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Reclaim Conservation: Activists & Communities Vs. Mainstream Conservation Myths

Reclaim Conservation

December 9, 2017

There are myriad definitions of the term “environmental conservation” and hundreds of ideologies and methods being utilised worldwide in an attempt to conserve habitats and biodiversity. At present, what is clear is that conservation efforts as a whole are failing. While there is increasing, large-scale financial investment in conservation efforts worldwide, positive results from this investment remains to be seen. Indeed, the species extinction crisis, destruction of habitat and climate change continue unabated and pose increasingly severe threats to the natural world.

Mainstream conservation institutions are increasingly modelling themselves on, and indeed directly reliant upon, commercial businesses. Being part of the dominant economic establishment positions these NGOs as conflicted in their ability (and desire) to take effective action against the root cause of environmental degradation which unarguably stems from uncontrolled capitalist exploitation, accompanied by corruption, broken nation states and a burgeoning world leadership crisis. These large NGOs cannot challenge these overarching systems of oppression because they have become part of them. By ignoring the “bigger picture” and the real cause of the problems that they claim to be concerned with tackling and offering superficial, insincere solutions, the big NGOs cause severe damage to our world in that they control the vast majority of resources and funding to ostensibly support conservation efforts, but fail to use it where it is most needed and thus fail to create any meaningful change or positive results.

In order to justify their failure, they have developed discourses blaming local people for being either greedy destroyers of nature or ignorant savages who lack the intelligence or motivation to work to preserve their own environment. Nature is being ascribed economic value and local people are being offered financial “compensation” in order to ensure they do not interfere with the work of the powerful NGOs. Grassroots activism and new, radical approaches to conservation are demonised and accused of “getting in the way” of the “real conservationists” (the large NGOs) in order to distract people from seeing activists’ real potential as capable of creating a new reality. Funds are being blocked from reaching either community conservationists or activists, ensuring that the powerful retain control and those uniquely positioned to dismantle the ineffective and damaging status quo are prevented from accessing the resources and opportunities that are required to make real change.

This situation must change, Reclaim Conservation, through activist work with communities, whistle-blowers and law enforcement, through academia, mass and social medias, will prove and inform the public that:

Conservation is activism

Conservation is against corruption

Conservation is against all kinds of discriminations

Conservation is against right wing, capitalist exploitation

Conservation is compassion

If not, conservation will just not work!

 

www.reclaimconservation.org

Don’t Put a Price Tag on Nature

Take Part

March 11, 2016

by Richard Conniff 

 

The ‘ecosystem services’ idea devalues the natural world by trying to monetize it.

(Photo: Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Not too long ago, Mexican free-tailed bats seemed like a perfect example of how conservationists could use the “ecosystem services” idea to save the natural world. These bats feed on insect pests in the Southwestern United States, and researchers have calculated that they provide a benefit to cotton farmers that was at one point worth about $24 million a year.

It would, of course, have taken a miracle worker to get the farmers to pay for a service they had always gotten for free. But before that could happen, technology and market forces intervened: BT cotton, a strain of cotton genetically modified to produce the insecticide BT, came on the market. The BT took over the job of controlling insect pests on cotton farms, and suddenly the free-tailed bats were like buggy-whip makers in the automotive age or newspaper reporters today. The value of their services plummeted by 80 percent.

Cases like this have led a lot of biologists to wonder, as the title of a recent article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution put it, “Have Ecosystem Services Been Oversold?” These critics increasingly question the validity of the entire ecosystem services movement on practical and moral grounds. They ask, among other things: What happens when technological and market forces make the services a species provides, and thus the species itself, seem worthless? Is it even right to monetize and in some cases privatize nature, the ultimate public good?

The questions are worth asking because the ecosystem services idea is a movement, beloved by many conservation organizations, and the subject so far of more than 15,000 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Schemes to pay for ecosystem services, such as REDD, are also a big deal in global financial markets. You might think REDD is a brand of apple ale with really stupid television advertising. But it’s an international program, arguably overhyped, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The idea behind REDD is twofold: Forests sequester carbon, harbor biodiversity, and otherwise provide ecosystem services. So why not get corporations, governments, and others to pay to protect those services, if only to offset their own carbon emissions or earn public relations bonus points? Thus Norway, a leader in the movement, has pledged $3 billion under REDD schemes to protect threatened tropical forests in Brazil, Indonesia, and other countries. This is serious money being put to work to protect natural resources, so you can understand why conservation groups might love the idea.

But much as was the case with the free-tailed bats, “there are no markets for many of the goods and services that ecosystems provide,” Jonathan Silvertown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh, points out in the “Oversold” article. The solution for ecosystem services proponents, he writes, has typically been to “invent a market” like the REDD scheme for carbon credits. Or they “pretend there is a market” and ask people how they would value ecosystem services in hypothetical situations. But “make-believe markets” are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise, he writes.

But make-believe markets are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise relentlessly focused on nickel-and-dime realities. The market mentality also degrades nature by attempting to turn it into a commodity. “People are not allowed to sell their organs or their children,” Silvertown writes, citing the 2012 book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. “These have intrinsic value that is beyond price.” That’s true of species and habitats too.

The attempt to sell nature went spectacularly wrong for the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron. When he came to power in 2010, he pushed to sell off the roughly 1,000 square miles of forest that until then had been owned and protected by the national Forestry Commission. The ecosystem services idea seemed to offer the new government a bright, shiny “technocratic rationale for the deployment of its natural capital,” Silvertown writes, with the added likelihood of putting bright, shiny millions into government coffers.

Some conservation groups went along, “taking the view that it is regulation” of the forests “and not ownership that matters.” But Cameron, a conservative, was slashing regulations at the same time. The response from the British public was furious. It turned out that no amount of money could make up for what it perceived as the loss of its forests, and no amount of monetizing could capture the value of simply being able to walk in the woods. Cameron quickly backed down, with one government source describing the whole idea as “a cock-up,” or what Americans might call a FUBAR: “We just did not think.”

So, let’s think. Where does all this leave the ecosystem services idea? Trying to “unbundle” all the things we get from the natural world and put a price on them cheapens nature, and it cheapens us. The people who first developed the idea in the mid-20th century meant that conservation could benefit from showing people how their lives depend, in all sorts of unseen ways, on the natural world: Intact wetlands save downstream cities from flooding, coastal marshes serve as nursing grounds for offshore fisheries, and that air you breathe? Yes, it’s an ecosystem service, provided by healthy forests and obscure ocean microorganisms.

This is the only sense in which the ecosystem services idea deserves to live—as a constant reminder of how utterly we all depend on the priceless blessings of the natural world.

 

 

[Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.]

The “Purpose” of “Consumer Activism” & COP21 – “We Mean Business”

Wrong Kind of Green

December 11 2015

We Mean Business Logo

 

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

The most critical of ecological nightmares – the key driving forces of climate change, those being first world consumption:

 

Interwoven with exploitation of Earth and her most vulnerable citizens and sentient beings, the continued genocide of Indigenous peoples as the caretakers of our lands and forests, the continued meltdown of Fukushima, are problems from a different world, a different lifetime.

They have no place amongst the negotiations led by 1% of the Earth’s population creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

The ultimate goal of course has now been achieved, the non-profit industrial complex (and those it feeds) having not only succeeded in establishing the global acquiescence for a third industrial revolution under the guise of “clean energy”, it manufactured a global demand – saving a suicidal economic system teetering on the verge of collapse. Rather than recognizing this is a  unique and rare opportunity in our history to allow and ensure this lethal economic system fails, all radical resistance (as activism) is now passé. In vogue is “activism as choice” for what technological solutions (i.e further consumption/growth) can “save” the humans species (of privilege).

On September 15, 2014, one week prior to the People’s Climate March in New York, Inside Climate News published the article Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach. From the article:

“Leading up to the UN Climate Summit next week in New York, business groups and investors who manage trillions of dollars published reports and held meetings to call for action. Last week, investment groups publicized the creation of We Mean Business, an umbrella organization of investors urging world leaders to agree on a plan for fighting climate change.”

From the Climate Group (incubated by Rockefeller as in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution) website:

“The Climate Group is a proud partner of We Mean Business – a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.”

The founding partners of We Mean Business are:

  1. Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
  2. CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project)
  3. Ceres
  4. The B Team (founded by Richard Branson)
  5. The Climate Group
  6. The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG)
  7. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) [Further reading: http://bit.ly/1lBgbU0]

Together these organizations represent thousands of the worlds most powerful corporations and investors.

We Mean Business Network partners:

  1. Asset Owner Disclosure Project (AODP)
  2. CEBDS
  3. Climate Leadership Council (CLC)
  4. WWF Climate Savers
  5. EPC, Japan-CLP
  6. National Business Initiative
  7. Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  8. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  9. United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

We Mean Business working partnerships were formed with the following organizations:

  1. Carbon Tracker
  2. Carbon War Room
  3. Climate & Clean Air Coalition
  4. Climate Markets & Investments Association
  5. E3G
  6. Forum for the Future
  7. Global Alliance for Energy Productivity
  8. International Emissions Trading Association
  9. Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC/Ceres)
  10. Rocky Mountain Institute (now partnered with the Carbon War Room)
  11. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy
  12. The New Climate Economy
  13. The Shift Project
  14. United Nations Global Compact
  15. World Bank Group
  16. World Resources Institute

[Further reading: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”]

Ceres, a founding member of We Mean Business is a key partner of the 350.org divestment campaign which was created in consultation with the organizations “friends on Wall Street“. Ceres, 350,org, B Team, Avaaz, The Climate Group, We Mean Business and CDP are all “Earth to Paris” partners. (“Earth To Paris, a coalition of partners helping to drive awareness about the connection between people and planet as well as the need for strong climate action, announced it will host “Earth To Paris—Le Hub” a two-day, high-impact, live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 — the United Nations climate conference to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.”) [Source]

The ideologies espoused by “We Mean Business” are transparent in the following (01:40) interview with Avaaz & Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans by We Mean Business.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

September 15, 2014, This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe:

“What you are about to witness is the global mobilization of “consumers” to be ushered into the green economy, without SAYING it is the green economy. The climate parade in NYC, coinciding with the release of 350’s Naomi Klein’s new book, is the launching pad.

 

The kings and queens of hegemony have rolled the dice and placed their bets on Avaaz, 350.org and Naomi Klein (350.org board member) to usher in the illusory green economy under the guise of a so-called “new economy.” Their winning bet is that author Naomi Klein’s latest book will be the vehicle that ignites their new economy, and thus “changes everything.”

 

It is not by accident that foundation-financed “progressive” media and those within the non-profit industrial complex are heavily promoting Klein’s upcoming book release with multiple side events. It is not by accident that Avaaz’s latest petition titled The Global People’s Climate March has strategically modified the This Changes Everything book title to “Join to Change Everything” and “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Note the similar language employed by WWF: “To change everything, we need everyone.”

The fact that the Peoples Climate March was designed and orchestrated as a mass mobilization social engineering experiment financed by the oligarchs to”change everything” (expand capital and existing power structures) is captured in the (01:40 minute) video titled We Mean Business Momentum:

“And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.”

 

The dystopian focus on perpetual growth via consumption as the solution to climate change is clear in the following We Mean Business video (3:40). Also note the reference to “Natural Capital” which is code for the global privatization of nature via payments for ecosystems services (PES) which is currently being implemented into policies behind closed doors.

“It won’t be about sacrifice. It will be about a new era of clean abundance.” — Steve Howard, Ikea

Activist Kevin Hester writes: “It is always worth looking for pearls of truth where the hubris and arrogance of the spin doctors lets them down… ‘the future of consumer activism’ … there you have it, the scam laid bare, they can never disown the market.”

This begets the question: is “the future of consumer activism” (under the guise of a “new economy”) already here?

sacrilege-2 (2)

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In January 1998 Mexican President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurria as Minister of Finance. “One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurria’s appointment. ‘He’s one of ours.’” Gurría also negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which came into force on January 1, 1994. [Further reading: Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre]

Indeed the foundation has been laid. After all, Naomi Klein’s book and film project (financed by the same oligarchs who bestow billions of dollars upon the non-profit industrial complex) was not made available for free in an exclusive online format. The book, a #1 international bestseller is being translated into 25 languages. Millions of books, driving and flying to international climate events/parades, social metrics, and a multitude of other foundation financed “activist” activities, all assist in the propping up of a capitalist economic system that is “flying at close to stall speed“. 

+++

[Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

 

Co-opting Indigenous NGOs

Fourth World Eye Blog

November 19, 2015

by Jay Taber

Assimiliation

Vicky Tauli Corpuz*, Tebtebba Foundation, and Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Group, June, 2012, Rio+20, [Source]

Ford Foundation propaganda at Indian Country Today is meant to co-opt indigenous NGOs in support of Wall Street-funded initiatives. As a supporter of World Bank mega-development on indigenous territories, Ford supports the corporate and state neglect of indigenous human rights. Dependence on Ford and its brokerage International Fund for Indigenous Peoples limits strategy. Learn more here.

 

 

*Victoria Tauli Corpus is the Executive Director of Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy and Research Education). Corpus is also is a board-member of Conservation International. Both Corpus and the NGO she oversees, that of Tebtebba, work closely with the United Nations (UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues) and have been instrumental in pushing the false solution of REDD forward. From Feb 2002 to present Corpus has been a Member of National Selection Committee of the Ford Foundation who has invested heavily in advancing the REDD agenda. As well, Corpus has served as board member of the pre-COP15 corporate creation TckTckTck. TckTckTck was  initiated by the United Nations working with one of the largest marketing agencies in the world (Havas), while partnering with many of the most powerful corporations on the planet, in a united effort to “to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit.”

Further reading: RIO+20 | Indigenous Leaders in Brazil and Abya Yala Shut Out of RIO+20 Process by United Nations and Elite NGOs

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part IV of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

January 26, 2015

Part four of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer 

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment] 

 

+++Note from the authors: The bulk of research for this investigative report was conducted from December 2013 to April of 2014. New alliances/affiliations/stats that have since materialized may or may not be reflected at this time.

 

Social Panorama of Latin America

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has highlighted a slowing of progress in poverty reduction in Latin America, citing “rising food costs and weaker economic growth” as contributing factors. UN economists based in Santiago reported that 164 million people, or 28% of the region’s population, are still considered poor. That is nearly unchanged from 2012. Of those, 68 million of them are in extreme poverty – a poverty that most Americans cannot even begin to fathom.

Yet there are bright spots. ECLAC’s “Social Panorama of Latin America” report (March 2014) notes that Venezuela and Ecuador led the region in decreasing poverty in 2012. The largest drop was in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, where poverty fell by 5.6% (from 29.5% to 23.9%) and extreme poverty by 2.0% (from 11.7% to 9.7%). In Ecuador, poverty was down by 3.1% (from 35.3% to 32.2%).

This 5.6% decrease in Venezuela translates into a 19% decline in poverty overall, which Mark Weisbrot, co-director of Center for Economic and Policy Research, “noted is almost certainly the largest decline in poverty in the Americas for 2012, and one of the largest – if not the largest – in the world.”

Yes – they are extracting oil. (Ecuador relies on oil for a third of its national budget.) Just like the Harper Government, the Obama Government and most all other states that are able.

The main difference is that the US spends it on bombing other countries and killing innocent people – for profit and plunder – while Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador are spending it to lift their people (and others oppressed by imperial states) out of poverty. [Ecuador will increase by more than 50% the budget for Health, the executive will allocate more than 5.6 billion dollars by the year 2017 and also plans to hire about 19,000 doctors. Source]

Of course, the words militarism, imperialism and colonialism are not in the NGO dictionary. Nor is the word capitalism.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that it is the wealthy that created the climate crisis. It is the wealthy that perpetuate and propel the fossil fuel production/extraction economy.

As an example, the entire state of Venezuela accounts for only .057% of global emissions while 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population. (If you can afford to get on a plane and fly anywhere at all, this places you in the 1% category.)

Per capita (per person) emissions: Ecuador: 2.2 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Bolivia: 1.15 tonnes CO2 of emissions per capita | Venezuela: 6.30 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | United States: 19.22 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Canada 16.60 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita | Congo: 0.3 tonnes CO2 emissions per capita.

As a further example, ALBA delivered relief aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon (video below published on September 19, 2013), while Imperial states continue to destabilize the Middle East.

http://youtu.be/TPkzOtpu5dg

The left would like to believe that anti-imperialist states can change the existing world order on their own; that without dismantling the industrialized, capitalist economic system, states such as Ecuador and Venezuela can and must simply shut down their oil production. (Of course, we have no such fantasies for our own voracious nations.) But, such a feat would achieve nothing more than food shortages for their citizens, many of whom are already starving. And on an international level, this will change nothing. Rather, imperial forces would ramp up efforts to destabilize, invade and occupy. Further, leaders of ALBA states do not claim they are capable of such a task:

“Ecuador is not trying to change the situation as it has come to be; yet we will try and protect our people from this unfair world order. This is what the integration of the Latin American nations is meant to help accomplish. United, we will become stronger and gain more weight on the international arena. I insist that even if we can’t change the current world order – as this is something too challenging for Latin America to tackle, we do not have enough influence – we nonetheless have a duty to protect our nations from this unfair and immoral world order driven by the interests of the capital alone.” — Interview with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, Oct 30, 2013 

How to Co-opt Revolutionary Ideas

cochabamba06

Participants sit in bleachers at the packed World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, Photo by The City Project

On April 19-22, 2010, following the failure of COP15 (where vulnerable states were grossly undermined), the State of Bolivia hosted The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. A global gathering of civil society and governments gathered in Tiquipaya, just outside the city of Cochabamba. “Particularly notable was the large number of Indigenous people from throughout South and North America, who played leading roles in defining the meeting’s environmental philosophy and drawing up a program for action. Morales urged the delegates to commit to learn and benefit from the wisdom of the world’s indigenous peoples.” [Source] Working Groups included a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, a World People’s Referendum on Climate Change, and the establishment of a Climate Justice Tribunal.

Two primary revolutionary declarations were achieved: The Peoples Agreement and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The People’s Agreement was and remains the only democratically written climate agreement that actually could have addressed the magnitude and scale of our multiple ecological crises. Further, it came to be recognized by the United Nations, due in large part to the tenacity of a single person on behalf of a single state, Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, Pablo Solón (from February 2009 to July 2011.) Today, somewhat ironically, Solón is the Executive Director of the NGO Focus on the Global South.

October 10, 2010 – Tianjin, China: “The proposals of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth have been maintained and expanded upon in the new negotiating text on climate change that emerged from the last round of negotiations in Tianjin, China. Throughout the process in Tianjin, attempts were made to substitute the negotiating text, which contains the positions of all countries, with a text that would be limited to recognizing the principal elements of consensus for Cancun.

The negotiating text that will be taken up in Cancun includes, among other elements, the following proposals from Cochabamba:

 

  • Reduce emissions by more than 50% for 2017.
  • Rights of Mother Earth.
  • Full respect for human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and climate migrants.
  • Formation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal.
  • No new carbon markets.
  • 6% of GDP in developed countries to finance climate change actions in developing countries.
  • Lifting of barriers to intellectual property that facilitates technology transfer.
  • No commodification of forests.”

 

[Source: Communiqué by the Plurinational State of Bolivia]

By the following year, although key issues of the People’s Agreement were presented in the Durban negotiation text, (again due only to the work by the Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations), [Dec 7, 2011] the People’s Agreement, more and more was quietly being marginalized and buried by even the more legitimate climate justice groups. After Durban, the People’s Agreement was displaced, in its entirety, by a gentle call for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The call for a “Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth” was then replaced with the call for “Rights of Nature.”

Global Alliance Rights of Nature

On April 12, 2012, in response to a Rights of Nature event, a NYC activist inquired on an International Climate Justice listserv: “The rights of mother earth enshrined in the Cochabamba Declaration. Is there a reason why Global Exchange isn’t promoting CD here? Seems like an ideal and key document to promote our fight against greed and for science-based climate policy, respecting indigenous rights and Mother Earth both inside the U.N. system and beyond.”

There was no response.

Almost immediately following the success of the 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth of, a new alliance was created named the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, which created/assigned an executive committee. “Their intention was to explore ways to expand the concept of Rights of Nature as an idea whose time has come.” [Source] This campaign is also referred to at times as The Rights of Mother Earth campaign.

A key founding partner was the heavily funded U.S. NGO, the Pachamama Alliance.

Thus, the ground-breaking declarations (The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth of April 2010) were lifted out of the hands of the people – back into the hands of U.S. foundation management/ control.

The website for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (created on September 6, 2010) is registered to Thomas Linzey, founder of CELDF and advisor to the New Earth Foundation. On the CELDF website, one finds the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights – CELDF Draft Rights of Nature Ordinance, dated April 15, 2010.

A few months later, on October 13, 2010, CELDF publishes the article Global Alliance for Rights of Nature Formed from Historic International Gathering in Ecuador: “A groundbreaking International Gathering for Rights of Nature was organized by The Pachamama Alliance and Fundación Pachamama in September, where conscious individuals and organizations who have worked to promote the recognition of Rights of Nature, met to expand this concept around the world. Out of this four-day meeting in Patate, Ecuador, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature was formed…. Fundación Pachamama and The Pachamama Alliance were active participants at the Conference and behind the scenes.”

In the December 2010 publication of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, it is reported, “In August of this year, the Legal Defense Fund co-convened an event hosted by Fundación Pachamama in rural Ecuador. Its purpose was to formalize an international organization which will advocate for legal frameworks that recognize legally enforceable rights for natural communities. The Legal Defense Fund was then selected as the organization which would provide drafting and campaign assistance to communities and nations following the lead of the over two dozen communities in the United States which have recognized rights for Nature, and the country of Ecuador, which has become the first country in the world to recognize natural rights within its constitution.

It is of interest to note that the Pachamama Alliance and its “sister organization,” Fundación Pachamama, supported the inclusion of Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution, and also endorsed the call for a World Conference of the Peoples regarding Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights. Further, despite the REDD partnerships on behalf of Pachamama Alliance and Foundation, as referenced in documents, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (with Pachamama Alliance as founder) appears, on the surface, to be against any commodification of the commons. As an example: Tweet: “July 25, 2012: Rights of Nature – The Road to Rio+20 – http://t.co/vjyiVn7n.

It is of further interest that prior to both the formation of the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (August 2010) and the World People’s Conference (April 2010), the website Rights of Mother Earth was created on February 16, 2010. It is registered to Robin Milam, Administrative Director for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and a Pachamama Alliance Journey Leader.

Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain for what other reason Pachamama Alliance would co-found Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, other than to do what foundations do best: control, manage, shape and contain movements with revolutionary potential. Perhaps CELDF, in this case, is successfully contained for the most part, in a carefully supervised box – wondering why there is so little focus/awareness on this “movement.” One thing is certain – there is very little interest in promoting this campaign.

In the real world, “likes” and “shares” offer no reprieve whatsoever to our ongoing and accelerating ecological devastation/collapse. However, what is significant in Twitter/social media is who/what organizations are chosen by NGOs and paid “activists” to “follow.” This is especially significant in respect to the first Twitter accounts chosen (to follow) as these principal choices demonstrate clearly who and what ideologies they NGO/individual align themselves with. And although it is true that social media, despite the endless attention it receives, offers no stay of execution whatsoever to our ecological/climate crisis, in the world of the non-profit industrial complex, social media is of paramount importance – precisely because it has no true impact beyond 1) collecting intelligence (in all forms) for the world’s most powerful advertising moguls, corporations and the establishment, providing an unprecedented wealth of information that previously was difficult and costly to obtain, and 2) building brand recognition (thereby increasing foundation funding). Thus, to demonstrate how there is no serious effort to promote Rights of Nature, the following information speaks a thousand words.

The Rights of Nature Twitter account is essentially dead with a total of 46 tweets and 44 followers since its inception on Earth Day, April 22, 2011. The Facebook group fares slightly better with 664 members. Compare this with the Pachamama Alliance FB page with almost 40,000 “likes” and a very active Twitter account. (Accounts accessed December 13, 2013 under the twitter name RightsOfNature. The Twitter name/link has since been changed to Rights4Nature.) [1]

The Rights of Nature Twitter account follows 16 individuals/orgs including Nature Conservancy (#1), RSPB (UK’s largest “nature conservation” charity), founding members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, the founders of Pachamama Alliance, Al Gore’s Climate Reality, Hawken’s Wiser.org, 350.org and Bill McKibben. As of December 13, 2013, no Indigenous groups whatsoever were followed by this account. (Accounts accessed December 13, 2013 under the twitter name RightsOfNature. [2]

During 2013, this account was used for little more than one purpose: to promote “ecological tourism” via Pachamama “Journeys. [Rights of Nature – Amazon Rainforest Wisdom Immersion Journey Leader: Robin Milam… Cost: $3,475] As of December 19, 2013, one more tweet has been issued – a request for organizations to join Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature in requesting the re-opening of Fundación Pachamama.

The address provided for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is 2036 Nevada City Hwy #193 Grass Valley, California 95945. [3] Researching this address also leads one to The Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce (128 East Main Street, Grass Valley CA 95945). Robin Milam is listed as the webmaster. Her business is listed as One World Awake, which shares the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature address.

Ecological Tourism – More Hypocrisy

“Eco-tourism, as defined by the World Tourism Organisation, represents only 2 to 4 per cent of international travel spending. Suppose it grew to the point where it dominated the tourist industry. Could such a large-scale industry be managed in a small-scale way? Can anyone who has flown half way around the world in a jet powered by subsidized fossil fuel and puffing out greenhouse gases qualify as an eco-tourist?” — David Nicholson-Lord, 2002

The hypocrisy is rich (literally). Pachamama Alliance chides the Ecuadorian Government for drilling oil in the Yasuni, all while their ecotourism boutique/niche – catering to the lifestyles of the rich – is absolutely dependent upon the expansion of fossil fuels. Travel expenses as reported on Pachamama’s Alliance’s 990 form accounted for over a cool half million in 2011 ($592,557). Here, the irreconcilability of preserving capitalism with preserving the planet cannot be overstated.

“Success” Stories

Success Story One: Runa

Robin Fink is the Program Director at Fundación Pachamama (since November 2009) and Board Member at the Runa Foundation (Fundación Runa) (May 2012 to present). In her role at Pachamama Alliance, Fink works closely with the Indigenous Achuar of the Ecuadorian Amazon. [4]

Runa Corporation is a privately held company in the food and beverages industry. It’s also an excellent case study of what the new “green economy” looks and feels (as in marketing/branding) like. [“Runa LLC is a privately held organic Amazonian beverage company that processes and sells guayusa. The company is based in Brooklyn, New York with offices in Quito and Archidona, Ecuador.”][SOURCE]

In the 21st century, most every corporation has a foundation. The benefits (for oligarchs and corporate entities alike) of establishing a foundation are formidable. Securing/protecting interests under the guise of philanthropy and tax evasion represent a mere two of many benefits. [“Fundación Runa” provides tools and resources to indigenous communities and farmers’ associations working towards their vision of sustainable development in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We focus on two core areas; community development and environmental management. We provide technical assistance and financing to farmers associations and cooperatives to build capacity and inspire entrepreneurship. We work with local stakeholders to conduct participatory research and strategic planning for conservation and sustainable land management in the Ecuadorian Amazon.”]

When one observes the heavy hitters on the Runa Foundation Board of Advisors, it is certain that many are betting on this company being acquired by Pepsi or Coca-Cola in the not-so-distant future for the tune of hundreds of millions. Most recently Coca-Cola swallowed up the majority of “Innocent” Drinks for an estimated £100m. [“The three Cambridge graduates who launched Innocent Smoothies have sold the bulk of their remaining shares to Coca-Cola for an estimated £100m – 15 years after dreaming up the idea for the healthy drinks company on a snowboarding holiday.” Financial Times, February 22, 2013] The Runa Foundation Advisors include Yolanda Kakabadse, president of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since 2010, Trustee of the Ford Foundation, President of International Union for Conservation of Nature (1996-2004); Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF (2005-2010, US Secretary of Agriculture (2001-2005), named 46th most powerful woman by Forbes in 2009; Doug Hattaway, president of Hattaway Communication since 2001, Senior Communications Adviser for Hilary Clinton (2008); Michael Conroy, Board Chair of Forest Stewardship Council since 2010, Board Chair of Fair Trade USA (2003-2010; Jacob Olander, Director of Forest Trends’ Incubator since 2008, Co-founder of EcoDecisión since 1995, Expert in conservation finance and payments for ecosystem services; Florencia Montagnini, professor of Tropical Forestry at Yale University since 2001, research advisor to the Smithsonian Institute’s PRORENA program since 2001, expert in tropical forestry and agroforesty systems.

On the Runa blog, under the post At Runa, We Don’t Actually Farm Guayusa, the company states:

“In this way, we foster the local entrepreneurial spirit, build sustainable and transparent partnerships with the farmers, and proactively work together to break a long history of paternalism and exploitation that has negatively impacted these communities.”

Yet this is not true. In reality, drawing more people into a suicidal system based on perpetual infinite growth is anything but sustainable. [“Never has failure been so ardently defended as success.” — Voltaire’s Bastards] Further, as this corporation grows (the sole purpose of the venture), the introduction of Western identities ensures the introduction of Western values into the Ecuadorian Amazon – ensuring the erosion of culture and identity. The erosion may be slow and subtle, yet it is inevitable, as Western culture has always ensured.

To seek out Earth’s last remaining peoples who are the pure epitome of true sustainability, and then introduce them to capitalism and build a dependence upon the capitalist economic system under the guise of “local entrepreneurial spirit” is paternalism and exploitation at its best. Any venture that cannot sustain itself in a local economy, sustained by local resources, contributes to further annihilation of the planet, regardless of the sophisticated language/marketing that delivers nothing more than what we wish were true.

Runa founders Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie met in an entrepreneurship class at Brown University. Together, they put together a business plan that would “turn Ecuador’s cultural heritage into an income generating opportunity for farming families.” They launched the business in December of 2009.

RUNA BRANDING

Runa Corporation is a business built on an Amazonian tree leaf called guayusa, native in the Upper Amazon regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. Traditionally, indigenous families (Achuar) wake up together at dawn to drink guayusa. They sit around the communal fire drinking gourds full of guayusa until sunrise. During this time, the village elders teach the youth about ancestral myths, hunting techniques, social values, and about what it means to be “Runa” in the Indigenous cosmovision. The guayusa ritual continues to be a cornerstone of Kichwa culture, a practice that brings the family and community together around the simple experience of drinking tea. Community shamans, known as yachaks or rukus in Kichwa, will also play a traditional bamboo flute (known as kena) and a two-sided weasel-skin drum, and sing soft rhythmic songs during these early morning hours. The shamans also interpret dreams from the previous night, and make recommendations to guide the community and help them live in harmony with the rainforest. After drinking the first gourds of guayusa, children are often sent to go bathe in the river and receive its strength and cleansing for the day to come. [Source]

Every day, Runa pays three different indigenous farmers $35 each for fresh guayusa leaves to make guayusa tea products sold through their online store to the US and Whole Foods stores in the Mid-Atlantic region. Runa states that they have raised the income of 300 farmers by 25% each, whose family income averages $30-70 per month. Runa sales are expected to surpass $1 million for 2012. [August 27, 2012 | Source]

According to Runa, every day the corporation pays three different indigenous farmers $35 each. As they have compensated 300 farmers, let us assume the three different indigenous farmers are representatives of 3 co-operatives: 3 x $35 = $105 | $105 x 365 (days) = $38,325 | $38,325/$1,000,000 *100 = 3.83% of the revenue. $38,325 of a $1 million revenue stream (2012) represents a 3.83% of revenue “shared” with the famers without whose land and labour, harvest and generosity there would be no product at all. (Note that the 3.83% of revenue received from Runa has been divided up amongst the 300 farmers. This equals $127.75 for each farmer per year. This equals $10.65 per month per farmer – which verifies Runa’s statistic of increasing the average farmer’s annual income of $30-$70 per month by approximately 25% if one uses $30 as the benchmark.) [5]

Bear the farmers’ earnings (above) in mind when, in a nod to history continuing to repeat itself, Coca-Cola buys up the majority of Runa for a cool £100m or so in the not too distant future. Runa foundation advisor Yolanda Kakabadse, of WWF, just happens to also be a member of the Environmental Advisory Board of CocaCola.

“… we also receive about $500,000 from USAID, from the US government, the Andean Development bank, the German government, a couple other NGOs who were very impressed by our model.” [Source]

Runa has received grants totalling $500,000, from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (approximately $250,000) and Corporación Andina de Fomento (a Latin American development bank). Funds have also been given by the German government/GTZ. In November of 2011 the company closed a $1.6 million round of angel investments. In January of 2012 the founder sought $2 million in a Series A equity round. [Source]

One NGO that was “very impressed” by the Runa model was Fundación Natura. As a result, an alliance was formed between them to develop an “agroforestry” project to “domesticate” the guayusa plant – a crop which has never been technically managed.

 “Furthermore, we are moving along on a number of other fronts, including fleshing out our alliance with Fundación Natura (the largest conservation NGO in Ecuador) to develop our project to plant guayusa and other agroforestry trees in Ecuador….” — Founder Tyler Gage, May 6, 2009 [Emphasis added]

 

“Additionally, we are pioneering the sustainable cultivation of a crop that has never been technically managed, so it has taken lots of trial and error to refine our agroforestry model and planting techniques.” — Founder Tyler Gage, July 15, 2010 [Emphasis added]

Developing the Rainforests

Fundación Natura (Nature Foundation) is Ecuador’s first environmental NGO. Founded in 1978, Fundación Natura grew rapidly due to large USAID grants and money derived from debt-for-nature swaps engineered by WWF (Meyer 1993; Echavarria 2010). [Source] These swaps had an important effect: they contributed to shifting responsibility away from the government to private organizations by channelling funding via domestic (though foreign funded/controlled) NGOs rather than through the government agency in charge of managing protected areas. [Source: Globalization and Resistance: Transnational Dimensions of Social Movements, 2002] This strategy of foreign interests bypassing government is compelling considering the fact that USAID would like to see NGOs given legal recognition (further discussed in the final three paragraphs).

Fundación Natura is associated with the World Wide Fund for Nature – WWF, is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a member of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and a member of international environmental networks such as the Latin American Network of Forests (RLB), Conservation International (CI) and Climate Change Network. [Source]

When USAID, WWF et al are expanding/promoting a new “agroforestry” agenda, it means one thing – that this method serves to benefit the elites. Carbon offsets, biomass and biodiesel are just a few of the false solutions that hold promise for the agroforestry projects in developing countries. [6] In developed countries, such as Canada, the single enticement is the carbon market. [7]

 “The potential of using carbon offset credits from agroforestry projects for farmers in developing areas has become more prevalent in both Clean Development Mechanism and voluntary carbon markets.” — Carbon Credit Payment Options for Agroforestry Projects in Africa, 2011

The traditional Kichwa [8] farm in Ecuador is called a chakra. The chakra farming technique involves integrating food crops (or animals) into the trees of the forest. As an example, cacao trees are grown among other fruit trees and crops under the shade of a forest – simultaneously tending to the land for more than one purpose. Chakras have been farmed sustainably for centuries.

The term “agroforestry” was coined in the mid-1970s as part of a research study led by John Bene of Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

Agroforestry could be described as the West “modifying” / emulating the traditional chakra to accommodate their own worldview via a Euro-American lens. Agroforestry systems often involve clearing vital underbrush to plant new crops as well as the cutting of trees. Selected trees are then replanted to provide firewood, food, medicine, and other non-timber forest products (that will benefit the West) – such as Runa’s guayusa. We can also safely assume genetically engineered trees are part of many agroforestry projects. Indeed, the paper “Genetic Improvement of Agroforestry Trees” was presented at the 2014 IUFRO Forest Tree Breeding Conference in Prague, Czech Republic in August 2014. In 1991 it was noted that “the initial euphoria about agroforestry has died down…” but just two decades later with “climate wealth opportunities” abounding, the push for agroforestry is making a comeback.

“…the potential applications of biotechnology in agroforestry research are unlimited.” — The Literature of Forestry and Agroforesty, 1996

Agricultural schemes (with development programs/training provided by those in the West) are intended to “consolidate and replicate the production system of ancestral chakras, fish farming, sustainable tourism, safety and food sovereignty-oriented marketing.” [Source] But behind closed doors, it is without doubt the promise of the lucrative carbon market that has industry and the non-profit industrial complex salivating.

Not surprising, the agroforestry model is anything but a perfect reproduction of the forest in its natural state. A study by Matthias De Beenhouwer, Raf Aerts and Olivier Honnay discloses that when a natural forest is converted into an agroforest, the total species richness declines by eleven percent. For forest species, the differences were larger, with a decline of 35% (natural forest to agroforest). Faring worse are the ecosystem services* (water filtration, nutrient rich soil, and other services that the forest ecosystems naturally provide). Management intensification decreased provision of ecosystem services by a strong decline of 37%. (*Note that the research of quantitative carbon sequestration was not included in this study under ecosystem services).

“Forest species richness and total species richness were significantly lower in the more intensively managed than in the more natural land use categories. Response ratios showed that the decline in total species richness was higher when comparing agroforest with plantation (?46%), than when comparing forest with agroforest (?11%)…. Response ratios showed that management intensification decreased provision of ecosystem services with 37% when comparing forest with agroforest and with 27% when comparing agroforest with plantation. Our data suggest that species richness decline follows a concave yield function whereas ecosystem service decline follows a more convex yield function.”

The study is clear: anthropogenic disturbance jeopardizes the ability of tropical forests to sustain ecosystem services.

The loss of species, in tandem with the decline of species richness and ecosystem services in a world of accelerating ecological collapse must be considered critical losses. It is reckless to market agroforests as intelligent/progressive substitutes for rainforests in their natural state.

“Whereas the non-forest species show no significant decline, species confined to forests were the first species to be affected by management intensification, demonstrating that even in an agroforest matrix, natural forest is irreplaceable for their conservation.” (Gardner et al., 2009; Gibson et al., 2011; Muñoz et al., 2013)

However, the NPIC, working hand-in-hand with foreign corporations such as Runa, use the above study to argue that even though agroforests incur critical and significant losses, and there is no replacement for a rainforest in its natural state, agroforestry is less damaging than plantation/monoculture agriculture.

How kind of the empire, its banks and its tentacles (the non-profit industrial complex) to develop systems that are moderately less damaging than a full conversion to monoculture. Let us be clear: just as “less cancer” is still cancer, “less species loss” is still species loss, “less ecosystem damage” is still ecosystem damage. In less than one year during their first year of operations, Runa planted over 75,000 trees in more than 120 hectares of agroforesty plots.

“Runa provides direct market access, agroforestry training, and holistic development services to Amazonian farming families.” One must seriously question what the white Euro-American could possibly offer to the Amazonians in regard to holistic development and growing food in their forests.

To be clear, this leaf (the guayusa), rich in ethnic mystique, “packaged” with deep culture by the Indigenous people (to be branded/marketed to those in a commodity culture – devoid of meaning) IS the product. Yet, as sales increase (exponentially, which is the goal), the actual percentage of revenue to the farmers will decline.

USAID has “given” Runa a grant to reforest 1200 acres of degraded lands with guayusa. When one looks at this simple “gift” along with the dossiers of the advisors to Runa, there is little doubt that carbon markets and REDD – to be sought and implemented – are a goal behind the scenes in the boardrooms. There is also little doubt that Indigenous communities in many instances will not be made aware of the revenue stream that will take place under the guise of the “new economy.”

Of interest is Eliot Logan-Hines, listed as Co-Founder and Executive Director of Runa Foundation. Logan-Hines attended Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He went on to co-author Chapter 18 (REDD policy options: Including forests in an international climate change agreement) of the 2009 publication Forests and Carbon: A Synthesis of Science, Management, and Policy for Carbon Sequestration in Forests.

Of course the future Guayusa plantations will be made to sound brimming with biodiversity with a focus on environmental stewardship. In some instances, perhaps they will be. Both credibility and legitimacy are always essential elements for all such altruistic business ventures. And in many instances, where the growth is not dependent upon the actual and visible destruction of the forest (such as logging), the preservation of biodiversity costs the investors nothing while increasing their legitimacy.

One can argue that there must be increased farmer income, and with such “green” politically correct ventures as Runa’s, this can happen alongside the restoration of the Amazon. Yet, drunk on the idea of a “green economy,” there appears to be a collective amnesia in acknowledging that the sole reason the Amazon is being obliterated in the first place is due to the industrialized capitalist economy. We ignore Einstein’s common sense observation on what constitutes insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Capitalism dictates that whatever must be done to ensure green – as in dollars, not planet – must be done. It is essential that poverty (created by the industrialized capitalist system) be alleviated and eradicated throughout Latin America. Unfortunately, Western industrial capitalists believe this massive undertaking can only be realized within the confines of an industrialized capitalist system, which depends on exploitation of the World’s most vulnerable, essentially making this daunting task impossible.

True “philanthropy” would be an anonymous gift to communities to develop/create their own localized gift economies and co-operatives – entirely free of outside influence and “partnerships” – with absolutely nothing in return to the “philanthropist” nor his/her associated interests. This would be a true demonstration of sincerity in the long-awaited task “to break a long history of paternalism and exploitation that has negatively impacted these communities.” Of course, true autonomy for non-whites is of no interest to today’s “green” and “social” capitalists.

Adopting/stealing progressive language of social movements is nothing new for the elites. Note the word “participatory” (as in participatory democracy in socialist countries) below:

“It’s more fulfilling, more sustainable, more exciting, and more participatory,” said the founders in regards to the company operating a triple bottom line.

Note the rarely spoken fact that business trumps all social needs:

“Wain Collen, Education Director of Fundación Pachamama, emphasizes that ‘NGOs who aim to help indigenous communities most often end up causing more problems than they solve, ‘Our advisors and industry experts continue to remind us that above all, we need to run a successful business, regardless of how social it is. Without a strong, successful business we can’t generate any benefits for anyone.”

When asked about some challenges of running the “social enterprise” (formerly known as a corporation), the founders mentioned the process of acquiring “knowledge” as a big obstacle: “As university students we were accustomed to the ready availability of any and all knowledge any time all the time. However, in Ecuador concepts like ’email’ and ‘the Internet’ are still very, very new….”

Yet, if there is any silver lining to be found in this latest version of “white saviours empowering Ecuadorean farmers,” it is this: Runa received a $500,000 (USD) equity investment from the CreEcuador Fund – an initiative of the current Ecuador government. “The Build Ecuador Fund (CreEcuador) plans to cash out its investments in Runa in roughly 6 years, in order to use its earnings to make additional investments in sustainable businesses. However, rather than selling shares to a private investor, the fund’s vision is to sell shares to Runa employees and the farmers. [Source: Social Enterprise in Emerging Market Countries: No Free Ride, 2013] Yet whether farmers will be able to afford these shares remains to be seen.

[The source of information for Runa founders commentary is from the article The Path to Social Entrepreneurship With The Founders of Runa, August 27, 2012. It is critical to note that even the source of this “news” (“Social Enterprise Buzz”) is of North American origin.]

eColonialism

WesternCharity

Surely whites “teaching” Indigenous populations how to engage in internet “knowledge” as identified and deemed necessary by Western interests (in this image above, note the obvious emphasis on Facebook “education” by an unidentified NGO) is just another example of forcing our suicidal economy, hyper-individualized/commodity culture, and “democratic” “values” on others (who up to that point were fortunate enough to be relatively free of them). As parents, we cannot deny an intense anxiety that questions the psychological impact, effects, conditioning and behavioural change resulting from the consumption/addiction of FaceBook and other social media upon our children. The anxiety weighs heavy, like a rock, as we simultaneously deny and justify our own participation. And yet we raise no objection to those most exploited, most vulnerable, being subjugated as corporate fodder and prey. We close our eyes to the sacrifice – the voracious system must be fed.

This is not to say that the protection of Indigenous rights in the Information Age and the right of Indigenous Peoples to access information and communication technology services and connectivity are not to be respected, Rather it is to challenge the fact that the dominant world view is deliberately constructed by Western ideology, which then is propagated via corporate mass-media echo chambers (internet, print, radio, television, film) – thereby framing, shaping and normalizing predetermined social and cultural concepts that constitute the status quo. Not only is the ingestion of controlled doctrine unhealthy, these ideologies/formal doctrines, conceptualized by the elites, serve to protect the interests of hegemony. [9] And although we like to convince ourselves that internet technology has been a massive success, as we stand on the precipice of planetary collapse, one could quite easily argue that this “success” is illusory, and perhaps the truth is in stark contrast to what we would like to believe in more ways than one. In the lecture “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism,” Jodi Dean makes the sound argument that the web has formed part of a profoundly depoliticizing shift in capitalism, which has enabled the marriage of neoliberalism to the democratic values of participation and the reduction of politics to the registration of opinions and the transmission of feelings.

Moreover, upon any formerly isolated person’s introduction to the web, having no prior scope or alternate influence outside of the non-profit trainee/volunteer from the West, how can one not be overwhelmed and ultimately absorbed by the elites’ dominant cultural hegemony? Aside from paternalism and colonialism, this also constitutes a rabid academic imperialism.

“It is an electronic mass media driven phenomena [sic] which over time will not only expand the frontiers of the multi-national communication firms but will far exceed even the vast reach of the once powerful and hegemonic British Empire. eColonialism outlines the hegemony of the USA as global American media and communication conglomerates seek out and view the global economy as their market to dominate.” — Tom McPhail, eColonialism Theory: Hegemony and the Role of American Media

Video: Academic Imperialism – Claude Alvares (Running time: 12:40)

 

On March 22, 2012 Pachamama highlighted the Alliance’s latest “success” in introducing/providing Apple iPads to build communications in the Achuar communities citing an “unprecedented opportunity for coordinated communications throughout the logistically isolated, far-flung communities with films that are about Achuar, by Achuar and in the Achuar language.” iPad-type devices and hand-held mobile phones play a vital role in furthering eColonialism. [Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South, A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation | Source]

Achuar_iPad_editing_550

Image: Pachamama website: “iPads Offer a Link for Far-flung Communities” – Westernized education, religion, business values and technology, built upon Western ideologies, globalization and capitalism, continue to penetrate and expand throughout the Achuar communities.

Success Story Two: Fundación Pachamama Projects

“Excluding the role missionaries have had on Achuar culture may serve to satisfy the ecotourists’ imperialist nostalgia by convincing them that the Achuar have what the West has lost: an isolated, pristine ‘indigenous’ culture that has not been tainted by the negative influences of industrialization.” Source: “Take a Picture with a Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, 2011

Pachamama Alliance highlights CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.) and Aerotsentsak as two examples of sustainable development, stating “With the partnership of Fundación Pachamama, the Achuar nationality formed and continues to own and manage two very successful companies… [B]oth companies demonstrate the potential for generating income and leadership capacities to support the autonomous development of the Achuar and other nationalities.”

CEKSA is the corporation that manages the award-winning Kapawi Ecolodge.

Aerotsentsak is the only Achuar-owned airline flying to Achuar territory.

It is critical to question the wisdom (and perhaps also the sincerity) of creating an industry that is completely dependent on fossil fuels – and the capitalist system itself (a system dependent upon infinite growth where violence upon Earth’s most vulnerable peoples and life forms is inherently built into the system) – and then calling it sustainable. Not to mention, it’s an industry that rather than catering to the needs of a localized economy and her people, is dependent upon the 1% percent of the world who created/create 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, the partnership between Makusar, Fundación Pachamama, TrekEcuador, and Mentefactura presented a successful project profile to the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB).) In May 2010 the Tiinkias Ecotourism Center (TEC) received its first visitors group: a 16-member tour from The Pachamama Alliance, in what could be considered a scouting trip to an eco camp that was still missing several components and finishing touches. In January 2011 the TEC started welcoming periodic groups, and received about 100 visitors, which more than doubled in 2012 and is slowly and steadily growing. The TEC also started combining its adventures with visits to Kapawi Ecolodge.

“But the benefits of tourism have a corollary, and Mr. Tsamarin [Luis Vargas) lamented them: the loss of communal values and a new market mentality, alcohol abuse, litter, men cutting off their traditional ponytails. The Achuar now want to expand a controlled form of tourism farther into their territory, and have built a camp in the forest near the remote community of Tiinkias to offer visitors a more rustic experience than Kapawi. I would be the first tourist there.” [Source]

There is no doubt that such “success stories” are modern day fairy tales for the progressive left. Real life utopias where the 1%, including the liberal left, can immerse themselves in the lair of absolute opulence: “a haven of ease, good taste, and understated luxury” – both literally and metaphorically. [Source] [1998: “Kapawi is targeting the high-end market, with an all-inclusive price of nearly $300 per person, per day, cost that includes transportation from Quito.”]

What exactly underlies the Pachamama statement that “both companies demonstrate the potential for generating income and leadership capacities to support the autonomous development of the Achuar and other nationalities.”

Here it is critical to recognize that the geographic areas deemed necessary for development by Pachamama and corporate interests are populated by Indigenous people who literally live off (and on) the land. These are Earth’s final remaining lands that have been untouched by industrialized civilization, and are still, in many instances, absolutely abundant where climate change has not yet induced drought and devastation. Lynne Twist, co-founder of Pachamama, confirms this in her book The Soul of Money: “Twist lived for a time with the Achuar people, who for thousands of years have lived a rich life in the rainforest with no need for actual money.” [Soul of Money Book Review]

Yet, vital critique regarding the underlying ethnocentric and capitalist standards for initiating, managing and evaluating such “sustainable” developments appears to be of little to no interest – to anyone. Like the warm golden sun, beautiful and intoxicating as it shines upon our skin, collectively we bask in the lies that allow us to continue insanity without reflection – uninterrupted. The embraced ignorance, like the warmth of the sun, is luxurious.

Nature Tourism Gold Rush

 “The most important factor to remember as a conservation organization is that when you start approaching the tourist market, business is business or you are out.” — Bezaury-Cree, 1991

Responsible travel, sustainable tourism, ecotourism, nature-based tourism, adventure travel, experiential tourism, voluntourism, educational travel, etc. etc. etc. The rhetoric may change (and does), but the facts do not. Consider that in 1950, international tourists numbered approximately 25 million. Further consider that on December 13, 2012 the UN celebrated international tourism surpassing the one billion mark. This asinine celebration followed the failure of yet another United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP18), making the “celebration” of burning carbon for leisure all the more delusional as the Earth continues to pass planetary tipping points. While celebrating tourism increasing from 25 million to over 1 billion in a mere six decades (a clear example of exponential growth), just one glance at the narcissistic Facebook page created to further promote travel demonstrates the predominantly white Euro-American majority – the very ones creating 50% of all GHG emissions. [Another example of ecotourism’s exponential growth is the recognized statistic that tourism to reserves and national parks in Costa Rica grew from 63,500 to 273,400 foreign tourists, exceeding a quadrupling in a mere six years, between 1985 and 1991.]

In the 1980s, with the growing interest in ecotourism worldwide, Galapagos tourism professionals and tourism companies began to look to the mainland for new tourism destinations. Ecuador had been an established nature tourism destination for over two decades as a result of the early popularity of the Galapagos Islands. (2005) [Source]

According to a 1991 USAID study, at that time, the number of foreign tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands was 50,000-60,000. Approximately 24,000 tourists traveled to the Oriente region (Ecuador’s El Oriente occupies the lowlands of the Amazon basin) for an average of 5 days (in 1990), while foreign tourists traveling to the Amazon region were found to be under 3,000. The Oriente stats represented an increase exceeding 50% in a mere 3 years (between 1987 and 1990), with over half of all Oriente tour operators having started their operations within those last five years (1985-1990). In addition, in 1991, a 40% increase in hotel and lodge capacity in the Oriente took place and continued to expand. The rapid development became known as the “Nature Tourism Gold Rush.” With fewer than 3,000 foreign tourists visiting the Amazon region, this would have been considered an incredible untapped market, ripe to be exploited. [Source]

By the early 1990s, ecotourism had exploded, with hundreds of ecotourism ventures being developed within the planet’s most pristine and isolated areas. Dozens of these “ambitious experiments”* were financed by USAID, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Investors from Europe lined up to partake. An explosion in investment in CBE (community-based ecotourism) projects was well underway with 161 “donor projects” taking place in Latin America, Africa and Asia. By 1996, Conservation Corporation (South Africa) had designated $60 million to the development of 60-100 luxury lodges in East and Southern Africa. This trend coincided with the emergence of neoliberalism, the corporate greens, and the free-market “environmentalists,” with obfuscation, co-optation and steadfast denial ruling ever since. [*”You wonder whether the fate of the Achuar – the indigenous group that owns the lodge and the land that surrounds it – will be different, whether an ambitious experiment in alternative development could allow the tribe to make its peace with the modern world while preserving a way of life so different from – and alien to – Western sensibilities.” Source]

Of the 40 CBE projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon, more than half of them were owned and managed by foundations “representing” local communities. [Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty, 1990]

Dialogue about the inevitable consequences of neoliberal and capitalist ideologies that are being woven strategically into the fabric of Indigenous communities is, almost without exception, deliberately evaded. Rather, the Indigenous communities are presented to the world as the latest beneficiaries of Western development. The West is viewed as the generous white saviour, which by default, assigns the Indigenous peoples (again) to the role of passive “objects” to be saved. To avoid the label of modern-day, full-blown colonists, foundations (via NGOs) and private institutions created the ultimate altruistic image by offering engagement and even full partnerships to selected communities. This would lend much legitimacy to those who deserved none.

Not of interest is the fact that evaluations of management and “success” would/will be observed through, almost exclusively, the eyes of the Euro-American. Zoning, consulting, advertising, and other constructs of the Western world will be deemed as the “correct” path to success, with “success” defined by Western standards (i.e., profit and Western constructs/ideologies). What is lost in this unabashed bravado, buried just beneath the beloved rhetoric of autonomy, diversity and democracy, is that no foreign outsider possesses the intimate knowledge of both land and culture that is imperative to any so-called success in the competitive field of ecotourism.

It is a rare instance when the capitalist encounters something he must possess, but which cannot be purchased. Although the white saviours could now (and still do) bask in the newly appointed cloth of generosity, the reality was (and remains) that the knowledge required to exploit these pristine lands for tourism (i.e., for profit) could not be obtained without the generosity of the Indigenous Peoples of those lands. By framing the foreigners as the saviours, private enterprise would capture rewards of access to land and forests, resources, knowledge and (essentially) free labour – a free-market capitalist’s paradise. NGOs, par excellence, fulfilled their highly financed role of expanding neoliberalism and Western ideologies.

Neoliberalism, Colonialism and Imperialism and in the Caribbean

The multi-million dollar ecotourism projects (“social experiments”) normalized the hierarchies established under colonialism by obscuring the capitalist agenda behind the rhetoric of “community-based tourism” projects. Concealed was the role of economic processes that shape and mold the boundaries between Nature, the market, corporate power and state. Facilitated by the non-profit industrial complex was the task of privatization and marketing of state-society relations behind the concept of the (neoliberal) conservation mode of production. All roads lead to the commodification of Nature, culture, spirituality, and even fantasy. Even symbolism must be considered symbolic capital.

As an example of the imperial and colonial mindset in regards to states of the Caribbean, in a 2006 USAID document (USAID Sustainable Tourism Training), it is noted that “modernization of the public sector is therefore necessary and has been influenced by the growth of the middle class, the diversification of the private sector, and pressure from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).” This document explains that “the continued impetus for public sector modernization requires public education and bi-partisan support for reforms. One major aspect of public sector modernization in the Caribbean concerns the need for transfer of several activities, in part or in full, from the public sector to the private sector. The move towards heavier reliance on the private sector as the engine for change and development …. The transfer of appropriate activities from the public sector to the private sector and NGO’s will release governmental financial and managerial resources…. Caribbean governments are a long way from satisfactorily fulfilling all of these functions.” [Emphasis added.]

The same USAID document goes one step further, suggesting that NGOs should be given legal recognition “as an important element in the development of sustainable community development as associated with ecotourism.” The fact that elite interests would like to see NGOs granted legal recognition (this means protection) reveals how critical, and understood, NGO involvement actually is for the further expansion of neoliberalism and US foreign policy.

 

Next: Part V

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas. He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Update January 9, 2015: The Rights of Nature FB group now has 1,205 members. The Pachamama Alliance FB page now has 112,460 “likes.” The Rights of Nature Twitter account now has a total of 126 tweets and 118 followers.

[2] Update January 9, 2015: The Rights of Nature Twitter account now follows 41 individuals/orgs.

[3] More recently an alternate address has been added: Rights of Mother Earth, PO Box 88, 6317 Oberwil b. Zug,
Switzerland ” [Source]

[4] Prior to this position Fink was a Project Coordinator and Grants Writer for Ayuda Directa USA (July 2006 – Sept 2009) where she “worked directly with indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Highlands in identifying local needs and then advocating for them in project descriptions, grant proposals, and community service projects.”

[5] Update, May 13, 2014: “Runa currently works with over 2,000 indigenous farmers in the region and has generated over $125,000 in income for them.” [Source]

[6] “The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the UNFCCC creates new oppor­tunities for developing-country farmers to benefit from their contributions to carbon sequestration and renewable energy. Inter­est in agroforestry has increased since a report by the Inter-Centre Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2001) indicated that changes in land use from annual crops to agro­forestry is one of the most promising ap­proaches for sequestering carbon through CDM-approved afforestation. Although the carbon sequestration value of agroforestry has received greater attention to date, there is also evidence that agroforestry has good potential to generate renewable energy in the form of biomass and biodiesel that could qualify for the CDM if it can be shown to replace non-renewable sources (Venema and Cisse 2004). ” – World Agroforestry Into the Future, 2006

[7] “Once an offset system is in place, agricultural producers could implement carbon sequestration projects and sell their reduction credits to large industrial emitters. Emitters would be willing to buy credits from the agriculture sector when the price of those credits is lower than the cost of implementing measures to reduce their own emissions.” – Carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry practices in the L’Ormière River watershed in Quebec, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, November 2008

[8] The largest of the many indigenous populations who have resided in the Amazon for centuries.

[9] “Moreover, because the working class own no mass communications media, they are overwhelmed by the bourgeoisie’s cultural hegemony, and, because they have no intellectuals of their own, they adopt the imposed bourgeois worldview (Weltanschauung), which thus constitutes a false consciousness about their own economic exploitation by the strata of the upper classes; with that false awareness the working class lose their social and political, economic and cultural independence as a social class.” [Source]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XI of an Investigative Report] [2 Degrees of Credendum]

The Art of Annihilation

August 11, 2015

Part eleven of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists, who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the toothless divestment campaign promoted by the useless mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. As the public is wholly ignorant and gullible, it almost has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is that all corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

+++

 

Foundation-funded “progressive media” does its best to instill the possibility that states within the UN process will eventually pass a legally binding agreement regulating deep emissions cuts at a global level. Yet there is no evidence that this will happen. In fact, all evidence points to the contrary. The UN Conference of the Parties (the yearly world climate conference, with the first international climate conference taking place nearly four decades ago in 1979, in Geneva) no longer have anything to do with the environment, rather, they represent the largest annual gathering for an economic conference in the world [1]: a conference hell-bent on environmental markets and commodification and privatization of the Earth’s remaining shared commons. We find ourselves in a world whereby governments no longer preside over corporate power, it is corporate power that oversees, dominates and rules the world’s governments – a potent corporatocracy.

The fifth major assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the first IPCC report to lend legitimacy to the concept of a global carbon budget (AR5 Synthesis Report, or SYR). The report reiterates that to stay below a 2ºC threshold (with a 66% probability) the world must not exceed the remaining carbon budget of 790 billion tonnes (790 gigatonnes of carbon). The budget excludes other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, nitrous oxides and synthetic gases. (This IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (known as AR5) includes methane, but only with the 100 year deferred global warming potential of 25 rather than what should be 72-86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years, at minimum.) It also excludes amplifying carbon feedbacks, which commit us to the vicious cycle of global warming unleashing more global warming.

The carbon (asset) bubble campaign is mired within the same realm as the so-called 2ºC target: deceit, duplicity and delusion, all encompassed in yet another linguistic dance. Assume that you can calculate where the very edge of danger lies and take humanity to that very precipice, all in the name of corporate greed. This defines the strategy of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC), lockstep with corporate and foundation-financed so-called “progressive” media, as the key gatekeepers for empire.

The logic of the carbon bubble is summarized in a “Go Fossil Free” petition:

“When the world’s governments decide to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels, we will have a situation where businesses are forced to keep their coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground and therefore their share prices will drop significantly.” – Go Fossil Free Website, Petitions

To position front and centre in the public realm, a coupled hypothesis of unburnable carbon and a looming carbon bubble premised on the assumption/conjecture that one day, world governments will regulate greenhouse gas emissions – at which point corporations and industries will be forced (via regulation) to halt production of fossil fuels – is not only rich, considering we now exist under a corpotocracy, it’s beyond laughable. Even if a carbon-constrained future was a legitimate goal of states, the continuance of corporations and empire, means that continued as well as new oil production capacity will be necessary. In the dogmatic scenario known as the “new economy” (that is also unrealistically based on perpetual economic growth like the “old economy”), which is judiciously being constructed by states, corporations, marketing firms and empire, continuous new oil production capacity is a necessity. And zero attention is being given to the fact that the renewable energy industry (hailed as the magic bullet) is also a derivative and host of the fossil fuel industry. Consider that empire states destabilize and occupy resource/oil-rich countries in order to steal and control every drop of oil, rare Earth elements/metals and other natural resources – killing millions in the process – and then ask yourself who exactly (what agency or government) is going to regulate that fossil fuel reserves are no longer to be accessed?

The ugly truth is that leaving the fossil fuel reserves in the ground is precisely what would cause those of privilege to revolt. In 2013 the world consumed a staggering 7,896.4 million metric tons of coal, 91,330,895 barrels of oil per day (with more than 1/5 of this amount being consumed by the United States who represent less than 5% of the global population) and 3,347.63 billion m3 of natural gas (detailed fossil fuel consumption stats to follow). And now consider that there is no serious campaign, dialogue or emphasis in the public realm on radically altering Western consumptive lifestyles in any meaningful way.

Perpetual economic growth has been and will continue to be pursued at all costs. The system demands it. The world’s use of fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing. The notion of unburnable carbon will only present itself if a global economic collapse occurs – and even then, oil/fossil fuels will be consumed by the military-industrial complex as cities throughout the world find themselves amidst chaos and conflicts. Every last drop will be burned. The system demands it. The notion of a legitimate carbon bubble is more in line with carbon credits being purchased and sold based on lands (carbon sinks) that do not exist, thus creating a bubble. Or, in an increasingly chaotic short-term situation, a collapse of some sort could be the result of “economic uncertainty” due to market volatility when oil prices fall, such as we have recently observed.

Lastly, the very fossil fuel corporations and oligarchs that benefit from absence of regulation coupled with infinite growth also create and/or finance the elite think tanks (via foundations), which in turn draft the very policies they wish to “abide by.” Those at the helm of the most powerful corporate institutions can also be found at the helm of the world’s most prestigious and influential think tanks as directors, board members, advisors and “fellows.”

It is incredibly difficult to envision the actual existence of “unburnable carbon”, whereby the “carbon bubble” would “burst” upon an agreed upon international agreement to ban further use of fossil fuels. A perhaps slightly more plausible scenario would be legislated/regulated reductions in fossil fuels, yet this would only serve to make the fossil fuels more valuable, not less. In fact, if the governments did agree to seal off the reserves (as oil explorations continue unabated to the tune US$674 billion each year), the 1-3% that create the majority of the global greenhouse gas emissions would revolt over the loss of their privileged lifestyles (not to mention the loss of instant heat and never-ending food on demand). Where legally binding budgets do surface, one can expect a main component of the legislative policy will include carbon trading and mass deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. It is true that coal could certainly lose its value, but this is true only because it can easily be replaced by natural gas (in the form of fracking) and other intensive forms of energy slightly less polluting (and likely more profitable) than coal. Further, the threat of coal as a “stranded asset” paves the way for CCS to be accepted and implemented as a “solution,” ensuring both business as usual as well as a new industry, meaning more infrastructure.

Further, oil accounts for approximately 29% of global fossil fuel reserves. Yet while pipelines are protested, along with fairly little concern by most about the bomb trains that have come with the fairly recent rail dynasty dominated by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (made possible in large part by the NPIC) there is zero interest in the fact that unless consumption is radically diminished (think mass free transit systems in tandem with rations or bans on personal driving and flights), the oil will continue to proliferate and flow, along with trains and pipelines, for there is no full-scale, mass-market alternative to crude oil, with its primary market being transportation energy. The “alternatives” that do exist are false solutions that carry out more damage than good – under the guise and falsehoods of “green.” For those who hold tight to the dream of a global conversion to electric personal automobiles (for those of privilege), consider that this would simultaneously guarantee the destabilization, annihilation and occupation of Bolivia, which holds the world’s largest known lithium reserves.

So how do we convince a mainstream populace that a global industrialized system that is interwoven with and dependent upon fossil fuels is able to transition to a world that can readily function without fossil fuels, without massive and radical disruption, if only we divest? The following statement conveys a clue and again, it circles back to language and framing:

“In their Wall St. Journal op-ed this week, Al Gore and one of his business partners characterize the current market for investments in oil, gas and coal as an asset bubble. I have been seeing references to this concept with increasing frequency… as well as in the growing literature around sustainability investing. However, the biggest risk I see that might eventually warrant considering divestment isn’t based on the merits of this analysis, but on the possibility of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy by means of drumming up social pressure on institutional investors. You might very well think that applies to this Wall St. Journal op-ed. I couldn’t possibly comment.” — Source: Five Myths About the “Carbon Asset Bubble”

Fossil fuel consumption levels at a glance:

• 7,896.4 million metric tons of coal in 2013 (21.6 million metric tons per day, 250 metric tons per second)

• 91,330,895 barrels of oil per day in 2013 (168 m3 per second)

• 3,347.63 billion m3 of natural gas in 2013 (9.2 km3 per day, 106,082 m3 per second)

• The coal we use each day would form a pile 236 metres (774 feet) high and 673 metres (over 2200 feet) across. We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building every 17 minutes with the coal we burn.

• At the rate we use oil, we could fill an Olympic swimming pool every 15 seconds. We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building with oil every 30 minutes.

• The rate at which we use natural gas is equivalent to gas travelling along a pipe with an internal diameter of 60 metres (196 feet) at hurricane speeds (135 kph / 84 mph). We could fill a volume the size of the UN Secretariat Building with natural gas in under 3 seconds. We use a cubic kilometre of gas (2.6 hundred billion gallons) every 2 hours 37 minutes and a cubic mile of the stuff every 10 hours 54 minutes.

[Details, calculations and sources for all above numbers are available in this methodology document.]

The Priority: Vigilance Against Threats to the Growth of the Global Economy

In the May 22, 2014 article, The Real Budgetary Emergency and the Myth of “Burnable Carbon,” the author states:

“[Prof. Kevin] Anderson says there is no longer a non-radical option, and for developed economies to play an equitable role in holding warming to 2°C (with 66% probability), emissions compared to 1990 levels would require at least a 40% reduction by 2018, 70% reduction by 2024, and 90% by 2030. This would require ‘in effect a Marshall plan for energy supply.’ As well, low-carbon supply technologies cannot deliver the necessary rate of emission reductions and they need to be complemented with rapid, deep and early reductions in energy consumption, what he calls a radical emission reduction strategy. All this suggests that even holding warming to a too-high 2°C limit now requires an emergency approach.” [Emphasis added] [2]

Of great interest is the radical emission cuts cited as necessary by Anderson: a minimum of 40% emission reductions by 2018, 70% by 2024, and 90% by 2030. Consider at the UN COP15 (2009), the G77 called for global emission reductions of 52% by 2017, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030 and well above 100% by 2050, while the state of Bolivia called for the global average temperature to not exceed 1°C. Not surprisingly, no NGOs (nor climate justice groups or scientists) supported these radical emission cuts, which are very similar to Anderson’s cited in 2014. Rather, TckTckTck (which served as the lead umbrella organization) “demanded” that the world peak within eight years with a target of 2°C – double that of Bolivia’s 1°C. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide] Note that even after this betrayal to humanity and all life, there is no backlash against the NGOs under the TckTckTck umbrella. Even those who have knowledge of the incident (which should be considered as a crime against humanity) the “progressive Left” continue to stoke the flames of self-annihilation “following” their false prophets as they jetset the globe, financed by the world’s most powerful institutions and oligarchs.

Bolivia and G77, 2009  

  • • 52% by 2017
  • • 65% by 2020
  • • 80% by 2030

 

Kevin Anderson, 2014

  • • 40% by 2018
  • • 70% by 2024
  • • 90% by 2030

 

While it is true that “abusing the 2ºC analysis is a way of avoiding responsibilities and hard truths” (Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, UK), what should be said for scientists creating a 2°C analysis/target, with full knowledge that 2°C was never safe based on the science, even as a “guardrail,” but merely a value judgment that would effectively serve to prevent or cease any and all potential restraints on an unfettered economic growth for decades to come? [Further reading: [Part 1] Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up]

Consider the video published October 10, 2014 titled Conquering the World’s Risks: Highlights from the Annual Meetings 2014. Two of the world’s most powerful institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, make their greatest threat known – a reduction in the growth of the global economy:

“[Ending poverty by 2030] requires us to be vigilant against threats to the growth of the global economy.” — World Bank President Jim Yong Kim

World Bank on Growth

Of course, no oligarch worth his or her salt really could care less about poverty – unless/until they stand to profit or gain power from it. Poverty is a byproduct of industrialized capitalism as well as the very means that allows for exploitation. Exploitation is inherently built into the system. The idea that we must be vigilant against threats to the growth of the global economy to end poverty is akin to vigilance against threats to the military-industrial complex in order to achieve peace. Poverty cannot be separated from capitalism any more than death can be separated from the military industrial complex. Poverty is a direct result of capitalism, pure and simple, whether intended or unintended. Let us be clear: the real and only threat to the world’s most powerful institutions and the oligarchs they represent is anything that could inhibit the growth of the global economy.

2 Degrees of Credendum

Credendum [kri-den-duh m] 1. a doctrine that requires belief; article of faith. Origin < Latin, neuter of cr?dendus, gerund of cr?dere to believe | Definition of CREDENDA:  doctrines to be believed :  articles of faith —distinguished from agenda | Hypernyms (“credendum” is a kind of…): dogma; tenet (a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof)

Consider that the “target” of 2°C appears to be the most critical aspect of our climate change crisis amongst the establishment and media, in tandem with the privileged Left and especially so within the NPIC. Yet, the following reality is ignored: simultaneously we see these same individuals/NGOs attempting to calculate the very maximum carbon we can emit for that amount of (cataclysmic) warming via so-called “budgets,” with most of these calculations representing (but not emphasizing) high risk percentage scenarios of not exceeding the catastrophic “target” of 2°C.

The trap has been set. Instead of utilizing common sense to dictate the very rational conclusion that at this time, no legitimate carbon budget can even exist, we respond on Academia’s terms, within their framing, by scrutinizing over numbers and charts that are nothing but strategic diversion. This is our way of defending ourselves from Academia’s ridicule. Like an insect drawn in to the terminal lobes of the Venus flytrap, the pheromones released by this academic trap lure us to believe our preference of avoiding reality with unfettered delusion and distraction. Sanctioned and often peer-reviewed, it is more powerful and persuasive than all simple logic combined.

Yet, for a moment, let us step inside the trap to analyze the discourse.

The framing is the message “We can still continue to burn.” The very best place to hide a lie of this magnitude is in plain sight.

“Two degrees is a crime, an attack by the rich on the welfare of the poor. But there is simply no climate policy story to tell without the two degree myth. It is the ‘Once Upon A Time’ of the whole neo-liberal climate change fantasy.” — Chris Shaw, writer/researcher, climate change policy analyst

In the July 29, 2013 article How To Win The Media War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies, Steve Horn examined the strategies employed by Stratfor precursor Pagan International. “So named for its founder Rafael Pagan, corporate clients hired the company with the aim of defusing grassroots movements mobilized against them around the world.” The playbook is, was and remains simple: “isolate the radicals, ‘cultivate’ the idealists and ‘educate’ them into becoming realists. Then co-opt the realists.” This is exactly the function performed by the 2 degree “target”; hammered into the collective psyche, whereby only an “extremist” could question it.

The 2°C “target” is and has been, a linguistic catchphrase utilized (1977), made dominant and accepted in popular culture (by scientists, media, etc.) to ensure unfettered economic growth would not be interrupted. 2 degrees is a unprecedented falsehood, as is the concept that we have a remaining carbon “budget.”

The So-Called Carbon Budget and the Two Degree Target

It is critical that the following information be absolutely understood.

2°C is not a scientific target. As its usage was first cited by neoclassic economist W.D. Nordhaus in 1977, it is a political target that was chosen in order to allow the economy to continue to grow. It flies in the face of science. When this “target” was accepted, it was well understood that “… beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage” (United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases, 1990). [Source]

Consider the guest editorial titled A changing climate for science and policy responses to the environmental agenda: from global prevention and mitigation to global adaptation, written by Eva Lövbrand and Bo L. B. Wiman, in which the authors state:

“Among the first criteria formulated in terms of manageable rates of change were those presented by a widely cited document authored by the 1988 WMO/ICSU/UNEP Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (Rijsberman & Swart 1990), in which the response rate of ecological systems was addressed.

 

“The scientific call for global action to prevent the potentially disruptive changes in the earth’s environment paved the way for a global politics of the climate. However, when intergovernmental negotiations were initiated in February 1991, the idea of prevention was soon transformed into a more restricted mitigation agenda. Faced with high economic and political stakes in combination with continued scientific uncertainty, the negotiating parties failed to adopt strict targets and timetables for emissions reductions (Bodansky 1994). [Emphasis added]

Twenty-five years after the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) report, the vast majority of climate documents and scientists (who are also dependent on research grants) continue to imply that climate change will not become catastrophic until the planet reaches a global average of a 4ºC temperature rise. Although widely cited upon its publication in 1990, the AGGG report was eventually buried by scientists, governments, media and civil society.

Consider that in 1997 and 2001 Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (a Ceres Board Member since inception) both cited 1°C must not be exceeded (links below). Yet, approximately a decade later, under the TckTckTck campaign (co-founded by David Jones, Global CEO of Havas Worldwide, and Kate Robertson, UK Group Chairman, Euro RSCG Worldwide), the NPIC at COP15 in Copenhagen grossly undermined the small vulnerable states who fought for 1°C limit – by a full degree. During this period, Kumi Naidoo served as executive director of Greenpeace International while simultaneously serving as both president of the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA; more commonly known as TckTckTck, of which Greenpeace is a founding member) and honorary president of CIVICUS (which receives substantial funding from Ford, the Freedom House and a multitude of other powerful institutions). [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

[Greenpeace International Cites Maximum 1C [UNAGGG] | October 1, 1997]

[Friends of the Earth Finland Cites Maximum 1C [UNAGGG] | March 15, 2001]

Thus, as scientists stated 25 years ago in 1990, and what nature has proven to be absolutely correct, 1°C is not only a dangerous threshold, but must also be considered too high a risk.

Yet 2°C fills the echo-chamber of the NPIC in deafening unison as they repeat the lie of a “2°C target, beyond which the risks of ‘dangerous’ consequences of global warming escalate.”

Further, if aerosols (at present providing a protective layer/cooling effect) dissipate, it must be reiterated again that we’ve already hit (or more likely surpassed) a 2ºC equilibrium climate sensitivity warming and a 4ºC Earth system sensitivity warming. Again, there is no existing or remaining carbon budget. Again, our budget was spent long ago.

A 350.org sample letter for the divestment campaign states, “The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming – 2ºC is the maximum amount of global warming without causing runaway climate change.”

Yet even if we were to accept the “agreed upon” “target” (based on a value judgement – not science) of 2ºC, we are not only already there, we are already past. In 2008, scientists Ramanathan and Feng concluded that even if the world were to reach zero net GHG emissions, we were already committed to 2.4ºC warming:

“Global average surface temperatures have increased by about 0.75 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial revolution, of which ~0.6 °C is attributable to human activities. The total radiative forcing by greenhouse gases is around 3 W/m2, with which we have ‘committed’ the planet to warm up by 2.4°C (1.6-3.6°C), according to a climate sensitivity of 3°C (2-4.5°C) for a doubling of CO2. The observed amount of warming thus far has been less than this, because part of the excess energy is stored in the oceans (amounting to ~0.5°C), and the remainder (~1.3°C) has been masked by the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols.” [Ramanathan, V., and Y. Feng. 2008. “On Avoiding Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference with the Climate System: Formidable Challenges Ahead.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.38: 14245-14250.]

The 350.org “Do the Math” campaign, which served as the groundwork for the 350.org/Ceres Divestment campaign, is founded on the very premise of a carbon budget:

“It’s simple math: we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming – anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth.” — 350.org Do the Math website

Catastrophe for life on Earth is already well underway. Today, having long ago entered the Anthropocene, the world’s sixth mass extinction event, scientists estimate the Earth is losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the background rate previous to now, with dozens of species going extinct each and every day. Yet in a culture devoid of empathy and enlightenment, non-human life is not considered of great importance or significance. The irony is rich, since if humans had protected non-human life first and foremost, by simple default we would have protected/secured human life as well. Consider further that 55 tipping points (at minimum 47 irreversible) have already been crossed at 0.8ºC of warming.

The reality is this: At less than one degree of warming, climate change has ALREADY become catastrophic for billions; not 1.5ºC, not 2ºC, not 3ºC, not 4ºC. A frightening reality that neither James Hansen nor any other leading climate scientist will dispute in private. We will likely soon lose the Arctic summer sea ice at under 1ºC. This will cause massive ecological disruption with unimaginable consequences. There is likely nothing that could be more catastrophic than losing the Earth’s Arctic summer sea ice, as the loss of the albedo effect will result in the sun’s rays (heat) being absorbed, as opposed to reflected, by the Arctic ocean, setting off a chain reaction of more intense, perhaps even unendurable feedbacks and warming with scorching temperatures. The most terrifying aspect is that we’re going to find out just how catastrophic this will be in the not-so-distant future. Natalie Shakhova, one of the world’s foremost experts on methane hydrates, gives us a hint:

“The total amount of the methane (CH4) in the current atmosphere is 5 gigatons. The amount of carbon preserved in the form of methane in the East Siberian Arctic shelf is approx. 100’s-1000’s gigatons. Only 1% of this amount is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane (which is approx. 23x more powerful than CO2). There is not much effort needed to destabilize just 1% of this carbon pool considering the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved. What keeps this methane from entering the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which is losing its ability to serve as a seal. It could happen anytime.” — Natalia Shakhova video/interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx1Jxk6kjbQ

Pay very careful attention to what Shakhova tells us and then ask yourself how any self-respecting environmental spokesperson, politician, or scientist can carry on leading the public to believe we still have a carbon “budget” that we can afford to keep burning … a carbon budget that states we can continue to burn fossil fuels for decades to come.

Further, scientists have warned that when CO2 levels doubled 55 million years ago, Earth may have warmed 9°F in 13 years:

“The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, ‘Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum,’ concludes that sediment data indicates the carbon was released in the geologic blink of an eye. As the news release explains, Rutgers geologists Morgan Schaller and James Wright argue that … following a doubling in carbon dioxide levels, the surface of the ocean turned acidic over a period of weeks or months and global temperatures rose by 5 degrees centigrade – all in the space of about 13 years. Scientists previously thought this process happened over 10,000 years. ‘We’ve shown unequivocally what happens when CO2 increases dramatically – as it is now, and as it did 55 million years ago,’ Wright said. ‘The oceans become acidic and the world warms up dramatically.'” [Source]

Yet 350.org founder Bill McKibben tells the public that “scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees.” [Source]

“Which is exactly why this new number, 2,795 gigatons, is such a big deal. Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit….” Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, July 19, 2012

The approximately 565 gt more that we are told we can safely burn translates into atmospheric carbon concentrations of about 460 ppm CO2 and 550 ppm CO2 equivalent when accounting for all global greenhouse gas emissions. This translates into a 3ºC ECS (rapid/non-linear feedback) and 6ºC ESS (linear feedback) planet – far exceeding the already dangerous “target” of 2ºC.

Yet turn the page back to 2013. There was a further clamour in the echo chamber. For the first time, the IPCC describes the limits on how much more CO2 can be emitted to keep global temperatures below certain thresholds:

We may have just about 30 years left until the world’s carbon budget is spent if we want a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C.” — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

 

“Do the math, and the world only has 485 PgC (cumulative emissions) left in the budget. This balance puts us on track to exhaust our remaining carbon budget before the end of 2045 under a carbon intensive trajectory.” World’s Carbon Budget to Be Spent in Three Decades, World Resources Institute, September 27, 2013

And even if you are still unable to shake your belief in the IPCC/carbon budget theory, what is not stated is this: If the low-risk scenario is the one you would prefer, there is no carbon budget left at all:

“If a risk-averse (pro-safety) approach is applied – say, of less than 10% probability of exceeding the 2°C target – to carbon budgeting, there is simply no budget available, because it has already been used up.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014 [3]

Climate Code Red goes on to warn that “on-going greenhouse emissions associated with food production and deforestation are often conveniently pushed to one side in discussing carbon budgets.… Most emission reduction scenarios are incompatible with holding warming to +2ºC, even with a high 50% probability of exceeding the target. In other words, food and deforestation has taken up the remaining budget, leaving no space for fossil fuel emissions. [4]

Consider that when non-CO2 forcings (ozone, black carbon/soot, methane, etc.) are taken into consideration (albeit conservatively at 210 billion tons – PgC; 1 PgC = 1 billion tons of carbon = 3.7 billion tons of CO2), the IPCC carbon budget that we are allowed to emit before breaking the 2ºC threshold is dramatically reduced. The probable carbon emissions that the Earth may experience were addressed by the IPCC in AR5 through the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP), the “four greenhouse concentration trajectories” (or scenarios) that explain the possible paths our carbon emissions may take and the resulting consequences. In the LEAST destructive (aka best-case) scenario, known as RCP 2.6, where emissions peak between 2010-2020, the carbon budget we are allowed to burn to stay under the 2ºC threshold is reduced further, from 1 trillion tonne, to 790 billion tons (PgC), when non-carbon emissions (210 billion tons, PgC) are factored into the equation. (Approximately 515 tonnes have been emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution leaving 485 tonnes to emit and still stay below the aforementioned 2ºC) This implies a remaining budget of only 275 PgC, a significant decrease in the amount of resources available for us to burn by even the most optimistic of environmental scientists. [Source] Thus, even under the best of circumstances (RCP 2.6), we have only a 66% chance of staying below the 2C threshold. [Source] Considering the MOST destructive scenario, RCP 8.5, where carbon emissions continue unabated until 2100, or the continuation of “business as usual,” this extrapolates out to the carbon budget being exhausted in 2032, a mere lifetime of a teenager way when the (conservative) non-CO2 forcings are added to the equation. This all adds further confusion to a strategic and effective mathematical/scientific discourse. Further, permafrost melt and a magnitude of other feedbacks that are already well underway drag these dates closer to the future than most know or are willing to admit.

The feedbacks that critically impact (and thereby substantially lower) all so-called carbon budgets are conveniently excluded. Such feedbacks include subsea floor methane hydrate, enormous subarctic and large tropical wetlands and global wetlands producing methane, forest loss/fires, Amazon drought due to Amazon die-back, Boreal forest die-back, albedo loss, fertilized peatbog decay, ocean warming and acidification, large-scale permafrost melt – CH4 & CO2, soil desiccation, and accelerating/rising tropospheric/ground level ozone.[5] These excluded (and accelerating) feedbacks make an already depleted (and fictional) carbon budget that much more obsolete.

We must ask ourselves, if we are already committed to 2.4ºC (2008), since the weakening permafrost that serves as a seal to keep the methane from entering the atmosphere could go at any time at under 1ºC (Shakhova) – how we can possibly have decades more in which we can continue to burn carbon? We must then ask ourselves, if the UN AGGG statement in 1990 that “… beyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage” is true and if we are now witnessing this to be true (“The notion that 1.5ºC is a safe target is out the window, and even 1 degree looks like an unacceptably high risk,” according to James Hansen and Makiko Sato, research paper, 2011), how can we possibly have any carbon budget left?

The truth is that we don’t. And at least one of the world’s most powerful institutions has nonchalantly dropped the pretense in saying as much. On September 22, 2014, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released a video. Upon the release of the video, the organization (incidentally a Ceres partner) also stated that:

“We have already added more than half the threshold quantity of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon (up to mid-2014, we have emitted about 582 billion metric tons). If carbon dioxide from fossil fuels continues to enter the atmosphere we will reach 2°C threshold in a few years.” [Scientific American, April 2009: “To avoid catastrophic climate change, the world will need to emit less than one trillion metric tons of carbon between now and 2050, according to two new papers published in Nature today.”]

This is perhaps the first time a global institution of such magnitude (in this instance the WBCSD) states that “we will reach 2°C threshold in a few years.” Of course the WBCSD is pushing forward carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) under the guise of clean energy, thus the intent of the warning must also be considered. [6]

It is also necessary to look beyond the stunning animation in a recent video (November 2013) produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia and funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The video states: “Without deep emissions cuts, it is likely Earth will cross the target of two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set by international policy.” Note that the chosen terminology “without deep emissions cuts” is deliberately misleading. The IPCC and leading climate scientists are fully aware that the planet cannot even begin to cool until we achieve zero carbon emissions:

IPCC assessment 2007 FAQ 10.3: “In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilized at a constant level.” [Source]

Scientist Alder Stone explains this like brakes on a car. It is not until a car comes to a full stop that one is able to place the car in reverse and go backwards. (Note that even if zero emissions were to be miraculously achieved, there are still approximately three decades of emissions already in the pipeline due to inertia.)

The video continues: “If emissions keep rising at current rates, a four-degree rise by 2100 is as likely as not. This marks a vast transformation of our planet. It is very likely heatwaves will occur more often and last longer.” This nonchalant description (and the further “changes” described in the commentary) must be considered criminally negligent. A four-degree rise means likely death to most all life on the planet. Some critics and experts point to far worse. A member of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group concludes “[A] polynomial trendline already points at global temperature anomalies of 5°C by 2060. Even worse, a polynomial trend for the Arctic shows temperature anomalies of 4°C by 2020, 7°C by 2030 and 11°C by 2040, threatening to cause major feedbacks to kick in, including albedo changes and methane releases that will trigger runaway global warming that looks set to eventually catch up with accelerated warming in the Arctic and result in global temperature anomalies of 20°C+ by 2050.”

The video also purposely downplays the incredible and rapid demise of the oceans, stating: “The acidity of the ocean has increased 26% since the start of the industrial revolution.” While this is true, the oceans are being acidified faster than in the past 800,000 years, soon to be faster than in the past 300 million years. Phytoplankton, which provide us every other breath of oxygen we intake while processing more carbon than the world’s rainforests, have declined approximately 40% since 1950 showing 1% decrease per year between 1998 and 2012. Of course, simply stating that ocean acidity has increased 26% very much minimizes the phenomenal decline of our oceans.

The video ends with “Can we remain below two degrees? It is possible. But it is up to societies now to decide the future we want. For a likely chance of achieving the two-degree target, societies can emit another 250 billion tonnes of carbon. We burn about 10 billion tonnes of carbon a year. At current rates we will use this budget in about 25 years.” [Note that 350, Carbon Tracker etc. promote that we can “safely” burn more than double this amount.]

A recap via the echo chamber: “Societies can emit another 250 billion tonnes of carbon”; “the world will need to emit less than one trillion metric tons of carbon between now and 2050”; “the world only has 485 PgC (cumulative emissions) left in the budget”; “we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide”; 30 more years, by 2045, and so on and so on. Despite the 1ºC cited by the UN AGGG in 1990, and despite the committed 2.4ºC figure (Ramanathan and Feng) in 2008, today’s establishment is relentless in hammering home the messaging that the world can continue to emit billions of tons of carbon.

“It is now clear that the incremental-adjustment 2°C strategy has run out of time, if for no other reason than the ‘budget’ for burning more fossil fuels is now zero, yet the global economy is still deeply committed to their continuing widespread use.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014

The numbers are large, inconsistent, and deliberately confusing, but the underlying message is not. And the take-home message is this: the carbon budget allows us to continue to burn for decades to come while remaining within the safe confines of the two-degree target (the strategy of deferring). Even more pathological is the framing of the language in regard to 2ºC: the phrase “for a likely chance of achieving the two-degree target” frames two-degrees as a goal [the definition of the noun ‘goal’: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result].

Such linguistic manipulation of truth is beyond criminally negligent. It is beyond criminal. It is madness.

Yet it continues almost completely unabated.

Consider that in the December 2014 Great Transition interview, author and 350.org board member Naomi Klein again refers to the so-called carbon budget, building/furthering the carbon budget’s manufactured legitimacy: “According to the analysis of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, between now and 2050, we need to leave at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground in order to keep global warming below the widely accepted threshold of two degrees Celsius. If this occurs, owners of these reserves will have to sacrifice trillions of dollars in profits.”

The globally constructed, sanctioned and accepted “two-degree target” (translation: continued business as usual, uninterrupted) has allowed an unparalleled planetary crisis of today (that reared its head decades ago) – to be accepted by civil society as a problem to be dealt with in the future, rather than today. Thus we have tolerated THIRTY-SIX YEARS of world climate conferences [source] and now find the apocalypse waiting on our front doorstep.

emissions since 1979

Graph: The First World Climate Conference was held on 12-23 February 1979 in Geneva and sponsored by the WMO. It was one of the first major international meetings on climate change.

“The idea of ‘burnable carbon’ – that is, how much more coal, gas and oil we can burn and still keep under 2°C – is a dangerous illusion, based on unrealistic, high-risk, assumptions.” — Climate Code Red, May 22, 2014

At this juncture it is imperative to step back in time, to the 2009 carbon budget.

An Inconvenient and Forgotten Budget

Below is a graph from the November 2009 Global Carbon Project: a carbon budget – never tabled at any COPs and never adopted by the IPCC. According to Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change), this 2009 budget, grounded on the ideology that each citizen of the world has an equal right to the budget, demonstrates how, on the current trajectories of the United States and Australia (and we can assume Canada), the projected emissions budget to 2050 will instead be used up by 2020 – just a few years from now. How, in the new budget presented by 350.org, Carbon Tracker, the IPCC et al, have decades more of burning been magically made available? On top of the dismissal of this budget by not only the Obama administration but almost all those of privilege, the proposed budget did not make the necessary adjustments for those in developing states who have contributed essentially nothing to climate change. (This is often referred to as historic carbon debt based on the common but differentiated responsibility principle.)

“Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the Oxford 4 Degrees and Beyond Conference that ‘political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless.’ Schellnhuber briefed U.S. officials from the Barack Obama administration who chided him that his findings were ‘not grounded in political reality’ and that ‘the [U.S.] Senate will never agree to this.’ Schellnhuber told them that the U.S. must reduce its emissions from its current 20 tonnes of carbon per person average to zero tonnes per person by 2020 to have even a chance of stabilizing the temperature increase at around 2ºC.”   — When Silence Kills | The Art of Annihilation, November 8, 2010

image008

Further, a more recent study by Steven Davis and co-author Robert Socolow of Princeton University reveals that the budgets being pushed by powerful institutions include annual emissions, and do not account for future emissions known as a carbon commitment. (Example: “Building a new coal or gas power plant is in reality a commitment to pumping out CO2 for the lifespan of a given plant – which usually ranges from 40 to 60 years.”) [Source] In the September 15, 2014 article, We will max out our carbon budget by 2018. What can we do?, the author surmises: “Together with the power plant commitment of 300 Gt laid out in the current study, that’s more than 700 Gt in carbon commitments on a global carbon budget of 1000 Gt. That leaves less than 300 Gt for future power plants, steel mills, cement plants, buildings, and other stuff that burns fossil fuels. At current rates we’ll have accounted for the remainder of the budget in only five years.”

Further, calculations by author/researcher Dr. Richard Oppenlander conclude that without using any gas, oil or fuel, ever again, the world would deplete the so-called 565 gigatonne carbon budget by 2030 without the use of fossil fuels even factored into the equation, all simply by raising and eating livestock.  [Read the suppressed stats on the impact of livestock on our climate and environment here.]

It is interesting that under the so-called budget we cannot burn the 80% of fossil fuel reserves (due to emissions) but we can continue to promote industrialized biomass under the guise of “clean energy.” Biomass ought to be considered perhaps the most destructive energy source of all. Aside from biomass burning being extremely polluting, aside from needing to preserve, protect and massively expand our current carbon sinks, specifically trees, corporations – with the blessing of corporate “environmentalists” – have decided to cut down the Earth’s foremost carbon sink, our forests, in exchange for big profits. The “leaders” of the movement say nothing. And that is precisely why they are appointed to these positions of power and influence and celebrity. More powerful than money is ego.

Conclusion: We have the United Nations, scientists, governments, global media, corporations, educational facilities, etc. etc. all echoing the three syllable term, the “2ºC target.” This term has been unremittingly reverberated throughout the echo chambers of corporate and so-called progressive media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex. This constant reiteration did not reflect the 2ºC terminology, rather, it constructed it. Misleading statements, videos, interviews and both academic and scientific papers carefully and deliberately tone down any sense of immediate urgency, lending further “target” legitimacy to the 2ºC target, to which we acquiesce. Remember that the chosen word “target” is defined as “a goal to be achieved,” which strikes a chord, even if only on a subconscious level – which is far more powerful.

It has become normalized. The spectacle, comprised of a single number united with a single letter (with a little circle between them), must be considered a feat in 21st century hegemony – a creation by those whose interests are served by the spectacle; a pasquinade for the impoverished and those not yet born. The 2ºC discourse must be considered perhaps the most deadly game of psychological warfare ever played on human society. Using simple language and steadfast repetition, the acceptance by civil society of this so-called “two-degree target” represents an unsurpassed feat in modern psy-ops.

In Summary

Divestment as symbolism:

  • The Do the Math tour, as the precursor to the global Divestment campaign, established and reinforced the false premise that the world retains a “carbon budget” that enables us to safely keep burning for decades to come.
  • Like 1Sky/350, the campaign is top-down, not grassroots up as presented. Not only has this global “movement” been sanctioned by the elites, it has been developed in consultation with Wall Street and financed from inception by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and institutions.
  • The campaign successfully invokes a certain naiveté and innocence due to the said premise (a moral divestment imperative) of the campaign.
  • It provides a moral alibi and evokes illusions of white saviour/moral superiority of those that divest/divest-invest while the very people divesting are those that comprise the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (anyone who can afford to board an airplane). Shuffling their investments does not change this fact or alleviate/absolve one’s role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
  • Protesting fossil fuels cannot and will not have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, production or destruction without legitimately and radically addressing Annex 1 consumption, economic growth under the capitalist system, human population (specifically in Annex 1 nations), the military industrial complex and industrial factory farming.
  • The chosen campaign of divestment rather than the boycott of fossil fuels in combination with proposed sanctions on fossil fuel corporations demonstrates the insincerity of the campaign and its true intentions as sought (and developed) by its funders.
  • Divestment effectively constructs the moral acceptance of “green” consumption. The global divestment campaign confirms that the “market” can be and is the solution.
  • The campaign constructs and further reinforces the falsehood that there is no need to change either the economic system (beyond reforming capitalism) or dismantle the power structures that comprise it; nor is it necessary to address the underlying values, worldviews, classism, racism, colonialism and imperialism that are driving this physical and psychic
  • It diverts attention away from the proliferation of private investments, hedge funds and privatization – key mechanisms in the “new economy.”
  • It provides a critical discourse to divert attention away from the most critical issue of the 21st century: the commodification of the commons (in similar fashion to how the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign was instrumental in enabling Buffett’s rail dynasty, only far more critical in significance).
  • It builds on the 21st century corporate pathology “Who Cares Wins,” whereby “kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” The pathology behind this intent is the corporate capture of “millennials” by manipulation via branding, advertising and social media.
  • Direct contact with “millennials” in colleges and universities around the world invokes pre-determined and pre-approved ideologies as sought after/controlled by hegemony while building loyalties: future NGO “members” / supporters, future “prosumers,” future “investors.”
  • The campaign draws attention to the statistic that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” while making no mention that a mere 1% of people are creating 50% of all the global GHG emissions – the very people that comprise their target audience.
  • Although highlighting the fact that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” is critical, this information is being conveyed and utilized only to implement the financialization of nature.
  • The campaign stigmatizes fossil fuel investments which, by default, protect the 1% creating 50% of the global GHG emissions from similar stigmatization.
  • Success is measured by the number of institutions divesting-investing, and “shares/likes” on social media, ignoring the fact that divestment does nothing to reduce emissions as the world burns.
  • The divestment campaign presents a capitalist solution to climate change, presenting, repackaging and marketing the very problem as our new solution. Thus, the global power structures that oppress us are effectively and strategically insulated from potential outside threats.

 

Next: Part XII

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

EndNotes:

[1] “The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…” [Source]

[2] Anderson, K. (2014). “Why carbon prices can’t deliver the 2°C target”, 13 August 2013,  http://kevinanderson.info/blog/why-carbon-prices-cant-deliver-the-2c-target, accessed 19 May 2014; Anderson, K. (2012). “Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope,” Development Dialogue, September 2012; Anderson, K. (2011). “Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope or cognitive dissonance,” presentation 5 July 2011, slides available at http://www.slideshare.net/DFID/professor-kevin-anderson-climate-change-going-beyond-dangerous. [Source]

[3] A study from The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research shows that “the combination of a 2°C warming target with high probability of success is now unreachable” using the current suite of policy measures, because the budget has expired. Raupach, M. R., I. N. Harman and J. G. Canadell (2011). “Global climate goals for temperature, concentrations, emissions and cumulative emissions”, Report for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. CAWCR Technical Report no. 42. Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, Melbourne. [Source]

[4] Anderson, K. and A. Bows (2008). “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trends”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 366: 3863-3882; Anderson, K. and A. Bows (2011). “Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world”, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 369: 20–44 [Source]

[5] The effects of ozone are well-known and documented in hundreds of papers, but because the reduction of nitrous oxide precursors from burning fuel and agriculture would threaten industrial civilization, it is a taboo subject. Links to research are here:  http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/01/29/whispers-from-the-ghosting-trees/

[6] [“We have already added more than half the threshold quantity of 1 trillion metric tons of carbon (up to mid-2014, we have emitted about 582 billion metric tons). If carbon dioxide from fossil fuels continues to enter the atmosphere we will reach 2 °C threshold in a few years. The projected emissions illustrated in the film are based on RCP 4.5, which is one of the four ‘Representative Concentration Pathways’ used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.”]

(ARTICULO) Yasuní: Entre el eco-fundamentalismo y el Socialismo del Buen Vivir

nuestroamericano.org

Publicado en 21 agosto, 2013

Carlos Vera

En los últimos seis años se ha venido impulsando la iniciativa revolucionaria para mantener el crudo en el subsuelo del Parque Nacional Yasuní, reserva mundial de biosfera. Este proyecto tenía como objetivo que los países industrializados, que son los más contaminantes del planeta [1], asuman su responsabilidad para con el calentamiento global y finalmente realicen un aporte concreto y tangible para evitar la explotación de 846 millones de barriles de petróleo del campo Yasuní ITT [2]. La intención detrás de esta iniciativa era recaudar alrededor de $3.5 billones de dólares, suma que constituye un valor ínfimo en relación al potencial económico que significaría la explotación de este campo. Dicha suma sería destinada a programas que fomenten la reducción de la pobreza, la educación y el desarrollo social, así como el de fuentes renovables de energía, mantener los ecosistemas y las áreas Protegidas, reforestar áreas degradadas, generación de empleo sustentable y mejorar la eficiencia energética, por ende, cambiar la matriz productiva del Ecuador. Lamentablemente, solo se logró recaudar el 0,37% de este monto total, es decir, alrededor de $376 millones de dólares [3]. De este modo, el Presidente Rafael Correa anunció la derogación de la iniciativa Yasuní ITT, así como el inicio de la explotación petrolera en la zona.

BOLIVIA: “THIS IS A COP OF CLIMATE CHANGE NOT A COP OF CARBON TRADE”

December 4, 2012

Censored News

 
UNBALANCED NEGOTIATIONS AND VERY PARTIAL VISIONS
Bolivia continues the fight against carbon markets, and the bias that prevents the voice of developing countries from being heard

By Plurinational State of Bolivia
Censored News

DOHA, Qatar — 4 December 2012 — During the plenary of Cooperation Actions of Long Term (ACL), or table of financing that summarizes the prospect of this working group, the text of conclusions has been proposed, which supposedly reflect the positions and proposals of countries forming part of the working group.

However the Vice-Chancellor of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Juan Carlos Alurralde said, “The text was imbalanced and did not include the position and proposals of developing countries, since it was not adaptation, transfer of technology, attention to disaster, or financing that were the fundamental agreements in Bali,” said Alurralde.

“Ironically in the document are the mechanisms based on the carbon market, and exclude the proposal uploaded for Bolivia, the mechanism of no market within financing, a topic of great concern for those who support this proposal, countries such as China, Cuba, Egypt, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Sudan, Venezuela and others,” said the Vice Chancellor.

“These had not considered the proposal to not market, by the Facilitator, who is Chilean. This concerned the Vice-Chancellor, since no one wants to think that there is some sort of discrimination or bilateral rematch, to an issue such as the sea that is bilateral.”

“However it is very evident that the facilitator of the ACL has overlooked entirely the proposals to not market, that’s why Bolivia with a very strong position going to trace the theme and raise the formation of working groups that raise profound decisions, and does listen to the voices of the world” pointed out Alurralde.

Regarding the actions to be taken by Bolivia, the Vice Chancellor noted that: “Bolivia has a very strong visible voice and together with the countries that worked on the proposals to not market, will hear criticisms to the head of the ACL group and the respective claim to the facilitator, to organize in working groups that make listening to the voice of our countries to the world and this Conference negotiators, urged the Vice-Chancellor.

BOLIVIA: “THIS IS A COP OF CLIMATE CHANGE NOT A COP OF CARBON TRADE”

UNIDAD MADRE TIERRA Y AGUA / MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES ESTADO PLURINACIONAL DE BOLIVI
DOHA, Qatar — December 4th

The day of the COP inauguration, a conference about CARBON TRADE took place facilitated by Nicholas Stern. The event had the presence of ministers and other authorities of different countries. Surprisingly the center of the discussion was how to allow developed countries that are not going to be part of the second commitment period of KP to have access to market mechanisms of the same KP that they deny to be applicable to them.

Another central issue was how to solve the crisis of the carbon market. Half of the 100 billion dollars to be provided for climate change by 2020 would come from carbon credits, commented Mr. Stern. The collapse of prices in carbon market is a menace to financial provision for climate change, expressed Stern. A dynamic debate took place in the event in order to bring solutions to the carbon crisis.

This debate is beginning to dominate the agenda of discussion in COP18, pushed by developed countries. Are we going to allow this COP about climate change to become a COP of carbon trade?

That was a question raised by Juan Carlos Alurralde the Vice Chancellor of Bolivia, who was present in the conference. When he took the floor he expressed the following words: “… Carbon markets are not a solution to the climate change crisis… Instead of discussing one of the instruments for supporting mitigation actions, which is carbon markets.; I repeat: ONE of the instruments which effectiveness is still pending of analysis, but from our view is a complete mistake, instead of that, we should discuss the structural elements of a comprehensive response to Climate Change Crisis.
It’s seems that developed countries are more interested in the carbon markets business that in the ultimate goal of this conference which is the structural solutions for this planet and future generations Carbon markets are just business for some but a bad solution for Mother Earth, facilitating developed countries not to make real domestic reductions.

We have to say that at least four realistic predictable risks are linked to the application and generalization of carbon markets: 1. Double counting implying an additional 1,6 Gigatones (GT) to the atmosphere. 2. Non aditionalities with an increase of 0,4 GT Gigatones 3. The use of the carry over which implies 11 GT 4.

The opening of opportunities for creating bilateral trading carbon agreements without accounting for the rules, monitoring and regulation. We came from very far to try to find solutions and alternatives to bring the opportunity to future generations to live with dignity in this planet, and definitely the Carbon market mechanisms are not the solution…”

In Qatar, at the UN COP18, Bolivia continues fight for Mother Earth

Bolivia’s Proposal: Strengthening Markets Not Based Forest Management

By Plurinational State of Bolivia

During the 18th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, the Bolivian delegation reaffirmed its rejection of the use and expansion of the carbon market as a tool to reduce emissions that cause climate change in the world and presented a proposal with alternative tools in carbon markets.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia proposed the implementation of a new mechanism to prevent deforestation and avoid the emission of millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which will be funded through the Green Fund of the Convention, by public funds from developed countries, historical causes of the problem, in line with the commitments made by these countries for a decade with no results to date.
The mechanism proposed by Bolivia, different and critical of REDD represents are real and consistent with the principles of the Convention, notably with the principles of equity, historical responsibility and climate debt. This proposal seeks to achieve real reductions and not speculation about trends, supplemented by actual reduction actions within industrialized countries, thus avoiding transfer their responsibilities to developing countries.BOLIVIA AND THE PROPOSAL FOR THE MECHANISM SET OF MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION FOR THE INTEGRATED AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FORESTS

Doha, December 1 (Bolivian delegation in Doha)

The struggle to curb forest carbon markets continues in Doha. Bolivia has raised in the sessions of the Working Group on “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” the need to take into account the approaches of the document of Rio + 20 that there are a variety of approaches to achieve sustainable development and the need of developing holistic approaches integrated in the framework of harmony with nature.

The Bolivian proposal raises the recognition by the Convention of a “Joint mechanism of Mitigation and Adaptation for the Integrated and Sustainable Management of Forests” as a non-market approach, giving continuity to the achievements made by Bolivia in the COP17 in Durban South Africa the year 2011, with the incorporation in the decisions of this working group to develop approaches that are not based on the markets. This mechanism is based on the non-commercialisation of the environmental functions of forests, the multiple functions of forests, and the strengthening of the Government in the forests.

Bolivia raises the mechanism of mitigation and adaptation as an alternative to REDD + and markets being developed within the framework of the negotiations on climate change to promote emission reductions, although there is still no official recognition to this acronym by countries.

Thus, the Bolivian position in the negotiations of the COP18 passes through the recognition of this joint mechanism under the Convention as an approach that is not based on markets, the establishment of methodologies and procedures for their development and implementation as well as its relationship with public sources for its financing.

Republished from Censored News

WATCH: Capitalism as Pathology: The Guise of the Illusory “Green Economy”

 

 

“… for the Annex 1 nations, the UK and for Manchester the choice is the same. To begin immediate and deep reductions in emissions at the same time as transitioning towards a steady-state economy … Alternatively, we could continue with the eloquent rhetoric of green growth and win-win opportunities; reject integrity, placate our paymasters and embrace cognitive dissonance — but ultimately renege on our responsibilities to both the current and future generations.” Professor Kevin Anderson, November, 2012

 

“The World Bank Group will continue to be a strong advocate for international and regional agreements and increasing climate financing. We will redouble our efforts to support fast growing national initiatives to mitigate carbon emissions and build adaptive capacity as well as support inclusive green growth and climate smart development. Our work on inclusive green growth has shown that—through more efficiency and smarter use of energy and natural resources—many opportunities exist to drastically reduce the climate impact of development, without slowing down poverty alleviation and economic growth.” – Turn Down the Heat, World Bank Report, November 18, 2012

“without slowing down poverty alleviation and economic growth”

Delusion. Delusion. Delusion. Lies.

Growth: Capital has only one imperative, and that is to grow. Under the current economic system, the ultimate measure of success is profit. Corporations exist to maximize profits while externalizing costs. Waste, pollution, and ecological destruction are built into the system. A system that requires infinite growth cannot last forever on a finite planet defined by ecological and social limits. Market-driven growth is driving us, at unprecedented speed, toward collapse.

Poverty Alleviation: The very industrialized capitalist system which ensures global monetary wealth and power stay securely in the hands of the oligarchy is absolutely dependent upon, and cannot succeed without, continuous expanding raping, pillaging and degradation to our Earth and relentless exploitation of those most vulnerable.

The number of “urgent” reports/announcements to address the climate crisis in the month of November, 2012 by those who dominate (whereby we are assured, solving the crisis is compatible with continued growth) — appear to be a “signal” amongst the elites that the illusory “green” economy is hereby underway and officially launched.

Such reports (some well over 100 pages) with state-wide and global campaigns now unfolding (that have been strategically developed to further the ushering in of and global acceptance of “green capitalism”) do not happen overnight. Such documents, securing of funds, etc. take months to complete. One can safely assume that the ruling elite, in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex and the corporate-media complex having been working on rolling out the “green economy” onto the world stage since the Rio summit. What we witness now is the strategy being released, in waves in order to resonate.

What we are about to witness will be the greatest psyops of the 21st century.

Capitalism and humanity. Till death do we part.

http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/11/21/oligarchy-sends-signal-to-usher-in-the…

This video includes interviews with Yvonne Yanez, Edagardo Lander, Pablo Solon and Silvia Ribeiro. [For the original video in its entity please see: http://bit.ly/SY4tx9]