed the donations Monday. Buffett, who is Berkshire’s chairman and CEO, made donations of Class B shares to four unnamed charities and three individuals between September and December.

The biggest single gift reported Monday was 172,375 shares worth $16.6 million given to a nonprofit.

These gifts are in addition to the 22.4 million Class B Berkshire shares Buffett gave to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the four Buffett family foundations that are slated to eventually distribute most of Buffett’s fortune. [In progressive green foundation-funded fashion, Huffington Post includes under the aforementioned article a 14-page online photo album titled “Adorable Warren Buffett Photos.”]

All those within the non-profit industrial complex brand the Sierra Club – Buffett landmark settlement as a victory (even more so on the heels of Obama’s 2013 inaugural address), when in reality it is nothing more than a strategic component of new investment hijinks: get paid to retire the old and reap even more billions to build new – all under the guise of the illusory “green economy.” Let us not forget how the non-profit industrial complex strategically whitewashed “clean coal.”

On August 31, 2011, environmentalist Gregory Vickrey posed a question in response to a legitimate grassroots organiser demonstrating public support for the very NGOs undermining the grassroots. This question was put forward by Vickrey before it was disclosed on Feb 12 2012, that the Sierra Club raked in $26 million from the natural gas industry and following the announcement (July 21, 2011) that Michael R. Bloomberg’s “Bloomberg Philanthropies” contributed $50 million (over 4 years) to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign (initiated in Spring of 2010). Vickrey asks:

My primary concern lies with providing a tract of general legitimacy for those sellouts. Right or wrong, when we vocalize support or otherwise endorse these sanitized events and the players behind them, we are seen as sanctioning them on the whole, and it makes walking the fine line of organizing an effective movement tough. Our present reality is tough to swallow in context.

On coal, I understand some of the stronger points of messaging from, say, the Sierra Club, but am concerned that much of that movement is likewise funded primarily with Rockefeller Family money (Bill himself states this, and proudly) and defines (dilutes) success in increments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean little. We can’t tolerate another 6k mW of coal active in FL, for example, but that is a victory to the Beyond Coal campaign because they managed to stop another 13k mW. In the next cycle, industry will again ask for 20k mW, and will get 5-8k mW. And that will be labeled another victory. At which point are they pyrrhic?

It is significant to note that massive “gifts” (i.e. investments) by philanthropists (i.e. capitalists protecting their power/privilege) are rarely if ever given in one lump sum. Rather, as in the case of Sierra Club/Bloomberg above, the “gift”/investment is staggered in installments over many years, thus ensuring that dependence on the funding source is created (if not established prior). This quickly translates into obedience and convenient cognitive dissonance on behalf of the recipient. 

Off to the Next Campaign

When the KXL campaign is all said and done (it almost is), progressive greens will proclaim they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. They mayfly away to a retreat in the Netherlands in order to go through their crafted agenda as TckTckTck(GCCA)/Greenpeace (faux environmental leader Kumi Naidoo chairs both) did after the COP15 United Nations climate conference where they grossly undermined the most powerful positions put forward by leading states and the G77.

One should take note that, like many professional activists who move freely through the revolving doors of the non-profit industrial complex and corridors of empire, TckTckTck/Greenpeace chair, Naidoo is no exception. Of special interest to the Keystone XL analysis is Naidoo’s board position on the 350.org international advisory council. Further, Naidoo was an advisor to the chair of the Clinton Global Initiative [Source: May 26, 2007]. Recall that in 2007, the Clinton Global Initiative undertook an instrumental role in the development of 1Sky, now 350.org.

Naidoo’s high profile board and advisory positions and appointments with renowned institutes of empire include/included but are not limited to: Amnesty International (Soros-funded), the World Economic Forum, the United Nations UNDEF, UNIFEM, the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Civil Society Relations (appointed by the UN Secretary General),  international adviser for the CarnegieUK Trust, secretary general and CEO of CIVICUS (Ford-funded) and the SumOfUs Advisory Board. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide.] The agenda would look something as follows: 1) Discuss key points arising from evaluation of the KXL campaign 2) Power Analysis & Critical Pathway 3) Overall Strategic Framework 4) Draft 2013 Action Plan 5) Communications/Mobilization: Vision, objectives and options for next steps, and 6) The next campaign.

With certainty, the NGOs within the complex will abandon the Natives and the Earth’s most oppressed peoples in their centuries old fight for basic human rights. This will be especially true in the case of outright treaty violations involving the theft of Native land guaranteed by a contract, as well as the genocide brought about by poisoning Native drinking water. McKibben et al will internalize that such contradictions are not within their scope, nor their jurisdiction, nor their mission statements – when in fact it is these very violations that are the integral basis for the entire controversy.

TckTckTck is not the only organization “fighting against climate change” whose leading “activists” jet-set to retreats in order to “regroup” as demonstrated in the 350.org’s 2011 990 tax form that reported $53,000 in retreat expenses.

While pipelines are being built all around the entire planet, the US (and even international)media focuses on just this one as the single pipeline that will push us over the precipice – the infamous KXL (ultimately, only an extension of the newly built and already operational Keystone pipeline no less). With the Shut Down the Tar Sands campaign now essentially defunct, having been tossed to Polaris Institute on Feb 6, 2013 by Indigenous Environmental Network (who is now focused on managing pacifying the Idle No More movement campaign), we can expect that the remaining NGOs will be abandoning the KXL campaign in relatively short order.

The Polaris Tar Sands Watch is another NGO entangled within the massive non-profit industrial complex web. As an example, Anuradha Mittal serves on (to name a few) the board of Polaris Institute, International Forum on Globalization, World Future Council, Ben and Jerry’s (Ceres partner) and Natural Capital Institute which has, as of January 1st, 2011, been officially renamed WiserEarth! (Seeing that the illusory “green economy,” “climate wealth” and other terms of delusion are now exposed and frowned upon by many,including eco-footprint founder/scientist Bill Rees and Kevin Anderson, a name change was imperative.) In 2012, Wiser.org, in collaboration with Earth Day Network, “challenged” members and citizens around the world to make a pledge toward the “Billion Acts of Green” campaign. Key partners/supporters included TckTckTck, 350.org, Anonymous – Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, and many more. Confused? That’s all right, you’re supposed to be. Don’t think. Just open up your mouth and say “ahhh….” Prepare yourself for the bitter taste of “green capitalism.”

A Scruffy Little Outfit Swimming in Money

Grassroots has never been so prestigious. Joining McKibben and Ms. Klein on the 350.org/1Sky board/US advisory councilare representatives of the Rockefeller Brother Fund.

Elizabeth Butler earns $93,144. as the 350.org campaign director. Yet this is somewhat a poverty level when one compares Butler’s salary with 350.org partner and Avaaz founder Ricken Patel, whose earnings in 2011, from Avaaz alone (not including consulting or other income), amounted to $183,264. Patriarchy is alive and well within the non-profit industrial complex. These fat salaries are typical, as well as incredibly illustrative. The NGO professional elite “99 percenters” most always receive high salaries when they’re in “leadership” positions.

Self-Destructive and Collective Deception

In the past, issues of critical importance were discussed at the dinner table, on living room floors, at the community school, at the town hall, etc. Today, comfortable citizens (taking solace in the fact they make an automatic payment of 25.00 per month to their favourite NGO brand) are under a gross misconception that NGOs such as Greenpeace and 350.org are actually representing civil society,as they claim. They are not. First and foremost, these self-appointed NGOs represent and protect the interests of their funders. 350.org and friends successfully take the issues away from the dinner table, where the issues need discussing, and instead, they make the issue about them. Then, after poisoning it, they’ll blame someone else for it. This is narcissism, which flourishes like a cancer within the complex. A complex built on a foundation of whiteness and aversive racism. It is ugly. Perhaps the late George Carlin summarizes the second half of this investigative report far better on stage than in typeface: “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

And as an apt expression of how we have regressed from the first Earth day in 1970 to the most recent one in 2013, perhaps activist Jeff Weinberger sums it up best:

“Tomorrow being Earth Day, just want to wish you all a relaxing, thoughtful day peacefully focused on how we’re going to avoid ANNIHILATING EVERYTHING : ) …in other words, a calm day spent considering – amidst the other joy! – that aside from the obvious villains, the system creates smiley villains in green-face, floating about in the alphabet soup made in the non-profit industrial complex kitchen…this shit is BOILED for consumption…don’t be fooled because it tastes good at first…NGO’s are more toxic than fossil fuels and radiation…consider perspectives like this so we can have some hope of uniting to rip the ecocidal tendency out at the root, to affirm Life – Happy Earth Day!

[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. You can follow her on twitter: @elleprovocateur ]

Notes:

[1] “Many thanks, [from] Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, climate scientist; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts; Phil Radford, Greenpeace US; Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth; Cherri Foytlin, Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[2] “Many thanks, [from] Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, NASA; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[3] This is especially appalling considering that globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing (Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University). Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions and areresponsible for three-quarters of global emissions. The top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions. Theglobally wealthy must solve the crisis as there is absolutely no other way. The emission cuts necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change must be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of the greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels. In contrast to this gross injustice (aka “The American Dream”) we have the “living well” concept by the Bolivian government. There is a growing movement in downshifting – citizens who reject consumerism outright, exchanging materialism for values. Millions are embracing a simple quality of life that builds and nourishes our character rather than eroding it.

[4] How can we argue that it makes sense to feed livestock – to then be eaten by people – instead of feeding people directly while we face a planetary climate emergency … during a global water crisis, while all the pollutants and environmental damage from this industry continue to be externalized onto the planet, people and all life? Why is the environmental movement (and especially the climate justice movement) not vocally opposing a system that does not make sense, in the same way as ethanol does not make sense? Especially given we are in a massive methane emergency … with escalating food crises … escalating food shortages … agriculture that will only continue to decline, not to mention a severe health crisis in North America (half of Americans will be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020; Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with being seriously overweight or obese, and in the US the report estimates 68.3 percent of Americans were overweight or obese in 2008, with this figure rising each year) all while over 1 billion people are starving/dying, with no access to clean water.

 

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Counterpunch

April 12, 2013

Part one 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]

Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

buffet

March 5, 2013: Buffett Says Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

On Nov 3, 2009, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of Warren Buffett, announced its plan to purchase the 77.4 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) that it did not already own for $26 billion in cash and stock – the largest deal in Berkshire history. The deal, which included Berkshire’s prior investment and the assumption of $10 billion in Burlington Northern debt, brought the total value to $44 billion. Buffett remarked it was a big bet on the United States.

It was TO be a bet that both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would ensure he DID not lose.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
– Warren Buffett

Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests in DC

The Post-Modern Protest Blues

Counterpunch

Weekend Edition April 12-14, 2013

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
7152obamarisingsunflag

The scene was striking for its dissonance. Fifty activists massed in front of the White House, some of them sitting, others tied to the iron fence, most of them smiling, all decorous looking, not a Black Blocker or Earth First!er in the viewshed. The leaders of this micro-occupation of the sidewalk held a black banner featuring Obama’s campaign logo, the one with the blue “O” and the curving red stripes that looks like a pipeline snaking across Kansas. The message read, prosaically: “Lead on Climate: Reject the KXL Pipeline.” Cameras whirred franticly, most aimed at the radiant face of Daryl Hannah, as DC police moved in to politely ask the crowd to disperse. The crowd politely declined. The Rubicon had been crossed. For the first time in 120 years, a Sierra Club official, executive director Mike Brune, was going to get arrested for an act of civil (and the emphasis here is decisively on civil) disobedience.

The Reformist Approach Dead End – The Absolute Enemy

Feb 27, 2013

Activist/artist Roxanne Amico writes: While the BP Reality Show rolls on, and a recent news report tells us about “assassinations of environmental activists…doubling over last decade”, this terrific cartoon by Stephanie McMillan communicates why the BP “trial” is a farce. Stephanie writes, “Reformist approaches, though misguided, have traction because most people don’t grasp how the system actually works, and that it’s structurally unreformable. They don’t recognize it as the absolute enemy that it is.

[No Logo?] Perils of the Keystone XL Pipeline Confront Obama by Ralph Nader

forward climate3obama3obama-hi-res-logo-capsobama2forward climate 350.orgforwardforward climate black

‘Forward on Climate’ images in above Obama logo montage (found on Greenpeace and 350.org websites). ForwardOnClimate.org (Feb 17, 2013 rally) was presented by 135 different organizations and their members, including 350.org, the Sierra Club, the Hip Hop Caucus, Greenpeace, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Green For All and Forecast the Facts.

Above: What ever happened to No Logo? One may wish to ask 350.org’s Naomi Klein why brand recognition is so important to corporate power. In her book No Logo, Klein described branding as a “fetish strategy”.

Iconic brands are defined as having aspects that contribute to consumer’s self-expression and personal identity. Brands whose value to consumers comes primarily from having identity value are said to be “identity brands”. Some of these brands have such a strong identity that they become more or less cultural icons which makes them “iconic brands”. Many iconic brands include almost ritual-like behaviour in purchasing or consuming the products.

There are four key elements to creating iconic brands (Holt 2004):

  1. “Necessary conditions” – The performance of the product must at least be acceptable, preferably with a reputation of having good quality.
  2. “Myth-making” – A meaningful storytelling fabricated by cultural insiders. These must be seen as legitimate and respected by consumers for stories to be accepted.
  3. “Cultural contradictions” – Some kind of mismatch between prevailing ideology and emergent undercurrents in society. In other words a difference with the way consumers are and how they wish they were.
  4. “The cultural brand management process” – Actively engaging in the myth-making process in making sure the brand maintains its position as an icon. [Source: Wikipedia]

WKOGFeb13

The Nader Page

by RALPH NADER

Feb 21, 2013

Bill McKibben, a prolific writer and organizer on global warming and climate change, has had a busy year teaching environmentalists not to despair and will soon be learning some lessons himself.