Archives

Tagged ‘Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES)‘

How Science Ignores The Living World — An Interview With Vine Deloria

This interview of Vine Deloria by author Derrick Jensen, was published in July of 2000, by The Sun Magazine.

Today, it is more relevant – and more important – than when it was published.

Deloria passed away on November 13, 2005.

 

July 2000: Vine Deloria is one of the most important living Native American writers. For more than a quarter century, he has produced an extraordinarily readable critique of Western culture. Central to Deloria’s work is the understanding that, by subduing nature, we have become slaves to technology and its underlying belief system. We’ve given up not only our freedom, but also our relationship with the natural world.

Deloria was born in 1933 on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. For many generations, his family has straddled white and Indian cultures. One of his ancestors, the son of a fur trader and a Yankton Sioux headman’s daughter, had a vision that his descendants would serve as mediators with the dominant society.

Deloria’s father, a Dakota Episcopal priest, took his young son to the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre and pointed out to him the survivors who still lived on the reservation. Deloria left home at sixteen to go to a college-preparatory school in Connecticut. After graduation, he turned down an acceptance to the University of Colorado and bought a used car with his tuition money. He went on to study geology for two years at the Colorado School of Mines (my own alma mater) before enlisting in the Marine Corps reserve. In 1956 he enrolled in Iowa State University, where he met his future wife, Barbara Jeanne Nystrom.

They moved to Illinois so that Vine could attend a Lutheran seminary in preparation for becoming a minister, like his father. For four years, he studied philosophy and theology by day and earned money as a welder at night. Although he completed his education, he grew increasingly disappointed with “the glaring lack of solutions” the seminary provided.

In 1964, Deloria went to work as the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and there he began to see the importance of building a national power base for Indians through grassroots organizing. He soon came to appreciate the need for trained Indian lawyers who could defend tribal sovereignty and treaty rights within the legal system, and in 1967 he enrolled in law school at the University of Colorado.

Deloria maintained his ties to Christianity, even being elected to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. In one of his books, however, he posed a challenge to the religion of his childhood: “If, as they claim, Christianity is for all people, why not let Indian people worship God after their own conception of Him?” Deloria no longer identifies himself as a Christian, but, if pressed, offers that he is a “Seven Day Absentist.”

Since receiving his law degree in 1970, Deloria has written many books and lectured at colleges all over the country. In both his writing and his speaking, he has never shied away from direct assaults on injustice. It’s as though he doesn’t have time or patience for the polite indirectness that characterizes so much political dialogue today. His book titles alone testify to this directness: Red Earth, White Lies (Fulcrum Books) won the 1996 Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Colorado Center for the Book; Custer Died for Your Sins (University of Oklahoma Press) brought accounts of the trail of broken treaties up to date; and God Is Red (Fulcrum Books) remains one of the best books written on Native American spirituality.

Deloria recently retired from his position as a professor of history, law, religious studies, and political science at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He lives in Golden, Colorado, with his wife, who edits much of his work.

+++

Jensen: What would you say is the fundamental difference between the Western and indigenous ways of life?

Deloria: I think the primary difference is that Indians experience and relate to a living universe, whereas Western people — especially scientists — reduce all things, living or not, to objects. The implications of this are immense. If you see the world around you as a collection of objects for you to manipulate and exploit, you will inevitably destroy the world while attempting to control it. Not only that, but by perceiving the world as lifeless, you rob yourself of the richness, beauty, and wisdom to be found by participating in its larger design.

Science insists, at a great price in understanding, that the observer be as detached as possible from the event he or she is observing. Contrast that with the attitude of indigenous people, who recognize that humans must participate in events, not isolate themselves.In order to maintain the fiction that the world is dead — and that those who believe it to be alive have succumbed to primitive superstition — science must reject any interpretation of the natural world that implies sentience or an ability to communicate on the part of nonhumans. Science insists, at a great price in understanding, that the observer be as detached as possible from the event he or she is observing. Contrast that with the attitude of indigenous people, who recognize that humans must participate in events, not isolate themselves.

Ironically, although science prides itself on being a search for knowledge, Indians can obtain knowledge from birds, animals, rivers, and mountains that is inaccessible to modern science. And Indians can use this knowledge to achieve better results. Take meteorology. Scientists know that seeding clouds with certain chemicals will bring rain, but this method of dealing with nature is wholly mechanical and forces nature to do our bidding. Indians achieved the same results more peacefully by conducting ceremonies and asking the spirits for rain. The two methods are diametrically opposed. It’s the difference between commanding a slave to do something and asking a friend for help.

Being attuned to their environment, Indians could find food, locate trails, protect themselves from inclement weather, and anticipate coming events thanks to their understanding of how all things are related. This knowledge isn’t unique to American Indians. It’s available to anyone who lives primarily in the natural world, is reasonably intelligent, and respects other life-forms for their intelligence. Respect for other life-forms filters into our every action, as does its opposite: perceiving the world as lifeless. If you objectify other living things, then you are committing yourself to a totally materialistic universe — which is not even consistent with the findings of modern physics.

The central idea of science, as it has been developed and applied, is to get machines or nature to do the work human beings don’t want to do. This is immensely practical, but in a shortsighted way.

Jensen: How so?

Deloria: Developing the automobile, for example, allowed people to get quickly from place to place, but at what cost, both in terms of accidents and of damage to the natural world? And what effect have automobiles had on our spiritual life?In a capitalist system, whoever supplies the money determines the technology. This means that science, as it’s applied, is never really for the good of humankind, but instead for the good of the financial elite or the military.

In a capitalist system, whoever supplies the money determines the technology. This means that science, as it’s applied, is never really for the good of humankind, but instead for the good of the financial elite or the military. It also means that science will be dominated by the authorities who have found institutional favor, whether they have the best evidence for their beliefs or not.

When beliefs and knowledge harden and become institutionalized, we turn to institutions to solve all our problems: people purchase food grown by others, settle their conflicts in courts and legislatures rather than by informal, mutually agreed-upon solutions, and wage extended and terrible wars over abstract principles instead of minor battles over the right to occupy land for hunting and fishing. Similarly, beliefs about the world are processed into philosophical and rational principles rather than anecdotal experiences, and religion is reduced to creeds, dogmas, and doctrines.

Now, every society needs educated people, but the primary responsibility of educated people must be to bring wisdom back into the community and make it available to others. Because of hierarchies, European thinkers have not performed their proper social function. Instead, science and philosophy have taken the path already taken by Western religion and mystified themselves. The people who occupy the top positions in science, religion, and politics have one thing in common: they are responsible for creating a technical language incomprehensible to the rest of us, so that we will cede to them our right and responsibility to think. They, in turn, formulate a set of beautiful lies that lull us to sleep and distract us from our troubles, eventually depriving us of all rights — including, increasingly, the right to a livable world. They, in turn, formulate a set of beautiful lies that lull us to sleep and distract us from our troubles, eventually depriving us of all rights — including, increasingly, the right to a livable world.

Rather than trusting our own experiences and senses, we often look to scientists for explanations of the world. In giving explanations, these scientists defer to the dogma and doctrine they learned in universities and colleges. It’s gotten to the point where almost anything anyone with a Ph.D. says is taken as gospel, rather than as someone’s opinion.

One example of this credulity is the widespread acceptance of the notion that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait. Newspapers and textbooks say that archaeologists have proven there were waves of people moving to and fro across the Bering Strait, but they haven’t proven anything of the kind. Assuming that carbon dating is anywhere near accurate, and that the researchers didn’t throw out as “noise” any results they didn’t agree with, all they can prove is that a group of people lived in such-and-such a place, however many years ago. Everything else is just theory and speculation. Respect for other life-forms filters into our every action, as does its opposite: perceiving the world as lifeless. If you objectify other living things, then you are committing yourself to a totally materialistic universe — which is not even consistent with the findings of modern physics.

Jensen: So you view the theory that human beings came to North and South America across the Bering Strait as an article of faith, rather than as fact?

Deloria: I’ve yet to see any remotely convincing evidence to support it. It’s a doctrinal belief that institutional science has imposed on us.

The effort to deny that Indians are native to this land really started with the old Spanish clerics, who tried to identify Indians as either survivors of Noah’s flood or members of the lost tribes of Israel. So modern scientific theories are part of an entrenched line of thought: a Judeo-Christian insistence on seeing the world through Eurocentric eyes. Indians cannot simply be Indians. They have to have come from somewhere in or around Europe.

Jensen: Why is this issue of deep origins important?

Deloria: People want to believe that the Western Hemisphere, and North America in particular, was vacant, unexploited, fertile land waiting to be cultivated according to God’s holy dictates. The hemisphere thus belonged to whomever was able to “rescue” it from its wilderness state. We see the same rationalization at work today in the Amazon and elsewhere. If the Indians were not the original inhabitants of this continent but relative latecomers who had barely unpacked when Columbus came knocking on the door, then they had no real claim to the land and could be swept away with impunity. Thus, science justifies history and eases the guilt over five centuries of violence. Even today, I hear some non-Indians say, “Well, aren’t we all immigrants from somewhere?” The short answer is no. By making Indians immigrants to North America, Westerners are able to deny the fact that this is our continent.

Another way science has assuaged Western guilt is by claiming to prove that Indians are just as destructive as Westerners. You’ve probably heard of the Pleistocene overkill hypothesis, which states, without any real evidence, that as soon as Indians “arrived” here, they started killing everything in sight. When the hypothesis was first proposed some fifty years ago by Carl Sauer, it was shot down almost immediately by Loren C. Eiseley, who raised numerous concerns that have never been refuted. One is the fact that not only large mammals disappeared during the Pleistocene Epoch, but also birds, mollusks, and frogs, which could not have been hunted to extinction. Also, there is no evidence that tribal hunting groups using ancient techniques could exterminate — or even significantly alter — an animal population, unless the hunters and prey were restricted to a very small area. The example of modern tribes who still use Stone Age methods supports this.

So the overkill theory remained dead in the water until the 1960s, when it was revived by a book called Pleistocene Extinctions. Since then, as the destruction of the natural world has become ever more difficult to ignore, Westerners have needed ever stronger salves for their consciences, so the theory has risen up again in full force. Although there is still little real evidence to support it, its ideological function — to prove that destructiveness is part of human nature, and not just the result of a destructive way of living in and perceiving the world — is important enough to justify its admission into the scientific canon.

There’s even a new theory that Indians were responsible for the near extinction of the buffalo. According to this argument, Indian winter encampments deprived the buffalo of feed, and so the population plummeted.

Jensen: How could anyone make that claim?

Deloria: Simple: by ignoring all evidence that contradicts the thesis, such as 1870s newspaper reports of white hunters shipping out trainloads of buffalo hides. In the Dodge City area alone, hunters killed 3 million buffalo in three years.

Jensen: If Indians didn’t cross the Bering Strait, how did they come to inhabit this continent? What do the Indians themselves say?

Deloria: That last question isn’t asked often enough, and points out another problem with the scientific tradition. Somehow it is presumed that scientists, and thus Europeans, know better than the Indians themselves how Indians got here and how they lived prior to Columbus. That attitude is patronizing at best. Instead of digging and analyzing, why don’t researchers just ask the Indians? And then, having asked, why don’t they take the answers seriously?

Indians’ beliefs about their origins vary considerably from tribe to tribe. Many tribes simply begin their story at a certain location and describe their migrations. Others will say they came from another continent by boat. (Of course, archaeologists generally refuse to believe them, because they think Indians couldn’t have built boats, which is absurd.) A number of tribes say that they were created here. A few say they came here through a portal from another world. They walked into a cave or tunnel, for example, until it was completely dark, and they continued walking until a tiny light appeared ahead of them. As they kept moving toward it, it grew bigger, gradually revealing itself to be an entrance to a new world.

Personally, I like the Pacific Northwest tribes’ idea that, in the distant past, the physical world was not dominant, and you could change your shape and experience life as an animal, plant, or bird. Then the world changed, and some people were caught in different shapes and became animals, plants, and so on.

Much of the Indian knowledge of origins is revealed in ceremonial settings and involves views of time, space, matter, and cosmic purpose that the scientific perspective considers heretical. Because of this, such accounts are generally dismissed out of hand as superstition: nice campfire stories that have no connection to reality.

Jensen: Philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend has said that “whatever fails to fit into the established category system or is said to be incompatible with this system is either viewed as something quite horrifying, or, more frequently, it is simply declared to be nonexistent.”

Deloria: That’s standard scientific procedure. You throw out the results you don’t agree with, turn to the results that “make sense,” and say, “See, this is proven.” It’s nonsense.

Scientists gather data from what appear to them to be similar sources and circumstances and, after much meditation, announce the discovery of “laws” that govern the universe — with some notable exceptions we rarely hear about. Sometimes these “anomalies” are acknowledged and become the basis for fruitful discussion, but more often they’re simply swept under the rug. The increasing sophistication of scientific measuring instruments continues to reveal flaws in the previously agreed-upon canon, yet this seems not to bother a great majority of scientists, nor the rest of us, who should care far more than we do.

Scientists impose highly restrictive laws upon the natural world, thereby limiting its potential for response. They are asking incomplete questions of nature and, in many cases, irrelevant ones. In my opinion, fields purporting to be scientific should devote considerable time to reexamining what they can really prove and what is speculation, and then restate their principles. Standards of evidence need to be erected. There’s got to be some discipline and courage. Scientists should be willing to speak out when authoritative-sounding pronouncements are being made on the basis of questionable — or nonexistent — evidence.

I like the Pacific Northwest tribes’ idea that, in the distant past, the physical world was not dominant, and you could change your shape and experience life as an animal, plant, or bird. Then the world changed, and some people were caught in different shapes and became animals, plants, and so on.

Jensen: A friend of mine says that science is an even better means of social control than Christianity, because if you don’t believe in Christianity, you’re simply doomed to burn in a hell you don’t think exists, whereas if you don’t believe in science, you’re presumed to be stupid.

Deloria: I think science has replaced Christianity as the dominant religion in our society. You see evidence of this whenever someone goes to court to try to establish or protect religious rights. If science and religion come into conflict, religion always loses. That’s true for everyone from Christian fundamentalists to Indians to Orthodox Jews: anybody who has a religious view that’s unacceptable to scientists.

Jensen: What are some better ways of perceiving and living in the world?

Deloria: I would say one alternative to forcing nature to tell us its secrets is to observe nature and adjust to its larger rhythms. This alternative is practiced by many other cultures, but it scares a lot of people in the West because it derives information from sources that may be tinged with mysticism. For example, many centuries ago, three sisters appeared to the Senecas and said they wished to establish a relationship with “the two-legged people.” In return for the performance of certain ceremonies that would help them to thrive, the sisters would become plants and feed the people. The three sisters became beans, corn, and squash. And the soil of the Seneca farmlands was never exhausted, because these three plants, in addition to sharing a spiritual relationship with one another, also formed a sophisticated natural nitrogen cycle that kept the land fertile and productive.

The white man came later, planted only corn and wheat, and soon exhausted the soil. Then, after conducting many experiments, scientists “discovered” the nitrogen cycle and produced chemical fertilizers to replace the natural nitrogen. But now we know that these chemicals have unpleasant side effects that may be even worse for us than they are for the soil.

The point is that, for every scientific “discovery,” there may exist one or more alternative ways of understanding natural processes. But we can’t know what these alternatives are until we absolutely reject the idea of forcing nature to reveal its secrets and instead begin to observe nature and listen to its rhythms.

Jensen: I’ve heard about South American tribes who can take a poisonous plant and, by some complex process; boiling it three times, skimming off the froth, and so on — turn it into medicine. Usually, the tribes are assumed to have arrived at these processes through trial and error, but this seems ludicrous to me, because the original plant is a deadly poison. By contrast, you’ve written that “getting information from birds and animals regarding plants is an absurdly self-evident proposition for American Indians.”

Deloria: There are plenty of Indian stories where a plant will appear in a dream and speak to someone, or a person is walking through the forest, and suddenly a plant will say, “I’m edible, but you’ve got to do these various things in order to eat me.”

When I was much younger, I would bring Indian plant knowledge to scientists for them to investigate. But they always wanted to take the plant apart, break it down to see what its constituents were. Their efforts were pointless, because that’s not the way the medicine men use it. They use it whole, and then they get the natural product out of it by making a tea, or a poultice. You can’t chemically disassemble it, because it’s the whole of the plant that cures, not any one ingredient.

Jensen: This seems to get at the heart of the fundamental difference between Western and indigenous cultures: seeing the plant as a whole and letting it literally speak to you, versus putting nature, as Francis Bacon said, “on the rack and extracting her secrets from her.”

Deloria: That’s true, although most of the greatest scientists dabbled considerably in spiritual matters and believed that mystical and intuitive experiences provided them with knowledge. This is true even of Descartes, the first materialist, who is famous for articulating the mind/ body, human/nature split. He said an angel came and explained things to him. Heisenberg, Einstein, and Bohr all had sudden insights. What’s the difference between that and the Indian performing a ceremony and hearing the plant say, “Do this”?

Jensen: I’ve heard of ceremonies in which Indians would sing to the corn. How does that help? What does singing do for the plant?

Deloria: We’re giving energy and respect to the plant. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to teach your kid how to play basketball, and even though he can’t hit the hoop, you say, “Hey, that was really a good one.” You’re not only telling the plant, “We respect and appreciate you”; you’re also making a fuss over the fact that it’s growing. It’s a straight transfer of energy.

Any fool can treat a living thing as if it were a machine and compel it to perform certain functions. All that’s required is sufficient force. But the result of force is slavery, both for the victim and for the wielder.

Jensen: In one of your books, you cite the Osage chief Big Soldier on this: “I see and admire your manner of living. . . . You can do almost what you choose. You whites possess the power of subduing almost every animal to your use. You are surrounded by slaves. Everything about you is in chains, and you are slaves yourselves. I fear that if I should exchange my pursuits for yours, I, too, should become a slave.”

Deloria: That’s the best thing any Indian ever said. I teach at the University of Colorado, and so many of my students are convinced that they are free, yet they act just like everyone else. They all do the same things. They all think alike. They’re almost like a herd, or clones. They’re enslaved to a certain way of life. The thing is, once you’ve traded away spiritual insight for material comfort, it is extremely difficult ever to get it back. I see these kids hiking in the mountains, trying to commune with nature, but you can’t commune with nature just by taking a walk. You have to actually live in it. And these young people have no way of critiquing the society that is enslaving them, because they get outside of it only for the occasional weekend. They may see beautiful vistas and develop an aesthetic appreciation of this other world, but they’re not going to get to a metaphysical understanding of who they really are.

In this sense, poor Appalachian whites and rural blacks are much closer to the natural world than my students, because they live in it twenty-four hours a day. These groups also have in common their oppression by industrialization and the destruction of the land on which their lives depend. Their connection to the natural world teaches them who they are. And it’s not just an abstract connection, but a relationship with a particular tree or a particular mountain.

Jensen: How does being in one place for a long time teach you who you are?

Deloria: If you live in one place long enough, you begin to lose the defenses you’ve erected in order to survive in industrial civilization, and you fall into the rhythm of the land. You develop a different sense of the natural world and no longer have to think of things in the abstract. You think, instead, of how the land looks and what it’s telling you. I would think many Appalachian people have this sense, especially the ones who’ve lived back in the hills for five or six generations. They have begun to adjust to the land, as opposed to forcing the land to adjust to them. If you talk to them, you’ll find they don’t have many of the abstract concerns that so-called civilized people have.

Jensen: What sort of abstract concerns?

Deloria: Always wondering who you are. Always trying to prove yourself, to prove that you are good enough, strong enough, rich enough, good-looking enough. Always trying to define yourself in terms of what you do for a living or what your hobbies are or what you can buy. I can see how that would be an effective survival technique in New York City, but if you live in a place where you’re not always having your identity called into question, you don’t need to worry about those things. You can simply be yourself.

Because of the industrial machine, no one really has an identity anymore. So you have to keep giving people numbers and meaningless ways to define themselves. If you look at the bestseller list, you see all these books offering to tell you how to be yourself. Well, when the land gives you a foundation, you don’t have to struggle with that question. If you live a long time in one place, you have an ongoing experiential context. If you don’t, your life is limited to little disconnected experiences. To really feel alive, you’ve got to grab as many of these experiences as you can. Thus, you’ve got MTV and malls and discos.

Why do Western people — and the Near Eastern peoples from whom their religions are derived — need a messiah? Why is their appraisal of the physical world a negative one? . . . Why do they insist on believing that ultimate reality is contained in another, unimaginable realm?

Jensen: How have modern Indians been separated from the land?

Deloria: Obviously, there are some whose tribes came from the swamps of south Georgia, but who live on a reservation in Oklahoma, or on the south side of LA. People my age mostly grew up on reservations or in towns near reservations, but now a substantial number of young Indians grow up in the suburbs. When these kids come back to Indian culture, they are grasping the images rather than the substance. That’s why it’s important to live in one place, or at least to visit your place and your people often: to stay in touch with who you are, you need to know not just your peer group, but your family and your ancestors and the tribe you were born into. Young suburban Indians often can’t distinguish between the Indians of their tribe and all the information put out about Indians in general. Black Elk Speaks has become a kind of bible for a whole generation of Indians, but it’s really only about one Sioux medicine man.

Loss of ethnic identity, of course, is not just an Indian problem. It’s happening in the big cities. Take Roman Catholic churches. It used to be that you would have an Irish Catholic church, and two blocks over an Italian church, and then six blocks down a Lithuanian church. Now, for financial reasons, the three churches have to consolidate into one, and people lose that sense of community based on ethnicity. They become homogenized into one great big church that stands for nothing, because they’ve had to make so many compromises.

We all need to relearn our own cultural traditions. About six years ago, I brought together traditional people of different tribes for several conferences on Indian knowledge. The whole thing was very emotional, almost traumatic. Few of the Indians in the audience had heard real Indian storytellers tell about their own traditions. A storyteller would get up and speak for forty minutes, and the entire audience would be in tears. People would come to me and say, “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.” I’d respond, “Well, this is what our ancestors did. They didn’t spend twenty-four hours a day hunting buffalo. They’d kill a buffalo, have a feast, and then take a few days off to sit around the campfire and tell stories.” Those traditions built incredibly strong characters and happy people.

Jensen: How can we revive that sort of community?

Deloria: Well, in my own case, I would start by pulling together what’s been written down and getting to know it reasonably well, but then I would go out and ask some of the elders how accurate it is. Most books tell only part of the story, and some actually get things wrong. The authors just happen to find some Indians who want to talk and write down what they say. Once it’s in print, it becomes absolute: “This is what Sioux Indians believe,” or “This is what Shoshones believe.” But medicine men and elders often know better.

Many of these elders probably reached adulthood in the 1930s. This means their grandfathers did not grow up on reservations, but were the last generation brought up in freedom. Now we’re losing the last people who ever spoke to the last people who were free. We’re at a very dangerous time. When my generation goes, people are not even going to remember rural communities with no paved roads. In the small towns near reservations, there are no longer any benches where people can sit and talk. Where can we find the coming together, the old visiting? Not at the tribal councils, which are just about policy decisions. Not at the powwow, where everyone is trying to win the dance competition. The old kinship responsibilities are all fading away. How many people today, Indian or otherwise, know where their grandparents are buried? There are no family cemeteries anymore. There is no returning to a place where you feel at home.

Jensen: Why do you think the West destroys every traditional culture it can reach?

Deloria: I don’t think those in power want it known that there are other ways of living, because for the industrial state to succeed, all the citizens have to be part of the economic machine. If you have people living out in a rural area pretty much self-sufficiently who spend their time singing and writing poetry, it tempts those who are still part of the machine to try to seek better lives themselves. If you saw the lack of stress in indigenous people, and then looked at the stress created by the industrial machine, you’d realize that the whole system has gone crazy. We don’t control machines; they control us. So the system has got to crush any alternatives.

This is the legacy of Christianity. The stated Christian ethic is to “love thy neighbor,” but, historically, Christians have been afraid and suspicious of any neighbor unlike themselves. And if those neighbors won’t change, they’ve simply killed them. Certainly, millions of Indians were given the choice of Christianity — and enslavement — or death. The same thing happens today, but it’s generally couched in economic terms, rather than religious ones.

Jensen: How are Indian religions different from Western religions?

Deloria: Most Indian cultures never had a religion in the sense of having dogmas and creeds, nor did they have the sort of all-powerful deity that Christians speak of — a specific higher personality who demands worship and adoration. Rather, they experienced personality in every aspect of the universe and called it Woniya (“spirit”) and looked to it for guidance.

Jensen: So Indians believe everything has spirit?

Deloria: Not exactly. It’s not something they believe. What happens in the different Indian religions is that people become so intimate with their particular environment that they enter into a relationship with the spirits that live there. Rather than an article of faith, it’s part of their experience. I think non-Indians sometimes experience this, too, when they spend a long time in one place.

Indians believe that everything in the universe has value and instructs us in some aspect of life. Everything is alive and is making choices that determine the future, so the world is constantly creating itself. Because every moment brings something new, we need to strive not to classify things too quickly. We must see how the ordinary and the extraordinary come together into one coherent, mysterious story line. With the wisdom and time for reflection that old age provides, we may discover unsuspected relationships.

In this universe, all activities, events, and entities are related. Thus, it doesn’t matter what kind of existence an entity enjoys; whether it is human or otter or rock or star, it participates in the ongoing creation of reality. To Indians, life is not a predatory jungle, “red in tooth and claw,” as Western ideology likes to pretend, but a symphony of mutual respect in which each player has a specific part to play. We must be in our proper place and play our role at the proper moment. Because we humans arrived last in this world, we are the “younger brothers” of the other creatures and therefore have to learn everything from them. Our real interest shouldn’t be to discover the abstract structure of physical reality, but rather to find the proper road down which to walk.

I would also say that another major difference between Western and indigenous religions is that aboriginal groups have never had any need for a messiah. In fact, there really is no place for one in their cosmos.

Jensen: Why is that?

Deloria: If the world is not “a vale of tears,” then there’s no need for salvation. Indians know nothing of a wholly different world — a heaven — compared to which this world has no value. Indian religion is instead concerned, as sociologist Robert Bellah has noted, with “the maintenance of personal, social, and cosmic harmony, and with attaining specific goods — rain, harvest, children, health — as men have always been.” The North American Indians don’t desire transcendence. They simply want to learn more about the reality that confronts them.

Why do Western people — and the Near Eastern peoples from whom their religions are derived — need a messiah? Why is their appraisal of the physical world a negative one? Why do their societies suffer such crises? Why do they insist on believing that ultimate reality is contained in another, unimaginable realm beyond the senses and the span of human life? I don’t understand it. Religion, as I have experienced it, isn’t the recitation of beliefs, but a way of helping us understand our lives. It must, I think, have an intimate connection with the world in which we live, and any religion that favors other places — heaven and the like — over the physical world is a delusion, a mere control device to manipulate us.

Jensen: What, then, to an Indian, is the ultimate goal of life?

Deloria: Maturity: the ability to reflect on the ordinary aspects of life and discover their real meaning.

Now, I know this sounds as abstract as anything ever said by a Western scientist or philosopher, but within the context of Indian experience, it isn’t abstract at all. Maturity is a matter of reflection on a lifetime of experience, as a person first gathers information, then knowledge, then wisdom. Information accumulates until it achieves a sort of critical mass, and patterns and explanations begin to appear. This is where Western science derives its “laws,” but scientists abort the process there, assuming that the products of their own minds are inherent to the structure of the universe. Indians, on the other hand, allow the process to continue, because premature analysis leads to incomplete understanding. When we reach a very old age, or otherwise attain the capacity to reflect on our experiences — most often through visions —we begin to understand how experience, individuality, and the cycles of nature all relate to each other. That state seems to produce wisdom.

Because Western society concentrates so heavily on information, its product is youth, not maturity. The existence of thousands of plastic surgeons in America attests to the fact that we haven’t crossed the emotional barriers that keep us from experiencing maturity.

Jensen: I’m friends with an Okanagan Indian, from British Columbia. I once asked her where dreams come from, and she said, “Everybody knows the animals give them to us.” How would you answer the same question?

Deloria: You have to remember that the Indian relationship to the land is not abstract, but very particular, tied to one piece of ground. My people come from the plains, so we say dreams come from the spirits, not from animals. This is because, if you look around the Great Plains, you see only three large wild creatures: the buffalo, the bear, and the wolf. And you don’t run into them all the time. On the other hand, in the Pacific Northwest, where your friend’s from, there are so many living things that a person is in danger of disappearing into the crowd. So if she says that dreams come from animals, she’s absolutely correct — for her area. If I say dreams come from spirits, I’m correct, but only for the plains.

Jensen: It seems pretty clear to me that if the dominant culture has its way, it will destroy the planet.

Deloria: No question about it.

Jensen: What can we do, then?

Deloria: So long as we perceive science to be a cure-all for everything and a means to overcome nature, there’s nothing we can do. Our answer to increasingly violent weather, for example, is to build cement bunkers to protect us from tornadoes. We’re adjusting to the destructive system rather than abandoning it.

Jensen: You’ve suggested the beautiful possibility that extinction might not be forever, but that, instead, the endangered creatures go away and come back when their habitat is once again being treated properly.

Deloria: About ten years ago, I spoke to members of the Society for Ecological Restoration. I told them that traditional Indian knowledge says that beings never become extinct. They go away, but they have the power to come back. I predicted that, in their restorations, if they were preparing the area right, plants they thought were extinct would begin coming back unaided after four or five years. Plants would come back first, and then animals, and then birds.

Of course, my audience thought I was crazy. But later, when I went to get a cup of coffee, several people followed me. They said, “You’re right. We’re seven years into a swamp restoration in Wisconsin, and all the original plants are back.”

This is not as extraordinary as it might sound. The elders tell us that the buffalo used to go back and forth between two worlds. In the summertime, people would find themselves in the middle of a big herd for weeks. But in the wintertime, there would be only a few buffalo down in the river bottoms, or up in the grasslands. Where were the huge herds? According to the Sioux, they were underground. There were about ten places where they went in or came back out.

When I first heard that, I didn’t believe it. Then I talked to some of the elders, who said, “Of course,” and showed me the buttes where the buffalo used to come out in the springtime. I thought, This is insane, so I scoured the literature, but I couldn’t find any accounts of big buffalo herds in the wintertime. Then, come June, the damn plains were covered with buffalo. In the fall, they started disappearing again.

I’m still working on this one. But that’s what life is all about. You take disparate facts, bring them together, and say, “Now, what’s the real question?” And so often you’re amazed to find that the matter is much deeper than you ever imagined. But the point is to ask the questions, and keep asking them.

An Object Lesson In Spectacle [Excerpt From the Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg for Consent – Volume II]

An Object Lesson In Spectacle [Excerpt From the Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg for Consent – Volume II]

The Art of Annihilation

September 10, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

 

An object lesson in spectacle

On February 21, 2019, accompanied with much media fanfare, Greta Thunberg spoke alongside then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the ‘Civil Society for rEUnaissance’ event in Brussels:

“The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) discussed the key role that organised civil society must play for the future of Europe during an event on 21 February 2019 – just over 90 days from the European elections – that brought together the highest representatives of the European institutions and civil society organisations from across the entire EU.”

Thunberg’s opening speech was followed by remarks from Juncker, who had kissed Thunberg’s hand upon introduction. The event took place alongside approximately 10,000 youth climate strikers, with politicians, officials, lobbyists and journalists abound. [1] Praising the climate strike movement, Juncker announced that one quarter of the EU budget would be spent on climate mitigation from 2021 to 2027.

Around the world, the media reaction was instant and sensational.

Common Dreams, February 21, 2019:

Greta Thunberg, literally changing the world

 

Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged a quarter of $1 trillion budget over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.

 

In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.

 

“Every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change,” Juncker said. The plan will spend billions over seven years…”

Reuters, February 21, 2019:

“Swedish student leader wins EU pledge to spend billions on climate…

 

In the next financial period from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change,’ Juncker said of his proposal for the EU budget, which is typically 1 percent of the bloc’s economic output, or 1 trillion euros ($1.13 trillion) over seven years.”

CNBC, February 22, 2019:

“EU’s Juncker proposes billions of spending on climate change after a 16-year-old’s speech…

 

Every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards climate mitigation actions between 2021 and 2027, Jean-Claude Juncker says.”

Global Citizen, February 22, 2019:

“EU Boosts Climate Change Budget After Greta Thunberg SpeechFollowing a speech by student climate activist Greta Thunberg in Brussels on Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the EU should spend hundreds of billions of euros combating climate change during the next 10 years. Juncker proposed that between 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget go toward action to mitigate climate change.”

 

Above: Sasja Beslik, head of Sustainable Finance at Nordea Bank shares a photo Jean-Claude Juncker kissing the hand of Greta Thunberg. On the very first day of Thunberg’s strike (August 20, 2019), she would share a post on Twitter. Within hours Beslik shared the Thunberg post adding his own commentary.

The said victory would be highly referenced as a shining example of power conceding to Thunberg and the youth mobilizations, from that day forward to the present:

“These days, the New York Times and Financial Times are profiling her, and the EU has proposed to spend billions of dollars to address climate change, right after one of her speeches.”

 

Pulsar, intelligence trends and techniques, addressing the influence of Greta Thunberg, February 28, 2019

 

“And the movement is winning. In February 2019, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, standing next to Greta, stated his intent to spend hundreds of billions of euros on climate change mitigation, amounting to a fourth of the EU budget.”

 

Why We’re Striking on September 20th, Global Greengrants Fund, September 3, 2019

 

“She has “compelled the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker to dedicate every fourth Euro to be spent between 2021-27 to climate action,” said Leah Qusba, deputy director of Alliance for Climate Education, a non-profit climate education organization That is translating youth movement building into real political action.”

 

CBS News, Youth are changing the game on climate change, March 13, 2019

 

+++

 

 

Not so fast.

May 3, 2018, EU plans to massively increase spending on climate change:

“The European Commission has put forward its future budgetary plans, which include spending a quarter of its entire finances on tackling climate change.”

On September 26, 2018, during the One Planet Summit, the following announcement was made:

“The European Commission proposed to dedicate 25% of the next European Union budget (2021-2027), i.e. EUR 320 billion to climate objectives and foresees a dedicated financial support for sustainable infrastructure investments through the “InvestEU” programme, expected to leverage more than EUR 150 billion.” [Source] [Emphasis in original]

The February 21, 2019 identical “win”, sensationalized to the world, had, in fact, already been pledged on September 26, 2018. The One Planet summit is a partnership of the World Bank, the United Nations (now officially subservient to the World Economic Forum), the Government of France, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

To be clear, the financing that the European Commission had earmarked was not a concession in response to Greta Thunberg’s speech given that day, nor the climate strikes orchestrated with Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA/TckTckTck) at the helm. Here we see how reality can be made to turn on its head. Waving the magic wand of spectacle, a decision made on September 26, 2018 with the World Bank et al – is turned into a victorious changing of tide for the populace. [2]

What is not shared with the citizenry, is that the InvestEU programme [3] opens the door for the financing of carbon capture and storage, carbon-intensive bio-energy plants, “smart” grids, and ecosystem services financing (the financialization of nature) – all by leveraging private finance with public funds. All made invisible by the spectacle. As growth is sacrosanct under the capitalist economic system (paramount to life itself), a major component of InvestEU is research and innovation in order to allow the suicidal system to continue and expand.

Following the One Planet announcement on September 26, 2018, on October 17, 2018, the EU signed a memorandum of understanding between Mission Innovation’s Breakthrough Energy (Bill Gates et al) and the European Commission. The memorandum states that through the partnership formed with the European Commission (to form Breakthrough Energy Europe), Breakthrough Energy Europe portfolio corporations [4] will have preferential access to any/all funding “from relevant EU Programmes—including, but not limited to the European Innovation Council (EIC) in its future pilot and fully-fledged phases, InnovFin EDP and its successor(s) under InvestEU, the future EU financial instrument for the period 2021-2027.” Breakthrough Energy Europe individuals include Richard Branson, Bill Gates. Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, and Chris Hohn (the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) [Full list]

Today, we have the United Nations on its knees to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF having announced the “UN-Forum Partnership” (signed on June 13, 2019) is now at the helm of the so-called Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to this corporate coup d’état, we can bear witness to elected governments handing over billions of dollars (exploited from the working class) to the world’s most powerful billionaires and corporations via Breakthrough Energy partnerships. The same entities destroying our natural world (and devolving societies), are now in charge of most, if not all, decision making regarding our multiple ecological crises and shared futures.

From left: Borge Brend, president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and chief executive, António Guterres, UN secretary-general, and Amina Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general. On June 13, 2019, the UN secretary-general, signed the UN-Forum Partnership with the World Economic Forum to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting was held at United Nations headquarters.

As Mission Innovation is partnered with the European Commission (on behalf of the European Union) and 24 states – we can fully expect similar memoranda to be signed in each of the states that have entered into partnership with Mission Innovation. (No, there were no referenda.)

“The smug acceptance of what exists can also merge with purely spectacular rebellion; this reflects the simple fact that dissatisfaction itself became a commodity as soon as economic abundance could extend production to the processing of such raw materials.”  — Guy Debord,  Society of the Spectacle

Such strategic and conniving theatre displays a patronising and an elitist contempt for the populace. There is no doubt that those behind Thunberg were not fully aware of the EU pledge made in 2018, or of the accompanying InvestEU programme. The European Climate Foundation is the European arm of US ClimateWorks. ClimateWorks is the largest beneficiary of climate “philanthropy” (i.e. investment) in the world. This is paramount, as all media relations and events for Greta Thunberg and her family are presided over by a media director for the European Climate Foundation and its Global Strategic Communications Council. [This is further explored in Volume II.]

As the thunder of triumphant applause shakes the global stadium, the joke is on us.

In 1959, the revolutionary Che Guevara remarked to journalist José Pardo Llada that “newspapers are instruments of the oligarchy.” Today, six decades later, the non-profit industrial complex and even “activism” itself must both be considered as instruments crafted and wielded by the 21st century oligarchs.

 

 

End Notes

[1] In addition to the above event, is an awkward and irrelevant conversation between EESC President Luca Jahier and Thunberg which was released for public consumption: https://youtu.be/TiUhBwTwaf8

[2] Climate Action Network (CAN is a co-founder of GCCA), published a news article outlining the proposal on May 2, 2018.

[3] InvestEU:

InvestEU is the successor to the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) or ‘Juncker Plan’ created to mobilize private/investment finance using guarantees from EU budget funds (tax dollars). Only 50% of projects under the sustainable infrastructure window need to contribute to EU climate and environment objectives while there is no exclusion of fossil fuel or carbon-intensive investments. [Source]

Infrastructure for carbon-capture, and for carbon storage in industrial processes, bio-energy plants and manufacturing facilities towards the energy transition are eligible for financing and investment operations. [See full policy document]

It will also house the “Natural Capital Financing Facility” (NCFF). Stepping up biodiversity and  ecosystem services financing is considered one of the prerequisites for achieving the EU’s 2020 biodiversity goals. The NCFF’s four project categories are 1) Projects using Payments for Ecosystem Services – payments involving payment or compensation for the benefits provided by ecosystems, 2) “Green” infrastructure projects – investments in “natural capital” that generate a range of “goods and services”, 3) Projects developing biodiversity offsets – “conservation measures designed to compensate for the unavoidable damage to biodiversity arising from development projects“, andInnovative pro-biodiversity and adaptation businesses.” [Source]

The InvestEU programme will streamline and consolidate the EU financial instruments. The Innovation Fund will work in synergy with the InvestEU and other EU programmes on research and innovation for “low-carbon technologies”. The Innovation Fund will finance “a broad variety of projects achieving an optimal balance of a wide range of innovative technologies in all eligible sectors (energy intensive industries, renewable energy, energy storage, CCS and CCU) and Member States”. It will fund sufficiently mature projects that promise the biggest innovation potential. [Source]

 “To enable CCS to fulfil its role in delivering this long-term Strategy, action must begin now. Support mechanisms such as the Innovation Fund, Connecting Europe Facility and InvestEU programme, will all be critical for delivering the first EU CCS clusters.” [Source]

[4] In December 2016, members of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition formed Breakthrough Energy Ventures. At the 2017 One Planet Summit in Paris, Breakthrough Energy announced the expansion of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition from the 26 private investors announced at COP21 to include corporations, institutional investors and banks to accelerate the commercialization of new energy technologies. The additional members include: African Rainbow Capital, African Rainbow Minerals, BNP, Paribas, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, ENGIE, General Electric, Microsoft, National Grid, OGCI Climate Investments, Prelude Ventures, Reliance Industries Limited, SAP SE, Total, University of California, Virgin Group, Wells Fargo, and the Wheatsheaf Group. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition also announced the piloting of public-private partnerships with five Mission Innovation members, including the EC.” [Source]

Trees Don’t Grow on Money – or Why You Don’t Get to Rebel Against Extinction

Tim Hayword 

April 29, 2019

 

Money doesn’t go on trees, and although people can make money out of trees, they cannot make trees out of money. This much may seem platitudinous, but it is worth keeping in mind.

What is true of trees is true of the natural world as a whole, including the human beings that are part of it. Nature is real; money is an abstraction. If money seems real that is because our institutions and practices are so deeply premised on beliefs in it. There is an important sense in which those institutionalized beliefs – in crediting it with a certain value – make money real; but it is not real in the way the natural world is real. If a bank goes bust, if a whole economy crashes, the social upheaval that follows may be immense, but life goes on – people will pick themselves up and start again (and some people, meanwhile, will likely have found a way to profit from it!). By contrast, if a species goes extinct, if an ecosystem collapses, then there is no prospect – certainly not on human timescales – of a recovery. The threat of extinction to our own species is the ultimate threat.

Extinction Rebellion has given publicity to critically important concerns of our time – the ecological crises as exemplified by dangerous climate change and biodiversity loss.[1] But it also gives rise to some perplexity.

A circumstantial puzzle is how an apparently spontaneous social movement of protest comes to have the energetic backing of big business interests and even to receive notable support from influential sections of the corporate media.

On deeper reflection, what does it even mean to stage a rebellion against extinction? Rebellions usually involve a group of people rising up to protest or overthrow another group that wields unjust or illegitimate power over them. How can you ‘rebel’ against extinction? It is not as if you can choose to disobey the laws of nature.

The website that asserts the copyright © Extinction Rebellion, states certain demands directed at government.[2] The moral clarity of their seemingly simple message, however, could be deceptive.[3]

Two key demands are: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.”

These may sound like goals that any ethically rational person could wholeheartedly endorse, and yet, as a recent critical study by Cory Morningstar has demonstrated, what their pursuit entails does not necessarily correspond to what people might imagine.[4]

First, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero does not mean eliminating emissions, or even necessarily reducing them at all. It refers to the possibility of engaging in other activities to offset them. The offsetting may be accomplished by various means of  technological fixes and/or accounting innovations, but what these means have in common is that they will be profitable to engage in. As was made explicit some years ago in the influential Stern Review of climate economics, a policy approach allowing emissions offsetting creates great opportunities for businesses and the financial sector.

‘Capital markets, banks and other financial institutions will have a vital role in raising and allocating the trillions of dollars needed to finance investment in low-carbon technology and the companies producing the new technologies.’ (Stern 2006: 270)

‘The development of carbon trading markets also presents an important opportunity to the financial sector. Trading on global carbon markets is now worth over $10bn annually’. (Stern 2006: 270)

By attaching a price to carbon, a whole new commodity is created over which the distribution of rights represents a new income stream. So it’s good for shareholder profits, but what about nature? How confident can we be when its protection relies on a new multi-billion dollar market involving the same people responsible for the global financial crisis?

The other key goal, to halt biodiversity loss, sounds like one that should not allow wriggle room for profiteers to game it. And yet, consider for a moment how one might propose – even with the best and purest of intentions – to bring biodiversity loss to a halt. The sheer extent of activities around the world that are undermining habitats and ecological systems is so great and complex, it is hard to conceive what exactly could and should be done, even given determined political will to do it. The proposed policy in reality, therefore, is not literally to stop doing everything we are currently doing that compromises biodiversity. Instead, it once again centres on putting a price on the aspects of nature that market actors attach value to. The premise is that if we accept it is not possible to halt the destruction of biodiversity in some places, it is still possible to protect and even re-create biodiversity in others. Thus, just as with carbon emissions, the ideas of substitution and compensation play a pivotal role: biodiversity loss may not be literally halted, but it can be offset.

And how is biodiversity loss to be offset?[5] Here comes the familiar move: in order to weigh the loss in one place against a putative gain in another they must be subjected to a common scheme of measurement. Biodiversity being something of value, the way to record how much value any instance of it has is taken to be by reference to monetary price. Hence we learn that ‘biodiversity conservation and the related concept of “natural capital” are becoming mainstream. For instance, the Natural Capital Coalition is developing the economic case for valuing natural ecosystems and includes buy-in from some of the biggest players in business, accountancy and consulting. And the financial industry is moving toward more responsible investing.’[6]

Yet this unidimensional quantification of value completely disregards the point that biodiversity is a complex and quintessentially qualitative phenomenon. It is of the essence of biodiversity that its biotic components and their environments are diverse. Being diverse means being different in ways that cannot be reduced to the measure of a single common denominator. Hence the essence of biodiversity is an irreducible plurality of incommensurables. The idea of ‘compensating’ for loss of biodiversity of one kind by the protection or enhancement of biodiversity of another kind elsewhere means disregarding the very meaning of biodiversity.[7]

The idea of biodiversity offsets, then, does not have its rational basis in ecological concern but in the expansionary logic of capitalist profit seeking.

A rebellion that really has any prospect of fending off disaster for our biosphere and ourselves needs to be based on a proper understanding of who and what needs to be rebelled against.

Extinction Rebellion publicity material says that it is apolitical. Yet there is nothing apolitical about the real struggle that is required for people to seize the power currently concentrated in the hands of plutocrats. And to those who say – rightly – that ecological issues are greater than mere politics, it may be responded that this is why we cannot let it be “dealt with” by those who currently so misuse their political power.

Asking governments to enact policies that corporate and financial backers are lining up to draw massive profits from is not what the people protesting against impending ecological disaster have in mind. It needs therefore to be clear that you can’t actually protest against disaster. You need to take on those who are driving us towards it. So you need to know who they are and how they are doing it. It’s a good idea to look carefully at who is shaping the demands you are being enlisted to make, and what exactly they entail.

land-savings

[1] For other, less discussed but no less significant problems, see Rockström et al. (2009).

[2] Why they are directed at government without reference to the central role of powerful corporations is not completely obvious, and nor is the reason why the site also says the protest is ‘apolitical’, a question to be returned to.

[3] We humans, especially the worst off – and not even to mention members of other species we share the planet with – certainly have powerful reasons for concern at the ecological crises being provoked by our collective global exploitation of the biosphere. But what “we” can do about that is nothing like as clear.

In fact, there is no “we” that can act as a collective. There are multifarious different people, groups, tribes, classes, and nations that have competing interests. “We” are not organized to respond in a concerted, ethical and rational manner.

On the other hand, a very small group of people – who alone command as much of the world’s aggregate resources as half the rest of the world’s population put together – is very well coordinated. At the highest levels of corporations and financial institutions they hold great power. With their immense wealth comes control over those – including politicians, journalists and various “thought leaders” – who exercise greatest influence over publics. Their power to manipulate public perceptions vastly exceeds most people’s awareness of it.

So we – ordinary members of the public, whether old or young – can protest and engage in symbolic actions and go green in aspects of our lifestyle, yet to real little effect. In our heart of hearts we may know this, and yet we may still believe it important to try and to act as we think all should. So when the makings of a real social movement appear, we energetically embrace the opportunity it appears to present for making some more noticeable impact. Hence the enthusiastic welcome of Extinction Rebellion, in which school kids and pensioners have united around the moral and existential cause.

But what sort of ‘rebellion’ is it that is conjured into action by a consortium of corporate-backed organizations and given extensive positive coverage in the corporate media? The commitments and beliefs of the multifarious individuals and groups on the ground are various and sincerely held, and they do tend to converge around something like the headline goals stated in the publicity material ©Extinction Rebellion. But the exact goals being endorsed focus on two very specific demands: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.” And in this post I am arguing that it is very easy to be misled into thinking these capture what we really want to achieve, whereas in reality they may in fact capture our acquiescence in the further extension of corporate power over the natural world and our own lives.

[4] Morningstar’s set of six articles makes for somewhat demanding reading, and her purposes have sometimes been misunderstood or misrepresented on the basis of apparently rather casual perusal. Certainly, this has been noticeable in comments on Twitter, so I tried to distil some of her key points, without her detail or her critics’ distractions, in a Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/Tim_Hayward_/status/1120748645069021185

[5] Some useful introductory sources are World Rainforest Movement: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/tag/green-economy/; Clive Spash 25 minute talk: https://vimeo.com/33921592; and the collection of material here: http://naturenotforsale.org/author/berberv/

[6] Richard Pearson, ‘We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?’, The Conversation, 26 Oct 2015 https://theconversation.com/we-have-15-years-to-halt-biodiversity-loss-can-it-be-done-49330.

[7] For a pithy presentation of the basic ideas here see the short video ‘Biodiversity offsetting, making dreams come true‘ https://vimeo.com/99079535.

References

Rockström, Johan et al. (2009), ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, Nature 461: 472–75.

Stern, Nicholas et al. (2006), Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, London: HM Treasury.

The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 2

Wrong Kind of Green

October 19, 2017

 

 

The Natural Capital League (NCL) has gained it’s power and influence steadily over time and through it’s extensive networks.

After 35 years of the development of ecological economics two senior foundational figures have emerged who are utterly worthy of the title MVP.

One of these senior figures is a revered economist and the other is a lawyer, networker, manager, author, and academic.

Herman Daly

Herman Daly is not only a most valuable player, he has defined the game itself while developing the other talented players who’ve pushed the league forward. His great conceptual achievement is the idea of the ‘steady state’ (1977). He has been a very active proponent of the ‘polluter pays principle’. In 1991, while he was at the World Bank to work on sustainable development policy, he argued for the idea of ‘rights to pollute’. In 1992 he co-wrote a paper containing one of the earliest usages of the term ‘natural capital’ titled ‘Natural Capital and Sustainable Development’. In this paper a definition of the term ‘natural capital’ was provided based on a ‘functional definition’ of capital – “a stock that yields a flow of valuable goods and services into the future”.

Herman Daly was the 1996 winner of the Right Livelihood Award, the 2008 Adbusters ‘Man of the Year’ and the 2014 Blue Planet Prize winner. He co-founded the journal Ecological Economics, was closely involved in the founding of the International Society of Ecological Economics and is currently on staff at the Centre for the Advancement of Steady State Economics (CASSE). In 2012 he was a featured interviewee in the documentary ‘Four Horsemen’ directed by Ross Ashcroft who is also known as the Renegade Economist.

“Instead of maximizing returns to and investing in man-made capital (as was appropriate in an empty world), we must now maximize returns to and invest in natural capital (as is appropriate in a full world).”

Herman E. Daly (1994) in: AnnMari Jansson. Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological Economics Approach To Sustainability. 1994. p. 24

***
‘Rights to Pollute’

Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable. Ecological Economics

http://www.uvm.edu/~jfarley/EEseminar/readings/sus%20jus%20eff.pdf

***

CASSE – Meet our staff

http://www.steadystate.org/meet/our-staff/

***

Natural Capital and Sustainable Development

http://www.life.illinois.edu/ib/451/Costanza%20(1992).pdf

“The SSE will also require a “demographic transition” in populations of products towards longer-lived, more durable goods, maintained by lower rates of throughput.”

http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/data/files/publications/Herman_Daly_thinkpiece.pdf

***

Gus Speth

James Gustave Speth is all about networking and was once dubbed the “ultimate insider”. He’s an MVP because his whole contribution is much greater than the some of the parts he has played, and he has played so very many parts. His list of fellowships and board appointments stretches to every corner of the sustainable development project. He is the highest ever American office holder at the united nations. He was the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, and he went on to become the Special Coordinator for Economic and Social Affairs under UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and chair of the United Nations Development Group. He cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and founded the World Resources Institute (WRI). Crucially he knows how to reposition his career to the advantage of sustainable development.

Gus Speth got arrested with climate justice movement leader Bill McKibben in an anti-KXL pipeline protest for the first time in 2011 shortly after moving on from the NRDC and WRI. He responded to the threat of climate change by joining the US advisory board of climate justice organization 350.org and followed up on his vision for the future laid out in his book ‘America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy’ through his various networks and positions held in the new economy movement. He is a senior fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, associate fellow at the Tellus Institute, co-chair of the NextSystem Project, board member of New Economy Coalition, former dean Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Professor at Vermont Law School and was chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration). He has a string of other fellowships and advisory roles all relating to sustainable development and new economy issues.

It’s Gus Speth’s role as consultant to the Capital Institute that ties all his networks to the Natural Capital League. The Capital Institute could be called the home of ‘regenerative capitalism’ which connects natural capital flows to the restoration of nature to improve the value of ‘ecosystem services’. Several natural capital economists from organisations such as the Gund Institute with which he shares a close relationship are involved in the Next System Project which he chairs. The Next System Project is focussed very much on social enterprise, support for communities and democratic process. We can expect that Gus Speth will continue to refine his networks and position himself to see sustainable development and the Natural Capital League flourish.

“CHILDREN CENTERED, NOT GROWTH CENTERED. Overall economic growth will not be seen as a priority, and GDP will be seen as a misleading measure of well-being and progress. Instead, indicators of community wealth creation — including measures of social and natural capital — will be closely watched, and special attention will be given to children and young people — their education and their right to loving care, shelter, good nutrition, health care, a toxic-free environment, and freedom from violence.”

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part II

https://orionmagazine.org/article/america-the-possible-a-manifesto-part-ii/

***
Measuring What Matters: GDP, Ecosystems and the Environment

http://www.wri.org/blog/2010/04/measuring-what-matters-gdp-ecosystems-and-environment

***

Review of America the Possible by John Fullerton

https://capitalinstitute.org/blog/crb_book_review/gus-speths-america-possible/

***

Gus Speth Returns to WRI, Inspires

http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/11/gus-speth-returns-wri-inspires

 

Further reading:

 

The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 1

 

 

Obama to Open Post-presidency Office in World Wildlife Fund Headquarters

wwf-our-natural-capital-a-profitable-investment-in-times-of-crisis-wwf
wwf-logos-natcap-1
The “Natural Capital Project” partners
“The implementation of payment for ecosystem services,” Morningstar observes, “will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed.” This new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy, she says, represents “the commodification of most everything sacred,” and “the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure”—a mechanism that, “will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”— May 6, 2016, Jay Taber, Earth Economics
Could Obama’s move into WWF headquarters also signal what could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services (also referred to as the “new economy”, “natural capital”, the financialization of nature, The Next System, etc.) by the world’s most powerful institutions and states? Consider the White House memorandum, October 7, 2015: Incorporating Natural Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services in Federal Decision-Making:
“That is why, today, the Administration is issuing a memorandum directing all Federal agencies to incorporate the value of natural, or “green,” infrastructure and ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision making. The memorandum directs agencies to develop and institutionalize policies that promote consideration of ecosystem services, where appropriate and practicable, in planning, investment, and regulatory contexts.”
wwf-teeb-dr-joshua-bishop-wwf-australia-presentation-unaa-vic-natural-capital-seminar-2-728
+++

The Washington Post

December 12, 2016

Earth Economics

Running with Bad Company

Public Good Project

May 6, 2016

By Jay Taber

Earth-Economics

Earth Economics–founded by Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard–is a partner with the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), which is in turn a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. WBCSD is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

Ceres Sachs Blood Mckibben

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

As noted in The Social Capitalists–Part VIII of an investigative report documenting the corruption of the non-profit industrial complex by Wall Street–researcher Cory Morningstar revealed that one third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500, and that since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations. Further, she observed that CERES president Mindy Lubber is a promoter of so-called “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in both 2007 and 2013.

1Sky, which merged with 350 in 2011, was created by the Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350 is on the CERES board of directors. In 2012, Bill McKibben and Peter Buffett (oil train tycoon Warren Buffet’s son) headlined the Strategies for a New Economy conference. Between 2003 and 2011, NoVo (Buffet’s foundation) donated $26 million to TIDES Foundation, which in turn funds CERES and 350. Suzanne Nossel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, is on the TIDES board of directors.

Fullerton_ PES _small

As reported in Axis of Evil, the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk—co-hosted by CERES, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Office for Partnerships—focused on the ‘New Economy’ unveiled by the financial elite at COP21. The ‘New Economy’–promoted by CERES and the Wall Street-funded social media marketing agencies Avaaz, Purpose and 350—forms the core of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by Bill Gates, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz & Purpose), and Bill McKibben (350). The ultimate target of the SDGs is the privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.

12118989_10153722926348417_7350311640244877278_n

In Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons under the Banner of a “New Economy”—Part XII of Morningstar’s investigative report—she says, the goal to commodify the commons under what has come to be known as ‘payment for ecosystem services’ and ‘Natural Capital’ will look to the private sector for investment. “The scheme,” she remarks, “promises corporations, private investors and the world’s most powerful financial institutions both ownership and control (i.e. expansion of power) of Earth’s natural resources.”

Litovsky_ PES

“The implementation of payment for ecosystem services,” Morningstar observes, “will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed.” This new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy, she says, represents “the commodification of most everything sacred,” and “the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure”—a mechanism that, “will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”

Money Can Buy You Nature

In Hijacking the Environmental Movement, I wrote that the ‘New Economy’ privatization cheerleaders, i.e. 350, Avaaz and CERES, all have fundamental ties to Wall Street moguls and finance sector criminals, and are “currently pressing for changes in international law that would give the finance sector carte blanche in privatizing all of nature.” What this so-called ‘sustainable capitalism’ is in reality sustaining, I observed, “is totalitarian corporate control of world governance and human survival.” Earth Economics, initially founded by TIDES, is a key player in promoting this scheme.

earth economics 1

Earth Economics: “We Take Nature Into Account”

As I noted in Architects of the Final Solution, “For ubercapitalists like Bill Gates and their sycophants like William Jefferson Clinton, who promote the false hope of neoliberal globalization, terminating the collective ownership of indigenous nations in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet’s resources is a dream coming true.”

Global Goals 11

 

 

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

Don’t Put a Price Tag on Nature

Take Part

March 11, 2016

by Richard Conniff 

 

The ‘ecosystem services’ idea devalues the natural world by trying to monetize it.

(Photo: Lena Trindade/Brazil Photos/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Not too long ago, Mexican free-tailed bats seemed like a perfect example of how conservationists could use the “ecosystem services” idea to save the natural world. These bats feed on insect pests in the Southwestern United States, and researchers have calculated that they provide a benefit to cotton farmers that was at one point worth about $24 million a year.

It would, of course, have taken a miracle worker to get the farmers to pay for a service they had always gotten for free. But before that could happen, technology and market forces intervened: BT cotton, a strain of cotton genetically modified to produce the insecticide BT, came on the market. The BT took over the job of controlling insect pests on cotton farms, and suddenly the free-tailed bats were like buggy-whip makers in the automotive age or newspaper reporters today. The value of their services plummeted by 80 percent.

Cases like this have led a lot of biologists to wonder, as the title of a recent article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution put it, “Have Ecosystem Services Been Oversold?” These critics increasingly question the validity of the entire ecosystem services movement on practical and moral grounds. They ask, among other things: What happens when technological and market forces make the services a species provides, and thus the species itself, seem worthless? Is it even right to monetize and in some cases privatize nature, the ultimate public good?

The questions are worth asking because the ecosystem services idea is a movement, beloved by many conservation organizations, and the subject so far of more than 15,000 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Schemes to pay for ecosystem services, such as REDD, are also a big deal in global financial markets. You might think REDD is a brand of apple ale with really stupid television advertising. But it’s an international program, arguably overhyped, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The idea behind REDD is twofold: Forests sequester carbon, harbor biodiversity, and otherwise provide ecosystem services. So why not get corporations, governments, and others to pay to protect those services, if only to offset their own carbon emissions or earn public relations bonus points? Thus Norway, a leader in the movement, has pledged $3 billion under REDD schemes to protect threatened tropical forests in Brazil, Indonesia, and other countries. This is serious money being put to work to protect natural resources, so you can understand why conservation groups might love the idea.

But much as was the case with the free-tailed bats, “there are no markets for many of the goods and services that ecosystems provide,” Jonathan Silvertown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh, points out in the “Oversold” article. The solution for ecosystem services proponents, he writes, has typically been to “invent a market” like the REDD scheme for carbon credits. Or they “pretend there is a market” and ask people how they would value ecosystem services in hypothetical situations. But “make-believe markets” are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise, he writes.

But make-believe markets are highly likely to fail when people are otherwise relentlessly focused on nickel-and-dime realities. The market mentality also degrades nature by attempting to turn it into a commodity. “People are not allowed to sell their organs or their children,” Silvertown writes, citing the 2012 book What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. “These have intrinsic value that is beyond price.” That’s true of species and habitats too.

The attempt to sell nature went spectacularly wrong for the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron. When he came to power in 2010, he pushed to sell off the roughly 1,000 square miles of forest that until then had been owned and protected by the national Forestry Commission. The ecosystem services idea seemed to offer the new government a bright, shiny “technocratic rationale for the deployment of its natural capital,” Silvertown writes, with the added likelihood of putting bright, shiny millions into government coffers.

Some conservation groups went along, “taking the view that it is regulation” of the forests “and not ownership that matters.” But Cameron, a conservative, was slashing regulations at the same time. The response from the British public was furious. It turned out that no amount of money could make up for what it perceived as the loss of its forests, and no amount of monetizing could capture the value of simply being able to walk in the woods. Cameron quickly backed down, with one government source describing the whole idea as “a cock-up,” or what Americans might call a FUBAR: “We just did not think.”

So, let’s think. Where does all this leave the ecosystem services idea? Trying to “unbundle” all the things we get from the natural world and put a price on them cheapens nature, and it cheapens us. The people who first developed the idea in the mid-20th century meant that conservation could benefit from showing people how their lives depend, in all sorts of unseen ways, on the natural world: Intact wetlands save downstream cities from flooding, coastal marshes serve as nursing grounds for offshore fisheries, and that air you breathe? Yes, it’s an ecosystem service, provided by healthy forests and obscure ocean microorganisms.

This is the only sense in which the ecosystem services idea deserves to live—as a constant reminder of how utterly we all depend on the priceless blessings of the natural world.

 

 

[Richard Conniff is the author of House of Lost Worlds: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth, and other books.]

Survival of the Richest or Radical Living

HuffPost Green

March 4, 2016

by Angie Cordeiro

 

 

2016-03-03-1456963853-1072100-lakes_riversformoney.jpg

Humans need habitat to survive, to live, and to thrive. Air, water, food, shelter.

Reality Check:

We are living on a planet with a scarce amount of drinking water, limited regions that are able to grow food, and ever increasing regulated areas for housing.

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is becoming “… as certain as death and taxes.” There’s even an interactive game to acclimate our young people to evaluate every person, place, and thing on our planet. Placing a price tag, a cost, a monetary value on existence itself.

Time is money, ticktock, ticktock…

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151008-costing-the-earth

Can You Cost the Earth?
2016-03-03-1457048254-325959-p034ns5r.jpg

 

Natural resources:

Freshwater

Value: $73.48 trillion

Renewal of water supplies is dependent upon a variety of natural assets, for example, healthy soils, wetlands and forests. Without new freshwater there would soon be no economy, so the total aggregate value of the water-related services provided by Nature is presented as at equivalent to global GDP (about $73.48 trillion). Researched by Juniper/WCMC-UNEP.

Trees

Value: $16.2 trillion

The numbers presented in relation to the contribution made by trees are derived from Costanza, R. et al. (2014). Changes in the global value of ecosystem services. Global Environmental Change. The number for ‘trees’ is produced from an aggregation of figures presented in this paper in relation to different kinds of forests. Researched by Juniper/WCMC-UNEP.

Plankton

Value: $222 billion

The value of plankton is estimated on the basis of their role in carbon capture and is derived from Siegel, D.A. et al. (2014). Global assessment of ocean carbon export by combining satellite observations and food-web models. Global Biochemical Cycles. The six billion tonnes of carbon captured by plankton was multiplied by ‘the social cost of carbon’ as calculated by the US Government (at $37 per tonne). Researched by Juniper/WCMC-UNEP.

A bald eagle

Value: $39

The value of a single bald eagle is calculated by Richardson, S. and Loomis, J. (2009) The total economic value of threatened, endangered and rare species: An updated meta-analysis. Ecological Economics.

A gray whale

Value: $35

The value of a single gray whale is calculated by Richardson, S. and Loomis, J. (2009) The total economic value of threatened, endangered and rare species: An updated meta-analysis. Ecological Economics.

The United States

Value: $17.42 trillion

The US is valued by its Gross Domestic Product (Purchase Power parity), (2014 est), provided by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook.

Average US worker

Value: $47,230

The annual earnings of a US worker in 2015 are calculated by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on its website under the sections Occupational Employment Statistics and May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, as published on 5 October, 2015.

Air

Marketed as “the next bottled water” fresh air bottled in Canada and shipped to China as a solution to serious smog problems sells in two flavors, and comes in single or twin packs.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/15/asia/china-canadian-company-selling-clean-air/

Sales of canned Canadian air booming in China...
Vitality Air said that the first batch of 500 canisters filled with fresh air from the Rocky Mountain town of Banff went on sale in China last month (November 2015) and sold out within two weeks.
“Now we’re taking lots of pre orders for our upcoming shipment. We’re getting close to the 1,000 mark,” said Harrison Wang, director of China operations. The air sells for $14 to $20, depending on the size of the canister.

2016-03-03-1456967177-8940096-VitalityAir.jpg

What about those of us that live in relatively smog free areas of the planet?

http://robertscribbler.com/2016/02/05/co2-rockets-to-405-6-ppm-a-level-not-seen-in-15-million-years/

 

Atmospheric CO2 (has recently) Rocketed to 405.6 ppm — A Level not Seen in 15 Million Years

…Unfortunately, this daily February peak at 405.66 parts per million is not the end to the current year’s ramp up. Typical atmospheric peaks occur during May. And this year, we are likely to see atmospheric levels hit near 407 parts per million in the weekly and monthly averages over the next few months. Such a range thrusts us solidly out of the Pliocene climate context and well into that of the Miocene.

Though the Middle Miocene was not a hothouse extinction climate, it was one much more foreign to humankind. Back then, only the great apes existed. Our most ancient ancestor, Australopithecus, was still at least 9 million years in the future. It’s fair to say that no human being, or even our closer offshoot relatives, have ever breathed air with the composition that is now entering our lungs.

“If you really think that the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.” Dr. Guy McPherson

2016-03-03-1457019491-8439008-Chinesewomanbreathingairinpollutedenvironment.jpeg

Water

Civilization is contaminating nearly all of the natural water resources on our planet by chemical, physical, radioactive or pathogenic microbial substances.

2016-03-03-1457018710-4165387-waterpollution.jpg

“There are two categories of people: those who shit in their drinking water supplies and those who don’t.”
2016-03-03-1457018870-6347067-brokenintacthumanurecomic.jpeg

http://humanurehandbook.com/

 

The Humanure Handbook–a 255-page guide to composting human manure, including building your own toilet and turning your own excrement into rich, crumbly brown humus for your garden…deemed “the book most likely to save the planet!”
Jenkins has been a compost practitioner in the United States since 1975 and has grown his family’s food with humanure compost for the past thirty-five years. His website offers videos, instructions and the complete Humanure Handbook free of charge.

Every time we flush a toilet, we launch five or six gallons of polluted water into the world. That would be like defecating into a five gallon water jug and then dumping it out before anyone could drink any of it. Then doing the same thing when urinating. Then doing it every day, numerous times. Then multiplying that by about 305 million people in the United States alone.

Even after the contaminated water is treated in wastewater treatment plants, it may still be polluted with excessive levels of nitrates, chlorine, pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, detergents and other pollutants. This “treated” water is discharged directly into the environment.

Food

The future for food is vegan. Sadly it’s not because of compassion and a reverence for all life on our planet. Nor is a vegan future about taste, or health, or sustainability; it is simply because eating meat is too inefficient.

2016-03-03-1457023526-8412824-Isitorganiccartoon.jpg

Shelter

Family and community addresses our human need to socialize. Tiny home communities are an empowering solution to dis-empowering high cost shelters that further marginalize the human spirit.

2016-03-04-1457052796-2343281-Tinyhouseonwheels.jpg

Tiny houses were seized in L.A. last week without offering any viable alternative to those who will now sleep on the streets, truly homeless.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-tiny-houses-seized-20160224-story.html

 

L.A. is seizing tiny homes from the homeless
Cannon, 58, said her husband, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss, was hospitalized with a seizure Feb. 5, then disappeared.

Larry Joe Cannon turned up Friday, but the couple’s house was gone. As Summers (an L.A. resident who says he was once homeless, had placed donated structures within encampments on overpasses along the 110 Freeway, for homeless people to use instead of tents ) drove off with her house on a flatbed trailer, Julia Cannon sat on a thin bedroll on the ground and pointed to the concrete.

“I’m staying right here,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

2016-03-03-1457025567-2681458-MomandDadtinyhouse1.jpg

Conclusion

Humanity has a handful of years left of habitat to support life on Earth. Our predicament is dire.

“Live simply so others may simply live” is not being presented as a TED conference “Dream Team” topic by former VPOTUS Al Gore, nor is simplifying our lives being suggested by the 350.org gang.

2016-03-04-1457058485-8721117-Allwegottodoisstandupandthegameisover.jpg

The choice of embracing the sacredness of all life, pursuing excellence everyday; or blindly yielding to the cleverly marketed solutions that will only benefit an elitist few; once again, polarizes our collective consciousness as human beings.

2016-03-04-1457058305-2705579-Youwereborntodomorethanjustpaybillsanddie.jpg

 

 

Marching for Monsanto

Public Good Project

November 29, 2015

by Jay Taber

change paris2

 

The Climateers are back. Seeking to recapture the euphoria of the 2014 Rockefeller-funded People’s Climate March, the Wall Street-backed, World Bank-approved Paris Climate 2015 charade is meant to build momentum for removing all barriers to privatization of the planet.

Championed by the UN and transnational corporations like Monsanto, this globalized ‘new economy‘ — hyped by Social Capitalists like World Wildlife Fund and 350 — is integral to Sustaining Privatization. The usurping of civil society by these Wall Street-funded NGOs means the annihilation of civil liberties is just A Click Away.

The Architects of the Final Solution will be pleased at the resounding success of their investments in Controlling Consciousness; the whole world is becoming A Culture of Imbeciles.

 

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

 

Further reading: TckTckTck: The Bitch is Back

Must Watch Bulldozing Biodiversity Lecture by Clive Spash

Lecture in English, Bank of Austria, Vienna, 6th December 2010

A guest lecture on the economics of biodiversity management and the problems of the current ecosystems services and market based policy approaches.

 

%d bloggers like this: