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It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [The Enclosure of Africa]

October 30, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

 

2Africa: Digital Colonization Meets White Paternalism – The Facebook Enclosure of Africa

 

“Zuckerberg’s team has another related project named 2Africa. A “mission”, as they call it… Civilians have been quite silent about it this time, but not because they don’t have an opinion. It looks like many civil society groups in the continent are financed by Facebook itself. Ironic, right? Well, it seems like the missionary-like good guys from up North are going to save the world again.”

 

August 18, 2020, “There’s a 2.0 form of colonialism happening under our very eyes”

 

 

“Facebook realizes it’s running out of room to grow in developed markets. Instead of waiting for developing countries to build adequate infrastructure for its apps, Facebook wants to help develop the infrastructure and lock users into its ecosystem.”

 

May 22, 2020, Facebook Will Bring Expanded Internet Access to Africa in $1 Billion Project

 

 

“Big Tech corporations are wreaking havoc on the Global South. There’s a crisis in the tech ecosystem, and it’s called digital colonialism.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

“Many countries will face a shrinking population. For Europe, this challenge may come sooner. The region is projected to face the highest dependency ratio—the number of people of nonworking age (over 65) compared with those of working age—by 2050. At 75 percent, this ratio is higher than for any other region… Not all populations are shrinking or getting older, though. Africa—the only region whose population is expected to grow more than 1 percent a year—will have the youngest median age, 25, by 2050.” [Source: International Monetary Fund, Finance & Development, March 2020] 

Today, four in ten people, that is, 42% of the global population, are aged under 25. Now consider that 76% of youth aged 18–24 use Facebook. [Source] “While the majority of most populations in the Global North are decreasing or flatlining, in Sub-Saharan Africa the populations are growing with nearly half of the world’s youth living in Sub-Saharan African countries.” [Source]

“As Africa meets the 4IR Fourth Industrial Revolution], its youth will be one of its most important assets”

 

August 25, 2020, World Economic Forum, How can Africa succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis, for the first time in modern history, the planet’s human population “is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates.” [Source] In a mere ten years, by 2030, it is expected that one in five people will be African. [Source] By 2100, half of all babies born in the world – will be born in Africa. [Source]

For decades, population has been made a convenient scapegoat for climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and expressed concerns over biodiversity and sustainability. It has gained an upsurge in popularity with New Deal For Nature influencers David Attenborough and Jane Goodall (selected by the World Economic Forum, WWF et al.) promoting this narrative (a narrative with a fixation of black and brown bodies). Although it is Western countries responsible for the absolute bulk of these emissions and ecological devastation across the globe, it has not been African groups nor black academics calling on population controls for the West. Rather, it is Western and European groups, predominantly white and male, relentlessly targeting African nations and the sovereign bodies belonging to African women. Consider that in 1900 Europe held 25% of the global population, triple that of Africa. Yet by 2050, Europe is on track to hold a mere 7% of the global population (one-third that of Africa). With white supremacy as a foundational structure of the ruling class, the feigned concern over both ecology and poverty rings hollow. The race to recolonize African citizens, as techlonial subjects, has begun.

“Up until 1950, more than half of historical CO2 emissions were emitted by Europe. The vast majority of European emissions back then were emitted by the United Kingdom; as the data shows, until 1882 more than half of the world’s cumulative emissions came from the UK alone. Over the century which followed, industrialization in the USA rapidly increased its contribution. It’s only over the past 50 years that growth in South America, Asia and Africa have increased these regions’ share of total contribution.”

A 2013 map demonstrates fourteen nations account for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, an advance chapter of the 2019 Emissions Gap Report, released ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, reported G20 member states account for almost 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. [Source] The top three greenhouse gas emitters— China (with a population of1.4 billion), the European Union and the United States contribute more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the bottom 100 countries account for a mere 3.5 percent. [Source]

Bob Collymore (1958-2019), Former CEO of Safaricom and leader of The B Team

Forecasts for this year (2020) show only one non-African country – Afghanistan – placed in the top 20 countries for the highest youth populations. [Source] For these reasons, Africa has been a target of both “fourth industrial revolution” technologies (digitalized healthcare, education, identities, etc.), as well as the United Nations-World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) is also recognized as a key target market. Under the guise of alleviating poverty, protecting climate and biodiversity, the SDGs are in reality, emerging markets, with their implementation driven by the World Economic Forum, partner to the United Nations. Children and youth are to become human data commodities on the blockchain. This is the foray into the machinations underpinning the new global poverty economy. The majority of climate investments earmarked in Annex 1 states in the Global North will be invested in emerging markets in the Global South – created by the West, for the West.

“Tech giants have been finding new ways of gathering data from citizens, this time with major investments in connection infrastructure in the global South.”

 

August 18, 2020, Digital Colonialism

On May 13, 2020, Facebook announced its plans to encircle the entire continent of Africa with subsea cable. At 37,000 kilometers long, the 2Africa cable will be nearly equal to the entire circumference of the Earth.

The 2Africa project, valued at approximately USD 1 billion, is considered one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world. It will interconnect 16 countries in Africa, the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and Europe.

“Facebook hasn’t disclosed how much money it’s contributing to the project, but it won’t be a significant percentage of its projected revenue of $78 billion this year.” [Source]

Facebook’s 2Africa partners include some of the globe’s largest telecom corporations, including: the U.K.’s Vodafone Group, France’s Orange SA, China’s Mobile, stc (Saudi Telecom), Europe’s GlobalConnect, and Africa’s West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC). The two African wireless carriers involved in the project are MTN Group (Johannesburg) and Telecom Egypt. Nokia Oyj’s Alcatel Submarine Networks has been contracted to build the cable. [Source]

“2Africa, whose aim is surrounding the whole African continent with undersea fibre-optic cables, is an infrastructural feat that in usual circumstances would be considered the exclusive domain of governments.”

 

August 17, 2020, Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South

According to Bloomberg, “tech giants, led by Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are behind about 80% of the recent investment in transatlantic cable, driven by demand for fast-data transfers used for streaming movies to social messaging.” If one juxtaposes such priorities, with our dire planetary ecological crisis and unprecedented biodiversity loss, one catches a glimpse of a society in intellectual and ethical freefall. As we enter a “fourth” industrial revolution, consider that after an approximately 260 years of “progress”, 30% of the global population still has no access to clean drinking water, while approximately half the world’s population lacks access to safe sanitation. In tandem with diet, nutrition, and shelter, it is these most basic necessities that prevent disease and sickness. “An estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhoea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases. Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.” As these black and brown deaths occur in the Global South, the populace of Global North remains largely and seemingly willfully blind to this normalized atrocity, while as of March 27, 2020, The Lancet reported outside of two reported deaths in China of children who tested positive for COVID-19, there were no accounts of COVID-19 deaths of children in the published literature. Since this time, fatalities in children from/with COVID-19 remain extremely rare.

Although at first glance, that COVID-19 is being prioritised over providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation must be considered insane, in fact, one must understand this as marketing: “Suggesting that the digital sphere “amplifies existing inequalities”, the UN official noted that among the most pressing challenges are tackling the lack of internet access in the world’s poorest nations – where fewer than one in five people has regular electricity.” [Source] One cannot feed their children with the internet. One cannot bathe their child in a virtual world. The concern over internet access inequality – the push for equal access for all – is nothing more than public relations and strategic marketing seeking social license. This feigned concern over inequality – is the storytelling that simultaneously conceals and drives the emerging markets. Oppression is reframed as empowerment. Data is the new oil.

Let them eat virtual cake – on their smartphones.

“‘We’ve been able to work with the local partners who are providing internet service in the most challenged areas,’ says Facebook’s Rabinovitsj. ‘Some of these places are really large slums in and around large urban centres and typically the disposable income is less than a few dollars a month for households.’ ‘We are able to, with our partners, come up with a sustainable model that provides internet access for [those] families.” [Source]

[Source: Smart Growth Is Colonialism Reinvented]

Award digital badges for “Smart Learning”. Mine the data. Feed the artificial intelligence and machine learning. Continue the theft of resources (biological communities) from the pillaged continent of Africa – that underpin the imperial “great reset”. Enslave the children via technology. Smart slavery. Smart enslavement. Smart colonialism.

“Facebook has long tried to lead the race to improve connectivity in Africa in a bid to take advantage of a young population, greater connectivity and the increasing availability and affordability of smartphones.”

 

Bloomberg, May 14, 2020, Faster Internet Coming to Africa With Facebook’s $1 Billion Cable

September 12, 2016: “NAIROBI, Kenya, “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in Kenya after a three-day visit in Lagos, Nigeria in his first visit to Africa. Zuckerberg is expected to meet tech entrepreneurs, developers and talk to stakeholders in the ICT industry. Zuckerberg: “Just landed in Nairobi! I’m here to meet with entrepreneurs and developers, and to learn about mobile money – where Kenya is the world leader.” [Source] [Image]

May 17, 2017: “Black Facebook users are having their accounts banned for speaking out against racism: It seems the intent behind silencing outspoken Black folks hasn’t changed in the last few hundred years. And while Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t yet sentenced me to “thirty nine lashes on [my] bare back,” I can’t say for certain that penalty isn’t hidden somewhere… I’ve lost count of how many Black organizers have had their Facebook accounts temporarily or permanently banned for posting content that even remotely challenges white supremacy.”

Facebook’s announcement of the 2Africa project followed “a long and complex restoration process of an unprecedented simultaneous cable break”. The two Atlantic Ocean based 16,000 km cable systems (connecting South Africa to the UK) occurred early in the morning on January 16, 2020. The breaks in the cables, only eight years old, took place approximately 1,964 km apart from one another – with one break occurring near Libreville, Gabon, while the second break occurred south of Gabon, in the vicinity of Luanda, Angola. [Source] This same day, an 18-year-old cable called SAT-3 that runs along the same route was also reported broken.

“It was unprecedented that two completely geographically separate cables run by completely separate companies would fail within hours of each other,”

 

— Afrihost CEO Gian Visser speaking to Business Times

The breaks, cited as catastrophic, the cause as-yet unspecified, resulted in frustrated users in over 24 sub-Saharan African countries. Upon announcing the full restoration on February 19, 2020, Openserve, the infrastructure arm of South Africa’s Telkom, charged with co-ordinating the repairs on two damaged cable lines (WACS and the SAT3/WASC) stated it would “conduct a full analysis of the unusual dual-cable break.” As a side note, in February of 2008, outages on five separate undersea cables in the Middle East were attributed to sabotage by a UN official. Such acts of sabotage are not as rare as one may think:

“What’s the least sophisticated, but probably the most foolproof, way to cut off a country’s Internet traffic? Literally cutting it by severing undersea Internet cables. That’s what the Egyptian navy caught three scuba divers doing in the waters 750 meters off the port city of Alexandria on Wednesday… The effects of the ship taking out that cable were experienced as far away as Pakistan and India…”

 

— Divers Caught Cutting Internet Backbone Cable, March 28, 2013

The cable break disruption in Africa created a well-timed segue for the 2Africa project announcement by Facebook, which otherwise may well have generated backlash: “When completed, this new route will deliver much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability across Africa; supplement a rapidly increasing demand for capacity in the Middle East; and support further growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.” [May 13, 2020] Par for the course, and leaving no stone unturned, Facebook has taken a page from its capitalist predecessors, financing any possible opposition:

“This is hardly the only reason backlash has been muted. Activists on the African continent are often battling internet shutdowns, connectivity and other issues – and also struggle to make headlines in the western media even more than their counterparts in India. And there’s an additional complication: many of the African civil society groups are themselves funded by Facebook.” [Source]

 

“They have so many projects at the moment,” van der Spuy remarks. “They’re funding so many civil society people, including people that you wouldn’t think of, and they fund them to go to conferences and things. There’s a lot of soft and hard lobbying on the continent.” — Dr Anri van der Spuy, a senior associate at Research ICT Africa, a policy and regulation think-tank [Source]

 

Smart Colonialism

 

August 21, 2020, Algorithmic Colonisation of Africa: “In the age of algorithms, this control and domination occurs not through brute physical force but rather through invisible and nuanced mechanisms such as control of digital ecosystems and infrastructure.”

“Similar to the technical architecture of classic colonialism, digital colonialism is rooted in the design of the tech ecosystem for the purposes of profit and plunder. If the railways and maritime trade routes were the “open veins” of the Global South back then, today, digital infrastructure takes on the same role: Big Tech corporations use proprietary software, corporate clouds, and centralised Internet services to spy on users, process their data, and spit back manufactured services to subjects of their data fiefdoms. ”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

The 2Africa cable project is expected to be in operation by 2024. It will surpass the combined capacity of all existing sub-sea cables serving Africa.

For an idea of the massive profits to be realized from the capture of data, one only needs to look at the monetary outlay corporations are willing to place up front. The population of St. Helena, Africa is 5,000. Research suggests that approximately 60% of these 5,000 citizens will use the Internet, for a total of 3,000 Internet users. For this tiny demographic, Google will spend USD 30 million. [Source]

Fiber optic specialist and industry insider Sunil Tagare was selected by Wired magazine as one of the “Wired 25” in 1999; a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, and is a Charter Member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) New York. According to Tagare, Facebook’s share of the 2Africa project will amount to approximately 80 million dollars and use 10-20% of the bandwidth. This percentage of bandwidth will generate 21 billion dollars per year in revenues increasing Facebook’s market cap by USD 178 billion. [Source]

According to Tagare, 2Africa will be “the first smart cable with sensors to cross the Atlantic.” [Source]

The real prize here is not merely Facebook’s billion dollar revenues and growing global dominance. Rather, it is the infrastructure that underpins the further expansion of both 5G, that is, the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks (rolling out now with virtually no dissent) and 6G (foreseen for 2030). 5G networks underpin the global expansion of Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, biometrics, global digitalization, digital identification, autonomous lethal weapons, cyber security, an automated global workforce, etc. At 10 gigabits per second, theoretically, 5G is said to be up to one hundred times more powerful than the current 4G technology. 6G is expected to support 1 terabyte per second speeds. This level of capacity and latency will be unprecedented, extending the capabilities of 5G applications. [Source]

Whereas US and China corporations own the platforms, Europe, China and South Korea, lead on 5G. Those that control 5G will control all the infrastructure upon which 5G technology is based. Together, China (#1), the US (#2), and the EU (#3) represent the three largest economies in the world (although the order in which they reign is sometimes contested). The three combined represented 48% of the world economy.

On June 28, 2019, Google announced “Equiano”, its new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. [Source] Named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a child, today’s woke slavery for children is to be repackaged with digital badges earned for their very own, unique, digital passport. Perhaps such appropriation and irony is even too rich for Facebook. Consider the 2Africa project was originally named “Simba” named after the Lion King character. (After initial involvement, Google left the Simba consortium.) The first phase of Google’s Equiano project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021. Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested USD 47 billion in capital expenditures, which includes the billions being invested in further expanding its global infrastructure.

“As Facebook’s core product (social) starts seeing a significant downward trend and is certainly a non-starter with the millennials, it will increasingly have to depend on other verticals which will compete with Google.” [Source]

African Telecom providers have warned that the Facebook and Google projects threaten the survival of the local and mainstream operators:

“Virtual operators like Facebook are organisations that mainstream operators have to watch out for because a number of services they render today are free of charge. Their revenue is mostly from advertisement. They don’t have tax obligations; they don’t have any obligation like the conventional licensee have to the government.”

 

June 8, 2020, Telcos Threatened As Facebook, Google Plan Subsea Cable

 

“Silicon Valley corporations are taking over the digital economy in the Global South, and nobody is paying attention. In South Africa, Google and Facebook dominate the online advertising industry, and are considered an existential threat to local media.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

 

Facebook’s “Internet.org” – Rebranded to “Free Basics”

 

“Most importantly, for Free Basics users, Facebook becomes the homepage of the Internet. Free Basics builds brand loyalty among users. It contributes to Facebook’s dominant position in emerging markets with tremendous demographic growth.”

 

Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South, August 17, 2020

Free Basics homepage

 In partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm, Facebook launched Internet.org in 2013:

“Basic data-light web services would be available through a free app, owned and curated by Facebook. By marketing its new product as ‘the internet’, Facebook could make itself the centre of their online world. There was no email provision, no Google services, no other social media platforms – and often no content in that country’s native tongue. In effect, Facebook was offering a heavily censored version of the American internet, accessed through a Facebook app which directed everything back to its own services.” [Source]

In 2014, Internet.org launched the ‘Internet.org app’ in four African countries. Users could access 13 websites without data charge, including Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and a Johnson & Johnson-sponsored maternal health site.

On February 10, 2015, Internet.org announced the upcoming launch of its app in six Indian states. Following intense backlash (*”Facebook was acting as a gatekeeper of the Internet by pre-selecting services available on Internet.org, without transparency and with a Western bias detrimental to local services and start-ups”) the business venture was rebranded to “Free Basics” in September 2015, prior to a nationwide roll-out. [*Source]

 

“Based on current figures provided by Facebook, some 2.99 billion people currently use at least one of Facebook’s apps every month. The population of the entire world is, according to Worldometer, around 7.8 billion, so when you take into account the aforementioned stat that 3.5 billion can’t access the web, and add to that the fact that 1.4b Chinese citizens are technically unable to use Facebook due to government restrictions, Facebook’s apps, based on these calculations, are used by pretty much everybody who’s able to access them, in some form.  Given this, you can see why Facebook’s keen to maximize its presence in India, and its reach among that nation’s 1.4 billion people.” [Source]

In February 2016, regulators banned Facebook’s Free Basics service in India. In nationwide protests, citizens argued that Free Basics expanded Facebook’s monopoly power while simultaneously subjecting users to both censorship and surveillance. This was a massive blow to Facebook. With a population of 1.4 billion citizens, India represented Facebook’s largest target market. Since this time, Facebook quietly rolled out a new initiative into India and other targeted demographics with Wi-Fi hotspots, called Express Wi-Fi. This initiative gives retailers the option to offer its users open access to Free Basics. In effect, Free Basics was re-routed through Express Wi-Fi.

“In 2015 researchers found that 65% of Nigerians, and 61% of Indonesians agree with the statement that “Facebook is the Internet” compared with only 5% in the US.” [Source]

On November 3, 2016, Facebook announced 40 million people were using internet.org. Despite the February 2016 ban of Free Basics in India, Facebook quietly continues its monolithic expansion, relatively free of scrutiny, into most developing countries, including India, while Free Basics is proliferating in dozens of countries. [Source: March 13, 2019, Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South] To successfully enable the Free Basics expansion into Africa, Facebook ceased to publicise its Free Basics pursuits, and instead focused on engagement with and financing of “civil society”(NGOs). This was largely accomplished via the Praekelt Foundation – funded by heavy hitters including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, Johnson & Johnson, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ford Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and USAID. As of June 2019, it was reported that Free Basics was present in 65 countries with a large part of the expansion saturating African countries, which went largely unnoticed, unreported and uncontested. [Source]

As of July 2020, there are over 290 million Facebook users in India, with a population closing in on the 1.4 billion mark.

Graph: Leading countries based on Facebook audience size as of July 2020 (in millions) Source: Statista

“I argue that Free Basics’ quiet expansion across Africa was notably made possible by the combination of two key interrelated phenomena: (1) Facebook’s evolving strategy, particularly its growing engagement with civil society organizations and (2) the focus of digital rights activists across the continent on other issues, including Internet shutdowns, government censorship, and the lack of data privacy frameworks.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

Graph: “Number of news stories about ‘Free Basics’ and ‘Internet.org‘ across 1,500 Global English Language sources, June 2013 to July 2019″ [Source

“Free Basics also fits within two broader and interrelated trends in the digital industry, digital experiments on marginalized populations and data extraction. There is increasing evidence that vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, such as minority groups, refugees, and impoverished communities are prime, albeit largely nonconsenting subjects of digital experiments – be they designed to ‘help’ or surveil these communities (Latonero and Kift, 2018; Madianou, 2019; Mann and Daly, 2018). Data extraction, for its part, is central to the digital economy (Zuboff, 2019). It is key to building unique, rich datasets that train competitive algorithms, which are then generally used to connect businesses to customers.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

 

“Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?”

 

Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, February, 2016

Looking back momentarily, in 2015, Facebook announced that internet.org was operating in 11 countries, allowing about one billion people to access its services for free. [Source] On April 25, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg would clarify the actual number of users. In response to Facebook’s Q1 2018 earnings call Zuckerberg stated: “our Internet.org efforts have helped almost 100 million people get access to the internet who may not have had it otherwise”. [Source] This was up from 40 million users in November 2016, a 60 million increase in users in approximately 16 months.

Facebook’s capture of India has barely begun. In 2019, Facebook acquired the Indian eCommerce platform Meesho. Facebook also seeks to roll out its cryptocurrency – initially focused on funds transfers in the Indian market – in the coming months. Globalcoin is the new cryptocurrency “Libra” founded by Facebook, in conjunction with “Novi”, a digital wallet. “While Libra itself is a cryptocurrency that can be used to make purchases or gain access to services through Facebook, Calibra is the wallet that will be used to store Libra and whatever other forms of crypto the user may have, only this time, the wallet will no longer be known as Calibra, but as Novi… As part of the verification process, customers of Libra and Facebook will be required to upload a government-issued identification card.” [Bitcoin News, June 1, 2020] [Forbes, August 17, 2021: “Between Crypto, Libra, Stablecoins, And Digital Dollars, Congress Introduced 35 ‘Blockchain’ Bills’]

April 22, 2020: “If you wanted to know how much value Facebook sees in the emerging Indian market, this deal certainly provides some indication. After recent reports that Facebook was looking to acquire a stake in Indian internet provider Jio, The Social Network has now confirmed that it has purchased a majority stake in the Reliance-owned venture for a massive $US5.7 billion… the acquisition will provide Facebook with a new way into the Indian market, which it’s been looking to gain a foothold in for many years, with varying levels of success.” [Source]

 

India, and its 1.4 billion citizens, is the next key battleground for the tech giants, with both Facebook and Google both working to gain a foothold in the Indian market in order to expand their audience base, provide new business tools, and build revenue-generating partnerships that will facilitate significant opportunities to expand their respective empires… India is now the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China, while the number of internet users in the nation is expected to top 850 million by 2022. For comparison, the US is expected to reach around 300 million internet users at the same stage.” [Source]

September 6, 2017 video: “Facebook creates digital map showing where every human lives”:

 

The Colonization of Space & Skies

With Facebook’s growth slowing in the West, the corporation must diversify. August 17, 2020: “Today, the internet is estimated to have around four billion users. More than two billion of them use Facebook products. But growth is slowing, and the social network has its eyes firmly set on the three billion people without a connection as their hope for the future.” [Source]

On September 1, 2016, a SpaceX rocket exploded prior to its scheduled launch. Facebook had contracted SpaceX to deliver the first Internet.org satellite into orbit, in order to secure new internet customers in large portions of sub-Saharan Africa. This would be key in providing basic connectivity via Internet.org, to the entire world’s population. [Source] The Amos6 satellite was built by Israeli communications firm Spacecom Ltd., while owned and operated by Eutelsat, France.

In May 2019, the IEEE Spectrum reported that Facebook had established a subsidiary called PointView Tech, to develop “low-Earth-orbit satellites” under the codename Athena.

On February 12, 2020, Business Insider reported that Facebook was going forward with its plan to build a constellation of thousands of satellites with the first one launching into space in March 2020.

Last month, on September 3, 2020, Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit. A rocket encompassing “700,000 pounds of thrust” (made possible only with massive quantities of fossil fuels), successfully launched over French Guiana:

“The first satellite released into a 320-mile-high (515-kilometer) orbit by the Vega’s AVUM upper stage was Athena, a 304-pound (138-kilogram) spacecraft built by Maxar in California. Athena is a small experimental communications satellite for PointView Tech, a subsidiary of Facebook, that will test technologies that could be used in a future constellation of small satellites to provide global broadband Internet services. Athena is PointView Tech’s first satellite.”

 

September 3, 2030, Vega rocket deploys 53 satellites on successful return to flight mission, Spaceflight Now

September 3, 2020: Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit

At present, with approximately 2.7 – 3 billion users (stats differ), Facebook is closing in on almost half of the global population. Barriers include no access to China, with a population of approximately 1.4 billion citizens;  India, due to the fact that fewer than 20% of India’s citizens, in a population on par with China, have access to the Internet; and sovereign states that ban Facebook, recognizing that it serves as an instrument to empire for foreign interference and destabilization. Such targeted geopolitical hotspots include the sovereign nations of China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea (the majority of North Korean citizens do not access the Internet). This is in line with the threat of foreign and Western NGOs that serve Western foreign policy and capital. Consider Access Now, an arm of Avaaz (which led a leading role in the annihilation of Libya, as well as the attempted destruction of Syria), was created with the specific intent to destabilize Iran. [Link] (One can be certain that if Middle Eastern countries were attempting to overthrow Western states, with social media serving as a key apparatus, controlled by NGOs serving Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc. – social media would be blocked in our countries as well.)

Thus, to reach the global populace that remain off-limits, and to secure the foundation and expansion of 5G, that the “fourth industrial revolution” architecture is absolutely dependent upon, the race for satellites in space has begun. Although completely asinine, human centric and short-sighted, approximately 57,000 satellites are to be launched into space in this single decade. [This is explored in further detail later in this report.]

In tandem with industry’s servitude to planned obsolescence, coupled with the rapid acceleration of technology, satellites will eventually be far more important than subsea cables. In the not-so-distant future, (possibly the 6G era) sea cables may become altogether obsolete.

Next: Part III

 

Klaus Schwab and His Great Fascist Reset – An Overview

Winter Oak

October 5, 2020

 

Introduction by Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green Collective:
This exemplary overview is written by Paul Cudenec, who I work with on the No Deal For Nature campaign – an effort to educate the citizenry (in order to stop) the coming enclosure and financialization of nature, global in scale. (Created by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the United Nations, World Wildlife Fund and Gore’s Climate Reality Project, legislation is now slated for 2021). “Ecosystem Services” will be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. GDP replaced by “Natural Capital Accounting”. Those that have destroyed the planet’s biodiversity, will now own what remains. Including the oceans. The enclosure of the commons will further displace Indigenous Peoples. An acceleration of an ongoing genocide. Following the full commodification/privatization of nature, the financialization of social and human will follow. This is part of the new “global governance” infrastructure underpinning the fourth industrial revolution, being rolled out to the global citizenry as the “great reset”. COVID-19 is the catalyst. [Follow No Deal For Nature on twitter] [No Deal For Nature UK Website]
Packaged in holistic linguistics, key buzzwords (thrive, thriving, imagine, imagination, reimagine, build back better), new deals, and emotive imagery, those serving capital and current power structures have been tasked with building and obtaining the social license required.
But what exactly is the vision? Here, Paul takes you on a journey, using direct quotes from Klaus Schwab, from his recent books including “COVID-19, The Great Reset”. Both riveting – and terrifying, due to the depraved ideologies and goals described within, I suggest people find a quiet place, to read every word of this overview. Please share in broader circles.

 

 

Born in Ravensburg in 1938, Klaus Schwab is a child of Adolf Hitler’s Germany, a police-state regime built on fear and violence, on brainwashing and control, on propaganda and lies, on industrialism and eugenics, on dehumanisation and “disinfection”, on a chilling and grandiose vision of a “new order” that would last a thousand years.

Schwab seems to have dedicated his life to reinventing that nightmare and to trying to turn it into a reality not just for Germany but for the whole world.

Worse still, as his own words confirm time and time again, his technocratic fascist vision is also a twisted transhumanist one, which will merge humans with machines in “curious mixes of digital-and-analog life”, which will infect our bodies with “Smart Dust” and in which the police will apparently be able to read our brains.

And, as we will see, he and his accomplices are using the Covid-19 crisis to bypass democratic accountability, to override opposition, to accelerate their agenda and to impose it on the rest of humankind against our will in what he terms a “Great Reset“.

Schwab is not, of course, a Nazi in the classic sense, being neither a nationalist nor an anti-semite, as testified by the $1 million Dan David Prize  he was awarded by Israel in 2004.

But 21st century fascism has found different political forms through which to continue its core project of reshaping humanity to suit capitalism through blatantly authoritarian means.

This new fascism is today being advanced in the guise of global governance, biosecurity, the “New Normal”, the “New Deal for Nature” and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

4IR

Schwab, the octogenarian founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, sits at the centre of this matrix like a spider on a giant web.

The original fascist project, in Italy and Germany, was all about a merger of state and business.

While communism envisages the take-over of business and industry by the government, which – theoretically! – acts in the interests of the people, fascism was all about using the state to protect and advance the interests of the wealthy elite.

Schwab was continuing this approach in a denazified post-WW2 context, when in 1971 he founded the European Management Forum, which held annual meetings at Davos in Switzerland.

Here he promoted his ideology of “stakeholder” capitalism in which businesses were brought into closer co-operation with government.

“Stakeholder capitalism” is described by Forbes business magazine as “the notion that a firm focuses on meeting the needs of all its stakeholders: customers, employees, partners, the community, and society as a whole”.

Even in the context of a particular business, it is invariably an empty label. As the Forbes article notes, it actually only means that “firms can go on privately shoveling money to their shareholders and executives, while maintaining a public front of exquisite social sensitivity and exemplary altruism”.

But in a general social context, the stakeholder concept is even more nefarious, discarding any idea of democracy, rule by the people, in favour of rule by corporate interests.

Society is no longer regarded as a living community but as a business, whose profitability is the sole valid aim of human activity.

Schwab set out this agenda back in 1971, in his book Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau (Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering), where his use of the term “stakeholders” (die Interessenten) effectively redefined human beings not as citizens, free individuals or members of communities, but as secondary participants in a massive commercial enterprise.

The aim of each and every person’s life was “to achieve long-term growth and prosperity” for this enterprise – in other words, to protect and increase the wealth of the capitalist elite.

This all became even clearer in 1987, when Schwab renamed his European Management Forum the World Economic Forum.

The WEF describes itself on its own website as “the global platform for public-private cooperation”, with admirers describing how it creates “partnerships between businessmen, politicians, intellectuals and other leaders of society to ‘define, discuss and advance key issues on the global agenda’.”

The “partnerships” which the WEF creates are aimed at replacing democracy with a global leadership of hand-picked and unelected individuals whose duty is not to serve the public, but to impose the rule of the 1% on that public with as little interference from the rest of us as possible.

In the books Schwab writes for public consumption, he expresses himself in the two-faced clichés of corporate spin and greenwashing.

The same empty terms are dished up time and time again. In Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Guide to Building a Better World Schwab talks of “the inclusion of stakeholders and the distribution of benefits” and of “sustainable and inclusive partnerships” which will lead us all to an “inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future”! (1)

Behind this bluster, the real motivation driving his “stakeholder capitalism”, which he was still relentlessly promoting at the WEF’s 2020 Davos conference, is profit and exploitation.

For instance, in his 2016 book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Schwab writes about the Uberisation of work and the consequent advantages for companies, particularly fast-growing start-ups in the digital economy: “As human cloud platforms classify workers as self-employed, they are—for the moment—free of the requirement to pay minimum wages, employer taxes and social benefits”. (2)

The same capitalist callousness shines through in his attitude towards people nearing the end of their working lives and in need of a well-deserved rest: “Aging is an economic challenge because unless retirement ages are drastically increased so that older members of society can continue to contribute to the workforce (an economic imperative that has many economic benefits), the working-age population falls at the same time as the percentage of dependent elders increases”. (3)

Everything in this world is reduced to economic challenges, economic imperatives and economic benefits for the ruling capitalist class.

The myth of Progress has long been used by the 1% to persuade people to accept the technologies designed to exploit and control us and Schwab plays on this when he declares that “the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a significant source of hope for continuing the climb in human development that has resulted in dramatic increases in quality of life for billions of people since 1800”. (4)

KS Time magHe enthuses: “While it may not feel momentous to those of us experiencing a series of small but significant adjustments to life on a daily basis, it is not a minor change—the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a new chapter in human development, on a par with the first, second and third Industrial Revolutions, and once again driven by the increasing availability and interaction of a set of extraordinary technologies”. (5)

But he is well aware that technology is not ideologically neutral, as some like to claim. Technologies and societies shape each other, he says. “After all, technologies are tied up in how we know things, how we make decisions, and how we think about ourselves and each other. They are connected to our identities, worldviews and potential futures. From nuclear technologies to the space race, smartphones, social media, cars, medicine and infrastructure—the meaning of technologies makes them political. Even the concept of a ‘developed’ nation implicitly rests on the adoption of technologies and what they mean for us, economically and socially”. (6)

Technology, for the capitalists behind it, has never been about social good but purely about profit, and Schwab makes it quite clear that the same remains true of his Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He enthuses: “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies are truly disruptive—they upend existing ways of sensing, calculating, organizing, acting and delivering. They represent entirely new ways of creating value for organizations and citizens”. (7)

In case the meaning of “creating value” was not clear, he gives some examples: “Drones represent a new type of cost-cutting employee working among us and performing jobs that once involved real people” (8) and “the use of ever-smarter algorithms is rapidly extending employee productivity—for example, in the use of chat bots to augment (and, increasingly, replace) ‘live chat’ support for customer interactions”. (9)

Schwab goes into some detail about the cost-cutting, profit-boosting marvels of his brave new world in The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He explains: “Sooner than most anticipate, the work of professions as different as lawyers, financial analysts, doctors, journalists, accountants, insurance underwriters or librarians may be partly or completely automated…

“The technology is progressing so fast that Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, a company specializing in automated narrative generation, forecasts that by the mid-2020s, 90% of news could be generated by an algorithm, most of it without any kind of human intervention (apart from the design of the algorithm, of course)”. (10)

It is this economic imperative that informs Schwab’s enthusiasm for “a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another”. (11)

IOT

Schwab waxes lyrical about the 4IR, which he insists is “unlike anything humankind has experienced before”. (12)

He gushes: “Consider the unlimited possibilities of having billions of people connected by mobile devices, giving rise to unprecedented processing power, storage capabilities and knowledge access. Or think about the staggering confluence of emerging technology breakthroughs, covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing, to name a few. Many of these innovations are in their infancy, but they are already reaching an inflection point in their development as they build on and amplify each other in a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds”. (13)

He also looks forward to more online education, involving “the use of virtual and augmented reality” to “dramatically improve educational outcomes” (14), to sensors “installed in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, transport and energy networks” (15) and to smart cities, with their all-important “data platforms”. (16)

“All things will be smart and connected to the internet”, says Schwab, and this will extend to animals, as “sensors wired in cattle can communicate to each other through a mobile phone network”. (17)

He loves the idea of “smart cell factories” which could enable “the accelerated generation of vaccines” (18) and “big-data technologies”. (19)

These, he ensures us, will “deliver new and innovative ways to service citizens and customers” (20) and we will have to stop objecting to businesses profiting from harnessing and selling information about every aspect of our personal lives.

“Establishing trust in the data and algorithms used to make decisions will be vital,” insists Schwab. “Citizen concerns over privacy and establishing accountability in business and legal structures will require adjustments in thinking”. (21)

At the end of the day it is clear that all this technological excitement revolves purely around profit, or “value” as Schwab prefers to term it in his 21st century corporate newspeak.

Thus blockchain technology will be fantastic and provoke “an explosion in tradable assets, as all kinds of value exchange can be hosted on the blockchain”. (22)

The use of distributed ledger technology, adds Schwab, “could be the driving force behind massive flows of value in digital products and services, providing secure digital identities that can make new markets accessible to anyone connected to the internet”. (23)

In general, the interest of the 4IR for the ruling business elite is that it will “create entirely new sources of value” (24) and “give rise to ecosystems of value creation that are impossible to imagine with a mindset stuck in the third Industrial Revolution”. (25)

The technologies of the 4IR, rolled out via 5G, pose unprecedented threats to our freedom, as Schwab concedes: “The tools of the fourth industrial revolution enable new forms of surveillance and other means of control that run counter to healthy, open societies”. (26)

KS shapingBut this does not stop him presenting them in a positive light, as when he declares that “public crime is likely to decrease due to the convergence of sensors, cameras, AI and facial recognition software”. (27)

He describes with some relish how these technologies “can intrude into the hitherto private space of our minds, reading our thoughts and influencing our behavior”. (28)

Schwab predicts: “As capabilities in this area improve, the temptation for law enforcement agencies and courts to use techniques to determine the likelihood of criminal activity, assess guilt or even possibly retrieve memories directly from people’s brains will increase. Even crossing a national border might one day involve a detailed brain scan to assess an individual’s security risk”. (29)

There are times when the WEF chief gets carried away by his passion for a sci-fi future in which “long-distance human space travel and nuclear fusion are commonplace” (30) and in which “the next trending business model” might involve someone “trading access to his or her thoughts for the time-saving option of typing a social media post by thought alone”. (31)

Talk of “space tourism” under the title “The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the final frontier” (32) is almost funny, as is his suggestion that “a world full of drones offers a world full of possibilities”. (33)

But the further the reader progresses into the world depicted in Schwab’s books, the less of a laughing matter it all seems.

The truth is that this highly influential figure, at the centre of the new global order currently being established, is an out-and-out transhumanist who dreams of an end to natural healthy human life and community.

Schwab repeats this message time and time again, as if to be sure we have been duly warned.

“The mind-boggling innovations triggered by the fourth industrial revolution, from biotechnology to AI, are redefining what it means to be human,” (34) he writes.

“The future will challenge our understanding of what it means to be human, from both a biological and a social standpoint”. (35)

“Already, advances in neurotechnologies and biotechnologies are forcing us to question what it means to be human”. (36)

He spells it out in more detail in Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies will not stop at becoming part of the physical world around us—they will become part of us. Indeed, some of us already feel that our smartphones have become an extension of ourselves. Today’s external devices—from wearable computers to virtual reality headsets—will almost certainly become implantable in our bodies and brains. Exoskeletons and prosthetics will increase our physical power, while advances in neurotechnology enhance our cognitive abilities. We will become better able to manipulate our own genes, and those of our children. These developments raise profound questions: Where do we draw the line between human and machine? What does it mean to be human?” (37)

A whole section of this book is devoted to the theme “Altering the Human Being”. Here he drools over “the ability of new technologies to literally become part of us” and invokes a cyborg future involving “curious mixes of digital-and-analog life that will redefine our very natures”. (38)

He writes: “These technologies will operate within our own biology and change how we interface with the world. They are capable of crossing the boundaries of body and mind, enhancing our physical abilities, and even having a lasting impact on life itself “. (39)

No violation seems to go too far for Schwab, who dreams of “active implantable microchips that break the skin barrier of our bodies”, “smart tattoos”, “biological computing” and “custom-designed organisms”. (40)

He is delighted to report that “sensors, memory switches and circuits can be encoded in common human gut bacteria”, (41) that “Smart Dust, arrays of full computers with antennas, each much smaller than a grain of sand, can now organize themselves inside the body” and that “implanted devices will likely also help to communicate thoughts normally expressed verbally through a ‘built-in’ smartphone, and potentially unexpressed thoughts or moods by reading brain waves and other signals”. (42)

“Synthetic biology” is on the horizon in Schwab’s 4IR world, giving the technocratic capitalist rulers of the world “the ability to customize organisms by writing DNA”. (43)

The idea of neurotechnologies, in which humans will have fully artificial memories implanted in the brain, is enough to make some of us feel faintly sick, as is “the prospect of connecting our brains to VR through cortical modems, implants or nanobots”. (44)

It is of little comfort to learn that this is all – of course! – in the greater interests of capitalist profiteering since it “heralds new industries and systems for value creation” and “represents an opportunity to create entire new systems of value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. (45)

And what about “the bioprinting of organic tissues” (46) or the suggestion that “animals could potentially be engineered to produce pharmaceuticals and other forms of treatment”? (47)

Ethical objections, anyone?

It’s all evidently good for Schwab, who is happy to announce: “The day when cows are engineered to produce in its [sic] milk a blood-clotting element, which hemophiliacs lack, is not far off. Researchers have already started to engineer the genomes of pigs with the goal of growing organs suitable for human transplantation”. (48)

Nagashima(Fig.1-3).pptx

It gets even more disturbing. Ever since the sinister eugenics programme of the Nazi Germany into which Schwab was born, this science has been deemed beyond the pale by human society.

But now, however, he evidently feels eugenics is due a revival, announcing with regard to genetic editing: “That it is now far easier to manipulate with precision the human genome within viable embryos means that we are likely to see the advent of designer babies in the future who possess particular traits or who are resistant to a specific disease”. (49)

In the notorious 2002 transhumanist treatise I, Cyborg, Kevin Warwick predicts: “Humans will be able to evolve by harnessing the super-intelligence and extra abilities offered by the machines of the future, by joining with them. All this points to the development of a new human species, known in the science-fiction world as ‘cyborgs’. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a cyborg. If you are happy with your state as a human then so be it, you can remain as you are. But be warned – just as we humans split from our chimpanzee cousins years ago, so cyborgs will split from humans. Those who remain as humans are likely to become a sub-species. They will, effectively, be the chimpanzees of the future”. (50)

Schwab seems to be hinting at the same future of a “superior” enhanced artificial transhuman elite separating from the natural-born rabble, in this particularly damning passage from The Fourth Industrial Revolution: “We are at the threshold of a radical systemic change that requires human beings to adapt continuously. As a result, we may witness an increasing degree of polarization in the world, marked by those who embrace change versus those who resist it.

KS 4IR“This gives rise to an inequality that goes beyond the societal one described earlier. This ontological inequality will separate those who adapt from those who resist—the material winners and losers in all senses of the words. The winners may even benefit from some form of radical human improvement generated by certain segments of the fourth industrial revolution (such as genetic engineering) from which the losers will be deprived. This risks creating class conflicts and other clashes unlike anything we have seen before”. (51)

Schwab was already talking about a “great transformation” back in 2016 (52) and is clearly determined to do everything in his not inconsiderable power to bring about his eugenics-inspired transhumanist world of artifice, surveillance, control and exponential profit.

But, as revealed by his reference above to “class conflicts”, he is clearly worried by the possibility of “societal resistance” (53) and how to advance “if technologies receive a great deal of resistance from the public”. (54)

Schwab’s annual WEF shindigs at Davos have long been met by anti-capitalist protests and, despite the current paralysis of the radical left, he is well aware of the possibility of renewed and perhaps broader opposition to his project, with the risk of “resentment, fear and political backlash”. (55)

In his most recent book he provides a historical context, noting that “antiglobalization was strong in the run-up to 1914 and up to 1918, then less so during the 1920s, but it reignited in the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression”. (56)

He notes that in the early 2000s “the political and societal backlash against globalization relentlessly gained strength”, (57) says that “social unrest” has been widespread across the world in the past two years, citing the Gilets Jaunes in France among other movements, and invokes the “sombre scenario” that “the same could happen again”. (58)

ks davos protest4

So how is an honest technocrat supposed to roll out his preferred future for the world without the agreement of the global public? How can Schwab and his billionaire friends impose their favoured society on the rest of us?

One answer is relentless brainwashing propaganda churned out by the mass media and academia owned by the 1% elite – what they like to call “a narrative”.

For Schwab, the reluctance of the majority of humankind to leap aboard his 4IR express reflects the tragedy that “the world lacks a consistent, positive and common narrative that outlines the opportunities and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, a narrative that is essential if we are to empower a diverse set of individuals and communities and avoid a popular backlash against the fundamental changes under way”. (59)

He adds: “It is, therefore, critical that we invest attention and energy in multistakeholder cooperation across academic, social, political, national and industry boundaries. These interactions and collaborations are needed to create positive, common and hope-filled narratives, enabling individuals and groups from all parts of the world to participate in, and benefit from, the ongoing transformations”. (60)

4IRbOne of these “narratives” whitewashes the reasons for which 4IR technology needs to be installed everywhere in the world as soon as possible.

Schwab is frustrated that “more than half of the world’s population—around 3.9 billion people—still cannot access the internet”, (61) with 85% of the population of developing countries remaining offline and therefore out of reach, as compared to 22% in the developed world.

The actual aim of the 4IR is to exploit these populations for profit via global techno-imperialism, but of course that cannot be stated in the propaganda “narrative” required to sell the plan.

Instead, their mission has to be presented, as Schwab himself does, as a bid to “develop technologies and systems that serve to distribute economic and social values such as income, opportunity and liberty to all stakeholders”. (62)

He piously postures as a guardian of woke liberal values, declaring: “Thinking inclusively goes beyond thinking about poverty or marginalized communities simply as an aberration—something that we can solve. It forces us to realize that ‘our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering’. It moves beyond income and entitlements, though these remain important. Instead, the inclusion of stakeholders and the distribution of benefits expand freedoms for all”. (63)

The same technique, of a fake “narrative” designed to fool good-thinking citizens into supporting an imperialist capitalist scheme, has been used extensively with regard to climate change.

Schwab is a great fan of Greta Thunberg, of course, who had barely stood up from the pavement after her one-girl protest in Stockholm before being whisked off to address the WEF at Davos.

Greta1

He is also a supporter of the proposed global New Deal for Nature, particularly via Voice for the Planet, which was launched at the WEF in Davos in 2019 by the Global Shapers, a youth-grooming organisation created by Schwab in 2011 and aptly described by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar as “a grotesque display of corporate malfeasance disguised as good”.

In his 2020 book, Schwab actually lays out the way that fake “youth activism” is being used to advance his capitalist aims.

He writes, in a remarkably frank passage: “Youth activism is increasing worldwide, being revolutionized by social media that increases mobilization to an extent that would have been impossible before. It takes many different forms, ranging from non-institutionalized political participation to demonstrations and protests, and addresses issues as diverse as climate change, economic reforms, gender equality and LGBTQ rights. The young generation is firmly at the vanguard of social change. There is little doubt that it will be the catalyst for change and a source of critical momentum for the Great Reset”. (64)

In fact, of course, the ultra-industrial future proposed by Schwab is anything other than green. It’s not nature he’s interested in, but “natural capital” and “incentivizing investment in green and social frontier markets”. (65)

Pollution means profit and environmental crisis is just another business opportunity, as he details in The Fourth Industrial Revolution: “In this revolutionary new industrial system, carbon dioxide turns from a greenhouse pollutant into an asset, and the economics of carbon capture and storage move from being cost as well as pollution sinks to becoming profitable carbon-capture and use-production facilities. Even more important, it will help companies, governments and citizens become more aware of and engaged with strategies to actively regenerate natural capital, allowing intelligent and regenerative uses of natural capital to guide sustainable production and consumption and give space for biodiversity to recover in threatened areas”. (66)

carbon capture2

Schwab’s “solutions” to the heart-breaking damage inflicted on our natural world by industrial capitalism involve more of the same poison, except worse.

Geoengineering is one of his favourites: “Proposals include installing giant mirrors in the stratosphere to deflect the sun’s rays, chemically seeding the atmosphere to increase rainfall and the deployment of large machines to remove carbon dioxide from the air”. (67)

And he adds: “New approaches are currently being imagined through the combination of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as nanoparticles and other advanced materials”. (68)

Like all the businesses and pro-capitalist NGOs backing the threatened New Deal for Nature, Schwab is utterly and profoundly ungreen.

For him, the “ultimate possibility” of “clean” and “sustainable” energy includes nuclear fusion (69) and he looks forward to the day when satellites will “blanket the planet with communications pathways that could help connect the more than 4 billion people still lacking online access”. (70)

Schwab also very much regrets all that red tape preventing the unhindered onward march of GM food, warning that “global food security will only be achieved, however, if regulations on genetically modified foods are adapted to reflect the reality that gene editing offers a precise, efficient and safe method of improving crops”. (71)

The new order envisaged by Schwab will embrace the entire world and so global governance is required in order to impose it, as he repeatedly states.

His preferred future “will only come about through improved global governance” (72) he insists. “Some form of effective global governance” (73) is needed.

The problem we have today is that of a possible “global order deficit”, (74) he claims, adding improbably that the World Health Organization “is saddled with limited and dwindling resources”. (75)

What he is really saying is that his 4IR/great reset society will only function if imposed simultaneously everywhere on the planet, otherwise “we will become paralysed in our attempts to address and respond to global challenges”. (76)

He admits: “In a nutshell, global governance is at the nexus of all these other issues”. (77)

This all-englobing empire very much frowns on the idea of any particular population democratically deciding to take another path. These “risk becoming isolated from global norms, putting these nations at risk of becoming the laggards of the new digital economy”, (78) warns Schwab.

Any sense of autonomy and grassroots belonging is regarded as a threat from Schwab’s imperialist perspective and is due to be eradicated under the 4IR.

He writes: “Individuals used to identify their lives most closely with a place, an ethnic group, a particular culture or even a language. The advent of online engagement and increased exposure to ideas from other cultures means that identities are now more fungible than previously… Thanks to the combination of historical migration patterns and low-cost connectivity, family structures are being redefined”. (79)

Genuine democracy essentially falls into the same category for Schwab. He knows that most people will not willingly go along with plans to destroy their lives and enslave them to a global techno-fascist system of exploitation, so giving them a say in the matter is simply not an option.

This is why the “stakeholder” concept has been so important for Schwab’s project. As discussed above, this is the negation of democracy, with its emphasis instead on “reaching out across stakeholder groups for solution building”. (80)

If the public, the people, are included in this process it is only at a superficial level. The agenda has already been pre-supposed and the decisions pre-made behind the scenes.

Schwab effectively admits as much when he writes: “We must re-establish a dialogue among all stakeholders to ensure mutual understanding that further builds a culture of trust among regulators, non-governmental organizations, professionals and scientists. The public must also be considered, because it must participate in the democratic shaping of biotechnological developments that affect society, individuals and cultures”. (81)

So the public must “also” be considered, as an afterthought. Not even directly consulted, just “considered”! And the role of the people, the demos, will merely be to “participate” in the “shaping” of biotechnological developments. The possibility of the public actually rejecting the very idea of biotechnological developments has been entirely removed thanks to the deliberately in-built assumptions of the stakeholder formula.

The same message is implied in the heading of Schwab’s conclusion to Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “What You Can Do to Shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. (82) The techno-tyranny cannot challenged or stopped, merely “shaped”.

Schwab uses the term “systems leadership” to describe the profoundly anti-democratic way in which the 1% imposes its agenda on us all, without giving us the chance to say ‘no’.

He writes: “Systems leadership is about cultivating a shared vision for change—working together with all stakeholders of global society—and then acting on it to change how the system delivers its benefits, and to whom. Systems leadership requires action from all stakeholders, including individuals, business executives, social influencers and policy-makers”. (83)

He refers to this full-spectrum top-down control as “the system management of human existence” (84) although others might prefer the term “totalitarianism”.

KS rally1 (2)

One of the distinguishing features of historical fascism in Italy and Germany was its impatience with the inconvenient restraints imposed on the ruling class (“the Nation” in fascist language) by democracy and political liberalism.

All of this had to be swept out of the way to allow a Blitzkrieg of accelerated “modernisation”.

We see the same spirit resurging in Schwab’s calls for “agile governance” in which he claims that “the pace of technological development and a number of characteristics of technologies render previous policy-making cycles and processes inadequate”. (85)

He writes: “The idea of reforming governance models to cope with new technologies is not new, but the urgency of doing so is far greater in light of the power of today’s emerging technologies… the concept of agile governance seeks to match the nimbleness, fluidity, flexibility and adaptiveness of the technologies themselves and the private-sector actors adopting them”. (86)

The phrase “reforming governance models to cope with new technologies” really gives the game away here. As under fascism, social structures must be reinvented so as to accommodate the requirements of capitalism and its profit-increasing technologies.

Schwab explains that his “agile governance” would involve creating so-called policy labs – “protected spaces within government with an explicit mandate to experiment with new methods of policy development by using agile principles” – and “encouraging collaborations between governments and businesses to create ‘developtory sandboxes’ and ‘experimental testbeds’ to develop regulations using iterative, cross-sectoral and flexible approaches”. (87)

For Schwab, the role of the state is to advance capitalist aims, not to hold them up to any form of scrutiny. While he is all in favour of the state’s role in enabling a corporate take-over of our lives, he is less keen about its regulatory function, which might slow down the inflow of profit into private hands, and so he envisages “the development of ecosystems of private regulators, competing in markets”. (88)

In his 2018 book, Schwab discusses the problem of pesky regulations and how best to “overcome these limits” in the context of data and privacy.

He comes up with the suggestion of “public-private data-sharing agreements that ‘break glass in case of emergency’. These come into play only under pre-agreed emergency circumstances (such as a pandemic) and can help reduce delays and improve the coordination of first responders, temporarily allowing data sharing that would be illegal under normal circumstances”. (89)

Funnily enough, two years later there was indeed a “pandemic” and these “pre-agreed emergency circumstances” became a reality.

This shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise for Schwab, since his WEF had co-hosted the infamous Event 201 conference in October 2019, which modelled a fictional coronavirus pandemic.

And he wasted little time in bringing out a new book, Covid-19: The Great Reset, co-authored with Thierry Malleret, who runs something called the Monthly Barometer, “a succinct predictive analysis provided to private investors, global CEOs and opinion- and decision-makers”. (90)

Published in July 2020, the book sets out to advance “conjectures and ideas about what the post-pandemic world might, and perhaps should, look like”. (91)

Schwab and Malleret admit that Covid-19 is “one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced over the last 2000 years”, adding that “the consequences of COVID-19 in terms of health and mortality will be mild compared to previous pandemics”. (92)

They add: “It does not constitute an existential threat, or a shock that will leave its imprint on the world’s population for decades”. (93)

Yet, incredibly, this “mild” illness is simultaneously presented as the excuse for unprecedented social change under the banner of “The Great Reset”!

And although they explicitly declare that Covid-19 does not constitute a major “shock”, the authors repeatedly deploy the same term to describe the broader impact of the crisis.

Schwab and Malleret place Covid-19 in a long tradition of events which have facilitated sudden and significant changes to our societies.

They specifically invoke the Second World War: “World War II was the quintessential transformational war, triggering not only fundamental changes to the global order and the global economy, but also entailing radical shifts in social attitudes and beliefs that eventually paved the way for radically new policies and social contract provisions (like women joining the workforce before becoming voters). There are obviously fundamental dissimilarities between a pandemic and a war (that we will consider in some detail in the following pages), but the magnitude of their transformative power is comparable. Both have the potential to be a transformative crisis of previously unimaginable proportions”. (94)

They also join many contemporary “conspiracy theorists” in making a direct comparison between Covid-19 and 9/11: “This is what happened after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. All around the world, new security measures like employing widespread cameras, requiring electronic ID cards and logging employees or visitors in and out became the norm. At that time, these measures were deemed extreme, but today they are used everywhere and considered ‘normal’”. (95)

When any tyrant declares the right to rule over a population without taking their views into account, they like to justify their dictatorship with the claim that they are morally entitled to do so because they are “enlightened”.

The same is true of the Covid-fuelled tyranny of Schwab’s great reset, which the book categorises as “enlightened leadership”, adding: “Some leaders and decision-makers who were already at the forefront of the fight against climate change may want to take advantage of the shock inflicted by the pandemic to implement long-lasting and wider environmental changes. They will, in effect, make ‘good use’ of the pandemic by not letting the crisis go to waste”. (96)

The global capitalist ruling elite have certainly been doing their best to “take advantage of the shock inflicted by the panic”, assuring us all since the very earliest days of the outbreak that, for some unfathomable reason, nothing in our lives could ever be the same again.

Schwab and Malleret are, inevitably, enthusiastic in their use of the New Normal framing, despite their admission that the virus was only ever “mild”.

“It is our defining moment”, they crow. “Many things will change forever”. “A new world will emerge”. “The societal upheaval unleashed by COVID-19 will last for years, and possibly generations”. “Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never”. (97)

 

They even go as far as proposing a new historical separation between “the pre-pandemic era” and “the post-pandemic world”. (98)

They write: “Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to a ‘before coronavirus’ (BC) and ‘after coronavirus’ (AC) era. We will continue to be surprised by both the rapidity and unexpected nature of these changes – as they conflate with each other, they will provoke second-, third-, fourth- and more-order consequences, cascading effects and unforeseen outcomes. In so doing, they will shape a ‘new normal’ radically different from the one we will be progressively leaving behind. Many of our beliefs and assumptions about what the world could or should look like will be shattered in the process”. (99)

Back in 2016, Schwab was looking ahead to “new ways of using technology to change behavior” (100) and predicting: “The scale and breadth of the unfolding technological revolution will usher in economic, social and cultural changes of such phenomenal proportions that they are almost impossible to envisage”. (101)

One way in which he had hoped his technocratic agenda would be advanced was, as we have noted, through the phoney “solutions” to climate change proposed by fake green capitalists.

Under the title “environmental reset”, Schwab and Malleret state: “At first glance, the pandemic and the environment might seem to be only distantly related cousins; but they are much closer and more intertwined than we think”. (102)

One of the connections is that both the climate and virus “crises” have been used by the WEF and their like to push their agenda of global governance. As Schwab and his co-author put it, “they are global in nature and therefore can only be properly addressed in a globally coordinated fashion”. (103)

Another link is the way that the “the post-pandemic economy” and “the green economy” (104) involve massive profits for largely the same sectors of big business.

Covid-19 has evidently been great news for those capitalists hoping to cash in on environmental destruction, with Schwab and Malleret reporting: “The conviction that ESG strategies benefited from the pandemic and are most likely to benefit further is corroborated by various surveys and reports. Early data shows that the sustainability sector outperformed conventional funds during the first quarter of 2020”. (105)

The capitalist sharks of the so-called “sustainability sector” are rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of all the money they stand to make from the Covid-pretexted great fascist reset, in which the state is instrumentalised to fund their hypocritical profiteering.

Note Schwab and Malleret: “The key to crowding private capital into new sources of nature-positive economic value will be to shift key policy levers and public finance incentives as part of a wider economic reset”. (106)

“A policy paper prepared by Systemiq in collaboration with the World Economic Forum estimates that building the nature-positive economy could represent more than $10 trillion per year by 2030… Resetting the environment should not be seen as a cost, but rather as an investment that will generate economic activity and employment opportunities”. (107)

Given the intertwining of climate and Covid crises set out by Schwab, we might speculate that the original plan was to push through the New Normal reset on the back of the climate crisis.

But evidently, all that publicity for Greta Thunberg and big business-backed Extinction Rebellion did not whip up enough public panic to justify such measures.

Covid-19 serves Schwab’s purposes perfectly, as the immediate urgency it presents allows the whole process to be speeded up and rushed through without due scrutiny.

“This crucial difference between the respective time-horizons of a pandemic and that of climate change and nature loss means that a pandemic risk requires immediate action that will be followed by a rapid result, while climate change and nature loss also require immediate action, but the result (or ‘future reward’, in the jargon of economists) will only follow with a certain time lag”. (108)

For Schwab and his friends, Covid-19 is the great accelerator of everything they have been wanting to foist upon us for years.

As he and Malleret say: “The pandemic is clearly exacerbating and accelerating geopolitical trends that were already apparent before the crisis erupted”. (109)

“The pandemic will mark a turning point by accelerating this transition. It has crystallized the issue and made a return to the pre-pandemic status quo impossible”. (110)

They can barely conceal their delight at the direction society is now taking: “The pandemic will accelerate innovation even more, catalysing technological changes already under way (comparable to the exacerbation effect it has had on other underlying global and domestic issues) and ‘turbocharging’ any digital business or the digital dimension of any business”. (111)

“With the pandemic, the ‘digital transformation’ that so many analysts have been referring to for years, without being exactly sure what it meant, has found its catalyst. One major effect of confinement will be the expansion and progression of the digital world in a decisive and often permanent manner.

“In April 2020, several tech leaders observed how quickly and radically the necessities created by the health crisis had precipitated the adoption of a wide range of technologies. In the space of just one month, it appeared that many companies in terms of tech take-up fast-forwarded by several years”. (112)

Fate is obviously smiling on Klaus Schwab as this Covid-19 crisis has, happily, succeeded in advancing pretty much every aspect of the agenda he has been promoting over the decades.

Thus he and Malleret report with satisfaction that “the pandemic will fast-forward the adoption of automation in the workplace and the introduction of more robots in our personal and professional lives”. (113)

Lockdowns across the world have, needless to say, provided a big financial boost to those businesses offering online shopping.

The authors recount: “Consumers need products and, if they can’t shop, they will inevitably resort to purchasing them online. As the habit kicks in, people who had never shopped online before will become comfortable with doing so, while people who were part-time online shoppers before will presumably rely on it more. This was made evident during the lockdowns. In the US, Amazon and Walmart hired a combined 250,000 workers to keep up with the increase in demand and built massive infrastructure to deliver online. This accelerating growth of e-commerce means that the giants of the online retail industry are likely to emerge from the crisis even stronger than they were in the pre-pandemic era”. (114)

They add: “As more and diverse things and services are brought to us via our mobiles and computers, companies in sectors as disparate as e-commerce, contactless operations, digital content, robots and drone deliveries (to name just a few) will thrive. It is not by accident that firms like Alibaba, Amazon, Netflix or Zoom emerged as ‘winners’ from the lockdowns”. (115)

By way of corollary, we might suggest that it is “not by accident” that governments which have been captured and controlled by big business, thanks to the likes of the WEF, have imposed a “new reality” under which big businesses are the “winners”…

The Covid-inspired good news never stops for all the business sectors which stand to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Repression.

“The pandemic may prove to be a boon for online education,” Schwab and Malleret report. “In Asia, the shift to online education has been particularly notable, with a sharp increase in students’ digital enrolments, much higher valuation for online education businesses and more capital available for ‘ed-tech’ start-ups… In the summer of 2020, the direction of the trend seems clear: the world of education, like for so many other industries, will become partly virtual”. (116)

Online sports have also taken off: “For a while, social distancing may constrain the practice of certain sports, which will in turn benefit the ever-more powerful expansion of e-sports. Tech and digital are never far away!”. (117)

There is similar news from the banking sector: “Online banking interactions have risen to 90 percent during the crisis, from 10 percent, with no drop-off in quality and an increase in compliance”. (118)

The Covid-inspired move into online activity obviously benefits Big Tech, who are making enormous profits out of the crisis, as the authors describe: “The combined market value of the leading tech companies hit record after record during the lockdowns, even rising back above levels before the outbreak started… this phenomenon is unlikely to abate any time soon, quite the opposite”. (119)

But it is also good news for all the businesses involved, who no longer have to pay human beings to work for them. Automation is, and has always been, about saving costs and thus boosting profits for the capitalist elite.

The culture of the fascist New Normal will also provide lucrative spin-off benefits for particular business sectors, such as the packaging industry, explain Schwab and Malleret.

“The pandemic will certainly heighten our focus on hygiene. A new obsession with cleanliness will particularly entail the creation of new forms of packaging. We will be encouraged not to touch the products we buy. Simple pleasures like smelling a melon or squeezing a fruit will be frowned upon and may even become a thing of the past”. (120)

Apple in plastic

The authors also describe what sounds very much like a technocratic profit-related agenda behind the “social distancing” which has been such a key element of the Covid “reset”.

They write: “In one form or another, social- and physical-distancing measures are likely to persist after the pandemic itself subsides, justifying the decision in many companies from different industries to accelerate automation. After a while, the enduring concerns about technological unemployment will recede as societies emphasize the need to restructure the workplace in a way that minimizes close human contact. Indeed, automation technologies are particularly well suited to a world in which human beings can’t get too close to each other or are willing to reduce their interactions. Our lingering and possibly lasting fear of being infected with a virus (COVID-19 or another) will thus speed the relentless march of automation, particularly in the fields most susceptible to automation”. (121)

As previously mentioned, Schwab has long been frustrated by all those tiresome regulations which stop capitalists from making as much money as they would like to, by focusing on economically irrelevant concerns such as the safety and well being of human beings.

But – hooray! – the Covid crisis has provided the perfect excuse for doing away with great swathes of these outmoded impediments to prosperity and growth.

One area in which meddlesome red tape is being abandoned is health. Why would any right-minded stakeholder imagine that any particular obligation for care and diligence should be allowed to impinge on the profitablity of this particular business sector?

Schwab and Malleret are overjoyed to note that telemedicine will “benefit considerably” from the Covid emergency: “The necessity to address the pandemic with any means available (plus, during the outbreak, the need to protect health workers by allowing them to work remotely) removed some of the regulatory and legislative impediments related to the adoption of telemedicine”. (122)

wef protest2

The ditching of regulations is a general phenomenon under the New Normal global regime, as Schwab and Malleret relate:

“To date governments have often slowed the pace of adoption of new technologies by lengthy ponderings about what the best regulatory framework should look like but, as the example of telemedicine and drone delivery is now showing, a dramatic acceleration forced by necessity is possible. During the lockdowns, a quasi-global relaxation of regulations that had previously hampered progress in domains where the technology had been available for years suddenly happened because there was no better or other choice available. What was until recently unthinkable suddenly became possible… New regulations will stay in place”. (123)

They add: “The current imperative to propel, no matter what, the ‘contactless economy’ and the subsequent willingness of regulators to speed it up means that there are no holds barred”. (124)

“No holds barred”. Make no mistake: this is the language adopted by capitalism when it abandons its pretence at liberal democracy and switches into full-on fascist mode.

It is clear from Schwab and Malleret’s work that a fascistic merging of state and business, to the advantage of the latter, underpins their great reset.

Phenomenal sums of money have been transferred from the public purse into the bulging pockets of the 1% since the very start of the Covid crisis, as they acknowledge: “In April 2020, just as the pandemic began to engulf the world, governments across the globe had announced stimulus programmes amounting to several trillion dollars, as if eight or nine Marshall Plans had been put into place almost simultaneously”. (125)

They continue: “COVID-19 has rewritten many of the rules of the game between the public and private sectors. … The benevolent (or otherwise) greater intrusion of governments in the life of companies and the conduct of their business will be country- and industry-dependent, therefore taking many different guises”. (126)

“Measures that would have seemed inconceivable prior to the pandemic may well become standard around the world as governments try to prevent the economic recession from turning into a catastrophic depression.

“Increasingly, there will be calls for government to act as a ‘payer of last resort’ to prevent or stem the spate of mass layoffs and business destruction triggered by the pandemic. All these changes are altering the rules of the economic and monetary policy ‘game’.” (127)

Schwab and his fellow author welcome the prospect of increased state powers being used to prop up big business profiteering.

They write: “One of the great lessons of the past five centuries in Europe and America is this: acute crises contribute to boosting the power of the state. It’s always been the case and there is no reason why it should be different with the COVID-19 pandemic”. (128)

And they add: “Looking to the future, governments will most likely, but with different degrees of intensity, decide that it’s in the best interest of society to rewrite some of the rules of the game and permanently increase their role”. (129)

The idea of rewriting the rules of the game is, again, very reminiscent of fascist language, as of course is the idea of permanently increasing the role of the state in helping the private sector.

Indeed, it is worth comparing Schwab’s position on this issue with that of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who responded to economic crisis in 1931 by launching a special emergency body, L’Istituto mobiliare italiano, to aid businesses.

He declared this was “a means of energetically driving the Italian economy towards its corporative phase, which is to say a system which fundamentally respects private property and initiative, but ties them tightly to the State, which alone can protect, control and nourish them”. (130)

Suspicions about the fascistic nature of Schwab’s great reset are confirmed, of course, by the police-state measures that have been rolled out across the world to ensure compliance with “emergency” Covid measures.

The sheer brute force that never lies far beneath the surface of the capitalist system becomes increasingly visible when it enters it fascist stage and this is very much in evidence in Schwab and Malleret’s book.

The word “force” is deployed time and time again in the context of Covid-19. Sometimes this is in a business context, as with the statements that “COVID-19 has forced all the banks to accelerate a digital transformation that is now here to stay” or that “the micro reset will force every company in every industry to experiment new ways of doing business, working and operating”. (131)

But sometimes it is applied directly to human beings, or “consumers” as Schwab and his ilk prefer to think of us.

“During the lockdowns, many consumers previously reluctant to rely too heavily on digital applications and services were forced to change their habits almost overnight: watching movies online instead of going to the cinema, having meals delivered instead of going out to restaurants, talking to friends remotely instead of meeting them in the flesh, talking to colleagues on a screen instead of chit-chatting at the coffee machine, exercising online instead of going to the gym, and so on…

“Many of the tech behaviours that we were forced to adopt during confinement will through familiarity become more natural. As social and physical distancing persist, relying more on digital platforms to communicate, or work, or seek advice, or order something will, little by little, gain ground on formerly ingrained habits”. (132)

Under a fascist system, individuals are not offered the choice as to whether they want to comply with its demands or not, as Schwab and Malleret make quite clear regarding so-called contact-tracing: “No voluntary contact-tracing app will work if people are unwilling to provide their own personal data to the governmental agency that monitors the system; if any individual refuses to download the app (and therefore to withhold information about a possible infection, movements and contacts), everyone will be adversely affected”. (133)

This, they reflect, is another great advantage of the Covid crisis over the environmental one which might have been used to impose their New Normal: “While for a pandemic, a majority of citizens will tend to agree with the necessity to impose coercive measures, they will resist constraining policies in the case of environmental risks where the evidence can be disputed”. (134)

These “coercive measures”, which we are all expected to go along with, will of course involve unimaginable levels of fascistic surveillance of our lives, particularly in our role as wage slaves.

Write Schwab and Malleret: “The corporate move will be towards greater surveillance; for better or for worse, companies will be watching and sometimes recording what their workforce does. The trend could take many different forms, from measuring body temperatures with thermal cameras to monitoring via an app how employees comply with social distancing”. (135)

Coercive measures of one kind or another are also likely to be used to force people to take the Covid vaccines currently being lined up.

Schwab is deeply connected to that world, being on a “first-name basis” with Bill Gates and having been hailed by Big Pharma mainstay Henry McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc, as “a person truly dedicated to a truly noble cause”.

So it is not surprising that he insists, with Malleret, that “a full return to ‘normal’ cannot be envisaged before a vaccine is available”. (136)

He adds: “The next hurdle is the political challenge of vaccinating enough people worldwide (we are collectively as strong as the weakest link) with a high enough compliance rate despite the rise of anti-vaxxers”. (137)

“Anti-vaxxers” thus join Schwab’s list of threats to his project, along with anti-globalization and anti-capitalist protesters, Gilets Jaunes and all those engaged in “class conflicts”, “societal resistance” and “political backlash”.

The majority of the world’s population have already been excluded from decision-making processes by the lack of democracy which Schwab wants to accentuate through his stakeholderist corporate domination, his “agile governance”, his totalitarian “system management of human existence”.

But how does he envisage dealing with the “sombre scenario” of people rising up against his great newnormalist reset and his transhumanist Fourth Industrial Revolution?

What degree of “force” and “coercive measures” would he be prepared to accept in order to ensure the dawning of his technocratic new age?

The question is a chilling one, but we should also bear in mind the historical example of the 20th century regime into which Schwab was born.

Hitler’s new Nazi normal was meant to last for a thousand years, but came crashing down 988 years ahead of target.

hitler2

Just because Hitler said, with all the confidence of power, that his Reich would last for a millennium, this didn’t mean that it was so.

Just because Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret and their friends say that we are now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution and our world will be changed for ever, this doesn’t mean that it is so.

We don’t have to accept their New Normal. We don’t have to go along with their fearmongering. We don’t have to take their vaccines. We don’t have to let them implant us with smartphones or edit our DNA. We don’t have to walk, muzzled and submissive, straight into their transhumanist hell.

We can denounce their lies! Expose their agenda! Refuse their narrative! Reject their toxic ideology! Resist their fascism!

Klaus Schwab is not a god, but a human being. Just one elderly man. And those he works with, the global capitalist elite, are few in number. Their aims are not the aims of the vast majority of humankind. Their transhumanist vision is repulsive to nearly everyone outside of their little circle and they do not have consent for the technocratic dictatorship they are trying to impose on us.

That, after all, is why they have had to go to such lengths to force it upon us under the false flag of fighting a virus. They understood that without the “emergency” justification, we were never going to go along with their warped scheme.

They are scared of our potential power because they know that if we stand up, we will defeat them. We can bring their project crashing down before it has even properly started.

We are the people, we are the 99%, and together we can grab back our freedom from the deadly jaws of the fascist machine!

FURTHER READING

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Fascism, newnormalism and the left

Liberalism: the two-faced tyranny of wealth

Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine

NOTES

1. Klaus Schwab with Nicholas Davis, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Guide to Building a Better World (Geneva: WEF, 2018), e-book.
2. Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Geneva: WEF, 2016), e-book.
3. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
4. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
15. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
19. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Ibid.
23. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid.
26. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
27. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
35. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid.
42. Ibid.
43. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
44. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
45. Ibid.
46. Ibid.
47. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Kevin Warwick, I, Cyborg (London: Century, 2002), p. 4. See also Paul Cudenec, Nature, Essence and Anarchy (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016).
51. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
52. Ibid.
53. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
54. Ibid.
55. Ibid.
56. Klaus Schwab, Thierry Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset (Geneva: WEF, 2020), e-book. Edition 1.0.
57. Ibid.
58. Ibid.
59. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
60. Ibid.
61. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
62. Ibid.
63. Ibid.
64. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
65. Ibid.
66. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
67. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
68. Ibid.
69. Ibid.
70. Ibid.
71. Ibid.
72. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
73. Ibid.
74. Ibid.
75. Ibid.
76. Ibid.
77. Ibid.
78. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
79. Ibid.
80. Schwab, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
81. Ibid.
82. Ibid.
83. Ibid.
84. Ibid.
85. Ibid.
86. Ibid.
87. Ibid.
88. Ibid.
89. Ibid.
90. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
91. Ibid.
92. Ibid.
93. Ibid.
94. Ibid.
95. Ibid.
96. Ibid.
97. Ibid.
98. Ibid.
99. Ibid.
100. Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
101. Ibid.
102. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
103. Ibid.
104. Ibid.
105. Ibid.
108. Ibid.
107. Ibid.
108. Ibid.
109. Ibid.
110. Ibid.
111. Ibid.
112. Ibid.
113. Ibid.
114. Ibid.
115. Ibid.
116. Ibid.
117. Ibid.
118. Ibid.
119. Ibid.
120. Ibid.
121. Ibid.
122. Ibid.
123. Ibid.
124. Ibid.
125. Ibid.
126. Ibid.
127. Ibid.
128. Ibid.
129. Ibid.
130. Benito Mussolini, cit. Pierre Milza and Serge Berstein, Le fascisme italien 1919-1945 (Paris: Editions de Seuil, 1980), p. 246.
131. Schwab, Malleret, Covid-19: The Great Reset.
132. Ibid.
133. Ibid.
134. Ibid.
135. Ibid.
136. Ibid.
137. Ibid.

 

‘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.]

WATCH: The Afterlife of Slavery: Markets, Property & Race [Cheryl Harris]

WATCH: The Afterlife of Slavery: Markets, Property & Race [Cheryl Harris]

January 19, 2016 lecture

 

“The walls talk to me. The dust on the floors write me messages. I’m in the vents. I’m in the bulletin boards. I’m in the chipped paint. Ain’t nobody can slip through the cracks past me up in here.”

 

– MONOLOGUES FROM SKELETON CREW by DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU

 

“Despite efforts to obscure slavery and indigenous dispossession in the genealogy and narrative of American nationhood, these realities remain deeply embedded in the relationship between race and markets where in fact race and economic domination are fused. Racial hierarchy is continually replenished through the market, while the market encodes property in accord with racial regimes. For example, “black” spaces are forever unstable, subprime, and “waste,” making them always available for (re) appropriation through various technologies such as debt, (de)regulation, and development.”

– Cheryl I. Harris

“In conjunction with Cameron Rowland’s exhibition 91020000, Artists Space presents a talk by Cheryl I. Harris, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA School of Law. Harris is the author of key texts in the field of critical race theory including “Whiteness as Property” (1993) and “Equal Treatment and the Reproduction of Inequality” (2001).” [Source: Artists Space]

 

Jeff Gibbs: «There will never be green technological energy»

La Città Futura

August 16, 2020

By Simone Rossi

 

Planet of the Humans asks hard questions about failure of environmental movement to halt climate change and save the planet. To answer them, we asked its writer and director.

Released on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

Thus, no surprise that the film has generated controversy. It has been criticized as partially outdated and misleading and some accused it of skewing renewables and delivering “Anti-Human Malthusianism”.

To dispel any doubt we decided to interview the film writer and director, Jeff Gibbs.

Born in Flint, Michigan, Jeff has served as a long time collaborator with Michael Moore. The first film he ever worked on was “Bowling for Columbine” producing many iconic scenes including “the bank that gives you a gun,” “dog shoots hunter,” and the “Michigan Militia.” Following the success or “Bowling for Columbine” Jeff became co-producer for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the largest box-office documentary of all time. Jeff also wrote the original score for both films. Since “Fahrenheit 9/11,” though taking an occasional break to produce other films including the Dixie Chicks documentary “Shut Up and Sing,” Jeff has been singularly obsessed with the fate of the earth and humanity.

QuestionHi Jeff. Thank you very much for this opportunity. First of all, the documentary is based on scientific data. How long did it take you to collect them and how reliable are they?

“Planet of the Humans” is a story of discovery, not merely a collection of data, which without context is meaningless. The bigger picture portrayed in our film is that civilization is hitting many limits, including resource depletion, soil depletion, deforestation, overexploitation of the oceans, biodiversity collapse, and, of course, climate change. Solving climate change alone will not save us—especially when the so-called solutions involve ramping UP technologies that are decimating the biosphere and adversely affecting humans around the globe. Worse, these supposed green “solutions” involve getting into bed with bankers, industrialists, capitalists, and their “foundations.” Indeed nothing can make a difference unless we find a way to end our fatal addiction to economic growth while taking care of those who need it the most.

I began my journey exploring the mess we humans have created, and what might be the way out, over a decade ago. As I realized that the so-called “renewable” solutions were neither renewable nor solutions, I began documenting what I was experiencing. Therefore most of what you see in “Planet of the Humans” are real world examples, as well as interviews with experts. All of the data in the form of charts and graphs are from the most recent year available, typically 2019 or 2020.

We stand by every fact in the film, and have extensive documentation on our website. For instance critics say we should not have shown a historical scene with 8% efficient solar panels because efficiency has doubled since then. That’s not true. More efficient panels were available at that time, just like today, but they cost twice as much or don’t last as long. Solar efficiency hasn’t doubled since 2008. Tesla’s new solar shingles are less than 8% efficient today.

But the more important point is that it’s not the EFFICIENCY that matters—it is the INTERMITTENCY, which you see in the film. Intermittency means so-called renewable cannot directly replace fossil fuels without a vast amount of energy storage which does not exist at scale, and if it did would add tremendously to the environmental and energy impact of so-called “green” energy.

Question. You criticize some of the most important and popular renewables. Is there any form of real green energy nowadays? Do you think it is possible to produce real green energy regardless of the mode of production?

“Green renewable” energy is neither green nor renewable. Sunshine and blowing wind might be renewable, but giant technological machines made to harvest the wind and solar are the opposite. That technology could ever be “green” or “renewable” is one of the greatest illusions ever. Technology comes from digging, blasting, mining, burning, smelting, refining, and manifold industrial processes. Technology consumes non-renewable resources, and emits toxins and pollution. No other options exist. There is no free pony for everyone. Switching from carbon based energy sources to so-called “renewables,” even if it was possible, INCREASES our dependency on, and consumption of, non-renewable resources, hastening the demise of industrial civilization. The sun will keep shining and the wind will keep blowing long after our futile attempt to harvest them with hundreds of thousands of square miles of “green” technology collapses. There will never be “green” technological energy and fantasizing there could be says something about our desperation. And keep in mind that the majority of what’s defined as, and gets subsidized as “green” energy, are biofuel and biomass — burning what remains of the living planet to fuel our lifestyles.

Question. What do you think about nuclear energy?

Though nuclear provides more reliable energy than solar or wind technologies, its advocates engage in much of the same wishful thinking that so-called renewable energy proponents engage in. (Of course I was once one of them.) We will be exploring more about nuclear in our future work. But even asking the question “what about nuclear?” belies the erroneous assumption that somehow more energy would help “save the planet.” Unless we humans have an off switch, and begin to power down this global civilization, life on Earth is toast. Given more free magic “clean” energy of any kind, nuclear, solar, wind, tide, moonbeams, whatever—we humans will just use it to keep plowing, bulldozing, logging, mining, smelting, paving, polluting, plasticizing, building, overfishing, overhunting, and in general over-consuming our way through what remains of our living planet.

Question. Your documentary demonstrates how the green movement has been infiltrated by big corporations. Which lessons do activists have to learn? What mistakes did they make?

When you get into bed with capitalists, bankers, billionaires, and their so-called non-profit foundations it is not THEM that changes—it’s you. Your vision gets stuck in time and larger truths get buried. The revolution will not be funded by those who profit from the status quo. When you compromise to get a “win”— you lose. Everyone loses. Slowly but surely the capitalists have turned the environmental movement to a narrow focus on climate change and the supposed solution of green energy because it’s a $50 trillion dollar profit center. And off the table, even as some environmental leaders give it lip service, is ending our addiction to perpetual economic growth (green or otherwise) on a finite planet.

Question. Should the more conscious and radical activists engage in environmental movements to change them from the inside or are there better places and ways to conduct this battle?

Good question. I think the most important thing is to have the correct vision. This is way bigger than a climate emergency, as dire as climate is. Our entire industrial civilization of seven going on eight billion humans is coming to a close. We either get ahead of the now emerging civilization and biological collapse or suffer the most extreme consequences. Non-human species are already suffering the most extreme consequences across the globe.

Question. What do you think about Greta Thunberg Friday for future movement?

I think Greta Thunberg has some incredible insights. That young people are using the word extinction is a real breakthrough. My fear is the same as for all sincere, motivated, authentic activists young and old. 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.

Question. Despite coming out in a supposedly democratic western country, the documentary suffered a coordinated censorship campaign. Can you describe the type of censorship, the role of YouTube and tell us what lessons have you learned?

We have learned that those who are deeply invested in the status quo and who get into bed with capitalists will go to great lengths to attempt to stop those who represent a threat to their story. Though their attempts backfired and drove more people to see “Planet of the Humans,” it is truly frightening how in the year 2020 a few large corporations control what the public sees. Censorship remains a huge issue: both The Guardian and Newsweek refused multiple attempts to print responses to the calls for censorship they published. We have heard from several journalists and academics that their writing in support of “Planet of the Humans” has been turned down for publication.

Question.The documentary received some criticism. What did you learn from them?

We learned our so-called critics are shameless in their dissembling, slandering, coordinated, and apparently well-funded attacks. They choose to ignore the larger truths to keep people distracted. Once people have seen the film, the criticism seems ridiculous.

Critics say EVs charging has shifted away from fossil fuels since 2008. This isn’t the case. The Michigan grid is still 94% conventional (non-solar or wind), like most of the world. Global fossil fuel use has actually expanded in recent years – much of it used to create the materials that go into EVs, solar panels, and with turbines.

George Monbiot said the film is racist for showing the biophysical reality that overall population and consumption are increasing. Monbiot recut parts of the film to say things we didn’t say. He then fabricated highly disturbing thoughts about how to deal with it—thoughts that came from his mind, not ours. We do not subscribe to George Monbiot’s frightening plans. He’s engaging in censorship by trying to scare people from seeing the film, but his efforts have been entirely impotent.

In closing I want to be clear I am a very hopeful person. What hope we have comes from living in reality, not fantasies that giant industrial solar and wind harvesting machines, or “clean” nuclear or fossil fuels for that matter, will “save the planet.” The planet has zero interest in yet one more scheme of domination and control by humans. Now, while we still have blue whales and redwoods, songbirds and butterflies, it is a fine time to come to grips with the only hope we have: either less is the new more, or we’re going on the scrap heap of failed civilizations taking everything down with us.

See the film for yourself at PlanetoftheHumans.com.

Planet of the Humans Backlash

Journal of People, Peasants and Workers

May 11, 2020

By Yves Engler

 

Planet of the Humans

The backlash may be more revealing than the film itself, but both inform us where we are at in the fight against climate change and ecological collapse. The environmental establishment’s frenzied attacks against Planet of the Humans says a lot about its commitment to big money and technological solutions.

A number of prominent individuals tried to ban the film by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore. Others berated the filmmakers for being white, male and overweight. Many thought leaders have declared they won’t watch it.

Despite the hullabaloo, the central points in the film aren’t particularly controversial. Corporate-industrial society is driving human civilization/humanity towards the ecological abyss and environmental groups have largely made peace with capitalism. As such, they tout (profitable) techno fixes that are sometimes more ecologically damaging than fossil fuels (such as biomass or ethanol) or require incredible amounts of resources/space if pursued on a mass scale (such as solar and wind). It also notes the number of human beings on the planet has grown more than sevenfold over the past 200 years.

It should not be controversial to note that the corporate consumption juggernaut is destroying our ability to survive on this planet. From agroindustry razing animal habitat to plastic manufacturers’ waste killing sea life to the auto industrial complex’s greenhouse gases, the examples of corporations wreaking ecological havoc are manifold. Every year since 1969 humanity’s resource consumption has exceeded earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources by an ever-greater volume.

It is a statement of fact that environmental groups have deep ties to the corporate set. Almost all the major environmental groups receive significant cash from the mega-rich or their foundations. Many of them partner directly with large corporations. Additionally, their outreach strategies often rely on corporate media and other business-mediated spheres. It beggars belief that these dependencies don’t shape their policy positions.

A number of the film’s points on ‘renewable’ energy are also entirely uncontroversial. It’s insane to label ripping down forests for energy as “green”. Or turning cropland into fuel for private automobiles. The film’s depiction of the minerals/resource/space required for solar and wind power deserves a far better response than “the data is out of date”.

The green establishment’s hyperventilating over the film suggests an unhealthy fixation/link to specific ‘renewable’ industries. But there are downsides to almost everything.

Extremely low GHG emitting electricity is not particularly complicated. In Québec, where I live, electricity is largely carbon free (and run by a publicly owned enterprise with an overwhelmingly unionized workforce, to boot). But, Hydro-Québec’s dams destroy ecosystems and require taking vast land from politically marginalized (indigenous) people. Likewise, nuclear power (also publicly owned and unionized) provides most of France’s electricity. But, that form of energy also has significant downsides.

In the US in 2019 63% of electricity came from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear and 17% from ‘renewables’. But, even if one could flip the proportion of fossil fuels to ‘renewables’ around overnight there’s another statistic that is equally important. Since 1950 US electricity consumption has grown 13-fold and it continues to increase. That’s before putting barely any of the country’s 285 million registered private automobiles onto the grid. Electricity consumption is growing at a fast clip in China, India and elsewhere.

Oil is another source of energy that is growing rapidly. Up from 60 million barrels a day in 1980 and 86 million in 2010, 100 million barrels of oil were consumed daily in 2019. That number is projected to reach 140 million by 2040.

On one point I agree entirely with critics of the film. It’s unfair to (even indirectly) equate Bill McKibben with Al Gore. Representing the progressive end of the environmental establishment, McKibben has engaged in and stoked climate activism. Gore was Vice President when the US led the destruction of the former Yugoslavia, bombed Sudan and sanctioned Iraq.

Still, it’s ridiculous for McKibben and others to dismiss the film’s criticism of his decade-long promotion of biomass and refusal to come clean on 350.org’s donors as divisive. “I truly hope that Michael Moore does not succeed at dividing the climate movement. Too many have fought too long to build it”, he tweeted with a link to his response in Rolling Stone titled “‘A Bomb in the Center of the Climate Movement’: Michael Moore Damages Our Most Important Goal.” Echoing this theme, Naomi Klein came to her 350.org comrade’s defence tweeting, “it is truly demoralising how much damage this film has done at a moment when many are ready for deep change.” Democracy NowCommon Dreams, the Guardian and other media picked up her remark.

If it is divisive to criticize McKibben’s positions, then the same must be said of his own criticisms aimed at those demanding the Pentagon be highlighted in decarbonization efforts. In a June New York Review of Books column titled “The Pentagon’s Outsized Part in the Climate Fight” McKibben pours cold water on those who have asked him about the importance of “shrinking the size of the US military” (the world’s largest single institutional emitter of fossil fuels) in the fight for a sustainable planet. In fact, his piece suggests the Pentagon is well-positioned to combat the climate crisis since right wingers are more likely to listen to their climate warnings and the institution has massive research capacities to develop green technologies. McKibben seems to be saying the green movement should (could) co-opt the greatest purveyor of violence and destruction in the history of humanity! (In the Wrong Kind of Green blog Luke Orsborne offers a cogent breakdown of McKibben’s militarism.)

McKibben’s repeated advocacy of the private electric car could also be considered divisive. In Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? McKibben calls for “millions and millions of electric cars and buses” (alongside “building a hell of lot of factories to turn out thousands of acres of solar panels, and wind turbines the length of football fields.”) Does anyone believe the planet can sustain a transportation/urban planning system with most of the world’s 7.8 billion people owning 3,000-pound vehicles?

When an electric car is powered from a grid that is 63% fossil fuels the GHG it contributes per kilometer of travel is generally slightly less than an internal combustion engine. But the production and destruction phases for electric vehicles tend to be more energy intensive and they still require the extraction and development of significant amounts of resources. Additionally, the private car underpins a land, energy and resource intensive big box retail/suburban economy. (For details see my co-authored Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay.)

Moreover, as Death by Car recently pointed out, “electric vehicles are haloware — a product that exists to distract attention from continuing SUV and pickup sales. If this thesis is correct, then it is a huge mistake for progressive forces to express enthusiasm” for electric vehicles. Of the 86 million new passenger and light commercial vehicles sold globally in 2018 about 1.2 million of them were powered by battery-only electric engines while 37 million were pickups and SUVs. In other words, for every new battery-electric car there were 30 new SUVs/pickups sold. Alongside growing buzz about electric vehicles, the number of SUVs increased from 35 million to 200 million between 2010 and 2018.

McKibben and associates’ ability to frame the film as divisive rests on the stark power imbalance between the ‘green’ capitalist and degrowth outlooks. While there are few profits in the consume-less worldview, McKibben is situated at the progressive end of a network of organizations, commentators and media outlets empowered by hundreds of billions of dollars of ‘green’ capitalism. This milieu has counterposed solar, wind and biomass to the hyper fossil fuel emitting coal, natural gas and oil industries. But, they aren’t keen on discussing the limitations of their preferred energies and the fundamentally unsustainable nature of limitless energy (or other) consumption. And they certainly don’t want any spotlight placed on environmental groups ties to the mega-rich and an unsustainable model.

Fragments of wind turbine blades await burial at the Casper Regional Landfill in Wyoming. Photographer: Benjamin Rasmussen

But, in reality it’s not the criticism that bothers. Wrong Kind of GreenDeath by CarCounterpunch and various other small leftist websites and initiatives have long documented McKibben and associates’ concessions to the dominant order. Often more harshly than in the film. What is unique about Planet of the Humans is that these criticisms have been put forward by leftists with some power (Michael Moore’s name and the funds for a full-length documentary, most obviously.) In other words, the backlash is not a response to the facts or argument, per se, but the ‘mainstreaming’ of the critique.

The environmental establishment’s ability to generate hundreds of hit pieces against Planet of the Humans suggests the movement/outlook has amassed substantial power. But, it’s not always clear to what ends. Most indicators of sustainability are trending in the wrong direction at the same time as top environmental figures have risen to the summits of power. Québec’s most prominent environmentalist, Steven Guilbeault, recently became a cabinet minister in the Liberal government while the former head of World Wildlife Fund Canada, Gerald Butts, was Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff. These individuals happily participate in a government that oversaw a 15 million tonne increase in Canada’s GHG emissions in 2018 and then decided to purchase a massive tar sands pipeline.

The incredible popularity of Planet of the Humans — seven million views on YouTube — suggests many are worried about the ecological calamity humanity is facing. Many also sense that the solutions environmental groups are putting forward don’t add up.

The lesson to be learned from the film and the frenzied attacks against it is that questioning the system — be that capitalism or the mainstream environmental movement — won’t make you friends in high places.

 

[Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and ExploitationRead other articles by Yves.]

Clinton to McKibben to Steyer to Podesta: Comments on Planet of the Humans by Michael Swifte

May 20, 2020

by Michael Swifte, Wrong Kind of Green Collective

 

 

“I think that the mainstream climate movement needs to collapse. It needs to end. And that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement working in those NGO jobs – they need to fail. I think they need to be brought down. I think they need to have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering, and they need to create space for those historically oppressed groups.” [1]

 

— Tim DeChristopher, Transformation without Apocalypse – Episode #6 [SOURCE]

 

To understand the “damage” Bill McKibben claims the Planet of the Humans documentary has done to the climate justice movement you have to look at where 350 dot org began.

A fifty million dollar beginning

Bill McKibben has been in a dance with philanthropo-capitalists for more than a decade. He may not have been paid to be the face of 350 dot org but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t ‘corporate’ money around.

There was corporate and philanthropic money from the start. Bill Clinton announced 50 million from a “range of corporate and non-profit partners” for 1Sky at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative. Bill McKibben was on the board of 1Sky in 2009 before it was merged with 350 dot org.

Watch this video and ask yourself how anyone could claim to be a leader of a ‘grassroots’ organisation or say that 350 dot org was ever a “rag-tag bunch of kids”. Watch the video.

 

Cory Morningstar has been tracking, analysing and cataloguing this stuff for 10 years, and by “this stuff” I mean the global capture of climate justice activism through #networkedhegemony at the behest of the non profit industrial complex #NPIC. Cory follows the money, analyses the networks, and interrogates the messaging.

#NewPower networks connect 350 dot org to a vast web of similarly funded campaigns and critically deliver opportunities to shape the Democratic party agenda. 350’s global expansion was built on replicating the organisations, institutions and campaigns that positioned it in the US and Canada.

Here are some links providing deep background on the #NewPower constructs and networks that empower the ‘climate cartel’.

‘Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion’

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/rockefellers-1sky-unveils-the-new-350-org-more-more-delusion/

‘SumOfUs are Corporate Whores | Some Of Us Are Not’

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/sumofus-are-corporate-whores-some-of-us-are-not/

Jessica Bailey at Rockefeller Brothers Fund actually used the word ‘merger’ to describe the union of the 2 campaign organizations incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

“Bill McKibben, who has been a 1Sky board member and will chair the new 350.org board, once referred to 1Sky as the U.S. Embassy for 350.org and 350.org as 1Sky’s foreign legion.[] Matching 350.org’s talent for mass mobilization and online action with 1Sky’s advocacy and field campaign experience is tremendously exciting. Mergers are tough, and I applaud the leaders in both organizations for recognizing they’d be stronger together.“ [SOURCE]

Comments on Planet of the Humans

Planet of the Humans is a worthy documentary for it’s revelations about “green energy” and the failures of the climate justice movement. It is a testament to Jeff Gibbs’ extensive documentation and long commitment to environmental issues. I was pleased that it included the Climate Challenge segment with Karyn Strickler pitching a question from Cory Morningstar to Bill McKibben, and I was glad the film makers told the truth about Ivanpah and Robert F Kennedy Jr’s ties to fossil fuel giants.

Planet of the Humans is mostly about North America, and while it opens up a range of departure points for discussion of planetary issues, it’s a documentary about North American humans and westerners more generally, not the 100s of millions of blameless people who struggle to put food on the table. I found the discussion of the ‘population issue’ concerning given how little time had been given to putting global consumer markets into perspective, but documentary making is about access, and Jeff Gibbs has gained access to the world of “green energy” in North America. Michael Moore brings access of a different but equally vital kind, if you want to make a splash with a documentary.

Departure points are vital if we’re to make the most of what Planet of the Humans has highlighted as key issues. If the climate justice movement has failed and the environmental movement has been captured by billionaires, what else have they messed up? What are the other billionaire philanthropists doing to capture the efforts of environmental campaigners? What new diabolical schemes are planned to keep business as usual going?

People who feel inspired or moved by Planet of the Humans should look into biomass burning in Europe and the future plans for burying CO2 produced from burning biomass under the North Sea. American and European philanthropies have invested staggering amounts of money into organisations like the European Climate Foundation which is part of a global empire of similar organisations. The IPCC mitigation pathways are replete with the term BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage).

I watched Planet of the Humans after watching the Earth Day livestream discussion with Michael Moore, Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner. I hope that Michael Moore’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders and his plea that we put environmentalism into the hands of young people like the Sunrise Movement which was incubated by the Sierra Club is not the position of all three film makers. We can’t take Michael Moore’s words as a call to action so we are going to have to make our own calls to action.

Watch the full video of Karyn Strickler interviewing Bill McKibben on Climate Challenge here:

 

Departure point: John Podesta and a parallel climate campaign

In 2007 a plan was launched by 6 foundations. This plan #DesigntoWin produced the ClimateWorks Foundation, headed by John Podesta, which has spearheaded the incubation and funding of re-granting NGOs globally. ClimateWorks is perhaps the world’s largest recipient of  climate philanthropy having received more than 1.3 billion USD since it’s inception in 2008.

John Podesta has a long relationship with the Clintons, both as politicians and philanthropists. In the various roles he has played – always as a Democrat – his focus has been on the future of energy and how to message a position on climate change for the party and for the global philanthropo-capitalist agendas.

Have a read of the Wikileaks ‘Podesta Emails’ that refer to Bill McKibben and/or Tom Steyer. Check out the ‘climate tick tocks’ for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the updates from philanthropist-billionaires like Tom Steyer and Henry Sandler, or Chris Lehane’s ‘big idea’ briefing that became the ‘Clean Power Plan’ (more business as usual). [SOURCE]

Podesta is always engaged with philanthropists. The Sandler Foundation helped establish the Center for American Progress which Podesta heads up. It helped fund the Australian climate justice regranting NGO the Sunrise Project and the US Beyond Coal campaign. Tom Steyer, a former Wall St banker, hedge fund manager and friend of Nancy Pelosi befriended Podesta who welcomed him into his Center for American Progress. Podesta encouraged Steyer to start his NextGen Climate Action Committee. It is likely that Steyer’s dubious defection from the ranks of billionaire fossil fuel investors and hedge fund managers was orchestrated under the advice of Chris Lehane. Steyer’s defection would see him join with McKibben and 350 at high profile events, and according to the Podesta emails they were in regular contact.

350/McKibben have been a foil for Democrat positioning on climate. The non profit industrial complex needed a global climate justice brand, and it needed to nestle it in a web of networks all connected by funded talking points and touchstone pieces in Rolling Stone and Grist. Granting and regranting NGOs pass over talking points in their transactions with grant recipients. Billionaires on every continent get to play the game.

Important background on the Design to Win plan here:

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/

Background on the largely ignored mitigation plans of big oil & gas here:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/10/19/perfect-distractions-and-fantastical-mitigation-plans/

Departure point: The Steyer-Taylor Center and financing for CCS

Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor fund the Steyer Taylor Center at Stanford. The center was headed from it’s founding in 2011 until September 2018 by Dan Reicher who has spoken in favour of financing to support carbon capture and storage on numerous occasions.

Dan Reicher is a Clinton administration energy wonk who spent some of the Obama years at Google. He’s the Founding Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, but is now at the Stanford Woods Institute. Reicher explains how the future is all laid out for enhanced oil recovery with CO2 in this 2016 video. His slides include the prexisting CO2 pipeline maps for enhanced oil recovery.

 

A quote from the video:

“Carbon capture and sequestration is a key climate change strategy. You ask the IPCC, you ask the International Energy Agency.”

Reicher argues that with the CO2 pipeline infrastructure that is already in place and the right financial instruments “Full scale cost effective CCS” is deliverable.

Here is Reicher discussing private activity bonds and CCS. In the past he has spoken about the usefulness of master limited partnerships. Both of these financial instruments have been included in bipartisan bills currently before congress.

“It’s less about how to make it work technically these days but more about how to make it work financially,” [SOURCE]

Here is a quote from Reicher speaking at the Exxon funded Global Climate and Energy Project – Research Symposium in 2015.

“We really need to be using CCS for coal, natural gas, and a whole host of industrial carbon sources. But the costs are too high,” [SOURCE]

The Steyer-Taylor Center has partnered with the Exxon incubated and funded Global Climate and Energy Project which was ended in August 2019.  Exxon are a founding member of the Strategic Energy Alliance along with Bank of America who support the – Sustainable Finance Initiative along with the Steyer-Taylor Center. [SOURCE]

Departure point: The Green New Deal and the failing phase out

Dan Lashof is the director of the World Resources Institute and the current COO of Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America and Nextgen Policy Center. In January Lashof co-wrote an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle with Occidental Petroleum – Low Carbon Ventures president Richard Jackson. Oxy’s air capture plans support their enhanced oil recovery efforts and net zero targets through negative emissions from their planned air capture for CO2 enhanced oil recovery project. [SOURCE]

There’s a lot of interest in Oxy’s direct air capture plans which are supported by Carbon Engineering who have a long list of investors including Bill Gates, Murray Edwards, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC, Chevron Technology Ventures and BHP. [SOURCE]

The World Resources Institute provided 2 of the 3 Data for Progress researchers that developed the #netzero language that made it into the Green New Deal resolution. After the resolution came and went it has become clear that any sort of commitment to a fossil fuel phase out had been abandoned.

Important background on the ties between the World Resources Institute and Data for Progress here:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/13/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-for-consent-the-new-green-deal-is-the-trojan-horse-for-the-financialization-of-nature/

The Green New Deal has taken some of the pressure from McKibben/350. The Clean Power Plan was business as usual, but a little bit cleaner. The GND allows Democrats to appear to be taking a harder line on climate,  but it’s a vehicle that has little legislative substance.

The Green New Deal must be failing to deliver a fossil fuel phase out if the director of the WRI, a so called ‘environmental advocate’, can share a by-line with a big oil executive to spruik a project that is the opposite of phasing out fossil fuels and seemingly nobody cares.

Here’s a quote from Dan Lashof regarding Oxy’s air capture for CO2 enhanced oil recovery project that clearly shows he’s not working for a fossil fuel phase out.

“On the other hand, to the extent that you’re expanding the total energy resources base and extending the fossil-fuel era, obviously that doesn’t solve the climate problem.” [SOURCE]

Data for Progress, New Green Deal Research Director and World Resources Institute US, Manager for Climate Action and Data, Greg Carlock referred to a WRI working paper on direct air capture in a recent blog post for WRI. The paper refers to Oxy’s DAC for CO2 EOR project as an example of where investments are increasing.

“Some companies interested in combining enhanced oil recovery with direct air capture are increasing investments. For example, Occidental Petroleum is partnering with Carbon Engineering to build potentially several direct air capture plants.” [SOURCE]

Departure point: Drax, BECCS and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

  1. On April 21, 2020, while the global oil market was in free fall, it was reported that a formal agreement had been signed confirming that Drax would be part of a consortium that included Equinor and Phillips 66 to develop “the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster” in Humber, UK. [SOURCE]

 

  1. Equinor are a member of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative who are funding the Teesside CCS cluster. [SOURCE]

 

  1. Drax have been trialling BECCS (bio-energy with CCS) in the UK. [SOURCE]

 

  1. The lions share of the biomass burned by the Drax Group is from North America. [SOURCE]

 

  1. BECCS is in 3 of the 4 pathways offered by the IPCC working group on mitigation. [SOURCE]

Departure point: European Climate Foundation and industrial CCS clusters

Laurence Tubiana is a former French ambassador to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and CEO of the European Climate Foundation.

 

“The phase when abatement of emissions from industry was considered impossible is over. Industry leaders are looking at totally disruptive technologies and visions.” [SOURCE]

I could try and explain how the ECF is positioned to shape the ‘climate solutions’ on offer, but Cory Morningstar has already done it perfectly:

“As “the core of the ClimateWorks system in Europe“, the ECF constitutes an integral part of the regional global network created by the San Francisco-based ClimateWorks. ClimateWorks works to oversee and shape climate-related policy work worldwide. Launched in 2008 – the same year as ClimateWorks) – the ECF is a regranting foundation like its US counterpart.” [Background on the European Climate Foundation]

3 key points about European Climate Foundation

  1. The European Climate Foundation commissioned Element Energy to prepare 2 reports. One report is on carbon capture utilisation and storage for gas, coal, oil and biomass, and the other is on liquid fuels (hydrogen) which will largely come from processing North Sea gas and sequestering the CO2 in geological storage or from electrolysis using electricity largely supplied from the grid that is ostensibly renewable.
  2. Element Energy prepared reports for the developers of Teesside CCS industrial cluster and for the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative which are funding the Teesside CCS cluster as part of their UN endorsed Kickstarter Initiative investments.
  3. It is clear that the European Climate Foundation which is part of the ClimateWorks empire under the Design to Win plan, are 100% in support of further entrenching fossil fuel extraction and use as part of their #NetZero

5 studies relating to BECCS and industrial clusters in Europe

2018: Study funded by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

‘Policy Mechanisms to support the large-scale deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)’

“Element Energy and Vivid Economics have assessed policy mechanisms that could accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to the scale required to meet climate change targets. The report begins by considering why, despite the central role that CCS plays in many deep decarbonisation trajectories, CCS has failed to build momentum. Having identified the problems, the work lays out policy and market mechanisms that could stimulate investment across the stages of deployment, acknowledges regional circumstances, and suggests principles that could help governments and firms to collaborate. Note that in this report CCS includes CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage) in those cases where storage is permanent.'” [SOURCE]

2018: Study funded by the European Climate Foundation

‘Low-carbon cars in Europe: A socio-economic assessment’

“Hydrogen production for the transport sector is expected to be dominated by water electrolysers, steam methane reforming (SMR) and by-product from industrial processes (for example chloralkali plants). These sources form the basis of the production mix in this study. Other potential sources include waste or biomass gasification, or SMR with carbon capture and storage. These additional routes could potentially provide low cost, low carbon hydrogen, but are not yet technically or economically proven and have not been included in the cost assumptions below.” [SOURCE]

2017: Study funded by the European Climate Foundation and Industrial Innovation for Competitiveness (i24c)

‘Deployment of an industrial Carbon Capture and Storage cluster in Europe: A funding pathway’

“The 2020s will be a make-or-break decade for so many aspects of the low carbon transition. CCS in industrial plants needs to be part of the picture. Getting the financing right is clearly an essential first step. But we also need to establish the right frameworks for shared liability between operators and tackle some of the concerns the public and some policymakers still harbour over industrial CCS. This report shows the way for at least one of the hurdles related to CCS. I hope you enjoy reading it.” [SOURCE]

2011: Study funded by the One North East Regional Development Agency and the North East Process Industries Cluster.

‘Tees Valley CCS Network’

“An Element Energy study has looked at the logistics of implementing a shared CCS pipeline network in the Tees Valley to connect major CO2 emitters in one of the UK’s largest industrial clusters. By Harsh Pershad, Element Energy”[SOURCE]

2019: Study prepared for European Climate Foundation in collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Climate-KIC, the Energy Transitions Commission, RE:Source,and SITRA.

‘Industrial Transformation 2050: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions from EU Heavy Industry’

“BIOMASS WILL BE REQUIRED PRIMARILY FOR FEEDSTOCK Achieving net zero emissions for the economy as a whole will lead to multiple competing claims on scarce biomass re-sources. The use of biomass for fuel or feedstock can compete with alternative uses for land like food or feed production, conservation for maintained biodiversity, or as a ‘sink’ for CO2 emissions. Furthermore, once the biomass has been extracted, there are multiple competing uses, from simple combustion for heat or electricity generation (the largest use today) to the production of transportation fuels, or use with CCS for ‘negative emissions’ to offset remaining emissions in other sectors.” [SOURCE]

2017: Research paper prepared for Chatham House by independent policy analyst Duncan Brack

‘Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate’

“Biomass is classified as a source of renewable energy in national policy frameworks, benefiting from financial and regulatory support on the grounds that, like other renewables, it is a carbon-neutral energy source. It is not carbon-neutral at the point of combustion, however; if biomass is burnt in the presence of oxygen, it produces carbon dioxide. The argument is increasingly made that its use can have negative impacts on the global climate. This classification as carbon-neutral derives from either or both of two assumptions. First, that biomass emissions are part of a natural cycle in which forest growth absorbs the carbon emitted by burning wood for energy. Second, that biomass emissions are accounted for in the land-use sector, and not in the energy sector, under international rules for greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

“Many of the models used to predict the impacts of biomass use assume that mill and forest residues are the main feedstock used for energy, and biomass pellet and energy companies tend to claim the same, though they often group ‘low-grade wood’ with ‘forest residues’, although their impact on the climate is not the same. Evidence suggests, however, that various types of roundwood are generally the main source of feedstock for large industrial pellet facilities. Forest residues are often unsuitable for use because of their high ash, dirt and alkali salt content.” [SOURCE]

 

End notes:

[1] Verbatim: “I think that the, the mainstream climate movement, needs to, needs to collapse. It needs to end. Um, and, and that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement, ah, working in those NGO jobs, um, they, they need to fail. Um, I think they need to be brought down. I think they, they need to, ah, have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering, and they need to create space for, ah, for those historically oppressed groups.” Tim DeChristopher, Transformation without Apocalypse – Episode #6

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

Vaccines, Blockchain and Bio-capitalism

Vaccines, Blockchain and Bio-capitalism

Wrench in the Gears

April 19, 2020

By Alison McDowell

 

Source of featured image here.

Vaccine Markets

Pay for success finance deals will be well served by the global vaccine market that is being advanced through Gates’s outfit GAVI.  Vaccine doses are readily quantifiable, and the economic costs of many illnesses are straightforward to calculate. With a few strategic grants awarded to prestigious universities and think tanks, I anticipate suitable equations framing out a healthy ROI (return on investment) will be devised to meet global market demands shortly.

Over the past month, the gaze of investigative researchers has been fixed on GAVI, Bill Gates, Gates’s associates like Fauci, and the over-size influence they are having on public health policy around Covid-19.  Use the link for the map to dig further into the relationships. The members of the 2012 Development Impact Bond (DIB) Working Group Report are of particular interest, since DIBs are being considered as a way to finance vaccination campaigns.

Among them:

Toby Eccles, Founder of Social Finance and developer of the social Impact Bond

Owen Barder, Former Economic Aide to Tony Blair, UK AID

Elizabeth Littlefield, JP Morgan, World Bank, OPIC, US Impact Investing Alliance

Vineet Bewtra, Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank, Omidyar Network

Bob Annibale, CitiGroup Community Development

Chris Egerton Warburton, Goldman Sachs, Lions Head Partners

Rebecca Endean, UK Research and Innovation

Kippy Joseph, Rockefeller Foundation, International Development Innovation Alliance

Oliver Sabot, Absolute Return On Kids (ARK, UK Charter School), The Global Fund

Steven Pierce, USAID

Public health is a servant of bond markets and financiers. A glance at the participants in this working group makes it clear, doses and people and death and suffering are just going to be part of their market analysis. For too many people, openly discussing concerns about vaccines remains a third-rail. But we DO have to learn how to talk about this to one another, because the stakes are too damn high to shy away from it. I also believe these campaigns and the tracking systems associated with them have been structured as an imperial enterprise and should be treated with profound caution.

Interactive version of Fauci / Gates map viewable here.

The World Bank started promoting the use of Blockchain to track vaccine supplies as early as 2017, the same year they got into the pandemic bond business.

More on that here.

There is an elegant, if twisted, logic in melding vaccine supply chain tracking with blockchain digital identity / health passports. Not unlike Palantir’s “philanthropic” endeavors around human trafficking. The ultimate goal of the cloud bosses is to be able to track everyone all the time – Tolkien’s all-seeing eye. To be able to lay down the infrastructure of digital oppression while being lauded for humanitarian efforts will be quite a coup if they pull it off.

So you have the vaccine tracked on blockchain. You have the quantum dot tattoos (health data bar codes) ready to go. You have the capacity to pressure people into setting up digital health passports linked to their electronic health record (thanks Obama). It makes perfect sense that it would all be linked together.

Fracking Humanity

Total quality management, systems engineering, where the cellular structures of entire communities are unlocked and remade for profit. When I was doing my work into ed-tech, I described the process of data-mining as fracking the minds of children. This is the same thing, but in a medical context-fracking our DNA.

Fracking

Creating an immutable record of doses linked to specific individuals, means investors can assess the “impact” of inoculation(s) they fund and take their profit. On Blockchain this will be made possible using MIT’s Enigma software, which protects “privacy” even as it mines cellular structure for “impact” and turns people into GMOs. Something I’ve had growing concerns about in recent weeks is knowing the Gates-backed initiatives involve the use of mRNA platforms. Moderna is one of them, and they tout their vaccine system as the “software of life.”

Source

So we know that pay for success relies on MEASURABLE change. We also know these platforms use synthetic biology to re-engineer humans at the molecular level. Precision medicine, while a valuable tool to use against inoperable tumors, could become a huge problem if tweaking our biomes at the population level to suit the whims of global financial markets is normalized. Genetic engineering tied to quarterly returns – now that would be grotesque.

Besides, our country has a nasty history of eugenics and unethical scientific experimentation. What protections are in place to keep “pay for performance” contracts and vaccines from being used to justify “fixing” people that the market deems “sub-standard” from a human capital investment point of view? It is not such a jump from taking an impact payment for preventing a projected future illness to genetic modification for more insidious purposes.

We are being conditioned to accept that there will be repeated campaigns of vaccination tied to future outbreaks. Remember, this is meant to be a “permanent crisis.” Pay for success demands it. It is the crisis framework that legitimizes intrusive surveillance framed as a public benefit. In this way social systems can be regulated to conform to the expectations of global technocrats.

Supply Chain Tracking

Gates also funded the development of quantum dot vaccine tattoos by MIT, which act as health data bar codes viewable under certain lighting conditions. This nanotechnology is used for such diverse purposes as solar power and device displays. One of the companies developing electronic health records that are compatible with quantum dot data tattoo systems is Quantum Materials out of San Marcos, Texas. Their system runs on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing system.

Source

Now imagine Gates-affiliated entities profiting first from vaccine bonds, then from vaccine development,  from the cloud computing software tracking the data and documenting the impact, and finally from returns on the pay for success deals.

Meanwhile, the public, those who are actually supposed to be served by health policy, are instead used to generate impact data. This results in healthcare services being platformed, automated, and dehumanized. People will start to lose their humanity, seen only as data, veering into trans-humanist territory after repeated system upgrades.

Interactive version of the QDX Health ID map accessible here.

We can see the mounting toll of the pandemic as hospital systems have started to furlough workers, in the midst of this health emergency. As a consequence, I expect we will soon see human staff reductions, and the roll out of tele-presence medical robots, and more and more doctors on screens where they can operate at a “safe” distance, never needing a mask or to even touch their patient. It is hard to believe this is where we have arrived in the world. And yet, here we undoubtedly are.

Vaccines will be the bread and butter for impact investors; but then factor in the crushing human and economic costs of global pandemic, and suddenly you’re talking REAL money. Imagine tallying up ALL the costs associated with the Covid-19 lockdown. That is going to create one ENORMOUS cost offset for investors moving forward. The longer the lockdown the bigger the cost offset they will be able to use in “pay for success” pandemic deals. For this first round there is a certain sick market logic in making the situation as dire as possible. Future profits are riding on calculations of harm that are being tallied now.

Dress Rehearsal For The Big Event

Many have already looked into Event 201, the corona virus table-top game Gates funded in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Johns Hopkins Center For Health Security last October. Another funder was Open Philanthropy, started by Facebook Employee #3 Dustin Markovitz. I highly recommend checking out the videos, especially the highlight reel and the communication and finance sessions.


Interactive Map Event 201 here.

I’ve seen comments dismissing concern over this event, because the tabletop game wasn’t actually Covid-19, but rather a generic corona virus. Evidently because authorities had been anticipating a pandemic event, we should just shrug off the fact that a corona virus outbreak occurred mere months after participants checked out of the luxury Pierre Hotel with their souvenir virus plushies. Watch the videos – the event was a spectacle. Certainly not a serious strategic venture. Even the program for the prior year’s game, Clade-X was much more buttoned-up and serious.

A glance over the participant list shows high-level executives from Edelman (public relations) and NBC Universal; George Gao, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; as well as a number of groups, including Johnson and Johnson and GAVI, that have a stake in vaccine trials underway. While the event was held in New York, there were also participants representing Australia, Canada, Switzerland, China, and the United Nations.

Given Gao’s presence at this event and his participation in the WHO / World Bank’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, one wonders at the apparent disintegration of communication channels after the game was over. If Gates, the World Economic Forum, and Johns Hopkins set up Event 201 with the goal of fostering the creation of an integrated global pandemic response strategy, the aftermath of the Wuhan outbreaks and lack of information sharing shows it to have been a spectacular failure. But as I conjectured in my previous post “Mind The Gap” on pandemics and pay for success finance, perhaps the first round was supposed to be a spectacular failure so that it would be easier to show improvement during future outbreaks.

Next up will be a deep dive into Michael Bloomberg and his ties to Johns Hopkins and the World Health Organization. He is the one who is setting up the “smart” city infrastructure steeped in human capital finance and high-tech policing. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, which is based in the Bloomberg School of Public Health was the host of Event 201. See the arrow on the map below.

Interactive version of map here.

 

[Alison McDowell is a mom and an independent researcher who blogs about the intersection of technology and predatory philanthropy at wrenchinthegears.com.]

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

April 22, 2020

 


WKOG caveat: Industrial civilization is destroying all life on Earth. Human destruction of biodiversity is not created equally: “Yet tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and 80% of our planet’s biodiversity is found in tribal territories.” [Further reading: The best conservationists made our environment and can save it, Stephen Corry] Human population is often identified as a problem because it strains the world’s resources and pollutes. [1] The first and most efficient way to address over consumption is to reduce consumption in the North is to a) redistribute the resources, (all arable land, etc.) to the Global South, to sustain those in the Global South, and b) phase out the production of all superfluous consumer products that harm life and biodiversity. [Further reading: Too Many Africans?, July 11, 2019] An analysis of population growth that accounts for the vast differences in consumption across class and region is critical in examining the worldwide environmental crisis.

 

Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director:  “At long last our film “Planet of the Humans” is now released to the world! It’s one of the happiest days of my life, and a day I fervently hope has a role in initiating some real change in the world. “Planet of the Humans”  is now available free of charge to everyone on planet Earth courtesy of our partnership with Michael Moore. Please help us spread the word by sharing, blogging, posting, tweeting, emailing, or pony expressing your enthusiasm and urgency about why people must see this movie.”

Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

Jeff Gibbs, the writer/producer/director of Planet of the Humans, has dared to say what no one will – that “we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following environmental leaders, many of whom are well-intentioned, but who’ve sold out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.” This film is the wake-up call to the reality which we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the so-called “environmental movement’s” answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. “It’s too little, too late,” says Gibbs. “Removed from the debate is the only thing that might save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. [1] Why is this not the issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business.”

“Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, ‘green’ illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end — and we’ve pinned all our hopes on things like solar panels and wind turbines? No amount of batteries are going to save us, and that is the urgent warning of this film.”

This compelling, must-see movie – a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows – is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

[Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director | Ozzie Zehner, Producer | Michael Moore, Executive Producer]

 

[1]

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism

Bulatlat, Journalism for People

October 12, 2019

By Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Video still: “A Public Eye report leads to the Philippines, to people who have worked with the highly toxic pesticide Paraquat for years, without training and without being aware of the dangers. The Filipino doctor and activist Dr. Romeo Quijano speaks about the consequences for the health and the responsibility of the Swiss group Syngenta” [Source]

Vaccination is probably the most deceptive tool of imperialism that even anti-imperialists often fail to recognize. It displays a humanitarian face but has the soul of a beast. Its true character is that of a deceptive agent of imperialism. The romanticism of western medicine has masked the true nature and ethos of vaccination. However, using the anti-imperialist tool, pedagogy of the oppressed (1), a diligent and deeper study of the history of vaccination and the socio-political and cultural context of that history would reveal the true character of vaccination.

Vaccination is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific infectious organism. It is not the same as immunization (which has been mistakenly used interchangeably with vaccination), which is the process of conferring immunity, not necessarily through vaccination. Immunity is the capacity of the body to protect itself from the development of a disease due to exposure to an infectious organism. Imperialism is usually defined as expansion of economic activities, especially investment, sales, extraction of raw materials, and use of labor to produce commodities and services beyond national boundaries, as well as the social, political, and economic effects of this expansion. I would define Imperialism as: Intervention of Monopolistic Power Exploiting the Resources of Impoverished Areas Leading to Increased Social Misery (I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L-I-S-M).

If we look carefully into the history of vaccination, we will find that the development of vaccination coincided with the development of imperialism. Medicine and public health have played important roles in imperialism. With the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early twentieth century, interlinkages between imperialism, the business elite, public health, and health institutions were forged through several key mediating institutions. Philanthropic organizations sought to use public health initiatives to address several challenges faced by expanding capitalist enterprises: labor productivity, safety for investors and managers, and the costs of care (2).

In the early 1900s, the capitalist magnate Rockefeller already had a hand in the development of smallpox vaccine. Rockefeller’s pioneering virologist Tom Rivers (1888-1962) undertook to develop a safer vaccine by growing the virus in tissue culture. The result was an attenuated strain of virus that was better than the earlier vaccines produced in England. It was the first vaccine used in humans to be grown in tissue culture. Rivers’ interaction with Rockefeller Foundation scientists, who were then working to make a yellow fever vaccine in Foundation laboratories on the Rockefeller Institute campus, influenced Max Theiler to create an attenuated virus vaccine. Theiler later won a Nobel Prize for this work (3). Parke-Davis also was a pioneer in vaccine production. The company set up shop in 1907 in Rochester hills, Michigan, pitching a circus tent to house horses and constructing a vaccine-propagating building, a sterilizing room and a water tank(4). Parke-Davis was once America’s oldest and largest drug maker. It was acquired by Warner Lambert company in 1970, which in turn was acquired in 2000 by Pfizer, which is now the largest pharmaceutical company in the world(5,6). Pfizer claims that it was involved in the commercial production of a smallpox vaccine in the early 1900s, that it was the first to develop a heat-stable, freeze-dried smallpox vaccine as well as the bifurcated needle, the first to introduce a combined vaccine for preventing diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and had produced more than 600 million doses of the first live trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (7). These medical advances coincided with the emergence of what has been called “New Imperialism” when European states established vast empires mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East (8) and almost at the same period, the United States colonized the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kingdom of Hawaii, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and for short periods, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Cuba (9, 10).

Imperialism is driven by the pressure of capital for external fields of investment. The recurrent crises of overproduction and subsequent diminution of profits and stagnation of capital leads to ever-increasing pressure to expand markets and territories. The tendency for investors to work towards the political annexation of countries which contain their more speculative investments is very powerful. Imperialism is seen as a necessity by the capitalists so they can continue to accumulate wealth. Capitalist greed was hidden behind the curtain of “manifest destiny” and “mission to civilize colonized people”. It was the Robber Barons of the time, the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Cooke, Shwab, Fisk, Harriman and their ilk who actually needed Imperialism and who were fastening it upon the shoulders of the government. They used the public resources of their country for their capitalist expansion (11). Imperialism, therefore, was adopted as a political policy and practice by the government which was controlled by the business elite. The Government and private corporations sought ways to maximize profits. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, access to or control of markets to sell or buy products, and extraction of natural resources. They met these demands through plunder and tyrannical rule.

However, the imperialists experienced excess diseases and deaths among their troops, civil servants and traders. They had to do something about it. With the advent of the “Germ Theory” of disease, it was believed that these diseases and deaths were caused by infectious organisms. This belief led to the development of drugs and vaccines that the colonial powers wholeheartedly embraced. That was the beginning of Big Pharma. Initially the advances in medicine were introduced for the protection of colonial troops and civil servants, then for the local people working for the colonial power and eventually for the whole population. Improved health care was also included with the provision of hospitals and, as for the other measures, these were initially for the military, then for expatriates and finally for the local people (12). The pioneer pharmaceutical companies of that time and the financial elite clearly saw the huge profits to be made from vaccination and the provision of pharmaceuticals. Among the most cited justification for colonial rule is the introduction of “modern health care” to the subjugated people. Thus, health became an instrument of pacification of the oppressed and the people were made to believe that colonialism was good for them. However, the introduction of health care technologies like vaccines and drugs are really not out of altruistic intentions of the colonial power but more for the satisfaction of the imperialist’s plunderous desires. In fact, systematic public health regimes originated as military programs in support of imperialist expansion. Private charities entered the field as colonial conquests were consolidated. The colonizer was more concerned with maximizing the exploitation of imperialized labor and extraction of the natural resources of the conquered people.

Since then, the elimination or control of disease in tropical countries became a driving force for all colonial powers. In the colonized world, public health measures encouraged by Rockefeller’s International Health Commission yielded increases in profit extraction, as each worker could now be paid less per unit of work, “but with increased strength was able to work harder and longer and received more money in his pay envelope”. Rockefeller’s research programs promised greater scope for future US military adventures in the Global South, where occupying armies had often been hamstrung by tropical diseases (13). The Rockefeller programs did not concern themselves with workers’ physical productivity alone. They were also intended to reduce the cultural resistance of “backward” and “uncivilized” peoples to the domination of their lives and societies by industrial capitalism. The Rockefeller Foundation discovered that medicine was an almost irresistible force in the colonization of non-industrialized countries. During the US occupation of the Philippines, Rockefeller Foundation president George Vincent was quite frank in saying, “Dispensaries and physicians have of late been peacefully penetrating areas of the Philippine Islands and demonstrating the fact that for purposes of placating primitive and suspicious peoples medicine has some advantages over machine guns” (14).

Mass vaccination emerged as a major imperialist program, notwithstanding the erroneous, reductionist concept behind it and despite the utter lack of proper safety and efficacy studies. Vaccination was hailed as the savior of colonized people from infectious disease despite clear evidence of adverse effects worse than the original disease. Many of these forced mass vaccination campaigns resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was about 10%. In 1905, following the commencement of systematic vaccination enforced by the U.S. government, an epidemic occurred where the case mortality ranged from 25% to 50% in different parts of the islands. 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. The lowest percentage occurred in Mindanao, the least vaccinated place, owing to religious prejudices. Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health, stated that the 1918-1919 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. At about the same time, in Australia, one of the least-vaccinated countries in the world for smallpox, had only three smallpox cases in 15 years. 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 (15).

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

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 (16) 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. Because of outside pressure, the US licensing committee in charge of approving the vaccine did so after deliberating for only two hours without first having read the full research (17). This 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’s 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 (18). 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 (19). Wyeth was also found much later to have produced a paralyzing vaccine. All other manufacturers’ vaccines released in the 1950s were sold and injected into America’s children and millions of vaccines were also exported all around the world (17). The “eradication” of smallpox and the seemingly dramatic decline of polio cannot be largely attributed to the vaccines. There never was valid scientific study that supported the claim that the vaccines caused the decline of the disease. The combined effects of social and environmental determinants of what was poliomyelitis at that time were the most likely reasons for the decline. The polio vaccine was propelled more into widespread use by economic, political and personal interests of imperialists rather than by science and public health interests. It is well established scientifically that the decline in mortality rates of infectious diseases was due largely to socio-economic determinants (improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, etc.) and the strengthening of natural immunity. Medical intervention using vaccines and antibiotics was late in coming and whatever contribution it made in the overall decline of mortality over time was miniscule at best. In fact, there is a large body of scientific and narrative evidence that the vaccines cause various acute and chronic adverse effects and likely resulted in delaying the decline of infectious diseases to a relatively insignificant and naturally manageable health problem. Vaccination, an invasive and un-natural induction of immune response, which was largely inappropriate, did not really help but instead, created more problems, among which is the emergence of highly virulent strains of microorganisms. One un-anticipated potentially disastrous adverse effect of vaccination is the disruption of natural immunity among the people in communities. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming contrary scientific evidence, the overwhelming power of the ruling elite successfully implanted the entrenched belief that vaccination had eradicated smallpox and dramatically reduced deaths from polio and other infectious diseases. This widely held belief allowed the global ruling class to hide behind humanitarian posturing and mask their true agenda of global dominance and maximizing profits for Big Business.

After World War II, public health philanthropy became closely aligned with US foreign policy as neocolonialism thrust “development” on Third World nations. The major foundations collaborated with USAID and allied agencies in support of interventions aimed at increasing production of raw materials while creating new markets for Western manufactured goods. The concept of “global health governance” (GHG) arose in the early 1990s, reflecting US confidence that the fall of the Soviet Union would usher in a unipolar world dominated by American interests. This was a vision of diffuse, omnipresent power to be exercised collaboratively by the institutions of global capitalism and guaranteed, in the last resort, by the US military. The Alma Ata principles became moot as structural adjustment programs decimated Third World government investments in public health. Corporate globalization intensified with neoliberal imposition of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The new global health governance regime systematically bypassed or compromised national health ministries via “public-private partnerships” and similar schemes. To soften the resistance against imperialist interventions in health, “emerging infections” were hyped as inevitable and potentially catastrophic and the global health governance scheme was framed within the larger discourse of “security” that arose in the wake of the dubious 9/11 event. Worldwide alarm about bioterrorism provided an opportunity to link together health and national/international security. Not only would health-care workers open the funds for a medical front in the War on Terror, but also military forces would routinely be mobilized as a response to health disasters. Imperial interventions in the health field began to be justified in the same terms as recent “humanitarian” military interventions. Some analysts denounced the militarization of public health as worryingly authoritarian and strategically counterproductive, but to Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man, it was a welcome development. Gates’ endorsement was especially significant because his foundation had become the leading exemplar of philanthropy in the era of global health governance (13).

Parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia attend a Senate hearing in the Philippines.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now by far the world’s largest private foundation; with more than $50 billion in assets. The bulk of its activities are directed at the people of the imperialized world, where its ostensible mission involves providing birth control and combatting infectious diseases. BMGF exercises power not only by means of its own spending but also through steering an elaborate network of “partner organizations” including nonprofits, government agencies, and private corporations. As the second largest donor to the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), it is a dominant player in the formation of global health policy. It orchestrates elaborate public-private partnerships and is the chief funder and prime mover behind the Vaccine Alliance (formerly GAVI), a public-private partnership between the World Health Organization and the vaccine industry. The chief beneficiary of BMGF’s activities is not the people of the Global South but the Western pharmaceutical industry. The Gates Foundation’s ties with the pharmaceutical and vaccine making industry are intimate, complex, and long-standing. Soon after its founding, BMGF invested $205 million to purchase stakes in major pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. BMGF’s interventions are designed to create lucrative markets for surplus pharmaceutical products, especially vaccines (13, 20).

The vaccine producing companies belong to the largest interlocking corporations controlled directly or indirectly by a few highly secretive business and power elite who effectively rule the world and impose imperialist policies. Large corporations have become more and more interrelated through shared directors and common institutional investors. In 2004, A team of Swiss systems theorists, utilizing a database of 37 million companies and investors worldwide, studied the share ownerships linking over 43,000 transnational corporations. They found that a core 1,318 companies, representing 20 percent of global operating revenues, “appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues”. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group (21). These business elite is intimately linked to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR, founded in 1921, is a United States think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. The CFR runs the Rockefeller Studies Program and convenes government officials, global business leaders and prominent members of the intelligence and foreign-policy community to discuss international issues and make recommendations to the presidential administration and the diplomatic community (22). Some critics and political analysts have called the Council for Foreign Relations the “Shadow Government” (US) that is pulling the strings behind the scene.

The Vaccination Trojan Horse of Imperialism in recent years has become much bigger with the growing power of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is the main driver of global health policy. It is now the second biggest donor to WHO. With the USA as the biggest donor, US imperialism’s hold over WHO has become almost absolute. Bill Gates is the first private individual to keynote WHO’s general assembly of member countries. One delegate remarked: “He is treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20” (23). BMGF has been compared to “a massive, vertically integrated multinational corporation (MNC), controlling every step in a supply chain that reaches from its Seattle-based boardroom, through various stages of procurement, production, and distribution, to millions of nameless, impoverished ‘end-users’ in the villages of Africa and South Asia”. It has a functional monopoly in the field of public health. In the words of one NGO official: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation” (13).

With his unprecedented power, Bill Gates was able to initiate an elaborate neoliberal financing scheme for vaccines that inevitably transfers public funds to private coffers. Ostensibly, the scheme is designed to help developing countries to fund their vaccination programs but in reality, these countries are caught in a debt-trap. This so-called “innovative development financing” is a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidize vaccine buyers and manufacturers through an intermediary, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). GAVI floats bonds which are secured by the promise of government donors to buy millions of doses of vaccines at a set price over periods as long as 20 years. Capitalists take a cut at every stage of the value chain while poor countries are supposed to benefit from access to vaccines that might not otherwise be affordable. Bondholders receive a tax-free guaranteed return on investment, suited to an era of ultra-low interest rates. Pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, are able to peddle expensive vaccines at subsidized prices in a cash-poor but vast and risk-free market. By creating a predictable demand pull, IFFIm addresses a major constraint to immunization scale-up: the scarcity of stable, predictable, and coordinated cash flows for an extended period. (13,24). Recent BMGF/GAVI activities in Sri Lanka offer a virtual case study in what has been called “pharmaceutical colonialism.” GAVI targeted the country in 2002, offering to subsidize a high priced, patented pentavalent DtwP-hepB-Hib vaccine. In exchange for GAVI’s support, the country agreed to add the vaccine to its national immunization schedule. Within three months of the vaccine’s introduction, 24 adverse reactions including 4 deaths were reported, leading Sri Lanka to suspend use of the vaccine. Subsequently, 21 infants died from adverse reactions in India (13).

The real underlying cause of deaths in epidemics is the dysfunctional health care system brought about by chronic socio-economic underdevelopment characteristic of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society victimized by imperialism, not the loss of vaccine confidence due to the “Dengvaxia scare”. Corporate hijacking of the health care system with the complicity of government, international institutions, mainstream medicine and various cohorts deprived the people of their right to health. Profit has become the primary driving factor in addressing a public health problem, not public welfare. Deregulation, privatization and liberalization, the hallmarks of corporate globalization, the new face of imperialism, have practically wiped-out whatever remaining affordable basic needs and social services, especially health services, are available to the majority of the population. Worse, under the guise of economic development, big business juggernaut in mining, plantations, coal, dams and other environmentally destructive and socially disruptive mega-projects have devastated community-empowering and truly sustainable, poverty alleviating, health promoting and climate resilient initiatives. The concomitant and worsening assaults (including extrajudicial killings) on fundamental human rights have subjected marginalized people to extreme physical, biological, psychological and social stress and have repeatedly been forced to be displaced from their land, homes, crops and other means of survival. Under these circumstances, infectious disease epidemics and other serious health problems are bound to arise and worsen. The root cause of epidemics in this country is imperialism. Liberation is the answer, not vaccination.

 

[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.]

 

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