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Tagged ‘Denialism‘

The Destructive Energy of Avaaz

Digital remix by: Luke Orsborne for Wrong Kind of Green

October 17, 2016

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This remix of artist James Jean’s poster for the Avaaz People’s Climate March retains Jean’s focus on a girl holding a pinwheel, which now bears a shattered peace symbol, cut by bolt of destructive energy from above. In this revision, the pinwheel alludes to the way in which the false promises of “green” energy touted by non profits like Avaaz, are overshadowed by the global system that they ultimately support, a system which continues to exploit people and the planet in the name of economic growth and warfare backed profit. The light behind the girl symbolizes the explosion of bombs falling on the people of Libya, Syria, and other sites of US aggression, and those that may yet fall with increasing intensity in the event of the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria, for which Avaaz is advocating. The precipice the girl is standing upon, a thin line between survival and total destruction, is the bombed out Libyan capital of Tripoli, which embodies the bitter reality of a world that is more interested in maintaining comfortable illusions than confronting difficult truths. Ironically, James Jean’s original poster design for the 2014 ad campaign was a winning entry in a contest initiated by Avaaz and co-produced by a group known as Art Not War.

 

 

LISTEN: The Lies They Tell. The Pitiful State of Environmentalism and its Neoliberalization

Wrong Kind of Green

October 29, 2016

The “New Economy” is Not Inclusive

“The route for real change is not via those who are already totally vested in the growth economy and have gained power through it. Rather look for power amongst those who are disenfranchised by the capital accumulating system. Give them voice. Look to organisations that care for them and if they do not exist, create them. Remember that the vast majority are disenfranchised by the current economic system.”

Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.

[Filmed by Nemnövekedés – Degrowth – Published September 9, 2016]

 

 

The Political Economy of the Paris Agreement: Preserving the Existing Social & Economic Order

Real-world Economics Review, Issue no. 75

The Political Economy of the Paris Agreement on Human Induced Climate Change: a Brief Guide

By Clive L. Spash [Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria]

 

truth

 

Excerpt:

Technological optimism is at the core of the IPCC projections and the assumptions that inform the Paris Agreement. On publication of the IPCC 5th Assessment report the official press release quoted the Chair, R.K. Pachauri, as stating that:

“To keep a good chance of staying below 2ºC, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100.”

The latter is the new rhetoric of negative emissions that relies on imagined future technologies (e.g. biotechnology, geoengineering, carbon capture and storage). The press release also reports the findings of Working group III as showing that:

“…mitigation cost estimates vary, but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption – a proxy for economic growth – grows by 1.6 to 3 percent per year over the 21st century. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this by about 0.06 percentage points.”

This major transformation of the energy basis of the economy in fossil fuels is floated in the press as having no real impact on economic growth without anyone raising a qualm. In fact Lord Stern and colleagues have been arguing that economic growth will be boosted by the energy transformation to a “new climate economy” (GCEC, 2014). Elsewhere, I have discussed some of the many fallacies of this Green Growth argument and noted the connection to a power elite (Spash, 2014). Yet this is now the dominant international position and hope of the Paris Agreement.

The whole of Article 2 is qualified by the phrase: “…in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty”. As I have noted elsewhere (Spash, 2016), the Paris Agreement cannot be read outside the context of the, October 2015, UN Resolution A/RES/70/1 “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which promotes economic growth, technology, industrialisation and energy use. Goal 8 is to sustain per capita economic growth at a rate of “at least 7 per cent gross domestic product per annum in the least developed countries”. The environmental devastation this would entail is meant to be addressed by the “endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation”, which is meaningless unless undertaken in absolute terms and that is simply impossible for the industrial economy being promoted in Goal 9. The Paris Agreement follows suit and claims that: “Accelerating, encouraging and enabling innovation is critical for an effective, long-term global response to climate change and promoting economic growth and sustainable development” (Article 10).

The ultimate concern is the threat to economic growth and this is a perspective that has been heavily lobbied for by advocates, such as Stern, of the new climate economy under the banner “better growth, better climate”. As they state: “In the long term, if climate change is not tackled, growth itself will be at risk” (GCEC, 2014a, p.9). The climate can and will be changed, but growth must not be threatened.

The negotiations around human induced climate change reveal the tensions and contradictions of the resulting policy. There are those who argue for more and better growth spurred on by new technologies to be developed via innovative corporations (GCEC, 2014). This is to be funded, as usual, by massive public investment that will ‘leverage’ private finance, or in plain terms subsidise corporate profit-making while pretending to remove market imperfections. Advocates are heavily invested in preserving the existing social and economic order as evident by the elite networks of the 1% within which they operate (Spash, 2014). The hope is for new miracle technologies to allow moving pollutants from the air to the soil and water, and reliance on treating the Earth as a mechanical toy for boys to (geo)engineer. The economics profession with its macroeconomic obsessions over jobs and growth is living in a fantasy world without any biophysical reality and merely plays along with this techno-optimist tune, and unfortunately the heterodoxy has so far done little to alter this.

The targets of Paris are not some simple internalisation of an externality that is messing-up the perfectly functioning market system. If taken seriously they are a call for a major transformation of the global economy away from its foundation on fossil fuels and energy intensive systems. As the UNFCCC’s Director for Strategy has stated:

“The objective is to put in motion a fundamental transformation in the way we use and produce energy, how we plan our cities, how we manage land and how we prepare for a changing climate and cooperate to minimise its disruptive effect. Transformation takes strategy. You need to know your destination if you are serious about reaching it” (Thorgeirsson, 2015).

Yet, while the need for transformation is now widely recognised, this is generally interpreted as being totally consistent with maintaining the same social ecological and economic structure as today. That is a structure of social inequity, ecological exploitation and an economy promoting hedonistic materialism supplied through a system of corporate and State capital accumulation. The politics of human induced climate change go to the heart of the modern industrialised capital accumulating economy and the rhetoric of growth as supplying development and progress. In the end the Paris Agreement changes nothing. The destination is the same old growth economy and that is in total contradiction with addressing human induced climate change.

Download the paper:

Clive L. Spash, “The political economy of the Paris Agreement on human induced climate change: a brief guide”,
real-world economics review, issue no. 75, xx June 2016, pp. xx-xx,
http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue75/Spash75.pdf

 

[Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

 

A Desert Oasis – A Synonym For Mirage

Wrong Kind of Green Op-ed

September 9, 2016

by Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

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Cheetahs as accessories: no rainforest required. Cheetahs are status symbols for the ultra rich as they are expensive and  illegal to obtain. (Credits: pixte.com)

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“The world’s first hotel with a tropical rainforest is set to open in Dubai. The Rosemont Hotel & Residences will open in 2018, and will be managed by Hilton Worldwide.” [Source]

It was recently revealed that Dubai is in the midst of building an actual rainforest in a luxury hotel within the city.  According to CNN, this stroke of genius (or more likely, insanity) will have the following amenities available to its guests as detailed by DJ Armin, principal architect and managing partner of ZAS Architects Dubai:

“Inside the rainforest, we’ve created a landscape akin to a full-scale tropical environment — complete with adventure trails, a sandless beach, a splash pool, waterfalls, streams and a rainforest cafe,” says Armin.

There will also be a “prehistoric Jurassic-inspired marsh.”

“Technological features include an advanced sensory rain system that creates a 360-degree experience, simulating the sensation of being surrounded by rainfall without actually getting wet.”

Sensors control where the rain will fall depending on where people are detected.

Water will be collected, stored from condensation and recycled to create a humid environment similar to a tropical rainforest.

The outdoor rainforest will be located on the top level of the entertainment podium that connects the hotel and residential towers.

The project is still at an early stage, but it appears the rainforest will be open to the public as well as hotel guests.

By any rational reasoning, this is a veritable waste of resources that is indicative of the momentary and dwindling spoils of war that man has decided to utilize in its short Pyrrhic victory with the environment itself .  Yet, this is one of many projects that are ongoing by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country in which the capital city of Dubai resides, to build a desert wonderland for anyone with enough money to experience a ‘genuine heaven on Earth’.

And although this dance with fantasy is beyond delusional as this incessant growth continues presently, there is an acknowledgement by the leaders in the UAE that the ongoing building of this dream world is in danger by their acknowledgement that an absolute storm is brewing in the form of catastrophic climate change.  F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”, but this missive doesn’t hold true when it comes to conflicting ideas that are manifested in the tangible aspect of everyday life which can’t exist under illogical circumstances.  Hence, the UAE can’t in one hand have an entire economic system  whose solvency is wholly dependent on 85% of its exports being oil and at the same time address the fact that said oil being exported is responsible for the entire region in which the country resides no longer able to maintain human life in the not too distant future.

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And at a more detailed level, this dreamland built by way of the largesse available through the amount of oil produced per day in the country means that the cause of their ultimate demise will be the liquid that lies underneath the feet of its citizens and provides them the economic resources to build such opulent edifices as an artificial rainforest. The UAE is currently producing approximately 2.9 million barrels of oil a day.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a barrel of oil constitutes 0.43 metric tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere.  This means that the UAE’s oil production is responsible for daily emissions equivalent to 1.25 million metric tons of carbon and yearly emissions of 455 million metric tons.  And although this is a small percentage of the total amount of oil and overall fossil fuels that are drilled, mined and consumed each day, it still illustrates how the United Arab Emirates is complicit in its inevitable demise.   It is but one brick in a wall constituted of the fossil fuel industry that is built upon a global community (mainly Western nations)  consuming 94 million barrels of oil a day (2014 estimates). Yet, it is still a very vital component of the oil equilibrium that allows the economy to function which is to the overall detriment of the physical world we depend on for our continued existence.

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Source: Squares Real Estate

And as the rainforests are an indispensable component of our global ecosystem that sustains life on Earth and has now been relegated to the décor of a hotel for the rich and famous, we must ask ourselves what exactly the frivolity placed on such an important part of our survival is causing at the grassroots level.  To ascertain the precarious situation in which the once expansive rainforest, the lungs of the Earth, are in currently, it is important to look at the destruction that has been caused and its continuing to be placed on its ever weakening back. The rainforests are a network of vegetation that is found  in Asia, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, as well as small vestiges in the Pacific Northwest, with the largest expanse being that found in South America.  At one time, rainforests covered 14% of the land surface; now it is a mere 6% and dropping precipitously.  This is almost entirely due to man’s insatiable need for consumer growth through extracting irreplaceable resources and minerals from these regions.  At the current rate of destruction, which is about 1 acre each second, the rainforest will be wholly destroyed by the middle of the 21st century, the most optimistic of assessments.  With the loss of this forestation, the diversity of species will continue to fall at apocalyptic rates and ensure that human life will dissolve with all the other species that are being designated for extinction with each passing day.

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Yet, the ornamental aspects of biodiversity ensure that the removal of the rainforest from its natural habitat to a small facsimile amount  will go on unabated for the foreseeable future.  Consequently, the people have been indoctrinated into believing that it is now possible to visit a self contained rainforest with all the Western amenities and luxuries you can imagine at your disposal in the coziest of conditions.

Geoengineering for consumerism within a sweltering desert – branded as sustainability.

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The orangutan is just one species of thousands losing their rainforest habitat to the Western whims (“sustainable” palm oil, “green” biomass, FSC-certified logging, etc.) of industrial civilization.

This is the maniacal ongoing process of removing an actual rainforest from where it can thrive and maintain itself as a living organism and instead transplanting it to an area where not only vegetation is no longer sustainable, but where life itself may be unsustainable in the not too distant future.  It is beyond maddening to see this type of behavior by anyone who is aware of the consequences of our daily actions in terms of the desecration of what may be all living organisms on the planet Earth.

The folly of man is to believe that science will be the magic elixir that will sustain planetary survival outside of a natural word.  Hence, all the components that make a living, breathing planet have no usage any longer as we transition from a natural world to an artificial one. As alchemy, which was at one time deemed a science, has been proven to be useless, at what juncture are we to say that science and technology is rubbish in being ascendant to nature?  As science is at the basis of all advances in a technocratic society, such as the Western world, the problems caused by the resulting technology are increasing at such a rate that any honest assessment must come to the following conclusion:  Even though modern technology may have solved certain woes in societies, subsequent matters have worsened globally through utilization of these technologies that are more numerous in nature and even just as bad or worse than the original troubles.  Wherever the line resides between a sane and insane world, it has definitely been crossed when man actually has scaled to the mythical and illogical heights of believing it can actually displace a rainforest from its natural environment to a replication of sorts in the most unnatural of places.

Palm-Dubai-UAE-Extension

“Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah will soon bear yet another pricey piece of “fruit,” with the manmade archipelago—one of three artificial islands in the UAE city—plotting to add yet another item to its long list of lodges by 2017.Sporting an estimated cost of $1.4 billion, the sweet resort—whose interiors will be dressed by London-based company GA Design—is being touted as a “foodie paradise,” with several upscale restaurants (led of course by award-winning chefs) inked into its blueprint, on top of an assortment of retail spots. One of the structure’s coolest components is undoubtedly its sky pool, set to sit 295 feet off the ground near its median.” [Source]

Out-Of-This-World-Water-Discus-Hotel-1

“This bold project belongs to Deep Ocean Technology (DOT), a company that plans to develop spectacular underwater hotels for luxe travelers. One of these hotels, called the Water Discus Hotel, will be built in Dubai, and it will look very much like an alien spaceship that landed into the coral-populated ocean.” [Source]

As there are definite undertones and intimations of a problem brewing by just the existence of these enclaves, such as the luxury hotels in Dubia, that are used as enclosures to divide the haves from the have nots, there is no glass thick enough or technology advanced enough or place removed far away enough to distance those who reside inside the domes of safety from the ramifications of the same inventions that give them their privileges in life.  Even though the administrators of Dubai have been able to actually devise temporary settings that mirror the mirage of any desert dweller who has lost his mind due to the extremities of heat prostration, the tangible aspects of it are just as imaginary when it comes to the realities of longevity and sustainability.

A mirage is just a mirage – no matter how many people profess its presence is anything but.

 

 

 

 

Days of Celebration – For Those None The Wiser

Wrong Kind of Green Op-ed

September 8, 2016

by Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

 

“Mother Water – don’t they understand that you’re a living being? ” — Hija de la laguna, Peru

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Photo: Beautiful daughter of a fisherman. Kalri Lake, Pakistan.

 

Did you know that last week (August 28 – September 2) was World Water Week in Stockholm?  It is an annual week where the world is focused on global water issues. This is an acknowledgement that there is a problem with freshwater scarcity at a global level and an attempt to address it accordingly by the Western world. As commendable as this is on the surface, when you look underneath the rug of that which is comprised of mainstream acceptance that the environmental problems are worrisome (with water being one of almost countless others), it seems as if these various activities can best be described as giving a pretense that there is some actual work being done to solve the particular problems at hand. To demonstrate the flimsiness of it all, the average person is given a veritable buffet of choices regarding which particular problem he or she wishes to personally address by action.

water week 2015.

Therefore, if you don’t actually concern yourself with water scarcity, yet you feel as if species extinction and poaching is a problem, then you can focus on World Wildlife Day on March 3rd. If you are abhorred by the amount of deforestation being committed in this world, then there is always the International Day of Forests on March 21st. If you have a problem with the amount of wetlands being destroyed globally, then you can always circle the calendar on February 2nd to “protest” this ongoing loss loss (a “click” of a mouse defining the word “protest” in the West). And here are some more days that the average citizen can choose amongst an abundance of “protest” throughout the ongoing year:

  • World Ocean’s Day – June 8th
  • World Population Day – July 11th
  • Ecological Debt Day – September 8th
  • World Soil Day – December 5th

And the list goes on and on and on.

And after all these events that have been devised by the Western world over the past few decades to focus on all the particular issues, there has been little to no action achieved in having any effect on the ever worsening ecocide. Therefore, by any unbiased, honest opinion, these daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly celebrations that happen annually are just superficial attempts at the establishment giving the semblance of action on all the issues that are plaguing us as a species and nature as a whole. It is sloganeering for a sparse number of people in the Western world to feel as if they are collectively being socially responsible in regards to our ongoing quixotic war with the environment that we will inevitably lose in the most spectacular of fashions. The most insidious aspect of these days of recognition is what it does to individualize all of these particular issues to give the participants the idea that they are not interconnected. For example, World Ocean’s Day gives a person the ability to “protest” the dire state of our oceans while continuing to emit carbon throughout his or her daily lives that is the cause of ocean acidification, which ultimately is one of the primary issues plaguing all sea life and its environment.

Hence, there is no discussion about an actual change in the daily lives of people in the Western world or the smattering of nations that are attempting to replicate Western lifestyles and also act as the manufacturing base of the Global North, such as China and India.

To illustrate the fallacious aspects of these endeavors, let’s look on the fatuousness of World Car Free Day, which is upcoming on September 22nd. This is a day set aside for people in the Western world to not use their cars one day of the year as a sign of how carbon emissions are an environmental problem. In 2015, the global carbon emissions were at 32.1 billion tons. Although there are peaks and valleys of this during an entire calendar year, this is still an average of 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions daily.

In order to combat this egregious emission of carbon which is the basis for our ongoing atmospheric catastrophe (represented most problematically in climate change), these handful of events that leave it up to the volition of the average citizen to partake in are portrayed (or more likely perpetrated) as shining a light on the problem as a way of ultimately solving a particular issue. All evidence points to this as being anything but the case.

But in order to digest how futile this type of endeavor is, the focus must be on the amount of change elicited at a granular level on this one day of sacrifice. As the United States is hands down the worst perpetrator of carbon emissions globally per capita, in this instance regarding passenger vehicles, the data for this country will be utilized as the baseline for determining the worst possible case scenario regarding carbon emissions due to the cars and trucks in which usage is only being asked to be temporarily suspended for a single day. To begin with, the annual carbon emissions per car in the United States is approximately 4.7 metric tons per year, which means that the daily emission per car is about .012 metric tons.  This means that for the estimated 253 million passenger vehicles on the U.S. roadways there is a total daily emission of 3.25 million metric tons that the U.S. population is responsible for daily.

Therefore, utilizing the most extreme data available being that of the typical U.S. citizen and extrapolating the .012 metric tons emissions to every driver across the world committed to biking for a single agreed upon day, the most that could ever be achieved by ceasing all passenger vehicle transportation globally (with an estimate of 1.2 billion as of 2014) would be 14.4 million metric tons per day, which is a paltry 14.5% of the total global emissions from all sources.   And to further illustrate how miniscule that amount is regarding a day that is only symbolic and not substantive, the 14.4 million metric tons that could potentially be saved on Car Free Day would only be an infinitesimal .04% of yearly emissions.

By all evidence, this is the definition of the term “a drop in the bucket”.

Consequently, this clearly illustrates how the few moments per year that are utilized to bring a certain level of consciousness to the lay people are wholly useless. In perpetuating these annual events as a salve, it gives the individual participant in the Global North the false reality that he or she is actually making a difference in their singular choices of “protest” regarding what they personally feel is an issue.

The great black American social activist Audre Lorde said ““There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.”. This is no more true than when it comes to the environment when individual choices of what is considered important have no effect upon the global structures that are causing the profuse amount of carbon emissions (i.e., the economic system of capitalism, the reliance of fossil fuels for perpetual growth, the industrial basis of Western civilization, et. al.). Until we as a global community are willing to tackle all these issues at a macro level, then the choices we make as single citizens make no difference in the grand scheme of things and are only used to afford us the ability to sleep better at night with the false belief that we are being personally responsible.

As a global community our daily micro choices make a small difference and as long as the overwhelming majority have the ability to partake in all the endeavors that are the cause of carbon emissions, then any individual choices not to contribute in the readily available ability to destroy the Earth through Western comforts will be for naught.  As we have had a mountainous number of celebratory events since the first Earth Day in 1972 and have seen carbon emissions climb exponentially during this interval, we can say definitively that these aforementioned events have been ineffectual in any change in the behavior of the people in the Global North who are almost entirely responsible for the voluminous amount of carbon emissions.

On the flip side, very few understand that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population [Source: page 77, Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)] Thus, one can legitimately argue that with over 7 billion people on our finite planet, only 1%-25% of the global populace actually has the capacity to slow down global warming – as they are the very ones creating it. But rather than dismantle the systems and western consumptive patterns that keep such disparities and horrific conflicts intact, the NPIC successfully creates discourse. They redirect what would be necessary and critical gestures to promote gestures that collectively will not disrupt current power structures, which are then in turn, glorified by media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex.

An example of this would be turning off the water while brushing your teeth, ignoring the massive waste of fresh water due to industrial agriculture and nuclear. [Consider that thermoelectric power plants, including nuclear plants, make up 40% of freshwater usage in the US, while agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption] In doing so, we collectively we keep the wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of others, many who live unbearably. Well intentioned gestures become empty gestures at best as long as we ignore root causes of our multiple and escalating crises. This very minority (the 1%, that is anyone who can afford to get on a plane) are brainwashed into believing further consumption (under the false guise of “green) will alleviate our climate crisis – which in reality – only accelerates it. This can easily be compared to the false solution of offsets – essentially little more than a green-sanctioned licence to continue polluting and destroying ecosystems, while simultaneously exploiting the world’s most vulnerable, in the rapid race to convert all natural resources, blood and sweat into capital. Far from calling these what they are – crimes against humanity and cultural acquiescence to global-scale progenycide – our society recognizes this as just another day on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Ultimately, we are past the eleventh hour of doing what is necessary to address all the social changes necessary to combat our ongoing global environmental catastrophe. Time will tell if this will ever be addressed accordingly. Yet, the doomsday clock keeps on ticking. The question is if anyone is listening.

 

WATCH: Alberta’s Environment Minister Commends Leap Manifesto’s Tzeporah Berman for Helping Craft the Tar Sands Deal

 

MUST WATCH INTERVIEW (03:57)

 

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Leap Manifest Brainstorm Session

Pictured above (May, 2015) is Tzeporah Berman (first row, third from right). Berman is one of many who contributed to the text of the “Leap Manifesto”, an initiative founded by Naomi Klein’sThis Changes Everything” project. It is critical to note the almost non-existence of non-anglos in positions of power and decision making (with the exception being photo ops) within the foundation financed “movements”. This institutionalized racism has become so normalized that it goes almost unnoticed unless it is pointed out (as in this instance).

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Below: Video Published on Jul 7, 2016

“Bold New Climate Policy In Canada’s Oil Sands”

#WE MEAN BUSINESS

“How Oil Companies And Environmental Organizations Are Creating New Conversations About Decarbonization In A Resource Rich Economy”

Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business, introduced the final discussion of the morning, between Steve Williams, CEO, Suncor, one of Canada’s biggest oil companies, and climate campaigner and strategy advisor Tzeporah Berman, about their innovative collaboration which led to ground-breaking new climate policies on Canada’s oil sands.” [Source]

 


 

Further reading:

The Collaborative Model Takes Root in Alberta’s Tar Sands: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/12/08/the-collaborative-model-takes-root-in-albertas-tar-sands/

 

 

The Dark Side of Renewable Energy: The Bottleneck of a Low-carbon Future

China Dialogue

August 25, 2016

by Liu Hongqiao

 

Rare earth metals are essential for wind turbines and electric vehicles but potential short supply may become a limiting factor, writes Liu Hongqiao

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When it rains untreated residual chemicals from an abandoned leaching pond flow into Ganzhou’s surface water. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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A pre-treatment pool at a mine site. These pools are a requirement of China’s new environment standards. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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A leaching pond in an open-air mining site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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Weeds growing over abandoned leaching ponds and PVC pipes at the Zudong mine site. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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An abandoned factory in Zudong mine site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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An abandoned rare earth factory at the Zudong mine site in Ganzhou. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

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A board in Ganzhou saying, “to conserve water and soil is to protect human life”. (Image by Liu Hongqiao)

Rare earth metals, hard-to-find materials, with unfamiliar names such as lanthanum, neodymium and europium, are used in wind and solar energy projects, but dwindling supplies could hinder a roll-out of low carbon technologies and slow China’s shift away from coal power.

These compounds, which are highly toxic when mined and processed, also take a heavy environmental toll on soil and water, posing a conundrum for policymakers in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of rare earths.

In 2012 the Chinese government named the city of Ganzhou, in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, a “rare earths kingdom”; even though at that time its rare earth reserves were already almost depleted.

According to a rare earths white paper issued by the State Council News Office in 2012, the reserves to extraction ratio for rare earth elements in southern China was 15. In other words, if mining continued at the existing rate, those reserves rich in medium and heavy rare earth elements (MHREEs) would only last for another 15 years.

Three years later and 6,000 miles away in Paris, 190 countries signed the historic Paris Climate Agreement, including plans to introduce a greater share of wind and solar power in a “decarbonised” future. But few of the delegates gathered in Paris seemed to realise how important one small south-central Chinese city would be to achieving this target; as almost all the clean, smart and low-carbon technologies are reliant on rare earths.

This prompts the questions: do we have enough rare earths to build the clean and smart future we’re imagining; can China, supplier of 90% of the global rare earths over the last 20 years, meet expected growth in demand; and what will the environmental consequences be.

Rare earths kingdom

Chinese geologists working in Ganzhou fifty years ago discovered ion-absorbing rare earths; a discovery that restructured the world’s supply of rare earths. China replaced the US as the biggest producer of rare earths and Ganzhou rapidly became the world’s largest producer of MHREEs.

Despite rapidly depleting reserves Ganzhou still accounts for more than half of all MHREEs produced in China.

MHREE: Medium heavy rare earth metald. LREE: Light rare earth metals.

A visit to the mines and industrial parks of Ganzhou gives no sense of a glorious “kingdom”. It’s a scene of devastation: crude open air mines and smelters, and rough muddy attempts at restoring the landscape. It’s a sight hard to associate with the environmental technologies that rare earths are used in.

Water in and around the mining area is severely polluted. According to China Environmental News, the water supply for 30,000 people in the county of Longnan alone has been affected by rare earth mining, with 40,000 mu (6,589 acres) of farmland seeing reduced yields or complete harvest failure.

Over a decade of excessive extraction has left the surface water in the Zudong mining area, China’s biggest source of ion-absorption rare earths, with ammonia and total nitrogen levels far above safe standards; while groundwater is nowhere near up to minimum drinking water standards.

In April 2012 a cross-ministry investigation headed up by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology found 302 abandoned rare earth mining sites in Ganzhou, with 97.34 square kilometres affected. It would take 70 years just to deal with the 190 million tonnes of mining waste left behind.

Industrial profile of Ganzhou

Black market

China’s government says the country “meets 90% of the world’s demand for rare earths, but has only 23% of global reserves.” In the early 1990s China overtook the US to become the world’s biggest producer and exporter of rare earths and since then has virtually become a monopoly supplier, with some rare earth products produced only in China. If you trace them back to the source the vast majority of fluorescent lamps, off-shore wind turbines, electric and hybrid cars, smartphones and personal electronic devices have, thanks to the rare earths used in their components, “Chinese DNA”.

According to the US Geological Survey, at one point China was accounting for 98% of global rare earth output. In 2015 that figure still reached 85%.

China plays an even bigger role in the world’s rare earth trade than is apparent on the surface because of its black market. The main importers who benefit from China’s rare earths production, such as the US, Korea and Japan, as well as the manufacturers and brands who use rare earths in their products, often tap into a substantial black market in rare earths. Every year tens of thousands of tonnes of rare earth ores are illegally mined and traded, leaving China through the black market.

Those higher up the supply chain turn a blind eye to this, and international cooperation on law enforcement is minimal. With no international traceability system, such as that for conflict minerals, companies have no way of monitoring supply chains and we cannot know if the electric cars we drive or the smartphones we use contain illegally mined and smuggled rare earths.

The huge profits to be made means Ganzhou is plagued by illegal mining. The China Rare Earth Industry Association estimates that in 2013 the actual supply of rare earths in southern China was over 50,000 tonnes, and over 40,000 tonnes in 2014. However the Ministry of Land and Resources only permitted output of 17,900 tonnes per year for that period. That means the black market may be two to three times the size of the legitimate market.

And rare earth mining, whether legal or not, entails shocking environmental costs. Research has found that producing one tonne of rare earth ore (in terms of rare earth oxides) produces 200 cubic metres of acidic waste water. The production of the rare earths needed to meet China’s demand for wind turbines up to 2050 (in a scenario of radical wind power expansion) will result in the release of 80 million cubic metres of waste water – enough to fill Hangzhou’s West Lake eight times over. Not to mention the emissions from the rest of the product lifecycle; smelting, separation, processing, transportation.

Business, policy-makers and consumers all need to think again: what actions can we take to ensure we meet our low-carbon goals in a way which is friendlier to both the environment and the climate? It is after all both contradictory and unjust to sacrifice public health and the environment in a resource-producing area for the sake of low-carbon development.

Source: China Water Risk

New challenges in a post-Paris era

In April over 170 countries visited New York to sign up to the Paris Agreement, buttressing attempts at “decarbonisation”.

That means now is the time to look again at the link between China’s rare earth resources and the clean, low-carbon and smart technologies relying on those.

Over the last 20 years the environment has paid the price for China’s economic successes.

The country’s rare earth reserves are much depleted; environmental costs in the trillions of yuan have not been factored into market prices; and a rampant black market in rare earths, both at home and abroad, has exacerbated environmental damage and the loss of resources.

This has left the Chinese government with no option but to cover huge environmental remediation costs, while those living near rare earth mines are directly or indirectly suffering environmental and health problems.

Another issue is that China is no longer simply a supplier and exporter or rare earths as domestic demand for these resources has increased sharply. China is the main driver of global investment in wind power. In a scenario for radical expansion of wind power produced by the National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute, China could see installed wind power capacity of 2,000,000 megawatts (2 terawatts) by 2050. A typical 2 megawatt turbine contains 341-363 kilograms of the rare earth neodymium and about 59 kilograms of dysprosium.

The quantities of rare earths needed just to allow for wind power growth are astounding, and this is before the increased rare earth demand arising from the “China Manufacturing 2025” plan, which aims to prioritise development in electric vehicles, marine engineering equipment and astronautic and aeronautic manufacturing, are considered.

China may not even be able to meet domestic demand, never mind increasing demand from other nations. According to UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates, global demand for rare earths will be between 200,000 and 240,000 tonnes annually by 2020, with 70% of that demand coming from China. Even if China makes full use of its entire mining quota, there is still a gap of 35,000 to 63,000 tonnes between new annual output and expected growth in demand. How will that gap be met?

Looking at rare earths throws up other unanswered questions about our low-carbon future. How will all that waste water be handled? Will there be new drinking water safety issues? Will the costs of better technology and management, intended to reduce emissions, be reflected in rare earth prices?

Back in 2014 the Chinese government declared a “war on pollution”, which was followed up by “history’s toughest” environmental protection law and standards for the rare earth industry on emissions and the use of water and energy. This means compliance costs for the industry are bound to rise; low-cost rare earth mining and processing are a thing of the past in China. EU and US research bodies have pointed out that there will be a shortage of light rare earths in the short and mid-term, while the shortage of medium and heavy rare earths will be in the mid and long-term. The combination of increased costs and shortages mean price rises are inevitable.

The world must ask if its low-carbon future may be limited by these “industrial vitamins”.

[Liu Hongqiao is lead author in the China Water Risk report, Rare Earths: Shades Of Grey – Can China continue to fuel our clean and smart future? ]

Cognitive Dissonance Reigns in Louisiana – The Transition from Myth to Reality

WKOG Op-ed

August 18, 2016

By Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

flood 3

Residents wade through floodwaters from heavy rains in the Chateau Wein Apartments in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Heavy downpours pounded parts of the central U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday, forcing the rescue of dozens of people stranded in homes by waist-high water and leaving one man dead who became trapped by floodwaters. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

As the current political nominees pander to their bases over the next few months in hopes of occupying the White House where the next occupant will be in the driver’s seat of the United States as it leads the Western world in destroying the biosphere we depend on for species continuance, there is a deluge of epic proportions happening in Louisiana. Although there are some mainstream news stories concerning this ongoing catastrophe, it has not reached the level of everyday importance that it should considering the ramifications of this being one of an ever increasing amount of climate catastrophes, domestically in the U.S. and globally across the world. As Louisiana is a notoriously conservative state whose elected representatives comprise a who’s who of climate change denial, a cynical individual would have to say that it is poetic justice for this region to now experience the end result of policies supported by the masses collectively by way of its chosen leaders.

Floods 2

A handout picture provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a flooded area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Aug. 15, 2016. MELISSA LEAKE/US COAST GUARD/HAN / EPA

Therefore, in an unbiased look at the political extremists that comprise the state house in Louisiana and those in Washington, D.C., it must be asked what has been learned by the residents of Louisiana from the time of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most horrific of ‘natural disasters’ in modern U.S history, to the present day? Even though the truth is that the levee system was faulty due to a crumbling, under maintained, neglected infrastructure and its inevitable collapse caused the New Orleans flooding, the intensity level of the storm was ultimately the catalyst for the levee breach and storms of its kind have increased since that moment in history, all due to climate change. Yet, since that time we have seen the following responses by the inhabitants of that woeful state:

  • Former Louisiana State Representative Lenar Whitney has called climate change a hoax
  • Louisiana senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy signed a letter asking that FEMA eliminate the requirement that states address climate change in disaster planning to receive federal funding
  • Former Governor Bobby Jindal said that climate change was a ‘trojan horse’ for more government regulation
  • S. House Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) stated that climate change is a myth and doesn’t need to be addressed
  • Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) said that climate change isn’t a threat and is fighting even the toothless White House legislation with a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to curtail government spending in this regard

 

What do these people have in common? They are all individuals that were elected in the state of Louisiana AFTER Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Therefore, this has been the response by the masses to the death spiral of their state: open and blatant disregard of the truth by the populace in electing officials such as these. Even among the presumptive more ‘climate change friendly’ Democrats in the state, there hasn’t been much discussion by these party politicians regarding the cause being climate change, as Democratic governor John Bel Edwards has discussed the problem, yet has not come out and placed the flooding at the feet of climate change. Hence, at best, the establishment is sidestepping the issue presently and will continue to act like it is nonexistent by its actions in-between these occurrences, which are becoming shorter and shorter in duration.

This August 14, 2016 US Coast Guard handout photo shows Coast Guard personel evacuating people from a floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Emergency crews in flood-devastated Louisiana have rescued more than 20,000 people after catastrophic inundations that left at least five dead, news reports said August 15. As many as 10,000 people are living in shelters after a weekend of torrential rains that has prompted the federal government to declare a disaster, according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon GILES / US Coast Guard / AFPThis August 14, 2016 US Coast Guard handout photo shows Coast Guard personel evacuating people from a floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Emergency crews in flood-devastated Louisiana have rescued more than 20,000 people after catastrophic inundations that left at least five dead, news reports said August 15. As many as 10,000 people are living in shelters after a weekend of torrential rains that has prompted the federal government to declare a disaster, according to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon GILES / US Coast Guard / AFP

 

Also among right wing pundits, who are the voice of the primarily conservative citizens inhabiting the state of Louisiana that are underwater now, there is denial of climate change being a factor in this catastrophe or its presence at all. Of course, these pundits offer words, but no resources to address the ongoing disaster, other than more plaudits for the same market economy which is the cause of their undoing.

So, it begs the question:  when will Americans stop being their own worst enemies?  As there is much debate by some people regarding the efficacy of Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE), it is the modern day American citizens, like those in Louisiana, that continue the behavior which lends the most credence to the argument that we will face species extinction in the not too distant future. The individual actions of the majority of voters in the state of Louisiana and their elected officials is a microcosm of the American mentality as a whole, where it can’t and won’t accept the fragility of our existence on this Earth or digest the ramifications of these set of living circumstances.

Floods 3

This aerial image shows flooded areas in Denhamp Springs, La., on Aug. 13, 2016. (Patrick Dennis / The Advocate)

Hence, these disasters will continue unabated in the near term and definitely continue to grow in ferocity and intensity with the coming years. When will the masses of people begin to take this with seriousness that it needs to be taken is anyone’s guess. Yet as the old saying goes, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Since that is the case, the future does not bode well for those in Louisiana or any of us in the West or the world as a whole since we continue to be the enemy of the drastic changes necessary to circumvent the ongoing ecocide to any type of appreciable degree.

Although these words are not hopeful or positive, they are honest. This is something that is wholly missing in the mainstream discussion about climate change. Or more importantly, the dialogue regarding what we must do to address it in attempt to stave it off, be it futile at this juncture or otherwise.

As religious faith, especially of the Christian persuasion, is a pillar of the American landscape, what we are now learning is that close to 40 inches of rain are to be feared a lot more than a biblical (or mythical) rain inundation of 40 days and 40 nights. Will we heed the warning? All signs point to this not being the case.

And like any time that faith is put before facts, an open, honest conversation about climate change is literally heresy in these times. Yet, the truth is the truth. And the current washing away of Louisiana is proof of this whether anyone wants to accept it or not.

 

No Soil & Water Before 100% Renewable Energy

January 24, 2016

 

Many say we can have 100% renewable energy by 2050. This is factually incorrect.

We can have 100% renewable electricity production by 2050.

But electricity production is only 18% of total world energy demand.

82% of total world energy demand is NOT electricity production.

The other 82% of the world’s energy is used to extract minerals to make roads, cement, bricks, glass, steel and grow food so we can eat and sleep. Solar panels and wind turbines will not be making cement or steel anytime soon. Why? Do you really want to know? Here we go.

TWED = Total World Energy Demand

18% of TWED is electrical grid generation.

82% of TWED is not electrical grid generation.

In 20 years, solar & wind energy is up from 1% to 3% of TWED.

Solar & wind power are projected to provide 6% of TWED by 2030.

When you hear stories about solar & wind generating
50% of all humanity’s electrical power by 2050,
that’s really only 9% of TWED because
100% of electrical production is 18% of TWED.

But, it takes 10X as much solar & wind energy to close 1 fossil fuel power plant simply because they don’t produce energy all the time.

Reference Link: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n6/full/nclimate1451.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMATE-201206

Reference Link:
https://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/renewable-energy-hope-or-hype/

That means it will take 10 X 18% of TWED to close all fossil power plants with intermittent power.

Research says it will take 4 X 82% of TWED for a 100% renewable energy transition. But then again, whoever trusts research?

10 X 18% + 4 X 82% = 100% Renewable TWED.

CONCLUSION:

We require 10X the fossil electrical grid energy we use now just to solve 18% of the emissions problem with solar & wind power. This also means that even if we use 100% efficient Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for all the world’s electricity generation, we would still only prevent 18% of our emissions. 100% efficient CCS is very unlikely. Switching to electric vehicles would only double electrical demand while most of our roads are made out of distilled oil sludge.

These figures do not include massive electrical storage and grid infrastructure solar & wind require. Such infrastructure is hundreds of millions of tons of materials taking decades to construct, demanding even more energy and many trillions of dollars. With that kind of money in the offing, you can see why some wax over-enthused.

Solar & wind systems last 30 years meaning we will always have to replace them all over the world again 50% sooner than fossil power plants.

Solar and wind power are an energy trap.

It takes 1 ton of coal to make 6-12 solar panels.

Business As Usual = BAU

In 15 years 40% of humanity will be short of water with BAU.

In 15 years 20% of humanity will be severely short of water.

Right now, 1 billion people walk a mile every day for water.

In 60 years humanity will not have enough soil to grow food says Scientific American. They call it, “The End of Human Agriculture.” Humanity’s soil is eroding and degrading away at 24 million acres per year.  And, when they say 60 years they don’t mean everything is wonderful until the last day of the 59th year. We will feel the heat of those words in much less than 30 years. Soil loss rates will only increase with severe droughts, storms and low-land floods. Here’s what BAU really looks like.

50% of humanity’s soil will be gone in 30 years.

50% of humanity will lack water in 30 years.

50% of humanity will go hungry in 30 years.

A 100% TWED transition takes 50 years minimum. It is a vastly more difficult and complex goal than you are told.

Reference Link:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/12/four-billion-people-face-severe-water-scarcity-new-research-finds

Reference Link:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

We are losing earth’s soil and fresh water faster than we can effect 100% renewable TWED.

In 25 years civilization will end says Lloyds of London and the British Foreign Office.

In my opinion, in 30 years we won’t have enough fossil fuel for a 100% renewable TWED transition.

This is the most important fact I’ve learned:

Renewable Energy is Unsustainable
without massive energy demand destruction

Humanity will destroy its soil and water faster than we can switch to renewable energy with BAU. We cannot sustain economic growth with renewable energy. Without massive political-economic change, civilization will collapse with 100% certainty. But, don’t worry, I like to fix things.

Animal Agriculture = AA

Humans + Livestock = 97% of the weight of all land vertebrate biomass

Humans + Livestock = 80% of the cause of all land-air extinctions

Humans + Livestock = 50% of the use of all land surface area

Humans + Livestock = 40% consumption of all land plant growth *
* Net Primary Production.

50% of the soy grown in South America is shipped over to China to feed their pigs. Rainforests and deep-rooted scrub are cleared to grow animals & feed so that their required fresh water is in reality a sky river exported in boats to China and Europe leaving little moisture in the air to reach São Paulo. Since rainforest roots are so thick they don’t require very much, or even good, soil;  this leaves rainforest soil so poor and thin that it degrades and erodes faster when exposed to the elements.

The Himalayan mountains are heating 2X faster than the planet and many fear that China will run out of water in 15 years by 2030.

50% of China’s rivers have vanished since 1980.

60% of China’s groundwater is too poisoned to touch.

50% of China’s cropland is too poisoned to safely grow food.

Animal Agriculture will destroy our soil and water long before we can effect 100% intermittent TWED transition with BAU.

BAU means 7 billion people will not stop eating meat and wasting food without major $$$ incentive. Meaning a steadily rising carbon tax on meat. Just saying that can get you killed in some places.

Without using James Hansen’s 100% private tax dividends to carbon tax meat consumption out of the market earth will die. 100% private tax dividends means 100% for you, 0% for government.

100% for you,
    0% for gov.

The funny thing is that meat and fire saved our ancestors from extinction and now meat and fire will cause mass extinction of all the life we love on earth. Survival is not an optional menu item as is eating meat. We have to act now, not 5 years from now, or forever be not remembered as the least greatest generation because there’ll be no one left to remember us.

Michael Mann says we will lock-in a 2 degree temperature rise in 3 years for 2036 with BAU. Ocean fish will be gone in less than 25 years simply because of the BAU of meat consumption. The BAU of fishing kills everything in its path producing lots of waste kill. We are stealing all the Antarctic Ocean’s krill just to sell as a health supplement. You can learn a lot about fishing by watching “Cowspiracy” on Netflix.

We cannot let governments get control of carbon markets like how Sanders, Klein and McKibben want government to get 40% of your carbon tax dividend money. Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben are funded by the Rockefellers. Klein’s latest video about herself was funded by the oil-invested Ford Foundation. This is 100% in direct opposition to James Hansen’s tax dividend plan and immoral. Hansen said that governments should get 0% of that money, not 40%.  I strongly believe your carbon dividends should be in a new open-source world e-currency directly deposited to your phone to be phased in over 10 years. But, I’m kinda simple that way.

Google: Rockefellers fund Bill McKibben. Believe me, the Rockefellers don’t fund 350.org out of the kindness of their hearts. To learn why they would do such a thing, you can watch the educational video at the bottom of this page.

Reference Link:
Rockefellers behind ‘scruffy little outfit’

Reference Link:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/12/04/can-climate-change-cure-capitalism/

James Hansen repeated at COP21 that his 100% private carbon tax dividends would unite Democrats and Republicans because government would be 100% excluded. Socialists like Sanders, Klein and McKibben want government to control 40% of that money. They are divisive and Republicans will never accept their revolutionary rhetoric. We don’t have time for this endless fighting. Forget the Socialist vs. Capitalist mentality. We barely even have time to unite, and nothing unites like money. Environmentalism in the 21st century is about a revolving door of money and power for elite socialists and capitalists. Let’s give everyone a chance to put some skin in the game.

Reference Link: http://grist.org/climate-energy/sanders-and-boxer-introduce-fee-and-dividend-climate-bill-greens-tickled-pink/

What humans & livestock have done so far:

We are eating up our home.

99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.

97% of Tigers gone since 1914.

90% of Lions gone since 1993.

90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.

90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.

90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.

80% of Antarctic Krill gone since 1975.

80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.

50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.

40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.

30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.

70% of Marine Birds gone since 1950.

28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.

28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

97% – Humans & Livestock are 97% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

10,000 years ago we were 0.01% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

Humans and livestock caused 80% of land-air vertebrate species extinctions and occupy half the land on earth. Do you think the new 2-child policy in China favours growth over sustainability? The Zika virus could be a covert 1% population control measure for all I know. Could the 1% be immune? I don’t know, but I know this…

1 million humans, net, added to earth every 4½ days.

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/30/10872878/world-population-map

Spot The Solar Fig Leaf That Will Cover China’s Environmental Degradation

Learn why the Rockefellers fund Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein.

You may well wonder how I know all this, and I would like to tell you that when my dog Loki licks my face during a hangover I can hear his mind talking to space angels, but the reality is that I’m an old man who cuts grass in a trailer park in Canada and there’s not too much else to think about, so take it from me, you can search any statement, but just don’t get bogged down so you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Here is a more detailed post I wrote early 2015. https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/311m7d/collapse_data_cheat_sheet/

Here’s a bunch of stuff I wrote on the collapse sub-reddit where I sooner or later provide a lot of supporting links for my arguments.
https://www.reddit.com/user/BeezleyBillyBub/

Reference Link: Wadhams slays the Q&A @ 1:15:30 !!!

https://youtu.be/O854kS0-AYw

 Ode to a Matrix Clone

https://youtu.be/1UYaP8uv0SE

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

April 22, 2016

by Cory Morningstar

 

Part fourteen of an investigative series

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

Divestment Launch Goes Global

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Speakers:

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

 

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

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

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

peoples_climate_march_poster2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Global Economy is Flying Close to Stall Speed

Oct 22, 2015:

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

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

World Bank on Growth

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

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

Klein Reformist Capitalism 2

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

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

Divest, Invest but Don’t Contest

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

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

Clean Energy Infrastructure as Stranded Assets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Pretend

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

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

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

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Acid mine drainage in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

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

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

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

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La Ventana Drilling Results, Sonora Lithium Project Mexico

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

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Bingham Canyon Copper Mine | © 2005 Mark Gulbrandsen

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

Chuquicamata copper mine, Chile

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

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

co2 injected into seas

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

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

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

Environmentalism is Dead – Replaced by Anthropocentrism

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

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

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

The Sell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Capitalism, Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Divestment Timeline:

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

 

End Notes:

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

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

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