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Symphony of Failure

Vickrey

Environmental Activism in Four Movements

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

by Gregory Vickrey

 

Allegro – Local Failure

In 2010, I wrote an article titled, “Environmentalism is Dead,” decrying the ineptitude and/or downright skullduggery of large environmental nonprofit organizations. At the time, I still held the foolhardy belief that we could keep environmental activism alive at the local level through traditional nonprofit vehicles, particularly because of the “good people” typically involved in such outfits and the hypothesis suggesting small and nimble – and the development of personal relationships – could create more effective tactics within a comprehensive strategy or agenda.

Of course, I was wrong.

I suppose one could argue isolated circumstances prove exceptions to the more idealistic rule, but conversations with activists around the United States and Canada, in particular, have only supplemented my own experiences to the point where the hypothesis above demonstrates abject failure in practice among the grassroots, local and regional fare.

Environmentalism truly is dead.

Keystone XL | The Ivory Towers Crushing the Last Remnants of Climate Justice

By Cory Morningstar

January 20, 2011

 

A recent article was posted to an International Climate Justice Now! listserv written by “agent” Jamie Henn of 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action. The 16 January 2012 article titled “Grassroots Strategy Is Key to Winning Keystone XL Fight” gave the impression that the mainstream green groups were a magnificent force to be dealt with due to an unprecedented “grassroots” effort united.

Really?

It appears he missed Tom Goldtooth’s (Indigenous Environmental Network) interview published 5 December 2011 by The Africa Report:

“We have challenged, and become very unpopular for raising the issue of, classism, which is [a] source of the problem and requires an economic analysis if the environmental and climate narrative is to be truthful…. Look at 350.org – we had to challenge them to bring us to stand with them on the pipeline issue. Bill McKibben, the ivory tower white academic, didn’t even want to take the time to bring people of colour to the organising. We managed a negotiation that allowed for both groups to unite.” … “Well, it is always the case with the media that ‘white is right’ or that global issues affecting people of color on the frontline should be represented by the type of voices that don’t engage, in a threatening way, the realities of capitalism. There are also many fashionable voices that become part of the establishment in the sense that while they do espouse the truth, it [does] not pose a threat for change, for ending the system, because someone has adopted a cause that they were not born into. The communities that live in the cancer hotspots, in the immediate environment, their voices are too real, too threatening. Meanwhile, infiltration continues – …”

 

When I start seeing articles posted on an international climate justice listserv from 350.org celebrating NRDC [1]and friends, co-opting MLK (Martin Luther King, Jr.) for their own (branding) purposes and legitimising the Obama tagline “Yes We Can” (language that in turn gives “hope” that citizens may see “a certain young senator from Illinois” re-emerge), with no dissent to be found, it tells me that my good friend and legitimate activist Sandy was right. This Climate Justice Network has become CAN (Climate Action Network)[2] in drag. [January 2012: “But as an openly gay man can I say that sometimes I read the cjn postings and feel like cjn at times is becoming CAN in drag, in other words we have been infiltrated, so I wonder whether it is too late to lock the chicken coop when the fox is already inside.”]

An Open Letter to The Nature Conservancy

An Open Letter to The Nature Conservancy

Image courtesy of Unsuitablog

Dear TNC people:

This is a letter I sent to my lists some months ago. I would ask you to consider distributing it among yourselves and to the conference planners.

I just read of your October conference where business leaders will once again pretend to address the global ecological crisis. I do understand your dilemma: how to defend and perpetuate the industrial consumer society that relies on endless economic growth, i.e capitalism. Susan George of the Transnational Institute wrote a quite wonderful book, The Lugano Report, on this very subject.

We in the environmental community fully understand your plight. But we understand more: we understand the problem. The business community does not yet understand it. It is simply this: economic growth in a finite planet cannot continue and in fact it has ended for all intents and purposes. Economic growth as traditionally understood is OVER.

The power that be will of course continue to throw money at it and hold high level conferences like yours and come up with imaginary “solutions” that only conceal the problem and thus allow it to grow larger. Some of you may actually believe that growth is compatible with preserving wildlife and ecosystems. Let me disabuse you of this view. As long as humans overbreed, overproduce and overconsume, they will necessarily infringe on and eventually destroy the other species on this planet and their ecosystem. Dave Foreman’s book Man Swarm makes this quite clear.

We have a choice: stop overpopulation, consumption and growth, or destroy the planet on which we depend. There is NO middle way to grow AND save the planet. You MUST accept this fact as the premise of your conference and all your plans. Do I make myself clear?

No amount of media hype, government subsidy, financial sleight of hand or regulatory manipulation will change this. Anyone who believes the contrary is whistling in the darkening dark. We are witnessing the convergence of several crises, none of which will disappear. Some flimsy temporary tinkering with monetary or fiscal policy and other icing on the cake may provide some temporary relief in one of the crises, but the others will proceed apace, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. And so it will continue.

If you want the full honest truth, then let me suggest some names: Richard Heinberg as first choice, James Kunstler, Yuri Orlov, the Post-Carbon Institute, maybe Dave Foreman himself, and for some side “entertainment”, you can screen Dave Gardner’s documentary “Growthbusters”, which will premiere in October. This of course assumes you are open to hearing things that are at odds with your faith in growth and consumerism.

Sincerely,

Lorna Salzman

Dear friends in business, arts and culture:

Some of you will be annoyed at this message. I apologize for the intrusion. However, for those of you with an open mind, I ask that you read this short statement from two highly informed and credible activists, one Canadian and one American.

For those of you in the business community, let me beseech you to read and absorb this message. It is not unique nor is it new. It comes on the heels of reports from Canada indicating that despite the broad public concern over climate change, the Canadian government and environmental NGOs continue to refuse to inform the public as to the real extent and gravity of the climate change threat. This withholding of information is echoed here in the United States, replaced by reports and studies on the topic of renewable energy, as if this were a solution to the problem, or even an option at this point in time.

If you are not already worried about what kind of world your children or grandchildren face, then let me appeal to you on strictly economic and financial terms. Very shortly, probably before another decade passes, the developed world that is hooked on fossil fuels and economic growth will experience major energy and environmental constraints and obstacles which will in turn disrupt society and economies across the world and cause social chaos on an unprecedented scale. While the overpopulated less developed world will bear a large part of the brunt of this eco-collapse due to its impact on food crops and drinking water, industrial societies may actually be more adversely affected because they have more to lose in the way of infrastructure, transportation, energy supplies, and food supplies for large cities.

The crisis will first appear in the form of higher prices for energy and goods, followed by scarcities and maldistribution, followed by a forced contraction of commerce and business, especially in construction, maintenance and repair. In my opinion, the economic recession we are in today will not ease up before the new crisis of contraction begins. In other words, we face a global recession of indefinite duration, not a recovery.

It is long overdue for businessmen, entrepreneurs, corporations, investors, financiers and especially government to develop and implement a Greenprint for Survival. I say Greenprint, picking up on the 1972 “Blueprint for Survival” published by The Ecologist in Great Britain and its late founder/editor Teddy Goldsmith, a man of great foresight and insight. The original Blueprint, endorsed by dozens of leading scientists and others from all over the world, analyzed all the trends and sectors of the world economy and environment, and stated clearly and forcefully the impossibility of continued economic growth, the necessity for moving quickly to a steady-state society rather than one based on a continued through-put of energy and resources, and a redesign of human settlements to allow maximum political and economic decentralization.

The necessity for a relocalization of our economy, in terms of food, energy, transportation, commerce and industry, has now become a major subject of discussion but not one that is widespread because business, government and financiers still grasp onto the hope that economic growth and consumption can and will resume to their original extent and form. It is clear that as long as even some environmental groups withhold the truth about climate change and related issues (loss of biodiversity, destruction of ocean fisheries, diminution of fresh water supplies as glaciers disappear, etc.), neither government nor the business community will take any steps commensurate with the threat. For them, the laws of nature and inexorable drive towards eco-collapse have no importance. The sound of denial is deafening.

Some of you have written me in anger and disbelief, quoting pseudo-scientists and studies that have never been peer reviewed or published in any credible scientific publication. Most if not all of these are produced routinely by those with ties to special interests, especially those in energy, such as Exxon, the coal companies, and the nuclear industry (at least what remains of it). As such they have no more credibility than the front page of the National Inquirer. Perhaps it is comforting to the doubters and deniers that some scientists purvey good news. Their comfort, however, is shortly to disappear. The question they need to ask themselves, if they are honest and have any shred of compassion for their descendants, is this: What if the deniers are wrong?

Greed, self-interest and economic hegemony are powerful motivators but not for the good. If the deniers manage to suppress the bad news and twist the facts, they must be regarded as subversives, even terrorists, determined to impose their view of Business As Usual on the rest of us, with all the suffering, deprivation and societal catastrophe that this will bring. Those of you in the corporate or business world who still have an open mind and are willing to hear the truth may represent the last and best hope that our country has of shaking our government awake and instilling common sense into it. If any of you are up to this urgent responsibility, you should not delay but should reach out to others in the business community and demand that they open their ears and eyes to what is really happening. Please give this serious thought.

Lorna Salzman

+++

The following is an excerpt from the article From the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Love | Explosive Climate Report Kept from Public:

2010 marks a significant new direction in the climate negotiations. The People’s Agreement, agreed upon during theWorld People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on April 22nd, 2010 (Cochabamba, Bolivia) is by far the best position to date. It is also the first position to state the necessary targets as well as the realities based on climate science. Climate justice advocates now have a legitimate position paper, critical text of which is now being recognized for the first time by the UNFCCC. Climate justice groups across the world, including Canada’s Council of Canadians; Canada’s largest citizens organization, have endorsed and campaign on this powerful agreement. Surely now is the time to pull together and work harder than ever. Solutions do exist. Therefore, the question that must be asked is this: Why is the climate crisis being abandoned by many and why has an incredibly powerful report been kept from the public – when the public wants action?

It is important to note that all big greens including 350.org, RAN, Greenpeace, CAN Canada and CAN International have thus far declined to endorse the People’s Agreement. CAN-International has roughly 500 members in over 80 countries.

Friends of the Earth groups in Africa; Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda endorse the People’s Agreement. You can read their press release here:http://bit.ly/962OZE

They Know – And Have Known for a Long Time

On 18 April 2007, Ken Ward of Grist writes:

The deliberate decision a decade ago to downplay climate change risk in the interests of presenting a sober, optimistic image to potential donors, maintaining access to decision-makers, and operating within the constraints of private foundations has blown back on us. By emphasizing specific solutions and avoiding definitions that might appear alarmist, we inadvertently fed a dumbed-down, Readers Digest version of climate change to our staff and environmentalist core. Now, as we scramble to keep up with climate scientists, we discover that we have paid a hefty price. Humanity has <10 years to avert cataclysm and most U.S. environmentalists simply don’t believe it.

If we did believe it, we would be acting very differently. Why do we continue, in our materials and on our web sites, to present climate as one of any number of apparently equally important issues? Why, if we really believe that the fate of the world will be decided within a few years, haven’t our organizations liquidated assets, shut down non-essential program[s] and invested everything in one final effort? Why, given the crushing circumstances, is there essentially no internal debate or challenge to our inadequate course of action? Why, for that matter, aren’t environmentalists all working weekends?

These are not gratuitous questions. Environmentalists are not immune from the social and cognitive barriers that make it difficult for almost every individual, institution, society, and nation to come to terms with the threat of cataclysm. However, the whole point of environmentalism is to anticipate precisely the conditions in which we now find ourselves. The purpose of the precautionary principle is to encourage the long view, “out even to the 7th generation,” and the ethos of environmentalism is a fundamental challenge to the dominant paradigm. Our values and principles are supposed to buck us up when, as individuals, we lose our way.

A must watch 2009 video of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan is riveting. Seldom does anyone have the conviction or courage to speak so boldly, so bluntly. Gelbspan reveals that what began as an initial response of many institutions – denial and delay – has now grown into a crime against humanity. Based on his investigative reporting, Gelbspan speaks of how politicians, big oil and coal, journalists, and the irresponsibility of the big greens have fueled a climate crisis. Gelspan has an interesting theory about why the environmental movement, downplaying the risks and avoiding talk of climate catastrophe, has communicated the climate crisis to the public with unrealistic “optimism.” He suggests that perhaps they are emotionally traumatized deep down by what they really know about the terrible extent of the risks of catastrophic climate change.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.4605171&w=425&h=350&fv=videoId%3D62732198001%26playerID%3D51061328001%26domain%3Dembed%26]

“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” – Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophelsas

From the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Love | Explosive Climate Report Text Revealed

As we stand on the edge of climate apocalypse, we must wake up and acknowledge that what the big greens are not saying is far more important than what they are saying.

From the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Love. Excerpts from a controversial new book to be released 2010-2011. This article – Explosive Climate Report Text Revealed – is thesecondin a series in which we discuss the connection between environmental campaigns and their corporate sponsors.

By Cory Morningstar

Explosive Climate Poll Results

This cartoon appeared in the LA Times on Sunday, June 27, 2010. – Courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

When it comes to our chances of avoiding global climate catastrophe, a 2010 Gandalf Group poll, commissioned by Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada, could be one the most important reports ever produced. Yet, CAN has not released the most critical findings of the poll to the public.

What this poll (2010 – Gandalf Group) found is that the Canadian public (which is not so different from the American public) is well aware of and very concerned about catastrophic global climate change. What the report advises is that Canadian environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should start to communicate the truth of climate catastrophe and should be campaigning on the basis of climate catastrophe.

The text of the report is explosive because it has life or death implications for hundreds of millions of climate vulnerable people around the world, the future of humanity, and all life on our planet. Meanwhile, climate change negotiations are paralyzed, Canada remains one of the number one obstructionists, the UN climate convention secretariat advises us not to expect a new UN climate treaty for decades, and the messaging of NGOs … well, let’s just say, the song remains the same.

In order to hold the fossil fuel industry to account, it is essential to publicize the very worst catastrophic risks and the now inevitable catastrophic impacts of global climate disruption. Yet NGOs are not conveying the severity of the situation to the public. The world’s most vulnerable – the men, women and children who make up populations in developing countries and small island states – are the first victims of fossil fuel greenhouse gas pollution fuelling the climate crisis. The NGOs’ silence is failing to hold to account those guilty of climate crimes, allowing them to continue business as usual.

Compromised policies of the large NGO institutions have, for years, downplayed the full extent of the catastrophic risks to human populations, future generations of humanity and the whole biosphere of continued greenhouse gas pollution. As humanity stands on the very edge of climate apocalypse, these compromised policies cannot be allowed to continue – not without a challenge. As well, there are ethical questions. If NGOS are privy to, what they identify as a devastating report, should they be bound by ethics to release the information to civil society whom they claim to represent?

A barrier within the climate crisis, and one that might have helped the crisis escalate to beyond dangerous, stems from the assertion by NGOs that the public cannot be told the truth because citizens cannot deal with the reality of dangerous global warming or the risks of climate catastrophe, which now confront humanity on an epic scale.

NGOs continue to downplay the catastrophic risks of global climate change, even now as those risks are rapidly increasing. A paper for the Four Degrees and Beyond conference in September 2009 titled Psychological Adaptation to the Threats and Stresses of a Four Degree World,written by Clive Hamilton (Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University) and Tim Kasser (professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Knox College, Illinois, USA) states: "At present most governments and environmental organisations adopt a ‘don’t scare the horses’ approach, fearful that exposing people fully to the scientific predictions will immobilise them. With climate scientists now stressing the need for extremely urgent action and spelling out more catastrophic impacts if action is inadequate, this now seems to us a dangerous approach to undertake."

Although, as Hamilton and Kasser point out, several leading climate change experts have clearly stated that the world is beyond dangerous interference with the climate system (now glaringly obvious, post-Russian fires, post-Pakistan floods, post-Niger double drought), the environmental movement has still not stated that

, nor has it made submissions to the UN climate negotiations to this effect.

It is common knowledge within the environmental movement that the environmental NGOs have agreed on a common strategy that amounts to a conspiracy of silence with respect to the most potent aspects of the global climate change crisis. The NGOs avoid any messaging to the public or to governments that includes the language of dangerous climate interference or catastrophic climate impacts. This myth – that we can’t handle the truth – is also the defense that the most powerful environmental NGOs in the world repeat to anyone who dares challenge the passive messaging they convey to the public.

The NGOs claim that the public cannot be told the truth about the risks of climate catastrophe. To place this argument into perspective, imagine a doctor examining a patient. The doctor finds that all the evidence points to a terminally fatal condition, yet the doctor then decides to withhold the evidence from the patient. She tells the patient that she will continue to monitor certain health problems and asks the patient to return for a check-up at a later date. The doctor wants you to believe that this is practicing good medicine because it is not right to cause anxiety in the patient.

The Gandalf report, commissioned by CAN Canada themselves, has powerful implications. In no uncertain terms, this report dispels the myth that the public cannot handle the truth. In fact, it turns out that the vast majority of the (Canadian) public not only understand that the consequences of global warming are likely catastrophic, but their desire for action on the part of government is motivated by concern about the catastrophic consequences of INACTION by the government. The report states to CAN: "There is no reason to be defensive – momentum is with you…. The catastrophic consequences make not addressing this issue morally untenable."

Key points from the report:

  • Today a majority of Canadians believe global warming is happening and that the consequences of it are likely and catastrophic.
  • Canadians are concerned about climate change – less than 10% are not at all concerned.
  • It is concern about the catastrophic consequences of inaction that inspires the desire to act. The greatest benefit is to avoid disaster.
  • This issue is more likely to be seen as important than urgent – but almost half (48%) of Canadians believe this issue is both very important to solve and very urgent to solve – this is a key group.
  • Canadians believe the effects of climate change will be global and severe.
  • And they believe climate change will affect the Canadian environment – melting of the Arctic ice, extinction of species, and more severe and unusual weather.
  • This argues for a change in emphasis from glaciers and polar bears to spread of disease and catastrophic food and water shortages.
  • An increased likelihood of consequences and increased concern about consequences are significantly associated with an increased sense of urgency to address climate change.
  • Among target groups, those who believe the following are most likely to want urgent action:

– The consequences of climate change are catastrophic and we must act now to avoid them.

– If we don’t take action now it will be too late.

– Canadians use more energy than anyone so we should do more to reduce emissions.

– Canada is better off than a lot of countries and can afford to take the lead in addressing climate change.

– Investments in green technology can create jobs now and benefit the economy.

– If we act now, we can save animals, plants and ecosystems.

  • Almost half of Canadians see the issue as very important to solve and very urgent to solve.
  • And a large majority of Canadians believe that significant and global consequences of climate change are likely and of concern.

The findings and recommendations of this report are stunning, not only because they prove that the past and present strategy of the NGOs is wrong and increases the likelihood of humanity drifting into catastrophe, but because the NGOs have actually been instructed to focus their messaging to the public on the risks of global climate catastrophe – supported, of course, by the recommendations to avoid catastrophe.

What did CAN Canada do with this report? Apparently next to nothing. They issued a news release on 25 June 2010 that headlined the Canadian government rather than the crucial fact that the research derived recommendation is for NGOs to campaign on the concern of catastrophic climate change (which the NGOs have thus far rejected). While they indicated that Canadians are concerned about catastrophic climate change, they failed to reveal that the strategy behind the NGOs at present is a losing one. The CAN campaign, by not supporting the call to keep the temperature below a rise of 1C degree from pre-industrial levels by returning to 300 ppm (parts per million greenhouse gas emissions) or lower does not address the impending catastrophe. Adding further insult to injury, it appears CAN has continued to sit on these findings for some time, prior to the fires in Russia, an ecological disaster that killed over 15,000 people, and prior to the Pakistan floods that killed hundreds and resulted in over 20 million people homeless. If an environmental NGO wants decisive action from a government, the only pressure they can apply is to publicize the worst risks of government inaction – a tactic that is even more powerful when the public already understands the risks, expresses concern, and knows that urgent action is necessary. (Call it political will.)

What could have been the effect if the public had been told that a very large percentage of Canadians understood there is a real risk of climate catastrophe, were concerned of the risks and wanted government action on it? Predictably more Canadians would have come to understand the catastrophic risks that governments and corporations are running. And more Canadians would be accepting of urgent and effective remedial action, which would include full compliance with the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as a new binding and effective international UN climate treaty. As a matter of public security, a Canadian government that refused to comply with the will of the people would be turned out of office by the electorate.

To sit on a report of such magnitude and relevance, by not messaging the true risks of catastrophic climate change to the public as tipping points continue to be crossed, must be challenged. The environmental NGOs know the full extent of the catastrophic risks, but they use the unprecedented extent of the risks as a reason for not communicating the risks to the public, the fossil fuel corporations, or governments.

Time is not on our side. The Cancun UN climate conference is quickly approaching. Checking out their websites, it is tragically clear that all parties have given up on our shared the future. The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) demoralized the process by pre-judging its outcome as an epic failure to be expected for decades. Perhaps her comments are a direct reflection of the that fact governments of wealthy countries continue to support the environmentally perverse free market economy – far ahead of the survival of future generations and life on Earth.

However, 2010 marks a significant new direction in the climate negotiations. The People’s Agreement, agreed upon during the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on April 22nd, 2010 (Cochabamba, Bolivia) is by far the best position to date. It is also the first position to state the necessary targets as well as the realities based on climate science. Climate justice advocates now have a legitimate position paper, critical text of which is now being recognized for the first time by the UNFCCC. Climate justice groups across the world, including Canada’s Council of Canadians; Canada’s largest citizens organization, have endorsed and campaign on this powerful agreement. Surely now is the time to pull together and work harder than ever. Solutions do exist. Therefore, the question that must be asked is this: Why is the climate crisis being abandoned by many and why has an incredibly powerful report been kept from the public – when the public wants action?

It is important to note that all big greens including 350.org, RAN, Greenpeace, CAN Canada and CAN International have thus far declined to endorse the People’s Agreement. CAN-International has roughly 500 members in over 80 countries.

Friends of the Earth groups in Africa; Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda endorse the People’s Agreement. You can read their press release here: http://bit.ly/962OZE

They Know – And Have Known for a Long Time

On 18 April 2007, Ken Ward of Grist writes:

The deliberate decision a decade ago to downplay climate change risk in the interests of presenting a sober, optimistic image to potential donors, maintaining access to decision-makers, and operating within the constraints of private foundations has blown back on us. By emphasizing specific solutions and avoiding definitions that might appear alarmist, we inadvertently fed a dumbed-down, Readers Digest version of climate change to our staff and environmentalist core. Now, as we scramble to keep up with climate scientists, we discover that we have paid a hefty price. Humanity has <10 years to avert cataclysm and most U.S. environmentalists simply don’t believe it.

If we did believe it, we would be acting very differently. Why do we continue, in our materials and on our web sites, to present climate as one of any number of apparently equally important issues? Why, if we really believe that the fate of the world will be decided within a few years, haven’t our organizations liquidated assets, shut down non-essential program[s] and invested everything in one final effort? Why, given the crushing circumstances, is there essentially no internal debate or challenge to our inadequate course of action? Why, for that matter, aren’t environmentalists all working weekends?

These are not gratuitous questions. Environmentalists are not immune from the social and cognitive barriers that make it difficult for almost every individual, institution, society, and nation to come to terms with the threat of cataclysm. However, the whole point of environmentalism is to anticipate precisely the conditions in which we now find ourselves. The purpose of the precautionary principle is to encourage the long view, "out even to the 7th generation," and the ethos of environmentalism is a fundamental challenge to the dominant paradigm. Our values and principles are supposed to buck us up when, as individuals, we lose our way.

A must watch 2009 video of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan is riveting. Seldom does anyone have the conviction or courage to speak so boldly, so bluntly. Gelbspan reveals that what began as an initial response of many institutions – denial and delay – has now grown into a crime against humanity. Based on his investigative reporting, Gelbspan speaks of how politicians, big oil and coal, journalists, and the irresponsibility of the big greens have fueled a climate crisis. Gelspan has an interesting theory about why the environmental movement, downplaying the risks and avoiding talk of climate catastrophe, has communicated the climate crisis to the public with unrealistic "optimism." He suggests that perhaps they are emotionally traumatized deep down by what they really know about the terrible extent of the risks of catastrophic climate change.

http://vodpod.com/watch/2952973-climate-truth-15-convincing-minutes?u=cstar&c=canadianclimate

"It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing." – Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe

Self Censored or Muzzled by Funders?

Upon investigation, we find a stream of polls showing that the NGO attitude on communicating global warming is completely out of step with the public. While the NGOs offer climate change platitudes, some possibly paralyzed with anxiety on how to communicate the catastrophic risks to the public, the majority of the public has already come to understand that the situation is looking more and more dire as real-life climate-induced weather events unfold before our eyes. The polls (which NGOs will not make a move without) actually have shown for some time now (see the polls below) that citizens are concerned about the risk of global climate catastrophe, and they want action.

However, the NGOs have steadfastly refused to campaign on this basis. Rather they continue to campaign on their false assumption that North Americans must not be made to worry too much. Don’t frighten the public – it could affect the economy! Furthermore, the polls show that citizen demand for action is growing stronger in Canada and the United States. And where do they believe the leadership should come from? NGOs. Considering that the reason "not to scare the public" is the number one excuse they fall back on to legitimize their inaction, one must ask – says who???

There is a possible explanation for this gross breach of trust. Money. If this is true, the big greens, through their inaction, are in effect protecting the fossil fuel economy ahead of the planet and the planet’s children of all species. Such refusal to tell the truth to the public has also created deepening divisions within the climate justice movement itself – the corporate greens versus the legitimate grassroots groups.

This situation must be brought out into the open. It is past time for all organizations to start campaigning aggressively for the future of the planet and humanity – and this means communicating the escalating risks of planetary catastrophe.

Gross Negligence on an Epic Scale?

Remember the game we all played when we were little called Telephone? You whisper something in someone’s ear, and the message goes all the way around the circle until it reaches back to the original person. But when it comes back, it is so distorted from what was originally said that everyone bursts into laughter. This seems similar, but not so funny. It’s like the vicious rumour that starts, spreads like wildfire, then, after the damage is done, no one even knows who started it or if it was even true in the first place. In the "big green bible" on communications "for global warming advocates from global warming advocates" it reads: "While impacts are an important part of the case, making impacts the center of public attention can be counterproductive. To avoid this trap, communicators must discuss impacts in ways that are clearly tied to both causes and solutions – a coherent and hopeful big picture." To put this in perspective, imagine the government believing it should not tell the public about terrorism or "terrorist alerts" because the fear may be too overwhelming for people. We certainly don’t seem to have a problem conveying that message. And we certainly don’t feel the need to constantly offer the causes of and solutions to terrorism as governments pump out billions of tax dollars on ‘security measures’. How about the H1N1 virus? No problem there, either. In 2009, the United States declared H1N1 a national emergency. Canada prepared for mass inoculations for the reported pandemic. Media screamed emergency. Lineups for vaccines circled blocks. The pharmaceutical industry made billions (Makers of H1N1 vaccines reported sales of $3.3 billion). And when they were done, it simply disappeared from the media.

The following are recent polls contradicting the NGO passive messaging strategy:

  • 30 November 2009, Canada, Poll: Climate change seen as planet’s defining crisis.
  • 19 December 2009, AP Poll: 3 in 4 view climate change as serious problem, say Earth already warming; Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, said that if nothing is done to reduce the threat of global warming, future generations will be hurt a great deal or "a lot."
  • 4 January 2010, Canada, Poll: Planet in peril: More than half of Canadians believe greenhouse gases produced by human activity are a key factor spurring climate change, and they say the planet is in peril if significant action isn’t taken soon. The highest support for immediate action on greenhouse gases came in Quebec, where almost 70% of those asked said human activity is a key driver of climate change. They want something done now.
  • 10 January 2010, Canada, Poll: Canadians say climate change a bigger threat than terrorism. Canadians believe climate change poses a significantly bigger threat to the "vital interests" of this country over the next decade than international terrorism
  • 25 June 2010, Climate Action Network, G8/G20 Poll: There is a growing understanding of the catastrophic effects of climate change. Those two factors combine in a demand from Canadians that their government be a leader, not a follower, in finding global solutions.
  • 27 October 2010, United States: Another poll shows narrative on climate change is dead wrong: "… front groups are just dead wrong when it comes to climate and energy policy and that voters are not motivated to vote against climate and energy supporters. What the polling data show, and what the overwhelming support of independent voters demonstrates, is that climate change is a winning political issue with broad appeal, especially among those who are interested in a future that includes energy security."
  • Recent Polls Show Support for Limiting Climate Change Pollution: "Polls clearly suggest that Americans want to address greenhouse gas pollution and are even willing to pay for it."
  • Does Public Opinion Support Climate Action? "63% of Canadians and 40% of Americans would protect the environment even at the risk of hampering economic growth. This contrasts starkly with the Pew Research Center’s Public Priorities for 2010 poll, where ‘dealing with global warming’ ranked near the bottom of a 21-option priority list."

Despite all the evidence that contradicts their allegiance to silence – in order to protect the public from a truth they have decided the public will be unable to cope with – the big greens remain silent. Even when they are told they are dead wrong in June of 2010. To share such an explosive report is to share the reality that their passive campaigning is unfounded. Will CAN Canada and its partners recognize that they have been tragically negligent?

There are other silent indicators that something is not right. Big greens do not convey the fact that the fossil fuel economy must be abandoned at breakneck speed. The all-important and indispensable target of zero carbon emissions is seldom mentioned. The big greens have failed to capitalize on the fact that the vast majority of North Americans know global warming is real, that they understand we are in a dangerous situation, and that they want action. Common sense tells us that the NGOs should campaign on this fact (supported by the polls) in order to gain public support for the urgent actions required to prevent catastrophic global climate disruption. But they are not. Why?

The last poll listed above is particularly interesting, noting the conflicting results reported from the Pew Research Center where "dealing with global warming" ranked almost last. Who is Pew? The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew Memorial Trust. This enterprise made $205 million in "investment income" in 1993 from such stocks as Weyerhaeuser ($16 million), the mining concern Phelps-Dodge ($3.7 million), International Paper ($4.56 million), and Atlantic Richfield, which was pushing hard to open even more of the Arctic to oil drilling ($6.1 million). The annual income yield from rape-and-pillage companies accruing to Pew in this single trust was twice as large as its total grants, and six times as large as all of Pew’s environmental dispensations that year (about $20 million in 1993) [Source: From Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism, by Jeffrey
St. Clair and Joshua Frank, forthcoming from Haymarket Books].

Unlike the environmental movement, the Pentagon, the fossil fuel industry, and the governments of high fossil fuel consuming countries are not making assumptions based on psychology to determine the reality of our proximity to tipping points. In stark contrast, they are planning for resource wars due to drought, flooding, climate refugees, and extreme weather. Certainly they will seek to manage populations through psychological operations to control the level of desperation; but this will be a secondary factor based on the reality of having reached instability or tipping points. Therefore, it only makes sense that any organization that claims to represent civil society should be planning and organizing based on this reality, as well as leveling with the broad public on positive feedback loops we may have already reached. We must also acknowledge that the big greens are silent on the absolute necessity to divert the trillions of dollars funneled into militarism to an unparalleled mobilization effort to avert global catastrophe. In fact, the winner of ‘Project Censored’ top 25 articles for 2009 – 2010 news stories was ‘Pentagon’s role in global catastrophe’ by Sara Flounders.

Conclusion: The entire strategy of the environmental NGOs to stop global climate change is based on what is, certainly now, a fatally false assumption. This assumption – that civil society NGOs can transform the behavior of the public through green consumerism and token symbolic efforts – is completely out of touch with reality. After 25 years, this strategy has proven to be an epic fail, one that has brought us to the edge of collapse. NGOs know that the only greenhouse gas emissions target that can stop global warming and ocean acidification is a transition to zero carbon emissions at incredible speed. Today, individual behavior changes can never match the magnitude of the risks we now face.

The primary and urgent task of the environmental movement is to engage the public in the global climate change crisis, to motivate the public to insist on and support measures by government, the investment sector and industry to control greenhouse gas emissions with a supersonic trajectory to zero emissions. Only by changing the climate criminal system behind the investment banking industry and the fossil fuel industries, along with the criminally compliant governments and politicians, can the planet be saved from global climate catastrophe.

"My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference…" "The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation." – Andrew Glikson, Earth/Paleo-climate scientist

Recent history shows that when massive social and environmental movements changed the face of our society, the values and beliefs that inspired such uprisings arose from a very small minority of well-informed and outraged citizens who led the fight against injustices. Saving the planet from global climate catastrophe means a radical systemic change to our environmentally perverse model of economics and our environmentally incapable systems of government. Environmental NGOs who truly represent civil society should be leading the way. Failing this task, legitimate movements must lead millions of citizens to participate in global synchronized direct actions – that do not die down until the people win.

We are living in a time of gross criminal negligence, where government – corporate collusion thrives in the capitalist system – the root cause of the current climate crisis. The negligence, though, is not only caused by the collusion between governments and corporations but also by the silence and compliance of those who receive funding from corporations, governments and foundations.

***

Watch for the next article – third in the series, in which we continue to discuss the connection between environmental campaigns and their corporate sponsors. Article number one in the series ‘10:10:10 – Marketing, Manipulation, and the Status Quo’ can be read at: http://bit.ly/cUYCrn.

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on ‘Canadians for Action on Climate Change’ and ‘The Art of Annihilation’ site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on twitter:@elleprovocateur

EYES WIDE SHUT | TckTckTck exposé

Sleeping with the Enemy …

EYES WIDE SHUT | TckTckTck exposé

The mainstream environmental movement no longer inspires nor leads society to an enlightened existence – it simply bows down to the status quo.

Who Really Deserves the Fossil Fool Award? TckTckTck or us?

The largest climate change campaign in the world is in bed with the world’s most powerful corporations.

In this HAVAS press release TCK HAVAS PAGER we obtained Havas announces their TckTckTck campaign launch. In this release it states: “The objective was to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit”.  After the background text on the TckTckTck campaign itself, the release goes on to state in ‘the results’ the following:

The open-­?source campaign has been adopted around the world with everything from massive stunts in Central Park
by Oxfam, to ad agency Y&R in Brazil creating a Tck Tck Tck TV commercial, to advertisers like EDF including the TckTckTck logo on one of their latest TV commercials, to huge global press coverage.

It then lists the partners that have come on board thus far.

From the release:

The following companies who have already come on board as partners includes Galeries Lafayette, Virgin Group, Yahoo! Music, iTunes, Google, Pernod Ricard, EDF, Microsoft,  Zune, YouTube, USA Today, National Magazines, HSBC, M&S, Uniqlo, Lloyds Bank, MySpace, MTV, Bo Concept Japan K.K., Volvo, Kipa Turkey, Claro Argentina, Peugeot, NTV, Universal, Tesco, Sina.com, GDF Suez, Centrica, Oxfam, New Zealand Wine Company, 350.org, Handbag.com, Avaaz.org, Lesinrockuptibles, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, EMap, Greenpeace, Commensal, The Atlantic, Fast Company, News Limited, Tesla, Wired Magazine, and RFM Radio.

And this is not the full list of partners.

Who is EDF?

EDF, the world’s leading nuclear power utility, operates a French nuclear fleet consisting of 58 reactors spread over 19 different sites.

Here is a little information you might like to know about another partners –  GDF Suez – that I found on the  ‘World Nuclear News‘ website:

GdF-Suez and Total secure nuclear stake

05 May 2009

Oil and gas firms will have a substantial interest in the second new large nuclear reactor to be built in France. GdF-Suez is to take a one-third stake and share it with Total.

We are in fact sleeping with the enemy.

In the press release it also states “Havas Worldwide incorporates the EURO RSCG whose clients include Novartis and Adventis – both biotech industries in genetic engineering and biofuel  including the disastrous Jatropha. One must ask if this could be why biofuels and nuclear were not really listed high on the menu at COP 15 even though these two false  “solutions” are equally bad if not worse than the problem they are intended to solve.

The Tck Tck Tck: Time for Climate Justice campaign was also developed by GHF & as mentioned above, Euro RSCG Worldwide.  Clients of Euro RSCG include Air France, Kraft, McDonalds, Volvo, Evian, IBM, Nokia, Starbucks, etc. etc. You may recognize some of these corporations from the massive advertising campaign labeled ‘Hopenhagen’ which incited cries of greenwash from the likes of Naomi Klein, organizations and activists from across the planet.  The Hopenhagen campaign was unveiled with the support of dozens of agency, media, and brand partners to do one thing – “rebrand a city”. See the friends of ‘Hopenhagen’ here.

As it turns out, Havas the creator of TckTckTck, and Euro RSCG were also the initial partners and creators of the infamous Hopenhagen campaign.

‘The self proclaimed Masters of Marketing & Growth” is Havas whose clients include those such as Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, BP, Statoil, Gasnatural, and on and on the list goes.

November 12th 2009: “Over 200 partner organizations have joined this fight for climate justice, including the World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the National Resource Defense Council. With close to 3 million people already signing up to declare their support for climate justice, the stunning advertising created for this campaign is positive proof that our industry can help to make the world a better place.”

Like the corporations greenwashing products, the practice of NGOs not only greenwashing corporations but partnering with them is quickly becoming ‘normalized’. While people continue to die, the corporate elites sit back and laugh. Surely this is not climate justice. In the past our organization has used the independent firm ‘Fair Trade Media’ when we needed graphics for campaigns we created. Surely such organizations exist around the world?

The mainstream environmental movement is no longer led by visionaries, thinkers, activists. (Was it at one time? I would like to think so.) It is clearly being shaped and defined by advertising firms. From top to bottom – it is being led by advertising executives – people whose expertise is ensuring corporate profit and growth at every quarter. I would argue that the mainstream environmental movement is no longer based on truth. In the past activism was based on what was ‘right’ both ethically and morally – not on what the polls stated public perception would be. Today, polling is now done by most of the bigger NGOs before they message anything. Imagine the information Euro RSCG could collect through the TckTckTck campaign to give their other clients valuable insight of the millions of concerned citizens showing interest for the environment. Sponsors of TckTckTck include carbon offset companies which are being aggressively opposed by true Climate Justice groups, therefore, beyond watering down of the term “climate justice,” there has been a corporate takeover of the political space on the climate crisis including, even, the hijacking of the language and framing. Simply put – the climate justice concept is now being used by corporations and institutions for greenwashing their market-oriented policies.

The mainstream environmental movement no longer inspires nor leads society to an enlightened existence – it simply bows down to the status quo. Conveniently there is always an envelope for a donation – this could perhaps be considered a note of gratitude from the citizen for allowing them to remain in denial yet still feel as though they are doing their part. Or citizens may simply choose to accessorize with a TckTckTck pin to show their dedication to the cause. The tck tck tck pins from the ‘store’ section are made with nickel (mined) in a ‘care certified’ sweatshop facility in China. Their associated carbon emissions have been ‘offset’ by TckTckTck partners. (Just pray that you personally never have to work in a mine nor a sweatshop) What happened to the cries of ‘leave it in the ground!’ on the streets of Copenhagen?

All ENGOs are vastly aware that the industrialized nations are in a death-spiral brought about by the capitalist, consumptive and corporate domination of society, which is suicidal.  They all know this – yet we never hear mention of system change nor real climate justice targets from tck tck tck or the mainstream environmental NGOs. We are in what scientists call the 6th extinction. It is not only species that are at great risk. Our humanity, our empathy and truth itself are all on the endangered list.

Copied from the TckTckTck site:

Who We Are

The ‘tck tck tck – time for climate justice’ campaign was developed by the Global Humanitarian Forum and Euro RSCG Worldwide to re-frame the climate crisis as a human problem and to publically mobilise action towards the UNFCCC talks (COP15) in Copenhagen in December of this year. This campaign is designed to be open-source and can be taken up and used by every and anyone who wants to publically campaign towards delivering a strong and just global climate deal at Copenhagen. If you don’t have something you want, or think there’s something we need, do get I contact at campaign. After all, in the word’s of our climate ally Desmond Tutu ‘This is your campaign’. Founded in 2007, the Global Humanitarian Forum is a new international organization personally led by Kofi Annan working to build a stronger global community for overcoming humanitarian challenges.

Our Vision

A world where the full potential of the global society is harnessed for eradicating human suffering.

Euro RSCG Worldwide is global in the truest sense of the word. Their offices resound with different languages, resonate with cultures and colours, and pulse with the beats of 75 countries. The largest global agency as measured by total number of global accounts, according to the 2008 Advertising Age Global Marketers Report, Euro RSCG Worldwide has 233 offices across the globe that specialize in advertising, digital, marketing services, healthcare, PR and corporate communications.

But wait – it gets a lot worse

Who are ‘The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change’? This is one of the TckTckTck partners. You can find it on the main tck tck tck site if you look hard enough. It’s a bit buried under ‘partner’ links. The groups members include corporations such as Shell, Unilver, Lloyds Banking Group, Fortis Bank, Thames Water, etc. etc. Signatories include 1000+ companies from across the globe including Coca Cola, RBC, BP, Nestle, etc. etc. etc.

So now, unknowingly, TckTckTck partners have now been teamed up so to speak with the very same corporations we challenge in our everyday campaigns. Many of these are the same corporations that greenwash summits and caused such social injustice and environmental degradation in the first place and continue to lobby and bully to maintain the status quo of corporate dominance today. The Rio Summit led to a series of challenging negotiations whose purpose was to protect the earth and improve life for its most impoverished inhabitants. Unfortunately, that purpose was undermined by the Summit’s failure to confront corporate power in any meaningful way. The failure in Copenhagen has effectively legitimized climate genocide.

Prospects for human and other living species do ultimately hinge on whether or not global capitalism is replaced by an entirely different economic system. A system based on fairness and ethics where the wealthy elites do not exploit nor prey on their fellow human beings and our shared natural environment. Where associated producers and consumers democratically plan and harmonize their own economic activities based upon reasonably accurate information on the consequences of different options. The sooner that such a change happens, the happier, the healthier and the safer both society and the environment will be.

Climate change is the worst consequence of a wrong and unfair economical system which is killing hundreds millions of hungry people. Yet again, one must emphasize, the mainstream NGOs do not speak of this. Is it any wonder why these NGOs never make mention of system change itself when the same advertising firms which they contract are in a feeding frenzy – feeding from the very hands of the largest multinational corporations on the planet.

Needless to say we have asked TckTckTck to REMOVE us as a partner.

Strawberry fields

Working with mainstream NGOs has left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps their must be a separate category for compromised NGOs which we could label. This process was described, in remarkably stark terms, by 1960s-era campus radical leader James Kunen in his 1968 memoir The Strawberry Statement. Therefore I am going to put out the label ‘strawberries’ which could be coined to identify these groups found in strawberry fields where nothing is real and where living is easy with eyes closed. You can see how the corporate entities and the environmental lobby are now working together hand in hand as they dance down the yellow brick road. A large sector of the green movement has lost so much integrity that this term ‘strawberry’ can now apply to many. Many climate justice groups now feel that this compromised part of the environmental movement should no longer be welcomed by the movement. The allure of “success” and the power of the dollar have seduced the strawberries. They belong with the industry, not with us. The corporations have become so incredibly strong and organized – we now need to download ‘lobby guides’ just to get a grasp of who’s who.

Yet – this is not new. [1]As previously mentioned above, this process was described, in remarkably stark terms, by 1960s-era campus radical leader James Kunen in his 1968 memoir The Strawberry Statement: Notes of a College Revolutionary. One of Kunen’s comrades in the Marxist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had been approached by representatives of the Business International Round Tables, who “tried to buy up a few radicals.” “These men are the world’s leading industrialists and they convene to decide how our lives are going to go,” wrote Kunen. “They offered to finance our demonstrations in Chicago. We were also offered ESSO [i.e., Rockefeller Foundation] money. They want us to make a lot of radical commotion so they can look more in the center as they move to the left.” Jerry Kirk, who had also been involved in the SDS, as well as the Black Panthers and the Communist Party, gave an even more candid description of the scissors strategy in testimony before the House and Senate Internal Security Panels following his 1969 break with the revolutionary left. “Young people have no conception of the conspiracy’s strategy of pressure from above and pressure from below,” testified Kirk. “[The radical activists] have no idea that they are playing into the hands of the Establishment they claim to hate. The radicals think they’re fighting the forces of the super rich, like Rockefeller and Ford, and they don’t realize that it is precisely such forces which are behind their own revolution, financing it, and using it for their own purposes.” In fact, the “super-rich” tax-exempt foundations devote substantial amounts of their wealth to the environmental movement to gain their own ends.

The acknowledgment that the heads of states of the industrialized nations have no intention whatsoever of saving us from catastrophic climate change left me exhausted and deep in thought. Of course one didn’t have to go to Copenhagen to see the corporatization and commodification of climate change close up – it was here all along. We watched the mainstream NGOs become embedded with the corporations. Yet, no one yet really wants to step outside the mainstream ‘NGO circle’. There is a hierarchy of power with the mainstream environmental movement and everyone wants to be in the ‘inner circle’. Mainstream NGOs do not want leaders but only followers – therefore it is difficult to get into the circle. Visionaries are seen as threats to ‘the campaign’. Low level staff & volunteers are in the outer circle trying to get in. Few will say anything against the ‘inner circle’ because then they will never get in. In effect they are muzzled unless they wish to be blacklisted or ignored.

Today Monbiot wrote an excellent article titled ‘Consumption Hell’. He asks: “So how do we break this system? How do we pursue happiness and well-being rather than growth? I came back from the climate talks Copenhagen depressed for several reasons, but above all because, listening to the discussions at the citizens’ summit, it struck me that we no longer have movements; we have thousands of people each clamouring to have their own visions adopted. We might come together for occasional rallies and marches, but as soon as we start discussing alternatives, solidarity is shattered by possessive individualism. Consumerism has changed all of us. Our challenge is now to fight a system we have internalised.”

Monbiot is in the circle therefore he is heard. He does not have to clamour for his ideas to be heard. Perhaps it is not possessive individualism people seek in the environmental movement but only representation and a voice in a movement being shaped by wealthy advertising executives, instead of the activists on the front lines who live and breathe the cause.  The visionaries could be found exhausted along the walls of the packed Klima Forum during COP15.  Any NGOs with a grain of vision or integrity should be seeking these people out to replace the  advertising executives that do not represent true climate justice let alone understand what it really means.   The mainstream environmental climate justice movement is a façade. It is fake. There is no truth.  It is not about changing the system – it is little more than sleek advertising and high end videos of people dancing on beaches. Images such as Bono & Oprah running on the sand hand in hand with ‘Red’ brand iPods & Gap t-shirts. Shop to save the world! Dance on the beach to save the climate!

?“For us to maintain our way of living, we must… tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves… the lies act as barriers to truth. These barriers… are necessary because without them many deplorable acts would become impossibilities” (D. Jensen 2000).

Climate Change is a bitch of a campaign because the more you understand the science – the more you become not only alienated from NGOs, but alienated from your own family and friends and society as a whole whose entire existence is now based on consumption. When one takes a position based on truth, morals and ethics one risks further alienating ones self from NGOs and fellow campaigners. Jiddu Krishnamurti stated “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”What more can be said. Our society is sick and yet we all go on pretending this way of life can be maintained. Compromised NGOs have been most complicit in this messaging. Everything we need to live has been graciously given to us – yet we destroy it as we simultaneously destroy ourselves. We are insatiable.

The mass greenwashing from corporations is hard enough to fight. Why must the true climate justice movement tolerate the strawberry NGOs that only help them protect their corporate interests – that being corporate profit, at the expense of our shared natural environment and life itself.

Dr. Hansen, top climate scientists, denounces ‘Greenwash’ in advance of Copenhagen


Bill C-311 – My first taste of NGO denialism

Bill C-311 was being pushed in Canada. In the fall there was a big push on Bill C-311 by Greenpeace Canada under the KyotoPlus campaign, the Sierra Club and others larger NGOs. As I continued to immerse myself into the climate change science, particularly the feedback mechanisms Bill C-311 became more and more of deep concerned to me. The targets were incredibly weak based on science from years ago that has since become completely irrelevant. The bill may have been progressive at the time however, this was no longer the case. Of particular help during this time was my correspondence with Clive Hamilton and access to an excellent lecture. I began to believe (and stress) that if this bill passed, instead of being beneficial – it could instead be incredibly detrimental to have such a bill locked in. If passed it would be reviewed once every five years which also terrified me as the science continues to accelerate at rates which even frighten the scientists. In my naïveté, I was certain once I spoke to the NGOs engaged with this campaign (CPAWS, Suzuki, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Pembina, etc.) they would agree the targets needed to be adjusted.

My communications were met with a deafening sound of silence. It became very clear that no one wished to engage in this dialouge. It is like what Bill McKibben stated – my questions pushing on true climate targets had labeled me as a ‘skunk at the garden party’. There was one exception – the campaigner from Council of Canadians who I know personally from my involvement with Council of Canadians did respond. To be fair, it is difficult for an energy campaigner (or anyone else for that matter) to get a grasp on the reality of climate change quickly. However, she at least showed interest and concern. They continued to support the KyotoPlus campaign – however by December it came with a qualifier that science was now calling for 40% emissions cuts rather than the KyotoPlus demand of 25%.

I’m waiting to see which, if any, larger NGO will lead the movement by backing the demands and targets of those most vulnerable clearly voiced at COP15 by the G77 and ALBA. I believe it may well be Maude Barlow’s Council of Canadians although I am not certain. We will find out soon enough. Will real NGOs please step forward?

Whether intentional or unintentional the fact is that weak, passive campaigns give support to passivity amongst Canadians where we already struggle against peak apathy and social bankruptcy in a culture of climate change denial all drowned out by the relentless consumption. Supporting targets that will ensure the deaths of billions is not climate justice. It is that simple. Such messaging allows citizens to believe that what they are calling for is more than adequate when nothing is further than the truth. Yet, such campaigns continue to be pushed in Canada and the U.S. Why? When a campaign collects over a hundred thousand signatures the campaign becomes more valuable than the very lives the campaign was to designed to protect in the first place. Protect the brand at all costs.

Welcome to the TckTckTck ‘Climate Insider’ list – managed by communication & marketing firms

I am on two main climate lists. The first is the ‘Climate Insiders’ list. I refer to as the ‘elitist list’ when I speak of it to other activists. The second is the ‘climate justice network’ which gives me hope and continues to inspire. The second list is as real as the blood pumping through the veins of the brilliant minds which contribute to it. Grassroots groups, writers, etc. from all over the world contribute valuable insight.

The greatest tragedy of the failure of COP15 is in fact the fallacy of the mainstream NGO community itself. For the most part – the big players (many on the climate insider list) have become complicit in blocking real progress on climate change. I will stop here and add that there are also many on the list are well intentioned and many on the list are ethical and voice true climate justice ethics.

Our organization joined at the beginning of October 2009. After the launch, it quickly became a list of not only the biggest mainstream NGOs of the world, writers , journalists, etc. – but a list saturated with marketing strategists and communications persons. I received my first post from on 10/27/2009. At present there are approx. 350 people / organizations on this list.

TckTckTck … STRIKE ONE

What at first seemed like an excellent list to discuss climate topics quickly became nothing more than a closely monitored list of communications shaped by the marketing strategists that controlled it. Communications regarding climate change science quickly fizzled out for the most part and a list evolved centered around strategic communications and messaging. As I followed the posts something very disturbing became very evident very quickly. It was clear that very few understood the real science or they understood it and insisted on passive targets and messaging anyway. I was not certain which one it was and when I asked the question I again was answered with the deafening sound of silence.

My first communication sent out November 10th was titled: ‘Strategies for Copenhagen & Beyond’. I questioned that although we (referring to the movement) are not psychologists; we are the people who work on the front lines. I argued we need to trust ourselves. I voiced the question as to why we are letting strategists, etc. control the messaging. I attached two articles: Fear is Good & Transition Plan. This communication resulted in my account being moderated from that point on. When I posted anything it would disappear into cyberspace. I edited my post and my edited version was not published. So instead I sent it directly to the recipients of the list using the bcc field. I was immediately informed by a ‘communications person / moderator’ that what I was did (reaching out to others on the list that I had received messages from directly rather than using the moderated list) was illegal by the laws of Canada and the US and I needed to stop immediately. Ironically, it was signed ‘in solidarity’ but with threats of legal action from a communications firm I really didn’t have faith he even knew what the word solidarity meant. It seems that today solidarity is a union expression and at least that movement means it within its own ranks. The word solidarity within the mainstream environmental movement has become a mirage. Simply put by my friend Roy – ‘ad hoc alliances and temporary places to lean on’.

Relying on the environmental organizations’ movement is futile. It will be the citizen groups who will move politicians – primarily because their community members are respected and considered intelligent enough to understand real issues. They are given truth even if harsh and not spoon fed lies to make them feel better while the earth burns.

Another communication person ‘managing’ the list responded to me in a similar hostile manner. I had not expected the marketing people to be supportive of my ideas so I cannot say I was that surprised by their reaction. What surprised me was the fact that the controls and shaping of our campaigns have been taken from activists, given to NGOs who have contracted them out to communications and marketing firms. Communicopia happen to be a client of Fission Strategy. The more one digs the more embedded things become. An inquiry will result in a reply from the Hoggan firm cc’d to a person from Communicopia. Communicopia also lists BC Hydro as a client as well as Greenpeace Canada and tck tck tck.

I did receive support from two NGOs. This is the post I received from a 350 person:

@elleprovocateur per climate list: thank you for your post! It helped hone our focus here as we build toward COP15 action!2:20 PM Nov 11thfrom web

‘Be That Change’ shared offered an articulate response supporting such strategy and wished to support “deal-centred goals as outlined spectacularly comprehensively” in the communication. He ended reaching out to the list with “Let us know how we can help”. There was no response. After this very few of my posts were ever published to my knowledge. When I asked why no one would ever reply.

TckTckTck believes they have introduced a new organizing model, ‘the Open Campaign’, where organizations or individuals can use the TckTckTck branding for use in their campaigns to educate and encourage their supporters. In reality, the TckTckTck ‘open’ campaign controlled the Copenhagen dialogue and the ugly truth is the fact that it is directly linked with many advertising firms whose clients have been sabotaging any progress on the fight against climate change for the last thirty years. Advertising CEOs set the agenda for Copenhagen. One must wonder if any of these advertising / public relation firms receive corporate funding of any kind.

TckTckTck … STRIKE TWO

ENSURE THAT GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS PEAK WITHIN THE NEXT 8 YEARS AS THE SCIENCE DEMANDS.

Our organization was generously offered the opportunity to participate is what I assumed was an incredibly expensive full page ad that would be carried in several newspapers during the first day of COP15. We almost signed on. It was only when we noticed within a sentence within this statement which read: ‘ENSURE THAT GLOBAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS PEAK WITHIN THE NEXT 8 YEARS AS THE SCIENCE DEMANDS’ that we tried to sound the alarms. This ad would run in the full-page black and white ad in the Financial Times on December 7thas well as Dec 12/13 and Dec 14 and the International Herald Tribune on Dec 7.

This sentence within the statement translated to the citizens that we can continue business as usual for another 8 years – an incredibly dangerous message to citizens of the world. It read as though the corporations themselves endorsed it. The message would be endorsed by trusted NGOs – approx. 200 NGOs it total. In solidarity, we urged everyone who had signed this statement ask for this sentence to be to be changed or omitted. Small island states were asking for a minimum of 45-50% reductions within ten years based on a baseline of 1990 baseline. So how could NGOs convey to the public the false message that we must peak within 8 years?

Our communication (more like a plea) continued to explain how this was a misguided and dangerous message to convey. Again – it was met with a resounding silence. There are too many followers and too few leaders. TckTckTck sent our concerns to the ‘Nerve Centre’ which has never responded.

TckTckTck … STRIKE THREE

Don’t rock the boat or you get thrown off

On the Friday night before Cop15 another communication firm handling the media accreditation for TckTckTck informed me that I would no longer have accreditation – even though it had already been approved weeks before through tck tck tck. In this post in the Tyee the same communications firm (Hoggan) that revoked my accreditation is in question. The Sierra Club of Canada reprints this expose article on their website here. This is the same Hoggan who recently wrote ‘climate cover up’ based on research shared on his Desmog Blog.  Grassroots organizations along with Friends of the Earth and others froze outside and risked arrest while other NGOs gave awards at lavish Galas for those who continue who continue to support destroying our shared environment in the name of profit. This is the same person who is the chair of the David Suzuki foundation whose communications firm clients include BC Hydro. This firm shows as giving money to the Suzuki foundation in the 2007 – 2008 annual report. They are listed in the ‘Suzuki Leadership Circle of 10,000 & 99,999.00. David Suzuki himself also is very generous donating in the status circle of 100,000 – 249,999.

This past week Suzuki was recipient of BC Fossil of the Decade Award along with Pembina, BC Sustainable Energy Association, Sierra Club of BC, and POWER UP/ FOREST ETHICS. A day earlier the excellent blog ‘Climate and Capitalism’ posted an article titled: ‘Pale Greens Honor BC Climate VandalsFor some, a tiny tax outweighs massive environmental destruction.’ It states that premiere GordonCampbell, during COP15 received an ‘Economy Wide Carbon Pricing’ award from Tzeporah Berman of PowerUp Canada, one of ten of Canada’s best funded “environmental groups” that endorsed the award, presented at a gala recognizing “acts of climate leadership” by municipal and provincial governments across Canada. Other award endorsers were the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Équiterre, ForestEthics, the Green Energy Act Alliance, the Pembina Institute, TckTckTck, and WWF Canada. So while grassroots organizations along with Friends of the Earth and others froze outside and risked arrest other NGOs gave an award at a lavish Gala for those who continue to support destroying our shared environment in the name of profit.

The more you engage, the deeper you dig, the uglier it gets. When I asked Power Up how Pembina’s ‘Green Learning Institute’ can be successful when funded by oil money I was again met with deafening silence. The Pembina Green Learning Centre has a list of founding members that will make your head spin. Their sponsors are found here.

Engineers without Borders is funded by Shell Canada. Most recently a friend of mine belonging to this organization asked his group if someone from Shell could be invited to a panel discussion to speak to the social abuses, murders, poverty, corruption and environmental degradation that continue to proliferate in the Niger Delta under Shell’s watch. His idea was met with that of a resounding no way in hell. He was told in a matter of fact way that this was not possible because EWB receives funding from Shell. Therefore they cannot place Shell in such a hot seat. Enough said.

Copenhagen | Reality hits home | CAN in the hot seat

In an excellent article by Alex Evans he asks the poignant question: Why are environmental NGOs pushing for a later peak emissions year than the IPCC? Luckily somehow on the ‘insider’ list had enough sense to post this that was not being moderated (yet). The writer states that although global emissions must peak between 2000 and 2015 and that even though the chair of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri has also said that 2015 is the deadline, astonishingly, the main federation of environmental NGOs – the Climate Action Network – says that any time up to 2017 is fine. WWF International agree. TckTckTck used to say 2017 too (as noted when they published their policy position); they’ve subsequently revised their target to 2015, but still have documents on their website using the old date.

He added a sample letter one could use writing to eight members of the CAN network (below) but added; “let’s at least give the body representing most of the world’s NGOs at the Copenhagen climate conference the right to explain the process by which they choose their targets and policy”.

Dear Matthias, Karim, Ulriikka, Tomas, Erica, Mechthild and Vanessa,Climate Policy expert Alex Evans has pointed out an error of fundamental importance in your Climate Change Campaign message that requires urgent redress. His short article at the linked page spells it out. Basically, it seems that Climate Action Network (and WWF) are demanding a dangerously insufficient peak date for carbon emissions.

Needless to say, if we get the demand wrong, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot from the offset. I will be highlighting this story for those organisations I support; however I thought it important to begin at the heart of the movement and I now hope that you, as the engine behind the agglomeration of NGO’s on the climate case, will act swiftly and ensure that the correct message is communicated at Copenhagen.

Delaying global peaking up to 2017 has no rationale and is a crime. To no surprise I have never seen a response from CAN on why they uphold policies that one can only imagine Shell and Exxon laughing in glee at such a statement. Yes – CAN is on the insiders list. David Turnball has written in himself. The article continues:

Be very clear: this isn’t just hair-splitting. Once the peak date for emissions slides beyond 2015 and towards 2020, according to the IPCC, we’re heading for a world that’s not 2.0-2.4 degrees C warmer, but 2.4-2.8 degrees C. That is what the environmental NGOs are arguing for. Shortly before they spend a fortnight calling everyone else at the Copenhagen summit ”fossil of the day“. It’s breathtaking.

So, if you can’t make it to the summit but still want a way to take action and make your voice heard ahead of Copenhagen, how about this. First thing on Monday, get in touch with any environmental NGOs you support. Ask them their position on the global peak emissions date. And if it’s any later than 2015, then cancel your subscription.

I’m not kidding. Policymakers aren’t the only ones at Copenhagen who need to be held to account. If the green NGOs can’t get their figures right on something this fundamental, this basic (even as the development NGOs manage it just fine) then they need to – what’s that phrase from the Bali summit? –”leave it to the rest of us, please, get out of the way”.

What both TckTckTck and CAn should have told the public was this – We peaked already! Global emissions for 2009 were down 3% on 2008 which is down 6% on projected emissions (International Energy Agency Nov 2009). So why on Earth would we want them to rise again for several years? We need not and must not delay any more years to peaking.

Today’s atmospheric CO2 concentration is the highest in the past one million years (Global Carbon Project) and probability the past 20 million years (NOAA) The rate of CO2 increase is 14,000 times anything ever recorded in geologic history. (J Hansen) Every year we delay peaking we add more than 8.5 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere. As 20% of all CO2 emissions last in the atmosphere 1000 years delaying peaking is asking for runaway climate change.

Below is the Nov 09 Global Carbon Project carbon budget – which was not (to my knowledge) but should have been tabled at COP15 as it is internationally recognized.  In the graph it shows that the Unites States & Australia budget (& I will assume Canada) for carbon emissions  until 2050 will be used up by 2019.  So why does CAN state that we need to peak within eight years and why did TckTckTck INSIST in the full page ad targeting the American audience to include the statement that  emissions must peak in in eight years if their own revised target is 2015?  Yes – it is astonishing.  If we had true climate justice, could such misinformation be considered criminally negligent?

Real Post COP15 targets need not be discussed on TckTckTck – POSTING DENIED

On December 26th I wrote the following post to the list:

The G77 & Bolivia (At COP15) have called for targets of 1C, 52% by 2017, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030 & well above 100 by 2050. There can be no denying of what targets those most vulnerable have asked us to support. Can I ask which of the large NGOs on this list have the integrity to back/demand the targets asked of us by those who are counting on our support? I hope everyone will all be on the same page with this.

I received this on December 30th: Your message to the ClimateInsider group has been rejected, due to a violation of the List Rules:

ClimateInsider List Rules:

1) All messages are expected to be private, off-the-record and not for distribution unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2) Messages should focus on climate content and action of relevance to a diverse global audience. Please do not promote highly local or niche campaigns/activities.

3) All messages must be personalized by a list member. Do not send press releases or advisories without a note explaining why you think it is of value to the list.

4) Any messages that contain ad hominem attacks, are highly off-topic, or automated may lead to your account being moderated.

5) If someone forwards you a email off-list or violates one of these provisions, please contact the administrator (r___________s).

It’s so unbelievable one could almost laugh if it were not so tragic. One apparently cannot speak about climate change targets on a climate change ‘insiders’ list. A climate change list moderated and censored by a slew of marketing strategists. We may as well have bar codes stamped on the backs of our necks.

Meanwhile back in Canada …

Back in Canada we had our own mystery unfolding. A handful of activists – most connected to NGOs were mobilizing under Climate Justice Now – said to be a grassroots citizens organization – were mobilizing direct actions across Canada. There were a handful, including myself communicating via Skype and email. I was shocked when after the first action – the media release referred to false targets under the KyotoPlus campaign. I was shocked because grass roots activists usually will not compromise when it comes to the truth. I called one of the members who and expressed my concern. This person stated they absolutely supported my position and concern and suggested I bring it up on the call that day which I did. I was a lone voice on the call. No one including this person – supported my concern. The group suggested they wished to focus on climate justice alone and not targets. The reality is that you cannot have true climate justice without acknowledging and supporting true climate targets. The following action did not refer to any specific targets. Yet – the next action the false targets reappeared again. After COP15 – one of the group members shared with me some excellent ideas which were dismissed outright by CAN.  I am quite certain that the ‘citizens’ mobilization groups were actually created or under a formal or informal CAN or Greenpeace Canada umbrella or both. This would explain the false targets being placed within the media releases and other odd occurrences that took place. The people that were involved in these actions are to be commended.  They were courageous, made sacrifices and took risks that most are not willing to make.  They were absolutely well intentioned.  I believe they would have been much more effective if there were not outside influences, which in my opinion, there were.  One odd occurrence involved a direct action that was to take place in Toronto was given the red light as an unidentified NGO insisted such an action would hurt progress they felt their campaign was making. The only climate campaign I am aware of that was taking place at this time in Toronto was “Mothers Against Climate Change’ which was developed under Environmental Defence and Forest Ethics. Both NGOs are two of six which just received the colossal greenwashing award of 2010.

On the Upside. There absolutely is a real environmental movement underway

One of the many brilliant minds from the ‘climate justice now’ list is Tord Björk. In a communication regarding the Black Block he summarized the situation as follows: “The problem is that there is not only privileged white middle class in the ranks of some identity political radical groups, they also filling up the ranks of NGOs. Maybe in 2002 in Florence old style working class mass party disciplined behavior still was possible. Today the Italian mass parties are destroyed. In Denmark they were a long time ago. What you have is party headquarters with professional media staff. What you also have in Denmark to be drastic are organisations without activists and activists without organisations. And the ones fully committed to a Southern agenda are the activists it seems. FoE Sweden has been trying to address these issues for half a year without getting response from either CJA, CJN or Danish organisations until recently when things have been a bit better.”

I agree wholeheartedly. How many times have I recognized that those in paid positions start at 9am and quit when the clock strikes 5pm. These are perhaps people with degrees in particular fields, with marketing expertise among other qualifications … but for most – the blood of an activist, a true eco-socialist, does not pump through their hearts. For most – they possess no passion, they do not live and breathe the pain of our planets last dying breath nor do they feel the injustices; the pain and the suffering of those most vulnerable and those most exploited and oppressed. I know there are individuals on the climate insider list and everywhere who deeply want to contribute and do not realize there are true activists out there all communicating and sharing ideas in one common space.

Greenpeace Australia-Pacific has the integrity to be one of the only organizations on the planet calling for the necessary targets of zero in their excellent report ‘Final Warning – The World’s Rapid Descent into Runaway Climate Change‘ released in March of 2009.  Yet in Canada – we call for nothing like this. Why? Because the campaigns now are based on what people want to hear and Canadians are not yet really feeling the impacts of climate change.  In Canada, the majority of consumers (formerly known as citizens) are addicted to their SUVs, their drive-thrus, and relentless shopping.  We have been successfully dumbed down, stupified and corporatized to consume.  Peak apathy is the national anthem.  Too few noticed and too few had any objections.  Why is it we can call a national emergency on H1N1, but we do not have the political will to do the same for our climate change emergency which ensures certain death to billions?  The answer is easy – just follow the money.

?“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim” (Gustave Le Bon 1895).

Most are happy to be complicit to the system that is destroying us. Anyone who tells them different can fuck off. So in order to give the citizens they want – a campaign that does not challenge their lifestyle in any way – a blessing to cling to the status quo enjoyed by many – compromised NGOs continue to lie to their members and lie to themselves. ‘Something is better than nothing’ is the preferred language – or – ‘it’s a good start’. But are little steps better than nothing when little steps mean certain death? Why are many of the large NGOs today so wealthy? I would argue that a huge surplus of money has successfully corrupted many NGOs. The surplus of wealth has destroyed imagination and creativity. It had successfully stifled if not destroyed risk taking for most and most tragically it has killed off integrity if not our humanity.

It’s past time we take Alex’s advice and reconsider who to support and who not to support. We will be supporting ALBA, The G77 (see video -part 1 of 5- of Lumumba Di-Aping below) and the Small Island States along with all those most vulnerable and visionary. Make no mistake about it.  True climate justice is about system change – not only climate change, not a trademark branding mechanism and certainly not about protecting status quo.

I do not believe corporations have any right to be ‘sitting at the table’ as so many NGOs justify is necessary. If corporations truly want to become sustainable – great – let them advertise their efforts with their own marketing firms. They certainly do not need to NGOs to assist. They can manage on their own. In Copenhagen the corporate elites all sat at the table while civil society was locked outside.

In a blog, a writer wrote about Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudanese by birth and chief negotiator of the G77. The writer describes Lumumba addressing the citizens as follows: “He did not start his speech immediately. Instead he sat silently, tears rolling down his face. He put his head in his hands and said “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The room was frozen into silence, shocked by the sight of a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting such strong emotion. He apologised to the audience, but said that in his part of Sudan it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

In the comments below someone responds:

If it takes the tears of an old man to sensitize the cold hearted then let the tears of the poor come down like acid rain on the heads of the rich and selfish.

So let’s take this wise advice. Let’s stand and cry – and then let’s walk away from he strawberry fields where nothing is real. Then let the tears of the poor fall like acid rain on the heads of the cold hearted who have sold their humanity. Then let’s dry off our tears and get to work. No more compromising. We have a planet to save.

for the earth,

cory morningstar

[1] See the full article ‘Behind the environmental lobby: it may seem stranger than fiction, but it’s a documentable fact: the eco-socialist movement is financed by the super-rich as part of a comprehensive agenda for global control’ here.

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