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The Clairvoyant Ruling Class [“Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” 2010 Report]

The Clairvoyant Ruling Class [“Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” 2010 Report]

March 25, 2020

Wrong Kind of Green

 

“The ruling class exists, it’s not a conspiracy theory. They operate as a class, too. They share the same values, the same sensibility and in Europe and North America they are white. They act in accordance with their interests, which are very largely identical. The failure to understand this is the single greatest problem and defect in left discourse today.”

 

John Steppling, Author, Playwright

 

“This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve.”

 

— Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation

 

Storytelling. Dystopian scenarios. Not Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury or Brunner.

Scenario planning for corporate strategy was pioneered by Royal Dutch Shell in the 1970s. [Further reading on scenario planning: The Art of the Long View]The following excerpts are highlights from the May 2010 “Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” report produced by The Rockefeller Foundation & Global Business Network. Not just the more known “Lock Step” scenario, but all four scenarios.

Following “Event 201” (Oct 18, 2019), we must concede that the ruling class has been gifted with phenomenal and prophetic intuitions and insights. (They truly are the chosen ones.) Thus it is worthwhile, even mandatory, to study their scenario exercises and simulations.

“We believe that scenario planning has great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions… scenario planning allows us to achieve impact more effectively.” [p 4]

 

“The results of our first scenario planning exercise demonstrate a provocative and engaging exploration of the role of technology and the future of globalization.” [p 4]

 

“This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve.” [p 4]

 

“*I offer a special thanks to Peter Schwartz, Andrew Blau, and the entire team at Global Business Network, who have helped guide us through this stimulating and energizing process.” [*Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation] [p 4]

 

“*I hope this publication makes clear exactly why my colleagues and I are so excited about the promise of using scenario planning to develop robust strategies.” [*Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation][p 5]

Peter Schwartz is an American futurist, innovator and co-founder of the Global Business Network (GBN), a corporate strategy firm, specializing in future-think & scenario planning. Founded in 1987, GBN was “a membership organization comprising executives from many of the world’s leading companies alongside individual members from business, science, the arts, and academia.” The proprietary list of GBN’s corporate members included “more than 100 of the world’s leading companies, drawn from virtually every industry and continent.” Members paid an annual subscription fee of $35,000. [Source] Following an acquisition by Monitor in 2000, GBN then specialized in scenario-based consulting and training. GBN ceased to be active following the acquisition of the Monitor Group by Deloitte in 2013.

As of Oct. 2011, Schwartz has served as Senior Vice President Strategic Planning for Salesforce. [Bio]

Video. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce “welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum [1] Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance.” [2014] [1]

https://sfdc.hubs.vidyard.com/watch/lemzpqnyZA5yQfedOpoDTQ

[Source]

Video still. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce "welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance." [2014]

Video still. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce “welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance.” [2014]

Andrew Blau: Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory managing director in the Risk Intelligence practice of Deloitte & Touche LLP; past strategy & innovation advisor to CEOs & senior executives around the world; founding president of the board of directors of WITNESS.

“Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it.” [p 7]

 

“How can we best position ourselves not just to identify technologies that improve the lives of poor communities but also to help scale and spread those that emerge?” [p 8]

The Four Scenarios

“Once crossed, these axes create a matrix of four very different futures:

LOCK STEP – A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian eadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback

CLEVER TOGETHER – A world in which highly coordinated and successful strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched worldwide issues

HACK ATTACK – An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous  innovations emerge

SMART SCRAMBLE – An economically depressed world in which individuals and communities develop localized, makeshift solutions to a growing set of problems”

“Each scenario tells a story of how the world, and in particular the developing world, might progress over the next 15 to 20 years,… Accompanying each scenario is a range of elements that aspire to further illuminate life, technology, and philanthropy in that world.” [p 17]

Scenario #1: LOCK STEP

“In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain — originating from wild geese — was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults. The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.” [p 18]

 

“The pandemic blanketed the planet — though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols. But even in developed countries, containment was a challenge. The United States’s initial policy of “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying
proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders. However, a few countries did fare better — China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter postpandemic
recovery. [p 18]

 

“China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure.  During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces  like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly   global problems — from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.” [p 19]

 

“At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of  their sovereignty — and their privacy — to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability.  Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more  latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms:  biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to  national interests. In many developed countries, enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements  slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth.” [p 19]

 

“By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders and authorities make choices for them.” [p 21]

 

“Sporadic pushback became increasingly organized and coordinated, as disaffected youth and people who had seen their status and opportunities slip away — largely in developing countries — incited civil unrest.” [p 21]

Headlines in LOCK STEP:

“Italy Addresses ‘Immigrant Caregiver’ Gap with Robots (2017)” [p 22]

“African Leaders Fear Repeat of Nigeria’s 2026 Government Collapse (2028)” [p 22]

 

Technology in LOCK STEP:

 

“Technological innovation in “Lock Step” is largely driven by government & is focused on issues of national security & health & safety. Most technological improvements are created by & for developed countries, shaped by governments’ dual desire to control and to monitor their citizens.”[p 23]

 

“Technology trends and applications we might see: Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.”” [p 23]

Life in LOCK STEP:

“Manisha gazed out on the Ganges River, mesmerized by what she saw… no one could deny that the Ganges was looking more beautiful and healthier than ever.” [p 25]

[March 18, 2020, ABC News: “Venice canals are clear enough to see fish as coronavirus halts tourism in the city Swans have returned to the canals and dolphins have been spotted in the port… cloudy canals have transformed into water crystal clear…”]

“Manisha was tempted to kick off her shoe and dip her toe in, but this was a restricted area now — and she, of all people, would never break that law.”[p 25] [emphasis added]

Scenario #2: CLEVER TOGETHER

“In 2017, an international agreement was reached on carbon sequestration… intellectual and financial resources were pooled to build out carbon capture processes… A functioning global cap and trade system was also established.”[p 27]

 

“Centralized global oversight and governance structures …not just for energy use but also for disease and technology standards… systems & structures required far greater levels f transparency, which in turn required more tech-enabled data collection, processing, & feedback.” [p 27]

 

“Enormous, benign “sousveillance” systems allowed citizens to access data — all publically available — in real time and react.” [p 27]

 

“Nation-states lost some of their power and importance as global architecture strengthened and regional governance structures emerged. International oversight entities like the UN took on new levels of authority,…” [p 27-28]

 

“The worldwide spirit of collaboration also fostered new alliances and alignments among corporations, NGOs, and communities.” [p 28]

 

“In many places, traditional social barriers to overcoming #poverty grew less relevant as more people gained access to a spectrum of useful technologies — from #disposable #computers to do-it-yourself (DIY) windmills.” [p 29]

 

“Over the course of two decades, enormous strides were made to make the world less wasteful, more efficient, and more inclusive. But the world was far from perfect. There were still failed states and places with few resources.” [p 29]

 

“Indeed, demand for everything was growing exponentially. By 2028, despite ongoing efforts to guide “smart growth,” it was becoming clear that the world could not support such rapid growth forever.” [p 29]

 

“There are considerable flows of talent between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and the lines between these types of organizations become increasingly blurred.” [p 30]

 

Technology in CLEVER TOGETHER

 

“Technology trends and applications we might see: The cost of capturing data through nanosensors & smart networks falls precipitously… Intelligent electricity, water distribution, and transportation systems develop in urban areas. In these “smart cities,” internet access is seen as a basic right by the late 2010s.” [p 31]

“Flexible and rapid mobile payment systems drive dynamic economic growth in the developing world, while the developed world is hampered by entrenched banking interests and regulation.” [p 31]

 

“In cities and villages around the world where children used to be hungry, access to higher-calorie meals had produced alarming increases in the incidence of obesity and diabetes.” [p 33]

Scenario #3: HACK ATTACK

“An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous innovations emerge” [p 34]

 

“Resource scarcities and trade disputes, together with severe economic and climate stresses, pushed many alliances and partnerships to the breaking point; they also sparked proxy wars and low-level conflict in resource-rich parts of the developing world.” [p 35]

 

“Nations raised trade barriers in order to protect their domestic sectors against imports and — in the face of global food and resource shortages — to reduce exports of agricultural produce and other commodities.” [p 35]

 

“In the context of weak health systems, corruption, and inattention to standards — either within countries or from global bodies like the World Health Organization — tainted vaccines entered the public health systems of several African countries. [p 35]

“In 2021, 600 children in Cote d’Ivoire died from a bogus Hepatitis B vaccine, which paled in comparison to the scandal sparked by mass deaths from a tainted anti-malarial drug years later. [p 35]

 

“The deaths and resulting scandals sharply affected public confidence in vaccine delivery; parents not just in Africa but elsewhere began to avoid vaccinating their children, and it wasn’t long before infant and child mortality rates rose to levels not seen since the 1970s.”[p 36]

 

“Meanwhile, more sophisticated hackers attempted to take down corporations, government systems, and banks via phishing scams & database information heists, and their many successes generated billions of dollars in losses.” [p 36]

 

“Blockbuster pharmaceuticals quickly became artifacts of the past, replaced by increased production of generics.” [p 36]

 

“Interestingly, not all of the “hacking” was bad. Genetically modified crops (GMOs) and do-it-yourself (DIY) biotech became backyard and garage activities, producing important advances.” [p 37]

 

“In 2017, a network of renegade African scientists who had returned to their home countries after working in Western multinationals unveiled the first of a range of new GMOs that boosted agricultural productivity on the continent.” [p 37]

 

“But despite such efforts, the global have/have-not gap grew wider than ever. The very rich still had the financial means to protect themselves; gated communities sprung up from New York to Lagos, providing safe havens surrounded by slums.” [p 37]

 

“In 2025, it was de rigueur to build not a house but a high-walled fortress, guarded by armed personnel.” [p 37]

 

“The wealthy also capitalized on the loose regulatory environment to experiment with advanced medical treatments and other under-the-radar activities.” [p 37]

 

Headlines in HACK ATTACK Attack scenario:

“Congo Death Toll Hits 10,000 in Malaria Drug Scandal (2018)” [p 38]

“Doctors Without Borders Confined Within Borders (2020)” [p 38]

“India-Pakistan Water War Rages (2027)” [p 38]

Role of philanthropy in HACK ATTACK:

“The operational model in this world is a “fortress model” in which philanthropic organizations coalesce into a strong, single unit to combat fraud and lack of trust.” [p 40]

Technology in HACK ATTACK:

“Technology trends and applications we might see: New threats like weaponized biological pathogens and destructive botnets dominate public attention…” [p 39]

 

“Identity-verification technologies become a staple of daily life, w/ some hitches—a database of retina recordings stolen by hackers in 2017 is used to create numerous false identities… [p 39]

 

…procedures like the lunchtime facelift become routine among emerging middle classes”

 

Life in HACK ATTACK:

“Botswana had none of the high-tech biometric scanning checkpoints — technology that could literally see right through you — that most developed nations had in abundance in their airports, along their borders, and in government buildings.” [p 4]

 

“Trent was also careful to cover his tracks to avoid being kidnapped by international crime syndicates — including
the Russian mafia and the Chinese triads — that had  become very active and influential in Botswana.” [p 40]

 

“As expected, counterfeit vaccines were being manufactured. But so were GMO seeds. And synthetic proteins.” [p 40]

Scenario #4: SMART SCRAMBLE

“The global recession that started in 2008 did not trail off in 2010 but dragged onward. Vigorous attempts to jumpstart markets and economies didn’t work, or at least not fast enough to reverse the steady downward pull.” [p 41]

 

“Overall, economic stability felt so shaky that the occurrence of a sudden climate shock or other disaster would likely send the world into a tailspin.” [p 41-42]

 

“Yet without major progress in global economic integration and collaboration, many worried that good ideas would stay isolated, and survival and success would remain a local — not a global or national — phenomenon.” [p 45]

 

“Philanthropic organizations look to fund at the grassroots level…The meta-goal in this world is to scale up: to identify
and build capacity from the individual through the institutional, because without global coordination, innovation cannot scale on its own.” [p 46]

Headlines in SMART SCRAMBLE:

“Chinese Government Pressured as Protests Spread to 250 Cities (2017)” [p 46]

“Famine Haunts Ethiopia—Again (2022)” [p 46]

 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

“We hope that reading the scenario narratives and their accompanying stories about philanthropy, technology, and people has sparked your imagination, provoking new thinking about these emergent themes and their possibilities.” [p 49]

 

“This report is the result of extensive effort and collaboration among Rockefeller Foundation initiative staff, Foundation grantees, and external experts.” [p 52]

[Download the report: Scenarios for the Future of Technology & Int’l Development 2010 Rockefeller Foundation]

+++

Let’s circle back to the beginning. Schwartz, report lead, is Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning for Salesforce. Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of the World Economics Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. On June 13, 2019 the World Economic Forum partnered with the United Nations. On March 11, 2020 the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the World Health Organization (a UN agency) to establish the COVID Action Platform For Business. This same day the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 a pandemic. [Source] This is the consolidation of global power, happening in real time.

 


Launched on March 11, 2020 – the World Economic Forum Covid Action Platform


Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of the World Economics Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.


Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation

“A New Global Architecture”, Annual Meeting of the Global Futures Council, 2018, Dubai

 

[1] World Economic Forum annual membership fee in 2011: $52,000 for an individual member; $263,000 for “Industry Partner”; $527,000 for “Strategic Partner”. Admission: $19,000 per person. In 2014, WEF raised annual fees by 20%, bringing the cost for “Strategic Partner” from CHF 500,000 ($523,000) to CHF 600,000 ($628,000). [Source] January 17, 2017: “Membership and partnership fees range from CHF60,000 to CHF600,000 depending on the level of engagement” [Source] In September 2018, the city of Davos increased the security budget for the yearly Forum meeting to CHF 1.125 million., while the Swiss house of representatives (Nationalrat) increased police and military expenditures to CHF 39 million. The Kanton of Graubünden contributes CHF 2.25 million, matching the WEF expenses for security. [Source]

[2020 World Economic Forum Leadership and Governance]

The Show Must Go On. Event 201: The 2019 Fictional Pandemic Exercise [World Economic Forum, Gates Foundation et al.]

Wrong Kind of Green

March 19, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Questioning the ruling class narrative should never be seen, nor framed, as reckless. It should never be subjected to shaming. Rather, it should be a prerequisite and respected as such. The imperative to always question the ruling class narrative is not the responsibility of a small handful of individuals, but the responsibility of a thinking society as a whole. A working class society. With media, global institutions, NGOs, academia, and science, all in the pocket of capital, as draconian measures set in, this prerequisite has never been more important or more urgent.

 

The fictional pandemic exercise titled Event 201 was a high level simulation exercise that took place on October 18, 2019, at The Pierre, a luxury hotel in Manhattan NY. High-level global participants gathered to explore ideas as to how to mitigate devastating worldwide economic and societal impacts that would result from “a severe, highly transmissible intercontinental outbreak”. [Source] The exercise was built around a fictionalized CAPS virus, a naturally occurring coronavirus (not unlike SARS or MERS) which originated in bats, but for the fictional exercise, it had emerged from pigs.

The event was held by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Event 201 was by invitation only, with media in attendance such as Bloomberg. Video and audio recording were not permitted, rather, following the event, select high-quality video and audio were made available to the press in attendance.

The sixteen high-level participants included:

  • Ryan Morhard, Lead, Global Health Security, International Organizations, *IGWELS, World Economic Forum, Legal Analyst, The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)
  • Chris Elias, President, Global Development division, Gates Foundation
  • Tim Evans, Former Senior Director of Health, World Bank Group
  • Avril Haines, Former Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Former Deputy National Security Advisor
  • Sofia Borges, Senior Vice President, UN Foundation
  • George Gao, Director-General, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Latoya Abbott, Risk Management and Global Senior Director, Occupational Health Services, Marriott International
  • Stanley Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Henry Schein, Inc. (a worldwide distributor of medical and dental supplies including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, financial services and equipment)
  • Stephen Redd, Deputy Director, Public Health Service and Implementation Science, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Jane Halton, Board member, ANZ Bank; Former Secretary of Finance and Former Secretary of Health, Australia
  • Matthew Harrington, Global Chief Operations Officer, Edelman (one of the largest PR/marketing consultancy firms in the world, in fees/revenue)
  • Chokwe Ihekweazu, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
  • Martin Knuchel, Head of Crisis, Emergency and Business Continuity Management, Lufthansa Group Airlines
  • Eduardo Martinez, President, The UPS Foundation
  • Hasti Taghi, Vice President and Executive Advisor, NBCUniversal Media
  • Lavan Thiru, Chief Representative, Monetary Authority of Singapore
  •  

    [*IGWELS is an acronym recognized to few outside the power elite – the “Informal Gatherings of World Economic Leaders”. These are the very top-tier closed meetings “restricted to the likes of prime ministers, foreign and finance ministers and central bank governors”.][Source]

    A primary purpose for the simulation was to illustrate the weakening of international alliances (and the potential of collapsing Governments) – thus, putting forward a shared fervour to increase public-private partnerships. While the high-level participants recognized the public sector as the front line of defence against pandemics, they highlighted their shared position that the resources and strength/ability to respond exist/belong to those in the private sector.

    “Creating models such as Event 201 takes more than a year of planning, and an investment of “hundreds of thousands of dollars”, [Ryan Morhard, project lead for Global Health Security, World Economic Forum], but the lessons learned are invaluable.” [Source]

    Janet Wu, Bloomberg

    Janet Wu, Bloomberg

     

    Thirty days after the October 18, 2019 simulation exercise, on November 17, 2019, the first documented case of the coronas virus (COVID-19) is said to have appeared. [“The first case of someone suffering from Covid-19 can be traced back to 17 November, according to media reports on unpublished Chinese government data.”] [Source: The Guardian]

    Logic dictates that the simulation drill carried out on a fictitious coronavirus global pandemic, which was then declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the WHO, is a drill worthy of both study and analysis. Of particular interest is the discussions on how to control the information and messaging. (Such analysis must be conducted via a critical, discerning, and cynical lens.)

    October 18, 2019: Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security "tweet" with World Economic and Gates Health

    October 18, 2019: Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security “tweet” with World Economic and Gates Health

     

    The invite-only simulation exercise was held on Oct 18, 2019 from 8:45 a.m.– 12:30 p.m. It is VERY UNLIKELY that the high-level panel, having flown in from around the world, would have simply disbanded after the 3-hour exercise. It is VERY LIKELY that discussions continued from that point onward behind closed doors for the remainder of the day (if not subsequent days). As Ryan Morhard, World Economic Forum, is identified as IGWELS (the very top-tier closed meetings “restricted to the likes of prime ministers, foreign and finance ministers and central bank governors”) – this detail is worthy of exploration.

    Here it is important to note that also on March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the WHO (a UN agency) to form the COVID-19 Action Platform – a task-force comprised of over 200 corporations at launch. This is in addition to the World Economic Forum partnership with the United Nations on June 13, 2019. The corporate world is capturing our real world, in real time.

    The videos which remain accessible on the website include:

    Highlights Reel – Selected moments from the October 18th Event 201 Exercise (Length: ~12 minutes)[/li]

    Segment 1 – Intro and Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Discussion[/li]

    Segment 2 – Trade and Travel Discussion[/li]

    Segment 3 – Finance Discussion[/li]

    Segment 4 – Communications Discussion and Epilogue Video; Segment 5 – Hotwash and Conclusion[/li]

    [Website: www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201]

    Bloomberg released two separate audio reports:

    Bloomberg, Nov 4, 2019: Preparing For The Next Pandemic (Audio): “As the coronavirus outbreak approaches a pandemic, global leaders and health officials are scrambling to contain the fallout. That has sparked quarantines and other emergency action around the world. It’s a scenario that was planned for, in one case just months ago, at a gathering of leaders in global finance, policy and healthcare. Bloomberg’s Janet Wu was there and brings us this report.” [Running time 08:12]

    https://www.bloomberg.com/…/preparing-for-the-next-pandemic…

    Bloomberg, March 4, 2020: Event 201: Preparing for a Pandemic (Audio)

    “Hosts June Grasso and Ed Baxter feature the best stories of the day from Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg Television, and over 120 Bloomberg News bureaus around the world on Bloomberg Radio’s Bloomberg Best. Highlights include… Janet Wu on the potential impact of the next Pandemic.”[21:33-29:33]

    https://www.bloomberg.com/…/event-201-preparing-for-a-pande…

    +++

    The "COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator", the"sister CEPI". Gates and Mastercard's Impact Fund charity have jointly committed $125m in seed funding.

    The “COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator”, the”sister CEPI”. Gates and Mastercard’s Impact Fund charity have jointly committed $125m in seed funding.

     

    “The private sector is an integral partner on the health security agenda, yet its potential has largely been untapped.”

     

    World Bank, Nov 14, 2017, What Can We Learn from Uganda on Fighting Deadly Disease Outbreaks?

    Initial plans of the World Economic Forum- World Health Organization COVID-19 Action Platform include raising an  estimated $12 billion dollars in order to create and distribute a corona virus vaccine. [Source: “Business Insider’s Better Capitalism Series”] Members of the WEF-WHO taskforce include corporations Volkswagen, Bank of America, and Deloitte. To “galvanize the global community for collective action”, the taskforce will “Empower community leaders and reinforce solidarity, including by mobilizing Young Global Leaders, Global Shapers, media and civil society ambassadors”. A third approach is to “mobilize cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response: Harness big data and artificial intelligence to mitigate impact and improve decision-making.” [Source]

    “I see it as a mobilization opportunity to show the best of what’s possible of stakeholder capitalism.”

     

    March 13, 2020, World Economic Forum Managing Director, Jeremy Jurgens [People Trust Companies More than the Government to Handle a Crisis — and it Shows Just How Much Corporate America is Stepping up to Tackle the Coronavirus Pandemic, Business Insider; “This article is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.”]

    As the old adage goes, never let a good crisis go to waste. The sheer terror surrounding COVID-19 and future pandemics is being tapped and utilized by the World Economic Forum for the coming financialization of nature: “How biodiversity loss is hurting our ability to combat pandemics”. [Source] The monetization of nature, global in scale, is being marketed to the public under two sister campaigns created by the World Economic Forum, the World Wildlife Fund, and other corporate institutions including the United Nations: Voice For The Planet and the New Deal For Nature. The term “biosecurity” will be fully utilized as the means to obtain the social license that is required – by a populace paralyzed by fear. The global economy is being transformed to further serve (and save) the ruling classes. [Further information on this corporate swindle can be found on the “NO Deal For Nature” website]. [Here it must be acknowledged that the World Wildlife Fund is complicit in the torture, murder, and displacement of Indigenous Peoples. Crimes that have been documented for over three decades. This despite the fact that Indigenous Peoples make up less than 5% of the global population, while protecting over 80% of Earth’s biodiversity.] [Source]

    Global Citizen is a very corporate and very vile NGO that targets the Western youth demographic. On March 11, 2020 it published an article highlighting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which was formed at the 2017 Davos gathering, by Norway, India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum.

    On March 10, 2020, the “sister CEPI” was announced: the “COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator”.  The Gates Foundation and Mastercard’s Impact Fund charity have jointly committed $125m in seed funding. [Source]

    [Further reading on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: The Gates Foundation, Ebola, and Global Health Imperialism, Jacob Levich, September 7, 2015]

    March 17, 2020: The World Economic Forum Twitter account

    March 17, 2020: The World Economic Forum Twitter account

     

    Stephanie McMillan: “The Capitalist Mode of Production: It strives to monetize every conceivable material and immaterial thing. It won’t stop, can’t stop until it either converts the entire world into dead commodities, or we stamp it out and replace it. Solidarity to everyone struggling in some way against exploitation, oppression, imperialism, ecocide, and the global capitalist system that relies on these crimes as integral to its functioning. We are everywhere, and as a social force we will be unstoppable.”

    ++

    The following video is the short fictional movie screened at the “Event 201 Pandemic Exercise”, a tabletop exercise [Running time: 19:10]:

     

     

    New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind

    Counterpunch

     

     

    The conservation industry says 2020 is its “super year.”[1] It wants to set aside thirty percent of the globe for wildlife, and divert billions of dollars away from reducing climate change and into “natural climate solutions.”[2] This would be a disaster for people and planet. Conservation was founded in the racist ideology of 1860s USA but it committed thirty years ago to becoming people-friendly. It hasn’t happened. There will be more promises now, if only to placate critics and funders like the U.S. and German governments, and the European Commission, which are paying for conservation’s land theft, murder and torture.[3] More promises will be meaningless. No more public money should go for “Protected Areas” until the conservation bodies recognize their crimes, get rid of those responsible, and hand stolen lands back, with compensation. Conservation NGOs must also stop cozying up to mining, logging, oil, and plantation companies.

     

     

    The latest idea to be heavily promoted by big conservation NGOs is doubling the world’s so-called “Protected Areas” (PAs) so that they cover thirty percent of the globe’s lands and oceans. This is now their main rallying cry and response to two of the world’s biggest problems – climate chaos and loss of biodiversity. It sounds good: It’s easy to grasp and has numbers that are supposed to be measurable, and advertisers do love numbers.

    What better answer to climate change and biodiversity loss than to ban human “interference” over huge areas? If, that is, you think “everybody” is guilty of causing both crises and that everything’s solved by keeping them away. The idea’s been around for years, but now governments and industries are promoting it to the tune of billions of dollars,[4] so it’ll be difficult to oppose. But it’s actually dangerous nonsense which would have exactly the reverse effect to what we’re told, and if we want to save our world, it must be stopped.

    Let’s be clear that cutting destructive pollution globally is vital for the climate, and that stopping industrial exploitation of unspoiled areas is essential for the flora and fauna, and the physical and mental health of inhabitants and visitors. None of that is disputed, but these are not the arguments advanced for asserting the right of this “New Deal for Nature” to more taxpayers’ cash. It’s a marketing gimmick designed to funnel even more money to those who have for decades demonstrated their failure to mitigate either climate change or biodiversity loss.

    Sept. 24, 2019: Tweet, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, New Deal For Nature event

     

    Let’s assume they did succeed in putting so much territory “out of bounds.” As with the emperor in his new suit, it’s childishly obvious that this wouldn’t necessarily bring any reduction to climate chaos: That’s simply because it wouldn’t affect what happens in the remaining seventy percent of the world – where most pollution originates. If just as much pollution carries on outside, then it doesn’t matter what’s going on inside PAs, because they too depend on the world’s climate, and you can’t fence the wind. Without reducing industrial emissions globally, leaving existing forest intact or planting lots of trees just won’t be enough to solve the problem. Wreck the atmosphere – even from a tiny proportion of the Earth – and you wreck it everywhere.

    Not for the first time, the “experts” are promoting a policy which a child can see is senseless, but if they tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

    What about the second claim, that more PAs are needed to ensure the protection of biodiversity? Everyone rightly wants more of that: The more diverse an ecosystem, the more likely it is to adapt and survive. “Biodiversity” means the enormous variety of life, and life forms are interconnected: They depend on each other. Where the flora and fauna is reduced to just a few species, there’s a domino effect that cuts the number still further.[5]

    However obvious, it merits restating: To mix metaphors, when the domino becomes a snowball effect then ecosystems become deserts, even when visibly green. Oil palm plantations carved out of tropical forests are a famous example of lots of trees being planted in an area where biodiversity has been slashed to just a few species. Such plantations are effectively “green deserts.”

    Putting the propaganda aside, it’s impossible to determine scientifically how effective PAs are for enhancing biodiversity. For example, a line drawn around a highly biodiverse area, which is then declared a national park, proves nothing about the park: The biodiversity was there in the first place. There is, however, considerable agreement about one thing, and it’s not that PAs are the solution at all.

    It turns out that the most diversity is not found in areas where all human interference is banned, but actually the reverse – it’s found in places where tribal, indigenous, and other local, communities have stayed put and carried on doing what they’ve always been doing. It’s simply not true that everyone shares responsibility for biodiversity loss. Studies show that community-managed forests have less deforestation than inside PAs, and that “nature” is doing better in areas managed by indigenous peoples than elsewhere.[6] In places as different as Australia, Brazil, and Canada more diversity is found in indigenous territories than in PAs.[7] It seems clear that biological and human diversity are interlinked.

    This is a key point which conservation NGOs haven’t wanted the public to know as they clamor for yet more cash: Areas managed by local people, especially if they’re indigenous, are much better than PAs imposed by outsiders. One study concluded, albeit limply, the “notion that indigenous reserves are less effective than parks… must be re-examined.”[8] You can say that again! They are already reckoned to contain no less than eighty percent of global species diversity. That’s the very reason conservationists want to take control of them. Indigenous peoples are now being victimized precisely because of their expertise in environmental stewardship.

    Even where PAs are hyped as being about preserving iconic species, the evidence is mixed. For example, the former head of a conservation NGO thinks there could be more Indian tigers outside protected areas than inside. No one knows, but what’s certain is that when the British colonizers imprisoned the Waliangulu tribal elephant hunters in 1950s Kenya, elephant numbers did skyrocket, but only to plummet when the next drought hit and the herds proved too numerous for the environment. Thousands died of starvation, restoring a balance that the Waliangulu had achieved for generations or millennia. In South Africa, an average of nearly 600 elephants were culled every year from 1967 to 1996 (without publicity, to avoid upsetting conservation donors).[9] Banning traditional indigenous hunting generally harms biodiversity.

    Protecting “nature” by fencing it off from the locals simply hasn’t worked. It doesn’t help that many PAs aren’t really protected at all. They include industrial exploitation – mining, logging, plantations, trophy hunting concessions, or extensive, usually high-end, tourist infrastructure – but that’s the reality. The locals are thrown out as the land is grabbed by one or other industry, partnering with one or other big conservation NGO.

    Like it or not, many PAs are as much about stealing the land from local people to make someone else a profit as they are about conservation. The famous Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is the second largest “game reserve” in the world but it’s also leased to mining exploration. There’s a diamond mine, with its roads and heavy machinery, where a tiny handful of the Bushmen who have lived there for generations are occasionally given menial jobs. (The government kicked them out until forced to backtrack by the high court.) As in almost all African PAs, wealthy tourists enjoy luxury accommodation inside the reserve. The man responsible for both the tourism and mine was the former president, General Ian Khama, a much-feted conservationist who was on the board of Conservation International.

    This land theft is a problem for us all, and not only because the indigenous people are generally much better conservationists than “us”: Not surprisingly, the locals object when their land and self-sufficiency are looted for someone else’s gain, and their need for food, and sometimes their anger, translates into defying hunting bans (making them “poachers” for trying to feed their families), as well as taking action to recover their ancestral territory. For example, pastoralists whose herds are banned from private “conservancies” in East Africa are cutting the fences and going back in. They can be armed and violent clashes are increasing. Some researchers fear increasing bloodshed is inevitable[10] and the increasing militarization of conservation will just make things worse. Yet this is the model touted as the future of PAs, one supposedly enacted with the support of local communities (which is often a lie). They’re supported by the American NGO, The Nature Conservancy, and are largely profit-making investments aimed at wealthy companies and tourists. They’re now taking over huge areas of East Africa and beyond.

    February 19, 2020

     

    Just as Africans extricated themselves (at least, partly!) from European rule in the last century, they are unlikely to accede quietly to what is seen as more colonization, this time by conservationists. Unless things change, PAs in Africa will become real, not metaphorical, battlegrounds. Serious environmentalists know that you can’t have a PA for long if it’s surrounded by an angry population, yet conservation groups seem incapable of changing their practice. They exhort industry to become sustainable, while promoting their own model, which palpably isn’t.

    WWF, for example, routinely violates human rights, the law and its own policies. It’s already spent millions of dollars illegally pushing for a new park in Congo, Messok Dja. The money comes from WWF itself and its accomplices, including a logging, oil palm, and luxury tourist company, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the U.S. government, the EU, and the UN. As with the creation of almost all African PAs, the first step has been to kick out and terrorize the local Baka (so-called Pygmies) who’ve probably lived there for thousands of years, and who have adapted and sustainably managed their biodiverse-rich environment. Now they are kept out of their ancestral lands and terrorized, beaten and arrested if they return to seek traditional foods or plant medicines.

    This is what the thirty percent of the globe taken for the New Deal for Nature will look like – a third of the globe stolen for profit. It’s a new colonialism, the world’s biggest land grab, supposedly “green” and supposedly to save the world – a really big lie. As Odette, a Baka woman from Congo, says of such imposed conservation projects which don’t work, “We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest. The forest is ours.”[11]

    The last couple of generations has amply demonstrated that meetings of corporate heads, NGOs, politicians, and celebrities are not going to solve the crises of climate and biodiversity. Those attending are amongst the major contributors to the problems, and least willing to accept any change which might threaten their position. They argue over statements that no one actually applies, or even intends to, and which are replete with clauses ensuring “business as usual.” The meetings and declarations attract an enormous media circus, but are akin to the emperor’s workshop, with hundreds of tailors busily cutting suits of such rarefied material that they don’t cover his nakedness.

    Youth exploitation is key to the goal of commodifying nature.

     

    The real answers to the crises of climate and biodiversity lie in an inversion of the current approach, and a rejection of the New Deal for Nature and its failure to understand the relationship between indigenous peoples and nature. If we really want to save our world, then we have to start with the rich cutting their massive overconsumption. The wealthiest ten percent cause about half the world’s total pollution,[12] so they must work hardest to cut it. Both military conflict and the growth of information technology must be seen as the major polluters they are. The first is barely mentioned in climate activism, and the plan for the second is the exact opposite of what’s needed, with yet more energy-hungry “artificial intelligence” lined up to monitor our lives for the benefit of industry and state control.[13] If we’re going to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, we must also reduce dependence on “smart” tech, and we must accept the fact that real solutions aren’t found in marketing gimmicks like “net zero,” offsetting, carbon markets, or “pricing nature.” Real solutions are found with the local peoples that have successfully been creating and managing the world’s biodiversity since prehistory.

    Humanity as a whole isn’t responsible for these problems, one particular sector is, and it’s same one coming up with the New Deal for Nature. Those promoting it want to dictate how the rest of the world should live, but they’re acting primarily for themselves. Banning human activity from yet more so-called “Protected Areas” is another manifestation of the hubris that got us into this mess in the first place. Local people – those who retain some self-sufficiency, common sense, and connection with their environment – remain the strongest backbone of humanity, even today. They have better answers than the conservation technocrats and other global elites who lack their perspective. Kicking even more of them out at best reduces them to landless poverty and at worst destroys them and the environment. It would be disastrous for everyone.

     

     

    We should be respecting land rights and encouraging indigenous peoples and other local communities to remain where they are – if they wish – to carry on managing their lands in their own ways, and we must, above all, stop the theft of their territories for conservation. Those who want to, should be maintaining their self-sufficiency, not forced into global markets that profit the polluters more than anyone. We must “give” them back previously stolen lands, to manage themselves. We must listen to them rather than destroying them, as we are now.

    Whether this happens remains to be seen. The few voices pointing out that the emperor has no clothes at all, are up against a deafening scream from conservation propagandists and mainstream media, baying that the New Deal for Nature is the perfect solution. Whose voice will prevail depends on people’s gullibility and ability to challenge both their own prejudices and powerful vested interests. It’s a real battle, and the outcome will determine how much more nature is stolen from this beautiful world we have helped create.

    1) WWF Ecological. “2020: let’s put nature top of everybody’s to-do list.” Ecological.panda.org. April 20, 2018. (accessed 13/02/2020)

    2) Tollefson, Jeff. “Global deal for nature’ fleshed out with specific conservation goals.” Nature, April 19, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020)

    3) Baker, Katie & Tom Warren. “The US Government Spent Millions Funding WWF-Backed Forces Accused Of Torture and Murder.” Buzzfeed News, September 24, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020); Baker, Katie & Tom Warren. “WWF Says Indigenous People Want This Park. An Internal Report Says Some Fear Forest Ranger “Repression.” Buzzfeed News, March 8, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020)

    4) The estimate for the total global ecosystem services in 2011 is $125 trillion/yr

    Costanza, Robert, Rudolf De Groot, Paul Sutton, Sander Van der Ploeg, Sharolyn J. Anderson, Ida Kubiszewski, Stephen Farber, and R. Kerry Turner. “Changes in the global value of ecosystem services.” Global environmental change 26 (2014): 152-158. (accessed 13/02/2020)

    5) Carrington, Damian. “What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?The Guardian, March 12, 2018. (accessed 13/02/2020)

    6) Porter-Bolland, Luciana, Edward A. Ellis, Manuel R. Guariguata, Isabel Ruiz-Mallén, Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich, and Victoria Reyes-García. “Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics.” Forest ecology and management 268 (2012): 6-17

    7) The study measured vertebrate animal diversity only.

    Schuster et al, 2019, Vertebrate biodiversity on indigenous-managed lands in Australia, Brazil, and Canada equals that in protected areas, Environmental Science & Policy Volume 101, November 2019, Pages 1-6

    8) Woods Hole Research Center. “Satellites Show Amazon Parks, Indigenous Reserves Stop Forest Clearing.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060126200147.htm (accessed February 13, 2020).

    9) Dickson, Paul, and William M. Adams. “Science and uncertainty in South Africa’s elephant culling debate.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 27, no. 1 (2009): 110-123.

    10) Letiwa, Paul. “Herders protest as wildlife conservancies drive them out.” The Daily Nation, August 18, 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

    11) Survival International. “We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest.” YouTube video, 01:00. 4 Jan 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

    12) Gore, Timothy. Extreme Carbon Inequality. London: Oxfam. Dec 2, 2015. (The report can be found in Spanish and French at https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/extreme-carbon-inequality) (accessed February 13, 2020).

    13) See: Lu, Donna. “Creating an AI can be five times worse for the planet than a car.” New Scientist, June 6, 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

    Berners-Lee, Mike and Duncan Clark. “What’s the carbon footprint of … email?The Guardian, Oct 21, 2010. (accessed February 13, 2020).

    [Stephen Corry has worked with Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, since 1972. The not-for-profit has a San Francisco office. Its public campaign to change conservation can be joined at www.survivalinternational.org/conservation. This is one of a series of articles on the problem.]

    Campaign Announcement: NO Deal For Nature | Stop the Corporate Capture of the Commons

    Campaign Announcement: NO Deal For Nature | Stop the Corporate Capture of the Commons

    February 9, 2020

     

    Illustration: Betrayal, artist Mario S. Nevado

    A new international campaign has been launched which alleges the WEF is guilty of spearheading a bid by corporations and financial institutions to “monetize” nature on a global scale.

    It is calling on people across the world to hold public meetings, disseminate information, form local campaign groups  and “to take whatever action is necessary” to halt the so-called “New Deal for Nature”.

    An online statement from the “No Deal for Nature” alliance [1], whose slogan is “life is not a commodity”, has already won the support of several academics and campaigners.

    It warns that “under the guise of environmental protection” a massive exploitation scheme is in fact being drawn up, with the aim of maintaining the current wealth and power transfer from the poor to the rich.

    The WEF boasted on its own website that “young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg” would be attending the Davos event in Switzerland from January 21. [2]

    WEF stated it would be discussing “how to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that are harming our ecology and economy” and “how to transform industries to achieve more sustainable and inclusive business models”.

    However, the WEF also revealed it would be examining “how to govern the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution so they benefit business”. [3]

    The package of policies known as the “New Deal for Nature” is being promoted not only by the WEF, but also by  the United Nations (UN), [4] the World Bank [5] and the controversial World Wildlife Fund (WWF).[6]

    The UN has admitted it wants to “advance a new political agenda” involving “increased promotion of innovative financing that supports green infrastructure”. [7]

    The new campaign describes this agenda as a “monstrous and unprecedented assault on our living world by the capitalist system”.

    It warns that nature and humanity alike will suffer, with the threat of “further Indigenous displacement and genocide”.

    The campaigners conclude: “The NDFN must be stopped. We call on all those who care about nature to speak out now”.

     

    [1] http://nodealfornature.org

    [2] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/davos-abandon-fossil-fuel-economy-climate-change-greta-thunberg/

    [3] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_AM20_Overview.pdf

    [4] https://truepundit.com/al-gore-un-officials-team-up-to-push-a-new-deal-for-nature/

    [5] https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/five-ways-help-nature-help-us

    [6] https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?339010/A-new-deal-for-Nature-and-Humanity

    [7] http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28333/NewDeal.pdf

     

    CONTACT: nodealfornature@protonmail.com

    Twitter:

     

    5 reasons to say “no” to the New Deal For Nature

    1. Conceived of by vested interests. The “The New Deal For Nature” (NDFN) is being drawn up by the world’s most powerful corporations, financial institutions, and conservation NGOs, including WWF. WWF has been complicit in human rights abuses for years. At the helm of the NDFN is the World Economic Forum which entered into partnership with the United Nations on June 13, 2019.

     

    1. Undemocratic. The NDFN is being negotiated without any participation from the wider public. The deal will be concluded at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference in Beijing in October 2020 without any vote by our local, regional or national parliaments, bypassing full democratic scrutiny.

     

    1. Represents the corporate coup of the commons. During negotiations on free trade agreements such as TTIP and CETA, we saw how our governments work hand-in-hand with multinational corporations to hand over even more power to big business, privatising more public services. Now nature is up for grabs. Under the guise of taking action on the climate and ecological crises, what the NDFN entails, in practice, is the financialization and privatisation of nature (defined as “ecosystem services”, “natural capital”, “natural climate solutions” or “nature-based solutions”)— global in scale. Assigning monetary value to nature enables industries such as the fossil fuel industry to continue polluting as long as they commit to engaging in net zero activities such as offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees, or by “restoring” nature.

     

    1. Rescues the very system destroying nature. The NDFN would involve the total transformation of the global economic system to create new markets, thereby salvaging the failing global economic capitalist system that has brought us to the brink of ecological catastrophe.

     

    1. Harms those best placed to protect biodiversity. The NDFN would threaten the further displacement and genocide of Indigenous and tribal peoples as global corporations and conservation NGOs seek control of their lands to maintain hegemony under the guise of tackling climate change and restoring nature. This represents a new wave of colonisation, for peoples in the Global South in particular.

     

    Further resources to learn more about the New Deal For Nature:

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [Volume I, Act V], an investigative report by Cory Morningstar http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/13/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-forconsent-the-new-green-deal-is-the-trojan-horse-for-the-financialization-of-nature/

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature [Volume I, Act VI – Crescendo], an investigative report by Cory Morningstar http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/24/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-adecade-of-social-manipulation-for-the-corporate-capture-of-nature-crescendo/

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent: To Plunder What Little Remains: It’s Going To Be Tremendous [Volume II, Act III], an investigative report by Cory Morningstar http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/09/15/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-forconsent-to-plunder-what-little-remains-its-going-to-be-tremendous-volume-ii-act-iii/

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – For Consent: They Mean Business [Volume II, Act IV], an investigative report by Cory Morningstar http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/09/17/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-forconsent-they-mean-business-volume-ii-act-iv/

    To learn more about the issue of monetising nature: Climate Capitalists, a page created by Winter Oak Press providing links to over 50 resources in various formats and languages https://winteroak.org.uk/climate-capitalists/

    Accumulation by Restoration: Degradation Neutrality and the Faustian Bargain of Conservation Finance, an intervention by Amber Huff of the Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre, University of Sussex and Andrea Brock of the University of Sussex in the journal Antipode Online https://antipodeonline.org/2017/11/06/accumulation-by-restoration/

    Guatemala: Petén at the center of the sustainable development plans of the NGOs, an investigative report by Aldo Santiago in Avispa Midia
    https://avispa.org/peten-at-the-center-of-the-sustainable-developments-plans-of-the-ngos/  

    Guatemala: Carbon, the Metric of Displacement in Petén, an investigative report by Aldo Santiago in Avispa Midia
    https://avispa.org/guatemala-carbon-the-metric-of-displacement-in-peten/

    Banking Nature, a documentary by Denis Delestra and Sandrine Feydel http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/10/30/watch-banking-nature/

    To learn more about WWF’s human rights abuses: WWF Silence of the Pandas, a documentary by Wilfried Huismann
    http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2013/07/22/watch-wwf-silence-of-the-pandas-a-journeyinto-the-heart-of-the-green-empire/

    Victim of the WWF, a documentary by Zembla
    http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/06/04/watch-victim-of-the-wwf-world-wildlife-fund/

     

     

    History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

    History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

    The Atlantic

    JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE

     

    By Wil S. Hylton

     

    Mining robots, such as these, will help unlock a subsea gold rush. Source: World Economic Forum

    Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

    These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

    Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs. On the west coast of Africa, the De Beers Group is using a fleet of specialized ships to drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, those ships extracted 1.4 million carats from the coastal waters of Namibia; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel. Another company, Nautilus Minerals, is working in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to shatter a field of underwater hot springs lined with precious metals, while Japan and South Korea have embarked on national projects to exploit their own offshore deposits. But the biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined.

    Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight. It is classified as “autonomous” and falls under the direction of its own secretary general, who convenes his own general assembly once a year, at the ISA headquarters. For about a week, delegates from 168 member states pour into Kingston from around the world, gathering at a broad semicircle of desks in the auditorium of the Jamaica Conference Centre. Their assignment is not to prevent mining on the seafloor but to mitigate its damage—selecting locations where extraction will be permitted, issuing licenses to mining companies, and drafting the technical and environmental standards of an underwater Mining Code.

    Writing the code has been difficult. ISA members have struggled to agree on a regulatory framework. While they debate the minutiae of waste disposal and ecological preservation, the ISA has granted “exploratory” permits around the world. Some 30 mineral contractors already hold licenses to work in sweeping regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. One site, about 2,300 miles east of Florida, contains the largest system of underwater hot springs ever discovered, a ghostly landscape of towering white spires that scientists call the “Lost City.” Another extends across 4,500 miles of the Pacific, or roughly a fifth of the circumference of the planet. The companies with permits to explore these regions have raised breathtaking sums of venture capital. They have designed and built experimental vehicles, lowered them to the bottom, and begun testing methods of dredging and extraction while they wait for the ISA to complete the Mining Code and open the floodgates to commercial extraction.

    At full capacity, these companies expect to dredge thousands of square miles a year. Their collection vehicles will creep across the bottom in systematic rows, scraping through the top five inches of the ocean floor. Ships above will draw thousands of pounds of sediment through a hose to the surface, remove the metallic objects, known as polymetallic nodules, and then flush the rest back into the water. Some of that slurry will contain toxins such as mercury and lead, which could poison the surrounding ocean for hundreds of miles. The rest will drift in the current until it settles in nearby ecosystems. An early study by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences predicted that each mining ship will release about 2 million cubic feet of discharge every day, enough to fill a freight train that is 16 miles long. The authors called this “a conservative estimate,” since other projections had been three times as high. By any measure, they concluded, “a very large area will be blanketed by sediment to such an extent that many animals will not be able to cope with the impact and whole communities will be severely affected by the loss of individuals and species.”

    At the ISA meeting in 2019, delegates gathered to review a draft of the code. Officials hoped the document would be ratified for implementation in 2020. I flew down to observe the proceedings on a balmy morning and found the conference center teeming with delegates. A staff member ushered me through a maze of corridors to meet the secretary general, Michael Lodge, a lean British man in his 50s with cropped hair and a genial smile. He waved me toward a pair of armchairs beside a bank of windows overlooking the harbor, and we sat down to discuss the Mining Code, what it will permit and prohibit, and why the United Nations is preparing to mobilize the largest mining operation in the history of the world.

    Until recently, marine biologists paid little attention to the deep sea. They believed its craggy knolls and bluffs were essentially barren. The traditional model of life on Earth relies on photosynthesis: plants on land and in shallow water harness sunlight to grow biomass, which is devoured by creatures small and large, up the food chain to Sunday dinner. By this account, every animal on the planet would depend on plants to capture solar energy. Since plants disappear a few hundred feet below sea level, and everything goes dark a little farther down, there was no reason to expect a thriving ecosystem in the deep. Maybe a light snow of organic debris would trickle from the surface, but it would be enough to sustain only a few wayward aquatic drifters.

    That theory capsized in 1977, when a pair of oceanographers began poking around the Pacific in a submersible vehicle. While exploring a range of underwater mountains near the Galápagos Islands, they spotted a hydrothermal vent about 8,000 feet deep. No one had ever seen an underwater hot spring before, though geologists suspected they might exist. As the oceanographers drew close to the vent, they made an even more startling discovery: A large congregation of animals was camped around the vent opening. These were not the feeble scavengers that one expected so far down. They were giant clams, purple octopuses, white crabs, and 10-foot tube worms, whose food chain began not with plants but with organic chemicals floating in the warm vent water.

    For biologists, this was more than curious. It shook the foundation of their field. If a complex ecosystem could emerge in a landscape devoid of plants, evolution must be more than a heliological affair. Life could appear in perfect darkness, in blistering heat and a broth of noxious compounds—an environment that would extinguish every known creature on Earth. “That was the discovery event,” an evolutionary biologist named Timothy Shank told me. “It changed our view about the boundaries of life. Now we know that the methane lakes on one of Jupiter’s moons are probably laden with species, and there is no doubt life on other planetary bodies.”

    Shank was 12 years old that winter, a bookish kid in North Carolina. The early romance of the space age was already beginning to fade, but the discovery of life near hydrothermal vents would inspire a blossoming of oceanography that captured his imagination. As he completed a degree in marine biology, then a doctorate in ecology and evolution, he consumed reports from scientists around the world who found new vents brimming with unknown species. They appeared far below the surface—the deepest known vent is about three miles down—while another geologic feature, known as a “cold seep,” gives rise to life in chemical pools even deeper on the seafloor. No one knew how far down the vents and seeps might be found, but Shank decided to focus his research on the deepest waters of the Earth.

    Scientists divide the ocean into five layers of depth. Closest to the surface is the “sunlight zone,” where plants thrive; then comes the “twilight zone,” where darkness falls; next is the “midnight zone,” where some creatures generate their own light; and then there’s a frozen flatland known simply as “the abyss.” Oceanographers have visited these layers in submersible vehicles for half a century, but the final layer is difficult to reach. It is known as the “hadal zone,” in reference to Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld, and it includes any water that is at least 6,000 meters below the surface—or, in a more Vernian formulation, that is 20,000 feet under the sea. Because the hadal zone is so deep, it is usually associated with ocean trenches, but several deepwater plains have sections that cross into hadal depth.

    Deepwater plains are also home to the polymetallic nodules that explorers first discovered a century and a half ago. Mineral companies believe that nodules will be easier to mine than other seabed deposits. To remove the metal from a hydrothermal vent or an underwater mountain, they will have to shatter rock in a manner similar to land-based extraction. Nodules are isolated chunks of rocks on the seabed that typically range from the size of a golf ball to that of a grapefruit, so they can be lifted from the sediment with relative ease. Nodules also contain a distinct combination of minerals. While vents and ridges are flecked with precious metal, such as silver and gold, the primary metals in nodules are copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt—crucial materials in modern batteries. As iPhones and laptops and electric vehicles spike demand for those metals, many people believe that nodules are the best way to migrate from fossil fuels to battery power.

    The ISA has issued more mining licenses for nodules than for any other seabed deposit. Most of these licenses authorize contractors to exploit a single deepwater plain. Known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, or CCZ, it extends across 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico—wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen companies will accelerate their explorations in the CCZ to industrial-scale extraction. Their ships and robots will use vacuum hoses to suck nodules and sediment from the seafloor, extracting the metal and dumping the rest into the water. How many ecosystems will be covered by that sediment is impossible to predict. Ocean currents fluctuate regularly in speed and direction, so identical plumes of slurry will travel different distances, in different directions, on different days. The impact of a sediment plume also depends on how it is released. Slurry that is dumped near the surface will drift farther than slurry pumped back to the bottom. The circulating draft of the Mining Code does not specify a depth of discharge. The ISA has adopted an estimate that sediment dumped near the surface will travel no more than 62 miles from the point of release, but many experts believe the slurry could travel farther. A recent survey of academic research compiled by Greenpeace concluded that mining waste “could travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.”

    Like many deepwater plains, the CCZ has sections that lie at hadal depth. Its eastern boundary is marked by a hadal trench. No one knows whether mining sediment will drift into the hadal zone. As the director of a hadal-research program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, Timothy Shank has been studying the deep sea for almost 30 years. In 2014, he led an international mission to complete the first systematic study of the hadal ecosystem—but even Shank has no idea how mining could affect the hadal zone, because he still has no idea what it contains. If you want a sense of how little we know about the deep ocean, how difficult it is to study, and what’s at stake when industry leaps before science, Shank’s research is a good place to start.

    Ifirst met shank about seven years ago, when he was organizing the international mission to survey the hadal zone. He had put together a three-year plan to visit every ocean trench: sending a robotic vehicle to explore their features, record every contour of topography, and collect specimens from each. The idea was either dazzling or delusional; I wasn’t sure which. Scientists have enough trouble measuring the seabed in shallower waters. They have used ropes and chains and acoustic instruments to record depth for more than a century, yet 85 percent of the global seabed remains unmapped—and the hadal is far more difficult to map than other regions, since it’s nearly impossible to see.

    If it strikes you as peculiar that modern vehicles cannot penetrate the deepest ocean, take a moment to imagine what it means to navigate six or seven miles below the surface. Every 33 feet of depth exerts as much pressure as the atmosphere of the Earth, so when you are just 66 feet down, you are under three times as much pressure as a person on land, and when you are 300 feet down, you’re subjected to 10 atmospheres of pressure. Tube worms living beside hydrothermal vents near the Galápagos are compressed by about 250 atmospheres, and mining vehicles in the CCZ have to endure twice as much—but they are still just half as far down as the deepest trenches.

    Building a vehicle to function at 36,000 feet, under 2 million pounds of pressure per square foot, is a task of interstellar-type engineering. It’s a good deal more rigorous than, say, bolting together a rover to skitter across Mars. Picture the schematic of an iPhone case that can be smashed with a sledgehammer more or less constantly, from every angle at once, without a trace of damage, and you’re in the ballpark—or just consider the fact that more people have walked on the moon than have reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth.

    The first two people descended in 1960, using a contraption owned by the U.S. Navy. It seized and shuddered on the descent. Its window cracked as the pressure mounted, and it landed with so much force that it kicked up a cloud of silt that obscured the view for the entire 20 minutes the pair remained on the bottom. Half a century passed before the film director James Cameron repeated their journey, in 2012. Unlike the swaggering billionaire Richard Branson, who was planning to dive the Mariana in a cartoonish vehicle shaped like a fighter jet, Cameron is well versed in ocean science and engineering. He was closely involved in the design of his submarine, and sacrificed stylistic flourishes for genuine innovations, including a new type of foam that maintains buoyancy at full ocean depth. Even so, his vessel lurched and bucked on the way down. He finally managed to land, and spent a couple of hours collecting sediment samples before he noticed that hydraulic fluid was leaking onto the window. The vehicle’s mechanical arm began to fail, and all of the thrusters on its right side went out—so he returned to the surface early, canceled his plan for additional dives, and donated the broken sub to Woods Hole.

    A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench
    A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Most of what we know about its topography has been gathered by sonar. Only three crewed expeditions have reached the bottom. (Data Design Co)
    The most recent descent of the Mariana Trench was completed last spring by a private-equity investor named Victor Vescovo, who spent $48 million on a submarine that was even more sophisticated than Cameron’s. Vescovo was on a personal quest to reach the bottom of the five deepest trenches in the world, a project he called “Five Deeps.” He was able to complete the project, making multiple dives of the Mariana—but if his achievement represents a leap forward in hadal exploration, it also serves as a reminder of how impenetrable the trenches remain: a region that can be visited only by the most committed multimillionaire, Hollywood celebrity, or special military program, and only in isolated dives to specific locations that reveal little about the rest of the hadal environment. That environment is composed of 33 trenches and 13 shallower formations called troughs. Its total geographic area is about two-thirds the size of Australia. It is the least examined ecosystem of its size on Earth.Without a vehicle to explore the hadal zone, scientists have been forced to use primitive methods. The most common technique has scarcely changed in more than a century: Expedition ships chug across hundreds of miles to reach a precise location, then lower a trap, wait a few hours, and reel it up to see what’s inside. The limitations of this approach are self-evident, if not comic. It’s like dangling a birdcage out the door of an airplane crossing Africa at 36,000 feet, and then trying to divine, from the mangled bodies of insects, what sort of animals roam the savanna.All of which is to say that Shank’s plan to explore every trench in the world was somewhere between audacious and absurd, but he had assembled a team of the world’s leading experts, secured ship time for extensive missions, and spent 10 years supervising the design of the most advanced robotic vehicle ever developed for deepwater navigation. Called Nereus, after a mythological sea god, it could dive alone—charting a course amid rocky cliffs, measuring their contours with a doppler scanner, recording video with high-definition cameras, and collecting samples—or it could be linked to the deck of a ship with fiber-optic cable, allowing Shank to monitor its movement on a computer in the ship’s control room, boosting the thrusters to steer this way and that, piercing the darkness with its headlamps, and maneuvering a mechanical claw to gather samples in the deep.

    I reached out to Shank in 2013, a few months before the expedition began. I wanted to write about the project, and he agreed to let me join him on a later leg. When his ship departed, in the spring of 2014, I followed online as it pursued a course to the Kermadec Trench, in the Pacific, and Shank began sending Nereus on a series of dives. On the first, it descended to 6,000 meters, a modest target on the boundary of the hadal zone. On the second, Shank pushed it to 7,000 meters; on the third to 8,000; and on the fourth to 9,000. He knew that diving to 10,000 meters would be a crucial threshold. It is the last full kilometer of depth on Earth: No trench is believed to be deeper than 11,000 meters. To commemorate this final increment and the successful beginning of his project, he attached a pair of silver bracelets to the frame of Nereus, planning to give them to his daughters when he returned home. Then he dropped the robot in the water and retreated to the control room to monitor its movements.

    On-screen, blue water gave way to darkness as Nereus descended, its headlamps illuminating specks of debris suspended in the water. It was 10 meters shy of the 10,000-meter mark when suddenly the screen went dark. There was an audible gasp in the control room, but no one panicked. Losing the video feed on a dive was relatively common. Maybe the fiber-optic tether had snapped, or the software had hit a glitch. Whatever it was, Nereus had been programmed to respond with emergency measures. It could back out of a jam, shed expendable weight, guide itself to the surface, and send a homing beacon to help Shank’s team retrieve it.

    As the minutes ticked by, Shank waited for those measures to activate, but none did. “There’s no sound, no implosion, no chime,” he told me afterward. “Just … black.” He paced the deck through the night, staring across the Stygian void for signs of Nereus. The following day he finally saw debris surface, and as he watched it rise, he felt his project sinking. Ten years of planning, a $14 million robot, and an international team of experts—it had all collapsed under the crushing pressure of hadal depths.

    “I’m not over it yet,” he told me two years later. We were standing on the deck of another ship, 100 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, where Shank was preparing to launch a new robot. The vehicle was no replacement for Nereus. It was a rectilinear hunk of metal and plastic, about five feet high, three feet wide, and nine feet long. Red on top, with a silvery bottom and three fans mounted at the rear, it could have been mistaken for a child’s backyard spaceship. Shank had no illusion that it was capable of hadal exploration. Since the loss of Nereus, there was no vehicle on Earth that could navigate the deepest trenches—Cameron’s was no longer in service, Branson’s didn’t work, and Vescovo’s hadn’t yet been built.

    Shank’s new robot did have a few impressive features. Its navigational system was even more advanced than the one in Nereus, and he hoped it would be able to maneuver in a trenchlike environment with even greater precision—but its body was not designed to withstand hadal pressure. In fact, it had never descended more than a few dozen feet below the surface, and Shank knew that it would take years to build something that could survive at the bottom of a trench. What had seemed, just two years earlier, like the beginning of a new era in hadal science was developing a quixotic aspect, and, at 50, Shank could not help wondering if it was madness to spend another decade of his life on a dream that seemed to be drifting further from his reach. But he was driven by a lifelong intuition that he still couldn’t shake. Shank believes that access to the trenches will reveal one of the greatest discoveries in history: a secret ecosystem bursting with creatures that have been cloistered for eternity in the deep.

    “I would be shocked if there aren’t vents and seeps in the trenches,” he told me as we bobbed on the water that day in 2016. “They’ll be there, and they will be teeming with life. I think we’ll be looking at hundreds or thousands of species we haven’t seen before, and some of them are going to be huge.” He pictured the hadal as an alien world that followed its own evolutionary course, the unimaginable pressure creating a menagerie of inconceivable beasts. “My time is running out to find them,” he said. “Maybe my legacy will be to push things forward so that somebody else can. We have a third of our ocean that we still can’t explore. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic.”

    While scientists struggle to reach the deep ocean, human impact has already gotten there. Most of us are familiar with the menu of damages to coastal water: overfishing, oil spills, and pollution, to name a few. What can be lost in the discussion of these issues is how they reverberate far beneath.

    Take fishing. The relentless pursuit of cod in the early 20th century decimated its population from Newfoundland to New England, sending hungry shoppers in search of other options. As shallow-water fish such as haddock, grouper, and sturgeon joined the cod’s decline, commercial fleets around the world pushed into deeper water. Until the 1970s, the slimehead fish lived in relative obscurity, patrolling the slopes of underwater mountains in water up to 6,000 feet deep. Then a consortium of fishermen pushed the Food and Drug Administration to change its name, and the craze for “orange roughy” began—only to fade again in the early 2000s, when the fish was on a path toward extinction itself.

    Environmental damage from oil production is also migrating into deeper water. Disturbing photographs of oil-drenched beaches have captured public attention since at least 1989, when the Exxon Valdez tanker crashed into a reef and leaked 11 million gallons into an Alaskan sound. It would remain the largest spill in U.S. water until 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon explosion spewed 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. But a recent study revealed that the release of chemicals to disperse the spill was twice as toxic as the oil to animals living 3,000 feet below the surface.

    Maybe the greatest alarm in recent years has followed the discovery of plastic floating in the ocean. Scientists estimate that 17 billion pounds of polymer are flushed into the ocean each year, and substantially more of it collects on the bottom than on the surface. Just as a bottle that falls from a picnic table will roll downhill to a gulch, trash on the seafloor gradually makes its way toward deepwater plains and hadal trenches. After his expedition to the trenches, Victor Vescovo returned with the news that garbage had beaten him there. He found a plastic bag at the bottom of one trench, a beverage can in another, and when he reached the deepest point in the Mariana, he watched an object with a large S on the side float past his window. Trash of all sorts is collecting in the hadal—Spam tins, Budweiser cans, rubber gloves, even a mannequin head.

    Scientists are just beginning to understand the impact of trash on aquatic life. Fish and seabirds that mistake grocery bags for prey will glut their stomachs with debris that their digestive system can’t expel. When a young whale drifted ashore and died in the Philippines in 2019, an autopsy revealed that its belly was packed with 88 pounds of plastic bags, nylon rope, and netting. Two weeks later, another whale beached in Sardinia, its stomach crammed with 48 pounds of plastic dishes and tubing. Certain types of coral like to eat plastic more than food. They will gorge themselves like a kid on Twinkies instead of eating what they need to survive. Microbes that flourish on plastic have ballooned in number, replacing other species as their population explodes in a polymer ocean.

    If it seems trivial to worry about the population statistics of bacteria in the ocean, you may be interested to know that ocean microbes are essential to human and planetary health. About a third of the carbon dioxide generated on land is absorbed by underwater organisms, including one species that was just discovered in the CCZ in 2018. The researchers who found that bacterium have no idea how it removes carbon from the environment, but their findings show that it may account for up to 10 percent of the volume that is sequestered by oceans every year.

    Many of the things we do know about ocean microbes, we know thanks to Craig Venter, the genetic scientist most famous for starting a small company in the 1990s to compete with the Human Genome Project. The two-year race between his company and the international collaboration generated endless headlines and culminated in a joint announcement at the White House to declare a tie. But Venter’s interest wasn’t limited to human DNA. He wanted to learn the language of genetics in order to create synthetic microbes with practical features. After his work on the human genome, he spent two years sailing around the world, lowering bottles into the ocean to collect bacteria and viruses from the water. By the time he returned, he had discovered hundreds of thousands of new species, and his lab in Maryland proceeded to sequence their DNA—identifying more than 60 million unique genes, which is about 2,500 times the number in humans. Then he and his team began to scour those genes for properties they could use to make custom bugs.

    Venter now lives in a hypermodern house on a bluff in Southern California. Chatting one evening on the sofa beside the door to his walk-in humidor and wine cellar, he described how saltwater microbes could help solve the most urgent problems of modern life. One of the bacteria he pulled from the ocean consumes carbon and excretes methane. Venter would like to integrate its genes into organisms designed to live in smokestacks and recycle emissions. “They could scrub the plant’s CO2 and convert it to methane that can be burned as fuel in the same plant,” he said.

    Venter was also studying bacteria that could be useful in medicine. Microbes produce a variety of antibiotic compounds, which they deploy as weapons against their rivals. Many of those compounds can also be used to kill the pathogens that infect humans. Nearly all of the antibiotic drugs on the market were initially derived from microorganisms, but they are losing efficacy as pathogens evolve to resist them. “We have new drugs in development,” Matt McCarthy, an infectious-disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, told me, “but most of them are slight variations on the ones we already had. The problem with that is, they’re easy for bacteria to resist, because they’re similar to something bacteria have developed resistance to in the past. What we need is an arsenal of new compounds.”

    Venter pointed out that ocean microbes produce radically different compounds from those on land. “There are more than a million microbes per milliliter of seawater,” he said, “so the chance of finding new antibiotics in the marine environment is high.” McCarthy agreed. “The next great drug may be hidden somewhere deep in the water,” he said. “We need to get to the deep-sea organisms, because they’re making compounds that we’ve never seen before. We may find drugs that could be used to treat gout, or rheumatoid arthritis, or all kinds of other conditions.”

    Marine biologists have never conducted a comprehensive survey of microbes in the hadal trenches. The conventional tools of water sampling cannot function at extreme depth, and engineers are just beginning to develop tools that can. Microbial studies of the deepwater plains are slightly further along—and scientists have recently discovered that the CCZ is unusually flush with life. “It’s one of the most biodiverse areas that we’ve ever sampled on the abyssal plains,” a University of Hawaii oceanographer named Jeff Drazen told me. Most of those microbes, he said, live on the very same nodules that miners are planning to extract. “When you lift them off the seafloor, you’re removing a habitat that took 10 million years to grow.” Whether or not those microbes can be found in other parts of the ocean is unknown. “A lot of the less mobile organisms,” Drazen said, “may not be anywhere else.”

    Drazen is an academic ecologist; Venter is not. Venter has been accused of trying to privatize the human genome, and many of his critics believe his effort to create new organisms is akin to playing God. He clearly doesn’t have an aversion to profit-driven science, and he’s not afraid to mess with nature—yet when I asked him about the prospect of mining in deep water, he flared with alarm. “We should be very careful about mining in the ocean,” he said. “These companies should be doing rigorous microbial surveys before they do anything else. We only know a fraction of the microbes down there, and it’s a terrible idea to screw with them before we know what they are and what they do.”

    The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is a deepwater plain wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen contractors could begin commercial extraction there. (La Tigre)

    Mining executives insist that their work in the ocean is misunderstood. Some adopt a swaggering bravado and portray the industry as a romantic frontier adventure. As the manager of exploration at Nautilus Minerals, John Parianos, told me recently, “This is about every man and his dog filled with the excitement of the moon landing. It’s like Scott going to the South Pole, or the British expeditions who got entombed by ice.”

    Nautilus occupies a curious place in the mining industry. It is one of the oldest companies at work on the seafloor, but also the most precarious. Although it has a permit from the government of Papua New Guinea to extract metal from offshore vents, many people on the nearby island of New Ireland oppose the project, which will destroy part of their marine habitat. Local and international activists have whipped up negative publicity, driving investors away and sending the company into financial ruin. Nautilus stock once traded for $4.45. It is now less than a penny per share.Parianos acknowledged that Nautilus was in crisis, but he dismissed the criticism as naive. Seabed minerals are no different from any other natural resource, he said, and the use of natural resources is fundamental to human progress. “Look around you: Everything that’s not grown is mined,” he told me. “That’s why they called it the Stone Age—because it’s when they started mining! And mining is what made our lives better than what they had before the Stone Age.” Parianos emphasized that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which created the International Seabed Authority, promised “to ensure effective protection for the marine environment” from the effects of mining. “It’s not like the Law of the Sea says: Go out and ravage the marine environment,” he said. “But it also doesn’t say that you can only explore the ocean for science, and not to make money.”The CEO of a company called DeepGreen spoke in loftier terms. DeepGreen is both a product of Nautilus Minerals and a reaction to it. The company was founded in 2011 by David Heydon, who had founded Nautilus a decade earlier, and its leadership is full of former Nautilus executives and investors. As a group, they have sought to position DeepGreen as a company whose primary interest in mining the ocean is saving the planet. They have produced a series of lavish brochures to explain the need for a new source of battery metals, and Gerard Barron, the CEO, speaks with animated fervor about the virtues of nodule extraction.

    His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

    Whether DeepGreen represents a shift in the values of mining companies or merely a shift in marketing rhetoric is a valid question—but the company has done things that are difficult to dismiss. It has developed technology that returns sediment discharge to the seafloor with minimal disruption, and Barron is a regular presence at ISA meetings, where he advocates for regulations to mandate low-impact discharge. DeepGreen has also limited its operations to nodule mining, and Barron openly criticizes the effort by his friends at Nautilus to demolish a vent that is still partially active. “The guys at Nautilus, they’re doing their thing, but I don’t think it’s the right thing for the planet,” he told me. “We need to be doing things that have a low impact environmentally.”

    By the time i sat down with Michael Lodge, the secretary general of the ISA, I had spent a lot of time thinking about the argument that executives like Barron are making. It seemed to me that seabed mining presents an epistemological problem. The harms of burning fossil fuels and the impact of land-based mining are beyond dispute, but the cost of plundering the ocean is impossible to know. What creatures are yet to be found on the seafloor? How many indispensable cures? Is there any way to calculate the value of a landscape we know virtually nothing about? The world is full of uncertain choices, of course, but the contrast between options is rarely so stark: the crisis of climate change and immiserated labor on the one hand, immeasurable risk and potential on the other.

    I thought of the hadal zone. It may never be harmed by mining. Sediment from dredging on the abyssal plains could settle long before it reaches the edge of a trench—but the total obscurity of the hadal should remind us of how little we know. It extends from 20,000 feet below sea level to roughly 36,000 feet, leaving nearly half of the ocean’s depths beyond our reach. When I visited Timothy Shank at Woods Hole a few months ago, he showed me a prototype of his latest robot. He and his lead engineer, Casey Machado, had built it with foam donated by James Cameron and with support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose engineers are hoping to send a vehicle to explore the aqueous moon of Jupiter. It was a tiny machine, known as Orpheus, that could steer through trenches, recording topography and taking samples, but little else. He would have no way to direct its movements or monitor its progress via a video feed. It occurred to me that if Shank had given up the dream of true exploration in the trenches, decades could pass before we know what the hadal zone contains.

    Mining companies may promise to extract seabed metal with minimal damage to the surrounding environment, but to believe this requires faith. It collides with the force of human history, the law of unintended consequences, and the inevitability of mistakes. I wanted to understand from Michael Lodge how a UN agency had made the choice to accept that risk.

    “Why is it necessary to mine the ocean?” I asked him.

    He paused for a moment, furrowing his brow. “I don’t know why you use the word necessary,” he said. “Why is it ‘necessary’ to mine anywhere? You mine where you find metal.”

    I reminded him that centuries of mining on land have exacted a devastating price: tropical islands denuded, mountaintops sheared off, groundwater contaminated, and species eradicated. Given the devastation of land-based mining, I asked, shouldn’t we hesitate to mine the sea?

    “I don’t believe people should worry that much,” he said with a shrug. “There’s certainly an impact in the area that’s mined, because you are creating an environmental disturbance, but we can find ways to manage that.” I pointed out that the impact from sediment could travel far beyond the mining zone, and he responded, “Sure, that’s the other major environmental concern. There is a sediment plume, and we need to manage it. We need to understand how the plume operates, and there are experiments being done right now that will help us.” As he spoke, I realized that for Lodge, none of these questions warranted reflection—or anyway, he didn’t see reflection as part of his job. He was there to facilitate mining, not to question the wisdom of doing so.

    We chatted for another 20 minutes, then I thanked him for his time and wandered back to the assembly room, where delegates were delivering canned speeches about marine conservation and the promise of battery technology. There was still some debate about certain details of the Mining Code—technical requirements, oversight procedures, the profit-sharing model—so the vote to ratify it would have to wait another year. I noticed a group of scientists watching from the back. They were members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, which formed in 2013 to confront threats to the deepwater environment. One was Jeff Drazen. He’d flown in from Hawaii and looked tired. I sent him a text, and we stepped outside.

    A few tables and chairs were scattered in the courtyard, and we sat down to talk. I asked how he felt about the delay of the Mining Code—delegates are planning to review it again this summer, and large-scale mining could begin after that.

    Drazen rolled his eyes and sighed. “There’s a Belgian team in the CCZ doing a component test right now,” he said. “They’re going to drive a vehicle around on the seafloor and spew a bunch of mud up. So these things are already happening. We’re about to make one of the biggest transformations that humans have ever made to the surface of the planet. We’re going to strip-mine a massive habitat, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.”

     

    [Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He has published cover stories for many outlets including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Details, New York, and Outside.]

    Greta Is Our MLK. That’s Not Necessarily a  Good Thing.

    Greta Is Our MLK. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing.

    Diversity of Tactics

    January 21, 2020

    B

     

     

    Above: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Greta Thunberg in Austria, May 2019

    In September of last year, a young girl stood in a Washington DC congressional building to give a speech. Audaciously, she professed to follow in the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed address to the March on Washington in 1963. “I also have a dream,” she intoned, “that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences…I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.”

    Greta Thunberg may not be an orator on the level of Dr. King, but there is something undeniably compelling about her. She’s an appropriate celebrity for the era of Bernie Sanders, where a lack of traditional charisma connotes authenticity. More importantly, the content of her speech was both learned and thoughtful, touching on everything from the techno-optimism of both the left and right, to the looming 12 year deadline to cut emissions to pre-industrial levels, to nasty “non-linear effects” which could hit us even before that deadline, to a global “climate justice” paradigm that recognizes the greater obligation that wealthy Americans have to solve the problem.

    Legitimate criticism of Thunberg seems as unthinkable as criticism of Martin Luther King. One group of prominent supporters recently called her “unimpeachable” on all levels. Attacks are expected from the far-right of course—Indeed, another reason that Greta and MLK both draw immediate solidarity from progressives is the sense of protectiveness which they inspire. Thunberg has had to contend with crude jibes about her autism and inexperience. Dr. King faced slander, blackmail, and repeated threats on his life.

    And yet Greta, like MLK, has prompted that unthinkable: Criticism from the political left which questions the soundness her methods and effect on the movement. As with King, Thunberg acolytes have attributed these critiques to jealousy, bigotry, vested interests, and even proto-fascism. Yet many harsh critics of Dr. King—Ella Baker, Malcolm X, Gloria Richardson, James Forman and others—were just as dedicated to social justice as he was, and took similar risks in their activism. Further complicating the narrative is that movement historians have studied the criticisms leveled at MLK by his colleagues and found many if not most of them to be legitimate. With that in mind, leftward salvos at Thunberg need to be taken seriously as well.

    One of the recurring claims about both King and Thunberg is that they were aligned from an early stage with elite interests who were working against the activists’ own cause. Veteran civil rights organizer Ella Baker criticized MLK for being a corporate media darling who distorted both the image and goals of the movement. When she left a position at Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (which she had helped found) to create a new group, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she warned fellow activists about the phenomenon of the “charismatic leader…It usually means the media made him, and the media may undo him…such a person gets to the point of believing that he is the movement.”

    There is nothing in Ella Baker’s critique of King that’s particularly exaggerated. In January 1957, when King had only been an activist for a year and a half, he was contacted by Clare Booth Luce, conservative mogul of the Time magazine empire, and offered a cover story. According to King biographer Taylor Branch, Luce rescued King from a state of “helplessness”. In the aftermath of the famous bus boycott and its apparent victory, the City of Montgomery had shut down all bus lines after the Ku Klux Klan began shooting at black passengers, and commenced to enact a whole new wave of segregation laws—an early manifestation of the Dixiecrats’ “Massive Resistance” campaign which blocked King’s nonviolent movement throughout the late fifties. Luce, who was also US Ambassador to Italy, was explicit that she wanted to show off King, at the height of the Cold War, to a skeptical global public who doubted that there was hope for racial progress in America.

    Greta-A Schwarzenegger

    Similarly, Greta Thunberg has been criticized for her comfortable relationship with the very decision-making class whom she pillories. Thunberg has repeatedly met with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ardently green capitalist former governor of California. Arnold championed the state’s carbon cap-and-trade scheme, which ProPublica has exposed asallowing California’s biggest polluters to conduct business as usual and even increase their emissions.” Schwarzenegger’s entire record on the climate crisis has been one of empty promises—precisely the sort of empty promises Greta Thunberg claims she is here to confront. The young Swede’s carefully arranged meeting with Barack Obama isn’t any more reassuring. In several speeches Thunberg has rightly thrown shade at “economic growth” as a hinderance, not a help, to a climate stability. But not only is Obama a booster of capitalist growth, he is an unrepentant booster of fossil fuel extraction. “[US oil] production went up every year I was in office,” Obama boasted to a university audience less than a year before meeting Thunberg. “Suddenly America is the largest producer of oil! That was me, people.” The Environmental Integrity Project has reported that this oil and gas boom eliminates all of the net emission reductions which had been achieved through US coal plant closings. Greta declared she didn’t want any more pacifying doses of political “hope”, yet she’s embraced the most slippery merchant of hope in modern political history.

    In his lifetime, Martin Luther King ‘s alliance with Nelson Rockefeller, one of his top funders, was often looked upon dimly. As Timothy Tyson demonstrated in his classic book Radio Free Dixie, Rockefeller and King worked in concert to suppress the radical but popular North Carolina leader Robert F. Williams, who advocated for armed self-defense against the KKK. King once claimed that Governor Rockefeller had ‘‘a real grasp and understanding of what the Negro revolution is all about, and a commitment to its goals.’’ The governor’s subsequent order of the worst state massacre of African-Americans in US history at Attica prison (“a beautiful operation” Rockefeller later boasted to Richard Nixon) and his authorship of some of the most racist drug laws in the country (a blueprint for the New Jim Crow) revealed a different agenda.

    Rockefeller MLK large

    During this time of year, the left often praises King for his anti-capitalism, but history shows that MLK’s turn to radicalism was hard won. “In some ways,” Michael Eric Dyson has written, “King’s change was even more startling and consequential than Malcolm X’s…what is little appreciated is how…an element of Malcolm’s thinking got its hooks into King.” Pre-1965, King was a public supporter of US foreign policy and capitalism who preferred to rely on traditional political maneuvers, even as he supposedly represented a movement built on direct action (MLK scholar Clayborne Carson notes that the reverend did not initiate the bus boycott, the sit-ins, or the Freedom Rides, and only participated in them reluctantly). This gradually changed due to relentless criticism and pressure put on King by militant activists associated with SNCC.  “His antiwar activity was motivated as much by moral and political pressure from key black colleagues as by conscience and commitment to nonviolence,” notes Dyson. King’s moderate tendencies had come from his association with Rockefeller and other One Percenters, who were supporters of the Vietnam War. One scholar does credit “King’s deft leveraging of power” in the relationship, but also notes that Rockefeller leveraged MLK expertly for political capital.

    Leveraging political capital explains much about Greta Thunberg’s counterintuitive relationship with the World Economic Forum. Greta, of course, made a famous “impromptu” speech to the WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland on January 24, 2019. She was credited by many commenters with making oligarchs feel “uncomfortable” by calling out people who are “making unimaginable amounts of money” from the destruction of the climate. Yet there’s substantial evidence that the Forum establishment wasn’t made uncomfortable at all, but welcomed the spectacle of dissent: A full day before Thunberg’s speech, the WEF was promoting a video of her speaking essentially the same words on their Twitter feed. In the months since, the WEF has not only not blacklisted the activist, but has praised her and welcomed her back.

    Why would the World Economic Forum accept such a critique of itself? Because youthful, angry dissent against 21st century capitalism was not pioneered by Greta Thunberg. Indeed, in comparison with the riotous blockades that progressives and anarchists once launched against the WEF, being scolded by a lone 16 year old was a veritable picnic. “Swiss police have mounted their biggest security operation in decades to try to prevent protesters from disrupting the conference.” reported the Los Angeles Times in January 2001. “Four cars were set on fire during protests in Zurich by up to 1,000 demonstrators after many were prevented by police from traveling to Davos. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber pellets.” The goal of these protests was abolition, not institutional reform: their slogan was “Wipe out the WEF!” European street militancy declined in the post-9-11 years, but has more recently surged again, including in relation to environmentalism. The 2015 Paris climate summit saw hundreds of green insurgents try to storm the conference area, even after a a state of emergency was imposed on the city. The upcoming generation of climate radicals will be diverted from taking such direct action however—Greta is already at the conferences to represent them. Within the overall context of the climate movement (which includes long-term blockades at Standing Rock and Unist’ot’en British Columbia, as well as insurrections against capital) even Thunberg’s “Friday for Future” strikes represent a clear de-escalation; a step forward only if you value quantity above quality.

    Much as Nelson Rockefeller sought to “save capitalism by softening its sharpest edges”, the founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, is now in the process of rebranding the earth-devouring global economy as “Stakeholder Capitalism.” According WEF documents, Schwab has had this agenda in place since the first Davos meeting in 1971, but he explicitly attributes its recent advance to what he calls the “Greta Thunberg effect.”

    While J. Edgar Hoover and the far-right wielded the stick of the Red Scare against the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the center-right of Rockefeller and other foundation oligarchs wielded the carrot of patronage for MLK. Yet the reform proffered by One Percent is not an alternative to revolution—It’s an antidote to it. As in Dr. King’s era, the establishment is now in full co-optation mode: One half of the elite is pushing against change, while the other half—again led by Rockefeller progeny, who fund Greta allies such as the group 350.org—is pushing for it. But despite the rhetoric, it’s only change on capitalist terms. It will take ruthless criticism of those charismatic leaders held up to represent us if we wish to correct the ship towards true revolt and true justice.

    The Price of Putting a Price on Nature

    “Our oceans are worth at least $24 trillion, according to a new WWF report Reviving the Ocean Economy

    Medium

    “The Price of Putting a Price on Nature”

    September 29, 2019

    By Alexa Firmenich

    Lacandon teenager, gazing at the Metzabok lake which has since gone dry // Alexa Firmenich

    “The economic benefit of the rainforest if it’s conserved is $8.2 billion a year”

    I read these sentences, and many similar ones frequenting headlines today, and I endear us to pause and consider their implications. Consider how this information actually makes you feel. Does knowing how much the oceans are worth evoke genuine care in you? I ask because when I care, my heart beats harder in my chest. When I “care”, I feel warmth, vitality, excitement, potential. When I care, my actions arise from a place deep within — the only place that sustains authentic long-term action. I don’t want my care to arise from an economic calculation of trade-offs.

    I want to care because I actually care about the ocean.

    The moment that my care has a price tag on it, I can be bought. What happens if the equation is subsequently calculated differently, and fish are now worth more dead than alive? What effect would that have on my care? What actions would that then justify?

    If our civilisation and our leaders depend on the above metrics to convince us to protect the oceans — if we are even asking whether a forest is worth more alive or cut down — we are asking the wrong question in the first place.

    Is our highest human potential really the ability to keep a forest on a life support machine just enough so that we can keep harvesting its organs appropriately to fuel our human world? Or, is our highest potential found in the myriad of ways we can collectively imagine how to live with that forest in right relationship, asking ourselves constantly how we can help enable the forest to thrive and evolve in all its splendour?

    The outcome may look the same on the surface — the forest stays in the ground and trees don’t get cut down — but the guiding intention and energy behind both actions couldn’t be further apart.

    It is to this intention I am called to draw attention to.

    We should strive to be fully aware of the real motivations for doing what we do. Let’s not fool ourselves. The current breakdown in our systems is not really about short term versus long term profits, nor whether our cost benefit analyses accurately capture natural capital. It is not about shareholder versus stakeholder value, Business for Good or What is Our Purpose. These things are important, part of our journey, yes, but what is hurting lies a few layers underneath.

    The real question for me is whether human beings have the right to put a price, a cap and trade, a bond or a derivative, on Nature and other sentient beings — ever. Is it in our place to put a price the joy of our children, as their faces light up in rapture watching a wave crashing on the beach or an eagle hunting at sunset? On the chorus of songbirds that rouse us from a summer slumber as a faint breeze tousles our blankets? On a forest so alive that to walk through it makes your very skin tingle with the crackling of dry leaves and the smell of pine?

    I’ll state it simply. Nature never has been and never will be ours to own and measure, and as long as we continue do so, it is us who will pay a steep price. The world that exists ‘out’ there, right out there where the concrete breaks away, right there where the wet earth and vines tumble out, ‘out’ there, that world is of such exquisite and beatific complexity that it will forever defy human measurement. And Thankfully. No matter how well-intentioned our attempts to instrumentalise and quantify it, to reduce Nature’s complexity is to enter into dangerous territory. Let’s not mistake the woods for the trees.

    And let’s remember, that when we debase someone or something, it is ourselves we debase.

    Somehow, we have to make room and allow in for this other form of “care” that arises from deep within. Somehow, we must rediscover it, ready to come alive to pour through our veins. We must remember what we already know. I say we must, because otherwise we will forever be incomplete. I still believe with all my heart that every single person on the planet knows this care. The reduction of everything to objectified measurement is only part of our story. The question is not carbon credits or fossil fuel mitigation. Even if we succeed in staying under ‘two degrees’, let’s not stop there and rest on our laurels considering the book written. Something else is profoundly wrong in our relationship with the living world and those pages are still to be written.

    Some might say that over time, utilitarian values crystallise into core life values. I don’t necessarily agree and history shows us otherwise. All I know is that I am much too heartbreakingly in love with this world not to at least try to push the edges of what I think is possible in our dormant potential to truly care.

    [Alexa Firmenich is the co-founder of Atlas Unbound // Journeys into the Wild, Systems Thinking & Regeneration, Weaving Stories and Paradigms // www.alexafirmenich.com ]

     

    A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

    A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign

    October 6, 2019

    By Cory Morningstar

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

    “To even embark on a strategy of rebuilding and realization-to renew a liberating vision of justice and human rights – we must be clear about the strengths of state power and be prepared to defend ourselves against that power. The repressive apparatus is powerful, with its fingers stretched into every crevice or crack in the state’s hegemony it can find.”

     

    — Marilyn Buck

     

    “They put your mind right in a bag, and take it wherever they want.”

     

    — Malcolm X

     

    We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

    We Mean Business, April 2019 Newsletter

     

    We must learn how the unprecedented wealth accumulation among the very few ends up protected by layers and layers of moneyed social institutions co-ordinating to perpetuate the system, while progressively oppressive financial pressure and state violence against the already oppressed keep herding people into the capitalist framework. When we face the sad reality of the public embracing policies that allow the powerful minorities to exploit and subjugate them over and over, what we need is not a popular mobilization guided by vague slogans easily subsumed by the imperial framework. Such a method would lead to draconian enforcement of corporate “solutions” according to their definition of “problems”. It is a recipe for bringing about a fascist order. What we need is openness and willingness to learn how we are domesticated by the authoritarian framework so that the actions are guided by the interests of the people in forming a society that allows our true liberation in a mutually respectful and harmonious manner.”

    — Hiroyuki Hamada, artist

     

    On August 20, 2018, Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time posted the “lonely girl” tweet. The tweet featured Greta Thunberg. This was the first day of her climate strike. She sat on a sidewalk and said nothing beside a sign. Just two months prior, social media accounts had been created in her name. Rentzhog, whose tech corporation is partnered with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, tagged five Twitter accounts: Greta Thunberg, Zero Hour (youth movement), Jamie Margolin (the teenage founder of Zero Hour), Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and the People’s Climate Strike Twitter account.

    The third person to respond to Rentzhog’s tweet was We Mean Business co-founder Callum Grieve. Grieve responded to Greta with a personal message adding the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime. We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019] The founding partners of We Mean Business are BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), and the WBCSD. Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution. To save a global economic system teetering on collapse.

    September 22, 2019: "Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy", We Mean Business Twitter account

    September 22, 2019: “Rebooting the entire world and creating a new economy”, We Mean Business Twitter account

     

    The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

    The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business. July 19, 2018, #WeDontHaveTime hashtag, tagged: This Is Zero Hour

     

    Grieve is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling. He created Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group which launched in 2009. He has also coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies. He also manages the Every Breath Matters campaign founded by Christiana Figueres, the former UNFCCC executive secretary credited with the Paris Agreement.

    In response to the Thunberg tweet, Grieve added the following accounts to Rentzhog’s original tweet: The Climate Museum, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”.

    [Further reading: ACT IV: They Mean Business]

    Suffice to say that tweet was code for “it’s started”. Covered by media on day one, within 12 days Thunberg would be featured in The Guardian. The rest is history.

    The NGOs and foundations learned how to “herd cats” successfully for the People’s Climate March in September 2014, but never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that in September 2019 they would so easily herd millions.

    September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

    September 30, 2019: We Mean Business Post-Climate Week Newsletter

     

    On September 25, 2019, the United Nations answered the global strikes with the call for a Global Green New Deal. It is quite fascinating that none of the groups and leading proponents who have mobilized the populace to demand a “Green New Deal” are sharing the UN announcement with the corresponding 201-page report. Perhaps it is because with this report, in which the word “growth” appears 392 times, it will be difficult to convince a populace that this is anything but what it actually is – a desperate attempt to save the global capitalist economic system destroying our planet.

    UN calls for ‘Global Green New Deal’ to boost world economy:

    “In a fresh report, the UN trade, investment and development agency (UNCTAD) called for countries to join forces and enable trillions of dollars in public sector investments to help reboot the global economy… What is needed, he told journalists, is to apply the same ambitious model used in the United States to overcome the Great Depression in the 1930s and apply it “at a global scale”… Looming global recession… UNCTAD’s flagship Trade and Development report painted a bleak picture of the global economic outlook, warning that the world risks slumping into recession next year… Even ignoring the worst downside risks, the report projected that global growth would fall to 2.3 percent this year from 3.0 percent in 2018, cautioning that global recession in 2020 was now “a clear and present danger“. [Emphasis added]

    Even the reference to “climate” within the report is recognized as both a means and justification for global growth. (“A climate for change: The case for a global green expansion”)

    One must wonder when the marchers and strikers will be notified.

     

    “It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

     

    — Malcolm X

     

    Volume I:

    ACT I: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [https://bit.ly/2XkVrTR]

    ACT II: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Youth Co-optation [https://bit.ly/2VibAYp]

    ACT III: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [https://bit.ly/2tBHp2B]

    ACT IV: The House is On Fire! & the 100 Trillion Dollar Rescue [https://bit.ly/2TZyUKd]

    ACT V: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [https://bit.ly/2TZyOlP]

    ACT VI: A Decade of Social Manipulation for the Corporate Capture of Nature [Crescendo] [https://bit.ly/2U7YBbx]

    Addenda I: The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — By Any Means Necessary [https://bit.ly/2kpDDIv]

    Volume I in book form: https://amzn.to/2kV6Jj9

    Volume II:

    An Object Lesson In Spectacle [An introduction to Volume II] [https://bit.ly/2kKLAZc]

    ACT I: A Design to Win — A Multi-Billion Dollar Investment [https://bit.ly/2mjmYXF]

    ACT II: Controlling the Narrative [https://bit.ly/2msdlpP]

    ACT III: To Plunder What Little Remains: It’s Going To Be Tremendous [https://bit.ly/2m61flO]

    ACT IV: They Mean Business [https://bit.ly/2mkPZSP]

    ACT V: The Behavioural Change Project “To Change Everything” [https://bit.ly/2mr3pwL]

    ACT VI: Natural Climate Manipulations [https://bit.ly/2MjT1zZ]

    [ACT VII forthcoming]

     

     

    [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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

    Green-smearing from Nicaragua to Bolivia

    Tortilla con Sal

    September 4, 2019

    “Green-smearing from Nicaragua to Bolivia”

    By Stephen Sefton

     

     

    On one level the intensifying deceit of Western media foreign affairs coverage corresponds to the increasing desperation of Western elites confronting their failing global power and influence. But it also signals yet another crisis of capitalist economic growth. After 1945, North America and Western Europe based their genocidal imperialism on a social compact promising prosperity to their peoples at home in exchange for their collusion in imperialist military aggression and neocolonial crimes overseas. That system operated successfully based on the fundamental neocolonial fiction that Western governments and societies promote freedom, justice and democracy around the world, while doing the very opposite.

    Now, stagnation and recession in the U.S. and its allied countries demand new dimensions to the endless psychological warfare necessary to sustain the basic neocolonial fiction. Psychological warfare in North America and Europe works to create enduring false beliefs generating, over time, permanent false memories, all serving the purposes of Western elite perception management. That is why the authorities in Sweden, Britain and the U.S. elites have been so vengeful and vindictive towards Julian Assange, among innumerable other less high profile victims. Anyone who effectively exposes the big neocolonial lie is met with the sadistic vindictive revenge of the elites they defied.

    A fundamental dimension of contemporary psychological warfare has been dual-purpose corporate co-option of non-governmental organizations. In that psy-warfare dimension, NGOs serve both as disinformation partners with Western news media and too as false interlocutors in international forums and institutions, where they attack governments challenging the U.S. elites and their allies. They actively subvert governments inside countries challenging the West, for example, in Latin America, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But they also pervert due process in institutions like the UN, posing as civil society but in fact serving Western elite corporate imperatives, for example in international human rights and environmental mechanisms and forums.

    Among these NGOs figure high profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and Avaaz along with environmental organizations from 350.org and the World Resource Institute to Global Witness and Greenpeace. An increasing interrelationship has developed between corporate NGO funding and the exploitation of people’s general willingness to volunteer for and support apparently good causes. Symbolic of this is the way World Economic Forum attendees like Kumi Naidoo move readily between top management from one NGO to another, in Naidoo’s case from Greenpeace to Amnesty International. From Libya and Syria to Venezuela and Nicaragua, Amnesty International has played a key role using false reports to demonize governments resisting the U.S. and its allies.

    As Cory Morningstar has pointed out, Greenpeace is a key player in promoting the corporate driven New Deal for Nature aimed at financializing what remains of the natural world, especially its biodiversity, as a way of engineering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Western corporate greed underlies the identical patterns of news media and NGO misrepresentation and outright deceit supporting regime change offensives against Libya and Syria, or Venezuela and Nicaragua. Right now, that very same pattern of media and NGO manipulation is clearly at work preparing for an intervention to prevent Evo Morales being re-elected as President of Bolivia.

    Bruno Sgarzini and Wyatt Reed have noted how Western media and NGOs have falsely attacked Evo Morales blaming him for not controlling the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon. This is exactly what happened in Nicaragua immediately prior to the coup attempt in 2018 when the Nicaraguan authorities were fighting a fire in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. That episode softened up Nicaraguan public opinion and set in motion social media networks involving thousands of youth activists trained for that purpose beforehand over several years with U.S. and also European government funding. In mid-April 2018, barely a week after the Indio Maiz fire was extinguished; those networks launched a social media blitzkrieg of lies and inventions marking the start of the actual coup attempt. A practically identical process is well under way now in Bolivia, which holds presidential elections next October 20th.

    The timing of the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon is extremely propitious from the perspective of the U.S. authorities and their allies. It takes almost two months for the effects to wear off of the initial psy-warfare bitzkrieg of the kind waged against Nicaragua in 2018 and against Brazil’s Worker’s Party as part of Jair Bolsonaro’s successful 2018 election campaign that same year. Bolivia will almost certainly experience the same kind of psy-warfare assault via social media prior to the October elections. The campaign will be timed to optimize the effect of mass false accusations of government wrongdoing and corruption along with false media and NGO claims of security force repression. Opposition activists are likely to exploit peaceful demonstrations on indigenous peoples and environmental issues so as to commit murderous provocations, just as they did in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

    All of these tactics are likely be deployed against Bolivia so as to destroy the current prestige and high levels of support for President Evo Morales. In Bolivia, as in Nicaragua and Venezuela, the governing progressive political movement enjoys around 35-40% core electoral support, the right wing opposition have around 25-30% with 30-40% of voters uncommitted. The Western elites know they need to motivate something over half of those uncommitted voters against Evo Morales so as to get the right wing government they so desperately need in Bolivia to try and make good the unmitigated debacle of Mauricio Macri’s right wing government in Argentina.

    The intensity of any Western media and NGO campaign against Morales is likely to reach similar levels as their cynical campaigns of lies and defamation against Venezuela and Nicaragua. Should that offensive go ahead, as seems probable, the difference will be that this time Evo Morales and his team are alert and unlikely to be taken by surprise as the Nicaraguan authorities were by the vicious, sudden attack against them in April 2018. A likely variation in Bolivia’s case will be a higher profile of environmentalist NGOs working in tandem with their human rights counterparts feeding misrepresentations and downright lies into Western news media. For the U.S. and European Union elites the regional geopolitical stakes are high enough to make an attack on Bolivia imperative.

     

    [Stephen Sefton is a member of the Tortilla con Sal collective based in Nicaragua]

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