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Liberals and the New McCarthyism

Counterpunch

August 10, 2015

By Derrick Jensen

McCarthy Roy Cohn

Sen. McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with his chief counsel Roy Cohn during a committee hearing, April 26, 1954. (AP)

It’s easy enough, some sixty years after the fact, for us to cluck our tongues at the cowardice and stupidity of those who went along with McCarthyism. It’s especially easy for liberals and academics to say that had they been alive back then, they would certainly have had the courage to stand up for discourse and to stand up for those being blacklisted. That’s partly because universities like to present themselves as bastions of free thought and discourse, where students, faculty, and guests discuss the most important issues of the day. Liberal academics especially like to present themselves as encouraging of these discussions.

Bullshit.

A new McCarthyism—complete with blacklisting—has overtaken universities, and discourse in general, and far from opposing it, liberal academics are its most active and ardent perpetrators, demanding a hegemony of thought and discourse that rivals the original.

For the past decade or so, deplatforming—the disinvitation of a speaker at the insistence of a special interest group—and blacklisting have been, to use the word of an organization that tracks the erosion of academic freedom through the increased use of deplatforming, “exploding.” Between 2002 and 2013, disinvitations from universities went up six times. And no longer are the primary blacklisters the capitalists (as was the case in the 1950s) or the pro-Israel lobby (as it has been for the past few decades). The pro-Israel lobby is still blacklisting like mad, but it’s been overtaken these days in the anti-free-speech sweepstakes by those who often consider themselves the brave heirs of Mario Savio: the liberals and leftists. And the targets of the liberals and leftists are not confined to the right (although they do certainly target right-wingers as well). Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges was recently deplatformed because he speaks out against prostitution as exploitative of women. Only outcry by women forced the college to reinstate him. Writer and activist Gail Dines was recently deplatformed because she speaks out against pornography. Last year an anarchist organization called “Civil Liberties Defense Center” lent its efforts to attempts to deplatform writer and activist Lierre Keith from the University of Oregon because she’s a radical feminist. The irony of an organization with “civil liberties” in its title attempting to deplatform someone because her ideology doesn’t fit its own doesn’t escape me, and probably won’t escape anyone outside of anarchist/liberal/leftist circles. Last year, female genital mutilation survivor, child bride survivor, and feminist activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree at Brandeis because she writes, from unspeakably painful experience, about how millions of women are treated under Islam.

Capitalists used the rhetoric of “communism” to blacklist. The pro-Israel lobby uses the rhetoric of “Anti-Semitism.” And the modern-day McCarthys use the rhetoric of “oppression” and “trauma.”

Things have gotten bad enough that comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Larry the Cable Guy have all said they can’t or won’t play colleges any more. As fellow-comedian Bill Maher commented, “When Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Larry the Cable Guy say you have a stick up your ass, you don’t have to wait for the X-rays to come back. That’s right, a black, a Jew and a redneck all walk onto a college campus and they all can’t wait to leave.”

Things have gotten bad enough that this spring The Onion put out a satirical piece titled, “College Encourages Lively Exchange of Idea: Students, Faculty, Invited to Freely Express Single Viewpoint.” The article concludes with fictitious college President Kevin Abrams stating, “‘Whether it’s a discussion of a national political issue or a concern here on campus, an open forum in which one argument is uniformly reinforced is crucial for maintaining the exceptional learning environment we have cultivated here.’ Abrams told reporters that counseling resources were available for any student made uncomfortable by the viewpoint.”

Things are much worse than I’ve so far made them seem. Brown University recently held a debate about sexual assault on campus. In response to the very existence of this debate—and this time it’s not The Onion reporting, but rather The New York Times—the college set up a “safe space” where those who might be made uncomfortable, or to use the politically correct parlance, “triggered,” by the debate could remove to relax with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.” A student gave her reason for using the safe room: “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.”

Silly me. I thought being challenged was a primary point of college.

Over the past few years I’ve talked to several university instructors (especially adjuncts) who’ve told me they’re afraid of their students. Not physically, as in their students killing them, but rather they fear that uttering any opinion that any of their students—either conservative or liberal: it swings both ways—find objectionable will lead to that student complaining to the administration, after which the instructor may lose her or his classes, in effect be fired. And I just read an essay by an instructor in which he mentions an adjunct whose contract was not “renewed after students complained that he exposed them to ‘offensive’ texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students’ ire and sealed his fate.”

The political correctness posse has started coming after me. I’ve been deplatformed twice this year, by liberals at Appalachian State and Oregon State Universities. The logic behind the deplatformings makes an interesting case study in the McCarthyism and circular firing squad mentality of the liberal academic class.

Part of what’s interesting to me about these deplatformings is that given what I write about—my work more or less constantly calls for revolution—I always thought it was inevitable that I’d start getting deplatformed, just as I’m always detained when I cross international borders, but I thought this deplatforming would come from the right. Not so. It’s come from the left, and, well, to use a cliché, it’s come out of left field.

To be clear, I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written scores of lines like, “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam.” I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about the necessity of using any means necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet. I’ve never been deplatformed because I’ve written about taking down capitalism. I’ve never been deplatformed for making the satirical modest proposal that a way to stop environmental destruction is to attach remote controlled cigar cutters to the genitals of CEOs, politicians, and land managers who claim their decisions won’t harm the land (let them put their genitals where their mouths are, I say (which is something they’ve probably already tried to do)) and when their decisions harm the land, well, bzzzt, and I guarantee the next CEO, politician, or land manager won’t be quite so quick to make false promises. I’ve never been deplatformed for calling in all seriousness for Tony Hayward, ex-CEO of BP, to be tried and if found guilty executed for murdering workers in the Gulf of Mexico, and for murdering the Gulf itself. I can say all of those things, and not have the slightest fear of deplatforming.

Why was I deplatformed? In both cases because I hold the evidently politically incorrect position that women, including those who have been sexually assaulted by males, should not be forced—as in, against their will—to share their most intimate spaces with men. I’ve been deplatformed because I believe that women have the right to bathe, sleep, gather, and organize free from the presence of men.

That’s it.

Yes, I think it’s ridiculous, too.

Even though I wasn’t going to talk about this right of women at all, but rather the murder of the planet, a small group of students—in this case those who identify as transgender—at Applachian State was given veto power over whether I would speak at the university. They said that my mere presence on campus would be “an offense” to their community. Bingo: disinvitation. I was likewise deplatformed from Oregon State because, in the words of the professors who deplatformed me, my presence would “hurt the feelings” of the students who identify as transgender. Never mind, once again, that I wasn’t going to talk about them at all.

Do we all see what’s wrong with deplatforming someone because he or she may hurt someone’s feelings? Once again, silly me: I thought I’d been invited to speak at a university, not a day care center.

My recollection of the universities I have attended or taught at is that a primary purpose was to foster critical thinking and the exploration of vital issues of the day, not to protect students from anything that might “hurt their feelings.” A purpose was to help them become functioning adults in a pluralistic society. Clearly, that’s gone by the boards. And I wasn’t even going to talk about transgender issues, which means it would be my mere presence that would hurt their feelings. Do we all see what is very wrong with basing campus and regional discourse on whether someone’s feelings will be hurt, and worse, on “hurt feelings” that won’t even be based on what the blacklisted speaker was actually going to talk about? What does it mean to our society and to discourse that one group of people—any group of people—is allowed to hold campus and regional discourse hostage by threatening that their feelings may be hurt? Should Christians be able to deplatform Richard Dawkins because he hurts their feelings? Should atheists be able to deplatform Christians because the Christians hurt their feelings? Capitalists are killing the planet. The murder of the planet certainly hurts my feelings. So let’s deplatform all the capitalists.

The kicker on me getting deplatformed because my presence would be an “offense” to, and “hurt the feelings” of, those students who identify as transgender, is that not only was I not going to talk about them, I barely even write about them. I’ve done the math, and out of the literally millions of words I’ve written for publication, only .14 percent (yes, that’s point 14 percent) of those words have to do with their issues: two short essays, only written after my female comrades began receiving a host of rape and death threats simply for wanting to sleep, bathe, gather, and organize free from the presence of males (and you’d think that rape and death threats by men who object to women wanting space away from men would be the end of the discussion: it is, but not in the way you think: it’s the end of the discussion because the men win and the women and their allies get deplatformed). .14 percent of my work is 1.4 words per every thousand. That’s the equivalent of five words in this entire essay. Even if it were worthwhile to deplatform me over the issue at all, they’re deplatforming me because they disagree with .14 percent of my work. Hell, I disagree with a lot more than that. The cult-like demand of loyalty on the part of the new McCarthyites is so rigid that 99.86 percent agreement does not suffice.

And the essays they object to weren’t even disrespectful (which is more than I can say for my treatment of, say, capitalists), just a political and philosophical disagreement.

Part of the problem is that a terrible (and manipulative) rhetorical coup has taken place in academia, where political and philosophical disagreement have been redefined as “disrespect” and “traumatizing” and “hurting their feelings,” such that the “victims” may have to dash off to a “safe space” to play with Play-Doh and watch videos of puppies. As the (highly problematical) professor and writer Laura Kipnis puts it, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” A fearful college instructor observed, “Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.”

That is a rhetorical coup because it makes discourse impossible. Those who perpetuate or support this coup have made it impossible to talk about the subject (or, clearly, any subject, including the murder of the planet), because any disagreement on any “triggering” subject is immediately labeled as a lack of acceptance and as disrespect.

To be clear, if no one is allowed to disagree with any one particular group of people—whether they be Christians or Muslims or capitalists or those who support (or oppose) Israel or those who identify as transgender, or, for that matter, members of the chess club—for fear their feelings will be hurt, then there can be no reasonable discourse. And if the purpose of a college lecture series is to make sure that no one’s feelings will be hurt, there can be no speakers. Allowing any group to hold discourse hostage to their feelings is the death knell for pluralistic society. It leads to fundamentalism. It is a fundamentalism.

It’s a classic trick used by despots and pocket despots everywhere: to ensure agreement with your position, make certain that all other positions are literally unspeakable. For the religiously minded, the epithet of choice has often been blasphemy. For the patriot, it’s traitor. For the capitalist, it’s commie. And for the liberal/leftist/anarchist, it’s oppressor.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

When I was a sophomore in college, the Colorado School of Mines invited Edward Teller to speak. One of my classes required attendance. The lecture was precisely what one would expect from one of the worst human beings of the twentieth century. But some thirty-five years later, the only thing I remember of that year-long class consisted of the great classroom discussion the next day, with some students hating him and others defending him. The professors—no fans of Teller’s insanity—used this as an opportunity to teach their twenty-year-old charges to build and defend an argument. Why did you find his views so offensive? Defend your position. Convince us.

To my mind, that is the point of college.

I once asked my friend the Okanagan activist Jeannette Armstrong what she thought of an attack by another writer on Jerry Mander’s book In the Absence of the Sacred. Her answer has guided my life and career: if he didn’t like the book, he should have written his own damn book.

And that is the point of writing.

So, if you disagree with me, great! If you think women don’t have the right to gather free from the presence of males, then make your argument. If you feel Israel is not committing atrocities, then make your argument. If you feel capitalism is the most just and desirable social arrangement possible and that communism is the devil’s handiwork, then make your argument. In each case make the best argument you can. Show that your position is correct. Make your argument so sound that no sane person could disagree with you (and lots of people—sane or otherwise—will still disagree with you: that’s the fucking point of living in a pluralistic society). And when somebody doesn’t agree with you, don’t fucking whine that your feelings are hurt or that you’re offended by an opinion different than your own, but instead use that disagreement to hone your own arguments for future disagreement. Or change your perspective based on that disagreement.

That is the point of college.

We’re not all going to get along. But no one is saying you have to invite every speaker into your home. No one is saying you have to accept them into your internet- or face-to-face-discussion groups. No one is saying you have to like them. No one is saying you have to listen to them. Hell, no one is even saying you have to acknowledge their existence. But if you fear a certain discussion or lecture is going to traumatize you such that you need to go blow bubbles and watch videos of puppies, then maybe you should just not attend that discussion or lecture, and later on maybe you should discuss those feelings with a therapist. Don’t project your triggers onto your fellow students. Don’t deprive everyone else of something because you object or because it might trigger you. It is not everyone else’s—or the world’s—responsibility to never make you uncomfortable.

That’s the point of living in a pluralistic society.

I blame society for this mess. Every indicator is that people are becoming significantly more narcissistic and less empathetic: as Scientific American reported back in 2010, “A study of 14,000 college students found that today’s young people are 40 percent less empathetic than college kids from 30 years ago,” and noted that “the sharpest drop in empathy occurred in the last nine years.” The article reports that “today’s students are less likely to agree with statements like, ‘I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective’ and ‘I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me [sic].’” So it should not come as a surprise that these students demand and expect that public discourse be formed so as to not “hurt their feelings.” Pretty much everything in this society—from capitalism to consumerism to incessant advertising and corporate culture to the selfish gene theory to neoliberalism to postmodernism to the superficiality of Internet culture—reinforces this narcissism. How many decades ago was “The Me Decade”? And how much worse has it become since then? Well, about 40 percent.

I also blame liberals/leftists/anarchists, who are in some ways merely replicating the Stanford Prison Experiment, in that having gained some power in the Academy, they’re using that power the same way that capitalists or anybody else who gains power so often does, by denying voice to anyone who disagrees with them.

And I blame the groundlessness of postmodernism, with its assertion that meaning is not inherent in anything, that there are no truths, and that each person’s perception of reality is equally valid. As well as destroying class consciousness—which is one reason modern blacklisting is often based on claims of how some speaker will supposedly hurt or trigger the individual, rather than emphasizing harm or gain to society as a whole—postmodernism has led to much of the insanity we’re discussing. As philosopher Daniel Dennett commented, “Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.” And if all you’ve got is rhetoric, that is, “interpretations” and “assertions,” as opposed to, say, factual evidence, then the only way, or at least the most tempting way, to conclusively win an argument is through rhetorical manipulations. If you can’t say, “Your opinion is wrong, and here are facts showing your opinion is wrong,” you’re pretty much stuck with, “Your opinion is oppressing me, triggering me, hurting my feelings.” And that’s precisely what we see. And of course we can’t argue back, in part because nobody can verify or falsify your feelings, and in part because by then we’ve already been deplatformed.

Among other problems, this is all very bad thinking.

And finally I blame the professors themselves. The word education comes from the root e-ducere, and means “to lead forth” or “draw out.” Originally it was a Greek midwife’s term meaning “to be present at the birth of.” The implication is that the educator is an adult, who is helping to give birth to the student’s capacity for critical thinking, and to the student’s adult form. This is not accomplished by making certain that no one be allowed to speak who might “hurt their feelings.” This is not accomplished by protecting students from “viewpoints that go against . . . dearly and closely held beliefs.” It’s accomplished by challenging students at every moment to be better thinkers, challenging them to question their own assumptions, challenging them to defend their positions with far more intellectual rigor than merely stating, “That hurt my feelings.”

I blame the professors also for not standing up for discourse itself. If you’re going to be a professor, if you’re going to be a midwife present at the birth of the critical minds of your students, then defending free and open discourse should be a calling and a duty. It should be a passion. It takes no courage whatsoever to fail to stand up to attempts to destroy discourse, whether the blacklisters are capitalists, the pro-Israel lobby, leftists, liberals, or students who perceive themselves (and who are evidently perceived by professors) as so fragile their feelings will be hurt by dissenting opinions, their feelings which must be protected no matter the cost to society and to discourse. This failure of courage does great injury to everyone, including the students perceived as needing protection from disagreement. I wish the professors understood that their job is to be educators, not baby-sitters (and codependent baby-sitters, at that). I wish the professors were defenders of discourse.

 

[Derrick Jensen is numerous books, including Endgame, Listening to the Land, Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution, and co-author of Deep Green Resistance.]

Guy McPherson: James Hansen & Bill McKibben are Guilty of Malpractice [VIDEO]

November 6, 2013

Excerpt from the October 16, 2013 lecture by Guy McPherson: “How Do We Act in the Face of Climate Chaos?”

Watch the full lecture here: http://guymcpherson.com/2013/10/presentation-in-boulder-colorado/

Read a summary of the video:

http://carolynbaker.net/2013/10/29/how-do-we-act-in-the-face-of-climate-chaos-summary-of-research-guy-mcpherson/

About Guy McPherson:

“More than ten years into a career in the academic ivory tower, McPherson began focusing his efforts on social criticism, with topics ranging from education and evolution to the twin sides of the fossil-fuel coin: (1) global climate change and (2) energy decline and the attendant economic consequences. His public appearances stress these two predicaments because each of them informs and impacts every aspect of life on Earth.

 

He also speaks about our individual and societal response to these phenomena, and includes topics such as authenticity, Socratic lives of excellence, and the role and responsibility of our species in the world.

 

McPherson’s latest chapter includes abandoning his tenured position as full professor at a major research university for ethical reasons. His story is described in his memoir, “Walking Away from Empire.” You can read about that book and his many others at his website: http://guymcpherson.com/

 

 

How Many ‘Big Greens’ Endorsed the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba?

How Many ‘Big Greens’ Endorsed the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba?

Answer: None.

From April 19th – 22nd 2010 the first World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, was in held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It brought more than 35,000 people from around the world, the majority of them being Indigenous. In the first democratically written agreement on climate change, written by the people themselves, proposals for real solutions to climate were unveiled to the world under the document titled the Cochabamba Accord. It is also known as The People’s Agreement of Cochabamba.

It must be remembered that 350.org/1Sky, WWF, Sierra Club, NRDC and most all other “big greens” have rejected the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba rather than unite behind it, in favour of the false illusion of “green” capitalism. Because of this, even although the document was finally recognized by the United Nations, due in most part to the efforts of Pablo Salon (Bolivia’s former ambassador to the United Nations), this agreement has been ignored, marginalized and disregarded by the most powerful voices in the faux environmental movement. Instead of the movement and world uniting behind this agreement – in an attempt to mitigate a 6th extinction – this agreement has been buried and essentially forgotten so the champagne circuit can continue to relish in delusion.

The agreement follows the organizations listed below.

The partners, listed below, can be found on the People’s Agreement website. (It must be noted that some of the larger organizations, listed as partners, did not endorse the final document.)

  1. Via Campesina (Austria)
  2. JS-APMDD – Jubilee south – Asia /Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
  3. FOCO – Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (Argentina)
  4. Human Nature (U.S.)
  5. Climate Change Study Program?Society for Wetland Biodiversity Conservation (?Nepal)
  6. Global Exchange (U.S.)
  7. Canadians for Action on Climate Change (Canada)
  8. PMCC – The Peoples Movement on Climate Change
  9. CDP – Coastal Development Partnership – (Bangladesh)
  10. GreenHearth Education (Canada)
  11. Society for Wetland Biodiversity Conservation (Nepal)
  12. Climate Change Emergency Medical Response
  13. Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK)
  14. Living Green, Living Well (Canada)
  15. The Corner House (UK)
  16. A World to Win (UK)
  17. Ethiopian Society for Consumer Protection (Ethiopia)
  18. APC – Asian Peasant Coalition (Asia)
  19. JVE – Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (Togo)
  20. O.W.N. – Organic Wellness News (Canada)
  21. Movimiento Patriótico Manuel Rodriguez (Chile)
  22. ADAY – Asociación por los Derechos de los Animales en Yucatán A.C. (México)
  23. ATTAC España
  24. Tibet Justice Center (U.S.)
  25. Coopera TV Asturias (España)
  26. O’Dam ONGD – Cooperación Asturiana para el Desarrollo (España)
  27. Ecoportal.Net (Argentina)
  28. APWLD – Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (Tailandia)
  29. AEADO – Asociación de Escritores y Artistas del Orbe (España)
  30. GAIA – Alianza Global Anti-Incineración (Filipinas)
  31. Rainforest Action Network (U.S.)
  32. ONG Social Indigena (Chile)
  33. Cooperativa de Provisión de Servicios “Reciclando Sueños” (Argentina)
  34. ATTAC (Chile)
  35. ABIDES – Associação Brasileira de Integração e Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Brasil)
  36. WRM – Movimiento Mundial por los Bosques Tropicales (Uruguay)
  37. Fundación Armonía Global (Venezuela)
  38. Movimiento Ecologista CANTO VIVO (Perú)
  39. Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina
  40. CISAS – Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud (Nicaragua)
  41. Energy Ethics (Denmark)
  42. JCI Empresarios La Paz (Bolivia)
  43. Kallawayas Sin Fronteras (Bolivia)
  44. STP – Society for Threatened Peoples (U.S.)
  45. ICEPH – Instituto Cordillerano de Estudios y Promoción Humana (Argentina)
  46. APMM – L’association des Populations des Montagnes du Monde – Paris (France)
  47. Amigos de la Tierra Internacional (Holland)
  48. ATTAC (Argentina)
  49. Organización Autolibre (Uruguay)
  50. Iniciativa Cuba Socialista (Belgium)
  51. CSCIB – Confederación Sindical de Comunidades Interculturales de Bolivia
  52. CSUTCB – Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia
  53. CONAMAQ – Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu
  54. CNMCIOB “BS” – Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas Indígenas Originarias de Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa”
  55. CIDOB – Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente, Chaco y Amazonía de Bolivia
  56. Portal amerika21.de (Germany)
  57. Foro de Ecología Política (Argentina)
  58. Proyecto Tierra, ONG “Por una Cultura Ecológica” (Argentina)
  59. Fundación Mundo Puro (Bolivia)
  60. Re@l Bolivia Nodo Cochabamba
  61. Plataforma Boliviana Frente al Cambio Climático
  62. Jubileo Sur
  63. 350.0rg – Campaña Internacional frente el Cambio Climático (UK)
  64. MOCICC – Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático (Perú)
  65. CoC – Council of Canadians (Canada)
  66. Belarusian Party of Greens (Belarus)
  67. Asociación Inti Illimani (Bolivia)
  68. Agua Sustentable – Centro de Apoyo a la Gestión Sustentable del Agua y Medio Ambiente (Bolivia)
  69. Fundación PACHAMAMA – (Ecuador)
  70. Frente de Lucha Mapuche y Campesino (Argentina)
  71. Fundación Kawsay – Lucha por la Vida
  72. Noam Chomski (U.S.)
  73. Ala Plástica (Argentina)
  74. AMAR – Asociación Amigos del Arbol (El Salvador)
  75. ECOCULTURA – Centro para la Promoción de la Cultura, el Patrimonio y el Desarrollo Local (Argentina)
  76. ANA – Acción por los Niños de los Ande (France)
  77. ANROS – Asociación Nacional de Redes y Organizaciones Sociales (Venezuela)
  78. CIPSI – Solidaridad y Cooperacion (Italy)
  79. Consejo Regional de Desarrollo Sustentable de Tarapacá
  80. Radio El Arka (Argentina)
  81. PAU ER – Public Academic University “Evolution of Reason”
  82. DP – Dialogo de los Pueblos (Africa – Latin America)
  83. IBASE – Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Socais e Econômica (Brazil)
  84. Forum Social d’AUBERVILLIERS (France)
  85. Centro Bolivariano de Residentes Extranjeros de Latinoamérica y el Caribe (Argentina)
  86. LIDEMA – Liga de Defensa del Medio Ambiente (Bolivia)
  87. REDNAVA – Red Nacional de Voluntarios Ambientales (Bolivia)
  88. Centro para el Desarrollo Sostenible Molle (Bolivia)
  89. Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)
  90. Action Solidarité Tiers Monde
  91. ANEEJ – Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (Nigeria)
  92. Africa Trade Network
  93. African Biodiversity Network (Kenia)
  94. African Women’s Economic Policy Network (Uganda)
  95. Alba Sud (España)
  96. AMAN – Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara – Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (Indonesia)
  97. Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos (México)
  98. Amigos de la Tierra (España)
  99. ANND – Arab NGO Network for Development
  100. AIPP – Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (Tailandia)
  101. Asia Pacific Research Network
  102. AIWN – Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (Filipinas)
  103. Asian Network of Indigenous Lawyers (Filipinas)
  104. Asociación de Desarrollo Integral San Miguelense (Guatemala)
  105. Asociación Jalisciense de Apoyo a los Grupos Indígenas
  106. Asociación Solidaria de Artesanas Pachamama (Bolivia)
  107. ATTAC Hungary (Hungría)
  108. Bia´lii, Asesoría e Investigación, A.C (México)
  109. Both ENDS
  110. BMP – Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Filipinas)
  111. Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale
  112. Campaña Ningún Hogar Pobre en Argentina
  113. Canadian Union of Postal Workers
  114. CEE Bankwatch Network Central and Eastern Europe
  115. Center for a World in Balance
  116. CWIS – Center for World Indigenous Studies (Estados Unidos)
  117. CAMV – Centre d’Accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (Congo)
  118. Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales
  119. Centro de Iniciativas para el Desarrollo
  120. CADPI – Centro para la autonomía y desarrollo de los pueblos indígenas (Nicaragua)
  121. China Youth Climate Action Network
  122. Christian Aid
  123. CCDD – Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (India)
  124. Coastal Development Partnership (Bangladesh)
  125. Colectivo Voces Ecológicas
  126. Comercializadora Agroforestal del Istmo SPR
  127. Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y Reconciliación Comunitaria (México)
  128. Comisión Ecológica Ituzaingo
  129. Comité Nacional para la Justicia climática
  130. Community Development Fund (Bangladesh)
  131. Community Empowerment and Development Association (Namibia)
  132. CONGCOOP
  133. Consumers Association of Penang (Malasia)
  134. Convergencia de Movimientos Populares de América Latina
  135. Coordinadora Civil (Nicaragua)
  136. COPEVI
  137. Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (Filipinas)
  138. Council of Swaziland Churches
  139. Diálogo 2000
  140. ESAFF – Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers Forum (Tanzania)
  141. Ecological Alert and Recovery (Tailandia)
  142. Ecological Society of the Filipinas (Filipinas)
  143. Ecologistas en Acción
  144. Economic Justice Network (Sudáfrica)
  145. Ecos, voces y acciones, A.C.
  146. ECOT – Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism
  147. EED Task Force Indigenous Peoples (Filipinas)
  148. EQUATIONS (India)
  149. Equity and Justice Working Group (Bangladesh)
  150. Farmer’s Legal Action Group (Sudáfrica)
  151. Flemish Centre for Indigenous Peoples (Bélgica)
  152. Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action (India)
  153. Forum maghrébin pour l’environnement et le développement
  154. Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa – Grassroots Africa (Ghana)
  155. Freedom from Debt Coalition (Filipinas)
  156. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and N. Ireland
  157. Friends of the Earth International
  158. Friends of the Earth (Malasia)
  159. Fundacion IEPALA (España)
  160. Fundación Solon (Bolivia)
  161. Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance
  162. Global Exchange
  163. Grupo Tacuba, A. C.
  164. INSAF – Indian Social Action Forum (India)
  165. INESC
  166. AAI – Iniciativa contra los Agronegocios (Centroamérica)
  167. Iniciativa Radial
  168. Iniciativa Radial (Argentina)
  169. Institute for Sustainable Development (Etiopia)
  170. Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo NITLAPAN-UCA (Nicaragua)
  171. IFG – International Forum on Globalization
  172. INFID – International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (Indonesia)
  173. International Rivers Network
  174. ITEM – Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Uruguay)
  175. JSAPMDD – JS-Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (Asia-Pacífico)
  176. Jubilee South
  177. Jubileo Perú (Perú)
  178. Jubileu 2000
  179. Jubileu 2000 Angola (Angola)
  180. KALAYAAN (Filipinas)
  181. Kanak Agency for Development (Nueva Caledonia)
  182. KOALISI ANTI-UTANG (Indonesia)
  183. KPML – Kongreso ng Pinagkaisang Maralitang Tagalunsod (Filipinas)
  184. KRUHA Water Coalition (Indonesia)
  185. Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre (Nigeria)
  186. Land for Peace SA
  187. Least Developed Countries Watch
  188. Lelewal Foundation (Camerún)
  189. MAMA AFRICA
  190. Marea Creciente
  191. Media Bebas
  192. Missionnaires Xavériens
  193. MOCICC – Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático (Perú)
  194. Movimiento Social Nicaragüense Otro Mundo es Posible (Nicaragua)
  195. Nadi Ghati Morcha (India)
  196. National Civic Forum (Sudan)
  197. National Forum of Forest Peoples and Forest Workers (India)
  198. NUBE – National Union of Bank Employees (Malasia)
  199. Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities
  200. Observatorio Politicas Sociales y Ambientales (Argentina)
  201. Office of the People’s Committee of Ha Giang (Vietnam)
  202. OLSSI – Ole Siosiomaga Society Incorporated (Samoa)
  203. Otros Mundos Chiapas
  204. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (Pakistán)
  205. PACJA – Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  206. Pasumai Thaayagam – Green Motherland (India)
  207. GARPU – People’s Alliance for Debt Cancellation (Indonesia)
  208. PAPDA – Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (Haiti)
  209. Prensa Ambiental (Argentina)
  210. PRRM – Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (Filipinas)
  211. Rainforest Action Network
  212. Red Costarricense de agendas locales de mujeres
  213. RMALC – Red Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (México)
  214. Red Sinti Techan – Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
  215. Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
  216. River Basin Friends (India)
  217. RRN – Rural Reconstruction Nepal
  218. SANLAKAS (Filipinas)
  219. SSM – Secretariado Social Mexicano (México)
  220. Solidaritas Perempuan (Indonesia)
  221. Solidarity Workshop (Bangladesh)
  222. SOCDA – Somali Org. for Community Dev. Activities (Somalia)
  223. SAAPE – South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (Nepal)
  224. SUPRO (Bangladesh)
  225. Tebtebba Foundation (Filipinas)
  226. Thai Working Group for Climate Justice (Tailandia)
  227. Third World Network
  228. Titlalli – Grupo Ecologista (México)
  229. Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (Tailandia)
  230. Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development (Uganda)
  231. UNES – Unida Ecológica Salvadoreña (El Salvador)
  232. Unión Popular Valle Gómez (México)
  233. Unnayan Onneshan (Bangladesh)
  234. VOICE Bangladesh
  235. WALHI – Friends of The Earth Indonesia (Indonesia)
  236. Women Environmental Conservation Project (Uganda)
  237. Women for Change
  238. World Development Movement
  239. Xiamen Greencross Association (China)
  240. Yonge Nawe – Friends of the Earth Swaziland (Suazilandia)
  241. Young Green Woman (Sierra Leona)

World People’s Conference on Climate Change

and the Rights of Mother Earth

April 22nd, Cochabamba, Bolivia

PEOPLES AGREEMENT

Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.

If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people. The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.

We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.

Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship. To face climate change, we must recognize Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:

  • harmony and balance among all and with all things;
  • complementarity, solidarity, and equality;
  • collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;
  • people in harmony with nature;
  • recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;
  • elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism;
  • peace among the peoples and with Mother Earth;

The model we support is not a model of limitless and destructive development. All countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their populations, but by no means can they continue to follow the path of development that has led the richest countries to have an ecological footprint five times bigger than what the planet is able to support. Currently, the regenerative capacity of the planet has been already exceeded by more than 30 percent. If this pace of over-exploitation of our Mother Earth continues, we will need two planets by the year 2030. In an interdependent system in which human beings are only one component, it is not possible to recognize rights only to the human part without provoking an imbalance in the system as a whole. To guarantee human rights and to restore harmony with nature, it is necessary to effectively recognize and apply the rights of Mother Earth. For this purpose, we propose the attached project for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, in which it’s recorded that:

  • The right to live and to exist;
  • The right to be respected;
  • The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue it’s vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;
  • The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;
  • The right to water as the source of life;
  • The right to clean air;
  • The right to comprehensive health;
  • The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;
  • The right to be free of alterations or modifications of it’s genetic structure in a manner that threatens it’s integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
  • The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.

The “shared vision” seeks to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases to make effective the Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which states that “the stabilization of greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic inferences for the climate system.” Our vision is based on the principle of historical common but differentiated responsibilities, to demand the developed countries to commit with quantifiable goals of emission reduction that will allow to return the concentrations of greenhouse gases to 300 ppm, therefore the increase in the average world temperature to a maximum of one degree Celsius.

Emphasizing the need for urgent action to achieve this vision, and with the support of peoples, movements and countries, developed countries should commit to ambitious targets for reducing emissions that permit the achievement of short-term objectives, while maintaining our vision in favor of balance in the Earth’s climate system, in agreement with the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The “shared vision for long-term cooperative action” in climate change negotiations should not be reduced to defining the limit on temperature increases and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but must also incorporate in a balanced and integral manner measures regarding capacity building, production and consumption patterns, and other essential factors such as the acknowledging of the Rights of Mother Earth to establish harmony with nature.

Developed countries, as the main cause of climate change, in assuming their historical responsibility, must recognize and honor their climate debt in all of its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution to climate change. In this context, we demand that developed countries:

• Restore to developing countries the atmospheric space that is occupied by their greenhouse gas emissions. This implies the decolonization of the atmosphere through the reduction and absorption of their emissions;

• Assume the costs and technology transfer needs of developing countries arising from the loss of development opportunities due to living in a restricted atmospheric space;

• Assume responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people that will be forced to migrate due to the climate change caused by these countries, and eliminate their restrictive immigration policies, offering migrants a decent life with full human rights guarantees in their countries;

• Assume adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions;

• Honor these debts as part of a broader debt to Mother Earth by adopting and implementing the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings.

We deplore attempts by countries to annul the Kyoto Protocol, which is the sole legally binding instrument specific to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries.

We inform the world that, despite their obligation to reduce emissions, developed countries have increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990 to 2007.

During that same period, due to unbridled consumption, the United States of America has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 16.8%, reaching an average of 20 to 23 tons of CO2 per-person. This represents 9 times more than that of the average inhabitant of the “Third World,” and 20 times more than that of the average inhabitant of Sub-Saharan Africa.

We categorically reject the illegitimate “Copenhagen Accord” that allows developed countries to offer insufficient reductions in greenhouse gases based in voluntary and individual commitments, violating the environmental integrity of Mother Earth and leading us toward an increase in global temperatures of around 4°C.

The next Conference on Climate Change to be held at the end of 2010 in Mexico should approve an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 under which developed countries must agree to significant domestic emissions reductions of at least 50% based on 1990 levels, excluding carbon markets or other offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

We require first of all the establishment of a goal for the group of developed countries to achieve the assignment of individual commitments for each developed country under the framework of complementary efforts among each one, maintaining in this way Kyoto Protocol as the route to emissions reductions.

The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.

We the peoples have the equal right to be protected from the adverse effects of climate change and reject the notion of adaptation to climate change as understood as a resignation to impacts provoked by the historical emissions of developed countries, which themselves must adapt their modes of life and consumption in the face of this global emergency. We see it as imperative to confront the adverse effects of climate change, and consider adaptation to be a process rather than an imposition, as well as a tool that can serve to help offset those effects, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve harmony with nature under a different model for living.

It is necessary to construct an Adaptation Fund exclusively for addressing climate change as part of a financial mechanism that is managed in a sovereign, transparent, and equitable manner for all States. This Fund should assess the impacts and costs of climate change in developing countries and needs deriving from these impacts, and monitor support on the part of developed countries. It should also include a mechanism for compensation for current and future damages, loss of opportunities due to extreme and gradual climactic events, and additional costs that could present themselves if our planet surpasses ecological thresholds, such as those impacts that present obstacles to “Living Well.”

The “Copenhagen Accord” imposed on developing countries by a few States, beyond simply offering insufficient resources, attempts as well to divide and create confrontation between peoples and to extort developing countries by placing conditions on access to adaptation and mitigation resources. We also assert as unacceptable the attempt in processes of international negotiation to classify developing countries for their vulnerability to climate change, generating disputes, inequalities and segregation among them.

The immense challenge humanity faces of stopping global warming and cooling the planet can only be achieved through a profound shift in agricultural practices toward the sustainable model of production used by indigenous and rural farming peoples, as well as other ancestral models and practices that contribute to solving the problem of agriculture and food sovereignty. This is understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and food production, thereby guaranteeing, through forms of production that are in harmony with Mother Earth and appropriate to local cultural contexts, access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods in complementarity with Mother Earth and deepening the autonomous (participatory, communal and shared) production of every nation and people.

Climate change is now producing profound impacts on agriculture and the ways of life of indigenous peoples and farmers throughout the world, and these impacts will worsen in the future.

Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of global capitalist production and its logic of producing food for the market and not to fulfill the right to proper nutrition, is one of the principal causes of climate change. Its technological, commercial, and political approach only serves to deepen the climate change crisis and increase hunger in the world. For this reason, we reject Free Trade Agreements and Association Agreements and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, geo-engineering, nanotechnology, etc.) that only exacerbate the current crisis.

We similarly denounce the way in which the capitalist model imposes mega-infrastructure projects and invades territories with extractive projects, water privatization, and militarized territories, expelling indigenous peoples from their lands, inhibiting food sovereignty and deepening socio-environmental crisis.

We demand recognition of the right of all peoples, living beings, and Mother Earth to have access to water, and we support the proposal of the Government of Bolivia to recognize water as a Fundamental Human Right.

The definition of forests used in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes plantations, is unacceptable. Monoculture plantations are not forests. Therefore, we require a definition for negotiation purposes that recognizes the native forests, jungles and the diverse ecosystems on Earth.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in climate change negotiations. The best strategy and action to avoid deforestation and degradation and protect native forests and jungles is to recognize and guarantee collective rights to lands and territories, especially considering that most of the forests are located within the territories of indigenous peoples and nations and other traditional communities.

We condemn market mechanisms such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and its versions + and + +, which are violating the sovereignty of peoples and their right to prior free and informed consent as well as the sovereignty of national States, the customs of Peoples, and the Rights of Nature.

Polluting countries have an obligation to carry out direct transfers of the economic and technological resources needed to pay for the restoration and maintenance of forests in favor of the peoples and indigenous ancestral organic structures. Compensation must be direct and in addition to the sources of funding promised by developed countries outside of the carbon market, and never serve as carbon offsets. We demand that countries stop actions on local forests based on market mechanisms and propose non-existent and conditional results. We call on governments to create a global program to restore native forests and jungles, managed and administered by the peoples, implementing forest seeds, fruit trees, and native flora. Governments should eliminate forest concessions and support the conservation of petroleum deposits in the ground and urgently stop the exploitation of hydrocarbons in forestlands.

We call upon States to recognize, respect and guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights standards and the rights of indigenous peoples, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples under ILO Convention 169, among other relevant instruments in the negotiations, policies and measures used to meet the challenges posed by climate change. In particular, we call upon States to give legal recognition to claims over territories, lands and natural resources to enable and strengthen our traditional ways of life and contribute effectively to solving climate change.

We demand the full and effective implementation of the right to consultation, participation and prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in all negotiation processes, and in the design and implementation of measures related to climate change.

Environmental degradation and climate change are currently reaching critical levels, and one of the main consequences of this is domestic and international migration. According to projections, there were already about 25 million climate migrants by 1995. Current estimates are around 50 million, and projections suggest that between 200 million and 1 billion people will become displaced by situations resulting from climate change by the year 2050.

Developed countries should assume responsibility for climate migrants, welcoming them into their territories and recognizing their fundamental rights through the signing of international conventions that provide for the definition of climate migrant and require all States to abide by abide by determinations.

Establish an International Tribunal of Conscience to denounce, make visible, document, judge and punish violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons within countries of origin, transit and destination, clearly identifying the responsibilities of States, companies and other agents.

Current funding directed toward developing countries for climate change and the proposal of the Copenhagen Accord is insignificant. In addition to Official Development Assistance and public sources, developed countries must commit to a new annual funding of at least 6% of GDP to tackle climate change in developing countries. This is viable considering that a similar amount is spent on national defense, and that 5 times more have been put forth to rescue failing banks and speculators, which raises serious questions about global priorities and political will. This funding should be direct and free of conditions, and should not interfere with the national sovereignty or self-determination of the most affected communities and groups.

In view of the inefficiency of the current mechanism, a new funding mechanism should be established at the 2010 Climate Change Conference in Mexico, functioning under the authority of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and held accountable to it, with significant representation of developing countries, to ensure compliance with the funding commitments of Annex 1 countries.

It has been stated that developed countries significantly increased their emissions in the period from 1990 to 2007, despite having stated that the reduction would be substantially supported by market mechanisms.

The carbon market has become a lucrative business, commodifying our Mother Earth. It is therefore not an alternative for tackle climate change, as it loots and ravages the land, water, and even life itself.

The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, which is fragile and uncertain due to speculation and the emergence of intermediary brokers. Therefore, it would be totally irresponsible to leave in their hands the care and protection of human existence and of our Mother Earth.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases. It is necessary to demand fulfillment of the commitments assumed by developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regarding development and technology transfer, and to reject the “technology showcase” proposed by developed countries that only markets technology. It is essential to establish guidelines in order to create a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for participatory control, management, and evaluation of the exchange of technologies. These technologies must be useful, clean and socially sound. Likewise, it is fundamental to establish a fund for the financing and inventory of technologies that are appropriate and free of intellectual property rights. Patents, in particular, should move from the hands of private monopolies to the public domain in order to promote accessibility and low costs.

Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries, to build research centers in developing countries for the creation of technologies and innovations, and defend and promote their development and application for “living well.” The world must recover and re-learn ancestral principles and approaches from native peoples to stop the destruction of the planet, as well as promote ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to recuperate the capacity for “living well” in harmony with Mother Earth.

Considering the lack of political will on the part of developed countries to effectively comply with commitments and obligations assumed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and given the lack of a legal international organism to guard against and sanction climate and environmental crimes that violate the Rights of Mother Earth and humanity, we demand the creation of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal that has the legal capacity to prevent, judge and penalize States, industries and people that by commission or omission contaminate and provoke climate change.

Supporting States that present claims at the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal against developed countries that fail to comply with commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol including commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

We urge peoples to propose and promote deep reform within the United Nations, so that all member States comply with the decisions of the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

The future of humanity is in danger, and we cannot allow a group of leaders from developed countries to decide for all countries as they tried unsuccessfully to do at the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. This decision concerns us all. Thus, it is essential to carry out a global referendum or popular consultation on climate change in which all are consulted regarding the following issues; the level of emission reductions on the part of developed countries and transnational corporations, financing to be offered by developed countries, the creation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal, the need for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and the need to change the current capitalist system. The process of a global referendum or popular consultation will depend on process of preparation that ensures the successful development of the same.

In order to coordinate our international action and implement the results of this “Accord of the Peoples,” we call for the building of a Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth, which should be based on the principles of complementarity and respect for the diversity of origin and visions among its members, constituting a broad and democratic space for coordination and joint worldwide actions.

To this end, we adopt the attached global plan of action so that in Mexico, the developed countries listed in Annex 1 respect the existing legal framework and reduce their greenhouse gases emissions by 50%, and that the different proposals contained in this Agreement are adopted.

Finally, we agree to undertake a Second World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2011 as part of this process of building the Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth and reacting to the outcomes of the Climate Change Conference to be held at the end of this year in Cancun, Mexico.

http://pwccc.wordpress.com/support/

Whether Media or NGOs – The Funding of Silence is Destroying Us

“When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

The strange silencing of liberal America – by John Pilger

7 July 2011

How does political censorship work in liberal societies? When my film, ‘Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia’, was banned in the United States in 1980, the broadcaster PBS cut all contact. Negotiations were ended abruptly; phone calls were not returned. Something had happened. But what? ‘Year Zero’ had already alerted much of the world to the horrors of Pol Pot, but it also investigated the critical role of the Nixon administration in the tyrant’s rise to power and the devastation of Cambodia.

Six months later, a PBS official told me, “This wasn’t censorship. We’re into difficult political days in Washington. Your film would have given us problems with the Reagan administration. Sorry.”

In Britain, the long war in Northern Ireland spawned a similar, deniable censorship. The journalist Liz Curtis compiled a list of more than 50 television films in Britain that were never shown or indefinitely delayed. The word “ban” was rarely used, and those responsible would invariably insist they believed in free speech.

The Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, believes in free speech. The foundation’s website says it is “dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity”. Authors, film-makers, poets make their way to a sanctum of liberalism bankrolled by the billionaire Patrick Lannan in the tradition of Rockefeller and Ford.

Lannan also awards “grants” to America’s liberal media, such as Free Speech TV, the Foundation for National Progress (publisher of the magazine Mother Jones), the Nation Institute and the TV and radio programme Democracy Now! In Britain, Lannan has been a supporter of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, of which I am one of the judges. In 2008, Patrick Lannan personally supported the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, he is “devoted” to Obama.

On 15 June, I was due in Santa Fe, having been invited to share a platform with the distinguished American journalist David Barsamian. The foundation was also to host the US premiere of my new film, ‘The War You Don’t See’, which investigates the false image-making of war-makers, especially Obama.

I was about to leave for Santa Fe when I received an email from the Lannan official organising my visit. The tone was incredulous. “Something has come up,” she wrote. Patrick Lannan had called her and ordered all my events to be cancelled. “I have no idea what this is all about,” she wrote.

Baffled, I asked that the premiere of my film be allowed to go ahead as the US distribution largely depended on it. She repeated that “all” my events were cancelled, “and this includes the screening of your film”. On the Lannan website “cancelled” appeared across a picture of me. There was no explanation. None of my phone calls were returned, nor subsequent emails answered. A Kafka world of not-knowing descended.

The silence lasted a week until, under pressure from local media, the Foundation put out a brief statement that too few tickets had been sold to make my visit “viable” and that “the Foundation regrets that the reason for the cancellation was not explained to Mr. Pilger or to the public at the time the decision was made”. Doubts were cast by a robust editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The paper, which has long played a prominent role in promoting Lannan events, disclosed that my visit had been cancelled before the main advertising and previews were published. A full-page interview with me had to be hurriedly pulled. “Pilger and Barsamian could have expected closer to a packed 820-seat Lensic [arts centre].”

The manager of The Screen, the Santa Fe cinema that had been rented for the premiere, was called late at night and told to kill all his online promotion for my film, but took it upon himself to re-schedule the film for 23 June. It was a sell-out, with many people turned away. The idea that there was no public interest was demonstrably not true.

Theories? There are many, but nothing is proven. For me, it is all reminiscent of the long shadows cast during the Cold War. “Something is going to surface,” said Barsamian. “They can’t keep the lid on this.”

My talk on 15 June was to have been about the collusion of American liberalism in a permanent state of war and the demise of cherished freedoms, such as the right to call government to account. In the United States, as in Britain, serious dissent – free speech – has been substantially criminalised. Obama, the black liberal, the PC exemplar, the marketing dream is as much a warmonger as George W. Bush. His score is six wars. Never in US history has a president prosecuted as many whistle-blowers; yet this truth-telling, this exercise of true citizenship, is at the heart of America’s constitutional first amendment. Obama’s greatest achievement is having seduced, co-opted and silenced much of liberal opinion in the United States, including the anti-war movement.

The reaction to the Lannan ban has been illuminating. The brave, like the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, were appalled and said so. Similarly, many ordinary Americans called into radio stations and have written to me, recognising a symptom of far greater suppression. But some exalted liberal voices have been affronted that I dared whisper the word, censorship, about such a beacon of “cultural freedom”. The embarrassment of those who wish to point both ways is palpable. Others have pulled down the shutters and said nothing. Given their patron’s ruthless show of power, it is understandable. For them, the Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote, “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

http://www.johnpilger.com/articles/the-strange-silencing-of-liberal-america

350.org on Facebook: Now You See It.Now You Don’t

Naomi Klein decided to join the board of 350.org. They are delighted, as you would be if one of the world’s most influential anti-capitalism writers joined your campaign.

Obviously this puts Naomi Klein’s writings in a whole new focus – she’s happy to be part of an organisation that received its seed money from a foundation that bears the name of the kinds of business empires she railed against in the Shock Doctrine. She’s happy to be part of an organisation that has recently forsaken its grass-roots members in favour of business partners in order to add a bit of money to its empty coffers.

They are happy, so they put something on their Facebook Page to say so. Not surprisingly the fans were also delighted and started posting gleefully, as they do on everything to do with 350.org.

Then someone posted a link to my previously mentioned article – it didn’t quite gel with the self-congratulatory sense of the rest of the comments, but criticism is criticism and 350.org are surely big enough to cope with a bit of that:

Apparently not. Within a few minutes the link was removed. Someone alerted me to this and I posted a comment asking why the link had been removed, and whether their recent merger with 1Sky was not just a way of saving money.

That post disappeared as well, as did the post of the person who originally alerted me to the link.

Then 350.org commented back, which you can see in the image below, along with the absence of the two posts being referred to:

That response in full:

“Hey Rachael and Keith. I’m a 350.org FB admin — and didn’t delete any comments, except the sudden notes you left accusing 350.org of deleting comments (could you have re-posted your criticism?) We do moderate comments, and will un-publish ones that are divisive, or seek to draw people into movement in-fighting. We don’t have time for that anymore. Critical discussion is a whole other ball-game — we welcome that, of course, and need it to keep evolving. Thanks.”

I highlighted a key phrase here – “Critical discussion is a whole other ball-game — we welcome that, of course” – in view of the next move by the 350.org administrators. They blocked both me and my contact from commenting further on the Facebook page. Not content with censoring anything that looked like dissent they decided to lock out any dissenters entirely, in case their rose-tinted views might be damaged in any way.

The following email has been sent to 350.org. I await their response:

Hi Guys

Well done for the brave move in banning people from your Facebook group. Glad to see that the merger with 1Sky is making you even more keen to avoid any kind of criticism rather than engage with the criticisms of symbolic action and working too closely to businesses.

Don’t worry, though, because the original screen captures of posts you deleted and people you banned are still available and will be appearing on a few websites soon.

I think it’s safe to say you ran out of money even with your appeals to business, which is why you have been forced to recombine with 1Sky. Call it a tactical retreat if you will, but I think there are a growing number of people who recognise that writing letters to senators and forming pretty pictures out of tee-lights isn’t really the way to undermine the planet killing system that’s loving every “action” that leaves them unscathed.

– the industrial system must be really crapping itself with this kind of hardline stuff.

Cheers

Keith Farnish
www.unsuitablog.org
www.timesupbook.com

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2011/04/08/350-org-on-facebook-now-you-see-it-now-you-dont/

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

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

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

By Cory Morningstar

Explosive Climate Poll Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key points from the report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Know – And Have Known for a Long Time

On 18 April 2007, Ken Ward of Grist writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self Censored or Muzzled by Funders?

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

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

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

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

Gross Negligence on an Epic Scale?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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