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Planet of the Humans Backlash

Journal of People, Peasants and Workers

May 11, 2020

By Yves Engler

 

Planet of the Humans

The backlash may be more revealing than the film itself, but both inform us where we are at in the fight against climate change and ecological collapse. The environmental establishment’s frenzied attacks against Planet of the Humans says a lot about its commitment to big money and technological solutions.

A number of prominent individuals tried to ban the film by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore. Others berated the filmmakers for being white, male and overweight. Many thought leaders have declared they won’t watch it.

Despite the hullabaloo, the central points in the film aren’t particularly controversial. Corporate-industrial society is driving human civilization/humanity towards the ecological abyss and environmental groups have largely made peace with capitalism. As such, they tout (profitable) techno fixes that are sometimes more ecologically damaging than fossil fuels (such as biomass or ethanol) or require incredible amounts of resources/space if pursued on a mass scale (such as solar and wind). It also notes the number of human beings on the planet has grown more than sevenfold over the past 200 years.

It should not be controversial to note that the corporate consumption juggernaut is destroying our ability to survive on this planet. From agroindustry razing animal habitat to plastic manufacturers’ waste killing sea life to the auto industrial complex’s greenhouse gases, the examples of corporations wreaking ecological havoc are manifold. Every year since 1969 humanity’s resource consumption has exceeded earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources by an ever-greater volume.

It is a statement of fact that environmental groups have deep ties to the corporate set. Almost all the major environmental groups receive significant cash from the mega-rich or their foundations. Many of them partner directly with large corporations. Additionally, their outreach strategies often rely on corporate media and other business-mediated spheres. It beggars belief that these dependencies don’t shape their policy positions.

A number of the film’s points on ‘renewable’ energy are also entirely uncontroversial. It’s insane to label ripping down forests for energy as “green”. Or turning cropland into fuel for private automobiles. The film’s depiction of the minerals/resource/space required for solar and wind power deserves a far better response than “the data is out of date”.

The green establishment’s hyperventilating over the film suggests an unhealthy fixation/link to specific ‘renewable’ industries. But there are downsides to almost everything.

Extremely low GHG emitting electricity is not particularly complicated. In Québec, where I live, electricity is largely carbon free (and run by a publicly owned enterprise with an overwhelmingly unionized workforce, to boot). But, Hydro-Québec’s dams destroy ecosystems and require taking vast land from politically marginalized (indigenous) people. Likewise, nuclear power (also publicly owned and unionized) provides most of France’s electricity. But, that form of energy also has significant downsides.

In the US in 2019 63% of electricity came from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear and 17% from ‘renewables’. But, even if one could flip the proportion of fossil fuels to ‘renewables’ around overnight there’s another statistic that is equally important. Since 1950 US electricity consumption has grown 13-fold and it continues to increase. That’s before putting barely any of the country’s 285 million registered private automobiles onto the grid. Electricity consumption is growing at a fast clip in China, India and elsewhere.

Oil is another source of energy that is growing rapidly. Up from 60 million barrels a day in 1980 and 86 million in 2010, 100 million barrels of oil were consumed daily in 2019. That number is projected to reach 140 million by 2040.

On one point I agree entirely with critics of the film. It’s unfair to (even indirectly) equate Bill McKibben with Al Gore. Representing the progressive end of the environmental establishment, McKibben has engaged in and stoked climate activism. Gore was Vice President when the US led the destruction of the former Yugoslavia, bombed Sudan and sanctioned Iraq.

Still, it’s ridiculous for McKibben and others to dismiss the film’s criticism of his decade-long promotion of biomass and refusal to come clean on 350.org’s donors as divisive. “I truly hope that Michael Moore does not succeed at dividing the climate movement. Too many have fought too long to build it”, he tweeted with a link to his response in Rolling Stone titled “‘A Bomb in the Center of the Climate Movement’: Michael Moore Damages Our Most Important Goal.” Echoing this theme, Naomi Klein came to her 350.org comrade’s defence tweeting, “it is truly demoralising how much damage this film has done at a moment when many are ready for deep change.” Democracy NowCommon Dreams, the Guardian and other media picked up her remark.

If it is divisive to criticize McKibben’s positions, then the same must be said of his own criticisms aimed at those demanding the Pentagon be highlighted in decarbonization efforts. In a June New York Review of Books column titled “The Pentagon’s Outsized Part in the Climate Fight” McKibben pours cold water on those who have asked him about the importance of “shrinking the size of the US military” (the world’s largest single institutional emitter of fossil fuels) in the fight for a sustainable planet. In fact, his piece suggests the Pentagon is well-positioned to combat the climate crisis since right wingers are more likely to listen to their climate warnings and the institution has massive research capacities to develop green technologies. McKibben seems to be saying the green movement should (could) co-opt the greatest purveyor of violence and destruction in the history of humanity! (In the Wrong Kind of Green blog Luke Orsborne offers a cogent breakdown of McKibben’s militarism.)

McKibben’s repeated advocacy of the private electric car could also be considered divisive. In Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? McKibben calls for “millions and millions of electric cars and buses” (alongside “building a hell of lot of factories to turn out thousands of acres of solar panels, and wind turbines the length of football fields.”) Does anyone believe the planet can sustain a transportation/urban planning system with most of the world’s 7.8 billion people owning 3,000-pound vehicles?

When an electric car is powered from a grid that is 63% fossil fuels the GHG it contributes per kilometer of travel is generally slightly less than an internal combustion engine. But the production and destruction phases for electric vehicles tend to be more energy intensive and they still require the extraction and development of significant amounts of resources. Additionally, the private car underpins a land, energy and resource intensive big box retail/suburban economy. (For details see my co-authored Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay.)

Moreover, as Death by Car recently pointed out, “electric vehicles are haloware — a product that exists to distract attention from continuing SUV and pickup sales. If this thesis is correct, then it is a huge mistake for progressive forces to express enthusiasm” for electric vehicles. Of the 86 million new passenger and light commercial vehicles sold globally in 2018 about 1.2 million of them were powered by battery-only electric engines while 37 million were pickups and SUVs. In other words, for every new battery-electric car there were 30 new SUVs/pickups sold. Alongside growing buzz about electric vehicles, the number of SUVs increased from 35 million to 200 million between 2010 and 2018.

McKibben and associates’ ability to frame the film as divisive rests on the stark power imbalance between the ‘green’ capitalist and degrowth outlooks. While there are few profits in the consume-less worldview, McKibben is situated at the progressive end of a network of organizations, commentators and media outlets empowered by hundreds of billions of dollars of ‘green’ capitalism. This milieu has counterposed solar, wind and biomass to the hyper fossil fuel emitting coal, natural gas and oil industries. But, they aren’t keen on discussing the limitations of their preferred energies and the fundamentally unsustainable nature of limitless energy (or other) consumption. And they certainly don’t want any spotlight placed on environmental groups ties to the mega-rich and an unsustainable model.

Fragments of wind turbine blades await burial at the Casper Regional Landfill in Wyoming. Photographer: Benjamin Rasmussen

But, in reality it’s not the criticism that bothers. Wrong Kind of GreenDeath by CarCounterpunch and various other small leftist websites and initiatives have long documented McKibben and associates’ concessions to the dominant order. Often more harshly than in the film. What is unique about Planet of the Humans is that these criticisms have been put forward by leftists with some power (Michael Moore’s name and the funds for a full-length documentary, most obviously.) In other words, the backlash is not a response to the facts or argument, per se, but the ‘mainstreaming’ of the critique.

The environmental establishment’s ability to generate hundreds of hit pieces against Planet of the Humans suggests the movement/outlook has amassed substantial power. But, it’s not always clear to what ends. Most indicators of sustainability are trending in the wrong direction at the same time as top environmental figures have risen to the summits of power. Québec’s most prominent environmentalist, Steven Guilbeault, recently became a cabinet minister in the Liberal government while the former head of World Wildlife Fund Canada, Gerald Butts, was Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff. These individuals happily participate in a government that oversaw a 15 million tonne increase in Canada’s GHG emissions in 2018 and then decided to purchase a massive tar sands pipeline.

The incredible popularity of Planet of the Humans — seven million views on YouTube — suggests many are worried about the ecological calamity humanity is facing. Many also sense that the solutions environmental groups are putting forward don’t add up.

The lesson to be learned from the film and the frenzied attacks against it is that questioning the system — be that capitalism or the mainstream environmental movement — won’t make you friends in high places.

 

[Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and ExploitationRead other articles by Yves.]

Green Capital and Environmental “Leaders” Won’t Save Us

Undisciplined Environments

May 20, 2020

By Alexander Dunlap

 

People are outraged! Jeffery Gibbs’s new documentary, Planet of the Humans – co-produced by Michael Moore and Ozzie Zehner – has shocked and awed “progressive” critics, fuelling a steady stream of outcry. “It is truly demoralizing how much damage this film has done at a moment when many are ready for deep change,” exclaims Naomi Klein on Twitter.

Much of the concern voiced is correct, yet it detracts away from two fundamental messages: “renewable energy” is dependent on extreme mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, and mainstream environmentalism has “sold out.” This, in many ways, is old news for political ecologists, especially those involved in environmental conflicts concerning wind powerhydroelectric dams and mineral extraction development, yet the pandemonium generated by this film deserves some clarification.

Important Criticisms: Caveat

The documentary has some foundational flaws. It underestimates the efficiency and capacity of wind and solar technologies. The data is old and the range of people interviewed limited. More damaging, however, is their discussion of population. Yes, population is an issue, and voluntary initiatives to control it are adopted by some environmentalists (for instance, degrowth advocates). Yet, modes of consumption and production will always be the determining factors for how populations will articulate catastrophic ecological and climatic impacts.

The problem with the “overpopulation” narrative is that it condemns all of humanity for the present socio-ecological situation. Even if, later in the documentary, corporations, financial consultants and their “environmental movement” collaborators become the main focus of critique, the directors largely neglect class, race, and gender as issues related to environmental degradation.

At the same time, the film forgets the socio-ecological values of different groups. It overwrites the variegated agency of (a “pluriverse” of) people, positioning Indigenous land defenders at war with extraction in the background, and not acknowledging in any way their different socio-ecological practices and relationships. The lack of clarity surrounding these issues, or the missing explicit support for environmental struggles against green capitalism and extraction is damaging, ultimately taking away from issues that deserve popular acknowledgment in the film.

Film segment title page reviewing the extraction necessary for so-called renewables (Screenshot: 36’55”). Source: youtube.com

 

So-called Renewable Energy

The outraged critics need to realize that the distinction between fossil fuels and so-called renewable energy is exaggerated. Every aspect of so-called renewable energy requires hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon-based facilities for equipment construction and operation; mining; processing, manufacturing, transportation and the security personnel to enforce land control for these projects. Hence, I proposed the term “fossil fuel+” as a replacement for the inaccurate concept of “renewable energy.”

Ethnographic research investigating natural resource extraction for fossil fuel+ systems remain insightful in this regard. Modelling studies, however, have exposed the seriousness of resource extraction and waste for fossil fuel+ systems. Drawing on a World Bank report, Jason Hickel estimates that making 2050 renewable energy targets will require mining “34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million tons of aluminium, and no less than 4.8 billion tons of iron.”

This also includes increases in other minerals essential to solar, wind and battery technologies over the same period:  35-70% neodymium, 38-105% in silver, 920% in indium, 2,700% increases in lithium and is compounded with further increases (70%) with the promotion of electric vehicles.

Moreover, Benjamin Sovacool and colleagues calculate a single 3.1 MW wind turbine creates “772 to 1807 tons of landfill waste, 40 to 85 tons of waste sent for incineration and about 7.3 tons of e-waste per unit.” This does not even account for mineral processing, component manufacturing, transportation or provisions for security personnel to facilitate security operations of “renewable energy” extraction sites or development sites. Remember: “It takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a single ton of lithium.”

Critics of the film declare to speak in the name of science. Yet this is a question of research design and methodology. Fossil fuel+ projects are frequently justified by carbon accounting and modelling practices imbued with capitalist ideologies and technological utopianism, which – more to the point – are separated from the political contexts, neglect various forms of pollution (e.g., industrial wastes), local struggles and violence emanating from “green” and corresponding mining projects that animate fossil fuel+ development.

Corporate Environmentalism

Land defenders are well aware of corporate co-optation of environmental struggles. Jeff Gibbs and colleagues are correct to highlight these connections as this problem has only intensified. Submedia.tv released a documentary nearly 10 years ago demonstrating at length the problem of environmental NGOs co-opting struggles and marginalizing land defenders. This segment, moreover, documented the connection between large environmental NGOs, such as Greenpeace and Sierra Club, and their staff going to work in mineral extraction and timber industries. Does anyone remember how, in 2014, Greenpeace lost £3 million in currency speculation? The proclaimed mission and actions of environmental NGOs frequently do not add up.

The “NGOization” of struggle has emerged as a body of literature. Meanwhile, Cory Morningstar’s updated the connection of green capitalists, “climate youth leaders” and the new (corporate) environmental movement, charting trends and issues many ignore or fail to understand. Planet of the Humans documents a small piece of this compared to Morningstar’s work, focusing primarily on Al Gore, Bill Mckibben and their financial managers and partners.

While Al Gore is no surprise, some film reviewers suggest Bill McKibben’s exposé was startling, if not personally offensive. “I have never taken a penny from green energy companies or mutual funds or anyone else with a role in these fights, ” explains Mckibben in a Rolling Stone interview, “I’ve never been paid by environmental groups either, not even 350.org, which I founded and which I’ve given all I have to give.”

The film presents some damaging evidence. For instance, it shows McKibben sitting on a panel at the “Investors and Environmentalists Sustainable Proposal,” discussing a “40-50 trillion ‘green energy fund’” with The World Resource Institutes’ David Blood, who “spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs including serving as CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.” Moreover, 350.org’s collaboration with the “Green Century Funds” makes a clear connection to how manufactured or self-styled “environmental leaders” (see 1:15:14) are clearly in bed with green capitalism and efforts to financialize nature.

The No Deal for Nature Campaign is particularly relevant in this regard. The exposé of corporate environmentalism and collaborative efforts to financialize nature holds. The film highlights the timeless issues of “leaders,” but also how single-issue campaigning – built on carbon accounting and narrowing its focus to “fossil fuels” – disables itself from holistic assessments and offers itself to the construction of a “green” or “climate” economy their movement leaders are invested in promoting.

 

David Blood (co-founder of Generation Investment with Al Gore) and 350.org’s Bill McKibben: featured keynotes for divestment partner, Ceres.

 

Conclusion

The film deserves both hostility and love. Hostility for carelessly discussing population issues, homogenizing different people – a socio-ecological-cultural flattening – and lacking, even in passing, respect for those fighting the mines, energy factories and politicians small and large, formal and informal. The film would have benefited from a more refined scope and tighter narrative, with a greater diversity of participants, from Indigenous groups struggling against fossil fuel+ projects, to political ecologists and environmental anthropologists.

Yet the film also deserves love, as it highlights a neglected and sensitive issue for many: how the (mainstream) “environmental movement” has been corporatized, how its actions are not working, and how “renewable energy”/fossil fuel+ systems are not ecologically sustainable. The film is correct to publicize these issues, even if most popular media outlets are having a less than intelligent conversation about the contested issues within the film. Instead of writing the film off as “demoralizing“, it should resituate one’s hopes and realities concerning environmental struggle.

Concern has also been voiced about the film “dividing” the environmental movement. But the movement is already divided, to the extent that environmental “leaders” are divided from their “flock”, and “light” green (capitalist) movements try to extinguish or recuperate “dark” green radical critique and action. Autonomous, horizontal and leaderless resistance akin to the multiplicity of land struggles taking place across the world, should be what climate activists gain inspiration from – not McKibben or Gore. Earth First!, for instance, – not without its critiques – represents an alternative mass-organizational model, discarding leaders and dedicated to organizing discussion space and direct action.

Those shocked by Planet of the Humans’ revelations concerning “renewable energy” and environmental movement “leaders” are either unfamiliar with the boundless treachery of capitalist society or have yet to commit themselves to fighting the capture, domestication and exploitation of human and nonhuman resources near and far.

[Alexander Dunlap holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His PhD thesis examined the socio-ecological impact of wind energy development on Indigenous people in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Alexander’s work has critically examined police-military transformations, market-based conservation, wind energy development and extractive projects more generally with coal mining in Germany and copper mining in Peru. Current research investigates the formation of transnational-super grids and the connections between conventional and renewable extraction industries.]

Featured image: Planet of the Humans poster. Source: planetofthehumans.com.

 

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

April 22, 2020

 


WKOG caveat: Industrial civilization is destroying all life on Earth. Human destruction of biodiversity is not created equally: “Yet tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and 80% of our planet’s biodiversity is found in tribal territories.” [Further reading: The best conservationists made our environment and can save it, Stephen Corry] Human population is often identified as a problem because it strains the world’s resources and pollutes. [1] The first and most efficient way to address over consumption is to reduce consumption in the North is to a) redistribute the resources, (all arable land, etc.) to the Global South, to sustain those in the Global South, and b) phase out the production of all superfluous consumer products that harm life and biodiversity. [Further reading: Too Many Africans?, July 11, 2019] An analysis of population growth that accounts for the vast differences in consumption across class and region is critical in examining the worldwide environmental crisis.

 

Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director:  “At long last our film “Planet of the Humans” is now released to the world! It’s one of the happiest days of my life, and a day I fervently hope has a role in initiating some real change in the world. “Planet of the Humans”  is now available free of charge to everyone on planet Earth courtesy of our partnership with Michael Moore. Please help us spread the word by sharing, blogging, posting, tweeting, emailing, or pony expressing your enthusiasm and urgency about why people must see this movie.”

Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

Jeff Gibbs, the writer/producer/director of Planet of the Humans, has dared to say what no one will – that “we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following environmental leaders, many of whom are well-intentioned, but who’ve sold out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.” This film is the wake-up call to the reality which we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the so-called “environmental movement’s” answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. “It’s too little, too late,” says Gibbs. “Removed from the debate is the only thing that might save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. [1] Why is this not the issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business.”

“Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, ‘green’ illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end — and we’ve pinned all our hopes on things like solar panels and wind turbines? No amount of batteries are going to save us, and that is the urgent warning of this film.”

This compelling, must-see movie – a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows – is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

[Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director | Ozzie Zehner, Producer | Michael Moore, Executive Producer]

 

[1]

Climate and War: Bill McKibben’s Deadly Miscalculation

Climate and War: Bill McKibben’s Deadly Miscalculation

November 6, 2019

By Luke Orsborne

 

 

Source: British Psychological Society

In late June 2019, author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben produced an article for the New York Review of Books whose headline echoed a growing awareness of the significant role of US militarism in our current ecological crisis. The hook, unfortunately, appeared to be little more than a ruse to entice those who harbor legitimate concerns about the military’s role in the climate crisis in order to then minimize those concerns. What followed was a presentation of selective information, including a superficial critique of US military energy efficiency, that in the end only obfuscates the true cost and context of US militarism as it applies to the health of people and the planet. The result was that rather than highlighting the need for deep structural change which involves putting an end to aggressive US foreign policy, McKibben came across as a cautious cheerleader for the continued centrality of US militarism in global affairs as we enter into an increasingly chaotic, climate destabilized world. This dangerous stance only bolsters the propaganda of so-called “humanitarian interventionism” and a world order built upon violent, neoliberal imperialism.

June 12, 2019: “Since the beginning of the post-9/11 wars, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 BILLION metric tons of greenhouse gases. The Pentagon is the world’s single largest consumer of oil and a top contributor to climate change.” [Source]

McKibben begins his article by admitting that the US Department of Defense is a major consumer of fossil fuels, but then makes the deceptive claim that the “enormous military machine produces about 59 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.” Using selective information from a paper entitled Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War by Professor Neta Crawford of Boston University, a paper which he references heavily for his piece, McKibben goes on to dishonestly downplay the role of the US military in the climate crisis. According to McKibben, this average of 59 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (which according to Crawford’s paper, the figure between 2001-2017 is actually closer to 70 million) “is not a particularly large share of the world’s, or even our nation’s, energy consumption.” McKibben adds, “Crawford’s careful analysis shows that the Department of Defense consumes roughly a hundred million barrels of oil a year. The world runs through about a hundred million barrels of oil a day. Even though it’s the world’s largest institutional user of energy, the US military accounts, by Crawford’s figures, for barely 1 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

In fact, this was not at all the conclusion that Crawford drew from her research. While McKibben mischaracterizes Crawford’s paper as “comprehensive,” Crawford is, by contrast, careful to note that there are in fact several unknowns and unexplored areas when it comes to calculating the fuel use of the military, all of which suggest that the total usage is likely significantly higher than McKibben concludes. She spells out the various sources of military emissions clearly, both those considered and those left unknown, in list form toward the beginning of her paper:

“1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.

2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.

3. Emissions caused by US military industry—for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.

4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum, namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.

5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.

6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.

7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.”

Crawford then clarifies by stating that her focus is “on the first two sources of military GHG emissions—overall military and war-related emissions” and that she will “briefly discuss military industrial emissions.” According to Department of Energy data used in Crawford’s analysis, the total greenhouse gas emissions from the DOD between 2001-2017 was approximately 1.212 billion metric tons. But in the very next section, which McKibben fails to mention, Crawford estimates what the emissions burden of the industrial production of military hardware and munitions might entail. Her calculations are perhaps somewhat rudimentary, but they nonetheless suggest a much greater potential for military produced GHGs than McKibben is willing to admit. If Crawford’s estimates are correct, the combined total of industrial production related emissions and commonly measured military operating emissions would triple the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted in sustaining our current military infrastructure. Crawford states:

“The estimate above focuses on DOD emissions. Yet, a complete accounting of the total emissions related to war and preparation for it, would include the GHG emissions of the military industry. The military industry directly employs about 14.7 percent of all people in the US manufacturing sector.  Assuming that the relative size of direct employment in the domestic US military industry is an indicator for the portion of the military industry in the US industrial economy, the share of US greenhouse gas emissions from the US based military industry is estimated to be about 15 percent of total US industrial greenhouse gas emissions. If half of those military related emissions are attributable to the post-9/11 wars, then US war manufacturing has emitted about 2,600 million megatons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas from 2001 to 2017, averaging 153 million metric tons of CO2e each year.”

Furthermore, Crawford goes into more detail in the Appendix as to why the estimates of CO2e impacts are likely understated. Firstly, she notes that the military documents the impact of methane released from fuel consumption as 25 times as potent in its warming potential as compared to CO2, but the IPCC puts this number at 35. In fact, on shorter time scales, scientists have shown that methane is 85 times or more as powerful a greenhouse gas as CO2.

Secondly, she draws attention to the fact that the additives in jet fuel are not accounted for when tabulating the effects of GHG emissions, suggesting significant unknowns. She states that “While the Department of Energy figures and the calculations here include nitrous oxide and methane, it is possible that the additional effects of high altitude water vapor and additives for jet fuel combustion, which are not included in these calculations, may be significant.”

The third point she brings to bear is the lack of inclusion of all the sources of fuel used by the military in their bookkeeping. One of these sources is known as bunker fuel which, as Crawford writes, is excluded from emission accounts as part of the Kyoto Protocol.

Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone, The Environmental Costs of Militarism, has also written about bunker fuel. Along with this “off the record, ghost stuff,” as he refers to it, Sanders has enumerated various other ways in which the military has been able to underplay its fossil fuel usage. Among these are the unaccounted for fuel used by interdependent contractors in increasingly privatized warzones, and the no cost fuel provided at times by partner nations like Kuwait.

According to the high end of Sanders’ estimates, which do not include the emissions incurred from weapons manufacture, the total percentage of military emissions from the direct burning of fossil fuels may be more like 5 percent of total US emissions. This figure also does not take into consideration other factors touched upon by Crawford, mentioned above, like emissions from ongoing oil fires, which lasted in some cases for months, and the effect of cement production and equipment operation during post war reconstruction, a significant contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gases. Crawford also recognizes that the militaries of all parties drawn into US-led wars have an unaccounted for carbon footprint when honestly examining the total emissions costs of the American war machine.

These additional factors make calculating the true cost of war next to impossible but, in pure greenhouse gas emissions terms, the numbers are clearly significantly higher than what McKibben has suggested. The counter to this conclusion is that even if the military GHG emissions were in the neighborhood of 5 percent of total US emissions (and it’s possibly higher than this), this is still a much smaller number than the rest of the US economy, which is essentially the argument that McKibben has already made. While 5 percent is not an insignificant figure, this line of argument fails to understand the systemic nature of our problem by making the common mistake of focusing narrowly on GHG emissions. It is an entirely reductive and simplistic lens that dangerously distorts, rather than clarifies humanity’s global, interconnected crisis.

Mosaic Solar. Further reading: From Stable to Star – The Making of North American “Climate Heroes”

After completely misrepresenting the calculations found in Crawford’s paper and restricting debate to the evaluation of deflated GHG emissions figures, McKibben takes a further misstep by having us believe that rather than being a hindrance to resolving the climate crisis, the military can actually be a vital asset. While admitting that the military absorbs a massive amount of money each year from American taxpayers, even going so far as to repeat the widely circulated statistic that the US spends as much as the next seven countries combined on its massive defense budget, McKibben seems to believe in some ways this could in fact be a good thing. He suggests that the technologies developed by the military’s R&D could be utilized in the civilian sector, saying that “The military-industrial complex may not be the single best place to conduct R&D, but given current political realities, it is likely to be one of the few places where it’s actually possible.”

In fact, any genuine grassroots movement that is interested in tackling issues as large as the collapse of human civilization and the destruction of global biotic communities would be less interested in acquiescing to “current political realities” which include a $1.25 trillion war budget, and more interested in engendering the kind of struggle needed to define those realities along the lines of an actually livable, equitable future.

The text reads “The Navajo Nation encompasses more than 27,000 square miles across three states – New Mexico, Utah + Arizona – and is the largest home for indigenous people in the U.S.. From 1944 to 1986, hundreds of uranium and milling operations extracted an estimated 400 million tons of uranium ore from Diné (Navajo) lands.  [1][Source: jetsonorama: stories from ground zero, August 31, 2019]

Military R&D is not geared toward saving the planet from human destruction. Any overlaps with so-called green technological development is secondary to its primary, narrow framework of creating efficient systems of killing to protect a national agenda set by the interests of the wealthy elite. This framework, more often than not, runs contrary to environmental protection. From the radioactive contamination of people and land caused by the use of depleted uranium, to the pollution of drinking water, to the creation of hundreds of superfund sites across the US, America’s military is well understood to be not just a massive source of greenhouse gases, but one of the largest polluters on the planet.

Furthermore, military R&D is often more about lining the pockets of weapons manufacturers than simply developing an effective end product. Waste and cost overruns are a regular feature in the development of military hardware. The F-35 fighter jet, for example, is expected to cost over a trillion dollars over the course of its sixty year lifespan. In a movement that is looking to maximize efficiency of resource usage, it would clearly make more sense to directly fund efforts to that end, rather than relying on the tangential work of an institution engaging in the most unsustainable activities ever conceived: spending trillions of dollars directly destroying land and infrastructure which is then rebuilt.

What McKibben further fails to acknowledge in his article is that the US military has fostered an atmosphere for intensified global destabilization, international distrust, and environmental degradation at a time when the need for global cooperation and environmental stewardship has never been more clear. Accepting the prioritization of US military spending over the dedication of national resources toward environmental research, habitat restoration, and climate mitigation, as McKibben does, is worse than defeatism. It is ultimately a collusion with the most murderous institution in living memory at the expense of genuine social progress or even human survival. While mainstream environmental groups often shun or disavow direct action that involves property destruction or widespread social disruption used as a tactic to secure the survival of the species, a tactic which is increasingly viewed through the lens of a militarized state as a form of terrorism, these nonprofits often have no qualms about tacitly, or even explicitly, supporting an institution that uses organized mass violence in order to further the very political ends which have brought humanity to the brink of extinction.

November, 2016, Standing Rock: The U.S. Army attempts to evict Oceti Sakowin encampments from treaty lands. Photo by Rob Wilson Photography [Source]

What this translates to is perhaps the most critical point presented in this article, which is that as corporate controlled governments and the officials within them are unable to come to meaningful agreements that could at least slow the process of ecological collapse, Bill McKibben is giving a pass to an institution whose job directly involves sowing violent discord around the world. Military adventurism is part and parcel to a world that is enmeshed in competition for resources, power, and strategic high ground rather than cooperation. To not point this out, and to instead highlight the supposedly positive role that the military will play, represents the betrayal of any vision of a decent future for life on earth under the cover of “current political realities”, which in fact is the reality of collective annihilation. The millions of victims of countless forms of Western imperial aggression stand as a testament to that fact, and the distortions and omissions of Bill McKibben cannot be tolerated by people who stand for justice and a livable future.

And while McKibben praised the military for “doing a not-too-shabby job of driving down its emissions—they’ve dropped 50 percent or so since 1991,” he neglected to mention in his article that it was this hyper competitive culture of US militarism that helped turn up the pressure on negotiators for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in order to exempt militaries around the world from greenhouse gas accounting. The author of the paper Demilitarization for Deep Decarbonization, Tamara Lorincz, described the successful efforts of government officials, military brass, and oil industry insiders working together to keep military carbon pollution off the ledgers. She quotes lead Kyoto negotiator Stuart Eizenstat, then Under Secretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing:

“We took special pains, working with the Defense Department and with our uniformed military, both before and in Kyoto, to fully protect the unique position of the United States as the world’s only super power with global military responsibilities. We achieved everything they outlined as necessary to protect military operations and our national security. At Kyoto, the parties, for example, took a decision to exempt key overseas military activities from any emissions targets, including exemptions for bunker fuels used in international aviation and maritime transport and from emissions resulting from multilateral operations.”

Rather than standing up for environmental protection, the military, as one would expect, sought to preserve not simply US supremacy, but a global order in which militarism in general continues to play a central role in the affairs of humanity. Fewer regulations are better for weapons manufacturers around the globe, and the US is also the leading weapons exporter on the planet.

In her paper, Lorincz goes on to quote President Clinton appointee, Secretary of Defense William Cohen who said, “We must not sacrifice our national security… to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”  In 2015, the non-binding Paris Climate Accords put an end to the accounting exemption set forth in Kyoto, but without an enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance, it did not explicitly mandate military reductions, leaving it up to individual nations to address those concerns as they saw fit. The priorities of the nation were further clarified when in 2019, in a paper about the grave danger posed by climate change, published by the US Army War College, the military’s role as protector of a pathological order again came on display. The paper stated, “The U.S. military must immediately begin expanding its capability to operate in the Arctic to defend economic interests and to partner with allies across the region…This rapid climate change will continue to result in increased shipping transiting the Arctic, population shifts to the region and increased competition to extract the vast hydrocarbon resources more readily available as the ice sheets contract. These changes will drive an expansion of security efforts from nations across the region as they vie to claim and protect the economic resources of the region.” There is no call in these words to change the kind of thinking that would have nations fighting over the last barrels of oil in a climate destabilized world. There is no reason to believe that a nation that learned nothing positive from the genocide it was founded upon will relinquish its death grip on power, even if it brings the entire planet into ecological chaos.

One of the interesting developments under Trump, the belligerent corporatist who walked away from an ineffectual Paris Climate Accord on the heels of pipeline expansionist and drone warrior Barack Obama, is the fact the military’s attention to climate change is not confined to just one paper. Members of the military community have continued to point out the looming danger of climate change. Even into the strange days of Trump, climate has been an ongoing concern from more vocal members of the Pentagon, and has led to figures like Bill McKibben pointing to their role as advocates for addressing the climate. “…the Pentagon, when it speaks frankly,” McKibben opined, “has the potential to reach Americans who won’t listen to scientists.” Perhaps it is this understanding of the pro-military psyche of the highly propagandized American populace that led him several years earlier to pen an article for The New Republic entitled “A World at War” in which he proclaims “We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.”

In his opening commentary, he attempts to capture our militarist imagination with images of a supposed war that greenhouse gases are waging against us and the planet as a whole. “Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears,” he tells us. Instead of listening to scientific and military experts, “we chose to strengthen the enemy with our endless combustion; a billion explosions of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders have fueled a global threat as lethal as the mushroom-shaped nuclear explosions we long feared.” When McKibben assures us that this comparison is not some figure of speech, he reveals another facet of his dangerous thinking when it comes to climate change and war. “But this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments. (Over the past few years, record-setting droughts have helped undermine the brutal strongman of Syria and fuel the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.)”

McKibben’s primary intent appears to be one of mobilizing the American people to rise to the challenge of facing climate change, as if we are preparing for World War II. But by framing greenhouse gases, or the combustion of fossil fuels, as a wartime enemy, he commits several grave mistakes. The primary mistake is the reality that wars are not waged by greenhouse gases or machines, but by the people who produce and control the profit and power driven systems that enable their proliferation. While McKibben perceives that the image of war is useful in that it provides an opportunity to appeal to America’s wartime nostalgia and perhaps mobilize those “Americans who won’t listen to scientists,” it falls short of the more accurate perspective that it is the belief in the actual economic system and technologically driven framework which organizes the institutions of power into a war on humanity and the planet.

McKibben can’t bring himself to call capitalism, militarism, and technologically centred consumerism as enemies of the people to be resisted. To excuse him for his particular framing as a kind of practical rhetorical decision is to overlook the dangerous obfuscations that arise and tendencies which are amplified as a result of such a framework. While McKibben nurtures our dangerously sanitized vision of patriotic history, he simultaneously lets off the hook and further empowers some of the most significant perpetrators of the crisis by maintaining our faith in a mythic US military practicality. As previously mentioned, it is not simply the significant and under reported greenhouse gas emissions of the military that is the problem. It is also the diversion of needed resources to unsustainable war making. It is the creation of a global order based in mistrust and brutal competition that fuels consumerism. It is the dangerous empowerment of militarized and paramilitary security forces at a time when the world is becoming increasingly unstable.

And when McKibben characterizes President Assad as the “brutal strongman of Syria”, rather than describing his more nuanced role as a popularly supported leader in the face of US, Israeli, and Gulf State directed aggression, he moves beyond the abstractions of WWII imagery and into direct support for American imperialist interests. His tacit support for the US war machine was further evidenced when he concluded that with the emergence of “green” tech, “The day will come when blocking the strait of Hormuz or blowing up a petrol station will be an empty threat – and that will be a good day indeed.” This of course is a shot at the enemy of American and Israeli elite, Iran. What such a remark avoids is any pretense of a future without US foreign meddling, whether that be in the form of toppling leaders like Iran’s former Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh at the behest of oil interests, or the US implementation of destabilizing sanctions in more recent years. While McKibben might lament the oil wars, his alignment with popularly held US prejudices is right out of the same neoconservative playbook which spawned George Bush’s axis of evil. In a world where the destabilizing climate will become one of many factors that both increase the likelihood of war and provide opportunities to devise profit-garnering narratives of so-called “humanitarian intervention,” McKibben is making it clear that his trust ultimately lies not with the people who suffer under the boot of military aggression and capitalist exploitation, but rather with a power structure that is quite literally killing us.

Kids in Hanano, East Aleppo, 24 hours after liberation from Nusra Front-led occupation, by the SAA and allies. December 2016 [Photo: Vanessa Beeley, Source]

Playing fast and loose again with the reality of the linkages between war, environmental exploitation, and climate change, McKibben declared in an opinion piece for The Guardian: “No one will ever fight a war over access to sunshine – what would a country do, set up enormous walls to shade everyone else’s panels? …A world that runs on sun and wind is a world that can relax.” Beyond the obvious fact that wars were fought long before oil became a hot commodity, perhaps the most glaring deception in McKibben’s arsenal is that war will be significantly reduced simply by the widespread adoption of “green” tech. But if you examine McKibben’s phrasing, he doesn’t say “no one will ever fight a war over access to  the components needed to manufacture green technology.” Rather, it is access to sun or wind, he says, that won’t spur bloodshed. This may be true, but he is implying for the casual reader that access to sun and wind is the same as access to raw materials and technological products that transform wind and sun into electricity. Nothing could be further from the truth, and his careful word choice is extremely deceptive. It is a bit like the kind of lie one might tell if one were operating from a war mentality, justifying the creation of false propaganda meant to rally people around a national cause that is sold as being for the greater good. “Wars can’t be fought over sunshine” makes for a clever, if duplicitous, slogan in a nation whose populace has grown less supportive of the oil wars they are funding with their tax dollars. But perhaps a bit of sleight of hand is good for the cause. The ends justify the means, as the saying goes. But do they really?

Another saying is that truth is the first casualty of war. If you are waging a war against amorphous greenhouse gases rather than acknowledging the war that has been initiated against life by technology and profit centred networks of capitalists, security forces, and politicians of all stripes, then your distorted framework sets the tone for more distortions. But as Medea Benjamin points out in her critique of McKibben’s call for a kind of wartime climate mobilization, “Some of the worst state responses to climate disruption already look like war.” As a means to demonstrate the ugliness of actual wars rather than promulgating simplistic, mythologized narratives, she refers to the Congolese forced labor which was used during WWII to extract uranium that went into the atomic bombs that would needlessly kill over one hundred thousand Japanese civilians.

McKibben assures us “…it’s important to remember that a truly global mobilization to defeat climate change wouldn’t wreck our economy or throw coal miners out of work. Quite the contrary: Gearing up to stop global warming would provide a host of social and economic benefits, just as World War II did.” As a reactive, crisis induced scramble for solutions from the same mindset that produced our problems, this kind of blind triumphalism has no time to soberly internalize both the hard limits of a growth-based economic system on a finite planet, and the deep tragedy of a world which had plunged itself into the bloodiest war in human history. Such triumphalism is ultimately incapable of seeing how the true lessons of war and the belief in a mythological progress continue to be ignored as we move into climate chaos.

This belief in a technologically driven progress which can be found in McKibben’s writing, and which often centers the discussion on an unerring belief in green jobs and economic prosperity over the reality that continued economic growth disrupts global ecologies, mirrors the kind of post WWII optimism which accompanied the so-called Great Acceleration. The Great Acceleration refers to the rapid economic growth seen during the war and the years following, which had an enormous impact on the environment. Ecologist and cellular biologist Barry Commoner concluded that, “The chief reason for the environmental crisis that has engulfed the United States in recent years is the sweeping transformation of productive technology since World War II. … Productive technologies with intense impacts on the environment have displaced less destructive ones. The environmental crisis is the inevitable result of this counter-ecological pattern of growth.” If one considers the radical changes humans have made to the planet on a geological timescale, it is easy to recognize that rather than representing a fundamental break from an older mindset, the rapid push for so called renewables is simply the machine of planetary consumption shifting gears.

In a critique of one aspect of this intensifying technological paradigm, Bill McKibben warns about the potential dangers of things like artificial intelligence in his book Falter, but when he calls the military industrial complex one of “the few places where it’s actually possible” to conduct research and development, his warnings ring hollow. In this world of great acceleration, cultures that value their modern consumerist lifestyle over unbroken forests, that don’t put up serious objections to continued growth and warfare, issue in the next wave of technological “innovation” which further speeds up the process of planetary destruction. If McKibben believes that the military will help develop the next generation battery technology to power electric cars, he should be aware those batteries emerge from a larger gestalt of full spectrum dominance, where better and faster applies first to maintaining a kind of material superiority that, if taken to the logical extension of automated warfare, threatens to launch our technosphere past the ability for humans to meaningfully react.  The crisis, then, when seen through the lens of technological innovation and war, only accelerates the destruction of life.

It is in this reality, where violence and exploitation undergirds the accelerations of modern consumer society, and green tech in fact relies on raw materials lying in often contested ground, that the US Department of the Interior finalized a list of thirty five “critical minerals” in 2018. In the Summary for the final document, the department declared that “The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain mineral commodities that are vital to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity. This dependency of the United States on foreign sources creates a strategic vulnerability for both its economy and military to adverse foreign government action, natural disaster, and other events that can disrupt supply of these key minerals.” Among the thirty five minerals considered to be part of this “strategic vulnerability” were indium, tellurium, lithium, cobalt, and the rare earth elements, all of which are important components of corporate manufactured “green” technology.

 

What this translates to, of course, is that while wars won’t likely be fought over sunlight, the materials needed to produce “green” technology may indeed be the subject of significant future conflicts. This becomes increasingly clear when one looks more closely at the reality on the ground. For example, the very same nation which contained the highly concentrated uranium ore exploited for the atomic bomb, a nation with a legacy of Western colonial oppression and violent internal conflict, also produces over 60 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt, which is used in the cathode of lithium ion batteries. In 1961, shortly after gaining its independence from nearly 80 years of Belgian colonial rule, the newly elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated with direct assistance from the United States. The result would be a decades-long rule by a US-friendly autocrat followed by his overthrow and subsequent mass violence that intersected with the Rwandan genocide in which millions of people were killed.

Violence within the Congo has long relied on the control of mines for sources of income with which to pay fighters and buy weapons and supplies. One study showed the direct correlation between mineral prices, which went up with growing consumer demand, and the rise of violence. The understanding of this connection between mining operations and violent conflict led to the creation of Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd Frank Act, which stipulated that companies refrain from purchasing minerals sourced from conflict areas. A Global Witness study, however, found that almost 80% of companies “failed to meet the minimum requirements of the U.S. conflict minerals law.”

With the majority of large mines in the Congo currently owned by China, a nation whose supposed threat to the US was emblazoned in Obama’s strategic Asia Pivot, competition for these resources will likely only go up at a time when “green” tech is being demanded with the urgency of human survival. With an estimated 30 percent of global reserves, and 95 percent of current global production, China is also the global leader in the highly polluting regime of rare earth mineral extraction and processing. To think conflict will simply decrease at the same time there is an increased dependency on unevenly distributed “critical minerals” is beyond naive.  Growing competition between the US and China in exploiting Africa’s resources are an indication of one potential conflict that lies ahead. While China increases its investment on the continent, dozens of private military contractors from countries such as the US, the UK, France, Russia, and the Ukraine are operating in a variety of African nations, protecting mines, serving as bodyguards, as well as a multitude of other security related missions.

Among those looking to capitalize on both security contracts and the increased interest in minerals is the founder of the infamous private mercenary group Blackwater, Erik Prince, who has reportedly expressed his desire to profit from cobalt mines in the Congo as well as rare earth minerals in Afghanistan.

Erik Prince: founder and former CEO of the private mercenary company Blackwater, now known as Academi

Erik Prince: founder and former CEO of the private mercenary company Blackwater, now known as Academi

 

Prince has been embroiled in numerous controversies, and his involvement in the minerals trade is highly suggestive of the troubling world order McKibben is trying to gloss over. In 2007, Blackwater contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians during what has come to be known as the Nisour Square Massacre. Three contractors involved in the killing were sentenced to thirty years in prison, one of whom would go on to serve a life sentence for murder. In 2010, Blackwater would go on to pay a $42 million settlement to the State Department which, as reported in the New York Times, was in response to crimes that “included illegal weapons exports to Afghanistan, making unauthorized proposals to train troops in south Sudan and providing sniper training for Taiwanese police officers…”.

In 2014, Prince went on to oversee the illegal creation of retrofitted crop dusting planes that could be used as part of a private aerial attack force to be contracted in Africa. As part of a counterinsurgency effort in Sudan to protect oil fields, detailed in the Intercept, “Prince’s $300 million proposal to aid [Sudan President] Kiir’s forces explicitly called for ground and air assaults, initially to be conducted by a 341-person foreign combat unit. Prince’s forces would conduct “deliberate attacks, raids, [and] ambushes” against “rebel objectives,” to be followed by “continuous medium to high intensity rapid intervention”, which would include “search [and] destroy missions.” These proposed operations, which were never fully implemented, were done under the cover of various front companies and were hidden from other executives of Prince’s own company, Frontier Services Group (FSG), who believed the contract would merely entail surveillance services.

More recently, Prince made a pitch to the Trump administration to send 5,000 contracted mercenaries to topple the government of Venezuela.

It is against this backdrop that Erik Prince announced in 2019 the formation of an investment fund that will capitalize on the increased demand for electric car batteries. Looking to bring cobalt and other minerals to market, Prince told the Financial Times, “For all the talk of our virtual world, the innovation, you can’t build these vehicles without minerals that come from generally weird, hard-to-access places.” According to Reuters, by mid-2019, a subsidiary of Frontier Services Group, in which Erik Prince serves as executive director and deputy chairman, filed with the Congolese business registry for the purpose of “‘the exploration, exploitation and commercialisation of minerals’, forest logging, security, transport, construction and ‘all financial, investment and project financing operations, both public and private.'”

In addition to looking to further exploit labor in the Congo, Prince has also reportedly been exploring the potential to profit from the spoils of a war-torn Afghanistan. Expressing a desire to privatize the war in Afghanistan, an effort which would be funded in part by increased mining operations, the details of his plan were further revealed in a BuzzFeed article, where Prince was quoted as advancing “a strategic mineral resource extraction funded effort that breaks the negative security economic cycle.”

His interest rests on a backdrop in which Afghan president Asraf Ghani in 2017 gave the green light for US corporations to begin developing the country’s mineral supply, including rare earth elements, which are used in wind turbines and LED lights. In response to the president’s enthusiasm for incoming US investment, Donald Trump’s White House issued the following statement: “They agreed that such initiatives would help American companies develop materials critical to national security while growing Afghanistan’s economy and creating new jobs in both countries, therefore defraying some of the costs of United States assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant.” Trump was counting on America’s longest war to finally begin paying off, and Erik Prince, a significant financial contributor to the Trump campaign, whose sister Betsy Devos was subsequently appointed as Secretary of Education, may end up being one those beneficiaries.

This is the reality of resource exploitation and war, where large corporations and privatized military forces work as adjuncts to the wars of nation states, reaping multi-million dollar contracts, profiting from natural resources whose sale does little to benefit the impoverished citizens of the nations they are stolen from. The economic disparity engendered by such free market predation can only lead to greater sources of conflict. And now we are being told by the IPCC that in order to have a chance at avoiding the 1.5°C aspirational target set in the Paris Climate Accord, we need to some how scale up  “green” technology in order to reduce global carbon emissions to the tune of 45% by 2030. Under such seemingly impossible circumstances, one can’t help but wonder how many of the jobs to be created by the Green New Deal’s push for mass renewable energy development will include private military contractors guarding mineral mines and supply chains in order to keep profitable the nearly unquestioned human and environmental exploitation which powers our unsustainable lifestyles.

"The so-called ‘Greta Scenario’ describing net 0 carbon emissions by 2025... the demand outlook for copper is going to be significant. What’s more incontrovertible is security of supply... success in finding new sources of copper is declining. In fact, much of the known copper resources today represents 'the work of our grandfathers.'"

“The so-called ‘Greta Scenario’ describing net 0 carbon emissions by 2025… the demand outlook for copper is going to be significant. What’s more incontrovertible is security of supply… success in finding new sources of copper is declining. In fact, much of the known copper resources today represents ‘the work of our grandfathers.'”

 

While images of indigenous resistance to oil pipelines have captured the imagination of the environmental left, the reality is that land grabs in the name of “green” infrastructure is also a growing reality. The new rush to exploit the minerals of Africa is one such example. Another involves the Saami people, whose protest of a copper mine in Norway that would disrupt the land and traditional lifestyles of indigenous herders and fishers, was ignored. With the decision to permit the mine, Trade and Industry minister Røe Isaksen said, “Obviously, most of the copper we mine in the world today is used for transporting electricity. If you look at an electric car for example, it has three times the amount of copper compared to a regular car”.

While demand for access to land rich with minerals will rise, most of the pathways mapped out by the IPCC for limiting global temperature to 1.5°C incorporate the unrealistic use of massive tracts of land for capturing carbon out of the atmosphere. This is the response to a projected timeline in which emissions are not adequately brought down, and the resulting carbon overshoot must be compensated for with so called negative emissions technologies. Such scenarios paint a picture in which areas twice the size of India must be cultivated for biomass. The question is, whose land will be used? Who will be forcibly removed? Taken together, this so-called fourth industrial revolution of “green” technology has all the hallmarks of a militarily-enforced manifest destiny, in which the technologically advanced, hyper consumptive way of life for wealthy nations is violently preserved at the expense of both the planet and lives of impoverished people around the globe. In reality, the likely failure of such hail mary carbon reduction schemes will affect everyone in a rising tide of scarcity and violence, as the global elites rely upon these same kinds of security and military institutions they’ve always turned toward in order to maintain hold on a crumbling order that they packaged as our salvation.

A WKOG parody advertisement that is more and more difficult to detect in the year 2019. NGOs and “environmental leaders” are more and more, openly functioning as key instruments of US imperialism.

In addition to the fact that contested land and minerals needed for a world powered by “green” tech could easily play a role in future conflicts, so long as militaries are economically supported and culturally celebrated, fossil fuels will remain a strategic commodity for armies around the world. As a dense, portable, and storable source of energy, fossil fuels will continue to be the central source of power for military vehicles. Imagine trying to run tanks, destroyers, and fighter jets on solar or wind charged batteries. While the notion of using biofuels in the military is increasingly gaining traction, most vehicles will not run on 100% biofuels, instead requiring a mixture with a standard petroleum derivative. For example, jet fuel made from biomass, known as bioject, can only be mixed at up to a 50% blend. Furthermore, the production of biofuels remains largely energy inefficient and land intensive. The mass adoption of biofuels would likely displace arable land at a time when global population is growing, droughts and extreme weather is increasing, and fantastical schemes to sequester carbon through the cultivation of massive carbon sinks will already be driving up food prices. Rising food prices, of course, is yet another potential source of conflict, so “greening” the military is no surefire method to reduce global tensions.

And so long as militaries, whether American or otherwise, have a critical need for fossil fuels, petroleum will remain a strategic commodity. This means that even if the United States were able to somehow convert its military to be entirely fossil fuel free, if other nations remain reliant upon the use of fossil fuels even if only for their military, control of the world’s oil supply will remain a strategic objective. What all of this suggests is that far from being a preventative measure for military violence, a switch to “green” tech, will likely have little if any impact on war, and in some cases may in fact become a pretext for colonialist land grabs and armed conflict. Only a dedicated anti-war, anti-imperialist movement that intersects with environmental protection, that loudly condemns the crimes and excesses militarism and consumer culture, rather than seeing them as constructive platforms for our future on earth, can have any hope in bringing about peace, and a stable, livable world.

In April 2016, The Climate Mobilization published the paper Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement. The paper weighs heavy with American exceptionalism. Notes of nationalism and cultural superiority waft throughout the document. [Source]

Many Westerners have bought into the “war propaganda” of this global push for a “green” tech fueled, militarily enforced capitalism. As both the economic and environmental situations deteriorate, perhaps the push for widespread adoption will indeed reach the kind of fevered pitch Bill McKibben advocates. This could very well come at a time when the militaries which avoided substantive critique and were instead elevated as potential allies in the “climate fight” come on full display. In this future where comforting narratives like McKibben’s steer the populace away from the much darker truth, manufactured humanitarian disasters provide the palatable cover for the dirty work of securing access to raw materials needed for battery production and wind turbines by armies whose bases are hardened for sea level rise, yet whose tactical vehicles are still necessarily dependent upon dense fossil fuel power. At this time of great uncertainty, a genuine dissent which had languished under the spell of false promises of “green” technology and ignored the mass violence that underpins modern industrial society, emerges out of necessity from the growing direness of global crop failures and economic breakdown. This growing dissent, which threatens the illegitimate power held by the global elites, is met with heavy repression that draws upon decades of unimpeded surveillance tech implementation, the militarization of global police forces, and the use of private security. The participants in such a movement would have done well to have heeded the reality that the private contractor TigerSwan, which had operated inside of Afghanistan and Iraq in support of the US war efforts, had been mobilized against protesters during the militarized crackdown at Standing Rock under the watch of President Obama. Nations which had celebrated their institutions of violence while dismissing the real threats such a framework posed, would fall under the shadow of the very security forces they had funded to the detriment of systemically oriented solutions.

This is the nightmare that any genuine climate movement would openly seek to avoid, but it is a nightmare that is well under way. Rather than obfuscating the multifaceted threat that a culture of tech driven consumerism and militarism plays in an increasingly resource scarce, climate destabilized world, such a movement would seek to highlight those connections between planetary exploitation, violence, and the climate crisis as a means to deescalate the potential for future global wars, all while acknowledging the reality that climate catastrophe is now an inevitability. It is increasingly clear that we will not stay below the 1.5°C aspirational target set forth in the toothless Paris Climate Accords, and the 2°C target will not likely be respected either.  Widespread disruption is now an inevitablility. Which begs the question, what sort of framework will humanity adopt in approaching this future? Will it be one of a triumphal war rhetoric, “practical” alliances with the military industrial complex, and the downplaying of the disastrous consequences of militarism?

Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria, This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, Globalizations, 2016 Vol. 13, No. 6, 928–933

Clive L. Spash, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria, This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, Globalizations, 2016 Vol. 13, No. 6, 928–933

 

Climate change at its core is about conflict. It is a conflict between how humans live with each other and with the planet, and this conflict builds on centuries of violence and exploitation that are enmeshed, often unseen by the privileged, within the economic, social, and political systems to this day. We can either face our own discomfort and confront the structures of violence that have brought us to this turning point in human history, or we can soothe ourselves with comfortable narratives and allow the internal conflicts inherent in the system to catapult us far beyond the breaking point. With the primary focus currently being on narrow and insufficient technological approaches to a holistic problem of violence and exploitation, a broad and genuine environmental and social justice movement has yet to materialize. While climate catastrophe is now inevitable, its scale has yet to be determined. The underlying social conflicts we refuse to engage with today become the amplified armed conflicts of tomorrow. Only when people join together, rejecting mass consumer culture embodied in capitalism and enforced through militarism, to instead create leverage through sustained civil disobedience and the creation of ecologically minded communities that view life as sacred, can the kind of radical demands needed for the potential of a livable future be realized.

In all likelihood, such resistance will be met with the kind of structural State (and non State) violence that Bill McKibben ignores, but to refrain from the kind of resistance that opens the door to structural change, and to ignore the reality of deep structural violence, only guarantees a violent collapse, as heavily armed and economically stratified societies run up against the hard limits of physics. Indeed, we are now faced with the potential that no matter how great our efforts, the everyday materialism and violence that makes our system function, and the steepness of the changes now required, may prove too daunting to adequately address. How people choose to deal with this reality is yet to be seen, but it is better to have such conversations now than in the midst of bloody social breakdown. Solace can be found in the solidarity of peers, among those who would both work for a better future or stand at your side when such a future is no longer possible. Rather than masking reality with feel good propaganda that profits the wealthy, it is our decision to move with a fierce and loving intent from within a darkness we are able to acknowledge, that gives us the capacity to be both carriers of genuine transformation in a troubled yet salvageable world, and steadfast companions in one that is doomed.

 

[Luke Orsborne contributes time to the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective. You can discuss this article and others at the Climate Change and War group on social media.]

 

[1] Continued: These mining + processing operations have left a legacy of potential exposures to uranium waste from abandoned mines/mills, homes and other structures built with mining waste which impacts the drinking water, livestock + humans. As a heavy metal, uranium primarily damages the kidneys + urinary system. While there have been many studies of environmental + occupational exposure to uranium and associated renal effects in adults, there have been very few studies of other adverse health effects. In 2010 the University of New Mexico partnered with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Division of Health to evaluate the association between environmental contaminants + reproductive birth outcomes. This investigation is called the Navajo Birth Cohort Study and will follow children for 7 years from birth to early childhood. Chemical exposure, stress, sleep, diet + theireffects on the children’s physical, cognitive + emotional development will be studied. Billboard: JC with her younger sister, Gracie (who is a NBCS participant). #stopcanyonmine” [Source]

Buffett, Gates Foundation, Bono’s RED and the Dakota Access Pipeline

How Bono’s RED Became the Color of Philanthrowashing Done Right for the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Raydiant Labyrinth

February 8, 2017

by Pamela Williams

 

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PART 1

Who’s Invested? Complicit Corruption Aiding and Abetting the Bakken Shale Boom (#bombtrains)

 

If you Google “phillips 66 DAPL investment” right now, -unless a new divestment announcement is resulting in an algorithm smackdown of the headlines as we speak, your search will turn up a mass majority of articles stating how President elect Donald Trump is (mainly was) invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) through both Energy Transfer Partners LLC and Phillips 66, at a maximal of $1 million that was reduced to between $15 000 – $50 000 for the former (which Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks announced was divested of) and an investment which may maximally be a quarter million in the latter, Phillips66, which has not garnered any response of whether Trump divested or not. These reports give you confirmation that Phillips66 has a 25% stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline.  This is what Google’s search algorithms latch onto. In November, the other two majority stakeholders consolidated.

Trump’s investment is hailed of interest for its conflict of interest, and may rate as a calculated smackdown of Trump targeted at the environmental constituency, echo-chambered by the mainstream media to swamp searches on the subject in the last heat of the election. Google “Trump DAPL investor October 2016”. It hit then. Stories on this went so far back as May, 2016 (see Sources; they remain focussed on the subject to this day).

The next focus of aspersion and the sole focus for financial punishment designated by environmental groups and indigenous activists as the rightful target for a divestment campaign has been the banks funding the project, a campaign more or less launched by Food & Water Watch. What is interesting about this is that in terms of the banks loaning credit to the DAPL, not one of these banks exceeds an investment of $600 million.

 

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Hardly a murmur is heard on the media or inter-webs as per the billionaire investors in DAPL’s fruition, but Counterpunch made mention of Warren Buffett, invested in Phillips 66 at over $6.8 billion through Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, making Berkshire Hathaway the majority shareholder of Phillips 66 at 22%. (The second ranked investor, Vanguard Group, sits at 8%.) Phillips66 is Berkshire Hathaway’s 6th largest holding and 5th largest percent stake. Phillips66 is responsible for building the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Perhaps even curiouser given Berkshire Hathaway is invested in the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline over a hundred times as much as any of these banks, it owns a host of subsidiaries, many of which are easily boycott-able by the general public, starting with Geico and Dairy Queen. Curiously, the most significant of Berkshire Hathaway’s “wholly owned subsidiaries”, which figures significantly in the scenario about to be laid before you of who’s been deep down and dirty in the Bakken, North Dakota, is not on that list. BNSF and its fracking holding company, Burlington Resources, figure prominently in this New York Times’ expose dated November, 2014. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) belongs to Berkshire Hathaway. At $44 billion it was the largest acquisition in Berkshire Hathaway’s history, which would be common knowledge to anyone in the NYT readership with a memory, but was a curiously omitted fact in the above expose on state corruption in the Bakken five years later.

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The expose delineates pay to play collusion involving the then current North Dakota Governor and state officials (the director of mineral resources) with the oil and gas industry with respects to mineral rights (i.e., fracking rights, helpful hint: mineral rights trump surface rights), which BNSF had originally owned through land it had been historically awarded including those rights. When they sold off surface tracts of land in North Dakota, they were not selling the mineral rights. Those rights “were managed by its energy company, Burlington Resources.” Burlington Resources was sold to Conoco Phillips for $36.5 billion. The NYT article does not provide the crucial purchase date, but this does (Feb. 1, 2006), so it was a Conoco Phillips entity when this corruption scandal transpired (by three years), a date of transaction curiously omitted by the NYT that was pretty essential for clarification. Incidentally Phillips 66 was created and spun off from this parent company in 2012, meaning Conoco Phillips investors received two Phillips 66 shares for every Conoco Phillips share they owned.
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Take it as a promise that these financials are being laid out to deliver the juice. The NYT expose had a Part 1, depicting how oil and gas resource industry was an old-school regulatory douche-nozzle we normally identify as structured unbridled corruption with ghastly spill rates, (precisely the sort of situation completely ripe for an explosive protest with the level of ineptitude just waiting to blow), accompanied by the above Part 2 pointing out the level of corruption that is legally structured into state governance around oil resources in North Dakota, as well as a history of connective issue informing us that these are more or less the same corporate players. The most salient point is that NYT would make no mention of Warren Buffett’s ownership of BNSF or lend any clarification with regards to its subsidiary, Burlington Resources although this would have indicated it avoided a direct conflict of interest on the part of the companies and himself. The basis for this became clear with the fact that NYT pointedly omitted on its description that the photograph of a charred skeleton of an train engine from a rail explosion outside of Casselton, ND, was a BNSF train. If you avoided the train was BNSF’s, the query of conflict of interest would not even arise at all for those who didn’t already know that. They certainly weren’t bringing up who owned it to those not in the know of their readership, and that was the priority.

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“On its website, BNSF reported that a westbound grain train with 112 cars derailed at about 2:10 p.m. Monday about one mile west of Casselton, hitting an eastbound 106-car train carrying crude oil on an adjacent track and causing it to derail, as well. An estimated 21 cars caught fire, some exploding and sending huge fireballs into the blue sky.” [Source] Photo Credit: Shawn Rode Photography

To give you some curious foreshadowing (think of if as appropriate visual and musical montage  for accompaniment) you can opt to interrupt this broadcast by taking note of how a shot of a BNSF train running through the southwest graces the opening credits of Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers”  (and reappears throughout). That won’t be a left field statement by the time this report is concluded; indeed the movie might almost seem peppered with the visual spice and splice of foreshadowing itself, were it not for the truth that the architects of human global imminent peril are not, and never have been, individual mass murderers. They’re the opposite. That aside, even the death toll (48 before Mickey and Mallory go to prison) will have a curious resonance (not to mention the 666 motif almost already does), so let’s get back to it.

NYT’s photo of the charred shell of an train engine whose company they wouldn’t name makes a picturesque omission that should have been worth a thousand words, or could have easily held the potential for a Part 3; -the trace remnant of a BNSF train that exploded near the governor’s birthplace of Casselton, ND (with such fierceness that the town had to be evacuated). In fact it was BNSF’s first Bakken oil train explosion, and it was truly spectacular. However these were not new. The first explosion of fracked product out of Bakken immolated the town center of Lac-Megantic along with 47 people. Homes were burned from the inside out while “fire erupted from water pipes, drains and sewers”:

“The Lac-Mégantic disaster generated an estimated $2 billion in liabilities with the cleanup alone projected at $200 million. The train’s operator, MM&A, a short line railroad transporting the crude from a Canadian Pacific (CP) yard to a refinery in New Brunswick, had just $25 million in liability insurance. Soon after the accident, MM&A filed for bankruptcy protection.” – Sightline Institute

 

While there was obvious negligence at fault (brakes not set properly on a single engineer run train at the top of a hill) and these problems increased, rather than decreased in Canada afterwards) -this was clearly not simply the problem as evidenced by the barest of timelines offered by Sightline, which marks the BNSF train at Casselton as the third such explosion. This is problematic as many actual explosions are treated as spills or derailments in the press, and additionally many accidents were omitted. Two reports have reached a consensus of 14 such headline accidents by multiple carriers, whereas Sightline lists eleven. In the instance of the Gogoma ON oil train fire mentioned by all three, that was in fact the fifth derailment in Ontario alone for that year (in less than three months) of just CN trains. There were more (of just CN trains for that period) in other provinces, actually seven additional derailments, five in Canadian provinces, and two more in the US.  This article on the second oil train accident/fire listed in Sightline’s timeline in Alabama mentions another one in Alberta. By the time of the Timmins ON derailment (and massive fire), that was the third such derailment in less than a month. Noteworthy incidents like two Wisconsin accidents two days in a row  and one in Buffalo don’t make the list. Neither do products other than crude oil, like a CN coal spill in Vancouver that took out a river Streamkeepers had been rehabilitating for salmon, due for its biggest run in 80 years , or a train carrying ‘liquid petroleum’ (propane) that caused the evacuation of hundreds in Tennessee.

Another fine example of this type of downplaying of events (though they mention 17 such derailments, 10 of them “terrifying”) is a far more recent piece of glaring headliner clickbait by Chicago Magazine that states the energy potential of a single oil rail car is the equivalent of ‘2 million sticks of dynamite’, a piece designed to at once to frighten and soothe the Chicago populace. Chicago was where Buffett was apparently behind forcing rail yard workers not to unionize for anything above minimum wage.

Chicago Magazine labeled this BNSF Casselton explosion (mushroom cloud is more like it) a collision. Initial reporting of this accident by eye-witnesses said this was between standing rail cars, and that a grain car tipped off its rails onto the adjacent oil train. For Chicago Magazine’s citation the Lynchburg derailment in Virginia was treated was as a spill into the river (with 50 000 gallons of crude oil ‘missing’  that endangered the drinking water supply), when it had an explosion from the derailment that sent ‘flames stories high’ and set the river on fire. Likewise, Sightline’s listing of the same accident treats the Lynchburg derailment as just that. The same watering down is apparent in Sightline’s ambiguity as per the second Bakken oil train fire in the timeline at Alliceville, Alabama which they dubbed “derailment and river contamination” when the accompanying blaze could not be approached for eighteen hours, was referred to as hundreds of feet tall and could be witnessed from ten miles away. Ignited Thursday, it was still burning on Saturday, and kept going. Ergo, by the time of the second major headline accident, it was already known that a simple derailment could engender massive combustion with large fires.

The third explosion in the rail accident chronology by BNSF outside of Casselton stands apart for one thing, it brought about a report by Truthout that all trains out of Bakken were being permitted to carry highly volatile VOC’s, alleged by non-corporate testing of the Bakken product to easily range between 30% and 40% of the product. (Casselton got the undivided attention of Mark Ruffalo.) Also, those in receivership of BNSF Bakken trains had to obtain “special conditions” permits, requiring them to “flare-off” the dangerous VOCs before barging them down a river, the Mississippi. This wasn’t your usual crude. (The article doesn’t even mention the obvious potential of residual methane, which in fracking operations was being flared off all the time.) The permit process showed that those in receivership knew the volatility as they were required to treat the product, which means so did the shippers. What was AWOL was Federal regulation of the product out of North Dakota, and this was because volatility equated with profitability, especially with respects to jet fuel.

At this threshold the salient point to be derived from the New York Times expose on the prior coexistence of BNSF and their spin-off Burlington Resources becomes very clear. BNSF had a subsidiary dealing in this product that was more than likely offloaded at the right time to prevent any conflict of interest being thrown into relief by a subsequent explosion, a situation that would would have surely made it liable, whereas after Casselton, Buffett was campaigning for the equivalent insurance exceptions as nuclear power plants, despite a record of 721 safety violations in North Dakota alone since 2006. After all, you cannot obtain such exemptions in the face of such a record when you can in no way have claimed ignorance after 47 people got immolated, which you could not when the same company that ships the product has an existing subsidiary fracking the product. By the point of purchase of BNSF, Buffett was in the clear of such a glaring direct conflict of interest. Nonetheless there is no way those responsible for shipping product out of Bakken could have been any more naive than those in receivership who were being regulated to treat the contents for volatility, and even if one could have laid claim to ignorance, after the second conflagration in Alabama, there was really no question anymore. Really there should have been no question after Lac-Megantic, but strike 3, you’re out. The BNSF Casselton explosion resulted in a nigh instantaneous safety classification alert by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Canadian pipeline corporations immediately followed suite. (Look at the photo caption. -Little late to protest the Keystone XL, -weren’t we?)

Yet rail companies continued to insist on not even upgrading their tanker cars, as well as one engineer per train after 47 dead, (which has met with consistent resistance). BNSF was spearheading continual lobbying efforts against safety regulation, -including against upgrading the braking system to ECP(electronically controlled pneumatic braking system), right up to the present day.

Buffett himself needed no more hints after Casselton, he diversified into a subsidiary pipeline company of Phillips 66 within 24 hours, whose specialty was “lubricating oil’s movement through pipelines, increasingly crucial for the industry to move both tar sands crude and oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) in an efficient manner.” At that point he was already invested in Phillips 66 to the tune of 27 million shares. This article cites shipment of Bakken crude by BNSF at “over 1 million barrels per day”. This move to formulation is pertinent if one were to consider the question of whether the mixture ratios for transport via pipelines would be dissimilar to the necessary need for viscosity to get the substance into individual train cars. With respects to the tar sands/diluent formulation, this would be especially likely since you are dealing with bitumen, literally sand granules individually coated in tar, where they’ve managed to get the guck off the sand granules. And the truth of the substance is that it was being cut 30% with “diluent” (out of Texas) to get it to even move through a pipeline. This logically constituted natural gas, combined with all those undisclosed chemicals that went into fracking the product. “Increased demand for diluent among Alberta’s tar sands producers has created a growing market for U.S. producers of natural gas liquids, particularly for fracked gas producers.”

This question of what amount of diluent would be needed to get the tar sands product in and out of individual rail cars was brought instantly to the fore by the fourth listed oil train accident, a CN train in New Brunswick. At the time of the fourth listed “derailment” in New Brunswick (by Sightline and the rest), Reuters was deceiving the public as to the train’s point of origin. (They literally claimed it was from Toronto, with a straight face. Oil does not come from Toronto.) It was later confirmed to have originated from “western Canada”. This vague imputation (which was about all you would find) was deliberately framed to avoid the determination whether it was tar sands with diluent or Bakken “crude”, as western Canada is home to both. CN callously refused to disclose to the shaken Canadian public the train’s point of origin at the time in order to avoid the nature of the contents, but after all, this was the same corporation that after Lac-Megantic “argued against an emergency provision that trains loaded with dangerous goods such as crude oil [which should be put in the requisite air quotes, as it was never dangerous before Bakken] never be left unattended.

Transport Canada was no help at all. They announced in 2013 that CN was failing to disclose “hundreds of derailments, accidents”, a discrepancy which began ten years after privatization in 2005. They were also classifying the safety exemptions they gave to rail carriers, (including and especially CN, who was still favored by laws that remained in on the books from when CN was Canada’s national rail company, -exercised to brutal effect), and were heftily to blame for the failures that led to Lac-Megantic. Before Lac-Megantic, the Bakken oil trains had been labeled with the wrong hazard class in Canada, one that gave no warning of their explosiveness. They were classified the same as regular crude.

While the New Brunswick rail fire has been clarified as three cars of propane and one of ‘crude’ (-that’s in the “Oregon Live” accident summary, we never got to know where it came from or what it constituted), –since the deliberate venting post fire involved three cars carrying “liquified petroleum”), it’s safe to conclude the three propane cars involved did not explode in the first place. Oh geez, lucky us. What a boom that would have been! Now you’re beginning to grasp why this accident was the subject of such cover-up. It was, given the product portfolio of “western Canada”, (and the nature of the burn), likely from the Athabasca tar sands and diluted bitumen (shortened in the parlance to ‘dilbit’), and not Bakken product involved in the conflagration. After all the cat was already out of the bag about Bakken, so why was this one hush-hush? Additionally this Global News article on the vent taking place points to the same venting technique having to happen at another Alberta oil train fire, which otherwise would not have made mention.

What is dilbit? This answer shows you how easy vague reportage on these explosions could be by describing different aspects of the product. It was in fact devilishly difficult to track and quite some time before reportage started declaring which oil train fires were diluted bitumen shipments. With the New Brunswick accident, no one was the wiser. Seattle fire chiefs were certainly alarmed by that point, an unavoidable consideration since Seattle had experienced a BNSF/Bakken “crude” derailment the July prior at only 5 mph. By the time of their communication of disclosure demands for the sake of safety by BNSF, “North Dakota [Bakken was] principally responsible for increasing domestic production from 5 million to 9 million barrels of oil a day.”

The dawning of this insight (the looming question of what was the diluent percentile of tar sands bitumen/diluent needed for sufficient viscosity to transfer “dilbit” in and out of rail cars and how volatile that might prove (as already indicated)) was made irrevocably clear in the accidents to follow. The article that cleared this one up is referring to the fifth oil by rail accident on Sightline’s timeline, the Timmins Ontario CN fire, which was dilbit (as was the ninth listed (CN) rail accident fire at Gogoma ON). In fact the volatility of tar sands with diluent, while not quite as explosive as Bakken product, was certainly as volatile and produced burns that lasted for days, -so volatile that it was just as explosion prone in the newly issued CPC-1232 tank cars brought in to replace the vulnerable DOT-111’s that weren’t designed for oil transport. (The BNSF oil by rail explosion at Galena ILalso involved safer rail cars upgraded for the purpose, showing these upgrades also did not solve the problem for Bakken shale product.)

Further complicating the issue, while there was always an interest in flaring off the additives that originated in the Bakken ‘crude’ (or they could be subject to pre-treatment if anyone cared), diluent was added to tar sands bitumen to make it in any way viable in the first place, and it was exploding in Ontario at minus 40 degrees Celcius. Not only was Buffett’s acquisition of stock in the Phillips 66 subsidiary, Phillips Specialty Products, pivotal, it already looked like they’d proven incapable of the job. It was either that or it was impossible to do the job safely. While the constraint to oil by rail was making money hand over fist for everyone involved, something had to give, and that give was to transition to pipeline. But that did not mean the abandonment of Buffett’s original strategy, either, which was to divert and attenuate the environmental climate movement and use them to prevent the Keystone XL and maximize the oil by rail profit boom.

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At this point it should be brought into the record that Bill Gates has the majority investment stake in CN (Canadian National Railway), and it is the Gates Foundation Trust portfolio’s third largest investment (it was second in 2015). His private investment is the maximal investment permitted under the rules of CN’s privatization. As a personal investment (after the 28,000% increase in oil by rail shipment out of Canada in only four years), it was Bill Gates’ second biggest milk cow after Microsoft in 2013, thanks to a 34% share increase that year.

 

PART 2

Opposing DAPL: Billionaires are Philanthropists because they’re DAPL investors (and much more)

 

Gates and Buffett both got into oil by rail nigh simultaneously, -after touring the Alberta (Athabasca) tar sands in 2008. (Cory Morningstar provides an invaluable timeline on this, though it doesn’t capture Bill Gates’ point of purchase until attaining majority control (they might have been one and the same). Her own online version of this is visually fab.) The tar sands tour article mentions that in 2006 Buffett was notably invested in Conoco Phillips, which means his hands weren’t entirely clean of what went down in North Dakota with the Burlington Resources subsidiary (owned by Conoco Phillips when BNSF sold it). The reason Bill Gates sought majority control of CN at all was in order to cash in on the 28 000% increase in oil by rail shipping out of Canada, driven in no small part by bitumen export to the United States, basically cashing in on the dirtiest oil cash cow on earth. That was the long game.

As a sideshow amusement (which for Canada wasn’t amusing at all), their tour host was a Canadian dilbit billionaire named Murray Edwards. He had the usual PR BJ from Forbes, and still appears listed by them as the 25th richest Canadian (he was 14th at the time he committed one of the worst bits of corporate environmental negligence Canada’s ever seen). Forbes makes no mention that the Albertan instantly engaged in tax flight from the province the moment the NDP party got elected to power, ending over 40 years of conservative rule furnished by the Alberta oil patch.

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Tl’abane Declaration, Kablona Keepers

As CEO of Imperial Metals, Edwards was responsible for the largest mine tailings spill to ever occur in Canadian history. Despite clear abrogation of safety regulations, Imperial metals ignored the Liberal (which should read ‘neoliberal’) provincial government’s warnings on the dam multiple times, (there was no reason to heed when they simultaneously made spine snapping allowances). The dam blew, and released “10.6 million cubic metres of water, 7.3 million cubic metres of tailings and 6.5 million cubic metres of ‘interstitial water’” into the pristine Quesnel Lake, which fed a tributary responsible for up to 25% of the Fraser River’s annual salmon run. The BC provincial Liberal government was simply giving themselves a paper trail to legally keep them out of liability should the inevitable consequence of such corporate negligence prove devastating, which it did. There were no consequences.

It should also be noted (as it has now caught the attention of the New York Times), that rules for election donations and political party funding in British Columbia (BC) might rival behavior in North Dakota (this is the same formula for all the resource hinterland extraction areas needed to fulfill the demands of the ultra-consumerist West). In particular among the Liberal Party’s biggest donors last election were Imperial Metals (after whence they had their massive mine tailings spill in Beautiful BC), and (wait for it, as this will sound off by article’s end like a gong) a foreign multinational shat out of Enron’s carcass named Kinder Morgan. Murray Edwards himself hosted a million dollar funding [election] campaign luncheon for the BC Liberals in Alberta:

“When British Columbia’s Liberal Premier, Christy Clark, was in danger of losing last spring’s election, Edwards helped sponsor a fundraiser in Calgary; he advised Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the controversial takeover last year of Nexen Inc. by China’s CNOOC Ltd. and on future foreign investment by state-owned enterprises; he was instrumental in clenching a deal with Jean Chretien in 2003 that limited the oil sands’ financial exposure to the Kyoto Accord on greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, he co-hosted a tour of the oil sands for Warren Buffett [together with Bill Gates], one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s top advisors who has since invested in oil sands producers Suncor Energy Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp.” – National Post

In light of the need for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to furnish shipment of Alberta diluted bitumen to Vancouver’s ports (for export beyond, which newly elected Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau just granted them), this should be as incontrovertible in its logic as basic addition. When the price of “dilbit” is depressed, the product is being exported out of Vancouver by Kinder Morgan to California. As we of BC know all too well, California’s consumer demands are truly inexhaustible.

The year Bill Gates was raking in his peak oil by rail profits (2013) “just happened” to be the same year that US records showed that rail related oil spills were more frequent in that one year than had occurred in the four decades prior, (bear in mind CN transports in the US), -and accidents at CN’s newly acquired (and thereby privatized) BC Rail went up 21%. US rail clocked in 88 oil by rail accidents for 2013 while oil by rail in the US “increased by 423 percent between 2011 and 2012 and in 2013 had surpassed 400,000 rail carloads per year.” CN used backed to work legislation on its workers seven times, who were suffering from exhaustion and genuinely worried about safety. Rail on both sides of the border prioritized oil by rail to the point that grain transport was severely constrained. (Ranchers on Vancouver Island were three days away from having no grain for their cattle during a year with a 60% grain surplus, a boom crop that sat in silos.) It was so bad General Mills complained to the Federal Government of factory shutdowns due to lack of grain. And then fortunes began to shift. 2014 was the year Bill Gates’ CN basically graduated to being a gong show on rails (derailments soared 73% that year), but his profits pulled ahead of Buffett’s BNSF.

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I suppose you might be wondering why I’m inserting Bill Gates into the fray, but the answer’s obvious, as in herein lies the crux. It is Bill Gates who has succeeded in turning Bono’s philanthropic endeavors into pure philanthrowash of he and Buffett’s investments. After all, ONE was Gates’ brainchild as much or more than it was Bono’s. Bono’s ONE and RED are more or less Gates Foundation funded affairs, (with 81% of ONE’s budget dedicated purely to generating awareness). This obviously cuts both ways, i.e., in generating awareness for the funding target, it simultaneously generates a benevolent awareness about the funders. There are years when half ONE’s funding has been from Gates Foundation, and with ONE’s  $31.8 million dollar budget for 2014, -obviously Gates Foundation’s self-declared $135 million over the years to ONE is not insignificant. Gates Foundation’s beneficence to RED (that flagship of “consumer activism”) is not insignificant either. This was the Gates Foundation funding grant Bono rapturously announced out of Davos next to a grinning Gates on a snowy alpine slope for January, 2016 on RED’s Facebook home page.

Singer of Irish band U2, Bono (L) poses with Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on January 22, 2016 in Davos to mark the 10 years of (RED). Launched at Davos in 2006, (RED) has raised $350 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, impacting 60 million lives. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Singer of Irish band U2, Bono (L) poses with Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on January 22, 2016 in Davos to mark the 10 years of (RED). FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

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Back in 2006 Buffett matched Gates Foundation’s funding 50%, to the tune of $30 billion -which he gives them incrementally in Berkshire Hathaway shares at a rate of 5% annually, -which brings us right back to the beginning financials I labored to show you, because that’s right, 54% of Gates Foundation portfolio is Berkshire Hathaway stock (2nd quarter, 2015). The second ranking in the portfolio, CN, is only 5.81%. (This puts Gates Foundation’s BH holding at 58% with CN as the third ranked investment for the third quarter, 2016.) This means in fact Bono’s RED and ONE were indirect but definite financial beneficiaries of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

 

 

Furthermore, Bill Gates has been sitting on Berkshire’s Hathaway’s Board of Directors since 2005. So it’s literally impossible he doesn’t know about the goings on with DAPL stakeholder Phillips 66, -he was there seven years before they even existed. It’s literally impossible that he has not decided upon the entire course of this DAPL investment, yet you’ve never heard of the connection. Furthermore, it should begin to dawn you that there cannot exist such two disparate sides to the same coin. They are inherently incompatible. You are either charitable or predatory. They are mutually exclusive. From a PR standpoint, now you know exactly why Bill Gates went all out this Christmas as Secret Santa on reddit.  He had something very big to hide, -that Warren Buffett’s beneficence in the way of Berkshire Hathaway shares meant over half of Gates Foundation’s portfolio was invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline via Phillips 66, making him a very big investor indeed (much bigger than Trump ever was), -and that given his directorship in the company, he not only was apprised of every detail, he was in charge. He had surely overseen the purchase and continually approved of it given he was on Berkshire Hathaway’s Board of Directors long enough to have overseen and approved the attainment of majority control of Phillips 66[6], thoughit had been Buffett’s acquisition all along,  -and definitely his favorite.

When it comes to Berkshire Hathaway, Bill Gates was still buying in as of December 2015.  (Coincidentally this was the month Congress lifted the 40 year ban on oil export out of the US.)

Phillips 66 was still Buffett’s big stake, even with #NoDAPL going on. (The protest began April, 2016.)
Seeing as North Dakota state’s corruption was at a level where his BNSF Bakken bomb trains were simply a matter of zero concern (Heimdal included, which again was the new generation rail cars), clearly there was no reason to worry. (Maybe it was that North Dakota knew it needed the Dakota Access Pipeline at any cost. All its spectacular rail accidents went eastward and the pipeline went south of Chicago.)

#Cringemas was one of RED’s promotional twitter hashtags for #shopathon December 2016 (the youtube online gamer portion), -a RED campaign that was matched by the Gates Foundation to the tune of $78 million.) While RED’s page for this bears no date, you can take it from me that this was announced in conjunction with RED’s Shopathon launched on December 1st, 2016. #Cringemas it is! –#Cringemas is arms lost to the 1%. Sophia Wolansky sure could have used Secret Santa’s help for her two years of reconstructive surgery; her father was trying to crowd fund it just before RED kicked off on Jimmy Kimmelwith their Gates Foundation matched #Shopathon funding drive. With his usual canniness, Bono launched RED’s spending drive on Jimmy Kimmel by resurrecting Mac Phisto (a play on Mephistopheles, meaning he came out as the Devil) for the first time since 1993 (when he actually was a bit dangerous). Mac Phisto entered the “REDtm Pack” little celebrity sing a long ditty “We’re Going to Hell” (with celebrities he’d managed to gull into the celebrity contest portion of RED’s promotion) with the opening line “welcome in to my cauldron of sin”. (The’s song title is, from a planetary perspective (if you know the Biblical mistranslation involved), literal.) This exact same promotion using meet celebrity contests you paid to play (you could throw the thing with entries of up to $25 000, which was commensurate to the number of entries you received) was launched last year. That announcement was made on U2’s official Facebook; -the brand-bleed crossover was officially begun, and officially offensive. Those celebrity stakes included a chance to bike ride with Bono, the promotion of which was through U2’s FB site. (U2’s FB announced the happy winner.) As of December 2015 they were now targeting U2 fans as the fundraiser, but last year’s was the first disclosure this was all being officially matched by Gates Foundation, as the entirety of RED’s funding drives had been for 2016. This time, you could meet the entire band and have them play for you exclusively.

Bill Gates surely would have known the #NoDAPL protest suppression was completely off the chain by the time of U2/RED’s 2016 Shopathon, just as it’s surely known Sophia’s never going to get a Secret Santa down her chimney. In fact the Guardian’s hit piece targeting Trump as an investor was timed to target the blame after the attack dogs had been deployed. Actually it was right on cue with when police and military moved on the Oceti Sakowin camp141 arrests followed.  The attack dogs were unleashed by private security, but they weren’t the ones who got kenneled. We got to find out who they were and that they weren’t licensed to work in North Dakota and were from out of state and may be criminally liable, but we never get to hear who hires them. The Guardian will only repeat Trump’s nigh bogus connection to the project.

However, in terms of modus operandi (if not involvement), BNSF was already using private police to perform arrests in Washington State at protest blockades and they were already being blockaded there by climate protests. The public was much more aware of the oil by rail issue than the media gave credit.

#NoDAPL would prove to be the rumble, and why would it not? It was the place and tribes who wiped Custer off the face of the earth Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, ground zero of the longest war in American history, in a manner of speaking. The strongest point of Native American resistance, against which a grudge was held ever since. In truth it was the Seven Fires Council who wiped out Custer. #NoDAPL was the first time in 150 years they reconvened (since 1867 –at 0:45) #NoDAPL was a treaty dispute over lands the tribes first relented to being confined to by the US in the Treaty of Fort Laramie, 1851. While the reservation tract is much smaller than that original territory agreement thanks to the second Treaty of 1868, they never surrendered hunting or fishing rights, nor water rights over the land reserved for them in the Treaty of Fort Laramie and the land is unceded meaning “owned by the Sioux, outside of the reservation.” “Almost the entire pipeline from the source to the river” the Treaty of 1868 defined as “unceded.”

This doesn’t quite gel with Obama’s statement that “the pipeline cuts too close to tribal lands in North Dakota.” It’s true the land is outside of the reservation. The Federal government tried to force the issue by giving them money for the land, which the Sioux refused. The Federal government is still sitting on over a billion dollars in trust for that land, that the Sioux still refuse, demanding to retain title. They never let it go. Despite their impoverishment, they never took the money. Obama fed the misapprehension about the Treaty deliberately. He did everything he possibly humanly could to kick the ball and the entire issue past his tenure in avoidance of the interests of his billionaire sponsors, to a president who would surely vet the DAPL, while the injuries, arrests and camp population mounted. He abandoned the issue to brute force by rumble. Of course he was going to vet the pipeline come hell or high water. He as well as anyone else could see where the bomb trains situation was headed.

The Army Corps of Engineers is involved only due to land expropriated from the tribe against their wishes to build the dam that created Lake Oahe. (The dam was just outside the reservation. The USACE expropriated the land inside the reservation to remove several native communities that would be submerged due to the flooding.) But the tribe accepted the monies offered by the Federal Government decades later for that incursion, so they no longer have a leg to stand on on that one.

The Black Snake is what Lakota people call the Dakota Access Pipeline. It will extinguish the world. For a people who have endured the end of their way of life so many times, who can doubt the truth of their vision, which coincides with scientific truth about the relationship of fossil fuels to catastrophic climate change?” – New York Times

In keeping with a rumble, police were brought in from seven states under an emergency assistance clause (for natural disasters) enacted under Bill Clinton. A security force named TigerSwan who collaborated with Blackwater and was a sub-contractor in the Iraq occupation was brought in to gather intelligence and oversee security. Private security forces brought the usual roster of agent provocateurs. Water cannons were used on 400 water protectors in freezing temperatures at night. Arrests exceeded 600. When 2000 veterans were set to arrive the day before eviction of the camp (set for December 5th), Army Corps of Engineers suddenly announced they were denying the easement through Lake Oahe.  (WP still couldn’t resist braying about Trump’s investment whenever they ran a piece.) It’s like the Army Corps switched sides. (As for the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) notice of intent the Tribe was waiting for, that was announced on January 18th.) Public input as to why an EIS was needed was being accepted until February 20th. But the the USACE reversed themselves again and declared, after Trump’s executive order, that they intend to grant the easement. The EIS is aborted the moment they do.

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Upon USACE’s denial of the Lake Oahe easement, Energy Transfer Partners LLC and Sunoco immediately issued a formal statement. In it they stated they were still “fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.” Phillips 66, the 25% stakeholder, was notably absent. For some reason they were evading publicity, or putting their stamp on any response, even though they were players.

The entire #NoDAPL protest was (and is) a win-win for Buffett. It delays the pipeline sufficiently long enough to keep boosting his flagging oil by rail shipment, but even if the Standing Rock protestors win their re-route (which was about all you could hope for with the pipeline over 90% complete), he is still going to profit from the pipeline regardless, a pipeline he was forced to diversify into because oil by rail has proven so manifestly unsafe. Even Buffett can register a mushroom cloud for what it means.

This is the world we live in. Callous corporate indifference (structured into governance as we now know with the entire State of North Dakota, with their mighty and brutal enforcement) is compensated for by the appearance of DAPL investor Bill Gates acting as random reddit Secret Santa, though the general public has no clue they bear any relation. That’s the point. They are only supposed to be aware of Secret Santa. Gates himself knew though. In much the same manner the billionaire class purported to be of conscience ‘compensate’ for profiting off global depredation of the planet by funding philanthropic foundations utterly hamstrung by the implementation of their benefactor’s ideology, the PR equivalent is Secret Santa. In the same manner and same respects, philanthropy can never and in no way compensates for planetary depredation. We are dealing with two of the eight richest men on the planet, who possess the same amount of wealth as the lower half of human kind. Think then on what that means if we calculated each of these individuals’ true ecological human footprint, which certainly provides an indicator that all it not well. (According to this critique, our collective human footprint would be worse than 1.5 earths, and it’s all down to deforestation and carbon.) We are dealing with the existential apex of individualism, the very essence of what we’ve internalized so much we can’t break away from it, the very nature of “Consumer Hell”. Is there any compensation this precious minority of eight can provide to the 50% of the human race that somehow or in any way compensates for their acquisition, unique to all of human history and more serious to the planet than it’s ever been when we’re dealing with the specter of catastrophic climate change? No, they could never come close. In short, you can’t save Africa when you’re invested in cooking Africa, i.e., sunk bigger than practically anyone into the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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According to this latest figure, Gates Foundation was invested in Berkshire Hathaway at $10.74 billion.  Buffett’s sunk Berkshire Hathaway over $6.8 billion into the Dakota Access Pipeline. 15.77% of Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio has majority control of Phillips 66 (22%). That’s the equivalent of a $1.69 billion investment in Phillips 66 on the part of the Gates Foundation. The entire climate movement (it doesn’t merit the term ‘protest’) had you chasing after a list of parties (who were loaning/financing the pipeline, not investors) at under the under $600 million mark, down to a paltry $30 million. You wanna Boycott? GOOD. You start with Warren Buffett. And you wallop those philanthropies with a  good ol’ counter awareness campaign, -especially the ones where that’s all they’re good at in the first place. YOU BLOODY PRIORITIZE according to THE BLEEDING MATHs. The Guardian/350.org/tcktcktck consortium of climate “activism” (which doesn’t merit the term resistance), -their “keep it in the ground” campaign’s entire focus was the $722 million Gates Foundation had invested in fossil fuel corporations, one tar sands operation included.

 

PART 3

Image VS. Reality: -Plus What’s Wrong with the DAPL 

 

Fifty years of tailings mismanagement in Alberta: How did we get here, and where are we headed? – The Pembina Institute

What is it to be invested in the tar sands boom, even in the more tertiary form of capitalizing on its shipment? The tar sands’ other output is over 176 km of open toxic tailing ponds  that are death to migratory birds, will be death of the Athabasca River they sit next to the moment we have a sufficient flash flood  (as they are now providing slow death by seepage since there is no impermeable shield between the toxic ponds and the soil), and provide death to the people living there. I suppose you didn’t know this is all sitting on the Athabasca River, which is a tributary of the 2nd largest watershed basin in NA next to the Mississippi, -the Mackenzie. -Good one! The Federal Government of Canada knows all of this, and has deemed it to be in our best interest. -Whose interest, precisely? Surely not Fort McMurray’s, the tar sands boom town where you can make over $100 000 grand per annum with a high school diploma. It just went up in flames last spring (the wildfire precluded the official start of fire season by starting in May) due to the brand new climatologically induced raging wildfire regime consuming the North. This one was of such severity it was dubbed ‘“The Beast”. It was the largest fire driven evacuation in Alberta’s history. It generated its own super cells, winds and created its own lightning. It leapt the Athabasca River and was clocked moving at 30 to 40 meters per second, reaching temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celcius. It consumed nearly 600 000 Ha and made it into Saskatchewan. It now lies smoldering underground in the peat, waiting to resurrect this spring. -That’s a real problem with northern fires. -Ask Alaska.

Welcome to the dilbit/frack billionaires’ not so invisible, off-set costs (visible from space) that are absorbed by society and the environment at large. These are the self-same billionaires who regard divestment from fossil fuels as a “false solution”.  (He’s right but for the opposite reason, it’s the very least of what should be done. Face it, no one who sinks themselves into rail just because of the tar sands/shale boom is going to think divestment is the solution! Get Real!)

The Gates Foundation has a history of responding to public pressure, while simultaneously not admitting they are responding to public pressure.” -It took protests outside their Seattle office every day (for months), a petition signed by over 300 000 as part of The Guardian’s “keep it in the ground” campaign; (which took no notice of CN, or whether Gates might be otherwise privately invested, in which case the Gates Foundation divesting might simply have been a PR exercise). Gates eventually listened (not 100%, but kudos for divesting from the big one: Exxon at $662 million). Honestly given the fall out of events and when in the timeline protests would have even had to be engaged in on the DAPL to even be effectual from a climactic standpoint (when instead we ended up in this brutal confrontational mess because these investors (not to mention the corrupt state of North Dakota) were treated with total kid gloves all this time), what good did the climate movement do -? They missed Gates Foundation’s biggest/worst investment by a mile (the DAPL), literally until there was no chance of stopping it. You’d think if tcktcktck was serious about their divestment campaign launched at the Gates Foundation, they could have landed on a lightning rod of an issue like #NoDAPL. It had all the right stuff from a PR perspective. How on earth if this is your campaign do you miss this? Oh, wait

How can Bill McKibben even claim he’s serious about this?! Oh, wait

Ha-ha-ha!

Are you seriously going to tell me that not one of these campaigns, focused on precisely the investor issue, -when it involved one of the most headline grabbing protests we’ve seen in years, (forget the somnolent the media, the Gates Foundation funds The Guardian’s Global Initiative page), simply didn’t notice who the investor was? All those announcements were going on that Buffett was investing hand over fist in Phillips66 the entire period. They were all over the financial news. Everyone knew he bankrolled Gates Foundation by half. If the environmental groups coordinating the climate divestment campaigns are this incompetent at their calling, we might as well all go bury ourselves right now. It’s no wonder Bill Gates responded by telling them how redundant their divestment campaign is if they can’t even follow the money. Big Hint: They’d missed the oil by rail boom to begin with. It showed they weren’t serious, in just the same manner none of us are serious enough about our habits of consumption. They weren’t by design.

The fact that all of the above was going on and you never heard of the connection; -you heard plenty about Bono and the benevolence exacted by ONE and RED and their benefactors, should be enough for you to register how philanthrowashing works on behalf of the benefactors more than those they’re benefitting. If not, watch and learn, -because I am going to show you how this works with the transition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. You should recognize that the entire transpiration above was effectively philanthro-washed by Bono’s philanthropic endeavors already, because those philanthropic efforts being bankrolled by the above billionaires are what you heard about, -not the sordid actions of their investments that were bankrolling those endeavors. That’s what human “superbrands” like Bono are for.  Philanthro-washing is for providing a subtext of sanctity and doing good so impervious that the entire host of media will simply self censor as they’re simply overwhelmed in the face of your good image. They find it unassailable. Who on earth is willing to jeopardize their career in order to be such a churl as to challenge the most generous and charitable billionaire on earth?

However, that is not simply what is going on in the philanthropic endeavor of Mr. Gates, who is literally curating the image of the Gates Foundation through coordinated funding that works as a stranglehold preserving self-censorship within the most laudatory founts of what we consider the liberal/left media.  Read the list of Media Partners, “New York Times, NPR, the Guardian, NBC, Seattle Times and a number of other news organizations, non-profit groups and foundations. Not all were grant recipients, or partners. Some just came to consult.” It goes without saying this is ripe for investigative reportage, and I’m sure this is not happening because it is, outside of those favored, decidedly opaque. That it will never happen among those with access goes without saying. I’d like to know who everyone is on that list and what their basis for invitation is myself. (It also indicates that if Trump’s defunding plan succeeds, NPR will likely be in the Gates Foundation’s pocket. Let the partisan media wars begin, -except that Obama thought it perfectly fine to create a Federal propaganda division and hand it off to Trump after he won.)

Voila, there’s the New York Times at the top of the list! This self censorship (after all, you don’t get any Gates Foundation funding if you say anything negative about Gates Foundation or their sponsor) protected Buffett and kept them from touching the bomb trains when NYT did their two part expose on the Bakken and North Dakota state corruption, which has already been demonstrated to extend the bomb trains themselves.The point is the New York Times wouldn’t investigate or touch it, even though the incautious shipping and total absence of regulation on what was effectively a new hazardous substance (they left Canada none the wiser about) resulted in 47 dead. New York Times’ censorship is so strong on the matter that you can’t post a comment pertaining to the bomb trains that mentions either Gates or Buffett by name. I know because I tried, and I tried the same reply to a second individual without their names immediately after it did not work (three times). Without their names, the same text and links posted.

Now it is true that North Dakota State avoids direct culpability for the bomb trains since regulation of rail shipment is a federal concern (they could have petitioned the Feds, of course), but there’s no evasion possible on DAPL’s enforcement, –isn’t it lovely? -Incidentally, here’s a lovely 25 point chart of everything wrong with DAPL’s construction plan under Lake Oahe as stands by an engineer with a life time career in the business listing the flaws in the original Environmental Assessment (EA) in order to ram through DAPL’s permission. (His name is Steve Martin. His full report on behalf of the tribe fighting the DAPL in court has just been released.) A full Environmental Impact Study was avoided by the DAPL consortium making their applications for the pipeline piecemeal. They did this deliberately to avoid the much more stringent Environmental Impact Study (EIS, -called elsewhere “Environmental Impact Statement”). This is something North Dakota State could have easily called them on, demanding an EIS be done. Steve Martin has more to say about what’s wrong with the DAPL, in the main pointing out how much more the installation of an underground pipeline is compounded by the length under a water body, and safer relative to the distance being shorter, and how this hampers detection systems for leaks. When they’re allowing much worse projects by Phillips 66 to fly (the pipeline under Lake Sakakawea that endangers the drinking water of several North Dakota cities; Steve Martin has plenty more to say about the design flaws and danger on this -namely when longer HDD tunnels are done, there is no protection of the pipe possible in construction (i.e., casing), plus the danger of hydrofracture increases during installation relative to length) -if North Dakota State is granting permission on pipelines like these, it’s not like they care. No one cared about the Phillips 66 pipeline under Lake Sacagawea (Native spelling) in North Dakota, which has already been whistle blown for shoddy construction. Once it’s under, it’s done. There’s no going back. This pipeline is set to service a rail terminal for BNSF trains, so you never heard of it. The Natives didn’t protest that one. They bought in. (In keeping with our touchstone, consider that your real Route 66[6].)

You can ask a large margin of those who voted for Trump about how and why this could have happened. They were revolted and disgusted by the collusion that went into making Buffett and Gates rail barons that could corner oil shipment into oil by rail using the Keystone protest, bomb trains and all. To them it’s just an adjunct conspiracy to their climate change denial, because pipelines were better (the truth is pipelines also have serious problems with the highly corrosive nature of dilbit). On the Republican side, the rail monopolization of oil transport by the Democrats’ favorite billionaires is broadly public knowledge. The billionaire cronyism relationship on exhibit between Buffett and the ruling Democratic Party, Obama, and Hillary Clinton was a factor in their loss.  And they were right on that count.

warren-buffett-advice-for-2015-4-638

The philanthrowash effort in Buffett’s hands is also a lucrative greenwash; it included the protracted foundation funding by Buffett through Novo and Tides Foundation to manufacture the 350.org movement  in order to attenuate and direct the environmental movement towards the Keystone pipeline because that would secure his and Gates’ oil by rail profits. There is also a decidedly partisan connection between Buffett and Bill McKibben, and Bono as well. Between them is the confluence of the neoliberal. Neoliberal is an epithet to me because this is what they are. These are the crimes committed on their watch. They are partisan first, and that means they are not environmental, in fact all ideological cause is subborned to that of the market, and the market’s main driver in America, -making war. This makes them the very opposite of their purported causes, the covert sanction of everything rejected by the Left hiding under the skirt of identity politics.

OK, so in case you’re just too lazy to hop links or too busy read a five part series, in a nutshell McKibben’s 350.org is tied directly to Buffett through his Novo Foundation’s funding of the Tides Foundation, which funds 350.org. Which is bloody brilliant, because it channeled all climate activism to the Keystone XL (when it was already too late to protest that one’s completion as well), which should have aroused the question “Who benefits?” It sure explains a lot at any rate. Like how you could magically de-prioritize the investor who’s into the DAPL for $6.8 freaking billion as unmentionable and invisible. I’m sure the fact that, after all, he’s the one giving you the money surely helps. The #NoDAPL protest marks the second time Bill McKibben’s coordination or involvement with a pipeline protest has directly benefitted Buffett’s economic interests.

Here, asked point blank by Amy Goodman where Hillary Clinton stood on the DAPL, he actually declared “One has no idea.” He also remained true to the formula of mentioning only one of the corporations with a stake in the DAPL (albeit the majority one) -Energy Transfer Partners LLC. But that keeps anyone from landing on Phillips 66’s connection to Warren Buffett in an inter-webs search, -that is if they aren’t drowned by Trump articles in the attempt anyhow. McKibben’s main function in this regard is to insure the water gets deep enough you’ll never touch bottom. Anyone remotely aware of Buffett stumping for Hillary on the campaign trail (or any of the above) should have fallen on the floor laughing at McKibben’s reply to Amy. Really, you kill me. When Clinton finally managed a tepid statement on the DAPL, -a statement that had been literally forced from her by a #NoDAPL protest at her campaign headquarters which she steadfastly ignored, not even accepting a letter, McKibben finally managed to bark a single tweet. McKibben did not even bother with repudiation he should have been well capable of, namely her affiliation and donor support from one of DAPL’s biggest investors, who had been Obama’s biggest individual donor for his 2012 election campaign. Buffett “approves of Trump’s cabinet ‘overwhelmingly’”, by the way.

Between them (Buffett, Gates, and their Bono AIDs charity charm offensive on the one hand, with Bill McKibben flying wingman one the other), it’s no damn wonder you’ve never heard a damn thing about this. Cory Morningstar has provided in depth coverage of Buffett and the “Democrat” (neoliberal) administration’s attenuation of the environmental climate movement. I am going to provide you with some indicator of how Bill Gates turning the media into media partners effectively helped silence the press on their connections to the Dakota Access Pipeline, maybe even to the extent of actively thrusting Trump into the position of drowning the search algorithms to the point you’d never, ever find out just who had control of Phillips 66. Omission in the press means the general public never lights upon the terms to search for. The thrust of the Trump story, and story it was given the relative scale of the investments, was designed to insure what terms were searched and what terms weren’t. Furthermore, Buffett’s foundation funding insures that not only the media are in collusion downplaying the #NoDAPL protest thanks to participating as Gates Foundation “Media Partners” (this in addition to completely avoiding the perpetrators they are protesting), -it is, through its funding control of environmental groups, actually shown to be damaging to the climate change resistance movement (see the above wrongkindofgreen urls, but I’m going to pull some explicit examples for you of how this is attenuated in the press), and most especially damaging to the indigenous resistance movement.

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This is highlighted by the spectrum of Bill McKibben’s public interviews on #NoDAPL, especially with The Guardian, who launched the Trump DAPL investment story in the final election heat of 2016, after Trump had already divested. They did this after Washington Post already had gone on record showing this just three days before. The Guardian performed this fake expose that was echo-chambered around the entire leftist media in the last heat of the election (and still is). Just keep reminding yourself, the Gates Foundation is responsible for funding The Guardian’s Global Initiative section.

guardian gates

Then I’m going to show that while Bono may have easily been unaware about this entire business about the bomb trains and the DAPL investment, (which he could and should have known), he’s certainly over a barrel, because it’s fairly demonstrative that RED is, as per the very nature of “consumer activism” a philanthro-washing outfit, and it doesn’t take too much to show you.

 

PART 4

RED is a Philanthro-washing Operation, -Plus Everything Bill McKibben Insured You Did Not Know

 

So what makes RED a philanthrowasing outfit? Let’s begin with the declaration from RED’s official site that a percentile of all corporation affiliated RED products you buy go directly to the Global Fund (all of it -RED claims this can be up to 50% of a purchase, but this is effectively not disclosed), -and 50% percent of those sales revenues go to fight AIDS, and that over its course RED has managed to raise $365 million in this manner. This is a report that was attempted on how that all worked in 2009, when the monies raised by RED stood at $135 million. The monies the corporations claimed as going to the RED cause were simply sequestered from their pre-existing marketing budgets. It short for them the RED cause was a marketing campaign based on human lives; granting them life was really their PR promotion for themselves. These corporations would not disclose the amount of sales that were apportioned to RED. Rather than just contributing to the cause directly themselves by donating, they commandeered witless consumers to spend on their product to do it, while adding a small cut. This is called consumer activism.

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Let’s consider Apple, who is hailed in the afore-referenced link announcing RED’s funding January 2016 as a “founding partner” who has since raised $110 million for the cause. Apple is one of the biggest tax evaders on the planet, along with Microsoft, and most of the Silicon Valley corporations sitting here at Trump’s table. (This includes Facebook, who Bono was an invitation only investor of before the stock opened to the public (it made him a mint); -incidentally Facebook’s lead independent Director is the Chief Executive Officer of the Gates Foundation.) They have collectively managed to evade US taxes to the tune of $560 billion. A not insignificant number of these (including Google and Facebook) are based out of Ireland expressly for the purpose of evading taxes in the EU. In fact it was Apple who was penalized for this just recently with the largest settlement the EU has ever exacted for tax evasion, and they were ordered to give Ireland restitution to the tune of $13 billion with interest (which put it over $14 billion). According to the press release on the penalty, Apple’s exclusive Irish tax rate steadily declined from 1% to 0.5%, -coinciding rather remarkably with the period that U2 were shilling expensive, exclusive Apple iPods with their entire song catalogue on them. (With countrymen like this, who needs enemies?)

I’m not sure whether this qualifies the band as uncultured, uneducated, social media Luddites, or just plain naive at this point, so I’ll just stick with my true epithet, as it looks like we’ve found what Bono truly believes in, which is philanthro-washing tax evaders at fractions of pennies to the dollar giving them wonderful RED PR out of their already allocated marketing budget to drape themselves in the red cloak of sanctity of charitable life giving operations, while getting consumers to foot most of the bill, which serves to increase their total sales revenue (win-win-win as PR coup), -whilst simultaneously utterly reneging on social contract with tax evasion that is wholesale divestment of society of astronomical amounts of revenue (not just of nations but entire continents) that would otherwise provide for the population they still manage to convince to spend money on them, by making them feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves because they chose this purchase for RED in order to save lives. That divestiture is in the billions to one, and these corporations have decided where their substituted penny tokenism goes, not governance, and not society. Bono hails this as consumer activism, when it’s really just the targeted exploitation of human conscience in a deliberate displacement designed to maintain corporate total divestment of the consumers themselves. Of course, Apple is one of Warren Buffett’s high dividend stocks. And of course, it looks like Apple will get their US tax break, -from Trump.

I think you can see where this is going, so let’s return our attention to Bill McKibben.

McKibben struck next with a “thought piece” on Grist, apparently designed to develop empathy towards the Native American resistance that created the #NoDAPL protest, as well attempting to ground it in a sense of history, titled “After 525 years, it’s time to actually listen to Native Americans”. He goes onto to instruct the general public to Google “Wounded Knee”, “Custer”, “Washita River”, and “Pine Ridge.” While I’m sure the general public needs an overview, only Custer was directly pertinent to the #NoDAPL location in North Dakota, having suffered the defeat of The Battle of Little Bighorn of 1876 on the bank of the Greasy Grass River (-tributary of the Missouri River, -even rock band the The Black Crowes know the name of this river for this reason, which has since been reduced to Greasy Creek). And if Bill Mckibben was advocating for empathic awareness and unity with the natives on this issue, you would think instead of mentioning the white man involved, he could have had the grace or knowledge to mention who some of the Native historic actors in this defeat were, namely Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. (Canadian musician Neil Young knows who Crazy Horse is.) This helps evade what this confrontation is rooted in, which is Native American warrior culture. This is not rooted in the civil disobedience pacifism defining the civil rights movement. However it may define itself now, it’s an entirely different resistance movement, definitely rooted in something else, and the defeat of Custer was their greatest victory.

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Wounded Knee took place in South Dakota. The Washita River massacre took place in Oklahoma. The Pine Ridge Reservation is in South Dakota, and while it brings up the Treaty of Fort Laramie, you’d be left with no clue at all THAT THIS IS THE TREATY AT ISSUE in the #NoDAPL protest. It is no disservice to reference all this, not at all. The problem is that in allying yourself with a particular Native American cause, you should be aware of its existing roots, and if you’re not providing and sharing that awareness, you’ve defeated the cause by failing to equip the general public to be able to inform themselves of what this contest actually is by exercising their own judgment. If you are aware of these existing roots already (as he well should be in this context), this amounts to a failure in disclosure, a vital one, because it leaves the public ultimately and completely uninformed on this issue that caused this Native American confrontation with North Dakota State at this location in the here and now. There is no mention and no reference whatsoever to the Great Sioux Reservation in North Dakota where this is all taking place, when everyone could have really, really used a map right about now. This from a “Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, and a founder of 350.org. He is a member of Grist’s board of directors.” -How nice. As a director, he could have laid out anything he wanted to. He didn’t even mention the Treaty.

-How come a Canadian, Cory Morningstar, is left to provide the history of the Treaty(ies), provide the maps of the existing reservation and the land allocated by the Treaty of Fort Laramie? -How come we know better than you? It’s not a question of superior knowledge, it’s that in devising a statement apparently designed for the public to develop empathy with the Natives, he wasn’t even grounded enough to focus on the background and history of #NoDAPL itself. Which would be a fairly slight slight, -apart from the fact that it left the general public he was purportedly informing completely without compass or reference point, and yet, paradoxically, if they’d followed McKibben’s instructions, feeling completely grounded in what was in fact a total evasion of the issue at hand. Amazing, what?

The implications of this piece are much worse. It takes a Cory Morningstar to not only give you the history, but name all the tribes involved and ground you in the financials of the here and now (as her piece does, Buffett included), including again a realm of scam and fraud over leasing rights to frack, directing you to the frack boom in Fort Berthold Reservation and the Lake Sacagawea (Sakakawea) pipeline. It remains to her to delineate the entire scope of oil and gas (and nuclear) development presently going on in the Bakken, and who benefits, -the sponsor of 350.org twice removed that Bill McKibben will never reference. But worse yet, what is truly astounding about McKibben’s total omission of this pivotal investor behind the DAPL, is that this isn’t, given his massive array of investments, the first time Buffett has targeted a Native American tribe over a Treaty issue for fossil fuel development, or was met with the resistance of several tribes. In particular, Buffett was going head to head with the Lummi Nation in Washington State over the development of a coal port at Cherry Point. Once again it remains to Cory Morningstar to set you straight. This fight also got dirty, with “Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad are now laundering funds through the Washington Republican Party to donate to pro-coal candidates for Whatcom County Council.” -Oh. You don’t say.

If Bill McKibben was onside with the Native American cause, he’d bloody mention the opposition, as well as knowing who and what they’re up against elsewhere. It’s not like a new coal port (Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT), for export to China) is an unsuitable point of resistance for the climate movement.

This might be considered a mis-step unless it were patterned behavior, which was indicated when he provided an ultimate capitulation of sorts by way of The Guardian while touting the victory at Standing Rock when USACE denied the last needed easement for completion the DAPL. What’s truly astonishing about this one is that while he touts the alliance of 200 tribal nations that came together and made the #NoDAPL protest win this unprecedented battle, he then doesn’t mention the most significant bi-national tribal alliance that developed in tandem with this resistance, even though he asserts that in the near future, they’re going to be responsible for “Standing Rock North” around two tar sands pipelines in Canada he doesn’t bother to specify at all, namely the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Energy East. If you’re participating in climate resistance, you sure as hell be specific as to the next points of resistance where public participation will prove needful. Indeed one of these, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline had already been the site of multiple arrests at Burnaby Mountain. This is again a catastrophic failure to convey information to the general public, information he is not remiss about. As for the “Canada First Nations” organization he said would be behind the protest but didn’t even bother to name, he himself had retweeted them, knew they were the Treaty Alliance (against the Tar Sands), but here he was not only evading their name but the fact that he knew they had a homepage. This prevented the general public from Googling both the Native center of the pipeline resistance and the prospective pipelines involved. This was particularly true with respects to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly approved less than one week before, so it just had hit the media fan, and both Canada’s environmental and indigenous movements were up in arms. But unless they were already this well informed about Canada, The Guardian’s readership were rendered incapable of putting 2 + 2 together thanks to McKibben. Talk about dropping the ball.

When Canada’s Prime Minister was asked whether he was willing to arrest tribal elders (which is sure to happen), Justin Trudeau’s reply was Canada was a nation under “the rule of law” (15:50). No one in the Liberal government would rebut “a pledge made [two days after Trudeau’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline] by federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr to use Canada’s military to deal with ‘non-peaceful’ anti-pipeline protests” inveighing the government would willingly militarily enforce the Trans Mountain pipeline’s construction against Canada’s First Nations people for the sake of a foreign multinational, Kinder Morgan. (Trudeau’s father is the only Prime Minister to invoke the War Measures Act (basically martial law) outside war time, dubbed the “October Crisis”.)

Given the mass arrests to prevent the logging of virgin coastal temperate rainforest that occurred on the BC coast in the past (namely Clayoquot Sound, the largest civil disobedience action mass arrest site in Canadian history at well over 800 people, -at a site that was pretty inaccessibly remote, yet managed to become a standing camp of over 5000 people, which is really saying something for a nation with a similar population size to California, where the vast majority of those arrested under what were arbitrarily made criminal charges were BC residents), -given the way the people of BC are willing to put themselves on the line for the environment, resistance to the Trans Mountain on the west coast in Canada’s third largest urban center could end up making Standing Rock look small. It may also well prove the biggest challenge the Treaty Alliance has to face. Bill McKibben found neither worth mentioning by name.

McKibben’s gloss over article in The Guardian also meant no one knew how unprecedented the Treaty Alliance is, and was deliberately misleading as to the fact that it is a bi-national alliance that has since expanded to include over 120 Native tribes in both the US and Canada, -not to mention that they all co-signed a Treaty to do it. It has the strength of an actual Treaty between this number of tribes. In all probability McKibben was averse to making any reference to a movement that wasn’t just against a pipeline here or a pipeline there, but had been co-signed to curtail any and all tar sands development, which is again aversion on Bill McKibben’s part to any climate resistance action that’s really real. And again, he avoided framing the confrontation in terms of the real opposition (namely the investors) completely by framing the opposition solely in terms of Trump.

Getting the general public to participate on effectively stopping the DAPL was worth one tweet;  the Women’s March was worth over ten times as much to Bill McKibben. He couldn’t even issue a statement as to what the implication of finally obtaining the EIS declaration of intention meant and what you as a citizen could now do to legally oppose the DAPL. That pivotal discussion was left to YES Magazine.

-I think we’re done now. Let’s finish roasting Bono. Where the eye gazes, it burns; fire is all it sees.

Let’s start with one of RED’s seminal partners (that’s a cool $10 million from them right there ) – Bank of America. Bank of America is indelibly imprinted with the slogan “Too Crooked to Fail”. $10 million seems incredibly generous. $8 million of this was a grant outright, and $2 million was a match fund that would depend on how many people chose to download U2’s “Invisible” song for free in the first 24 hours it launched. (Someone b****-slapped @BofA on twitter about how there should be no $2 million funding cap on this drive; they removed the cap and the result was they ended up matching the drive based on total downloads for a cool $3.1 Mil.)

When you realize that this was launched for the Superbowl and a Superbowl slot would have cost them $4 million for a 30 second commercial slot, and U2 gave them a 4 plus minute slot launched during the Superbowl of impeccable marketing with their name on it for the cause of saving lives, surely, given their patronage was about the equivalent of purchasing papal indulgences in real lives, -surely it was the least they could have done! At that point it just becomes good marketing for Bank of America, which God knows they needed at that moment, after all, this is what they’d done to America. Nor were they going to pay for it, at least not to those they really hurt. Millions of American homeowners got shafted.

The point was, this settlement had just been announced for Bank of America in January. The philanthrowash could not have proven more timely. And compared to how they’d screwed over mortgage securities and compared to the fines levied on them for their crimes, the image makeover RED provided was practically nothing. The settlement for the millions of homeowners they’d destroyed was still in process, and God knows they needed to look charitable before that one came down the pipes. At the going rate, had they purchased the best PR money could buy in the attempt to redress their image on Superbowl Sunday, RED probably cost them less. This is not to impinge on RED’s good deed. Rather it’s pointing out just how little of a good deed it is for a very bad corporation.

This Christmas Season Bank of America helped paint New York Times Square REDtm. This year, Bank of America are subject to the boycott campaign to divest of the banks loaning credit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’re in for $350 million.

-It so happens if you look at the list of the seven largest tax evaders in Europe, four of these appear on RED’s corporate partner list in this 2009 article. And that’s not looking into the matter with any scrutiny. One of them likes stripping the Boreal to the tune of 4 billion disposable paper cups annually (as if that’s “normal”).

Yet even Bono managed to outdo himself, by getting named Glamour’s “Woman of the Year” precisely for becoming this sort of paragon of “consumer activism”.

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He literally hijacked feminism and made it #brandfeminism, -merely an adjunct to the philanthrowash of his billionaire benefactors and a philanthrowash the Dakota Access Pipeline, and all of #NoDAPL’s brutality, against womenLots of WomenLots and lots of them. We stand with Sophia.  We stand with the women of Standing Rock.

While all these women were being brutalized and Bono was simultaneously receiving his “Woman of the Year” award for successfully performing the philanthrowash of those whose investment was being enforced by this brutality, the whole U2 band put themselves forward as a contest reward where you could meet them this year’s Shopathon, funding matched by Dakota Access Pipeline investor Gates Foundation. Post holiday binge and post Trump, The Edge made a point of performing at the #WomensMarch with Julliette Lewis (who played Mallory in “Natural Born Killers”). It’s like the hijacking of authenticity and resistance is never going to stop. Julliette Lewis sang “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, which no doubt under the existing cirumstances would have been enough to have MLK rolling in his grave.

I wanted to double over and vomit. I wanted to double over and vomit when Lac-Megantic burned alive; I was writing this essay before that happened. Bono’s succeeded in insuring the feeling’s never left.

On January 27th, 2017, it was announced that Gates Foundation declared an intention to “Sell Almost $10 Billion Worth of Berkshire Hathaway shares” (intention does not necessarily mean they will follow through). Wow. Now you know I was right on my numbers, Gr. 5 maths. In fact it appears they’ve been divesting steadily as of September (that’s the latest available update period in share transactions on this page, and the above announcement chronicles the same thing happening as of November). It was even going on as far back as March.

Someone must’ve said ‘Boo’.

“The Gates Foundation has a history of responding to public pressure, while simultaneously not admitting they are responding to public pressure.”

A little late, mate. I think the fact it happened at all means a bill is still due.

So’s RED’s page has no announcement of the winners of this latest and greatest Gates Foundation matched Shopathon shizzle (they’ve probably done it by e-mail). The winners were supposed to be informed on Friday, January 27th. Those winners won’t ever even know what they were actually participating in.

How sexy am I now?” (Since I have a twee bit more identity with this plot line, than U2.)

Your Postscript: Can you even imagine what you’re never going to know now that Bono’s billionaire benefactor also gets to curate Facebook for #fakenews? Bow. Wow.

Canada’s Postscript: An interview with the inventor of human ecological footprint calculus, Bill Rees, provides more proof that economists aren’t engaged in anything akin to reality when discussing carrying capacity. At Bill’s first presentation of his application, an economist gave him this rebuttal:

“’Look, economists have long ago resolved this issue. Carrying capacity has no meaning, whatsoever, because, after all, we can trade. Almost any area, like the lower mainland here has certain resources in surplus. And, if there is anything in short supply then we just sell off what we have in surplus in exchange for what we need, such as food, and thereby we can overcome any local limits to the carrying capacity of the area. And if trade doesn’t work, then there is technology.’ In fact, it’s almost a doctrinaire position in modern economics, that human ingenuity is capable of substituting for almost any good or service provided by nature.”

-Food was and is what BC is in shortage of; 70% of BC’s produce comes from [drought stricken] California. -And here we are about to sink 30 000 acres of prime agricultural land for the Site C dam(capable of feeding at least 1 million people) for electrical power BC residents don’t even need. It’s been asserted the excess power is for export to California. Its immediate use will be for corporations to frack with. It’s other use (potential and logical, given the total illogic of its construction) is so we’ll be perfectly situated for water export in cooperation with NAFTA conditions, -to drought stricken California. Rather than achieving self sufficiency on our own land (by watering agriculture with the river in its very own fertile valley), we’re going to drown the land, just in order to pollute the living f*** out of BC’s North for foreign multinationals to frack, and we’re going to basically rape BC residents’ utility bills and tax rates to do so, just to export the water so California can sell the produce back to us at extortionate prices that will also be accounting for the cost of shipment or our water. Yes, neoliberal Trudeau vetted that one too. Of course, this is what happens to Canada’s third largest public utility (this becomes their notion of sound business) -after they’ve already been privatized and partititioned out to an American consulting firm that only just managed to distance itself from Enron’s carcass. Tallk about poisonous exports maligning Beautiful British Columbia. They’ve succeded in not only destroying our public utility, but using it to destroy the province itself.

-And I’m supposed to be thrilled I’m part of the human race. With corporate globalization structured like this, who needs enemies?

 

[Pamela Williams is the author of The Raydiant Labyrinth, which covers over twenty years of music lyrics (including U2’s) in the interest of delineating a transcendent concept that implies transcendent consciousness, inadvertently participated in by a host of alternative graduated to mainstream artists. U2 was arguably the first. She does not appreciate that their topical nature in her research obliged her attention anymore.  She can be contacted at the book’s website, www.theraydiantlabyrinth.com and exists on twitter as @raysondetre.]

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

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Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by Moveon.org that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at Diversityoftactics.org]

 

Breaking Free

A New Age Ghost Dance

Salish Sea Maritime

May 15th, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Clean Energy

carbon-is-forever-smokestacks

As I noted in the introduction to Hijacking the Environmental Movement: Just Say No to 350, in 2011, when the oil industry tycoon Warren Buffett poured $26 million into TIDES foundation—funder of 350–he was making a strategic long-term investment in public relations (PR), while simultaneously scheming to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable activists.

Most recently, 350 has come out with new propaganda to mislead climate activists. As they did with the KXL charade and the fossil fuel divestment hoax, 350 is promoting ineffective disobedience as a means of diverting activist energy from reality-based social change that might actually threaten the 350 funders’ fossil fuel investments.

As a fossil fuel industry-financed organization, 350 is the most insidious Wall Street Trojan Horse since Avaaz and Purpose. The 350 followers, like most activists, are utterly clueless.

The 350 break free moral theatrics, as a follow-up to the college campus fossil fuel divestment fraud, is not going to shut down Pacific Northwest oil refineries any more than divestment was going to shut down the oil industry. Divestment made the oil industry more powerful, and the break free scheme is part of Wall Street’s clean energy scam to build nuclear power plants.

New Economy

cop21-showtime1

The ‘New Economy’ unveiled by the global financial elite at COP21 has two main components: 1. ‘clean energy’, and 2. ‘sustainable capitalism’. These, in turn, comprise two of the elements of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 21st Century–a partnership project between Wall Street, the UN and international NGOs, i.e. Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350.

The primary promoters of the ‘New Economy’, ‘clean energy’ and ‘sustainable capitalism’–that form the core of the UN SDGs–are Bill Gates, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz & Purpose) and Bill McKibben (350). Economic development under the SDGs relies on financial investment from the World Bank, and compliance enforcement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)–in partnership with Wall Street and regional investment banks.

The results of this ‘sustainable capitalism’ can already be seen in the form of mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mining projects in South America, Africa and Asia. This industrial development–while profitable to the investors–has unfortunately resulted in major deforestation, toxic pollution of fresh water, and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples who formerly called these territories home.

Adjacent to the mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mines of the ‘New Economy’ are makeshift camps for the industrial laborers, as well as rural shanty towns for displaced farmers and fishermen. The Indigenous peoples–those that aren’t murdered by corporate security personnel working in tandem with the police and military–are frequently relocated to urban slums far away, where many die a slow death of poverty and substance abuse.

The mega-dams provide electricity for industry, including the processing of minerals from the mega-mines, as well as the GMO soy and palm oil produced on the mega-plantations. The ‘clean energy’ minerals include gold, copper, and lithium, which are used in consumer electronics, solar panels, wind mills, and batteries for electric vehicles. They also include coal, oil, and uranium that is used to fuel the electrical grids in countries such as France, Japan and the UK.

The ‘clean energy’ plan of the UN, Wall Street and NGOs–that championed the financial elite at COP21–relies on two primary projects: 1. a global nuclear power renaissance, and 2. privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Bomb Trains

buffet

The reason for the glut of Bakken crude now rolling into the March Point and Cherry Point refineries in Washington State goes back to 2012, when Obama opened up millions of acres for gas and oil in 23 states, ushering in the fracking boom that brought us the ‘bomb trains’ owned by Obama’s friend Warren Buffett since 2009, when he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for $34 billion–the same year TIDES Foundation funded 350.

In 2010, 350 launched the campaign to reject KXL; by 2014, crude-via-rail in the US soared to 500 thousand car loads per year, up from 5 thousand in 2008, with trains exploding across Canada and the US.

To refresh readers’ memories, the KXL ‘grassroots’ hoax was funded in large part by TIDES (flush with Buffett money) with 350 at the helm. Funds laundered through Buffett’s foundation NOVO and the TIDES Foundation — a money laundry used by Tar Sands investors and other elites to control NGOs — helped finance the KXL NGO charade, thus eclipsing any discussion about shutting down the Tar Sands, and making possible the explosive growth of bomb trains and other pipelines.

Divestment

dry powder play poster

When Klein and McKibben herded thousands of college students across America to fight climate change by forcing their schools to divest in fossil fuels, no one stopped to ask if that would make any difference. Using the emotive force of the idea of divestment as people power — based on an intentional association with its use in South Africa and Palestine — 350 inducted hypnotic behavior that omitted any critical judgment.

The fact that apartheid was opposed by a combination of boycott, divestment and sanction by national and international institutions in support of armed insurrection was lost on the climateers. Instead, they were hypnotized into believing that colleges selling back fossil fuel shares to Wall Street (where unscrupulous investors could then make a killing) was part of a magical social revolution. The same could apply to the nonsensical demand to end fossil fuels.

As a Wall Street shell game, the global fossil fuel divestment campaign — exposed by Cory Morningstar in Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital — is a PR masterpiece.

As noted in the November 4, 2014 Harvard Business Review,

Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.

As an indicator of the scale of fraud perpetrated by the divestment campaign led by 350, Exxon in 2014 spent $13.2 billion buying up its own stock. As I noted previously,

Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.

Using hedge funds and other non-transparent private equity trading firms, the aristocracy – that is heavily invested in fossil fuels – is betting on increasing oil and gas consumption, long into the future. Corporate media rarely discusses the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks, but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.

Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system, and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.

Buying energy assets on the cheap as a result of fossil fuel divestment by universities and pension funds, investors such as Goldman Sachs Capital Partners “wield an immense amount of political influence” that divestment on college campuses helps to increase. While students celebrated divestment at their schools, private equity in 2015 raised $34 billion for oil and gas funds—a 94% rise from 2012.

Meanwhile, 350 promotes its ongoing Wall Street-funded revolution. As someone wise once said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”

Tilting at Windmills

anthro 9

The kids mobilized by 350 don’t understand how they are being manipulated, but that’s the reality of the power elite behind the 350 hoaxes. They might get some token windmills and solar panels–which require fossil fuels to make, maintain, and replace–but those won’t come anywhere near to meeting the electrical demand now met by burning fossil fuels.

The funders of 350 know all this, which is why they finance 350 campaigns that don’t address the consumerism or militarism that drive fossil fuel demand. Instead, they promote the idea that Americans can continue consuming vast quantities of minerals for electricity and electronics, car and jet travel at the expense of the rest of the world. If the kids think Americans are going to tolerate them shutting down refineries, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

The oil trains are a problem that can be addressed as a public safety issue, but the refineries will still receive oil by ships and pipelines. Our society would collapse without it. Imagine no fossil-fueled shipping by air, land or sea of food, medicine, clothing or building materials. Where do they think their coffee, kayaks, bicycles, polar wear and yoga mats come from?

France went for fossil-free electricity, and they have nuclear power plants and radioactive waste instead. They have to invade African countries to get uranium, and now they have nuclear contamination to deal with. That’s the reality of breaking free.

 

Recommended viewing

Green Illusions

Recommended reading

A Culture of Imbeciles

Designer Protests and Vanity Arrests

The Society of the Spectacle

 

 

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

Grinding Grist

Public Good Project

April 17, 2016

by Jay Taber

roberts-hopeposter

In case you were wondering why Grist magazine, based in Seattle, is pro-GMO and pro-Nukes (as is Bill Gates),  following the money is probably a good place to start. Funders of Grist include Tides Foundation (an oil industry money laundry), Ford Foundation (a partner of the World Bank in ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples worldwide), and the Rockefeller Brothers (inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune).

Enough said.

A World of Make Believe

Public Good Project

April 16, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

 

There are a number of threats to the future of humankind. The big bugaboo climate change doesn’t even make my top five. If I had to rank them, I’d say these would be it:

  1. Advertising
  2. Corruption
  3. Privatization
  4. Plague
  5. Religion

Climate changed can’t be stopped. All we can do is adapt to new and changing circumstances.

Corruption in government institutions and economic markets that determine climate change initiatives, however, pretty much guarantees that public policies and plans will produce profitable but not effective adaptation. An example of this is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition plan to reduce fossil fuel burning by building more nuclear power plants, a plan supported by the United Nations and promoted by Bill Gates.

Another global initiative promoted by Gates and supported by the UN is the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), now rebranded as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that plan to use the power of UN agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to convert the world’s remaining forests to plantations for growing such food products as GMO soybeans and palm oil. A key part of the SDGs, which is well underway, is building mega-dams in the Amazon River Basin and elsewhere to generate electrical power for the industrial development that is currently displacing Indigenous peoples and annihilating biodiversity.

Privatization of all things public – land, water, nature, government – is the ultimate sustainable development goal. These fall under the much-hyped ‘New Economy’ that Gates and the UN rolled out at COP 21 in Paris. Major promoters of the New Economy include Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, public relations puppets funded by fossil fuel magnates Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers to lead divestment campaigns that are working to privatize all aspects of ownership of the fossil fuel industry, including control of fossil fuel reserves on public lands.

Plague that results from the deforestation of Africa, Asia, and South America have already become a concern to the World Health Organization, and epidemics are forecast to increase exponentially as poverty resulting from ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples and the privatization of public wealth skyrockets, creating mega-slums in which public health programs are replaced by black market pharmaceuticals that are routinely misused, creating a globalized human petri dish for untreatable diseases, such as the ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ that forced the Center for Disease Control to quarantine an entire floor of a public hospital in Maryland—after three patients and a nurse succumbed.

Religion under these horrifying circumstances — that are worsening by the day — poses another serious problem. Religious hysteria, end-of-the-world stuff, generates all kinds of unreasonable behaviors. Religious panic — particularly in fundamentalist, evangelical, and Pentecostal faiths — produces widespread aggression toward scapegoats. Religious terrorism, i.e. Christian Identity, ISIS, and Zionism, leads to murder, massacres, and genocide.

Advertising – in the form of privatized mass communication and education – now dominates public opinion, to the point that controlling consciousness on a global scale is a prescribed art that integrates government propaganda with the news and social media, creating what has been described as a “discursive monoculture”. No matter what vital issue, crisis, or concern arises, public discussion is now choreographed by public relations firms, i.e. Purpose, that work in tandem with NGOs, e.g. Avaaz, and coordinate with government agencies.

Private equity media — that now controls all broadcast, print, and digital news in the United States – has created a fixed mentality behind the ‘clean energy’ chimera, in which all public control of climate responses using public monies will be determined by elite private interests, i.e. Wall Street. Architects of the final solution, e.g. MDGs/SDGs, by pimping poverty and all other social ills that befall humankind, promote the false hope of privatization and the termination of collective ownership in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet.

Global civil society – thanks to Wall Street controlled institutions, markets, and NGOs – is now “paralyzed in a collective hypnosis” that rejects universal social interests and “systematically favours corporate interests”. The art of social engineering in which Avaaz works with elites such as Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in shaping global society, by building upon strategic psychological marketing, relies on the non-profit industrial complex, i.e. 350.org, as the “foundation of imperial domination”.

The mystique of mass hypnosis that made Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben celebrities of the climate change movement could never have happened without the backing of Wall Street. With the advent of social media and the reign of the Internet, controlling consciousness is now child’s play. New world order—same old crimes.

wizard of oz 2 1939

 

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

Rainbow Sparkle Ponies

Culture of Imbeciles

February 9, 2016

by Jay Taber

sparkle pony 4

 

When it comes to political con artists like Bill Gates, Bill McKibben and Ricken Patel, two of the obstacles to Ponzi scheme pattern recognition by The Climateers are illiteracy and immaturity. Illiteracy obscures the fact that over-the-rainbow puffery (like the exaggerations exhorted by the financial elite at COP21) is doomed to come crashing to earth–like all pyramid schemes do; immaturity allows the gullible to be hoodwinked into believing that somehow this time it will turn out differently. Inevitably, though, there comes a day of reckoning, and while the illiterate and immature desperately want to believe that rainbow sparkle ponies will be in their Christmas stockings this year — even though they’ve always received a lump of coal in the past — many are prepared to enthusiastically offer themselves as prey to the next fraud that comes along.

 

sparkle pony 3

 

 

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

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