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Bolivia: The US Is Spying on Latin America Under the Cover of USAID and other NGOs

 “I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Feb 10, 2012

China Daily

LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday accused the United States of spying on his and other Latin American countries.

The Bolivian president said the spying is done under the cover of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I am convinced that some NGOs, especially those funded by the USAID, are the fifth column of espionage in Bolivia, not only in Bolivia, but also in all of Latin America,” Morales said during a press conference in Oruro, a southwestern Bolivian city.

Morales said the United States, through the cover of development aid operations of those organizations, knows “all the details of the activities of the social sectors and union leaders” in those Latin American countries.

The president regretted that some union leaders were allegedly used by these NGOs to stir disputes such as the one over a highway project in an indigenous territory in his country.

An All Time Environmental Low? Objectifying Women | Nature Conservancy Partners with Sports Illustrated

“The corporate greenie Nature Conservancy takes greenwash to an all-time low. Quite unprecedented even for an “enviro” outfit that partnered with Dow Chemical.” – Tin Alvarez, Ecological Activist, EcoJustice Pilipinas

Beaches, Babes, and Conservation: What’s Wrong With That?

2/9/2012

 by Keith Goetzman

 The Nature Conservancy is taking a new stripped-down approach to environmental protection: The green group is teaming up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and online luxury retailer Gilt to raise money for beach preservation in an unholy mashup of sex, commerce, marketing, publishing, and environmentalism.

Why the green tie-in? “Because everyone benefits from pristine tropical beaches. Especially when they’re occupied by gorgeous women in bathing suits.” That’s according to promotional prose about the partnership on the Gilt website, in an announcement that is no longer posted. (Though you can still buy a $1,000 ticket to a New York launch party where you can hang out with the swimsuit supermodels.)

Agribusiness: The Corporations that Control Conservation [WWF, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy]

“So, who are the individuals guarding the mission of global conservation nonprofits? US-WWF boasts (literally) that its new vice-chair was the last CEO of Coca-Cola, Inc. (a member of Bonsucro) and that another board member is Charles O. Holliday Jr., the current chairman of the board of Bank of America, who was formerly CEO of DuPont (owner of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a major player in the GMO industry). The current chair of the executive board at Conservation International, is Robert Walton, better known as chair of the board of WalMart (which now sells ‘sustainably sourced’ food and owns the supermarket chain ASDA). The boards of WWF and Conservation International do have more than a sprinkling of members with conservation-related careers. But they are heavily outnumbered by business representatives. On the board of Conservation International, for example, are GAP, Intel, Northrop Grumman, JP Morgan, Starbucks and UPS, among others.”

Way Beyond Greenwashing: Have Corporations Captured Big Conservation?

Beyond Greenwashing

by Jonathan Latham
Independent Science News

February 7, 2012

Imagine an international mega-deal. The global organic food industry agrees to support international agribusiness in clearing as much tropical rainforest as they want for farming. In return, agribusiness agrees to farm the now-deforested land using organic methods, and the organic industry encourages its supporters to buy the resulting timber and food under the newly devised “Rainforest Plus” label. There would surely be an international outcry.

Virtually unnoticed, however, even by their own membership, the world’s biggest wildlife conservation groups have agreed exactly to such a scenario, only in reverse. Led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), many of the biggest conservation nonprofits including Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy have already agreed to a series of global bargains with international agribusiness. In exchange for vague promises of habitat protection, sustainability and social justice, these conservation groups are offering to greenwash industrial commodity agriculture.

Kenya’s Samburu People ‘Violently Evicted’ after US Charities (Nature Conservancy & African Wildlife Foundation) Buy Land

Around 2,000 Samburu families have stayed squatting on edge of disputed territory, says NGO Survival International

“Members of the Samburu people in Kenya have been abused, beaten and raped by police after the land they lived on for two decades was sold to two US-based wildlife charities, a rights group and community leader have alleged. … The London-based NGO Survival International said the Samburu were evicted following the purchase of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation. The groups subsequently gifted the land to Kenya for a national park, to be called Laikipia National Park.”

The pastoralist Samburu have reported constant harassment from police with women allegedly raped and animals seized. Photograph: Zhao Yingquan/Xinhua

Members of the Samburu people in Kenya have been abused, beaten and raped by police after the land they lived on for two decades was sold to two US-based wildlife charities, a rights group and community leader have alleged.

The dispute centres on Eland Downs in Laikipia, a lush area near Mount Kenya. At least three people are said to have died during the row, including a child who was eaten by a lion after the Samburu were violently evicted in November last year.

The London-based NGO Survival International said the Samburu were evicted following the purchase of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation.

The groups subsequently gifted the land to Kenya for a national park, to be called Laikipia National Park.

Survival International said the land was officially owned by former president Daniel arap Moi, although AWF simply said it bought it from a private landowner.

With nowhere to go, around 2,000 Samburu families stayed on the edge of the disputed territory, living in makeshift squats, while 1,000 others were forced to relocate, Survival said.

Jo Woodman, a campaigner for Survival, said the pastoralist Samburu had reported constant harassment from police with women allegedly raped, animals seized and an elder shot as recently as last month.

“There has been an ongoing, constant level of fear, intimidation and violence towards the community, which has been devastating,” Woodman said.

A community leader, who did not wish to be named, described police harassment as enormous. He said police beat people, burned manyattas or traditional homesteads and carried out arbitrary arrests during the period leading up to and including the eviction last year. He said they also confiscated many animals and the intimidation has continued.

“The situation has been really bad for a long time,” he said. “[The Samburu] have nothing. Things like bedding and utensils were burned.”

Kenyan police were not available on Wednesday to comment on the allegations.

Survival has written to the UN appealing for urgent action to put an end to the violence and provide assistance to the Samburu, who have gone to court to establish their right to the land.

“In one incident, a Samburu elder was shot dead by paramilitaries,” the group said in its letter to the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, dated 7 December.

“The displaced community has nothing but their livestock, thousands of which were impounded – with no reason given – on 25 November 2011. This is an urgent and serious violation of the rights of this community, which has been left squatting beside its land with no amenities,” Survival’s letter said.

The two conservation groups gifted the 17,100 acres to Kenya’s government in November to create a national park to be run by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

However, since then a court has banned the KWS from proceeding with the conservation project until a ruling on the Samburus’ legal case.

Both US-based charities indicated they were watching the situation with concern but were unable to comment for legal reasons.

John Butler, director of marketing for the AWF, said: “The African Wildlife Foundation does not condone violence. AWF has a longstanding history of working closely with local communities to ensure that conservation solutions benefit both people and wildlife. Unfortunately, we cannot comment at length on this issue due to a pending court case in Kenya.”

Blythe Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy, said: “The conflict over natural resources across Africa is a serious issue. Everywhere we work in Africa, we’re working with local communities to address natural resource issues. We’re closely monitoring this situation; unfortunately we can’t comment at length due to a pending court case in Kenya.”

Kenya has a history of land-grabbing by senior government officials, particularly during Daniel arap Moi’s time in power. Land disputes are common as legal documents of ownership are often missing or have been forged.

A request for comment from Kenya’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife went unanswered. However the minister, Dr Noah Wekesa, was quoted as telling parliament last month that KWS had ceased all activity on the land, which would not be gazetted as a national park until the other legal case was resolved.

The Samburu’s legal case was heard in the town of Nyeri on Wednesday and lawyer Korir Sing’Oei said the court confirmed that the KWS had secured registration of the land.

“The court has turned a blind eye to the pleas of the Samburu community and allowed these illegalities to subsist,” he said. “The transfer [of the land to the KWS] is totally unlawful and it’s in flagrant violation of the interests of the Samburu community.”

The court had agreed to give further direction on the matter in January.

Korir Sing’Oei said he intended to address the violations of rights in a separate case.

“Last year, when the community was forcefully evicted from the land … their homes were burnt down and livestock confiscated in their hundreds and lots of their women were violated,” he said.

“Given the powerful actors who have vested interests in the land, this issue has been really hushed up in the local media,” he added.

The lawyer said the evicted Samburu had no intention of leaving Laikipia, a popular destination for wildlife-loving tourists and the area where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in a rustic lodge.

“Where would they go to? They have absolutely nowhere else to go,” he said.

The community elder said running away was not an option.

“That’s the place you call your home … it’s where you were brought up and where your children call home. It’s an ancestral land.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/14/kenya-samburu-people-evicted-land

U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$

U.S. Funded Democracy Centre Reveals It’s Real Reason for Supporting the TIPNIS Protest in Bolivia: REDD $$$

November 23rd, 2011

by Cory Morningstar

DI NO AL REDD – Rapido Enriquecimiento con Desalojos, usurpación de tierras y Destrucción de biodiversidad. SAY NO TO REDD – Reaping Profits from Evictions, Land Grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of Biodiversity

“Bolivia is and will remain a country who desperately struggles to resist Imperialism and fight for their autonomy – against all odds.”

The Democracy Centre, Avaaz and Amazon Watch are the main three NGOs, heavily funded by U.S. interests (Rockefellers, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation and Soros to name a few), who led the recent International campaign in which they denounced and demonized Bolivian Indigenous leader Evo Morales and his government. This destabilization campaign focused on the TIPNIS protests. A violent confrontation between TIPNIS protestors (influenced/funded by U.S. NGOs/USAID/CIDOB) and the police was the vital opportunity needed in order to execute a destabilization campaign that the U.S. has been strategically planning for decades. (Declassified Documents Revealed More than $97 Million from USAID to Separatist Projects in Bolivia | Evo Morales Through the Prism of Wikileaks – Democracy in Danger).

A key demand put forward by the TIPNIS protestors were that Indigenous peoples would directly receive financial compensation for ‘offsetting’ carbon emissions. This policy, known as REDD/REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), has been denounced as the commodification and privatisation of the forests by many, including those within the climate justice movements. The ‘People’s Agreement’ created at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (April 2010) clearly condemned REDD, stating that it violates “the sovereignty of our Peoples.” REDD has been promoted as a mechanism to allow developed countries to continue to pollute while undermining the right for underdeveloped countries to develop their economies. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environment Network stated unequivocally that “The carbon market solutions are not about mitigating climate, but are greenwashing policies that allow fossil fuel development to expand.”

Morales survived the orchestrated attempt to destabilize his government. No one’s fool, Morales did something completely unexpected that few if anyone had even considered: he granted the Indigenous peoples of the TIPNIS every single demand which the protestors, under foreign/outside influence had sought (although he made clear that on the issue of REDD, the ‘People’s Agreement’ adopted at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth would guide any future decision on this issue). Completely caught off guard by Morales response, and realizing, perhaps for the first time, whose lives would ultimately be affected by the outcomes of the demands, and how, one anxious protestor commented “we’re screwed“.

Video: Manipulation: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu-STOP pushing us for REDD (running time: 9:26)

Morales has been a world leader in his vocal opposition to REDD stating that “nature, forests and indigenous peoples are not for sale.” At the opposite end of the spectrum are the foundations (who serve as tax-exempt front groups for corporations and elites) who finance the NGOs who have led the campaign to discredit Morales are most all heavily promoting and investing in REDD. CIDOB is involved in pilot REDD projects funded by the NGO called FAN (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza) which is funded by a slew of foreign interest entities/states and corporate NGOs such as USAID, Conservation International, European Union, American Electric Power, BP-Amoco and Dow Chemical‘s partner, The Nature Conservancy. Indeed, when it comes to the world’s most powerful NGOs voicing any dissent to the false solution of REDD, the silence is deafening. (http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/10/26/manufacturing-consent-on-carbon-trading/)

The money behind the REDD scheme is in the trillions.

Above: Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu – Stop Pushing Us For REDD – Photo: Rebecca Sommer

It is revealing to note that while the corporate NGOs worked feverishly to shine an International spotlight on the tear-gassing of the TIPNIS protestors by Bolivian police, a slaughter of 100,000 Libyan civilians was underway in an Imperialist, NATO-led invasion under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’. This invasion was made possible by the fabrication of events and lies put forward by 78 NGOs. To this day, there is no evidence to back these lies. The NGOs were and remain silent on this latest atrocity as the U.S./Euro Imperialist destabilization campaigns escalate in the Middle East in a race towards global domination.

The Democracy Centre makes clear it’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position on REDD in its policy statement on REDD drafted by staffer Kylie Benton-Connell [1]

In this report, the Democracy Centre both denies/ignores the involvement of USAID in the CIDOB promoted REDD Amazonia project via its funding to FAN, and argues that “The REDD Amazonia project is important, because it keeps the possibility of these kind of projects alive in Bolivian institutions, in a context where the national government is swimming against the tide of international REDD politics.”

Furthermore, Benton-Connell reiterates the Democracy Centre’s opposition to the Bolivian Morales government’s position and the Centre’s support for REDD in her article published on November 21, 2011 (link below and also published on the Democracy Centre’s website):

” The decision linking forest conservation to carbon markets may well be finalized at the UN climate negotiations in Durban at the beginning of December, unless it is blocked by dissident countries.”

Moreover, Benton-Connell tells us:

“… if today’s Bolivian government or a future one drops its opposition to carbon markets, and an international agreement is reached on trading in forest carbon, revenue streams could become much larger.”

Benton-Connell continues that the problem is not REDD itself, but how REDD is organized. She states:

“The fates of many ordinary people in Bolivia — and of similar communities across the globe — will be in play as technocrats discuss plans for forest carbon trading at the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Durban. As Marcos Nordgren Ballivián, climate change analyst with Bolivian organization CIPCA told us last year: “tensions already exist, and with a new source of profits such as REDD could prove to be, it might cause problems … But we’ll have to see how REDD is organized, because that will define, of course, if these conflicts are worsened.”

The following text appears 8 March 2010 in an article titled Getting REDDy to Cross the Finish Line, Two Decades in the Making: “It’s hard to imagine with all the progress REDD has achieved, that it all started less than 20 years ago with the Rio Summit in ’92, when the makings of a global sustainability architecture in the form of a climate treaty began to take shape. But a forestry treaty had yet to happen … With over 20 years of experience in the forestry sector, Michael Northrup, Program Director of Sustainable Development at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, was invited by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to give a Distinguished Lecture, ‘After Copenhagen: Implications for U.S. Climate, Energy, and Forest Policy’ at the high brow, exclusive Cosmos Club. Northrup casually described to the 30 or so people in the room where we are with REDD today and how we got here. Plus he played the “name game” as he knew most of the people in the room.”

Of course, Rockefeller is not alone in its quest to lead and dominate on the promise of “green capitalism”; other members of the elites will not be left behind to feed on the breadcrumbs. For example, The Climate and Land Use Alliance, whose member foundations include the ClimateWorks Foundation (Avaaz partner), the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and multi-million dollar corporate NGOs – Greenpeace International and Rockefeller’s WWF have joined forces to push forward the false solution of REDD.

“The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the movement; they built it.” –Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, “The Eco-Establishment“, in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe, Harper and Row, 1970

Video: President Morales Speaks to Imperialism (UN Gen Ass, Sept 21, 2011)(Running time: 8:02)

Let us close while we reflect upon the words of author Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti:

“In the recent conflict over the construction of a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory, history repeated itself once again: indigenous people renounced all possibility of progress and integration in favor of the hidden political objective of the US to boycott the projects of crop-substitution and development center in the Chapare, wherein lies the core of the anti-imperialist consciousness of the Bolivian people. Once again, foreign interests have ensured that the Indians act against their own interests. This shows that a priority issue for the new agenda of president Morales should be to continue deconstructing the control mechanisms of the Western powers. “Philanthropy” has always been one of the most dangerous mechanisms.”

The article: http://www.alternet.org/water/153161/will_programs_to_off-set_carbon_emissions_fuel_further_conflict_in_bolivia%27s_forests?page=entire

For further reading on the International Campaign to Destabilize Bolivia: http://wrongkindofgreen.org/category/the-international-campaign-to-destabilize-bolivia/

[1] Benton-Connell worked with the Democracy Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia from February 2010 to June 2011, where she authored the report “Off the Market: Bolivian forests and struggles over climate change.”

Flashback: The Eco-Establishment

Katherine Barkley and Steve Weissman, “The Eco-Establishment,” in: Ramparts (eds.), Eco-Catastrophe (Harper and Row, 1970), pp.15-24.

Ask Vietnam protesters about the April 22 National Environmental Teach-In and they’ll tell you it’s a scheme to contain their spring offensive against the ecological disaster in Southeast Asia. Ask young blacks about this new movement to save the ecosystem and they’ll tell you that it is a way of distracting attention from the old movement that was supposed to save their skins.

Then go and talk to an environmental activist, a Survival Walker. Ask him why the ecology movement has turned its back on Vietnam and civil rights and he’ll explain, with a convincing freshness the old New Left has lost, that the sky is falling. He’ll point out that we all have to breathe and that none of us – white or black, Vietnamese peasant or American marine – has much of a future on CO2. We all must eat, and a diet of pesticides is deadly. We all need water, and the dwindling supplies are unfit for human (or even industrial) consumption. We all depend on the same limited forests, mines, oceans and soil, and we are all going to choke on the same waste and pollution.

To this new ecology activist, nothing could be more obvious: we’ve all got to unite behind the overriding goal of unfouling our common nest before it’s too late, turning back the pages of the environmental doomsday book. If we succeed, then we can get back to these other questions. There is no stopping, he will add, an idea whose time has come.

He will be right, too-though a bit naive about where ideas come from and where movements go. Environment will be the issue of the ’70?s, but not simply because the air got thicker or the oceans less bubbly, or even because the war in Vietnam got too bloody to have to think about every day. It will be the issue of the ’70?s because such stewards of the nation’s wealth as the Ford Foundation, with its Resources for the Future, Inc. (RFF), and Laurance Rockefeller’s Conservation Foundation needed a grass-roots movement to help consolidate their control over national policymaking, bolster their hold over world resources, and escalate further cycles of useless economic growth.

[II]

The environment bandwagon is not as recent a phenomenon as it seems. It began to gather momentum back in the mid-’60?s under the leadership of Resources for the Future. “The relationship of people to resources, which usually has been expressed in terms of quantity, needs to be restated for modern times to emphasize what is happening to the quality of resources,” warned RFF President Joseph L. Fisher in his group’s 1964 report. “The wide variety of threats to the quality of the environment may well embrace the gravest U.S. resources problem for the next generation.” The following year, Resources for the Future established a special research and educational program in environmental quality, funded with a $ 1.1 million grant from its parent organization, the Ford Foundation.

Created by Ford in the early ’50?s during the scare over soaring materials costs, RFF had just made its name in conservation by organizing the Mid-Century Conference on Resources for the Future, the first major national conservation conference since Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot staged the National Governors’ Conference in 1908. Held in 1953, the Mid-Century Conference mustered broad support from both the country’s resource users and conservers for the national conservation policy already spelled out by President Truman’s Materials Policy Commission. It was this Commission, headed by William S. Paley (board chairman of CBS and a founding director of RFF), which had openly affirmed the nation’s inalienable right to extract cheap supplies of raw materials from the underdeveloped countries, and which set the background for Eisenhower and Dulles’ oft-quoted concern over the fate of the tin and tungsten of Southeast Asia. Insuring adequate supplies of resources for the future became a conservationist byword.

By the mid-’60?s, Resources for the Future had begun to broaden its concern to include resource quality, thus setting the tone for a decade of conservationist rhetoric and behavior. The trustees of the Ford Foundation, an executive committee of such international resource users and polluters as Esso and Ford Motor, established a separate Resources and Environment Division which, since 1966, has nourished such groups as Open Space Action Committee, Save-the-Redwoods League, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund. A year later, the Rockefeller Foundation set up an Environmental Studies Division, channelling money to the National Academy of Science and RFF and to Laurance Rockefeller’s own pet project, the Conservation Foundation.

The conservationist-planners’ new concern over threats to the quality of resources, and to life itself, was actually an outgrowth of their earlier success in assuring cheap and plentiful raw materials. It had become clear that supplies of resources would be less a problem than the immense amount of waste generated as a by-product of those now being refined. The more industry consumed, the more it produced and sold, the larger and more widespread the garbage dumps. Rivers and lakes required costly treatment to make water suitable for use in homes and industry. Smoggy air corroded machines, ruined timberlands, reduced the productivity of crop lands and livestock – to say nothing of its effect on the work capacity of the average man. Pesticides were killing more than pests, and raising the spectre of cumulative disaster. Cities were getting noisier, dirtier, uglier and more tightly packed, forcing the middle class to the suburbs and the big urban landowners to the wall. “Ugliness,” Lyndon Johnson exclaimed sententiously, “is costly.”

This had long been obvious to the conservationists. Something had to be done, and the elite resource planners took as their model for action the vintage 1910 American conservation movement, especially its emphasis on big business cooperation with big government.

[III]

When the 1890 census officially validated the fact that the frontier was closed, a generation of business and government leaders realized with a start that the American Eden had its bounds. Land, timber and water were all limited, as was the potential for conflicts over their apportionment. What resources should timber-men, grazers or farmers exploit? What should be preserved as a memory of the American past? Who would decide these questions? The conservationists – Teddy Roosevelt, Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot and some of the bigger timber, grazing and agricultural interests – pushed heavily for a new policy to replace the crude and wanton pillage which had been part of the frontier spirit. While preservationists like John Muir were fighting bitterly against any and all use of wild areas by private interests, the conservationists wanted only to make sure that the environment would be exploited with taste and efficiency.

Roosevelt and his backers won out, of course. And the strategy they used is instructive: failing initially to muster congressional support for their plan, they mobilized a broadly based conservation movement, supposedly to regulate the private interests which they in fact represented. Backed by the widespread public support it had whipped up, the conservationist juggernaut then began to move the country toward a more regulated – but still private – exploitation of its riches.

Of course, the private interests which had helped draft this policy also moved – to staff the regulatory agencies, provide jobs for retiring regulators, and generally to put the right man in the right niche most of the time. Within short order, the regulatory agencies were captives of the interests they were supposed to regulate, and they were soon being used as a screen which kept the public from seeing the way that small interests were squeezed out of the competition for resources. Their monopoly position thus strengthened by regulatory agencies, these large interests found it easy to pass the actual costs of regulation on to the citizen consumer.

[IV]

The old American conservation movement had reacted out of fear over resource scarcities; the new movement of the mid-’60?s feared, as well, the destruction of resource quality. And the corporation conservationists and their professional planners in organizations like Resources for the Future onceagain looked to government regulations as an answer to the difficulties they foresaw. Only this time the stakes were much higher than they had been at the early part of the century. Many of the resource planners want an all-encompassing environmental agency or Cabinet level Department of Resources, Environment and Population. Holding enormous power over a wide range of decisions, this coordinating apparatus would be far more convenient for the elite than the present array of agencies, each influenced by its own interest groups.

Who will benefit from this increased environmental consciousness and who will pay is already quite clear to business, if not to most young ecology activists. “The elite of business leadership,” reports Fortune, “strongly desire the federal government to step in, set the standards, regulate all activities pertaining to the environment, and help finance the job with tax incentives.” The congressional background paper for the 1968 hearings on National Policy on Environmental Quality, prepared with the help of Rockefeller’s Conservation Foundation, spells out the logic in greater detail: “Lack of national policy for the environment has now become as expensive to the business community as to the Nation at large. In most enterprises, a social cost can be carried without undue burden if all competitors carry it alike. For example, industrial waste disposal costs can, like other costs of production, be reflected in prices to consumers. But this becomes feasible only when public law and administration put all comparable forms of waste-producing enterprises under the same requirements.” Only the truly powerful could be so candid about their intention to pick the pocket of the consumer to pay for the additional costs they will be faced with.

The resource planners are also quite frank about the wave of subsidies they expect out of the big clean-up campaign. “There will have to be a will to provide funds,” explains Joseph Fisher, “to train the specialists, do the research and experimentation, build the laws and institutions through which more rapid progress [in pollution control] can be made, and of course, build the facilities and equipment.” The coming boondoggles – replete with tax incentives, direct government grants, and new products – will make the oil depletion allowance seem tame. And what’s more, it will be packaged as a critical social service.

The big business conservationists will doubtless be equally vocal about the need for new bond issues for local water and sewage treatment facilities; lead crusades to overcome reluctance of the average citizen to vote “yes” on bond measures; and then, as bondholders themselves, skim a nice tax-free six or seven per cent off the top.

It isn’t just the citizen and taxpayer who will bear the burden, however. Bedraggled Mother Nature, too, will pay. Like the original conservation movement it is emulating, today’s big business conservation is not interested in preserving the earth; it is rationally reorganizing for a more efficient rape of resources (e.g., the export of chemical-intensive agribusiness) and the production of an even grosser national product.

The seeming contradictions are mind-boggling: industry is combating waste so it can afford to waste more; it is planning to produce more (smog-controlled) private autos to crowd more highways, which means even more advertising to create more “needs” to be met by planned obsolescence. Socially, the result is disastrous. Ecologically, it could be the end.

Why don’t the businessmen simply stop their silly growthmanship? They can’t. If one producer slowed down in the mad race, he’d be eaten up by his competitors. If all conspired together to restrain growth permanently, the unemployment and cutbacks would make today’s recession look like full employment, and the resulting unrest would make today’s dissent look like play time at Summerhill.

[V]

They began in the mid-’60?s in low key, mobilizing the academicians, sprinkling grants and fellowships at the “better” schools, and coordinating research efforts of Resources for the Future, the Conservation Foundation, RAND, Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Science and the Smithsonian Institution. Major forums were held in 1965 and 1966 on “The Quality of the Environment” and “Future Environments of North America.” Research findings were programmed directly into industrial trade associations and business firms.

Then the resource people put their men and programs in the official spotlight: Laurance Rockefeller (founder of and major donor to the Conservation Foundation and also a director of RFF) chaired both the White House Conference on Natural Beauty and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty (which Nixon has rechristened his Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality). Conservation Foundation President Russell Train headed up Nixon’s Task Force on Resources and Environment, with help from Fisher and several other directors of RFF and the Conservation Foundation, and then became Undersecretary of Interior.

Then the media were plugged in, an easy task for men who have in their hands the direction of CBS, National Educational Television, Time-Life-Fortune, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times and Cowles publications, as well as many of the trade journals and conservation magazines. Independent media, seeing that environment was now news, picked up and broadcast the studies which the conservation elite had produced. Public opinion leaders told their public, in Business Week’s words, “to prepare for the approval of heavy public and private spending to fight pollution.”

Finally, the grass roots were given the word. RFF, Ford and Rockefeller had long worked with and financed the old-time conservation groups, from Massachusetts Audubon to the Sierra Club, and now the big money moved beyond an appreciation of wilderness to a greater activism. When, for example, David Brower broke with the Sierra Club, it was Robert O. Anderson of Atlantic-Richfield and RFF who gave him $200,000 to set up Friends of the Earth (prudently channeling the donation through the organization’s tax exempt affiliate, the John Muir Institute).

When Senator Gaylord Nelson and Congressman Pete McCloskey got around to pushing the National Teach-In, it was the Conservation Foundation, the Audubon Society and the American Conservation Association which doled out the money while Friends of the Earth was putting together The Environmental Handbook, meant to be the Bible of the new movement.

The big business conservationists and their professionals didn’t buy off the movement; they built it.

[VI]

Ecology activists out picketing a polluter or cleaning up a creek will have total freedom to make up their own minds about the threats to our environment, and they will have every right to choose their own course of constructive action. Yet they will surely never get a dime from Robert Anderson, or even a farthing from Ford or Rockefeller. And so far, the grass-roots ecology movement has done nothing but echo the eco-elite.

Ecology, unlike most of the fractured scientific field, is holistic. It talks of life and its environment as a totality: how organisms relate to each other and to the system which provides their life-support system. As a discipline applied to human affairs, then, ecology should help us get a whole view of our natural and social environment-from oxygen cycles to business cycles, from the jeopardized natural environment to the powerful institutional environment which creates that jeopardy. If it revealed these interconnections, ecology would become, as it has been called, a “subversive science,” subverting the polluters and resource-snatchers who now control the conservation of the nation’s wealth. It would point the finger not simply at profit-making polluters or greedy consumers, but at the great garbage-creation system itself – the corporate capitalist economy.

But this is a far cry from the ecology movement as we have inherited it. Ecology, the science of interconnections, becomes a matter of cleaning up beaches and trying to change individuals’ habits and attitudes, while ignoring the institutions which created them and practically all environmental damage.

The grass-roots ecology groups do have politics-the politics of consumer boycotts, shareholder democracy and interest group pluralism, all of which show a wonderfully anachronistic faith in the fairness of the market, political and economic. “If Dow pollutes,” say the boycotters, “then we just won’t buy Saran Wrap.” If Super Suds won’t make biodegradable soap, we’ll buy Ivory. If Ford and Chevy won’t make steam cars, we’ll buy Japanese imports. From the planned obsolescence in automobiles, to 20 brands of toothpaste, much of what industry produces is insulting to the intelligence while also serving no real need; it is waste, to say nothing of the enormous pollution entailed in overproduction.

Consumer sovereignty has gone the way of the dodo, its passing noted two decades back by that stalwart defender of the new corporate capitalism, John Kenneth Galbraith. Consumers just don’t control what gets produced, or how. To educate or build support for some stronger action, boycotts, like the picket line, work well. Bi to change production habits, an ecology movement will really hay to pull the big plug at the other end of the TV transmitter, or better at the production line itself.

Failing in the economic arena, the ecology groups can of course try their hand directly in the political marketplace. Oil has its lobby the auto manufacturers theirs. Why not a People’s Lobby? Californians have already created one, which is now pushing in Sacramento for a referendum “to make the polluters pay.” The Environmental Defense League, geared primarily to the court system, also defending the environment in Congress. The Sierra Club have already lost its tax-exempt status for being too political, and number of the older conservation groups are pushing new, stream-lined legislation. The strategy seems to be paying off, winning victories here and there. Most of the victories, however, mere strengthen the regulatory agencies, which, after public vigilance peters out, will become tools of the big corporations.

Where boycotts and stockholder strategies simply fail, this interest group politics may lead the ecology movement off the edge of a very well-conserved cliff. Eco-catastrophe threatens to kill it all – and Mother Nature, too. But to engage in the give-and-take of interest group politics, the ecologists must grant serious consideration to and must compromise with the oil interests, auto manufacturers and other powerful business groups. Standard Oil gets Indonesia only if they will market that country’s prized sulphur-free oil here; the auto makers can keep producing their one-man-one-car civilization in return for making additional profit (and apparent compromise) on smog control. The world is dying: write your congressman today.

From lobbying, the eco-groups will move into the nearest election, trying to put Paul Ehrlich or David Brower in office. But elections aren’t won on single issues. Allies must be wooed, coalition built. Already parochial and out of sympathy with the blacks an other out-groups, the environmentalists, anxious to infiltrate the electoral system, will become even more respectable and more careful to avoid contamination by “extreme” positions or people. The will become further compartmentalized and will be at dead center sacrificing even those of their own who refuse to compromise.

Avoiding “politics,” the ecologists have taken up the old liberal shuck. Give equal freedom to aristocrats and the people, to bosses and workers, to landlords and tenants, and let both sides win. The scheme, of course, overlooks the one-sided distribution of resources, money and media-power. Some “reformers” will have all they need, but their solution, which will become the solution, is itself a good part of the problem. Profit-seekers and growth-mongers can’t co-exist with Mother Nature and her fragile children without doing them irreparable harm.

To save any semblance of democracy, a decent relationship to the environment and perhaps the environment itself – ecology, the “in” movement, must become a movement of the outs. It must be committed to a long-term militant fight on more clearly understood grounds – its own grounds. That too might be impossible. But, as Eugene V. Debs once observed, it’s a lot better to fight for what you want and not get it, than to fight for-and get-what you don’t want.

Katherine Barkley is a staff member of the Pacific Studies Center.

http://peoplesgeography.com/links/the-eco-establishment/

From the Belly of the Beast – A MUST READ on REDD – | REDD is Supported by Greenpeace, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, WWF & Many More Corporate Greens

Blog Post from the Belly of the Beast: In the Bowels of the World Bank

–by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project; North American Focal Point, Global Forest Coalition

… the Indonesian military is getting money through climate financing for REDD-type projects. The communities that live in the forests–some of them Indigenous to the area, some of them relocated there in the 80s–are being invaded by heavily armed forest rangers, paramilitaries and police; and are forced to leave at gunpoint while their homes are burned to the ground.

Benoit Bosquet, Coordinator of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, defends the bank’s role in "forest conservation" in Indonesia, where forest-based communities have been forcibly evicted at gunpoint. Behind him is a photo of one such eviction. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Today commenced the fall meetings of the World Bank in Washington, DC. The Bank has long been known for its strong-arm tactics to force countries in the Global South to turn over their resources–whether natural resources or poor peoples’ labor– to corporations based in the Industrialized North.

While the Bank is notorious as a major funder of fossil fuel projects, devastating large-scale hydroelectric projects and deforestation projects, they have now become one of the leaders in the effort to use “market-based” schemes for climate mitigation. They are the world’s carbon brokers.

Indeed, one of the items on their meeting agenda is climate finance–pumping money into various developing countries to supposedly undertake climate mitigation programs that will predominately benefit countries in the north, by enabling them to maintain business as usual and avoid cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Appropriately, there was a civil society session this morning on the impacts of climate finance for REDD projects in Indonesia. Indonesia is a global focal point for climate action because of the massive climate emissions that have occurred there largely as a result of the burning of primeval peat forests for conversion to oil palm plantations. But even the climate mitigation programs come with a high price, and Indonesia provides a stark case study of the devastating social and ecological impacts of REDD (the scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

But in order to participate in the workshop, it was first necessary to navigate the World Bank’s ridiculous security process.

It became obvious quickly that the Bank is quite paranoid about security. Now why, I wondered sarcastically, would an institution whose mission is ostensibly about poverty eradication need blocks and blocks of metal barricades and legions of police surrounding it?

Perhaps it has something to do with all of the people around the globe who have suffered under their severely unjust policies. Maybe they never quite got over A-16, (April 16, 2000) when thousands of activists descended on DC to blockade all of the streets surrounding the World Bank in a massive condemnation of the Bank’s dirty dealings.

But on this day, there were no protests, yet I still got the run-around by numerous unfriendly security officers and police, directed this way and that until I finally managed to find the registration building.

Once there, I explained for the fourth time that I was only there for one workshop and just needed a day pass. “We’re not giving out day passes today,” the desk jockey muttered. I had not encountered such surly, robot-like people since the Manchester, New Hampshire jail after a group of us were arrested in January 2000 for occupying Al Gore’s NH campaign headquarters in support of the U’Wa people of Colombia, whose lands were threatened by oil drilling by Occidental Petroleum. (Al had a lot of stock in Occidental).

Frustrated, irritated and thoroughly disgusted, I was ready to give up and make the trek back uptown when I saw a separate registration area for CSOs (civil society organizations). Okay, I thought, one more try.

I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I talked my way into an official access badge. Then after navigating yet more metal barricades, police officers and a metal detector, I finally arrived at my destination: the workshop on the impacts of REDD and forest “conservation” in Indonesia. It was horrifying.

Global Justice Ecology Project has been exposing the impacts of REDD on communities in Chiapas, Mexico and California as the result of a sub-national REDD carbon offset deal between the two states. Indigenous communities in the jungle of Chiapas are threatened with displacement for “forest protection” projects, and being subjected to intimidation tactics such as the withholding of medical services to try to force them to leave.

But what is happening on the ground in Indonesia is even more extreme. As one panelist pointed out, the violence happening to the people in the forests is even worse than the violence that occurred under the Suharto dictatorship.

While the dictatorship no longer exists, the military still maintains most of the power in the country–and now that the forests have suddenly increased in value because of REDD (because the carbon stored by the trees now has value), people who live in the forests but do not have official title to their lands (which is about 80% of the people in the rural areas) are being violently evicted for “conservation” projects.

In the 1980s, a program was initiated in Indonesia called the Transmigration Program. It moved 2.5 million people off of the heavily populated islands of Bali and Java and onto other islands, leading to tremendous land conflicts. In some areas, the ratio of migrants to locals was 2:1. This, the speaker explained, is exactly what is now happening under REDD. Massive population displacement.

In a nutshell, the Indonesian military is getting money through climate financing for REDD-type projects. The communities that live in the forests–some of them Indigenous to the area, some of them relocated there in the 80s–are being invaded by heavily armed forest rangers, paramilitaries and police; and are forced to leave at gunpoint while their homes are burned to the ground.

All in the name of conservation.

I spoke briefly with the panel moderator, a woman native to Indonesia, about our work in Chiapas and what we had found there.

“Yes,” she replied. “What we see in Indonesia is not unique. It is happening all over with these REDD projects.”

And what is the point of all of this suffering and misery and violence? To provide corporations in the industrialized north with the opportunity to avoid reducing their pollution by “buying” carbon stored in some distant forest thereby “offsetting” their emissions.

So, in other words, impoverished rural and Indigenous peoples are being confronted with unspeakable violence to allow companies in the North to continue to poison and pollute poor communities near their facilities in the North.

Benoit Bosque, of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (the Bank’s program to help design and fund REDD projects in tropical and subtropical countries) spoke and tried to deflect this intense critique by explaining that REDD was extremely complex, but we shouldn’t give up. “These conflicts are about an accumulation of past mistakes. We cannot let fear of mistakes prevent us from taking bold steps forward.”

Yeah, tell that to the Indigenous Peoples being thrown off of their ancestral lands…

His callous reply received a lot of indignant responses from both the audience and the panel, who pointed out that the World Bank’s track record of enforcing even its own safeguards is terrible. “Consultations have been window dressing. Demands must be made for accountability with World Bank partners or don‘t make them partners. Don’t give them funding!”

At that Benoit bid his adieu before there were any more confrontations about the Bank’s role in funding violence against forest dependent communities.

For these reasons and many, many more, organizations and Indigenous Peoples’ groups around the world are condemning REDD. For more information on this, go to: http://noredd.makenoise.org/. To learn more about GJEP’s work in Chiapas and California on REDD, go to http://climate-connections.org/category/chiapas-2/. To view our photo essay from the community of Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle, click here

http://climate-connections.org/2011/09/23/blog-post-from-the-belly-of-the-beast-in-the-bowels-of-the-world-bank/

Corporate Green Nature Conservancy Earns $4M Selling (False Solution) Carbon Credits in Canada

"…many European firms buy the offsets to claim to be carbon-neutral for both environmental and marketing reasons."

View Larger ImageTerri Theodore, The Canadian Press

Jun. 8, 2011

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is selling the forest to save the trees. The group is raising millions from its protected forest land by selling carbon credits for protecting the land.

The conservancy announced it is earning $4 million with the largest forest carbon-credit project in North America from its 55,000-hectare Darkwoods forest in southeastern B.C.

The carbon-offset value on 700,000 tonnes of emissions is based on preserving a forest that is private land which could otherwise be aggressively logged, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said Wednesday.

"It is a great time to announce a project like this, being Clean Air Day and we know the role that forests play in keeping our air clean and removing the carbon dioxide," Lake told a crowd gathered for the announcement.

Pacific Carbon Trust — the B.C. Crown corporation that helps market carbon offsets — purchased 450,000 credits from the conservancy and the private Vancouver company Ecosystem Restoration Associates bought 250,000 credits.

Both firms will resell the credits to clients who want to meet carbon reduction goals.

John Lounds, president of the Nature Conservancy, said they’ve created a model for other land owners to follow for preserving forests and protecting the environment.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns more than 800,000 hectares of ecologically significant land nationwide, and the Darkwood property carbon plan is considered a pilot project for the conservancy.

The conservancy purchased Darkwoods in 2008 and has reduced the logging to what it calls a "conservation harvest," from 50,000 cubic meters to 10,000 cubic metres. Much of the cut wood is from trees killed by the pine beetle epidemic.

The sale of the conservancy’s carbon credits is equal to removing 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the air, or taking about 120,000 sport utilities vehicles off the road for a year.

The carbon figure was calculated through international standards.

Ecosystem will sell the 250,00 credits it purchased from the conservancy through the European voluntary market through its German partners, Forest Carbon Group.

Michael Streck, with the Forest Carbon Group, said much of the voluntary carbon purchase market comes from Europe and those companies like the idea of saving forests.

"These are the projects we look for, this is the stuff we’d like to sell, because it is extremely attractive, it has all the sexiness if you want."

He said many European firms buy the offsets to claim to be carbon-neutral for both environmental and marketing reasons.

But still, that market in Europe is just 0.1 per cent of the total carbon-trading market and 50 per cent of that is the purchase of forestry carbon offsets.

"Forestry is the most attractive sector to buy offsets from," Streck said.

The idea of a carbon-trading program has been slow to take off in Canada because the federal Conservative government is opposed to any plan for a carbon-trading market without the participation of the United States.

http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110608/bc_nature_conservancy_carbon_credits_110608?hub=BritishColumbiaHome

An Open Letter to The Nature Conservancy

An Open Letter to The Nature Conservancy

Image courtesy of Unsuitablog

Dear TNC people:

This is a letter I sent to my lists some months ago. I would ask you to consider distributing it among yourselves and to the conference planners.

I just read of your October conference where business leaders will once again pretend to address the global ecological crisis. I do understand your dilemma: how to defend and perpetuate the industrial consumer society that relies on endless economic growth, i.e capitalism. Susan George of the Transnational Institute wrote a quite wonderful book, The Lugano Report, on this very subject.

We in the environmental community fully understand your plight. But we understand more: we understand the problem. The business community does not yet understand it. It is simply this: economic growth in a finite planet cannot continue and in fact it has ended for all intents and purposes. Economic growth as traditionally understood is OVER.

The power that be will of course continue to throw money at it and hold high level conferences like yours and come up with imaginary “solutions” that only conceal the problem and thus allow it to grow larger. Some of you may actually believe that growth is compatible with preserving wildlife and ecosystems. Let me disabuse you of this view. As long as humans overbreed, overproduce and overconsume, they will necessarily infringe on and eventually destroy the other species on this planet and their ecosystem. Dave Foreman’s book Man Swarm makes this quite clear.

We have a choice: stop overpopulation, consumption and growth, or destroy the planet on which we depend. There is NO middle way to grow AND save the planet. You MUST accept this fact as the premise of your conference and all your plans. Do I make myself clear?

No amount of media hype, government subsidy, financial sleight of hand or regulatory manipulation will change this. Anyone who believes the contrary is whistling in the darkening dark. We are witnessing the convergence of several crises, none of which will disappear. Some flimsy temporary tinkering with monetary or fiscal policy and other icing on the cake may provide some temporary relief in one of the crises, but the others will proceed apace, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. And so it will continue.

If you want the full honest truth, then let me suggest some names: Richard Heinberg as first choice, James Kunstler, Yuri Orlov, the Post-Carbon Institute, maybe Dave Foreman himself, and for some side “entertainment”, you can screen Dave Gardner’s documentary “Growthbusters”, which will premiere in October. This of course assumes you are open to hearing things that are at odds with your faith in growth and consumerism.

Sincerely,

Lorna Salzman

Dear friends in business, arts and culture:

Some of you will be annoyed at this message. I apologize for the intrusion. However, for those of you with an open mind, I ask that you read this short statement from two highly informed and credible activists, one Canadian and one American.

For those of you in the business community, let me beseech you to read and absorb this message. It is not unique nor is it new. It comes on the heels of reports from Canada indicating that despite the broad public concern over climate change, the Canadian government and environmental NGOs continue to refuse to inform the public as to the real extent and gravity of the climate change threat. This withholding of information is echoed here in the United States, replaced by reports and studies on the topic of renewable energy, as if this were a solution to the problem, or even an option at this point in time.

If you are not already worried about what kind of world your children or grandchildren face, then let me appeal to you on strictly economic and financial terms. Very shortly, probably before another decade passes, the developed world that is hooked on fossil fuels and economic growth will experience major energy and environmental constraints and obstacles which will in turn disrupt society and economies across the world and cause social chaos on an unprecedented scale. While the overpopulated less developed world will bear a large part of the brunt of this eco-collapse due to its impact on food crops and drinking water, industrial societies may actually be more adversely affected because they have more to lose in the way of infrastructure, transportation, energy supplies, and food supplies for large cities.

The crisis will first appear in the form of higher prices for energy and goods, followed by scarcities and maldistribution, followed by a forced contraction of commerce and business, especially in construction, maintenance and repair. In my opinion, the economic recession we are in today will not ease up before the new crisis of contraction begins. In other words, we face a global recession of indefinite duration, not a recovery.

It is long overdue for businessmen, entrepreneurs, corporations, investors, financiers and especially government to develop and implement a Greenprint for Survival. I say Greenprint, picking up on the 1972 “Blueprint for Survival” published by The Ecologist in Great Britain and its late founder/editor Teddy Goldsmith, a man of great foresight and insight. The original Blueprint, endorsed by dozens of leading scientists and others from all over the world, analyzed all the trends and sectors of the world economy and environment, and stated clearly and forcefully the impossibility of continued economic growth, the necessity for moving quickly to a steady-state society rather than one based on a continued through-put of energy and resources, and a redesign of human settlements to allow maximum political and economic decentralization.

The necessity for a relocalization of our economy, in terms of food, energy, transportation, commerce and industry, has now become a major subject of discussion but not one that is widespread because business, government and financiers still grasp onto the hope that economic growth and consumption can and will resume to their original extent and form. It is clear that as long as even some environmental groups withhold the truth about climate change and related issues (loss of biodiversity, destruction of ocean fisheries, diminution of fresh water supplies as glaciers disappear, etc.), neither government nor the business community will take any steps commensurate with the threat. For them, the laws of nature and inexorable drive towards eco-collapse have no importance. The sound of denial is deafening.

Some of you have written me in anger and disbelief, quoting pseudo-scientists and studies that have never been peer reviewed or published in any credible scientific publication. Most if not all of these are produced routinely by those with ties to special interests, especially those in energy, such as Exxon, the coal companies, and the nuclear industry (at least what remains of it). As such they have no more credibility than the front page of the National Inquirer. Perhaps it is comforting to the doubters and deniers that some scientists purvey good news. Their comfort, however, is shortly to disappear. The question they need to ask themselves, if they are honest and have any shred of compassion for their descendants, is this: What if the deniers are wrong?

Greed, self-interest and economic hegemony are powerful motivators but not for the good. If the deniers manage to suppress the bad news and twist the facts, they must be regarded as subversives, even terrorists, determined to impose their view of Business As Usual on the rest of us, with all the suffering, deprivation and societal catastrophe that this will bring. Those of you in the corporate or business world who still have an open mind and are willing to hear the truth may represent the last and best hope that our country has of shaking our government awake and instilling common sense into it. If any of you are up to this urgent responsibility, you should not delay but should reach out to others in the business community and demand that they open their ears and eyes to what is really happening. Please give this serious thought.

Lorna Salzman

+++

The following is an excerpt from the article From the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Love | Explosive Climate Report Kept from Public:

2010 marks a significant new direction in the climate negotiations. The People’s Agreement, agreed upon during theWorld People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on April 22nd, 2010 (Cochabamba, Bolivia) is by far the best position to date. It is also the first position to state the necessary targets as well as the realities based on climate science. Climate justice advocates now have a legitimate position paper, critical text of which is now being recognized for the first time by the UNFCCC. Climate justice groups across the world, including Canada’s Council of Canadians; Canada’s largest citizens organization, have endorsed and campaign on this powerful agreement. Surely now is the time to pull together and work harder than ever. Solutions do exist. Therefore, the question that must be asked is this: Why is the climate crisis being abandoned by many and why has an incredibly powerful report been kept from the public – when the public wants action?

It is important to note that all big greens including 350.org, RAN, Greenpeace, CAN Canada and CAN International have thus far declined to endorse the People’s Agreement. CAN-International has roughly 500 members in over 80 countries.

Friends of the Earth groups in Africa; Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda endorse the People’s Agreement. You can read their press release here:http://bit.ly/962OZE

They Know – And Have Known for a Long Time

On 18 April 2007, Ken Ward of Grist writes:

The deliberate decision a decade ago to downplay climate change risk in the interests of presenting a sober, optimistic image to potential donors, maintaining access to decision-makers, and operating within the constraints of private foundations has blown back on us. By emphasizing specific solutions and avoiding definitions that might appear alarmist, we inadvertently fed a dumbed-down, Readers Digest version of climate change to our staff and environmentalist core. Now, as we scramble to keep up with climate scientists, we discover that we have paid a hefty price. Humanity has <10 years to avert cataclysm and most U.S. environmentalists simply don’t believe it.

If we did believe it, we would be acting very differently. Why do we continue, in our materials and on our web sites, to present climate as one of any number of apparently equally important issues? Why, if we really believe that the fate of the world will be decided within a few years, haven’t our organizations liquidated assets, shut down non-essential program[s] and invested everything in one final effort? Why, given the crushing circumstances, is there essentially no internal debate or challenge to our inadequate course of action? Why, for that matter, aren’t environmentalists all working weekends?

These are not gratuitous questions. Environmentalists are not immune from the social and cognitive barriers that make it difficult for almost every individual, institution, society, and nation to come to terms with the threat of cataclysm. However, the whole point of environmentalism is to anticipate precisely the conditions in which we now find ourselves. The purpose of the precautionary principle is to encourage the long view, “out even to the 7th generation,” and the ethos of environmentalism is a fundamental challenge to the dominant paradigm. Our values and principles are supposed to buck us up when, as individuals, we lose our way.

A must watch 2009 video of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan is riveting. Seldom does anyone have the conviction or courage to speak so boldly, so bluntly. Gelbspan reveals that what began as an initial response of many institutions – denial and delay – has now grown into a crime against humanity. Based on his investigative reporting, Gelbspan speaks of how politicians, big oil and coal, journalists, and the irresponsibility of the big greens have fueled a climate crisis. Gelspan has an interesting theory about why the environmental movement, downplaying the risks and avoiding talk of climate catastrophe, has communicated the climate crisis to the public with unrealistic “optimism.” He suggests that perhaps they are emotionally traumatized deep down by what they really know about the terrible extent of the risks of catastrophic climate change.

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“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” – Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophelsas

A Tar Sands Partnership Agreement in the Making?

By Macdonald Stainsby
Canadian Dimension
August 1st 2011

 

Campaigns against tar sands production have grown rapidly over the last four years. From the relative obscurity in Alberta to an international lightning rod for people trying to address all manner of concerns from indigenous and community self-determination to peak oil and climate change – criticisms of the largest industrial project in human history have gained a major voice.

The voices are certainly not homogenous, but a large contingent of these voices call for a shut down of tar sands production and a move away from fossil fuels – if not an outright move away from market-led growth of any sort. But, in the language of the environmental elite, what are the “decision makers” preparing to do with all this anti-tar sands resistance?

While there are still small scale, community led victories against certain developments – like the defeat of the recent Prosperity Mine proposal in British Columbia – I contend that mainstream environmentalism has effectively become a means by which corporations (who used to be anathema to environmentalists) now get the social license necessary to operate. There are obvious examples such as the World Wildlife Fund running commercials with Coca-Cola. But the real social management is done out of sight, and involves some of the most important players in the circles of the North American ruling class.

Co-opting Environmentalism

In the United States, major foundations – led at the time by the Sunoco-oil founded and controlled Pew Charitable Trusts – stopped fighting against environmentalism and sought instead to co-opt it and make it a “partner.” This model expanded over the next couple of decades until it slowly began to creep north of the border into Canada. Now this same technique dominates the Canadian enviro landscape as well, in some cases with a new twist. The Canadian Boreal Initiative [CBI] – a champion of “working with industry to find common solutions” – is not even an organization, but receives their money from Ducks Unlimited Canada who receive theirs from Ducks Unlimited in the United States. All of this funding originates with the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia. The Pew Foundation was started with a multi-billion dollar grant from Sunoco and today their board of directors is more than 50 percent tied to Sunoco, either through the Pew family or executive work with the oil giant. This same Pew gives funding to other well-known policy right-wing hawkish think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

The CBI spearheads something they call “the Boreal Conservation Framework,” a plan to protect at least half the Boreal Forest. Fact: far, far less than half the boreal forest has been developed or is slated for development. This “initiative” partners openly with corporations such as Suncor, Nexen and several leading forestry corporations. The CBI, funded and directed by the Pew, also signs on to their framework the International Boreal Conservation Campaign – another Pew front group in the US. Along with corporate friendly organizations like the WWF, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Nature Conservancy and of course, Ducks Unlimited are a smattering of First Nations governments. Also among their signatories are the Tides Foundation and the Ivey Foundation.

With this behind them, the CBI then “negotiates” what the final deal of a particular industry should look like. Guaranteed at the outset is that corporations will continue operations, and that the general public is out of the loop right up until the moment the “deal” is announced.

Many other foundations – most but not all American – now play the same game of social manipulation in the environmental field. Foundations such as Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Hewlett have not only entered into the fray in a major way, in the case of the tar sands campaigns, they have collaborated with the Pew to take social manipulation to a new level. The aforementioned Tides Foundation was set up as a sort of clearing house for other philanthropists and foundations, for many years receiving the overwhelming bulk of their money through the Pew. Today, other groups and foundations give them money and earmark where they want it spent. Tides exercises total control over something you are not supposed to hear about: The North American Tar Sands Coalition.

The Tides and the North American Tar Sands Coalition

The routine is fairly straightforward. After a long stretch when grassroots and community led struggles build up support using a multitude of strategies – from direct action blockades to boycott campaigns and speak outs, demonstrations and more – suddenly many of the organizers who started the campaign are shuffled aside. Professionals are either appointed within the ranks or are imported from outside and all are given foundation-led salaries. With or without public knowledge (almost always without) a “stakeholder” negotiation is undertaken between corporations, government and the new “professional” environmentalists will take place. The terms of the negotiations do not reach the public until a smiling photo-op of the “stakeholders” appears at a press conference to announce an “end” to a particular “campaign” now called a “win-win.” Details will vary, but they always include three things: A promise to stop organizing against a particular industry, market-based incentives that would lead to “change practices” and a guarantee for that industry to be allowed to develop, now unhindered. Such a process is slowly being constructed for tar sands production in Canada.

As if on cue, once the multitude of forces against tar sands development began to crack into both national and international media the large foundations appeared in the background. In this particular case, they had set up a spider’s web of control from the getgo. All the usual foundations – Pew Charitable Trusts, Hewlett, Rockefeller Brothers, Ford Foundation – now use the Tides Foundation as a singular source to centralize control over the would be recipients of funding.

By funnelling all money through the Tides Foundation all organizations and movements that approach any of these sources can be directed to only one source – the Tides Foundation and their “North American Tar Sands Coalition.” The NATSC is headed by one Michael Marx. While they also have “Canadian” and “American” campaign leaders, Marx has near total authority to forge the funding decisions, policy directions, media strategy and over-all focus of how the “coalition” will operate. Who then, is Michael Marx?

Marx is known as a “corporate responsibility” campaigner. Previously working with Forest Ethics and now, along side his control over the tar sands campaign, he is a head of Corporate Ethics International. His own personal bio celebrates that he has previously helped “green” Wal-Mart, one of the largest and most labour exploitative corporations in the world. He does not believe that the tar sands can or should be shut down, and is shaping political messaging to that end. The list of ENGO’s that are funded by Michael Marx’s NATSC is long, but to list merely the largest of the Canadian ones that have been with them from the beginning of the “invisible to the outside” coalition: The Pembina Institute, Environmental Defense Canada, ForestEthics, World Wildlife Fund (Canada), The Sierra Club of Canada (and associated regional chapters), Eco Justice and the Canadian Boreal Intiative. Perhaps most important to note is that the coalition also involves Greenpeace Canada – important because historically GPC did not take foundation funding but has now been listed for several grants from Tides Canada for this work.

There are also many regional only organizations – working on regional only campaigns, such as to ostensibly stop the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline across arts of unceded first nations territory in northern British Columbia. These groups involve Living Oceans society, The David Suzuki Foundation, west Coast Environmental Law and the Dogwood Initiative with a host of community led groups. These regional grants are controlled by Canadian understudy to Michael Marx, Jennifer Lash.

Since the highly criticized deal called the “Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” was signed in 2010 between what was called nine environmental NGOs and 21 forestry companies, Tides has started muttering in public as their own voice – calling for the “bridging of the two camps” of environmentalists and energy companies over the tar sands. No first nations have been mentioned in their pronouncements. Nonetheless, in Europe they have moved in to steer the direction of anti-tar sands campaigning. Marx himself showed up recently in the UK, speaking out on campaigns to “stop tar sands expansion” in ads paid for by Corporate Ethics International. These same ads have appeared in Alberta; Marx himself lives in San Francisco.

Astro-turfing is a term often applied to various Republican or Tea Party ventures in the United States, ones where money and slick marketing are used to build an appearance of a grassroots network where, in fact, none truly exists. While there most certainly is such a grassroots network against the tar sands – and it is expanding globally – the astro-turfing of “demands” to go into the backroom negotiations is tailored to appear genuine. The manner it is done is to put forward a vague and almost completely uncontroversial call and ask people to sign on to some declaration.

As of late that has appeared to be towards the blight of the toxic tailings ponds littering the landscape by the vast open-pit mines. In recent months as well, Suncor (the original tar sands corporation, former property of Sunoco oil and largest energy company in Canada) announced they had developed “dry tailings technology” and that they planned over time to roll out and implement it. Considering that Suncor is openly partnered with the Canadian Boreal Initiative, it seems strangely convenient that the astroturfing campaign is now targeting tailings ponds – shortly after many of the more corporate environmental organizations and the largest players among tar sands operators were caught – trying to have a private, unreported meeting together.

The first attempt at such a meeting, last April, was spearheaded by the Pembina Institute. The Pembina is employed as consultants for Nexen, Suncor, TD Financial and many other industrial corporations and has partnered with the original tar sands giant Suncor Energy since 1982. That meeting was to be a “fireside chat” but it was cancelled when people got wind of it and it appeared first on the mediacoop.ca and later on in the Globe and Mail. Today, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Tides Foundation and others are calling for “dialogue.”

What Would a Tar Sands Partnership Agreement Look Like?

Based on the market trajectory of the Marx-led team, it will involve beyond promises on water and tailings – including carbon offsets, promised investments in “green” energy technology alongside perhaps some announcement on further research into carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Based on all previous deals in Canada and the United States, such a framework could only be announced as the “end to the war over tar sands” – to effectively give social license to tar sands operations permanently. This would then eliminate Tides based on all previous deals in Canada and the United States, such a framework could only be announced as the “end to the war over tar sands” – to effectively give social license to tar sands operations permanently. This would then eliminate Tides based anti-tar sands funding for all organizations in the NATSC. Certain groups such as Greenpeace, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network as well as several community initiatives have official positions to end tar sands development. The Pembina Institute, CBI, Tides, David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, and near the totality of ENGO’s who receive NATSC funding in the United States do not call for the cessation of tar sands development, but mitigation of the “worst” impacts.

The breathtaking pace and size of tar sands development in Canada has not gone unnoticed to other would-be producers; many countries around the planet have deposits of bitumen that would require much the same technology. Those investors have been visiting Canada, learning, and heading elsewhere where bitumen beckons. A partial list of locations that are now threatened with tar sands extraction includes Trinidad and Tobago, The Republic of Congo, Madagascar, the US state of Utah, China, Russia and Jordan. There is also the country that may have even larger deposits than Canada – the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

With the exception of Venezuela, whose production is still but a fraction of Canada’s, none of these countries have gone into commercial production at this point. It will be nearly impossible to stop tar sands developments in Africa, Latin America Asia and elsewhere if all of our collective work in opposition to the development of tar sands is sacrificed to a “partnership deal” that allows for continued tar sands extraction. Corporations like France’s Total in Madagascar could then argue: “If this development is clean and responsible enough for Canada, why not so for Madagascar?” Such a dynamic must be avoided at all costs on many levels, not least of which is the remaining sliver of hope that the worst effects of climate change can be avoided, rather than simply managed or mitigated.

Climate justice organizing is, in part, an attempt to go beyond the counting of C02 emissions and to get to the heart of solutions to the climate crisis – solutions that involve the end of oppression of the communities that bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and do so in ways that respects their self-determination. Addressing the needs of these communities as they speak for the solutions they want cannot be a part of a backroom, anti-democratic model of development pushed forward with money from the very industries trying to eliminate them from history. It will take a global effort to hear and then amplify the voices – from Africa to Asia, and north to south in the Americas. None of these voices can be heard if someone closes a door to hold secret meetings with the financial powers whose assets already scream so loudly – as we edge ever closer to a point of no return.

MacDonald Stainsby is a social justice activist and journalist currently living in Edmonton and is the coordinator of http://oilsandstruth.org.

http://ecosocialismcanada.blogspot.com/2011/08/tar-sands-partnership-agreement-in.html

http://canadiandimension.com/