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The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parks

Truthout

August 25, 2015 

By Stephen Corry

Yosemite National Park. Beginning with the 1864 Yosemite Grant Act, Native Americans were evicted from almost all US park lands.

Yosemite National Park. Beginning with the 1864 Yosemite Grant Act, Native Americans were evicted from almost all US park lands. (Photo: Tamara Evans/Flickr)

Iconoclasm – questioning heroes and ideals, and even tearing them down – can be the most difficult thing. Many people root their attitudes and lives in narratives that they hold to be self-evidently true. So it’s obvious that changing conservation isn’t going to be an easy furrow to plow.

However, change it must. Conservation’s achievements don’t alter the fact that it’s rooted in two serious and related mistakes. The first is that it conserves “wildernesses,” which are imagined to be shaped only by nature. The second is that it believes in a hierarchy, with superior, intelligent human beings at the top. Many conservationists still believe that they are uniquely endowed with the foresight and expertise to control and manage so-called wildernesses and that everyone else must leave, including those who actually own them and have lived there for generations.

These notions are archaic; they damage people and the environment. The second also flouts the law, with its perpetual land grabs. For nature’s sake as well as our own, it’s crucial to expose how these ideas grew and flourished, to understand just how mistaken they are. There’s an ongoing attempt to wipe from the map the quagmire around conservation’s wellspring, to pretend it’s all now transparent and sunlit. It isn’t.

Some conservationists, usually those lower in the pecking order, have the morality to face reality. They must prevail. With enough support, they will propel the industry from below toward a radically different approach, one that stands a far better chance of saving the environment and one using far smaller sums of money to do so.

This iconoclastic revolution is urgently needed, and there’s no better time: 2015 is the 125th anniversary of Yosemite National Park, and 2016 completes a century for the United States National Park Service. These are highly symbolic anniversaries: Conservation dogmas were rooted in colonial conquest and were inextricably bound up in the genocide committed against Native Americans. Both lies – that of the wilderness and that of the inferiority of some human beings – were in full flower by 1916, though they were seeded earlier when the US began to invent the parks model that is still, all too harmfully, exported around the world.

The Eviction of the Ahwahneechee People From Yosemite

The conservation movement (and its problems) really began with the 1864 Yosemite Grant Act. Conservation leaders like John Muir believed that the indigenous people who had inhabited Yosemite for at least 6,000 years were a desecration and had to go. Muir deemed them “lazy” because their hunting techniques yielded a good living without wasted effort. Such prejudice is alive and well today: An official in India said that tribal people don’t want to leave their forest because they get “fodder and income … for free” and are too lazy to work, so must be evicted.

White invaders saw the land as pristine wilderness because it didn’t conform to their European industrial image of productivity. In reality, Yosemite had long been an environment shaped by its inhabitants through controlled undergrowth burning (which created its healthy forests with big trees and a rich biodiversity), tree planting for acorns as a food staple, and sustainable predation on its game, which ensured species balance.

In the 19th century, the newcomers didn’t hesitate to send in the army to police this wilderness and get rid of everyone else. One historian, Jeffrey Lee Rodger, is sympathetic to the cavalrymen, but admits their “improvised punishments … were clearly extralegal and may have veered into arbitrary … force.” He might have compared such “punishments” with those still supported by conservation today, particularly in Africa and Asia, where tribal people are routinely kicked out of parks and beaten, even tortured, when they resist.

Native Americans were evicted from almost all the American parks, but a few Ahwahneechee people were tolerated inside Yosemite for a few more decades. They were forced to serve tourists and act out humiliating “Indian days” for the visitors. The latter wanted the Indians they saw in the movies, so the Ahwahneechee had to dress and dance as if they were from the Great Plains. If they didn’t serve the park, they were out – and they all did finally die or leave, with their last dwellings deliberately and ignominiously burned down in a fire drill in 1969.

As Luther Standing Bear declaimed, “Only to the white man was nature a wilderness … to us it was tame. Earth was bountiful.” The parks were and are supposed to preserve their “wilderness,” but they’ve never been very successful. In the case of Yosemite: over a thousand miles of often-crowded roads and hiking trails were constructed; trees were felled to make viewpoints; the balance of species was altered as animal and human predators were eliminated; trout were introduced to delight anglers; a luxury hotel was built; bear feeding areas were established to thrill visitors, so conditioning the animals to scavenge for human food; and hoteliers carried out a “firefall” for a century, in which burning wood was pushed over Glacier Point to cascade thousands of feet into the valley (the scars remain visible nearly 50 years after it was halted).

The Native Americans’ own fires, their ancient practice of seasonal and controlled undergrowth burning, was stopped. One result is the devastating conflagrations that now plague California; those simply wouldn’t have happened on the Natives’ watch.

This wasn’t preservation, it was reshaping the environment to extract tourist dollars. In spite of this, and the fact that the National Park Service has presided over a loss of biodiversity and dozens of species extinctions, many conservationists have continued to believe they’re better at protecting environments than the tribal peoples who live in them.

Scientific Racism in the Conservation Movement

The conservation movement’s historically dismissive attitudes toward indigenous people were intertwined with the ideas of scientific racism and eugenics that were just beginning to emerge when the Yosemite Grant Act was passed. Charles Darwin had published The Origin of Species five years before the passage of the act, and Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, was beginning to develop his racist ideas of eugenics, declaring, “The feeble nations of the world are necessarily giving way before the nobler varieties of mankind.” Eugenics enthusiasts in Britain included writer H.G. Wells and playwright George Bernard Shaw, who thought those he saw as genetically inferior, who couldn’t “justify their existence,” should be humanely gassedJohn Maynard Keynes, William Beveridge and Marie Stopes joined up, together with most of the liberal intelligentsia.

In the US, eugenics and conservation were born twins. Wealthy big-game hunters, including Teddy Roosevelt and his friend Madison Grant, both major conservationists, were among the most enthusiastic to embrace the racist creed. Their initial priority was to conserve the herds that provided their sport, and the easiest way to do that – so they thought – was to remove the “predators” who were killing the game to eat (and for its leather) rather than to hang horns on the wall. But these predators were principally human hunters – both Native Americans and poor colonists trying to eke a living from an unfamiliar world.

Ousting these subsistence hunters had the opposite of the desired effect. Elk herds in Yellowstone, for example, grew beyond the carrying capacity of the land. (The same is happening now, with elephants in Botswana.) Weak animals, once the first to fall from hunter’s arrow or wolf’s fang, started reaching reproductive age. The herd grew, but the animals sickened as hunger took its toll. Seeing their precious trophies fading through their bungling, the elite came up with ideas of “game management,” still applied today. The key is to cull, keeping the herd smaller but stronger.

They then turned their attention to the human “herd,” which was expanding rapidly from European immigration. Following Galton, they categorized humankind into hierarchical “races” and feared the country being swamped by what they considered to be lower races, including “Mediterraneans,” “Alpines,” and Jews.

The big-game hunting boys saw themselves as a different ilk. As the “Aryans” from northern Europe, they saw themselves as the creators of “true” civilization, science, culture, religion and wealth. They believed that racial mixing would threaten their “race” and what they saw as its irreplaceable talents. They passed laws to reduce immigration to the United States from “non-Aryan” countries, they outlawed interracial marriage and imposed segregation wherever possible, and they coercively sterilized anyone they could get their hands on who didn’t fit their bill; no one with a mental, physical, or even social, problem was safe, particularly the poor.

The most important hunter-turned-conservationist, Madison Grant, was also their principal writer. He was a key supporter, often founder or leader, of a dozen or so conservation groups that still exist, though he barely appears in their official histories. Among the most prominent were the Save the Redwoods League; the New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society, WCS); and the National Parks Association (now the National Parks Conservation Association).

His book, The Passing of the Great Race, was published in the year the National Park Service was founded. Science Magazine’s glowing review enthused over its “solid merit.” Thirty years later, it would be cited by German Nazis who couldn’t understand why they were on trial: They were, they pleaded, simply emulating the United States, where scientific eugenics had long been used to shape society. Grant had sent a translation of his book to Hitler, who called it his Bible.

Widespread Support for Eugenics

Scratch the record anywhere in the early conservation movement, and eugenics sounds loud and clear: Alexander Graham Bell, who falsely claimed to have invented the telephone and who was one of the founders of the National Geographic Society; two charter members of the Sierra Club, David Starr Jordan (founding president of Stanford University) and Luther Burbank were all prominent members of the movement. George Grinnell, founder of the Audubon Society (and Edward Curtis’ mentor) was Madison Grant’s close friend for nearly 50 years. The National Park Service’s first director, mining magnate Stephen Mather, was backed by Charles Goethe, of the Audubon and Kenya Wildlife Societies, regional head of the Sierra Club and outspoken advocate of Nazi eugenic laws.

In 1937, Goethe wrote to Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, director of “racial hygiene” in Frankfurt, saying, “I feel passionately that you are leading all mankind herein,” according to Garland E. Allen’s 2012 essay, “Culling the Herd,” in the Journal of the History of Biology. Verschuer was doctoral supervisor and collaborator of Josef Mengele, infamous for his barbaric experiments on children in Auschwitz. He continued to excel after the war, as professor of genetics at Münster.

In one article, “Patriotism and Racial Standards” published in a 1936 issue of Eugenical News, Goethe enthused, “We are moving toward the elimination of humanity’s undesirables like Sambo, the husband to Mandy the ‘washerlady.’ ” In 1965, on his 90th birthday, Goethe was dubbed the state’s “number one citizen” by California’s governor. He fought immigration from Mexico, making the racist argument that Mexicans have low IQs.

Eugenics grew into the establishment belief of the first half of the 20th century and didn’t falter seriously until 1945, when an American battalion stumbled into Buchenwald, just after its prisoners had seized it from fleeing camp guards.

When the Nazis had built it, their second concentration camp, an oak tree growing inside its fences had consciously been conserved. It was symbolic, though not about nature: Goethe (no relation to the conservationist) had written poetry, including some of Faust, under its branches.

The military defeat of Nazism was to unveil scientific eugenics as a true Faustian pact, absurdly false and grotesquely violent. That should have been its end. But as with much in this history, the fog of obfuscation hangs over the landscape: Eugenic affiliations are continually denied or censored.

Acclaimed figures in post-war European conservation included former Nazis like Prince Bernhard, a founder of WWF (who joined the allies before the war), and Bernhard Grzimek, the self-proclaimed “savior of the Serengeti,” cofounder of Friends of the Earth Germany, and former director of the Frankfurt Zoological Society – one of Europe’s biggest conservation funders. He made sure the Maasai and other tribes were expelled.

So did Mike Fay of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the creator of the Nouabalé-Ndoki Park in the Congo, which kicked out the Mbendjele people, using US taxpayers’ money. The Wildlife Conservation Society trained the guards who now beat Mbendjele people for suspected poaching. Given the way they’re treated, it’s frankly not surprising that those who once lived on and from the land “poach” if the opportunity arises: Conservation breeds poachers.

When today’s environmental leaders press for curbs on immigration and population, it can only call to mind this violent past. Did David Brower, for example, founder of both Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute, have to assert that having children without a license should be a crime – given that he had four of his own?

Few environmentalists protest at the theft of tribal lands or stand for indigenous rights. For example, John Burton, of the World Land Trust, formerly of Friends of the Earth, and Fauna and Flora International, openly opposes the very idea, though other key players, some in Greenpeace for example, have signaled support for tribes.

The unexpurgated history of conservation matters because it still shapes attitudes toward tribal peoples. Conservationists no longer pretend to be saving their “race,” but they certainly claim to be saving the world’s heritage, and they mostly retain a supercilious attitude toward those they are destroying.

Such attitudes must change. Conservation nowadays, particularly in Africa and Asia, seems to be as much about land grabbing and profit as anything else. Its quiet partnerships with the logging and mining industries damage the environment. Tribal people are still abused, even shot, for poaching, when they’re just trying to feed their families, while “conservation” still encourages trophy hunting. The rich can hunt, the poor can’t.

In spite of the growing evidence to the contrary, many senior conservationists can’t accept that tribal peoples really are able to manage their lands. They’re wrong. It’s a great con trick and it’s time it was stopped.

Other conservationists are keen to do better. They deserve to know there’s a groundswell of public support behind them, pushing for a major change in conservation to benefit, finally, tribal peoples, nature, and us all.

[Stephen Corry is the director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. The organization has a 46-year track record in stopping the theft of tribal lands. Survival’s work on conservation has wide endorsement from environmentalists.]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part VI of an Investigative Report] [A Glimpse of Truth in a Sea of Liars]

The Art of Annihilation

September 9, 2014

Part six of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Revolving Doors | Interlocking Directorate

Prior to her role of Ceres President, Mindy Lubber held various high level positions in government, financial services and the not-for-profit sector. In 1995 Lubber worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a senior policy advisor. In 2000 Lubber was named regional administrator under President Bill Clinton. Lubber was the founder, president and CEO of Green Century Capital Management and served as president of the National Environmental Law Center.

The Ceres well-oiled revolving doors glide seamlessly and effortlessly. Green “progressives” who share the Ceres climbing ladder include Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350.org, Nina Berger of 350.org and many more on the Ceres Board of Directors (as discussed prior, within this report).

Betsy Taylor (Ceres Board Member 2002-2009) is president of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions. Taylor was a key player in the creation of Rockefeller’s incubator project, 1Sky, which officially merged with 350.org in 2011. Taylor continues to serve on the Board of Directors of 1Sky/350.org. As president of the Center for a New American Dream from 2002-2007, Taylor was present on the Ceres board of directors from 2002-2009, serving as chair in 2005 and 2006.

Nina Birger (Ceres Associate, Foundations, Development) interned with 350.org Massachusetts. Birger joined Ceres in 2012 as an Associate in Development. Somewhat ironically, in this role, Birger writes foundation reports and proposals, manages grants, and oversees foundation relationships.

The Earth Day Network global advisory committee is an excellent example of how America’s disturbing preoccupation and obsession with celebrity worship can easily cloud and make irrelevant what constitutes legitimate environmentalism. This particular global advisory committee includes individuals such as Bill McKibben, Ceres Mindy Lubber, Shaquille O’Neal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and many other US-manufactured and falsely glorified “celebrities.”

The professional “activists” are mostly all one big clique going back decades. For example, Taylor was doling out foundation funding decades ago. Obedient foot soldiers like Taylor rise to a level where they both receive funding and distribute it. They are the “strategists” trusted by funders to chart a course, to spend money and to anoint others to receive it. As a second example, McKibben has long had a deep friendship and camaraderie with Harriet Barlow, who doles out money for Adam Hochschild (HKH Foundation) and has done so for the last four decades. HKH Foundation grants funds to 1Sky/350.org. As a third example, Donald K. Ross started the PIRGs for Ralph Nader. Since the 1960’s, Nader has fought harder for consumer advocacy/protection than perhaps any other single person in America. Today, Ross has his own businesses in PR and online organizing. He was the chair of Greenpeace when the organization was under the direction of John Passacantando. During this time, Ross distributed many, many millions in Rockefeller money, etc.

One can best describe the liberal funding and professional activist circles as interlocking social and business circles. Those found within this circuit go back decades, working together in a myriad of ways. It’s very similar to a country club. The concept is known as an interlocking directorate, defined as the linkages among corporations created by individuals who sit on two or more corporate boards.

Obama Throws McKibben a Bone for Good Behaviour & Obedience

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Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

On July 8, 2013, the New York Times published an article titled Old Tactic in New Climate Campaign. The article centred on a lecture by President Obama who had spoken about climate change at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013. Within this advertisement article, the New York Time’s intent of highlighting the divestment campaign is no more subtle than a Marlboro cigarette ad promoting the commodified essence of cool. The portrayal of Obama as a noble president and leader delivering “crypto-radical” covert messages is beyond nauseating:

“It was a single word tucked into a presidential speech. It went by so fast that most Americans probably never heard it, much less took the time to wonder what it meant. But to certain young ears, the word had the shock value of a rifle shot. The reference occurred late in President Obama‘s climate speech at Georgetown University two weeks ago, in the middle of this peroration: “Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.” That injunction to “divest” was, pretty clearly, a signal to the thousands of college students who have been manning the barricades for nearly a year now, urging their colleges to rid their endowments of stock in fossil-fuel companies as a way of forcing climate change higher on the national political agenda.

“‘The president of the United States knows we exist, and he likes what we’re doing,’ Marissa Solomon of the University of Michigan wrote soon after. Other students recounted leaping to their feet or nearly falling off their chairs when the president uttered the word. Chris Hayes, the host of a program on MSNBC who is young enough and smart enough to have caught the reference instantly, said on Twitter that “‘invest, divest’ is the most crypto-radical line the president has ever uttered.”

“Maybe it should come as no great surprise, though. Divestment as a tactic for social change holds a fond place in Barack Obama’s memory. Mr. Obama’s first foray into politics, as a student at Occidental College in the early 1980s, was in support of demands that the trustees divest from the stocks of companies doing business in South Africa under apartheid. In what he later called a piece of street theater, he was dragged off stage by two white students dressed up as oppressive Afrikaners. (He transferred to Columbia in 1981.) The White House is not elaborating on what the president meant at Georgetown by “divest,” but the smoke signals seem to suggest that he sees direct parallels between the movement of the 1980s and the one today…. Indeed, one way to read Mr. Obama’s speech is as a plea for help. He knows that if he is to get serious climate policies on the books before his term ends in 2017, he needs a mass political movement pushing for stronger action. No broad movement has materialized in the United States; 350.org and its student activists are the closest thing so far, which may be why Mr. Obama gazes fondly in their direction.”

Money simply can’t buy this type of false advertising and false hope that preys upon and manipulates the naïve. It is critical to understand that the divestment campaign is not a grassroots campaign. Rather, it is a choice vehicle to usher in and make palatable the illusory green economy (now being marketed/branded as the “new economy”), at a global scale: designed by Wall Street, made in the USA.

Illusory Green Economy = Guilt Free Consumerism

Over and over again we can observe Ceres member organizations and Ceres Board of Directors members working together in united cohesiveness to “normalize” and promote the illusory green economy with “progressive” media echoing the repetitive messaging through the chambers. Consider the following:

“Consider this post a love letter of sorts. Last week I was at the Ceres conference where environmentalists, investors and corporations meet to discuss ways to work together to protect the environment…But before all that, back to my new love … Step It Up 2007 which was all the talk at Ceres.” — May 4, 2007

“Credit Card Charges Include Carbon Offset ‘Reward’ For $1,000 Spent, About 1 Ton of Carbon…Brighter Planet touts its environmental credibility. Its advisory board includes Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Bill McKibben, prominent environmental author and activist; and Gus Speth, dean of the Yale Forestry School and co-founder of the World Resources Institute and the National Resources Defense Council.” — Nov 29, 2007 [Note that all the aforementioned orgs are represented on Ceres Board of Directors with both McKibben and Speth affiliated with 350.org (founder of 350.org and US advisory council respectively).]

 

“British news website BusinessGreen reports the group, which includes high profile campaigners such as 350.org’s Bill McKibben, Mindy Lubber of sustainable investment group Ceres, and Friends of the Earth’s Erich Pica, praises Mr Obama’s assertion during the election campaign that ‘climate change is not a hoax.'” – Jan 9, 2013 [Note that Friends of the Earth has also been a key org. and are represented on Ceres Board of Directors]

Round and round we go. On the “Distinguished Advisory Board” of the Better Future Project, we can again find both McKibben and Massie with other “prestigious progressives” such as Junko Yoda, Managing Director, Shellingford Ltd.; former Asia Regional Treasurer, Deutsche Bank; former Vice President, Goldman Sachs.

Ceres “Principles”

“Corporate social responsibility remains businessmen’s preferred response to threats to corporate power.” — Neil Mitchell, The Generous Corporation: A Political Analysis of Economic Power (Yale University Press, 1989), pp.143-4

Ceres created a high-gloss veneer of legitimacy by creating “principles” to establish a said environmental ethic with criteria by which investors and others can assess the environmental performance of corporations. Corporations that endorse the Ceres principles pledge to go voluntarily beyond existing legislation. The small print, that the general populace is not meant to read, is as follows:

“The terms may and might in Principles one and eight are not meant to encompass every imaginable consequence, no matter how remote. Rather, these Principles obligate endorsers to behave as prudent persons who are not governed by conflicting interests and who possess a strong commitment to environmental excellence and to human health and safety. These Principles are not intended to create new legal liabilities, expand existing rights or obligations, waive legal defenses, or otherwise affect the legal position of any endorsing company, and are not intended to be used against an endorser in any legal proceeding for any purpose.”

Yet, in reality, the endorsers are “governed by conflicting interests” and any set of principles, no matter how much better, moral or safer they allow us to feel, will not make this fact any less so.

The “Ceres Principles” are comprised of the following: 1) PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE, 2) SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES, 3) REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES, 4) ENERGY CONSERVATION, 5) RISK REDUCTION, 6) SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES, 7) ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION, 8) INFORMING THE PUBLIC, 9) MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT and 10) AUDITS AND REPORTS. [1]

Twenty-six Years Later: How to Measure the “Success” of the Valdez/Ceres Principles

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Above graphs: Monthly mean atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii [2] The red line represents the summer (lower, because all the greenery of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer takes up/absorbs so much CO2) and winter (higher, because the leaves are gone in the NH’s winter) CO2 levels. The black line represents the mean between the two. Note that even in such a short timeframe, one can observe the trend of exponential growth in CO2 concentrations (note: not emissions).

It is a bitter irony that the year 1987 would be the last time industrial civilization witnessed CO2 concentrations below 350 ppm (at Mauna Loa Observatory). The irony arises from the fact that Ceres was founded in 1989. Only in a world gone mad could an organization continue to boast success, voluntarily led by the world’s most powerful and destructive corporations, while simultaneously, emissions have been increasing faster than ever witnessed before. The fact is, the more “successful” Ceres has become, the more emissions and concentrations have continued to soar.

Global emissions have skyrocketed to an increase of approximately 40% since 1992. The BP oil spill has decimated the Gulf of Mexico. The Fukushima disaster (of which the media black-out continues) has contaminated the oceans with radiation. One could spend years citing incidents and facts that tell us unequivocally that these “principles,” launched 24 years ago, have not done a damn thing to protect Earth or life. As we sit on the precipice of complete ecological collapse and the probable eradication of our species, one can safely say in no uncertain terms that these principles have been an unprecedented EPIC FAIL. The “promise” to reduce, and where possible, eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards and promised disclosure of “potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations” is enough to make one put a gun to their own temple.

The only area where “success” has been achieved is in risk reduction – risk reduction for the corporation, that is. Exemption of liability is expanding for the corporate model with the pharmaceutical industry leading the way. In stark contrast, the environmental, health and safety risks to communities and the families within them have never been greater. The corporatocracy ensures that the corporation, defined by law as a legal person, is fully protected, as the living and breathing citizen and all other life forms/living systems are further exploited and decimated. All the “sustainability” reporting in the world will not make this fact any less so.

In the 1992 William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Why Corporations Should Adopt the Valdez Principles, the many corporate advantages are outlined with refreshing clarity:

“There are four main advantages to a corporation that agrees to adopt the Valdez Principles. First is the positive publicity that substantially could help a corporation’s image in the eyes of its shareholders and consumers in this age of ‘green consumerism.’

 

“Second, corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.

 

“Third, corporations that voluntarily strengthen their environmental standards may avoid financially devastating environmental disasters.

 

“The fourth advantage to corporations adopting the Valdez Principles is favorable investment in that corporation by CERES members.

 

“Another factor that may encourage corporations to sign on to the Valdez Principles is the political, economic and media clout of the sponsor. Among CERES members are some of the country’s most influential environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the National Audubon Society, which collectively claim ten million members. [Emphasis added]

 

“Potential lost profits from boycotts, possible loss of investment money, and the public relations nightmare of dealing with negative publicity generated by CERES are problems that a company could avoid by voluntarily signing on to the Valdez Principles.

 

“Consumers often use the projected environmental image of a company to make decisions on what products to buy. This is the concept of ‘green consumerism.’ While some downplay this phenomenon as merely an attempt by the marketing industry to use a novel approach to sell the same products found on store shelves for years, a recent survey discovered that a large majority of consumers polled would be willing to pay more for products they viewed as environmentally responsible.”

As an example of how these principles created a discourse that allowed corporations to continue to “sustainably” plunder and “ethically” exploit, under a luminous green patina, we need to look no further than the second advantage as outlined above: “corporations will experience reduced costs associated with waste hauling fees, coupled with potential revenues generated by recycling in accordance with the Principles.” It is not by accident that for decades the global citizenry, with a focus on children via the standard educational curriculum, has focused on the “three R’s.” We all know them by heart: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The obvious word, which one can safely assume was purposely excluded, was/is “Rethink.”

The fact is, to nourish critical thinking in our youth would be to severely jeopardize today’s corporate capture in the future. Conditioned to accept a status quo “solution” like recycling, almost everyone has neglected to critically examine the root cause – which is the production of the waste in the first place. Not spoken of are real solutions such as cradle to cradle life cycle analysis and zero waste/zero emissions (ZERI) concept principles, coupled with legislation, principled and radical conservation, and ethical intelligence that would demand that we achieve zero waste. Rather, we are told to recycle. If we comply, we are as celebrated eco-citizens. Yet, even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to a mere 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. [3]

It is worth repeating this last fact: Even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to only 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US. This is what happens when you have the world’s largest waste management system (Waste Management, Inc) financing and partnering with big greens, such as big oil’s WWF (which was founded by Shell and Rockefeller), and with organizations (and benefactors of the profit from waste) such as Ceres to highlight such societal failure as “success.” Of course, only if we evolve to a level of enlightenment where we are able to separate our wants from our needs while flat out rejecting consumerism and all forms of industrialized capitalism, even meticulously critiqued production will fail us.

The “Ceres 20•20” is the nonprofit vision for achieving a sustainable global economy by 2020. The plan has four key pillars: honest accounting, higher standards, scalable solutions and new policies. To suggest these voluntary pleasantries could possibly achieve a “sustainable global economy” by 2020 as the Earth continues to cross planetary tipping points is beyond delusional. It is madness.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese chief negotiator of the G77, represented a glimpse of truth in a sea of liars when he stated the following at COP15: “… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society – you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments…. Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].” [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Whitism

Pension funds benefit only a tiny minority of the world’s people. Consider that Canada’s first Old Age Pensions Act was not passed until 1927. Now consider that 90% of the world is excluded from old age pension schemes. Coverage and effectiveness of existing social protection schemes for retirement, invalidity and death in Africa – the richest continent in terms of natural resources – is weak in general, with few exceptions, due to imperialism and colonialism, which continue to destroy Africa and her people to this day.

But rather than dismantle the systems that keep such disparities and horrific conflicts intact, we instead ask our youth to focus on ensuring we keep the wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of others, many who live unbearably. Now consider on top of these gross injustices and inequalities the fact that this same minority (those who own the investments and pension funds) are the very ones creating the climate crisis. How many 350.org supporters understand that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population? [Source: page 77, Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)]

One could legitimately argue that with over 7 billion people on the planet, only this 1-25% of global populace has the capacity to slow down global warming – as they are the very ones creating it. This is true. And yet a critical distinction must be made: to simply move money from direct ownership of fossil fuel investments over to a “green” Wall Street portfolio is to essentially do nothing. It’s merely another empty gesture to be glorified by media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex. One that can easily be compared to the false solution of offsets – essentially little more than a green-sanctioned licence to continue polluting and destroying ecosystems, while simultaneously exploiting the world’s most vulnerable, in the rapid race to convert all natural resources, blood and sweat into capital. Far from calling these what they are – crimes against humanity and cultural acquiescence to global-scale progenycide – our society recognizes this as just another day on the New York Stock Exchange.

There is one message that the divestment campaign will never encourage: that all global citizens must sell all their shares in the corporations of the elites, redirecting the funds into simple collectives/co-operatives, with the intention of starving corporate power and domination into submission, with the ultimate goal being the dismantling of the existing power structures in their entirety. While it is true that powerful banks will be delighted to acquire these shares (only as long as consumer demand ensures continued growth), as author Jay Taber suggests, banks too can be brought to their knees and destroyed when citizens are united in their efforts in a global context. The system is not invincible. Yet, who would fund such a campaign/movement when it promises the most severe consequences and harsh repercussions for the victors (particularly harsh for the 1% creating 50% of the world’s emissions), even if the shared goal is a livable planet for tomorrow. Furthermore, why would citizens embrace a disciplined minimalist existence when the non-profit industrial complex promises everything and more via more energy (indeed “green” energy and biofuels), electric cars and “clean” aviation? (Promises targeting only those with privilege please note.) Such a movement is obviously of no use whatsoever to global elites who invest billions in the non-profit industrial complex. Rather, such a movement with lofty yet essential aspirations would represent a very real and direct threat to the hegemony that exists, which explains why such desperately needed aspirations, which inspire legitimate movements, will never be funded.

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

We refrain from looking at our reflection in the mirror to confront the truth in all its ugliness. Collectively, we throw our own children onto the altar, sacrificing them to the gods of Apathy, Gluttony and Consumption. In return, we are “blessed” with cell phones, electronics and air mile rewards. The ideology of heaven is replaced with grandeur delusions of renewable energy (for the privileged) in magnificent abundance, yet another industry full of promise for infinite growth and refinement – now presented under the auspices of a much kinder, so-called “green economy” or “new economy” (as our ecosystems continue to collapse). The fact that high tech business finances genocide, displaces Indigenous Peoples, and decimates the very life systems upon which we depend is simply unfortunate collateral damage for the things we deserve and must have. “After the Holocaust, the world united behind two simple words: Never Again. These words represent a promise to past and future generations that we will do everything we can to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated.” Yet when it comes to Euro-American privilege, it has been clearly demonstrated that, collectively, we are more than willing to walk over and ignore the bodies of the dead in order to have what we want – especially when those dead bodies happen to be black.

 

Next: Part VII

 

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

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[2] Graph: The carbon dioxide data (red curve), measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Keeling, 1976]. NOAA started its own CO2 measurements in May of 1974, and they have run in parallel with those made by Scripps since then [Thoning, 1989]. The black curve represents the seasonally corrected data. Data are reported as a dry mole fraction defined as the number of molecules of carbon dioxide divided by the number of molecules of dry air multiplied by one million (ppm). [Source]

[3] C & J Plant (1991). Green business: Hope or hoax. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

 

 

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part IV of an Investigative Report] [Marketing a Fallacy]

The Art of Annihilation

April 23, 2014

Part four of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

 

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

 

naturebarcode1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

Marketing a Fallacy

There-is-No-Alternative

It is imperative to understand that the “solutions” being proposed in response to our unparalleled planetary ecological crisis will be only those that have the ability to enhance profits or build brand value, thus increasing revenues/profits. Yet, the fallacy of such “solutions” cannot be understated. The industrialized capitalist system is dependent upon growth. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible – a 5-year-old child can understand this fact because it is simple common sense (i.e., he or she would not wish to keep growing forever). Growth is dependent upon destruction of the natural world and exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people. Violence is inherently built into the system. The idea that a “green economy” under the capitalist system will somehow slow down our accelerating multiple ecological crises and climate change is a delusional fallacy of epic proportion. Ceres allows corporations to continue this delusion and constructs a paradigm that conditions a culture to believe the fallacy.

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part II of an Investigative Report] [The “Climate Wealth” Opportunists]

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

cereslogo1

March 10, 2014

Part two of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

CERES

INCR_Logo

 “One recent weekday afternoon, three men walked out of the Environmental Defense Fund’s midtown Manhattan office on their way to have lunch together. On the left was EDF’s senior economist. On the right was an environmental expert in the Soviet government. Between them was a businessman, a trader in the nascent enterprise of buying and selling pollution rights. Together that trio forms a picture of how the new environmentalism is shaping up: global, more cooperative than confrontational – and with business at the center.” — ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The present can only be fully understood if one understands the past. Therefore, in order to understand the present day 350.org divestment campaign, we must look at the inception/creation of 350.org’s partner: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres).

Who is Ceres? Ceres is the 21st century puppeteers of Wall Street who, most recently, are pulling the strings behind the 350.org divestment campaign. Ceres represents the very heart of the nexus: millionaire liberals, their foundations, the “activists” they manage, and most importantly, where the plutocrats invest their personal wealth and that of their foundations. [“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Ceres relies on support from foundations, individuals and other funders to achieve our mission to integrate sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.” (Source: Ceres 2010 Annual Report)

On the Ceres Board of Directors we find key NGO affiliations: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, World Resources Institute, Ecological Solutions Inc. and Green America, to name a few. (The history of the Ceres board of directors is discussed at length, further in this report.)

 “Building climate change risks and opportunities into Wall Street research and analysis is a top Ceres priority.” — Ceres Annual Report 2006

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

 “… sceptics of the effectiveness of a voluntary environmental ethics question whether or not the Valdez principles contain more smoke than substance.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

On March 24, 1989, one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters in Earth’s history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shook public confidence in corporate America to the core. This catastrophic event, 5 years after the atrocious man-made disaster in Bhopal, brought corporate misconduct to the forefront. Corporate America found itself in the midst of an unprecedented public relations disaster.

 “…not long after the Exxon Valdez spill, 41% of Americans were angry enough to say they’d consider boycotting the company.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

Within six months of the Exxon disaster, the late Joan Bavaria, then-president of Trillium Asset Management, had formed a coalition that included high profile environmentalists. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) was formed with its 10-point code of conduct in hopes of reigning in corporate power. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] Presented to the public as The Valdez Principles [1] on September 7, 1989, the strategic name brilliantly exploited the Valdez crisis (the Principles are said to have actually been written before the Valdez spill, in 1988) to build its own brand recognition and value. Ceres would be the watchdog and savior, reigning in corporate power and making it behave. Although corporate America was reluctant, due to the growing hostility and resentment from the public it also recognized that this coalition offered a strategy (“a voluntary mechanism of corporate self-governance”) as a means of re-establishing public trust, securing brand reputation and most importantly, protecting profits and power. Its influence was enhanced by the fact that member institutional investors controlled over $150 billion in assets. Yet, the risks did not go unrecognized:

“A new basis for environmentally-related derivative suits may now be emerging. Various social-activist groups are successfully sponsoring shareholder resolutions at many major corporations to mandate greater environmental accountability by the corporations. These resolutions require the implementation of ‘Valdez Principles,’ which call for the corporations to curtail air and water pollution, conserve energy, market safe products, pay for damage caused to the environment, and make regular reports on environmental matters to the shareholders. If directors and officers of corporations which have adopted these Valdez-type resolutions fail to comply with their mandate, derivative suits against the directors and officers are likely to follow.” — ACE Bermuda News, July 1991

Corporate America held out. Ceres eventually buckled. The Valdez Principles became the CERES Principles (a 10-point code of environmental conduct) [2], with the most powerful language watered down and abolished. This was fully understood by Bavaria, who recognized that without the annual public audits in particular (principle #10), the principles would be meaningless. November 1990:

“Joan Bavaria, co-chairperson of CERES, believes that the first 8 principles are meaningless without the tenth principle allowing public accountability. The difference between having the company develop their own principles, then monitoring them internally is like putting a fox in the chicken house.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

In the meantime, environmentalism was changing and becoming big business. The world had embraced Neoliberalism (or had it shoved down their throats by the IMF and World Bank) with a statement of neoliberal aims being codified in the Washington Consensus in 1989. This was to be the means of liberating the market from state intrusion, which would instead serve to shield the expanding corporatocracy. Neoliberalism would prove to be the instrumental tool of choice in what would serve, protect and expand the power of the oligarchy.

From the CNNMoney Fortune article: ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, February 12, 1990:

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’

 

Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others.

 

Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

The primary NGOs involved in the Valdez Principles from inception were the Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The necessity of the “environmental movement” as the face and foundation of Ceres cannot be understated. In 1989 it was well understood by all players that NGOs were very much perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the public. The non-profit industrial complex was perhaps the only entity in the position of lending the much needed legitimacy and credibility that could mollify the public and allow the corporate world to continue their raping and pillaging, unregulated, under voluntary compliance. And while there is little doubt that well-intentioned individuals with sincere intentions were present in the formation of Ceres (as the corporate watchdog), many such “activists” will never admit to themselves that they are enablers of the very systems collectively destroying us. There is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. Privilege has a convenient way of convincing one’s self to be blind.

“The New York Times/CBS News poll regularly asks the public if ‘protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.’ In September 1981, 45% agreed and 42% disagreed with that plainly intemperate statement. Last June, 79% agreed and only 18% disagreed. For the first time, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, profess concern for the environment in roughly equal numbers.” ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The Valdez Principles, which morphed into the completely watered down Ceres Principles, became the perfect antidote to appease an outraged populace. Corporations could breathe a sigh of relief for a continued voluntary system of corporate self governance – freshly laundered in a light green wash. At a time when public support for environmental protection was unprecedented, restrictive federal regulation power would be avoided. Corporate supremacy would continue apace.

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

 “It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.” — Margaret Kimberley

The CERES “Sustainable Governance Project” (SGP) was officially announced to the public in Washington, DC, 2002. The non-profit industrial complex was and continues to be an instrumental tool in building public acceptance for expansion of neoliberal policies. Hence a key focus of SGP in 2001 (prior to the official launch) was “expanding collaboration with climate change experts at groups such as The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Redefining Progress, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.” (Source: 2001 Annual Report) Jump forward to 2013 and the Ceres network includes over 130 NGOs.

Today, Ceres serves as the underwriter and clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance. Such transformation is now well under way and evolving as witnessed under the guise of the “green economy.” Such strategy is calculated and requires tactical execution. For such transformation to be successful, key critical elements must coalesce: the real or perceived (manufactured/purposeful) decline of public regulatory power; the appearance of “civil society” (self-appointed NGOs) to emanate a patina of legitimacy, credibility and trust; the perception of “caring” corporations (see “Who Cares Wins“); and lastly, media to disseminate the compiled elements in endless waves. When these elements coalesce seamlessly, fertile ground is laid for private regulatory institutions to emerge. By stressing the “risks” (i.e. water scarcity, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.

The Ceres Network Companies (the first pillar) make up the crème de le crème (approx. 70 corporations) of the corporate world. Examples include Citi, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Suncor and Virgin. The Ceres Coalition (the second pillar) is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors, environmental and “social advocacy” groups, and public interest organizations. Examples of coalition members are Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rockefeller Financial Asset Management, NRDC, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (a founder of Avaaz) and The Carbon Neutral Company.

 

SupportingSponsors2008

Leadership Circle

Image above: Just a few of the 2009 and 2013 Ceres Conference Sponsors.

The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Ceres Membership Requirements] [3]

“Ceres is a national network of over [130*] investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and the capital markets to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Coalition members serve on our board of directors, participate on company stakeholder teams and engage with the Wall Street community to incorporate social and environmental costs into their research practices. More than [100*] companies worldwide, many of them Fortune 500 firms, make up the Ceres Network of Companies.” [4] [*Updated to reflect current status]

The network of Ceres companies represents a broad range of corporate interests, including oil and gas, electric utilities, and financial services. More than one-third of the company members are in the Fortune 500. Members include McDonalds Corporations, Bank of America Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Citi Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nike, PepsiCo, Suncor, Sunoco, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Virgin America, and Time Warner, to name just a few. Ceres has close ties with high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, the American Bar Association and many of the world’s most powerful corporations. The forté of Ceres is briefing/advising powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on risk and opportunity.

In addition to working with investors in the Ceres Coalition, Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR):

“INCR members, whose collective assets total about $[11*] trillion, include many of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers.” [*Updated to reflect current status]

INCR has grown from 10 institutional investors managing $600 billion (2003) to 100 institutional investors managing more than $11 trillion in assets (2012).

In 1997 CERES launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard for corporate voluntary sustainability reporting implemented by more than 1,800 corporations worldwide.

Benefits for corporations adopting GRI “standards” included/include guideline tools for “brand and reputation enhancement, differentiation in the marketplace and protection from brand erosion resulting from the actions of suppliers or competitors, networking and communications.” [Source] Since releasing its first Reporting Guidelines in 2000, its global network has grown to more than 600 organizational stakeholders and over 30,000 people representing different sectors and constituencies. GRI has also developed key strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organization for Standardization. [Source]

Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres (2012) and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ INCR. Mindy Lubber’s blog “Sustainable Capitalism” is integrated with Forbes. Lubber is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post (acquired by Time Warner in 2011) and Forbes. Lubber has been honored by the United Nations as one of the “World’s Top Leaders of Change.” (Other award winners were the corporations Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart and Reebok). Lubber was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship magazine and is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Skeletons (and Skolls) in the Ceres/1Sky Closet

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Photo [Source: Skoll Foundation]: Green capitalist Al Gore with (left to right) Chris Fox of Ceres, Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky (350.org officially merged with 1Sky in 2011), Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and Alessandro Galli of Global Footprint Network.

In 2009, 1Sky’s campaign director, Gillian Caldwell, a lawyer by training, was paid $203,620 (US) through the Rockefeller Family Fund. Although McKibben often refers to 350.org/1Sky as a “scruffy little outfit” – a salary of more than $200,000 is hardly typical of a legitimate grassroots organization.

In the Dec 3, 2009 article Prepping for Copenhagen as found on the Skoll Foundation website, the author reports, “The Skoll Foundation, along with a number of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners, will be participating in the Copenhagen meetings on climate change later this month. Reflecting the high caliber of environmental leaders in the Skoll portfolio, some 10 Skoll social entrepreneurs and/or their organizations will be at Copenhagen: ACORE, Amazon Conservation Team, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia, Global Footprint Network, Health Care Without Harm, IDE-India, and Gillian Caldwell (formerly of Witness), representing 1Sky.” [Emphasis added.]

In the December 15, 2009 article More from the Ground in Copenhagen, also featured on the Skoll Foundation website, Skoll CEO Sally Osberg reports:

 Just a couple of highlights from the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Leadership on climate change – both moral and real – is coming from the sub-nation state levels and small countries.

What Osberg neglects to report is the fact that these very states were deliberately and grossly undermined by the non-profit industrial complex, with corporate TckTckTck, 350.org(1Sky) and Avaaz at the helm of the elitist fifth column. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide | Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Who Cares Wins

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 “To address the tough environmental and social issues facing global corporations today, we need to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders who challenge us to innovate and operate in a sustainable manner. No one has access to such a vast network of valuable, independent input as Ceres.” — Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

It is clear why branded agencies such as 350.org, SumofUs, Avaaz et al, who dominate social media, are heavily financed (and in many cases were created by) the oligarchs. Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, founder of One Young World, (recently a featured speaker at the 2013 World Form on Natural Capital), makes the case that “social media and corporate social responsibility are not two separate subjects; rather, they are intrinsically interlinked. Businesses that embrace the new rules are set to both make more money and become forces for good in the world.”

“Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” — Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, Global Chief Executive, Havas Worldwide, Creator of the “TckTckTck” campaign and Co-founder of One Young World.

Those born into today’s “young world” are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation. For adults who willingly offer up their children as sacrificial lambs to appease the corporate gods, denial must be considered the preferred opium of the 21st century.

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The name of the game is this: Corporations present themselves as humble and caring elements integral to society with a fierce determination to “do better.” Rather than refusing to comply with ethical environmental and social conduct, which only serves to tarnish brand image, the corporations embrace and welcome all criticisms. This stratagem is made even more effective when CEOs unabashedly take the first opportunity in any given situation to point out the harmful impacts of their industry, articulated with deep concern, followed by a laundry list of all the magnificent things the corporation is looking at for the future that they believe will alleviate environmental degradation and unbridled exploitation.

 

Next: Part III

 

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

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] The Valdez Principles: In September 1989, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies set forth the following ten broad principles for evaluating corporate activities that directly or indirectly affect the biosphere.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will minimize and strive to eliminate the release of any pollutant that may cause environmental damage to air, water, or earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard habitats in rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans and will minimize contributing to global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain or smog.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve nonrenewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning. We will protect wildlife habitat, open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

We will minimize the creation of waste, especially hazardous waste, and wherever possible recycle materials. We will dispose of all wastes through safe and responsible methods.

4. Wise Use of Energy

We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources to meet our needs. We will invest in improved energy efficiency and conservation in our operations. We will maximize the energy efficiency of products we produce or sell.

5. Risk Reduction

We will minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe technologies and operating procedures and by being constantly prepared for emergencies.

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

We will sell products or services that minimize adverse environmental impacts and that are safe as consumers commonly use them. We will inform consumers of the environmental impacts of our products or services.

7. Damage Compensation

We will take responsibility for any harm we cause to the environment by making every effort to fully restore the environment and to compensate those persons who are adversely affected.

8. Disclosure

We will disclose to our employees and to the public incidents relating to our operations that cause environmental harm or pose health or safety hazards. We will disclose potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations, and we will not take any action against employees who report any condition that creates a danger to the environment or poses health and safety hazards.

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

At least one member of the Board of Directors will be a person qualified to represent environmental interests. We will commit management resources to implement these Principles, including the funding of an office of vice president for environmental affairs or an equivalent executive position, reporting directly to the CEO, to monitor and report upon our implementation efforts.

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

We will conduct and make public an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles and in complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout our worldwide operations. We will work toward the timely creation of independent environmental audit procedures which we will complete annually and make available to the public.

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability]

[2] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.]

[4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”

Are Green Groups Ready for Tarsands Deal?

Straight

Nov 20, 2013

By Dawn Paley

Gone are the days when the tarsands were an obscure experiment in making oil from tar. Today, the bitumen deposits in central and northern Alberta have become a political hot potato, an issue forced onto the world stage by coordinated protests and direct actions.

But a look at the history of the environmental groups that have signed on to the tarsands protests raises the question of whether or not an agreement between green groups and tarsands operators is on the horizon.

In Canada, Native-led opposition to the Enbridge pipeline through central B.C. has become one of the most visible faces of anti-oil protests. An ongoing 14-month blockade near Smithers, B.C., stands in the way of proposed gas and tarsands pipelines. Campaigns to stop oil tankers from travelling the B.C. coast have raised the spectre of an oil spill in the province’s coastal waters. Protests in Ontario have picked up against the Enbridge-proposed reversal of the 38-year-old Line 9 pipeline, which would pump tarsands crude to the East Coast.

Actions against the tarsands, though, are not limited to Canada.

Since 2011, thousands of people in the U.S. have been arrested protesting tarsands infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to carry tarsands crude from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. In June, protesters dogged Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his visit to London, England, where, among other actions, they interrupted his speech to Parliament.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, according to Edward R. Royce, the chairman of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs. “Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of petroleum and natural gas to the United States. After Saudi Arabia and Mexico, it is the United States’ third-largest supplier of petroleum,” Royce told the committee last March 14. Today in the U.S., securing access to oil is synonymous with national security.

Tarsands, shale gas, and related infrastructure are increasingly important environmental themes in B.C. But there’s a deal-making trend among some of the key players on the West Coast enviro scene that some consider greenwashing and others portray as pragmatism. As resistance to the tarsands mounts, will a conciliatory brand of anti-tarsands activism also take root?

The Tar Sands Solutions Network is a new coalition—headed up by controversial environmentalist Tzeporah Berman—that brings some of Canada’s biggest environmental groups together with smaller organizations to get the word out about their activism.

Must-Read White Paper: The Politics of a New York State Fracking Moratorium

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Above: A picture worth a thousand words ….

“[P]romoters of “safe fracking” like the Natural Resources Defense Council (“we need better information”), the National Sierra Club (“let’s secure strong safeguards”), and the National Wildlife Federation (“reasonable compromise”; the parent organization of Environmental Advocates of New York), Environmental Defense Fund (partnering with Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other industry players in the “Center for Sustainable Shale Development,” PDF), Citizens Campaign for the Environment (pushing for a moratorium, “Let science guide the process”), and New York League of Conservation Voters (whose 2013 spring gala partners included Chesapeake Energy, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and other industry polluters) would like to have an apparent easy win to headline their fundraising letters. Even while many of their staffers recognize the need for a ban, these same staffers have been discouraged from publicly supporting a ban. The grassroots must stand firmly for this position to help these staffers use the courage of their convictions.”

CPNY | Coalition to Protect New York

June 16, 2013

Knowing that the whole country, indeed the whole world, is looking to New York State to stop fracking and lead the way for others to piggyback on our success, we find it especially important that we get it right. We can help not only ourselves but also every other citizenry affected, and we can change the course of history. We cannot waste time; too much is at stake. We can’t play games. We must demand what we need to survive. And we must win.

1. What is the effect of calling for a moratorium? Doesn’t a moratorium buy us time to organize for an eventual ban?

We understand and are tempted by the respite that a moratorium seems to promise. Who wouldn’t like to buy time for rest and recuperation, and to fight more fiercely down the line?

However, after careful examination of the political and economic landscape, we realize that the price of a statewide moratorium is clearly too high — it works against our achieving our ultimate goal of a total and complete ban.

Democracy in Reverse | Non-Profit Disaster Capitalism on the Gulf Coast

July 11, 2013

by Elizabeth Cook 

GulfOilSpill2

The most recent public meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, held in Belle Chase on June 12, was an exercise in democracy in reverse.(1)

It is an undemocratic process that is largely for political theater, in my view, so I used it as such. I was as dramatic as possible in presenting the most important points, in my view, of the reality on the Gulf. People have only three minutes to speak. The funding is a long way off, so why not have round table discussions, that can go on all day, where people wander in and out depending on their schedule? No, in three minutes, you have to state all of your concerns about the gulf, BP, oil, the Corexit (2), bioremediation or the lack thereof in the marshes, the dying marshes (3), the culpability of the government in the use of Corexit (4), the fact that the Feds want to expand drilling to Florida (5) and the Corexit is being stockpiled all up and down the Gulf coast (6). If there another major oil well blowout in the Gulf and the Corexit is used in massive quantities again, then this restoration process will have to start all over. Common sense folks (yes, I did say that). 

Under Empire, All Life is Imperiled

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One Year On

Counterpunch Weekend Edition May 24-26, 2013

by JAVIER SETHNESS CASTRO

“After the catastrophes that have happened, and in view of the catastrophes to come, it would be cynical to say that a plan for a better world is manifested in history and unites it.”

– Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics

Channeling Adorno, it would I think prove difficult today to characterize the prevailing world-situation as anything other than highly negative.  Such an interpretation is arguably seen most readily in reflection on environmental matters—specifically, the ever-worsening climate emergency, not to mention other worrying signs of the ecological devastation wrought by the capitalist system.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Manufacturing Discourse

The following article is the second installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped by corporate interests into the non-profit industrial complex, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.

+++

Counterpunch

June 4, 2013

Part two of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

 

2013-04-15-NGO-is-born

Illustration courtesy of Stephanie McMillan, Minimum Security

On April 8, 2013, PRWatch asked the question: “Seven State Keystone XL Resolutions – Where Are the Environmentalists?” The author reported the following observations:

The cleanup is still underway from a massive pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, but you don’t hear anything about it at public hearings across the nation dealing with the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. Resolutions supporting the controversial KXL pipeline have now been introduced in seven states, but while TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying in force for the bills to pass, there have been few opposing voices by either Democrats or environmentalists at public hearings dealing on the measures….

 

In February, CMD reported on state resolutions calling for the approval of the KXL pipeline project in Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri. The language in three of these resolutions closely matched a “backgrounder” from TransCanada. The forth resolution, introduced in Missouri, mirrored a resolution from the American Legislative Exchange Council….

 

In the last few months, Ohio, Kansas, and Indiana have introduced very similar resolutions, which also feature paragraphs from TransCanada’s own materials. Although these resolutions are non-binding, they will be showcased by industry lobbyists as evidence about how state legislators (and by extension the public) feel about the pipeline project in an attempt to influence the pending State Department decision on KXL. While opponents of KXL have been active on many fronts, their absence from state legislatures nationwide has been notable….

Industry Turns Out in Force, But Face Little Opposition…

 

[P]ro-pipeline groups certainly seem to be organized in a coordinated national effort, with lobbyists from TransCanada, the American Petroleum Institute (or their local affiliates like Kansas Petroleum Council), and the Chamber of Commerce all attending committee hearings. But the attendance from environmental groups has been patchy at best and the support for their efforts from Democratic lawmakers has been weak.

 

On February 12, 2013, the Michigan resolution – SCR6 – received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, at which industry groups turned out in force. Lobbyists from the API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy were all there to make the case for KXL, but as shown in the minutes there was not a single member of the public recorded as opposing KXL. The vote passed 5-1, with two committee members leaving the room just five minutes before the vote. And when two weeks later a vote was held on the House version of the bill in the House Energy and Technology Committee, again lobbyists from API, TransCanada, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and DTE Energy – as well as from Michigan Laborers Union – turned up to support the resolution. There was not a single voice of opposition and the Committee passed the resolution 16-0. The bill passed a floor vote in the House 88-20 on March 5, 2013. [Emphasis added]

The author of the above article makes reference to the fact that although 58,000 activists have pledged to be arrested, there is little opposition at the state level. Perhaps never before has there been such a clear case study that solidifies the fact that “clicktivism” is slowly and effectively destroying any meaningful activism. In the Havas Worldwide (global media giant and creator of TckTckTck) 2010 report, Who Cares Wins, The Rise of the Caring Corporation, one key element to further corporate loyalty and profit is to “Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” One could draw strong analogies to the 5 second “click” campaigns, which require (and demand) zero analysis and an abhorrence for critical thinking, when the Havas Worldwide campaign affects the psyche in a very similar fashion.

As found in the Nov/Dec 2012, Jan 2013 issue of Bakken Oil Business Magazine:

BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years. ‘In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012,’ said Dave Garin, BNSF group Vice President of Industrial Products….

 

I received the following response from Jane Kleeb after contacting her about Bold Nebraska’s oppositional stance to the KXL pipeline’s new suggested route through Nebraska: “We are waiting for all the conservative politicians who say they care about property rights and family farmers and ranchers to actually give a damn and stand up against this pipeline. We welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets.”

 

The leg from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast refineries has already been approved by the states through which it is being laid, as it did not require presidential approval and does not run through Nebraska. On March 12, 2012, President Obama personally announced his approval of “fast tracking” the southern leg of the KXL pipeline to relieve pressure on the WTI crude oil inventories for shipment to the Gulf Coast. Construction has started and is expected to be completed sometime in late 2013….

 

The main contributor to Bold Nebraska is Dick Holland, who has financially supported this progressive political movement in its opposition to the KXL pipeline. Bold Nebraska’s NIMBY approach will only cause further delays in completing the KXL.

 

Mr. Holland is a good friend of Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of the world’s most successful investors. Any delay in the process by the U.S. State Department in recommending approval for the completion of the full route of the KXL by the President of the United States, will solely benefit the BNSF.

Holland and his wife were two members of the small group that invested with close friend Warren Buffett in the original Berkshire Hathaway, which dates back to the 1960s. University of Nebraska Omaha reports: “[O]ne version of Buffett’s “Oracle of Omaha” story says $10,000 at the start (less than the Hollands invested) grew to roughly $280 million.”Forbes states that the BOLD Nebraska campaign has been largely funded by Dick Holland.

Jan 26, 2012, Forbes, Obama’s Keystone Rejection May Provide A Buffett Bonanza:

The Obama administration’s original decision to postpone Keystone approval until after the 2012 elections followed loud opposition on environmental grounds led by an anti-pipeline group called “Bold Nebraska”….

 

The BOLD Nebraska campaign was largely funded by Dick Holland, a close Buffett friend and business associate since the 1960s and an original Berkshire Hathaway investor.The two men share a similar political philosophy and are strong Democratic Party contributors.

Although BOLD Nebraska has openly stated “[W]e welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets,” it is nonetheless a partner of both 350.org [1] and Tar Sands Action.org [2]. Yet in real life, this is really no big deal. Where BOLD Nebraska may receive funding directly from a corporate interest, all organizations involved in this campaign are also funded via corporate interests, the only difference being that the funds (i.e. investment) are funnelled through foundations, which essentially serve as tax-exempt marketing agencies for neoliberal ideologies, programs and policies. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that Holland is actually forthright and transparent in his financing of BOLD Nebraska and doesn’t feel the need to conform to the political theatre in which the foundations are a key prop.

A far more serious issue is that a non-elected, self-appointed NGO, who claims to speak on behalf/represent of civil society (as all NGOs claim), that is in reality, founded/initiated/financed by elite families of hegemony (Rockefellers and Clintons predominantly at onset) has declined to disclose the source of certain monetary “donations”. The fact that an NGO that claims to represent civil society refuses to disclose all funding sources, demonstrates unequivocally a great lack of respect not only for full transparency, but for the “followers” they claim to represent. [“What 350.org’s list of donors fails to convey is that some foundations provide only US$5,000 or US$10,000, while two unidentified donors provide half of 350.org’s budget for 2011, according to its financial statements. Four grants accounted for two-thirds of 350.org’s budget. 350.org declined to identify the donors of those grants” [as referenced in part I].

Behind the curtains of the political theatre we find the prestigious marketing agencies and public relation firms that “grassroots” groups are miraculously able to afford. These firms and agencies write and develop the scripts and design the sets. They bring the stories to life, strategically exploit and manipulate and our emotions, ultimately ensuring we come to accept and partake in their politically acceptable means of discourse – discourse sanctioned (and financed) by the empire. In the case of BOLD Nebraska, partner and marketing agency, Justin Kemerling Design Co, boasts a client list of 350.org, MoveOn.org, Avaaz, the Obama campaign and many more. Another example is the corporate communications and public affairs agency Hoggan & Associates (DeSmogBlog co-founder Jim Hoggan is president and founder), whose client list includes corporate creation TckTckTck, Canadian Pacific (Rail), Shell, AMEC and many more. A planetary crisis for our Earth, which is on the verge of unprecedented, global ecological collapse, has never felt so far away. And the hustle, polished and refined in an emerald green patina, has never made us feel so damn good. Destruction of the planet and the oppression/displacement/annihilation of non-white peoples has been internalized as a completely normal, day to day part of our everyday existence.

The name of the game: allow us to subconsciously (and consciously) protect our privilege all while we’re up to our necks in blood, drowning within a system where violence and exploitation of people and planet are inherently built in. We may fiercely chastise Apple – but we’re not about to actually give up any of the corporations products. In our collective, oblivious minds, the Congo does not exist nor do the Congolese, just the SumofUs petition which Westerners sign (click) dishonestly knowing it will have no meaningful effect. (Instead we toss the latest iPhone sweatshop accessory to our average eleven year-old Euro-American populace, sanctioning rampant corporate pedophilia and indoctrination, all while we steal their very future out from under them.) DeSmogBlog may “expose” Shell on occasion, yet Hoggan & Associates has no problem raking in Shell cash to perhaps, in their own words, “…help clients identify the optimum frame and establish it in the public mind. In a crisis, we can help lift a story out of a frame that might have been set up by critics.” Not surprisingly, note that Hoggan has been a member of the David Suzuki Foundation Board since 2001 and has served as Chair since 2007. It’s all one big happy, delusional, and very privileged, family.

YES LOGO | The McKibben-Klein Doctrine

 obama3 shep_large2 poster_forwardonclimate

forwardonclimaterally

forwardonclimaterally2

Above: 350.org DC rally signs (far right and bottom two) clearly promote the powerful Obama brand. Above left: MoveOn.org (founder of Avaaz), front group for the Democratic Party. Image to right of MoveOn.org poster: 350.org “Forward on Climate” poster/logo. Top image: Obama 2012 campaign poster/logo.

“Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes).” — Naomi Klein, author of No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition). Klein now sits on the board of directors of Rockefellers’ 1Sky/350.org

obama2McKibbenKlein2012

“… A lot of times when he’s at a podium what you’ll see is, centered right beneath him, at the very top of the blue field that usually says something like ‘Change You Can Believe In,’ it’ll be just that little symbol, functioning in the same way the Nike swoosh does. People look at that and know what it means, even though it’s just an ‘O’ with some stripes in it…. The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would basically be done in the same typeface…. If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font. Every time you look, all those signs are perfect. Graphic designers like me don’t understand how it’s happening. It’s unprecedented and inconceivable to us. The people in the know are flabbergasted.” — Expertinent: Why the Obama “Brand” Is Working, Feb 27, 2008

“Attitude” branding is essentially defined by the ability to elicit/represent/instill a larger, more powerful feeling on an emotional, subconscious level. It need not be connected with the product or the consumption of the product whatsoever. At a deeper level, attitude branding drills into the consumer psychology of (“attitude”) choice –as much as the term “choice” is applicable in the 21st century of accelerating social engineering. The brand “Obama” does not represent nor sell a president, rather it embodies an emotional chimera of “hope” and “change” that we can choose to believe in. One could quite safely describe attitude branding as a very sophisticated and calculated method of indoctrination, perhaps one of the highest (and most subtle) forms of psychological manipulation/brainwashing.Corporations excelling in “attitude” branding include Apple and Nike, to name two. Branding a person is not fundamentally different from branding a product. In 2008, Obama-the-brand beat out the aforementioned Apple and Nike, capturing first place for Advertising Age’s marketer of the year.

The Obama brand utilized by 350.org et al for the Forward in Climate – Reject Keystone XL Pipeline was strategic and cunning. Anyone who believes otherwise is beyond naïve. Perhaps this feat could be considered a unique and compelling example of the indoctrinating attitude branding that Naomi Klein describes as “fetish strategy” in her 2000 book No Logo.

Video: John Pilger – Obama is a Corporate Marketing Creation (running time: 5:29)

Although it is obvious that the No KXL campaign logo shares remarkable and purposeful semblance to the infamous Obama logo (sunrise over stars and stripes), allowing the pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer to illuminate at almost 100% transparency, a natural line of defence by 350.org would be that of course they utilize what 350.org board member, Naomi Klein, refers to as “the perfectly calibrated logo” to their advantage, as, they would argue, the Obama administration is the target of their campaign.

And anyone who understands advertising, social engineering and the power of the brand, such as Klein, would understand that this line of defense is bullshit.

The KXL campaign imagery absolutely reinforces Obama’s ubiquitous “brand.”

“Brand recognition is most successful when people can state a brand without being explicitly exposed to the company’s name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogans and colors.” — Investopedia

The money that the modern power elite have pumped into 1Sky/350.org via their tax-exempt foundations has proven to be an investment with such incredibly high dividends, it would make even Warren Buffet blush. [“Reports make it official: Oil and gas are booming…. the Railroad Commission issued 3,722 permits during the first two months of the year, ‘the strongest start to a year in the entire history of the TPI [Texas Petro Index],’ he said.” [April 4, 2013]

The Obama branding/marketing campaign was planned and executed with clinical precision. The Obama marketing team established brand leadership by ensuring Obama owned the “change” ideology in the voters’ minds. The KXL campaign successfully reinforced/reinforces the illusion that this same iconic “change” is still sitting right in front of us, ours for the taking, if only we believe. Like the Obama brand, the 350.org brand (along with many thousands of other NGOs) recognizes and focuses on the desire for an authentic “product,” which simultaneously reinforces our society’s collective thirst for the lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality – and perhaps more importantly, disregard our collective role in it.

On 16 January 2010 the Guardian publishes the article Naomi Klein on how corporate branding has taken over America. Ten years after the publication of No Logo, Naomi Klein switches her attention from the mall to Barack Obama and discovers that corporate culture has taken over the US government [Extracted from No Logo (10th Anniversary Edition) by Naomi Klein, to be published by Fourth Estate on 21 January at GBP 9.99]

When Obama was sworn in as president, the American brand could scarcely have been more battered – Bush was to his country what New Coke was to Coca-Cola, what cyanide in the bottles had been to Tylenol. Yet Obama, in what was perhaps the most successful rebranding campaign of all time, managed to turn things around. Kevin Roberts, global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, set out to depict visually what the new president represented. In a full-page graphic commissioned by the stylish Paper Magazine, he showed the Statue of Liberty with her legs spread, giving birth to Barack Obama. America, reborn….

 

So, it seemed that the United States government could solve its reputation problems with branding – it’s just that it needed a branding campaign and product spokesperson sufficiently hip, young and exciting to compete in today’s tough market. The nation found that in Obama, a man who clearly has a natural feel for branding and who has surrounded himself with a team of top-flight marketers. His social networking guru, for instance, is Chris Hughes, one of the young founders of Facebook. His social secretary is Desirée Rogers, a glamorous Harvard MBA and former marketing executive. And David Axelrod, Obama’s top adviser, was formerly a partner in ASK Public Strategies, a PR firm which, according to Business Week,”has quarterbacked campaigns” for everyone from Cable­vision to AT&T. Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modern marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes); expert viral marketing (Obama ringtones); product placement….

 

Indeed everything Obama and his family touches turns to branding gold…. “We have the best brand on earth: the Obama brand,”…. “Our possibilities are endless”….

 

Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents such as FDR, follows the logic of marketing: create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts (which, granted, constitute a not inconsequential demographic in the United States). Advertising Age had it right when it gushed that the Obama brand is “big enough to be anything to anyone yet had an intimate enough feel to inspire advocacy”….

 

Yet rereading No Logo after 10 years provides many reminders that success in branding can be fleeting, and that nothing is more fleeting than the quality of being cool. Many of the superbrands and branded celebrities that looked untouchable not so long ago have either faded or are in deep crisis today. The Obama brand could well suffer a similar fate. [Emphasis added]

The task at hand is to ensure Obama does not suffer this similar fate that Klein aptly describes. Hence, the millions funneled into MoveOn.org, the front group/non-profit organization for the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org takes the visible pro-Democrat position, at the forefront of the non-profit industrial complex which, for the most part, keeps their political ideological leanings hidden in order to appear both non-partisan/independent and legitimate. One should note that MoveOn is the key founder of Avaaz along with Res Publica. Both MoveOn.org and Avaaz are partners of 350.org, Avaaz being a 350.org key partner/affiliate. [FURTHER READING: AVAAZ: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War]

When Klein stated that Obama followed the logic of creating “an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wing nuts,” who would have known she was describing, with astounding accuracy, the very faction that she affiliated herself with, the following year on April 7, 2011. Whether Klein’s words were a self-fulfilling prophecy or simply bad judgment, one can only speculate. However, one thing is certain, the “committed wing nuts” Klein speaks of have only become more delusional in the years that have followed as Obama leads the world in the race to the bottom. Who knew that fascism, invasions, occupations, corruption and drones could be so appealing?

Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Brilliant is the person that could inspire a nation to stand up and systematically destroy the system that is killing us. These people are not brilliant. Rather, they are diabolical. The foundations that support them depend upon industrialized capitalism to grow their investments. The non-profit complex can only be sustained if the foundations’ wealth continues to reap the “rewards” of infinite growth. It is unsustainable (not to mention deadly). Without infinite growth,the non-profit complex will collapse. Gone will be the six-figured salaries of the progressive greens. Yet, every day that this system remains intact, turning Earth’s remaining natural resources into monetary capital, we are one day closer to our collective annihilation. There will be no winners in this game of 21st century Russian roulette.

+++

After the first segment of this report was published on April 12, 2013, there was still much difficulty in acceptance for the privileged few, especially those with affiliation to the corporate greens behind the KXL campaign. The dominant belief that still encapsulates the progressives is that rail is not a viable option in the future. Therefore, let us, one more time, delve back into reality.

Stock Markets and Media Tell the Story

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National Post Opinion (April 9, 2009) |CN idea a winner for oil sands:

Within months, CN will be shipping 10,000 barrels daily from producers whose reserves are now stranded. The railway will deliver the oil sands production through the use of insulated and heatable railcars or by reducing its viscosity by mixing it with condensates or diluents.

 

But the “scalability” of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars. Shipping four million barrels a day is possible with current rail capacity, said Foote. [Note that this article (cited in part 1 of this series) appeared simultaneously with the April 9, 2009 Huffington Post article titled Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass US for Asia written by Diane Francis. Francis was also the author of the National Post opinion piece. Although Huffington Post is now a Time-Warner acquisition, green progressives remain quite devoted to it.]

Feb 7, 2011, CN, CP push for a pipeline on rails, Globe and Mail:

[CN] has begun sending oil sands bitumen to California; heavy oil from Cold Lake, Alta., to Chicago and Detroit; and crude from the Bakken, a fast-growing play in southern Saskatchewan, to the U.S. Gulf Coast…. CN boasts that its tracks lie within 80 kilometres of five million barrels a day of refining capacity, which is more than double Canada’s entire U.S. exports….

 

The idea of a “pipeline on rails” has been quietly pursued by both CN and CP in recent years…. “Our unparalleled market reach and flexibility, we feel, gives shippers, buyers … and refineries new options to explore and new ways to reach different markets,” James Cairns, vice-president of petroleum and chemicals with CN, told an Insight Information conference….

 

Rail cars can also ship pure bitumen, the very heavy crude produced in the oil sands. Bitumen is so thick that it needs to be mixed at about a 70-to-30 ratio with a thinner hydrocarbon – called diluent – to flow in a pipeline. Diluent then needs to be returned to the oil sands, creating substantial additional pipe costs. Rail cars, which are already used to transport asphalt, can take undiluted bitumen….

 

“There’s a lot of talk about is it pipe? Is it rail?” Mr. Cairns said. “Our view is pretty simple. It’s a big pie.” [Emphasis added]

Nov 3, 2011, Oil aboard! Railroads shipping more Alberta crude:

A year ago, almost no Alberta crude traveled by rail. Now, Canadian railroads can’t find enough cars to ship the gooey stuff. That’s part of the reason Canada’s two biggest railroads, CN (Canadian National Railway) and CP (Canadian Pacific Railway) are wrapping up the year on an upswing. CN’s third-quarter profit climbed 19 percent… Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. But as oil companies grow more comfortable shipping by rail, analysts say, there’ll be a lot more crude in – actually, on – their pipelines on rails.

March 1, 2012, Bloomberg News:

Gains in mineral and chemical carloads helped BNSF pay a $1 billion distribution to Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway last month….

 

Oil and gas-field servicing are “exploding very healthily” for BNSF, said Paul Bingham, economics practice leader at consultant CDM Smith in Arlington, Va. “In the West I think the BN disproportionately benefits from that.”

March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks Are In Service:

Okay, it’s time to reveal the big secret. Last Saturday (March 17), while waiting at Galesburg for the expected arrival of a rare (for the past several years anyway), Decatur-bound Canadian National “haulage” (by BNSF) grain train, I decided to check out the new tracks that have been built at BNSF Railway’s Galesburg Yard during the past several months….

 

Anyway, the three new long tracks were empty, and just as I thought how cool it would be to see a train actually using one of the tracks, a North Dakota oil train came into view and pulled onto one of these tracks!

A BNSF Railway petroleum crude oil train uses one of three new “Long Tracks” at Galesburg, Illinois classification yard Saturday, March 17, 2012

June 27, 2012, Southern Pacific Resource Corp. completes arrangements to transport and market bitumen via CN to the U.S. Gulf Coast:

Southern Pacific Resource Corp. (“Southern Pacific” or the “Company”) (TSX: STP) announced today completion of a long-term arrangement to transport its bitumen to the U.S. Gulf Coast via the rail network of CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI)….Given recent regulatory delays around additional pipeline capacity to accommodate growing bitumen volumes from Alberta, the Company has now secured direct and immediate access into the Gulf Coast market….In 2012, CN expects to move a total of approximately 25,000 carloads of crude oil, up significantly from approximately 5,000 last year.

August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks:

It also allows producers additional options for getting oil to market. Some 2 million barrels of Canadian crude go through pipelines to the U.S. daily, and estimates are that only 10,000 to 20,000 go by rail. Some estimates say it costs $3 to $6 to move a barrel of crude through a pipeline versus $15 to move it by rail. The rail option, that did not exist even 2 years ago, will continue grow.

Jan 3, 2013, UPDATE 1-U.S. petroleum rail shipments up nearly 50 pct in 2012

Shipments of petroleum on U.S. railroads rose more than 46 percent in 2012 as shale oil producers put record amounts of crude on trains to overcome pipeline capacity constraints…. Major U.S. freight railroads carried 66,000 carloads of crude in 2011, up from only 11,000 carloads in 2009. By the third quarter of last year, daily shipments of crude oil were exceeding 500,000 barrels per day, roughly equivalent to the output of OPEC’s smallest member, Ecuador. If growth patterns hold, crude by rail could “easily” blow past 600,000 barrels per day by early 2013, AAR said… By the end of the third quarter last year, about 430,000 barrels per day of crude moved out of North Dakota’s Bakken shale play by rail, up from nearly nothing in mid-2010, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. [Emphasis added]

January 7, 2013, Alberta bitumen makes it to Mississippi by rail:

EDMONTON – The first oil from Southern Pacific Resource Corp.’s startup thermal oilsands facility near Fort McMurray reached Mississippi by rail this week after a 4,500-kilometre, two-week journey. The Calgary-based firm was in the news this fall when it announced it would avoid the bitumen pipeline bottlenecks and very low prices being paid to Canadian oilsands producers by contracting for new terminals and a fleet of rail cars to carry its product to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The first shipment of diluted bitumen left the Lynton rail terminal, located just south of Fort McMurray, on Dec. 22 and landed in Mississippi on Jan. 6. It will be off-loaded at the Genesis Natchez terminal where Southern Pacific has exclusive terminal capacity, the company announced Monday. Initial production at the firm’s steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility 45 km northwest of Fort McMurray was 1,200 barrels per day in December. It could take at least another year before the design capacity of 12,000 bpd is achieved. [Emphasis added]

Feb 5, 2013, Macleans Canada: Oil Sands Bust:

Meanwhile, another group of businessmen is backing a $10.4-billion plan to construct a new, 2,400-km “purpose built” railroad to carry oil from Alberta to Alaska, where it could then be shipped overseas on tankers. [Emphasis added]

Feb 18, 2013, Price differentials boost rail transport of blended bitumen:

A surge in rail delivery of crude oil and oil products in the US last year reflects, in part, a textbook system of price leapfrog, known more formally as location arbitrage. Although oil is far more expensive to move by railcar than by pipeline, tracks connect more places than pipes do. So when production surges somewhere not fully served by pipelines, such as the Bakken play in North Dakota, oil finds its way into tank cars. The Energy Information Administration reports Association of American Railroads data showing last year’s rail delivery of crude and oil products exceeded the prior year’s total by 46%. [Emphasis added]

March 6, 2013, If Buffett Were Canadian, He’d Want This Stock:

In late 2009, Buffett’s buy big mentality led him to a well-positioned railroad play. But instead of just adding to his shares, Buffett bought out Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF)…. Since his purchase, railroad stocks have been burning up the tracks. For reference, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, which started as a simple gauge of railroad activity, is booming….Railways across America are booming from a sea-change of energy flow. In fact, things are going so well for the rail industry, besides hitting brand new highs yesterday, something else amazing is happening. Today, in Houston, the CEO for BNSF, Matt Rose, is giving a talk on North American energy, “The New Abundance and What it Means.” This is huge. Just the fact that an executive for a railroad company is speaking at the IHS Cera Week event, is an amazing milestone. [Emphasis added]

May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking:

Enter trains. In 2008, the largest railroads carried 9,500 carloads of crude. Last year: more than 200,000….

If all the proposed oil terminals are built, the traffic could hit nearly 3,000 loaded trains a year, not counting direct trips to refineries.

That could come on top of coal traffic. Three proposals for Northwest coal export terminals would generate nearly 7,000 coal train trips a year at full capacity on already congested tracks in Spokane, the Gorge and along Interstate 5.

BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year. [Emphasis added]

Let’s take one moment to acknowledge that there is truth in the first article cited above (CN idea a winner for oil sands, November 9, 2009) when it states “As for Canada’s environmental concerns, the oil sands is absolutely essential to maintaining the future living standards of Canadians.” And while the progressive greens bitch about the Venezuelan government utilizing their oil wealth to lift their people, who have been oppressed and exploited under imperialism for centuries, out of poverty, perhaps this is a good time for reflection and some unadulterated “truth”. Demand & consumption is what pushes extraction. As long as professional activists and all other privileged activists/citizens that fall into the 1% category (with the 1% essentially being anyone who can afford to get on an airplane) continue to fly all over the world and while activists and celebrities fly in and out of KXL protests on the front lawn of the White House (which have been nothing more than state-sanctioned photo-ops and pro-Democratic parties), don’t expect anything to change – except for more pipelines and extraction. It is the wealthy that create the climate crisis. As an example, Venezuelan emissions account for only .056% of global emissions while the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all GHG emissions … and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. More recently (no doubt after the engineered financial crisis of 2008), esteemed scientist Kevin Anderson has stated that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population. [3] Rib-eyed steaks, Coca-Cola, shopping malls, air conditioners and western consumption do not correspond with mitigation on climate change. Perhaps one of the very few options left is to eat the rich.

Language

The pipeline corrosion and safety issues (the primary focus being that of pipeline oil spills) have been the focus points in the Keystone XL debate. This is not by accident. Again, let us for a moment consider the language used in 350.org et al’s “Defend Our Coast” campaign.

The stated goal of the campaign is essentially that they want the Obama administration to “reject a Canadian company’s application to construct the $7 billion, 1,702-mile pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from the oil sands mines of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.”

Meaningful language would state unequivocally that the main reason to shut down the production of all tar sands is simple: if we do not shut down all tar sands production, we will annihilate our species. It is that simple. By framing our demands with “reasonable” and “politically correct” language, we lock ourselves willingly into the “acceptable” limits as dictated by the industry operating within the industrialized capitalist system – which we must oppose and destroy if we are to simply continue to live. Working within the confines of the acceptable language as constructed by the system ensures absolute subservience, obedience and, always, failure. 

Video: Using the Discourse of Revolutionary Opposition (Running time: 2:16)

The intent of the language employed by corporate greens is to create a feeling of trust/safety, effectively pacifying resistance, and to “normalize” our acquiescence to corporate culture and abuse. The state will never fear what it can control. [Further Reading:  Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement | Part I]

Avoiding Systemic Change Promises Global Ecological Collapse

“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” — Elizabeth Stanton

Internationally, 32,000 km of new pipelines are constructed each year: this is a $US28 billion business, and 50% of these new builds are expected in North and South America. Additionally, 8,000 km of offshore pipelines are being built per year: this is a $5 billion business with 60% in northwest Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. [Source: OIL AND GAS PIPELINES: Yesterday and Today by Phil Hopkins, Chairman, 2006-7]

 

Considering that the Keystone XL represents a mere 1,702-mile pipeline out of a yearly 32,000 km of pipeline being constructed each year globally, and considering that stopping the KXL will not stop the expansion of the tar sands as we now have a booming rail industry in place, it might be worth asking why we are focusing on a single pipeline rather than the root causes of climate and environmental disruption. Yet, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we do know why (greed, lack of ethics, lack of respect for/separation from our natural world, trappings, denialism), so instead, why don’t we re-visit the root causes of our multiple crises. 

More than half (58%) of the total energy produced in the US alone is wasted due to inefficiencies (Phys.org – April 2011). The US military (alone) consumes as much as one million barrels of oil per day (source: author Barry Sanders) to steal resources from sovereign states while simultaneously moving trillions in tax dollars from hard-working people into the hands of global corporations. Millions of men, women and children have been murdered in the process. Approximately 51% of all GHG emissions are created from industrialized livestock. Butwhereas bio-fuel (aptly coined agro-fuel) is an acceptable topic within the constructed left paradigm, industrialized livestock is not.Theblatant hypocrisies of the privileged once again shine transparent on this critical yet unspoken issue. Progressive greens correctly identify that running our cars, etc. on ethanol has already contributed to the world’s food shortages and that the consequences of converting forest land for growing corn for ethanol, etc. are profound. Most activists would agree with these excellent observations and argue against corn ethanol based on these facts and further damning facts simply because it is common sense. Yet, it is clear that the progressive greens are unwilling to collectively identify these very same arguments when it comes to industrial livestock. [4] What are our proposed solutions to the fact there has been a 158% increase in methane (72-100 times more powerful than CO2 in the short-term) as we approach and surpass accelerating feedbacks and irreversible topping points? Maybe the current NOAA methane graphs are terrifying only to the atolls slipping under the rising oceans. The root cause of climate disruption is our global, industrialized capitalist economic system. Yet on these issues, the most critical issues of our lifetime, there is no discussion within the non-profit industrial complex. There is a reason. The complex is financed to the tune of billions of dollars to ensure the right discourse in order to protect the system.

Timing is Everything | Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company Landmark Settlement

January 13, 2013, Indigenous Environmental Network:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 DES MOINES, IA – Today, the Sierra Club and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company announced a landmark settlement that requires the Iowa utility to phase out coal burning at seven coal-fired boilers, clean up another two coal-fired boilers and build a large solar installation at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The announcement also pushes the total amount of coal generation retired or announced to retire since 2010 to over 50,000 megawatts, almost one-sixth of the nation’s coal fleet….

“Iowans are joining a growing number of citizens around the country who are helping to end our nation’s dependency on coal and move the U.S. toward a cleaner energy future,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies has contributed $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign….

“Today’s settlement marks an important national milestone to end the scourge of coal, as well as an important milestone in our ongoing discussion with the Warren Buffett family of companies about combating climate disruption,” said Bruce Nilles, Senior Director of the Beyond Coal campaign. [Emphasis in original]

Most interesting is the fact that Nilles makes absolutely no mention of Buffet’s expanding rail empire transporting oil across North America. Rather, the release goes on to state:

However, Nilles also took aim at two other parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings, his western utility, Pacificorp, that owns and operates six existing coal-fired power plants and Mr. Buffett’s BNSF, the largest hauler of coal nationwide. “Pacificorp continues to be a laggard on clean energy and BNSF is one of the very worst actors when it comes to lobbying and promoting expanded coal use nationally and internationally,” Nilles said. “Over the coming months we will be stepping up our engagement with Paciforp and BNSF to urge them to follow the examples of other forward-looking parts of Mr. Buffett’s holdings.” [Emphasis in original]

One might wonder what holdings appear “forward-looking” in the eyes of Nilles. One must also contemplate which undisclosed non-profit was chosen as the beneficiary of a massive financial contribution from Warren Buffett.

On Feb 4, 2013, Time-Warner/AOL’s Huffington Post reports:

Buffett revealed the donations Monday. Buffett, who is Berkshire’s chairman and CEO, made donations of Class B shares to four unnamed charities and three individuals between September and December.

The biggest single gift reported Monday was 172,375 shares worth $16.6 million given to a nonprofit.

These gifts are in addition to the 22.4 million Class B Berkshire shares Buffett gave to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the four Buffett family foundations that are slated to eventually distribute most of Buffett’s fortune. [In progressive green foundation-funded fashion, Huffington Post includes under the aforementioned article a 14-page online photo album titled “Adorable Warren Buffett Photos.”]

All those within the non-profit industrial complex brand the Sierra Club – Buffett landmark settlement as a victory (even more so on the heels of Obama’s 2013 inaugural address), when in reality it is nothing more than a strategic component of new investment hijinks: get paid to retire the old and reap even more billions to build new – all under the guise of the illusory “green economy.” Let us not forget how the non-profit industrial complex strategically whitewashed “clean coal.”

On August 31, 2011, environmentalist Gregory Vickrey posed a question in response to a legitimate grassroots organiser demonstrating public support for the very NGOs undermining the grassroots. This question was put forward by Vickrey before it was disclosed on Feb 12 2012, that the Sierra Club raked in $26 million from the natural gas industry and following the announcement (July 21, 2011) that Michael R. Bloomberg’s “Bloomberg Philanthropies” contributed $50 million (over 4 years) to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign (initiated in Spring of 2010). Vickrey asks:

My primary concern lies with providing a tract of general legitimacy for those sellouts. Right or wrong, when we vocalize support or otherwise endorse these sanitized events and the players behind them, we are seen as sanctioning them on the whole, and it makes walking the fine line of organizing an effective movement tough. Our present reality is tough to swallow in context.

On coal, I understand some of the stronger points of messaging from, say, the Sierra Club, but am concerned that much of that movement is likewise funded primarily with Rockefeller Family money (Bill himself states this, and proudly) and defines (dilutes) success in increments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean little. We can’t tolerate another 6k mW of coal active in FL, for example, but that is a victory to the Beyond Coal campaign because they managed to stop another 13k mW. In the next cycle, industry will again ask for 20k mW, and will get 5-8k mW. And that will be labeled another victory. At which point are they pyrrhic?

It is significant to note that massive “gifts” (i.e. investments) by philanthropists (i.e. capitalists protecting their power/privilege) are rarely if ever given in one lump sum. Rather, as in the case of Sierra Club/Bloomberg above, the “gift”/investment is staggered in installments over many years, thus ensuring that dependence on the funding source is created (if not established prior). This quickly translates into obedience and convenient cognitive dissonance on behalf of the recipient. 

Off to the Next Campaign

When the KXL campaign is all said and done (it almost is), progressive greens will proclaim they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. They mayfly away to a retreat in the Netherlands in order to go through their crafted agenda as TckTckTck(GCCA)/Greenpeace (faux environmental leader Kumi Naidoo chairs both) did after the COP15 United Nations climate conference where they grossly undermined the most powerful positions put forward by leading states and the G77.

One should take note that, like many professional activists who move freely through the revolving doors of the non-profit industrial complex and corridors of empire, TckTckTck/Greenpeace chair, Naidoo is no exception. Of special interest to the Keystone XL analysis is Naidoo’s board position on the 350.org international advisory council. Further, Naidoo was an advisor to the chair of the Clinton Global Initiative [Source: May 26, 2007]. Recall that in 2007, the Clinton Global Initiative undertook an instrumental role in the development of 1Sky, now 350.org.

Naidoo’s high profile board and advisory positions and appointments with renowned institutes of empire include/included but are not limited to: Amnesty International (Soros-funded), the World Economic Forum, the United Nations UNDEF, UNIFEM, the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Civil Society Relations (appointed by the UN Secretary General),  international adviser for the CarnegieUK Trust, secretary general and CEO of CIVICUS (Ford-funded) and the SumOfUs Advisory Board. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide.] The agenda would look something as follows: 1) Discuss key points arising from evaluation of the KXL campaign 2) Power Analysis & Critical Pathway 3) Overall Strategic Framework 4) Draft 2013 Action Plan 5) Communications/Mobilization: Vision, objectives and options for next steps, and 6) The next campaign.

With certainty, the NGOs within the complex will abandon the Natives and the Earth’s most oppressed peoples in their centuries old fight for basic human rights. This will be especially true in the case of outright treaty violations involving the theft of Native land guaranteed by a contract, as well as the genocide brought about by poisoning Native drinking water. McKibben et al will internalize that such contradictions are not within their scope, nor their jurisdiction, nor their mission statements – when in fact it is these very violations that are the integral basis for the entire controversy.

TckTckTck is not the only organization “fighting against climate change” whose leading “activists” jet-set to retreats in order to “regroup” as demonstrated in the 350.org’s 2011 990 tax form that reported $53,000 in retreat expenses.

While pipelines are being built all around the entire planet, the US (and even international)media focuses on just this one as the single pipeline that will push us over the precipice – the infamous KXL (ultimately, only an extension of the newly built and already operational Keystone pipeline no less). With the Shut Down the Tar Sands campaign now essentially defunct, having been tossed to Polaris Institute on Feb 6, 2013 by Indigenous Environmental Network (who is now focused on managing pacifying the Idle No More movement campaign), we can expect that the remaining NGOs will be abandoning the KXL campaign in relatively short order.

The Polaris Tar Sands Watch is another NGO entangled within the massive non-profit industrial complex web. As an example, Anuradha Mittal serves on (to name a few) the board of Polaris Institute, International Forum on Globalization, World Future Council, Ben and Jerry’s (Ceres partner) and Natural Capital Institute which has, as of January 1st, 2011, been officially renamed WiserEarth! (Seeing that the illusory “green economy,” “climate wealth” and other terms of delusion are now exposed and frowned upon by many,including eco-footprint founder/scientist Bill Rees and Kevin Anderson, a name change was imperative.) In 2012, Wiser.org, in collaboration with Earth Day Network, “challenged” members and citizens around the world to make a pledge toward the “Billion Acts of Green” campaign. Key partners/supporters included TckTckTck, 350.org, Anonymous – Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, and many more. Confused? That’s all right, you’re supposed to be. Don’t think. Just open up your mouth and say “ahhh….” Prepare yourself for the bitter taste of “green capitalism.”

A Scruffy Little Outfit Swimming in Money

Grassroots has never been so prestigious. Joining McKibben and Ms. Klein on the 350.org/1Sky board/US advisory councilare representatives of the Rockefeller Brother Fund.

Elizabeth Butler earns $93,144. as the 350.org campaign director. Yet this is somewhat a poverty level when one compares Butler’s salary with 350.org partner and Avaaz founder Ricken Patel, whose earnings in 2011, from Avaaz alone (not including consulting or other income), amounted to $183,264. Patriarchy is alive and well within the non-profit industrial complex. These fat salaries are typical, as well as incredibly illustrative. The NGO professional elite “99 percenters” most always receive high salaries when they’re in “leadership” positions.

Self-Destructive and Collective Deception

In the past, issues of critical importance were discussed at the dinner table, on living room floors, at the community school, at the town hall, etc. Today, comfortable citizens (taking solace in the fact they make an automatic payment of 25.00 per month to their favourite NGO brand) are under a gross misconception that NGOs such as Greenpeace and 350.org are actually representing civil society,as they claim. They are not. First and foremost, these self-appointed NGOs represent and protect the interests of their funders. 350.org and friends successfully take the issues away from the dinner table, where the issues need discussing, and instead, they make the issue about them. Then, after poisoning it, they’ll blame someone else for it. This is narcissism, which flourishes like a cancer within the complex. A complex built on a foundation of whiteness and aversive racism. It is ugly. Perhaps the late George Carlin summarizes the second half of this investigative report far better on stage than in typeface: “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

And as an apt expression of how we have regressed from the first Earth day in 1970 to the most recent one in 2013, perhaps activist Jeff Weinberger sums it up best:

“Tomorrow being Earth Day, just want to wish you all a relaxing, thoughtful day peacefully focused on how we’re going to avoid ANNIHILATING EVERYTHING : ) …in other words, a calm day spent considering – amidst the other joy! – that aside from the obvious villains, the system creates smiley villains in green-face, floating about in the alphabet soup made in the non-profit industrial complex kitchen…this shit is BOILED for consumption…don’t be fooled because it tastes good at first…NGO’s are more toxic than fossil fuels and radiation…consider perspectives like this so we can have some hope of uniting to rip the ecocidal tendency out at the root, to affirm Life – Happy Earth Day!

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

Notes:

[1] “Many thanks, [from] Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, climate scientist; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Brad Johnson, Forecast the Facts; Phil Radford, Greenpeace US; Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth; Cherri Foytlin, Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[2] “Many thanks, [from] Michael Brune, Sierra Club; Naomi Klein, author; James Hansen, NASA; Tzeporah Berman, author; Jane Kleeb, BOLD Nebraska; Michael Kieschnick, Credo Mobile; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network; Gus Speth, author and professor of law, Vermont Law School; Maura Cowley, Energy Action Coalition; Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network; Joe Uehlein, Labor Network for Sustainability; Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Michael Mann, Penn State University Earth System Science Center; Bill McKibben and May Boeve, 350.org; Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International; Bridge the Gulf Project; Tar Sands Blockade.” Source

[3] This is especially appalling considering that globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions and the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing (Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University). Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions and areresponsible for three-quarters of global emissions. The top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions. Theglobally wealthy must solve the crisis as there is absolutely no other way. The emission cuts necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change must be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of the greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels. In contrast to this gross injustice (aka “The American Dream”) we have the “living well” concept by the Bolivian government. There is a growing movement in downshifting – citizens who reject consumerism outright, exchanging materialism for values. Millions are embracing a simple quality of life that builds and nourishes our character rather than eroding it.

[4] How can we argue that it makes sense to feed livestock – to then be eaten by people – instead of feeding people directly while we face a planetary climate emergency … during a global water crisis, while all the pollutants and environmental damage from this industry continue to be externalized onto the planet, people and all life? Why is the environmental movement (and especially the climate justice movement) not vocally opposing a system that does not make sense, in the same way as ethanol does not make sense? Especially given we are in a massive methane emergency … with escalating food crises … escalating food shortages … agriculture that will only continue to decline, not to mention a severe health crisis in North America (half of Americans will be diabetic or pre-diabetic by 2020; Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with being seriously overweight or obese, and in the US the report estimates 68.3 percent of Americans were overweight or obese in 2008, with this figure rising each year) all while over 1 billion people are starving/dying, with no access to clean water.

 

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Counterpunch

April 12, 2013

Part one of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

 

“Buffett Says Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Train”  – March 5, 2013

 

On Nov 3, 2009, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of Warren Buffett, announced its plan to purchase the 77.4 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) that it did not already own for $26 billion in cash and stock – the largest deal in Berkshire history. The deal, which included Berkshire’s prior investment and the assumption of $10 billion in Burlington Northern debt, brought the total value to $44 billion. Buffett remarked it was a big bet on the United States.

It was TO be a bet that both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would ensure he DID not lose.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
– Warren Buffett

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