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History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

The Atlantic

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE

 

By Wil S. Hylton

 

Mining robots, such as these, will help unlock a subsea gold rush. Source: World Economic Forum

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs. On the west coast of Africa, the De Beers Group is using a fleet of specialized ships to drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, those ships extracted 1.4 million carats from the coastal waters of Namibia; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel. Another company, Nautilus Minerals, is working in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to shatter a field of underwater hot springs lined with precious metals, while Japan and South Korea have embarked on national projects to exploit their own offshore deposits. But the biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined.

Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight. It is classified as “autonomous” and falls under the direction of its own secretary general, who convenes his own general assembly once a year, at the ISA headquarters. For about a week, delegates from 168 member states pour into Kingston from around the world, gathering at a broad semicircle of desks in the auditorium of the Jamaica Conference Centre. Their assignment is not to prevent mining on the seafloor but to mitigate its damage—selecting locations where extraction will be permitted, issuing licenses to mining companies, and drafting the technical and environmental standards of an underwater Mining Code.

Writing the code has been difficult. ISA members have struggled to agree on a regulatory framework. While they debate the minutiae of waste disposal and ecological preservation, the ISA has granted “exploratory” permits around the world. Some 30 mineral contractors already hold licenses to work in sweeping regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. One site, about 2,300 miles east of Florida, contains the largest system of underwater hot springs ever discovered, a ghostly landscape of towering white spires that scientists call the “Lost City.” Another extends across 4,500 miles of the Pacific, or roughly a fifth of the circumference of the planet. The companies with permits to explore these regions have raised breathtaking sums of venture capital. They have designed and built experimental vehicles, lowered them to the bottom, and begun testing methods of dredging and extraction while they wait for the ISA to complete the Mining Code and open the floodgates to commercial extraction.

At full capacity, these companies expect to dredge thousands of square miles a year. Their collection vehicles will creep across the bottom in systematic rows, scraping through the top five inches of the ocean floor. Ships above will draw thousands of pounds of sediment through a hose to the surface, remove the metallic objects, known as polymetallic nodules, and then flush the rest back into the water. Some of that slurry will contain toxins such as mercury and lead, which could poison the surrounding ocean for hundreds of miles. The rest will drift in the current until it settles in nearby ecosystems. An early study by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences predicted that each mining ship will release about 2 million cubic feet of discharge every day, enough to fill a freight train that is 16 miles long. The authors called this “a conservative estimate,” since other projections had been three times as high. By any measure, they concluded, “a very large area will be blanketed by sediment to such an extent that many animals will not be able to cope with the impact and whole communities will be severely affected by the loss of individuals and species.”

At the ISA meeting in 2019, delegates gathered to review a draft of the code. Officials hoped the document would be ratified for implementation in 2020. I flew down to observe the proceedings on a balmy morning and found the conference center teeming with delegates. A staff member ushered me through a maze of corridors to meet the secretary general, Michael Lodge, a lean British man in his 50s with cropped hair and a genial smile. He waved me toward a pair of armchairs beside a bank of windows overlooking the harbor, and we sat down to discuss the Mining Code, what it will permit and prohibit, and why the United Nations is preparing to mobilize the largest mining operation in the history of the world.

Until recently, marine biologists paid little attention to the deep sea. They believed its craggy knolls and bluffs were essentially barren. The traditional model of life on Earth relies on photosynthesis: plants on land and in shallow water harness sunlight to grow biomass, which is devoured by creatures small and large, up the food chain to Sunday dinner. By this account, every animal on the planet would depend on plants to capture solar energy. Since plants disappear a few hundred feet below sea level, and everything goes dark a little farther down, there was no reason to expect a thriving ecosystem in the deep. Maybe a light snow of organic debris would trickle from the surface, but it would be enough to sustain only a few wayward aquatic drifters.

That theory capsized in 1977, when a pair of oceanographers began poking around the Pacific in a submersible vehicle. While exploring a range of underwater mountains near the Galápagos Islands, they spotted a hydrothermal vent about 8,000 feet deep. No one had ever seen an underwater hot spring before, though geologists suspected they might exist. As the oceanographers drew close to the vent, they made an even more startling discovery: A large congregation of animals was camped around the vent opening. These were not the feeble scavengers that one expected so far down. They were giant clams, purple octopuses, white crabs, and 10-foot tube worms, whose food chain began not with plants but with organic chemicals floating in the warm vent water.

For biologists, this was more than curious. It shook the foundation of their field. If a complex ecosystem could emerge in a landscape devoid of plants, evolution must be more than a heliological affair. Life could appear in perfect darkness, in blistering heat and a broth of noxious compounds—an environment that would extinguish every known creature on Earth. “That was the discovery event,” an evolutionary biologist named Timothy Shank told me. “It changed our view about the boundaries of life. Now we know that the methane lakes on one of Jupiter’s moons are probably laden with species, and there is no doubt life on other planetary bodies.”

Shank was 12 years old that winter, a bookish kid in North Carolina. The early romance of the space age was already beginning to fade, but the discovery of life near hydrothermal vents would inspire a blossoming of oceanography that captured his imagination. As he completed a degree in marine biology, then a doctorate in ecology and evolution, he consumed reports from scientists around the world who found new vents brimming with unknown species. They appeared far below the surface—the deepest known vent is about three miles down—while another geologic feature, known as a “cold seep,” gives rise to life in chemical pools even deeper on the seafloor. No one knew how far down the vents and seeps might be found, but Shank decided to focus his research on the deepest waters of the Earth.

Scientists divide the ocean into five layers of depth. Closest to the surface is the “sunlight zone,” where plants thrive; then comes the “twilight zone,” where darkness falls; next is the “midnight zone,” where some creatures generate their own light; and then there’s a frozen flatland known simply as “the abyss.” Oceanographers have visited these layers in submersible vehicles for half a century, but the final layer is difficult to reach. It is known as the “hadal zone,” in reference to Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld, and it includes any water that is at least 6,000 meters below the surface—or, in a more Vernian formulation, that is 20,000 feet under the sea. Because the hadal zone is so deep, it is usually associated with ocean trenches, but several deepwater plains have sections that cross into hadal depth.

Deepwater plains are also home to the polymetallic nodules that explorers first discovered a century and a half ago. Mineral companies believe that nodules will be easier to mine than other seabed deposits. To remove the metal from a hydrothermal vent or an underwater mountain, they will have to shatter rock in a manner similar to land-based extraction. Nodules are isolated chunks of rocks on the seabed that typically range from the size of a golf ball to that of a grapefruit, so they can be lifted from the sediment with relative ease. Nodules also contain a distinct combination of minerals. While vents and ridges are flecked with precious metal, such as silver and gold, the primary metals in nodules are copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt—crucial materials in modern batteries. As iPhones and laptops and electric vehicles spike demand for those metals, many people believe that nodules are the best way to migrate from fossil fuels to battery power.

The ISA has issued more mining licenses for nodules than for any other seabed deposit. Most of these licenses authorize contractors to exploit a single deepwater plain. Known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, or CCZ, it extends across 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico—wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen companies will accelerate their explorations in the CCZ to industrial-scale extraction. Their ships and robots will use vacuum hoses to suck nodules and sediment from the seafloor, extracting the metal and dumping the rest into the water. How many ecosystems will be covered by that sediment is impossible to predict. Ocean currents fluctuate regularly in speed and direction, so identical plumes of slurry will travel different distances, in different directions, on different days. The impact of a sediment plume also depends on how it is released. Slurry that is dumped near the surface will drift farther than slurry pumped back to the bottom. The circulating draft of the Mining Code does not specify a depth of discharge. The ISA has adopted an estimate that sediment dumped near the surface will travel no more than 62 miles from the point of release, but many experts believe the slurry could travel farther. A recent survey of academic research compiled by Greenpeace concluded that mining waste “could travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.”

Like many deepwater plains, the CCZ has sections that lie at hadal depth. Its eastern boundary is marked by a hadal trench. No one knows whether mining sediment will drift into the hadal zone. As the director of a hadal-research program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, Timothy Shank has been studying the deep sea for almost 30 years. In 2014, he led an international mission to complete the first systematic study of the hadal ecosystem—but even Shank has no idea how mining could affect the hadal zone, because he still has no idea what it contains. If you want a sense of how little we know about the deep ocean, how difficult it is to study, and what’s at stake when industry leaps before science, Shank’s research is a good place to start.

Ifirst met shank about seven years ago, when he was organizing the international mission to survey the hadal zone. He had put together a three-year plan to visit every ocean trench: sending a robotic vehicle to explore their features, record every contour of topography, and collect specimens from each. The idea was either dazzling or delusional; I wasn’t sure which. Scientists have enough trouble measuring the seabed in shallower waters. They have used ropes and chains and acoustic instruments to record depth for more than a century, yet 85 percent of the global seabed remains unmapped—and the hadal is far more difficult to map than other regions, since it’s nearly impossible to see.

If it strikes you as peculiar that modern vehicles cannot penetrate the deepest ocean, take a moment to imagine what it means to navigate six or seven miles below the surface. Every 33 feet of depth exerts as much pressure as the atmosphere of the Earth, so when you are just 66 feet down, you are under three times as much pressure as a person on land, and when you are 300 feet down, you’re subjected to 10 atmospheres of pressure. Tube worms living beside hydrothermal vents near the Galápagos are compressed by about 250 atmospheres, and mining vehicles in the CCZ have to endure twice as much—but they are still just half as far down as the deepest trenches.

Building a vehicle to function at 36,000 feet, under 2 million pounds of pressure per square foot, is a task of interstellar-type engineering. It’s a good deal more rigorous than, say, bolting together a rover to skitter across Mars. Picture the schematic of an iPhone case that can be smashed with a sledgehammer more or less constantly, from every angle at once, without a trace of damage, and you’re in the ballpark—or just consider the fact that more people have walked on the moon than have reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth.

The first two people descended in 1960, using a contraption owned by the U.S. Navy. It seized and shuddered on the descent. Its window cracked as the pressure mounted, and it landed with so much force that it kicked up a cloud of silt that obscured the view for the entire 20 minutes the pair remained on the bottom. Half a century passed before the film director James Cameron repeated their journey, in 2012. Unlike the swaggering billionaire Richard Branson, who was planning to dive the Mariana in a cartoonish vehicle shaped like a fighter jet, Cameron is well versed in ocean science and engineering. He was closely involved in the design of his submarine, and sacrificed stylistic flourishes for genuine innovations, including a new type of foam that maintains buoyancy at full ocean depth. Even so, his vessel lurched and bucked on the way down. He finally managed to land, and spent a couple of hours collecting sediment samples before he noticed that hydraulic fluid was leaking onto the window. The vehicle’s mechanical arm began to fail, and all of the thrusters on its right side went out—so he returned to the surface early, canceled his plan for additional dives, and donated the broken sub to Woods Hole.

A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench
A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Most of what we know about its topography has been gathered by sonar. Only three crewed expeditions have reached the bottom. (Data Design Co)
The most recent descent of the Mariana Trench was completed last spring by a private-equity investor named Victor Vescovo, who spent $48 million on a submarine that was even more sophisticated than Cameron’s. Vescovo was on a personal quest to reach the bottom of the five deepest trenches in the world, a project he called “Five Deeps.” He was able to complete the project, making multiple dives of the Mariana—but if his achievement represents a leap forward in hadal exploration, it also serves as a reminder of how impenetrable the trenches remain: a region that can be visited only by the most committed multimillionaire, Hollywood celebrity, or special military program, and only in isolated dives to specific locations that reveal little about the rest of the hadal environment. That environment is composed of 33 trenches and 13 shallower formations called troughs. Its total geographic area is about two-thirds the size of Australia. It is the least examined ecosystem of its size on Earth.Without a vehicle to explore the hadal zone, scientists have been forced to use primitive methods. The most common technique has scarcely changed in more than a century: Expedition ships chug across hundreds of miles to reach a precise location, then lower a trap, wait a few hours, and reel it up to see what’s inside. The limitations of this approach are self-evident, if not comic. It’s like dangling a birdcage out the door of an airplane crossing Africa at 36,000 feet, and then trying to divine, from the mangled bodies of insects, what sort of animals roam the savanna.All of which is to say that Shank’s plan to explore every trench in the world was somewhere between audacious and absurd, but he had assembled a team of the world’s leading experts, secured ship time for extensive missions, and spent 10 years supervising the design of the most advanced robotic vehicle ever developed for deepwater navigation. Called Nereus, after a mythological sea god, it could dive alone—charting a course amid rocky cliffs, measuring their contours with a doppler scanner, recording video with high-definition cameras, and collecting samples—or it could be linked to the deck of a ship with fiber-optic cable, allowing Shank to monitor its movement on a computer in the ship’s control room, boosting the thrusters to steer this way and that, piercing the darkness with its headlamps, and maneuvering a mechanical claw to gather samples in the deep.

I reached out to Shank in 2013, a few months before the expedition began. I wanted to write about the project, and he agreed to let me join him on a later leg. When his ship departed, in the spring of 2014, I followed online as it pursued a course to the Kermadec Trench, in the Pacific, and Shank began sending Nereus on a series of dives. On the first, it descended to 6,000 meters, a modest target on the boundary of the hadal zone. On the second, Shank pushed it to 7,000 meters; on the third to 8,000; and on the fourth to 9,000. He knew that diving to 10,000 meters would be a crucial threshold. It is the last full kilometer of depth on Earth: No trench is believed to be deeper than 11,000 meters. To commemorate this final increment and the successful beginning of his project, he attached a pair of silver bracelets to the frame of Nereus, planning to give them to his daughters when he returned home. Then he dropped the robot in the water and retreated to the control room to monitor its movements.

On-screen, blue water gave way to darkness as Nereus descended, its headlamps illuminating specks of debris suspended in the water. It was 10 meters shy of the 10,000-meter mark when suddenly the screen went dark. There was an audible gasp in the control room, but no one panicked. Losing the video feed on a dive was relatively common. Maybe the fiber-optic tether had snapped, or the software had hit a glitch. Whatever it was, Nereus had been programmed to respond with emergency measures. It could back out of a jam, shed expendable weight, guide itself to the surface, and send a homing beacon to help Shank’s team retrieve it.

As the minutes ticked by, Shank waited for those measures to activate, but none did. “There’s no sound, no implosion, no chime,” he told me afterward. “Just … black.” He paced the deck through the night, staring across the Stygian void for signs of Nereus. The following day he finally saw debris surface, and as he watched it rise, he felt his project sinking. Ten years of planning, a $14 million robot, and an international team of experts—it had all collapsed under the crushing pressure of hadal depths.

“I’m not over it yet,” he told me two years later. We were standing on the deck of another ship, 100 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, where Shank was preparing to launch a new robot. The vehicle was no replacement for Nereus. It was a rectilinear hunk of metal and plastic, about five feet high, three feet wide, and nine feet long. Red on top, with a silvery bottom and three fans mounted at the rear, it could have been mistaken for a child’s backyard spaceship. Shank had no illusion that it was capable of hadal exploration. Since the loss of Nereus, there was no vehicle on Earth that could navigate the deepest trenches—Cameron’s was no longer in service, Branson’s didn’t work, and Vescovo’s hadn’t yet been built.

Shank’s new robot did have a few impressive features. Its navigational system was even more advanced than the one in Nereus, and he hoped it would be able to maneuver in a trenchlike environment with even greater precision—but its body was not designed to withstand hadal pressure. In fact, it had never descended more than a few dozen feet below the surface, and Shank knew that it would take years to build something that could survive at the bottom of a trench. What had seemed, just two years earlier, like the beginning of a new era in hadal science was developing a quixotic aspect, and, at 50, Shank could not help wondering if it was madness to spend another decade of his life on a dream that seemed to be drifting further from his reach. But he was driven by a lifelong intuition that he still couldn’t shake. Shank believes that access to the trenches will reveal one of the greatest discoveries in history: a secret ecosystem bursting with creatures that have been cloistered for eternity in the deep.

“I would be shocked if there aren’t vents and seeps in the trenches,” he told me as we bobbed on the water that day in 2016. “They’ll be there, and they will be teeming with life. I think we’ll be looking at hundreds or thousands of species we haven’t seen before, and some of them are going to be huge.” He pictured the hadal as an alien world that followed its own evolutionary course, the unimaginable pressure creating a menagerie of inconceivable beasts. “My time is running out to find them,” he said. “Maybe my legacy will be to push things forward so that somebody else can. We have a third of our ocean that we still can’t explore. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic.”

While scientists struggle to reach the deep ocean, human impact has already gotten there. Most of us are familiar with the menu of damages to coastal water: overfishing, oil spills, and pollution, to name a few. What can be lost in the discussion of these issues is how they reverberate far beneath.

Take fishing. The relentless pursuit of cod in the early 20th century decimated its population from Newfoundland to New England, sending hungry shoppers in search of other options. As shallow-water fish such as haddock, grouper, and sturgeon joined the cod’s decline, commercial fleets around the world pushed into deeper water. Until the 1970s, the slimehead fish lived in relative obscurity, patrolling the slopes of underwater mountains in water up to 6,000 feet deep. Then a consortium of fishermen pushed the Food and Drug Administration to change its name, and the craze for “orange roughy” began—only to fade again in the early 2000s, when the fish was on a path toward extinction itself.

Environmental damage from oil production is also migrating into deeper water. Disturbing photographs of oil-drenched beaches have captured public attention since at least 1989, when the Exxon Valdez tanker crashed into a reef and leaked 11 million gallons into an Alaskan sound. It would remain the largest spill in U.S. water until 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon explosion spewed 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. But a recent study revealed that the release of chemicals to disperse the spill was twice as toxic as the oil to animals living 3,000 feet below the surface.

Maybe the greatest alarm in recent years has followed the discovery of plastic floating in the ocean. Scientists estimate that 17 billion pounds of polymer are flushed into the ocean each year, and substantially more of it collects on the bottom than on the surface. Just as a bottle that falls from a picnic table will roll downhill to a gulch, trash on the seafloor gradually makes its way toward deepwater plains and hadal trenches. After his expedition to the trenches, Victor Vescovo returned with the news that garbage had beaten him there. He found a plastic bag at the bottom of one trench, a beverage can in another, and when he reached the deepest point in the Mariana, he watched an object with a large S on the side float past his window. Trash of all sorts is collecting in the hadal—Spam tins, Budweiser cans, rubber gloves, even a mannequin head.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the impact of trash on aquatic life. Fish and seabirds that mistake grocery bags for prey will glut their stomachs with debris that their digestive system can’t expel. When a young whale drifted ashore and died in the Philippines in 2019, an autopsy revealed that its belly was packed with 88 pounds of plastic bags, nylon rope, and netting. Two weeks later, another whale beached in Sardinia, its stomach crammed with 48 pounds of plastic dishes and tubing. Certain types of coral like to eat plastic more than food. They will gorge themselves like a kid on Twinkies instead of eating what they need to survive. Microbes that flourish on plastic have ballooned in number, replacing other species as their population explodes in a polymer ocean.

If it seems trivial to worry about the population statistics of bacteria in the ocean, you may be interested to know that ocean microbes are essential to human and planetary health. About a third of the carbon dioxide generated on land is absorbed by underwater organisms, including one species that was just discovered in the CCZ in 2018. The researchers who found that bacterium have no idea how it removes carbon from the environment, but their findings show that it may account for up to 10 percent of the volume that is sequestered by oceans every year.

Many of the things we do know about ocean microbes, we know thanks to Craig Venter, the genetic scientist most famous for starting a small company in the 1990s to compete with the Human Genome Project. The two-year race between his company and the international collaboration generated endless headlines and culminated in a joint announcement at the White House to declare a tie. But Venter’s interest wasn’t limited to human DNA. He wanted to learn the language of genetics in order to create synthetic microbes with practical features. After his work on the human genome, he spent two years sailing around the world, lowering bottles into the ocean to collect bacteria and viruses from the water. By the time he returned, he had discovered hundreds of thousands of new species, and his lab in Maryland proceeded to sequence their DNA—identifying more than 60 million unique genes, which is about 2,500 times the number in humans. Then he and his team began to scour those genes for properties they could use to make custom bugs.

Venter now lives in a hypermodern house on a bluff in Southern California. Chatting one evening on the sofa beside the door to his walk-in humidor and wine cellar, he described how saltwater microbes could help solve the most urgent problems of modern life. One of the bacteria he pulled from the ocean consumes carbon and excretes methane. Venter would like to integrate its genes into organisms designed to live in smokestacks and recycle emissions. “They could scrub the plant’s CO2 and convert it to methane that can be burned as fuel in the same plant,” he said.

Venter was also studying bacteria that could be useful in medicine. Microbes produce a variety of antibiotic compounds, which they deploy as weapons against their rivals. Many of those compounds can also be used to kill the pathogens that infect humans. Nearly all of the antibiotic drugs on the market were initially derived from microorganisms, but they are losing efficacy as pathogens evolve to resist them. “We have new drugs in development,” Matt McCarthy, an infectious-disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, told me, “but most of them are slight variations on the ones we already had. The problem with that is, they’re easy for bacteria to resist, because they’re similar to something bacteria have developed resistance to in the past. What we need is an arsenal of new compounds.”

Venter pointed out that ocean microbes produce radically different compounds from those on land. “There are more than a million microbes per milliliter of seawater,” he said, “so the chance of finding new antibiotics in the marine environment is high.” McCarthy agreed. “The next great drug may be hidden somewhere deep in the water,” he said. “We need to get to the deep-sea organisms, because they’re making compounds that we’ve never seen before. We may find drugs that could be used to treat gout, or rheumatoid arthritis, or all kinds of other conditions.”

Marine biologists have never conducted a comprehensive survey of microbes in the hadal trenches. The conventional tools of water sampling cannot function at extreme depth, and engineers are just beginning to develop tools that can. Microbial studies of the deepwater plains are slightly further along—and scientists have recently discovered that the CCZ is unusually flush with life. “It’s one of the most biodiverse areas that we’ve ever sampled on the abyssal plains,” a University of Hawaii oceanographer named Jeff Drazen told me. Most of those microbes, he said, live on the very same nodules that miners are planning to extract. “When you lift them off the seafloor, you’re removing a habitat that took 10 million years to grow.” Whether or not those microbes can be found in other parts of the ocean is unknown. “A lot of the less mobile organisms,” Drazen said, “may not be anywhere else.”

Drazen is an academic ecologist; Venter is not. Venter has been accused of trying to privatize the human genome, and many of his critics believe his effort to create new organisms is akin to playing God. He clearly doesn’t have an aversion to profit-driven science, and he’s not afraid to mess with nature—yet when I asked him about the prospect of mining in deep water, he flared with alarm. “We should be very careful about mining in the ocean,” he said. “These companies should be doing rigorous microbial surveys before they do anything else. We only know a fraction of the microbes down there, and it’s a terrible idea to screw with them before we know what they are and what they do.”

The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is a deepwater plain wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen contractors could begin commercial extraction there. (La Tigre)

Mining executives insist that their work in the ocean is misunderstood. Some adopt a swaggering bravado and portray the industry as a romantic frontier adventure. As the manager of exploration at Nautilus Minerals, John Parianos, told me recently, “This is about every man and his dog filled with the excitement of the moon landing. It’s like Scott going to the South Pole, or the British expeditions who got entombed by ice.”

Nautilus occupies a curious place in the mining industry. It is one of the oldest companies at work on the seafloor, but also the most precarious. Although it has a permit from the government of Papua New Guinea to extract metal from offshore vents, many people on the nearby island of New Ireland oppose the project, which will destroy part of their marine habitat. Local and international activists have whipped up negative publicity, driving investors away and sending the company into financial ruin. Nautilus stock once traded for $4.45. It is now less than a penny per share.Parianos acknowledged that Nautilus was in crisis, but he dismissed the criticism as naive. Seabed minerals are no different from any other natural resource, he said, and the use of natural resources is fundamental to human progress. “Look around you: Everything that’s not grown is mined,” he told me. “That’s why they called it the Stone Age—because it’s when they started mining! And mining is what made our lives better than what they had before the Stone Age.” Parianos emphasized that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which created the International Seabed Authority, promised “to ensure effective protection for the marine environment” from the effects of mining. “It’s not like the Law of the Sea says: Go out and ravage the marine environment,” he said. “But it also doesn’t say that you can only explore the ocean for science, and not to make money.”The CEO of a company called DeepGreen spoke in loftier terms. DeepGreen is both a product of Nautilus Minerals and a reaction to it. The company was founded in 2011 by David Heydon, who had founded Nautilus a decade earlier, and its leadership is full of former Nautilus executives and investors. As a group, they have sought to position DeepGreen as a company whose primary interest in mining the ocean is saving the planet. They have produced a series of lavish brochures to explain the need for a new source of battery metals, and Gerard Barron, the CEO, speaks with animated fervor about the virtues of nodule extraction.

His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

Whether DeepGreen represents a shift in the values of mining companies or merely a shift in marketing rhetoric is a valid question—but the company has done things that are difficult to dismiss. It has developed technology that returns sediment discharge to the seafloor with minimal disruption, and Barron is a regular presence at ISA meetings, where he advocates for regulations to mandate low-impact discharge. DeepGreen has also limited its operations to nodule mining, and Barron openly criticizes the effort by his friends at Nautilus to demolish a vent that is still partially active. “The guys at Nautilus, they’re doing their thing, but I don’t think it’s the right thing for the planet,” he told me. “We need to be doing things that have a low impact environmentally.”

By the time i sat down with Michael Lodge, the secretary general of the ISA, I had spent a lot of time thinking about the argument that executives like Barron are making. It seemed to me that seabed mining presents an epistemological problem. The harms of burning fossil fuels and the impact of land-based mining are beyond dispute, but the cost of plundering the ocean is impossible to know. What creatures are yet to be found on the seafloor? How many indispensable cures? Is there any way to calculate the value of a landscape we know virtually nothing about? The world is full of uncertain choices, of course, but the contrast between options is rarely so stark: the crisis of climate change and immiserated labor on the one hand, immeasurable risk and potential on the other.

I thought of the hadal zone. It may never be harmed by mining. Sediment from dredging on the abyssal plains could settle long before it reaches the edge of a trench—but the total obscurity of the hadal should remind us of how little we know. It extends from 20,000 feet below sea level to roughly 36,000 feet, leaving nearly half of the ocean’s depths beyond our reach. When I visited Timothy Shank at Woods Hole a few months ago, he showed me a prototype of his latest robot. He and his lead engineer, Casey Machado, had built it with foam donated by James Cameron and with support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose engineers are hoping to send a vehicle to explore the aqueous moon of Jupiter. It was a tiny machine, known as Orpheus, that could steer through trenches, recording topography and taking samples, but little else. He would have no way to direct its movements or monitor its progress via a video feed. It occurred to me that if Shank had given up the dream of true exploration in the trenches, decades could pass before we know what the hadal zone contains.

Mining companies may promise to extract seabed metal with minimal damage to the surrounding environment, but to believe this requires faith. It collides with the force of human history, the law of unintended consequences, and the inevitability of mistakes. I wanted to understand from Michael Lodge how a UN agency had made the choice to accept that risk.

“Why is it necessary to mine the ocean?” I asked him.

He paused for a moment, furrowing his brow. “I don’t know why you use the word necessary,” he said. “Why is it ‘necessary’ to mine anywhere? You mine where you find metal.”

I reminded him that centuries of mining on land have exacted a devastating price: tropical islands denuded, mountaintops sheared off, groundwater contaminated, and species eradicated. Given the devastation of land-based mining, I asked, shouldn’t we hesitate to mine the sea?

“I don’t believe people should worry that much,” he said with a shrug. “There’s certainly an impact in the area that’s mined, because you are creating an environmental disturbance, but we can find ways to manage that.” I pointed out that the impact from sediment could travel far beyond the mining zone, and he responded, “Sure, that’s the other major environmental concern. There is a sediment plume, and we need to manage it. We need to understand how the plume operates, and there are experiments being done right now that will help us.” As he spoke, I realized that for Lodge, none of these questions warranted reflection—or anyway, he didn’t see reflection as part of his job. He was there to facilitate mining, not to question the wisdom of doing so.

We chatted for another 20 minutes, then I thanked him for his time and wandered back to the assembly room, where delegates were delivering canned speeches about marine conservation and the promise of battery technology. There was still some debate about certain details of the Mining Code—technical requirements, oversight procedures, the profit-sharing model—so the vote to ratify it would have to wait another year. I noticed a group of scientists watching from the back. They were members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, which formed in 2013 to confront threats to the deepwater environment. One was Jeff Drazen. He’d flown in from Hawaii and looked tired. I sent him a text, and we stepped outside.

A few tables and chairs were scattered in the courtyard, and we sat down to talk. I asked how he felt about the delay of the Mining Code—delegates are planning to review it again this summer, and large-scale mining could begin after that.

Drazen rolled his eyes and sighed. “There’s a Belgian team in the CCZ doing a component test right now,” he said. “They’re going to drive a vehicle around on the seafloor and spew a bunch of mud up. So these things are already happening. We’re about to make one of the biggest transformations that humans have ever made to the surface of the planet. We’re going to strip-mine a massive habitat, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.”

 

[Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He has published cover stories for many outlets including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Details, New York, and Outside.]

The Gift that Keeps on Giving To the Ruling Elite: Cognitive Dissonance

Solarian

October 12, 2019

By Guy Crittenden

 

 

It’s been interesting defending my article on Solarian.ca “Not This Kind of Green” on social media.

After I shared the article on Facebook a number of people attacked the post, invariably confounding my invitation that people read Cory Morningstar’s superb multi-part series “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” with the idea that Morningstar or myself are somehow criticizing the young woman at the center of the recent media phenomenon.

This is ironic, as one of Morningstar’s arguments is that the young pig-tailed girl’s role in fronting the campaign — and her promotion to superstar status by the media and various NGOs, foundations, and political actors (when so many other activists have been sidelined or even jailed) — is to cause  and prevent meaningful debate.

This is a challenging subject to discuss; people come to the table with pre-existing world views, values and assumptions. In order to really grasp Morningstar’s intention, a progressive person (for example) might need to set aside the elements of their own confirmation bias in order to understand that the writer is not making common cause with right-wing reactionary criticisms of Thunberg and unpleasant attacks on the young woman from a personalized “hater” perspective but instead offers a savvy critique of monopoly capitalism and the contemporary network of non-profit agencies, lenders, military equipment suppliers, and deep state agencies that has cooperated on such projects as selling wars around the planet and making perpetual war a reality, expanding the surveillance state to Orwellian proportions, installing an explicitly Neo Nazi government in Ukraine, and a fascist government in Honduras (note that eight out of ten asylum seekers who show up a the US-Mexico border are from that country), and the attempted coups d’etat against socialist governments in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria and other countries.

It’s easy to throw sand in skeptical eyes, also, by deflecting to dead-end win/lose arguments about whether global warming is or is not happening, and the extent to which human activity is causing it. Slogans like “climate change denier” are useful agitprop in that regard; ergo, we have environmental specialists with Ph.D.’s who find they can’t converse about this without being shouted down, if their questions waver even slightly from the orthodoxy. I myself have a boundless interest in learning the truth (whatever it is); orthodoxies? Not so much. (To put it another way, I dislike orthodoxies even if they happen to be right about something.)

 

Protest signs at the Climate Strike action at Queen’s Park, Ontario. Photo by Guy Crittenden

Morningstar’s article series points out that an elite socio-political structure is poised to usurp the broad environmental movement at a critical juncture. No same person would argue we’re not in some kind of crisis. Ecological collapse is certainly underway, hence the disappearance of bees and the so-called “insect apocalypse.” This year the Pacific salmon fishery collapsed in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the Atlantic cod fishery. I could list many other situations, from overfishing and finning of sharks or the bleaching of coral reefs to the imminent extinction of orang-utans as their rainforests are converted into plantations for palm oil and other mono-culture crops. Manmade climate change is a significant narrative thread that’s interwoven with all these issues. An adult conversation is needed about exactly what’s happening and a broad and (very) democratic discussion is needed about optimal solutions — the kind of discussion that’s practically impossible in the current climate, especially with state and corporate media acting as stenographers for agencies like the CIA and the Pentagon.

Awareness is growing that we need to determine what will replace monopoly capitalism, for which the tragedy of the commons is practically baked in. This will involve close scrutiny of the decades of neoconservative and neoliberal policy that’s eroded civil society, enriched elites, inflicted financialization and austerity on domestic and foreign populations, converted much of the former industrial heartland of the United States and the UK into dystopias, and has refashioned the NATO countries (and others) into perpetual war economies. This is precisely the conversation that the aforementioned elites don’t want us to have. This is precisely the conversation against which a clever propaganda narrative is being constructed, utilizing the image of an idealistic young woman. And this is precisely the conversation Morningstar is attempting to instigate.

[John Pilger’s documentary film The New Rulers of the World (2001) meticulously examines how multinational corporations moved in on Indonesia and — in a pattern that’s repeated itself in countless countries from Greece to Jamaica, from Chile to Libya — looted the economy via extractive projects that benefit those companies and international lenders, while greasing the palms of the local ruling class, and do nothing for ordinary citizens who are stuck with staggering public and private debt, and in many cases live in shantytowns. The role of the non-profit sector and NGOs in austerity and neocolonial schemes is poorly understood by the public.]

And so, for that reason, I’m sharing this excellent article from artist and writer Hiroyuki Hamada. “In Defence of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series” supports Morningstar’s contention that oligarchic forces are seizing on the climate change narrative (and situation) to eventually implement policies, programs and technocratic solutions that constitute a Hail Mary Pass in perpetuating the very system that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Similarly, to people mentally conditioned to accept the limited lines of reasoning and possibilities offered within hierarchical capitalism and neo-colonialism, with all their state-sanctioned violence, every environmental problem is a nail for which the obvious solution is an IMF/World Bank-funded megaproject, with bottom-up subsidies flowing to transnational corporations and authoritarian governments loyal to Washington. Australian journalist John Pilger made an excellent documentary — The New Rulers of the World — about how this all works, in the context of the economic colonization of Indonesia. If you like the mega projects described there, that benefited foreign companies and political elites while doing nothing for ordinary people (many of whom live in shantytowns and are now the subject of  austerity programs), you’re going to love what those same elites construct in the name of fighting climate change, all with your consent obtained via propaganda.

If you find this suggestion offensive, if you can’t get past your love of Greta Thunberg to seriously entertain these ideas, consider that perhaps the propaganda is working as intended.

 

 

[Guy Crittenden is an environment and business journalist and award-winning book author (The Year of Drinking Magic: Twelve Ceremonies with the Vine of Souls, Apocryphile Press) based in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada and Principal of Crittenden Communication. Contact Guy at guy@crittendencommunication.com]

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

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

October 6, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VIII & IX forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

 

Financial Times, September 16, 2019

 

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

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

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

    We Mean Business Founding Partners

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

    We Mean Business Co-founder Callum Grieve

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

    Behavioural Change Campaigns and Storytelling

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

    World Economic Forum UN Partnership Effective June 13, 2019

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

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

    Take Away Points

    We dance to the tune of our oppressors

     

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

     

    — John Steppling

     

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

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

    Colorado’s Scripted Environmentalism is an Impostor for the Real Thing

    Colorado’s Scripted Environmentalism is an Impostor for the Real Thing

    Boulder Weekly

    September 27, 2019

    Joel Dyer

     

    By 2011, when my family came face to face with fracking, Colorado was already 40,000 wells into “responsible oil and gas development.” At that time, politicians, industry and various Democratic Party front groups tightly controlled how people and communities were allowed to object. That tight control allowed wells to be drilled in a predictable and orderly way under a grand project former Governor Bill Ritter and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) called the New Energy Economy.

    Around 2012, a few communities broke from that scripted model of environmentalism. Longmont enacted a fracking ban. Although primarily a ban on a drilling technique, many of us in Lafayette misinterpreted Longmont’s ban as expansive, community-led civil disobedience for the environment and took off from there. Nonetheless, this first shot across the bow drove new ballot initiatives, organizing and protest that the political class just wasn’t used to. The situation got bad enough that then Governor John Hickenlooper, after joining the COGA lawsuit against Longmont in 2013, was effectively run out of that town by a group of 300 angry residents.

    The place was never the same again. That said, the political forces behind oil and gas attempted to rein in rebellious communities and force them back to the original script.

    At every stage, little grassroots efforts like our own East Boulder County United were attacked over and over for pointing out how this process of political weakening, aka scripted environmentalism, works and to what effect. Behind it all is the state’s compulsion to force people back to the political class’s original definition of “environmentalism”:

    1) A subservient and codependent relationship with the Democratic Party

    2) Activism dominated by professionals, who are in continual need of funding sources

    3) Demands that rely for resolution on the same system that created the ecological disaster Colorado has become.

    4) An acceptance that environmentalism is a negotiation between the political class, industry and communities around the terms by which environmental exploitation will take place.

    These elements are as much the nature of scripted environmentalism today as they were in 2011. In fact, 2011’s version of state-sanctioned environmentalism, which was referred to as the “Colorado Model” by political and industry insiders, was and still is being exported nationally.

    Nearly all environmental groups now work within this model. And now that the state is turning the corner on approving another 6,000 drilling permits, the “important” people are once again acting from a pre-2012 script. “The Colorado oil and gas wars are over,” is the new refrain of current Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Boulder Representative K.C. Becker. Unfortunately, it’s a line from a play about promoting the free flow of investment money and oil profits — not saving the environment.

    There is deep political toxicity on the shale. The Boulder political class and its allies need to erase their long partnership and complicity with the oil and gas industry. That is why grassroots groups like East Boulder County United are so deeply opposed to what is happening. We are informed by history, educated by it, and must now act because of it. It’s my opinion that there’s no turning back for the Democrats or the rest of the world, Colorado included. The political class better get used to losing the narrative and make way for the people. The global environmental apocalypse is only going to make this battle far sharper.

     

    [Cliff Willmeng – is a real activist]

    American Psychopathy

    American Psychopathy

    September 20, 2019

    by John Steppling

    “American Psychopathy”

     

     

    American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Ellis

     

    “Not only are we not going to have wars between major powers in this era of fascist upsurge (of course, as will be discussed, we shall have other wars), but, by the same token, this fascist upsurge will not burn out through any cataclysmic war. What we are likely to see is a lingering fascism of less murderous intensity, which, when in power, does not necessarily do away with all the forms of bourgeois democracy, does not necessarily physically annihilate the opposition, and may even allow itself to get voted out of power occasionally. But since its successor government, as long as it remains within the confines of the neoliberal strategy, will also be incapable of alleviating the crisis, the fascist elements are likely to return to power as well. And whether the fascist elements are in or out of power, they will remain a potent force working toward the fascification of the society and the polity, even while promoting corporate interests within a regime of globalization of finance, and hence permanently maintaining the “partnership between big business and fascist upstarts.”

     

    – Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik (Monthly Review, July 1st, 2019)

     

    “The poor shall inherit the earth or there will be no earth left to inherit.”

     

    – John Bellemy Foster (Monthly Review, 2019)

     

    “The people want wholesome dread. They want to fear something. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.”

     

    – Ernst Rohm (Hitler’s chief of the SA)

    There seems to be two branches of what I see as a drive toward global domination, global hegemony, by the ruling class. One is the Trump phenomenon and the narratives and political actions that accompany his presidency (often in the background). Second is the new ruling corporate control of environmentalism.

    I quote Cory Morningstar a lot and that is with good reason. Its nearly impossible to pull quotes from her work because there are too many choices. Read the entirety of it.

    There is a lot to read and it might be useful to start at the end, with the most recent material, and work backwards. But I will return to this. The linkage between Trump’s cartoon presidency and the corporate takeover of environmentalism is anchored in recognizing the magic thinking involved, but more, to stop and recognize that the manufacturing of narratives here is really about a manufacturing of obedience to authority. Especially in our post modern (sic) epoch, *institutional authority*. And to see that Trump is only carrying out policy sanctioned and supported by the ruling class (and perfectly amenable to the DNC). Now one need look no further than Hollywood to see the outlines of narrative change. The rehabilitation of fascism is everywhere. In everything. The normalizing of fascist style helps normalize and make coherent the presidency of Don Trump.

    Much has been written about the CIA and Department of Defense infiltration of Hollywood. There are numerous obvious storytelling staples; the problems in any global situation are the result of a few bad apples or rogue agents. It is never that the institution is corrupt or intentionally causing death and suffering.

    “The content of film and television is directly, regularly, and secretly determined by the US government, led by the CIA and Pentagon. More visible since the 1980s is what we identify as a distinct genre: ‘national security cinema’—namely, those films that follow self-serving official histories and exalt in the righteousness of US foreign policy. ( ) National security entertainment promotes violent, self-regarding, American-centric solutions to international problems based on twisted readings of history. However, even those products that don’t meet such a lamentable yardstick are still to some degree designed to recruit personnel and, in doing so, must adhere to the desired self-image of the national security state. ”

     

    – Matthew Alford, Tom Secker (National Security Cinema – Government Control in Hollywood)

    There is a constant pro war slant to nearly all films that even indirectly touch on U.S. politics and/or the government. The first given is that war is inevitable and when involving the U.S. military it is a necessary and beneficent activity. There is a tacit and often openly direct support and praise of mass surveillance — even on ordinary citizens or citizens of friendly nations. The world is depicted as if threat existed on every corner and such trifles as torture or political manipulations are both routine and absolutely crucial to keep you, the viewer, safe. The message is always that new dangers are unprecedented and unique. Civil liberties are treated with the same contempt Obama showed for them. The exaggeration of threat, in fact, runs through nearly everything in mass media. There is also an exaggeration of the abilities of the surveillance industry (one aspect of the new magical thinking).

    But the really pernicious aspect of government influence in media comes in more subtle forms. The most prominent of which is the normalizing of not just illegal military or CIA activity, but the normalizing of and encouragement to fawn before authority, to trust said authority, and to feel OK about one’s own attraction to those knee high Nazi jack boots, or the shiny nickel plated Sig Sauer 9mm the hero is fondling. So routine is the seduction of the audience with technologies of violence that it passes without comment. Directors and DPs automatically default to having the camera caress the gun, tank, rifle, or uniform. This extends to domestic U.S. police forces, too. It is allowable to show sadistic cops on occasion because sadism itself is acceptable, and even sort of sexy. It is allowable to show the U.S. interfering in the political elections of foreign sovereign states because any nation not the United States (and U.K.) will benefit from said interference. And here another branch of this propaganda should be noted ( which will segue nicely back to Trump and environmentalism) and that is white supremacism. The single constant in narratives from Hollywood is that of American exceptionalism. And really, the examples are just too numerous to list. The ideological footprint of ruling class values is indelible and unchanging. Wealth is a virtue and the rich are responsible, and when they are not they are punished by others in the 1%. Just like the new corporate environmentalism, the message is, let the ruling class decide.

    The values of the ruling classes in the U.S. and U.K. are always evident if one only looks. (So much has changed since those emigre German Jewish directors fled to Hollywood in the 40s). And of course lip service is, to a degree, paid to fairness and equality, but never to any idea of economic equality or social influence. That is the province of the very rich and aristocratic. Which is why I find it so curious that many of the left (pseudo or soft left) don’t even blink when those with honorifics before their name, with royal titles, issue proclamations about climate change or overpopulation or new Green corporate solutions. These are always white people, mind you. I mean African Kings don’t count. Tribal elders don’t count. The British aristocracy are very big on preserving their privileges at game preserves and France remains a colonial administrator in its former African holdings (see Uranium mining). But more than that, of course, the ruling class is the face of the new environmentalism. Unless its an Asperger’s fifteen year old who increasingly (and painfully) appears in distress and cognitive confusion. This is not an attack on Greta, that attack is being carried out by the white billionaire faces of western capital. But I will be accused of attacking her, and that in itself is an aspect of how the new propaganda works.

    Which reminds me, where are all the black (African or otherwise) climate experts? The only one, really, is Warren Washington. The new Green feels very white. Facing monumental problems of pollution, both on land and perhaps especially in oceans, people have retreated to very non political positions that are either a kind of Hollywood disaster apocalypse fantasy, or new age smart phone Gaia anthropomorphism. I wrote before about the demand that everyone submit to the consensus- – meaning not that the earth is getting warmer or even why, but the moral hand wringing and outrage at those not submitting. The demand is that one join in the outrage and alarmism. The very term *denialism* suggests the typical bourgeois response to anything disruptive of their privilege. The constant outpouring of articles, in mainstream glossy magazines (and their cyber equivalents) and news outlets are always framed a certain way. A recent social media post by Keith Harmon Snow on a lay out in National Geographic laid it out this way..

    “With help from National Geographic and Proctor and Gamble (P&G), you can save the world. ACTIVATE. Be a good Global Citizen.

     

    This is corporate greenwashing and corporate capitalism steering or creating “social justice” movements that will serve capitalism, while expropriating true social justice and true social justice movements, and thereby diffusing and destroying any valid legitimate meaningful POTENTIAL social movements. P&G is a nasty chemical/pharmaceutical/medical industrial giant responsible for Toxic carcinogenic products, price-fixing, palm oil monoculture plantations, child slavery, media propaganda, testing on animals, false advertising and massive pollution and other forms of destruction of the environment. Did you know that P&G produced the first home radio and TV serials, and because P&G was known for manufacturing detergents, these became known as “Soap operas”?

     

    This is racist white supremacist whitewashing. Using images of smiling indigenous people, in full (airbrushed) color, in their natural or unnatural environments, for malicious propaganda purposes. Propaganda = perception management. National Geographic is a racist corporate platform that cannot ever be trusted. (Pretty pictures, though; though generally and almost always decontextualized).”

    The entire thrust of the new corporate and billionaire backed projects on climate action are there to preserve a hierarchical status quo. It is to rescue Capitalism itself. And the implications of much of it are near genocidal. I think it is not an accident that the grave problems of industrial pollution (just think the waste sites for cyber technology) are relatively forgotten in these narratives from the ruling class. Those waste sites are in the poorest countries on earth, they are not outside Bethesda,Maryland or in Connecticut. And these new marketing campaigns, employing massive guilt inducing techniques of persuasion, have created a fairly safe and morally superior niche psychic space for the haute bourgeoisie to look down on the problems that their class created and attribute them to either the poor, or just the anodyne *everyone*.

    The term 6th Mass Extinction gets a lot of usage. Its a marketers dream, actually. In fact the first time I heard that term I thought, wow, that is gonna have traction. If you just said oh, we’re all going to die off in a half century you would not garner this kind of following. But give it a kind of pseudo brand, specify it, make it special — not just extinction, but SIXTH mass extinction….and the white boogie class will fall over themselves salivating. Its pure seduction. Its like a kind of generalized identification with something bigger than you. Even though its also a sort of pessimism selfie. It sounds smarty pants to say, too. Oh we’re in the SIXTH mass extinction don’t you know.

    There is almost no dialogue about this stuff. There are proclamations. Public life is carried out by proclamation and twitter. Meanwhile the U.S. election season has arrived. And never before, perhaps, has the Democratic Party put on such a pathetic show. Joe Biden can barely speak. Its senile gibberish half the time. The other front runner — and clearly now the candidate of western capital, is Elizabeth Warren. Im wondering how those rimless spectacles will play west of the Rockies. Not well …which is fine because the Democrats don’t want to win this one. This is Trump time. For only a man mentored at the feet of Roy Cohn could so effortlessly usher in the theatrical presentation of full blown fascism to America. Trump normalizes old school fascism. Everything can be blamed on Trump. And that is what the ruling class wants, you see. If Biden has an embolism and Warren turns out to be just too bookish (appearing) then there is always the black cop, Kamala Harris (whose future is likely as a federal DA) or Bernie. Except Bernie doesn’t want the nomination. That’s not his gig. The loud mouthed and utterly opportunistic shill will be what he always was, a ballot bag man for the more telegenic DNC candidates of choice. There is also the potential for a late comer to the DRC party. Too early for AOC (who may be, actually, too dumb for national electoral politics. And that bar has been set very low. Think Dan Quayle) and Chelsea (Clinton not Manning, although…), but its not impossible to think someone out there might provide better optics than Biden or Warren.

    The debates themselves are so idiotic, so inane and nearly literally infantile, that it is hard to gain a clear picture of what the public thinks they are watching. But then the sub-literacy of America is stunning to behold. And perhaps the loss of even the most basic moral coherency among the bourgeoisie is resulting in the stultifying character of the Spectacle these days. The sordid and unsettling saga of cheerleader and killer (er…corpse abuser) Skyler Richardson is sort of the avatar for this era. A society that produces a Skyler Richardson …and one that cannot find the means to deal with her crimes…is a terribly sick place. But then this is also the era of drone assassination on order of the President (Obama) which took the life of a teenage citizen of the U.S. This is the era in which Julian Assange is driven toward complete physical and mental collapse by the state, for releasing the truth to the public while Mike Pompeo brags about lying. An era of wanton wholesale lying at the state level (think the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran). Wholesale lying of a kind that the public is now utterly inured to –a lying that is expected and anticipated. A persistent assault of lies and distortions that have all but eroded the very idea of the truth. But then this an era in which transparent visible stupidity is more asset than detriment. And the problem is that crimes and viciousness of those in power …both in the U.K. and U.S. is just not answered. The Grenfell Tower fire is another avatar of class violence today. Boris Johnson (Kipling admirer and open OPEN overt racist) now is the head of state for Great Britain. But he is the shadow of Trump. A pale homunculus version of the Donald. And the hair. I mean, the hair?

    But the vast militarism of the U.S. and its proxies is polluting enormous areas of earth, killing sea mammals and indoctrinating hundreds of thousands of ill educated poor kids to the joys of shooting Arab families, the pleasures of torture, and career building bullying seems to have exceeded all limits of rationality. A military system that teaches hate and racism and xenophobia. A system that tolerates (at the very least) rape. A military that gets something like 5 billion dollars a day to play with. And all those democrats on stage this week, ALL of them signed off on more militarism.

    Someone said to me this week, when I mentioned Bernie’s attack on Maduro and Chavez, ‘well, he has to say that, he’s trying to win an election’. He *HAS* to say it. He is forced to lie. They have a gun to his dog’s head. Or, more likely, that bellowing fool probably believes it. Why does anyone like Bernie? Honestly, I get Liz Warren. The college educated white liberal finds their mirror ideal image in Warren. I get Biden even. He is familiar. And shit, Reagan was senile and barely able to actually speak in complete sentences and yet he was labeled ‘the great communicator’. So senility has its charms for America it seems. But Bernie is so nakedly disingenuous and mendacious. I don’t get it.

    “Transformations in the economic base of the system and its accompanying class structures have changed the conditions for the exercise of power. Political domination is now expressed through a new-style “political class” and a media clergy, both dedicated exclusively to serving the abstract capitalism of generalized monopolies. The ideology of the “individual as king” and the illusions of the “movement” that wants to transform the world, even “change life”(!)—without posing the question of workers and peoples seizing power—only reinforce capital’s new methods of exercising power.”

     

    – Samir Amin (Monthly Review, July 2019)

    The above paragraph is a useful description of contemporary capitalism and a cogent comment on the various new green deals or extinction rebellions etc. And set against the surreal comedy of the U.S. election season, the new Corporate environmentalists are paving the way for normalizing a global state of emergency. If one thinks back just a bit, the Boston Marathon bombing was the front edge for testing how compliant the population might be when their city is being shut down. Totally compliant was the answer. And this is going to be the tactic. Declare a state of emergency that is for your own good.

    “The sober images of Thunberg, as depicted and shared by the Climate Group, and the media at large, are very much intentional as outlined in the document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement“published by The Climate Mobilization:

     

    ‘The way we respond to threats — by entering emergency mode or by remaining in normal mode — is highly contagious. Imagine the fire alarm goes off in an office building. How seriously should you take it? How do you know if it is a drill or a real fire? Those questions will be predominantly answered by the actions and communications of the people around you, particularly people designated as leaders. If they are chatting and taking their time exiting the building, you will assume that this is a drill. If people are moving with haste, faces stern and focused, communicating with urgency and gravity, you will assume there is real danger and exit as quickly as possible.’”

     

    – Cory Morningstar (ibid)

    Just the title, We Mean Business. None of this, of course, has anything to do with saving life and protecting the planet. None has anything to do with a radical de-militarizing of the Imperialist states. Nobody is suggesting the rich change the way they live. You poor folks, well, yeah, you might have to change a little (and oh, live in a FEMA camp, but not forever….we don’t think). Allow me to just pick one bio here, from Morningstar’s work, to illustrate the fascistic ideology of those driving so much of this new marketed environmentalism. Executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) from 2010 to 2016, is the very privileged Christina Figueres, late of Georgetown and the London School of Economics , an anthropologist and economist who presided over the UN climate negotiations that culminated in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

    “Although meticulous in detail, Figueres biography on her personal website neglects to disclose her royal connection to Costa Rica. On Figueres’ lengthy Wikipedia entry, it is disclosed, in a single sentence, that her father, José Figueres Ferrer, served as President of Costa Rica on three separate occasions. In August 1953, the Guatemalan Communist paper, Octubre, characterized the new president of Costa Rica, José “Don Pepe” Figueres, as an “unconditional servant of American imperialism” and the latest “United Fruit Company President.” Both pro-American and anti-communist, José Figueres supported the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état overthrowing Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, President of Guatemala from 1951 to 1954. [Further reading: Resistance and Accommodation: The United States and the Nationalism of José Figueres, 1953–1957.]

     

    Figueres’ mother, Karen Olsen Beck, served as Costa Rican Ambassador to Israel in 1982 and was a member of the Costa Rica Legislative Assembly.

     

    Figueres’ brother José María Figueres also served as President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. In 2013, he co-founded the Global Ocean Commission, an initiative funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, the Adessium Foundation in the Netherlands, and U.S. philanthropic group Oceans 5. Former Greenpeace adviser Simon Reddy would serve as the commission’s executive secretary. [Source] María Figueres serves as chair to the Global Ocean Commission (since rebranded to Mission Ocean) with David Miliband (recently featured on the Global Optimism podcast series), and Trevor Manuel (one of South Africa’s longest serving Ministers of Finance, now Minister in the Presidency and head of the National Planning Commission). The original members of the Global Ocean Commission remain unchanged in 2019 with one member having deceased. Members include John Podesta (chair of the Center for American Progress and a former White House chief of staff and member of the ClimateWorks board of directors), Sri Mulyani Indrawati (managing director and chief operating officer of the World Bank Group), Pascal Lamy (former director-general of the World Trade Organisation) and other high profile individuals. María Figueres is also the co-founder of Ocean Unite. This is important, as the oceans are set to be privatized under the “New Deal For Nature” scheme.”

     

    Cory Morningstar (ibid)

    Again, anti communism, and all the usual fingerprints of U.S. imperial foreign policy. Its like six degrees of fascist separation. And yet I guarantee you will read her quotes in any number of articles on climate change and green new deals. For again, the template has always been, let the ruling class decide.

    Figueres is also a “distinguished member” of Conservation International — along with chairman for Northrop Grumman, and Al Gore, and oh, a former Walmart chairman. Not to mention Figueres married Konrad Von Ritter of the World Bank. But yeah, I’m sure Greta knew all this when she accepted the invite.

    Infantile and intoxicated with an almost masochistic love of authority. That is the average American today. The problem with the new (sic) environmentalism is that it is driven by western interests, and the narrative shaped by western interests. There is more than just a residual racism involved, it is there at the very most basic level. The narratives that are shaping today’s generation are largely the products of Langely and the DoD, and increasingly they feature a nostalgic rehabilitation of fascist style (at first) and now content. Fascism is becoming fashionable. Its cool. And the fascism of Trump is a bit like the McGuffin of this master narrative. Trump’s cartoon twitter fascism is decried while legitimate fascist principles are being more inextricably and quietly baked into daily life.

    The U.S. Imperialist state knows a global crises is coming. And probably the most acute area will be water. When there is a clear unanimity among global capitalists, one should see this as a symptom — and distrust the narrative. Whatever the exact degree of environmental harm due specifically to climate change, there is the undeniable desperation among the ruling elite. And an undeniable crises of pollution. If royalty and billionaires are flocking to exploit the Greta phenomenon (and to help shape that narrative), one should be highly suspicious of the solutions and strategies being offered. The fact that militarism and the packaging industry are relatively ignored in the presentation of the new green movement suggests more suspicion. Instead of *everyone* not using straws or single use plastic bags, how about just stop producing them.

    The ruling class today has doubled down on smearing communism and socialism. The manufacturing of new kitsch demonized bios of Mao or Ho Chi Minh or Thomas Sankara… or even the Black Panthers suggests fear. Substitute Ocasio-Cortez for real socialism, call Bernie a socialist, too, and then pretend much of the new faux left (infiltrated by crack pot LaRouche-ites and various forms of libertarianism) is oppositional and argue with it — the better to disappear real socialist literature (see Google and Facebook censorship). Praise the most innocuous apolitical philosophy (or just the Nazi metaphysics of Heidegger) of post structuralism while, again, disappearing the work of Marx or Lenin and discredit an Adorno or a Gramsci. Or, make sure such work is taken out of context. And in fine arts applaud identity based banality and then disappear the working class voice. And then keep prescribing mind numbing drugs. Reduce public education to simple training in compliance. And keep praising those in uniform. Always.

    “Thus madness reappears in the very posture which pretends to fight it.”

     

    – Guy Debord (Society of the Spectacle)

     

    “Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it.”

     

    – Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik (ibid)

    I keep reading about how unprecedented was Hurricane Dorian. Well, no. The legendary Galveston hurricane of 1900 remains the single greatest natural made tragedy in U.S. History. (and the second greatest was The Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, and then Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria along with the The Chenière Caminada Hurricane of 1893). The environmental crises is real. The marketing of it is not necessary. Why then does it exist.

    Once upon a time they wrote songs about human tragedies. Dylan might be the last songwriter to address tragedy.

    As Sam Collins wrote on the youtube video of Sin Killer Griffin’s recording of Wasn’t it a Mighty Storm, a song about the Galveston tragedy..courtesy of John Lomax…

    “there were many songs. But the one that has endured, deservingly, is called “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm” – which, from what we know, began life as a spiritual in the black church.

    At least the church seems to be the first place it surfaced into public view. Back in those days, almost every major public event inspired songs, which spread like text messages spread today, so the precise origin of songs is often hard to pin down.

    But “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm” fit perfectly into the black spiritual tradition – a tale of hardship and trouble and the sometimes inscrutable hand of God with which we troubled sinners in this hard mortal world simply had to live.

    Part of it went like this:

    Galveston had a seawall
    To keep the water down,
    But the high tide from the ocean
    Washed water over the town.
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm!
    Oh, wasn’t that a mighty storm with water!
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm
    That blew all the people away!
    Their trumpets gave them warning,
    “You’d better leave this place.”
    They never thought of leaving
    Till death looked them in the face.
    Death like a cruel master,
    As the wind began to blow,
    Rode out on a train of horses.
    Death calls, you gotta go.

    It was not a happy song. But then, it was not a happy event – and topical songs of the early 20th century thrived on unhappy events. There were literally hundreds of songs about the sinking of the Titanic, dozens about the killer Mississippi floods of 1927.

    The song was apparently first recorded in 1934 by Library of Congress folk song collector John Lomax on a visit to Darrington State Farm, a prison in Sandy Point, Tex.

    Lomax’s recording was by a preacher named Sin-Killer Griffin, with the prison inmates serving as his congregation.

    Sin-Killer was a well-known preacher, with a mesmerizing delivery and full confidence in the name he had given himself. Death was a subject on which he preached frequently.

    Relatively little is known about his life, which makes it all the more intriguing that back in 1889, in Denton, Tex., a “Sin-Killer Griffin” tried to organize black Americans to invade Africa.

    There is some evidence this was the same Sin-Killer Griffin who resurfaced before John Lomax 45 years later, though we have no way of knowing for sure.”

     

    [John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published by Mimesis International in 2016.]

    In Defense of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series

    In Defense of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series

    September 20, 2019

    By Hiroyuki Hamada

     

     

     

    Good investigative journalism doesn’t only reveal hidden mechanisms of our time; it also exposes those who refuse to confront the mechanisms. Remember when the late Bruce Dixon courageously and cogently called Bernie Sanders “a sheep dog candidate”? Remember when Eva Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley and others truly stood with Syrian people in opposing the western intervention? I do. Those who could not face the reality came up with all sorts of profanities and ill conceived theories to demonize the messengers.

    Cory Morningstar has been a dedicated environmental activist with a sound track record, who has closely worked with various NGOs. She is a mother. She is an avid gardener. She is an honest person with empathy, passion, love for people, love for our fellow creatures and love for nature. Her human character and sense of justice has culminated in her keen insights, observations and analyses. Her writings have inspired many of us to see the depth and scope of capitalist institutions as part of the social dynamics affecting our consciousness. Her meticulous pursuit of facts in illustrating mechanisms of our world evokes a sense of awe. She is a respected colleague in our struggle toward a better tomorrow.

    While her latest series, The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex Volume I and Volume II, has been wildly praised as a ground-breaking milestone in depicting the vast mechanism of exploitation and subjugation involving the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, it has been also maliciously misrepresented.

    One of the very common, yet blatantly erroneous criticisms, centers around the series’ focus on the young activist Greta Thunberg. Why do they attack the author as a child abuser? The series does not attack the 16-yearold activist at all. It points out those organizations and individuals which closely surround her in forming a momentum for their agenda. It delineates how the mobilization fits within the larger framework of corporate “environmentalism”, colonialism, global capitalism and imperialism. The trickery of the accusation that the work attacks a child and smears the youth-led activism follows the same pattern of lies and deceptions unfolding against serious journalism for some time. It reflects how the establishment successfully dominates our minds as it dominates the hierarchy of money and violence. The ruling class actually abuses children by making them pawns for lucrative business projects—such as carbon capture and storage, “renewable energy” schemes, carbon trading and so on (the series discusses why they do not work extensively). They trick the innocent youth into digging their own graves while making profits out of it. Remember people called you racist, when you pointed out President Obama’s drone killings? Remember people called you misogynist when you criticized Secretary Clinton’s colonial policies? Those who did didn’t mind brown people blown into pieces, and didn’t mind the colonial oppression of women in colonized lands. The capitalist hierarchy structurally forces us to embrace the values, norms and beliefs of the ruling class, as it trains people to climb the social ladder as expected. The momentum to accuse Morningstar’s work as a child abuse stems from the same psychological projection of accusers’ own complicity in consecrating a teenager as an invincible saint of their movement.

    Then there is the most typical argument to condone obvious institutional tendencies of inhumanity: “things aren’t always black and white”. Of course there are good environmentalists doing good work as well. We have gone through this in so many incarnations. When we point out police brutality, we hear “not all police officers are bad”. When we point out obvious racism among us: “not all white people are racist”. Those are certainly true. But could we also say “not all slave masters were evil”, “not all Kings and queens were evil”, “not all colonizers were evil”, and so on? Well, sure. But does that mean we can bring back slavery, feudalism or colonialism? No. Refusal to talk about the systematic inhumanity inflicted by the system tolerates the status quo as acceptable.

    And please do stop with the “but the movement gives us hope” nonsense. What happened when we were sold “hope”, “change” and “forward”, and received colonial wars, big bank bailouts, global surveillance and loss of legal protections during the Obama presidency? We got Donald Trump. When the system squeezes already oppressed people while shuttering their hope and making them embrace fear, people try their best to hold onto whatever they have. They embrace an illusion of salvation in authoritarian lies and hatred against “others”. It is extremely important that we strive to discuss such a mechanism among us instead of jumping into the same momentum. We must discuss the true hope of building a momentum moving beyond the lies and deceptions coming out of the destructive hierarchy.

    Morningstar states in The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent: The Political Economy of Non Profit Industrial Complex Volume II Act IV:

    “Consider that collectively, the populace appears to believe that not only is it possible to colonize another planet, but that we will do so in the not-so-distant future. This is incredible considering the massive odds of and colossal barriers to such an endeavour succeeding. Thus, it is alarming, that this same populace appears not to believe it is not possible to create new societies where necessity is detached from want (superfluous consumer goods). This begs the question – have we been fully conditioned to believe only those that represent hegemonic interests? It is a sound question considering the billionaires of the world are currently petrified of the capitalist system collapsing – while those oppressed by the capitalist system believe it cannot be dismantled. Yet we can dismantle institutions. We can dismantle the capitalist economic system devouring what remains of the natural world – but not if we identify with our oppressors and the very system that enslaves us. It is our natural world and her living natural communities that sustain us. Not industrial civilization – not technology.”

    Hopelessness and cynicism do creep up to justify the status quo. But we also must recognize that such a position does away with putting our efforts toward standing with the truly oppressed ones.

    Morningstar’s series meticulously documents how powerful global organizations seek ways to cultivate a consensus for their trajectory. And it carefully states, with facts, why the trajectory does not lead to achieving their promises—preventing climate change and other environmental calamities. The illustrated mechanism has been revealed over and over through their past crimes—the co-ordinated actions of industries, bankers, politicians, NGOs, UN, global financial institutions and media have culminated into colonial wars, cover-ups of nuclear disasters, regime change, and other corporate, colonial and imperial policies. There is nothing speculative, coincidental or conspiratorial about the series. It is based on careful research, honesty, courage to face the real issue and true love for humanity. It is again curiously indicative that those who engage in a conspiracy to mobilize the people according to their agendas accuse those who see through the attempt as “conspiracy theorist”. The use of the derogatory term invented by the US intelligence agency to label dissidents as tin-hat wearing nuts jobs hardly proves their legitimacy.

    Moreover, I must say that it is extremely odd and disingenuous that the series has been portrayed as a refusal to take any action, instead insisting on ideological purity. Such an attack has been coming from those who have been pointing out the same moneyed network in forwarding corporatism, colonialism and militarism by manipulating popular opinions. What is the difference between opposing destructive colonial wars and opposing colonization of nature/co-optation of activism? More specifically, what prompts some of them to say “what is your solution?”, “we can’t wait for capitalism to be overthrown to solve climate change” and so on. The obvious falsehood of such an angle is the stark absence of solutions within their own “green momentum”. Morningstar’s research does not talk about the necessity of establishing a communist statehood or overthrowing capitalism in order to solve the impending crisis. It simply states facts in a cohesive manner. Consequently, it certainly indicates the systematic structural issues presented by the hierarchy of money and violence. The research clearly names individuals and organizations that are involved in mobilizing the population in installing government policies that are lucrative to the associated corporations and beneficial to the imperial framework. Capitalist hegemony does present itself as a source of predicaments of our time. But is that new to us?

    Needless to say, for those of us who believe in the Marxist perspective, the solution amounts to a structural transformation of our society into one that doesn’t monopolize the means of production for the ruling class.  Economic activities must be subservient to harmonious existence of the people, environment and other species. And our social interactions must be under a control of such aims, instead of financial and social power of the ruling class. But make no mistake that that is simply an ultimate direction. Just as we voice our objections against any form of inhumanity regardless of our systematic problem, when we see certain environmental policies being subservient to the corporate agenda, likely to result in worsened conditions for the people, we discuss them. There shouldn’t be anything different about pointing out the US military aggression and the fallacy of US environmental policies, especially when they are forwarded by the same western establishment. When we find the carbon capture schemes to be disingenuous, for example, we simply point it out. We demand an answer to why corporate “solutions” are upheld as people’s “solutions”. And people who buy into false narratives should be noted as not credible leaders in people’s movement. So the question “what is your solution?” really should be directed at those who subscribe to those erroneous “solutions.” They need to be asked how those solutions would be a worthy cause at the first place, and why cogent criticisms against implementations of destructive schemes cannot be embraced because “we can’t wait for a socialist revolution”.

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

    Please do read The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg—for Consent: The Political Economy of Non Profit Industrial Complex Volume I and II. It gives us an excellent starting point in learning how to build a better tomorrow for all of us.

     

    [Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. Exhibiting widely in gallery and non-commercial settings alike, Hamada has been the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, twice received New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in sculpture, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Alongside his career as an artist, his writing can be found at various outlets online.]

     

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

    May 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

     

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

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

     

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

    Background

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

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

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

    Training the XR Local Coordinators

    Above: Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam

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

    Hallam:

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

     

    Pacifism as Pathology

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

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

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

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

    +++

    The Elites in Service to Capital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

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

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

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

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

    Above: Track 0, Twitter

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

    Above: Track 0 highlights, September 24, 2014

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

    +++

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

    +++

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

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

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

    We Mean Business – Top Ten Climate Change Influencers, Twitter

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

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

    Emotion – Not Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Emotion To Mask Information: BioEnergy Carbon Capture Storage

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

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

    Global CCS Institute, May 2, 2019, Twitter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

    Emotion to Mask Information: The Financialization of Nature

     

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

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

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

    There were no protests.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    +++

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

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

     

    Further resources:

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

    Climate Capitalists, by Winter Oak Press

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

    Video: Selling Extinction, by Prolekult

    Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

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

    WATCH: Selling Extinction

    WATCH: Selling Extinction

    Prolekult Films

    Published April 26, 2019

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

     

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

    REBELLION EXTINCTION: A CAPITALIST SCAM TO HIJACK OUR RESISTANCE

    Winter Oak

    April 24, 2019

     

    Special report

    XR logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    xrbusiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

    XR-sebbeloe
    Seb Beloe

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

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

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

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

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

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    Amy Clarke

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

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

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

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

    XR-paulpolman
    Paul Polman

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

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

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

    It’s that c-word word again!

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

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

    XR-samer-salty
    Samer Salty

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

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

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

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

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

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

    XR-heliotropy

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

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

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

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

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

    XR-corporateimpactx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Extinction Rebellion or Socialist Revolution

    Architects for Social Housing

    April 24, 2019

    By Simon Elmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Extinction-rebellion-peaceful

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

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

    not_one_day_more-11

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

    Extinction Rebellion: Socialist Revolution

     

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