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Wreckreation Oligarchs

Counterpunch

December 16, 2016

by Chris Zinda

 

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“We believe that stopping the global extinction crisis and achieving true ecological sustainability will require rethinking our values as a society. Present assumptions about economics, development, and the place of human beings in the natural order must be reevaluated. Nature can no longer be viewed merely as a commodity—a storehouse of “resources” for human use and profit. It must be seen as a partner and model in all human enterprise.”

— Our Mission; Foundation for Deep Ecology

Big Green spent $100 million of funds donated to them supporting the Democratic Party and their establishment candidate Hillary Clinton. With smug displeasure on their 1% faces at a D.C. National Press Club event, I watched with my own smug glee as the Sierra Club, NRDC, and League of Conservation Voters among others doubled down on both their fund raising pitches and need for more failed collaboration within the current political system, an indication that nothing will change and that none of us should waste our money financially supporting any of them.

Like George Soros and the Democracy Alliance oligarchs with the Democratic Party, let their Wreckreation industry and Foundation for Deep Ecology oligarchs continue to pour their money down that rat hole.

Deep Ecology as an organized spiritual endeavor has become immoral bastardized horseshit, run by guilty oligarchs with spiritual rot complaining about motorized wreckreation or cattle, never calling for carrying capacities for the consumptive recreational uses their businesses and shared elite pursuits promote. They instead delude their moral dilemma through the use of their cash to, in part, solve the consumptive problems the Thompkins clan and their ilk have created with their North Face, Patagucci and Esprit derived financial empire to begin. Arne Naess should be rolling in his grave but, maybe, he was co-opted, too.

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Supreme x The North Face® “By Any Means Necessary” | Highsnobiety website: “Supreme’s ever-popular collaboration with The North Face rolls on into FW15, with a set of heavy-duty outerwear decked out in a “By Any Means Necessary” slogan, a phrase invented by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and brought into pop culture lexicon via Civil Rights icon Malcolm X.” [“La capsule Supreme x The North Face® “By Any Means Necessary” sera disponible à partir du jeudi 19 novembre à 12H00 (heure de Paris) sur www.supremenewyork.com ainsi que dans les boutiques de New York, Los Angles et Londres. Disponible au Japon à compter du 21 novembre prochain.” Nupste Jacket: $368, Mountain Pullover: $298, Base Camp Crimp Backpack: $148, Base Camp Travel Canister: $32, Winter Runners Gloves: $58

Their conservation is like any other, the biblical Garden to be cultivated and managed, one that seldom defers to natural processes unless those processes are deemed beneficial for our extractive use. A sheen of secular humanism means they create and selectively use science to justify their conservation positions, with forest practices and wildland fire being some of the best examples. Cult of the Red Pine-like forests are being fully realized officially, cooperatively, placatingly crisscrossed with heads and trails for wheels, hooves, and feet, having seemingly either sprung up or been hardened everywhere that is neither first mined or grazed. Very few places, even in our wildlife refuges, are off limits to all humans.  In this sense, they are rationally no better than the working class manifest destiny, prosperity doctrine evangelicals they scorn and, soon, all of the lower-48 will look and feel like the tamed European continent.

The wreckreation industry instead talks of the Tragedy of the Commons, of the loss of biologic habitat and diversity, that we need to protect places round the nation and world from overuse, to sustainable use, while screaming like stuck pigs when agencies actually institute what biological and social science tells them to do, which is to stop freeloaders, set quotas, and shut the gates, measures that would reduce their access to profits and pursuits and better protect the flora and fauna that need their own solitude to flourish.

Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell is indicative of the incest, the revolving door wreckreation industry insider having been the CEO of outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. Given past Secretaries usually came from fuels, mining or agriculture, Jewell can be seen as the apex of wreckreation industry political influence.  And, you could see it on the ground during her tenure, as there was never talk of carrying capacities or appropriate uses, always talk and action of compromise for the sake of multiple abuse everywhere, never meaningful or direct action for environmental preservation or to address climate change.

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Like the land management and environmental regulatory agencies no matter where they lie in our levels of government, Big Green and the outdoor wreckreation industry work for and with the faces of those who regulate them: largely white, upper middle class, and come from urban areas.  These are people who are economically and socially insulated from the majority of the citizens of the planet, scorned by the American working class as elite.

You could see it in both her and Big Green’s response to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, as both were conspicuously absent on the ground, not wanting to upset the delicate apple cart they built collaborating across the west with the ranchers and their corporations whose locusts do more damage to public lands than any but humans themselves.

Conservation vs. Preservation. An old argument that always favors human use. And, Big Greens and their Deep Ecology 1%, by definition of their social class and financial empires, are not preservationists, as preservation provides a conflict between indoctrinated spiritual and economic positions. Progressive oligarchs and meritarchs, like their Garden of Eden prosperity doctrine counterparts, prefer a comfortable delusion to an uncomfortable truth in regard to their impacts on both the continuance of paradigms that destroy our planet and the aims to protect it. Irrational.

They believe in “sustainable“, implying to conserve a finite resource. Tell me, how do we conserve the climate of the planet and the ripple effect to our food supply with the reality of an ever increasing population based on an ever increasing market?

I’d like to ask these fake Greens who make their money helping to wreck the planet: Do you ever think of the ethics/morals of the results of your corporate (non-profit can also be corporate) endeavors? Do you think of the opportunity costs of money spent on the meritocratic establishment? Instead of collaborating with the enemy and pontificating, how about spending that money fighting without compromise?

*  *  *

These faces of failure – 350, Sierra Club, NRDC, League of Conservation Voters, the Wilderness Society – are people who are not acting like they are on the front lines of survival like their working class brothers and sisters. Wreckreating on high, they protect their bureaucracies, incomes, and self righteous, indignant, compromise with the extractive enemies that have always included Hillary and the Neo-liberal Machine.

Working class Dakota Access Pipeline activists are acting on the front lines, some recreating by crawling into pipes bored under the Des Moines River to serve the Bakken crude.  Mississippi Stand’s Alex Cohen sums it up, “I firmly believe that we’ve tried every other political process, from protesting to petitioning, and that stuff hasn’t worked, and our mother doesn’t have time. The only thing, I truly believe, that’s gonna stop this pipeline is direct action and civil disobedience.”

These are poor indigenous people and their working class cohorts, mostly millennials, who understand the plight of their past and future.

While I can’t imagine a Big Green crawling into a pipe to shut the line down, I can imagine the opportunity cost of $100 million spent engaging in electoral politics rather than with people on the front lines of the Climate Change movement, including a few hundred, maybe soon thousands, who need the money of the progressive oligarchs this every moment for legal fees and survival expenses as they engage in battle.

These are the “grassroots activists” who are largely working class Not In My BackYard people from everywhere who need your financial and legal support more so than a non-profit Big Green bureaucrat with a six figure income and an eight figure campaign run from Washington, New York or San Francisco. NIMBYs are not rat holes nor can they afford insider luncheons and donations to a corrupt two party system. They are largely apolitical people effectively acting locally and thinking globally, usually with everything they have. They are the people who carry the weight of #NoDAPL while Big Green comes in to muck with them, claim credit and fundraise on their backs.

In short, myopic Big Green and their progressive (lower case “p”) oligarchs should not only be reevaluating their failed $100 million 2016 electoral investment but their ethical core, as their collaborative political and financial institutional relationships at this crossroads for climate change and humanity are incongruent, devoid of moral leadership.

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Big Green and their 1% should not be so bummed out with people asking for a carrying capacity on their ethics, morals and profits. Cynically, perhaps the sadness on their faces at the D.C. presser was all for the funding show alone.

No doubt Industrial Wreckreation still ranks high on a Trump’s list regardless of political persuasion, as business is business and all will still make money as they collaborate to extract their profits from you with joint, slick, marketing campaigns in Outside Magazine.

Only in small part funded by your working class donations (as there aren’t many working class members) the Sierra Club will still have their High Sierra Camp cities serviced and traversed by their shit carrying mules that are cherry stemmed in the Yosemite wilderness.

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Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez, chief executive of Esprit, speaks during the company’s first-half earnings briefing in Hong Kong in China in 2014.

In large part, REI will still sell the latest lightweight tech gear to those shitting on the glaciers at Mount Rainier and slacklining like monkeys flinging across red rock canyons.

Of course, Patagucci will take the high road and continue to sell vile capitalist apologist environmental doublespeak in its award winning catalogues while promoting its form of Deep Ecology.

And, the grey haired heirs at the NRDC and League of Conservation Voters will continue work with Democracy Alliance and donate money to placate their class and moral guilt, now combating the “anti-environmental” policies of a Trump nouveau riche government.

Indications are they will again later lament the loss of $100 million of their incestuous wealth spent on 2018/20 candidates, their parties and candidates will be as ineffectual as their elite selves in speaking out against climate change and actually acting to save the planet for our working class children.

*  *  *

When you shop at REI and buy North Face or Patagucci, contribute to the Sierra Club, NRDC or other Big Green, you are supporting industries that makes money off of the continued unlimited development and use federal lands. The Wreckreation Industry shares a social class with those who regulate our public lands, has captured the govt organizations and use them to their own benefit, akin to the traditional mining, mineral, timber extractive industries of the past and probable Trump future. It is an industry that unethically claims credit for solving a problem they created – and we sustain this symbiotic for them, parasitic for the planet, paradigm.

You guilty conscience 1% oligarchs interested in environmental causes: now is the time to put your $100+ million in places motivating and enabling people without compromise. The Empire is in ashes and the time is ripe for a new paradigm to be forged during a most critical time of great consequence.

 

[Chris Zinda is an activist and writer living in Oregon.]

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of

In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans. The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear it

by Mary Catherine O’Connor

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Ecologist Mark Browne takes samples from the shoreline. His pioneering work on microfiber waste has received little support from clothing brands. Photo: Mark Browne

Ecologist Mark Browne knew he’d found something big when, after months of tediously examining sediment along shorelines around the world, he noticed something no one had predicted: fibers. Everywhere. They were tiny and synthetic and he was finding them in the greatest concentration near sewage outflows. In other words, they were coming from us.

In fact, 85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing.

It is not news that microplastic – which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as plastic fragments 5mm or smaller – is ubiquitous in all five major ocean gyres. And numerous studies have shown that small organisms readily ingest microplastics, introducing toxic pollutants to the food chain.

But Browne’s 2011 paper announcing his findings marked a milestone, according to Abigail Barrows, an independent marine research scientist based in Stonington, Maine, who has helped to check for plastic in more than 150 one-liter water samples collected around the world. “He’s fantastic – very well respected” among marine science researchers, says Barrows. “He is a pioneer in microplastics research.”

By sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines, Browne estimated that around 1,900 individual fibers can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment – ending up in our oceans.

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Tiny plastic fibers taken from a water sample in Blue Hill Bay in the gulf of Maine. Photograph: Marine Environmental Research Institute

Alarmed by his findings, Browne reached out to prominent clothing brands for help. He sought partnerships to try to determine the flow of synthetic fibers from clothing to the washing machine to the ocean. He also hoped his research might help develop better textile design to prevent the migration of toxic fibers into water systems.

The reaction wasn’t what he expected.

nike bicep ceres

Both Nike and Patagonia are BICEP (Ceres) members. The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Further reading: “Climate Wealth” Opportunists]

He contacted leaders in the outdoor apparel industry – big purveyors of synthetic fabrics – including Patagonia, Nike and Polartec. But none of these companies agreed to lend support.

“Perhaps it’s my pitch,” Browne joked. “We want to look for new, more durable materials that do not emit so much microplastic.”

In 2013, Brown presented his vision for a program called Benign by Design, backed by a team of engineers and scientists from academic institutions around the world as well as from the Environmental Protection Agency. The group’s goal is to help the industry tackle the problem of synthetic microfiber migration into waterways and marine ecosystems. He proposed creating a range of working groups where scientists and industry representatives would work together to develop synthetic materials that do not shed synthetic fibers – or do so minimally but are still cost-effective, high-performing and, if possible, rely on recycled materials.

Only one firm, women’s clothing brand Eileen Fisher, offered to support him. The company’s $10,000 grant has supported a section of Browne’s research over the past year.

“Any lifecycle issue, especially when it’s about a huge consumer product like clothing, is important,” says Shona Quinn, sustainability leader with Eileen Fisher. “[Browne] is raising an issue no one else has been studying.”

While Browne sees the grant as a validation of his efforts, 90% of the products Eileen Fisher sells are made of natural fibers. He’s still hoping to find a clothing company that will collaborate on research and development of new synthetic fabrics that will not shed microfibers.

While pitching his idea at the Launch innovation conference, Browne spoke to Jim Zieba, vice president of Polartec’s advanced concepts and business development group. In a follow-up email, Browne asked if Zeiba could provide him with polymers from Polartec textiles so that Browne could grow the database of materials he maintains to help discern the unidentified fibers in his samples. He did not hear back from Zeiba.

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Allon Cohne, global marketing director at Polartec, says he’s familiar with Browne and his research, but that Polartec has already done an internal study to analyze the effluent at its Lawrence, Massachusetts, manufacturing plant. Aside from characterizing the amount of microfibers contained in the effluent as “minimal”, Cohne said he could not publicly share the study or any details – such as what minimal means.

Browne says he’s glad to hear that Polartec conducted a study, but maintains that any truly scientific study would be open to peer review. (As it happens, the words “Committed to Science” are currently presented on Polartec’s website, above a video describing Polatec’s approach to fabric innovation.)

Patagonia, a company known for its strong environmental ethic and sustainable manufacturing processes, has also declined to work with Browne. The company’s strategic environmental responsibility manager, Todd Copeland, says the company considers Browne’s findings too preliminary to commit resources directly to a project like Benign by Design, until it sees more solid evidence that specific types of products or materials, such as fleece jackets or polyester base layers, are contributing to a major environmental threat. “I don’t know how much effort we want to spend looking for the solution before we know where the problem is,” Copeland says.

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Founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard

Browne says that, without industry support, he doesn’t know how he can move ahead with his efforts to address microfiber migration from textiles at their source.

“I think [clothing companies] have all put a lot of marketing money into environmental programs, but I’ve not seen evidence that they’ve put much money into research,” says Browne.

In fact, Patagonia maintains a policy to not directly support research, its spokesman Adam Fetcher told me. Instead, it supports non-profit groups doing environmental advocacy work. Over the past five years, Patagonia has awarded close to $70,000 in grants to groups focused on the microplastics pollution issue. These include Algalita Marine Research Foundation (founded by captain Charles Moore, who first raised the issue of microplastics in oceans), 5 Gyres, and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), with whom Abigail Barrows works to collect surface water samples from around the world for her research into microfibers.

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Microplastic researcher Abigail Barrows draws water samples from a lobster boat. Photograph: Veronica Young

Perhaps Browne would have more luck if he were an environmental advocate rather than a scientist.

Still, Gregg Treinish, ASC executive director, says he would need to raise a great deal more money to fund the level of research he feels microfibers deserve. “Determining what type of plastic is in the water is hard and expensive – up to $1000 per sample.”

Bad chemistry

Browne’s difficulty in finding companies to cooperate might be compounded by the fact that the industry that is already under scrutiny for different environmental issues. According to the World Bank, textile manufacturing generates up to 20% of industrial wastewater in China, and a number of environmental groups, chiefly Greenpeace, have launched campaigns to pressure clothing makers to rid their supply chains of toxic chemicals, such as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in textile processing. PFCs are linked to environmental toxicity and human health problems, and Kevin Brigden, a chemist and Greenpeace honorary research fellow, says some manufacturers are finally beginning to phase them out.

But Brigden fears microfibers released from synthetic fibers could just as chemically hazardous. “Some chemicals are very water soluble, so they wash out [into wastewater during textile manufacturing],” Brigden says. “Others are less soluble so they take time to wash off. If fabrics break down then [microfibers] are another pathway for those [chemicals into the environment].”

Those fighting the use of microbeads in beauty products are finding more traction, Barrows says, because phasing them out is straightforward. Getting rid of synthetic fibers, on the other hand, would be extremely difficult. Not only are synthetic fabrics durable and versatile, but they can have smaller water and energy footprint than natural fabrics. “Synthetic fabrics have many great applications,” Barrows concedes, and determining how to measure their environmental impacts is an overwhelming challenge.

Other sources, other solutions

Polartec’s Cohne argues that too much emphasis is being placed on the clothing industry and that carpet and upholstery manufactures ought to be considered as equally important sources of synthetic microfiber runoff in the industrial sector. Professional carpet cleaners might be another vector.

Cohne also believes more onus should be put on washing machine manufacturers to find ways to capture the clothing fibers so that they do not ultimately enter wastewater treatment systems.

Browne has reached out to appliance manufacturers Siemens, Dyson (which sells washing machines in Europe), and LG, hoping to engage their design or research teams in a discussion about how they might be able to develop microfiber filters to prevent them from entering the water.

None has responded.

However, a Canadian tinkerer turned entrepreneur named Blair Jollimore is working on a solution. After his septic tank backed up and flooded his home, he discovered the main culprit was lint from his washing machine. So the former airplane engine mechanic, based in Nova Scotia, created a filter for his home laundry machine. “I’m a mechanical engineer, so I modified a water filter and added stainless steel screen,” says Jollimore. “I’ve been using it for 14 years.”

In 2003, some of his neighbors who were also having septic tank problems asked if he could make filters for their machines, too, and a home business was born. Jollimore has sold more than 1,000 of his filters to homeowners from England to Hawaii and now, with Browne’s encouragement, is preparing to pitch his filter to appliance makers as a way to rid wastewater of microfibers.

While he has found a screen that would capture strands down to 1 micron – necessary to stop all microfibers – he is still experimenting with what forcing water through such a fine filter could do to laundry machine function. “Every bit of dirt in your laundry would be captured, so it would back up the process,” he says.

As for capturing the fibers at their next stop, wastewater treatment plants, Browne is not optimistic. He says he has conferred with many engineers who work in sewage treatment and none of them thinks removing fibers – or microbeads, which enter wastewater through residential plumbing – is viable. Besides, he says, even if those microplastics were removed from the liquid waste, they would end up in sludge, which in some places ends up being turned into fertilizers. In those cases, the plastics would still enter the ecosystem, and conceivably the food chain.

Browne concedes that more research is required to better understand the sources and impacts of synthetic microfibers in the environment, and he wishes he could get the clothing companies on his side. “The [textile] people I’ve talked to have not been trained environmental scientists, they’re more often marketing people.”

“Industry is saying, ‘you just have to do more work on it’. But that will require someone to support it,” he says. “It seems to be a way of avoiding dealing with the problem.”

 

[Mary Catherine O’Connor is an independent reporter and co-founder of Climate Confidential.]

 


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