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The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The New Green Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature

This is ACT V – PART I of the series: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

 

February 13, 2019

 

In ACT I of this new body of research we opened the dialogue with the observations of artist Hiroyuki Hamada:

 

“What’s infuriating about manipulations by Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest good will of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.”

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent has been written in five acts.

In ACT I (published January 18, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we disclosed that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, “We Don’t Have Time”. We then explored the ambitions behind the tech company We Don’t Have Time.

In ACT II (published January 21, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we illustrated how today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite. Also in this act we introduced the board members and advisors to “We Don’t Have Time.” We explored the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In ACT III (published January 28, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we deconstructed how Al Gore and the planets most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why. We explored the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal. We also touched upon Thunberg’s famous family, in particular Thunberg’s celebrity mother, Malena Ernman (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017), and her August 2018 book launch. We then explored the generous media attention afforded to Thunberg in both May, 2018 and April, 2018, by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.

In ACT IV (published February 3, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we examined the current campaign, now unfolding, in “leading the public into emergency mode”. More importantly, we summarized, who and what this mode is to serve.

In this act – ACT V, PART I – we take a closer look at the Green New Deal. We look at Data for Progress and the targeting of female youth as a key “femographic”. We connect the key architect and authors of the “Green New Deal” data to the World Resources Institute. From there we walk you through the interlocking Business & Sustainable Development Commission the New Climate Economy – a project of the World Resources Institute. Finally, we disclose the common thread between these groups, that of assigning monetary value to nature via the Natural Capital Coalition. The “New Deal for Nature”  (the financialization and privatization of nature, global in scale) is “expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.”

In ACT V – PART II – we finally wrap the series with an exploration of what the real “Green New Deal” under the forth industrial revolution will look like. We reflect upon how mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence and further manipulate the populace by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world. We look at the weak and essentially non-existent demands – eerily reminiscent of the 2009 TckTckTck “demands”.

Lastly we look at the power of celebrity – and how it has become a key tool for both capital and conformity. Some of these topics will be released as addenda built on a large volume of research.

[*Note: This series contains information and quotes that have been translated from Swedish to English via Google Translator.]

 

A C T   V –  P A R T  I

 

March 10, 2014:

“…the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests, (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.” — McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIV of an Investigative Report] [Environmentalism is Dead – Welcome to the Age of Anthropocentrism]

 

A Green New Deal – for Mobilization

November 12, 2018,  A New Global Architecture: Børge Brende [Far left of panel], President, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum and panel [1]. “Shaping a New Global Architecture” session at the World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

The “New Deal” of the 1930s has always been a point of pride in the American psyche since it implementation by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his four terms in office after the Great Depression. Since that time, various people and programs have attempted to appropriate this term in furtherance of diverse platforms as a means to portray the concept as beneficial to a populace. In that regard, a fairly recent phrase that has used this phrase is the “Green New Deal”. This term first surfaced during 2007 by the NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman and was then used by London accountant Richard Murphy to describe a full scale change in our economy to an environmentally sound capitalist system. As the term has never been fully embraced by the establishment, it still resided right below the surface of mainstream economic discourse among many people, as it serves as a potential improvement within the current economic system. Only recently though in 2019, has the “Green New Deal” reached apoplectic proportions as far as its usage and reached a fevered pitch by those who are touting its ability to shift the paradigm from fossil fuels to a pancea of “green technologies” in the near future.

Prior to 2018 the term had become most recognized and associated with the Green Party as part and parcel of its platform. By June 2018 however, traces of how this would soon serve to be the vehicle that would launch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the stratosphere of a superstar would start to surface.

On June 27, 2018, Democracy Now, a popular mouthpiece for the halls of power in the domestic psuedo-left movements reported the following:

“In a stunning upset and the biggest surprise of the primary season this year, 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-term incumbent Representative Joe Crowley in New York in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Crowley is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, and he’d outraised Ocasio-Cortez by a 10-to-1 margin. Crowley was widely viewed as a possible future House speaker. Yet Ocasio-Cortez defeated Crowley after running a progressive grassroots campaign advocating for “Medicare for All” and the abolition of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.”

Following her victory on June 26, 2018, Cortez would acknowledge that the only reason she ran for the seat, was at the bequest of the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress who had approached Cortez a year and a half earlier, in 2016. [Video interview, June 27, 2018, 9m:42s in]:

The Young Turks: “Last, two things real quick. You’re among the first Just Democrat candidates ever in history. Umm, how much of a, of a help was that organization to you?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It was enormously important. I wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for the support of Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. Umm, in fact it was it was these organizations, it was JD and it was Brand New Congress as well, that both, that asked me to run in the first place. They’re the ones that called me a year and a half ago after I left Standing Rock and said ‘hey would you be willing to run for Congress?’ So I wouldn’t be here, um, and I wouldn’t have run if it wasn’t [for them].”

October 26, 2018: Brand New Congress, Green New Deal

Most of the people involved in founding the Justice Democrats (launched in January 2017) and Brand New Congress (founded in 2016) came from the aftermath of the Bernie 2016 campaign. As an example, Saikat Chakrabarti co-founder and former executive director of Justice Democrats, as well as a co-founder of Brand New Congress, served as the campaign chair during  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign. Today, Chakrabarti serves as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff. Prior to co-founding Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, Chakrabarti was the director of organising technology for the Bernie 2016 Campaign. One name that sparks curiosity is Zack Exley, the co-founder of both Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, who was also the senior advisor to the Bernie 2016 campaign and former organizing director for MoveOn.

Our Revolution, a political organization launched by Bernie Sanders in 2016, [touched upon in ACT III of this series] also endorsed Ocasio-Cortez. On January 23, 2017, it was reported that Justice Democrats would partner with Brand New Congress.

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One day after the Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic nomination for her congressional district on June 27, 2018, a New Green Deal led by Ocasio-Cortez was highlighted by Grist in which they referenced an email interview between HuffPost and Ocasio-Cortez the week prior:

“What sets Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal apart is her plan to meet the target by implementing what she called a “Green New Deal,” a federal plan to spur “the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs.”

 

Though the slogan harks back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1930s New Deal program of infrastructure spending and labor reforms, she compared the program she envisions to the tens of billions of dollars spent on armaments manufacturing and the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.”

 

‘The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan,’ she told HuffPost by email last week. “We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy, but this time green energy.”

On June 30, 2018, Grist would reference the Green New Deal as proposed by Ocasio-Cortez again:

“The Green New Deal we are proposing will be similar in scale to the mobilization efforts seen in World War II or the Marshall Plan’, she said by email. “It will require the investment of trillions of dollars and the creation of millions of high-wage jobs. We must again invest in the development, manufacturing, deployment, and distribution of energy but this time green energy.”

Here we must pause for a moment to deconstruct the above. First, the above plan and language mirrors that in the strategy document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement” [laid out in ACT IV of this series] being led by organizations whose affiliations with the Democrats, the Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez campaigns are publicly disclosed. Second, we must recognize that  behind large institutions and media outlets such as Grist, branded as both “left” and “progressive”, are power structures subservient to capital. Grist CEO is Brady Walkinshaw. Prior to his role of CEO in 2017, Walkinshaw a former US State representative, worked as a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before his tenure at the Gates Foundation, Walkinshaw, a Fulbright scholar of the US State Department, worked as a special assistant to the World Bank. Within the Grist board of directors is 350.org founder, Bill McKibben – defacto foot soldier for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats in general.

Climate Nexus: A New Green Deal is Coming

November 7, 2018: Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), Green New Deal

On February 7, 2019 Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) [2] announced via its “TOP STORIES” that a “New Green Deal is Coming”:

“Here It Comes: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) will unveil a landmark resolution calling for a transition to renewable energy and the creation of thousands of new jobs today in Washington, DC. The highly-anticipated Green New Deal legislation follows months of protest and calls for an aggressive and just transition off fossil fuels from young activists in groups like the Sunrise Movement.”

From 2013-2016, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors ten million dollars for Climate Nexus.

The Blended Finance Taskforce [see ACT IV of this series] is comprised of fifty icons of finance including the MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundation.

As touched upon in act IV of this series, the People’s Climate March, which took place  on September 21, 2014, was led and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, Climate Nexus, 350.org, Avaaz/Purpose, Greenpeace, US Climate Action Network (USCAN) and GCCA/TckTckTck (founded by twenty NGOs with 350.org, Greenpeace, Avaaz and Oxfam at the helm). In relation to the current set of circumstances, 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation) would again serve to be an instrumental vehicle to propel the Green New Deal as the catalyst to unlock the 100 trillion dollars required to unleash the “fourth industrial revolution”. This project, of unparalleled magnitude, is the vehicle to save the flailing global capitalist economic system and bring in the financialization of nature.

Green New Deal – Data for Progress

“A Green New Deal is popular among American voters and can mobilize them in 2018.” — A Green New Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [Emphasis in original]

Data for Progress Website

“Key Finding 7: The kids are alright – Though some of the proposals we examine are currently unpopular nationally, that may change in the future. We find that four of the most radical proposals we analyzed are vastly more popular with younger voters than they are with the general public.” — Data for Progress, Polling the Left Agenda

In July 2018, polling being conducted by Data for Progress, a partner in the Green New Deal with the Sunrise Movement and 350.org, showed a whopping 41% of people under the age of thirty would support a candidate that campaigned on a jobs guarantee and clean energy. The support exhibited by this age bracket constituted approximately twice that of the group comprised of people age 45 and above. [“Forty-eight percent of voting eligible adults said they would be more likely to support a candidate who was running on 100% renewable energy by 2030. Notably, this is significantly faster than even the most progressive legislation currently in Congress.”] By targeting the youth, in addition to its 30-45 demographic, the promise of green jobs and clean energy were the clear winners.

“In this case, at least, time could be a weapon for the Sunrise Movement. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center projected that millennials were poised to overtake baby boomers as the largest adult generation in the U.S., as well as its biggest eligible voting bloc.” [Source]

 

“What year were you born? (Sunrise is building a movement led by young people; we ask for the year you were born so that we can help you find the best opportunities to engage. You can answer “prefer not to say” as well, but knowing this really helps us!)” – Sunrise Movement Website

September 6, 2018: 350.org, Green New Deal, Data for Progress

“All electricity consumed in America must be generated by renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, sustainable biomass, and renewable natural gas, as well as clean sources such as nuclear and remaining fossil fuel with carbon capture.” — New Green Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [p. 5]

For the Green New Deal’s foray into the American consciousness, a new movement would be required. This would be the Sunrise Movement. A youth movement created under the direction of the Sierra Club from which it received a $50,000 grant. Par for the course of “youth grassroots activism” Sunrise already has a hefty budget and a full time staff: “In relation to other environmental groups, the Sunrise Movement is relatively small. Its officials said they have about 16 full-time staff and that they’ve raised about $1 million since its founding.” [December 3, 2018]

Sunrise Movement is the rebranded US Climate Plan (now defunct) founded by Evan Weber and Matt Lichtash.

Lichtash is a strategy and executive office specialist at the New York Power Authority. He is the founder of Carbon Capital.

WESLEYAN,  ISSUE 2,  2017

In 2017, Weber was named by Grist as one of “50 emerging green leaders to watch for” citing his work with U.S. Climate Plan, the organization founded by he and Lichtash in 2013 under the direction of Michael Dorsey.

SustainUS alumni [“WE TRAIN YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEAD“] Dyanna Jaye would be identified as one of the Sunrise Movement co-founders following the April 2017 rebrand, as would Varshini Prakash and Sara Blazevic from the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network.

“Sunrise is a movement led by young people and young people will be prioritized for housing, travel support, and other needs, as people typically left out of the political process by our institutions. That being said, we welcome people of all ages to participate in Sunrise actions in different ways.” — Sunrise website

The president and executive director of the Sunrise Movement is Michael Dorsey. Having served eleven years on the Sierra Club national board, Dorsey is co-founder and principal of Around the Corner Capital—an energy advisory and impact finance platform. He serves as an  an adisor to ImpactPPA; equity partner in solar firm Univergy-CCC; co-founder and director of Univergy-CCC’s India division: Univergy/ThinkGreen; and full member of the Club of Rome. His political background is extensive having served under the US administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He also served on Senator Barack Obama’s energy and environment Presidential campaign team. [3]

“We must end all emissions from fossil fuels. The full U.S. economy can and must run on a mix of energy that is either zero-emission or 100 percent carbon capture by mid-century* [*citation].” — New Green Deal Policy Report by Data for Progress, September, 2018 [p. 5]

Sunrise received a collaborative grant from USCAN with Power Shift Network, SustainUs and the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. Another primary funder thus far of Sunrise is the Sustainable Markets Foundation. The Sunrise address is shared with US Climate Action Network and Sierra Club (50 F St NW, Washington, DC 20016), where Sunrise trainings have been held by USCAN board members.

“One factor working in their favor was that the group didn’t start from scratch. Some of the architects of the Sunrise Movement included activists from organizations such as 350.org — which also provided some early financial support.” Inside the Sunrise Movement (it didn’t happen by accident), December 3, 2018

Prior to the Sunrise Movement, the framework of a youth led mobilization in service to capital expansion had already been identified by those at the helm. In that role, people such as Jamie Margolin, youthful founder of Zero Hour were developed by the establishment. In being trained by the likes of Al Gore (founder of Generation Investment with Goldman Sachs David Blood), Margolin was propelled to celebrity status in a mere few months by utilizing magazines that feed the insatiable American appetite for celebrity fetish (Vogue, People, Rolling Stone). This exposure, coupled with social media recognition by “eco celebrities” (individuals with grotesquely indulgent lifestyles yet lionized as environmental stewards due to their comparatively menial philanthropic endeavours, such as Leonardo DiCaprio) is a tried and true method of manufactured celebrity.

November 6, 2018: Vanity Fair, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Across the Atlantic Ocean, more celebrities and groups that would lead “the public into emergency mode” would soon follow.

In June 2018, a twitter account and an Instagram account were created under the name Greta Thunberg.

In July 2018, a twitter account was created under the name Extinction Rebellion.

[Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

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The Green New Deal is Vogue

Marketing to a key “femographic” – the Green New Deal is In Vogue.

Vogue, November 2, 2018: “Bria Vinaite Explains the Green New Deal: ‘Let Vinaite fill you in on the rest of the details—and make sure to find out if your candidates support a Green New Deal when you head to the polls. If they don’t, maybe you can ask why.'” [“The foundation of Vogue’s leadership and authority is the brand’s unique role as a cultural barometer for a global audience.”]

As this series will demonstrate, young females are the key #femographic for the #AOC campaign. [See forthcoming addendum]

Green New Deal Commercial: Bria Vinaite Explains the Green New Deal [02m:19s]

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It is here where the machinations for the Green New Deal – the vehicle for unlocking 100 trillion dollars, and the long-awaited financialization of nature, begins to unfold.

“Liking” the Vinaite tweet was Greg Carlock, architect of the Green New Deal, Green New Deal research director and senior advisor to Data for Progress, [4] and Manager for Climate Action and Data for World Resources Institute (WRI) where he leads the development of the WRI Climate Program’s flagship platform—Climate Watch. [Source] Prior to joining WRI, Carlock worked at USAID on greenhouse gas accounting and data.

Also crafting the Green New Deal is Emily Mangan, policy adviser for Data for Progress and  research analyst at World Resources Institute. Mangan  provides research support and analysis for the Green New Deal. Prior to joining WRI, Mangan worked at the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source]

Here it must be made clear that the Osario-Cortez and Green New Deal frenzy, is part and parcel of strategy of “leading the public into emergency mode” launched in 2018. In reality, the Green New Deal is window dressing for what is in store. All decisions regarding all “new deals” will not be made by Osario-Cortez, the Democrats or any other party. Rather they will be made (and already have been made) by those that comprise the absolute ruling class.

  • September 6, 2018, 350.org, Green New Deal

World Resources Institute

December 11, 2009: World Resources Institute

April 7, 2011: World Resources Institute

September 12, 2014: World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organization that was founded in 1982 by James Speth [5] with a fifteen million dollar grant from the MacArthur Foundation. It is an international powerhouse “that works in more than 50 countries, with offices in the Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. WRI’s more than 500 experts work with leaders to address six urgent global challenges at the intersection of economic development and the natural environment: food, forests, water, climate, energy and cities.”

The WRI advisory board represents the absolute upper echelons of power within the matrix of the non-profit interlocking directorate – with a staggering amount of overlap with the hegemonic powerhouse, the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

With 98.5 million in funding in 2017, the exhaustive list of WRI donors [6] represent many of the most powerful and influential entities on Earth, including Alcoa Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Cargill, Caterpillar Foundation, Citi Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Oak Foundation,  Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Foundation, Shell Foundation, USAID, and the World Bank. [WRI 2017 Annual Report]

The WRI board of directors [7] include:

  • David Blood: Co-founder and senior partner of Generation Investment;
  • Felipe Calderón: Former president of Mexico, chair of the Global Commission that oversees the New Climate Economy, honorary chairman of the Green Growth Action Alliance;
  • Christiana Figueres: Executive secretary of the UNFCCC, The B Team leader, vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, board member of ClimateWorks, World Bank Climate Leader,  Mission2020 Convenor, member of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, credited with delivering the Paris Agreement [Full bio];
  • Jennifer Scully-Lerner: Vice president, private wealth management at Goldman Sachs;
  • James Gustave Speth: Founder of WRI, former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, honorary director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and WRI, serves  on the board of the Climate Reality Project, advisory board member at 350.org, member of the Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Andrew Steer: President and CEO of the WRI. Formerly with the World Bank, serves on the sustainable advisory groups of both IKEA and the Bank of America, and he serves on the Executive Board of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy For All Initiative;
  • Kathleen McLaughlin: Senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Walmart Inc., president of  Walmart Foundation;
  • Nader Mousavizadeh:Co-Founder and partner of Macro Advisory Partner, former chief executive of Oxford Analytica, a leading global analysis and advisory firm, former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, member of the Council of the European Council on Foreign Relations, member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Geopolitics, WEF Global Leader for Tomorrow;
  • James Harmon: Chairman and CEO of Caravel Management, member of the Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Afsaneh M. Beschloss: Founder and CEO of RockCreek. Former managing director and partner at the Carlyle Group and president of Carlyle Asset Management, treasurer and chief investment officer at the World Bank, formerly with Shell International and J.P. Morgan, member of the World Economic Forum’s Investor Governors, member of the Council of Foreign Relations, recognized as one of American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking;
  • Joke Brandt: Secretary General Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of The Netherlands;
  • Jamshyd N. Godrej: Chairman of Aspen Institute – India. He is the Vice President of World Wide Fund for Nature – International and was the President of World Wide Fund for Nature – India from 2000 to 2007;
  • Caio Koch-Weser: Chairman of the Board of the European Climate Foundation. Former vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Group, held high-level positions in the World Bank, member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate(NCE) and a Member of the Board of the Centre for European Reform (CER) in London;

[WRI Global Leadership Council][WRI Board of Directors – Full]

WRI donors Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, IKEA Foundation – in partnership with Agence Française de Développement, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and BlackRock – led the Climate Finance Partnership announced September 26, 2018 at the One Planet Summit in NYC by French President Emmanuel Macron and BlackRock’s Larry Fink. The accompanying Blended Finance Taskforce, an embodiment of the world’s most powerful and financial institutions, is well represented at WRI.

April 27, 2017: World Resources Institute

The Blended Finance Taskforce was launched by Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission in 2017.

The efforts put forward by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission taskforce led to the Climate Finance Partnership announced on September 26, 2018.

Polman is the CEO of Unilever, and chair of the International Chamber of Commerce and The B Team (co-founder of We Mean Business). Polman has also been closely involved in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [8] The Blended Finance Taskforce was established in order to identify barriers to the effective use and scaling of blended finance. It is now implementing an ambitious plan of action to increase mainstream private investment for the SDGs. [Full list of Business & Sustainable Development Commissioners including Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel.]

Unilever is a member of WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group. WRI Member companies include Abbott Laboratories, Bank of America, Cargill Corporation, Caterpillar, CitiGroup, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, General Motors, The Goldman Sachs Group, Google, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Shell, Walmart , Walt Disney Company, and  Weyerhaeuser. [Full list] [WRI CCG Advisory Board]

On November 15, 2018, the Climate Markets and Investment Association reported that the Climate Finance Partnership would “work together to finalize the design and structure of what we anticipate will be a flagship blended capital investment vehicle by the end of the first quarter, 2019.” All media inquiries pertaining to this announcement were to be directed to Climate Nexus (People’s Climate March) or the European Climate Foundation. The task of the Blended Climate Finance is to unlock 100 trillion to rescue  the current economic system that has now entered the late stage of “freefall”. [Disclosed in ACT IV of this series]. The required maximization and mobilization of public monies  for private profits, to save the capitalist economy and further privatization, will be achieved through the climate emergency strategy that has been put into action.

Here it is critical to recognize that the New Climate Economy is a project of the WRI.

  • April 11, 2009, World Resources Institute, 350.org, Avaaz, TckTckTck, COP15,

The New Climate Economy

January 20, 2015: World Resources Institute, New Climate Economy Team

October 6, 2016: New Climate Economy, World Resources Institute

The New Climate Economy Project is led by Helen Mountford, program director for the New Climate Economy project and director of economics at WRI. Other team members from WRI include Milan Brahmbhatt, senior fellow at the WRI, and Molly  McGregor, research coordinator in the President’s Office at the WRI. [New Climate Economy Global Project Team]

The New Climate Economy project is being “conducted by a team of economists and policy and business analysts drawn from, and supported by, a partnership of nine leading global economic and policy institutions” under the direction of WRI.

Research partners for the initiative are as follows: Climate Policy Initiative, Ethiopian Development Research, Institute, Global Green Growth Institute, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, Overseas Development Institute, Stockholm Environment Institute, and Tsinghua University.

The New Climate Economy initiative works with global institutions including the International Monetary Fund, International Energy Agency, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and UN agencies. It is overseen by a Global Commission comprised of former heads of government, finance ministers, a plethora of the crème de la crème of economics, business and finance. [Economic Advisory Panel] [Emeritus Commissioners]

The New Climate Economy Global Commission members include Felipe Calderón (honorary chair), Paul Polman (co-chair), Angel Gurría, Nicholas Stern (co-chair), Sharan Burrow and many other members overlapping with the WRI, Climate Finance Partnership, Blended Finance Taskforce, etc. A cabal so entrenched in corporate power that it can easily make ones head not only spin, but explode. [9] The demand for citizen groups is ironic seeing as the financialization of nature is happening behind closed doors – with a promissory note of silence from the non-profit industrial complex.

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The New Green Deal is tied to WRI. WRI is the New Climate Economy. The last and the most important piece of the puzzle is the Natural Capital Coalition.

Here it is imperative to note that the Natural Capital Coalition is comprised by those at the helm of the New Climate Economy and WRI.

  • January 26, 2014, World Resources Institute, New Climate Economy, Stockholm Institute

“New Deal for Nature” – Assigning Monetary Value To All of Nature 

“He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.” — Chief Seattle, 1780-1866

January 26, 2018: “New Deal For Nature”, WWF

“The financial value at stake is mind-boggling – and the business opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are astonishing…. Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” — The Biosphere Economy, 2010

In tandem with orchestrating a frenzy over a Green New Deal via the non-profit industrial complex and media mechanisms, WWF et al were quietly pushing forward with a “New Deal for Nature”. The Green New Deal conjures up images of wind turbines and solar panels that are miraculously perceived as natural and holistic. [The fact that a solar panel and wind turbine has become more strongly associated with nature and environment than an actual tree, insect or animal, is in itself, quite terrifying and a stark indicator in the power of social engineering conducted on the citizenry over the last two decades.] This feat, achieved via powerful branding and NGO association, serves as the bright green mask for the even more sinister deal – the financialization of Nature – reframed as the “New Deal for Nature”.

Yet, it’s not new at all, with the Natural Capital Project (morphed into the present day Natural Capital Coalition) having been launched in 2006.

The Natural Capital Coalition (NatCap) was founded by Stanford University [Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Department of Biology], The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and the Institute on the Environment of the University of Minnesota. The scope of its global network includes corporations such as Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical, and institutions such as the US Department of Defense and the World Bank. The scope of its coalition members is a massive conglomerate of corporate power including many NGOs and so-called conservation bodies.

Here we can add that “Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth”, published by the World Economic Forum’’s “System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security” is a partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. [Source]

“Taken all together, the value of the total global ecosystem services has been estimated at USD 125 trillion per year, which is almost twice the world’s gross domestic product.”—Natural Capital Coalition, July 12, 2018

The development of the Natural Capital Protocol Project was made possible with generous funding from Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; International Finance Corporation (World Bank) with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Netherlands; The Rockefeller Foundation; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The Coalition is hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Other funders include World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Google Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank, Unilever, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense and the World Bank [Source]

World Resources Institute provided the technical insights and review for the Natural Capital Protocol. The protocol was developed by Conservation International, The B Team, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sustain Value, ACTS, Arcadis, eftec, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), Imperial College, ISS, Natural Capital Project, Synergiz, WWF, Accenture, CDSB, Deloitte, Dow, eni, GIST Advisory, Kering, LafargeHolcim, Natura, Nestlé, Roche, Shell, and The Nature Conservancy. The protocol was led by the WBCSD consortium. [Source]

Today, the final frontier for the corporate capture of the Earth as a whole, has finally arrived. Other terms thrown into the ring for public acceptance are a “New Deal for Nature and Humanity” and a “New Deal for Nature and People”.

“The New Deal for Nature  is expected to be adopted during the fifteenth meeting in Beijing in 2020.” — Biodiversity International, November 30, 2018

On January 23, 2019 the Natural Capital Coalition released an announcement stating that “In 2020, We Need A New Deal for Nature.” This article was part of the 2019 World Economic Forum “Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security” system initiatives. The authors of the article were Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; and Børge Brende, former Foreign Minister of Norway (2013-2017) and president and member of the managing board of the WEF. [WEF Board of Trustees, 2017] [WEF Leadership and  Governance]

The urgency in accelerating the plan forward is made clear:

“Against this backdrop, we need 2019 to be the year that sees a step-change in mobilising a wider public-private biodiversity action agenda. We need a “New Deal for Nature” to emerge.”

To make this happen, a movement is identified as the vehicle:

“A movement has the combined power and influence to be able to identify a simple set of targets for action on nature that everyone can aim for – so-called “science-based targets” to which every business, investor, NGO, city and government can contribute by 2030, such that meeting them will slow down the damage we are doing to nature, and ultimately restore it to the level science says we need.”

Over and over we are inundated with the “simple set of targets” that “everyone can aim for”. Hence, we witness the creation of mobilizations, global in scale, with no rational demands whatsoever.

The implementation of the Green New Deal will lay the groundwork for payments for ecosystem services (PES). This will create the most spectacular opportunity for monetary gain that the financial sector has ever witnessed. New markets offer speculation that promises unimaginable profits. The commodification of most everything sacred, the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure, will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.

In order to manufacture consent from the populace, those rolling out a “new deal for nature” are utilizing the power of  holistic language. They are strategically exploiting the very real contempt that we, the public have for externalities (pollution, etc.) – only to sell the financialization of nature back to us as a society. This is very much the same method we witness today as the power elites masterfully exploit the discontent of the youth and the population at large.

Image: Costing the Earth Interactive Game, “Play to find out the financial value of Nature”, BBC, October 8, 2015

The New Deal for Nature is the gentle easement of the mental acceptability of the financialization of nature into the public psyche, which is quite rapidly becoming a global phenomenon. So hideous is the payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme, masked under the holistic phrase “natural capital”, that it is barely mentioned outside of closed doors. But if we look closely, we can find it hidden in plain sight.

May 21, 2018: Science Can Help Forge a New Deal for Nature:

“The global community has a unique window of opportunity to define the post 2020 global biodiversity framework. It will need bold commitment and determination, innovative approaches and transformative processes to ensure that such a New Deal will be effective. At this historical juncture, let us leverage science to help forge a New Deal for Nature.” — Christiana Pa?ca Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

November 22, 2018: A New Deal for Nature and Humanity:

“WWF strongly supports the call for a new deal for nature and people. By 2020, in just two years, we need an agreed roadmap that recognizes the intrinsic link between the health of nature, the well-being of people and the future of our planet.”

November 29,  2018: UN Biodiversity Conference Agrees on a Process Towards a New Deal for Nature and People in 2020 But Ambition is Weak:

“The 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) ended today with an agreement on the preparatory process for a post-2020 global framework, moving us closer to a transformational New Deal for Nature and People in 2020 – a vital step to ramp up global efforts to halt today’s unprecedented and dangerous biodiversity loss.

 

WWF urges member countries to develop a far higher shared vision and political ambition if we are to reach a New Deal for Nature and People and create a Paris-style moment for biodiversity in 2020.”

Welcome to the Green New Deal, New Deal For Nature, Next System, Regenerative System, New Economy, New Climate Economy, Biosphere Economy, etc. A fusion of rhapsodic and mellifluous language that creates a sublime chrysalis to further expand capital markets. The second verse is the same as the first.

A genuine rebellion against ecological devastation does not – and cannot – turn its back on capitalism, imperialism, militarism, sexism (patriarchy, misogyny) and racism (white supremacy). The main drivers of our accelerating environmental crisis. Marching for capital under the guise of marching for revolution is a fool’s game. All roads lead to the corporate capture, theft and pillage of what remains of our already decimated planet.

We end this segment with a lecture by Clive Spash (one of the very few economists with the moral courage to speak honestly on “pricing the environment”. [“The Economics of Biodiversity Management and the Problems of the Current Ecosystems Services and Market Based Policy Approaches”, Vienna, 6th December 2010]

 

 

[Further reading: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”]

Endnotes:

[1] A New Global Architecture, November 12, 2018: Børge Brende, President; Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum and panel, Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation; Young Global Leader, Helen E. Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999 – 2008), New Zealand, Roland Paris, University of Ottawa, Canada, Jean-David Levitte, Adviser, France; Former Ambassador of France to the UN and United States Hilary Cottam, Author and Entrepreneur, Centre for the Fourth Social Revolution; Young Global Leader during the Session “Shaping a New Global Architecture” at the World Economic Forum, Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

[2] “Climate Nexus, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, helps local, national, and international media recognize climate science and clean energy’s role in addressing climate change. This is accomplished by building a broad network of influential, persuasive messengers, and creating a clear, compelling narrative about climate change and ways to address its impacts.”

[3] “A former Dartmouth College professor, Dorsey is a serial organization builder & leader in for-profit, non-profit & governmental realms. In the for-profit arena, Dorsey co-founded and heads Around the Corner Capital—an energy advisory and impact finance platform. Thru Around the Corner he actively invests & advises several pools of private equity finance on renewable energy & related matters globally. Dr. Dorsey is an equity partner in the Spanish-Japanese solar firm: Univergy-CCC; and a co-founder of its India division: Univergy/ThinkGreen, based in Hyderabad.

In the non-profit arena Dr. Dorsey sits on many boards, including Food First & the Center for Environmental Health–the latter he co-created in 1997. Dorsey co-founded IslandsFirst.org. He served 11 years on the Sierra Club national board.” [Source]

[4] “Greg is Green New Deal Research Director at Data for Progress. He holds a Masters in Environmental Policy and is a researcher in climate action and data based in Washington D.C. He specializes in greenhouse gas accounting, U.S. climate and energy policy, and online data platform development. Greg uses his brain for analysis and leaves the data science to the experts.’ [Source]

[5] “Professor Speth currently serves as honorary director at the Natural Resources Defense Council and World Resources Institute and is on the boards of the Climate Reality Project, the Center for a New American Dream, and the New Economy Coalition. He is an advisory board member at United Republic, 350.org, EcoAmerica, Labor Network for Sustainability, New Economy Working Group, SC Coastal Conservation League, Environmental Law Institute, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, Heinz Center, Free Speech for People, Vermont Institute for Natural Science, the Northwest Earth Institute, and the Carbon Underground.” [Source] Speth also serves on the advisory board of The Climate Mobilization [Featured in ACT IV of this series]

[6] “Acknowledging Our Donors | Major Donors: Grants and gifts of $750,000 or more, includes revenue received 10/1/16 – 1/15/18 and older grants still open as of 10/1/16” : Alcoa Foundation • Bloomberg Philanthropies • C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group • Cargill, Incorporated • Caterpillar Foundation • The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation • Citi Foundation • ClimateWorks Foundation • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy of the United Kingdom • Department of Fo reign Affairs and Trade of Australia • DOB Ecology • DOEN Foundation • Energy Agency of Sweden • European Climate Foundation • European Commission • Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU) • FedEx Corporation Ford Foundation • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation • German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) • Good Energies Foundation • Google Inc. • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation • IKEA Foundation • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) • Irish Aid – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade • Johnson Controls International plc • Linden Trust for Conservation • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy of the Netherlands • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida) • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (DGIS) • Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation • The Nature Conservancy • Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) • Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment • Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs • Oak Foundation • Open Society Foundations • Michael Polsky Family • Rockefeller Brothers Fund • Rockefeller Foundation • Stephen M. Ross Philanthropies • Shell Foundation • Skoll Global Threats Fund • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) • Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust • The Tilia Fund • U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) • U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UKFCO) • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) • Villum Foundation • The World Bank • Anonymous

[7]

  • Susan Tierney: former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy;
  • Pamela P. Flaherty: Former president and CEO, Citi Foundation, former director of corporate citizenship, Citi;
  • Harriet C. Babbitt: Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization;
  • Tammie Arnold: formerly with Generation Investment Management;
  • Frances Beinecke: Former President, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), United States;

Other members include Stephen Brenninkmeijer, Robin Chase, William Chen, Tiffany Clay, Dino Patti Djalal, Alice F. Emerson, Jonathan Lash, Joaquim Levy, Kathleen McLaughlin, Nader Mousavizadeh, Michael Polsky, Bill Richardson, Stephen M. Ross, William D. Ruckelshaus and Roger W. Sant.

[8] Since 2009, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; leading the company to set out an ambitious vision to decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact. Actively seeks cooperation with other companies to implement sustainable business strategies and drive systemic change. Has been closely involved in global discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and action to tackle climate change. Former Member: High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on behalf of the private sector; International Council, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, under former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. 2016, asked by the UN Secretary-General to be Member, SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Chairman, World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Member: International Business Council, World Economic Forum; B Team; Board, UN Global Compact; Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Recipient of numerous awards, including: Climate Visionary Award (2017); Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (2016); UN Foundation’s Champion for Global Change Award (2014); Oslo Business for Peace Award (2015); UN Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award (2015).

[9] Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chad O. Holliday, Suma Chakrabarti, Helen Clark, John Flint, Kristalina Georgieva, Jamshyd Godrej, Stephen Green, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Naina Lal Kidwai, Caio Koch-Weser, Ricardo Lagos, Frannie Leautier, Patricia de Lille, Carlos Lopes, Takehiko Nakao, Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, Kristin Skogen Lund, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Maria van der Hoeven and Chen Yuan.

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

 

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The House is On Fire! & the 90 Trillion Dollar Rescue

February 3, 2019

 

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

This is ACT IV of the series: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

 

In ACT I of this new body of research we opened the dialogue with the observations of artist Hiroyuki Hamada:

 

“What’s infuriating about manipulations by Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest good will of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.”

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent has been written in five acts.

In ACT I (published January 18, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we disclosed that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, “We Don’t Have Time”. We then explored the ambitions behind the tech company We Don’t Have Time.

In ACT II (published January 21, 2019 on Wrong Kind of Green) we illustrated how today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite. Also in this act we introduced the board members and advisors to “We Don’t Have Time.” We explored the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between the well established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In ACT III (published January 28, 2019) we deconstructed how Al Gore and the planets most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why. We explored the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal. We also touched upon Thunberg’s famous family, in particular Thunberg’s celebrity mother, Malena Ernman (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017), and her August 2018 book launch. We then explored the generous media attention afforded to Thunberg in both May, 2018 and April, 2018, by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.

ACT IV – In this act, we examine the current campaign, now unfolding, in “leading the public into emergency mode”. More importantly, we summarize, who and what this mode is to serve.

ACT V – In the final act, we look at the Guardian and Extinction Rebellion. We take a closer look at the Green New Deal, which, like Extinction Rebellion, has plans to go global in scale. We explore how mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world. We look at the weak and essentially non-existent demands – eerily reminiscent of the 2009 TckTckTck “demands”. Lastly we look at the power of celebrity – and how it has become a key tool for both capital and conformity.

[*Note: This series contains information and quotes that have been translated from Swedish to English via Google Translator.]

 

A C T   I V

 

Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

“15 minutes of fame is short-lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon. The expression was inspired by Andy Warhol’s words “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, which appeared in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.” [1]

As Greta Thunberg is the founding block of this particular story, revisiting Sweden with the above observation feels like a good place to start part IV of this series where we deconstruct the ongoing marketing campaign with the most recent activity.

Let’s begin.

January 25, 2019: “Finally, we have to applaud the lineup for Thursday’s lunchtime panel. Marc Benioff was joined on the stage by Jane Goodall, Bono, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, diplomat and environmentalist Christiana Figueres, President & CEO of Sompo Holdings Kengo Sakurada, and will.i.am. What a crew.” Photo by Jeff Elder | Source: “The 10 Best Moments From Davos With Salesforce

On Thursday January 24, 2019, Greta Thunberg took part in a lunch panel presented by Marc Benioff at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Benioff is the CEO and founder of Salesforce, as well as a co-founder of Breakthrough Energy (nuclear) with Bill Gates and other kindred billionaires. Also on the panel were Jane Goodall (United Nations Messenger of Peace), Bono (U2 lead singer and “activist”), “will.i.am” (Black Eyes Peas founder and “philanthropist”) and the young Greta Thunberg who made the following statement [0:40s]:

Thunberg’s words were quickly launched into the international stratosphere of global media outlets and social media.

CNN, January 25, 2019:

“On Thursday, Thunberg gave an impromptu speech at a lunch with a star-studded guest list that included music stars Bono and Will.i.am, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, and an array of bankers and investors. She roasted them.

 

“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created, but that is not true, because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame,” Thunberg said flatly. “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”

Here it is vital to note the usage of language: impromptu and roasted.

France 24, January 25, 2019:

“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we have all created, but that is not true. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame, and someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, and some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue to make unimaginable amounts of money. And I think that many of you here today belong to that group of people,” she said in her impromptu speech, delivered without a moment’s hesitation.”

EZ News, January 27, 2019:

“On Thursday, Thunberg gave an impromptu speech at a lunch with a star-studded guest list that included Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, former Goldman Sachs president and Trump administration official Gary Cohn, musicians Bono and Will.i.am, and an array of bankers and investors.”

Pluralist, January 28, 2019:

“Greta Thunberg reportedly took a 32-hour train from her home in Sweden to the Swiss retreat and camped out in zero degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures to deliver an impromptu roast of the celebrities and economic titans. In a speech at lunch, she accused the high-profile guests of causing the warming of the planet that they had spent the prior several days grandstanding about fixing.”

As demonstrated in the above talking points, there is much emphasis from the international media to establish the idea that Thunberg’ speech was spontaneous. As we will illustrate, it was not. This is merely an example of effective story-telling being put into practise, as orchestrated by the NGOs and corporate alliances that are handling Thunberg.

On January 22, 2019, three days prior to the “impromptu speech” at the WEF, a video was uploaded onto YouTube by  Uphill Media. [“Uphill Media, is the continuation of Bernie2016 TV and Political Revolution TV. We are 501(c)(3)3 non profit independent media network focused on informing the electorate through engagement on the Internet.”][2]

In this video of Thunberg speaking, filmed prior to her traveling from Stockholm to Davos, the key talking points within the message [3] [26 seconds in] are almost verbatim to the “impromptu” speech at WEF:

January 22, 2019 video:

“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, and some decision makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.”

January 25, 2019, WEF lunch panel:

“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we will have created. But that is not true. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”

This was not lost on the WEF organizers, whom, in a concerted effort with Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, were already sharing the Swedish ecommercial within the WEF event and on social media – prior to the Salesforce lunch panel where Thunberg would cite the passages for media. The attempt by the media, and forces at play, to frame the speech as spontaneous, regardless if it was deliberate or not, evokes a layer of child-like authenticity by the messenger, if not the message itself. In spite of the motive, this is disingenuous to say the least.

January 23, 2019, Extinction Rebellion:

https://youtu.be/5Fo69sPq_Og

Greenpeace International, twitter account, January, 22, 2019:

This compounds with other earmarks of a well-orchestrated media campaign.

On December 15, 2018, Thunberg was thrust into international stardom following a speech at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, that was published  on December 15, 2018 by Conect4Climate (a global partnership program under the World Bank) and other outlets. The video quickly went viral. The speech as described by Quartz, (December 15, 2018) is representative of how global media framed the event to the public:

“Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg minced no words at the COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland this week. Speaking to the assembled countries Wednesday, at the most important climate negotiating meeting since the Paris talks in 2015… In a speech lasting under five minutes, Thunberg castigated leaders at the talks for decades of inaction and too-small steps in the face of climate crisis”

Yet, a poor editing job in a Swedish newsroom inadvertently revealed yet another inconvenient truth – there was almost no one in the auditorium when Thunberg spoke:

Video: Greta Thunbergs tal i Katowice enligt SvT Morgonstudion [Running time: 1m:15s]

Such inconsistencies between the real intent of the World Economic Forum [“Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”] and the re-framing for public perception are best captured in the following images shared on social media:

This bit of social engineering is stunning in its blatancy. Like magic, the telling word “salesforce” and the phrase “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, no longer appear in the image.

Gone are the obvious contradictions between the unprecedented magnitude of precious Earth metals including Coltan and Cobalt – a key requirement for the “fourth industrial revolution”, which the mining of has decimated the chimp population Goodall claims to advocate for. [Jane Goodall Institute: “Many of the metals and minerals used in these technologies are extracted from threatened chimpanzee habitats across the Congo Basin. Control over these resources has also fueled conflict among people — conflict that has resulted in the deaths of more than five million people.”]

Such is the primary role of the non-profit industrial complex.

The Climate Mobilization     

“We launched at the People’s Climate March in 2014 as the first group organizing for a WWII-scale climate response, an idea that had emerged as a hidden consensus among climate experts.” [Source]

Here, we have an NGO that would very much appreciate Thunberg’s sober and “flat” (CNN) delivery style. The Climate Mobilization.[4] Founded in 2014, at  the People’s Climate March, the founder and executive director of this US NGO is psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon.

The Climate Mobilization has one primary goal: “Our mission is to save civilization”. [Source] To do so, Salamon outlines a “wartime-style mobilization, akin to the American home front effort during World War II”:

“The Climate Mobilization is a growing group of people who know that climate change threatens the collapse of civilization within this century. We believe, along with many well-respected scientists and environmental analysts, that the only way to preserve a climate that is safe, stable, and supportive of human civilization is to fight climate change with a World War II-scale mobilization.”

Salamon’s strength as a psychologist specializing in climate change, is exactly what Annex I states across the world are now embracing via the establishment of “nudge units”. That is, the implementation and use of behavioural science for policy within government. [“Salamon earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Adelphi University and also holds a BA in social anthropology from Harvard. Via Climate Mobiization Salamon applies her psychological and anthropological knowledge to solving climate change. She is the author of the blog The Climate Psychologist.”]

The 2014 Peoples Climate March was organized by the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA/TckTckTck), Climate Nexus (“Climate Nexus is dedicated to changing the conversation on climate change”), 350.org, USCAN and Avaaz/Purpose. At the helm of this NGO assemblage was the Rockefeller Brothers Fund working with the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation.

Additionally, Climate Nexus is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a 501(c)3 organization.

“When the Climate Mobilization was founded at the People’s Climate March in 2014, there was no climate group publically organizing around the need for WWII-scale emergency speed transition. Since then, we have worked to establish an active ’emergency climate movement’ wing of the broader climate movement.” [Source]

Eleven of The Climate Mobilization advisory board members include:

  • Betsy Taylor: president of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions consulting firm, co-founder of 1Sky (financed by the Clinton Global Initiative) that merged with 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation) in 2011, advisory boards include 350.org and Ceres (350.org investment partner);
  • Laura Dawn Murphy: former creative director for MoveOn.Org [parent of Avaaz];
  • Paul Gilding: former executive director of Greenpeace International, strategy advisor and founder of Changing Markets Foundation [“The Changing Markets Foundation was formed to accelerate and scale up solutions to sustainability challenges by leveraging the power of markets.” Clients include Unilever, BHP Billiton, DSM, Ford and DuPont.];
  • Jamila Raqib: executive director of Albert Einstein Institute [“Raqib has worked with Dr. Gene Sharp, the world’s foremost scholar on strategic nonviolent action since 2002. As the director of the Albert Einstein Institute she promotes the study and use of strategic nonviolent action.”];
  • Gus Speth: founder of the World Resources Institute and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council;
  • Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr: president of the Hip Hop Caucus;
  • Richard Heinberg: senior fellow of the Post Carbon Institute;
  • Lise Van Susteren: American psychiatrist, named to the board of directors of Al Gore’s The Climate Project in 2009, organized the first conference to focus on the psychological impacts of climate change in 2009, co-authored “The Psychological Effects of Climate Change” published by the National Wildlife Federation where she serves on the board;
  • Michael Mann: American Climate scientist;
  • David Spratt and Philip Sutton: Spratt is the director of Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration. [Breakthrough collaborates with the Club of Rome.] Spratt and Sutton co-authored the book Climate Code Red in 2008.

[Full list]

[The interlocking directorate of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) is extensive. As this series focuses on the marketing strategy itself, more than those constructing it, the above bios are purposely brief.]

The Climate Mobilizations foray into politics began with “Mobilize California” (#Mobilizeca) campaign. Leading the effort with The Climate Mobilization was Naomi Klein and her Leap NGO (Leap L.A. Coalition), as well as a coalition of “like minded organizations”.

The coalition, in partnership with Los Angeles City councilmember Paul Koretz, sought to initiate a “WWII-scale Climate Mobilization of L.A.”

Video: Naomi Klein at launch of Los Angeles Climate Justice Mobilization 2025 Working Group [4m:59s]

By May 2018 the council voted unanimously “to explore the establishment of the country’s first climate emergency mobilization department and set aside $500,000 in seed money toward the effort. In June 2018, Berkeley declared a climate emergency and committed to an Emergency Climate Mobilization and Just Transition to end greenhouse gas emissions and begin drawing down the excess carbon in the atmosphere as quickly as possible.” Other cities would soon follow. [Source]

Here it is critical to note the language: “drawing down the excess carbon in the atmosphere.” Long gone are discussions on reducing or cutting carbon emissions. This is not coincidence. Rather it is again, strategic.

Two days prior to the 2014 People’s Climate March, on September 19, 2014, the article titled “The Founder of The Climate Mobilization Talks With Bridget Read About How Psychology—Not Science—May Be the Key to Ending America’s Climate Denial” reported the following:

“In 356 words, The Climate Mobilization’s Pledge to Mobilize calls on the United States government to commence a World War Two-scale mobilization to fight climate change: to decrease our net greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2025, to deploy a system of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere with wartime speed, and to make reducing net GHGs 100% globally, with the same swiftness, a top political priority.”

The Climate Mobilizations influence within the NPIC is articulated in the following text outlining its groundwork with the US Democrat Party platform, as well as the Green New Deal:

“The evidence of impact is clear, as assertive wings of the Democratic Party [5] as well as chapters of organizations such as 350.org and the Sierra Club adopt our prescriptions as core demands. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signed our Pledge to Mobilize and has been outspoken specifically for the need for emergency mobilization as part of the push for a House Select Committee on the Green New Deal.” [Source]

Today’s re-designing of our Western subjugation is nothing different than what has been unveiled in the past. Whereas education, health, arts, and all sectors of society were shaped and financed by foundations and their capital largesse, today’s “fourth revolution” remains in the clutches of the ruling elite. This includes the 2014 People’s Climate March – where The Climate Mobilization was born.

Extinction Rebellion (to be discussed in part V) has three very broad demands, the primary one being that governments must “enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025” echoing the talking points brought into the mainstream by the NPIC, the World Bank, et al in 2014.

The term “net-zero emissions” does not mean zero emissions. Rather, it is the amount of emissions being put into the atmosphere being equal to the amount being “captured.” Net-zero therefore, the requirement for massive investments into the technologies being developed and rolled out by Bill Gate’s “Mission Innovation“. [For an example of this, one can read the much lauded “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act” [Section 101–5 “We must significantly increase Federal R&D funding to develop and deploy the technologies needed for deep decarbonization in our economy. This was a proposal announced at the Paris Climate Accord with Bill Gates called Mission Innovation, which committed to double government investment in energy technology.”][6] Here it is vital to recognize that WEF and Mission Innovation formed a partnership on  June 1, 2017.

Net-zero is carbon capture storage and a host of other technologies that promise business (and emissions) will continue – as usual. Consider the reality that while we are inundated with anti-pipeline protest coverage, there is zero opposition to the carbon capture projects that are slowly coming online, such as the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line in Canada.

Indeed the inconvenient “zero” [emissions] and “near zero” terminology in the 2014 AR5 Synthesis report, was conveniently transformed to the “net zero” term we now see in the public realm, barely missing a beat.

But the real question, is how to save capitalism, which is described as being “now in free fall”.  [January 3, 2019]

With “capitalism in danger of falling apart” (a rare, cryptically honest quote from Al Gore), and years of stagnant global economic growth now in a free fall, the Greta campaign must be understood for what it is. An elaborate distraction that has nothing to do with protecting the natural world, and everything to do with the manufacturing of consent. The required consent of the citizenry that will unlock the treasuries and public monies under the guise of climate protection.

But before we go further into what we can aptly describe as a politically correct – and unprecedented global bailout, we must look at how collective society can be successfully manipulated and manoeuvred, in order to sanction the release of the funds.

The very strategy to unlock the public purse – and thus save capitalism itself, is that of a climate emergency.

#climatestrike + #fridaysforfuture + #ExtinctionRebellion = #climateemergency

Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: “Our House in On Fire”

“If you don’t know who Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg is, you can think of her as an international climate-change counterpart to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like the rock-star congresswoman from New York, Thunberg is a charismatic young woman whose social-media savvy, moral clarity, and fearless speaking truth to power have inspired throngs of admirers to take to the streets for a better world and call out the politicians and CEOs who are standing in the way..

 

Thunberg claimed on her Twitter feed that there have been student strikes for climate on every continent except Antarctica—70,000 strikers in total last week. Meanwhile, the Swedish teenager continued to blast the elites in Davos, in flawless English. “Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope,'” she said. “But I don’t want your hope…. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.” The Kids Are Coming, January 28, 2019, The Nation

 

In April, 2016, The Climate Mobilization published the paper “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement.”

The strategy document leads with:

“Imagine there is a fire in your house.

What do you do?
What do you think about?

You do whatever you can to try to put out the fire or exit the house. You make a plan about how you can put out the fire, or how you can best exit the house.

our senses are heightened, you are focused like a laser, and you put your entire self into your actions.

You enter emergency mode.”

-Leading the Public Into Emergency Mode, pg. 2

In the document Salamon introduces “the concept of ’emergency mode’ which is how individuals and groups function optimally during an existential or moral crisis — often achieving great feats through intensely focused motivation.” She articulates that “the goal of the climate movement must be to lead the public out of “normal” mode and into emergency mode”. [p. 2][Emphasis in original.]

The emergency mode is enacted by the triggering of a switch.

“This has huge implications for the climate movement’s communication style, advocacy, and strategy. Because emergency mode is contagious, the best strategy is for climate activists and organizations to go into emergency mode themselves, and communicate about the climate emergency, the need for emergency mobilization, and the fact that they are in emergency mode, as clearly and emphatically as possible.” — Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement

And now, in 2019, we see how the strategy as laid out in the paper, has now been deployed in real time, in real life.

“Since emotional ads create a deeper and more visceral impression on the memory centers of the brain, marketers are now measuring more cerebral responses to content using neurometrics tools like facial coding, implicit response testing, eye tracking, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).” — The Dangerous Power of Emotional Advertising, April 14, 2016

Video: January 25, 2019, Greta Thunberg | “Special Address, Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019” [Running time:6m:3s]

 

January 25, 2019, ‘Feel the fear’: Climate change is now the talk of Davos, CNN:

“‘Feel the fear’ – The spirit of the event was reflected in two attendees with little in common: One is a former vice president of the United States; the other a 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl. What Al Gore and Greta Thunberg share is anger at corporate executives who aren’t moving quickly enough to address climate change. “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day,” Thunberg told attendees.

 

  • January 23, 2019, WEF, Greta Thunberg, Whatever It Takes

 

The Crux of the Strategy Document

The crux of the strategy document, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement, is that citizens must first face, then accept that there is a life-threatening emergency in order to go into the necessary emergency mode. Once triggered, this enables the deployment of “a huge amount of resources toward solving the crisis” which would quickly become the clear, top priority for society. [p. 4 & p. 5] The more the climate movement provides “structures for people’s engagement — clear directions and support for people who are ready to tackle the climate emergency — the more people will go into emergency mode.”[p. 7]

Whereas budget restraint occurs in non-emergency mode, in emergency mode “all available /necessary resources are devoted to the emergency and, if necessary, governments borrow heavily.” [p. 9]

“Economic mobilization is an emergency restructuring of a modern industrial economy, accomplished at rapid speed. It involves the vast majority of citizens, the utilization of a very high proportion of available resources, and impacts all areas of society. It is nothing less than a government-coordinated social and industrial revolution. Mobilization is what happens when an entire nation enters emergency mode, and the results can be truly staggering.” [p. 8]

Intentional or not, Salamon’s paper weighs heavy with American exceptionalism. Notes of nationalism and cultural superiority waft throughout the document: “We also made huge advances in the sciences. The first computer was invented, as were blood transfusion and radar technology. The Manhattan Project successfully built the world’s first atomic bomb in less than three years — a morally catastrophic but nonetheless stupendous feat of planning, cooperation and scientific ingenuity.”

Reflecting the aforementioned observations, gone is the language to reduce or stop emissions. Consider the word “stop” does not appear once in the document, while the word “reduce” has one single entry: “If we only reduce the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on politicians, the problem will solve itself.” [p. 23] Today’s gently persuasive language, a mirror image of the language and demands drawn out in the strategy document: “restore a safe and stable climate”, “draw down excess CO2”, “cool the planet”.

“The way we respond to threats — by entering emergency mode or by remaining in normal mode — is highly contagious. Imagine the fire alarm goes off in an office building. How seriously should you take it? How do you know if it is a drill or a real fire? Those questions will be predominantly answered by the actions and communications of the people around you, particularly people designated as leaders. If they are chatting and taking their time exiting the building, you will assume that this is a drill. If people are moving with haste, faces stern and focused, communicating with urgency and gravity, you will assume there is real danger and exit as quickly as possible.” [p. 14]

The document acknowledges that the climate crisis is, a “top threat to the global economy“. (highlighted in red font in the original document). [p. 21] What is not stated, yet understood, is the fact that the climate can also be exploited, to salvage the global economy. In essence, to save capitalism.

“We cannot be silent about the fact that emergency mobilization can only be coordinated by a “big” government that is granted the power to spend without limit to save as much life as possible.” [p. 22]

The document also outlines, a cheerful comradery with the oppressors of the working class and those most marginalized:

“These pressure campaigns should escalate in degrees of assertiveness, all the way to disruptive protest. However, even in a protest, we must maintain an open, welcoming attitude. Thus, while we will need to be quite confrontational and unwavering, we are not “against” our targets of protest. We gain nothing from demonizing them. We need these leaders to do the right thing. The tone should not be primarily angry, but urgent and insistent.

 

Rather, the tone should be serious and patriotic. We are calling on America to lead the world in heroic, world-saving action! Protests should involve elements of protestor sacrifice, such as risking arrest or hunger strike, to generate empathy from the public. Maintaining strict non-violence is critical to winning widespread public support and is non-negotiable.” [p. 28]

This document is astonishing in many ways. Not once does the author pause to reflect upon what specific societies and nations benefit from industrial civilization on our finite planet – and which ones are sacrificed for the same cause.

The said purpose of the strategy, is not the protection of what remains of the natural world, but rather, to “organized civilization” [p. 2] and our “functioning global civilization”. [p. 21] The root word of civilization – is civil. And there is nothing civil about the industrial civilization we have built.

The savagery of our global economic system unleashed upon the biosphere, and both sentient and non-white human life, is certainly nothing to boast about – and certainly nothing to protect. It is the global capitalist economic system, that upholds industrial civilization, which must be deconstructed. It is both ironic and telling that even the societies that have benefited the most from industrialization, those in the West (and especially in North America), have never been more miserable. Today we witness an unprecedented crisis of mental illness and depression – with a massive percentage of  society now dependent upon anti-depressant pharmaceuticals in order to function in a day-to-day existence.

Yet the most egregious aspect of this document, is that despite the references to Pearl Harbour, the atomic bomb and American war efforts of countless stripes, all cited as glowing examples of American ingenuity, NOWHERE is the militarism’s impact on both climate and ecology mentioned. Consider the U.S. Department of Defense is the largest consumer of oil in the U.S. and the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world. With militarism’s phenomenal  contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation – this omission is beyond the pale to say the least. This is the unspoken environmental racism and blatant eco-imperialism that hums beneath the foundational building blocks of the non-profit industrial complex.

“Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the earth would still be headed, head first and at full speed, toward total disaster for one major reason. The military produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all its inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.” — The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, by Barry Sanders, May 1 2009 [The environmental of militarism podcast]

The power of conformity is a key aspect of social engineering. Its power is tragically often overlooked and grossly underestimated.

“Thought Leaders and Leaders of Civil Society: If people in the public eye, and in the public esteem go into emergency mode, they will significantly influence the broader public.” — [p. 30]

“The Race to Mobilize Is On, Cities around the globe are declaring Climate Emergency and committing to Climate Mobilization. Will your city join them?” The Climate Mobilization website

Of no surprise whatsoever, is the fact, that since Extinction Rebellions meteoric rise to stardom – in perfect symmetry with Thunberg, the group has announced a massive restructuring of the organization. The global expansion is being led by Salmon, [Source] who launched the Extinction Rebellion US twitter account on October 31, 2018 – the same day as the launch of Extinction Rebellion in the UK. The accompanying US website would launch November 3, 2018 and the US Facebook group account would launch on November 4, 2018. Between the official launch on October 31, 2018, in the UK, to December 6, 2018, it grew to over 130 groups, across 22 countries. [7] By January 29, 2019, the Extinction Rebellion groups spanned across 50 countries. The Extinction Rebellion demands are not only complimentary to The Climate Mobilizations Emergency strategy, they are a mirror image of it with the slogan “tell the truth”.

 

  • August 31, 2014, Climate Nexus, People's Climate March

The September 20, 2018, Yale Climate Connections, article “Climate Mobilization Plea: Cities Must Declare Emergency” references the “climate emergency language” gaining momentum in perfect stride with a cohesion of intersecting campaigns: the Thunberg campaign, the Extinction Rebellion protests, the Green New Deal, the general climate strikes, and the FridaysForFuture youth climate strikes.

“Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and ran for the Democratic nomination, isn’t the only politician drawing parallels between climate change and fascist aggression. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been hailed as an up-and-coming progressive champion, has spoken about the need for a World War II-style commitment to fighting global warming. The Democratic Party in 2016 included similar language in its official platform.

 

The injection of this messaging into American political discourse can be traced in part to The Climate Mobilization, a largely volunteer-run nonprofit founded in 2014.”

 

August 15, 2016: “We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII”, by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, illustration by Andrew Colin Beck [Source: 350.org]

“I assume that many activists will continue to be drawn to fossil fuel infrastructure protests. I recommend to them that they work as hard as possible to communicate the way forward (emergency mobilization off fossil fuels and carbon intensive agriculture, plus carbon drawdown to cool the earth back to a safe level) as much as possible in their verbal and non-verbal communications. This can be as simple as wearing Rosie the Riveter bandanas while protesting, displaying a banner demanding WWII-scale climate mobilization to restore a safe climate, and including the demand for net zero emissions by 2025, plus large-scale drawdown, in press releases and web materials.” — April, 2016, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement, April 2016 [p. 30]

+++

Video: 2-Minute Intro to Climate Mobilization [Running time: 2m:23s]

 

A Climate of Fear:  Capitalism Is Now in A Free Fall

“Capitalism is in crisis, says World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab.” — January 17, 2017, Deutsche Welle

Leading up to the January 2019 Davos gathering, a top Wall Street economist warned investors that they face a tough road ahead as with global economic growth ‘now in free fall‘. The current headlines read like Orson Welle’s economic version of “War of the Worlds”.

January 3, 2019, The Globe and Mail, “Global economic growth ‘now in free fall’:

“Merrill Lynch strategist Ajay Singh Kapur recently wrote that “global [economic] growth is now in a broad, deep and persistent slowdown,” creating market conditions that, I believe, will make life treacherous for commodity sectors and beyond…”

“Since August, 2017, growth in manufacturing activity has been decelerating rapidly, dragging metal prices with them.”

January 15, 2019:

Global economic growth is slowing, including in Canada, according to new data from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

January 21, 2019:

IMF, CEOs Warn of Slowing World Economy on Eve of Davos Summit: “Corporate executives joined the International Monetary Fund in warning the global economy is slowing faster than expected, establishing a downbeat tone for this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.”

January 21, 2019:

“China’s 6.6% growth in 2018 is its slowest in nearly 3 decades…”

February 1, 2019:

“World’s Largest Pension Fund Loses $136 Billion in Three Months”

To the Rescue: A Politically Correct Bailout -The Climate Finance Partnership

“UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY – Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times – This is our ‘use it or lose it’ moment. Investing the US$90 trillion to build the right infrastructure now will deliver a new era of economic growth. Investing it wisely will help drive innovation, deliver public health benefits, create a host of new jobs and go a long way to tackling the risks of runaway climate change. Getting it wrong, on the other hand, will lock us into a high-polluting, low productivity, and deeply unequal future.” — The New Climate Economy website, Executive Summary  

Following the September 8, 2018 Rise for Climate mobilization (a follow-up to the People’s Climate March 2014 having been re-branded to the People’s Climate Movement in 2017), the single goal behind the accelerating climate emergency language, was finally unveiled at the September 26, 2018 One Planet Summit in New York:

“Efforts to blend capital in order to engage and mobilize large-scale institutional capital toward climate solutions took a notable step forward on September 26 at the One Planet Summit in New York, when French President Emmanuel Macron and BlackRock’s Larry Fink announced the Climate Finance Partnership (CFP). The CFP consists of a unique combination of philanthropies, governments, institutional investors, and a leading global asset manager. The parties, including BlackRock, the Governments of France and Germany, and the Hewlett, Grantham, and IKEA foundations, have committed to work together to finalize the design and structure of what we anticipate will be a flagship blended capital investment vehicle by the end of the first quarter, 2019.

September 26, 2018, “Governments and Philanthropies Announce Ground-breaking Partnership with BlackRock to Mobilize and Deploy Climate Finance at Scale”:

“France, Germany, the Hewlett, Grantham and IKEA foundations, and asset manager BlackRock today announced the Climate Finance Partnership at the One Planet Summit in New York. The Climate Finance Partnership is an unprecedented cooperation between philanthropies, governments and private investors, which have committed to jointly developing an investment vehicle that will aim to invest in climate infrastructure in emerging markets.”

The two institutions identified as the media contacts for the above unprecedented announcement are the European Climate Foundation and the aforementioned Climate Nexus – lead organizer for the 2014 People’s Climate March event.

On November 8, 2018, the article “The Climate Finance Partnership: Mobilizing Institutional Capital to Address the Climate Opportunity” discloses where the money will come from for the “forth industrial revolution”, sold to the public under the guise of sustainability:

“Nowhere is the investment gap between what is needed and what is currently flowing greater and more urgent, or the opportunities more significant, than in the world’s developing and emerging markets. These economies are generally characterized by growing populations, rapidly increasing energy demand, and extraordinary infrastructure investment needs. But they also tend to have less developed capital markets and higher political and regulatory risk than their developed country counterparts. Institutional investors may therefore be partially forgiven for moving cautiously, even in the face of compelling long-term economic and demographic drivers.

A detailed analysis by the World Bank found that while $100 trillion is held by pension funds and other institutional investors, these same investors allocated less than $2 trillion over a 25 year period into infrastructure investment in emerging markets. And the fraction of that investment that could be considered green, clean, or climate-friendly was negligible.

 

So, what can be done? Whether you choose to look through the lens of unprecedented challenge or unprecedented opportunity, there is violent agreement that institutional capital needs to be “unlocked” (a favorite word on the climate conference circuit) and mobilized quickly and at scale.”

It is here that the accelerating “demand” for countries to align with the Paris Agreement becomes clear: “The Paris Agreement requires us to align finance flows in support for a low carbon and climate resilient development.” Note the word “requires”. What was considered non-binding one moment, conveniently becomes binding when it involves opening up the treasuries and pension plans to the our corporate overlords.

No risk, all reward. The double speak of Wall Street is deliberately opaque. Yet, in layman’s terms,  these are simply high-finance words to say there is less risk in using someone else’s money other than your own:

“Blended finance, or the strategic deployment of public or other concessional capital to de-risk institutional capital investment, offers one compelling answer.” Recently, the Blended Finance Task Force, a broad-based interdisciplinary effort, finalized a comprehensive report identifying key barriers to large-scale institutional capital mobilization toward the Sustainable Development Goals, and then subsequently designed a detailed Action Program to address these barriers.” [Source]

The Blended Finance Action Taskforce is comprised of fifty icons of finance including HSBC, Credit Suisse, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, USAID, WEF –Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), World Bank, Investec, MacArthur Foundation, Allianz, EBRD, ClimateWorks (founded by the Hewlett, Packard, and McKnight foundations) and the Rockefeller Foundation. [Full list]

“The partnership, coordinated by the Task Force on Philanthropic Innovation and the Aligned Intermediary, an investment advisory group, was designed and structured specifically to use a layer of government and philanthropic capital to maximize private capital mobilization toward climate-related sectors in emerging markets.” [Source]

And here again, is where more stark reality is faintly disclosed:

“Doing so in partnership with the world’s largest manager and its set of world-class institutional investor clients should send an important signal to fund managers and institutional investors alike that there are profits to be had in sectors and geographies where this capital has not historically deployed

 

“The partnership will seek to make investments in a targeted set of sectors including renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and low-carbon and electrified transportation, across three regions including Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Today’s climate emergency mobilization must be recognized for what it is: a strategically orchestrated campaign financed and managed by the world’s most powerful institutions – for the preservation of capitalism and global economic growth.  This is the launch of a new growth industry in the Global South coupled with the creation of new and untapped markets. Leading up to this precipice, The B Team, the Open Society Foundation, Oxfam, and many others that serve as the human face of capitalism, have moved their offices or set up new divisions in both Africa and Latin America.

Also of threat, to Western imperialism, is a burgeoning China. And to be clear – there will be no “fourth industrial revolution” for the Western ruling class – without uninterrupted and perpetual access to Africa’s bounty of rare earth minerals and metals:

“While significant progress has been made on Africa’s political and economic transformation, the continent continues to face significant challenges. Geopolitically, new economic alliances are altering traditional relationships and spheres of influence.” [Source: WEF, 2019]

The sycophantic NGOs – in servitude, indeed on the very same team as their corporate benefactors, created a literal, albeit virtual firestorm (encapsulated in the mantra “our house is on fire”) – in order to instigate a “climate revolution”. The collective energy of the west stemming from a growing societal discontent, is being captured and utilized – transcending into a new weapon of choice that will aid the further colonization of the Global South.  A climate revolution in name only, this said emergency, has nothing to do with the protection of our Earth – or climate – and never will. Rather, it has everything to do with saving, protecting and expanding the capitalist economy – at the expense of our already decimated planet. And nothing more than that. This oncoming new onslaught of environmental devastation and plunder – in the name of climate revolution – will make all of modern man’s historical violence against the nature, up to this point – seem like childish prattle.

Yet none of this should come as a surprise. As the oligarchs financed, shaped and largely managed the climate movement – it’s only natural that they alone benefit from it. The power-elites repackaged our oppression as revolution and sold it back to us. By exploiting the innocent youth, which in turn exploited our emotions and fears as a collective populace, we devoured it.  And soon, young Greta, and all the youth they have exploited, will be thrown under the bus. It’s all par for the course under capitalism.

 

+++

 

The Asche experiment: “During the 1950s Solomon Asch conducted and published a series of experiments that demonstrated the degree to which an individual’s own opinions are influenced by those of a majority group.” [1m:57s]

 

 

 

End Notes:

[1] Photographer Nat Finkelstein claimed credit for the expression, stating that he was photographing Warhol in 1966 for a proposed book. A crowd gathered trying to get into the pictures and Warhol supposedly remarked that everyone wants to be famous, to which Finkelstein replied, “Yeah, for about fifteen minutes, Andy.” The phenomenon is often used in reference to figures in the entertainment industry or other areas of popular culture.” [Wikipedia]

[2] “We work with individuals and organizations that are about the issues we face as human beings and meet our partnership guidelines. We offer our platform to scientists, environmentalists, activists, and any individual, group or organization including political candidates that meet these guidelines. Uphill Media, is the continuation of Bernie2016 TV and Political Revolution TV. We are 501(c)(3)3 non profit independent media network focused on informing the electorate through engagement on the Internet. Learn more @ http://UphillMedia.org. Read and share the Democratic Party of Oregon 2018 Platform. https://www.dpoplatform.org/” [Source: YouTube]

[3] “Some people say that we are not doing enough to fight climate change. But that is not true. Because to “not do enough” you have to do something. And the truth is we are basically not doing anything. Yes, some people are doing more than they can, but they are too few or too far away from power to make a difference today. Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, and some decision makers in particular [has][sic] known exactly what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. I ask you to stand o the right side of history. I ask you to pledge to do everything in your power to push your own business or government in line with a 1.5 degree world. Will you pledge to do that? Will you pledge to join me, and the people all around the world in doing whatever it takes. [Screen: #whateverittakes]

[4] “The Climate Mobilization is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and a sister organization of Climate Mobilization Project (501(c)(3). The Climate Mobilization supports the mission of Climate Mobilization Project through direct lobbying and political work.” [Source: Climate Mobilization Website] [Source]

[5] “Our organizers successfully intervened in the 2016 Democratic primary elections, bringing WWII-scale Climate Mobilization into the discussion by successfully lobbying presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to embrace the idea. In July 2016, the need for WWII-scale mobilization was adopted into the Democratic Party Platform thanks to Climate Mobilization advisor and ally Russell Greene who was appointed to the platform committee by Bernie Sanders. This commitment was reaffirmed in August 2018 when Democratic National Committee passed a resolution calling for ‘a national social and economic mobilization’ to ‘address the climate emergency’ and ‘restore a safe climate.'” [Source]

[6] Mission Innovation: “Mission Innovation (MI) is a global initiative of 23 countries and the European Commission (on behalf of the European Union). These 24 members have committed to seek to double public investment in clean energy RD&D and are engaging with the private sectorfostering international collaboration and celebrating innovators.” [Source]

Mission Innovation Member States:

[7] December 6, 2018, “Margaret Klein Salamon talks to XR founders” [Source]

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

 

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

 

Bolivia’s TIPNIS Dispute: Example of How Liberal-Left Alternative Media Becomes a Conveyor Belt for US Regime Change Propaganda

Counterpunch

December 4, 2017

By Stansfield Smith

 

Pro-road CONISUR march

As has become a standard operating procedure, an array of Western environmental NGOs, advocates of indigenous rights and liberal-left alternative media cover up the US role in attempts to overturn the anti-imperialist and anti-neoliberal governments of Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

This NACLA article is a recent excellent example of many. Bolivia’s TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure) dispute arose over the Evo Morales government’s project to complete a road through the park, opposed by some indigenous and environmental groups.

As is NACLA modus operandi, the article says not one word about US and rightwing funding and coordination with the indigenous and environmental groups behind the TIPNIS anti-highway protests. (This does not delegitimize the protests, but it does deliberately mislead people about the issues involved).

In doing so, these kinds of articles cover up US interventionist regime change plans, be that their intention or not.

NACLA is not alone in what is in fact apologetics for US interventionism. Include the Guardian, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, so-called “Marxist” Jeffery Webber (and here), Jacobin, ROAR,  Intercontinentalcry,  Avaaz, In These Times, in a short list of examples. We can add to this simply by picking up any articles about the protests in Bolivia’s TIPNIS (or oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni during Rafael Correa’s presidency) and see what they say about US funding of protests, if they even mention it.

This is not simply an oversight, it is a cover-up.

What this Liberal Left Media Covers Up

On the issue of the TIPNIS highway, we find on numerous liberal-left alternative media and environmental websites claiming to defend the indigenous concealing that:

The leading indigenous group of the TIPNIS 2011-2012 protests was being funded by USAID. The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Bolivian East (CIDOB) had no qualms about working with USAID — it boasted on its website that it received training programs from USAID. CIDOB president Adolfo Chavez, thanked the “information and training acquired via different programs financed by external collaborators, in this case USAID”.

 

The 2011 TIPNIS march was coordinated with the US Embassy, specifically Eliseo Abelo. His phone conversations with the march leaders – some even made right before the march set out — were intercepted by the Bolivian counter-espionage agency and made public.

 

“The TIPNIS marchers were openly supported by right wing Santa Cruz agrobusiness interests and their main political representatives, the Santa Cruz governorship and Santa Cruz Civic Committee.” In June 2011 indigenous deputies and right wing parties in the Santa Cruz departmental council formed an alliance against the MAS (Movement for Socialism, Evo Morales’s party). CIDOB then received a $3.5 million grant by the governorship for development projects in its communities.

 

Over a year after the TIPNIS protests, one of the protest leaders announced he was joining a rightwing anti-Evo Morales political party.

 

The protest leaders of the TIPNIS march supported REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). The Avaaz petition (below) criticizing Evo Morales for his claimed anti-environmental actions also covered this up. As far back as 2009 “CIDOB leaders were participating there in a USAID-promoted workshop to talk up the imperialist-sponsored REDD project they were pursuing together with USAID-funded NGOs.”

REDD was a Western “environmental” program seeking to privatize forests by converting them into “carbon offsets” that allow Western corporations to continue polluting. That REDD would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring forests in their areas.

These liberal-left alternative media and environmental NGOs falsely presented the TIPNIS conflict as one between indigenous/environmentalist groups against the Evo Morales government. (e.g. the TIPNIS highway was “a project universally[!] condemned by local indigenous tribes and urban populations alike”) Fred Fuentes pointed out that more than 350 Bolivian organizations, including indigenous organizations and communities, even within TIPNIS, supported the proposed highway.

CONISUR (Consejo de Indígenas del Sur), consisting of a number of indigenous and peasant communities within TIPNIS, backed by Bolivia’s three largest national indigenous campesino organizations, organized a march to support of the road. They argued that the highway is essential to integrating Bolivia’s Amazonia with the rest of the country, as well as providing local communities with access to basic services and markets.

The overwhelming majority of people in the West who know about the TIPNIS protests, or the Yasuni protests in Ecuador, where a similar division between indigenous groups took place, never learned either from the liberal-left media or the corporate media, that indigenous groups marched in support of the highway or in support of oil drilling.

Therefore, this liberal-left media is not actually defending “the indigenous.” They are choosing sides within indigenous ranks, choosing the side that is funded and influenced by the US government.

The TIPNIS conflict is falsely presented as Evo Morales wanting to build a highway through the TIPNIS wilderness (“cutting it in half” as they dramatically claim). There are in fact two roads that exist there now, which will be paved and connected to each other. Nor was it wilderness: 20,000 settlers lived there by 2010.[1]

 

Anti- highway march leaders actually defended industrial-scale logging within TIPNIS. Two logging companies operated 70,000 hectares within the national park and have signed 20-year contracts with local communities.

 

They often fail to note that the TIPNIS marchers, when they reached La Paz, sought to instigate violence, demanding Evo Morales removal. Their plot was blocked by mobilization of local indigenous supporters of Evo’s government.

If we do not read Fred Fuentes in Green Left Weekly, we don’t find most of this information. Now, it is true that some of the media articles did mention that there were also TIPNIS protests and marches demanding the highway be built. Some do mention USAID, but phrase it as “Evo Morales claimed that those protesting his highway received USAID funding.”

Avaaz Petition Attacking Evo Morales over TIPNIS

The TIPNIS campaign, which became a tool in the US regime change strategy, was taken up in a petition by Avaaz. It included 61 signing groups. Only two from Bolivia! US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.  Whether they knew it, whether they wanted to know it, they signed on to a false account of the TIPNIS conflict, placed the blame on the Bolivian government, target of US regime change, and hid the role of the US.

US collaborators in Bolivia and Ecuador are painted as defenders of free expression, defenders of nature, defenders of the indigenous. The US government’s “talking points” against the progressive ALBA bloc countries have worked their way into liberal-left alternative media, which echo the attacks on these governments by organizations there receiving US funds.  That does not mean Amazon Watch, Upside Down World or NACLA are themselves funded by the US government – if it somehow exculpates them that they do this work for free. Even worse, much of this propaganda against Evo and Correa appears only in the liberal-left alternative press, what we consider our press.

The USAID budget for Latin America is said to be $750 million, but estimates show that the funding may total twice that. Maria Augusta Calle of Ecuador’s National Assembly, said in 2015 the US Congress allocated $2 billion to destabilize targeted Latin American countries.

This information, how much money it is, what organizations in the different countries receive it, how it is spent, ought to be a central focus of any liberal-left alternative media purporting to stand up for the oppressed peoples of the Americas.

Yet, as Fuentes points out:  “Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of [Bolivia’s] process of change…. with most articles written by solidarity activists, they] downplay the role of United States imperialism…. Others went further, denying any connection between the protesters and US imperialism.”

Why do they let themselves become conveyer belts for US regime change propaganda?

Why did this liberal-left media and NGOs let themselves become conveyer belts for US propaganda for regime change, legitimizing this US campaign to smear the Evo Morales government?

Some of it lies in the liberalish refusal to admit that all international issues can only be understood in the context of the role and the actions of the US Empire. As if conflicts related to countries the US deems hostile to its interests can be understood without taking the US role into account. Some liberal-left writers and groups do understand this, just as they do understand they may risk their positions and funding by looking to closely into it.

It seems easier to not see the role the Empire plays and simply present a liberal-left “critique” of the pluses and minuses of some progressive government targeted by the US. That is how these alternative media sources end up actually advocating for indigenous groups and environmental NGOs which are US and corporate funded. They even criticize countries for defending national sovereignty by shutting down these non-governmental organizations, what Bolivian Vice-President Linera exposes as “foreign government financed organizations” operating in their countries.

Some of it lies in the widely held anti-authoritarian feeling in the US that social movements “from below” are inherently good and that the government/the state is inherently bad. The reporting can be informative on social movements in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia where the people struggle against state repression. But when these social movements in Ecuador or Bolivia were able to win elections and gain hold of some real state power, reporting soon becomes hostile and misleading. “Support social movements when they struggle against governmental power; oppose them once they win government power,” they seem to say. Their reporting slides into disinformation, undermining our solidarity with other struggles, and covering up US regime change efforts. UpsideDownWorld is an excellent example of this.

Some of it lies in what many who call themselves “left” still have not come to terms with: their own arrogant white attitude they share with Western colonizers and present day ruling elites: we know better than you what is good for you, we are the best interpreters and defenders of your socialism, your democracy, your human rights. They repeatedly critique real or imagined failures of progressive Third World governments – targets of the US.

Genuine solidarity with the peoples of the Third World means basing yourself in opposition to the Empire’s interference and exposing how it attempts to undermine movements seeking to break free from the Western domination.

Some of it lies in deep-rooted white racist paternalism in their romanticizing the indigenous as some “noble savage” living at one with nature in some Garden of Eden. Providing these people with schools, health clinics, modern conveniences we have, is somehow felt not to be in their best interests.

A serious analysis of a Third World country must begin with the role the West has played.  To not point out imperialism’s historic and continuing exploitive role is simply dishonest, it is apologetics, it shows a basic lack of human feeling for the peoples of the Third World.

A function of corporate media is to conceal Western pillaging of Third World countries, to cheerlead efforts to restore neocolonial-neoliberal governments to power. However, for liberal-left media and organizations to do likewise, even if halfway, is nothing other than supporting imperialist interference.

Notes.

[1] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change (2014: 52)

 

[Stansfield Smith, Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee, recently returned from a SOA Watch, Task Force on the Americas delegation to Venezuela.]

Accomplishments of Eleven Years of the “Process of Change” in Evo Morales’ Bolivia

Chicago Alba Solidarity

January 4, 2018

by Stansfield Smith

 

Evo Morales will soon have been the president of Bolivia for 12 years, heralding the ascent of the indigenous social movements to governmental power. This ended the apartheid system against the indigenous that existed for 500 years in Bolivia. Evo won in 2005 with 53.7% of the vote, followed by re-elections in 2009 with 64.2% and 2014 with 61.3%.

The country has made great strides in economic development, national sovereignty, women’s and Original Peoples’ rights, respect for Mother Earth, raising the people’s standard of living, level of education, and health care.

His presidency, which has brought an era of relative social peace and economic growth, has been the longest in Bolivia’s history. Since 1825 Bolivia has had 83 presidents with 37, almost half, by means of coup d’etats. Previous presidents typically lacked social legitimacy, representing a political system that excluded participation of the indigenous peoples, plagued by social and economic inequality, subjugated to foreign interests, and complicit with the looting of natural resources. By 2002, after years of neoliberal regimes serving foreign, mostly US corporations, the proportion of the rural population living in extreme poverty had risen to 75%.

The election of Evo, a campesino movement leader and head of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), began what his government describes as the “Process of Change” that shifted power away from Bolivia’s traditional elite, the mostly white owners of industry and agriculture, and towards the majority, the mostly indigenous workers and campesinos.

Reflecting on the historic significance of the changes underway in Bolivia, Morales declared: “We are the indigenous blood of Mother Earth. Until now Bolivia has been ruled by a few families that have all the political and economic power. They despise, humiliate, marginalize and hate the majority of the indigenous population.” “After 525 years of colonization, we indigenous peoples are part of the construction of a new Plurinational State and we have full particpation in international political organizations and forums.” 

Why Has Economic Development Been so Successful During the Process of Change

The MAS government undertook an anti-neoliberal  program, which has enabled the economy to grow an average 5% per year since 2006, compared to 2.8% during the years 1951-2005. As a result, the Gross Domestic Product has grown four-fold from $9 billion in 2005 to  $36 billion today.  Bolivia has become the fastest growing economy in Latin America.

Economic strategy focused on regaining national sovereignty over the country’s natural resources and using this wealth not to enrich foreign multinationals but to raise the standard of living of the neglected people of Bolivia. In 2006 Evo Morales asserted public ownership over the country’s gas and oil resources, making foreign companies turn over extractive industry resources to the state. The state now fully controls  sales, transport and distribution as well as key decisions regarding the extraction and refining of raw materials. The nationalization decree also forced foreign oil companies to renegotiate contracts with the new administration. Today, foreign corporations still extract most of Bolivia’s natural gas, but do so as contractors hired by the state, on the state’s terms.

Prior to the nationalizations (not only of gas and oil, but telecommunications, water, electricity, and a number of mines), foreign corporations pocketed about 85% of the profits generated by natural gas production. Morales increased the country’s profit share from gas from about 15% before his presidency to between 80-90%.[i] In 2005, before nationalization, government gas revenues totaled $0.6 billion; in 2015 it was over four times as much, $2.6 billion – in fact down from $4.5 billion in 2014.

In 2015 all gas and oil revenues yielded $4 billion, making up nearly half of Bolivia’s export earnings.

Over ten years, Evo’s Bolivia has gained $31.5 billion from the nationalizations, compared to a mere $2.5 billion earned during the previous ten years of neoliberal policies. This vastly increased revenue, largely used to benefit the people, starkly exemplifies the extent the people have been robbed to serve foreign corporate interests.

By the end of 2013 the state-owned portion of the economy reached 35%, double that of previous neoliberal governments. The state has become the main generator of wealth, and public investment amounted to over $5 billion in 2016, compared to a mere $629 million in 2006.  Much of this new revenue funds the country’s impressive development, infrastructure, community projects, such as schools, gyms, clinics, roads, and subsidies for agricultural production. It is spent on the people’s health and education, on price controls for staple foods, on wage increases, and social security benefits.

This humane redistribution of national wealth away from corporate interests to serving the poor majority has allowed one in five Bolivians, two million people, to escape a life of poverty. Even the World Bank has recognized the country as world champion in income growth for the poorest 40% of its population.

In the US, the government is taking the opposite course, turning its back on the poor. Here the poverty has grown over the same period, from 12.3% to 12.7%.[ii] Vacant homes number 18,600,000  – enough for each homeless person to have 6. The government cut food stamps by $8.7 billion in 2014,  cut 500,000 poor from the program in 2016, with plans to slash $19.3 billion per year for ten years. Yet Washington increases the military budget this year by $80 billion, an amount that could make public college free.

For Bolivia to industrialize and diversify the economy, to move away from dependence on natural resource exports, is a difficult long-term task. The country did create 485,000 jobs in the productive sector between 2006-2010, and developed industries to process natural resources.[iii] It advanced significantly its agricultural production, now providing 95% of the country’s food.  Yet raw materials still account for  90% of Bolivia’s exports.

Big investments are underway in infrastructure construction, hydrocarbon exploration, industrialization of natural gas (for fertilizers and plastics), more lithium production, and electric power for export. “Here we have the presence of China, with cooperation without pre-conditions, with credit without conditions,” Evo Morales said, contrasting Chinese aid to Western aid.

New Social Programs to Eliminate Poverty

In Bolivia under Evo, poverty has declined from 60.6% of the population in 2005 to 38.6% in 2016. Extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 per day) fell from 38% to 16.8%. The real minimum wage has risen from 440 bolivars a month to 2,000 a month, (from $57 to $287) Unemployment stands at under 4%, the lowest in Latin America, down from 8.5% in 2005.

Here are some of the measures to combat poverty:

  1. Electricity has been brought to 66% of rural homes by 2015, up from 25% in 2001.
  2. Over 127,000 homes have been created for low income Bolivians who lack housing. Another 23,000 homes will be built in 2018.
  3. The Juancito Pinto program aims to increase school attendance and reduce child labor. It presently reaches 2 million children, who each receive $28 annually upon finishing their school year.
  4. The Juana Azurduy program combats maternal and infant mortality, as well as malnutrition in children under two years old. Mothers can receive up to $266 from the program. UNICEF has pointed out the effectiveness of these social programs. Chronic undernourishment in children under wo has sharply fallen from 27%, when the program started in 2009 to 16% now, and infant mortality has been cut in half just since 2008.
  5. The Renta de la Dignidad is a payment to the 900,000 Bolivians over 60 years old, who would otherwise receive no pension. Incapacitated and disabled people now receive 250 bolivianos ($36) monthly and guaranteed job placement in public and private institutions.

More than 4.8 million Bolivians – in a country of just over 10 million – today benefit from these  programs, progams which not just combat poverty, but  improve public health and education.

Meanwhile in the US the bottom 90% of households are poorer today than they were in 1987.

Bolivia has cut income inequality by two-thirds, with the share of income of the top 10% vis-à-vis the poorest 10% has dropped from 128 to 1 in 2005 to 37 to 1 in 2016.

In the US, after years of neoliberal programs, we have the shocking fact that the three richest US citizens have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the population.

Gains for Rights of Original Peoples

The country, after a national discussion initiated by Bolivia’s five main indigenous campesino organizations, adopted a new constitution. The new document recognized Bolivia as a Plurinational State, with equal status and autonomy for Original Peoples, and also reclaimed control over natural resources. The new government has even established a Ministry of Decolonization (with a Depatriarchalization Unit) to further the uprooting of the previous apartheid system. By 2011, 90 of the 166 elected representatives of the national assembly came directly from the ranks of the progressive social movements. [iv]

Gains in Education and Health Care

Bolivia had an illiteracy rate of 13% when Evo Morales became president. After a mass literacy campaign that used Cuba’s YES I CAN program, 850,000 were educated and by 2008 Bolivia was declared free of illiteracy.  The country is second to Cuba in Latin America in terms of funding education. There are now 16,000 educational establishments in the country, 4,500 of them were built since 2006 with the funds from the nationalized gas industry.

Life expectancy of Bolivians during Evo’s presidency has increased from 64 years to 71 years. This is partly the result of the almost 700 members of the Cuban medical brigade working in the country. Cuba’s Operation Miracle has also enabled 676,000 Bolivians to have had their vision restored. Moreover, around 5,000 Bolivians have obtained their medical degrees in Cuba, going back to their country to provide their services. The country now has 47 new hospitals and over 3,000 health centers being built.

Land Distribution and Food Self-Sufficiency

Before Evo became president, 5% of property owners owned 70% of the arable land.[v] From 2006-2010 over 35 million hectares of land (1/3rd of Bolivia), was handed over to Original Peoples’ peasant communities to be run communally. This included government lands, large estates, and forest. Another 21 million hectares previously occupied illegally by large landowners were declared public lands, mostly protected forests.[vi] The land reform law expropriated underutilized lands, and permitted seizure of property from landowners employing forced labor or debt peonage. In all, approximately 800,000 low-income peasants have benefited. Of those who received titles to their land, 46% have been women. For the first time since the European conquest, smallholders control 55% of all land. The government ensures that these small producers receive preferential access to equipment, supplies, loans, and state subsidized markets, key factors in enabling the country to become self-sufficient in food.

US Interference and Regime Change Attempts

As John Perkins points out in Confessions of an Economic Hitman, any government pursuing anti-neoliberal economic policies or its own foreign policy independent of the US, as the case with Rafael Correa’s Ecuador and Evo’s Bolivia, becomes a US target for overthrow.

Evo Morales has become one of Washington’s most disfavored leaders in the Americas.  Washington continues to be concerned about Evo revolutionizing the indigenous movements in the region, and  tries to tarnish his reputation as an indigenous movement leader.

Wikileaks documents show that the US tried to undermine the presidencies of Evo Morales and Rafael Correa even before they were elected. Right after Evo’s inauguration, the US ambassador made it clear to him that funding by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and IMF depended on his “good behavior,” [vii] that is: back off nationalizing Bolivia’s petroleum resources. When Morales rejected these “orders,” including naming government ministers and military leaders without seeking prior US embassy consent, Washington began financing Bolivian opposition groups seeking to overthrow the indigenous government.

Washington  used USAID, NED [National Endowment for Democracy], IDB, World Bank, and IMF, to take punitive measures such as vetoing multilateral loans, postponing talks on alleviating Bolivia’s foreign debts, and discouraging international loans and grants. US Ambassador Greenlee wrote in a cable, in January 2006, just months after Morales’ election, “U.S. assistance, the largest of any bilateral donor by a factor of three, is often hidden by our use of third parties to dispense aid with U.S. funds.” He noted “many USAID-administered economic programs run counter to the direction the GOB [Government of Bolivia] wishes to move the country.”

US embassy cables showed Washington sought to create divisions in the social and indigenous movements that make up the support base of the country’s first indigenous-led government. Despite recognizing these were “traditionally confrontational organizations” vis-a-vis the US, Greenlee believed that “working more closely with these social sector representatives” who expressed dissent towards Morales “seems to be most beneficial to [US government] interests”.

USAID poured at least $85 million into Bolivia. Initially, the US hoped to destabilize the government by training the separatists in the richer Santa Cruz area in the eastern lowlands. USAID money flowed to groups in these opposition-based areas, as part of “USAID’s larger effort to strengthen regional governments as a counter-balance to the central government.” [viii]

Soon these eastern regions, the Media Luna, were in open rebellion, demanding a referendum on autonomy. Resulting protests led to the killing of at least 20 MAS supporters who had mobilized to crush the rebellion. The separatists’ goal was to divide Bolivia into two separate republics: a poor one governed by an indigenous majority and a much wealthier one run by European descendants in the areas home to the gas transnationals and large agribusiness.

The US never denounced opposition violence, not even after the massacre of the MAS supporters. Moreover, the US Embassy knew in advance of the opposition plans to blow up gas lines, but did not report it, nor even attempt to dissuade the opposition from doing so.[ix]

Evo was soon to expel US Ambassador Goldberg for his interference. Nevertheless, USAID  “still channeled at least $200 million into the country since 2009.”  USAID was eventually expelled in 2013.

Once the Media Luna separatist plan collapsed,[x] USAID switched to courting indigenous communities by using environmental NGOs. The Aymaras – Evo is one — and Quechuas, Bolivia’s two largest indigenous peoples, live mostly in the highlands and central regions. The east is home to the remaining 34 indigenous peoples. In 2011 new anti-government protests in the east again arose, this time around a planned TIPNIS highway.

Protests against the Government around the TIPNIS (Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory)

The Bolivian government planned to build a highway — actually to widen, pave and connect two roads with a 20-40 mile new connector — going through the TIPNIS. Western funded NGOs along with some local indigenous groups organized an international campaign against the MAS government, claiming Evo was repressing the indigenous and destroying untouched nature. This campaign was partly funded by USAID  and received sympathetic reporting in NACLA, UpsideDownWorld, Amazon Watch, and other liberal-left alternative media, which either omitted or discounted the US role. Avaaz [xi] and allied NGOs in solidarity with the protest groups organized international petition of protest. This foreign interference served to exacerbate a resolvable internal Bolivian dispute.

Fred Fuentes and Cory Morningstar wrote several exposés of this Western campaign against Evo, the covering up of the facts surrounding the TIPNIS road and the protests, including the USAID funding.[xii]  Evo Morales even revealed transcripts of phone calls between the anti-highway march organizers and U.S. embassy officials, including calls right before the march set out.

That the TIPNIS protest leaders supported the REDD (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which would give Western NGOs and these indigenous groups funds for monitoring TIPNIS forests, was also not mentioned by liberal-left alternative media. REDD uses poor nations for carbon offsets so corporations in rich countries can continue polluting.

Many Western solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many of their articles about the issue downplayed and made no mention of connections between the protest leaders and Washington and the Santa Cruz right wing.

Eventually the issue was resolved through a consultation process, and 55 of the 69 TIPNIS indigenous communities agreed to the road.[xiii]

US Manipulation Helped Cause Evo’s Loss in the 2016 Constitutional Referendum

The US again intervened to influence the February 21, 2016 referendum to change the constitution to allow Evo Morales to run again for the presidency. A smear campaign against him took place, including false stories of his corruption, nepotism, and fathering a child with a lover, which led to him losing the vote. The day is now recognized as the “Day of the Lie.” On the 2017 anniversary, mobilizations around the country backed the Process of Change and rejected the previous year’s vote. Washington is already at work to block his renomination in 2019.

USAID and NED Funding of Oppositional Forces

According to Bolivia’s Cabinet Chief Juan Ramon Quintana, from 2006-2015 NED funded around 40 institutions in Bolivia including economic and social centers, foundations and non-governmental organizations, for a total of over $10 million. For 2013, the combined NED and USAID allocations for Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia totaled over $60 million, with the bulk of these funds destined to Cuba and Ecuador.

The Issue of  “Extractivism” in Bolivia

Linda Farthing notes that in world colonial and neocolonial history,  “the exploitation of [Bolivia’s] considerable natural resources has also been nearly unparalleled.”  It included Spain’s richest gold and silver mine, one the richest tin mines, two of today’s  largest silver and iron ore mines, half of the world’s lithium,  and South America’s second largest gas reserves.  She adds, “It comes as no surprise that Bolivia’s history and environment have been dominated by relentless extraction.”

A central challenge facing Latin American governments is overcoming this dependency on raw material exports to a world market controlled by Western powers. This issue, who some present as “extractivism,” has become one of the main points of liberal-left and environmental NGO criticism of the positive changes in both Evo’s Bolivia and Correa’s Ecuador.

 “Extractivism” is a deliberately politically neutral and ahistorical term that conceals the brutal history that created the present First World-Third World system. “Extractivism” glosses over what has been 500 years of mass murder of Original Peoples, their slavery and semi-slavery for the purpose of plundering their gold, silver and other natural resources.

The Third World remains dependent on raw material exports, with their economies fragmented into specialized extractive industries geared towards a world market controlled by the First World, alongside backward, low-tech domestic industries and a bloated informal sector.

Bolivia cannot compete in industrial production with countries with more modern institutions, citizens with a higher educational level, developed infrastructure, and with access to the sea. To break free from being a low-cost provider of raw materials, whether mineral or agricultural, will be a long process.

As Fred Fuentes notes,  the question of “extractivism” centers on how a Third World country like Bolivia can overcome centuries of colonialism and neocolonialism to provide its people with basic services while trying to respect the environment. The main culprits are not Bolivian, but  the Western governments and their corporations. Defenders of the indigenous and Bolivia  must demand the West pay its ecological debt and transfer the necessary technology for sustainable development to countries such as Bolivia. “Until this occurs, activists in rich nations have no right to tell Bolivians what they can and cannot do to satisfy the basic needs of their people. Otherwise, telling Bolivian people that they have no right to a highway or to extract gas to fund social programs (as some NGOs demanded), means telling Bolivians they have no right to develop their economy or fight poverty.”

Environmental Achievements

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Linera points out that Bolivia contributes 0.1% of the world’s greenhouse gases, but its trees clean 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide, resupplying that as oxygen. He attacks the Western “colonial, elitist environmental NGOs” for imposing their environmental demands on the Third World, saying they are blind to the Third World’s right to development.

Fuentes called out Western so-called defenders of Bolivia’s environment who attack Evo Morales over extractivism, for not devoting a single article on how the government has drastically cut deforestation 64% between 2010-2013. He asked, “why have media outlets, seemingly so concerned about Bolivia’s environment, failed to investigate what might be the steepest reduction in greenhouse gas emission per capita of any country in the world?”

They also do not mention that in South America, Bolivia has the greatest number of trees per inhabitant. Peru has 1,500, Brazil 1,400, Argentina 1,200, Colombia 1000, Ecuador, 600, Paraguay 2, 500. Bolivia has 5,400. And this year they will plant another 5 million.

Misrepresenting the Morales government’s environmental record often aims to delegitimize Morales’ position not only as a leading spokesperson for the indigenous but  in the global fight against climate change. Evo has rejected the carbon offset REDD schemes many Western environmental NGOs supported and clearly blames global warming on the  First World’s capitalist operations. “I’m convinced that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity and the environment, enemy of the entire planet.”  He has demanded the Western rich countries repay their climate debt by transfer of technology and funds to the Third World.

Bolivia as a center of anti-imperialist social movements

The Bolivian government has sought to build political alliances with other governments and social movements in order to help strengthen the global forces for fundamental change. Liberal-left critics of Evo Morales, who attack him around TIPNIS, “extractivism,” even for being a neoliberal, so often willing to offer  a checklist of measures for how Bolivian socialism should be built, so often willing to portray Evo Morales as backtracking after he took office,  tend to go mum on his anti-imperialist measures, conferences, and statements.

Evo Morales has become an outspoken world leader against US hegemony and has pushed hard to make Bolivia a center of anti-imperialist social movements. Bolivia organized a number of international conferences: People’s Summit on Climate Change (2010), Anti-imperialist and Anticolonial Summit of the Peoples of Latin America and the World (2013), Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference (2014),  the G77 Summit of 133 Third World nations (2014), the key promotor of the United Nations’ World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (2014), World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defense of Life  (2015), World Conference of the Peoples For a World Without Borders towards Universal Citizenship (2017).

He has called for rich countries to pay climate reparation to those poorer ones suffering the effects of climate change. Warning of a coming “climate holocaust” that will destroy parts of Africa and many island nations, he called for an international climate court of justice to prosecute countries for climate crimes.

In 2016 he inaugurated a military “Anti-Imperialist Commando School,” saying “We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies.”

Besides expelling the US ambassador and USAID for their roles in coup plotting, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was expelled in 2009 for its actions against social organizations and for interfering with the actual struggle against narcotrafficking.

Evo Morales’ anti-cocaine program has resulted in land used for coca production being reduced by one-fifth since 2005. [xiv] The OAS considers Bolivia’s program “a best practice…[worthy of] replication”; it is also praised by the UN Office of Drug Control. The DEA’s military base was transformed into the Cochabamba airport and renamed Soberania [Sovereignty].

“I am pleased to have expelled the U.S. ambassador, the Drug Enforcement Administration and to have closed the U.S. military base in Bolivia. Now, without a U.S. ambassador, there is less conspiracy, and more political stability and social stability.” And in reference to the IMF and World Bank, which had served to force Bolivia to divert funds away from social welfare programs, he added “Without the International Monetary Fund, we are better off economically.”

Speaking of the US’ $700 billion military budget, Evo said “”If that money was used for cooperation or to fight poverty, we could solve so many [of the world’s social and environmental] problems.” Instead, “The US creates and perpetuates international conflicts for profit….The capitalist system that [it] represents is not a policy that embodies the people of the United States but a policy of the transnational corporations, especially those that commercialize weapons and push for an arms race…they use any pretext against the anti-imperialist countries to subdue and dominate them politically and rob them economically. They’re after our natural resources.”

Challenges Facing The Process of Change

Evo has said that “the retreat of the left in Latin America is due to the incapacity of progressive governments to face a media war and the lack of political training of the youth”. Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera also pointed out that progressive governments have failed to promote a kind of cultural revolution alongside the political revolution; social programs have successfully lifted many out of poverty, creating a new middle class with new consumerist attitudes, without promoting a corresponding new value system; progressive governments must do more to tackle the entrenched corruption of the neoliberal years; the question of the continuity of leadership remains a challenge; and Latin American economic integration remains a weakness despite considerable advances in political regional integration.

Three factors may cause Bolivia’s Process of Change to stagnate and be partially reversed. It has not moved beyond anti-neoliberalism policies, that have brought great benefits to the people, in a more anti-capitalist direction.  While the MAS government has democratized the traditional Bolivian state, it has modified this bourgeois state but not replaced it with a new one that would be a superior tool for the indigenous campesino and working people to advance their struggle. It has not built an organization of activists committed to leading this struggle with the people.

Now coming on 12 years of the Process of Change, Bolivia is a new country under the leadership of Evo Morales and Garcia Linera. Each passing year is one more of social, political and economic transformation, of opening up national decision-making to the indigenous communities, peasant and worker social movements. Not only have the faces of those who govern radically changed, but the country itself. From one of the poorest countries in Latin America, it has become the leader in sustained economic growth. From a country founded on social exclusion to the point of apartheid, it has become a country of inclusion for all, where more than half the Congress consists of women, where illiteracy is eliminated, where the people have free health care and education, and  have gained much greater control over the wealth of their natural resources.

 

[Stansfield Smith maintains ChicagoALBASolidarity.wordpress.com, produces the AFGJ Venezuela and ALBA Weekly, and is active in the movement against US interference in Latin America. He co-founded the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5 in 2002 and was active in that campaign through their freedom in 2014. He administers the Facebook groups ‘Friends of Evo’s Bolivia/ Amigos de la Bolivia de Evo,” “Stand with Venezuela,””Friends of Ecuador- North America,” among others. His Masters thesis at the University of Chicago was ‘The Development of the Labor Theory of Value in Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx.”]

[i]  Linda Farthing gives different figures: “the total government take shot up to about 70 percent of production, making gas its primary income source with annual revenues jumping from $332 million before nationalization to more than $2 billion today.”

[ii] These figures understate the actual figure as they exclude the 12 million undocumented, who are disproportionately poor.

[iii] Federico Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” vs “Good Social Movements”? in Steve Ellner (ed.) Latin America’s Radical Left, Maryland:Rowman & Littlefield (2014) p. 110

[iv]  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 86

[v] Dangl, Ben, “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia,” California: AK Press (2007) p.95

[vi] Federico Fuentes,  Federico Fuentes « Bolivia’s Communitarian Socialism », Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions, Halifax, Winnepeg:Fernwood Publishing; London, NewYork: Zed Books (2013) p. 85

[vii] The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, London, New York: Verso (2015) p. 504

[viii] Ibid., p. 507; quote is from a US government cable. See also https://sputniknews.com/latam/201602191035028066-bolivia-wikileaks-us-funding-separatists/

and El informe de 2007 de la USAID

[ix]  The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, (2015: 508).  “The US had full knowledge of opposition groups’ terrorist plans, and yet did not denounce them,” Eirik Vold [author of Ecuador In the Sights: The WikiLeaks Revelations and the Conspiracy Against the Government of Rafael Correa] told Prensa Latina, adding that the US had prior knowledge of a planned attack on a natural gas pipeline, which resulted in a ten percent decrease in Bolivia’s in gas exports to Brazil.”

[x] The Media Luna attempted coup broke under the pressure of several Latin American anti-neoliberal governments (Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ecuador y Nicaragua) issued a declaration in support of Bolivia’s constitutional government. Nevertheless the US continued to maintain constant communication with the leaders of the separatist movement.

[xi] It included 61 signers, only two from Bolivia. US signers included Amazon Watch, Biofuelwatch, Democracy Center, Food and Water Watch, Global Exchange, NACLA, Rainforest Action Network.

[xii] Fred Fuentes, “Bad Left Government” versus “Good Left Social Movements”? in Latin America’s Radical Left  (2014) pp. 120-121

[xiii] Linda C.  Farthing, Benjamin H. Kohl Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change, Austin, University of Texas Press (2014) pp. 52-54

[xiv] Drug seizures have almost tripled under Evo,  Informe Presidencial, 22 de enero 2017 http://www.embolivia.org.br/UserFiles/File/PDFs/emb_inf2017.pdf p. 12

 

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

KPPP-LP FM             

Recorded live August 28, 2017

 

Part 2 of a 6 Part Series

[The 6-part series can be found here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 | Read the addendum here.]

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case, as well as the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Also discussed:

:: Update on Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind
:: Addressing Racism, Privilege, Power in Fargo
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 2

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/06/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-2/

FaceBook Live Video of this Show Before Broadcasting (Note, FB Live videos are pre-recorded and then edited properly for radio Broadcasts on the air):

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

The Resolution Copper Land Grab: How Environmental NGOs Expand Green Capitalism

Desert Water Grab

January 28, 2017

 

kareiva_pes_small

People were outraged at the way the Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) finally achieved their land exchange in Arizona. It was the underhanded way Senator John McCain got the legislation passed that fueled the anger, but what many are not aware of is that the swap may not have been possible without the efforts of certain environmental groups. Conservation efforts functioned as currency for Resolution’s access to land, so the land grab could also be called a green grab. Green grabs are taking place in Arizona and beyond, especially around water. The Resolution Copper land exchange provides us with a way to understand the utility of the partnerships corporations forge to gain access to coveted resources.

The land swap is not yet a done deal. An appraisal to determine the equivalence of the parcels to be exchanged is due to be completed this year, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.

“It’s a big ripoff,” Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club said in an interview last year. “The American public is getting chump change in return for this ecological treasure. The lands that are offered aren’t comparable.”

McCain’s website tells a different story:

Under the bill, the Resolution Copper company would give the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management about 5,500 acres of land identified by the Department of the Interior as ‘important’ for conservation, including property near the San Pedro River, an important migratory bird corridor and wetland habitat for endangered species. In exchange for these lands, Resolution Copper would receive about 2,400 acres of Forest Service land for the exploration and development of our nation’s top copper asset.

While the Sierra Club does not back up the claims about how important the lands are for conservation, a few other organizations did. Arguably, the land exchange may not have been possible without the help of some of these big, more corporate-friendly environmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Arizona, who were involved in affirming, and even contributing to the value of the land to be exchanged for Resolution’s intended mine site. This is something Rio Tinto (majority owner of RCM) had learned from in partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Utah and Madagascar to arrange access to land a few years before. Multinational mining companies, Rio Tinto in particular, in partnership with NGOs, have been networking to improve the reputation and legitimacy of global mining activities since the ‘90s.

It’s clear that the quantity of land is disproportionate in the exchange. The acreage offered up to the feds for the trade (see map) is more than double Resolution’s desired area. However, McCain needed to sneak the exchange through in the National Defense Authorization Act to get it passed because the status and importance of the Chi’chil Bildagoteel/Oak Flat area resulted in nearly a decade of failed attempts to get the land exchange accepted prior to December 2014. Clearly, the conservation claims never swayed those with strong opposition to the mine, but they do count for something.

The appraiser is required to use nationally recognized standards to come up with the value of the parcels. But not only does Resolution actually have a voice in who gets the job to appraise the properties, the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions’ directive is that the appraiser determine only a market value (defined within the document) for the land. This does not seem to take into consideration the cultural, spiritual, historical, and environmental values such as those attributed by opponents of the mining in the Oak Flat/Apache Leap area.

Monetarily, while Rio Tinto spent “more than $18 million buying up” the parcels to exchange, the land to which Resolution Copper gained access could be worth around 7,000 times more – over $130 billion based on copper prices as of early 2015, as a former Florida Representative pointed out in The Nation. Copper prices had fallen, but the current price is back up to near where it was then. There are many other factors to enter into the equation, however. One is that Resolution Copper has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the conservation activities that may have increased the value, even if not the market value, of the exchange lands.

While the promise of jobs seems to play a bigger role in Resolution Copper’s narrative, the exchange may have been unacceptable without the purportedly valuable conservation land tracts. And now that the legislation passed, whether it is truly an equitable exchange or not is irrelevant in some ways because if the appraisal sees those lands as insufficiently valuable, RCM will just have to add more land or cash to the deal.

Yet, the conservation values of the parcels offered up by RCM were necessary, and thusly emphasized, for public and federal acceptance. In addition to meeting the equal value requirement, land exchanges are required to serve the public interest, which includes “protection of fish and wildlife habitats, cultural resources, watersheds, and wilderness and aesthetic values,” and the Forest Service gets the final say.

Some of these NGOs have consulted with Rio Tinto to contribute to an accounting method to rate the quality of land, using something they call “quality hectares” as a metric based on various values such as biodiversity to frame as offsets the land parcels they intended to “donate“.

resolution-copper-offset-chart

Although the factors, which some refer to as “ecosystem services,” used for this type of valuation, are currently considered nonmarket values not likely to be used in the appraisal, they clearly were important to RCM in determining the value of their land parcels. “Ecosystem services” is an increasingly popular economic construct used to refer to the benefits ecosystems provide to humans.

It doesn’t seem coincidental that law firm Perkins Coie, who has worked for Resolution Copper, wrote a paper in which they made the following argument:

Over the longer term—and to the extent that appropriate methodology is developed and adopted—the BLM could also use the requirement that it obtain fair market value for use of public lands to ensure consideration of ecosystem services in determining land values and rentals.

Both the Forest Service and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) have attributed legitimacy to recognizing ecosystem services within policy. Multinational mining companies (especially Rio Tinto) and the involved NGOs have been major players on a global scale in market valuation of ecosystem services as well as ways to profit from them.

Valuation of ecosystem services, even if incorporated into the appraisal process, would likely benefit RCM. Even while “cultural,” and more rarely, “spiritual” ecosystem services can be incorporated into the value of land tracts, the fact that the Oak Flat area is not part of a reservation and is not officially recognized as sacred or culturally important works against those who have a connection with the land such as the San Carlos Apache and others.

RCM and certain NGOs’ preferred approach to environmental problems is through market-based “solutions”, which result in transferring resources into private hands. While this is a land grab, the conservation aspect is significant. RCM will gain ownership of the Oak Flat area (unless stopped) by using as currency the parcels obtained and cultivated as conservation projects. The land swap could therefore be considered a green grab. The book (and article) entitled Green Grabbing defines the process as “the appropriation of land and resources for environmental ends” where “‘Appropriation’ implies the transfer of ownership, use rights and control over resources that were once publicly or privately owned – or not even the subject of ownership – from the poor (or everyone including the poor) into the hands of the powerful.”

Why does all this matter? Aside from having more understanding about why this land exchange is not justified, we can learn from how some NGOs partner with private interests to engage in more green grabbing. The Nature Conservancy facilitates the sale of water offsets to companies such as Coca Cola, for example, based on conservation projects in Arizona. They are also supporting the efforts of big housing developments to legitimize construction where aquifers and the rivers like the San Pedro are at risk. Since Rio Tinto has been so central to the development of payments for ecosystem services programs such as offsets, the early stages of this Resolution Copper land exchange effort may have been the foray of the concept of ecosystem services into Arizona.

San Pedro River and Conflicts of Interest

Although the land exchange involved properties in various areas of Arizona, the one in the San Pedro River basin, the 7B Ranch, is the most relevant here, partly because early legislative support for the exchange related to this river. It is also the largest parcel offered by RCM.

Water conservation at the San Pedro River was made central to the land exchange idea when Rick Renzi, US Congressman from Arizona at the time, drew Resolution Copper into a scandal. Renzi was convicted in 2013 of conspiring with the owner of a piece of land in the San Pedro River basin, “to extort and bribe individuals seeking a federal land exchange…” A combination of his connections with Fort Huachuca, an army installation  near the San Pedro, and his desire to have Resolution Copper purchase his friend’s property in the area caused Renzi to assert in 2005, according to Wall Street Journal, that his support of the land exchange

…would hinge in part on whether it helped fulfill a goal to cut water consumption along the San Pedro River… participants in the deal say. Fort Huachuca, a big U.S. Army base nearby, was under court order to cut water consumption, and it had been seeking help to retire farmland near the river. Mr. Renzi has longstanding ties to the base, the economic engine of the area… Resolution proposed buying and handing over to the government thousands of acres of bird and wildlife habitat along the banks of the San Pedro, which would further the water-conservation goal.

Due to the high price, Resolution Copper did not buy this property, but the land was sold to someone else. A different parcel in the San Pedro River basin became part of the exchange, a choice likely influenced by the water conservation needs of Ft. Huachuca, as emphasized by Renzi.

Renzi’s father was a retired army general who had served at Ft. Huachuca and his company (one of the congressman’s top campaign donors) has had major contracts with Ft. Huachuca. In 2003, Renzi had proposed “an amendment to the defense authorization bill, [that] would exempt Ft. Huachuca from responsibility for maintaining water levels in the San Pedro River as called for in an agreement made last year with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Backed by McCain, it passed in November that year, despite media pointing to the conflict of interest.

Dropping groundwater levels have directly impacted the San Pedro base flow. Ft. Huachuca has faced multiple lawsuits for their impact on the riparian environment due to their groundwater pumping.

McCain has shown that he has invested as well in the fate of Ft. Huachuca in relation to the river. His relationship with Renzi likely had a lot to do with it, but he’s continued his support of the fort in recent years. The state of the San Pedro River makes at least an image of water conservation important to the land exchange even with Renzi’s interests out of the picture.

Various partnerships have developed to address, or more likely greenwash the fort’s impact on the environment. The Department of Defense and Ft. Huachuca had already been working with The Nature Conservancy since at least 1998. Significantly, one of the more recent projects is the Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP) also involving Audubon Arizona. This came out Renzi’s legislative amendment in 2003 which shifted responsibility for water use away from the fort and onto this broader coalition of the USPP.

Shaping the land swap was a combination of these NGOs’ relationships with Ft. Huachuca specifically around the San Pedro River Basin, and Rio Tinto’s relationships with these NGOs through Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Copper mine in Utah where they partnered with NGOs like The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society in the late ‘90s on a wetland offset program required due to the pollution of mining tailings.

Partnerships and Payments

Of course it makes sense that environmental groups be consulted about ecologically important issues. There’s a difference, however, between consultation and granting green credentials to mining companies for dubious conservation efforts when they’ll do more damage in the long run. Taken into consideration, additionally, should be the NGOs’ actions and the financial relationship between NGOs and corporations.

One role NGOs play is in acquiescing to the claim that there is no alternative to a particular mine or other development. Then somehow their pragmatism produces “win-win solutions” to supposedly mitigate mines’ damage (this is giving them the undeserved benefit of the doubt about their own financial interests in partnering with corporations). The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Arizona Audubon, even while denying that they took a position on the land exchange, played integral roles in confirming and even generating some of the value of the various parcels RCM obtained and worked to glorify.

An International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) report described one way NGOs supported RCM (see chart above):

In consultation with conservation specialists, especially the Arizona Audubon Society, RCM rated the conservation value of the parcels in terms of ecosystem condition and priority for conservation in Arizona. In doing so, RCM was able to take a semi-quantitative approach using Rio Tinto’s quality hectares method, to determine whether the parcels represented equivalent or better conservation benefits than the government land.

According to Rio Tinto,

Quality Hectares are Rio Tinto’s current metric for tracking progress towards the [Net Positive Impact (NPI)] target at the global and site levels. A wide range of biodiversity values, including threatened species, rare habitats or non-timber forest products, may be expressed in terms of their quantity and quality.

It could be argued that RCM bought access to the copper ore in Oak Flat by funding NGOs’ conservation attribution of value to the land that RCM had accumulated. NGOs acted as consultants in choosing land parcels and quantifying their value, managed some of those parcels, wrote letters confirming their value, and thereby contributed to legitimizing the exchange.

Rio Tinto/Resolution Copper started funding Arizona Audubon Society in 2003. The mining subsidiary began lobbying for a land exchange in 2005 and in the same year contracted with TNC to manage the land parcel owned by BHP Billiton called the 7B Ranch.

The 7B Ranch was the piece of land in the San Pedro River basin that ultimately became part of the land exchange. Copper companies in Arizona have purchased land not only for mining, but BHP Billiton already owned some land near the San Pedro River prior to the idea for the land exchange, likely for the water rights.

The Superior Sun reported,

Resolution purchased 7B from BHP in 2007 with the intention of including it in an eventual land exchange… David Salisbury, Resolution Copper CEO, said that the company spoke to organizations such as Arizona Audubon and The Nature Conservancy to determine conservation targets that a number of agencies might be interested in…

Although Audubon hasn’t taken a position on the proposed land exchange, they have been on record since 2005 saying that 7B is an ecologically important piece of property…

With the plan in place, Resolution and its conservation partners hope to make 7B a ready-to-use asset for the [Department of the Interior] and the public.

The Tucson Sentinel reported in 2011, “7B Ranch, which contains one of oldest mesquite forests in Arizona, lies near the fragile San Pedro River. In 2007, Resolution Copper agreed to pay The Nature Conservancy $45,000 a year to manage the property.” They also noted the, “$250,000 in grants and donations that Resolution Copper and Rio Tinto have given to the Audubon Arizona since 2003.” Their coverage stated that the Sonoran Institute (SI) was also involved in identifying parcels that would be of value in the exchange.

RCM also supported SI for at least two years (2007 and 2008) and hired SI’s Dave Richins after, as The New Times revealed, he’d been doing work for RCM for a while prior to official employment. Luther Propst of SI authored an opinion column in the Arizona Republic in 2010 in favor of the Resolution Copper mine.

News outlets such as the Tucson Citizen reported in 2005 that, “the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Sonoran Institute have all sent [Bruno Hegner, Resolution’s general manager] letters of support.” The Tucson Sentinel wrote that “Leaders of Audubon Arizona and The Nature Conservancy have said they neither support nor oppose the overall plan. But each group has formally attested to the conservation value of the Appleton-Whittell and 7B Ranch parcels, something that Resolution Copper has noted prominently in letters and testimony to Congress.” In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Arizona chapter of TNC sent letters to legislators reiterating their neutrality on the legislation, but elaborating on the value of the 7B Ranch property. Audubon Arizona had been managing the Appleton-Whittell ranch since the 1980’s. Notably, other Arizona-based Audubon groups (Maricopa and Tucson) have been openly opposed to the mine.

Resolution Copper partnered with Audubon Arizona, TNC, Birdlife International, along with the Salt River Project and others on the Lower San Pedro and Queen Creek Project, described by Birdlife International:

A two-year programme (2006–2007) undertook the development of a bird conservation strategy… It assisted in the provision of detailed biodiversity assessments of the land exchange parcel on the Lower San Pedro River for Resolution Copper Company and with the establishment of baseline data for the mine’s operational biodiversity action planning.

Thanks to the project, the Lower San Pedro River, from “The Narrows” north to the confluence with the Gila River, has been surveyed, nominated and recognised as a state [Important Bird Area (IBA)]. During 2006–2007, existing and newly collected data were compiled and submitted to the Arizona IBA Science Committee, in support of the IBA nomination of the Lower San Pedro River, and the nomination was accepted.

Birdlife International, which Rio Tinto has been working with since 2001 is described as “a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world’s birds and people.” One of Birdlife’s main partners is the Audubon Society, a group with which they’ve had overlapping board members.

It is not so difficult to imagine that an “environmental” group, such as Birdlife or TNC would accommodate a mining project considering TNC participated in drilling oil on a property they were supposed to have retired from oil production. Kierán Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity said that TNC “has shown over and over again its willingness to take corporate money in return for stealing, destroying, or polluting indigenous and poor human communities.” TNC has partnered with many of the most notorious corporations like Exxon, BP, Dow Chemical, and Monsanto along with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. Birdlife had also partnered with BP, which may have been a factor in Rio Tinto partnering with the NGO in 2001.

From Greenwashing to Green Markets

Mines have pock-marked the earth, poisoned the land, water, and living beings, displaced communities, and left other destruction in their wake. One of the most notorious mining conflicts forced Rio Tinto to shut down their mine on Bougainville Island of Papua New Guinea in 1989 due to an uprising largely in response to the environmental damage caused by the mine. A lawsuit was filed against Rio Tinto over “racial discrimination and environmental harm, as well as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” arising from the mine and the military response as part of the decade-long civil war instigated by the company. Throughout the 1990’s major tailings containments collapsed each year around the world. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have both faced various strikes over working conditions. It’s no wonder they had to fix their reputation in order to do business.

While the Bougainville civil war was still raging, a study that Rio Tinto conducted in 1996 showed that the mining companies could benefit from addressing concern for biodiversity as part of their medium-to long-term business strategy. This may have played a part in the Rio Tinto chairman’s launch of the Global Mining Initiative (GMI) with nine of the largest global mining corporations in 1999. “The drivers for GMI were clear recognition that mining companies had problems of access to land, and access to markets, and cost of capital. The fundamental underlying reason was the reputation of the industry,” said Dr. John Groom, of mining company Anglo American.

Sarah Benabou writes that in 2000,

the GMI started a process of consultation and research known as the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project to determine the fundamental orientations that would shape the future of the industry. This project led to the creation of the [The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)] in 2002. A few months later, at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, the ICMM and the [International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)] started a joint dialogue on mining and biodiversity ‘to provide a platform for communities, corporations, NGOs and governments to engage in a dialogue to seek the best balance between the protection of important ecosystems and the social and economic importance of mining’ (IUCN 2003: 1).

Benabou’s Making up for lost nature? A critical review of the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets also describes how mining companies and NGOs at an IUCN/ICMM jointly-organized workshop in 2003 could draw upon each others’ experiences regarding ways to apply a biodiversity offset approach even if it couldn’t be “transposed term-for-term” in other situations. IUCN is one of the oldest and biggest environmental NGOs.

The relationship with Birdlife, initiated by Rio Tinto in 2001 was an early venture into partnerships with such NGOs. According to Rio Tinto, “the partnership has enabled both organisations to deliver outcomes that neither could have achieved as effectively when working alone.”

It would be a mistake to frame this simply as examples of greenwashing in attempt to solve mining companies’ public relations problems and access to land. In the context of the earth’s welfare and diminishing finite resources, the extractive industry and their partners have developed market-based tools like offsets to create new financial strategies. “In this zeitgeist of crisis capitalism, the environmental crisis itself has become a major new frontier of value creation and capitalist accumulation,” writes Sian Sullivan, Professor of Environment and Culture in the UK. The commodification and financialization of so-called natural capital and ecosystem services are central to this process.

19-ecoservices_balancedThe concept of ecosystem services originates with some in the field of Ecological Economics who argued that if destructive practices are unavoidable, then corporations should pay for the damage they have done (or will do) to that which we take for granted but can’t live without: the environment. Yet, if companies compensate for their externalities, a whole host of other problems arise with pricing, quantifying, simplifying and appropriating natural resources.

The introduction to Nature, Inc. spells it out: “Capitalism now endeavors to accumulate not merely in spite of but rather precisely through the negation of its own negative impacts on both physical environments and the people who inhabit them, proposing itself as the solution to the very problems it creates.” Similarly, co-editor of Nature, Inc., Bram Büscher posited elsewhere, “To believe that nature can be conserved by increasing the intensity, reach and depth of capital circulation is arguably one of the biggest contradictions of our times.”

IUCN, along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was involved in the early 1990’s in advancing the concept of ecosystem services, aka environmental services, beginning with their Global Biodiversity Strategy. This was a predecessor to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) completed in 2005, to which IUCN and UNEP also contributed. MA has been considered a game-changer in the way it endeavored to apply a monetary value to ecosystem services; the wide variety of beneficial (to humans) functions deriving from ecosystems, like carbon sequestration and water purification.

One of the biggest payments for ecosystem services (PES) program currently is REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (the latest version is called REDD+) which Tom B. K. Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said could lead to “the biggest land grab of all time.” REDD is a project of IUCN, supported by Rio Tinto (including in its early development). Rio Tinto claims that REDD+ allows them to offset their carbon footprint. The Nature Conservancy, and Birdlife International are proponents of REDD+.

REDD and the carbon trade in general have meant further financialization of nature, involving hedge funds, derivatives, and “a new generation of ‘commercial conservation asset managers’ required to broker these exchanges and revenues,” according to Sian Sullivan. “Conservation investing experienced dramatic growth after 2013, as total committed private capital climbed 62% in just two years from $5.1B to $8.2B,” reported Ecosystem Marketplace recently.

NGOs and negotiations have enabled and structured “new green market opportunities and practices as they orchestrate the social and political relations among various state and non-state actors through which the mechanisms, incentives and legitimating conditions for green grabs are established,” as is argued in Enclosing the global commons: the convention on biological diversity and green grabbing.

Experts from the big NGOs are called upon to design, implement, and/or verify such mechanisms as offsets. While carbon offsets are the most notoriously dubious, mining companies are involved in a variety of other offsets, both voluntary and regulatory.

Buying, Banking, Trading Offsets

In Utah, a land tract Kennecott wanted for storage of their tailings (materials left over from processing of mined substance) was designated as wetlands, which are regulated. So according to a case report put out by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB),

Kennecott was thus required by U.S. law to offset, or mitigate, the loss of wetlands by the creation of an agreed number and value of habitat units… In 1996, Kennecott Utah Copper Company undertook the cleanup and construction of the 1,011 ha Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve (ISSR) in conjunction with a project to expand its tailings storage.

utah-kennecott-mine

Kennecott Utah Copper Mine (Rio Tinto)

In addition to the required wetlands offset, Rio Tinto established a “bank” of restored surplus habitat land which, as TEEB explained, referencing an unpublished study, “could be used to offset future impacts on wetlands (584 ha) adjacent to the mitigation site… Credits from the bank can be used by Kennecott or sold to others for wetlands mitigation in accordance with the terms of the Bank Agreement with the US government.” Banking converts wetland habitat properties into assets. Rio Tinto wrote in 2011 that they have, “successfully developed and then sold wetland credits” as part of the ISSR.

Essentially, companies can profit from ostensibly going above and beyond their responsibilities (or having a “net positive impact”) for mitigating the damage they cause through mining. In many cases, profit-driven wetlands banking has been shown to result in a net loss, however.

TNC and National Audubon Society were involved in developing this wetland mitigation plan. The ISSR also became an IBA in 2004 and is part of BirdLife International’s IBA Program.

BirdLife International also endorsed Rio Tinto’s activities across the world in Madagascar. Rio Tinto owns 80% of the QMM (QIT Madagascar Minerals) ilmenite (titanium dioxide) mine in Southeastern Madagascar which started mining in 2005. The mining activities “will remove more than half of a particular type of unique coastal forest.” BirdLife described the benefits of a project implemented by a BirdLife affiliate and supported by Rio Tinto:

The direct payments [for conservation] project aims to strengthen the conservation of Tsitongambarika’s unique and threatened biodiversity, enhance water security for QMM’s mining operations… and maintain ecosystem services essential for regional development.

Rio Tinto is partnered with this affiliate in a biodiversity offset program. Note that other than biodiversity, the benefits of the project are for the mine and/or “regional development” but are subsumed into conservation as well. The biodiversity offsets involve “the financing of, or provision of land for, biodiversity conservation outside of mining zones,” explains PhD candidate in Anthropology, Caroline Seagle. The idea is that aspects of biodiversity are exchangeable (or fungible) with others, so damage to this particular type of forest can be made up for elsewhere.

For aspects of ecosystems to be treated as fungible commodities, their uniqueness and complexity needs to be erased for the sake of market exchange. This “offset ideology” is “premised upon the monetization of nature and market rationality,” writes Seagle, in “Inverting the impacts: Mining, conservation and sustainability claims near the Rio Tinto/QMM ilmenite mine in Southeast Madagascar” (for a similar more accessible version, see “The mining-conservation nexus“).

“Through the paradigm of conservation finance and payments for environmental services (PES), the ‘offset ideology’ is less mitigatory and more compensatory – making up for local damage through land allocation or financial support of nature conservation,” criticizes Seagle.

Similar to Rio Tinto’s wetland banking, these mechanisms are not only intended to compensate for damage, but to create revenue. IUCN wrote in 2011 of Rio Tinto’s further steps in Madagascar to gain from conservation:

Rio Tinto is using established relationships with its biodiversity partners and specifically its relationship with IUCN to explore how ecosystem services can be accurately valued and the implications for corporate risks and opportunities.

For companies like Rio Tinto, robust methods of valuing ecosystem services and the development of well functioning markets for ecosystem services could provide an opportunity to use large non-operational land holdings to create new income streams for Rio Tinto and for local stakeholders and communities, through the sale of ecosystem service credits.

Biodiversity offsets became a primary tool to make headway into areas they wanted to mine. An IUCN document reiterated,

[For some] Multinational companies, whose operations have an impact on biodiversity and for whom license to operate – both formal concessions from governments and social license from communities – are key to business success. Their view of biodiversity offsets is that best practice on biodiversity – possibly including offsets, whether mandatory or voluntary – is important to access land, maintain reputation… and the avoidance of interference and disruption from NGOs and local communities.

The wetlands offsets in Utah and the biodiversity offsets in Madagascar are just two experiences the mining companies could learn from leading up to the Arizona land exchange. While Rio Tinto was mandated to buy wetlands offsets for their Kennecott Utah mine, in the Arizona case, RCM had to do a land exchange to access the Forest Service land, and there seem to be no other mandatory mitigatory steps required of RCM. But they did use ecosystem services to attribute value to the conservation lands, which seemed to have some utility for them.

The land exchange was framed in terms of offsets because it of its purported mitigatory function. In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Forests and Public Lands, the President of Resolution stated in 2009, “we believe the exceptional quality and quantity of the non-federal lands that will be conveyed into Federal ownership more than off-set any expected surface impacts to the lands acquired by Resolution Copper” (my emphasis).

The ICMM featured the Arizona land exchange in a 2010 Mining and Biodiversity case studies report, framing it as an offset as well:

Given Rio Tinto’s commitment to a net positive impact to biodiversity, the land exchange presents a unique opportunity to exceed the requirements of trading land of equivalent economic value by ensuring that the land parcels offered in the trade are also of equivalent or greater value for the conservation of biodiversity and provision of environmental services – a biodiversity offset (my emphasis).

The chart from this report (see above) shows the various parcels in Arizona Rio Tinto offered up as “offsets,” along with the their quality valuation, based on consultation with Audubon Arizona and other NGOs.

Again, the biodiversity and environmental services would likely not be accounted for in the official appraisal. However, Resolution’s claim of these voluntary offsets may have contributed to an attempt to prove that the swap is in the public interest.

Conservation Value

“The American public is getting ripped off,” Silver said. “The only land that is of value is the research center’s because it hasn’t been overgrazed, but it’s of no value to the general public because it wouldn’t be open to them, unlike Oak Flat that offers recreational opportunities to the public and is of cultural value to Native Americans,” Silver said.

Many, like Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center of Biological Diversity, as quoted by the Arizona Daily Sun disagree with TNC and Audubon Arizona’s opinions of the exchange parcels. Several environmental groups opposed to the mine detailed the damage the RCM would cause, as well as the poor quality of the exchange sites in their Scoping Comments for the Resolution Copper Mine DEIS.

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“The San Pedro is not free-flowing at the 7B Ranch,” Witzeman wrote.

Bob Witzeman, an environmentalist who spent several of his final years fighting against the Resolution Copper mine, commented that the 7B Ranch owned by BHP Billiton was likely purchased for its water rights and “is under no duress for need of protection… There is no danger of mining here, or developing homes here, because it is in a flood plain.”

In earning credit for offsets, protecting a site only counts for something if the site is under threat. This is called additionality. Some states and institutions require additionality as part of offset programs. The “counterfactual,” or what otherwise would have happened without a conservation project such as an offset program, is often difficult to ascertain. As far as the land exchange in Arizona goes, not only do many of the parcels seem of poor quality, especially compared to Oak Flat, it’s likely that there was no imminent threat to the largest parcel, 7B Ranch, nor the Appleton-Whittell parcel which was converted into a research facility in 1968.

This is not to say that conservation efforts are for naught (though there’s evidence that many of the projects, especially when profit-driven are not even effective), or that there is any legal weight to this point, but this needs to be considered. For example, regarding the 7B Ranch, Witzeman wrote, “BHP does own another riverside parcel with riparian habitat. BHP does plan to develop homes in that area, some 35,000 units. As of this time, they have made no commitment to protect this riparian habitat.” The land was still being preserved in 2013 (I was unable to find anything more recent) but the reason given that the real estate development plan didn’t come to fruition was the economic downturn in 2007.

This brings up another problem with offset programs called leakage. “Leakage occurs when environmentally destructive activities… are shifted from the places targeted for conservation to other sites,” explains Kathleen McAfee in Green economy and carbon markets for conservation and development: A critical view. Just one relevant example of leakage is when TNC purchased 500 acres along the San Pedro to retire it from agricultural irrigation only to have the seller begin irrigating a nearby 500 acre plot soon after.

Resolution’s protection of the 7B Ranch at the expense of nearby land can be shown in the case when the Sunzia transmission line project was in the planning stages, and two of the potential routes could have impacted the conservation value of the 7B Ranch. Resolution Copper sent a letter opposing those routes. The Final Environmental Impact Statement shows a somewhat different but nearby route as the BLM preferred alternative. RCM did not comment on other routes that would also affect the region. This not only shows that conservation is only important when it benefits the company, but it also points to another issue that comes up when profit factors into conservation. Scarcity, caused by development, increases the value of conservation products (such as offsets), thereby incentivizing conservation, but also more development.

Sian Sullivan argues that conservation banking is development-dependent. “Indeed, development that produces transformation of habitats is required for conservation credits to attain the prices that will encourage establishment of conservation banks and bankers, thereby generating trade in conservation credits as a funding strategy for conservation management.”

Seagle pointed out that as part of a strategy of sustainability in Madagascar – though applicable in other cases – Rio Tinto is paradoxically creating scarcity of biodiversity while claiming to save it.

Here and Now

The Nature Conservancy’s legitimization of development is not isolated to Resolution Copper, even in Arizona. Water is particularly vulnerable to green grabbing, as water is integral to ecosystem services as well as a necessary resource for industry. Aside from the partnerships with Ft. Huachuca noted above, TNC is also working with Castle & Cooke’s housing development called Tribute in Sierra Vista, as well as El Dorado Holdings’ Vigneto Villages housing development in Bensen, the latter involving a “mitigation parcel” as an offset. Both could be serious threats to the San Pedro and nearby aquifers, and require proof of assured water supplies.

A major threat to aquifers and other surface water in Arizona relates to what’s happening with the Central Arizona Project (CAP) water Arizona has come to depend on (though destructive). Arizona is taking voluntary Colorado River water reductions to delay an official shortage declaration triggered by Lake Mead’s water level. Water officials have been meeting with various leaders in different sectors to arrange voluntary cuts, with a plan to compensate water users (this may involve more market-based “solutions”) for 400,000 AF per year. Resolution Copper has secured a portion of Arizona’s stored water in the form of storage credits, which brings up more issues regarding recovery. RCM expects to also be able to access large quantities of CAP water, but this allocation is in a low priority category, and therefore is subject to cuts. Farmers, tribes, and others are subject to having to forego their share of CAP water, essentially to secure water for the mine (and other mining operations and water bottling, etc). As CAP reductions go into effect, stress on other sources of surface and ground water will increase.

What may be most troubling to readers is that an NGO has been selling water offsets based on watershed restoration projects, to companies like Coca Cola and Intel Corp. While they continue to use massive amounts of water, companies’ “water footprints” are allegedly reduced by voluntarily buying Water Restoration Certificates (WRC) from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). WRCs supposedly help restore a watershed in partnership with local landowners and big environmental groups like TNC. BEF also sells carbon offsets.

One such project involving TNC and BEF (supported by Walmart heirs’ Walton Family Foundation) is the relatively new Verde River Exchange Water Offset Program. Reading media coverage on this project, you wouldn’t gather that this is part of TNC’s efforts in developing water markets across the globe. Their 2016 report called Water Share: Using water markets and impact investment to drive sustainability says a lot more, revealing that their hypothetical model involves reallocating (selling or leasing) the majority of the “conserved” water from farming (that would otherwise contribute to the aquifer or river but is considered “lost”) to another sector in order to raise revenue to compensate farmers and to profit investors. These small-scale pilot projects may have much bigger implications in the future.

A few recently published papers (funded by the Walton Family Foundation) apply monetary value to and promote payments for ecosystem services of the Colorado River Basin, and suggest unbundling water rights to create a water market in the Western US. Water-marketing may be central to addressing the main obstacle to finalizing a Lower Colorado River basin Drought Contingency Plan – California’s Salton Sea. Arizona aims to resolve remaining tribal water rights claims on the state’s terms and facilitate water marketing. A major US/Mexico water agreement makes water marketing central to multiple aspects of the current and future versions. The Bureau of Reclamation has become involved in water marketing, and things may become even worse under Trump’s administration.

It is concerning that seemingly necessary feel-good projects in water conservation will actually serve capitalism. But there is no denying that there are many examples of this across the world. NGO/corporate partnerships have served to contribute to learning experiences, provide green credentials for mining companies and other development to influence media and decision-makers, and create new mechanisms for access to resources and financial gain.

Standing Rock water protectors’ efforts were evoked in an article on the Ecosystem Marketplace website in which the author declared that 2016 was a year for learning the value of water. The article promoted market-based mechanisms like those developed by TNC. The real lesson to be learned is not that the value of water should be translated into market terms, but instead many have learned that resource appropriation (when not invisible) is backed up by state violence or the threat of it. Those who physically obstruct the Resolution Copper mine, or in any other case, in protest may be treated similarly to the water protectors fighting against DAPL.

 

See an accompanying page on the San Pedro River for more on that.

The Bankers at the Helm of the ‘Natural Capital’ Sector

January 26, 2017

by Michael Swifte

 

bankers-at-the-helm

Let’s put a spotlight on four bankers who positioned themselves in the ‘natural capital’ sector around the time of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Let’s have a look at some of their networks.

The reason these bankers have positions at the intersection of big finance and the conservation sector is because of their intimate knowledge of financial instruments and what some call “financial innovation”. They follow the edict ‘measure it and you can manage it’. They are the perfect addition to decades of work – as part of the sustainable development agenda – aimed at quantifying the economic value of nature in order to exploit it as collateral to underwrite the new economy.

Banker 1

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John Fullerton is a former managing director at JPMorgan, he founded the Capital Institute in 2010, in 2014 he became a member of the Club of Rome, he has written a book called Regenerative Capitalism.

“No doubt the shift in finance will require both carrots and sticks, and perhaps some clubs.” [Source]

The first of Fullerton’s key networked individuals is Gus Speth who consults to the Capital Institute, he sits on the US Advisory Board of 350.org and the New Economy Coalition board and is good buddies with the godfather of ‘ecosystem services’ Bob Costanza. He has a long history supporting sustainable development projects and has some seriously heavy hitting networks. He founded two conservation organisations with which he was actively engaged up until 2o12, both organisations continue to support ‘natural capital’ projects among other diabolical efforts.

The second networked individual is Hunter Lovins, an award winning author and environmentalist who heads up Natural Capital Solutions and is an advisor to the Capital Institute. She is a long term cheer leader for green capitalism, climate capitalism, and sustainable development.

Banker 2

tercek_pes_small

Mark Tercek was a managing director at Goldman Sachs and became the CEO of The Nature Conservancy in 2008, he has written a book called Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

“This reminds me of my Wall Street days. I mean, all the new markets—the high yield markets, different convertible markets, this is how they all start.” [Source]

One of Tercek’s networked individuals is conservation biologist Gretchen Daily, the person Hank Paulson sent him to meet when he accepted the leadership of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Daily co-founded the Natural Capital Project in 2005 with the help of  WWF, TNC and the University of Minnesota.

Another prominent figure in TNC is Peter Kareiva, senior science advisor to Mark Tercek and co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, he is also the former chief scientist of TNC and its former vice president.

Taylor Ricketts is also a co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, at the time of founding he was the director of conservation science at WWF. He’s now the director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics which was founded by Bob Costanza.

Banker 3

tall-paulson-misconstrued

Hank Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, he was US treasury secretary during the GFC, he’s a former chair of the TNC board and the driving force behind the 2008 bail out bill. In 2011 he launched the Paulson Institute which is focussed on China, he has written a memoir called On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.

Even before he was made treasury secretary by George W Bush, Paulson had an interest in conservation finance and greening big business. He was a founding partner of Al Gore and David Blood’s, Generation Investment Management which operates the “sustainable capitalism” focussed Generation Foundation. He has worked with Gus Speth’s World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop environmental policy for Goldman Sachs. In 2004 he facilitated the donation from Goldman Sachs of 680,000 acres of wilderness in southern Chile to the Wildlife Conservation Society and in 2002-04 he and his wife Wendy donated $608,000 to the League of Conservation Voters. He has also worked with the second largest conservation organisation on the planet Conservation International.

“The environment and the economy have been totally misconstrued as incompatible,”[Source]

 

“[…] It is is clear that a system of market-based conservation finance is vital to the future of environmental conservation.” [Source]

Banker 4

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Pavan Sukhdev is a former managing director and head of Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets business in India, he was the study leader of the G8+5  project, he founded the Green Accounting for Indian States Project, he co-founded and chairs an NGO in India called the Conservation Action Trust, he headed up the United Nations Environment Program – Green Economy Initiative which was launched in 2008, he has written a book called  Corporation 2020: Transforming Business For Tomorrow’s World 

Sukdev’s work cuts across more than a dozen UN agencies and scores of international agencies and initiatives. Here are just some of them: IUCN, ILO, WHO, UNESCO, IPBES, WEF, IMF, OECD. Every kind of commodity and economic activity has been covered through his work.

“We use nature because she’s valuable, but we lose nature because she’s free.” [Source]

There are only a one or two degrees of separation between these bankers and the environmental movements with which we are very familiar. Looking at key networked individuals connected to the representatives of the financial elites – bankers – helps to highlight the silences and privately held pragmatic positions of many an environmental pundit. “Leaders” of our popular environmental social movements don’t want to be seen or heard supporting the privatisation of the commons, but they remain silent in the face of a growing surge towards collateralization of the earth. Perhaps they too believe that using nature to capitalise the consumer economy is preferable to the toxic derivatives that precipitated the GFC. Either way the underlying motivation – for anyone who might feel that ecosystem services thinking is useful for the earth – is the desire for the continuation of our consumer economy.

 

nature-bar-code

The revolution will not be subsidized or absurd failure of the left (an interview with Cory Morningstar)

 

[English version. Read the original article in French here.]

 

We recently interviewed Cory Morningstar, a Canadian investigative journalist specializing in ecology and politics. Her outstanding work is available online freely, on her website (in English) . We published two articles on our site, namely 350.org, AVAAZ and the World March for the Climate – How the Empire Made Us Walk (by Cory Morningstar), and 350.org, Bill McKibben (& Naomi Klein): Ecology Made in Wall Street.

ONG

: How dire does our current predicament, as a species living on planet Earth, seem to you, and why?

Cory Morningstar: It is so dire, we are unable, or perhaps simply unwilling, to even comprehend the magnitude. Even those who do have the capacity to comprehend the magnitude of our predicament, are often unable to accept it fully. By this I mean we continue making long term plans for things we’ve established will not be plausible/possible at some point in our lifetime. We are so indoctrinated and conditioned to insanity, it appears we are not able to break free. Further, even if we did muster such courage to break free, the system that enslaves ensures we cannot. If one assembles the science in a way such as Guy McPherson has done, it is clear we have surpassed the utmost limits (1C) to which we warned by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (UNAGGG) published in 1990. A document which I might add was purposely buried in order to continue to grow the industrialized capitalist economic system. And of course this does not even include the further warming to which we are firmly committed yet will not show up for a few decades due to lag.

If one needs more proof to appease their doubt, they need not look further than Natalia Shakhova’s apocalyptic warning that the shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which serve as a seal for methane could go at any time.[1] Shakhova, one of world’s foremost experts/scientists on methane hydrates has seen her publications essentially blacklisted from media for years. Also, one must consider leading scientists began to employ the term “anthropocene” decades ago to describe a distinct geological epoch from the Holocene – a transition/change caused by human impacts. We collectively ignore this incredible turning point.[2]

Those are some of my main observations, but I think what I find most dire is what I observe in my day to day life. The simple observations of how people treat 1) each other, 2) sentient beings, 3) non-human life forms and 4) our Earth mother. And the ugly truth is that most people treat all four like disposable garbage. Hell, they even treat their bodies like garbage and are more than willing to poison their own children in a multitude of ways. One has to contemplate if this is sheer ignorance or rather, self-hatred. Regardless, we continue to rapidly devolve.  The level of cognitive dissonance becomes clear when you consider every civilization that has ever existed has fallen, yet the civilization that exceeds all others in regard to plunder of our natural environment upon which we absolutely depend, is considered exempt from this same prophetic fate.

 

: In the West, inside industrial societies, the main political opposition toward the dominant culture, which may not be as much in opposition as it likes to pretend or think, and that I’ll call “the left”, in order to be succinct, appears to be a huge failure, doesn’t it?

Cory Morningstar:

Yes, this is very true. I would agree that it is a huge failure. There are many reasons for this I believe. I will name a few. The majority of our “left” is comprised of privileged, almost exclusively white middle class. The same 1% class of people creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. It is incredibly difficult to persuade someone to look in the mirror when all those who surround him/her are demonizing fossil fuel corporations as though industry is somehow separated from society and the system itself.

After years of work on climate and ecological issues, I’ve concluded Western environmentalism is dead, having been replaced by 21st century anthropocentrism. The word “activist” in the west is a term that simply refers to a self-absorbed anthropocentrist – willfully blind to the horrors of imperialism and racism that hums beneath the entire system. Much of our language has been co-opted by the non-profit industrial complex including environmentalism, activism, radical, and even the word capitalism – a vogue word that provided an effective discourse to actually protect and expand the same socio-economic system that is killing us.

Revolutionary ideology in America is dead. A process is now fully underway now via the “new economy” (the financialization of nature) and even this does not invoke meaningful, fierce, necessary resistance. As much as Deepface (Facebook) may play a role in conveying information, social metrics in this way are like money. 500k followers has nothing to do with revolutionary actions, just as money is backed by nothing. Yet they both dominate the modern fucked-up Brave New World we live in today. I would argue social media is ultimately a great detriment to society as a whole,  the ultimate wet dream of every oligarch and advertiser alive today. Like my WKOG comrade Forrest Palmer says, like Latin, truth is a dead language in this world – as is critical thinking. There is simply no appetite for radical change if it impairs privilege. And the radical change necessary to even slow climate change down would require the most radical (yet empowering) sacrifice that would tear down the institutions that oppress those who pay the price for the privilege of the Euro-American West. I’ve come to terms with the fact that privilege in any form will never be relinquished by those who have it – it would have to be taken via force. Any legitimate attempts to dismantle current power structures, or even slow down our multiple crises and ultimate self-annihilation would only come from the working class.

: Why? What are the main reasons for its failure? 

Cory Morningstar: I think we fail to recognize the level of our own indoctrination. Pivotal questions put forward centuries ago in the paper The Politics of Obedience by Étienne de La Boétie continue to go unanswered. There is little to no interest in delving into such a critical barrier to this critical issue which serves to insulate current power structures. Facts grounded in reality observed by real revolutionaries, such as  Assata Shakur who pointed out “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them”, go ignored.

I believe the main reason for our collective failure is the success of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) which is financed to the tune of trillions by those who oppress us. Those at the helm of the NPIC appeal to the  worst traits of humanity, rather than the best. Individualism, narcissism, ego, want, hunger for power and recognition/fame. They tell the lies that we need to hear in order to live with ourselves and continue our rapacious plunder. They allow us to bask in our privilege without guilt. The “dead left” follows those they identify with, such as 350’s McKibben and Klein – white, wealthy “leaders” appointed by the elites. The Marilyn Bucks no longer exist. Revolutionaries such as Omali Yeshitela – who the “dead left” does not identify with – are ignored. In 1966 revolutionary leader Stockley Carmichael  stated “And that’s the real question faction the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?” Exactly 50 years we can answer with an unequivocal no. White activists were not/are not prepared to tear down the institutions as these institutions have granted this class privilege that they are not prepared to give up at any cost. Even the cost of their own children. And as Forrest Palmer notes often, today, the black bourgeoisie seek to assimilate into this oppressive system rather than destroy it. Even using the word destroy in the same breath of activism is deemed unacceptable. Self-defense is not recognized as legitimate by those of privilege while violence by the police state is generally accepted.  The belief that the world’s most powerful capitalists will give up any power or wealth voluntarily is absolutely asinine.

: It seems to me like the left is a confused mix of many different ideologies, more or less controlled and created by the dominant culture, which it thinks it is challenging, and that we can thus point out several major contradictions/inconsistencies that are preventing it from being an effective force of resistance, of change. What are your thoughts on this, and what would these major contradictions/inconsistencies be?

Cory Morningstar:

I thought this to be true years ago. That is, if “the left” could fully understand that they are continually being reabsorbed back into the very systems they claim to oppose, we could be militant against such manipulation. By fully embracing both discipline and critical thinking, we could stop this from happening over and over again. But western society has taught us the opposite. It celebrates the opposite. Don’t think critically. Don’t learn your history. Believe in the 10-second sound bites delivered to you from the corporate superpowers echoed through the NPIC/media chambers. But when I started writing the ugly truths about the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who form the NPIC, I discovered people believe in these institutions. The belief is powerful – akin to the belief in man’s white, blue-eyed male god.

When John D. Rockefeller stated “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun, he knew then what it would take decades for the left to come to terms with. With what they have yet to come to terms with. The idea that we can shift the balance of power through organizations financed by – and in many cases created by – the most powerful institutions in the world, is ludicrous. And yet it continues to be a most powerful force that promises our own self destruction and ultimate annihilation.  And when we look at what the dead left in the West continues to “demand” (demands where the solutions are already written and waiting for us behind closed doors), “solutions” that have nothing do with protecting nature or non-human life forms, but only western lifestyles, perhaps our eradication is a good thing. 

And that’s the saddest part of the story as we come to the final chapter. The irony being that if man had of placed non-human life first and foremost ahead of human life, by default, we would have saved ourselves. The is the ultimate contradiction. And what has lead to our ultimate demise. There is good news though. In all and every likelihood that we are unable to stop climate change, let alone slow it down, it is never too late to further our knowledge and pursue truth and justice. If we could garner even a shred of dignity as nature closes in, I think this is most worthwhile.


[1] “The total amount of the methane (CH4) in the current atmosphere is 5 gigatons. The amount of carbon preserved in the form of methane in the East Siberian Arctic shelf is approx. 100’s-1000’s gigatons. Only 1% of this amount is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane (which is approx. 23x more powerful than CO2). There is not much effort needed to destabilize just 1% of this carbon pool considering the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved. What keeps this methane from entering the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which is losing its ability to serve as a seal. It could happen anytime. “Natalia Shakhova is one of the world’s foremost experts on methane hydrates.

[2] The Holocene is the geological epoch that began after the Pleistocene at approximately 11,700 years before AD 2000 and officially continues to the present.

Don’t Put a Price Tag on Nature

Take Part

March 11, 2016

by Richard Conniff 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Rainbow Sparkle Ponies

Culture of Imbeciles

February 9, 2016

by Jay Taber

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When it comes to political con artists like Bill Gates, Bill McKibben and Ricken Patel, two of the obstacles to Ponzi scheme pattern recognition by The Climateers are illiteracy and immaturity. Illiteracy obscures the fact that over-the-rainbow puffery (like the exaggerations exhorted by the financial elite at COP21) is doomed to come crashing to earth–like all pyramid schemes do; immaturity allows the gullible to be hoodwinked into believing that somehow this time it will turn out differently. Inevitably, though, there comes a day of reckoning, and while the illiterate and immature desperately want to believe that rainbow sparkle ponies will be in their Christmas stockings this year — even though they’ve always received a lump of coal in the past — many are prepared to enthusiastically offer themselves as prey to the next fraud that comes along.

 

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