Archives

Celebrity [Capitalism | Humanitarianism | Neoliberalism]

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Covid-19: Militarism & Big Money Trampling Humanity [3]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The Covid-19 spectre, vaccine mania, deceptive remedial schemes and brutal, anti-people pandemic responses created by militarism and big money have shoved by the wayside pro-people, more sensible and a wider range of prevention and treatment strategies to address the pandemic. Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the militarist regimes and agencies, with the complicity of the WHO and others in the status quo successfully convinced practically the entire world that a vaccine and submission to authoritarian measures are the only things that will allow the people to “return to normal”. The clear scientific, empirical and historical evidence that the experimental vaccines being pushed are fraught with dangers of severe adverse reactions have been ignored. The criminal and unethical behaviour history of the major vaccine manufacturing companies, the blatant conflicts of interest of mainstream “experts” pushing for mass vaccination and the clearly ineffective militaristic measures that run roughshod over basic human rights are all swept under the rug. Indeed, with this Covid-19 calamity, militarism and big money has been trampling humanity.”

Download paper:

Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampl

https://www.academia.edu/46641943/Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampling_Humanity

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

 

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Should We Take the Vaccine Against Covid-19 [2]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The credibility of the CDC, WHO, public health authorities and mainstream health professionals have been seriously eroded because of corporatization, conflicts of interests, dishonesty, corruption and misrepresentation.  People have good reasons to be wary of vaccines. Too much reliance on vaccines to address infectious diseases is not congruent with the current body of scientific knowledge about the immune system, microbial ecology and the intimate relationship of humans with the environment.”

Download paper:

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Beware the Vaccine for Covid-19 [1]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

 

Albert Einstein

 

TIME double issue, January, 2021

There seems to be a strong presumption that the ultimate answer to the Covid-19 pandemic is a vaccine. People are made to believe that a magical vaccine is in the offing and the world will be saved from the pandemic. Bill Gates and Big Pharma push hard to hasten vaccine development. The WHO and most governments easily agree. Rapid clinical trials  have started and several companies are in the race to put their candidate products on the market. The mainstream media is all hype and bombards the public with glowing pro-vaccine messages, conditioning them to accept vaccination with no questions asked.

Yet, historical and scientific evidence clearly show that vaccines are not the saviours that they are purported to be. Many of the mass vaccination campaigns in the past resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was estimated to be 10%. In 1918-1919 with over 95 percent of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippines’ history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65 percent.  Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health at that time, stated that the smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. In Japan, after compulsory vaccination was mandated, there were 171,611 smallpox cases with 47,919 deaths recorded between 1889 and 1908, a case mortality of 30 percent, exceeding the smallpox death rate of the pre-vaccination period. In England and Wales, between 1934 and 1961, not one death from natural smallpox infection was recorded, and yet during this same period, 115 children under 5 years of age died as a result of the smallpox vaccination. The situation was just as bad in the USA where 300 children died from the complications of smallpox vaccine from 1948 to 1969. Yet during that same period there was not one reported case of smallpox in the country (1).

January 28, 2019, Twitter: Scientists from @imperialcollege presented a session at #Davos on 'developing a #vaccine revolution'

January 28, 2019, Twitter: Scientists from @imperialcollege presented a session at #Davos on ‘developing a #vaccine revolution’

 

Similar disastrous results also happened with the polio vaccine. The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections (2) with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis, was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by fund raising advertising campaigns to fast track development and approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter (3). The hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster”, the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with live polio virus contained in the Cutter vaccine; 70,000 developed muscle weakness, 164 were severely paralyzed, 10 were killed. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives (4). When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole (5).

Over the years, several scientists and concerned medical doctors and professionals have questioned the efficacy of several vaccines and have warned repeatedly on the significant risks associated with vaccination (6,7,8,9). Despite the fact that vaccines do stimulate the production of specific antibodies, vaccines may in fact be destroying the coordinated and total immune system response to an infection, contrary to what has been claimed that vaccines strengthen the immune system. Several studies have shown the adverse effects of various types of vaccines on the immune system of vaccinated individuals and clinical studies have shown an increase in the incidence of serious illnesses following vaccination. Many of these illnesses may manifest only much later and by then, the vaccine may not even be suspected as a causative factor (10,11,12,13,14).

More distressing is the fact that authorities often knew about the significant adverse effects of vaccines but instead of correcting their flawed assessment of vaccine safety, they manipulate results to conform to their predetermined conclusion of safety. An illustrative example is what happened at the US CDC (US Center for Disease Control) Simpsonwood Conference, where a study by Verstraeten and colleagues that looked at the potential associations between neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and thimerosal among children born from 1992 to 1999 was discussed. Thimerosal appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in neurological disorders among children, such as speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the CDC opted to cover up the damaging data.(15)

A congressional committee hearing later concluded, among others, that:

1.”Manufacturers of vaccines and thimerosal, have never conducted adequate testing on the safety of thimerosal. The FDA has never required manufacturers to conduct adequate safety testing on thimerosal and ethylmercury compounds.”

2.“A growing number of scientists and researchers believe that a relationship between the increase in neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and speech or language delay, and the increased use of thimerosal in vaccines is plausible and deserves more scrutiny.”

3.”The FDA and the CDC failed in their duty to be vigilant as new vaccines containing thimerosal were approved and added to the immunization schedule.(16)

The Dengvaxia vaccine fiasco in the Philippines also illustrates the danger of rushing a vaccine and allowing corporate interests driven by market forces to address people’s health needs. Despite the obvious lack of scientific and commonsensical justification and despite the warnings of potential adverse effects articulated by many independent scientists, the manufacturer pushed hard for the approval and use of their product. Together with their cohorts in government, medical associations and the WHO, they promoted the vaccine based on premature claims of efficacy and safety from their own flawed studies. As a result, many of the vaccinated suffered or died after a botched mass vaccination program.(17)  The vaccine was eventually withdrawn but the damage have already been done. According to the Chief Pathologist of the Public Attorney’s Office, 153 of those vaccinated with Dengvaxia had died as of February 18, 2020 (18).

Another example of corporate misconduct in vaccine clinical trial is that involving vaccine manufacturers who used phony placebos to conceal a wide range of health risks associated with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccines. A peer-reviewed report in 2017 unveiled evidence of numerous adverse events, including life-threatening injuries, permanent disabilities, hospitalizations and deaths, reported after vaccination with bivalent, quadrivalent or nine-valent HPV vaccines. Instead of using genuine inert placebos and comparing health impacts over observation periods required for most new drug approvals, two of the biggest vaccine manufacturers spiked their placebos with a neurotoxic aluminum adjuvant and cut observation periods. The company scientists routinely dismissed, minimized or concealed those injuries using statistical gimmicks and invalid comparisons designed to diminish their relative significance. Equally disturbing is that some regulatory agencies are complicit in covering up increased incidence of adverse effects in post-marketing surveillance studies.(19, 20)

Safety have never been satisfactorily demonstrated for practically all vaccines routinely given today using the gold standard research methodology, a double-blind,  randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial study. Current safety assessments under the corporate dominated status quo are grossly inadequate and oftentimes erroneous. In fact, it can be argued that most clinical trials undertaken in support of approved vaccines are violative of the ethical principles  for medical research involving human subjects as stipulated in the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki(21).  In the United States, there is not a single vaccine routinely injected into American babies between 6 months and 18 months of life that was licensed based on a clinical trial which included a placebo-control group (22).The same situation is most likely true for the Philippines and many other countries who follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the US CDC and WHO.

The truth about the hazards of vaccination seem to have been buried  in the past. The bitter lessons of history fall by the wayside in the mad rush to develop a new vaccine, this time for the Covid-19 virus. Barely a few months after the presumed discovery of the new virus, clinical trials have already started (23), too fast for comfort.  Vaccine development normally takes about 2 years before the vaccine can be ready for testing in humans and another 8 years before clinical trials can be completed. Despite the rigorous requirements, numerous problems still arise regarding safety and efficacy.  During the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it took about 20 months before a vaccine was made ready for human testing in clinical trials. Some researchers, including many of the experts who gathered at a WHO meeting to review testing procedures at that time said it was too fast. Still in question was the best animal to use to test the safety and efficacy of a SARS vaccine since without a good animal test, human trials could be dangerous. In particular, some vaccine developers were worried that the vaccine might actually “enhance” the pathogenicity of the virus, or make it more aggressive possibly due to antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), as what happened with previous studies on test vaccines in animals. If that should happen in a major human trial, these scientists warned, the outcome could be disastrous. (24,25,26,27) There are many plausible biological mechanisms for potential adverse effects due to vaccination. Triggering an  antibody dependent enhancement or similar mechanism is just one. Synergistic harmful effects, especially to the immune system, due to concomitant exposure to other vaccines is another. Exposure to other environmental hazards (pesticides, air pollutants, 5G radiation, ionizing radiation, etc.) resulting to synergistic adverse effects is also another plausible mechanism that may result in acute or long-term injury, including death.  Another concern is that vaccine production methods involving genetic engineering technology and cell cultures that are often contaminated carry uncertain but potentially serious hazards. The inherent danger of injecting microbial protein fragments, contaminants, DNA and other foreign materials into the human body is well documented in the scientific literature.  All vaccines contain such hazardous foreign fragments and materials. Quite recently, a team of scientists found significant amounts of organic and inorganic contaminants debris in 44 types of vaccines, including micro- and nano-sized particulate matter composed of inorganic chemicals, metals and combination elements not previously known and which are neither biocompatible nor biodegradable (28).  More importantly, social determinants resulting to poor nutrition, overcrowding, poor sanitation and hygiene, unsafe working conditions, emotional stress, among others, can make vaccines more hazardous than they already are. All these hazards surrounding vaccination should not be ignored. All the potential adverse effects of a Covid-19 vaccine cannot possibly be detected adequately by limited clinical trials.

The reductionist thinking behind the vaccination dogma is woefully outmoded. It is more than a century old, coincident with the equally outmoded reductionist germ theory of disease. At that time, there was barely an understanding of the infinitely complex nature and behaviour of the immune system, interrelationships of humans, microbes and environment, social determinants and other factors that are too numerous to mention. There was no realization that viruses and other microbes are largely friends and have been playing a significant role in the evolution and survival of all life forms in our entire ecosystem (29,30).  Microbes and their elements are in fact essential components of the human biological entity and perform critical physiologic functions that maintain homeostasis and a robust immune system (31,32). Rather than cultivating harmony and co-existence, the power elite institutions and their agents have declared these microbes as mortal enemies that deserve to be eliminated. The prevailing medical paradigm failed to recognize that illness is in fact a disruption of the harmony between humans and their physical, chemical, biological, spiritual and social environment (33). Thus, the distorted, corporate-controlled medical science have pushed for mass vaccinations with the aim of total elimination of target microbes.

Authorities have consistently covered-up the truth about the adverse effects of vaccination and have greatly exagerrated potential benefits. Independent scientists and physicians who question the official narrative about vaccines are immediately vilified and persecuted. Victims of vaccination are denied recognition and  justice. Pharmaceutical companies and their cohorts are made unaccountable and continue to profit from the sales of harmful vaccines. The industry dominated research agenda deliberately avoids looking at the true picture of vaccine efficacy and safety by avoiding studies of such nature that would really test the safety and efficacy of the entire immunization schedule. This glaring gap in the body of scientific  research on vaccines also underscores the importance of truly independent research which has long been neglected by governments and international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The question of safety, however, should be foremost in the minds of program implementors, policy makers and those who influence them, including international organizations. It is unacceptable on both ethical and scientific grounds to rush a potentially dangerous invasive intervention on the population no matter how good the intentions are.

We must take a more rational, holistic and participatory approach in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. A knee-jerk, reductionist, autocratic  and vested-interest laden solution does not serve people’s health and only aggravate the dire situation. It is essential that the true origin and characteristics of the Covid-19 virus be studied well. Official explanations of the origin of Covid-19 and existing modalities on how to manage it are fundamentally flawed. Preventive measures to forestall future pandemics are based largely on flawed assumptions. Benefits are magnified while risks are trivialized. In the assessment of risks, the precautionary principle should be the norm. Resources spent on community-based, public health participatory approaches in pandemic control are more rational and much less dangerous than haphazard lockdowns and expensive vaccination programs. Comprehensive measures to effectively address social inequity, poverty and poor diet, the main factors that compromise the immune system and make people susceptible to severe Covid-19 disease must be earnestly pursued. Environmental toxins, pharmaceuticals and other factors that also compromise the immune system and the capacity of the people to withstand the infection must also be addressed. Alternative medicine approaches, including expanded research in the management of cases must also be seriously considered.

The real cause of the Covid-19 pandemic is human folly. This is the inevitable consequence of the dominance of a neoliberal, national security state doctrine with a military-industrial complex pushing for perpetual war and corporate globalization that has devastated entire ecosystems, distorted medical science and disempowered communities. What is called for is discernment, rationality, courage and empowerment. The real solution is for the people to unite and muster the courage to confront cognitive dissonance and attain emancipative consonance. For health professionals, acclaimed heroes as they are in valiantly trying to save people drowning down the pandemic river, they must start looking upriver and find out who is throwing those unfortunate people into the pandemic river in the first place.

“If a problem we encounter today already happened in the past, we must think carefully about what really happened in the past and go beyond what we were made to believe. Only when we truly understand the problem can we come up with the correct solution to the problem at hand.”

RFQ

References:

(1). Sinclair, I. Smallpox True History.

http://www.cidpusa.org/true_history_of_smallpox.htm

(2). Hecht, A., Ed. (2009) Deadly Diseases and Epidemics: Polio 2nd Edition, p. 19. Infobase Publishing.

(3). Humphries, S. & Bystrianyk, R.. (2014). Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten

History. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

(4). Offit, P. (2006, March). The Cutter Incident: How America’s First PolioVaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis.

           Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 99.

(5). Miller, N.Z, (2004). The polio vaccine: a critical assessment. Medical Veritas 1:239–251.

(6). Committee on the Effects of Multiple Immunizations, National Research Council. (1980, January). Effects of

           Long-term Immunization with Multiple Antigens: Final Report. U.S.Army Medical Research

and Development Command. Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21701.

(7). Institute of Medicine, (2012). Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Washington,

DC: The National Academies Press.

https://doi.org/10.17226/13164

(8). Conte, L. & Lyons, T. (2014). Vaccine Injuries: Documented Adverse Reactions to Vaccines.

Skyhorse Publishing.

(9). Palmer, A. (2019, August 15). Truth Will Prevail, 1200 Vaccine Studies, Version 2.4

(10). Stratton K, Wilson CB and McCormick MC, Editors.(2002). Immunization Safety Review: Multiple

Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction. Immunization Safety Review Committee, Board on

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press.

Washington, D.C.2002.

(11). Kemp, T., Pearce, N., Fitzharris, P., et al. (1997). Results of the Christchurch Health and

              Development Study. Epidemiology, 8:678.

(12). Sutter, R.W., Patriarca, P.A., Suleiman, A.J.M. et al. (1992). Attributable risk of DTP (diphtheria and

              tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine) injection in provoking paralytic poliomyelitis during a

              large outbreak in Oman. Journal of Infectious Disease, 165:444-449.

(13). Nakayama, T., Urano, T., Osano, M., et al. (1988). Long-term regulation of interferon production by

             lymphocytes from children inoculated with live measles virus vaccine. Journal of Infectious

Diseases, 158:1386-1390.

(14). Shoenfeld, Y., Agmon?Levin, Tomljenovic, N-L. Eds.(2015)

Vaccines and Autoimmunity. Wiley Blackwell.

(15). Kennedy, R-Jr. Global Research (2015, February 14). Vaccinations: Deadly Immunity.

             Government Cover-up of a Mercury/Autism Scandal.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/vaccinations-deadly-immunity/14510

(16). Burton, D., (2003, May 21).  Mercury in Medicine Report.Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness,

Committee on Government Reform.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-2003-05-21/html/CREC-2003-05-21-pt1-

PgE1011-3.htm

(17). Quijano, R.F., Altermidya (2018, January 10). The Dengvaxia Fiasco: Symptom of a Deeper

             Malady.

The Dengvaxia Fiasco: Symptom of a Deeper Malady

(18). Erfe, E., Facebook post (2020, February 18). Dengvaxia victim No. 153.

httphttps://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-2003-05-21/html/CREC-2003-05-21-pt1-

s://www.facebook.com/attyerwinerfe/

(19). Kennedy, R-Jr., Childrens Health Defense (2017, August 11). New study: Vaccine

             Manufacturers and FDA Regulators Used Statistical Gimmicks to Hide Risks of HPV Vaccines.

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/new-study-vaccine-manufacturers-fda-regulators-used-

statistical-gimmicks-hide-risks-hpv-vaccines/

(20). Martínez-Lavín, M., Amezcua-Guerra, L.(2017). Serious adverse events after HPV vaccination: a

           critical review of randomized trials and post-marketing case series. Clin Rheumatol.

36(10):2169-2178.  doi: 10.1007/s10067-017-3768-5.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28730271

(21). WMA Declaration of Helsinki(2013) Ethical principles for medical research involving human

subjects.

https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-of-helsinki-ethical-principles-for-medical-

research-involving-human-subjects/

(22). Informed Consent Action Network  (ICAN) (2018, December 31) Reply Re: HHS Vaccine Safety

Responsibilities and Notice Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-31

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/ican-reply-december-31-2018.pdf

(23). Terry, M. (2020, April 07). The hopes and challenges of a COVID-19 vaccine. Biospace.

https://www.biospace.com/article/the-covid-19-vaccine-challenge-timelines-and-innovation/

(24). Tseng, C-T., Sbrana, E., Iwata-Yoshikawa, N., Newman, P.C., Garron, T., et al. (2012)

Immunization with SARS coronavirus vaccines leads to pulmonary immunopathology on

            challenge with the SARS virus. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35421. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035421.

(25). Bolles, M.,Deming, D.,Long,K., Agnihothram,S., Whitmore,A. Ferris,M.,Gralinski,L., Totura,A.,

Heise,M., Ralph S. Baric, R.S., (2011, December). A double-inactivated Severe Acute

            Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus vaccine provides incomplete protection in mice and induces

            increased eosinophilic proinflammatory pulmonary response upon challenge.  J Virol.

            85(23):12201-12215.  doi:10.1128/JVI.06048-11

(26). Weingartl, H., Czub, M., Czub, S., Neufeld, J., Marszal, P., Gren, J., et al. (2004). Immunization

             with modified vaccinia virus Ankara-based recombinant vaccine against severe acute

             respiratory syndrome is associated with enhanced hepatitis in ferrets. J Virol. 78:12672–6.

(27). Marshall, E., Enserink, M. (2004,February 13). Caution urged on SARS vaccines. Science

303(5660):944-946.  DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5660.944

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/303/5660/944

(28). Gatti, A.M., Montanari, S., (2016) New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines:

            Micro- and Nanocontamination. Int J Vaccines Vaccin 4(1):0072

(29). Durzy?ska, J. & Go?dzicka-Józefiak, A. (2015). Viruses and cells intertwined since the dawn of evolution. Durzy?ska

           and Go?dzicka-Józefiak Virology Journal. 12:169 DOI 10.1186/s12985-015-0400-7

(30). Arnold, C. (2016, September 29).  The Viruses That Made Us Human. NOVA Next.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/endogenous-retroviruses/

(31). Broeker, F. & Moelling, K. (2019) Evolution of Immune Systems From Viruses and Transposable

           Elements. Front. Microbiol. 10:51. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00051.

(32). Villarreal, P. (2009, October 15) Genetic Parasites and the Origin of Adaptive Immunity. Annals of

the New York Academy of Sciences.

(33). Quijano, R. Health and Environment: The Intimate Connection.

https://www.academia.edu/4516041/HEALTH_environment_Intimate_Connection_with_Diagram_Rev

 

—000—

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [Part I]

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [Part I]

October 28, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part one of a three-part investigative series. [Part 2] [Part 3]

 

Introduction by Michael Swifte, WKOG collective:

 

“The ruling class, with full knowledge of the technocratic plans being implemented, have fashioned a false narrative of our unpleasant choices in living with ever expanding digital ‘social’ networks and the force that is exercised by those who control the ‘social’. Klaus Schwab sits at the refashioned locus of globalist power, the helm at which the captains of stakeholder capitalism command and refashion the consumer economy, accelerated under lockdowns, amplified by the control and manipulation of data and the production of fear. Here Cory Morningstar in her usual richly detailed fashion illustrates the extensive networks and interrogates the heavily constructed statements that signify the growing political will for the management of global populations under the banner of the ‘great reset’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Imagine the feeling of the strands of a fishing net being pulled ever more tightly against your skin. Now imagine that there is only one way for you and the shoal of which you are a part to escape. Morningstar shows that technology will not deliver efficiencies or reduce consumption, but rather, like highways that continue to widen, they will only bring further destruction and demand on resources.”

 

 

The Social Dilemma Documentary

Released by Netflix on September 9, 2020, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” was, in extremely short order, trending on the streaming platform. The Social Dilemma became a social contagion, highlighted by media outlets across the spectrum, including Forbes. On September 18, 2020, The Independent praised the film as “the most important documentary of our times”. On October 21, 2020, it was reported that 38 million Netflix subscribers had viewed the film.

Other words for dilemma include “predicament”, “quandary”, “plight”, “bind” and “embarrassment”.

The film is described by Netflix as a “documentarydrama hybrid explor[ing] the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.” Yet, in today’s world of foundation-funded film and media, what is not disclosed, is more often than not, far more important than what is. Such is the case with The Social Dilemma.

“A compilation of interviews, interspersed with a fictional film, this documentary is not as effective as it wanted to be, and definitely not as informative as it should be.”

 

Sept 9, 2020, The Social Dilemma On Netflix Review: Doesn’t Say More Than You Already, Probably, Know On Addiction, Social Media, And Civil War

With capitalism destroying the planet, the false premise of “stakeholder capitalism” has been rolled out via media channels in order to permeate the public psyche. This can be more aptly described as a rebranding, marketing strategy. The goal being for the corporatocracy, insulated by the ruling class, to retain the social licence required, to continue their plunder of the planet. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution unleashed against a “growing public backlash against technology“, recognized as both a threat and hurdle by the World Economic Forum (January 16, 2018), one must contemplate if The Social Dilemma is to inhumane technology what “stakeholder capitalism” is to inhumane capitalism. An assurance of protection against harm that cannot be negotiated – in order to mitigate concern and quell dissent. In order to build and maintain the acquiescence of the global citizenry. And the answer to such contemplation, is – yes.

Let’s begin.

 

Center for Humane Technology, formerly called “Time Well Spent”

“Never before has a small sector had so much power over the entire World, to monitor the present and predict future behaviours of not just individuals, but entire populations. The problem is more alarming when we consider how the public and private sectors are merging in joint ventures in a quest for global domination, penetrating every government, every citizen movement, mediating every action in every connected person’s life through digital devices and data collection.”

 

July, 2018, Defining the problem: digital colonialism and technological feuds

Consider the documentary’s protagonist and driving force Tristan Harris, who made Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list in 2018. In November 2011, Google acquired the Apture start-up founded by Harris for an undisclosed amount thought to be between 10-20 million USD. At this same time, Harris took the position of project manager at Google. In April 2013, Google would assign Harris the new title of “Design Ethicist & Product Philosopher.” In 2013, while working for Google (Harris would work for Google from November 2011 to January 2016), Harris and Aza Raskin (interface designer and entrepreneur, Forbes 30 Under 30, 2012), co-founded “Time Well Spent”, a term coined by Harris with social scientist Joe Edelman. James Williams and filmmaker Max Stossel (named by Forbes as one of the best storytellers of the year, 2016), are also co-founders of Time Well Spent. Stossel’s clients include Caterpillar, a gross violator of human rights, for its #TogetherStronger campaign, and National Geographic (a leading entity in the charge to monetize the planet’s “ecosystem services”). Prior to co-founding the Time Well Spent campaign, Williams worked at Google for over a decade, receiving the Founder’s Award, the corporation’s highest honour, for his work on search advertising and tools. Following the founding of Time Well Spent, on December 1, 2014 Harris would deliver a talk at TED Brussels.

“Harris hopes that companies will offer a healthier alternative to the current diet of tech junk food—perhaps at a premium price.”

 

— The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

On July 26, 2017, Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief at *WIRED, would publish an interview with Harris discussing Time Well Spent. This same day, *TED media would simultaneously release a TED talk by Harris recorded in April, 2017. Also in 2017, (April 7), Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris. This same day, Thrive Global would announce the upcoming appearance of Harris, on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper which took place on April 9, 2017.

[*Here we can add that Peter Schwartz, scenario mastermind for Rockefeller, Shell, World Economic Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense, etc., serving as Senior Vice President Strategic Planning for Salesforce, invested in Wired at its inception. Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, and the inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. TED is owned and curated by Chris Anderson, spouse of Jacqueline Novogratz, named by Forbes as one of “100 Greatest Living Business Minds” in 2017, founder and CEO of Acumen investments, and a pioneer of social impact investing.]

“Harris hopes to create a Time Well Spent certification—akin to the leed seal or an organic label—that would designate software made with those values in mind.”

 

The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

 

“For many entrepreneurs, this epiphany has come with age, children, and the peace of mind of having several million in the bank.”

 

Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0

 

January 25, 2018, Davos, “Future Shocks: Rogue Technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”: “Nicholas Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired Magazine; Marcus Souza, Secretary of Innovation and New Business, Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Service of Brazil; Feng Zhang, James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Mary Cummings, Director, Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL), Duke University; Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce; Peter Thomson, United Nations Special Envoy for the Ocean” [Source: Salesforce]

January 26, 2016, Tristan Harris, Thrive Global, on Medium. On April 7, 2017, Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris.

January 26, 2016, Tristan Harris, Thrive Global, on Medium. On April 7, 2017, Thrive Global, launched five months prior by media mogul Arianna Huffington, would publish its first two Time Well Spent articles on its website, authored by Harris.

 

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

 

July 28, 2017, Ruslan Tovbulatov citing Thrive partnership with Harris.

July 28, 2017, Ruslan Tovbulatov citing Thrive partnership with Harris.

 

Rusian Tovbulatov, Chief Marketing Officer, Thrive Global, July 28, 2017

Rusian Tovbulatov, Chief Marketing Officer, Thrive Global, July 28, 2017

 

The simultaneous TED and WIRED media coverage would amplify the increasing exposure, catapulting Harris – along with the “Time Well Spent movement” into the spotlight. Approximately six months later, on February 4, 2018, Time Well Spent was renamed the Center for Humane Technology (CHT). (The Time Well Spent Twitter account has remained inactive since February 12, 2018.)

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

 

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

 

On May 23, 2018, Harris attended the Tech for Good summit in Paris, at the invitation of President Macron. On May 15, 2019, Harris would attend the second Tech for Good summit. Following the very white ensemble of industry leaders and heads of states, just days later, on May 18, 2019, the Yellow Vests anti-government protests across France would commence for the 27th week in a row. Fully demonstrating his aspirations for the good and well-being of citizens, Macron’s riot police would use tear gas and violence to disperse the crowds. [“According to the French Mediapart website, 11 people were killed, five lost their hands due to use of grenades and 23 lost their eyesight. Some 2,000 people were injured at the demonstrations. Of them 268 people suffered head injuries, 15 hand injuries, 64 body injuries, 26 back injuries and 106 leg injuries.”][Source]

The 2020 Tech for Good Summit, organized by Roar Media, will take place on December 3, 2020, in London.

Tech For Good Summit, 2018. Facing Macron, front and centre is Rwandan President and war criminal Paul Kagame. Tristan Harris is in the third row, far left. Source: Présidence de la République française, Tech For Good Summit 2020 Progress Report

“New technology is always disruptive. It kills jobs, creates new ones, and ushers in profound social change. But the breakneck speed and sheer scale of this round of technical change is something else – it threatens the very definition of what it is to be human. We’re being presented with a huge range of ethical dilemmas. How do we get together to agree the rules on things like genetically modified babies, the robots of war, and the algorithms that determine our life chances?”

 

Tech For Good, World Economic Forum website

The Digital Africa initiative was launched by Macron in 2018. [Source] In September 2020, the European Union pressed to push back the elections in socialist Venezuela. This is what colonialism and imperialism look like. Imagine the reaction to a Digital France Initiative – launched by the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani. Imagine the reaction if Venezuela were to demand the European Union push back elections, to meet conditions for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) which would send an observer mission. Yet, the racism that undermines the foundations of a Western society built on white supremacy does not allow for such thoughts.

Here we can add that The Social Dilemma filmmakers have formed a partnership with imperialist NGO Amnesty International. Amnesty International serves as partner to the World Economic Forum “Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative.” [Source] In 2011, Amnesty played a leading role in the annihilation of Libya. Avaaz, another instrument of empire, belonging to the non-profit industrial complex, would also play a leading role. Avaaz and *Purpose, serving many of the most powerful corporations and institutions on the planet, create emotive campaigns for climate change, while serving as instruments for war and occupation on targeted sovereign states. The irony that the military is a key driver of both climate change and ecological devastation is seemingly lost on the collective Western citizenry. [*Purpose is the public relations arm of Avaaz, specializing in “public mobilization and storytelling… that can shift policies and change public narratives.”]

"Amnesty has partnered with the filmmakers", Amnesty New Zealand Twitter account

“Amnesty has partnered with the filmmakers”, Amnesty New Zealand Twitter account

 

Center For Humane Technology & Avaaz: "fixing the attention economy"

Center For Humane Technology & Avaaz: “fixing the attention economy”

 

Tristan Harris at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, January 27, 2020

Tristan Harris at the World Economic Forum annual meeting, January 27, 2020

 

With markets in the Global North relatively saturated (with citizenry and state both inundated with debt), the world’s most powerful institutions, amidst a global consolidation of power are seeking to recolonize the Global South. “Tech for Good” is the exponential “scaling up of social transformation in the fourth industrial revolution“, transforming Africa into data colonies that serve the West. Transforming children, people, and all life into data commodities – a new asset class. This is a global behavioural change project, unprecedented in scale, with civil society groups and groomed influencers, having been tasked with replacing societal backlash with social licence.

“Business leaders must think and act differently to find their place in these new digital ecosystems that are creating markets where none currently exist—indeed, innovators put themselves in position to capture part of a $12 trillion market opportunity by 2030”

 

Accenture, [“Accenture has partnered with the World Economic Forum  on researching Globalization 4.0, which is being driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Source]

On May 29, 2019, co-founder of Time Well Spent/Center for Humane Technology, Aza Raskin, became co-chair of the newly established Global Artificial Intelligence Council of the World Economic Forum. This council would represent one of six Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Councils. [May 29, 2019: World Economic Forum Inaugurates Global Councils to Restore Trust in Technology  – “Top decision-makers and experts from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia participate in inaugural Global Fourth Industrial Revolution Council meeting in San Francisco… Five of the G7 countries and more than 100 organisations are officially partnered with the Network to create policy frameworks, pilot them and scale up around the world.”]

“As the capabilities of AI-driven systems have grown beyond automating boring or repetitive tasks, to making decisions that directly impact people’s lives, the fact that many of these systems are still “black-box” leaves people skeptical about the fairness and effectiveness of the algorithms. This deadlock must be broken, or the progress of the last 20 years will grind to a halt.”

 

Technology Vision 2020 | We, the Post-Digital People, Accenture, Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative partner

Time Well Spent/Center for Humane Technology identifies its purpose as “a movement to align technology with our humanity”. Yet, its answer to the inhumanity of tech is to be found in market solutions, within the capitalist framework, which can neither be tamed, nor negotiated. For it itself, is inhumane.

“Time Well Spent” – in Partnership with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

“Thrive Global Is Leading Through The New Normal and Beyond”

 

Thrive Global Website

Those serving capital are well-versed in utilizing framing, emotive imagery, and language as a means to entice a citizenry. Key words being utilized at present, to usher in the full digitalization of the global economy include ‘thrive’, ‘thriving’, ‘reset’, ‘imagine’, ‘imagination’, and ‘build back better‘.

Arianna Huffington

Time Well Spent, marketed as a “movement”, operates in conjunction with Thrive Global. Founded by Arianna Huffington and launched on November 30, 2016, Thrive Global is a behavioural change media and technology venture headquartered in New York with offices in San Francisco, Mumbai, Athens and Melbourne. Thrive Global partnerships include Accenture, JPMorgan Chase and Uber. Huffington serves on many boards including Uber, Global Citizen, and Onex, a private equity firm managing USD 36 billion in assets. Thrive Global investors include founder and CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco, Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group,  member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, World Economic Forum Global Shapers board of directors, Breakthrough Energy Coalition co-founder (with Bill Gates), and the venture firm IVP (“We don’t just know growth; we drive hypergrowth.”) Thrive Global would target an elite bourgeoisie demographic serving as a promotional-marketing platform for venture philanthropy and social impact investing.

“I visited Thrive Global’s pop-up on Broome today. Just beautiful… People are searching for more balance—myself included. That nap room was TO DIE FOR. Shaggy, snuggly, sensational to the senses… I sat on the lower level with a dear friend, in the gray egg chairs for nearly an hour—sipped tea and connected. We so enjoyed it amidst the pressure of Christmas shopping and end of year work demands. I loved hearing your soothing voice and lovely accent coming from the speaker: ‘good night Instagram.'”

 

My Trip To The Thrive Global Pop Up Store, A note from Megan Meany, SAP TV Global Anchor, to Arianna Huffington, December 26, 2016

Par for the course, Indigenous peoples are exploited for the marketing component of Thrive, while in real life Thrive protects and expands the very system responsible for Indigenous genocide that continues to this day. In addition, with Black Lives Matter serving as the new corporate anthem to assist in marketing an illusory “stakeholder capitalism”, images of Black Lives Matter protests also feature on the homepage.

On January 21, 2017, Arianna Huffington “stopped by Thrive’s partner Accenture’s lounge for a conversation on training the workforce of the future and humanising the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution'”. Joining Huffington was the chief leadership and human resources officer of Accenture, partner to the World Economic Forum “Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative, and the CEO of Manpower Group, Jonas Prising. The discussion was moderated by Fortune’s editor-in-chief. [Source]

Thrive Global published its first Time Well Spent article on May 10, 2017. The original Time Well Spent Twitter account has been inactive since February 12, 2018.

On November 29, 2017, Business Wire (owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway) reported that Thrive Global raised USD 30 million “in a series B funding to scale its behavior change corporate and media platform around the world.” The drive was led by IVP, a venture capital and growth equity firm, with Marc Benioff joining the round funding “to dramatically accelerate tech and product growth”.

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

 

Thrive Global Clients

Thrive Global Clients

 

On October 16, 2019, Thrive Global acquired “Boundless Mind”, a neuroscience-based artificial intelligence corporation to power productivity behaviour change. “Led by a team of Neuroscience PhDs, Behavioral Scientists, and AI Experts, Boundless Mind combines decades of experience at the intersection of brains, minds, and machines.”

 

All Roads Lead to Further Plunder – the Fourth Industrial Revolution “Great Reset”

 

UNICEF (UN), OHCHR (UN) & World Food Programme (UN) were the first international organizations to join the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Initial corporate partners include Amazon, Cognite, Deloitte, Guardian Life, JD.com, Vara Tech, Netflix and Visa.

UNICEF (UN), OHCHR (UN) & World Food Programme (UN) were the first international organizations to join the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network. Initial corporate partners include Amazon, Cognite, Deloitte, Guardian Life, JD.com, Vara Tech, Netflix and Visa.

 

It is critical at this juncture, to expand upon the pivotal role of Thrive Global investor Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce, which is a partner of Thrive Global. Benioff, a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, serves as inaugural Chair of World Economic Forum’s Forum Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco – home of the “great reset”. In addition to these roles, Benioff is a co-founder of Breakthrough Energy Coalition (nuclear, carbon capture and storage, biofuel, etc.), with billionaires including Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Chris Hohn. [Full list] The coalition, led by Gates, is a private partnership created in tandem with the public-facing Mission Innovation, which is partnered with 24 states and the European Union. Mission Innovation is partnered with the World Economic Forum.

On September 17, 2018, Benioff purchased TIME magazine from Meredith Corp for $190m in cash. Such ownership offers many perks, specifically, shaping both public perception and public opinion. September 21, 2018: “Today, an increasing number of owners hail from the tech industry. Over the past few years, new entrants include Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, who bought The Washington Post for $250m; biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong who purchased the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for $500m; Jack Ma, founder of Chinese tech group Alibaba, who bought the South China Morning Post for $266m; and, in July last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, the philanthropist and widow of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs, who took a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine.”

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country… We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.

 

— Edward Bernays, Propaganda

 

October 2020, TIME, The Great Reset Issue: "The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want."

October 2020, TIME, The Great Reset Issue: “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want.”

 

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

“Prince” Harry and super influencer Meghan Markle [May 9, 2020, Town & Country: “Meghan Markle Is Poised to Become the Most Prominent Influencer in the World”] Brother of “Prince” Harry, “Prince” William, is assisting in building public support for the financialization and enclosure of nature, under the guise of protecting biodiversity. October 2020, “A Bloody-Green Conservation Effort,The reds and greens of the Kaziranga violence – These are the headlines that ran in 2016 when the royal couple visited the highly militarised Kaziranga National Park. During his visit, Prince William enquired about the challenges officials faced in the anti-poaching efforts, and here’s the stinger – he also enquired about the park’s requirements of sophisticated weaponry.” [Source]

“Credible celebrity endorsers can be deadly efficient in cutting into the toughest markets and combating the fiercest consumer resistance.”

 

—Celebrity Culture, 2006

World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, photographed in Geneva Mark Peckmezian for TIME. This special issue for Davos 2019 was produced in partnership with the World Economic Forum. 

TIME Next Generation Leaders, May 16, 2019. “The Future We Choose” – is in fact, the future they chose long ago. Manufactured movements serve those behind the new global architecture. The youth have been utilized and mobilized to capture, monetize, privatize and digitalize, the earth beneath their feet.

TIME Person of the Year, December 2019. Greta Thunberg photographed on the shore in Lisbon, Portugal, December 4, 2019. “But the needle is moving. Fortune 500 companies, facing major pressure to reduce their emissions, are realizing that sustainability makes for good PR.” Photograph by Evgenia Arbugaeva for TIME.

TIME: Davos 2020, Next Generation World

In addition to assigning monetary value to all nature, human and social “capital”, yet another new horror is unfolding, away from public view and oversight. The nefarious Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture designed and sought by Benioff, Schwab et al., will demand more minerals and rare Earth minerals than what remain on the planet’s fragile and exhausted terrain. Thus, they intend to mine the oceans under guise of watchdog. Holistic linguistics such as ‘safe’ and ‘responsible’ are employed. Benioff has created his own NGO, the Benioff Ocean Initiative, in addition to appointing himself as watchdog over the new rapacious industry.

 

January 2020: The Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation Announce $11 Million in Funding. Pennies for greenwashing the massive waste they produce.

January 2020: The Benioff Ocean Initiative and The Coca-Cola Foundation Announce $11 Million in Funding. Pennies for greenwashing the massive waste they produce.

 

Image

“Friends of Ocean Action” is financed by Benioff as part of the Benioff Ocean Initiative. It is convened by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. Members include Marco Lambertini, WWF lead for the financialization of nature, José Figueres, and billionaire Richard Branson.

Image

“Since the 1970’s as many as 90% of the species discovered by researchers in the Clarion Clipperton seabed mining zone were previously unknown to science.”

 

“We cannot responsibly assess the impacts of deep sea mining until we understand what species are present in a mining claim area, “how globally unique or rare these species are…”

It’s not for Benioff et al. to decide what life has value and what life does not. Ecosystems are not ‘assets’. Biological communities exist for their own purposes, not ours.

The United Nations International Seabed Authority has granted over 1 million square kilometers of claims for mining exploration in the high seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans to at least 16 countries. In June 2019, the World Economic Forum partnered with the United Nations. The World Economic Forum presides over the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which must be understood and recognized as emerging markets. The sought plunder of the Earth’s oceans contributes to ten of the seventeen “sustainable development” goals.

To plunder the planet’s oceans, under the guise of climate emergency and protecting biodiversity, is beyond the pale.

Benioff, September 9, 2020: "Everyone must watch this." Twitter.

Benioff, September 9, 2020: “Everyone must watch this.” Twitter.

 

Harris quoting Benioff, May 16, 2018: "Time for common sense regulation".

Harris quoting Benioff, May 16, 2018: “Time for common sense regulation”.

 

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

 

Twitter, August 23, 2018. Harris joins Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, and Will.I.Am for an all-star "Dreamforce" cast.

Twitter, August 23, 2018. Harris joins Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, and Will.I.Am for an all-star “Dreamforce” cast.

September 21 2018: “Along with nearly 200,000 devotees of the cloud-computing company Salesforce, I will attend Dreamforce, the firm’s annual takeover of San Francisco and the largest tech conference in the world… Dreamforce’s string of ultra-famous musical acts—past headliners include U2, Stevie Wonder, and The Foo Fighters—so I should try to get my head around them… Separate the can’t-miss speakers from the must-miss speakers. Can’t-miss: Al Gore, Unilever CIO Jane Moran, former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, and for some reason, I’d really like to see what the NBA player Andre Iguodala has to say. Must-miss: Adrian Grenier and Will.I.Am.”

Center for Humane Technology Alliances

Center for Humane Technology (formerly Time Well Spent) partners include Exposure Labs, a film and impact production company founded by Social Dilemma director Jeff Orlowski, and Bryson Gillette, a strategic communications and public affairs firm. Clients of Orlowski (director and producer of Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral) include Stanford University National Geographic, and the Jane Goodall Institute. [Source] Here it should noted that these three institutions play leading roles in the global financialization of nature.

Center for Humane Technology funders include foundations, tech billionaires and tech creators including Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Evolve Ventures Foundation, David Magerman, and Craig Newmark. [Funders] The Omidyar Network would partner with the Center investing USD 800,000 (USD 450,000 in 2018). In addition to its partnership with the Center for Humane Technology, other Omidyar partners under the theme “Responsible Technology” and “reimagining capitalism” include the United Nations Foundation, Wired, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

“You might expect that Facebook, which derives its profits from the amount of time people spend interacting with the advertisements in its apps, would reject the Time Well Spent thesis. Instead, the company co-opted it. In a January 11th post, Mark Zuckerberg invoked the initiative by name. “By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent,” he wrote.

 

January 17, 2018, “Time well spent” is shaping up to be tech’s next big debate, A War of Words”

On February 5, 2018, “Common Sense” partnered with the Center for Humane Technology for the “Truth About Tech” Campaign “in response to escalating concerns about digital addiction”. Common Sense reported USD 19 million+ revenue in 2015. Major funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Marc Benioff. In September 2017, Center for Humane Technology funder Knight Foundation announced a USD 2.5 million investment in projects that address “a declining trust in media in the internet age.” [Source] Many continue to identify this increasingly familiar pattern as co-optation. It is not. Rather, it has become the preferred method of public relations. Create a movement, appoint a spokesperson to fulfill the role of “leader”. For pennies on the dollar, billionaires are channelling millions to organisations framed as opposition. Ruling class sanctioned “critics”, rewarded with media exposure celebrity and access, have become the most effective means of smothering the “techlash flames” and a growing distrust of corporate power. A poorly understood genre of effective crisis communications management, this strategy has proven to be deadly efficient.

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center for Humane Technology funders

The Center for Humane Technology hosts the podcast “Your Undivided Attention”. The May 18, 2020 podcast “The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to Saving the Planet” features the prominent Christiana Figueres, who explains “a clear and alluring vision of a future that can supplant the dystopian” is required for the “great reset” Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, as sought by the World Economic Forum, to take hold. The “future we choose”, (The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, February 25, 2020) is, in fact, the future they chose some time ago. The podcast attributes Figueres with “stubborn optimism” for having convinced state governments to sign the Paris Agreement. [Further reading: This Changes Nothing: The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, Clive Spash, Vienna University of Economics and Business] The podcast then explores “how a similar shift in Silicon Valley’s vision could lead 3 billion people to take action.”

“This could be the most important wake-up call of our times.”

 

— Professor Klaus Schwab, CEO World Economic, Forum, Praise for the Future We Choose

 


“Figueres and Rivett-Carnac dare to tell us how our response can create a better, fairer world.”

 

— Naomi Klein, Praise for the Future We Choose

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

 

In the same way that Greta Thunberg never touches upon the sought financialization of nature, global in scale (expected to be implemented in 2021), instead serving as the very face of the campaign; in the same way that Thunberg does not shine an imperative light on militarization as a key driver of climate change, the Center for Humane Technology, which highlights climate change as a key concern, makes no mention of the massive and growing carbon footprint by the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector [A look at this growth is extensively detailed further in this series]. In the same way that Thunberg remains silent on the roll-out of 5G (the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks), adding additional layers of threats to biodiversity and all living life forms, including human, neither does the Centre for Humane Technology. 5G is, unequivocally, the very foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, launched to the public as “the great reset”. Without 5G, the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, as sought by the ruling class, will collapse like a house of cards. These deliberate omissions represent the most egregious form of climate denialism that goes largely unchallenged. To call for humane technology while making no mention of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is an impossible oversight. We are being conditioned to accept, and even demand, the very infrastructure and said “solutions” that the states, serving the ruling classes, wish to impose on us. This is social engineering en masse.

Social Media – We Think the Price Is Worth It

Just as there is no negotiating with the brutality of capitalism – there is no negotiating with a trillion dollar social media industry, firmly entrenched in the jaws of capitalism. “A path to humane technology” is just one public relations effort going forward to quell any backlash against the new global architecture, financed by the very entities advancing their depraved collective ideologies.

“The shocks of digital commodification are writing a new chapter in capitalism’s long history of violent dislocation.”

 

Dan Schiller, historian of information and communications [Source]

The Social Dilemma film highlights the arrival and exponential growth of social media, and its direct correlation with self-harm and suicide amongst pre-teens and youth: U.S. hospital admissions of girls aged 15-19 have increased 62% since 2009 (correlating with social media becoming accessible via the mobile phone), with the admission of young girls aged 10-14 having increased a staggering 189%. U.S. suicide rates for young girls are just as alarming with a 70% increase for girls aged 15-19 (*compared to the average from 2001-2010), with the suicide rate of the younger group of girls (aged 10-14) increasing a whopping *151%. This tragedy alone should be enough to relegate social media to the dustbin, yet in an “Albright-esque” depravity, society has accepted the self-harm and suicides with the unspoken yet collective “we think the price is worth it” non-response. The corporate world that lies and breathes this depraved ideology never has espoused nor never will espouse a higher regard for humanity than for profits.

And while the documentary appears to highlight social media’s atrocious negative impacts on the social fabric of whole societies, and in spite of highlighting the incredible harm on youth, the film does not once mention Facebook’s latest colonial conquest: the continent of culturally rich and diverse Africa – with a median age of eighteen years old.

Nor does the film, or Harris, mention the Facebook project “internet.org”. Not dead, but rebranded as “Free Basics”, rolling out quietly behind a purposeful media blackout. [Discussed in part II.]

The goal of Facebook is world domination. On February 4, 2016, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the corporation’s goal of obtaining 5 billion users by 2030. Two days later, following nationwide protests in India, the Facebook project, having been rebranded to “Free Basics”, was banned by the Telecom regulatory Authority of India.

Facebook realised it would need to attain, what the World Economic Forum today must also acquire for “the great reset”. That is, social license. With unlimited resources, the World Economic Forum has retained and financed civil society (non-profits, NGOs). Influencers have been chosen and moulded. The Global Shapers have been mobilised. In January 2020, “The Schwab Foundation community joined world leaders at a time where the issues at the core of the community’s work is now front and centre of the global agenda.” Nightmares for citizens and biodiversity are being wrapped in dark green vellum and holistic linguistics. “Humane” is to tech, what “stakeholder” is to capitalism. A rebranding exercise selling a kinder, new gentler form of oppression, exploitation and misery. A kinder, soft power form of psychological manipulation, purposeful addiction, and democratic depression.

As a nod to its funders and neoliberalism itself, the film warns of the threat to be “radicalized” by “anti-vaxxers”, and those that don’t vote. That is, those that are not interested in a “vaccine revolution” being sought to further serve the interests (profits) of the pharmaceutical industry, rather than the interests of society’s health and well-being. That is, those who understand that elections held in states that serve the global corporatocracy represent nothing more than “another exciting round of elections in the fabulous wonderland of bourgeois democracy.” (Stephanie McMillan). All while the real threat is the continued pacification, conditioning and domestication of the citizenry.

 

[Source]

[Source]

[Source]

Vanity Fair Annual New Establishment Summit 2017. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz. Vanity Fair, 2019, Tristan Harris “[F]rom his childhood as a magician to working with the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab to his role as CEO of Apture, which was acquired by Google. He has been featured on 60 Minutes, TED, The Atlantic, the PBS Newshour, and more. He has worked with major technology CEOs and briefed heads of state and other political leaders.” [Source]

The devolving of physical relationships and whole societies, up against an accelerating, digitalized, virtual world is not a social dilemma. The leveraging of COVID-19, waged as a weapon against the citizenry, is not a social dilemma. Rather, this is the strategic destruction of the social. A social dismantling. A social deliquesce. A social nightmare.

For the Fourth Industrial Revolution to take hold, our global society must be socially engineered to accept, even prefer an artificial existence over that of a physical one. The saturation of the collective psyche with language and framing such as “tech for good” is strategic, a key method and means of obtaining the social license required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution “great reset”. The “watch dogs” put forward as reassurance to assuage a growing anxiety, thus a growing threat of backlash, serve not society, but the hand that feeds.

Physical is dangerous, digital is safe. Humans are lethal, technology is benign. Masks assist in dehumanising the human body. The conditioning for avoidance of human intimacy. Children learning not to touch. Nature is both separate and zoonotic – stay home, stay safe. Our deteriorating social fabric, already eroded from social media, and technology at large, has been doused with gasoline. It burns in silence behind a veil of willful blindness. Both isolated and detached from the physical presence of one another, and nature herself, we are in freefall. Remains of relationships in piles of invisible ashes.

Next: Part II

[Further reading: Klaus Schwab and his great fascist reset, October 5, 2020]

COMMENTS on ‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary

COMMENTS on ‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary

Wrong Kind of Green

September 9, 2020

An informal response written by Cory Morningstar (Wrong Kind of Green Collective) to the recent Max Blumenthal piece “‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary”.

 

 

Now that much (perhaps some?) of my work over the past decade is finally suitable for discussion and sharing, having been rewrapped with a Max Blumenthal bow, I’m adding some further commentary to complement the relevant piece being widely shared by filmmaker Jeff Gibbs and many more.

Let’s begin.

1. MB: “Naomi Klein, perhaps the most prominent left-wing writer on climate-related issues in the West, did not weigh in to defend “Planet of the Humans.” Instead, the Intercept columnist, social activist, and Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University was an early participant in the campaign to suppress the film.”

Adding: Video, Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the Central Intelligence Agency, [running time 3m:16s]:

2. MB: “He pointed to the New York State Assembly’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as an embodiment of the foresight of proponents of a near-total transition to renewable energy.”

Adding: The Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act heralded as “moonshot”, “historic” and “one of the World’s Most Ambitious Climate Plans” promises more than a tripling of solar by 2025.

Percentage of NYC electricity from solar, 2019: 1.40%.

[Link: https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1144253062384619521]

Adding that “renewable energy” is old news, as data, as a new class asset, has emerged as the new oil – with carbon capture and storage, nuclear, and geoengineering to be at the forefront of climate “solutions” (with little resistance).

3. MB: “35 percent of investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds [be] invested in disadvantaged communities.”

Adding: This language can serve to situate industrial sites (infrastructure which will include the physical waste and ecological devastation) on First Nations lands (recognizing that all land has been stolen from First Nations) and marginalized/impoverished communities.

4. MB: “Jacobson’s study, according to National Geographic, was “a foundation stone” of the Green New Deal proposal put forward by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”

Adding: The National Geographic is a leading partner in the plan to financialize nature led by the World Economic Forum, the World Wildlife Fund, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and the United Nations, which partnered with the WEF on June 13, 2019. This is the single most important threat to the natural world, now underway – with the non-profit industrial complex in its entirety, in tandem with media, supporting it (or remaining silent on it). This is the corporate capture of the commons, global in scale. Nature is to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. Assigning monetary value to social capital will follow. Nicole Schwab, daughter of Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum, serves as National Geographic Society Director International  Relations, in addition to overseeing the World Economic Forum initiatives: Platform to Accelerate Nature Based Solutions – and  1tDOTorg (the Trillion Trees initiative).

[More: https://twitter.com/search?q=%40elleprovocateur%20%3A%20nicole&src=typed_query]

[Further reading, the non-funded grassroots campaign: “No Deal For Nature: Because Life is Not a Commodity]

5. MD: “He mentioned ‘a foundation based in Sweden, I think it’s called the Rasmussen Foundation that I think has been the biggest funder.'”

Adding: The 2014 People’s Climate March was a project of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and V.K. Rasmussen Foundation from the onset. Avaaz and 350-org were the leading NGOs tasked with “herding” the “cats”. Tom Kruse, Program Director at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, serves/served on the 350-org U.S. advisory council.

Sept 23, 2015: Under One Bad Sky | TckTckTck’s 2014 People’s Climate March: This Changed Nothing:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/09/23/under-one-bad-sky/

Book review of This changes everything: Capitalism vs the Climate – by Tom Kruse, program director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Featured in the 2016 issue of Alliance magazine ("for philanthropy and social investment worldwide").

Book review of This changes everything: Capitalism vs the Climate – by Tom Kruse, program director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Featured in the 2016 issue of Alliance magazine (“for philanthropy and social investment worldwide”). Sept 27, 2014, Klein: “”But I have never said that we need to “slay,” “ditch” or “dismantle” capitalism in order to fight climate change.” Today, under the guise of “stakeholder capitalism” the ruling class is determined to maintain the social license required to continue in their plunder and exploitation while securing their position and status. See work of activist and author Stephanie McMillan.

 

Klein’s alliance with the Rockefeller Foundation goes way back. Nov 28, 2011: “Mission Related Investing, Making Sense of Philanthropy’s Role in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.” Featured on the five person panel was both Naomi Klein and Rockefeller’s Tom Kruse. In 2016 Kruse wrote a glowing book review on This Changes Everything (the project the Rockefeller’s  helped finance). Klein’s book, launched on September 16, 2014, just prior to “The People’s Climate March” and Climate Week NYC (Sept 22-28)(an annual event hosted in association with the United Nations; organized by The Climate Group, and the World Economic Forum), served a foundation for a ten-year global social engineering project. “Changing Together” and “Together” would be branded terms that would slowly erode all critical class analysis. On September 17, 2019, again just prior to the UN activities, Klein would release “On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal”. This book would serve to build demand for a Global Green New Deal as sought by the United Nations.

Sept 24, 2015: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/09/24/mckibbens-divestment-tour-brought-to-you-by-wall-street-part-xiii-the-increasing-vogue-for-capitalist-friendly-climate-discourse/

June 7, 2016: Book review by Rockefeller’s Tom Kruse featured in Alliance Magazine (“for philanthropy and social investment worldwide”):

https://www.alliancemagazine.org/book-review/this-changes-everything-capitalism-vs-the-climate-naomi-klein/

All roads lead to emerging markets. The roads are paved with the sustainable development goals.

6. MB: “It began when the foundation incubated a group called 1Sky with a $1 million grant. McKibben immediately joined as board member.”

Adding: 1Sky was injected with massive funding as this juncture, but it actually began with Step It Up (2007) – the same year Avaaz was launched. Here I will add that Avaaz and 350 are closely intertwined and have been since inception. May Boeve, 350 co-founder and current executive director, (base salary of $130,431 in 2017) has been listed as director in Avaaz 990 forms on more than one occasion.

Avaaz plays a leading role in destruction of targeted sovereign states. (A fact Klein blocked me for when asking why she did not expose this on Twitter.) Klein’s father-in-law, often affiliated with her Leap NGO, is one of Canada’s most egregious imperialists. A ideology that Klein has supported on many occasions. (Bolivia, Syria, Libya).

Avaaz is also behind the scheme to financialize nature. This ties into the global climate strikes (to strengthen the Voice for the Planet and New Deal for Nature campaigns led by World Economic Forum/UN, and the World Wildlife Fund) where again, Avaaz has played a leading role. 350 and Avaaz are both co-founders of GCCA which has largely navigated the climate “movement” since 2009. In 2015 Kumi Naidoo, former executive director of both Greenpeace International and GCCA, serving as executive director of Amnesty International, until resigning Dec 2019, was cited as a 350 director in the 2015 990 filing.

7. MB: “Whatever his motives were, since the testy exchange with Strickler, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has contributed over $1 million to McKibben’s 350.org.

Adding: $1 million is pocket change for these groups. Look at ClimateWorks and other sources of funding (corporate profits laundered through tax exempt foundations) that protect and expand capital. 350 is international in scope – financed to provide “climate change awareness services training and events” – prior to the November 2019 coup in Bolivia. This foreign influence training model (imperial tentacles) extends to countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Sept 11, 2019: A Design to Win — A Multi-Billion Dollar Investment [VOLUME II, ACT I]:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/09/11/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-volume-ii-act-i-a-design-to-win-a-multi-billion-dollar-investment/

Article posted October 1, 2015. The UN Global Goals, also know as the Sustainable Delevelopment Goals (SDGs), are the vehicle for emerging markets. The Word Economic Forum oversees the implemtation of the SDGs.

Article posted October 1, 2015. The UN Global Goals, also know as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are the vehicle for emerging markets. The Word Economic Forum oversees the implementation of the SDGs.

 

8. MB: “Today, the Solutions Project is ‘100% co opted and sold out,’ Fox acknowledged.”

Adding further background research on the Solutions Project:

Dec 17, 2016: Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 5]:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/13/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-5/

9. MB: “Skoll funded Al Gore’s film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which went into production soon after Gore launched his Generation Investment Management fund – an inconvenient truth pointed out by “Planet of the Humans.”

Adding this as a side note: Media has recently covered the WE –Trudeau “scandal” in Canada. Conveniently media has omitted key facts – such as Jeff Skoll having been involved in the financing/creation of WE from inception. WE is partnered with the United Nations with deep ties to the ruling class in the UK.

Thread: https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1286672712690262016

Adding: To see what Gore’s dream of solar in remote and/or impoverished areas of Africa look like in real life, please read:

Jan 30, 2019: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart” [ACT III]:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/01/28/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-the-most-inconvenient-truth-capitalism-is-in-danger-of-falling-apart/

10. MB: “Dinwoodie, who signed Fox’s letter calling for the retraction of “Planet of the Humans,” was a top donor to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a so-called “do-tank” where he serves as a lead trustee. The initiative, according to Rocky Mountain, will serve as “an engine room for the financial sector to partner with corporate clients to identify practical solutions through deep partnerships with industry, civil society and policymakers to facilitate a transition in the global economy to net-zero emissions by mid-century.”

Adding: The term net-zero has nothing to do with zero emissions.

Source: Indigenous Environmental Network [IEN]

Source: Indigenous Environmental Network [IEN]

 

Adding: Co-signer Dinwoodie serves as Sierra Club’s Climate Cabinet and Scientific Advisory Panel, MIT Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee, Advisory Board to The Solutions Project, Advisor to the MIT Energy Club (MIT is a World Economic Forum co-curator), and executive producer of film “Time To Choose”.

11. MB: “Klein, a longtime critic of elite family foundations and the billionaire class, was among the most prominent figures to join the campaign to censor “Planet of the Humans.”

Adding the background to photo of Naomi Klein and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD.)Jan 25, 2016, The De-Klein of a Revolutionary Writer: From Subcomandante Marcos to Angel Gurria:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/01/25/the-de-klein-of-a-revolutionary-writer-from-subcomandante-marcos-to-angel-gurria/

Adding that the perception that “Klein, a longtime critic of elite family foundations and the billionaire class” is largely a false premise manufactured by media. Consider “Honourable” Hilary M. Weston presenting the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction to Naomi Klein, on October 15, 2014. The Westons, one of the most wealthy families in Canada, were architects of a 14-year-long bread price-fixing scheme, fleecing working class Canadians of grocery money. In 2018, the Westons were named Ireland’s richest family for the tenth year running, with a wealth of €11.42 billion. In 2020 the Westons were included in the Sunday Times Rich List ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK. The Westons are the third richest family in Canada (made possible by the exploitation and theft of labour).

More recently Klein shares equal billing for the endorsement of The Future We Choose book (authored by Christiana Figueres; UN, We Mean Business, etc.) with World Economic Forum founder and CEO, Klaus Schwab.

The World Economic Forum's Book Club pick for March 2020: The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

The World Economic Forum’s Book Club pick for March 2020: The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

 

There is no institution more important than the World Economic Forum at this moment in time, in regard to what is to happen under the guise of climate mitigation and protection of biodiversity. This, the most critical component, is missing.

Also recent, is the 2019 Confluence Philanthropy webinar with Klein, and Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund under the subheading of “mission-aligned investing” (often referred to as “impact investing”):

 

12. MB: “Klein has celebrated the Danish government where KR Foundation leaders have served for advancing “some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world.”

Adding: The Nordic countries are also at the helm in the plan to assign monetary value to all of nature’s “services”, global in scale.

Link: https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1301966944321572865

September 20, 2019: "It was the Nordic Council Sustainability Committee who initially came up with the idea of an initiative targeting the youth, and the idea was immediately supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment."

September 20, 2019: “It was the Nordic Council Sustainability Committee who initially came up with the idea of an initiative targeting the youth, and the idea was immediately supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment.”

 

Nordic Council of Ministers: "This analysis examines the attitudes of Nordic youth aged 13-30 in relation to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) on Sustainable Consumption and Production."

Nordic Council of Ministers: “This analysis examines the attitudes of Nordic youth aged 13-30 in relation to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) on Sustainable Consumption and Production.”

 

13. MB: “For its part, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has supported The Syria Campaign, a public relations outfit that clamored for US military intervention to remove the UN-recognized government of Syria.”

Here it is critical to add that The Syria Campaign is a project incubated by Purpose – the for profit public relations arm of Avaaz. Specializing behavioural change, it’s clients include some of the biggest corporations on the planet. It’s most recent partnership with the UN is ShareVerified. (Promoting vaccines and data mining while attempting to control control pandemic narrative being leveraged by World Economic Forum to usher in the fourth industrial revolution architecture.) Both Purpose and Greenpeace  contributed to the creation of We Mean Business coalition representing 1340 corporations with an approx. 24.8 trillion market cap.

14. Adding mining links highlighting praise of both Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg as “heroines” to the mining industry:

https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1193691372290793472

https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1224698188818456576

https://twitter.com/elleprovocateur/status/1190643776139739136

15. “Klein’s 2015 book and documentary film on climate change, “This Changes Everything,” was initially launched as a project called “The Message.” It was supported with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from a who’s who of major family foundations that help sustain McKibben’s political apparatus.”

Adding source: July 30, 2014, Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/10/02/financing-the-message-behind-naomi-kleins-this-changes-everything-project/

Susan Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

Susan Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

 

16. MB: “In a recent The Intercept column, Klein took aim at Schmidt, describing him as one of the billionaires exploiting “a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine” to begin “building a high tech dystopia.” She noted that Schmidt is closely aligned with the national security state as chair of the Defense Innovation Board, which consults for the Pentagon on the military’s application of artificial intelligence.”

Adding that Klein neglects to use the World Economic Forum’s terminology – “fourth industrial revolution”. (Max also neglects to mention this critical terminology.) See Alison McDowell’s work on Artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G in respect to the nightmarish future of militarism. Independent journalist Alison McDowell also challenges Klein on specifics and framing (via Twitter) which Klein ignores.

17. MB: The Senate version of the Green New Deal calls for the construction of “smart” power grids almost exactly like those Schmidt imagined. Klein and other high-profile Green New Deal proponents have neglected to mention that this seeming benign component of the well-intentioned plan could represent a giant step on the way to the “high tech dystopia” of Silicon Valley barons and their national security state partners.

Adding (again) that the Green New Deal (resurrected from 2009, led by the United Nations, Avaaz, etc.) is a Trojan horse for fourth industrial revolution technologies and the financialization of nature.

Adding – that Klein, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Al Gore, Jamie Margolin of Zero Hour (groomed by Gore, tagged by “We Don’t Have Time” in the screenshot below), are the chosen/leading influencers – for a Global Green New Deal as sought by UN (now partnered with both World Economic Forum and the World Bank).

Communication specialist Callum Grieve: Co-founder of We Mean Business, creator of Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group - and Greta Thunberg handler. Grieve has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, World Bank Group, C40, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and several Fortune 500 companies.

Communication specialist Callum Grieve: Co-founder of We Mean Business, creator of Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group – and Greta Thunberg handler. Grieve has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, World Bank Group, C40, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and several Fortune 500 companies. Further reading: “A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story], Oct 6, 2019]

“The liquidation of fascism must be the liquidation of the bourgeoisie that created it.” – Gramsci [Tagging this with #WeDontHaveTime]

18. MB: Flush with dark money from Democratic Party-aligned billionaires, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash stated on July 14 – the day Biden released his clean energy plan: “It’s no secret that we’ve been critical of Vice President’s Biden’s plans and commitments in the past. Today, he’s responded to many of those criticisms: dramatically increasing the scale and urgency of investments… Our movement, alongside environmental justice communities and frontline workers, has taught Joe Biden to talk the talk.”

Adding: “Our movement”: To speak of “environmental justice communities” and “frontline workers” – as having taught Joe Biden to “talk the talk” is hard to swallow, when Biden is an imperialist. Has Sunrise transformed Biden into an anti-imperialist who now respects self-determination? (rhetorical question).

Video: Biden and Elliott Abrams on Nicaragua,1987:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4731064/user-clip-1987-bidennicaragua

January 18, 2017, Davos: Joe Biden (R) with Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum, Image: Manuel Lopez

19. “While it brands itself as a grassroots movement that has organized anti-establishment stunts putting centrist figures like Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the spot, the Sunrise Movement was incubated with a grant from the Sierra Club, the Mike Bloomberg-backed juggernaut of Big Green organizing. Today, offices of the two organizations are located a floor apart in the same building in downtown Washington DC.”

Adding: Background on Sunrise and the Green New Deal:

Feb 13, 2019: The Green New Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature [ACT V]:

20. Finally, Michael Moore’s commentary in the Q&A session that followed the release of “Planet of the Humans, was worse than disappointing – yet more than revealing. Highlighting Greta Thunberg, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Extinction Rebellion,  Green New Deal – all in the design/pocket of the ruling classes. In just one hour Moore undermines the said intent of the film. “That’s what’s great about Bernie and AOC… each of their Green New Deals acknowledge this income inequality…” Any/all Green New Deals will serve the ruling class. The World Economic Forum-United Nations is at the helm. Not Sanders. Not AOC. Not the Democrats. This matters as over 105,000 very interested people listened – wishing to learn. Moore: “we need to have a whole new environmental movement, maybe what Greta has started… Sun Rise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, Greta and her Friday School Strike.” Moore re-directs youth right back to foundation financed, billionaire/corporate backed “movements”. [Thread]

Adding that Max B missed the important article by WKOG collective member Michael on the Planet of the Humans documentary:

http://wrongkindofgreen.org/2020/05/20/clinton-to-mckibben-to-steyer-to-podesta-comments-on-planet-of-the-humans-by-michael-swifte

In respect to the pandemic referenced by MB in his article. The ruling class has weaponized the power of both fear and conformity against us. That Covid-19 is the catalyst to usher in a new global architecture, that is, the “fourth industrial revolution”, is not conjecture, not “conspiracy theory“, but a fact. Full compliance and social license of the global citizenry is required.

The ruling class has conspired to usher in a new global governance with Covid-19 as the pretext. With the World Economic-United Nations-World Bank partnership; a global consolidation of power, well underway. It is understood that the transition will cause unprecedented suffering. The only thing they fear is revolt.

The fourth industrial revolution architecture catalogues children as human capital data to be commodified on blockchain, linking behaviour to benefits. The human population to be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, “internet of things” and an “augmented reality” environment.” [See the work of Alison McDowell.]

The fourth industrial revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities (via Global Covenant of Mayors) must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the 21st century.

As part of “the great reset”, in 2021, the ruling class intends to implement the financialization of nature. Those with money will own nature The very corporations that have brought us to the precipice of ecological collapse – will now be appointed as the new stewards of nature. This has been dubbed by John Elkington (Extinction Rebellion Business signatory, Volans) as the “biosphere economy”. This represents the largest transformation of the global economic system in modern history. Assigning monetary value to nature (“natural capital”) will replace GDP, with nature “valued” at 125 trillion vs. GDP at 85.9 trillion (2018).

Image

Voting in a capitalist system is not going to cut it. Petitions are not going to stop it.

An environmental movement not built on a foundation of anti-imperialism, anti-militarism and anti-capitalism is meaningless. Worthless.

I have tried to keep this concise and brief – which is impossible. Upon that note, I caution that the most important elements now underway, in respect to further destruction of our natural world, are still be ignored by groups and writers with far more resources, and far larger audiences than we have at Wrong Kind of Green. Silence is complicity. Discourse is a strategy utilized by those in service to the ruling class. I hope this inspires more people to investigate, write and organize.

“And that’s the real question facing the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?” So to me the question is “are we tearing down the institutions or keeping them propped up?”

 

— Stokely Carmichael, 1966

 

[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, Internationalist 360, Tortilla con Sal, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary

The Grayzone

September 7, 2020

By Max Blumenthal

 

“We must take control of our environmental movement and our future from billionaires and their permanent war on Planet Earth. They are not our friends.”

 

-Jeff Gibbs, director of “Planet of the Humans”

Green' billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of 'Planet of the Humans' documentary | The Grayzone

 

It is hard to think of an American film that provoked a greater backlash in 2020 than “Planet of the Humans.” Focused on the theme of planetary extinction and fanciful proposals to ward it off, the documentary was released for free on YouTube on April 21. The date was significant not only because it was the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but because a global pandemic was tearing through America’s social fabric and exposing the human toll of the country’s globalized, growth-obsessed economic model.“The Michael Moore-produced ‘Planet of the Humans’ faced a coordinated suppression campaign led by professional climate activists backed by the same ‘green’ billionaires, Wall Street investors, industry insiders and family foundations skewered in the film.”

Even before “Planet of the Humans” was released, however, the producers of the film had fallen under pressure to retract it. Upon the film’s release, a who’s who of self-styled climate justice activists proceeded to blanket the internet with accusations that it was a racist, “eco-fascist” screed that deliberately advanced the interests of the oil and gas industry. When “Planet of the Humans” was briefly yanked from YouTube thanks to a questionable copyright claim by an angry climate warrior, the free speech organization Pen America issued a remarkable statement characterizing the demands for retraction as a coordinated censorship campaign.

What had this documentary done to inflame so much opposition from the faces and voices of professional climate justice activism? First, it probed the well-established shortcomings of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power that have been marketed as a green panacea. “Planet of the Humans” portrayed these technologies as anything but green, surveying the environmental damage already caused by solar and wind farms, which require heavy mining and smelting to produce, destroy swaths of pristine land, and sometimes demand natural gas to operate.

While major environmental outfits have lobbied for a Green New Deal to fuel a renewables-based industrial revolution, and are now banking on a Democratic presidency to enact their proposals, “Planet of the Humans” put forward a radical critique that called their entire agenda into question.

As the director of the documentary, Jeff Gibbs, explained, “When we focus on climate change only as the thing destroying the planet and we demand solutions, we get used by forces of capitalism who want to continue to sell us the disastrous illusion that we can mine and smelt and industrialize our way out of this extinction event. And again, behind the scenes, much of what we’re doing to ‘save’ the planet is to burn the ‘bio’ of the planet as green energy.”

“Planet of the Humans” crossed another bright green line by taking aim at the self-proclaimed climate justice activists themselves, painting them as opportunists who had been willingly co-opted by predatory capitalists. The filmmakers highlighted the role of family foundations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in cultivating a class of professional activists that tend toward greenwashing partnerships with Wall Street and the Democratic Party to coalitions with anti-capitalist militants and anti-war groups.

Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org and guru of climate justice activism, is seen throughout “Planet of the Humans” consorting with Wall Street executives and pushing fossil fuel divestment campaigns that enable powerful institutions to reshuffle their assets into plastics and mining while burnishing their image. McKibben has even called for environmentalists to cooperate with the Pentagon, one of the world’s worst polluters and greatest exporters of violence, because “when it speaks frankly, [it] has the potential to reach Americans who won’t listen to scientists.”

Perhaps the most provocative critique contained in “Planet of the Humans” was the portrayal of full-time climate warriors like McKibben as de facto lobbyists for green tech billionaires and Wall Street investors determined to get their hands on the whopping $50 trillion profit opportunity that a full transition to renewable technology represents. Why have figures like Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Michael Bloomberg, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Tesla founder Elon Musk been plowing their fortunes into climate advocacy? The documentary taunted those who accepted these oligarchs’ gestures of environmental concern at face value.

For years, leftist criticism of professional climate activism has been largely relegated to blogs like Wrong Kind of Green, which maintains an invaluable archive of critical work on the co-optation of major environmental organizations by the billionaire class. Prominent greens might have been able to dismiss scrutiny from radical corners of the internet as background noise; however, they were unable to ignore “Planet of the Humans.”

That was because Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore put his name on the film as executive producer, alongside his longtime producer, Gibbs, and the scholar-researcher Ozzie Zehner. “Michael Moore validates this film,” Josh Fox, the filmmaker who led the campaign against “Planet of the Humans,” told me. “So if Michael Moore’s name is not on that film, it’s like a thousand other crappy movies.”

By racking up millions of views after just a month on YouTube, “Planet of the Humans” threatened to provoke an unprecedented debate about the corruption of environmental politics by the one percent. But thanks to the campaign by Fox and his allies, much of the debate wound up focused on the film itself, and the credibility of its producers.

“I had some sense that the film was going to ruffle some feathers, but I was unprepared for that response from what ended up being a group of people who are like an echo chamber – all related to the same funding organizations,” said Zehner. “It’s a pretty tight circle and it was a really strong, virulent pushback.”

The line of attack that may have gained the most traction in progressive circles portrayed a convoluted section of the film on the dangers of population growth and overconsumption as Malthusian, and even racist. Zehner told me he considered the attacks opportunistic, but “from a public relations standpoint, they were effective. What we were trying to do was highlight the dangers of a consumption-based economic model.”

The backlash to “Planet of the Humans” also related to its portrayal of renewables as badly flawed sources of energy that were also environmentally corrosive. Many of those attacks painted the film’s presentation of solar and wind to present the documentary as out of date and filled with misinformation.

Oddly, the professional activists who coordinated the campaign to bury “Planet of the Humans” glossed over an entire third of the documentary which focused on the corruption and co-optation of environmental politics by “green” foundations and “green” investors.

As this investigation will reveal, those climate justice activists were bound together by support from the same family foundations, billionaire investors, and industry interests that were skewered in the film.

Josh Fox Planet of the Humans billionaires

Filmmaker Josh Fox

“Censorship, plain and simple”

The ringleader of the push to suppress “Planet of the Humans” was Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of the film “Gasland,” which highlighted the destructive practices inherent to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fox launched the campaign with a sign-on letter calling for the documentary to be retracted by its producers. Then, in an incendiary takedown published in The Nation, he branded Michael Moore “the new flack for oil and gas,” a racist, and “eco-fascist” for producing the film.

As videographer Matt Orfalea reported, Fox’s crusade began the night Moore’s film was released, with an unhinged mass email to online publishers that blasted the documentary as “A GIGANTIC CROCK OF SHIT.” Fox commanded, “It must come down off your pages immediately.”

Hours later, Fox fired off another breathless email to a group of public relations professionals. “A number of reputable websites are hosting this abomination and I need your support in getting them to take it down,” he wrote. The following day, Fox took to Twitter to assure his ally, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, “We are on it.”

Next, Fox organized a sign-on letter demanding the film “be retracted by its creators and distributors and an apology rendered for its misleading content.” Among the letter’s signatories was academic and renewables advocate Leah C. Stokes, who proclaimed her wish in an article in Vox that “this film will be buried, and few will watch it or remember it.”

On April 24, Josh Fox claimed he had successfully pressured an online video library, Films For Action, into removing “Planet of the Humans” from its website. His victory lap turned out to be premature, as Films For Action re-posted the film and publicly condemned Fox’s campaign to drive it into oblivion.

The relentless push by Fox and others eventually triggered a striking statement by PEN America, the free speech advocacy group. “Calls to pull a film because of disagreement with its content are calls for censorship, plain and simple,” PEN America declared.

“Listen, nobody called to censor this movie,” Fox insisted to me. “We asked the filmmakers as part of their community to retract it, because it unfairly attacked people that we know are good, honest dealers and its premise was wrong and false.”

Fox likened “Planet of the Humans” to radio host Mike Daisey’s monologue on visiting the Foxconn factory in China where iPhones are made, and which was retracted by NPR after major fabrications came to light. “It’s clear to me that the filmmakers… put incorrect information into the film that they knew was incorrect. That thing was out of date,” Fox said of the Moore-produced documentary. “And many, many people from within our community reached out to them, which I didn’t know actually, prior to the release of the film and said, ‘This information is incorrect. What are you doing?’”

Fox was particularly incensed at Michael Moore for attaching his reputation to the film. He described the famed director as one of “the bad guys”; “a megalomaniacal multi-millionaire who craves attention unlike anyone I’ve ever met”; “the 800-pound elephant in the room”; the maker of a “racist” and “eco-fascist” film; and “a multi-millionaire circus barker” guilty of “journalistic malpractice.”

“The real bully is Michael Moore here,” Fox maintained. “It’s not me.”

Though Fox and his allies did not succeed in erasing “Planet of the Humans” from the internet, the documentary was momentarily removed from YouTube on the grounds of a copyright claim by a British photographer named Toby Smith. In a tweet he later deleted, Smith said his opposition to the film was “personal,” blasting it as a “baseless, shite doc built on bull-shit and endless copyright infringements.”

As the attacks on “Planet of the Humans” snowballed, director Jeff Gibbs attempted to defend his film. Following an article at The Guardian branding the film as “dangerous,” Gibbs emailed the paper’s opinion editors requesting a right of reply. He told me they never responded. However, just hours after Toby Smith’s politically-motivated copyright claim prompted YouTube to remove Gibbs’ documentary, he said The Guardian reached out to him for comment. “How’d they catch that so early?” he wondered.

A few left-wing journalists tried to push back on the attacks as well. But in almost every case, they were spiked by editors at ostensibly progressive journals. Christopher Ketcham, author of “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption are Ruining the American West,” was among those unable to find a venue in which to defend the documentary.

“I have come across very few editors radical enough to have the exceedingly difficult conversation about the downscaling, simplification, and the turn (in the developed world) toward diminished affluence that a 100 percent renewable energy system will necessarily entail,” Ketcham reflected to me. “You see, they have to believe that they can keep their carbon-subsidized entitlements, their toys, their leisure travel — no behavioral change or limits needed — and it will all be green and ‘sustainable.’”

Naomi Klein, perhaps the most prominent left-wing writer on climate-related issues in the West, did not weigh in to defend “Planet of the Humans.” Instead, the Intercept columnist, social activist, and Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University was an early participant in the campaign to suppress the film.

According to McKibben, “Naomi [Klein] had in fact taken Moore aside in an MSNBC greenroom” before the documentary’s release to lobby him against publishing the film. Klein later signed Josh Fox’s open letter demanding the film be retracted.

On Twitter, Klein condemned “Planet of the Humans” as “truly demoralizing,” and promoted a “big blog/fact check” of the film by Ketan Joshi, a former communications officer for the Australian wind farm company Infigen Energy.

Mining a green future and burying the cost

Like most opponents of “Planet of the Humans,” Ketan Joshi painted the documentary as “a dumb old bull in the china shop that is 2020’s hard-earned climate action environment.” And along with other critics, he accused the film’s co-producers, Gibbs and Zehner, of wildly misrepresenting the efficiency of renewables.

To illustrate his point, he referenced a scene depicting the Cedar Street Solar Array in Lansing, Michigan with flexible solar panels running at 8% efficiency – purportedly enough to generate electricity for just 10 homes. Because that scene was part of a historical sequence filmed in 2008, Joshi dismissed it as an example of the film’s “extreme oldness.”

However, this February, the solar trade publication PV Magazine found that Tesla’s newest line of flexible solar shingles had an efficiency rate of 8.1% – almost exactly the same as those depicted in “Planet of the Humans.”

While it is true that mono-crystalline solar panels boast a higher efficiency rate (between 15% and 18% in commercially available form), they were also on the market back in 2008. These panels are significantly more expensive than the flexible, less efficient panels, however. And their efficiency levels do not account for the intermittency inherent to solar energy, which does not work well in cloudy or dark conditions.

Yet according to Josh Fox, the most vehement opponent of “Planet of the Humans,” the planet-saving capacity of solar and other supposedly clean forms of energy was so well-established it was beyond debate.

“The premise of the film is renewable energy doesn’t work and is dependent on fossil fuels. And that is patently ridiculous,” Fox remarked to me. “And the reason why I got into this is because I had young environmentalists – young people who are steadfast campaigners – calling me in the middle of the night, freaking out, [telling me] ‘I can’t believe this!’ And I looked at them and I said, ‘Well, there’s a reason why you can’t believe this; it’s because it’s not true.’”

But was the presentation of renewable energy sources in “Planet of the Humans” actually false? Ecological economist William Rees has claimed that “despite rapid growth in wind and solar generation, the green energy transition is not really happening.” That might be because it is chasing energy growth instead of curtailing it. Rees pointed out that the surge in global demand for electricity last year “exceeded the total output of the world’s entire 30-year accumulation of solar power installations.”

Are there not reasonable grounds then to be concerned about the practicality of a full transition to renewables, especially in a hyper-capitalist, growth-obsessed economy like that of the United States?

A September 2018 scientific study delivered some conclusions that contradicted the confident claims of renewables advocates. A research team measured solar thermal plants currently in operation around the world and found that they are dependent on the “intensive use of materials,” which is code for heavily mined minerals.

minerals renewable energy IEA

Minerals needed to produce renewable energy (Source: International Energy Agency / IEA)

 

Further, the researchers found that the output of these plants was marred by “significant seasonal intermittence” due to shifting weather patterns and the simple fact that the sun does not always shine.

The negative impact of massive wind farms on the environment and marginalized communities – an issue highlighted in “Planet of the Humans” – is also a serious concern, especially in the Global South. Anthropologist and “Renewing Destruction: Wind Energy Development, Conflict and Resistance in a Latin American Context” author Alexander Dunlap published a peer-reviewed 2017 study of wind farms in the indigenous Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, which has been marketed as one of the most ideal wind generation sites in the world. Dunlap found that the supposedly renewable projects “largely reinforced income inequality, furthered poverty entrenchment and increased food vulnerability and worker dependency on the construction of more wind parks, which cumulatively has led to an increase in work-related out-migration and environmental degradation.”

When wind turbines reach the end of their life cycle, their fiberglass blades, which can be as long as a football field, are impossible to recycle. As a result, they are piling up in rural dumping sites across the US. Meanwhile, the environmentalist magazine Grist warned this August of a “solar e-waste glut” that will produce “megatons of toxic trash” when solar panels begin to lose efficiency and die.

In response to my questions about so-called renewable energy, Fox referred me to a close ally, Anthony Ingraffea, who signed his letter calling for “Planet of the Humans” to be pulled. A civil engineer and co-founder of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, which advocates for renewables, Ingraffea is a former oil and gas industry insider who turned into a forceful opponent of fracking. In the past six years, he has produced scientific assessments for the governments of New York State and California on a transition to mostly renewable energy sources.

Ingraffea slammed “Planet of the Humans” as “way off base” and derided research by Ozzie Zehner, the co-producer, as “conspiracy theory shit.” He contrasted his credentials with those of Zehner, boasting that while he has earned 15,000 citations in peer-reviewed academic journals during his career as an engineer, Zehner had chalked up a mere 300.

When I turned to the subject of social and environmental damage caused by so-called renewables, Ingraffea argued that the burning, storing, and transportation of fossil fuels outweighed any of those costs. According to Ingraffea, when New York State makes a decisive transition to renewables, only about 2% of the state’s land would be occupied by solar and wind farms – which translates to about 1,100 square miles.

He pointed to the New York State Assembly’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as an embodiment of the foresight of proponents of a near-total transition to renewable energy. The bill, which calls for the state to run 70% of its publicly generated energy off of “renewable energy systems” by 2030, also mandates that “35 percent of investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds [be] invested in disadvantaged communities.”

“That’s wisdom speaking,” Ingraffea said of the legislation. “That’s telling you that yes, we are aware of the problem that you said we should be aware of. Yeah, we’re not all dumb. We’re not all crazy. We’re not all ideological. Not all technical nerds who just fall in love and want to make sex with solar panels.”

However, the communities (or their designated NGO representatives) supposedly compensated through the New York State bill are not located in the regions that will be most impacted by the extraction necessary to manufacture so-called renewables. Already devastated by coups and neocolonial exploitation, swathes of the Global South from Bolivia to Congo – home to massive reserves of cobalt hand-mined in “slave conditions” for electric car batteries and iPhones – are being further destabilized by the minerals rush.

Even mainstream environmentalists acknowledge that rising reliance on renewable energy “means a lot of dirty mining” to extract the minerals required for electric batteries and solar cells. This prospect has sparked excitement within the mining industry, with the editor of Mining.com, Frik Els, dubbing Green New Deal spokeswomen Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg “mining’s unlikely heroines.”

“Going all in on the green economy and decarbonisation requires siding with the greens against fossil fuels,” Els informed fellow mining industry insiders. “It means selling global mining as the solution to climate change because mining metals is the only path to green energy and green transport.”

Mining com Greta Thunberg AOC

The inevitable rush on minerals required to power the green revolution has not exactly delighted residents of the Global South, however.

Evo Morales, the indigenous former president of Bolivia, was driven from power in 2019 by a military junta backed by the United States and local oligarchs, in what he branded a lithium coup. With the world’s largest untapped lithium resources, Bolivia is estimated to hold as much as half of the world’s reserves. Under Morales, the country guaranteed that only state-owned firms could mine the mineral.

The ousted socialist leader argued that multi-national corporations supported his right-wing domestic opponents in order to get their hands on Bolivia’s lithium – an essential element in the electric batteries that provide the cornerstone to a digital economy dependent on smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. “As a small country of 10 million inhabitants, we were soon going to set the price of lithium,” Morales said. “They know we have the greatest lithium reserves in the world [in a space of] 16,000 square kilometers.”

minerals electric cars IEA

Minerals needed to produce electric cars (Source: International Energy Agency / IEA)

 

Just before the military coup in Bolivia, a report (PDF) by the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance reported that the global demand for electric batteries will increase 14-fold before 2030. Almost half of today’s lithium is mined to produce electric batteries, and the demand for the mineral will only rise as power grids incorporate high levels of battery powered tech and the demand for electric vehicles increases.

Electric batteries are also heavily reliant on cobalt, most of which is mined from Congo, and often in illegal and dangerous conditions by child labor. In December 2019, over a dozen Congolese plaintiffs sued Apple, Google’s Alphabet parent company, Microsoft, Dell, and Tesla, accusing them of “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (‘DRC’) to mine cobalt.”

This July, Tesla CEO and electric battery kingpin Elon Musk appeared to take partial credit for the 2019 military coup that forced Bolivia’s Evo Morales from power, asserting that big tech billionaires like him could “coup whoever we want.”

The payoff for all the dirty and deadly mining required to manufacture the solar panels, wind turbines, and electric batteries required to power the new industrial revolution is supposed to be a planet no longer faced with a “climate emergency” – and nevermind the damage to the Earth and its non-human inhabitants. But with the demand for electricity constantly growing, is it even possible to power an economy like that of the US with entirely renewable sources of energy (excluding nuclear)?

A scientific projection by one of the closest allies of Josh Fox and Anthony Ingraffea was supposed to have answered that question and put all doubts to bed. Instead, it resulted in acrimony and embarrassment for its author.

The 2050 transition goal: real science or a murky crystal ball?

In his piece hammering “Planet of the Humans” in The Nation, Fox touted “the proliferation of 100 percent renewable energy plans put forward by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson” as one of the most important pieces of evidence refuting the film’s grim narrative.

Jacobson’s study, according to National Geographic, was “a foundation stone” of the Green New Deal proposal put forward by Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was also central to the energy plan advanced by the  presidential campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who co-authored an op-ed with Jacobson that called for a full transition to “clean” energy by 2050.

Jacobson, like Ingraffea, is an environmental engineer and political partner of Fox. The Stanford professor helped Fox found the environmental advocacy organization the Solutions Project, alongside actor Mark Ruffalo and the banker and former Tesla executive Marco Krapels in 2011. (More on this group later.)

Besides his working relationship with Jacobson, Fox failed to acknowledge that the professor’s all-renewables projection was strongly challenged by 21 leading energy scientists in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. The scientists concluded Jacobson’s paper was rife with “invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions.”

A survey of the debate by Scientific American scoffed at Jacobson’s remarkable assumption “that U.S. hydroelectric dams could add turbines and transformers to produce 1,300 gigawatts of electricity instantaneously… or the equivalent of about 1000 large nuclear or coal power plants running at full power.”

Jacobson retaliated against his critics by filing a $10 million defamation lawsuit, which he was forced to withdraw in 2018. Legal commentator Kenneth White described the suit as “clearly vexatious and intended to silence dissent about an alleged scientist’s peer-reviewed article.”

This April, a DC Superior Court judge invoked anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation that reportedly ordered Jacobson to pay the defendants’ legal fees.

“Planet of the Humans” co-producer Ozzie Zehner saw Mark Jacobson’s flameout as a symptom of a wider problem within mainstream climate activism. “When Big Greens talk about ‘facts,’ they often aren’t talking about what most people understand to be facts,” he explained. “They’re usually talking about models, which attempt to predict the future based on estimations of physical conditions, projections, and assumptions. Greens industrialists claim they can accurately model a renewable energy future and its effects on the global biosphere. But our best science can’t even model a fish tank.”

Ingraffea insisted that Jacobson’s legal fight had only begun, and said the professor’s critics were “partially driven by Mark [Jacobson] having made a very famous name for himself in an arena with many other people working, and they’re not getting all the fame.”

Jacobson echoed this line in his own defense: “They don’t like the fact that we’re getting a lot of attention, so they’re trying to diminish our work.”

“Give the guy a break,” Ingraffea appealed. “You know, if he’s wrong, of course he’s wrong. No one’s going to be right. No one could possibly be right right now about what’s going to happen in 25 years. We’re all entitled to our projections. We’re all entitled to our crystal balls.”

That same courtesy was not extended by Ingraffea and his allies to the makers of “Planet of the Humans,” however. “We were unable to identify any factual errors in the film, and we’re open to the idea that we could be wrong about some things,” Zehner said. “But we’d like to have that debate and not be shut down.”

Among the wave of attacks on “Planet of the Humans,” a disproportionate number were churned out by renewables industry insiders, from an “innovation strategist” at the Green Power Energy firm that was criticized in the film for clearing a Vermont mountaintop to build a wind farm (“For me, this film was personal,” he stated), to Now You Know, a podcast by two mega-fans of Elon Musk who fawningly refer to the billionaire as “Elon” and have proudly declared that they are “long on Tesla stock.”

Missing from nearly all of the takedowns was the documentary’s scathing critique of the corruption of environmental politics by billionaires and elite family foundations.

“The conversation our critics really didn’t want to have was about the last one-third of the film,” Zehner remarked, “which dealt with the influence of billionaires and money in the environmental movement, and the divestment sham.”

The shell game of fossil fuel divestment

The tactic of fossil fuel divestment is at the heart of the so-called climate justice movement’s plan to defeat the fossil fuel industry. Launched by Bill McKibben’s 350.org and a coalition of professional activists soon after the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, the campaign has resulted in institutions like Oxford University and Goldman Sachs supposedly divesting their holdings in oil and gas companies. Campaigners like McKibben simultaneously encouraged their constituents to invest in funds whose portfolios were supposedly free of fossil fuel companies.

“Planet of the Humans” raked this tactic over the proverbial coals, demonstrating how investment funds endorsed by 350.org have engaged in a shell game in which fossil fuel assets are simply replaced with investments in plastics, mining, oil and gas infrastructure companies, and biomass.

“The big issue with divestment is that it absolves the destructive power of extreme wealth,” Zehner explained. “It’s saying that family foundations can be forgiven and money can be moved into mining, gas and oil infrastructure, solar, wind, and biomass. They divest from the brand name coal companies while investing in infrastructure companies that support coal mining.”

In one of the most controversial scenes in “Planet of the Humans,” Bill McKibben was seen inaugurating a wood-burning biomass energy plant at Middlebury College, where he has been a scholar-in-residence. The environmental leader praised the initiative as “an act of courage.”

Because the event took place in 2009, McKibben and his allies have attacked the scene as an unfair representation of his current position. In an official 350.org response to “Planet of the Humans,” McKibben claimed that his views on biomass have evolved, leading him to cease his support for the energy source in 2016.

Yet less than a week after The Nation published Josh Fox’s incendiary attack on Michael Moore and “Planet of the Humans,” Nation editor-in-chief D.D. Guttenplan hosted an event with McKibben that was sponsored by a fund with major investments in several wood-to-energy biomass companies.

Called Domini Impact Investments, the fund claims to hold investments in “68 companies… that both impact forests and depend on them, whether for forest derived products or ecosystem services.” One such Domini holding is a wood-to-energy company called Ameresco, which builds “large, utility-scale biomass-to-energy plants,” according to its website.

Domini Impact also features its sustainable “timber” holdings, including Klabin SA, a company with logging operations spanning 590,580 acres in Brazil. Klabin SA manufactures pulp and paper products and operates a 270MW on-site black liquor biomass plant. This May, just days after Domini sponsored McKibben’s talk, the company purchased a second biomass plant.

(Fabio Schvartzman, the former CEO of Klabin SA, was charged with 270 counts of homicide in Brazil this January, after allegedly concealing knowledge of an imminent dam burst to protect the share price of his current company, Vale. The 2019 Mariana dam collapse has been described as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.)

While introducing the Domini-sponsored event with McKibben, The Nation’s Guttenplan stated, “By investing in the Domini Funds, you can help build a better future for the planet and its people, and be part of a movement working to address a wide range of social and environmental issues including human rights, climate change mitigation and forest stewardship.”

Neither McKibben nor Guttenplan responded to email requests for comment from The Grayzone.

Domini Funds was hardly the only investment fund that McKibben has partnered with to promote fossil fuel divestment – and which has engaged in the shell game exposed in “Planet of the Humans.”

In what was perhaps the film’s most devastating scene, narrator Jeff Gibbs detailed how McKibben has advised 350.org members to direct their money into the Green Century Fund, an investment portfolio that boasts of being “wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations,” and free of fossil fuel stock.

Green Century Funds Bill McKibben invest fossil fuels

As “Planet of the Humans” revealed, however, the Green Century Funds’ portfolio has contained heavy investments in mining companies, oil, and gas infrastructure companies, including an exploiter of tar sands, the biofuel giant Archer Daniels Midland, McDonald’s, Coca Cola (the world’s leading plastic pollution proliferator), logging giants, and big banks from Bank of America to HSBC.

Asked about this section of the film, Josh Fox dismissed it as out of date. He claimed that “the entire idea of what constitutes a divested fund has changed really radically over the last eight years, starting at first from just oil, coal and gas investments, to then encompassing things like plastics and the meat industry and derivatives and all other options.”

However, a probe of the 2019 Securities and Exchange Commission filings by Green Century Funds showed the fund held thousands of shares in meat giant McDonald’s and Royal Caribbean Cruises, among other mega-polluters. The latter company’s Harmony of the Seas ship happens to be the most environmentally toxic cruise liner on Earth, relying on three massive diesel engines to burn 66,000 gallons of fuel a day. By the end of one voyage across the Atlantic, the ship has expended the same amount of gasoline as over 5 million automobiles traveling the same distance.

Green Century’s SEC filing boasted that it elicited a pledge from Royal Caribbean “to make its food waste management and reduction strategies more public.” It also claimed to have “helped convince McDonald’s, the largest purchaser of beef in the world, to restrict the use of antibiotics in its beef and chicken supply chains.”

It was a classic case of greenwashing, in which corporate behemoths burnished their reputation among progressives by embracing cosmetic reforms that did little to challenge their bottom lines.

When I informed Fox about Green Century’s ongoing investments in carbon-heavy industries, he said, “Well, I’m all for an investigation of those things on real grounds.”

In the same breath, Fox pivoted to another complaint about “Planet of the Humans”: “The film attacks Bill McKibben in ways that were unfair and untrue.”

Was that the case, though? One of the most provocative points about McKibben and his allies in “Planet of the Humans” – that they function as de facto public relations agents for the “green” billionaires seeking to cash in on the renewables rush – was never coherently answered. But as this investigation reveals, the climate warriors criticized in the film are sponsored by many of those same billionaires, as well as the network of family foundations that help set the agenda for groups like 350.org.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund incubates 350.org

In perhaps the most uncomfortable scene in “Planet of the Humans,” Bill McKibben was shown visibly squirming as an interviewer asked him about family foundation support for his 350.org.

“We’re not exactly Big Greens,” McKibben insisted during a 2011 interview with climate journalist Karyn Strickler. “I’m a volunteer, we’ve got seven people who work full time on this 350.org campaign.”

With a telling smirk on her face, Strickler asked McKibben how his group sustained itself.

“To the degree that we have any money at all it’s come from a few foundations in Europe and the US,” McKibben insisted.

He mentioned “a foundation based in Sweden, I think it’s called the Rasmussen Foundation that I think has been the biggest funder.”

After some prodding by Strickler, a visibly uncomfortable McKibben divulged that the “Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave us some money right when we were starting out. That’s been useful too.”

However, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rasmussen were not observing the birth of 350.org from the sidelines. In fact, the Rockefeller Brothers were instrumental in establishing 350.org and guiding the organization’s agenda. It began when the foundation incubated a group called 1Sky with a $1 million grant. McKibben immediately joined as board member.

As documented by radical environmentalist Cory Morningstar, 1Sky’s launch was announced at a 2007 gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative by former President Bill Clinton, who stood on stage beside Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz. Four years later, the Rockefeller Brothers announced “the exciting marriage of 1Sky and 350.org — two grantees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Sustainable Development program.”

Why McKibben was so uncomfortable about discussing his relationship with Rockefeller was unclear. Perhaps he was concerned that the organization he once described as a “scruffy little outfit” would be seen as a central node in the donor-driven non-profit industrial complex.

Whatever his motives were, since the testy exchange with Strickler, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has contributed over $1 million to McKibben’s 350.org.

Alongside a network of foundations and “green” billionaires, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and its $1.2 billion endowment serves as a primary engine of the network of self-styled “climate justice” activists that sought to steamroll “Planet of the Humans.”

These interests have cohered around the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), which is located in the New York City offices of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

The EGA enables elite foundations and billionaire donors to cultivate a cadre of professional “doers” during retreats in scenic locations. One first-time student attendee said the retreat experience was designed with “the intention of strengthening relationships between funders and build[ing] relationships within the environmental movement.” As soon as she arrived, she was “paired with mentor ‘buddies,’ folks who had been to past EGA Retreats to show us the ropes.”

These encounters take place in Napa Valley, California, or at the Mohonk Mountain House resort in New York’s Hudson Valley.

report by the Threshold Foundation described the theme of the 2015 EGA fall retreat at Mohonk: “‘Fund the Fighters!’ That’s the rallying call from the stars. Not the celestial stars, but from well-known artists such as Mark Ruffalo and Naomi Klein.”

In accordance with its relationship with the EGA’s network of environmental cadres and outfits like 350.org, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund embraced their fossil fuel divestment campaign, shedding its stocks in oil and coal while increasing assets in other industries that can hardly be described as green. A look at the results of the foundation’s move offers another disturbing case study in the divestment shell game.

The Rockefeller Brothers go “green,” invest in Halliburton

In 2014, following consultations with 350.org, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced that it was divesting from fossil fuels. “We were extremely uncomfortable with the moral ambivalence of funding programs around the climate catastrophe while still being invested in the fossil fuels that were bringing us closer to that catastrophe,” Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz said.

At a December 2015 side session of the UN climate conference in Paris, 350.org executive director May Boeve joined Heintz to celebrate the foundation’s decision to divest. “A growing number of investors representing a growing amount of capital do not want to be associated with this industry any longer,” Boeve stated.

350.org’s Boeve and Rockefeller’s Heintz at the UN climate summit in 2015

 

A look at the most recent publicly available financial filing of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from 2018 (PDF), offered a clear glimpse at the shell game that divestment has entailed.

According to the filing, while the Rockefeller Brothers freed itself of fossil fuels, the foundation remained invested in companies including the oil services giant Halliburton, the Koch-run multinational petroleum transportation partnership Inter Pipeline Ltd, and Caterpillar, whose bulldozers are familiar at scenes of deforestation and Palestinian home demolitions. (Several NGOs that advocate divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, such as +972 Magazine and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, have also received support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund).

The foundation padded its portfolio with stock in financial industry titans like Citigroup and Wells Fargo, as well as Newcrest Mining, Barrick Gold, Wheaton Precious Metals Corporation, and Agnico Eagle Mines.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund listed at least $20 million of investments in Vision Ridge Partners, which was itself invested in a biomass company called Vanguard Renewables under the guise of “renewable energy.” In December 2019, Vanguard Renewables forged a partnership with Dominion Energy – the energy giant whose Atlantic Coast Pipeline was defeated this June thanks to grassroots environmental mobilization – to convert methane from farms into natural gas.

Since the Rockefeller Brothers Fund answered 350.org’s call to divest from fossil fuels in 2014, the foundation’s wealth has increased substantially. As the Washington Post reported, “the Rockefeller Brothers fund’s assets grew at an annual average rate of 7.76 percent over the five-year period that ended Dec. 31, 2019.”

The outcome of the Rockefellers’ widely praised move established a clear precedent for other elite institutions: by allowing organizations like 350.org to lead them by the hand, they could greenwash their image, offload stocks in a fossil fuel industry described by financial analysts as a “chronic underperformer,” and protect their investments in growth industries like mining, oil services, and biomass.

McKibben, for his part, has marketed fossil fuel divestment as a win-win strategy for the capitalist class: “The institutions that divested from fossil fuel really did well financially, because the fossil fuel industry has been the worst performing part of our economy… Even if you didn’t care about destroying the planet, you’d want to get out of it because it just loses money.”

Blood and Gore make “the case for long-term greed”

In another move apparently intended to burnish its green image while padding its assets, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund invested over $100 million in Generation Investment Management’s Generation Climate Solutions Fund II and Generation IM Global Equity Fund.

These entities are jointly managed by Al Gore, the former US vice president who negotiated a notorious carbon offsets loophole at the 1997 Kyoto Climate Protocol that has been blamed for the release of 600 million tons of excess emissions. Gore launched the fund alongside David Blood, the ex-CEO of asset management for Goldman Sachs, in order to promote a climate-friendly capitalism.

In a 2015 profile of Blood and Gore’s Generation Investment Management fund, The Atlantic’s James Fallows described their investment strategy as “a demonstration of a new version of capitalism, one that will shift the incentives of financial and business operations” toward a profitable “green” economy – while potentially saving the system of capitalism from itself.

Blood was blunt when asked about his agenda: “We are making the case for long-term greed.”

The banker Blood and the green guru McKibben shared a stage together at the 2013 conference of Ceres, a non-profit that works to consolidate the mutually beneficial relationship between Big Green and Wall Street.

Bill McKibben (on the right) and former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood at the 2013 Ceres conference

 

The event featured a cast of corporate executives from companies like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and GM. Sponsors included Bank of America, PG&E, Bloomberg, Citi, Ford, GM, Prudential, Wells Fargo, TimeWarner, and a collection of Fortune 500 companies.

During their conversation, the investor Blood pledged to mobilize “something in the order of $40 to $50 trillion of capital” in renewables, underscoring the massive profit center that a transition to “green” energy represents.

“It’s entirely dependent on what kind of political will we can muster,” McKibben proclaimed, pledging to work toward Blood’s goal.

The unsettling sight of McKibben discussing multi-trillion dollar profit possibilities with a former Goldman Sachs banker was featured prominently in “Planet of the Humans,” and undoubtedly helped inspire the ferocious backlash against the documentary by the 350.org founder’s network.

McKibben was far from alone among climate justice warriors in his dalliance with the billionaire class, however.

A foundation-supported “ragtag bunch”

Before Josh Fox launched his media blitz against “Planet of the Humans,” he directed a full-length documentary vehicle for 350.org, titled “Divest.” For the 2016 film, Fox followed McKibben and allies like Naomi Klein as they embarked on a cross-country road trip to promote fossil fuel divestment.

Fox’s ties to the professional activists extend to the funding network centered around the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Between 2012 and 2017, Fox’s film company International WOW reported grants totaling $2.5 million. Much of that funding came courtesy of the Rockefeller Brothers Cultural Innovation Fund and Rockefeller MAP fund, as well as the Ford and Park Foundations.

Josh Fox International WOW funding foundations

Foundation funding for Josh Fox’s production company International WOW (Source)

 

In 2012, the year Fox and his allies launched their campaign promoting fossil fuel divestment, he co-founded an environmental advocacy group called the Solutions Project. He conceived the organization alongside celebrity actor Mark Ruffalo, former Tesla executive Marco Krapels, and Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson – the professor behind the dubious 2050 all-renewables projection.

The four founders gathered seed money from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation of the eponymous film actor, and from the 11th Hour Foundation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, according to Fox. Fox said that after a power struggle and an attempt to force him out in order to raise several million from the Sierra Club, he, Krapels, and Jacobson eventually left the organization.

Krapels has since launched an electric battery company in Brazil – another country that happens to hold a massive reserve of lithium and other minerals necessary for his products. Brazil has experienced a rush on lithium mining in recent years thanks to the roaring demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Krapels’ former partner at Tesla’s disastrous Solar City project, Elon Musk, announced plans this year to build an electric car factory in Brazil. Musk has even reportedly sought an audience with the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, to further his business interests.

Today, the Solutions Project is “100% co opted and sold out,” Fox acknowledged. Indeed, the group’s board members currently include Brandon Hurlbut, a former Obama Department of Energy official who founded Boundary Stone Partners – a lobbying firm that represents the nuclear industry. Also on the board is Billy Parish, the founder of Mosaic, a financial firm that declares its “mission to revolutionize two of the biggest industries in the world: energy and finance…” Mosaic’s website states. “We focus on the integration of doing good (for the planet) and doing well (financially).”

According to its website, the Elon Musk Foundation is among the Solutions Project’s funders. The organization describes Musk as “the guy who is trying to save humanity in like four or five different ways,” comparing him to a Marvel Comics superhero.

In reality, Musk is a ferocious union-buster who recently fired workers for staying home as the Covid-19 pandemic hit – but not before deceiving them into believing they had permission to safely quarantine.

Other Solutions Project supporters include the Skoll Global Threats Fund, run by eBay billionaire Jeffrey Skoll. Skoll funded Al Gore’s film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which went into production soon after Gore launched his Generation Investment Management fund – an inconvenient truth pointed out by “Planet of the Humans.”

The 11th Hour Project foundation of Google CEO Schmidt and his wife remains a supporter of the Solutions Project after ponying up the seed money to launch it. Asked in 2014 about the inequality and displacement that start-up tech businesses bring to the Bay Area, where Google is located, Schmidt responded, “Let us celebrate capitalism. $19 billion for 50 people? Good for them.”

When I challenged Fox about the co-optation of climate justice politics by tech oligarchs like Skoll, Schmidt, and Musk, he grew defensive. “You have to see these things in a time continuum of us trying to take off big, something bigger than anybody’s ever tried to take on in the world,” he stated, referencing his and his allies’ fight against the fossil fuel industry. “They’re bigger than Nazi Germany, bigger than America. Bigger than all of them combined. We’re a ragtag bunch of extraordinarily committed people who are willing to put our lives on the line to stop the fossil fuel industry.

“Yeah, that’s that’s really laudable,” Fox continued, referring to his own efforts, “and for a multi-millionaire circus barker, as Bill McKibben calls Michael Moore, to take potshots using flawed science, dishonest techniques, misrepresentation of the timeline, and 1,000 other things that are journalistic malpractice and that was called out by an extraordinary number of people – that’s the real story here. The real bully is Michael Moore here. It’s not me.”

The Producer

This year, Josh Fox launched a one-man show and film called “The Truth Has Changed.” According to promotional material for the performance, Fox narrated his experience as “an eyewitness to history” who “was the subject of a 100 million dollar smear campaign from the oil and gas industry.”

“Josh Fox was the beta test for the types of propaganda and smears the gang that created Cambridge Analytica is now known for world wide,” the film’s website stated. “And Josh is telling his story in an uncompromising way like never before.”

The performance was supposed to have enjoyed a lengthy run this January at one of the most renowned venues for political theater in the country, The Public Theater in New York City. But the show was abruptly canceled after the Public accused Fox of violating the theater’s code of conduct through “a series of verbal abuses to the staff.”

Fox, who is Jewish, retaliated by accusing the theater’s directors of anti-Semitism. According to the New York Times, Fox “said he had been told that he was too passionate, too loud and too emotional.”

“To me that is distinctly cultural,” Fox told the paper. “That’s a classic anti-Semitic trope.”

Behind the drama over the monologue’s cancellation, a more salient issue lingered. The executive producer of Fox’s “The Truth Has Changed” was Tom Dinwoodie, a wealthy “cleantech” entrepreneur and engineer who owned dozens of patents on solar technology, and therefore stood to reap a massive windfall profit from the renewables revolution that Fox and his allies were campaigning for.

Dinwoodie, who signed Fox’s letter calling for the retraction of “Planet of the Humans,” was a top donor to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a so-called “do-tank” where he serves as a lead trustee. In 2014, Dinwoodie helped oversee the merger of his think tank with billionaire Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, which was founded with “a mission to stimulate business-led market interventions that advance a low-carbon economy.”

“Increasingly, the solutions for climate change are those policy measures that drive economic growth,” a spokesman declares in a video announcing the strategic partnership between Branson’s non-profit and Dinwoodie’s Rocky Mountain “do-tank.”

In the same video, billionaire former Democratic Party presidential candidate and Rocky Mountain Institute donor Tom Steyer emphasized the profit motive behind the renewables transition: “Changing the way we generate and use energy is the largest industry in the history of the world. There is no time to waste.”

This July 9 – the day after the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force released its policy recommendations – the Rocky Mountain Institute launched the Center for Climate Aligned Finance in partnership with four of the biggest banks in the world: Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase.

The initiative, according to Rocky Mountain, will serve as “an engine room for the financial sector to partner with corporate clients to identify practical solutions through deep partnerships with industry, civil society and policymakers to facilitate a transition in the global economy to net-zero emissions by mid-century.”

The partnership represented an obvious boon for green tycoons like Dinwoodie who profit from renewable energy. And for the big banks that continued to top the list of the world’s most prolific investors in the fossil fuel industry, it was another opportunity to greenwash their public image.

Given the economic interests represented by Dinwoodie and his “do-tank,” it was easy to understand why he signed Fox’s letter calling for “Planet of the Humans” to be retracted. The documentary had not only hammered his political partner, Richard Branson, as a PR savvy oligarch exploiting environmental politics; it took aim at the ethos of Big Green outfits that comforted their ruling-class funders with the promise that they could do good while continuing to do well.

When I asked Fox why he thought big tech tycoons and their family foundations were plowing their fortunes into climate activism, he responded, “Probably saving the planet.”

The Danish connection

While wealthy green businessmen like Dinwoodie and Elon Musk furthered their commercial interests by underwriting green advocacy, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation and its closely affiliated KR (Kann-Rasmussen) Foundation have strategically directed their resources into nurturing a who’s who of professional climate warriors – including several that played a role in the campaign to suppress “Planet of the Humans.”

Brian Valbjørn Sørensen, the executive director of the KR Foundation, was a former special advisor to the center-left Danish government that lost power in 2015. KR’s chair, Connie Hedegaard, was the ex-minister for climate and energy for the center-right Danish government of Anders Fogg Rasmussen, who went on to serve as secretary general of the NATO military alliance. As the European Union’s first climate chief, Hedegaard argued that renewable energy could strengthen NATO’s soft power against Russia by reducing natural gas imports from the designated enemy state.

KR’s support for groups like 350.org surfaced in “Planet of the Humans” during the cringe-inducing scene in which journalist Karyn Strickler grilled Bill McKibben about his organizational funders. According to the KR Foundation, it donated $2 million to 350.org in 2019.

Toby Smith, the photographer who filed the copyright claim against Planet of the Humans on explicitly “personal” grounds, happened to have been the media outreach director of a KR-funded non-profit called Climate Outreach. As the Rasmussen family’s KR Foundation stated in a recent financial filing, it initiated grants totaling nearly $2 million to Climate Outreach in 2019 alone.

When British columnist George Monbiot published a vitriolic condemnation of “Planet of the Humans” in The Guardian, he neglected to mention that he had been a board member of the Rasmussen-backed Climate Outreach.

The V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation has also supported Naomi Klein’s environmentalist outfit, The Leap, according to the foundation’s website.

Klein, a longtime critic of elite family foundations and the billionaire class, was among the most prominent figures to join the campaign to censor “Planet of the Humans.” As her ally McKibben acknowledged, she unsuccessfully pressured Michael Moore to retract “Planet of the Humans” before it was even released.

Klein has celebrated the Danish government where KR Foundation leaders have served for advancing “some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world.” At the same time, she has denounced the “autocratic industrial socialism” of the Soviet Union and the “petro-populism” of the socialist government of Venezuela, where Denmark has recognized US-backed coup leader Juan Guaidó.

Klein’s recent broadsides against Venezuela contrasted strongly with her signing of a 2004 open letter that proclaimed, “If we were Venezuelan… we would vote for [Hugo] Chavez”; and a 2007 column in which she wrote that thanks to the Chavez government, “citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives.”

Naomi Klein and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on November 4, 2015. Gurria was a former Finance Minister in the administration of Mexico’s neoliberal former president, Ernesto Zedillo. Gurria won the OECD’s “Globalist of the Year” award for his role in negotiating the NAFTA free trade deal and “promot[ing] trans-nationalism.”

From Big Green critic to “Planet of the Humans” opponent

Naomi Klein’s opposition to “Planet of the Humans” was surprising given the views she has expressed in the past on mainstream environmental politics. In 2013, for example, she bemoaned the “deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups [on how to fight climate change]. And to be very honest with you,” she continued, “I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.”

In her widely acclaimed 2008 book “The Shock Doctrine,” Klein documenting the Ford Foundation’s role as a CIA cutout that helped establish the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago.

The Ford-funded academic department nurtured the infamous “Chicago Boys,” a group of neoliberal economists led by Milton Friedman who conceived the disaster capitalist “shock doctrine” that inspired the title of Klein’s book. They applied their program to Chile as General Augusto Pinochet’s economic advisors following his CIA-backed military coup to destroy the leftist government of Chilean President Salvador Allende.

Klein also surveyed the Ford Foundation’s support for the “Berkeley Mafia” at the University of California that advised the hyper-repressive junta of General Suharto, which toppled Indonesia’s socialist government in 1965.

“The Berkeley Mafia had studied in the US as part of a program that began in 1956, funded by the Ford Foundation…” Klein wrote. “Ford-funded students became leaders of the campus groups that participated in overthrowing Sukarno, and the Berkeley Mafia worked closely with the military in the lead-up to the coup…”

Henry Kissinger, the Nixon foreign policy guru whom Klein identified as the mastermind of the dirty war in Chile, had previously served as the director of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Special Strategies Project, which helped conceive US national security strategies for countering the spread of communism.

Today, the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund support an array of liberal causes, from diversity and racial justice initiatives to the network of NGO’s organizing for fossil fuel divestment. At the same time, the Ford Foundation backs organizations that push regime change in Latin America, partnering with the US government to fund Freedom House, a DC-based NGO which supported the failed coup to oust Nicaragua’s elected leftist government in 2018. For its part, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has supported The Syria Campaign, a public relations outfit that clamored for US military intervention to remove the UN-recognized government of Syria.

In 2011, when Klein was appointed to 350.org’s board of directors, she joined forces with an environmental organization incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and supported by the Ford Foundation. “As 350.org founder Bill McKibben puts it: unless we go after the ‘money pollution,’ no campaign against real pollution stands a chance,” Klein wrote at the time.

Klein’s 2015 book and documentary film on climate change, “This Changes Everything,” was initially launched as a project called “The Message.” It was supported with hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from a who’s who of major family foundations that help sustain McKibben’s political apparatus.

In one of several grants to the book and film project, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund contributed $50,000 to “The Message” via a non-profit pass-through called the Sustainable Markets Foundation. [PDF]

Susan Rockefeller served as a co-executive producer of the documentary version of “This Changes Everything.” Her husband, David Rockefeller Jr. is the son of tycoon David Rockefeller, a US government-linked cold warrior who co-founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and helped back the US-managed coup that put Pinochet and the Chicago Boys in power in Chile. Rockefeller Jr., a major supporter of conservationist causes, is a former chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and board member of Rockefeller Financial Services.

In 2014, the Ford Foundation chipped in with $250,000 to Klein’s project. [PDF]

Klein’s “The Message” also benefited from $140,000 in support from the Schmidt Family Foundation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. The Schmidt Family Foundation is an ongoing contributor to McKibben’s 350.org, kicking in $200,000 in 2018 [PDF].

In April 2019, Klein released “A Message From The Future,” a video collaboration with Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and artist and pundit Molly Crabapple, which promoted the Green New Deal as a pathway to a renewable-powered economic utopia.

Crabapple, a vehement supporter of Washington’s campaign for regime change in Syria, is an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation, a Democratic Party-linked think tank substantially funded by Google’s Schmidt, the Ford Foundation and the US State Department.

In a recent The Intercept column, Klein took aim at Schmidt, describing him as one of the billionaires exploiting “a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine” to begin “building a high tech dystopia.” She noted that Schmidt is closely aligned with the national security state as chair of the Defense Innovation Board, which consults for the Pentagon on the military’s application of artificial intelligence.

Schmidt also happens to be a proponent of a “smart” energy grid, which he says will “modernize the electric grid to make it look more like the Internet.” Such a model would not only benefit tech companies like Google which make their money buying and selling data, but the U.S. national security state, whose partnerships with big tech companies increase the capacity of its surveillance apparatus.

The Senate version of the Green New Deal calls for the construction of “smart” power grids almost exactly like those Schmidt imagined. Klein and other high-profile Green New Deal proponents have neglected to mention that this seeming benign component of the well-intentioned plan could represent a giant step on the way to the “high tech dystopia” of Silicon Valley barons and their national security state partners.

In May 2018, Klein became the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. The position was created “following a three-year, $3 million campaign…including a dozen foundations.” Among the “early and path breaking contributors,” according to Rutgers, was the Ford Foundation.

Gloria Steinem (L) and Naomi Klein at the 2018 Rutgers ceremony inaugurating Steinem’s endowed chair

 

Contributions also poured in for the endowment from tycoons like Sheryl Sandberg, the billionaire chief operating officer of Facebook and advocate of corporate “Lean In” feminism; and Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul who was sentenced this March to 23 years in prison for first degree criminal sexual assault. According to Rutgers, Weinstein provided “a gift of $100,000 in honor of his late mother, who shared Gloria Steinem’s hopes for female equality.”

I had hoped to have a conversation with Klein, a former colleague at the Nation Institute, about her reflexive opposition to a documentary that advanced many of the same arguments that appeared in her past writings. Was the exclusive focus on carbon emissions by professional climate warriors not a blinkered approach that ignored the environmental damage inherent in producing still-unproven renewable technology? Did “cleantech” tycoons not have a vested interest in advancing a global transition to the renewable products their companies manufactured? And when she had clearly articulated the problems with billionaire-backed Big Green advocacy, why had Klein cast her lot with a political network that seemed to epitomize it?

My emails were met with an auto-reply informing me Klein was “off grid,” and referring me to her personal assistant.

According to Fox, high-profile climate warriors like McKibben and Klein had no interest in speaking to me about their opposition to the film because “it’s like four months ago, man, everybody’s moved on.”

Seeing green in Biden

By August, members of the professional climate advocacy network that saw its interests threatened by “Planet of the Humans” was preparing for a much more elaborate on-screen production that promised new opportunities.

In the weeks ahead of the Democratic National Convention, climate justice organizations like the Sunrise Movement 501 c-4 which emerged in the shadow of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential run and condemned former Vice President Joseph Biden as a tool of the establishment suddenly changed their tune.

Flush with dark money from Democratic Party-aligned billionaires, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash stated on July 14 – the day Biden released his clean energy plan: “It’s no secret that we’ve been critical of Vice President’s Biden’s plans and commitments in the past. Today, he’s responded to many of those criticisms: dramatically increasing the scale and urgency of investments… Our movement, alongside environmental justice communities and frontline workers, has taught Joe Biden to talk the talk.”

While it brands itself as a grassroots movement that has organized anti-establishment stunts putting centrist figures like Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the spot, the Sunrise Movement was incubated with a grant from the Sierra Club, the Mike Bloomberg-backed juggernaut of Big Green organizing. Today, offices of the two organizations are located a floor apart in the same building in downtown Washington DC.

Ahead of the DNC, the Biden campaign introduced a $2 trillion plan pledge to invest heavily in renewable technology to achieve “a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.” The plan promised to erect 500 million solar panels in the next five years alongside 60,000 new wind turbines.

With the demand for solar plummeting due to the coronavirus pandemic, the prospect of gigantic government subsidies was music to the ears of the “cleantech” tycoons who sponsor Democratic Party-aligned climate advocacy organizations.

Many of these green millionaires and billionaires had feasted at the trough of Obama’s stimulus package, which was directly responsible for powering the rise of America’s solar industry. After promising upon his inauguration to invest $150 billion in “a new green energy business sector,” Obama doled out an eye-popping $4.9 billion in subsidies to Tesla’s Elon Musk and a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for Tom Dinwoodie’s SunPower US to construct the California Valley Solar Ranch. In June 2019, an “avian incident” caused a fire at the SunPower Solar Ranch project, impacting over 1200 acres and knocking out 84% of generating capacity for several weeks.

“Planet of the Humans” presented viewers with the disturbing story of the Ivanpah solar plant, a signature initiative in Obama’s green energy plan which was co-owned by Google. Gifted with $1.6 billion in loan guarantees and $600 million in federal tax credits, Ivanpah was built on 5.6 square miles of pristine public land close to California’s Mojave National Preserve. In its first year, the massive plant produced less than half its of its planned energy goal while burning over 6000 birds to death.

The Ivanpah solar thermal plant and its three power towers spans across the Mojave Desert

 

Because of the intermittency inherent to solar power, the gargantuan energy project has had to burn massive amounts of natural gas to keep the system primed when the sun is not shining. Despite its dependence on fossil fuel, Ivanpah still qualifies under state rules as a renewable plant.

“The bottom line is the public didn’t expect this project to consume this much natural gas,” David Lamfrom, California desert manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, told the local Press-Enterprise. “We did not have full knowledge that this was what we were signing up for.”

Even after the Obama administration poured billions of dollars into solar projects, solar energy output increased between 2008 and 2016 by a mere .7% as a total of American energy production.

Meanwhile, across the country, many new wind projects remain stalled due to community concerns about land destruction. In the home state of Green New Deal advocate Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only remaining wind project was canceled this January.

For raising questions about the efficacy and environmental cost of renewable projects like these, and proposing an explicitly anti-capitalist solution to the corporate destruction of the planet, the makers of “Planet of the Humans” were steamrolled by a network of professional climate activists, billionaire investors and industry insiders.

Now, with the Biden campaign promising a new flood of renewable subsidies and tax breaks under the auspices of a “clean” energy plan, the public remains in the dark about what it is signing up for. Even if the ambitious agenda fails to deliver any substantial environmental good, it promises a growing class of green investors another opportunity to do well.

 

[Max Blumenthal is the editor-in-chief of The Grayzone, an award-winning journalist, and the author of several books. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.]

Justin Trudeau’s Billion-Dollar Scandal Is a Story of Power, Branding, and Charity

Vice

July 22, 2020

By Justin Ling

 

“In Justin Trudeau, WE Charity had a prominent booster. In WE, Justin Trudeau had a powerful platform popular with young people.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) along with WE co-founders, Craig (middle) and Marc Kielburger, WE Day Ottawa, November 9, 2016. MARKETWIRED PHOTO/WE Day

 

It’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summer scandal. He and his finance minister are under investigation from an ethics watchdog. Two Parliamentary committees have started investigating the affair and Trudeau will testify.

In the middle of it all is a $912 million contract, awarded without competition to the Canadian-founded WE Charity, a household name thanks to a powerful origin story that has morphed into a huge youth-oriented movement with celebrities like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attached.

It’s an organization with close ties to the prime minister himself. The scandal unfurled as it was revealed Trudeau’s own family received large speaking fees from the organization and while Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s daughter worked at the charity.

“I made a mistake in not recusing myself,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau himself announced the Canada Student Service Grant program, which would award grants to students and youth for doing volunteer work amid the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. WE would have earned between $19.5 million and $43.5 million for just running the program. WE has already withdrawn from its government contract with a promise to “return to its roots” of international development.

From the outside, it may seem like a very Canadian scandal: Money for a charity stymied by an alleged ethical lapse caused, in part, by the prime minister’s famous mother being paid to speak to legions of teens.

Dig a little deeper, and this scandal, Trudeau’s third such ethics investigation, says an awful lot about both his government and the WE organization.

VICE News reviewed hundreds of financial disclosure documents and internal presentation decks, consulted a forensic accountant regarding WE’s books, and spoke to several past employees about how the charity—and its less-understood corporate arm—does business.

As VICE News started asking questions about WE’s financials, WE announced it would be reorienting its charity and business divisions, acknowledging that its years of rapid expansion has led to a “organizational structure that is more complicated than it needs to be.”

At the centre of this scandal is the story of WE, a unique charitable-corporate hybrid, and its symbiotic relationship with the prime minister.

Friends in high places

The WE Charity origin story is the stuff of legend. A 12-year-old Craig Kielburger, per the WE account, was flipping through a newspaper in 1995 in search of the comics. He happened upon an article about a 12-year-old Pakistani labour rights activist, Iqbal Masih, who had been murdered.

“Craig convinced a handful of Grade 7 classmates that together they could make an impact, and WE Charity was born,” WE writes on their website. Soon, his older brother Marc was in on the family charitable business.

They called the organization Free the Children (it would be renamed WE Charity in 2016), and they set out to do the kind of altruistic development that was du jour in the late 1990s—building wells, schools, and clinics for the underprivileged in the Global South. On a tour of East Asia, Craig would cross paths with then-prime minister Jean Chretien, whom he challenged to take a stand against child slavery.

The inspiring story drove international attention, and donations. But international development is a saturated market—Oxfam, Unicef, World Vision, and a host of others have been doing this work for decades.

The Kielburgers pioneered a new way of financing their charitable efforts: ME to WE Social Enterprises. It would be, according to their website, “a new model to support the long-term charitable goals of WE Charity.” This related corporate entity would organize trips, sell sustainably made goods, run events, and donate much of its profits back to WE Charity.

For about $5,000, students could fly to various destinations in Central and South America, Africa, and South Asia and stay at WE ranches and facilities. The trips mixed the air of a sleepaway camp, focusing on team building and leadership, while also offering day trips where students would contribute to building schools or wells. WE would eventually start offering corporate retreats as well.

Those trips faced criticism familiar to other so-called “voluntourism” organizations—that poorer communities need investment and opportunity, not privileged children from North America and Europe to contribute their unskilled labour. WE brushed the criticism aside. “When done properly and in partnership with communities, trips can be beneficial,” its executive director once wrote.

ME to WE expanded to run WE Day, which blends stadium-sized motivational speaking tours with the vibe of a children’s day camp. Celebrity cameos have included Kendrick Lamar, the Dalai Lama, Martin Sheen and Al Gore. ME to WE opened shops, selling sustainably made goods. It opened WE Schools, which provided slickly made, development-minded curricula to teachers.

1595445034328-Screen-Shot-2020-07-22-at-112954-AM

An internal WE document.

 

WE’s stock rose steadily through the 2000s and early 2010s, and it incorporated its charity-corporate model in the United States and United Kingdom. Both Kielburgers were awarded the Order of Canada. It published books with contributions from Richard Gere and Oprah. 60 Minutes profiled the brothers.

The organization is not outwardly political. Its U.K. board of directors boasts a Liberal Democrat lord and a Conservative Member of Parliament. But in Justin Trudeau, it had an early champion. He appeared at the first-ever WE Day in 2007, when he was running for Parliament for the first time. He appeared again after he was elected in 2008, per a list compiled by iPolitics.

Just days after he spoke at WE Day Toronto 2012, Trudeau launched his bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. Craig Kielburger contributed $1,200, the maximum allowed, to Trudeau’s campaign.

When he became prime minister in 2015, one of Trudeau’s first public events was WE Day Ottawa.

Trudeau wasn’t the only one in the family joining WE Day. Trudeau’s partner, Sophie; mother, Margaret; and brother, Sacha, all spoke at various WE Days. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau even co-hosted a WE podcast. Canadaland and CBC reported that Me to We paid $312,000 for Margaret Trudeau’s appearances, and $40,000 for eight engagements with Sacha Trudeau. The prime minister was, according to the government, not paid for any of his appearances.

As Trudeau’s family became functional ambassadors for the organization, the government of Canada began an enthusiastic WE partnership.

Before his election, Ottawa had paid less than a million dollars in grants to WE. After Trudeau assumed office, that changed.

In 2016, Heritage Canada awarded WE Charity $1.5 million to participate in the lead-up to Canada’s 150th anniversary, as part of a program to “commemorate and celebrate historical figures, places, events, and accomplishments of national significance.” As part of that program, WE put out a video prominently featuring the prime minister himself.

VICE News asked if any Government of Canada money was spent on that ad. WE said it didn’t know.

“We are getting a significant number of requests from media at this time,” a spokesperson said. “While we remain committed to providing as much information as possible, we are still in the process of gathering and reviewing our internal records of contracts of years past in order to fully cooperate with various inquiries from official sources to which we are legally required to respond.”

When Canada Day rolled around, the Kielburger brothers were featured heavily at the Parliament Hill celebrations. Days later, at the WE-branded celebrations, Trudeau graced the stage.

Ottawa offered WE Charity non-competitive and sole-sourced contracts, too, for “management consulting” or “public relations services.”

Overall, the Government of Canada paid WE Charity and ME to WE more than $5.8 million.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Morneau told a House of Commons committee that he and his family accepted invitations by WE to visit their high-end camps in Kenya and Ecuador. There, they lent a hand in building nearby schools. While the committee seized on some $40,000 in expenses that Morneau did not reimburse WE for, the trips say so much more about just how close WE and the Trudeau government really are.

A cash flow crunch

As WE became a household name for many, its finances showed signs it had expanded too fast.

In 2017, the Canadian arm of WE Charity posted a $3.8 million surplus, thanks to more than $45 million in annual donations and $10 million in private grants.

By 2019, though, the charity fell into the red, according to WE Charity’s unpublished audited financial statements provided to VICE News. Donations and grants stayed mostly flat, but spending rose rapidly. The charity posted a $2.3 million deficit, plus an additional $4 million in bank loans.

That has all the hallmarks of a “cash flow crunch,” says Kate Bahen, the managing director of Charity Intelligence, an organization devoted to analyzing the financials of Canadian charities. She obtained and analyzed WE Charity’s 2019 financial statements.

The Government of Canada was there to help, however. Three days after the WE Charity fiscal period ended in September 2019, Employment and Social Development Canada awarded it a $3 million grant.

It was the biggest contribution from the Canadian government to WE up to that point.

WE disagrees there was an issue with its finances. “WE is not experiencing a cash flow problem and it would be incorrect to say so,” a spokesperson said.

The spokesperson told VICE News that part of the problem came from WE’s own decision to shift its fiscal year. Until 2013, WE ended its fiscal year in March; then it moved to December; and finally, in 2018, it took the unusual step to align with the academic year, ending in August.

Bahen calls the frequency of that change “highly irregular.” WE acknowledges it makes it impossible to compare one year to the next—in 2018, WE posted a $400,000 deficit, but only over eight months, not 12.

WE says that, because of the shift in fiscal year, some $21 million in donations had to be deferred “from one fiscal year to another, to account for the fiscal year in which the program would occur,” the spokesperson explained. “Because of these larger deferrals, we had…run a deficit, on paper, in 2018 and 2019.”

The deficit was due to the fiscal year shift, they said, “not because of the financial health of the organization.”

Yet the shift happened in 2018. The 2019 year was a full 12 months. It’s not clear why WE would have to keep deferring revenue.

WE says the decision to shift the fiscal year was a decision taken by the board of directors. That board is now mostly gone.

Michelle Douglas, the former chair of WE Charity’s board, left earlier this year. In April, she tweeted skepticism of WE’s accounting of its impact abroad.

Of the 15 directors who sat on the boards of the Charity’s Canadian and American arms in 2018, just four remain. WE has told CBC that the new board was selected to “address issues such as diversity, inclusion, and range of competencies.” Douglas, a former member of the Canadian Forces who was purged from the ranks due to her sexuality, said most of the board had resigned or been replaced. The new chair of the Canadian board is Greg Rogers, formerly with Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Even with its back-to-back deficits, WE is not about to go bankrupt. Part of the financial health of the organization is its real estate holdings, totalling nearly $50 million across North America, including a sprawling Arizona ranch and a much-celebrated, newly-renovated office in Toronto’s Corktown, where it plans to keep expanding. Abroad, WE owns a constellation of properties through local corporations.

“All real estate purchases were made possible by targeted gifts from donors who believed that owning its own facilities would make WE more sustainable and effective in the long term,” WE wrote to VICE News. On top of savings on rent, WE says it serves as a nest egg that provides “long-term financial stability and a value fiscal reserve to underpin its operations.”

Several of those properties, however, still carry mortgages. Those mortgages require that WE maintains enough profit to comfortably cover the payments. (“One of the covenants of the mortgage provisions is that WE Charity generates positive EBITDA [Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] to cover 1.3 times the mortgage payments in the fiscal year,” WE wrote.)

WE failed to meet that condition in both 2018 and 2019, and had to seek a specific waiver to avoid breaching their mortgage agreements.

“If our fiscal year end was either October 31 or December 31, this would not have been an issue; there would have been no ‘deficit’ and/or need for a waiver,” WE said. “This was simply an operational decision that we made consciously and still support.”

1595445234499-Screen-Shot-2020-07-22-at-112943-AM

An internal WE powerpoint slide.

 

This was all before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Real estate values took a beating, international travel was shut down, and WE Day 2020, a massive revenue source for the organization, was cancelled. Sources told the Toronto Star that donations had slowed significantly, and WE started mass layoffs.

In April, a lifeline appeared. The Trudeau government was looking to incentivize volunteer work for students who may have lost jobs and internships due to the global pandemic—the Canada Student Service Grant would award them between $1,000 and $5,000.

Exactly who proposed WE to run the program is still a matter of debate. Trudeau says it was the bureaucracy who suggested the organization administer the program. WE initially suggested it was Trudeau’s office who first offered them the contract, but later recanted that story.

Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart, the head of Canada’s civil service, told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that the government did not kick the tires on WE’s financials before awarding them the contract. “To the best of my knowledge, officials did not engage in detailed scrutiny of the financial affairs of the organization,” he said. “No financial flags were raised through this process about the WE Charity.”

WE would have received between $19.5 million and $43.5 million of the $912 million program, which would have gone a long way towards addressing their increasing debt load and decline in donations.

The willingness to go with WE is curious. The organization encourages volunteer work, through WE Schools and WE Day, but largely by encouraging students to organize and execute work on their own. Many other charities like Kiwanis, the Lion’s Club, and Volunteer Canada all either link up with local organizations or have existing infrastructure in communities and schools.

WE’s power, however, is in the branding.

‘We brought them to WE Day’

A page of WE’s website, advertising Marc Kielburger as a paid speaker, touts his insights into “purposeful and profitable business strategies.” The page, which has since been updated to remove that language, boasts that Marc can help teach strategies to “inspire brand fanatics to stay loyal to you, your company, and your cause (and) add a halo effect to your product.”

That halo effect is core to WE’s strategy.

WE lets its partners co-brand international development projects, grace the stage at the ebullient WE Day celebrations, and even help craft school curricula. All for a fee.

The corporate arm of WE does not proactively publish corporate financial information. But internal PowerPoint presentations provided by a former employee reveal that by summer 2017, ME to WE boasted some 206 active partnerships with an annual revenue of $47.5 million.

Of hundreds of sponsors, just 20 large sponsors comprised nearly 90 percent of ME to WE’s revenue, including insurance vendor Allstate, RBC bank, movie chain Cineplex, Microsoft, accounting firm KPMG, and resource companies PotashCorp and Teck Resources.

WE insists WE Day and WE Schools are empowering and educational. To potential sponsors, however, WE is pretty blunt that it offers a big branding opportunity.

In an internal pitch presentation, WE said its youth-oriented programs “improve partners’ brand reputation particularly by increasing consumer perception of partners’ investment in their local community.” WE further suggested that partnerships “can drive consumer exploration, consideration, and purchase of products and services.”

Internal polling of students and parents about its corporate-branded in-school programs bragged that “60 percent of (WE) teens spoke positively about the company with their parents.”

The internal polling suggests that WE Schools and WE Day also pushed teens to complete a “social action”—such as “connected with an Allstate agent in my community,” “bought a Surface [tablet] or other Microsoft product,” and “used Skype”—yet most had no clear social component whatsoever. The only non-corporate examples listed were “learned more about computer science and coding” and “took action to live more sustainably (i.e., conserving water, reducing waste).”

1595445303308-Screen-Shot-2020-07-22-at-112925-AM

An internal WE document.

 

WE’s programs are present in some 18,000 schools throughout North America. WE Day, meanwhile, engrossed attendees with its high production value, socially conscious messaging, and big-name guests.

“Any time I wanted to sign a new company, we brought them to WE Day,” a former employee told Canadaland last year, for a series of stories about WE’s corporate partnerships and its work in schools across North America. (Disclosure: I contributed some reporting and editing to Canadaland on those stories, and am relying on some of the information I learned for this story.)

The corporate branding is obvious, however.

At WE Days, students may watch short documentaries about their corporate sponsors. One video played at WE Day 2017 showed a student shopping at a Walgreens, encouraging her peers to purchase WE-branded goods at the retail giant. WE Day Montreal this year was co-branded by seven companies, including KPMG and steakhouse chain The Keg.

These partnerships aren’t cheap.

A pitch deck prepared for household goods company Unilever suggested partnerships starting at $800,000 to get co-branding at WE Schools, with add-ons that could have brought the total value of the deal to more than $4 million. For that money, Unilever would get a six-minute onstage segment at WE Day New York, involvement in a national schools speaking tour, which allows for “exposure to the full student body,” and a redrafting of the WE Schools program to ensure a “stronger tie-in to (Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan).”

Some partners are more controversial than others.

“WE Charity has a policy to carefully review potential corporate funders,” a spokesperson said. Resource extraction companies for example, “provide critical inputs for global industries such as food production and infrastructure development.”

Canadian oil sands company Teck Resources contributed $400,000 to ME to WE in 2017 that helped buy a national battery recycling program in Canadian schools.

PotashCorp, a resource extraction company and former Crown corporation, was a sponsor of WE for five years, contributing $1 million in 2017 alone. This, even as the company faced criticism for extracting hundreds of millions of dollars of natural resources in occupied Western Sahara. “We do not see how the association with a company that aids and abets in the occupation of Western Sahara, resulting in tremendous human suffering, relates to the views and values of Free the Children,” reads a 2013 letter from the Western Sahara Resource Watch. PotashCorp and WE remained partners until the company merged with a rival in 2017.

WE says its partnership with PotashCorp “enabled farmers in developing countries to provide 15 million meals.”

WE also partnered with Dow Chemical to help middle and high school students “develop solutions to the world’s largest sustainability issues.” The curriculum prepared by WE suggests teachers ask students questions like, “How do Dow scientists approach problems?”

WE told VICE News that Dow is “ranked as one of the top companies in terms of sustainability performance,” pointing to the fact that it was listed as part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the 20th year.

The U.S. arm of WE Charity raised $5.3 million from Valeant Pharmaceuticals—now Bausch Health—seemingly in support of the Passion to Heal program, which sent American dermatologists to Kenya and India to provide skincare to those in need. The program came just after Valeant was accused of inflating drug prices by as much as 3,000 percent, and just before its executives were being charged with running a sprawling fraud scheme.

These PowerPoints themselves note the “challenges” present in their corporate relationships: The list included “sacrifices to WE program integrity.”

Last week, the company announced that WE Schools would shift to a “digital-only format.”

A corporate web

For its ingenious model of charitable giving, WE’s labyrinthine corporate structure makes it a difficult organization to untangle. When you begin pulling it apart, questions remain over just how effective an organization it truly is.

The organization’s own material suggests the structure is simple: There’s the charity, WE Charity, and there’s the company, ME to WE. Yet even WE has a hard time telling them apart. It strenuously denied that WE Charity had ever paid Margaret Trudeau for her speaking engagements, only to later admit it had cut her a $7,500 cheque in 2017. WE says it was an accounting error.

On Wednesday, Global News revealed that the Canada Student Service Grant contract was actually awarded to the WE Charity Foundation, not WE Charity itself. It’s not clear why the Foundation was incorporated at all, aside from an oblique reference in a 2018 financial statement about its goal “to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of other registered charities by providing and maintaining facilities to house their operations.” Global has reported it is primarily used to hold real estate.

ME to WE, meanwhile, is actually owned by a holding company, and it, in turn, owns five subsidiaries that run various aspects of its business.

Its Russian nesting doll structure aside, ME to We claims that, by donating 90 percent of its profit—$9.4 million between 2016 and 2019, WE says—it finances WE Charity’s important work.

Drill down on those numbers, however, and it’s not so clear-cut.

For starters, lots of money flows in the opposite direction. The charity actually paid its corporate arm $7 million over those three years. WE says it’s “largely due to an increase in donor trips, which resulted in a significant increase in donations to WE Charity.”

It means that the net transfer of funds between ME to WE to WE Charity over those three years is closer to $2 million.

What’s more, not all that money is cash contributions. In 2019, WE Charity reported nearly $5 million in contributions from ME to WE. Of that, more than $3.5 million is in-kind donations, such as “travel and leadership training services,” promotional goods, rent, and the purchase of books. ME to WE sells these things to WE Charity “at or below wholesale prices.” WE reports the dollar value of those goods and services.

WE insists that focusing on those figures is incorrect. “The holistic social good created by ME to WE Social Enterprise is clear,” a spokesperson said. At the same time, as Bahen notes, “ME to WE overstates how much it contributes to WE Charity.”

According to a libel notice sent to Canadaland, WE has said the reason for ME to WE is “due to the structure of the Canadian tax code limiting the ability of charities or foundations to engage in commercial enterprises to raise funds for their cause.”

Yet, in the U.S., ME to WE is also a registered charity. It’s called the ME to WE Foundation. (Not to be confused with the Canadian ME to WE Foundation, or the WE Charity Foundation.)

It’s not clear what differentiates the two U.S. entities. The U.S. WE Charity reports $33 million in revenue, and its audited financial statements are posted to the WE website; while the U.S. ME to WE Foundation reports some $10 million, and its financials are not posted. Both share significant overlap in their mandate and donors. Victor Li, WE Charity’s chief financial officer, is a director of both charities.

WE says the foundation is responsible for “domestic WE Schools & WE Day activities supporting student service-learning programs in schools and International development activities to support education, clean water, healthcare, food security, and alternative income programs.”

The foundation reports very little overseas spending.

Garbage bag company Glad announced in 2018 that anyone using its chosen hashtag or buying specific trash bags would “trigger a donation to WE Charity,” capped at $315,000. Yet according to contracts filed with state regulators and obtained by VICE News, the funds were paid to the ME to WE Foundation, not WE Charity.

WE insists that “the ME to WE Foundation has helped to provide millions of dollars of funding to WE Charity over the years.”

Yet, over the most recent two years for which there is information, it was WE Charity that made a huge contribution to the ME to WE Foundation. The charity gave nearly $400,000 to the foundation in 2016 and another $1.25 million in 2017, while only $100,000 in contributions from the foundation to the charity were reported over the same time.

So much of WE’s branding is wrapped up with its overseas work. Yet, in recent years, WE’s Canadian and U.S. charities reported that just about a third of their overall spending went to international development—about $35 million, including administrative costs.

Still, WE’s holistic vision for international development—which includes funding clean water, food security, education, healthcare, and economic opportunity—has done good abroad. It has even attracted other, smaller, charities.

In its 2017 financial statements, WE Charity reported it, by mutual agreement, “took control” of Imagine 1 Day, another charity “providing children in Ethiopia with access to quality education.” As part of the agreement, WE Charity received $10 million from the organization, with the stipulation that “the amount transferred is to be used towards initiatives in Ethiopia.”

Normally, such a transfer would be considered a “restricted” donation—meaning the contribution could only be used for a specific purpose for which it was gifted. That’s how WE accepts its real estate gifts.

The $10 million however, was included in a general line item on the charity’s financial statements as unrestricted contributions.

Per its financial disclosures and statement to VICE News, some $6.8 million of Imagine 1 Day’s assets have been absorbed into WE Charity to date. But not all of that money has gone to Ethiopia.

“$4.2 million has been spent in support of projects and programming in Ethiopia, $1.2 million has been transferred back to Imagine1Day for targeted core operations, and $1.4 million has been spent on WE Charity’s support and integration of Ethiopia into WE,” a spokesperson said. That last figure has included staff salaries in Canada “to manage program and project design support, monitoring and evaluation, and other management expenses.” It has also covered travel costs between Ethiopia to Toronto.

Asking tough questions of WE

WE, like any multi-million dollar charitable organization, especially one that benefits from tax-exempt status, deserves scrutiny.

In 2019, Canadaland did exactly that. It asked questions about WE’s corporate partners, its education programming, and allegations that it has a “toxic” workplace culture. WE provided lengthy responses to those questions, but also started proceedings to sue the media company for libel in litigant-friendly Manitoba.

Part of the claim sent by WE’s lawyers to Canadaland alleges the company showed malice “by misrepresenting our clients as litigious.” (WE had previously sued now-defunct Saturday Night magazine, which settled in 2000.)

WE has, this week, demanded an apology from Postmedia News and Toronto Sun columnist Brian Lilley, after they ran a series of stories taking a critical look at WE’s real estate holdings.

Even Bahen, who has delved deep into WE’s financials, has earned herself a threatening letter from WE. “We are respectfully asking you to please stop making incorrect, misleading, and incomplete statements when we have repeatedly provided you with accurate information,” reads the letter.

When VICE News sent multiple requests for comment to WE, it initially heard back from their lawyer, Howard Winkler, demanding that “you disclose to our clients for response any purported statements of fact or allegations you intend to publish of and concerning them which contain a negative innuendo.” Later, it provided lengthy and detailed responses to VICE News’ questions.

After Canadaland ran critical stories about WE, including its attempt to discourage critical coverage, curious campaigns to discredit the news outlet sprang up.

Op-eds popped up in U.S. publications, calling Canadaland “fake news.” Around the same time, a deluge of tweets, all with similar messages, poured in from a slew of accounts. (Those accounts are all now suspended for violating Twitter’s rules.) Some of this campaign appeared to be linked to a Republican consulting firm, according to Canadaland.

Private investigators, hired by one of WE’s law firms, also conducted background checks on Canadaland publisher Jesse Brown and reporter Jaren Kerr, according to the outlet.

VICE News asked WE if it ever paid for positive news coverage or social media campaigns to target its critics. WE came back, asking for specific examples, “as we are unclear and require context,” a spokesperson wrote. VICE News tried again, asking pointedly if WE had ever paid writers to pen columns or editorials without disclosing their funding, or if it had ever run an “astroturf” campaign using social media bots or fake accounts.

WE refused to answer. “WE Charity has engaged several leading companies to help with communication over the years,” a spokesperson wrote. “WE Charity has sought further clarification and/or any examples regarding this question without success. If there are specific examples of note, we would be pleased to respond and provide context.”

A friend in need is a friend, indeed

From its inception, WE has worked hard to cultivate an ethos around itself. To great effect, it has parlayed its commitment to international development, volunteerism, and social awareness. In the process, it has brought onboard an array of multi-billion dollar partners to finance its operations.

At its core, WE offered brands a chance to tap into a network of hyper-engaged, well-intentioned youth. The Faustian bargain meant that WE’s millions in donations would build clinics and schools half a world away, in exchange for advertising products and services to a captive, and otherwise difficult to reach, audience.

Allstate and Dow Chemical couldn’t otherwise tell schoolchildren of their community programs or sustainability efforts. Even if they could, there is little chance the students would much care.

WE is a perfect vehicle for exactly that kind of work.

Justin Trudeau understood that. His commitment to volunteering is undeniable, dating back to his time with youth program Katimavik. Equally undeniable is his mastery at winning over young voters, or soon-to-be voters. The 18-to-34 voting block is the only one Trudeau managed to carry in both his 2015 and 2019 electoral victories, according to pollster Ipsos.

This story is not about who got rich. It’s about how an organization that has been integral to the prime minister’s personal brand was selected for a program that it did not appear to be best-suited to run, even amid serious questions over its own financial structure and corporate practises.

Next week, the Kielburger brothers are expected to testify before a House of Commons committee.

Shortly after this story was published, Trudeau agreed to testify as well.

 

[“Justin Ling is an investigative journalist who has worked across the country, focusing on stories and issues undercovered or misunderstood. For the past year, he has been covering the investigation into Bruce McArthur. His forthcoming book on the case will be published by McClelland & Stewart in early 2020.?”]

Additional research: An extensive thread on WE by Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green:

The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

Environmental Values 29 (2)

April 2020: 121–130.

By Clive Spash

© 2020 The White Horse Press. doi: 10.3197/096327120X15752810323968

 

 

Calls for ‘systems change, not climate change’ have been minority positions that have gained ground over the last year or so, aided by the likes of Extinction Rebellion, and the school strikes of FridaysForFuture, fronted by the now iconic figure of Greta Thunberg. These new environmental movements have pushed into the background the mealy-mouthed talk of avoiding negative ‘framing’, supressing terms that disturb people and dismissing catastrophic scenarios. I have previously noted problems with the promotion of such a conformist and conservative rhetorical strategy (Spash 2018). The plain speaking of the new environmental movements places emphasis on an imminent ecological crisis, which has become increasingly more real for many given the steady rise in the frequency of major extreme weather events. The planetary havoc promised by human induced climate change is deemed an ‘emergency’ entailing a sense of ‘urgency’. A primary and repeatedly expressed concern of Greta has been that politicians should ‘act’ on scientific advice; how they should act is left open but with the admonition that they have done little or nothing but talk for decades. Yet, the ‘new’ environmentalists appear to lack insight into what specific action is required, to what they stand in opposition and more generally the political and economic context within which they (as social movements) are operating.

The new environmental activists have not addressed the structure of the economic system, the dominant corporate institutions of which it is constituted, the political processes that maintain it, nor how such a system of political economy can realistically be transformed. There is much wishful thinking in their statements. While these movements are internally diverse collectives, elements of both Extinction Rebellion and FridaysForFuture have argued against becoming ‘political’, while simultaneously engaging in political acts of protest and having agendas that are highly political. There appears to be a belief in objective science informing a political elite, who can be nudged into action, regardless of the structure of the dominant economic system and its power relations. The primary concern has also been narrowly focused around human induced climate change, and often even more narrowly carbon emissions, not systemic social-ecological issues. The failures here go across the board from the political naivety of the protesters (both young and old) to the apologetics for the capital accumulating growth economies made by the exponentially increasing community of academics commenting on environmental policy and specifically climate change.1 A prevalent claim is that ‘the system’ can be ‘adjusted’ without removing corporate or capitalist structures let alone the global imperialism they have created under the guise of ‘free’ trade and unregulated
financialisation.

That neoliberal political leaders and the World Economic Forum (WEF), commonly known as the Davos elite, have been hosting Greta and promoting her speeches, raises the question as to what they expect to achieve by doing so. For example, the WEF website promotes a speech, given by Greta in Brussels last year to the international press corps, in which she calls for a new political system without competition, a new economics and a new way of thinking that includes living within planetary boundaries, sharing resources and addressing inequity.2 Greta has also been cited as calling for corporations to be held responsible for knowingly perpetrating harm and regards this as ‘a crime against humanity’ (Aronoff 2019), but how are they to be held responsible and what for exactly? And what is the appropriate ‘punishment’ for their crime? Diverting such general and unspecific criticism and calls for systems change away from radical and revolutionary reform would seem a likely concern for those profiteering from the current system. After the Paris Agreement the world’s five largest oil companies spent $1 billion on ‘green’ rebranding, while simultaneously undermining legislation and establishing new oil supplies.3 The Davos elite are also adept at borrowing their opponents’ language and far from averse to adopting and redirecting a sense of emergency and crisis.

The fact is that political and economic elites around the world have long been taking ‘environmental action’, to protect not Nature but themselves, against environmentalists and environmental regulation. The public relations end of the spectrum has been corporate social responsibility, green accounting, investment in new technologies, sustainable development and the rhetoric of a ‘Green circular inclusive sustainable smart economy’. The opposite end involves corporate funding of denialism and anti-environmental think tanks, media control of the popular discourse, lobbying and funding politicians, capture of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and personal attacks on scientists. Most directly, protesters and activists are subject to police harassment and brutality, surveillance, infiltration and repression, and are being branded as terrorists, e.g. British police attempts to officially list Extinction Rebellion as such. The toll on both activist and academics is something recently highlighted in this journal (Spash 2018), and especially with regard to those opposing climate change (Hoggett and Randall 2018). In some countries environmental activists are also subject to assassination, especially where they oppose enforced and unjust ‘development’ in the rush for economic growth.

Indeed, urgency and emergency empower authoritarian regimes in overriding just, legal and democratic processes. They can also be used more subtly to create a sense of insecurity. The last two decades have seen the fear of ‘others’ being escalated and used to deconstruct post World War II multilateralism and create a new era of unilateralism, in which free-roaming American assassinations are openly bragged about, and respect for the law is increasingly replaced by a lynch-mob mentality. The rise of the extreme right and nationalism has relegitimised sexism, racial hatred, anti-immigrant policies, fortress building, promotion of imperialism, securitisation and militarisation amongst voters of the supposed democracies. The climate crisis, with its threat of mass migration, can therefore play to those claiming to protect jobs, maintain business as usual and defend the existing economic and social structures within which people have created their sense of self and community. However, environmentalism must then be neoliberal and corporate rather than revolutionary.

So the time is ripe for a new neoliberal agenda that adopts calls for urgent radical transformation and uses the environmental movement to support growth and financialisation of Nature. To this end a range of environmental ‘deals’ were announced in 2019, such as the European Commission ‘Green Deal’, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ‘New Deal for Nature’, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ‘Global Green New Deal’. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has stated that ‘Supported by investments in green technologies, sustainable solutions and new businesses […] The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. It will help us cut emissions while creating jobs’.4 Typical of all these ‘deals’ are claims of coordinating and organising stakeholders, having civil society and government work with, or more accurately for, ‘industry’, with promises of economic growth, jobs and climate stability. Similar ideas are touted under the term ‘stakeholder capitalism’, the theme of Davos 2020. In this ‘new’ era of corporate capitalism the environmental non-governmental organisations also have their role to play.

We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

 

A prime example of the strategy in operation is the capture of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, which has fully committed itself to corporate capitalism since appointing Pavan Sukdev as its President in 2017. He was developing new financial instruments for Deutsche Bank, before heading a UNEP backed project on ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) with goals of capturing value and mainstreaming the economics of Nature (Spash 2011). Cynical financiers, out to make as much money as possible from bits of paper they transfer from one to another for profit, have been keen to join the environmental bandwagon: expanding emissions trading, wetland banking and biodiversity offsetting. Enter the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). This is a partnership of the UN with the global financial sector. Its mission is to promote ‘sustainable finance’, which includes ‘hardwiring biodiversity and ecosystem services into finance’ (UNEP Finance Initiative 2010).

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

 

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.5 The public face is fronted by Sukdev and Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She, Sukdev and WWF are meant to provide the corporate executives, bankers, billionaires and financiers with an air of respectability and environmental concern. After all, they desperately need it, given that investor returns, or more simply making money grow exponentially, has nothing to do with sustaining anything, let alone Nature, biodiversity or ecosystems.

As Schoppek explains in this issue of Environmental Values, neoliberalism was selected by powerful actors as conforming with their view of the world. It has been institutionalised in rules and regulations helping form identities and strategies. As a hegemonic discourse it promotes ideas of meritocracy, the individual as an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (innovative, independent and responsible for all that goes wrong in their lives), utility  maximisation, commodification, economic efficiency, and the market economy as the sole legitimate institution for social organisation. This dominant economic imaginary helps embed the system and ensure its reproduction. Forms of environmentalism that engage in the rhetoric of sustainable growth then evidence a Gramscian passive revolution. That is, a top down strategically designed alternative to radical environmentalism is offered to maintain business as usual. A successful passive revolution absorbs external critique, transforms it and stabilises existing power relations. The aim is to silence more critical perspectives and supress power disrupting alternatives. Ecological crisis is therefore altered into an opportunity for growth and profiteering via commodification and financialisation of Nature.

Shoppek then questions the extent to which even the apparently more radical degrowth movement has the potential to be co-opted. Her core argument is that degrowth contains elements that are counter-hegemonic but also those that are sub-hegemonic. She illustrates the point with two degrowth positions identified in the work of Eversberg and Schmelzer (2018). That of a politically informed progressive left, supporting an anarchistic continual struggle for freedom, is argued to be counter-hegemonic. This is described as supplying a structural critique in addition to the kind of moral perspective found under the second position, termed self-sufficiency discourses. This latter position, as advanced in Germany by Niko Paech (e.g., Paech 2017, 2012), is argued to be compatible with neoliberal thought and so sub-hegemonic. Its failure is due to the over-emphasis on individual action that actually supports spreading the concept of an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (e.g., the sharing economy) while ignoring the structure of the economic system. This encourages the creation of organisations that substitute for the role of the State in the care of those at the bottom, and so reduce the potency of those individuals contesting the system and its ever-growing inequities. Thus we might reflect upon how a neoliberal consumerist society, such as the UK, encourages the role of charity shops that assuage the guilt of the consuming middle classes while substituting elements of a Welfare State, and doing nothing to address the causes of poverty.

The importance of a structural systems perspective is also identified by Boscov-Ellen. He highlights the failure of environmental ethicists (e.g. Dale Jamieson, Simon Caney, Peter Singer and Henry Shue) to address the systemic aspects of human induced climate change and as a result to over-emphasise the role of individual agency and responsibility in debating who is meant to take action and what action they should take. Environmental ethicists are criticised for focusing on acts of consumption and their related emissions, ignoring production and producers, and so reducing humans to their role as consumers with ethical preferences. Historical and contextual understanding of poverty, wealth and inequity are lacking. There are also some clear strands of liberal political thought behind several of the ethicists’ positions, and an inherent conservatism (e.g., the unquestioned permanence of Nation States and capitalism). The supposed solutions of the likes of Jamieson and Singer adopt neoliberal polices of pricing and trading carbon despite their flaws (Spash 2010). In contrast, once the existing social and economic structure is identified as a causal determinant of ecological crises then attention shifts to an ethical responsibility to change that system.

As Boscov-Ellen remarks, current ethical debate has produced ‘a framing that dovetails perfectly with the longstanding (and successful) efforts of liberal governments and corporations to individualise responsibility for systemic ills, even as they single-mindedly pursue growth’. He goes on to develop the case for undertaking radical change in economic and political structures as a moral imperative. This would require expanding collective causal responsibility for harm to account for structural mechanisms that limit and shape behaviour. The emphasis is then placed on solidarity, as part of a collective, seeking political and economic transformation, rather than on individual actions.

Identifying the organisations and institutions reproducing the political and economic structure is necessary in the process of seeking radical change in those structures. Corporations are obviously key in modern society and their activities are directly linked to global greenhouse gas emission. In recent years the term ‘carbon majors’ has become associated with the 100 corporations most responsible for creating and perpetuating the climate crisis, as noted by Boscov-Ellen and picked up as the central focus of the paper by Grasso and Vladimirova. These top 100 polluters produced over 70% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gases (1988–2015), with just 25 producing 51%. The top 100 include 43 state owned or government run  corporations.6 Grasso and Vladimirova regard these corporations as moral agents whose activities they review in terms of their having violated the negative responsibility of doing no harm to others. Beyond a consequentialist causal aspect, they invoke a more stringent set of requirements related to appraising agents’ intentions, something they refer to as ‘moral responsibility’, which seems directed more towards assessing culpability (the phrase seems somewhat misleading, given that causal responsibility is also ‘moral’). The authors then assess this culpability in terms of corporate responsibility for human induced climate change, with specific reference to a priori knowledge of creating harm, awareness of doing so over a long time frame, capacity to avoid harm, denial of the truth (amounting to spreading lies in their own interest), and self enrichment by their harmful actions. Having been found guilty as charged what is the outcome?

Grasso and Vladimirova make the case for corrective justice involving decarbonisation and reparation. The former would involve gradually reducing emissions to zero, with some notion that an increasing supply of ‘cleaner energy’ will ‘avoid disrupting the global energy demand’ (something that seems highly unlikely given the scale and extent of fossil fuels in the economy). The latter is, on rather unclear grounds, restricted to corporations relinquishing part of their accumulated wealth from activities related to creating harm. Reparations are discussed in terms of restitution, compensation and disgorgement (relinquishing historically ill-gotten gains). There are perhaps more questions raised than answers given in the ensuing discussion, e.g. ideas of not endangering the wealth of the rich, not pursuing shareholders’ or employees’ gains and concerns over protecting pension funds. Most problematic of all is the claim that actions should ‘not financially prevent carbon majors from engaging in the just transition required by the duty of decarbonisation’. This idea of ‘just transition’ is itself problematic and is employed to justify the preservation of carbon majors in order to avoid being too disruptive to the ‘socio-economic system’. The contradiction is that the system and its capital accumulating corporate form is the problem that needs to be addressed and this cannot be avoided. The idea of a ‘just transition’ appears to offer a get out of jail free card to the corporations who will (as they are doing) argue for offsetting, subsidies for transition, waiting for new technologies and maintaining business as usual for as long as possible.

An interesting question that arises in light of the discussion by Grasso and Vladimirova is why stop with carbon emissions? These same one hundred corporations produced 91% of global industrial emissions in 2015 (Griffin 2017: 7), and would therefore be culpable on the same grounds for the plethora of associated harms to human health and the environment. Grasso and Vladimirova have made a strong case for recognising that these corporations engage in deliberate cost-shifting, and are not innocent victims of unforeseen externalities that can be blamed on markets having the wrong prices. If all the other cost-shifting activities of corporations were taken into account, the grounds for maintaining such institutions would seem to disappear.

Private Property 2019, Anahita Mobarhan

In practice, the attempts by corporations to avoid any claims of wrongdoing in polluting activities have been extensive and have involved public relations firms being hired to strategise the undermining of science and scientists (Oreskes and Conway 2010). Responsibility for reparations is frequently shifted to the public purse, and ‘solutions’ displaced into the future via technologies, often requiring public funding both in research and development and (where realised) implementation. This technological strategy is evident in the increasing promotion of geoengineering for solar radiation management and/or greenhouse gas removal (GGR): e.g., direct air capture, enhanced rock weathering, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. The related ‘negative emissions’ approach is totally embedded in the hundreds of scenarios run by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).7 This allows business as usual with no reduction of greenhouse gases, and indeed their potential increase, because they are assumed to be removable after emission by application of an appropriate technological fix. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon note how media coverage has created a discourse on geoengineering that removes issues of justices, equity, fairness and distribution, while framing it as an ‘essential’ action in the face of the climate emergency. Similarly, in mitigation scenarios informing policy, GGR is not an additional policy measure but is rather modelled as critical for stabilising global average climate temperature at international target levels. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon are concerned to probe into the content of the related discourse and debate as occurring amongst experts (defined as those with pre-existing knowledge and opinions). Their research involves interviews with 17 people from the UK and USA, the majority of whom represent academia and the remainder the private sector, NGOs and policy/regulation. The two themes they find across the interviews are ‘risk’ and ‘responsibility’.

In terms of risk, GGR is described by interviewees as part of a ‘portfolio’ of measures, in contrast to the IPCC, media and policy framings. Reduced  energy demand and increased renewable energy supply are regarded as coming first and foremost. Urgency (i.e., doing something immediately), and the need to avoid dangerous climate change, support regarding GGR as essential, but this discourse is also noted by some interviewees as being top-down, expert driven and potentially dangerous for democracy. A classic risk and portfolio investment managers’ approach then raises the question of who gets to decide on the risks and the investments? This leads into how societal decisions are made, and an implicit technocracy appears to surface with the key players mentioned by interviewees being experts, policy-makers and (high emissions) industry. Although mistrust of the latter two was also evident, a naïve pragmatism appeared in a readiness to acquiesce to the wealth of corporations and their power to get action, summarised as ‘working with powerful institutions is more pragmatic than working against them’. GGR then offers a potential means for corporations and  governments to opt-out of actual emissions reductions, and plays the role of a ‘mitigation deterrent’. GGR measures, such as widespread use of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), were also seen as likely to have unjust outcomes, due to their being undertaken to maintain the lifestyles of the rich and powerful while being imposed on vulnerable communities who suffer negative consequences (e.g., land grabbing).

Such pragmatic arguments contrast strongly with the moral arguments against corporations of Grasso and Vladimirova, as well as with the case for revolutionary change made by Boscov-Ellen, and both link to the need for addressing the social and economic structure highlighted by Shoppek. In  the discussion by Cox, Spence and Pidgeon these conflicting positions appear as a core aspect of debate about human induced climate change, where the main question becomes the extent to which ‘strategies should aim to work within existing incumbent capitalist systems’. GGR then indicates failure to adequately challenge the system and instead to support top-down ‘solutions’ that maintain existing structure, power and wealth and so become part of another ecological modernist passive revolution. This appears as technological optimism, claiming sustainability and economic growth are compatible, and the legitimisation of corporations as profit seeking organisations and their beneficiaries as justified in their accumulation of wealth and power. There is today an on-going struggle for how environmental issues are to be perceived, described and explained, which determines what knowledge and which voices are deemed admissible to the policy debate.

The construction of knowledge and what knowing something means is a longstanding issue in philosophy. The term co-creation (mentioned by Cox et al. and Mancilla Garcia et al.) has become popular of late, and it covers a range of ideas that have for some decades been part of debates around participatory decision process and post-normal science. Mancilla Garcia et al. highlight the roles of process and relations, epistemology and ontology, and empiricism. Whether the social process involved is important to conceptualisation has divided philosophers, with the implications extending from the extremes that knowledge requires total exclusion of values (in a naïve objectivist methodology), to knowledge being a totally cultural and socially determined perspective (under a radical relativist position) (Sayer 1992). Both these extremes assume flat ontologies (the former empiricist and latter actualist) without attention to underlying structure. When trying to identify what lies behind experience and actualised events, and indeed to  understand our experiences, what come to the fore is the role of non-empiricist conceptualisation and inference (e.g. deductive, abductive,  retroductive), along with metaphysical concepts. The basis for the validity given to knowledge claims remains contentious, but what the papers on climate change in this issue hold in common is their identification of the same fundamental social and economic structures in human society as being central to the reproduction of the ongoing ecological crisis.

Stephanie McMillan

That the discourse of the environmental movement has been failing, captured and adopted by a ‘new environmental pragmatism’, is more evident every day with the spread of financialisation and commodification of Nature, often legitimised by environmental NGOs acting as fronts for corporate interests. For corporate capitalism the environmental crisis is not about the dangers posed by collapsing biophysical systems, but the threat of environmentalism to the growth economy and capitalism’s continuing existence. An escalation of attempts to reinforce the status quo means more passive revolutions, orchestrated by the incumbent leaders of the capital accumulating systems, who adopt even the apparently radical discourses of urgency, emergency and crises. Calls for immediate action without direction play straight into the hands of those seeking to maintain their hegemonic economic and social power. Those seeking social ecological transformation increasingly face the stark choice of either conforming to or opposing the structures reproducing social, ecological and economic crises. The former promises a technological future dependent upon experts and the noblesse oblige of billionaires, corporate interests and their protectors. It offers those living well today the comforting vision of a system that maintains their position in an increasingly divided and divisive world. The papers in this issue of Environmental Values set out a range of ethical arguments and concerns that bring corporate capitalism into question or oppose it, and reflect upon ethical responses to its ongoing infliction of harm on the innocent. They make it clear that conformity to the system that produced the crisis will not deliver the necessary revolutionary social ecological transformation.

 

1. For example, in 2019 over 3000, mainly American, economists, including twenty-seven Sveriges Riksbank (‘Nobel’) Prize winners, endorsed a ‘carbon tax’ because ‘[s]ubstituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth’. (Economists statement on carbon dividends. https://www.econstatement.org/ Accessed 7th May 2019.)

2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/climate-strikes-greta-thunberg-calls-for-systemchange-not-climate-change-here-s-what-that-could-look-like

3. Report by think tank InfluenceMap ‘Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change’ cited by
Aronoff (2019)

4. https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en Accessed 11
January 2020.

5. https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance/ Accessed 11 January 2020.

6. ‘The highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total, and BHP Billiton. Key state-owned companies include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India, Pemex, and CNPC (PetroChina).’ (Griffin 2017: 8, emphasis original).

7. Kevin Anderson (2015: 899) notes that 344 of the 400 IPCC scenarios assume the successful and large-scale uptake of negative-emission technologies.

 

References

Anderson, K. 2015. ‘Duality in climate science’. Nature Geoscience 8 (12): 898–900.
Crossref

Aronoff, K. 2019. Don’t Be Fooled by Fossil Fuel Companies’ Green Exterior. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/dont-be-fooled-byfossil-fuel-companies-green-exterior-850285/ (accessed 22 January 2020).

Boscov-Ellen, D. 2020. ‘A responsibility to revolt? Climate ethics in the real world’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 153–174.

Cox, E., E. Spence and N. Pidgeon. 2020. ‘Incumbency, trust and the Monsanto effect: Stakeholder discourses on greenhouse gas removal’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 197–220.

Eversberg, D. and M. Schmelzer. 2018. ‘The degrowth spectrum: Convergence and divergence within a diverse and conflictual alliance’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 245–267. Crossref

Grasso, M. and K. Vladimirova. 2020. ‘A moral analysis of Carbon Majors’ role in climate change’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 175–195.

Griffin, P. 2017. ‘The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017’. London: Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) UK.

Hoggett, P. and R. Randall. 2018. ‘Engaging with climate change: Comparing the cultures of science and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 223–243. Crossref

Mancilla Garcia, M., T. Hertz and M. Schlüter. 2020. ‘Towards a process epistemology for the analysis of social-ecological systems’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 221–239.

Oreskes, N. and E. M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Paech, N. 2012. Liberation from Excess: The Road to a Post-Growth Economy. Munich: oekom verlag.

Paech, N. 2017. ‘Post-Growth Economics’. In C. L. Spash (ed), Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society, pp.477–486. Abingdon: Routledge.

Sayer, A. 1992. ‘Theory, observation and practical adequacy’. In A. Sayer (ed), Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, pp.45–84. London: Routledge.

Schoppek, D. 2020. ‘How far is degrowth a really revolutionary counter movement to neoliberalism?’ Environmental Values 29 (2): 131–151.

Spash, C. L. 2010. ‘The brave new world of carbon trading’. New Political Economy 15 (2): 169–195. Crossref

Spash, C. L. 2011. ‘Terrible economics, ecosystems and banking’. Environmental Values 20 (2): 141–145. Crossref

Spash, C. L. 2018. ‘Facing the truth or living a lie: Conformity, radicalism and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 215–222. Crossref

UNEP Finance Initiative. 2010. ‘Demystifying Materiality: Hardwiring Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Finance’. In CEO Briefing. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative.

UNEP Finance Initiative. 2020. ‘The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance’. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative. unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance

2020 Spash Editorial EV

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.

Quelo, Greta & the Neoliberal Doctrine of Multiple Truth

The Pedant

January 22, 2020

 

 

 

For public consumption. December 6, 2019. Greta Thunberg arrives at COP25 in Madrid.

 

Inside COP25, Dec 11, 2019. No public consumption required. David Shukman, BBC, Twitter: “As we wait for Greta Thunberg it’s quite striking how many delegates have not turned up for this session.”

 

*Translated from Italian to English via Google Translator.

Introduction by author:

I propose below, slightly edited, a long article by the friend Pier Paolo Dal Monte appeared a few days ago on the blog Frontiere . The analysis – so far unique in its kind, except for my oversights – has the advantage of placing the latest emergence of the “climate” in the broader methodological framework dictated by the productive and social models that today dominate without alternatives, highlighting the contradictions and omissions from the ongoing debate a true mirror of the crisis of those models and the violence destined to ensue.

Except for a few details (for example on the feasibility of relegating the capitalist model to minor activities, or on the function of ” denial ” which I would distinguish more clearly from the gatekeeping activity , while both serving the same purposes) I deeply share the thesis presented and greetings in the work by Pier Paolo a very successful attempt to unravel and document the “red thread” often perceived in the articles and comments of this blog.


Superstructure and underlying

 

“There is a big crisis”, Quelo would say , that sort of parodic crasis of saint and telepreacher that was interpreted by Corrado Guzzanti.

The crisis, is the “disturbing guest” of our times, always accompanies any present, with an up and coming of many crises: The economy, Lecology, Lademography, Lemigrations, Lapoverty, Lepidemias, Inflation, Ladeflazione … a pressing of crisis that it reduces the poor human beings like so many punched boxers who, unable to react, receive all the blows that the media pour on their poor minds.

Obviously, we cannot now speak of all the crises brought to the fore by the inexhaustible cornucopia of the media; we will therefore concentrate on only one of them which, periodically (and now, also, overwhelmingly), is brought to the attention of public opinion, that is what is called “climate crisis” or “global warming” whatever you want .

This time, to create dismay in the victims of media mythology about this “ghost who wanders the world”, a scientist with an icy and slightly abstruse language was not used, not a politician imbued with Al Gore, or a Hollywood actor on a leash (which, you never know, could have been photographed driving a Lamborghini or on board a private jet). No, none of this. This time the screenwriters of the crisis creation units outdid themselves and pulled an ideal person out of the cylinder to excite the infantilized postmodern masses: a poor overdeveloped and autistic (albeit low-grade) girl who claims to perceive (it is not known with as sense organ) the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (which is calculated in parts per million). In conclusion,

Hats off to the screenwriters: with such scarce ingredients, they managed to create a world-wide media delicacy, which gave rise to a “movement” of equal scope, the so-called Friday for Future (in short, a long weekend), spontaneous as can be the ease shown by those who try to cross a border with a suitcase of cocaine in the trunk. And so a new form of “Hurry up!” Has been created with a global reach, a cosmic “external bond”, a state of planetary exception to which to subordinate the policies of what was once called “the west”.

In truth, this “emergency” is not as emerging as the directors of today’s inclement weather would have us believe, since the phenomenon has been studied since the 1950s, when we began to talk about the impact of increasing CO2 on anthropogenic base [1] . The phenomenon became known to world public opinion in 1988, at a hearing at the United States Congress by James Hansen, climatologist of Columbia University, who raised an alarm about the risk of global warming due, in fact, to the increase in “greenhouse gases”. In the same year the IPCC was established by the UN. This alarm was quickly followed by the “denial” response of the giants of the energy industry (to which various product sectors joined), who created a study center, the Global Climate Coalition (1989-2001), [2] with the task to refute and contrast the conclusions of the IPCC, thus adopting the typical neoliberal strategy (this too will be elucidated later) of putting “science against science”. After the dissolution of the GCC, the baton was passed on to other entities, including the Heartland Institute .

In the second half of the 90s the issue of global warming was the subject of growing attention by the media, which intensified in the early years of the new century, suffering a sudden halt on the occasion of the financial crisis of 2007/2008 and the consequent economic recession. Ubi major, minor cessat and, in the capitalist system, the major is always tied to economic issues; of course this does not mean that the other problems are not considered tout court – after all, despite what Fukuyama’s simpleton asserted, the story is not over – but that should raise some questions as to why such a crucial issue, such as global warming, should only pop up periodically. And, mind you, we do not make it a question of merit, or whether there is a climatic emergency or not, but, always and only, a question of method : an emergency should always be such, i.e. compelling and improachable, whatever are the concurrent economic or political conditions. If, on the other hand, this emergency takes on an “intermittent” character, the suspicion arises that, coeteris paribus (that is, by not questioning its veracity), the main purpose of this periodic appearance is, once again, to direct the attention of the masses towards the direction desired by those who control the system (the famous “powerful of the earth” intimidated by the girl who perceives the increase in CO2).

The existence of serious environmental problems [3] (not only climatic) has been reported since the 1960s , and it has been the beginning of the next decade that economic activity has been colored with an “ecological” nuance, turning it green (color that was fine with everything, before the notorious Paduan populists took it), the so-called “green washing”, which is also defined, with a more elegant phrase, “sustainable development”, an ineffable oxymoron that has the advantage of playing a lot well and not mean anything, since the two terms of the phrase are not characterized by precise definitions. “Development” presupposes a téloslos , an end to turn to, while “sustainable” requires a term of comparison: sustainable for whom? For what? Compared to what? Like? And so on.

In the absence of these clarifications, only an epitomic motto of the politically correct remains which testifies to the wonderful ability of capitalism to transform everything, even apparently negative factors, such as pollution and the crisis of the biosphere, into new market niches: in this incessant mimetic and reifying work has managed to create even a study discipline called “Ecological Economics” (complete with a dedicated magazine) inspired by the studies of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen [4] (and, subsequently by Hermann Daly) who tried to highlight the incompatibility of the thermodynamic parameters with the economic ones. Like all good intentions, these studies have done nothing but pave the ways of hell leading, on the one hand, to the search for a monetary value of the “ecosystem services” (Robert Costanza) and, on the other, as was said , in the creation of new market niches surreptitiously called “bio”, “green”, “eco”, or whatever you want.

All these “washing” operations have the purpose, not only of creating new commercial niches and of transforming the remaining parts of the world into goods and markets; but also that of diverting attention from the real theme, that which inevitably leads to all the particular problems affecting capitalism, that is, the conceptual and unavoidably factual immeasurability between economic parameters and the physical world which, as Marx is well understood, resides in the primacy of the exchange value over the use value (or, before him, Aristotle when he distinguished between oikonomia and crematistics). Since the foundation of capitalism rests on the exponential accumulation of monetary means (capital), which is virtually infinite, but which must manifest itself, necessarily, in an environment that has a quantity of matter that is given, it is easy to understand how this fact may come to cause some problems.

The epistemic cage of neoliberalism

Starting from these premises, we can now talk about how the above issues are inserted in the epistemic framework that characterizes today’s capitalism, whose shape has been shaped by what has been called “neoliberalism”. As Philip Mirowski [5] (and partly also Michel Foucault, though not so explicitly [6] ) has documented, the core of neoliberal thought is not as economic as epistemological and has historically gone to connote it as a real “Collective of thought”, as Dietrich Plehwe asserted [7] (inspired by the writings of Ludwik Fleck which described the scientific enterprise as formed by “a community of people who mutually exchange ideas or maintain an intellectual interaction”). [8] Therefore it does not make much sense to consider (as many do), this phenomenon as an economic orientation or, even less, to explain it with the obsolete categories of political thought of the last century (political right, conservatism, liberalism, etc.).

This misunderstanding largely explains the failure of the movements that criticize and try to contrast the current physiognomy of capitalism (which is called “liberalism” or “neoliberalism”), [9] in which the promises that seemed implicit in the “glorious thirty years” of the post-war period were not kept, when a progressive future of well-being and equality for all seemed inevitable (at least in the countries of the so-called advanced capitalism). Not only did none of this come true, but a sort of stationary state in which previous conquests had consolidated was not maintained either. Conversely, throughout the western world, there has been a progressive decrease in well-being which is leading to the disappearance of the middle class, a reduction in services and an ever greater polarization of wealth.

Most of the criticisms have limited themselves to considering the current state of our world-form as a kind of benign disease in an otherwise healthy organism whose therapy would consist of a sort of restoration of the status quo ante (confusing the means with the end), a sort of irenic rebalancing to be obtained thanks to a restoration of effective market regulations, to an economy that returns under the control of the States, in which the primacy of manufacturing over finance is reaffirmed (the myth of the “real economy”: another chimera made up of immeasurable domains but, above all, that “forgives debtors” (Greece, poor countries, etc.). This lack of analysis has meant that movements mentioned above, were lulled into the illusion that it was enough to stage protests that “arise from below” against the “cruel and distorted state of the world”, [10] to hope to effectively combat the status quo. On the other hand, what has happened in the realm of reality is that almost all these protest movements (from the no global movement to the various colored revolutions) have proved, over time, skilled maskirovka who have kept their discontent and obstacles under control more and more possibility of contrasting the system.

It is difficult for those who are driven by the idea of “changing the world” to believe that the “spontaneity” of such protests is, in reality, the staging of a script written by others, a product ready to be put on the market of ideas. But the world created by the neoliberal collective of thought works just like this: it was able to create an all-encompassing epistemology that permeates contemporary culture with a heap of multiple truths, all equally “true”, which are able to cover all possible alternatives: from conformism to nonconformism, from reaction to revolution, from system to antisystem. A kaleidoscopic and protean regime in which a real and sensible criticism of the status quo has no basis on which to base itself (difficult to fight against something that does not have a defined form, being able to take all forms). When the world is represented, in every aspect, with a distorted image, it is almost impossible to perceive this reversal: as in the Platonic cave, viewers are led to believe that the images projected on the walls correspond to the real world.

We will not address this topic in its entirety, but we will focus only on the problem of global warming, so that it can constitute an exemplary paradigm of the aforementioned manipulation.

The neoliberal utopia and global warming

As we have said, the neo-liberal collective of thought has been able to build an entire paraphernalia of epistemic and political proposals which, in fact, have occupied the whole space of possible alternatives. Of course we are not talking about the banal and false center-right / center-left dialectic, democrats / republicans, conservatives / laborers who, however, invades the whole parliamentary space of liberal democracies. No, we are talking about a much more widespread and pervasive occupation (obliteration, when this is not possible) of all forms of thought and action, even outside the “politicized politics”, which it has managed to pack, with the complicity of the beautiful souls of progressivism of all shapes and all ages, not only, create an all-inclusive catalog of “political” proposals, capable of covering the entire range of demand from the public, with short, medium and long-term objectives .

To fully understand this operation it is good to take a small step back and briefly explain a crucial point of neoliberal epistemology. It has always rejected the false dichotomy of the state- owned laissez faire classics versus the market as antithetical devices. Unlike the latter, the neoliberals do not consider the market a place of allocation of goods (material or immaterial), but an information processor, the most effective and efficient processor known, much better than any human entity (individual or collective). [11]

Secondly – also unlike classical liberal thought and its modern offshoots – neoliberal ideology advocates a strong state which, however, does not have as its main (and not even secondary, in truth) task to control the animal spirits of the market, but that of controlling himself , or, as Marx would say, acting as a “bourgeois business committee” whose purpose is to promote, safeguard and extend the areas of the market. To carry out this supreme task, the state must operate with all its prerogatives (including that of the monopoly of force) to build a sort of market totalitarianism (a telos potentially infinite) through an ever more extensive and widespread commodification of the existing.

Also with regard to global warming (which is ecological / thermodynamic in nature), we can note the difference in approach between neoliberal and classical liberals. For the latter, the problems of the biosphere are symptoms of market malfunction (market failure), the solution of which should lie in attributing a fair price to externalities (pollution, etc.), resources and so-called ecosystem services (approach of the Ecological Economics). For neoliberals, however, this type of problem is bound to arise inevitably due to the inextricable complexity of the interactions between society and the biosphere, to understand which human knowledge is inadequate. In reality, neoliberal thinking adopts this epistemological panoply in an entirely opportunistic way, using the complexity pro domo sua : since we cannot rely on human knowledge to understand and predict this multifaceted and becoming reality, there is a need for a sort of deus ex machina, of a little devil by Maxwell, of a rhetorical fiction passed off as truth: an idealized image of a perfect market, a spontaneous authorizing officer of the spontaneous order and a supreme processor of information, the motionless (but, in fact, mobile) engine to which it is addressed the task of finding solutions to any problem. Since, however, this “spontaneous” order is not given in political systems – and we would miss more! – all the strength of a strong state is needed which, with its empire, can spontaneously spontaneously what is not spontaneous (hence also the fiction of the “free” market).

At this point, the strategy appears somewhat circular: since we cannot rely on political decisions to tackle complex problems (of which climate change is certainly part), given that the cognitive ability of decision makers is fallacious by definition, then it is decision-makers need to take a step backwards, abdicating their task and entrusting to the market [12] with a political decision! – the task of deciding which are the best solutions. But sometimes the problem is rather reluctant to be channeled casually into market mechanisms, and that of global warming is certainly part of this category. In these cases, the strategy will have to follow a more complex plan and be unraveled according to various successive stages. Here we can identify a strategy composed of different stages characterized by different strategies of manipulation of public opinion: from the promotion of scientific “denialism” to the creation of phenomena such as Greta Thunberg or Friday for Future All sides of the same coin: the “neoliberal response” to climate changes. [13]

a) Scientific “denial”

The first stage generally consists of taking time to work out the next stages. In cases like this, the most effective technique is to instill doubt in public opinion that this type of problem is not related to the economic model of today’s society (overconsumption, pollution, overexploitation of the biosphere, etc.), in a nutshell: that the market is never guilty (in this regard it is useful to point out that, for example, in the countries of the Soviet bloc the ecological problems were much more serious, etc.).

The purpose of what has been called scientific “denial”, promoted mainly by the Global Climate Coalition and then by the Heartland Foundation, to which we have already mentioned, was to control public opinion which, alarmed by the problem of global warming could have put pressure on governments to face it with political decisions, or, as we said, to take time to develop appropriate solutions to bring the issue back into the market. The “denialist” solution, albeit of a temporary nature, had the advantage of being quickly deployable and cheap and of diverting the public’s attention from the appropriate arguments.

The strategy of the “neoliberal collective of thought” has it that the first response to a political challenge must always be epistemological: [14] it is necessary to question what constitutes the topic of this challenge, in this case, to deny the problem and delay indefinitely with sterile diatribes regarding merit (that is, whether or not there is global warming on an anthropogenic basis). The “market of ideas” must always be sprayed with doubt so that, as an effective herbicide, it can only develop the desired plants (ideas). This technique, described by the historian Robert Proctor under the name of , [15] has proved very effective over time.

Neoliberal doctrine formally defends anyone’s right to uphold any foolishness with equal right (the “wisdom of the masses”) [16] because, ultimately, the realm in which truth is established is always the market. The latter, however, is never free as he is passed off, but is controlled by those to whom it is convenient that he is passed off as free (and certainly not by that group of experts who represents “official science”). In fact, the neoliberal doctrine coincides perfectly with that of Quelo: “the answer is within you, and yet it is sbajata [unless it coincides with ours]”. [17]

This first stage, however, is far from sufficient to channel the problem into market mechanisms, therefore it is necessary to elaborate the subsequent stages making sure that they unfold through a product offer that is able to cover the entire spectrum of the “question “of” solutions”. It is also necessary that each of these implies the creation of a profit and, possibly, that extends the sphere of the market to areas never touched before.

b) The marketing of CO2 and accumulation by expropriation

After this first agnotological stage, the market has to enter at some point. In this case, market action unfolds along two main lines: the first is constituted by monetization and the consequent financialisation of ecosystem services, that is, by the creation of CO2 emission permits; the second, from what David Harvey called “accumulation by expropriation”.

The establishment of emission permit markets constituted a clever strategy to build a new commodity and financial sector, but also to convince political actors that the answer to the problem of climate change, that is, the decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases were to compete with markets instead of governments: something that should have been political was marketed . Of course, this “solution” did not lead to any result, for what was the stated purpose: in fact it did not prevent the emission of a single CO2 molecule. [18] On the other hand, this was certainly not the real purpose, which vice versa, was to use the excuse of global warming to create a new financial instrument out of thin air, a virtual commodity that commoditizes a physical data, moreover virtualized, a new derivative from enter the great forge of finance by providing operators with an additional speculative tool to be transformed into real currency.

The other arm of the medium-term strategy was that of accumulation by expropriation, which deserves a few words of explanation:

Marx’s description of “primitive accumulation” includes phenomena such as the commodification and privatization of the land and the expulsion from it of the peasant population; the conversion of various forms of collective property into private property; the commodification of the workforce and the elimination of alternatives to it; colonial or neocolonial appropriation processes of natural goods and resources; monetization of trade and taxation of land; slave trade; usury; public debt and the credit system. [19]

One might think that these types of accumulation are a legacy of the past, of the times of nascent capitalism and of those in which it began to assert itself in an ever more extensive and widespread manner.

For this purpose both legal and illegal methods are adopted […] Among the legal means include the privatization of what were once considered common property resources (such as water and education), the use of the power of expropriation for public utility, the widespread use of acquisitions, mergers and so on that lead to the splitting of company activities, or, for example, the evasion of social security and health obligations through bankruptcy procedures. The capital losses suffered by many during the recent crisis can be considered a form of expropriation that could give rise to further accumulation, since speculators today buy undervalued assets with the aim of reselling them when the market improves, making a profit.[20]

One of the most subtle forms of accumulation by expropriation is to surreptitiously drain public money, or directly from the pockets of citizens, to generate a private profit through ad hoc taxation , or to oblige the population to consume through the imposition decreed by the power of the State.

An example of the first type of practice is, without a doubt, that of renewable energy production plants (wind, photovoltaic, hydroelectric etc.) which are cases in which the energy produced is remunerated at a price higher than the market price (otherwise not would be economically viable). In this case, the surcharge is paid by general taxation or by an additional outlay in the electricity supply tariffs. Except for the small production (in terms of MW / h) of the plants for family use, most of the electricity generation from these sources comes from large plants for which the investment is supported by large investors, generally financial companies . [21]This is a case in which the State operates as a perfect market agent: instead of promoting, with direct action, the much-vaunted “energy transition”, it promotes a system in which the profits of financial companies are borne by citizens through an increase in energy costs or through general taxation.

Another example of this type of accumulation, even if a little more indirect, is that of vehicles used for road transport. In this case, the State intervenes by changing the regulations that regulate the emissions of vehicles (especially those of CO2) and by inhibiting circulation for those vehicles that do not respect the imposed parameters. This marketing technique conducted through the force of the law currently forces users to change vehicles through a sort of programmed obsolescence de jure, and opens the way to new market niches (electric vehicles, hybrids, etc.). Obviously, this is another trick to force citizens to pay money in a certain sense forced, without any benefit as regards CO2 emissions as such, if we consider that the production process of a car, is responsible for a production of CO2 that is, on average, higher than that which the same car will produce in its cycle of use (probably, from this point of view, it would be more ecological to keep the same car for a few decades, but this does not help the market). [22]

Of course, to impose this vision on the population without too many accidents (which, for example, has not succeeded in France), [23] it is necessary to prepare public opinion with massive moralizing campaigns, such as the one for which they are using the girl who intimidates those “powerful of the earth” who have everything to gain from the creation of new market niches. However, the inexhaustible cornucopia of ideas of the collective of neoliberal thought does not end here, but is always launched towards new horizons.

c) Geoengineering and other neoliberal dystopias

Given that the emissions permit system and the myriad of renewable energy systems are now outdated solutions, even if they served the purpose very well, which was to extend the dominance of the market or extract money from the pockets of the population and governments , it is time to overcome these relics of the past with the long-term neoliberal solution: geoengineering. Here we come to the very core of the Doctrine, which postulates that entrepreneurial ingenuity, if left free to manifest its drives of “creative destruction”, may be able to find market solutions to solve any problem. Ideas cannot be left unproductive. When there is a possibility, they should be included in the political discourse and pursued by all means. It is therefore time to open incredible new opportunities (!) To transform parts of the globe into goods and markets that no one thought could have had this destiny – and this destination. Geoengineering represents the futuristic and science fiction face of neoliberalism and, together with the delusions of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, its most dystopian face.

“Geoengineering” is a sort of collective definition that identifies a wide range of large-scale manipulations aimed at modifying the climate of the earth, to “correct” climate change. It includes “solutions” such as the artificial increase of the planet’s albedo through various types of “management” of solar radiation (through the diffusion of reflective particles in the stratosphere, the installation of mirrors in the space orbit or the covering of deserts with reflective material); the increase in the sequestration of CO2 by the oceans through the stimulation of the growth of phytoplankton (fertilization of the oceans with nutrients, mixing of the layers) or of the mainland (burial of plant residues; introduction of genetically modified organisms, or, again, the extraction and confinement of CO2 directly to the point of emission). This sort of delusional ideation has rather close connections with the “collective of neoliberal thought” as several institutions that are its direct emanation, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Ii Cato Institute, the Hoover Institution and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, deal with active in the promotion of geoengineering. The academic temple of neoliberalism itself, the Chicago School of Economics, has publicly supported this delusion the Hoover Institution and the Competititive Enterprise Institute are very active in promoting geoengineering. The academic temple of neoliberalism itself, the Chicago School of Economics, has publicly supported this delusion the Hoover Institution and the Competitive Enterprise Institute are very active in promoting geoengineering. The academic temple of neoliberalism itself, the Chicago School of Economics, has publicly supported this delusion[24] .

Of course, these projects are only lysergic hallucinations brought to an institutionally recognized level : see under the heading: “says Lascienza”. But this amazing science, in these cases, can only assert hypotheses that have no chance of being tested experimentally. There is no way of verifying the hypothesized assumptions ex ante , let alone unwanted effects. Here the laboratory is made up of the whole world and the ex post could be a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions . But evidently these considerations do not have the power to scratch the adamantine determination of our apprentice sorcerers burned by the sacred fire of Prometheus. Ça va sans direthat these amazing proposals would act only on the effects and certainly not on the causes of the problem. On the other hand, acting on the causes would mean questioning the bases on which capitalism itself rests while according to the neoliberal epistème. If capitalism has caused problems, the solution is: more capitalism!

So, geoengineering solutions bring enormous advantages according to neoliberal criteria, because they do not limit consolidated markets (never let less Hallo Kitty or cheeseburgers be produced in the world, or that indoor skiing can no longer be done in Dubai! ), but expands market areas towards new horizons: nothing less than the privatization of the atmosphere and climate. Because, if it was not understood, the purpose is this, as well as putting the planet hostage of some private entities (those that develop patent-protected “solutions”), [25] so that they can profit from something that, magically , it can become a commodity with a few strokes of the pen, with the excuse of a global “hurry up!” because “the next generations ask us”.

***

This closes the circle. In the amazing world of Quelo and Greta, teknè is politicized through yet another circular reasoning, because the problems are too complex to be addressed with solutions that are not technical (the answer is within you, and yet it is sbajata), until completely obliterate the space of politics other than that of a mere “bourgeois business committee”. Because there is no alternative to the truths of a science that has become dogma and of a society that has abandoned any dogma that is not that of the market order, that according to which the “providence that governs the world” acts with an invisible hand so that the mystery of creation can be manifested.

The same science has abandoned any epistemic function to become a mere management paradigm and has no greater meaning, as far as knowledge of the world is concerned, than the rules of the Monopoly have. The order of the market remained the only praxis that guides human actions and the only tealos , autotelic and perpetually progressive, to which the gaze of what we once used to call civilization turns.

 


  1. The most relevant studies were conducted by Hans Suess, Gilbert Plass, Roger Revelle and Charles Keeling.
  2. United States Chamber of Commerce. Source: K. Brill, “Your meeting with members of the Global Climate Coalition”, United States Department of State, 2001.
  3. At least since the release of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring (1962).
  4. In turn influenced by the studies of Frederick Soddy.
  5. In P. Mirowski, Never let a serious crisis go to waste , Verso, London-New York, 2013; P. Mirowski, D. Plehwe, The Road from Monte Pelerin , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2009.
  6. In M. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–79 , Palgrave McMillan, Basingstoke, 2008.
  7. In P. Mirowski, D. Plehwe, cit., P. 4 ff .; 417 ff.
  8. In L. Fleck, The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact , University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979.
  9. Linguistic residue of the sterile diatribe between Benedetto Croce and Luigi Einaudi, which dates back to the late 1920s.
  10. In P. Mirowski, Never let a serious crisis go to waste , cit., Cap. 6.
  11. In P. Mirowski, “Naturalizing the market on the road to revisionism: Bruce Caldwell’s Hayek’s challenge and the challenge of Hayek interpretation”, in Journal of Institutional Economics , 2007.
  12. Which also includes the science that has proven its success in the “market of ideas”, which is also spontaneous as the drug dealer at the aforementioned customs.
  13. In P. Mirowski, Never let a serious crisis go to waste , cit.
  14. Ibid.
  15. In RN Proctor, L. Schiebinger, Agnotology. The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance , Stanford University Press, 2008.
  16. See FA Hayek, “The use of knowledge in society”, in American Economic Review , XXXV, No. 4, September 1945, pp. 519-30.
  17. “First and foremost, neoliberalism masquerades as a radically populist philosophy, which begins with a set of philosophical theses about knowledge and its relationship to society. It seems to be a radical leveling philosophy, denigrating expertise and elite pretensions to hard-won knowledge, instead praising the “wisdom of crowds.” It appeals to the vanity of every self-absorbed narcissist, who would be glad to ridicule intellectuals as ” professional secondhand dealers in ideas. “In Hayekian language, it elevates a” cosmos “—a supposed spontaneous order that no one has intentionally designed or structured — over a” taxis “—rationally constructed orders designed to achieve intentional ends. But the second, and linked lesson, is that neoliberals are simultaneously elitists: they do not in fact practice what they preach. When it comes to actually organizing something, almost anything, from a Wiki to the Mont Pèlerin Society, suddenly the cosmos collapses to a taxis. In Wikipedia, what looks like a libertarian paradise is in fact a thinly disguised totalitarian hierarchy “(in P. Mirowski, D. Plehwe,The Road from Monte Pelerin , cit., Pp. 425-426).
  18. The estimate is from the research office of the Swiss bank UBS, in a customer report of November 2011 (see https://www.thegwpf.com/europes-287-billion-carbon-waste-ubs-report).
  19. In D. Harvey, “The ‘new’ imperialism: accumulation by dispossession”, in Socialist Register , No. 40, p. 74.
  20. In D. Harvey, L’enigma del Capitale , Feltrinelli, Milan, 2011, pp. 60-61.
  21. Typically based abroad, if we refer to Italy or even to the so-called developing countries.
  22. See S. Kagawa, K. Hubacek, K. Nansai, M. Kataoka, S. Managi, S. Suh, Y. Kudoh, “Better cars or older cars ?: Assessing CO2 emission reduction potential of passenger vehicle replacement programs”, in Global Environmental Change , Volume 23, Issue 6, December 2013, pp. 1807-1818; M. Messagie, “Life Cycle Analysis of the Climate Impact of Electric Vehicles”, in Transport and environment , 2014; H. Helms, M. Pehnt, U. Lambrecht, A. Liebich, “Electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid energy efficiency and life cycle emissions”, 18th International Symposium Transport and Air Pollution, 2010.
  23. Recall that the factor that triggered the revolt of the Jaunes vests was precisely the tightening of the parameters for vehicle emissions. Of course, these mainly concerned vehicles of a certain age, which are those that guaranteed the mobility of the poorest population (in the presence of concomitant dismantling of public transport networks in the vicinity).
  24. See P. Mirowski, Never let a serious crisis go to waste, cit.
  25. See D. Cressy, “Geoengineering Experiment Canceled Amid Patent Row”, in Nature , No. 15, May 2012; M. Specter, “The Climate Fixers”, in The New Yorker , May, 2012.

 

The Orginal article in Italian can be accessed here.