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“Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke

We Suspect Silence

November 14, 2016

By Michael Swifte

 

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“Clean Energy” is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future. “Clean Energy” has given its name to many formal processes, organisations, and campaigns. Our climate leaders use the term when they talk about targets, and renewables, and “low carbon” futures. And for whatever it may signify “clean energy” does have a Wiki page, but (at the time of writing Nov 14, 2016) it is unpopulated and redirects you to the Sustainable Energy Wiki page.

As someone who is hellbent on finding a way to destroy fossil fools there is one thing that is certain, this juggernaut will not rest till it’s all gone. That’s how fossil fools have always played their cronyistic, monopolistic, deeply networked game. That’s how I look at motive and likelihoods.

When I discovered that some of the very same people who were presenting the most popular arguments for why we should #keepitintheground were also paving the way for carbon capture and storage I began asking questions about the development of this particular form of energy generation. Questions like: Why would organisations that are telling us about carbon bubbles, carbon budgets, unburnable carbon, and stranded assets be supporting the continued burning of gas, coal, and trees, and the expansion of geological storage of CO2 under the North Sea in old oil and gas fields owned by Shell and Statoil? Surely they care about ending the destruction?

I quickly realised I was asking the wrong questions. I shouldn’t be asking why, I should be asking how? How do fundamentally economic concepts like unburnable carbon, stranded assets, and carbon budgets work for the inevitable continuation of fossil fuel extraction and the wholesale destruction of forests? How much political will for carbon capture and storage is out there and how is it expressed? How are pundits, mouthpieces or messaging agents able to use “clean energy” to mask their support for energy that is in no way clean?

It’s impossible to answer these questions without going on the journey to understanding how conflated logics and rhetorical devices appear, are transmitted, and express themselves in language. This is the very heart of psychological warfare, the understanding of the spread and power of particular logics, and how the management of information, it’s architecture and the imperatives behind it’s production facilitates mass deception and behaviour change.

My broad methodology for understanding the messaging sphere and comprehending the logical underpinnings of key pieces of language is this: follow the money, interrogate the messaging, and analyse the networks.

LEADERS – Politicians, corporate executives, high level public servants and UN chiefs

This is my messaging interrogation methodology for leaders: When I hear a leader use the term “clean energy” I compare that to the policy, technology, and investment objectives for which they speak, vote, develop networks, and maintain silence.

Here are some very stark examples:

US Department of Energy, Research and Development webpage has “CLEAN ENERGY R&D” emblazoned at the top, near the bottom of the page is carbon capture and storage, and nuclear energy. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has publicly thanked Senator Whitehouse for bringing forward a new bill aimed at providing tax credits for carbon capture utilisation and storage projects ( I’ll go into more detail later). Key projects funded by the US DoE involve CO2 scrubbed from coal-fired plants being used for enhanced oil recovery projects where CO2 is sequestered. Moniz has also publicly echoed James Hansen’s belief in nuclear energy as a key to “solving climate change”.

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Jeremy Corbyn talks a big “clean energy” game, but he also voted in support of the pro carbon capture and storage policies Labour took to last year’s election. He  once talked about reopening coal mines saying in an early interview

“The last deep mine coal mines in South Wales have gone but it’s quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world and maybe they’ll be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.”

In that same interview he responded in favour of CCS hinting at cost as a downside

“It’s complicated. At one level it looks very expensive but the advantages also look quite attractive”.

Of course he has since disingenuously distanced himself from his remarks about returning to coal mining saying “It was one question about one mine, I’m not in favour of reopening the mines.”

Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna stated in May this year that Canada’s carbon capture and storage projects were a

“real opportunity for Canada to export solutions” and made her support absolutely clear saying “So when you have carbon capture and storage, that’s certainly an innovative solution — a made-in-Canada solution,”

Compare those statements with her remarks at the Canada 2020 conference November 20, 2015, “And we’ll support progress in clean energy—because innovations in our energy sector can be commercialized, scaled up and exported. Done right, this will create good middle class jobs, grow our economy and reduce pollution, including greenhouse gases.”

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In my blog post of May, 2015 ‘The Climate Chief, the Summit, and the Silence’ I highlighted how then Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, in a Q & A session as part of the 2nd annual Australian Emissions Reduction Summit, derailed a question on “draw down” of CO2 (presumably through agricultural soil sequestration) to speak in favour of carbon capture and storage investment. I noted the absence of responses from the commentariat. One of the few organisations to take note of the climate chief’s words was called CO2-CRC a carbon capture and storage research project which is chaired by former Australian energy and mining minister Martin Ferguson. CO2-CRC are currently pumping sequestered CO2 under the Ottway Ranges in Victoria, Australia. Another organisation to take note (they actual used a meme I created without giving credit) was SaskPower CCS, the most advanced coal-fired CCS project on the planet.

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NON-LEADERS – Journalists, NGO and think tank spokespeople, celebrity spokespeople

Leaders represent institutions, corporations and political processes that impact on material change in the world. Non-leaders deal with ideas and supposed facts, and in essence seek to shape thinking for the better as they are paid to conceive it. As a representative of a media institution or a non-profit entity non-leaders are compelled to steer certain talking points, and observe relationships and platforms developed and defended by their particular institution or entity. Pointing out the contradictions between rhetoric and reality is simple, but if pointing out those contradictions helps to unpack or highlight an issue then non-leaders will largely ignore the contradictions, avoid unpacking the issue, and avoid engaging in meaningful discussion. Non-leaders with significant reach and networks are pivotal to the dissemination of talking points, conflated logics, and rhetorical devices.

My messaging interrogation methodology for non-leaders goes like this: When I read a piece from a key pundit/commentator/mouthpiece working with a media entity, think tank, or NGO I look for adherence to particular talking points and conflated logics. Most authors have sets of talking points suffused with conflated logics passed on to them through the media and through their networks of allies and affiliations.  My provisional assumption when reading a piece is that the author is not inclined to fully unpack an issue lest they stray into uncovering some inconvenient truths. Avoiding certain talking points signifies to me that the author would rather not give credence to those talking points. Silences are created by failing to speak to significant talking points. Silence is the hardest thing to identify and the most challenging component of messaging interrogation.

Non-leaders in the media employ what I call attending behaviour in avoiding certain talking points and triggers for unpacking inconvenient ideas and information. For the attending non-leader it’s all about speaking to an issue without really opening it up, not being utterly silent, erecting a defensible position which makes any real challenger seem petty.

Lets look at two non-leaders from the media, George Monbiot at The Guardian, and David Roberts at Grist and Vox.

Here’s a quote from a recent piece by Monbiot where he recognises the reality of increased demand for negative emissions and the role envisaged by many for CCS as a solution, then dismisses it – hyperlink to a story about last year’s cancelled 1 billion pound CCS competition in the UK.

“The only means of reconciling governments’ climate change commitments with the opening of new coal mines, oilfields and fracking sites is carbon capture and storage: extracting carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of power stations and burying it in geological strata. But despite vast efforts to demonstrate the technology, it has not been proved at scale, and appears to be going nowhere. Our energy policies rely on vapourware.”

Reading this for the first time sent my head into a spin. Monbiot appears to be arguing that CCS would be alright if it worked. I tweeted Monbiot a bunch of memes with quotes which got the attention of the International Energy Agency, Green House Gas Research and Development Program Twitter account.

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Here’s a quote from a recent piece by Roberts called ‘No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously’.

“What is clear is that we are betting our collective future on being able to bury millions of tons of carbon. It’s a huge and existentially risky bet — and maybe one out of a million people even know it’s being made.”

In making his assertions on the state of political will for mitigation technologies like CCS, Roberts cites an obscure UNFCCC report from the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice titled: ‘Report on the structured expert dialogue on the 2013–2015 review’ It’s one hell of a document, I could sense that the delegates were drooling over the idea of pulping forests. Roberts is right in his conclusions about political will for bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and CCS, but – here’s where the attending behaviour kicks in – including a hyperlink to a document doesn’t constitute unpacking the political will. Not when the title of your article refers to inaction from countries, and countries have politicians who are on record giving their support for carbon capture and storage investment. There are any number of documents, links, and names he could have shared that would have revealed the punchline, but he didn’t. We can’t say he didn’t attend to the subject, but we can’t say he smashed that pinata.

Roberts’ article is ostensibly a response to a report released by Oil Change International (OCI) in September this year titled THE SKY’S LIMIT: WHY THE PARIS CLIMATE GOALS REQUIRE A MANAGED DECLINE OF FOSSIL FUEL PRODUCTION.Roberts  introduces the themes of “cognitive dissonance” and “psychological schism” at the state of the collective response to climate change. He then presents the OCI article stating “This cognitive dissonance is brought home yet again in a new report from Oil Change” Indeed the OCI report written with “collaborators” that you could only call “the usual suspects” (climate cartel) elicits cognitive dissonance for the sheer number of qualified statements on CCS in the context of carbon budgets. The phrase “in the absence of CCS” and other similar phrases appear on more than half a dozen occasions. The below quote summarizes the position of the world’s leading green groups on carbon capture and storage.

“If CCS is eventually proven and deployed, it might provide a welcome means of further lowering emissions.”

In the end the OCI authors cite prudence as the most important consideration.

“However, we take the view that it would not be prudent to be dependent on an uncertain technology to avoid dangerous climate change; a much safer approach is to ensure that emissions are reduced in the first place by reducing fossil fuel use and moving the economy to clean energy. Therefore, we apply that assumption throughout this report.”

My feeling about David Roberts who is a colleague of Bill McKibben at Grist.com is that his job is to postulate on the things Bill McKibben can’t (lest he be compelled to unpack). While I agree with the earlier quote and recognise that I am probably one of those “one out of a million people”, I find it concerning that David Roberts can comprehend that we are indeed “betting our collective future” on carbon capture utilization and storage, but not attend to who and what constitutes the political will. I’ve formed the opinion over time that David Roberts conforms to the same remit and talking points as Bill McKibben, and that he has permission to go as close as possible to the hard limits without triggering the unpacking of political will.

There is an endless array of non-leaders from think tanks and NGOs that we could explore, but lets look at someone who has piped up and finally given a clear message about investment in the lead up to COP22.

Nicholas Stern chairs the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. This is the research institute/think tank that I alluded to earlier when I explained what set me off on the journey of discovery into how fossil fools are manufacturing continued demand. While I have been watching Grantham and their allies closely for the last 3 years, it was only recently that I was able to find a quote from the horse’s mouth (Stern) that was succinct enough to share. The following quote is from a speech given at The Royal Society on October 31, 2016. It’s a very telling quote because it comes from an entity that promoted and repeatedly supported the divestment movement as well as hashtags/campaigns like #keepitintheground, and yet it clearly pushes for investment in CCS as a negative emissions technology.

“What can be done to achieve negative emissions? Carbon capture and storage technology is key.”

Here it is in meme form. Feel free to share it.

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GRUNT WORK

Here’s a quote from The Principles of Psywar by Jay Taber. I’ve worked to these two fundamental principles since I first read them.

“The first principle of psywar is never repeat the talking points of your enemy. The second principle is to deny them a platform to misinform.”

I’ve found these principles are great for maintaining the discipline of staying on-message during difficult discussions and developing a more succinct communication style.

Applying these two principles has given me stamina and strengthened my resolve. Grunt work requires hours of immersion in deflating, boring, and propaganda riddled content. My enemies are manufacturing hope, and funding every avenue that leads to new people, cultures, and markets to co-opt. But I can be realistic about the enormity, pervasiveness, and shape of the enemy because I have a strategy against their constant destabilising tactics.

Grunt work is the true revolutionary work.

FEEBLE RESISTANCE

Putting up feeble resistance is a way of manufacturing silence. This is precisely what is happening this year in the US with critical pieces of legislation introduced to congress seeking to facilitate the growth of the carbon capture and storage sector with a particular interest in CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Here I will discuss two pieces of complimentary legislation that have received bipartisan support, support from industry, support from the Natural Resource Defense Council, and support from one of the largest union organisations in the US, the AFL-CIO. Both bills seek to modify provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (bail out). I will show that the resistance is barely even visible. NGOs who claim to represent workers and/or the environment, organisations like the Labor Network for Sustainability have barely even acknowledged the existence of these new bills.

When Republican congressman Mike Conaway presented his bill the Carbon Capture Act in February 25, 2016 Brad Markell, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Council had this to say as part of a “diverse coalition” which included Arch Coal, Peabody Coal, and Summit Power.

“CCS is absolutely critical to preserving good-paying jobs in manufacturing and industrial and energy production, while reducing the environmental footprint of these activities. The financial incentives in this legislation will also support much-needed construction jobs as we build projects and infrastructure for CCS. Representative Conaway has proposed a win-win for our economy and environment.”

Markell’s colleague D. Michael Langford, National President, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO had this to say on the same press release.

“There are few real examples of technology that are both good for the economy and good for the environment. Carbon capture technology is one true example. Incentives to develop and deploy carbon capture will have a positive effect on our economy while at the same time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A permanent extension of tax credits for Section 45Q of the Tax Code will be essential in building a twenty first century economy that provides large numbers good paying jobs while addressing environmental concerns.”

I challenged Joe Uehlein, Founding President of the Labor Network for Sustainability (LN4S) and former AFL-CIO strategist to put the position of LN4S forward in response to AFL-CIO support but his response was flat, defensive, and not worth posting. It wasn’t until Democrat Senators Whitehouse and Heitkamp introduced their bill, the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Act, that the resistance went from virtually nothing to slightly more than nothing.

Senator Whitehouse’s press release announcing the introduction of his bill neglects to mention coal based carbon capture or CO2 based enhanced oil recovery. Instead the focus is put on non fossil fuel based processes like industrial water treatment and algae biomass projects. This is also the theme he lead with on social media as you can see from the below image.

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This is when Friends of the Earth US stepped in with a letter to congress calling the 45Q tax credit amendments for which both bills were created, a CO2-EOR subsidy. The closing sentence of the letter highlights that it’s not coal based carbon capture and storage or even the storage of CO2 in old oil reservoirs that FoE US and the long list of cosignatory NGOs (photo below) are taking issue with, but the purported increase in oil that can be recovered.

“Enhancing oil recovery is not a climate solution. Neither is further subsidizing the oil industry. In fact both are a step in the wrong direction. That is why we ask you to oppose any attempts to extend or expand the Section 45Q tax credit.”

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There are more than 30 co-signatory NGOs to the FoE US letter but when they went to social media it all fell flat. None of the usual cross promotional back patting and content sharing that allied NGOs are well known for happened.

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INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE AND NETWORKED STRUCTURES

There is a global group called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which holds forums, events and discussions for energy ministers and secretaries. Within this arrangement there is the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, this is where the real “clean energy” action happens. Below is a screen grab from the Carbon Capture Use and Storage page of the CEM website which you should have a look at. If you do you will see that details of their position on CCUS is buried away. Similar structuring-out exists in the US for the Clean Energy States Alliance which leaves the definition of “clean energy” to be determined by the vagaries of energy infrastructure development and regulation for each state.

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DEMAND FOR NEGATIVE EMISSIONS TECHNOLOGY

The propagandists have effectively manufactured demand for negative emissions. Power only ever makes win-win plays. Every failure to deliver real emissions reductions creates more demand and there are legions of mouthpieces looking for good metrics, ready to pump the hopium and spell out the technofixes. The propagandists know that the biggest risk to their agenda comes from free, open, and informed discussion. A thorough and relevant discourse has never occurred for carbon capture and storage. The CCS loving Bellona Foundation (Twitter admin) all but acknowledged this to me recently.
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COP22 will deliver “clean energy” finance and climate finance. The punchline to the dirty joke has been protected. Senior editors, NGO trustees, impact philanthropists, and senior bureaucrats all know how to guide inquiry away from the no go zones. They know that the worth of everyone who works under them is contingent on their ability to discern the dog whistles and self censor.

MITIGATION TRADING

While nations struggle to implement carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes new CCS projects have developed that when the time comes will be able to demonstrate that they have the capability to sequester carbon at scale. Australian economist Allan Kohler theorised that the Australian Emissions Reduction Fund, Safeguard Mechanism  could represent a “proxy ETS”. It could come to pass that the Gorgon Gas Project which began sequestering CO2 under Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia this year could retrospectively claim a subsidy for their efforts. Will Australia in the near future use this sequestered carbon to satisfy their climate commitments?

The city of Rotterdam has put itself forward as a future CO2 export hub and the Teesside Collective industrial decarbonisation project still claim they are “leading the way in low carbon technologies”. Remi Erikson, CEO of DNV GL clearly thinks that a North Sea CO2 storage hub is bankable.

Another meme to share.

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Storage capacity for CO2 has been successfully commodified before any kind of discussion about the international agreements that are meant to cover activities like undersea storage have even happened. The London Protocol and Convention which is administered by the International Maritime Organisation is not ready to manage the development of undersea storage, and the maritime area managed by OSPAR Commission north of the Atlantic has permitted under sea storage in the North Sea at Norway’s Sleipner field. OSPAR are very supportive of investment in carbon capture and storage. Here’s a quote from the Quality Status Report 2010.

 “Capturing carbon from combustion at source and transporting this to sub-seabed geological reservoirs could help mitigate climate change over century-long time scales and thus help with the transition to a lower carbon economy.”

THE SHOW WILL GO ON

I tried to find the source for the proliferation of “clean energy” as a pivotal propaganda term. Looking at the list of attendees at the 2009 Getting to 350 conference was very enlightening. Lewis Milford who heads up the Clean Energy States Alliance was there as was James Hansen who advocates nuclear over renewables. Members of Al Gore’s Climate Project were there along with ecological economist Bob Costanza and the nuclear and carbon capture spruiking Jesse Jenkins.

I found the likely source of “clean energy” by digging into the Podesta emails and following the trail back to 2006 and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting (link has already disappeared) where Podesta was championing the “Clean Energy Investment Boom”. The Clinton Global Initiative had a key role in bringing 350.org to global prominence. Podesta recently sat down with US Energy Secretary , Ernest Moniz  and I’ll let the meme tell you what they both agreed on.

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New US president? Makes little difference. There was no ‘war on coal’. The clean power plan was never clean. “Clean Energy” has paved the way for the financing of carbon capture utilization and storage as critical to the development of our energy systems, and fundamental to the decarbonisation of industry.

Let’s give Al Gore the last word $$$$$$$$$

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Axis of Evil

Public Good Project

May 2, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

UN Summit Climate risk 27.1

Above: “2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk. Advancing the Clean Trillion: On 27 January 2016, Ceres, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Office for Partnerships co-hosted the 2016 Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.” [Source: United Nations Office for Partnerships]

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

 

Above: “Michelle Rodriguez has joined Liam Neeson as a voice in the first ever global cinema ad titled #WEHAVEAPLAN TELL EVERYONE and today sees the release of the teaser trailer ahead of the premiere in New York on 24th September and the ad Appearing on thousands of Cinemas around the world from the 25th September.” [SAWA-Press-Release]

Above: Michelle Rodriguez is the voice of the United Nations Global Goals cinema ad. The above video is a clip from the “Opportunity Green” Rodriguez award (“eco-maverick”) acceptance video which surmises both the “new economy” as well as the purpose of celebrity endorsement: “Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.'” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme T Turner

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

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Avaaz and Purpose Inc. co-founder, Jeremy Heimans (far right) in Opportunity Green panel discussion for the “green economy,” with celebrity spokesperson Don Cheadle (second from left) (2011)

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

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

NO MEANS NO

Above: Does no not mean no? “No wind.” [The Dark Side of Clean Energy in Mexico] Photo: Santiago Navarro F.

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

In countries like Australia, Canada and the US, the development of gold, coal, oil and uranium mining on the lands of Indigenous peoples caused significant displacement, pollution, genocide and disease throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries, and is now the reason for uprisings, terrorism and wars in places like Mali, the Philippines, West Papua, the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. In order to destroy Indigenous opposition to this displacement and dispossession by multinational corporations, the UN Security Council — led by the US — has supported NATO invasions in places such as Libya, as well as an increased presence by AFRICOM–the US military forces in Africa.

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The ‘clean energy’ plan of the UN, Wall Street and NGOs–that championed the financial elite at COP21–relies on two primary projects: 1. a global nuclear power renaissance, and 2. privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide. If the UN SDGs already comprising ‘sustainable capitalism’ are the ‘New Economy’, how does that differ from the old one?

 

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

Water is More Valuable than Gold

Nacla

April 25, 2016

by Ellie Happel

 

The destructive impact of metal mining in the Dominican Republic has lessons for neighboring Haiti, where activists are seeking a moratorium on all mining projects.

KJM Delegation Looking at Tailings Pond, Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic (Photo by Ellie Happel)

KJM Delegation Looking at Tailings Pond, Pueblo Viejo, Dominican Republic (Photo by Ellie Happel)

The hill overlooking the tailings pond—a vast, dammed tub of liquid residue—was littered with bones.  Residents from the area said the goats and cattle that once grazed the land had died since mining operations began a few years ago.  They held our hands as we crossed a river, directing us to jump from rock to rock to avoid plunging a foot into the polluted current.  The human settlements tucked in the valley beneath the white smoke snaking into the sky appeared to be the only life remaining in the area.  We were at Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, one of the largest gold mines in the world.

I am an attorney with the Global Justice Clinic (GJC) of NYU School of Law. Since 2013, GJC has provided technical support to the Kolektif Jistis Min (Justice in Mining Collective or KJM), a group of Haitian social movement organizations formed to support communities in Haiti’s mineral belt and to encourage a national dialogue about the industry.  In March, I traveled with members of KJM to the Dominican Republic to meet with organizations and academics studying the mining sector and with residents from communities directly affected by mining.

The message from residents of communities near Pueblo Viejo to Haitian activist was simple: Do not let a company build a gold mine in Haiti.  Farmers said that their coffee plants failed every year since operations began. The situation has become so dire that they no longer even bother to plant coffee and other crops that previously sustained them.  Parents spoke of rains that fall with such a peculiar stench that they pull their kids out of school and remain indoors with their families, windows closed, for a full twenty-four hours.

During our visit, a man lifted up his pant leg to reveal his calves, pock-marked like a burn.  He explained that the acidic river water had eaten away at his skin.

“We did not know that mining would lead to this,” said a woman, pointing to the wall of the tailings dam in the distance.

Residents showed us shelves of five-gallon jugs of water.  They explained that “the company”— Pueblo Viejo is operated by the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC), a joint venture between the Canadian companies Barrick and Goldcorp— provides four jugs of water to local residents a few times a week, but complained that the water was insufficient to meet their most basic needs.  The sealed, treated water, they explained, is not just the only water safe to drink; it is the only water safe to use for any purpose, be it washing, bathing, or giving to animals.

Unfortunately, few scientific studies that document the contamination and its impacts have been made public.  PVDC claims to regularly test the water and the air quality, but residents told The Economist that they were unaware of such monitoring.  Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Dominican Ministry of the Environment) conducted water quality sampling that confirmed that the river downstream from Pueblo Viejo was found to be “highly acidic, with copper and other pollutants above legal limits.”  The test results were available only through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request.  There are numerous reported incidents of mine workers falling illalong with local residents.  PVDC claims that pollution in the area was caused decades ago by the previous operators of the mine.

Refinery in Pueblo Viejo, Cotuí, Dominican Republic (Photo by Ellie Happel)

Refinery in Pueblo Viejo, Cotuí, Dominican Republic (Photo by Ellie Happel)

The refrain water is more valuable than gold has rallied Dominicans to declare Loma Miranda, the site of a potential nickel mine and also home to the headwaters of some of the Dominican Republic’s most important rivers, a national park.  Community members and allies maintain a permanent camp near the base of Loma Miranda.  They told the KJM that the water contamination at Pueblo Viejo and the mining industry’s mixed economic impacts to have led a diverse and broad cross-section of Dominicans to oppose the nickel mine.  As in El Salvador, Peru, and Guatemala, the experience of living in the shadow of an open pit mine has created determined resistance to future projects.

KJM is building a national network with the ultimate goal of preventing metal mining in Haiti for the foreseeable future.  “We must learn from these stories,” said a KJM leader who traveled to the Dominican Republic.  “We have an opportunity in Haiti to avoid a disaster.”

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There are no active metal mines in Haiti yet.  But the Haitian government has declared the mineral sector key to the country’s economic growth and has encouraged foreign investment.  Between 2006 and early 2013, two Canadian and two U.S. companies reportedly spent more than $30 million on exploration for gold, copper, silver, and other metals.  For the past five years, company activity has been on hold as the industry awaits the adoption of a new mining law, a draft of which was written with World Bank technical support in 2014.  Because the political situation remains uncertain, however, legal changes are in limbo— and so too is the future of metal mining in Haiti.

Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile?  Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining in Haiti, a report released in December by the Global Justice Clinic of NYU School of Law and the Haiti Justice Initiative at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, recommends a moratorium on metal mining in Haiti.   As the report concludes, mining projects often perpetuate global inequalities, with companies from the “Global North” extracting resources from the “Global South.”  It has become evident that communities near mining sites often lack the information and resources necessary to demand participation in decisions that affect their well-being, both in the immediate future and for generations to come.  Meanwhile, host governments often fail to equip these communities to assert their rights, leaving them to fend for themselves in the face of encroachment on their land and serious risks to the environment and human rights.  And Haiti is uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of mining.

Water is already scarce in Haiti— less than half of rural households have access to safe drinking water—and too often, its consumption causes illness.  More than half the annual death toll in Haiti is caused by waterborne illnesses, such as typhoid, cholera, and chronic diarrhea.  At least 10,000 Haitians have died of cholera, introduced to Haiti by United Nations’ troops ten months after the 2010 earthquake.  A recent study suggests that the official count of those sickened and killed by cholera far underestimates the actual total.  Cholera could have been avoided if the United Nations had taken simple, affordable precautions.  The environmental devastation that an open pit mine could cause in Haiti is also foreseeable and preventable.

As if Haiti’s pre-existing vulnerabilities did not present enough of a risk, the legal and institutional framework regulating mining in Haiti fails to adequately safeguard human rights and the environment.  As Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile shows, the draft new mining law co-written with the World Bank falls short of protecting rights guaranteed in the Haitian Constitution, including the right to a healthy environment, the right to property, and the rights to information and participation.  One proposed article— dangerously out of step with recent trends toward greater industry transparency— would require all mining-related information to be kept confidential for a period of ten years, effectively foreclosing meaningful public oversight of mining activities and regulatory compliance. As the Haitian proverb goes, Konstitisyon se papye, bayonet se fe— the Constitution is made of paper, the bayonet is made of steel.

Even in countries with more robust governance and oversight than Haiti, industrial-scale mining has contaminated water resources, destroyed livelihoods, increased security threats, forcibly displaced thousands of people, and damaged entire ecosystems for generations. Recent mining disasters in Brazil and the United States provide sobering reminders of the tremendous risks that Haiti faces and the enormous challenge of preventing mining-related harm.

On top of all this, Haiti is one of the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and drought regularly ravage the nation, and the government demonstrates a lack of capacity to anticipate or mitigate these disasters.  Haiti is densely populated and mountainous—nearly two-thirds of the land is too steep to till.  In February, the World Food Program declared a food crisis, reporting that over 3.6 million Haitians face food insecurity and more than 1.5 million live with severe food insecurity.

“Maybe, for once, the state of our environment can work in our favor—can help us resist,” explained a resident from the north of Haiti, where a transnational company has explored for gold.  “We understand, maybe more than others, that water is life.  When we hear what has happened in other countries, when we see the videos and see the photos, we understand that our land cannot take one more blow.”

In early May, activists from communities affected by metal mining in Peru, El Salvador, Colombia, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic will converge in Haiti to participate in Kale Je Nou pou Defann Lavi Nou (Open our Eyes Wide to Defend Our Lives), ten days of action and dialogue about the mining sector.  KJM hopes that little by little they can build an alliance to resist metal mining without having to suffer through it first.

 

 

[Ellie Happel is the Haiti Program Attorney with the Global Justice Clinic of New York University School of Law.  She is based in Port-au-Prince, where she has lived for the past four years.  Ellie is also co-author of Byen Konte, Mal Kalkile?  Human Rights and Environmental Risks of Gold Mining.]

Hijacking the Environmental Movement

Just Say No to 350

April 25, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Introduction

When the oil industry tycoon Warren Buffett poured $26 million into TIDES foundation, he was making a strategic long-term investment in hijacking the environmental movement. Like the Rockefeller Brothers and Buffett’s close friend Bill Gates, they know how important it is public relations (PR) wise to appear as benefactors of humanity, while scheming to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable activists.

Financially compromised non-governmental organizations (NGOs), i.e. World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and 350, promise the largest return on investment Wall Street has ever seen. While some international NGOs still take money directly from corporations, it is more effective to launder money through foundations, i.e. NoVo, TIDES, Gates, Ford and Rockefeller.

This investment induces self-censorship and fraud by NGOs that appear genuine to the public, while kowtowing to their Wall Street funders’ agenda. In terms of climate change activism, the funding by foundations like NoVo (Warren Buffett), TIDES (an oil industry money laundry) and the Rockefeller Brothers enables cons like the college campus fossil fuel divestment scam, in which 350 and friends function as ‘grassroots’ front groups.

350 began its dark career betraying the G77 at COP15 in 2009, and continued its shady dealings by sabotaging the 2010 Indigenous peoples’ climate conference in Bolivia, then proceeded to choreograph the KXL PR campaign, with funding from oil train magnate Warren Buffett, laundered through NoVo and TIDES. More recently, 350 has come out with new propaganda to mislead climate activists. As they did with the KXL charade and the fossil fuel divestment hoax, 350 will no doubt promote ineffective disobedience as a means of diverting activist energy from reality-based social change that might threaten the 350 funders’ fossil fuel investments.

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

Ten Top Donors to Tides

Just Say No to 350

When 350 targeted Bolivia and The Peoples Agreement on Climate Change for subversion in 2010, it was an act of aggression with roots in the 2009 attempted coup — funded by the U.S. State Department — in reaction to the 2008 constitutional revolution of Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples. The inspiration for the Indigenous uprising, that saw the world’s first Indigenous head of state elected, was the 2005 attempt at privatization of Bolivia’s water by the US-based Bechtel Corporation that foreshadowed the “new economy” promoted by 350 in 2014.

Next System New Economy

That “new economy” builds on other privatization schemes on a global scale; REDD and other carbon-market shell games, like fossil fuel divestment, are the ultimate institutionalization of the theft of public resources by the finance sector. The finance sector – that in 2008-2009 devastated the US and EU economies through loan fraud and bank bailouts – has now set its sights on privatizing all aspects of life on earth.

Cheerleading global privatization — enabled by UN agencies like the IMF and World Bank — are financier-sponsored NGOs like 350, Avaaz and Ceres–all of which have fundamental ties to Wall Street moguls and finance sector criminals. Having hijacked the environmental movement on behalf of Wall Street, these false fronts are currently pressing for changes in international law that would give the finance sector carte blanche in privatizing all of nature.

Global Goals 3 cropped

With the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a threat to globalization – the finance sector immediately began co-opting the Indigenous peoples movement through foundation grants to compromised NGOs approved by the UN. These compromised NGOs and individuals are paid to legitimize the annihilation of Indigenous nations via UN agencies in partnership with Wall Street.

As Indigenous nations challenge Wall Street and the UN over globalization, compromised NGOs like 350 distort reality through social and mainstream media. The “new economy” they promote is essentially what used to be called fascism. While finance sector puppets like Naomi Klein charm gullible liberals with bromides and syllogisms about sustainability, what they are in reality sustaining is totalitarian corporate control of world governance and human survival.

KXL Hype

better place

The tribes that kept KXL out of their territories are understandably pleased by the momentary suspension of that pipeline project. Their illusory ‘victory’, however, requires that we temper the euphoria around the KXL rejection with a dose of reality. To not do so only sets up the naive to be hoodwinked again.

Delaying KXL does not halt the annihilation of the Athabaskan peoples, whose territory is a carcinogenic wasteland. It merely means the Tar Sands toxic bitumen will make its way to the Gulf of Mexico by other routes, which incidentally are already operating, making KXL redundant for now–the real reason for the celebrated KXL ‘rejection’.

The suspension of KXL coincides with a glut of oil reaching the Gulf, necessitating development of greater storage and terminal capacity there. That, and plans to develop pipeline and oil train terminal infrastructure on the West Coast of Canada and the Northwest US, is why KXL rejection no longer matters to oil exporters, but made Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their Tar Sands pals a bundle.

The reason for the glut goes back to 2012, when Obama opened up millions of acres for gas and oil in 23 states, ushering in the fracking boom that brought us chemical injection aquifer contamination, and ‘bomb trains’ owned by Obama’s friend Warren Buffett since 2009, when he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for $34 billion–the same year Tides Foundation funded 350. In 2010, 350 launched the campaign to reject KXL; by 2014, crude-via-rail in the US soared to 500 thousand car loads per year, up from 5 thousand in 2008, with trains exploding across Canada and the US.

As noted in Railroading Racism, BNSF is embroiled in conflict with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that opposes Buffett’s bomb trains and associated oil train terminals in Washington State. BNSF has responded by helping fund Tea Party-led political action committees (PACs) deeply involved in promoting anti-Indian white supremacy.

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

As noted at Wrong Kind of Green, There Was Nothing Key About Keystone XLExcept Diverting Our Attention For More Dirty Profit. As noted at The Real News Network (TRNN), regardless of Keystone XL, Tar Sands Oil Will Still Flow to the Gulf.

Interestingly, the TRNN cover-up of the Klein/Buffett charade remains for the most part unexposed by all media other than CounterPunch. As I observed in April, Distorting Reality is what liberal gatekeepers like TRNN do. That’s why two-thirds of its ongoing operating revenue comes from the rich, i.e. Ford Foundation. Ford, Rockefeller, and Buffett essentially own the entire ‘grassroots’ KXL NGO milieu.

Charms of Naomi

Klein TIFF

Hypnotic induction — getting a person into a trance or state of increased suggestibility — during which critical faculties are reduced and subjects are more prone to accept suggestions, might help to describe the current fascination with Naomi Klein. While the popularly-expected cultural rituals of celebrity worship in America are familiar to anyone who watches television or reads People Magazine, its application to social media has become a powerful new tool of social engineering by Wall Street. The process of influencing a mass audience to respond reflexively to induced prompts — like marching in parades or flooding financial districts wearing the color blue — requires looking beyond the civil society fad of I-pad revolution, and examining modern social “movements” as cults. Icons like Klein are as interchangeable as Hollywood starlets, but mass hypnosis of social activists by Wall Street titans using foundation-funded NGOs is a troubling development.

When Klein and McKibben herded thousands of college students across America to fight climate change by forcing their schools to divest in fossil fuels, no one stopped to ask if that would make any difference. Using the emotive force of the idea of divestment as people power — based on an intentional association with its use in South Africa and Palestine — 350 inducted hypnotic behavior that omitted any critical judgment. The fact that apartheid was opposed by a combination of boycott, divestment and sanction by national and international institutions in support of armed insurrection was lost on the climateers. Instead, they were hypnotized into believing that colleges selling back fossil fuel shares to Wall Street (where unscrupulous investors could then make a killing) was part of a magical social revolution. The same could apply to the nonsensical demand to end fossil fuels.

The mystery of the KXL distraction, revealed by Cory Morningstar to be a choreographed hoax funded by Warren Buffett, is yet another example of hypnotic behavior absent critical judgment. As noted by Morningstar, the KXL protests and hoopla promoted by 350 made it possible for Buffett to develop an oil-by-rail empire, now threatening communities across North America with bomb trains, like the one that devastated the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013. As a diversion calculated to lessen effective opposition to fossil fuel export and over-consumption, seductive energy tales and celebrity-laden photo-ops in front of the White House substituted for popular education and political organizing. By the time Klein’s followers figure out they were duped into being Buffett’s pawns, he and his friend Bill Gates will have made a fortune shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude. For the present, the climateers have taken up poster-coloring and holding hands.

SusanRockefeller-2066-676x450

Susan Rockefeller, Co-Executive Producer of the “This Changes Everything” documentary film and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film “This Changes Everything” (with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions ). Photo: Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times) Further reading: Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project

Klein’s aura, meanwhile, has taken on a life of its own. Having memorized her mantra This Changes Everything, climateers and other devotees are now all abuzz over her mesmerizing campaign against capitalism. No one asks how that meshes with Klein’s 350 being the darling of Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers, but suspension of disbelief is nothing new to Klein groupies. As gullible left-wing media begins yet another social media gossip fest over how far left the new incarnation of rhetorical revolutionary fervor might go, 350’s Blue Team and other Klein followers double down on dubious diversions. As Klein and her colleagues work feverishly in creating cover narratives that lefties can flog as insightful op-eds to coincide with the never-ending anti-capitalist revolutionary historic Rockefeller-financed 350 events, it is hard to avoid comparisons with George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in his novel, 1984.

After the groupie chatter and celebrity banalities of climate week subsided, trite starlets like Klein carried on with their Wall Street-backed charades. The question is whether their adherents will reject the fantasy world of vapid luminaries become famous by stating blatantly obvious platitudes, or continue to be wowed by their cult-like mastery. For now, the hoax endures.

Clean Energy

mining2

“Clean” energy. Above: The Tampakan mining project for copper and gold (Mindanao island, southern Philippines). The push for solar and wind will ensure global copper markets (and many other mining projects of rare Earth minerals) will continue to expand – along with the further plundering of the planet. This mining project threatens to displace thousands of people and destroy 10,000 hectares which are home to rainforest and the source of five rivers. Security forces have committed atrocities against local B’laan indigenous communities which oppose the project. 

BDS against Israel, and formerly against South Africa, used the three-part formula of Boycott Divestment Sanction. Divestment, as used by 350, omits boycott and sanction, and limits divestment to meaningless, symbolic acts.

When it comes to the 350 agenda, they leave out the boycott of fossil fuels, and the sanction of fossil fuel corporations, and instead press for divestment by institutions like colleges and universities. All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.

BDS, when applied against apartheid states by other states and international institutions, includes cutting off access to finance, as well as penalties for crimes against humanity. What makes 350 so devious, is that they hijack public emotions (and ignorance) using phony “divestment” as a disorganizing tool to redirect activism away from effective work.

The inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune (Rockefeller Brothers) would not be funding 350 were they not thus disempowering their naive followers.

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

Consumerism as Activism

Consumption As Religion 5

The cult of consumerism, through which 350, Avaaz and Purpose adherents identify with their brand, is similar to religion, in that becoming a follower is an act of faith. By unquestioningly accepting the propaganda as truth, they form beliefs that comprise the doctrine supporting this ideology of false hope.

It is not unlike hierarchical religion, in that it is patronizing of the believers, who desire to remain infantile in their psychological and financial dependencies. Political illiteracy reinforces this relationship.

It is, to say the least, unhealthy.

YouTopia

The Syria Campaign Facebook PURPOSE Screenshot

Social engineering in the digital age is amazingly simple for those who have the money and media at their disposal. Wall Street’s Mad Men can easily herd millions of progressives via social media to support catastrophic environmental policy, war, and crimes against humanity. Sold as conservation, “humanitarian intervention”, or development, globalization can then be marketed as a progressive choice, albeit leading to totalitarian corporate control of all life.

The driving force behind privatization through social engineering is the non-profit industrial complex, funded by Wall Street derivatives, and disbursed through tax-exempt foundation grants. Hundreds of millions have been invested by these foundations in the last decade to convince progressives that war is peace, conformity is unity, and capitulation is resistance.

Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.

Privatization Strategy

Global Goals -PrivateProperty

World Business Council for Sustainable Development is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

A partner of WBCSD is Ceres (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies), whose funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Ceres and 350 are funded in part by TIDES, whose largest donor is NoVo–Warren Buffet’s private foundation.

Recently, WBCSD launched another initiative to privatize ecosystems — Natural Infrastructure for Business — and to capitalize on the Breakthrough Energy Coalition boondoggle hyped by the financial elite at COP21.

The privatization of public process and policy — which led to economic collapse in the US, and bank bailouts from the U.S. Treasury that eviscerated the general welfare — is now being enacted at the UN.

The Clean Energy Ponzi Scheme and the ‘new economy‘ — false hope marketed for the financial elite by Havas, Avaaz and 350 — now has its sights set on privatizing the planet.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Investment Choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environmentalism is Dead – Welcome to the Age of Anthropocentrism [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street: Part XIV of an Investigative Report]

April 22, 2016

by Cory Morningstar

 

Part fourteen of an investigative series

 [Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here. Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII]

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

Divestment Launch Goes Global

 

“The creation of value continues to drive capitalism, yet the meaning of ‘value’ shifts and is reimagined within the context of neoliberal capitalism—Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times”— Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2012

On September 18, 2014, three days prior to the Peoples Climate March, a press release shared by the website Look to the Stars, The World of Celebrity Giving, announced:

“A coalition of endowments and individuals committed to divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean energy will announce pledges totaling $50 billion in assets and growing at a press conference in New York City on Monday, Sept. 22. The coalition, first launched in January, will announce scores of new domestic and international foundations, hundreds of high-net worth individuals as well as major NGOs, faith groups and health organizations. The next day, commitments will be presented at the UN Climate Summit with many world leaders in attendance including President Obama. Taking part in the press conference will be: Archbishop Desmond Tutu (by video), Mark Ruffalo, actor, Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, David Blood, formerly Goldman Sachs, co-founder Generation Investment, Agnes Abuom, principal at the World Council of Churches and Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director Wallace Global Fund (moderating)” [Emphasis added]

Three days later on September 21, 2014, the People’s Climate March took place in New York City. This spectacle was overseen/managed in part by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The members only “State of Play on the People’s Climate March” event listed by the Environmental Grantmakers Association Website (posted 08/20/2014 – 1:00pm) stated the following:

“An unprecedented 550 organizations from labor, faith, environment and justice movements are coming together to make the September 21st People’s Climate March the largest ever public mobilization on climate. Join us to learn why such a huge diversity of organizations, networks, and individuals are mobilizing at this key moment, just days before the Climate Leaders Summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon. We’ll discuss how organizations are working together to bridge movements, as this effort not only seeks to raise awareness for climate impacts, but also open a significant political narrative about economic and environmental justice.

 

Speakers:

  • Irene Krarup, Executive Director, V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation (moderator)
    • Emma Ruby-Sachs, Campaigns Manager, Avaaz
    • Jamie Henn, Political and Communications Director, 350.org
    • Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, NYCEJA”

 

“This will be the first of a series of two calls – the second will be a funder-only conversation during the first week of September. If you are unable to make either call and still want to learn more, please feel free to contact Stephanie Bencivenga of Rockefeller Brothers Fund (sbencivenga[at]rbf.org) or Irene Krarup of V.K. Rasmussen Foundation (ikrarup[at]vkrf.org).” [Emphasis added]

One would be naïve to believe that there was not (and continues to be) an intense amount of coordination and concerted effort functioning behind the scenes. A unification of all players woven within the non-profit industrial complex, united in one strategic purpose: To expand, further capture and create new capital markets, with a supportive public under the guise of a “new economy”  to which the divestment plays a pivotal role.

[Here it must be noted that the media circus surrounding the Peoples Climate March effectively eclipsed the first UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples which took place on September 22-23, 2014, planned years in advance.]

peoples_climate_march_poster2

Although it is comforting to most (for reasons difficult to comprehend) that the now global climate marches appear to be led by Rockefeller’s multi-million “scruffy little outfit” 350.org [1], the NGO at the helm of all these machinations is still Global Call for Climate Action (TckTckTck) – an NGO with a slightly damaged patina – damage extensive enough that they obscure their clout from the glare of the public spectacle. This is a simple sleight of hand considering 350.org is a founding partner of GCCA.

“GCCA worked behind the scenes for over a year to prepare for the biggest date in 2014, leveraging every possible asset and contact to rally around the historic Peoples’ Climate March in the run-up to the UN Climate Leaders Summit…. In the preceding months, GCCA convened weekly calls with key partners 350.org, Avaaz, USCAN and Climate Nexus to catalyse activities and identify gaps…. Everything came together on the day as we bore witness to the world’s biggest ever climate march, and inspiring events across the globe, with world leaders, business people, activists, parents and artists walking shoulder-to-shoulder.” — GCCA Annual Report 2014

GCCA, an initiative that began in Bali (2007) with a $300,000 funding commitment from the Quebec government, is a “coalition of twenty key international organizations” including Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace , Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum, OXFAM, WWF, World Council of Churches, Union of Concerned Scientists, Equiterre, Global Call to Action against Poverty (also co-chaired by Kumi Naidoo), and the Pew Environment Group. [Source]

+++

On February 19, 2015, the co-opted CJN! listserv shared a communiqué in regard to the divestment campaign with the following subject line: “Fossil fuel divestment seems to frighten London financial bourgeoisie.”

This “observation” amounts to willful blindness at its best.

The first question to ask of any campaign is this: What do the oligarchs wish to gain via the financing of this campaign? Aside from the shaping, managing and over-seeing/controlling of (and even the creation of) “movements” – while simultaneously possessing the ability to effectively enforce self-censorship via what amounts to an unspoken, agreed upon alibi – oligarchs are primarily interested in not only maintaining power, but also expanding it. (A quick glimpse into the demise of real movements since foundation funding started flowing like the River Nile in the sixties confirms this to be true, with a prime example being the funding used to counteract and destroy the powerful and revolutionary Black Power movement while using its largess to appropriate any remaining shards after its demise.) The capitalist’s way to expand power is via the pursuit, expansion and capture of capital, furthering profits and market share. Thus, when we ask what oligarchs wish to gain via the financing of particular campaigns, one must always consider not only how the campaign could/will affect capital but also the ideologies surrounding capital.

Using the Keystone XL (KXL) campaign as an example, the billionaire Warren Buffett (financial advisor and close confidant to Barack Obama) legally funneled over 26 million dollars (as of 2011) into the Tides foundation. In turn, Tides doled out the money to NGOs that would campaign against the tar sands pipelines, including the KXL, which became the focal point of not only all tar sands campaigns, but the primary focal point of the “environmental movement” in North America. Hence, while all eyes were on a single pipeline (KXL) for years, Buffet built a billion dollar rail dynasty with zero dissent. Today, more oil is being produced in North America than ever before. In 2013, rail delivered 407,761 carloads of crude (approx. 300 million barrels of oil). This amounts to more than a 4,000% increase from 9,500 carloads in 2008. [Source: The Association of American Railroads.] No one blinked an eye when on July 6, 2013 a train carrying Bakken Formation crude annihilated downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec killing 47, 5  of whom were literally vapourized. Many more environmental disasters and explosions due to crude-via-rail derailments would follow, as would more deaths.

Both framing and language is paramount in the social engineering of a global populace. Consider the media headlines for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) Divestment announcement that strategically coincided with the aforementioned “People’s Climate March” and the United Nations climate summit that followed in NYC on September 23, 2014. The words “Rockefellers”, “divest”, “$860 million”, and “$50 billion” flooded the media and social networks. The rash of  announcements were met with admiration by many. Yet upon closer inspection, the RBF (the smaller Rockefeller foundation founded in 1940) divested a portion (7%) of its 860 million-dollar fund, which is the equivalent of $60 million (within a 5-year period). The “50 billion” repeatedly cited was a reference to the multiple “philanthropies and high-wealth individuals” which/whom together owned $50 billion in assets and had pledged to divest from fossil fuels over five years “using a variety of approaches” since the campaign was launched in 2011 – with the RBF comprising part of the 50-group coalition (Global Divest-Invest Coalition) who made the announcement. One question which does not arise is this: why are “philanthropies and high-wealth individuals” (including 650 individuals and 180 institutions) who/which hoard/control/own $50 billion dollars, tolerated by society at all? Considering the divestment campaign sells itself as a “moral” issue, it is revealing that the ethics behind so few people controlling so much monetary wealth never comes into question.

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In 2014, global fossil fuel assets (oil, gas and coal) were valued at approx. $US 5-trillion. In comparison, assets belonging to Rockefeller Brothers Fund amount to approximately $US 860-million while the Rockefeller Foundation (founded in 1913) has assets of approximately $$US 4.2-billion (2014). And although the divestment campaign boasts that hundreds of institutions, local governments and individuals, (which represents over $US 50-billion in assets as of September 2014) have pledged to divest from fossil fuels, one must note that the Rockefeller Foundation— has shown no such desire. Nor have other powerful institutions/foundations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (with $US 9-billion in assets) or the David & Lucile Packard Foundation (with $US 7-billion in assets).

The heirs of the Rockefeller Family Fund (founded in 1967) maintain ties to the RFB. They also retained their personal stock in Exxon Mobil which made gains in 2014 of approx. 11%. While many believed that Exxon’s rejection of divestment was based upon fear of big money moving against it (i.e. “stranded assets“) – the Rockefeller Foundation and the RFF’s decision to hold onto their Exxon shares (along with the Rockefeller heirs) demonstrated that this premise was largely false.

Fast forward to 2015. How quickly things can change. November 13, 2015, Bloomberg: “OPEC reports the biggest oil glut in a decade.” As oil prices drop, demand/consumption continues to climb (globally by 1.8 million barrels per day to 94.6 million in 2015), while growth for the world economy continues to stand still. On October 1, 2015 it was reported that the according to the International Energy Agency, global oil demand was climbing at the fastest rate in five years. By December 2, 2016, committed pledges to divest from fossil fuels would reach $3.4 trillion. Floating oil storage (tankers), rolling oil storage (rail cars) and oil storage terminals became sought after commodities. On December 2, 2015, Bloomberg reported that the US is ploughing billions into infrastructure (with the various projects well underway) to pump the oil back underground into massive salt calverns, as well as additional storage facilities/terminals. Each calvern will hold 3.5 million barrels of oil.

Why? Not because of the divestment campaign, but rather because of a rare occurrence with a far greater significance. The global economy has become stagnant. Capitalism has reached it’s limits. And under the capitalist economic system, if the economy does not grow, it will collapse. Hence the need for new markets. Hence the need for a third industrial revolution. Hence the need for the global financialization of nature.

The Global Economy is Flying Close to Stall Speed

Oct 22, 2015:

“We are flying at close to stall speed,” Dr Summers said at the Center for American Progress business and economic policy conference.”

Rarely in our history does such a situation – to dismantle capitalism – present itself. Which begs the question – why are “movements” focused on saving the fledgling economic system rather than destroying it? The answer can be found in one word: privilege.

World Bank on Growth

“The expanding crisis is a symptom of capitalism in an advanced state of disintegration…. All of these crises are surface manifestations of something more profound: the crisis of the world capitalist system itself. This crisis brings with it the danger of world war and a descent into barbarism. At the same time, it creates the objective basis for the overthrow of the capitalist system—the radicalization of the working class internationally.” [Source]

So much for Naomi Klein’s primary thesis of “Capitalism vs. the Climate“. Those of you who believed the intent of Klein’s book project (financed by the elites) was to actually dismantle the capitalist system must be sorely disappointed.  With the industrialised economy now essentially on life support, the NPIC, in which Klein is embedded, is doing everything in its power to keep it alive.

Klein Reformist Capitalism 2

Public relations knocks. On March 23, 2016 the RFF (130 million in holdings, 6% of the portfolio in fossil-fuel investments) announced it would withdraw all investments in fossil fuel companies “as quickly as possible” while publicly highlighting concerns/criticisms of Exxon Mobil. Exxon Mobil became engulfed in a PR nightmare when in September of 2016, the corporation was internationally exposed for deliberately covering up critical climate documents decades ago.

The  effective (and well-deserved) slandering of Exxon timed with an historical global oil glut, served as a key opportunity for the insignificant RFF to bask the Rockefeller brand in the bright green spot light of divestment that 350.org et al. would bestow with zeal. A promise to divest “as quickly as possible” (allowing for up to 5 years) painted the ruthless and apathetic Rockefeller brand with one high-gloss, broad, green stroke.

Divest, Invest but Don’t Contest

Intermingled investment portfolios and limited partnerships are not required by law to disclose their investments and trading activities, thus, even large institutions  that may oblige to take divestment as an undertaking, will more often than not, have no comprehension, on any given day whether they are invested in fossil fuels or not. Further still,  for an institution to rid itself of all fossil fuel holdings (keeping in mind the reality that most every traded commodity on Earth is carbon based, carbon dependent or both, from cradle to grave), this would entail great caution presiding over a painfully slow process that ensures board members do not breach their fiduciary trust to keep the said fund solvent. In essence, this legal provision dictates that those who run corporations have a legal duty to shareholders first and foremost – a duty to maximize wealth (at every quarter) – infinitely. Not doing so can leave board directors and officers open to being sued by shareholders. It is telling that although the NPIC spends billions on environmental and climate campaigns, it does not seek/obtain legal council to abolish this outdated, ludicrous (and dangerous) law once and for all.

And while the atrocious act of corporations (protected by law) maximizing their profits for their shareholders, first and foremost, has been completely accepted and normalized, the racket of “interest” (money generating money; which was best described as the “fetishism of capital” by the economist Karl Marx, whose words are becoming more prescient everyday) has been firmly established in western society as an irrefutable fact of life – akin to breathing. And although it is understood by most that the payment of interest causes much hardship, stress and misery for the grossly exploited working class, the collective acclimatization to paying interest (to the rich) is so ingrained, it is difficult to imagine a society without it. And yet this exists in many societies throughout the Middle East (such as Libyan society before it’s grotesque annihilation led by the NATO States) via Islamic Banking Principles. Most American’s are likely unaware that Islam’s prohibition of interest and usury was not unprecedented. Renowned Greek philosopher, Aristotle, condemned acquiring of wealth by the practice of charging interest on money: “Money was intended to be a means of exchange; interest represents an increase in the money itself. Hence of all ways of getting wealth, this is the most contrary to nature.” Aristotle, The Politics, tr. Sinclair, pg. 46, Penguin [Source]

Clean Energy Infrastructure as Stranded Assets

To revisit the concept of stranded assets in regard to conventional fossil fuels, this notion is based upon the premise that conventional infrastructure and the associated commodity will become stranded following governments soon/eventual implementation of specific climate legislation [2] and/or increasingly stringent climate policies that would result in the commodity no longer being able to turn a profit– thus it would become stranded. Yet a stronger argument could be made for “clean” energy” infrastructure becoming stranded since it is also carbon based/dependent although this inconvenient truth remains unacknowledged in environmental circles. Consider the fact that climate science aside, humans are rapidly exhausting all Earth’s natural resources. (October, 2010: “…our demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966 and we’re using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities. If we continue living beyond the Earth’s limits, by 2030 we’ll need the equivalent of two planets’ productive capacity to meet our annual demands.”) And although this sounds ludicrous to the privileged who take most every aspect of the Earth’s life sources for granted, the warning is taken very seriously by the heads of NASA. Consider the response by Administrator of NASA, Charles Bolden speaking at the Humans to Mars summit:

“If this species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multi-planet species. We need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems.” (Note that the quest to place greenhouses on and colonize Mars is well underway.

Thus, let us assume that to start, by 2020, just 4 short years away, the 60 trillion (needed for “clean” infrastructure alone) is raised. The task then becomes the companies creating this infrastructure fulfilling the promise of return on these investments by now building/creating the new global infrastructure. Unparalleled quantities of rare earth metals must be mined (by machines dependent on crude). The steel, copper, glass, as well as the energy required (and fossil fuels) to build infrastructure of this scale will be unprecedented. And it will generate massive growth as our Earth continues to be plundered.

But what of the Earth’s resources being completely depleted by 2030 as predicted by scientists – what then of the sixty trillion dollar investment – with monetary returns no longer insight? These uncompleted infrastructures, due to depleted resources, will be, without doubt, stranded assets. It’s hard to believe we are going to use what little of Earth’s finite resources that remain to fulfil the promise of climate wealth, by building a new “clean energy” infrastructure, rather than radically conserving and attempting to nourish, what remains. Consider that a mere half of 1% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. is generated by wind, solar, biofuels, or geothermal heat. Despite much touted efforts in Germany, Spain, and China, globally, in 2013, 1.1% of the world’s total energy was provided by wind with only 0.2% by solar.[Source | Source] Thus, imagine the magnitude of infrastructure required to increase the world’s total energy from renewables up to even 50%. It is unfathomable. It is this promise of unparalleled growth (under the guise of sustainability) that has the insatiable capitalists circling the climate crisis like voracious vultures. Rubbing salt in the wound is the fact that this new infrastructure will serve the same people that have always had the energy – the same 1% (anyone who can afford to get on a plane) responsible for 50% of the global GHG emissions. To put this into perspective, consider that only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown. [Source]

While many scientists, including NASA, note that the prospect that “global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution”, the fact that sought after renewable systems such as solar thermal panels will not only push us towards this collapse but also, cannot exist outside of an industrialized civilization, appear to non-existent. The proverbial 8000 lb. elephant in the room is documented in a 2009 paper by professor of Atmospheric Studies at the University of Utah, Tim Garrett. Nov. 22, 2009: “In a provocative new study, a University of Utah scientist argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions – the major cause of global warming – cannot be stabilized unless the world’s economy collapses….”

“But most centrally, alternative energy spectacles protect us from considering our own growth, in consumption and population, which could not otherwise come to a peaceful end within the logic of the current expansionist milieu.” — Conjuring Clean Energy: Exposing Green Assumptions in Media and Academia, February 13, 2015

Let’s Pretend

But let’s pretend that Earth’s resources are infinite. It is assumed (foolishly) that fossil fuel power plants will be shut down once adequate solar and wind energy infrastructure is established. To date, there appears to be not a single example of a fossil fuel power plant that has closed, due to solar and wind. Under the industrialized capitalist system, logic conveys that this fact will not change in the future. In real life (not foundation financed campaigns that pander to public) the energy producers understand that all/any additional energy that may be produced via “renewables” will result in more energy to use/sell/waste and feed the engine of industrialized growth. This is the naked truth, which speaks to the very inconvenient truth upheld by the capitalist system. In a world built upon both denial and fantasy, techno-fetish made vogue, is the preferred choice.

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Post-closure coal mine AMD (acid mining drainage) treatment on the East Rand, South Africa (Source: Future Terrains)

All non-ambient energy creates pollution and destruction, including renewables which are carbon based and dependent on carbon resources from cradle to grave – coupled with built-in obsolescence by design. Even when small or local in scale, renewable energy aids and abets growth, accelerates global warming, and contributes to further ecological destruction. Further ecological damage is caused by rare earth mining, as well as the acid drainage type mining for the necessary materials and special metals such as copper and lead. Added to this ecological devastation are the fossil fuels required/used for the mining and manufacturing of the renewable products and infrastructure.  After the manufacturing they are transported using large-scale industrial equipment also dependent on crude. Finally, all these same resources are non-renewable. These very inconvenient facts are ignored. In a perfect world, in another time, perhaps renewable energies will be made of butterfly kisses and rare, precious Earth minerals will fall from the sky.

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Acid mine drainage in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

University of California physics professor Tom Murphy has calculated that “the batteries required to store this electricity in the U.S. alone (otherwise no electricity at night or during cloudy or windless spells) would require about three times as much lead as geologists estimate may exist in all reserves, most of which remain unknown.  If you count only the lead that we’ve actually discovered, Murphy explains, we only have 2% of the lead available for our national battery project.  The number are even more disheartening if you try to substitute lithium ion or other systems now only in the research phase.” [Source]

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Cyanide Leach Mining and Acid Mine Drainage imperils the Futaleufu River Valley. Mine Tailings, Sudbury Ontario, Canada, photo: Edward Burtnyski

To not consider renewable energy infrastructures, global in scale, as equally contributing to growth, ecological destruction and climate change is willful blindness. Such willful blindness is sought after and fervently embraced by the same 1% of the population that creates 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions today. Considering the magnitude of the task before us, it is little wonder we prefer stories, in which we write the script with a storyline of our liking. Our frail egos do not accept there are consequences to having plundered our planet in which the outcome will be dictated by nature.

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La Ventana Drilling Results, Sonora Lithium Project Mexico

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The brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat. This is the planet’s second largest salt flat, located in the Atacama desert of northern Chile

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Bingham Canyon Copper Mine | © 2005 Mark Gulbrandsen

Chuquicamata copper mine, Chile-Aerial view of Chuquicamata copper mine

Chuquicamata copper mine, Chile

“Debord wrote that “the society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist.” Perhaps he could have spoken similarly about modern energy or modern environmentalism. Debord’s spectacle is a divine deity around which duty-bound citizens gravitate to chant objectives without reflecting upon fundamental goals. It’s all too easy for us to miss the limitations of alternative energy, Debord might say, as we drop to our knees at the foot of the clean energy spectacle, gasping in rapture. This oracle delivers a ready-made creed of ideals and objectives that are convenient to recite and that bear the authority of science. These handy notions of clean energy reflexively work into environmental discourse. And as we have seen here, productivist environmentalists enroll media to tattoo wind, solar and biofuels into the subcutaneous flesh of the environmental movement. In fact, these novelties come to define what it means to be an environmentalist. And environmentalist’s aren’t the only ones lining up for ink.” — Conjuring Clean Energy: Exposing Green Assumptions in Media and Academia

Through the Lens of Deception – Burning Trees & Injecting C02 into Seas

co2 injected into seas

The Sleipner project: The injection rate of almost one million tons per year makes the project one of the largest demonstrations of CCS in the world to date.

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Aerial view of clearcut. Small clumps of trees left during clearcutting for biomass, in compliance with Nova Scotia’s Wildlife Habitat and Watercourse Protection Regulation © ECELAW- jamie Simpson

Divesting from fossil fuels and investing into a “clean economy” (for the wealthy) is predicated on market solutions. One such example is the pursuit of “clean coal”, which translates into the illusory carbon capture and storage technology and therefore ultimately translates into business as usual. The terminology “green energy” is equated with environmental stewardship and sustainability. Yet, behind closed doors, a large proportion of what corporations and states constitute as society’s perception of “green” energy is all but lost. A green energy plan or portfolio, as viewed by industry, investors, states, etc. is predominantly comprised of biomass and bio-fuel—by far two of the most damaging sources of energy. Yet under the guise of “clean energy” and the “new economy”, plans to expand these two deadly sources of energy continue to proliferate with the International Energy Agency (IEA) expecting a five-fold increase in wood-burning power plants and a threefold increase in biofuels by 2035. Another form of “clean energy” already taking place, unbeknownst to most all global citizens is the injection of CO2 into the ocean. Industry is already injecting CO2 on an industrial scale in the sandstone, in the North Sea and also in the Bering Sea in greater water depths. [Source]

Environmentalism is Dead – Replaced by Anthropocentrism

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The acquiescence to the burning of billions of trees under the guise of environmental stewardship is both particularly disturbing—and revealing. Consider that bio-fuel, that is the growing of crops/grains/plants for fuel rather than food, was challenged by many environmentalists in the past. Yet the same argument, with the same key issues when applied to growing grain for direct human consumption, rather than growing grain for industrialized livestock, which is then brought to the market for human consumption, is avoided at all costs. Two questions must be asked. When did “environmentalists” stop caring about sentient beings, and, when did “environmentalists” stop caring about trees?  The answer is 1) long ago, and 2) disturbing. Collectively, postmodern Western society has been acclimatized to believe/accept that anthropocentrism is environmentalism and anthropocentrists are environmental activists. This is an anthropocentrism that believes in, and caters to white supremacy, even if this belief is subconscious or subtle (aversive racism). This must be considered one of the best examples of successful social engineering to date, as financed by the world’s most powerful oligarchs.

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A modern day “radical” movement such as Black Lives Matter™ is a “movement” that would (and perhaps has) make a past revolutionary such as Stokley Carmichael roll over in his grave. Naomi Klein™ has never been and never will be a Marilyn  Buck – to even write the two names together in the same sentence feels sacrilege. The fierce revolutionaries that still exist, such as Omali Yeshitela are a rare, endangered species. Largely invisible behind the blinding light the oligarchs bask upon their chosen “leaders” such as McKibben™, Klein™ et al. The genocide being carried out against Indigenous leaders of warrior/matriarchal Indigenous tribes continues under the global dome of patriarchy. Euro-Americans who identify with those chosen by our oligarchs are more than happy to ignore the revolutionaries on the front lines of the struggle, ” demanding” (clicking) justice for those who toil in mines, while simultaneously demanding a new global infrastructure of “clean” energy absolutely dependent on steel, copper, lithium, rare Earth/precious minerals acquired only by land theft/displacement and  the expansion of mining. The fact that the miners use essentially none of what is mined for their own lives, that all is captured and used for the west, for luxury/lifestyle, doesn’t even cross the mind of the audience targeted by the NPIC. Critical thinking is a largely dead concept.

“If we had as many people fighting for the revolution as we have fighting for useless voting rights and re-enfranchisement we might actually have something going on here. That’s bourgeois democracy in a nutshell: people fighting for the right to be equally fucked by the system, as long as it’s not so flagrant as being denied one’s right to vote.” — Jeff Weinberger

The Sell

The simple answer is that the 1% creating 50% of the all global greenhouse gas emissions must use a radically less amount of everything. Of course this reality is far less exciting than the dream of a consumerist green utopia. Impressing this green utopia as delusional upon the masses is even more difficult when collectively, your target audience has been spoon-fed entitlement, narcissism and privilege, since birth. The necessity to radically and drastically cut back all forms of consumption (which by default reduces demand for energy) flies in the face of a global economy intermarried and dependent upon infinite growth. Under the industrialized capitalist economy – no solutions outside of market solutions will be pursued or campaigned upon. Thus society, with youth as the sacrificial lambs of the 21st century at the forefront, is fed a lie – which is voraciously consumed. The path to “sustainability” is to follow the oligarchs yellow brick road to the “new” economy— paved in foundation dollars. The necessity for a radical contraction of consumption by the privileged is replaced with “solutions” comprised of more infrastructures, more technology, “green” consumption, more mining, more burning of fossil fuels, more growth—all of which will benefit (only in the short-term) the same 1% who have created and continue to accelerate the nightmare. Ask us for the moon. Even for Mars. But don’t ask us to change.

Bearing Witness. The Foundation is Laid. Assigning Monetary Value to Nature.

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“Those who have been raised in the world of conservation may find it hard to adjust to a future where ecosystem assets and services are priced, invested in and traded, but this is an experiment that the world is now embarked upon—and must energetically pursue.” — The Biosphere Economy, 2010

On October 3, 1937 US President Franklyn D. Roosevelt, wrote that he found an editorial published by a “Great Falls Paper” on the “balancing the budget of our resources”, most compelling. Of course it is extremely doubtful (but not impossible) that Roosevelt’s interest was of pathological intent as is the case today. In the same vein as the funding/development of genetically engineered Golden Rice having commenced decades ago, the economic system/infrastructure for the commodification of all nature is not a new idea.

The concept of an ecosystem was first used in 1935. The term ecosystem was coined by British botanist Arthur Roy Clapham, at the bequest of British ecologist Arthur Tansley. In 1953 leading ecosystem ecologists Eugene P. Odum and Howard T. Odum (brothers ) published Fundamentals of Ecology. This publication (one of the most successful ecology textbooks ever published) made the ecosystem concept the central organizing principle of ecology. In 1970 Merton Love, agronomist and range scientist at the University of California, Davis, argued that “in time we would be able to manage wilderness much as we had learned to manage our agricultural systems. His vision was of total human control over ecosystems.” [Source]

The concept/theory of ecosystem services was not fully utilized until the 1980s and 1990s. A milestone in the monetization of ecosystem services (ES) was reached in 1997 when Costanza et al. published a dollar estimate of the value of the ES of the entire planet. [Source: Have Ecosystem Services Been Oversold?] The theory was formalized in 2005 upon the publication of UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report. While the original definition put forward by Gretchen Daily (co-founder of the Natural Capital Project) distinguished  ecosystem goods from ecosystem services, Robert Costanza and colleagues’ later work and that of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment lumped all of these together as ecosystem services. [3]

As an adjunct to more easily enable people to accept this lunacy being pawned off as fact, the NPIC is most adept at co-opting and sanitizing civil rights leaders such as MLK in order to further their brand. They steal the legitimacy and credibility of those now deceased to facilitate the present credibility and legitimacy of their efforts they cannot achieve on their own. Simply because they can truly possess neither by any rationale, unbiased analysis. How grotesque it is to destroy someone’s work, reputation and legacy when they are not even here to defend themselves. Perhaps nowhere has such gross co-optation occurred as what is now underway with the work of E.F. Schumacher. The very thing he strongly opposed – assigning monetary value to nature, is now being pushed forward and implemented by institutions who affiliate themselves with his name and work.

The term ‘natural capital’ was first used by in 1973 by economist and author E.F. Schumacher. There is irony in the fact that Schumacher was very critical of the ideology behind reducing everything in life to a monetary value within a market-based framework, stating that:

“In the market place, for practical reasons, innumerable qualitative distinctions which are of vital importance for man and society are suppressed; they are not allowed to surface. Thus the reign of quantity celebrates its greatest triumphs in ‘The Market’. Everything is equated with everything else. To equate things means to give them a price and thus to make them exchangeable. To the extent that economic thinking is based on the market, it takes the sacredness out of life, because there can be nothing sacred in something that has a price. Not surprisingly, therefore, if economic thinking pervades the whole of society. even simple non-economic values like beauty, health, or cleanliness can survive only if they prove to be ‘economic’.

To press non-economic values into the framework of the economic calculus, economists use the method of cost/benefit analysis. This is generally thought to be an enlightened and progressive development, as it is at least an attempt to take account of costs and benefits which might otherwise be disregarded al- together. In fact, however, it is a procedure by which the higher is reduced to the level of the lower and the priceless is given a price, It can therefore never serve to clarify the situation and lead to an enlightened decision. All it can do is lead to self-deception or the deception of others; for to undertake to measure the immeasurable is absurd and constitutes but an elaborate method of moving from preconceived notions to foregone conclusions; all one has to do to obtain the desired results is to impute suitable values to the immeasurable costs and benefits. The logical absurdity, however, is not the greatest fault of the undertaking: what is worse, and destructive of civilisation, is the pretence that everything has a price or, in other words, that money is the highest of all values.” [Source: Small is Beautiful, 1973]

Further irony arises with Schumacher’s name being co-opted by the NPIC as a key tool to build acquiescence for the assigning of monetary value to nature, with key players assigned to this task such as Bill McKibben (The Next System) who wrote a new forward for the 2010 edition of Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful first published in 1973. In the decade that followed, the recently “killed” (“we’re going to have to kill green,” Jeremy Heimans) term “green economy” was coined in the Blueprint for a Green Economy (paper by Pearce, Markandya, and Barbier (1989). Today the term “natural capital” is identified as the Natural Capitalism economic model of “climate wealth” proponents Paul Hawken [676], Amory Lovins, and Hunter Lovins who  in 1999 released their book: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Hawken claimed that the term natural capitalism was misinterpreted adding that while he endorses “the spirit” of commerce and entrepreneurship, he does not endorse the “pathological” qualities inherent in “pure” capitalism.” The Natural Capitalism website states “it seems proper to declare that interest by listing our personal and institutional private-sector clienteles (omitting our larger public-sector and non-profit clienteles) during the past decade, which dates the (public) commencement of the project back to 1989—27 years ago.

“…we’ll build the green economy, but we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.” —Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose co-founder, B Team), 2012

Natural Capitalism, Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Website:

“Our research and work were partly supported by grants from the Surdna, Columbia, Geraldine R. Dodge, MacArthur, Energy, Joyce, Aria, William and Flora Hewlett, Sun Hill, Charles Stewart Mott, Turner, and Goldman foundations, as well as the Educational Foundation of America, Environmental Protection Agency, G.A.G. Charitable Corporation, Merck Family Fund, J. M. Kaplan Fund, and Wallace Global Fund. Our appreciation for this support extends far beyond the publication of this book. These and other funders are investing in the preservation and restoration of the life on this planet, and are leaders all.”

It must be noted here that many of these same foundations are today at the forefront of the now global divestment campaign with Wallace Global Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the John Merck Fund, and at the forefront.

The full list of those involved/associated with the development of Natural Capitalism is both immense and incomplete. Personal and institutional private-sector clienteles (not including larger public-sector and non-profit clienteles):

Aerovironment, American Development Group, Arthur D. Little, Ashland Chemical, Aspen Ski Co., Atlantic Electric, AT&T, Baxter, Bayernwerk, Bechtel, Ben & Jerry’s, Bosal, Boston Consulting Group, Boston Edison, BP, Calvert, Carrier div. of UTC, Cesar Pelli, CH2M Hill, Ciba-Geigy, Citicorp, Collins & Aikman, ComEd, Continental Office, Daimler-Chrysler, Datafusion, Delphi, Diamonex, Dow Chemical, Emmett Realty, Esprit de Corps, First Chicago Building, Florida P&L, General Mills, GM, Gensler, Global Business Network, Grand Wailea Resort, Herman Miller, Hexcel, Hines, Honda, Hong Kong Electric, HP, IBM, Imagine Foods, Interface, Landis & Gyr, Levi Strauss & Co., Lockheed Martin, Michelin, Minnesota Power, Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Motor Sales America, Monsanto, Motorola, Nike, Nissan, Nokia, Norsk Hydro, Northface, NYSE&G, Odwalla, Ontario Hydro, OG&E, Osaka Gas, Patagonia, PG&E, PGE, Phillips Petroleum, Prince div. of Johnson Controls, Rieter, Royal Dutch/Shell, Sage J.B. Goodman Properties, Schott Glas, Schweizer, SDG&E, Searle, Shearson Lehmann Amex, STMicroelectronics, Stonyfield Farms, Sun Microsystems, Sun [Oil], Swiss Bank Corp./UBS, UniDev, Unipart, US West, Volvo, VW, Xerox, and Zoltek.

Prior to the formation and development of Natural Capitalism as an economic model, Natural Capitalism authors Amory Lovins, and Hunter Lovins, co-founded Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) in 1982. In December of 2014 RMI merged with Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room. [“RMI now has approximately 75 full-time staff, an annual budget of $12 million, and a global reach and reputation. RMI advances market-based solutions, engaging businesses, communities, and institutions to cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables. We employ rigorous research, analysis, and whole-systems expertise to develop breakthrough insights. We then convene and collaborate with diverse partners—business, government, academic, nonprofit, philanthropic, and military—to accelerate and scale solutions.”]

The predominant terminology that appears today, “ecosystem services”, “natural capital”, the “biosphere economy”, “The Next System“, “regenerative capitalism”, “new economy”, etc. can be viewed as the decided-upon, politically correct terms identified by marketing executives as the terminology most palpable (and non-alarming) to global citizens – ready for public consumption after 27 years of meticulous finesse.

Note that the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) contains the internationally agreed upon standard concepts, definitions, classifications, accounting rules and tables for producing internationally comparable statistics on the environment and its relationship with the economy. Coordination of the implementation of the SEEA and on-going work on new methodological developments is managed and supervised by the UN Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (UNCEEA). The final, official version of the SEEA Central Framework was published in February 2014. [“The UNCEEA is a body composed of senior representatives from national statistical offices and international organizations. The SEEA Central Framework was released jointly by the UN, European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.”] Other key organizations behind the commodification of the commons include the Natural Capital Coalition and the Natural Capital Declaration and Roadmap, Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVE) and scores of others (many to be discussed further in this report). Many organizations/institutions/NGOs serve as instrumental in the development and implementation of the financialization of nature/payments for ecosystem services (PES)while most all environmental NGOS serve the over-all goal by providing simple distraction, silence and discourse.

The steadfast work in the goal to commodify the commons is not far off in the future. It is well underway. The ties and organizations to manifest this goal into a global reality are complex and convoluted hidden behind a marketed narrative. A narrative that global citizens will unite behind in the demand for a “new  economy”.

Never has the phrase “be careful what you wish for’ been so apt and prophetic.

“The NPIC’S networked hegemony is propagated with a perversion of bio-mimicry. The complexity of the tangled and institutionalised tendrils make it virtually incomprehensible.” — activist/journalist Michael Swifte

The goal to capture the commons has been heavily financed and under development for at minimum 27 years (the “gradual strategy”).  As previously stated, the schemes, campaigns and ideologies that foundations support via finance (i.e. investment), are always systematic, never haphazard. Thus, it stands to logic that a long-term strategy may well be the complete and total capture/control of the Earth’s remaining water (via privatization), food (via genetic engineering), forests (via REDD), all life (via privatization/financialization of nature/PES), and the Earths remaining fossil fuels (via divestment). Divestment could well be the ultimate long con. The elite give the windmills, solar panels and the “clean energy” portfolios to the liberals and the 1% status quo, (note that this encompasses 90 trillion between now and 2030 that is required for planned mega-infrastructure projects, which is up from initial estimates of $60-70 trillion as of 2015) while behind private investments, hedge funds and closed doors, the global super elite will invest/capture and control the planets most valuable remaining natural resources (all required for the “third industrial revolution”) as we spin into climate chaos.

Although such a hypothesis may seem a bit far-fetched to some, it is not inconceivable considering foundations and think-tanks lead in the intense study of, and shaping of, behavioural change. These same foundations/institutions have not only shaped whole societies, they have designed, thus altered the history of modern man. We are a socially-engineered species; a product of social engineering rather than a process of having evolved naturally. The time involved in commercializing all aspects of society until saturation was achieved amongst the populace (ensuring tomorrow’s ‘consumers’ would submissively acquiesce to an ideology of mass-commodification and privatization) would have been well-understood by foundations and think-tanks alike. Considering the 21st century explosion of land and water grabs that has gone hand in hand with little public interest shown (let alone dissent) in the race to privatize and commodify the Earth’s remaining commons, such a hypothesis is deserving of both consideration and further investigation. One thing is certain: there is nothing in progress today that has not been tactically designed and deployed to quench the desires and expectations of the elite establishment.

iphone-evolution-4-638

To illustrate and give credence to this hypothesis, it is somewhat fascinating to note the following occurrence. In 1996, Public Good uncovered legal papers linking Fortuna Alliance (previously Whole Earth Alliance) to the Constitutionalist movement. The resultant action by the Federal Trade Commission was the largest ever taken involving fraud on the Internet. The white supremacist Christian Patriot pyramid scheme at the time was raking in millions from gullible New Agers who thought they were building “a new world economy“. [Source] The point being, language and framing have long been perhaps the most critical of efficacious strategies exploited by the elites. Media, employing the right language and repetition, can effectively and effortlessly seduce and manipulate an entire populace.

 

Divestment Timeline:

  • 350.org “Do The Math Tour” (lays the foundation for a illusory carbon budget and divestment campaign)
  • McKibben and Klein (350.org board member) create/develop the divestment campaign based on the 2011 Carbon Tracker report (Financial Times)
  • Those inside the 350.org organization, state that the divestment campaign was developed in consultation with their “friends on Wall Street”
  • Divestment campaign launched November 7, 2012
  • Establish framing and language: carbon budget, carbon bubble (coined by Carbon Tracker), stranded assets,
  • Saturate media with carbon bubble/stranded assets and carbon budget articles [Example: The Guardian: Countries most exposed to the carbon bubble – map, April 19, 2013 – The term carbon bubble on The Guardian website generates “about 16,300 results” accessed March 17, 2015
  • The term stranded assets on The Guardian website generates “about 1,890 results” accessed March 17, 2015
  • The term carbon budget on The Guardian website generates “about 8,530 results” accessed March 17, 2015
  • Hype notion that conventional fossil fuels will lose all value in near future despite the fact that the sought-after “clean energy economy” is infinitely carbon based and fossil fuel dependent
  • Ignore fact the fact that 1% of the world are creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (the target audience)
  • Institutions endorse carbon bubble/ stranded assets and carbon budget ideologies
  • The final, official version of the SEEA Central Framework published (February 2014)
  • International media announcement/hype on divestment follows Peoples Climate March (September 2014)
  • Coincides with 350.org’s Klein’s book release This Changes Everything (September 2014)
  • The IMF and World Bank Group, identify a reduction in the growth of the global economy as a primary risk to the world (October 10, 2014)
  • Can long-term global growth be saved? (January 2015, McKinsey and Company)
  • Naomi Klein (350.org) and documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis partner with The Guardian (March 10, 2015)
  • The United Nations endorses the now global divestment campaign (March 15, 2015)
  • 350.org partners with The Guardian (March 16, 2015)
  • Media-industrial complex manufactures super-star influential celebrity status for both McKibben and Klein
  • “The global economy is in serious trouble as emerging markets have basically taken a major turn down. We are flying at close to stall speed.” (Larry Summers, Financial Review, October 22, 2015)

 

End Notes:

[1] 350.org, now international in scope which continues to be referred to as a “grassroots” movement, despite the injection of millions from its nefarious silent partner, the Clinton Foundation (via 1Sky) at its inception and ongoing funding from the oligarchs in the millions.

[2] (by way of an internationally agreed upon carbon price or other policies such as increased regulations and associated costs/fees on issues such as pollution/environment, water consumption, public health, energy efficiency and mandates for renewable energy.)

[3] Brown, Thomas C.; John C. Bergstrom; John B. Loomis (2007). “Defining, valuing and providing ecosystem goods and services” (PDF). Natural Resources Journal 47 (2): 329–376

Buffett’s Grandson Seeks Own Investment Route: Social Change

New York Times

November 19, 2015

By David Gelles

 

“It’s about taking the potential for capitalism to the next level.”

 

Howard Warren Buffett, left, the grandson of Warren E. Buffett, and Trevor Neilson co-founded i(x) Investments. Credit Brian Lehmann for The New York Times

At 32, Howard Warren Buffett, the grandson of the Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren E. Buffett, has already enjoyed a diverse career.

He teaches at Columbia University, runs a farm in Nebraska, previously oversaw his family’s foundation and worked on economic redevelopment efforts in Afghanistan for the Defense Department.

So far, however, he has steered clear of the private sector investing that made his family’s famous name and enormous fortune.

Now, that is changing. Mr. Buffett has co-founded a permanently capitalized operating company with big ambitions — essentially mimicking the structure of Berkshire Hathaway, the $328 billion conglomerate that owns everything from railways to candy makers.

Warren E. Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway. Credit Nati Harnik/Associated Press

“I’m looking for that sweet spot,” Mr. Buffett said. “How do we improve society through these investments? How can we be creative with capital to address some of the greatest human needs?”

Mr. Buffett’s co-founder at i(x) is Trevor Neilson, who has had a similarly diverse career. Most recently president of the financial services firm G2 Investment Group, Mr. Neilson previously was the director of public affairs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and served on President Bill Clinton’s advance team.

Mr. Neilson, who will serve as chief executive, also framed the new firm’s mission as a question: “How do you harness the power of business to create social change?”

Though the company is just getting started, the founders are already talking a big game. Mr. Neilson said that friends and strategic partners were investing $2 million to $5 million this year.

Next year, he said, i(x) will accept $200 million from family offices, institutional investors and big companies. Mr. Neilson is on a road show of sorts, pitching i(x) to venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz and tech companies like Google.

Mr. Neilson is similarly ambitious when imagining how i(x) will deploy all that capital. He said the plan was to start slow this year, taking small stakes in early-stage companies. But he hopes the firm eventually will make investments worth $100 million each year. The goal is to file for an initial public offering by 2020.

So far, i(x) has not made one investment, though Mr. Neilson said the firm was close to taking its first two stakes.

Neilson1

Celebrities for Foreign Policy: Trevor Neilson, philanthropic adviser to the stars. Photo: Neilson at far right, pictured with Richard Holbrooke, far left, Angelina Jolie, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton in September 2005.  Ho New / courtesy Reuters.

One likely portfolio company breeds crickets to produce food for chickens and fish, a more ecologically sound, if somewhat unpleasant-sounding, alternative to traditional feedstocks like corn. Another likely investment will be in Skywater, which makes machines that turn natural humidity into drinking water. Some investments, such as one being considered in the solar energy financing company True Green Capital, could be as large as $100 million each.

Though such companies may sound futuristic, Mr. Neilson and Mr. Buffett believe there is a growing market for these products, and growing appetite to finance such endeavors. Investors, they say, are increasingly factoring ethics into their decision-making.

It was only in recent decades that some investors began avoiding certain morally dubious companies and sectors — hence the divestiture campaigns that focused on companies doing business in South Africa in its apartheid era and more recently have taken aim at fossil fuel producers and gun manufacturers.

Now, the i(x) founders say, investors want to put their capital to work in ways that will not simply avoid doing bad, but actually do some good in the world.

“Investors in the past haven’t seen their investments as an expression of their values,” Mr. Neilson said. “There is an evolving consciousness in the world which presents an historic opportunity for both social change, and profit.”

As i(x) gets underway, Berkshire Hathaway is under scrutiny for investing in enterprises whose products have drawn criticism over social issues.

Berkshire Hathaway is a large shareholder of Coca-Cola, and the elder Mr. Buffett regularly professes his love for junk food, even as American eating habits are changing to healthier fare. This month, the hedge fund manager William A. Ackman, trading public barbs with the Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman, Charlie Munger, said Coca-Cola had “caused enormous damage to society.”

Berkshire Hathaway also controls Clayton Homes, the nation’s largest homebuilder, which has been accused of preying on the poor. And it owns BNSF Railway, which runs pollutant-spewing trains and transports coal, other fossil fuels and hazardous materials.

Mr. Buffett said that he had not asked his grandfather for advice or money while starting i(x). Neither his father, Howard G. Buffett, who focuses on the family foundation, nor his grandfather is an investor.

“I’m very careful about what I bring in front of each of them, and even more careful about how I portray that publicly,” Mr. Buffett said.

Mr. Buffett said he told Mr. Neilson: “Don’t expect we’re going to be calling Warren up on the phone and getting input on this.”

But it is no coincidence that i(x) is structured as a permanently capitalized operating company. That structure — essentially a holding company that owns independently operated companies, and stakes in others — has allowed Berkshire Hathaway to become one of the most valuable enterprises on earth.

Unlike a private equity firm, which buys and sells companies, Berkshire Hathaway buys and holds. And instead of taking 20 percent of profits for himself and other managers, Warren E. Buffett reinvests profits into the company.

“Compound interest is the miracle of Berkshire Hathaway,” said Todd Morley, a co-founder of Guggenheim Partners, the investment firm with $300 billion in assets, and also founder of G2 Investment Group. G2 is investing in i(x), and Mr. Morley will be an adviser to the firm.

Buying and holding companies, rather than selling them, also allows conglomerates to defer costly tax payments.

“It’s actually the architecture of a permanent capitalized operation company, the ability to compound and defer, that becomes the alpha generator,” Mr. Morley said. “That is why Berkshire has outperformed the S.&P. by absurd percentages.”

Because i(x) will be investing in nascent technologies, a long-term horizon is particularly important.

“A fund structure, with its finite life cycle and investors wanting to see returns, is not the right model for impact investing,” Mr. Neilson said. “The world’s biggest problems have to be addressed through sustained investment.”

In addition to helping find and screen investment opportunities, Mr. Buffett’s role at i(x) will be focused on devising systems by which to measure the contributions to society.

For Mr. Buffett, who has thus far spent most of his career in the public sector and academia, the decision to start a permanently capitalized operating company was not an entirely obvious choice, but one that took full advantage of his family’s legacy.

“Howard is on a search to find where he can have the most impact,” said William B. Eimicke, a professor at Columbia University who taught Mr. Buffett, and now teaches a class jointly with him. “This is an actualization of where he’s been focused.”

For Mr. Buffett, the hope is that i(x) will essentially become a baby Berkshire Hathaway with a conscience.

“We’re looking at the long-term horizon and investments that are doing more than avoiding bad, but are actually trying to improve the world,” Mr. Buffett said. “It’s about taking the potential for capitalism to the next level.”

Clean Energy Ponzi Scheme

Public Good Project

December 4, 2015

By Jay Taber

Charles Ponzi 2

Charles Ponzi, 1920

The ‘clean energy’ Ponzi scheme by nuclear power investor Bill Gates needs cheerleaders. Spreading money around to media, environmental groups and think tanks that supply them with ideas creates a a fixed mentality.

The sad part is that in order to speak small truths, which many NGOs do, they have to keep quiet about the big lies. The money they get from foundations like TIDES is sometimes tainted, sometimes not, but always there is the unspoken understanding: for serious fraud, they can count on the usual suspects.

It is, however, well-known that TIDES launders a lot of money for evil people, in order to dominate discourse, compromise NGOs and marginalize authentic activists. Here’s a case study from 2009.

It is challenging to dissect a thoroughly corrupt philanthropic system without offending good people caught up in it. Many don’t understand how they are being used to support serious fraud by the financial elite. Yet, they never question the elite agenda, which shows that money talks in our rave new world.

All cons begin with a small truth, followed by a big lie. The bigger the lie, the more they believe. By supporting the ‘new economy’ and ‘clean energy’ cons, compromised NGOs demonstrate that sustaining privatization is child’s play.

 

 

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

 

The Climate Chief, the Summit, and the Silence

We Suspect Silence

May 20, 2015

by Michael Swifte

Last week Christiana Figueres spoke at the 2nd annual Australian Emissions Reduction Summit. While she did not include carbon capture and storage in the body of her speech she did take the opportunity during the Q&A section to speak to the importance of investment in fossil fuel based carbon capture and storage. Strangely her statements were in response to a question about the urgency of beginning “draw down” using “natural” methods including BioCCS.

Christiana Figueres' comments place her on record with the majority of energy secretaries, CEO's, and climate negotiation leaders as being in favour of expansion of CCS.

Given that fossil fuel based carbon capture, storage, and utilisation threatens to give fossil fools and rampant consumption a promising future, it’s worth asking who took notice of the climate chief’s comments and who met them with silence?

CO2 CRC is chaired by former Australian Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson.

Of the legions of staffers, public servants, and politicians who are traded with the mining, extraction, and energy generation industries in Australia, Martin Ferguson is clearly the highest profile. His controversial move to join the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association was followed early this year with his appointment as chair of leading carbon capture and storage research centre (which he opened as minister in 2008) CO2 CRC.

So who was silent? From what I can gather, everyone. Nothing from the BigGreen pundits, and the Guardian and Fairfax reported that the climate chief signaled an end for coal?

Here’s a link to the video of the UN chief’s address titled: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres’ address to the 2nd Australian Emissions Reduction Summit. Go to 44.50 for CCS comments.

UPDATE: Friday June 19, 2015

The Christiana Figueres CCS meme above was recently posted by @SaskPowerCCS I’m happy for them to use my meme without credit. They represent the only commercial CCS with CO2 for EOR complex in the world. Their enthusiastic support for the UNFCCC chief’s comments speaks volumes.

screenshot.827

To me it is clear that the UN climate chief’s comments were tailored for the people who know that the real game lies in the continuation of coal mining, and sucking oil and gas under the nebulous cloak of “clean energy”.

 

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