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Conjuring Clean Energy: Exposing Green Assumptions in Media and Academia

 

“Productivism or growthism is the belief that measurable economic productivity and growth are the purpose of human organization (e.g., work), and that ‘more production is necessarily good'”.

 

February 13, 2015

 

Excerpts from the research paper “Conjuring Clean Energy: Exposing Green Assumptions in Media and Academia” by by Ozzie Zehner

 

Excerpt from “How productivism infiltrates media“:

Some media outlets will directly reprint special interest group “content” under their own masthead. The Detroit Free Press has directly published materials prepared by a branding firm called “Issue Media Group,” which is dedicated to “creating new narratives” that promote growth and investment (Issue Media Group, 2014). Alternet, Salon.com and   Alternet, Salon.com and Truthout have published material written by “Global Possibilities,” a special interest group funded in part by the oil company BP and a group of automotive and energy industrialists represented through The Energy Foundation (Global Possibilities, 2013).Truthout have published material written by “Global Possibilities,” a special interest group funded in part by the oil company BP and a group of automotive and energy industrialists represented through The Energy Foundation (Global Possibilities, 2013). The special interest group “Inside Climate News,” funded in part through The Energy Foundation, the Rockefellers and other productivist interests, claims to publish through numerous media brands including the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Business Week, The Weather Channel, The Guardian and the McClatchy Group, a conglomerate of 30 daily newspapers across the USA (Inside Climate News, 2014). Special interest groups commission their articles from within a sphere of private, typically business, interest. Readers and viewers have a difficult time distinguishing between such sponsored content and traditional independent journalism Figure 9.

Rebranding Productivism 2

Excerpt from “Conclusion: crisis of the productivist ethos during contraction“:

Set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, alternative energy technologies shimmer with hope for a cleaner, better future. Alternative energy technologies appear to be generating a small, yet enticing, impact on our energy system, making it easier for us to envision solar-powered transporters flying around gleaming spires of the future metropolis. Understandably, we like that. These visions are certainly more pleasant than imagining food shortages, land decimation, economic disintegration and conflict, which we might otherwise associate with fossil fuel scarcity. The immediate problem, it seems, is not that we will run out of fossil fuel sources any time soon, but that the places we tap for these resources – tar sands, deep sea beds and wildlife preserves – will constitute a much dirtier, more risky and far more expensive portfolio of fossil fuel choices in the future. Certainly alternative energy technologies seem an alluring solution to this challenge. And while this is a pristine and alluring vision, might it also be a deadly distraction?

Debord (1970, p. 14) 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.   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.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.

Every news article, congressional committee hearing, textbook entry and bumper sticker creates an occasion for the visibility of solar cells, wind power and other productivist technologies. Numerous actors draw upon these moments of visibility to articulate paths these technologies ought to follow. First, diverse groups draw upon flexible clean-energy definitions to attract support. Then they roughly sculpt energy options into more appealing promises – not through experimentation, but by planning, rehearsing and staging media demonstrations. Next, lobbyists, foundations and PR teams transfer the promises into compelling stories, legislative frameworks and eventually necessities for engineers to pursue. What happens to our analyses of “innovation” if we frame “innovators” as skilled, or perhaps unwitting, “conjurers” of an illusion of abundance?

A consequence of alternative energy visibility-making appears to be the necessary invisibility of other options. There’s only so much room on the stage. Energy reduction strategies, degrowth, economic contraction and other decline pathways remind people of their reliance on finite resources, or their own vulnerability to the imminent contraction. In ominous times, might individuals invest their enthusiasm into alternative energy narratives, thereby allowing themselves to cognitively avoid existential threats and circumvent otherwise undesirable reckonings?

Perhaps we have forged magnificent energy spectacles only to cast ourselves as climatic superheroes within the late stages of an illusion of abundance. If so, then these spectacles have come to protect us from questions about our own culpability in ecosystem decline. Green technologies bypass worries of raw material scarcity, as they exist in our minds apart from fossil fuel and extractive industry. They ease our anxieties about increasing levels of CO2 so long as we faithfully believe that they are carbon-free undertakings. 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.

 

Download the paper: https://www.academia.edu/9599130/Conjuring_Clean_Energy_Exposing_Green_Assumptions_in_Media_and_Academia

 

[Ozzie Zehner is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley STSC and author of Green Illusions (GreenIllusions.org).  He has written for academic and mainstream publications including Christian Science Monitor, The American Scholar, The Hill, UTNE, Truthout, ARTE, IEEE Spectrum, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and other publications. He regularly guest lectures at universities and serves as a reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Ozzie is also a founding collaborator for a research and media nonprofit that will launch in San Francisco in 2015. ]

Cowspiracy: The Film that the World’s Most Powerful NGOs Don’t Want You To See

 

“When Cowspiracy was being made none of the major conservation or environmental groups would cooperate or support the position that the meat industry is the major contributor to climate change, to the wastage of water, to the pollution of groundwater and to the destruction of bio-diversity in the oceans.” – Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd

 

COWSPIRACY: “The Sustainability Secret (http://cowspiracy.com) is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it.”


 

EcoWatch

October 10, 2014

by Ward Pallotta

Cowspiracy Exposes the Truth About Animal Agriculture

A recent documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, asks why most leading environmental organizations are ignoring a leading cause of environmental damage.

In 90 minutes, co-producers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn argue that our institutional and individual attention to selected environmental issues will not make a collective difference unless we also confront the realities of animal agriculture. Animal agriculture’s environmental effects are so pervasive that apparent progress elsewhere cannot counter its destructive and growing impact.

The film suggests why protection for expanded areas of the ocean will not protect oceans or ocean animals. Growing food organically, even on a commercial scale, will not protect the land. Keeping lumber operations out of the Amazon will not save the rainforest.

Making homes more water efficient and taking short showers will not make more water available. Driving electric cars will not solve the carbon emissions problem. Installing LED lights and converting to renewable energy will not stop global warming.

Here is some of the data gathered by the producers and woven into this powerful film.

Animal agriculture uses 55 percent of the water in the U.S. American homes use five percent. One thousand gallons of water are needed to produce 1 gallon of milk. Two thousand five hundred gallons of water are needed to make one pound of beef. Growing water shortages make animal agriculture unsustainable.

Livestock uses 30 percent of the Earth’s total land mass, including nearly 50 percent of the U.S. mainland. The growing demand for animal farmland is responsible for 80 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction. (Palm oil production is second). With 160-million acres cleared or degraded annually for the animal industry, 40 percent of the rainforest will be destroyed in 20 years, affecting species survival and carbon sequestration.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. All forms of land, air and ocean transportation total 13 percent. Transportation industry air pollution is overshadowed by animal agriculture air pollution.

Seventy billion animals are raised annually worldwide. Everyday 144 million animals are killed for food. U.S. farm animals produce 7 million pounds of excrement every minute. Our lakes, oceans and psyches cannot sustain animal agriculture.

Too many environmental groups are dodging this issue, but the cattle industry is steaming. One cattle association blogger reminds its members that it also takes a lot of water to make a T-shirt or produce a car.

Seventy-five percent of Americans consider themselves environmentalists. Only 5 percent of Americans are vegetarian or vegan, however their percentage has quintupled in five years.

The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat each year. Everyday, a person that eats a plant-based diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq. ft. of forested land, the equivalent of 20 lbs. of CO2 and one animal’s life.

This issue is an environmental advocate’s dream come true. It requires no political action money, no corporate boardroom decisions, no re-negotiated food policy, no tax incentives. When we eat meat, dairy and eggs, we feed this growing catastrophe. Change will happen as quickly as we convince each other to change what we eat. While producing his film, Kip Andersen became a vegan.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret was self-funded by the producers and crowdfunded via Indiegogo. The marketing efforts for the film depends on community organizations to sponsor the film, promote ticket sales through their networks and fill a local theater. They bear no cost, only effort, and it is working. Cowspiracy showings are accelerating all over the country—during the last two weeks in October, the film will be seen in 35 locations.

Click here for a list of upcoming events or to host a screening.

 

[Ward Pallotta is retired from social justice, nonprofit fundraising in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his life partner, Ann Urick, are members of VegSarasota and Transition Sarasota in Sarasota, Florida, and are advocates for safe and healthy food. Nine years ago they realized they were eating dangerously and switched to a plant-based diet.]

 

The Four Degrees [Book Review: Don’t Even Think about It & This Changes Everything]

  • Don’t Even Think about It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change by George Marshall
    Bloomsbury, 272 pp, £20.00, October 2014, ISBN 978 1 62040 133 0

 

  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism v. The Climate by Naomi Klein
    Allen Lane, 576 pp, £20.00, September 2014, ISBN 978 1 84614 505 6

 

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It was at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that governments first agreed to do something about climate change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, agreed at the summit, committed the wealthiest nations to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’. But the treaty wasn’t binding, so nothing changed and emissions continued to rise in line with the economic growth to which the wealthiest nations were also committed.

The UN tried again in 1997. Nearly two hundred countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, which contained legally binding targets for emissions reductions. But the world’s biggest emitter, the US, never ratified the protocol, and the fastest growing developing countries, including China, Brazil and India, had no targets imposed on them. Many of the Kyoto signatory nations did manage reductions, but they accounted for only a third of global emissions – which, as before, kept rising. In 2009, the much vaunted climate summit in Copenhagen, which was intended to agree binding global targets to come into effect from 2012, collapsed in disarray, sabotaged by the US and China. Then, in 2012, in Doha, everyone agreed it was time to start negotiating another agreement, to be in place by 2020, nearly three decades after they all first agreed to act. Today, carbon dioxide emissions are at record levels and rising, and no one appears to be willing or able to control them.

Given everything we know about climate change, why are we still ignoring it? George Marshall’s intriguing book, Don’t Even Think about It, offers many answers, but the likely consequences of twenty years of top-level lies, dithering and obfuscation are left until the last chapter. This was probably a smart decision, because the news is all bad. ‘Scientists,’ Marshall writes, ‘who are, as a group, extremely wary of exaggeration, nonetheless keep using the same word: catastrophe.’ Their fear is that it’s increasingly likely that the Earth’s climate will warm by at least 4°C. Two degrees of warming, which the world’s leaders have accepted as the supposedly safe ‘upper limit’, is bad enough. But according to one of the world’s most influential climate scientists, John Schellnhuber, ‘the difference between two and four degrees is human civilisation.’ Thanks to the global paralysis since 1992, the ‘window of opportunity’ for reducing emissions fast enough to avoid this scenario is starting to look more like a crack in the plaster.

Four degrees of warming, Marshall tells us, is likely to bring heatwaves of magnitudes never experienced before, and temperatures not seen on Earth in the last five million years. Forty per cent of plant and animal species would be at risk of extinction, a third of Asian rainforests would be under threat and most of the Amazon would be at high risk of burning down. Crop yields would collapse, possibly by a third in Africa. US production of corn, soy beans and cotton would fall by up to 82 per cent. Four degrees guarantees the total melting of the Greenland ice sheet and probably the Western Antarctic ice sheet, which would raise sea levels by more than thirty feet. Two-thirds of the world’s major cities would end up underwater. And we aren’t looking at a multigenerational timescale: we may see a four-degree rise over the next sixty years. ‘The science around four degrees keeps moving,’ Marshall notes, ‘usually in the direction of greater pessimism.’

What explains the gulf between what we know about these potential terrors and what we are (not) doing to stop them? We can answer that question only by looking at climate change differently, Marshall suggests, ‘not as a media battle of science versus vested interests or truth versus fiction, but as the ultimate challenge to our ability to make sense of the world around us’. We have failed to act on climate change not because we don’t know enough about it, or because we don’t know how to prevent it: we have failed to act on it because at one level we don’t want to act on it. And we don’t want to act on it because we don’t want to believe it’s really happening.

Most discussions of climate change start from the curious assumption that if we can just give people the information they need, they will demand action, and then the politicians will have to take action, and then we can begin tackling the problem. This is almost completely the wrong way round. ‘Everyone, experts and non-experts alike,’ Marshall writes, ‘converts climate change into stories that embody their own values, assumptions and prejudices.’ Even our experience of the weather fits this pattern:

When asked about recent weather in their own area, people who are already disposed to believe in climate change will tend to say it’s been warmer. People who are unconvinced about climate change will say it’s been colder. Farmers in Illinois … emphasised or played down extreme events depending on whether or not they accepted climate change.

The real problem comes when we start trying to cram climate change into our pre-existing ideological boxes. In the US in particular, climate change has become a central weapon in a culture war between left and right. ‘Attitudes on climate change … have become a social cue like gun control: a shorthand for figuring out who is in our group and cares about us,’ Marshall writes. Dan Kahan, a professor of psychology at Yale Law School, told him that it isn’t information but ‘cultural coding’ that forms the basis of our worldview. Thus, if you’re a supporter of the Tea Party (your in-group), then anything an environmentalist (your out-group) tells you is going to be self-evidently wrong, regardless of its factual content – and vice versa.

Research carried out in Norway, and Marshall’s own work in Texas, demonstrates that even when people have lived through unprecedented wildfires and snowmelt they maintain an ‘invisible forcefield of silence’ when the subject of climate change is raised. Climate scientists themselves, asked by Marshall about their long-haul flights, come up with some dubious rationalisations. A story is told about a dinner party at which the guests – retired professionals – chatted about their expensive holidays to far-flung locations. Exasperated, one guest dropped the subject of climate change onto the well-ordered table. ‘The room went very quiet. Then someone decided to break the silence. “My word,” she said, “what a lovely spinach tart.”’

What will destroy this web of denial, displacement and paralysis? Enter Naomi Klein, whose latest book, This Changes Everything, aspires to ‘upend the debate’ about climate change by linking it squarely to the latest crisis of capitalism. It’s a long work, filled with original research, but it doesn’t fulfil this promise. Rather the opposite: it threatens to entrench the cultural polarisation which Marshall identifies as a main obstacle to action. Klein lays out her stall early on. Her own climate denial (she once treasured her frequent flyer’s card) began to fall away when she met Bolivia’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Angélica Navarro Llanos, in 2009. Llanos told her that Bolivia, the poorest country in Latin America and one dependent on glaciers for its water, saw climate change both as a threat and an opportunity. ‘We need a Marshall Plan for the Earth,’ Llanos told the UN climate conference. ‘This plan must mobilise financing and technology transfer on scales never seen before. It must get technology onto the ground in every country to ensure we reduce emissions while raising people’s quality of life. We have only a decade.’ After speaking to Llanos, Klein writes, ‘I found that I no longer feared immersing myself in the scientific reality of the climate threat.’ The reason seems clear enough: Klein had figured out how to fit climate change into her ideological box. The framing message of her book is that preventing climate change is a ‘progressive’ cause, firmly aligned with the left. More than this, it is an opportunity for the left to succeed where it has previously failed. ‘It could be the best argument progressives have ever had,’ she says, providing an opportunity to complete the ‘unfinished business of liberation’ on a global scale.

Klein made her name exposing what she calls the ‘corporate liberation project’: she showed how, over the last forty years, private corporations freed from public oversight have created a global economy in their own interests and image. As in her previous books, Klein does a fine job here of exposing the way private capital has not only bound the hands of governments but sucked in organisations that should know better. It’s bad enough that groups campaigning against climate change should take money from fossil fuel interests, but it turns out that Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s leading conservation organisations, owns and operates an oil well – in one of its own wildlife reserves. What can explain this? Klein suggests that too many ‘Big Green’ groups have swallowed a narrative written by corporations: that the current model of deregulated capitalism is the only game in town. Challenging this story, she says, is the first step towards showing it up for the self-serving fiction it is.

Though expert at exposing corporate wrongs, Klein is less good at suggesting how to right them. Her excitement at the prospect of blockades and barricades makes her proposals for change seem less mould-breaking than old-fashioned, as if this world-spanning predicament could be tackled with the same protest tools as the Vietnam War. The world, she says, is facing a new conflict. ‘The actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.’

The solution to this, and the only way to get that Marshall Plan up and running, will be familiar to Klein fans: ‘mass movements of regular people’ to force the powerful to change. If this is a war, we need a war economy: one that will rein in the corporations and allow governments to assert more control over the necessary and rapid creation of a low-carbon economy. This will mean swift and decisive action on land reform, agro-ecology and the creation of mass transit systems, coupled with huge global rollouts of renewable energy projects. It will mean no nuclear power, geo-engineering, genetic modification or fossil fuel extraction. It will mean more power for the poor and less for billionaires. It will mean respect for indigenous rights and a huge transfer of wealth and technology from north to south. All on a global scale, and within a decade – or two at most.

This is an American liberal wishlist, and a fantastical one. ‘Climate change can be a People’s Shock, a blow from below,’ Klein writes. ‘It can disperse power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it in the hands of the few.’ An economy based on ‘extractivism’ must be opposed by a movement which Klein calls Blockadia – a shifting, roving network of activists opposing fossil fuel extraction in places like the tar sands of Canada, the Amazon and the Niger Delta. These movements exist already, and they should be supported. But Klein’s attempt to bundle them all up into one world-changing popular uprising isn’t persuasive. She has spent the last 15 years suggesting that just such a movement, using the tactics she promotes here (blockades, mass action at global summits, taking to the streets etc), is the only way to put paid to neoliberalism. That neoliberalism still doesn’t see itself as under threat hasn’t made her feel the need to reconsider her approach. As Klein acknowledges, serious action on climate change will require those of us who live in the rich world to take a hefty cut in our levels of material privilege, and many of the world’s poorer countries to surrender their aspiration to our lifestyles. Which party leader is brave enough to try and sell that?

Even Blockadia can get complicated in ways Klein seems unwilling to acknowledge. For every mass movement opposing an oil pipeline there is another opposing a giant windfarm or solar array. Huge renewable projects of the kind Klein demands are, after all, another form of ‘extractivism’: they extract energy from the wind, sun or waves, and in order to do so they industrialise enormous areas of land or water. Are movements which oppose such projects part of Blockadia, or are they its enemies? And how can the grassroots democracy and recognition of indigenous land rights which Klein favours be reconciled with the urgent, top-down Marshall Plan she says is needed to prevent catastrophe? Contradictions like this, which thread themselves through the book, are the result of trying to make a complicated problem simple. This is clearly a tactical decision: Klein is trying to build a movement, and movements need clear messages and clear enemies. But while it might make sense from a tactical point of view, strategically it looks like a big error. Early on in her book, Klein attends a meeting of climate change deniers from the Heartland Institute, a think tank funded by the fossil fuel industry which specialises in anti-green zealotry. Most of the fervently pro-market delegates believe that climate change ‘has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution’. This is the reason they deny the science: they think climate change is a socialist plot.

The problem for Klein is that, in her case at least, the Heartlanders are right. She does want to transform the American way of life in the interests of global wealth distribution, and she is very open about using climate change as a reason to do that. Her book proves the Tea Party right, and that isn’t going to do climate change scientists any favours, as Marshall points out:

The missing truth, deliberately avoided in these enemy narratives, is that in high-carbon societies, everyone contributes to the emissions that cause the problem and everyone has a strong reason to ignore the problem or to write their own alibi … If our founding narratives are based around enemies, there is no reason to suppose that, as climate impacts build in intensity, new and far more vicious enemy narratives will not readily replace them, drawing on religious, generational, political, class and nationalistic divides … History has shown us too many times that enemy narratives soften us up for the violence, scapegoating or genocide that follows.

Climate change isn’t something that a small group of baddies has foisted on us, and the minute it becomes an issue identified with one political persuasion, action to prevent it becomes less likely. In the end, we are all implicated, which is one reason we refuse to look at it directly. This is a less palatable message than one which sees a brutal 1 per cent screwing the planet and a noble 99 per cent opposing them, but it is closer to reality.

The struggle over climate change isn’t a war: it’s what Marshall, drawing on social policy research, calls a ‘wicked’, as opposed to a ‘tame’ problem. Tame problems have ‘defined causes, objectives and outputs’. Wicked problems, on the other hand, are ‘incomplete, contradictory and constantly changing’. Neither the causes nor the solutions are clear, and the situation is always shifting. They aren’t simple or morally clear, and this means that solutions, if there are any, will be in the same category. What, in the end, can be done about this wicked problem? Climate change is really a lesson in limits: the limits of the atmosphere’s ability to absorb our waste, the limited ability of our economics and politics to deal with what’s coming, the limits of our control over nature and ourselves. Both Klein and Marshall agree that the simplest way to proceed might be to impose a cap on fossil fuel extraction itself, rather than on the resulting emissions – something which, incredibly, has never been discussed at any of those global gatherings. But how to make that happen? Klein does a good job of exposing the corporate armlock which prevents the idea being discussed, but her rallying cry – ‘only mass social movements can save us now’ – can sound like another form of denial. Marshall suggests we change the narrative: instead of seeing climate change as a war, we could see it as a quest, which would give people of all persuasions a chance to take part in solving the problem. Doing anything useful about climate change requires everyone to lever themselves out of their comfort zones.

It is clear now that stopping climate change is impossible: what is still worth fighting for is some control over how bad it will get. Neither Klein nor Marshall can convincingly tell us how we should get from where we are to where we need to be in the time available; but then, neither can anyone else. Reading these books back to back, I’m inclined to side with Daniel Kahneman, whom Marshall spoke to in a noisily oblivious New York café. Kahneman won a Nobel Prize for his work on the psychology of human decision-making, which may be why he’s so gloomy. ‘This is not what you might want to hear,’ he says, but ‘no amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living. So that’s my bottom line: there is not much hope. I’m thoroughly pessimistic. I’m sorry.’

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VII of an Investigative Report] [The Wolves of Wall Street]

The Art of Annihilation

December 18, 2014

Part seven of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

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 Image courtesy of Mark Gould

“Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

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 as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

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

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Monetizing Natural Capital | Ecosystem Services

You may recognize Mindy Lubber’s name (President of 350.org partner, Ceres) from the Think Progress blog (excellent climate science source, funded in large part by Rockefeller) where she is referred to as “an expert on water scarcity” among the liberal left. Therefore, it should be of little surprise to anyone that a key focus of Ceres appears to be meticulously and cautiously preparing the ground for mass privatization (what Ceres refers to as “monetizing natural capital” or “ecosystem services”) of water in the United States (and beyond). [Restoring Flows, Financing the Next Generation of Water Systems, A Strategy for Coalition Building. Authors: Ceres and American Rovers, DOCUMENT]

“Unlike market development in Europe and Australia, the private sector has had a relatively small role in providing water infrastructure services in the United States. While some communities have entered into a variety of arrangements to ‘privatize’ their water services, there is a wide range of potential roles that private entities may play in the water market that fall short of being an outright full-service provider.” [Emphasis added]

 

Under “Needs and Opportunities” within the report: “Develop alternate model business plans for providers, including public, private and public:private partnerships.”

Preparing a populace – one that strongly opposes water privatization – for water privatization requires calculated language and schemes to keep the public at bay. Schemes that “fall short of being an outright full-service provider,” if outright privatization in its most pure form is not an option, are an imperative for “success.”

As president of Ceres, Lubber is well compensated for the task at hand with an annual salary from the Ceres non-profit of $193,025, with an additional $32,190 in “other compensation for the organization and other related organizations.” [Source: Form 990, 2012].

With Ceres receiving 60% of its revenues from foundation grants in the 2012 fiscal year ($5,233,360) with membership fees ($1,843,052) providing 22% of the revenues [2012 annual report] (conference fees, sponsorship, and individual family and “foundation family” account for the remainder to the tune of $8,316,636), the Ceres non-profit is in a position to pay flush salaries.

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The monetization of Earth’s remaining natural resources (or “natural capital,” the carefully applied term that acts as a patina masking the true intent) sounds as though it is far too vile of an idea to ever be accepted by society. Yet, the elite establishment – with the non-profit industrial complex as their pimps of pathological ideologies – have every intent of seeing the commodification of Earth’s remaining natural resources transform into capital, for complete corporate capture in the not-so-distant future.

Consider the behavioural change experiment that took place on September 21, 2014 (branded as “The People’s Climate March”).

WorldBankMarchPhoto

The People’s Climate March in New York City was a mobilization campaign created by Avaaz and 350.org, with 350.org at the forefront. Perhaps never in history have we witnessed 300,000 to 400,000 citizens (whose rights and freedoms are being systematically dismantled every day by a corporate-state that liberal elites continue to prop up) joining hands with their oppressors – literally marching with their oppressors in the streets both knowingly and willingly. This must be considered a benchmark in history by those who study behavioural change – a feat perhaps unmatched since 1929 when Edward Bernays brilliantly transformed cigarettes into “freedom torches” as the symbol of emancipated women for the tobacco industry.

[Video (running time: 2:52). Excerpt from the movie “The War You Don’t See” by John Pilger. Bernays, a pioneer of modern propaganda, persuaded woman to embrace smoking as a symbol of women’s liberation.]

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The Road to Riches | Monetization of Earth’s Remaining Natural Resources

The following excerpts are extracted from the article This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe published on Wrong Kind of Green (September 12, 2014). It serves as an introduction to the PR firm Purpose (Inc.) – as a glimpse into a behavioural change/economics think-tank.

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”

 

Purpose was born out of some of the most successful experiments in mass digital participation. Our principals are co-founders of Avaaz, the world’s largest online political movement with more than nine million members operating in 14 languages, and the creators of Australia’s GetUp!, an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon with more members than all the country’s political parties combined….” [Source]

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc. Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

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Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The expertise behind both Avaaz and Purpose is in behavioural change. Where the employment of behavioural change infused by Avaaz is on display, the double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by the empire’s U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

 “We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.Jeremy Heimans, when asked how he was going to use the $100,000 he received from the Ford Foundation

Purpose (with its co-founders), a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes, sell their consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012 it raised $3m from investors. Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, “reckons it is shaping up to be ‘one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.'” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky, which merged with 350.org in 2011) also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Make no mistake, the Yale (Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the Avaaz boys (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

Heimans, like his co-founders at Avaaz, has close relationships with those at the helm of the push toward the illusory green economy, including Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace and Richard Branson, who has founded the B Team, of which Heimans serves as a “team member.” [Further reading on the B Team can be found in an upcoming segment of this investigative report.] Note that Avaaz and 350.org were the first two NGOs signed on to the 2009 Havas Advertising campaign TckTckTck. TckTckTck succeeded in successfully undermining the radical emissions reductions required, put forward by the State of Bolivia and the G77 at COP15. More recently Avaaz, 350.org and Greenpeace joined hands to form the NGO SumOfUs. [Further reading: SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not]

Like so many other left “progressives” jumping on board the “socially responsible investment” industry, Heimans is no exception, serving on the advisory board of Leap Frog Investments. [Source] On September 29, 2012 a media release announced “The Vital Few” – a new social media platform for The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, an online forum to link individuals who are concerned about their pension fund investments directed towards the fossil fuel industry. The release included statements from both Kelly Rigg (TckTckTck) and Heimans. Supported by the head of the global trade union movement and other key civil society groups the platform, called ‘The Vital Few’ will allow pension fund members to drive transparency and accountability in a $60 trillion industry that has become the largest pool of investment capital in the world…. The Vital Few initiative, by starting with the issue of climate risk, is a milestone in helping restore genuine ownership to capitalism.”

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

The Strategy of “Changing Everything”

In the video published on November 21, 2012, filmed during a lecture on Purpose’s innovative model of “movement entrepreneurship,” Heimans discloses that the “demand for the green economy is in a rut.” He states:

“…how else could movement building and mass participation help transform society? And that’s what we’re working on at Purpose. We’re thinking at Purpose not just how you build political movements but now what are some of the insights from that, that can be used to do things like scale demand for the green economy? Right? Demand for the green economy is in a rut. There isn’t large-scale demand it. What if we tried to build a movement around that and organize people in a systematic way….”

In this Tedx talk (published September 7, 2012) the goal, and the campaign to achieve the goal, are made clear: kill “green” marketing (including the key term “green economy”) in order to push forward the green economy – without saying as much.

Heimans states:

 “…Well, the results of our research really have two main conclusions I want to share with you today, and the first is a little startling and it may create a little bit of a disequilibrium… and that is that I think we need to kill the language and imagery and green in order to have any real shot at scaling sustainable consumption. Sustainable consumption just isn’t working right now as we’ll talk about in a moment. We’re going to have to kill green as a frame for consumers in order to try to rework that problem.”

Hence – you have the new terminology agreed upon and already being employed by both the foundations and the non-profit-industrial complex: The “new economy.”

Heimans continues:

“So they like the idea of green, it’s kind of a value they are happy to cloak themselves in, you know it’s a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn’t there because as soon as it’s even slightly difficult they’re out the door. So what do we do? So here’s some things that I think we can do that might up-end this situation and as I said, it does require starting with killing green as a friend. We can’t lead with green, because most of the green products that are out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying, you know, ‘We’re green, do the right thing.’ We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside.”

Heimans summarizes the methodology.

“… the answer we think is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly of the new forms of businesses that are green, but don’t knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do this, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share and we can give people a sense they’re part of something much bigger, we’ll build the green economy, we just won’t talk about it and we won’t say that we’re doing it.”

As an example of Purpose’s work to build acquiescence and a normalization of the green new economy, we can look at Purpose’s work for Audi. The task at hand is how to take the human right of access to clean water and turn it into a commodity market that a public will embrace: “[Purpose Inc.] helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand.” Media is utilized to present the water ATM as an affordable benefit for the disenfranchised, underprivileged and poor: “The perception that rural people won’t pay for quality services is wrong, says Shah. ‘They want to be part of modern society. After a water ATM is set up, 15-20% of the people immediately start buying water. They like to claim “we have a water ATM.”‘” The idea of clean fresh water for all, as a human right rather than an “affordable” commodity, will quickly disappear as fast as the drinking fountains one used to find in our communities not that long ago. (One may wish to note that today, we find corporations writing many of their own articles for media, who in turn present them as journalism. Round and round we go.)

“Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting ‘new economy’ products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee.” — The Economist, The business of campaigning, Profit with Purpose, January 26, 2013

We can assume this business model will be employed across the board. Purpose tells the story that entices the purchase, Purpose mobilizes the movements building on the foundation of the story, and Purpose receives their referral fee in the mail.

+++Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Ignoring the Obvious – The Only Number that Matters Has Always Been Zero

Ceres: “60-90% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels is needed by 2050 to avoid worst case scenarios for global warming” [Source: CERES 2007-2008 Annual Report]

 

Ceres: “Companies will reduce GHG emissions by 25% from their 2005 baseline by 2020, by improving energy efficiency of operations by at least 50%, reducing electricity demand by at least 15% and obtaining at least 30% of energy from renewable sources.… The Ceres Roadmap expectations are aligned with the scientific targets recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that call for the U.S. to achieve reductions of 80 percent below 1990 baseline levels by 2050. —The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability current webpage [Source]

 

Reality: “There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77, COP15, Source

On May 9, 2013, concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history, the highest since the Pliocene. (The daily average for May 9, 2013 was 400.03 ppm)

It is slightly ironic that 350.org succeeded so brilliantly in the complete pacification of a global civil society by promoting 350 ppm as a “safe operating limit for humanity.” Thus, the message so skillfully projected/orchestrated in tandem with media, that global citizens were not/are not in any immediate danger, provided the means to further destroy our shared environment in order to allow the very economic structure systemically destroying all life on Earth to continue unabashed. The message that can be summarized as “continue as you were” was (and continues to be) in stark contrast to the message laid out to humanity in 1988.

At the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, in Toronto, Canada, scientists, politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [*1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.” [*In 1988 the average CO2 atmospheric concentration was 351.56 ppm.]

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.”

Yet the non-profit industrial complex (in which both 350.org and its partner Ceres play leading roles) would have us believe that 25 years (over a quarter of a century) later, with atmospheric carbon emissions having exceeded 400 ppm, with planetary boundaries being surpassed, irreversible feedbacks having been set into motion, disappearing Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, mass species eradication/extinctions, and hundreds of thousands of climate-related deaths each and every passing year, we can still afford to keep burning fossil fuels under the guise of “clean” energy and so-called carbon “budgets.”

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” — Scientific & Technical Briefing to the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7-18, 2009 [1]

The NPIC Stop the KXL (Keystone XL pipeline extension) campaign qualifies as a brilliant and strategic, albeit suicidal, Trojan horse. Simultaneously, the campaign led by 350.org paved the way for our collective denialism to be embraced and embellished. For the past five years this multi-million-dollar campaign was relentless in the quest to ensure it was perceived as the key most important struggle in our climate struggle. Who can forget James Hansen referring to the KXL project as “the fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet” and “game over” for the climate? All while dialogue on consumption/growth fetish, industrialized capitalism, militarism, Fukushima/nuclear, transition to a plant-based diet, rapidly destabilizing methane hydrates (literal carbon bombs) and Warren Buffett’s newfound rail dynasty now transporting the same tar sands oil via bomb trains, was nowhere to be found. The focus on a single pipeline granted the American populace full permission to ignore the urgent need to connect the dots, as the window for any possible climate mitigation finally closed. Keep the economy growing was the underlying message. The chosen discourse, that of 350 ppm as our global target (the maximum / uppermost limit) was and remains an excellent way to avoid facing the fact that only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool (cooling that would not even begin for centuries, if not thousands of years, after zero was achieved). Not to worry, once atmospheric CO2 reaches unfathomable numbers and the “target” of 350 ppm begins to sound ridiculous, 350.org et al will simply move on to the 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

400.org

Above screenshot: 400.org campaign. It’s already established and waiting in the virtual wings. [http://400.350.org/]

Chalk up the bizarre fact that there appears to be no anger by the public whatsoever in response to this highly-financed recklessness and disregard for life. This is no doubt due to a lifetime of obedience, passivity, subservience and indoctrination – much of it hammered home, drilled into the ever more vacant minds, by the non-profit industrial complex itself. That being said, people will get mad as hell when the grocery store shelves go empty. Of course, that will be far too late.

“Even more disturbing is new research from Ballantyne, Axford et al. which says that during the Pliocene epoch, when CO2 levels were ~400 ppm, Arctic surface temperatures were 15-20°C warmer than today’s surface temperatures. They suggest that much of the surface warming likely was due to ice-free conditions in the Arctic.” [Source] Today, the Arctic sea ice is declining at an unprecedented speed. “Very soon we may experience the iconic moment when, one day in the summer, we look at satellite images and see no sea-ice coverage in the Arctic, just open water” (McKie, 2012).

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To clarify, only by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions can the planet even begin to cool. [“In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilised at a constant level.” [http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-10-3.html]

The concept of the “carbon budget” (legitimized by the Carbon Tracker et al reports, Bill McKibben (350.org) and the liberal left at large) is nothing more than a crafted mechanism that serves the reckless illusion that global society can continue to “safely burn” fossil fuels for many more decades. Ignore the fact that a “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. [N. Shakhova, I. Semiletov, A. Salyuk, D. Kosmach, 2008] No, the mounting climate emergency is not today. Rather, it’s only a problem that we can put off dealing with until 30 years from now. (The so-called carbon budget will be discussed further in this report).

Apathy is slowly consuming the last vestiges of our humanity – we are slowly drowning in a sea of indifference.

Today, more than 25 years after the Changing Atmosphere conference in 1988, CO2 emissions have reached an all-time high. As corporate profits and corporate power have soared – so have emissions. The global community must acknowledge that the industrialized capitalist economic system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

Ignoring the Fact that the Oligarchs Finance the “Movements”

The following excerpts [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex] serve as an example of how the oligarchs fund the movements.

During the last four years, Americans have been coerced into focusing on a single, symbolic campaign to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. This campaign was funded in large part by the Tides Foundation, which distributes the funds (from other foundations) to qualifying NGOs and groups. The number one funder of the Tides Foundation leading up to and during this time period was none other than the NoVo Foundation, founded on monies provided by Warren Buffett. [“NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation.”] It is maintained by Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett (co-chair) and partner Jennifer Buffett (president and co-chair).

“Anonymity is very important to most of the people we work with.” — Drummond Pike, Founder of Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides Foundation in 1976 [2]; the Tides Center in 1996 [3], the Advocacy Fund in 1994, Groundspring.org in 1999; Tides Inc. in 2003 [4], Tides Shared Spaces/Tides Two Rivers Foundation in 2004; and the Tides Network in 2006. [5]

By 2010, the combined cash flow of Tides regularly exceeded $200 million per year. Pike served as Chief Executive Officer of all Tides organizations until November 2010. [Source] Pike received an annual base compensation of $240,000 (2010) according to the 2010 Tides Foundation 990.

More recently, Pike was named a Principal with Equilibrium Capital (a private equity impact investing firm based in Portland – the very kind promoted by 350.org’s divestment campaign. (“Distribution and Sales: We raise and scale institutional-quality capital”) According to Tides, Pike is also volunteering time with Paladin Partners, LLC. Paladin Partners provides financial plans, consulting services, and investment services.

350credo

Pike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Working Assets, which he co-founded with Michael Kieschnick and Laura Scher. CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets. Prior to co-founding Credo Mobile (formerly known as Working Assets Wireless), Kieschnick served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kieschnick also served as an economic advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown of California (1980–1982), and helped create several “socially responsible” investment (SRI) funds [Wikipedia], again, the same SRI funds promoted by the 350.org divestment campaign.

Klein RAN

Photo: REVEL 2011 Awardee Naomi Klein with Michael Kieschnick. Michael Kieschnick is a co-founder (with Drummond Pike of Tides) and president of Credo Mobile. Image: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr. Rainforest Action Network’s ultra white and ultra elite annual benefit REVEL event. [6]

The Tides Foundation could be described as a priceless, magical, money-funneling machine of epic proportion for the oligarchs. It receives money from donors and then distributes these funds to the recipients of their choice. In this way, donors can strategically fund specific campaigns or specific organizations without ever disclosing their identities. These transactions are called “Anonymous Donor Advised Funds” or simply “Donor Advised Funds.” (Many such transactions are documented in the information that follows. The NoVo Foundation grants to Tides – both Tides Foundation and the Tides Center).

The Tides Foundation focuses on fundraising and grant-making, while the Tides Center operates as a fiscal sponsor (“to promote and support emerging social change and educational programs”), enticing novice NGOs with the shelter of Tides’ own charitable tax-exempt status, and other desirable/coveted benefits.

The far-right website, Activist Cash, is perceptive in their following observation:

“Tides does two things better than any other foundation or charity in the U.S. today: it routinely obscures the sources of its tax-exempt millions, and makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern how the funds are actually being used…. In practice, ‘Tides’ behaves less like a philanthropy than a money-laundering enterprise… taking money from other foundations and spending it as the donor requires. Called donor-advised giving, this pass-through funding vehicle provides public-relations insulation for the money’s original donors. By using Tides to funnel its capital, a large public charity can indirectly fund a project with which it would prefer not to be directly identified in public…. In many cases, even the eventual recipient of the funding has no idea how Tides got it in the first place.

This fits the Buffett to NoVo to Tides to 350.org et al transactions – to a T.

As the following information will demonstrate, money (in the form of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway stock) was funnelled from Warren Buffett, to the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, to Tides, and finally to selected NGOs who led the Stop the Keystone XL campaign, which played a key role in Warren Buffett achieving his 21st century rail empire, thus brilliantly demonstrating the need for covert funding of highly financed “movements.”

Of course, these are not real movements but merely highly financed campaigns presented as “grassroots” movements. The sources of the funding (the wealthy elite, corporations, unions, other foundations, etc.) are “giving” the funds for specific reasons, campaigns and purposes – as the Buffett-NoVo-Tides transaction so clearly demonstrates. Thus, philanthropy should not be considered unbridled generosity, rather it should be considered strategic, long-term investment and tax evasion under the cloak of good will. Further, without an insider and/or documents, it’s almost impossible to follow the money, which is exactly why foundations are so imperative to the oligarchs that finance them to the tune of billions of dollars every year.

In 2010, the Keystone XL pipeline was pushed to the forefront by the non-profit industrial complex, in tandem with both mainstream and so-called progressive media, to become the main focus of the anti-tar sands campaign and indeed, the climate movement as a whole. While it deliberately and strategically captured the full attention of the populace, billionaire Warren Buffett, financial advisor to Barrack Obama, quietly built his 21st century rail dynasty and started shipping tar sands oil by rail with absolutely no dissent or interference. All eyes were on one single pipeline, which was, for the most part, already built.

In keeping with reality, perhaps it is necessary to outline the fact that Tides, recipient of millions of dollars (approximately $26 million since 2004) via the Buffett family’s NoVo Foundation, in turn, also channels hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ceres, with grants spiking up to and during the peak years of the Keystone XL campaign (years 2009, 1010 and 2011). (As disclosed previously, in 2010, Tides granted $150,000 to Ceres, with $100,000 of these funds specifically earmarked for a “tar sands campaign.” [Tides 990, 2010] As well, in 2008 Ceres received $50,000 from Wallace Global, also designated for a tar sands campaign.) [TIDES FUNDS TO CERES (LIST OF GRANTEES): 2011, $120,000 | 2010, $150,000 | 2009, $100,000 | 2006, $17,500 | 2004, $25,000.00]

It is of interest to note that Suzanne Nossel, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and trusted instrument of American hegemony, serves on Tides Board of Directors. On October 1, 2012, in the article “Amnesty Coup,” author Jay Taber writes: “As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, she has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya.”

All while:

“Gary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides. He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.” [Source]

The interlocking directorate contagion continues to thrive in the non-profit industrial complex.

 

Next: Part VIII

 

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

 

Let Them Eat Pizza [“People’s Climate March” & “Flood Wallstreet”]

Wits End

September 25, 2014

by Gail Zawacki

I would have gone to the People’s Climate March in Manhattan, even though, as a permitted Sunday parade, I didn’t expect it to amount to anything more than tilting at windmills (ha!) – but I had already missed all of first daughter’s competitions this season, and her last show for the year, in Saugerties, NY was scheduled for the same day.  I had a lovely weekend with her and was very glad I went, especially as she took two firsts.

Thus, I was happy having learned there was to be another protest on Monday that I could join, #FloodWallStreet, especially because the plan was for mass civil disobedience and arrests.  I met up with a Wit’s End reader, Lucas, who had come all the way from Hawaii and was willing to serve as jail support for me.

However, the march from Battery Park to the Stock Exchange was deflected, and the big banner buckled backwards around the barricaded Bull while we watched, incredulous, as the organizers negotiated with police.  Apparently the Mayor informed them that there would be no arrests, and we could have the street space AROUND the Bull, but were blocked from approaching Wall Street.  Astonishingly, the organizers informed the crowd that they had made a decision to stay obediently in place, and…declare victory!  Whatever happened to consensus?  There was no discussion, no mic check, we were just informed that rather than exercising our rights, we were to behave just like the Sunday Paraders and, as one commenter phrased it, whimper in a fucking free speech zone.

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At one point they encouraged us to sit and thump our chests like our beating hearts, I’m not sure why.  Was I the only one who found the comparison with this scene just a tad ironic?

Reactions to the capitulation ranged from indifference to mild surprise to utter fury.  Luckily I had come across a friend from the Age of Limits Conference, Cameron Kelly, who also had traveled a great distance at non-trivial expense to take part in the mass civil disobedience.  She was decidedly in the latter category.  We pointed out to the organizers that the action was presented as mass CD – and the response was that if we still wanted to get arrested, we were free to dive over the barricades flanking the Bull.  However, if my goal was to be arrested for a single personal criminal act, I would rather choose my own symbolic icon…and it wouldn’t be about capitalism.  When I pointed out that the action was titled #Flood WALL STREET, and we were stymied at Broadway and Morris, I was informed by several indignant organizers that we actually were *on Wall Street*  – since the financial district and Wall Street are synonymous.  So they conveniently redefined the very meaning of the words “Wall Street”…uhhhh, but what about this MAP they handed out to the marchers (that Camus so rightly wishes to chew up into mush)?   Do you see the arrow for the 12 PM ACTION pointing directly to the NYSE on the actual WALL STREET??

Apparently to mollify the disgruntled, we were informed that 100 free pizzas were being delivered, and that we would sing and dance.  Finally one courageous fellow named Sparks who, having come all the way from Fridley, Minnesota was not about to slink meekly away, bellowed “MIC CHECK” and urged the boisterous but confused assembly to move along to Wall Street.  Here he is with the famous firecracker Cameron, having finally made it to the intersection.

Even after we arrived though, other than a short tussle over the barricades leading to one incident of pepper spray, the pizza party continued in place for hours unmolested, presided over by glowering phalanxes of billyclub-wielding and mounted police.   Not wanting to wait hours more for the order to disperse and having long trips home, Cameron and Lucas and I left around sunset.  It wasn’t until after darkness had fallen that finally about 100 people were “allowed” to relinquish their freedom, and were cuffed and bussed to jail.   The Sans Culottes must be rolling in their graves at this pathetic excuse for a revolution.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know why the protest turned into a cheesy picnic – whether the organizers were outsmarted by the Mayor, lost their nerve, or are completely intoxicated with ego gratification from media attention – “…oh, we’re on the front page of HuffPo right now!” one told me, by way of explaining that no further action on our part was necessary.  Actually, some of the slick promotional material makes the project smell suspiciously of moveon.org funding, which makes me wonder if the Sunday and Monday events, despite their ostensible differences, aren’t both just mirrors of each other’s deliberate ineffectiveness, like the two political parties in the USA.

The climate activist insiders were in short-lived heaven following the huge turnout for the PCM in New York and other cities around the world.  (Short-lived because nobody has the vaguest idea what to do next and the UN meeting is being widely denounced as a useless corporate festival.) Privately they are rejoicing what they see as the triumph of the climate movement over the environmental movement, something they been trying to eclipse for years. To put the rosiest perspective on this, you might say that they have shunned any association with holistic ecology simply because they believe that being tainted by tree-huggers is detrimental to progress – since hippies have a bad reputation for extremism and dirty toes.

To look at it in a slightly more cynical way, you might conclude that the motivation stems from two pernicious influences…first, that climate change in theory lends itself to continued growth via a technological fix (if you ignore the fact that it’s too late to avoid catastrophe, which virtually all activists and scientists do), which leads to the second motivation, a corollary to the first…there is oodles of money from corporate foundations, governments, book sales and speaking engagements for research and political activism in climate “solutions”, as long as none of them include reducing population and consumption.

source 

This strategy has always struck me as an epic failure, since climate change is only one symptom of a more general, lethal overshoot.  The single-minded focus on carbon emissions over other issues, such as pollution, habitat destruction, and overextraction of everything from lumber to fish to minerals simply enables more of the same destruction to proceed even as it pretends to challenge the status quo, Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges notwithstanding.  In fact their supposedly more radical critique of capitalism is a red herring, and an insidious deflection of the true dimensions of the tragedy of the commons that has ensnared humans into ecocide.  Underlying their exhortations to change or even dismantle the economic system is the false belief that “green energy” will ensure free pizza forever.  While chants like “We are Unstoppable, Another World is Possible” and “Put up Your Fist, Resist, Resist” are rousing good fun, really, as Candide would say, we ALREADY are in the best of all possible worlds…as in, it ain’t gonna get any better than this…and there is no obvious way to resist OURSELVES.  Here’s all you need to see of Naomi Klein and her own special brand of bullshit.  (Well, hey, it sells books, apparently.)  [update:   OMG this is too funny.  This video has been taken down – in it, Klein is interviewed on HuffPo saying that so many people have reacted to her book by saying IT’S TOO LATE.  I guess that message was too scary so the record has been deleted.  TOO hilarious!]

Here’s a screenshot from the video that has been removed, and here is a link to the clip still up.  This quote from John Gray’s Straw Dogs sums up why the narrative she peddles is so wrong:  “The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, “Western civilisation” or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.”

It seems like this cohort of so-called activists, whether prancing in costumes for Sunday’s celebrity climatepalooza photo-ops or moaning ineffectually about capitalism on Monday, is persuaded that all we have to do is WANT things to be different (you know, close your eyes and say I DO believe in fairies!  I DO!  I DO!) which is really just an extension of everything that is wrong with the very consumerist society we are urged to reject.  Mention the word “sacrifice” and the entire spectrum frowns.  When I was on my way to the city I was thinking about how many in the doomer community (invariably white middle-class) appropriate the culture of indigenous peoples and claim affinity with their supposed peaceful, sustainable, harmonious and spiritual relationship with nature when actually, most if not all hunter-gatherers (other than those who were defeated by overshoot, natural disaster or neighboring tribes) were proud warriors who trained boys from an early age to be fierce, and to defeat enemies.  The accumulation of ancient weapons, armor, fortifications, skeletal remains and artifacts testify to this universal human attribute.  Contemplating arrest with its very real potential for bodily injury is nerve-wracking, to say the least, and I took comfort from thinking about how tribal people prepared for conflict with an infinite variety of rituals to embolden them.  Too bad this willingness to confront harm isn’t the inspiration taken by so many who claim to be “fighting” climate change by tapping on their computer keyboards or designing posters and t-shirts.  Hell, most of them can’t even be inconvenienced, let alone put their safety in jeopardy (Tim DeChristopher being a shining exception).  I don’t know if it is iphones or football or Cheetoes, but something has turned us into spineless wimps.

Following are some pictures of trees and leaves around Wit’s End.

Remember the trees?

They are supposed to hit peak autumn color around the third week of October hereabouts.

Instead the leaves are falling off even earlier than they did last year, and those that remain look terrible.

The Virginia creeper lit by the setting sun into a bright scarlet from a distance actually looks dreadful close up.

The world is dying all around us, and most people still think there is time, if they think at all.

Let Them Eat Pizza!

 

The Failure Of The Left

Media Lens

by David Edwards, Editor

July 8, 2014

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Image: From the series titled Climate Change Couture: Haute Fashion for a Hotter Planet.

In Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness At Noon, N.S. Rubashov, founding father of ‘the revolution’, stands convicted of treason against tyrannical leader ‘No. 1’. But Rubashov knows that his real guilt lies elsewhere:

‘Why had not the Public Prosecutor asked him: “Defendant Rubashov, what about the infinite?” He would not have been able to answer – and there lay the real source of his guilt… Could there be a greater?’

What about uncertainty, what about the Unknown? How could Rubashov be sure that the tyranny his party had imposed on the people would truly deliver them to some socialist utopia?

‘What had he said to them? “I bow my knees before the country, before the masses, before the whole people…” And what then? What happened to these masses, to this people? For forty years it had been driven through the desert, with threats and promises, with imaginary terrors and imaginary rewards. But where was the Promised Land?

‘Did there really exist any such goal for this wandering mankind? That was a question to which he would have liked an answer before it was too late. Moses had not been allowed to enter the land of promise either. But he had been allowed to see it, from the top of the mountain, spread at his feet. Thus, it was easy to die, with the visible certainty of one’s goal before one’s eyes. He, Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov, had not been taken to the top of a mountain; and wherever his eye looked, he saw nothing but desert and the darkness of night.’

Leftists and environmentalists have also not been allowed to enter the land of promise, or to see it from the mountain top.

Instead, we see the looming tsunami of climate catastrophe blotting out the sun, obscuring hopes of a decent future. We witness the astonishing spectacle of global society failing to respond to a threat so severe that scientists warn that even a few more decades of business-as-usual could result in human extinction. We absorb the crushing defeat since 1988 – the year the United Nations set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – of our inability to overcome corporate resistance to mounting, now mountainous, evidence of approaching disaster.

After decades of intense effort, which many of us felt sure would culminate in a steadily saner society prioritising people over profit, we also can see ‘nothing but desert and the darkness of night’.

 

The Elusive Turning Point

The 1980s explosion of public interest in green issues had writers like Edward Goldsmith and Fritjof Capra heralding ‘The Great U-Turn‘,’The Turning Point‘ that would transform society into a rational, sustainable, ‘solar’ economy.

How naïve and deterministic these predictions seem now with the green movement long overwhelmed by a corporate backlash that has supersize people driving supersize cars through an eruption of global consumption, with ‘green concern’ reduced to a niche marketing strategy targeting privileged elites.

Three decades later, the whole world flies the whole world for any reason it can conceive: a weekend shopping trip to New York, a day trip to Rome, a school trip to LA, a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ this year and every year. The world’s famous sights are now rammed in tourist gridlock.

In other words, the noisy, optimistic greens of the 1980s and 1990s should be suffering a mass nervous breakdown about now. So, also, should the left, which woke late to the crisis of climate change. In an interview, the Canadian Dimensions website asked Noam Chomsky:

‘In a lot of your writing ecological concerns seem to have come to the fore only fairly recently or at least didn’t figure as prominently in your earlier writings on foreign policy.’

Chomsky replied:

‘Well, the severity of the problem wasn’t really recognized until the 1970s and then increasingly in the 1980s.’

True enough, but in books like Deterring Democracy (1992), Year 501 (1993), and World Orders, Old And New (1994), Chomsky devoted just one or two paragraphs to climate change at a time when green commentators were trying to amplify the urgent alarm raised in the US Congress by NASA climate scientist James Hansen in 1988. Chomsky’s book Powers and Prospects (1996) contains no mention of the issue at all. By contrast, Chomsky concentrated heavily on issues like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – hardly insignificant, but trivial by comparison.

Unlike Chomsky, who in 2013 published Nuclear War And Environmental Catastrophe with Laray Polk (Seven Stories Press), many high-profile writers on the left continue to have little or nothing to say about climate change. Why?

Leftists are typically rooted in the 17th century Western Enlightenment conviction that humanity should use reason, notably the scientific method, to radically transform both society and the natural world to the benefit of mankind. Leftists have been reluctant to perceive a fundamental problem with high-tech industrial ‘progress’ per se, focusing instead on the need to share the fruits more equably.

Greens argue that the ‘conquest of nature’ (both human and environmental) delivers pyrrhic victories because human reason is simply not equal to the task. The complexity and unknown (and perhaps unknowable) nature of the human and natural systems involved means that in ‘improving’ one aspect of life, we very often create entirely unforeseen and perhaps unmanageable chaos elsewhere.

The left just did not want to hear the bad news that there might be a deep problem with the scientific-industrial project, with the whole idea that the world can be endlessly ‘improved’. While corporate elites put themselves first and leftists prioritised humanity, greens argued that we should respect the needs of the ecosystem as a whole.

Despite the failure to address climate change, there are few signs of soul-searching in left-green circles. For example, anyone wondering what happened to Jonathan Porritt – an inspirational spokesman for green revolution in the 1980s – need look no further than his recent comment on Twitter:

‘Big bash yesterday celebrating 3 years of @Unilever’s USLP [Unilever Sustainable Living Plan]. CEO Paul Polman in great form: much achieved but so much to do.’

Has much been achieved in the 25 years since James Hansen and other scientists raised the alarm? In 2009, Hansen estimated the percentage of required action implemented to address the climate crisis at precisely ‘0%’. (Email, Hansen to Media Lens, June 18, 2009) Since then, carbon emissions, consumption and temperatures have continued to soar.

And this is hardly the only failure we’ve faced in recent times. Consider the ‘convergence’ of ‘mainstream’ politics – Blair’s 1997 corporate coup d’état that removed any semblance of ‘mainstream’ left opposition in the UK, so that we are free only to choose from a selection of representatives of corporate rather than popular power.

Or consider the entrenchment of Orwellian ‘Perpetual War’ – the state-corporate determination to bomb someone, somewhere, every couple of years for reasons that have everything to do with realpolitik and nothing to do with reason or righteousness, or ‘the responsibility to protect‘. Despite self-evident crimes resulting in mass death on a scale that almost defies imagination, the left has failed to resist the warmongering tide in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq (again).

As recently as August 2013, even after the deceptions of Iraq and Libya, both corporate and non-corporate dissidents were lending credence to US propaganda blaming Syrian president Assad for chemical weapons attacks in Damascus. Leading weapons expert, Professor Ted Postol of MIT commented on these claims:

‘To me, the fact that people are not focused on how the [Obama] administration lied is very disturbing and shows how far the community of journalists and the community of so-called security experts has strayed from their responsibility… I am concerned about the collapse of traditional journalism and the future of the country.’

Given the above, the left-green movement might be expected to share Rubashov’s crisis of conscience and confidence – many have deceived themselves that they know, with absolute certainty, how to make the world a better place. But do they? Are they right?

The confidence, in fact arrogance, of many ‘progressives’ has been so overweening that they have simply dismissed thousands of years of insight into these problems from non-Western sources whose understanding of human psychology and, by implication, social change far exceeds almost anything found in the West (an issue to which I’ll return in a later Cogitation).

 

Is Anyone At The Wheel?

The failure to respond to climate catastrophe has to raise urgent questions for anyone trying to address human and animal suffering. Even to compare this failure with political and media enthusiasm for ‘action’ in response to the absurd, credibly dismissed, and in fact completely non-existent threat from Iraq’s WMD in 2002-2003 is astonishing.

We assume our society is able to act rationally, but is it in fact only able to respond to threats (real or imagined) that serve vested interests? Has our political system evolved to respond in ways that increase short-term profit, but not to threats that could be averted by harming profit? Perhaps no actual agency exists with sufficient power to counter this deadly bias. Perhaps no-one rational, in fact, is at the wheel.

One also cannot help wondering about the hidden ideological obstacles to the idea that human beings could face extinction in the next 50 or 100 years.

What we call ‘progress’ is strongly imbued with a sense of ‘manifest destiny’. The rapid empowerment of science and technology naturally gives the impression that they are leading somewhere better, not worse. As environmental writer Paul Kingsnorth comments:

‘A society that takes progress as its religion does not look kindly on despair. If you are expected to believe everything will keep getting better, it can be difficult to admit to believing otherwise.’

Especially when billions of advertising dollars – all in the business of promising a better life – have a vested interested in denial. It surely seems inconceivable to many in awe of the high-tech revolution that an iPad could emerge shortly before we are erased from the face of the earth. It is a story that makes no sense. Even committed atheists may have a subtle faith in the idea that the human journey cannot be merely absurd – that we could not develop, flourish and suddenly vanish. Surely science and technology will save the day – surely the great adventure of ‘progress’ will not collapse from glittering ‘peak’ to catastrophe. Science has long given us a sense that we have ‘conquered’ and ‘escaped’ nature. It is humbling, humiliating, to even imagine that we might yet be annihilated by nature.

Science fiction writers and film-makers have saturated society with the idea that our manifestly unsustainable way of life is part of an almost pre-ordained journey to an ever more high-tech lifestyle. A glamorous future among the stars, however fraught with alien menace, seems to have been mapped out for us. Although humankind has remained stubbornly stuck at the Moon for 40 years, there seems little doubt about what the future will bring. But will it? Is it possible that this idea of human development is fundamentally misguided? Should we be more focused on moving in rather than out? (Our society is by now so divorced from spiritual awareness that the question may appear meaningless.) What if the reality of our situation on this planet makes a complete nonsense of the science fictional vision of ‘progress’?

Similarly, is it really possible for the many believers in a theistic God to accept the possibility of near-term human extinction? Can they conceive that we were created by a divine being only to be wiped out by a giant fart of industrial gas? What kind of deity would play such games? Theists precisely reject the idea of a random, meaningless universe. But what could be more nihilistic than industrial ‘progress’ culminating in self-extinction? What does it mean for the promise of ‘the second coming’, for the teaching of the prophets down the ages, and so on?

 

Drawing Water From The Corporate Well

Writing in the Guardian, George Monbiot asks a good, related question:

‘We appear to possess an almost limitless ability to sit back and watch as political life is seized by plutocrats; as the biosphere is trashed… How did we acquire this superhuman passivity?’

Instead of organising to change the world, Monbiot perceives a superficial society lost in a ‘national conversation – in public and in private – that revolves around the three Rs: renovation, recipes and resorts?’

This certainly describes the typical fare served up by the newspaper that pays Monbiot to embed his left-green concerns alongside its soul-bleaching, advertiser-friendly pap. Monbiot’s Rousseauvian conclusion:

‘Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores.’

And indeed, flip a page in any number of chainstores and you will find Monbiot’s earnest, kindly face smiling out at you.

In truth, corporate dissidents like Monbiot have played a crucial role in persuading intelligent, caring, potentially progressive readers to continue drawing water from the corporate well. Journalist Owen Jones, also of the Guardian, tells Media Lens (to paraphrase): ‘You are irrelevant, reaching no-one. I am reaching a mass audience.’

But reaching a mass audience with what?

The filtered content of corporate news and commentary, saturated with corporate advertising of every stripe, makes a mockery of these rare glimpses of dissent.

Imagine the impact of reading an article on climate change by a Monbiot or a Jones and then turning the page to an American Airlines advert for reduced-fare flights to New York. Or imagine turning to the front cover of a colour supplement that reads:

‘Time is running out… Ski resorts are melting… Paradise islands are vanishing… So what are you waiting for? 30 places you need to visit while you still can – A 64-page Travel Special.’

This concussive car crash of reality and illusion – of calls for action to address a grave crisis alongside calls to quit worrying and embrace the consumerism that has precisely created the crisis – delivers a transcendent message that the crisis isn’t that serious, things aren’t that bad.

The collision delivers the crippling lesson that the truth of looming catastrophe is only one of several versions of reality on offer – we can choose. We can even pick ‘n’ mix. We can enjoy a moral workout while commuting to our corporate office, feel enraged about the climate, Iraq, dolphins. Then we can turn to the business section, or think about buying a new car, or choose the next trip abroad. Later, we can watch a David Attenborough documentary about the wonders of the natural world without giving much of a damn about the fact that these wonders are being obliterated.

Corporate dissidents are a rational, compassionate, reassuring presence persuading us that compartmentalised moral concern is part of a healthy, balanced corporate media diet and lifestyle. As discussed, like Owen Jones, Monbiot’s earnest portrait in the Guardian peers out from a crowd of corporate adverts, entertainments, perspectives. We look at his concerned face in this context and see a guy like us, living as we live and work. Are we better-informed, more impassioned, more radical than he is? Surely not. So if he lives this way – if he is willing to be employed by the very corporate system against which he is ostensibly rebelling, the system that is killing us – why shouldn’t we?

There is no question that corporate media teach ‘mainstream’ propaganda values. The Guardian, for example, taught us to see Blair as a great moral force; it taught us to see the ‘Iraq threat’ as something more than a cynical fraud. More recently, it has been teaching us to swallow the West’s claimed ‘responsibility to protect’ in Libya and Syria, and even (without so much as blinking an eye) in Iraq, a country in desperate need of protection from the West.

But crucially, the Guardian and other media also teach us dissent, even as they teach us to crave the luxury products and lifestyles they sell. And so their most devastating lesson of all is that this cognitive dissonance can be embraced, accepted, left unresolved, year after year. We are trained to live with absurdity, to embrace it as ‘normal’. We have been numbed to the insanity of the way we live and think. And in the face of approaching apocalypse, we are numb, and dumb, and unmoved.

In the early 1990s, Phil Lesly, author of a handbook on public relations and communications, revealed a key secret of corporate control:

‘People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt… There is no need for a clear-cut “victory”… Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary.’ (Lesly, ‘Coping with Opposition Groups,’ Public Relations Review 18, 1992, p.331)

Corporate media reports and commentary ‘nurturing public doubts’ overwhelm occasional dissenting pieces. Adverts also loudly sell a corporate version of invincible ‘Normality’ (with no balancing perspectives allowed or even imagined). All insist we are facing ‘a non-alarming situation’.

Corporate dissidents deliver their strongest, most impassioned arguments. Corporate media gratefully receive these arguments, position them among their low-cost flight and sofa deals, and in effect say to readers:

‘See, even this has a place here, fits here, is compatible here.’

So while corporate dissidents have indeed reached a mass audience through the ‘quality’ press, they have drawn that mass audience into a corporate killing zone.

Isn’t it obvious that everything hosted by corporate media is diminished and degraded? As the American philosopher Thoreau observed:

‘I have learned that trade curses everything it handles; and though you trade in messages from heaven, the whole curse of trade attaches to the business.’ (Thoreau, Walden)

Left-green groups have achieved so little, in part because they have embraced corporate dissent and corporate dissent truly is cursed by the trade handling its messages from heaven. Consequently, these movements have been cursed, crushed, neutralised, neutered, made nonsensical by cooperating with a media system that is the sworn enemy of everything they are trying to achieve – deep change to the status quo.

The unwritten quid pro quo of media inclusion is such that these groups have refused even to comment on the structural bias of a corporate media system reporting on a world dominated by corporations. Why? Because, as they tell us, ‘We have to work with the media’. Attentive readers will catch occasional swipes at ‘the media’, at the tabloids, at everyone’s favourite punch bag, the BBC. But the de facto ban on discussing the oxymoron that is a corporate ‘free press’ strongly supports the illusion that no such contradiction exists. If even the boldest, most honest dissidents are not alerting readers to the problem, then those readers are being hung out on a hundred propaganda lines to dry.

The fatalistic impression given is that no-one and nothing can really escape the grip of corporate ‘normality’, of corporate control. Cooperation helps sell this ‘normality’ as Higher Truth – we all prioritise comfort, luxury, earning more, consuming more, travelling more.

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that every system of unaccountable power benefits from employing a handful of individuals admired for their honesty about everything except that which threatens their unaccountable employer.

We might well dismiss all of the above as speculative and inconclusive, but for the fact that the argument is given immense, urgent weight by the catastrophic failure of the left on climate change.

And yet, to reiterate, even now corporate dissidents are not engaging in this kind of soul-searching – they cannot because corporate journalists may not discuss the problem of a corporate ‘free press’ in the corporate press.

Australia’s Climate Movement Has Been Bought for a Pittance

We Suspect Silence

May 13, 213

by empathiser

“Self censorship is a powerful force, the result of the misapplication of intuition and the imperative to self aggrandise. Self censorship means choosing not to pursue the truth, a form of pragmatism that has helped activists maintain employment by satisfying an organisational remit communicated through funding arrangements and alliances with similarly funded groups. It leads to many important things being unsaid, many independent lines of inquiry being left unpursued.”

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If you follow the money in the Australian environmental scene you will find that at the end of many a cul-de-sac and dark alley there is a cluster of unaccountable American foundations. The two most prominent of these are the Rockefeller Funds and the Pew Charitable Trusts, both founded on big oil money back in the early 20th century. They represent ultra wealth transferred from corporations designed to turn a profit to foundations designed to last forever. These American foundations and their Australian counterparts like the Poola Foundation are designed, we are told, to support innovation in the non-profit sector.

My intuition tells me that many foundations exist to capture the resistance, to stymy militantism, and to feed into the messaging sphere ideas that are anti-revolutionary. After 20 years of wondering why the environmental movement was so profoundly ineffective, and being a person who always tried hard to do the right thing, I joined the action only to have my spidey senses constantly tingling. The last few years have been both strange and exhilarating. I have a sense that in my small, militant, volunteer group I am working with good and fearless people, but I also have a sense that in the wider movement I am surrounded by a herd of captives to climate alarmism. I have come to believe quite firmly that foundation money catalyses ineffectiveness, that self censorship has constrained innovation and militancy at the behest of conditional funding.

WATCH: Tim DeChristopher: “The Mainstream Climate Movement Needs to Collapse. It Needs to End”

“The Climate Movement Right Now Does Not Value Truth”

“I think that the mainstream climate movement needs to needs to collapse. It needs to end. And that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement working in those NGO jobs – they need to fail.  I think they need to be brought down.  I think they need to have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering,  and they need to create space for those historically oppressed groups.”

Video Published on Feb 25, 2014

On February 14th and 15th, the Spring Creek Project sponsored a symposium entitled “Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet”

Philippines Typhoon Disaster: The Right Place to Send Your Urgently Needed Donation

WKOG Admin: We stand by the work of Filipino Tin Alvarez. Alvarez is fully informed about the NGO-industrial-complex machinations. She will not advocate, nor work for, any org that’s not about grassroots and direct assistance for the people in The Philippines.

“I am disappointed and hurt. This is the climate crisis we have been talking/posting about. It is day 7 today. The Philippines is all over the news. Children here and abroad are turning over their piggy banks to government agencies and to the big NGOs we rightfully criticize for the big compensation their executives receive, for their lack of transparency, for their way of doing things, etc. So please, Do something.” – November 14, 2013, Activist Tin Alvarez, The Philippines

 

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November 13, 2013

A message from the coordinator of the relief efforts on the ground:

“I am coordinating with anarchists in Bacolod (central Philippines) who are already on the ground, doing relief work. Project Bulig is the name of the relief drive. The guys I’m in touch with are friends of friends, and we’ve already talked about working together.

Right now, I am anticipating in-kind/cash donations from my activist/ advocate friends in the US, Canada, and Europe. In-kind donations can be sent to my address, which I can give you in private. A comrade has been able to secure a warehouse for storage and repacking, but right now, your best bet would be my address, as I am not sure my contacts in Bacolod have room to spare for these goods.

Part of the cash donations will go to local animal welfare groups which are working with animal casualties. As expected, the Philippine government, the Philippine Red Cross, and all mainstream aid agencies, charities, and foundations have ignored non-human casualties. As a feminist and an advocate of social justice, I believe that non-human lives are not expendable, so it is only appropriate that their needs also be met”.

contact info Tin Alvarez: https://www.facebook.com/mgaibongmandaragit

As we stated in our previous post, Occupy Philippines is now accepting and would humbly ask for donations to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda. We ask for medicines, food, bottled water, blankets, towels, and animal food. In addition, we would also like to ask for used tarpaulins to make use for a makeshift shelter.

If you would like to donate, please course the donations through JOSYN PALMA, one of our admins. Shipping address:

470 Legaspi St cor Eusebio St,
Manggahan, Pasig City
Metro Manila
Philippines
1611

For international monetary donations, please PM TIN ALVAREZ for details. We cannot post the bank account details as this will be going to a bank account under her name set up for this cause. Occupy Philippines unfortunately does not qualify for a separate bank account as it is neither a set non-profit organization, charity, or company. We hope for your kind understanding.

Please inform us if you will be sending donations so we can better coordinate, and so we know who to thank and what to expect.

There will be no expiration date for donations. We will take part in the relief effort to help our brothers and sisters in West and Central Visayas– Leyte, Antique, Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan– but we intend to be there for the recovery. Due to this, we ask for your help and your support. Thank you so much, friends.

There is no excuse not to help: Pre-schooler Donates Piggybank Savings For Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ Victims

Further Reading: The Truth About the Red Cross: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2012/11/29/the-truth-about-the-red-cross/

Phillipines

FLASHBACK | Communique from COP

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December 12, 2011
by Quincy Saul

This pockmarked daybreak
Dawn gripped by night,
This is not that much-awaited light
For which friends set out filled with hope

– Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Many arrived in Durban with high hopes. They hoped that the sheer urgency of climate change, especially in Africa, would persuade world leaders and their representatives to take the necessary action to avert global catastrophe. They hoped that dissent inside the meetings would pressure the big polluters to atone for their sins. And they hoped that civil society on the outside would mobilize to change the course of history. Such hopes will haunt us all in the years to come, as we come to grips with the collective atrocity that was COP17.