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Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees

July 18, 2019

 

Trees, GE Trees & Nature to Save Capitalism from Itself: New Report

Raleigh exhibit depicts gasoline from genetically engineered trees. photo: Langelle/GJEP

Trees to Solve the World’s Problems?

From Genetically Engineered Trees for the Bioeconomy – to the Trillion Tree Proposal and Business for Nature

Traducción al Español

Tradução para o Português

By Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project

 

This report examines events and research publicized between 23 June and 4 July 2019 that discuss the mass-use of trees to enable the unsustainable lifestyles of the world’s top 1% in the face of looming ecological catastrophe: from trees genetically engineered to feed the “green” manufacture of energy, plastics and chemicals; the planting of trillions of trees to reduce global atmospheric carbon levels; and “reforms” to the economic system to allow future profit-making under the guise of biodiversity protection.

The three events where these proposals were brought out were the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s 2019 Tree Biotechnology Conference 23-29 June at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, The Global Tree Restoration Potential, a new study published on 4 July in Science, and the launch of Business for Nature initiatives in China and Norway on 2 July.

 

IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) held its biennial 2019 Tree Biotechnology Conference over 23-29 June at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. This was the first Tree Biotechnology Conference held by IUFRO since June 2017 when their conference in Concepción, Chile was met with days of protests and disruptions by Mapuche activists, students and others. The 2019 Tree Biotech conference was originally announced to take place in Curitiba, Brazil. It appears that the conference was suddenly moved to Raleigh, North Carolina because of the protests at the last Tree Biotech conference in Chile and the fact that Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), has a long history of being militantly anti-GE tree. [1] NC State was likely chosen as it is the hub for many different efforts pursuing and promoting GE trees, including use of gene-editing on trees, and researching new ways to sell GE trees to a resistant public–a major theme of this year’s Tree Biotechnology Conference.

The effects of the 2017 protests could be felt at this year’s Tree Biotechnology Conference, which included constant police presence both inside and outside of the venue, pleas to attendees to consider taking over the top three leadership roles in the event, and confusion as to when or where the next conference might take place, and even whether to continue to use the controversial term “biotechnology.” The lack of public presence by some of the most outspoken leaders in the tree biotechnology field and leading GE tree company ArborGen, further underscored the anxiety of the event.

While the future of the Tree Biotech Conferences is uncertain, what was not at question was the desire by industry to use specially designed GE trees as a feedstock for the future “bioeconomy”, which was addressed in a closing series of presentations. Unlocking the sugars in trees, necessary to transform them into fuels, plastics, chemicals and other products, however, has proven a major challenge. This was reflected in the rising emphasis at the 2019 conference on the genetic engineering technique known as CRISPR. The ecological and social implications of the massive increase in demand for wood to fuel this “bioeconomy” or the risks associated with the GE trees involved, were not addressed.

Rodolphe Barrangou presents on CRISPR Photo:Langelle/GJEP

Rodolphe Barrangou, NC State professor and editor of The CRISPR Journal gave the opening keynote for the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference, highlighting his personal efforts to bring CRISPR and other gene editing techniques into the forestry sector. He referred to human history as “BC” – Before CRISPR” vs “AD – after the death of the other recombinant technologies.” He also pointed out that “the [CRISPR commercialization] bottleneck [is] acceptance by regulators and society.”

To solve this problem, he envisioned a CRISPR gene editing process that would achieve a “non-transgenic…non-GMO [regulatory] approval.” Barrangou feared that if people understood that CRISPR is still genetic engineering, it would be the downfall of CRISPR’s commercial success—and make it harder for his new CRISPR startup focusing on developing CRISPR for forest trees to become profitable.

CRISPR would use artificial intelligence and machine learning in forest trees, he explained, to predict what genomes, sequences and pathways to “knock out, turn on, turn off,” in order to find the relevant traits of interest to industry. He did, however, admit that CRISPR scientists are “nowhere near understanding tree genomics as well as we understand human genomics due to the fact that tree genomes are so much bigger and more complex.”

But the excitement around CRISPR as a new tool to genetically engineer trees was evident at the conference, which included several other presentations on CRISPR in trees, including use of CRISPR to modify tree branching in order to grow trees much more densely in plantations. If implemented, this would have serious repercussions for communities and biodiversity near the plantations, as the existing problems with forced displacements, fresh water loss and inundation with agrotoxins like fertilizers and pesticides would be greatly exacerbated.

This lack of concern about the larger implications and risks of GE trees by researchers has led to decades of global opposition, a fact which was discussed during a lengthy panel session on “Societal Acceptance of Forest Biotechnology.” The session was focused on ways to encourage the public to accept GE trees. It opened with a presentation by Jared Westbrook, Director of Science of the American Chestnut Foundation, on using GE to restore the American chestnut—documented as being a “test case” to make GE trees more palatable to the public. The session was focused on ways to encourage the public to accept GE trees. It opened with a presentation by Jared Westbrook, Director of Science of the American Chestnut Foundation, on using GE to restore the American chestnut—documented as being a “test case” to make GE trees more palatable to the public. The second presentation in the session discussed the findings of a survey by Mark Needham conducted to see how to convince the public of the benefits of using GE trees in forest restoration schemes, especially the GE American chestnut. The panel discussion that followed included participation by Westbrook, Needham, GE tree pioneer Ron Sederoff and a representative from GE tree company FuturaGene. The conversation among the panelists and the audience was very candid about the worries around public opinion, the potential for increased regulations on CRISPR, and the ban on GE trees by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The general malaise of the conference continued at its closing dinner, normally a gala celebration, which was without enthusiasm and repeated the pleas for willing volunteers to take over the organizing of future activities.

 

Trillion Tree Planting Proposal

Less than one week after the close of the IUFRO Tree Biotech Conference, a study was published in Science titled The Global Tree Restoration Potential, projecting the ability to mitigate climate change by the mass-planting of trillions of trees across the globe. [2]

The study, developed by Crowther Labs and ETH Zürich, with the help of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, was hailed as a miracle cure for climate change—the surefire solution to allow dominant culture to continue uninterrupted by ecological collapse. The study, however, is fraught with unanswered questions and serious red flags. One major flag is the study’s reliance on the UN FAO’s definition of forests, which is any area 10% covered by trees, and does not exclude monoculture tree plantations–despite repeated calls by forest protection groups to do so. According to the World Rainforest Movement, the FAO definition “discards other life-forms as well as the biological and cultural diversity that define a forest while ignoring the social and environmental impacts of plantations.” [3]

What this means is that the trillion trees being promoted could easily include vast monocultures of non-native trees, or even GE trees, due to the FAO’s intentionally overbroad definition of forests. [4] This fact is confirmed by a decision made at the 2003 UN Climate Conference in Milan that GE trees could be used in forest carbon plantations.

Another serious flag is the involvement in this study of researchers linked to the UN’s program to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). [5] The REDD program has been actively opposed by Indigenous Peoples and forest dependent communities since its inception. REDD schemes take over forested lands to “protect” (and sell) the carbon they store—and have resulted in the forced displacement of communities that live in those forests. [6]

Because the trillion tree proposal repeatedly refers to generating tree cover “in the absence of”, or “with minimal” human activity on 1.7 billion hectares, it could easily result in mass-displacements of rural, poor and Indigenous communities from those lands.

An additional problem with the study comes from its math. The authors admit that the 300 gigatons of carbon projected to be stored by these trillion trees will not be realized until the trees are mature, which could take decades. [7] Meanwhile 10Gt of C02 are being emitted annually. [8] Particularly in boreal forest zones, a major emphasis of the study, trees grow very, very slowly. Add to this the study’s lack of interest in the increasing rate of destruction of existing critical forests that is occurring—such as the 88% rise in deforestation rates in Brazil’s Amazon over the past year [9] –and it reads more like a fairy tale than a serious recommendation for mitigating climate change.

 

Trees as the Engine for a Green Future of Consumption

While seemingly at odds, both the Crowther Lab study on vastly expanding global tree cover to store carbon, and the proposal by GE tree researchers to vastly increase demand for trees by genetically engineering them to replace fossil fuels for the industrial production of everything from electricity to plastics, fall in the same false worldview where the mass-use of trees becomes the path to a “clean, green future”. Both are, at their essence, cynical and opportunistic schemes to avoid real, fundamental social, economic and political change in order to enable overconsumption as usual in the face of overwhelming evidence that rapid and fundamental changes at all levels of society must be undertaken—a call that has been taken up by the National Academies of Sciences [10] and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [11]

 

Business for Nature?

Along with these false solutions to climate change emerged another subterfuge to use forests and the natural world to accelerate profit-making under a “clean, green” veneer. On 2 July, a Business for Nature scheme was announced simultaneously at a World Economic Forum meeting in China and Norway’s Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity.

The idea is not new. In 2008 in Bonn, Germany, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) launched its own Business and Biodiversity Initiative that included models for marketing environmental services, the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), and a new Green Development Mechanism. [12]

The Business for Nature initiative, however, is renewing the scheme using the urgency of ecological crises, as evidenced by its website headline Nature Loss is Threatening Our Economies–Urgent Actions and Collaborations are Needed. [13]

The opening of the site lists statistics on the “massive loss of nature” while studiously avoiding any indication as to the causes, which have been driven by the very belief underpinning the initiative, that humans are somehow separate from “nature.” The site highlights the Global Risk Report which “identified environmental risks as among the greatest systemic risks to our global economy,” adding that “only nuclear war would be more destructive.”

In the twisted logic of the Business for Nature scheme, “nature protection” is unironically promoted as “essential for prosperous business,” including the activities that have led us to this ecological crisis–i.e. ongoing natural resource extraction.

The grand finale of their proposal highlights the “significant opportunities” (massive profits) to be made from protecting the “ecosystem services” of nature:

“$2 trillion in opportunities in food and land system transformation alone

$22.6 trillion opportunity for water infrastructure by 2050

THE OCEAN ECONOMY ESTIMATED TO BE WORTH $2.5 TRILLION PER ANNUM”

In its pledge to forests, it touts a massive ‘reforestation’ campaign, along with a commitment to REDD, and the “elimination of deforestation by 2030” which would magically be achieved with no plan to reduce demand for wood products.

In fact, the future of “green business,” fueled by a bioeconomy, requires a huge increase in wood consumption.

 

CRISPR to Manufacture the Perfect (Unregulated) GE Tree?

And this is where the Tree Biotechnology Conference, The Global Tree Restoration Potential and Business for Nature may overlap is through the genetic engineering technology known as CRISPR. [14]

The overall impression from the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference was that scientists and industry are banking on emerging technologies like CRISPR and a rising demand for wood products and designer GE trees to meet the future market for forest health, climate mitigation and the bioeconomy.

Would CRISPR be used as part of the trillion tree effort? Will it be used to genetically engineer trees to be specially adapted to particular biomes? Or to withstand climate change, insect attacks, or other stresses?

There are uncomfortable connections between the work to create genetically engineered CRISPR trees and the Trillion Tree study. ETH Zürich in Switzerland, home of the Crowther Lab that led the study, for example, is considered one of the best biotechnology schools in Europe. In March it awarded the Richard R. Ernst Gold Medal to Emmanuelle Charpentier, one of the scientists who discovered the CRISPR gene editing tool, and sits on the Editorial Board of The CRISPR Journal with Barrangou. And Crowther likes to boast that his lab includes experts in geospacial mapping, remote sensing and genetic techniques. It is easy to see where genetically engineered CRISPR trees could fit into the scheme to cover the planet in carbon sucking GE trees that could be then cut down and pulped, chipped or digested into sugars to feed the insatiable and unsustainable demand for building materials, energies, plastics, etc. The demand which has fed the global economy and has helped lead us to the brink of disaster.

 

Except for the European Regulation on Gene Editing

During the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference panel on societal acceptance of GE trees, researcher Wout Boerjan, of the Ghent Institute in Belgium, a long-time campaigner for the deregulation of GE trees, discussed his fears about the EU decision to treat gene edited trees and other organisms the same as other GMOs. “If gene editing falls under the GM regulation, many new companies will not start. There are many new ideas based on CRISPR/CAS and they can only develop into a company if it’s not going to be so expensive to bring these products on the market. So, if you have a new edited plant and you need to go through the regulatory system, which is extremely expensive, these small companies cannot afford it and the product will not come to the market, so the whole innovation in Europe will just fall flat.” [15].

Miron Abramson, of GE tree company FuturaGene, responded that he was less concerned about gene editing perceived as GMO, “So we will treat it as GE and I don’t see any disadvantage or advantage in this case, but just another tool.”

 

A Voice of Experience Offers a Word of Caution

But the Tree Biotechnology conference was not without its cautionary voices. On the societal acceptance panel, Professor Ron Sederoff, considered the father of tree biotechnology, remarked that, “There are people who are kept up at night worrying about this technology and I might be one of them. One opponent of GE technology, David Suzuki, makes an argument that is widely considered that science shouldn’t be trusted with new technology. That science does things that are inherently dangerous and we don’t know what to expect, and I think that’s the core of his argument. But I agree that that’s right. There are people who simply have a fear of new technology, and I think they have a good reason. Looking back on human history, there has been misuse of every major technology that has been invented…We haven’t even thought about the potential for the misuse of the technology that we’re talking about. But I think it’s there…I think that there are worries, and I think that CRISPR, for example, poses a threat because it makes things [that exist outside of the law] and if you could do anything you want to and you were malevolently inclined, you might be able to take pathogens that affect people or ecology or forests and [use CRISPR to combine their traits] and make new things. I think there are things to worry about.” [16]

 

Transformation not Reformation: Join the Resurgence!

Global Justice Ecology Project (globaljusticeecology.org), coordinating body of the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, (stopgetrees.org) is issuing this report and critique of the 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference, the Trillion Tree Campaign and Business for Natureinitiative because of our commitment to expose ecologically and socially destructive false solutions that enable business as usual. This is a step in our work to help create a movement that can fundamentally transform political, social and economic systems in order to address the multiple ecological crises threatening the future survival of humans and millions of other species.

For this reason, we are also co-organizing The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence, 11-14 October in the Shawnee National Forest of Southern Illinois. This strategic action session, open to forest and climate activists, organizers and others is aimed at uncovering root causes of the ecological crises we face and developing new strategies to address them. (For info: forestclimateconvergence.org)

To protect forests and communities from the impacts of climate catastrophe, we must actively opposeunjust market-based and profit-oriented false solutions to climate change, such as those described above. If what is proposed as a solution to catastrophic climate change jeopardizes other people or ecosystems it cannot claim to be just or sustainable.

To keep forests intact, we must fundamentally transform the dominant political and economic systems and transition to small-scale, local and traditional systems.

We can clearly see the result of the dominant political and economic system in the form of climate and other crises, including loss of fresh water and arable land, ocean collapse, mass-extinction and extreme weather, as well as escalating human rights abuses including forced displacements, migrations and genocide.

These systems cannot be simply reformed. We must organize to fundamentally confront and transform them. Even the generally conservative National Academy of Sciences agrees. A paper they published on 6 August 2018 concludes, “[A] Stabilized Earth trajectory requires deliberate management of humanity’s relationship with the rest of the Earth System if the world is to avoid crossing a planetary threshold. We suggest that a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies is required.” [10]

For information on how to join this effort for systemic transformation, visit The Resurgence: 2019 North American Forest & Climate Movement Convergence http://forestclimateconvergence.org

 

NOTES

[1] CTNBio Meeting to Approve GE Trees Cancelled – FuturaGene Taken Over (2015) https://stopgetrees.org/victory-ctnbio-occupied-meeting-cancelled-no-approval-ge-trees/ and see Interview with a Militant of the MST (2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GeqRRM7A5s&list=PLJIqsEBkCVM2edxllRUp2a0zTwPI0CMjq&index=4&t=561s

[2] The Global Tree Restoration Potential (2019) https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

[3] For decades, World Rainforest Movement and others have demanded that the FAO change its forest definition, which “reduces a forest to any area covered by trees. In doing so, the FAO definition discards other life-forms as well as the biological, cyclical and cultural diversity that define a forest in its continuous interconnection with forest-dependent communities. FAO’s reductionist definition also allows the companies behind tens of millions of industrial fast-growing plantations to claim their monocultures are ‘planted forests’. Countries’ forest statistics thus count these fast-growing industrial monocultures as ‘forests’, in spite of the well-documented social and environmental impacts such plantations have caused around the world.” In 2009, WRM explained, “the definition of forests is not an academic or linguistic discussion: it is a political issue having serious social and environmental consequences at the ground level. Defining plantations as forests empowers the corporate sector – particularly plantation companies – and disempowers local communities opposing them to protect their livelihoods. The FAO continues playing this role by refusing to change its definition.” https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Compilaci%C3%B3n-21-de-Marzo-2018-EN.pdf

[4] Use of the FAO definition means that “reforestation” efforts could easily become tree monocultures, or even GE tree plantations, since there is no official difference between them. While the Crowther Lab distances itself from the question of monocultures in its online follow up [https://www.crowtherlab.com/tree-restoration-potential-qa/] use of the FAO definition of forests means monocultures cannot be avoided. And at the FAO’s World Forestry Conference in 2009 in Buenos Aires, sessions addressing reforestation, afforestation, forest restoration, sustainable forest management, and net zero deforestation all advocated the planting of tree monocultures.[http://climate-connections.org/2009/10/23/world-forestry-congress-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-plantations/]

[5] National Forest Monitoring and Information Systems for a transparent and truthful REDD+ process (FAO) https://www.researchgate.net/project/National-Forest-Monitoring-and-Information-Systems-for-a-transparent-and-truthful-REDD-process-FAO

[6] Sky Protector Briefing Paper https://skyprotector.org/2018/08/19/sky-protector-briefing-paper-8-2/ also see the film A Darker Shade of Green, REDD Alert and the Future of Forests https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPFPUhsWMaQ and

REDD-Monitor’s Offsetting fossil fuel emissions with tree planting and ‘natural climate solutions’: science, magical thinking, or pure PR? https://redd-monitor.org/2019/07/04/offsetting-fossil-fuel-emissions-with-tree-planting-and-natural-climate-solutions-science-magical-thinking-or-pure-pr/

[7] “Of course, the carbon capture associated with global restoration could not be instantaneous because it would take several decades for forests to reach maturity. Nevertheless, under the assumption that most of this additional carbon was sourced from the atmosphere, reaching this maximum restoration potential would reduce a considerable proportion of the global anthropogenic carbon burden (~300 GtC) to date.” (1). The global tree restoration potential https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

[8] According to the Global Carbon Project: https://www.co2.earth/global-co2-emissions

[9] Brazil: huge rise in Amazon destruction under Bolsonaro, figures showThe Guardian, 3 July 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/03/brazil-amazon-rainforest-deforestation-environment

[10] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2018: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocenehttps://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

[11] “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/

[12] The Green Shock Doctrine, p. 4 https://globaljusticeecology.org/green-shock-doctrine/

[13] Business for Nature website: https://businessfornature.org/

[14] CRISPR is a gene editing technique in which CRISPR and the RNA segments and enzymes it produces are used to identify and modify specific DNA sequences in the genome of other organisms https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/CRISPR

[15] 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference session on “Societal Acceptance of Tree Biotechnology” (Quote found at 49:47)https://mediasite.wolfware.ncsu.edu/online/Play/f9f72a14f48f4b4bb5a58222979e4afd1d?catalog=b9038d70a4ff49dbaab35ddc1a25705821

[16] 2019 IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference session on “Societal Acceptance of Tree Biotechnology” (Quote found at 1:28:04)https://mediasite.wolfware.ncsu.edu/online/Play/f9f72a14f48f4b4bb5a58222979e4afd1d?catalog=b9038d70a4ff49dbaab35ddc1a25705821

 

[The Campaign to STOP GE Treesis a national and international alliance of organizations that have united toward the goal of prohibiting the ecologically and socially devastating release of genetically engineered trees into the environment. Global Justice Ecology Project coordinates, administrates and fundraises for the campaign. World Rainforest Movement, based in Uruguay, is the Southern Contact for the Campaign and has materials in English, Spanish and Portuguese.]

 

The Global Goals to Further Corporate Capture Presents: The United Nations Foundation Partnerships

The Global Goals to Further Corporate Capture Presents: The United Nations Foundation Partnerships

Wrong Kind of Green

June 18, 2019

 

 

 

“It’s about industrial transformation on a scale we’ve never seen before.” – Sharan Burrow, B Team, International Trade Union Confederation

 

 

+++

“For this reason, the UN Security Council must be abolished. Rather than fostering peace among nations, this body has promoted wars and invasions by imperial powers in their quest for the natural resources available in the invaded countries. Instead of a Security Council, today we have an insecurity council of imperial wars….

 

The time has come for the nations of the South.

 

In the past, we were colonized and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North.

 

Today, with every step we take for our liberation, the empires grow decadent and begin to crumble.

 

However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is also for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated.

 

Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory and insane capitalism.”

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, gave this talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia, on June 14, 2014.

+++

 

UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION PARTNERS

Disney
Royal Dutch Shell
The Nike Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Johnson & Johnson
Vodafone Foundation
Walgreens
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
BNY Mellon
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
Stephen Curry

Below you will find a list of our larger financial partners since 2016.

BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL DONORS

  • Government of Australia
  • Government of Canada
  • Government of Denmark
  • Government of Finland
  • Government of Germany
  • Government of Norway
  • Government of Sweden
  • Government of the Netherlands
  • Government of the United Arab Emirates UAE + Sharjah Media Centre
  • Government of the United Kingdom
  • Government of the United States
  • The World Bank

 

  • FOUNDATIONS AND NON-PROFITS

    • Akila & S. Somesegar Family Foundation
    • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
    • American Red Cross
    • Angélica Fuentes Foundation
    • Ariadne Getty Foundation
    • Barr Foundation
    • Benito & Frances C. Gaguine Foundation
    • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    • Bloomberg Family Foundation
    • Boston Foundation
    • California Community Foundation
    • CARE International
    • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
    • Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    • ClimateWorks Foundation
    • Dalio Philanthropies
    • David & Lucile Packard Foundation
    • DOEN Foundation
    • Ed and Mary Schreck Foundation
    • Ford Foundation
    • Fuserna Foundation
    • GAVI
    • Hinduja Foundation
    • J.C.C. Fund
    • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
    • Junior Chamber International
    • Kathryn B McQuade Foundation
    • Keisuke Honda
    • KR Foundation
    • Lear Family Foundation
    • Lions Club International Foundation
    • MAC Aids Fund
    • MCJ Amelior Foundation
    • Mickey Ross Endowment
    • Muirfield Foundation
    • National Philanthropic Trust
    • Naveen and Anu Jain Foundation
    • New Venture Fund
    • Nielsen Foundation
    • Osprey Foundation
    • Pivotal Ventures
    • Project Perpetual
    • Renaissance Charitable Foundation
    • Rexel Foundation
    • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    • Rockefeller Foundation
    • SCA
    • Seton Hall University
    • Silicon Valley Community Foundation
    • Simon Estes Foundation
    • Skoll Foundation
    • Stephen and Ayesha Curry Family Foundation
    • Summit Foundation
    • Swedish Postcode Foundation
    • TE Connectivity Foundation
    • The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries
    • Tides Foundation
    • Turner Foundation
    • Vergstiftelsen Foundation
    • Wallace Global Fund
    • Wellcome Trust
    • WestWind Foundation
    • William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
    • Women’s National Basketball Players Association Foundation
    • World Lung Foundation

  • CORPORATIONS

    • Abraaj Group
    • Al Ansari Exchange LLC
    • Al-Dabbagh Group
    • Alibaba Group
    • Amazon Web Services
    • American Institute of Architects
    • AOL Charitable Foundation
    • Aptive
    • Astellas USA Foundation
    • Aviva
    • Bank of America
    • Barclays
    • Beach House Group
    • Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD)
    • Bioré
    • Blackbaud
    • BNY Mellon
    • Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)
    • Caterpillar Foundation
    • Cemex
    • Chevron
    • Dell
    • Diamonds Unleashed
    • Dietel Partners
    • Dogan Holdings
    • Edelman Public Relations
    • Eli Lilly
    • Ericsson
    • Essity
    • Exxon Mobil Foundation
    • Fabletics
    • Gap Inc.
    • Goldman Sachs
    • Google
    • Grundfos
    • GSK
    • GSMA
    • Guggenheim Partners
    • H&M
    • IFC Asset Management Company
    • Inmarsat Global Limited
    • Investec
    • Johnson & Johnson
    • JP Morgan
    • Kaiser Permanente
    • Kenneth Cole Productions
    • Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base
    • Lululemon
    • Mac AIDS Fund
    • MAM USA Corporation
    • Manitou Group
    • Mann Global Health
    • Mars, Incorporated
    • Mashable
    • Mastercard
    • McKinsey & Co.
    • Merck & Co.
    • MetLife
    • MixLids
    • MMG Limited
    • Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding (GIFT)
    • Nestlé
    • Newman’s Own Foundation
    • Nike Foundation
    • Nike, Inc.
    • Oath
    • Olam International
    • Ooredoo
    • Parachute
    • Pearson Education Inc.
    • Pfizer Inc.
    • Philips
    • Porter Novelli
    • Proctor & Gamble
    • PwC
    • Q22
    • Qualcomm
    • Royal Dutch Shell
    • Safaricom
    • Samsung
    • SAP Public Services
    • Sumitomo Chemical
    • Swarovski
    • Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
    • Target
    • TE Connectivity (TE Foundation)
    • Temasek
    • Terminix
    • The Coca-Cola Company
    • The Kellogg Company
    • The Walt Disney Company
    • Unilever
    • United States Liability Insurance Corporation
    • UPS Foundation
    • Vestergaard
    • Viacom
    • Vodafone Americas Foundation
    • Walgreens Boots Alliance
    • White & Case LLP
    • WME
    • Yara International
    • Zhong Yi Corporation

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

Tim Hayword 

April 29, 2019

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

land-savings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

WATCH: Quiet Storm – Technology & Social Control

WATCH: Quiet Storm – Technology & Social Control

sub.Media

Published April 2, 2019

 

“We’re on the brink of a new era. In the coming years and decades, rapid advances in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, data analysis, nanotech, quantum computing, bio-engineering and 3D-printing promise to drastically restructure our societies – much as the steam-powered engine and personal computer did during earlier phases of capitalist development. Coming waves of automation are expected to eliminate the majority of current job categories, raising the spectre of widespread unemployment and the potential for newer, more sophisticated forms of economic servitude and social control. These transformations will take place under the watchful eyes of a high-tech surveillance state, aided by a new generation of AI-driven facial recognition software, and the further proliferation of networked ‘smart’ devices that record nearly everything we say or do.

Many of the technologies of tomorrow are being designed today in the universities and corporate R&D labs of Shenzen, Singapore and Silicon Valley, by scientists and engineers working at the behest of military contractors and multi-billion dollar tech companies. Claims that ‘technology is neutral’ ring hollow in a world dominated by powerful states and capitalist social relations. It’s clear to anyone keeping score that those who control and shape technological development and mass production are best situated to reap the benefits. But at the end of the day, capital and the state don’t hold a monopoly on innovation. There are many anarchists also working on building new technologies to help thwart our enemies and unlock new paths of resistance. And despite what you may have heard, the master’s tools can be used to dismantle the master’s home – provided the person swinging the hammer knows where to aim.” [Source: sub.Media] [Running time: 33:26]

 

 

Extractivism is Winning and the Green New Deal is the Perfect Distraction

Wrong Kind of Green

February 6, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

 

A Game of Cosponsors

There are 4 cosponsors of the Green New Deal resolution (H.Res 109) in the minority member list of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. They are Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Ed Markey. [Source]

There are, at the time of writing, 7 Democrat cosponsors of the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (S. 383). They are Sheldon Whitehouse, Tammy Duckworth, Tina Smith, Thomas Carper, Brian Shatz and Chris Van Hollen. [Source]

On Wednesday February 27, 2019 the Environment and Public Works committee met to discuss the USE IT Act and hear testimony from 3 guest panellists from energy companies and NGOs.

The three panellists were Paul Sukut – General Manager & CEO, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Steve Oldham – CEO, Carbon Engineering, and Kurt Waltzer – Managing Director, Clean Air Task Force. The Clean Air Task Force are part of the Carbon Capture Coalition which was formerly called the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. Video is available of the committee proceedings. [Source]

While Republican and Democrat cosponsors asked questions of the invited guests, no questions were forthcoming from the 4 cosponsors of the Green New Deal. Indeed, having not seen an attendance list I can’t say for certain they were even there at the meeting.

Committee Chair John Barrasso issued a transcript of his comments at the February 27, EPW meeting. Among the comments he points out that in the previous congress the EPW committee had “voice” voted the now reintroduced USE IT Act “unanimously”. This would mean that if the 4 GND cosponsors were also in attendance at the “voice vote” they supported the USE IT Act through the committee stage after it’s first introduction. Again, I can’t say they were there for certain at the first “voice vote”. [Source]

A Significant Act

In my previous blog post for Wrong Kind of Green I provided some legislative, labor, and philanthropic context for understanding what the Green New Deal is designed to allow to pass while it becomes a distraction from real legislative efforts. It follows from my 2016 piece on “clean energy’ in which I argued that there will be little change to the ‘all of the above’ strategy hidden behind Obama’s Clean Power Plan. My consistent focus has been on the expression of political will made clear by many largely ignored processes. [Source]

The USE IT Act is significant because it follows up on the 45Q tax credit expansions included in the FUTURE Act 2018, but passed into law through the Bipartisan Budget Bill 2018 (Sec. 41119). 45Q tax credits reward coal and gas burners for scrubbing their CO2 emissions and transporting them to depleted oil fields where the liquefied CO2 is used in a process called miscible flooding to plump up the hard to extract remnant oil. Companies extracting oil from depleted fields are rewarded when they can show that CO2 has been incorporated into the rock matrix in place of the extracted oil. CO2 enhanced oil recovery with geological storage represents a qualitative shift in extractivist codependence providing a response to oil industry demand for giant scale CO2 sources. [Source]

Below are some of Senator Barrasso’s remarks from the February 27, 2019 EPW committee meeting.

The FUTURE Act extended and expanded the tax credit for using and storing carbon dioxide.

 

The Clean Air Task Force called the FUTURE Act ‘one of the most important bills for reducing global warming pollution in the last two decades.

 

The extension and expansion of the so-called 45Q tax credit through the FUTURE Act has expanded public interest about how we capture and use carbon dioxide.

 

This Congress, I have continued to focus on ways to expedite and expand the use of carbon capture.

 

That begins with the USE IT Act.

 

Last Congress, we unanimously reported the legislation out of Committee by voice vote.

 

This Congress we want it signed into law.

 

America should reduce emissions through innovation, not punishing government regulations.

 

The USE IT Act advances that goal. [Source]

The comments and responses to questions by the panellists in attendance at the EPW committee showed the significance of the passing of 45Q expansions through the Bipartisan Budget Bill 2018. The video of the committee meeting is well worth watching. [Source]

“Frontline and Vulnerable Communities” are Forgotten

The Green New Deal resolution emphasises the importance of “justice and equity” for “frontline and vulnerable communities”. The focus for GND authors is often on foreseen climate impacts, but consideration should be given to existing vulnerable communities and the known destructive effects of fossil fuel extraction, transport, refining, and burning. By remaining silent on actual legislation like the USE IT Act, by not attending or staying silent at key committee meetings, by ignoring the stated outcomes supported by unions and other Labor organisations working in mining, pipeline building, refining, and transport, and by ignoring the stated object of the Carbon Capture Coalition, the 4 cosponsors of the Green New Deal and their friends in the Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats PAC, Brand New Congress PAC, Data for Progress think tank, and New Consensus think tank are abrogating their stated responsibility to “frontline and vulnerable communities”. How can an extended life for fossil fuels be goods in any way? How can a plan that that continues our rampant consumer culture founded on the creation of externalities in the global south, ensures the continued destruction of aquifers, the poisoning of rivers, the removal of mountain tops, the capture of vast quantities of water for extraction, and all the other ways we already know that fossil fuels destroy life and health be a good thing?

Silence on Labor and CCUS

Sheldon Whitehouse is the Democrat’s strongest champion of the USE IT Act. In his comments at the February 27 EPW meeting he made a point of mentioning that the AFL-CIO are supportive of the USE IT Act and the 45Q tax credit expansions. The AFL-CIO are yet to make a public statement on the Green New Deal, but 4 of their fellow labor organisations from the Carbon Capture Coalition were enjoined on a February 12 letter authored by the international presidents of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Mine Workers of America. In the letter titled ‘Preliminary Labor Positions on Climate Change Legislation’ the position of the labor component of the Carbon Capture Coalition in regard to the Green New Deal is made very clear.

We also have grave concerns about unrealistic solutions such as those advocated in the “Green New Deal” and by proponents of the “Keep It in the Ground” ideology. Any legislation addressing the complex issues of carbon emission reduction must recognize and address: a) the tremendous impact such legislation will have on millions of fossil fuel-reliant jobs across America; and b) the costs and full recompense required to mitigate the effects of the loss of those jobs on workers, families and communities.[Source]

The 4 Green New Deal cosponsors and everyone else for that matter have had every opportunity to attend to the issue of Labor’s response to the Green New Deal, but as you will notice in Rachel M Cohen’s recent piece titled ‘Labor Unions Are Skeptical of the Green New Deal, And They Want Activists To Hear Them Out’ many of the Green New Deal cohort (Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats PAC, Brand New Congress PAC, Data for Progress think tank, and New Consensus think tank) are not willing to be drawn on the details of the carbon capture utilization and storage issue as it relates to energy futures designed to deliver on the Green New Deal. [Source]

Framing the Resolution

To understand how the Green New Deal resolution language was framed we have to look at the primary authors and researchers who developed early contributions at the behest of the leading proponents of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement. Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer identified the primary authors of  the Green New Deal blueprint as researchers recruited from the World Resources Institute to the purpose built think tank Data for Progress. [Source]

The terms “clean energy” and “net zero emissions” echo the language in the Green New Deal Report, and no commitment to phase out fossil fuels appears in the Green New Deal resolution. [Source]

Dallas Goldtooth from Indigenous Environment Network has expressed concerns about the resolution.

While we applaud its intentions, we feel that [the resolution] falls short in protecting indigenous communities,[ ]Explicitly talking about keeping fossil fuels in the ground, that’s a critical issue. [Source]

Julian NoiseCat, a policy director with 350 dot org was surprisingly candid about that fact that the Green New Deal resolution does not shut the door on fossil fuel extraction.  

The language I read was clean, renewable, zero emissions — which is that ‘keep the door open’ approach,

NoiseCat described the drafting process for the Green New Deal as inclusive noting that it included the AFL-CIO and three other unions.

It was an inclusive drafting process that included stakeholders from environmental, labor and more traditional environmental organizations, [Source]

The fact that the process was inclusive and no commitment to a fossil fuel phase out was included in the Green New Deal resolution to the disappointment of key climate justice spokespeople the question needs be asked: Did leaving the “door open” to carbon capture utilization and storage require framing out a commitment to phasing out fossil fuel extraction and burning?

A Little Help?

Naomi Wolf (@naomirwolf on Twitter) has built a common sense platform called Daily Clout which supports BillCam. She has rightly identified the need for collective effort in analysing and monitoring legislative activity in the US. Now I’m just an Australian researcher and anti-fossil fuel activist who knows that whatever takes hold in the US and Canada will be exported to countries like mine which happens to have a massive target painted on it and a sign that says “Dig Here”. The reason I ended up being so fascinated by North American fossil fuel development is because Canada and the US are a proving ground for new fossil fuel frontiers. [Source]

So I’m left with a burning question about the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. It’s a question I might be able to answer with an exhaustive search, but I thought I’d put it out to the Daily Clout audience: Is there an attendance record for each senate committee meeting, and were Senators Sanders, Booker, Gillibrand and Markey present for either the unanimous voice vote on the USE IT Act in the 115th Congress or the February 27, 2018 meeting of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works?

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Watch: The Green New Deal Deconstructed – Eleven Pages of (NOT) Shocking Surprises

Daily Clout

January 2, 2019

 

Naomi Wolf is an author, journalist, and former political advisor to both Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

“DailyClout explains bills and events in Us and global democracies in ways anyone can understand.”

We actually READ the #GreenNewDeal. It’s NOT a draft bill — it’s 11 pages of a Google doc with shocking surprises. It assigns a vast “wartime footing” level amount of taxpayer money to private entities — VCs, the private Federal Reserve, “new banks” and any “financial instrument” the 15 members of the committee decide ‘appropriate.” It creates a national SMART GRID — which is terrible for human health and great for telecoms and surveillance. It gives the 15 committee members the right to not hold any public hearings about the “green new deal,” if they so choose. It creates loopholes that leave them free to not have normal term limits. It hands vast sums to air and ocean carbon capture, which is an experimental geoengineering tech for which silicon valley investors own IP. It states that the “green new deal” will be released on a website and a publication — not on govtrack, where public transparency is assured (and where we at DailyClout get our API). It transfers “unlimited” resources at the will of the 15 and their chosen partners in business, industry etc to groups defined by race, gender and rural-ness, thus violating the equal protections in our Constitution. It’s a shocking document.

 

 

Canadian Charity Used Donations to Fund Projects Linked to Israeli Military

CBC

January 4, 2019

By Evan Dyer

 

JNF says it has since stopped the practice, which contravenes Canadian tax rules

 

Israeli air force cadets toss their caps into the air during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim air force base in southern Israel in 2014. A Canadian charity that funds projects in Israel has faced claims that some of its charitable donations have gone to support projects on Israeli military bases in violation of Canadian tax rules. (Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Press)

The Jewish National Fund of Canada, one of the country’s long-established charities, has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over a complaint that it used charitable donations to build infrastructure for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), in violation of Canada’s tax rules.

The JNF funds numerous projects in Israel, such as reforestation efforts in areas hit by wildfires and the construction of playgrounds for special needs children.

However, it has also funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases. While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.

The organization, which disclosed to donors last year that it has been under audit by the Canada Revenue Agency, said it stopped funding those projects in 2016.

A JNF Israel webpage describes Canadian-sponsored projects on Bat Galim Naval Base and Palmachim Airbase in Israel. (KKL-JNF)

That would not protect it from action by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which in August revoked the charitable status of an Ottawa mosque for promoting “hate and intolerance” by inviting controversial speakers, and for financial irregularities that took place between 2009 and 2014 under a previous group of directors.

Guidelines clear on the law

In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Yet JNF documents describe some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those very terms.

One JNF Canada document called “Project Opportunities” refers to an “outdoor fitness area at a Gadna military base,” describing Israel’s Gadna program as “a special program for young people in Israel that prepares them for their service in the Israel Defence Forces.” The project included “a fitness area for the regular army staff at the Gadna base in Sde Boker.”

A JNF Canada Youth Leadership Solidarity Mission picked up tools to help build the hilltop outpost of Givat Oz VeGaon in the West Bank, south of Bethlehem, in 2014. (KKL-JNF)

Documents produced by JNF Canada’s Israeli parent organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF), shed additional light on military projects funded by its Canadian affiliate.

They include developing “the new planned IDF Training Base City in the Negev” desert, “helping the development of the Bat Galim training base complex area” at Bat Galim Naval Base, “helping to facilitate the upgrade of the existing auditorium for soldier intake, training and conferences” at the same base and a new “moadon” or mess hall-type facility for the 124th (Blackhawk) Helicopter Squadron at Palmachim Air Force Base (“where crew can relax and refuel”), as well as a similar facility for 131 Squadron at Nevatim Air Force Base.

The logic behind the CRA’s guidance to charities is that issuing Canadian tax receipts for contributions to foreign militaries effectively reduces the revenue available to support Canada’s own defence spending.

In 2014, JNF Edmonton’s Negev Gala dinner was serenaded by members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. According to JNF Edmonton’s Facebook page, “proceeds from (2014’s) Negev Gala will develop three areas of the Negev’s Tse’elim army base, the largest military training facility in Israel. The project will upgrade and landscape the family visiting area, intake and release facility and the barracks’ main plaza. The base is the national centre for ground forces training.”

JNF Canada declined an interview request for this story, but CEO Lance Davis told CBC News in an email that while the organization has funded projects that support the IDF in the past, it stopped doing so in 2016 after being informed of the CRA guidance.

“To be clear, we no longer fund projects located on IDF land and JNF Canada operates in accordance with CRA regulations governing its status as a charitable organization,” Davis wrote in the email.

Greening the land

Megan McKenzie says she first came across the Jewish National Fund when she was planning a bequest in memory of her nature-loving Jewish grandmother. The Jewish National Fund is famous for planting trees, “greening the land of Israel.”

McKenzie is a professional mediator and conflict consultant who is married to a Canadian soldier and lives at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. Having worked in conflict resolution from Ireland to DR Congo, she said was “dumbfounded” to find that the JNF was involved in projects she believed did not conform to Canada’s charitable rules.

“I have a PhD and I’m sort of a natural researcher and so I did some online research,” she said. “And the more I did, the more appalled I was.”

Megan McKenzie says she found examples of JNF Canada funds benefiting the Israeli Defence Force when she looked into making a donation to the charity on behalf of her late grandmother. (CBC News)

McKenzie’s online research led her to webpages for both JNF Canada and its parent organization giving extensive details on the charity’s support for the Israeli military and its reforestation projects that have sprawled across the 1949 armistice line (the “Green Line”) into occupied West Bank territory.

In the case of the JNF’s Canada Park project, occupied land forested by the JNF was enclosed on the Israeli side of the barrier Israel built to separate its citizens from the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

A new complaint

Canada Park was JNF Canada’s first large project in Israel and the West Bank, built on the site of three Palestinian villages left empty after 1967’s Six Day War.

Retired physician Ismail Zayid of Halifax was born in one of those villages, Beit Nuba. He has been complaining to CRA about JNF’s charitable status for 40 years.

“I wrote to (the CRA) repeatedly,” he said. “They would say they are conducting an investigation of (the) complaint, and then I would write again and say, ‘What are the findings of your investigation?’ And they would say, ‘The findings are confidential.'”

Retired physician Ismail Zayid has initiated several complaints about JNF Canada, most recently in 2017. (CBC News)

In October 2017, Zayid filed a new formal complaint, this time in concert with an Ottawa professor, a Vancouver rabbi and a retired nurse from Montreal and using some of McKenzie’s research (the complaint has been backed by the activist organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which has mounted a “Stop the JNF Canada” campaign). The CRA appears so far to have taken no action against the charity, although it has subjected JNF to an audit.

The CRA declined to be interviewed for this story, citing confidentiality. But JNF Canada’s Davis said in an email to CBC News the charity is “currently engaged in ongoing confidential discussions with CRA.” Davis dismissed the complaint as “a rehash” and called IJVC “a longstanding opponent of JNF.”

Building in the West Bank

The 2017 complaint includes new information about JNF’s contributions to Israeli military infrastructure projects and its involvement in building in the West Bank.

Canada officially opposes Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory. CRA policy statement CSP-P13 states: “The courts have held that an organization is not charitable in law if its activities are contrary to public policy.”

Canada states its position on settlements on Global Affairs Canada’s website: “Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

JNF Canada missions in Israel also have contributed directly to the construction of at least one hilltop settler outpost that was declared illegal by the State of Israel itself. Givat Oz VeGaon received and ignored at least 18 demolition orders from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

A JNF Canadian Young Leadership Solidarity Mission visited the site in August-September 2014 and worked with picks and shovels “to prepare the ground for building a residential unit to be used by the security guard.”

‘KKL for IDF’

A JNF Israel document describes construction work carried out within Tel Nof Airbase in Israel in 2015, paid for by its Canadian subsidiary.(KKL-JNF)

In a 2014 document produced by the JNF Canada’s parent organization, the Israeli JNF’s Resources and Development Division lists a dozen “KKL for IDF” projects over the previous decade as “Canada-sponsored,” mostly in the period 2011-14.

One JNF Canada document from 2014 offers donors the chance to participate in the construction of a “meeting point” to enable soldiers to see family members while on active service. Canadian donors are also invited to fund a 900-metre “security road” at Kadesh Barne’a near the Egyptian border that “will improve access to the area for security forces.”

A KKL-JNF document describes its roads in the western Negev as “security roads which serve the armed forces that patrol the border zones … All the work undertaken by KKL-JNF is coordinated with the IDF … Thanks to these roads, military activity is enhanced.”

‘Improving the quality of lives of Israelis’

In an email to CBC News, Davis said these projects were just part of the works funded by JNF Canada.

“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, JNF Canada has played an important role in a wide range of projects in Israel. We have, for example, supported the building of water reservoirs, collaborated with dozens of educational institutions, built numerous recreational/educational facilities, planted millions of trees and supported pioneering research in green technology,” he said.

Laureen Harper poses with JNF Gala honorees during a group visit to 24 Sussex Drive in 2015. (JNF Canada)

“In keeping with our mission of improving the quality of lives of Israelis, we have in the past funded projects of a charitable nature that indirectly involved the IDF. These projects were built on land owned by the IDF primarily for the benefit of children and youth. When it came to our attention several years ago that supporting these types of projects may not be in keeping with CRA policies, we stopped funding them.”

In a subsequent email, Davis said that “the last project we funded was in June 2016 and it was directed to the Hatzerim Airforce Base for a playground/soccer field for the children living on the base.”

Hatzerim is home to the Israeli Air Force’s flight academy and three combat squadrons.

Low marks for transparency

Kate Bahen heads Charity Intelligence, a Toronto-based NGO that produces a report rating Canadian charities on their transparency and efficiency in spending donors’ money.

“When you look at JNF Canada, it’s fine for cost efficiency,” said Bahen. “It really falls down on financial transparency and accountability. For financial transparency, it gets zero.”

Bahen said the charity has done the right thing by disclosing to donors that it’s being audited, but it is “an utter black box” when it comes to providing a breakdown of how its money is spent.

“Any Canadian donor who knows of JNF automatically thinks of planting trees. And there is a lot more to JNF than planting trees.

“We have absolutely no information on how much it’s spent planting trees, how much goes for irrigation, or education, or how much is diverted to military bases. And that information, I think, is critical, and it’s not provided to Canadian donors.”

Support in Canada

JNF has had strong relations with successive Conservative and Liberal governments. One of its recent projects in Israel is the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in Galilee. Another is John Baird Park in Sderot.

Stephen Harper helps to lay the cornerstone of the JNF’s Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in the Galilee region of northern Israel in January 2014. Harper played the keyboard at a Toronto JNF dinner to raise funds for the project, which remains uncompleted.(JNF)

Although the group enjoyed particularly strong links with the Harper government, it also has been close to the Trudeau government.

Last July, Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of Public Safety, planted a pistachio tree at the JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in Jerusalem. He was accompanied by fellow Liberal MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of JNF Canada.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Liberal MP Michael Levitt plant a tree at JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in the mountains above Jerusalem in July 2017. (KKL-JNF)

 

[Evan Dyer has been a journalist with CBC for 18 years, after an early career as a freelancer in Argentina. He works in the Parliamentary Bureau and can be reached at evan.dyer@cbc.ca.]

A Quick Note from WKOG

December 24, 2018

The Snowman , 1966 [Source]

 

To all our subscribers-

We would like to apologize for the recent email glitch. While making some much needed improvements to the Wrong Kind of Green website, an email was inadvertently sent to our subscribers in the process of making these modifications.

The post was due to implementing some software changes that will allow the website to be a much better viewing experience for our loyal followers. In that vein, we would like to say that although this was a momentary mistake, we will take all necessary precautions to ensure that this will not happen again.

Since its inception, we have worked for WKOG in a voluntary capacity – paying for all expenses out of our own shallow pockets. We have recently set up a Patreon account with a modest goal to obtain 200 loyal supporters (Patrons) who appreciate our efforts. If you are able to spare a few dollars a month – please consider us.

Over the past eight years, we have provided approx. 85 in-depth, researched investigative pieces on the environmental movement and the misguidance provided by the modern NGO movement in addressing the most significant problem facing mankind today. In the coming years, we will strive to continue to furnish much more original content.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and your support. We look forward to providing our readers better and improved content in the near future.

Wrong Kind of Green

“The first duty of a revolutionary is to be educated.” –Che Guevara

 

The Role of Salvation Army in Shameful Forced Post-Second World War Adoptions

December 23, 2018



The Salvation Army remains active in the adoption industry today. Photo: Salvation Army

 

July 19, 2018: “‘Shameful period in Canada’s history’: Report released on forced post-Second World War adoptions”

Excerpt:

“On Thursday, the committee released a report titled “The Shame Is Ours” detailing Canada’s post-Second World War adoption mandate. It is estimated that more than 350,000 mothers were affected by agency policies and the “common practice” of forcing unwed mothers into maternity homes and coercing them to give up their babies.

 

In a press conference Thursday, committee chair Art Eggleton called it “another Scoop,” referring to the Sixties Scoop in which Indigenous children were separated from their parents. Eggleton said that nearly 600,000 infants were born to unwed mothers and recorded as “illegitimate births” between 1945 and 1971, though the committee does not know the exact number of forced adoptions due to “prevailing secrecy.” Some of the institutions that carried out the policies no longer exist. But the committee heard evidence during hearings that as many as 95 per cent of unwed mothers in maternity homes surrendered their babies to adoption, compared to two per cent today.

“It has led to lasting and life-altering psychological distress for both the mothers and adoptees,” said Eggleton.

 

July, 2018, Canada: “THE SHAME IS OURS: FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA”:

“The committee heard from witnesses who have an in-depth knowledge of historical Canadian adoption practices and they affirmed the accounts that members heard from mothers and adoptees. Young, unmarried mothers who found themselves without financial means or the support of family found their way to church-run maternity homes for unwed mothers, after seeking help from family, friends or their churches. Catholic, United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches as well as the Salvation Army, operated such homes. Members were told that in some instances a fee was requested from the young woman or her family to be cared for at the home. In all cases, it appears that the facilities implemented strict schedules for the residents. The women were required to perform assigned chores, attend “classes” that prepared them for domestic tasks, rather than help to further their education, and participate in religious services. However, the strict schedules were not intended as a structured and regimented environment. Rather, the young women were described as being treated more like prisoners. Some homes had bars on the windows and the movement of residents was strictly controlled. They were often not allowed to use their surnames, only first names, and were not permitted to speak to each other about their own circumstances. Committee members were told that these young women were often subjected to shaming and abuse by the nurses, sisters, social workers, matrons and church leaders. They were told they had no value, they were societal outcasts, they had sinned and deserved the treatment they were getting, and that, in fact, they must be psychologically unwell and unfit since they got pregnant in the first place.

Members acknowledge that some work has been done in this regard. The maternity homes for unmarried mothers were run in Canada by several churches, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Presbyterian and the Salvation Army. Members heard that only the United Church of Canada has studied its role in the forced adoptions of post-war Canada. Among the witnesses who appeared during the committee’s study, the United Church was the only religious organization willing to attend….

The committee was told that while other churches have listened to the concerns of individuals and organizations about the forced adoption practices, they have not reacted with apologies or concrete actions. In this respect the committee acknowledges the written submission from the Salvation Army which describes the services offered by the organization and the adoption policies in Ontario from 1940 to 1980. In describing its role and response to the forced adoptions in post-war Canada, the organization stated that it “regrets the prejudices and harsh attitudes” of the time and that it “never supported the deliberate breaking of… the bond between a mother and a child”.”

Report:

THE SHAME IS OURS FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA

Britain: June 10, 2018: Sixty years after half a million British babies were forcibly removed, calls for decades of pain to be recognised

“More than half a million children were given up for adoption at a time when “unmarried mothers” were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society. Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church and the Salvation Army.”

Article:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/10/mps-demand-apology-for-unmarried-mothers-forced-to-give-up-children

Sydney, March 1, 2012: Stories from the mothers who had their babies taken away. Here is a selection of women explaining just what it was like for a young Australian girl or woman in the 1950s-mid 1970s facing pregnancy as an unwed mother.”

“About 150,000 babies were put up for adoption in Australia during 1951-1975, the large majority from single, unwed girls and women. The practice of “forced adoptions”  involving coercion and institutional policies that encouraged babies to be taken away from their mothers, has been the focus for a Senate committee for the past 18 months. Yesterday the Community Affairs committee tabled it’s final report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, to the Senate yesterday.”

 

https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/03/01/forced-adoption-stories-from-the-mothers-who-had-their-babies-taken-away/

The Atlantic Council & Latin American Regime Change

Putting Northern interests first, Washington DC think tanks weaken democracy in the South

Brasil Wire

December 28, 2017

 

Founded in 1961, the Atlantic Council (AC) is part of the NATO offshoot Atlantic Treaty Association, described as an umbrella organization which acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond, that claims to draw together “political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty, namely: democracy, freedom, liberty, peace, security, and the rule of law”.

Atlantic Council’s board members include Henry Kissinger, former CIA chiefs Michael Hayden and Mike Morell, and Bush-era head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Its Digital Forensic Research Lab is led by a former Obama National Security Council advisor, and it is partnering with Facebook to carry out a purge of pages it deems to be “fake news”.

Together with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), the Wilson Center and other  organisations (between which there is a revolving door for personnel), the Atlantic Council has been an international platform and promoter for both the controversial anti-corruption operation Lava Jato (Car Wash), which helped paralyse the Brazilian economy, and the 2016 removal of the Rousseff Government from power.

The organisation insists it is independent from both the US Government and NATO, however it receives the majority of its funding, of an undisclosed total, from various NATO member governments.

It was recently in the news for donating a million dollars, provided by the US State Department, to an opposition group in Venezuela, the latest in an estimated USD$45+ million in US funding to pro-opposition groups since 2008.

AC think tank funding

In October 2013, one year ahead of a crucial run of regional elections and after a burst of destabilisation in Brazil, the Atlantic Council launched its new Latin America effort, named the ‘Adrienne Arsht Center’, with a stated aim to “study, educate, and strengthen the trends transforming Latin America into a strong Western partner”.

The center was founded by Peter Schechter, a consultant who also hosts Altamar, a foreign policy podcast. Until June 2017 he was the Atlantic Council’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives as well as founding director of its latest Lat Am-focussed wing.

Born in 1959 in Rome, Schechter was raised in Italy, Bolivia, and Venezuela. In 1993, he co-founded Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates, a DC-based consultancy which advises politicians, companies, non-profits, and international organizations. Their clients’ tasks included fighting “regulatory encroachment” on US banks in Latin America, to spinning Hunt Oil’s Camisea project in Peru, which was threatened by protest from indigenous groups.

The bulk of his work, however, was serving as election advisor to conservative and neoliberal candidates across Latin America, including a number of current presidents. Clients included Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles, Alvaro Uribe (his fourth client in Colombia), and 1994-2002 Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

His expertise in the region has made him a regular talking head on Latin American politics. He is a frequent guest analyst for television shows across the region as well as on US-based Spanish language networks Univision and Telemundo, noted for their right-wing bias.

In September 2009, Schechter’s firm signed a contract with the interim Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti to provide public relations services following the June 28, 2009 coup d’état. According to Foreign Agents Registration filings with the US Department of Justice, the firm received over $292,000 to boost the post-coup regime’s image in the US. His work for the Honduran putschists attracted negative publicity for Schechter’s company and sparked indignation both in Honduras and in the US, including letters of condemnation and a protest in front of the firm’s Washington, DC office.

On Brazil, Atlantic Council personnel could be found quoted in the press and on television networks eulogising Operation Lava Jato, normalising the judicial/parliamentary Coup d’état which removed Dilma Rousseff, and also promoting the neoliberal programme of Michel Temer’s post-coup government, such as fiercely resisted cuts to workers rights and a programme of pension reform which would raise retirement age as high as 74 for millions of ordinary Brazilians, which is above life expectancy in some areas of the country.

When these commentators would talk about “anti-corruption” and “poor economy” as the reasons for her impeachment, they would never indicate any relationship between the two. Yet Rousseff’s removal stemmed in part from both the public fervour generated by the partisan anti-corruption operation, and also perversely the economic effects it had created – with some economists estimating that the resulting Lava Jato mandated shutdown of economic sectors in 2015 accounted for half a million unemployed in construction alone, and 2.5% of GDP – turning a mild recession into something Wall Street talking heads in its corporate media could portray as the “worst economic crisis in a century“.

Lava Jato not only had profound effects on Brazil’s economy and democracy, it has also indirectly enabled capture of the country’s strategic resources, and corporations such as Embraer, which is now a target of takeover by US competitor, Boeing, sparking outcry amongst Brazilian developmentalists, nationalists, and the left as a whole.

The roots of the operation can be traced back as far as a 2002 Bush-era initiative, encouraged by infamous Office of Public Diplomacy propagandist, former Venezuelan ambassador, and one time head of Council of the Americas, Otto Reich, which made anti-corruption the principal tool for enabling political and economic outcomes in the region.

Mr. Reich, like Schechter was also hired to propagandise on behalf of Honduras Post-Coup Government. Following the Coup, Reich sent his thoughts to members of Congress by e-mail. “We should rejoice,” he wrote to one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “that one of the self-proclaimed 21st Century socialist allies of Chávez has been legally deposed by his own countrymen.”

Also in 2009, leaked cables reveal that Lava Jato’s main protagonist, inquisitorial prosecutor/judge Sergio Moro, was already in collaboration with the State Department and Department of Justice on an embryonic strategy which would evolve into Operation Lava Jato. Brazil, a one-time ally of Venezuela, has seen its democracy, economy and sovereignty severely impacted by the operation, which has been deemed “Lawfare” and “War by other means” by observers. The ongoing role of public relations from within or around organisations like Atlantic Council and AS/COA and their relationship with large commercial news organizations warrants maximum scrutiny, and is indicative of whom is directing the real power being wrought in the region.

Using these non-conventional weapons, the so called ‘Pink Tide’ of leftist governments across the continent has been reversed, to the delight of Washington, London and Wall Street. Corruption allegations are affecting the political scene across South America, in Chile, Argentina and Peru, and frontrunner for Brazil’s own 2018 election, former President Lula, faces an appeal on 24th January in what amounts to a kangaroo court, a trial which could shape the country’s future for a generation.

And the impact is not only economic and political but military and strategic. Joining its beachhead in Colombia, which is becoming an official NATO partner, comes the establishment of new US Military presences in ArgentinaParaguayPeru and now Brazil’s Amazon and North East. It is telling that Liliana Ayalde, US Ambassador to Brazil from September 2013, throughout the 2014 election and subsequent Coup d’état, is now serving as civilian deputy commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).