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Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

Commune

Issue 2, Spring 2019

By Jasper Bernes
 
 

We cannot legislate and spend our way out of catastrophic global warming.

 

From space, the Bayan Obo mine in China, where 70 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals are extracted and refined, almost looks like a painting. The paisleys of the radioactive tailings ponds, miles long, concentrate the hidden colors of the earth: mineral aquamarines and ochres of the sort a painter might employ to flatter the rulers of a dying empire.

To meet the demands of the Green New Deal, which proposes to convert the US economy to zero emissions, renewable power by 2030, there will be a lot more of these mines gouged into the crust of the earth. That’s because nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla.

It’s not for nothing that coal miners were, for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the very image of capitalist immiseration—it’s exhausting, dangerous, ugly work. Le Voreux, “the voracious one”—that’s what Émile Zola names the coal mine in Germinal, his novel of class struggle in a French company town. Capped with coal-burning smokestacks, the mine is both maze and minotaur all in one, “crouching like some evil beast at the bottom of its lair . . . puffing and panting in increasingly slow, deep bursts, as if it were struggling to digest its meal of human flesh.” Monsters are products of the earth in classical mythology, children of Gaia, born from the caves and hunted down by a cruel race of civilizing sky gods. But in capitalism, what’s monstrous is earth as animated by those civilizing energies. In exchange for these terrestrial treasures—used to power trains and ships and factories—a whole class of people is thrown into the pits. The warming earth teems with such monsters of our own making—monsters of drought and migration, famine and storm. Renewable energy is no refuge, really. The worst industrial accident in the history of the United States, the Hawk’s Nest Incident of 1930, was a renewable energy disaster. Drilling a three-mile-long inlet for a Union Carbide hydroelectric plant, five thousand workers were sickened when they hit a thick vein of silica, filling the tunnel with blinding white dust. Eight hundred eventually died of silicosis. Energy is never “clean,” as Muriel Rukeyser makes clear in the epic, documentary poem she wrote about Hawk’s Nest, “The Book of the Dead.” “Who runs through the electric wires?” she asks. “Who speaks down every road?” The infrastructure of the modern world is cast from molten grief.

Dotted with “death villages” where crops will not fruit, the region of Inner Mongolia where the Bayan Obo mine is located displays Chernobylesque cancer rates. But then again, the death villages are already here. More of them are coming if we don’t do something about climate change. What matter is a dozen death villages when half the earth may be rendered uninhabitable? What matter the gray skies over Inner Mongolia if the alternative is turning the sky an endless white with sulfuric aerosols, as last-ditch geoengineering scenarios imagine? Moralists, armchair philosophers, and lesser-evilists may try to convince you that these situations resolve into a sort of trolley-car problem: do nothing and the trolley speeds down the track toward mass death. Do something, and you switch the trolley onto a track where fewer people die, but where you are more actively responsible for their deaths. When the survival of millions or even billions hangs in the balance, as it surely does when it comes to climate change, a few dozen death villages might seem a particularly good deal, a green deal, a new deal. But climate change doesn’t resolve into a single trolley-car problem. Rather, it’s a planet-spanning tangle of switchyards, with mass death on every track.

It’s not clear we can even get enough of this stuff out of the ground, however, given the timeframe. Zero-emissions 2030 would mean mines producing now, not in five or ten years. The race to bring new supply online is likely to be ugly, in more ways than one, as slipshod producers scramble to cash in on the price bonanza, cutting every corner and setting up mines that are dangerous, unhealthy, and not particularly green. Mines require a massive outlay of investment up front, and they typically feature low return on investment, except during the sort of commodity boom we can expect a Green New Deal to produce. It can be a decade or more before the sources are developed, and another decade before they turn a profit.

“There is an infinity of worlds in which the GND fails—a million President Sanderses or, with more urgency, Ocasio-Cortezes presiding over the disaster.”

Nor is it clear how much the fruits of these mines will help us decarbonize, if energy use keeps climbing. Just because a United States encrusted in solar panels releases no greenhouse gases, that doesn’t mean its technologies are carbon neutral. It takes energy to get those minerals out of the ground, energy to shape them into batteries and photovoltaic solar panels and giant rotors for windmills, energy to dispose of them when they wear out. Mines are worked, primarily, by gas-burning vehicles. The container ships that cross the world’s seas bearing the good freight of renewables burn so much fuel they are responsible for 3 percent of planetary emissions. Electric, plug-in motors for construction equipment and container ships are barely in the prototype stage. And what kind of massive battery would you need to get a container ship across the Pacific? Maybe a small nuclear reactor would be best?

Counting emissions within national boundaries, in other words, is like counting calories but only during breakfast and lunch. If going clean in the US makes other places more dirty, then you’ve got to add that to the ledger. The carbon sums are sure to be lower than they would be otherwise, but the reductions might not be as robust as thought, especially if producers desperate to cash in on the renewable jackpot do things as cheaply and quickly as possible, which for now means fossil fuels. On the other side, environmental remediation is costly in every way. Want to clean up those tailings ponds, bury the waste deep underground, keep the water table from being poisoned? You’re going to need motors and you’re probably going to burn oil.

Consolidating scientific opinion, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projects that biofuels are going to be used in these cases—for construction, for industry, and for transport, wherever motors can’t be easily electrified. Biofuels put carbon into the air, but it’s carbon that was already absorbed by growing plants, so the net emissions are zero. The problem is that growing biofuels requires land otherwise devoted to crops, or carbon-absorbing wilderness. They are among the least dense of power sources. You would need a dozen acres to fill the tank of a single intercontinental jet. Emissions are only the most prominent aspect of a broader ecological crisis. Human habitation, pasture and industry, branching through the remaining wilderness in the most profligate and destructive manner, has sent shockwaves through the plant and animal kingdoms. The mass die-off of insects, with populations decreasing by four-fifths in some areas, is one part of this. The insect world is very poorly understood, but scientists suspect these die-offs and extinction events are only partially attributable to climate change, with human land use and pesticides a major culprit. Of the two billion tons of animal mass on the planet, insects account for half. Pull the pillars of the insect world away, and the food chains collapse.

To replace current US energy consumption with renewables, you’d need to devote at least 25-50 percent of the US landmass to solar, wind, and biofuels, according to the estimates made by Vaclav Smil, the grand doyen of energy studies. Is there room for that and expanding human habitation? For that and pasture for a massive meat and dairy industry? For that and the forest we’d need to take carbon out of the air? Not if capitalism keeps doing the thing which it can’t not keep doing—grow. The law of capitalism is the law of more—more energy, more stuff, more materials. It introduces efficiencies only to more effectively despoil the planet. There is no solution to the climate crisis which leaves capitalism’s compulsions to growth intact. And this is what the Green New Deal, a term coined by that oily neoliberal, Thomas Friedman, doesn’t address. It thinks you can keep capitalism, keep growth, but remove the deleterious consequences. The death villages are here to tell you that you can’t. No roses will bloom on that bush.

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Miners in Chile, China, and Zambia will be digging in the earth for more than just the makings of fifty million solar panels and windmills, however, since the Green New Deal also proposes to rebuild the power grid in a more efficient form, to upgrade all buildings to the highest environmental standards, and lastly, to develop a low-carbon transportation infrastructure, based on electric vehicles and high-speed rail. This would involve, needless to say, a monumental deployment of carbon-intensive materials like concrete and steel. Trillions of dollars of raw materials would need to flow into the United States to be shaped into train tracks and electric cars. Schools and hospitals, too, since alongside these green initiatives, the GND proposes universal health care and free education, not to mention a living-wage jobs guarantee.

Nothing new in politics is ever truly and completely new, and so it’s as unsurprising that the Green New Deal hearkens back to the 1930s as it is that France’s gilet jaunes revive the corpse of the French Revolution and make it dance a jig below the Arc de Triomphe. We understand the present and future through the past. As Marx notes in The Eighteenth Brumaire, people “make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” In order to make new forms of class struggle intelligible, their partisans look to the past, “borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.” The “new” of the Green New Deal must therefore express itself in language decidedly old, appealing to great-grandpa’s vanished workerism and the graphic style of WPA posters.

Above: 2019 GND poster

This costume-play can be progressive rather than regressive, insofar as it consists of “glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; of magnifying the given task in the imagination, not recoiling from its solution in reality; of finding once more the spirit of revolution, not making its ghost walk again.” On the contrary, in the wake of the revolutions of 1848, when Marx was writing, the symbology of the French Revolution had the effect of suffocating whatever was revolutionary about the moment. Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Napoleon the III, was a pure parody of the liberator of Europe. What Europe needed was a radical break not continuity:

The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content. There the phrase went beyond the content – here the content goes beyond the phrase.

We would do well to keep these words in mind over the next decades, to avoid recoiling from real solutions and insisting on fantastic ones. The project of the Green New Deal is really nothing like the New Deal of the 1930s, except in the most superficial ways. The New Deal was a response to an immediate economic emergency, the Great Depression, and not a future climate catastrophe: its main goal was to restore growth to an economy that had shrunk by 50 percent and in which one out of every four people was unemployed. The goal of the New Deal was to get capitalism to do what it already wanted to do: put people to work, exploit them, and then sell them the products of their own labor. The state was necessary as a catalyst and a mediator, setting the right balance between profit and wages, chiefly by strengthening the hand of labor and weakening that of business. Aside from the fact that it involves capital outlays that are much larger, the Green New Deal has a more difficult ambition: rather than get capitalism to do what it wants to do, it has to get it to pursue a path that is certainly bad for the owners of capital in the long run.

Whereas the New Deal needed only to restore growth, the Green New Deal has to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are, by almost every measure, profoundly correlated. The Green New Deal thus risks becoming a sort of Sisyphean reform, rolling the rock of emissions reductions up the hill each day only to have a growing, energy-hungry economy knock it back down to the bottom each night.

Advocates of green growth promise an “absolute decoupling” of emissions and growth, where each additional unit of energy adds no CO2 to the atmosphere. Even if such a thing were technologically possible, even if it were possible to generate zero- or low-emissions energy not only adequate to but in excess of current demand, such decoupling would require far greater power over the behavior of capitalists than the New Deal ever mustered.

FDR and his coalition in Congress exerted modest control over corporations through a process of “countervailing power,” in the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, tilting the playing field to disempower capitalists relative to workers and consumers, and making new investment more appealing. The state did undertake direct investment—building roads, bridges, power stations, parks, and museums—but did so not in order to supplant private investment but to create “forever a yardstick against extortion,” in FDR’s high-toned phrasing. Government power plants would, for example, disclose the true (lower) price of electricity, barring energy monopolies from price gouging.

Green New Dealers flag this aspect of the New Deal, since it’s ostensibly so close to what they propose. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a public power company still in operation eighty years later, is the most famous of these projects. Public infrastructure, clean energy, economic development—the TVA brought together many of the elements essential to the Green New Deal. Building dams and hydroelectric power stations along the Tennessee River, it provided clean, cheap electricity to one of the most economically depressed regions of the country. The hydroelectric plants were, in turn, linked up to factories producing nitrates, an energy-intensive raw material needed for both fertilizer and explosives. Wages and crop yields rose, power costs fell. The TVA brought cheap energy, cheap fertilizer, and good jobs to a place previous known for malaria, poor soil quality, incomes less than half the national average, and alarmingly high unemployment.

The problem with this scenario as a framework for the Green New Deal is that renewables are not massively cheaper than fossil fuels. The state cannot blaze the trail to cheap, renewable energy, satisfying consumers with lower costs and producers with acceptable profits. Many once thought that the depletion of oil and coal reserves would save us, raising the price of fossil fuels above that of renewables and forcing the switch as a matter of economic necessity. Unfortunately, that messianic price point has drifted farther into the future as new drilling technologies, introduced in the last decade, have made it possible to frack oil from shale and to recover reserves from fields previously thought exhausted. The price of oil has stayed stubbornly low, and the US is, suddenly, producing more of it than anyone else. The doomsday scenarios of “peak oil” are now a turn-of-the-millennium curiosity, like Y2K or Al Gore. Sorry, wrong apocalypse.

“The problem with the Green New Deal is that it promises to change everything while keeping everything the same.”

Some will tell you that renewables can compete with fossil fuels on the open market. Wind and hydroelectric and geothermal have, it’s true, become cheaper as sources of electricity, in some cases cheaper than coal and natural gas. But they’re still not cheap enough. That’s because, in order to bankrupt the fossil capitalists, renewables will need to do more than edge out fossil fuels by a penny or two per kilowatt-hour. There are trillions of dollars sunk into fossil energy infrastructure and the owners of those investments will invariably choose to recoup some of that investment rather than none of it. To send the value of those assets to zero and force energy capitalists to invest in new factories, renewables need to be not only cheaper but massively cheaper, impossibly cheaper. At least this is the conclusion reached by a group of engineers Google convened to study the problem. Existing technologies are never going to be cheap enough to bankrupt coal-fired power plants: we’d need stuff that is currently science-fiction like cold fusion. This is not only because of the problem of sunk costs, but because electricity from solar and wind is not “dispatchable” on demand. It is only available when and where the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. If you want it on demand, you’re going to have to store it (or transport it thousands of miles) and that’s going to raise the price.

Most will tell you that the answer to this problem is taxation of dirty energy or an outright ban, alongside subsidy of the clean. A carbon tax, judiciously applied, can tip the scales in favor of renewables until they are able to beat fossil energy outright. New fossil sources and infrastructure can be prohibited and revenue from the taxes can be used to pay for research into new technology, efficiency improvements, and subsidies for consumers. But now one is talking about something other than a New Deal, blazing the way to a more highly productive capitalism in which profits and wages can rise together. There are 1.5 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves on the planet, according to some calculations—around $50 trillion worth if we assume a very low average cost per barrel of thirty-five dollars. This is value that oil companies have already accounted for in their mathematical imaginings. If carbon taxes or bans reduce that number tenfold, fossil capitalists will do everything they can to avoid, subvert, and repeal them. The problem of sunk costs again applies. If you slaughter the value of those reserves, you might, perversely, bring down the cost of fossil fuels, encouraging more consumption and more emissions, as oil producers scramble to sell their excess supply in countries without a carbon tax. For reference, there is about $300 trillion of total wealth on the planet, most of it in the hands of the owning class. The global Gross Domestic Product, the value of all the goods and services produced in a year, is around $80 trillion. If you propose to wipe out $50 trillion, one-sixth of the wealth on the planet, equal to two-thirds of global GDP, you should expect the owners of that wealth to fight you with everything they have, which is more or less everything.

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Like a thousand-page novel with a MacGuffin or stylistic outrage on every page, the Green New Deal presents a challenge for critics. There are just so many levels on which it will never work. There is an infinity of worlds in which the GND fails—a million President Sanderses or, with more urgency, Ocasio-Cortezes presiding over the disaster. One might write an entire essay, for example, about its political impossibility given the complete saturation of the US state by corporate interests and a party-system and division of powers that lists badly to the right. Another essay about how, even if it were politically possible, outlays on the order of several trillion dollars per year would most likely wreck the dollar, driving up projected costs. An essay about vested interests and the war they’d wage. An essay about how, even if you cleared both those hurdles, the history of recent monetary interventions into the economy–$4.5 trillion injected into the economy during Obama’s tenure by the Fed’s quantitative easing, $1.5 trillion for Trump’s cuts—indicates that the Green New Deal will struggle to encourage corporations to spend this money as intended, on investment in green infrastructure, rather than funneling it straight into real-estate and stocks, as has happened in all these prior cases.

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds here and lose sight of the essential. In each of these scenarios, on each of these sad, warming planets, the Green New Deal fails because capitalism. Because, in capitalism, a small class of owners and managers, in competition with itself, finds itself forced to make a set of narrow decisions about where to invest and in what, establishing prices, wages, and other fundamental determinants of the economy. Even if these owners wanted to spare us the drowned cities and billion migrants of 2070, they could not. They would be undersold and bankrupted by others. Their hands are tied, their choices constrained, by the fact that they must sell at the prevailing rate or perish. It is the class as a whole that decides, not its individual members. This is why the sentences of Marxists (and Marx) so often treat capital as agent rather than object. The will towards relentless growth, and with it increasing energy use, is not chosen, it is compelled, a requirement of profitability where profitability is a requirement of existence.

If you tax oil, capital will sell it elsewhere. If you increase demand for raw materials, capital will bid up the prices of commodities, and rush materials to market in the most wasteful, energy-intensive way. If you require millions of square miles for solar panels, wind farms, and biofuel crops, capital will bid up the price of real estate. If you slap tariffs on necessary imports, capital will leave for better markets. If you try to set a maximum price that doesn’t allow profit, capital will simply stop investing. Lop off one head of the hydra, face another. Invest trillions of dollars into infrastructure in the US and you’ll have to confront the staggeringly wasteful, slow, and unproductive construction industry, where laying a mile of subway can be twenty times as expensive and take four times as long. You’ll have to confront the earthen monsters of Bechtel and Fluor Corp., habituated to feeding at the government trough and billing fifty dollar screws. If this doesn’t chasten you, consider the world-historical inefficiency of the US military, the planet’s biggest oil consumer and, unsurprisingly, also the planet’s main oil cop. The Pentagon is an accounting black hole, into which the wealth of the nation is ploughed and from which no light emerges. Its balance sheet is a blank.

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I suspect many advocates of the Green New Deal know all this. They don’t really think it will happen as promised, and they know that, if it does happen, it won’t work. This is probably why there’s so little concrete detail being offered. Discussion so far has largely revolved around the question of budgeting, with the advocates of Modern Monetary Theory arguing that there is no upper bound on government spending for a country like the US, and tax-and-spend leftists firing back with all sorts of counter-scenarios. The MMT advocates are technically correct, but they discount the power that owners of US debt have to determine the value of the dollar, and therefore prices and profits. Meanwhile, critics of the Green New Deal confine their discussion to the least problematic aspects. Don’t get me wrong, budget items on the order of tens of trillions of dollars are a big deal. But securing the bag is hardly the biggest problem. Implementation is where it really dies, and few advocates have much to say about such details.

The Green New Deal proposes to decarbonize most of the economy in ten years—great, but no one is talking about how. This is because, for many, its value is primarily rhetorical; it’s about shifting the discussion, gathering political will, and underscoring the urgency of the climate crisis. It’s more big mood more than grand plan. Many socialists will recognize that mitigation of climate change within a system of production for profit is impossible, but they think a project like the Green New Deal is what Leon Trotsky called a “transitional program,” hinged upon a “transitional demand.” Unlike the minimal demand, which capitalism can easily meet, and the maximal demand which it clearly can’t, the transitional demand is something that capitalism could potentially meet if it were a rational and humane system, but in actuality can’t. By agitating around this transitional demand, socialists expose capitalism as an extraordinarily wasteful and destructive coordinator of human activity, incapable of delivering on its own potential and, in this case, responsible for an unimaginable number of future deaths. So exposed, one might then safely proceed to do away with capitalism. Faced with the resistance of the capitalist class and an entrenched government bureaucracy, officials elected around a Green New Deal could safely, with the support of the masses, move to expropriate the capitalist class and reorganize the state along socialist lines. Or so the story goes.

I’ve always despised the transitional program concept. I think, for starters, that it’s condescending, presuming that the “masses” need to be told one thing in order, eventually, to be convinced of another. I also think it’s dangerous, with the potential to profoundly backfire. Revolutions do begin, often, where reforms fail. But the problem is that the transitional demand encourages you to build institutions and organizations around one set of goals with the hope that you can rapidly convert them to another when the time comes. But institutions are tremendously inertial structures. If you build a party and other institutions around the idea of solving climate change within capitalism, do not be surprised when some large fraction of that party resists your attempt to convert it into a revolutionary organ. The history of socialist and communist parties is reason for caution. Even after the Second International betrayed its members by sending them to slaughter each other in the First World War, and even after a huge fraction split to form revolutionary organizations in the wake of the Russian Revolution, many members of the party and its network of unions continued to support it, out of habit and because it had built a thick network of cultural and social structures to which they were bound by a million and one ties. Beware that, in pursuit of the transitional program, you do not build up the forces of your future enemy.

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Let’s instead say what we know to be true. The pathway to climate stabilization below two degrees Celsius offered by the Green New Deal is illusory. Indeed, at present the only solutions possible within the framework of capitalism are ghastly, risky forms of geo-engineering, chemically poisoning either the ocean or the sky to absorb carbon or limit sunlight, preserving capitalism and its host, humanity, at the cost of the sky (now weatherless) or the ocean (now lifeless). Unlike emissions reductions, such projects will not require international collaboration. Any country could begin geo-engineering right now. What’s to stop China or the US from deciding to dump sulfur into the sky, if things get hot enough and bad enough?

The problem with the Green New Deal is that it promises to change everything while keeping everything the same. It promises to switch out the energetic basis of modern society as if one were changing the battery in a car. You still buy a new iPhone every two years, but zero emissions. The world of the Green New Deal is this world but better—this world but with zero emissions, universal health care, and free college. The appeal is obvious but the combination impossible. We can’t remain in this world. To preserve the ecological niche in which we and our cohort of species have lived for the last eleven thousand years, we will have to completely reorganize society, changing where and how and most importantly why we live. Given current technology, there is no possibility to continue using more energy per person, more land per person, more more per person. This need not mean a gray world of grim austerity, though that’s what’s coming if inequality and dispossession continue. An emancipated society, in which no one can force another into work for reasons of property, could offer joy, meaning, freedom, satisfaction, and even a sort of abundance. We can easily have enough of what matters—conserving energy and other resources for food, shelter, and medicine. As is obvious to anyone who spends a good thirty seconds really looking, half of what surrounds us in capitalism is needless waste. Beyond our foundational needs, the most important abundance is an abundance of time, and time is, thankfully, carbon-zero, and even perhaps carbon-negative. If revolutionaries in societies that used one-fourth as much energy as we do thought communism right around the corner, then there’s no need to shackle ourselves to the gruesome imperatives of growth. A society in which everyone is free to pursue learning, play, sport, amusement, companionship, and travel, in this we see the abundance that matters.

Perhaps breakthrough decarbonizing or zero-emissions technologies are almost here. One would be a fool to discount the possibility. But waiting for lightning to strike is not a politics. It’s been almost seventy years since the last paradigm-shifting technology was invented—transistors, nuclear power, genomics, all date from the middle of the twentieth century. Illusions of perspective and the endless stream of apps notwithstanding, the pace of technological change has slowed rather than accelerated. In any case, if capitalism suddenly finds it within its means to mitigate climate change, we can shift to talking about one of the other ten reasons why we should end it.

We cannot keep things the same and change everything. We need a revolution, a break with capital and its killing compulsions, though what that looks like in the twenty-first century is very much an open question. A revolution that had as its aim the flourishing of all human life would certainly mean immediate decarbonization, a rapid decrease in energy use for those in the industrialized global north, no more cement, very little steel, almost no air travel, walkable human settlements, passive heating and cooling, a total transformation of agriculture, and a diminishment of animal pasture by an order of magnitude at least. All of this is possible, but not if we continue to shovel one half of all the wealth produced on the planet into the maw of capital, not if we continue to sacrifice some fraction of each generation by sending them into the pits, not if we continue to allow those whose only aim is profit to decide how we live.

For now, a revolution is not on the horizon. We’re stuck between the devil and the green new deal and I can hardly blame anyone for committing themselves to the hope at hand rather than ambient despair. Perhaps work on legislative reforms will mean the difference between the unthinkable and the merely unbearable. But let’s not lie to each other.

*Note: An earlier version of the essay stated the emissions of shipping as 17 percent. Thanks to Alyssa Battistoni for the correction.

[Jasper Bernes is Managing Editor of Commune. He is the author of The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization (Stanford, 2017) and two books of poetry: We Are Nothing and So Can You, and Starsdown. He lives in Berkeley with his family.]

Garden Variety Environmentalism

The Band-Aid Wing of the Green Growth Economy

Counterpunch

Weekend Edition March 13-15, 2015

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

“The environmental movement needs shaming at this point.”

– Denise Boggs

It was 60+ degrees and sunny – had been for weeks – in western  Oregon, as I arrived in Eugene for  the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon Law School – the planet’s oldest such conference. The conference, attended by over 3000 attorneys, activists, wonks and government officials, is put on by law students at the UofO. Other students from other top environmental law schools (Lewis and Clark, Vermont Law …) also pitch in organizing and moderating panel discussions. The organizers did a remarkable job juggling speakers, attendees and all the little things necessary.

While suffering from a bigger than usual allergy attack brought on by many types of trees and flowering plants budding out at the same time; I, as usual, perused the conference brochure for panels and Keynote addresses that would take on the big eco-threats of the day.

Out of over 200 panel presentations and twelve Keynote speakers, there were  1) three panels on citizen  activism (two at the same time); 2) one panel on Consumption; 3) one panel on Population; 4) one on the “false solution” of “Green” Energy;…and NONE at all on Biomass/Biofuels! Not at all promising.

The first sign that PIELC was headed down the rabbit hole was the Fund for Wild Nature’s panel presenting the Grassroots Activist of the Year Award. A grand total of five people attended as Arlene Montgomery was honored. Us five heard inspiring tales of how she and the two other women panelists have carried on with great success against all odds and little money.

I found it quite an irony that the award was presented by Doug Bevington, author of the “Rebirth of Environmentalism,” in which he wrote that the was the model for grassroots activism in the 21st Century.  No one from the high-budget, big green litigation shop was there at the grassroots panel, though CBD staffers dominated the conference overall, appearing on five times as many panels as any other group. CBD has perfected the suing to get endangered species listings and garnering millions in Attorneys Fees in the process. Yet, rarely is there any critical habitat set aside in these listing victories – rendering them hollow, at best.

And, with the abject failure of the Clinton Option 9 Northwest Forest Plan to save the Northern Spotted Owl, there is deafening silence from CBD and the rest of the professional Endangered Species listings camp on an overdue Upgrade Petition for the owls, as Endangered, rather than the current more mild Threatened Status would result in real set asides – likely ALL old growth habitat remaining (8% of original, at best), if not all national forest lands in owl habitat – and the funders and Democrats will have none of that. The owls have no chance.

In a way, Bevington sadly was right. CBD is a new model, not of grassroots activism by any means; but of how to become an undemocratic, well-compensated big green outfit masquerading as a citizen membership group quicker than any predecessors.

Fossil Fuel Addicts against Fossil Fuels

From there, I went to the Friday noon Keynote address. The speakers on the agenda were Bill McKibben; writer Gary Nabhan, from something called the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona; and Cyril Scott, suspended President of the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Tribal Council (Scott, the main speaker I wanted to see, was unable to attend given serious intra-tribal hubbub after he called the multinational TransCanada’s effort to build the Keystone XL Pipeline across tribal lands, “An Act of War.” He was coming to rally support… the well-established way grassroots victories always have come about – organize around the issue; seek allies and find a legal team when necessary.)

Bill McKibben appeared via video, to grumblings from some in the crowd who wanted to see him in person. Amy Goodman also a came in for the same lame criticism, while I found their video instead of flying in to the conference on Wings of Tar Sands the appropriate thing to do. McKibben, looking a tad under the weather, riffed on the conference slogan “Changing Currents” while saying little of substance. He ended his short presentation with a plea to “buy more solar panels” and a flippant “See you in jail.”

McKibben was followed by Nabhan who gave a homily to Collaboration. He blithely used that false Einstein quote on the definition of insanity without any irony. He used it as a cudgel to beat those who would rather Resist than work in partnership with Gaia-destroying industries. He praised “Collaboration” efforts between farmers, ranchers and consumer activists and claimed a great victory in getting citizens in the Midwest to plant milkweed alongside their tomatoes in their gardens! He never once mentioned why the iconic North America insect, the Monarch Butterfly, has seen its milkweed breeding habitat disappear in the first place. The words “Ethanol” and “Monsanto” were never spoken.

Shenna Fortner, a Vermont Law School student who will work this summer as a legal clerk with Rappold Law Office, which serves as the lead counsel for the Rosebud Sioux in their efforts to oppose the South Dakota permit of the Keystone XL, then came on and explained that Cyril Scott was unable to attend. She gave a recap of the KXL issue and told people how they can comment on the required Public Utilities Commission hearing on the pipeline proposal that is scheduled for May 5th. Fortner also spoke of the long-standing tipi action camps that have been set up by the grandmothers at the entrance points of the proposed pipelines. Send comments to: puc@state.sd.us or PUC, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. For more info on how to donate or otherwise help, contact: Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Protect the Sacred: (605)481-0416 or theIndigenous Environmental Network, PO Box 485 Bemidji, MN 56619

Rodney King Environmentalism

Nabhan, unfortunately, was not the sole presenter who had a “can’t we all get along/say nothing bad about the perps/we will cleverly wiggle our way out of it” worldview. An underlying “current” of the conference was that “wild” and “Wilderness” are no longer viable concepts. The future was all about geo-engineering schemes – the garden milkweeds were part of a pattern. I’ve always been astonished that the greens so eagerly embraced the very term “Collaboration” given its (rather recent) sordid history, but it IS the appropriate idiom.

One major green growth area is climate compensation legislation/litigation. Two separate panels were on Who Should Pay for Climate Change?  They were all about demonizing fossil fuel companies (“major GHG polluters”) and ways to shake loose compensation from them. To me that is akin to demonizing the pusher who provides one’s addictions, while never once looking at one’s own responsibility. Personal consumption driving Climate Change is off the table. McKibben has said, “Personal consumption doesn’t matter.”

At a presentation on another pipeline, a CBD staffer lamented the attention paid to the KXL instead of his own project. While his put out motivation was jealousy, he had a point. While the entire “movement” has been distracted by the KXL effort, ALL the necessary pipes and more have been constructed and it has been very hard to draw attention to other proposed pipelines. The competition for Foundation grants is fierce…no can’t-we-all-get-along on that front. Vast numbers are paid to work on the KXL, coal exports, land use, natural gas exports, other pipelines…these are the growth sectors the budding lawyers are steered to. Follow the Money, as usual.

The underlying causes are ignored or given little attention. After all, how could you have such conferences w/o massive carbon use? – Jet fuel is the number one end use of the Tar Sands, but you’ll never hear that at such an event.

PIELC does get credit for trying to limit its footprint – in addition to having more video presentations, you won’t see a raft of used paper coffee cups overflowing trash bins – they are banned. And, while I question the efficacy, one can make a Carbon Offset donation to the great group Friends of Trees, who have planted close to a million urban trees in Oregon. Speaking of uses of trees, a glance at the school bookstore’s Law School annex display table showed ten books being promoted. Five were indistinguishable books on Climate; each had “Forward by Bill McKibben” on the cover.

When whatever it is hits the fan, it is not redistributed evenly

The best thing about PIELC is its commitment to Indigenous peoples. Native lands have paid an inordinate price for our energy addiction – in addition to the pipelines, there are uranium mines, coal mines, coal plants, Biomass schemes, etc. all across Indian Country. Oregon just approved Tax Credits (of course) for Biomass schemes on all the state’s nine federally recognized tribes’ lands.

The most talked about Keynote this year was delivered by Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a 14-year-old activist from Boulder CO. He is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, a musician with his brother Itzcuahtli, a speaker at the RIo+20 United Nations Summit… and he has been concerned and active over Climate Change since he was six. The guy is a powerhouse.

coaltrainChip and oil train parked on the tracks at the University of Oregon.

I took a break and went down by the river to enjoy some sun – Eugene has a wonderful greenway along the river with bike paths on either side that run for miles. On the way back, the path runs under a railroad overpass. Sitting on the tracks was train loaded with dozens of cars full of wood chips and tankers full of Bakken shale oil – headed for the export docks. (Here was a direct action opportunity right outside the conference!) A few conference panels were on the oil and gas exports, yet none on the ground-up-forest ones.

I was getting more and more depressed. The grumbling from grassroots activists was getting loud. My mood changed when I ran into my good buddy Calvin Hecocta. Calvin is a Klamath elder and spiritual leader. He was our Northwest chair of the American Indian Movement (AIM) back in the day. And, he was instrumental in the saving of the Opal Creek and Breitenbush Ancient Forests. I could go on and on singing praises to Calvin; suffice to say, he is one of the great ones.

Friday night is the annual Indigenous Peoples Reception at the Many Nations Longhouse. The Law School is unique in that is has a beautiful student Longhouse out back and has a long-standing working relationship with the Longhouse and the tribes. Panel discussions on Native issues are held at the Longhouse during this and other conferences.

The dinner of salmon, fry bread and other foods prepared by Native cooks was overflowing and a wonderful time. My mood got better.

Dancing on the Ruins

“You know I don’t lead you and you know I don’t feed you no lies. And it’s not up to me to tell you what you see through your eyes.”

– Jackson Browne

PIELC also is the occasion of the annual Earth First! OutLAW Bash. In a scene out of Mad Max, about 500 by-and-large younger, non- attorney activists gathered in a dilapidated industrial zone of old warehouses, kilns, yards of industrial debris – old log trucks, firetrucks, logs, rusting beams, cracked cement everywhere… music and kegs and the always entertaining effigy of some industrial insult to be burned are the highlights. This year it was a mock-up of the huge fracked Natural Gas export plant planned for Coos Bay, Oregon…with attendant thousands of miles of new pipelines. (I learned a lesson – never stand in a tight crowd behind anyone in a power wheelchair, especially if there is a big fire with fireworks shooting off randomly!)

As a naked pyramid and dancers appeared around the fire with a big moon in the clear sky, I couldn’t help but hear Casey Neill’s “Dancing on the Ruins” in my head. This is the eyes-open community that always has been and always will be on the front lines – the activists who show up, paid only by a clear Gaian conscience and great camaraderie. While Derrick Jensen wrote and three different PIELC  speakers I heard paraphrase “When hope dies; action begins;” I have to note that it is through collective action that there is any hope of hope.

The Elephant in the Boiler Room

I didn’t stay up too late as I wanted to attend the sole panel on Consumption that was held at the early hour of 9am. It was put on by the wonky folks from the PolicyInteractive Research group that has interviewed thousands of people worldwide on environmental values. A case study of 16 low-carbon lifestyle people in the Eugene area was presented – the why and how they live such lives. A larger study was presented on just why pro-environmental values do NOT translate into pro-environment behavior.

It was very informative and telling. 88% of us claim pro-environment values, but few live them. (The average annual American Carbon Output is 19.7 tons – what is optimistically projected to be “sustainable” worldwide is 4.5 tons per capita.) Why don’t we walk our talk? The research shows that the disconnect is the result of a combination of:

Denial – No problem, it doesn’t exist; nothing really matters, we are unimportant, love for the moment; the problem is beyond our ability to solve; I’m already doing my part (likely without much effect) – “I bought the Prius, what more do you want me to do? -; and, I’m working on something more important.

We heard of a sociology professor who wrote a book on Climate Change concluding that “the problem is beyond our ability to solve.” And we heard of another UofO professor – a Climate Change professor – who commutes from Portland, over 100 miles away – in a high-end German auto!

A friend recently posted on Facebook about feeling guilty about her carbon use and asked if others felt the same. The responses were 90%, “No way. I deserve it” or some other variance of the blind, New Agey “abundance” rationale.

Robin Quirke of PolicyInteractive noted, if we don’t walk our talk, how can we expect to convince governments and society at large to change behaviors and policies? What I call “Al Gore Syndrome.”

Her colleague Tom Bowerman noted that he and partner live in a 700 square foot house and have a monthly electric bill of around $10. They have a car they drive 3000 miles a year and do not fly. His personal footprint was around the 4.5 tons and he felt he could and would lower it without and real sacrifice. Tom talked about flying and its huge carbon cost. Basically, flying somewhere on a full plane spews the same amount of carbon per capita as one person driving an SUV the same distance. He called the back-and-forth flying far-flung First World family members do as a matter of course, “Love Miles.”

The sole other panel that looked at consumption and population was put on by CBD’s Population and Sustainability wing. CBD, in addition to distributing millions of free condoms with packaging tying it to species loss, seeks to break the taboo on talking about population in green circles. 7.3 billion Clever Apes consuming a finite planet is anything but “Sustainable” – by far THE most common word found in Panel titles.

Return of the Clan Mothers

sheenaShenna Fortner and Cedar Gilette.

The highlight of the conference for me was the “canceled” panel on Indigenous Resistance to the KXL. With President Scott unable to attend, it was called off. But, over 70 people showed up anyway and it turned into a circle discussion (not the usual school lecture model by any means) on those perverse impacts on Native lands due to our energy addiction and consumer lifestyle.  Shenna Fortner chaired it and started things off with a summary of the Rosebud Resistance to the Keystone XL and how one can plug in and help.

Cedar Gillette, another Vermont Law student and tribal member from North Dakota, gave a powerful presentation on the human costs of the “man camps” associated with the fracking boom in the Bakken shale oil formations that underlie her nation. A staggering litany of domestic abuse, alcohol-fueled rampages brought some of the human costs associated with our energy addiction into focus.

Good Shield spoke of the Buffalo Field Campaign – the longest continuous non-violent civil disobedience encampment in the nation. The BFC seeks to end the horrific slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone Bison that is carried out annually at the behest of the cattle industry.

And, Calvin Hecocta spoke from the heart about what has been lost. He (and others) talked about the days of the Clan Mothers. The highly-respected elder women of each clan would set about correcting anyone’s behaviors that worked against the common good. And tellingly, they also chose the leaders of the men’s councils. Calvin was chosen by the Clan Mothers at a young age to speak for the land, the birds, the mammals, the trees…and he does it well. He spoke to how all this degradation has occurred on men’s watch and it is time again to look to the grandmothers for leadership.

With all the “logical” thinking and presentations going on all around, Calvin and others’ perspective was a breath of fresh air. There were few dry eyes in the room – from Native women elders to young, white students…all were deeply touched. While the spontaneity was a big part of it, I’d still suggest that such a gathering be an integral part of ANY green gathering.

The Biomassacre

While the many efforts against bad forest logging practices, GMO foods, fracking, pipelines, water, plastics, Indigenous survival, etc. are all well and good and necessary, little analysis can be found on the efficacy of already tried solutions, much less proposed ones.  And, thus, the biggest elephant is the Renewable Energy Portfolios which require that a certain percentage (usually 25%) of the retail electricity in a state’s grid come from “renewables” by 2025.

Just as Nabhan studiously avoided the real reason for the Monarchs’ decline (First Worlders burning corn in their SUVs), the entire “green” movement elides the other failures of “renewable” energy. McKibben et al. can pimp all the solar panels they want, but that does nothing to stop Climate chaos while Biofuels (monarch, et al.) and Biomass (forests) add to it. (Not to mention, solar panels – like wind towers – are carbon-based.)

After hundreds of millions in subsidies (and blighted landscapes, roasted birds, etc.) the last eight years, wind and solar combined feed less than 5% into the grid (and there is evidence that even that 5% is not useable energy – useless without concurrent steam-generated Baseload power stabilizing the grid) we’re left with laws requiring 25% by ten years from now.

And the major way the 25% will be met is with Biomass – the burning of forests for energy – the oldest (and dirtiest – 1.5x as polluting as burning coal) energy source of humankind. While some panels dealt with the across-the-board proposed increases in logging on public lands, the end game of Biomass is rarely mentioned. While Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR though he lives in NY!) proposes “thinning” 9 million acres of eastern Oregon public forests, he and Oregon’s former governor helped arrange billions in loans for new Biomass plants to consume the “thinning.” Ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber even sold of 1500 acres of a state forest to a Biomass company! Kitzhaber was ultimately brought down by the sordid crony capitalism/influence peddling side of the “Green” Growth Economy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PGE) Boardman Coal Plant is Oregon’s biggest carbon polluter and it is on schedule to be converted from coal to Biomass by 2020.

Just this week, The Oregonian reported that ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber’s forest adviser was the private owner of a timber consulting firm that benefited from Biomass deals Kitzhaber was selling State Forests and providing the Tax Credits to feed…plans the adviser was paid $400,000 by the State to develop! To her credit, new Governor Kate Brown immediately ended the contract with the adviser.

Forests in the Amazon, the US Southeast and British Columbia are being turned into chips/pellets and exported to Europe where they are burned for electrons and the countries burning them preposterously get Carbon Credits for it which are then used to off-set the emissions from coal plants! Every day, one sees false memes overselling German solar energy; yet, never a mention of Germany’s Biomass energy use (expected to comprise  2/3rds of Germany’s “renewable” energy by 2020) and increased coal use.

CBD is one of the many “green” groups that promote Biomass under the disproven rubric of thinning the forest to make them more fire-proof! CBD has helped plan the largest timber sale in Southwest history. They are hardly alone – Oregon Mild, errr, Wild signed on to Wyden’s plan and staffers appeared in a widely-disseminated photo with the senator  and timber execs announcing their collaboration. One Oregon Wild staffer wrote a tortured defense of it (that has since been scrubbed from their website). McKibben is also a top promoter of his Middlebury Vermont college’s biomass plant.

I’ll go so far as to say that Biomass is a greater threat to planetary life than Climate Change! Already we have copious evidence of entire civilizations going under due to deforestation. What could possibly go wrong at planetary scale this time?

Somehow people have come to believe that being an environmental groupie is equivalent to being an activist. It’s not!”

–Denise Boggs

Ultimately PIELC is a Job Fair for eco-law students. It is not the more activist entity is started out as. In those days, grassroots activists, like Cyril Scott and allies, identified an issue and set up resistance to it. When needed, legal teams were assembled to carry out the paperwork resistance. Now, it is inverted with high-paid pro-Democrat foundation agents dictating eco-policy and even what issues are on the radar and fundable. It has devolved into a multi-billion dollars per year growth industry run by big foundations (whose wealth came/comes mostly from energy production), lawyers and Democratic Party factotums. Many “green” groups have annual budgets in the tens of millions – The Nature Conservancy alone (one of the proponents of Biomass) has over $20 billion in assets while dogged grassroots activists show up whether paid or not, often getting undermined (or their efforts fund-raised upon) by the big greens.

The problem with having a “movement” lead by a professional class who collectively are a combination of General McClellans and Marshal Petains is that you get either hubris-ridden ineptness (paid to pull punches) or proud collaborators calling the shots and driving off the activists necessary to carry any issue to true victory. This top down mindset ultimately ends with: promoting, rather than opposing Biomass/Biofuel schemes; eliding consumption and population; failure to walk the talk… and planting milkweeds-in-a-garden being the only “victories.”

During the course of the job fair, some 800 species went extinct. The professional Green Growth industry is a dead end.  It’s way past time to walk the talk. There are NO Law Jobs on a Dead Planet.

 

[MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, OR. He was plaintiff in the first successful Ancient Forest lawsuit. He can be reached at Pahtoo@aol.com]

 

WWF SHARES CULPABILITY FOR MASS KILLING OF ORANGUTANS

Panda Leaks

October 13, 2014

The WWF raises money across the globe to save the orangutan. The organization does, in fact, act to preserve existing national parks that are home to the likeable, funny-faced apes. But at the same time, the WWF – a strong proponent of plant-based energy production worldwide – is aiding its agribusiness partners in annihilating much larger areas of rainforest in the name of sustainability. A years’-long globe-spanning investigative journey took journalist and filmmaker Wilfried Huismann to the Indonesian part of Borneo. There he discovered that in Central Kalimantan alone the company Wilmar International, one of the world’s biggest palm oil players, had already cleared almost 200,000 hectares of rainforest using ruthless slash-and-burn methods. In 2007 the WWF concluded a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Wilmar, pledging support for the company’s Central Kalimantan palm oil operations, which the WWF deems “sustainable”.

Orangutan press

Hundreds of our “forest brethren” have been killed

Travelling by jeep through the Wilmar plantations Huismann bore witness to hundreds of kilometers of industrial monoculture – dead land offering no viable habitat for wildlife. According to surveys conducted by the Indonesian Greenomics Institute, six out of nine orangutan habitats in the new Wilmar plantation areas have already been destroyed. Hundreds of the photogenic great apes – our “forest brethren”, used to such great effect in WWF fundraising campaigns – have been killed as a by-product of forest clearance. The WWF bares partial responsibility for this crime.

In a filmed interview with Huismann WWF Palm Oil Officer Amalia Prameswari defended the collaboration with Wilmar. She said the aim was to encourage the agri-giant to produce “good bioenergy”. She pointed to the fact that the WWF had managed to enforce a measure by which 9,86% of the industrial land concessions would be designated as High Conservation Value (HCV) area and thus protected from deforestation.

Together with Indonesian conservationist Abah Nordin, author Wilfried Huismann drove to the newly laid out plantation Rimba Harapan Sakti, to evaluate the WWF claim. They did indeed find some patches of forest that had been saved from the flames. In one of them Nordin pointed to a treetop: there sat an emaciated orangutan, staring out across the barren land. Nordin summed up: “According to our last survey there are only two orangutans left living here. They’re caught in a trap and will die. There aren’t enough fruit trees in this forest for two apes.” This bit of token “forest” measured 80-hectares – about 900 by 900 meters –specialists say one orangutan family needs about 10,000 hectares to survive. When Huismann queried a group of local plantation laborers one of them said: “The company hires hunters to shoot them. The company protects its property.” It seems the orangutans, in their desperation, had been WWF shares culpability for the mass killing of orangutans “stealing” oil palm fruit.

According to Nordin the orangutans can expect no help from the WWF. A fact the organization affirmed to Wilfried Huismann: it does not have a single orangutan project in Indonesia and runs no rescue centers where the animals might find shelter.

Abah Nordin calls the sustainability label co-founded by the WWF and industrial interests under the banner of the RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil) “fraudulent”. “There is no biodiversity in the plantations” He says “everything is dead. Rats are the only animals left there. The WWF greenwashes the environmental crimes of industry- and takes money for doing it.”

Read more in the book

 

WATCH: WWF SILENCE OF THE PANDAS | A Journey into the Heart of the Green Empire

HectorLaurenceWWFDorteWWFJasonClayWWF

Above: Three of many individuals creating mass-misery and ecological devastation via WWF. Clockwise: Dr Hector Laurence – WWF Argentina (also president of Agricultural Association AIMA and Director of two GMO companies (Morgan Seeds & Pioneer), Dörte Bieler – WWF spokesperson for Germany, Jason Clay – Senior Vice President, Market Transformation.

The WWF is the largest environmental protection organisation in the world. Trust in its “green projects” is almost limitless. Founded on September 11, 1961, it is the most influential lobby group for the environment in the world, thanks largely to its elitist contacts in both the political and industrial spheres and to its ability to walk a constant tightrope between commitment and venality.

This film will dispel the green image of the WWF however. Behind the organisation’s eco-façade, the documentary maker uncovered explosive stories from all around the world. This documentary reveals the secrets of the WWF. It is a journey into the heart of the green empire that will hopefully shatter public faith in such so-called conservation groups forever. [Synopsis below video.]

A film by Wilfried Huismann, Germany, 2011

Synopsis:

The WWF, the most famous and powerful environmental organization worldwide, is facing accusations of working too closely with industries that destroy the environment and of ‘greenwashing’ dubious companies. The Fund allegedly collaborates with companies that deforest jungles, displace farmers, destroy the habitat of animals and contaminate the environment, German journalist and documentary maker Wilfried Huismann reveals.

“25 x 25” is a Big Fat Bio-Massacre

Vote Yes on Proposal 3!

 

For a list of the key groups behind this bill view the 25x25_organization_endorsements. Environmental groups, corporations and regional partners include those such as Environmental Defence Fund, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Monsanto, National Wildlife Federation, World Watch Institute and Chrysler.

 

November 4, 2012

By Jeff Gibbs

Open Mike

“Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger. It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands.”

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.

 

In Michigan right now ballot Proposal 3 known as “25 x 25” would require our state to get 25% of its electricity from “renewable” sources by the year 2025. “25 x 25” is being sold as all about solar panels and wind mills. It’s not. Far more than anyone suspects, it’s going to ramp up the dirtiest form of energy of all: biomass burning. Incinerating trees in the name of “green energy.” And it must be stopped if we care about climate change, clean air and thriving forests.

Yes that’s right, in the name of saving the planet and renewable energy we are about to make things worse. For those unfamiliar with biomass burning, it releases more carbon dioxide and more harmful particulates than even coal. Logging for biomass can drastically reduce biodiversity and set back a forest’s ability to sequester carbon dioxide for centuries. Most environmentalists oppose it. Or used to.

Michigan environmental groups promoting “25 x 25,” whose goals such as stopping climate change I otherwise support, have insisted there will not be much biomass burning. Their campaign shows images of wind and solar exclusively.

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Clean Water Action

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Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs

2012-11-05-green3.jpg
Green Energy Future

But this is what we are actually going to get. I call it a bio-massacre:

 

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Massachusetts logging for biomass

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Michigan trees chipped for biomass

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New Hampshire biomass plant

Don’t believe it? It was hard for me grasp as well. Still, there was that little word “biomass” in the definition of renewable energy. So I decided to check for myself.

Here was my first stunner: the national “25 x 25” Steering Committee seems to be 100% agribusiness and logging interests. Ethanol and biomass. On their bios are found the words cattle, corn, biomass and forestry, not solar or wind.

The national “25 x 25” mission statement reflects this commitment to biofuels and biomass:

25x’25 Vision: By 2025, America’s farms, forests and ranches will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber.

When questioned about national “25 x 25” being primarily big ag and big timber, Michigan “25 x 25” supporters responded saying they have little to do with the national organization. Really? That’s odd. Because the national “25 x 25” organization brags on their website that they have influenced state laws and they include Michigan as a place where good things are happening.

And then the Michigan 25 x 25 Jobs and Energy Report was released. It was produced at Michigan State University, our state’s agricultural college. It was written not by the solar and wind department, but by faculty from the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Department with a huge vested interest in biomass and biofuels.

The report projects a nearly 300% increase in biomass. The red line on the chart below indicates the projected increase in biomass plant staffing.

2012-11-04-biomassjobyears.jpg The authors of the report also aren’t shy about describing the new opportunities for their friends:

… the impact to the agricultural and forestry sector is anticipated to be… significant. Accounting for direct and indirect impacts due to feed stock procurement, transportation, logistics, storage etc., it is expected that biomass generation under a 25% RPS will result in nearly 12,000 job years.

(Please note: boosters of “25 x 25” routinely turn “job years” into “jobs” – e.g. one job for 25 years is 25 “job years.” This means 75,000 “job years” gets turned into 75,000 “jobs” when it should be more like 3,000.)

And just what is the aforementioned “feedstock procurement?” In large part, logging. Ah, the wonderful green jobs! Logging, trucking, installing air quality control equipment, using bulldozers to move around giant piles of wood chips lest they spontaneously combust like this fire at Biomass One in Oregon, or this entire biomass plant that exploded in flames.

So widely known (except to the public) is this new opportunity for “green energy” that “Biomass Magazine” has already alerted its readers. The magazine cautions though, that making “25 x 25” a constitutional amendment might be a mistake because it could draw “scrutiny and introduce more controversy than legislative action…” Yes that’s right, it’s easier to sell a bio-massacre beyond closed doors.

But there’s more. The burning of woody biomass isn’t all we’re going to get. The chart below reveals a big helping of biogas as well as biomass.

2012-11-04-biomassmarketcapacity.jpg

What are the other biogas and biomass sources besides trees and forests? Confined animal feed operations, landfill gases, burning garbage including old homes and tires, human and agricultural “waste.” All have serious issues and depend on enormous fossil fuel intensive systems. But those are not my main concerns – it’s the burning of the source of our clean air and clean water as “green energy” that is my nightmare. Only two great planetary systems are capable of soaking up the CO2, our forests and our oceans. It makes no sense to destroy either one of them.

But alas the bio-massacre isn’t just in our future. It’s the reality of “renewable energy” right now:

 

2012-11-05-burlington.jpg
Burlington, Vermont biomass plant. Note whole trees looking like matchsticks in this photo prior to chipping.

–In Vermont, the biggest single contributor to climate change and air pollution is their “green energy” facility. An enormous biomass burner that only produces a fraction of the energy of a fossil fuel plant.

–There is at least 15 times more biomass burning RIGHT NOW in Michigan than solar and wind combined. Given this, is it ethical for “Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs” to ONLY show solar and wind on its photo “tour” of Michigan renewable energy? Here is what they won’t show you:

2012-11-05-Cadillac.jpg
Cadillac, Michigan biomass plant
2012-11-05-biomassbenzie.png

Enjoying Michigan’s sustainable state forests
–Michigan State University, the source of the “25 x 25” report, has no wind and almost no solar yet has already obtained a permit to toss 24,000 tons of trees annually into their coal plant to meet their “renewable energy” goals, a feat which will actually increase the CO2 coming from the smokestack.

–In Holland, Michigan the Sierra Club has been fighting to stop a coal plant expansion. But Holland’s “clean energy” plan is in large part biomass burning disguised as “combined heat and power.” (The word “biomass” isn’t mentioned until page 31 in the proposal. That’s not an accident.)

So why are we getting so much burning in the name of green if wind and solar are such miracles? That’s a story for another day. Suffice to say there are issues with solar and wind that cannot be wished away. One major problem is that right now wind supplies only about 0.3 percent of Michigan’s electrical energy. To ramp that up to provide a significant share of our electricity would take tens of billions of dollars and 50 times more wind turbines than currently exist. Anyone think that’s going to happen?

And so it all comes back to cutting and burning our forests for energy. They say we would never denude the land of trees, yet that is the most common way civilizations end. It doesn’t happen in a day or a year, but blow by blow, cut by cut. We went though this once before. The trees are now smaller, stressed, and far less in extent. We won’t survive doing it again.

 

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Michigan logging scenes from 120 years ago

It makes no sense to stop the tar sands, fight fracking, or end the horror of mountaintop removal to protect the living planet, if we then incinerate the living planet for energy. Let’s get back to our “roots.” Save the trees. Stand with them against any “renewable energy” scheme like “25 x 25” that calls incinerating trees and forests “green energy.”

For more information about biomass burning go www.biofuelwatch.org.uk or to Partnership for Policy Integrity or this article I wrote.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 6TH, 2012, ELECTION DAY:

Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger.

It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands. Two people from the Sierra Club did show up a few times out of hundreds of meetings for which we were thankful but by NO means were the drivers of this movement.

The movement was initiated, advanced and completed by citizens. For the Sierra Club to claim otherwise is insulting and wrong. In the end, despite the attacks of biomass supporters, 99% of our community was against biomass burning and the plan was withdrawn.

Now the accusations by biomass supporters are wild and desperate once again. They imply that I, a producer for Michael Moore, producer of a film about the radical environmentalist Paul Watson, might be in bed with or somehow aiding the Koch brothers. It’s a common tactic for those unable to deal with facts to resort to innuendos and slurs.

Perhaps people who live in glass houses should hesitate to pick up stones.

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.

Yes BOTH sides of the energy debate are funded by the same people: giant corporations, the 1%, fossil fuel and otherwise.

Now I am not saying that everyone who has accepted money that in part originated with big oil money is automatically up to no good. I AM saying that that the world’s most powerful corporations, their corporate foundations, fossil fuel interests, investment bankers, and the uber wealthy, are NOT going fund the revolution that ends the growth machine that is killing the planet.

But they will fund “renewable energy” that includes biomass, ethanol, biofuels, etc. despite the insanity of burning trees or food or garbage as energy.

To be clear I have zero funding from anyone. I am a citizen doing what a citizen should do: not trusting what I am told by those in systems who think they know better than everyone, but checking for myself. And speaking out.

It was no accident I used facts from “25 x 25’s” own reports because I knew they would try to deny the biomass burning reality of green energy in our state; inquiries about biomass burning have been met with denials every step of the way. But supporters of “25 x 25” cannot refute my core contentions—not without calling their own experts and data wrong.

THEIR forecast for three times more biomass burning comes from THEIR jobs and energy report. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

THEIR report indicates for at least ten times more biomass burning than solar panels and as much as wind. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

“25 x 25” also has not answered to why they mislead the public about what’s included in the definition of renewable energy. It’s indisputable that biomass burning is on the ballot proposal.

And if this gets in the Michigan constitution do you REALLY think green groups can control timber and agriculture interests who make billions from biomass and biofuels? Look how hard it is to stop fossil fuel plants, and now we want to add more biomass, biogas and biofuel plants?

“25 x 25” has also not answered why they wildly exaggerated the jobs report by turning “job years” into jobs thus misleading the public.

And I have to tell you that the more I look into the reality of biomass burning in Michigan the uglier it seems. When I heard rumors that toxic creosote laden railroad ties and old houses were being burned as green biomass I thought that be hidden from the public. But no, it’s being bragged about on their website. Apparently railroad ties are being brought in from as far away as Canada, since Canada does not want this toxic stuff being burned in their own backyard.

This should come as no surprise because for a long time the largest green energy facility in Michigan was the giant waste incinerator in Detroit. Instead of “clean coal” we have “clean trash burning.”

There might be a few cases where burning off landfill gases is better than letting it escape but calling this green and subsidizing it as renewable energy is wrong because it subsidizes a giant environmental mistake.

Claims have been made it’s going to be “farm waste” as biomass. Well, in Michigan the reality of biomass burning is indeed 99% burning trees supplemented with “waste” on occasion. But let’s talk about burning to stop climate change for a minute. Burning farm “waste” does indeed like burning anything release CO2. That’s just physics. The concept of turning “waste” to energy is highly flawed and dependent on waste streams from fossil fuel intensive farms and CAFO’s.

Michigan voters should turn down Proposal 3 which will put in BIOMASSS BURNING in our state constitution.  THAT is a green nightmare. And environmental groups paid to promote “25 x 25” ought to learn that attacking citizens who speak out, is the wrong way to go.

United Nation’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) – or Sustained Profits for a Few?

Source: Biofuelwatch

Biofuelwatch factsheet about the Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) Initiative (June 2012)

Timed with this year’s Rio climate talks, 51 civil society organizations called on governments to reject the United Nations SEFA initiative on June 13th. Read the Open Letter: SEFA-Open-Letter

En Espanol: 

Energía sostenible para todos – ¿O sostenidos beneficios para unos pocos?

(Junio 2012)

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.

Suicidal Tendencies or Addiction? Earth Day Hijacked by Climate Wealth Opportunists

Earth Day Hijacked by Climate Wealth Opportunists

April 21st, 2010 will Mark the fall of the Mainstream Environmental ‘Movement’

For many in the climate justice movement, the growing trend of cozy alliances between many of the mainstream ENGOs with multinational corporate partners has been a toxic recipe; the price of which may be nothing less than complete ecological devastation. The result of these unscrupulous relationships is undeserved legitimacy for transnational corporations, as compromised NGOs run hand in hand with CEOs and executives in a race to the lowest common denominator. The common denominator is money and the finish line is paved in gold – but at what cost? Species extinction is happening at a scale of epic proportions, droughts and storms are happening at unparalleled magnitude; irreversible climate change catastrophe now stares at us in the face. The most inconvenient truth of all – that today – we now stand on the cusp of epic collapse of civilization. Has Earth Day become nothing more than a day of greenwash opportunism and will it mark the fall of the mainstream environmental movement.

Creating Climate Wealth Summit

Invitation from the ‘Earth Day Network’:

“Please join Earth Day Network and the Carbon War Room on April 21, 2010 from 6:00 p.m.-10:00p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building for a celebration on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day! Join Sir Richard Branson, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and celebrities. Join attendees from the Creating Climate Wealth Summit, our keynote speakers Richard Branson and Lisa Jackson, and enjoy a night conversing with other professionals that are making a difference in the climate change market! Held at the beautiful Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C., this night will not only bring together those that are making a difference in the climate marketplace, but it will provide superb dining, excellent entertainment and a night of networking not to be missed! Seats are limited and will sell out; tickets will only be available in advance. Purchase before March 31, 2010 and receive a 10% discount! Ticket prices: $450 – Full Ticket, $295 – Non-profit and Academic, Please contact us regarding government rates. Leadership Celebration Dinner Guests include Richard Branson; Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group Denis Hayes Honorary Chair, Earth Day Network Organizer, Earth Day 1970 Lisa Perez Jackson Administrator, EPA.”

Executive board members of the ‘Carbon War Room’ include CEO of Virgin Unite and former CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile (partner of original Havas tcktcktck campaign), and George Polk; currently leading a new $1 billion initiative by George Soros to invest private equity in climate change business models.

Richard Branson is ubiquitous. His corporations Virgin and Virgin Atlantic are partners in ‘The Climate Group’ (comprised of corporations and government) and he has worked with tcktcktck in the past. In 2007, HSBC announced that The Climate Group, along with WWF, Earthwatch, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, would be a partner in the HSBCClimate Partnership, and donated US$100 million to the group – the largest-ever single corporate donation. As of December 2008, The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, as well as several partner organizations. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects.

‘Sir’ Richard Branson is presently working with the New Royal Society initiative on ‘solar radiation management’ with “the right stakeholders” to “create a strategic roadmap for governance and regulation” in the geoengineering “battle area.” As well, Branson is fervently developing “tourism ventures into space”. You can book your place in space on Richards “sexiest spaceship ever” at your earliest convenience, because, according to Richard, “Everybody should have the chance to experience space travel one day”. Branson also has massive investments in biofuel research including palm and soy – both of which have had devastating consequences.

Turning food and Displacement into Corporate Profits

Amsterdam, 17 March 2010 – “A roadmap for introducing biofuel blends into commercial jet fuel, to be discussed today at the World Biofuels Conference in Amsterdam, will lead to faster deforestation and climate change and spells disaster for Indigenous peoples, other forest-dependent communities and small farmers …”

Read the rest of the post here.Learn more about devastation and displacement resulting from biofuels here.

Peter Diamandis, strategic advisor from the “Climate Response Fund” is also interested in space tourism. Diamandis is an international leader in the commercial space arena, having founded a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight utilizing a Boeing 727-200 aircraft. He is the Chairman & co-founder of the Rocket Racing League (www.rocketracingleague.com). Diamandis is a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Space Adventures (www.spaceadventures.com), the company which brokered the launches of four private citizens to the International Space Station.

CNN, March 23rd, 2010:

“Virgin Galactic has envisioned one flight a week, with six tourists aboard. Each will pay $200,000 for the ride and train for at least three days before going. About 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list for seats.”

Expanding the market for aviation, and creating a market for space travel in a climate crisis, while people die, and are displaced, is nothing less than psychopathic behavior. Could any of the 80,000 blinded narcissists on the waiting list be one of the 100 top paid CEOs still raking it in, in Canada? The total average compensation for Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs was approx. 7.5 million dollars in 2008—a stark contrast from the total average Canadian income of $42,305. They pocketed what takes Canadians earning an average income an entire year to make by 1:06 pm January 4—the first working day of the year.

[Click here to read more and download the full report. Click here to use our CEO pay calculator to find out how quickly a top CEO will earn your salary.]

Now compare the above ‘Climate Wealth’ invitation with excerpts from this letter from Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, to the United Nations representatives; September 27th, 2007:

“Sister and brother Presidents and Heads of States of the United Nations: The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model. Whilst over 10,000 years the variation in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the planet was approximately 10%, during the last 200 years of industrial development, carbon emissions have increased by 30%. Since 1860, Europe and North America have contributed 70% of the emissions of CO2. 2005 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years on this planet. …

Faced with this situation, we – the indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet – believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life. …

In my own country I suffer, with my head held high, this permanent sabotage because we are ending privileges so that everyone can “Live Well” and not better than our counterparts.”

Read the letter from Evo Morales in its entirety here.

Watch Evo Morales speak of the inequality of climate change here.

The Rich get Richer and the poor die of hunger and thirst

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human” – Aldous Huxley

It seems the wealthy and their partners have become completely blind to the reality of the climate change crisis. There is fiction and non fiction – the wealthy and their partners live in a narcissistic world of deception created by themselves. They fail to acknowledge the current reality – instead, they cling to false solutions in a fantasy world. They do so at the expense of survival of all species on earth. Is the wealth such elites accumulate by profiting from the climate crisis, which they created in the first place, to be given to the poorest of the poor; the disenfranchised men, women and children, who die of hunger and thirst?

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

The corporate climate groups sprouting up left right and centre are not about saving civilization from devastation, these corporately inundated climate groups are about protecting the capitalist system itself and protecting corporate profits at all costs. Just like governments are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to ‘liberate the people’ … corporations are not creating alliances with NGOs to ‘save humanity’. When they pretend otherwise – they both deluding themselves and the public. Corporations never fail to exploit crisis, such as ecosystem collapse, to further vested corporate economic interests. The United Nations has reported that in 2008 the world’s largest corporations caused 2.2 trillion dollars worth of environmental damage. If these corporations were not able to externalize these costs by way of destroying and poisoning the natural environment, one-third of their profits would be lost. Almost twenty years after Rio, emissions have reached an all time high. As corporate profits have soared – so have carbon emissions. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) in 1992, the world has witnessed a staggering increase in CO2 emissions of over 40%. The global community must acknowledge that the capitalist system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

The Staggering Inequality of Climate Change

Globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions

And most of this is for a display of opulence and over consumption. Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University calculated the emissions per person based on 6.5 billion people. What he found is startling. He found that the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. Ironically, the reluctance of developing countries to drastically cut carbon is often used as an excuse by developed nations to do nothing. For example, Zimbabwe emits 0.93 tonnes of carbon per person, while the United States emit 19.66 tonnes of carbon per person. Canada emits 17.86 tonnes of carbon per person. India produces 1.17 tonnes of carbon per person while China produces 3.7 tonnes of carbon per person. Bottom line – a person in Canada or the U.S. produces approx. 20 times the carbon than an average person in a vulnerable, developing country such as Zimbabwe.

The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions

Furthermore, Pacala’s data shows that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for ¾ of global emissions.

“In contrast, the rich are really spectacular emitters. …the top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. These people are really rich by global standards. Every single one of them earns more than the average American and they also occur in all the countries of the world. There are Chinese and Americans and Europeans and Japanese and Indians all in this group.”

The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions

Pacala’s data shows the globally wealthy could solve the crisis. Most importantly, it also shows there is absolutely no other way. Humanity must cut fossil fuel emissions massively and the only people who can cut global fossil fuel use to the extent needed are the wealthiest 15%. Furthermore, most of the cuts will need to be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of it. The globally wealthy must make the major reductions. Below is the Nov. 09 Global Carbon Project carbon budget. In the graph it shows that the carbon emissions budget for the Unites States and Australia budget (& I will assume Canada) until 2050 will be used up by 2019.

Humanity will not longer survive within the Capitalist System

Ecology and economy are interdependent. Both words have a common root: the Greek word “oikos” which means home. A whole earth economy is an economy based not on the wealth of a few but the welfare of the many – not living better than others – but “living well”. A whole earth economy recognizes the earth has ecological limits and that if these limits are not respected there will be serious, irreversible consequences. The warning from Rio in 1992 continues to be ignored;

“Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our well being (Preamble, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)”

If the global community continues to fail to heed the admonitions of the past, it is the rights not only of present, but also future generations who will suffer. The time has long since passed for tolerating the gross negligence of those who satisfy their insatiable wants at the expense of the fundamental needs and inalienable rights of others.

Ethics verses exploitation. It’s that simple. Choose a side.

A Kiss of Death to Faux ‘Green’ Capitalism and Those that Defend It

The only way climate catastrophe can be prevented is if the global community confronts those who impede action.  Once confronted, such compromised organizations , individuals and governments who continue to place their own self interests above that of humanity, will come to be seen as not just self serving, but highly unethical and criminally negligent.  They must be shunned by society.  Opulence and over consumptive lifestyles must become not a source of status, but a source of shame. The licenses and charters of corporations that perpetuate this negligence must be revoked.

Divesting in the bad and investing the good

All products that are destructive to human health and the ecosystem must be phased out and then prohibited. Rather than spending money on the food and the products that perpetuate ill health, exploit people, cause death and destroy the natural environment, the global community must invest in and subsidize what is necessary for humans and what is beneficial for the ecosystem.

Suicidal Tendencies; Refusing to Face Reality at One’s Own Peril

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Einstein

The absolute apathy of the mainstream ‘environmental movement’ has never been more clearly demonstrated than in the invitation for the ‘climate wealth summit’.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) model is one of the best we have at this time, keeping in mind it omits Arctic carbon feedbacks (like all the models), so in reality, the future looks much more terrifying. The MIT median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm.

About 4.5 million years ago, during the early Pliocene period, temperatures on Earth were some 3 to 4 degrees C (5.4 to 7.2 degrees F.) higher in the tropics, and perhaps 10 degrees C (18 degrees F.) warmer near the poles. Palm trees grew in Antarctica and alligators inhabited swamps above the Arctic Circle. We are now firmly on this path.

While the wealthy and their partners cover their ears to the cries of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised, who plead for no more than a right to simply stay alive, the wealthy and their partners, blind to the suffering of others, instead create new markets for wealth profits. The wealthy thus make a mockery of those who are already suffering from the dire effects of climate change. The actions of the wealthy elite could be compared to eating Christmas dinner in front of a person starving to death in a refugee camp.

Climate Wealth Summit Undermines Essence and Intent of Earth Day

In 1969 John McConnell, felt it necessary to propose a holiday in which we celebrate the Earth’s life and beauty. Along with a celebration of the Earth, he also intended Earth Day to alert earthlings about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. McConnell said, “Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.” Today would he not roll in his grave at the thought of a ‘creating climate wealth summit’ – in essence – profiting from the collapse of civilization. Their ‘climate wealth’ solutions could be compared to the Ku Klux Klan working with the ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation to ensure rights and justice for those suffering from racism.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”­ Chinua Achebe| Nigerian Writer

The global community must choose

The world has a choice to make: humanity over corporate profits or corporate profits over humanity. The global community can choose profits resulting from the actions of compromised and self-serving people, institutions and governments; or, the global community can choose humanity through altruism and ethical solutions. In global solidarity, citizens must defend our dying Mother earth. We must create a new world; a world of meaning, sharing, beauty, culture, love and respect in a race towards a zero carbon where all children and all life will flourish.

Ethical grassroots organizations and progressive governments are now left with the daunting task of saving the planet from complete collapse and total catastrophic, irreversible climate change. The global community must lend support to the organizations and the governments that have the courage to lead.

The world has a choice to make.

We choose life.

Cory Morningstar, Canadians for Action on Climate Change | Joan Russow PhD Global Compliance Research

Visit the ‘TIME TO BE BOLD’ declaration as we move towards the ‘World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, April 19th – 22nd.Earth Day Hijacked by Climate Wealth Opportunists

April 21st, 2010 will Mark the fall of the Mainstream Environmental ‘Movement’

For many in the climate justice movement, the growing trend of cozy alliances between many of the mainstream ENGOs with multinational corporate partners has been a toxic recipe; the price of which may be nothing less than complete ecological devastation. The result of these unscrupulous relationships is undeserved legitimacy for transnational corporations, as compromised NGOs run hand in hand with CEOs and executives in a race to the lowest common denominator. The common denominator is money and the finish line is paved in gold – but at what cost? Species extinction is happening at a scale of epic proportions, droughts and storms are happening at unparalleled magnitude; irreversible climate change catastrophe now stares at us in the face. The most inconvenient truth of all – that today – we now stand on the cusp of epic collapse of civilization. Has Earth Day become nothing more than a day of greenwash opportunism and will it mark the fall of the mainstream environmental movement.

Creating Climate Wealth Summit

Invitation from the ‘Earth Day Network’:

“Please join Earth Day Network and the Carbon War Room on April 21, 2010 from 6:00 p.m.-10:00p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building for a celebration on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day! Join Sir Richard Branson, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and celebrities. Join attendees from the Creating Climate Wealth Summit, our keynote speakers Richard Branson and Lisa Jackson, and enjoy a night conversing with other professionals that are making a difference in the climate change market! Held at the beautiful Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C., this night will not only bring together those that are making a difference in the climate marketplace, but it will provide superb dining, excellent entertainment and a night of networking not to be missed! Seats are limited and will sell out; tickets will only be available in advance. Purchase before March 31, 2010 and receive a 10% discount! Ticket prices: $450 – Full Ticket, $295 – Non-profit and Academic, Please contact us regarding government rates. Leadership Celebration Dinner Guests include Richard Branson; Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group Denis Hayes Honorary Chair, Earth Day Network Organizer, Earth Day 1970 Lisa Perez Jackson Administrator, EPA.”

Executive board members of the ‘Carbon War Room’ include CEO of Virgin Unite and former CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile (partner of original Havas tcktcktck campaign), and George Polk; currently leading a new $1 billion initiative by George Soros to invest private equity in climate change business models.

Richard Branson is ubiquitous. His corporations Virgin and Virgin Atlantic are partners in ‘The Climate Group’ (comprised of corporations and government) and he has worked with tcktcktck in the past. In 2007, HSBC announced that The Climate Group, along with WWF, Earthwatch, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, would be a partner in the HSBCClimate Partnership, and donated US$100 million to the group – the largest-ever single corporate donation. As of December 2008, The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, as well as several partner organizations. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects.

‘Sir’ Richard Branson is presently working with the New Royal Society initiative on ‘solar radiation management’ with “the right stakeholders” to “create a strategic roadmap for governance and regulation” in the geoengineering “battle area.” As well, Branson is fervently developing “tourism ventures into space”. You can book your place in space on Richards “sexiest spaceship ever” at your earliest convenience, because, according to Richard, “Everybody should have the chance to experience space travel one day”. Branson also has massive investments in biofuel research including palm and soy – both of which have had devastating consequences.

Turning food and Displacement into Corporate Profits

 

 

 

Amsterdam, 17 March 2010 – “A roadmap for introducing biofuel blends into commercial jet fuel, to be discussed today at the World Biofuels Conference in Amsterdam, will lead to faster deforestation and climate change and spells disaster for Indigenous peoples, other forest-dependent communities and small farmers …”

Read the rest of the post here.Learn more about devastation and displacement resulting from biofuels here.

Peter Diamandis, strategic advisor from the “Climate Response Fund” is also interested in space tourism. Diamandis is an international leader in the commercial space arena, having founded a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight utilizing a Boeing 727-200 aircraft. He is the Chairman & co-founder of the Rocket Racing League (www.rocketracingleague.com). Diamandis is a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Space Adventures (www.spaceadventures.com), the company which brokered the launches of four private citizens to the International Space Station.

CNN, March 23rd, 2010:

“Virgin Galactic has envisioned one flight a week, with six tourists aboard. Each will pay $200,000 for the ride and train for at least three days before going. About 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list for seats.”

Expanding the market for aviation, and creating a market for space travel in a climate crisis, while people die, and are displaced, is nothing less than psychopathic behavior. Could any of the 80,000 blinded narcissists on the waiting list be one of the 100 top paid CEOs still raking it in, in Canada? The total average compensation for Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs was approx. 7.5 million dollars in 2008—a stark contrast from the total average Canadian income of $42,305. They pocketed what takes Canadians earning an average income an entire year to make by 1:06 pm January 4—the first working day of the year.

[Click here to read more and download the full report. Click here to use our CEO pay calculator to find out how quickly a top CEO will earn your salary.]

Now compare the above ‘Climate Wealth’ invitation with excerpts from this letter from Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, to the United Nations representatives; September 27th, 2007:

“Sister and brother Presidents and Heads of States of the United Nations: The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model. Whilst over 10,000 years the variation in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the planet was approximately 10%, during the last 200 years of industrial development, carbon emissions have increased by 30%. Since 1860, Europe and North America have contributed 70% of the emissions of CO2. 2005 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years on this planet. …

Faced with this situation, we – the indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet – believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life. …

In my own country I suffer, with my head held high, this permanent sabotage because we are ending privileges so that everyone can “Live Well” and not better than our counterparts.”

Read the letter from Evo Morales in its entirety here.

Watch Evo Morales speak of the inequality of climate change here.

The Rich get Richer and the poor die of hunger and thirst

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human” – Aldous Huxley

It seems the wealthy and their partners have become completely blind to the reality of the climate change crisis. There is fiction and non fiction – the wealthy and their partners live in a narcissistic world of deception created by themselves. They fail to acknowledge the current reality – instead, they cling to false solutions in a fantasy world. They do so at the expense of survival of all species on earth. Is the wealth such elites accumulate by profiting from the climate crisis, which they created in the first place, to be given to the poorest of the poor; the disenfranchised men, women and children, who die of hunger and thirst?

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

The corporate climate groups sprouting up left right and centre are not about saving civilization from devastation, these corporately inundated climate groups are about protecting the capitalist system itself and protecting corporate profits at all costs. Just like governments are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to ‘liberate the people’ … corporations are not creating alliances with NGOs to ‘save humanity’. When they pretend otherwise – they both deluding themselves and the public. Corporations never fail to exploit crisis, such as ecosystem collapse, to further vested corporate economic interests. The United Nations has reported that in 2008 the world’s largest corporations caused 2.2 trillion dollars worth of environmental damage. If these corporations were not able to externalize these costs by way of destroying and poisoning the natural environment, one-third of their profits would be lost. Almost twenty years after Rio, emissions have reached an all time high. As corporate profits have soared – so have carbon emissions. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) in 1992, the world has witnessed a staggering increase in CO2 emissions of over 40%. The global community must acknowledge that the capitalist system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

The Staggering Inequality of Climate Change

Globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions

And most of this is for a display of opulence and over consumption. Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University calculated the emissions per person based on 6.5 billion people. What he found is startling. He found that the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. Ironically, the reluctance of developing countries to drastically cut carbon is often used as an excuse by developed nations to do nothing. For example, Zimbabwe emits 0.93 tonnes of carbon per person, while the United States emit 19.66 tonnes of carbon per person. Canada emits 17.86 tonnes of carbon per person. India produces 1.17 tonnes of carbon per person while China produces 3.7 tonnes of carbon per person. Bottom line – a person in Canada or the U.S. produces approx. 20 times the carbon than an average person in a vulnerable, developing country such as Zimbabwe.

The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions

Furthermore, Pacala’s data shows that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for ¾ of global emissions.

“In contrast, the rich are really spectacular emitters. …the top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. These people are really rich by global standards. Every single one of them earns more than the average American and they also occur in all the countries of the world. There are Chinese and Americans and Europeans and Japanese and Indians all in this group.”

The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions

Pacala’s data shows the globally wealthy could solve the crisis. Most importantly, it also shows there is absolutely no other way. Humanity must cut fossil fuel emissions massively and the only people who can cut global fossil fuel use to the extent needed are the wealthiest 15%. Furthermore, most of the cuts will need to be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of it. The globally wealthy must make the major reductions. Below is the Nov. 09 Global Carbon Project carbon budget. In the graph it shows that the carbon emissions budget for the Unites States and Australia budget (& I will assume Canada) until 2050 will be used up by 2019.

Humanity will not longer survive within the Capitalist System

Ecology and economy are interdependent. Both words have a common root: the Greek word “oikos” which means home. A whole earth economy is an economy based not on the wealth of a few but the welfare of the many – not living better than others – but “living well”. A whole earth economy recognizes the earth has ecological limits and that if these limits are not respected there will be serious, irreversible consequences. The warning from Rio in 1992 continues to be ignored;

“Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our well being (Preamble, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)”

If the global community continues to fail to heed the admonitions of the past, it is the rights not only of present, but also future generations who will suffer. The time has long since passed for tolerating the gross negligence of those who satisfy their insatiable wants at the expense of the fundamental needs and inalienable rights of others.

Ethics versus exploitation. It’s that simple. Choose a side.

A Kiss of Death to Faux ‘Green’ Capitalism and Those that Defend It

The only way climate catastrophe can be prevented is if the global community confronts those who impede action.  Once confronted, such compromised organizations , individuals and governments who continue to place their own self interests above that of humanity, will come to be seen as not just self serving, but highly unethical and criminally negligent.  They must be shunned by society.  Opulence and over consumptive lifestyles must become not a source of status, but a source of shame. The licenses and charters of corporations that perpetuate this negligence must be revoked.

Divesting in the bad and investing the good

All products that are destructive to human health and the ecosystem must be phased out and then prohibited. Rather than spending money on the food and the products that perpetuate ill health, exploit people, cause death and destroy the natural environment, the global community must invest in and subsidize what is necessary for humans and what is beneficial for the ecosystem.

Suicidal Tendencies; Refusing to Face Reality at One’s Own Peril

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Einstein

The absolute apathy of the mainstream ‘environmental movement’ has never been more clearly demonstrated than in the invitation for the ‘climate wealth summit’.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) model is one of the best we have at this time, keeping in mind it omits Arctic carbon feedbacks (like all the models), so in reality, the future looks much more terrifying. The MIT median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm.

About 4.5 million years ago, during the early Pliocene period, temperatures on Earth were some 3 to 4 degrees C (5.4 to 7.2 degrees F.) higher in the tropics, and perhaps 10 degrees C (18 degrees F.) warmer near the poles. Palm trees grew in Antarctica and alligators inhabited swamps above the Arctic Circle. We are now firmly on this path.

While the wealthy and their partners cover their ears to the cries of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised, who plead for no more than a right to simply stay alive, the wealthy and their partners, blind to the suffering of others, instead create new markets for wealth profits. The wealthy thus make a mockery of those who are already suffering from the dire effects of climate change. The actions of the wealthy elite could be compared to eating Christmas dinner in front of a person starving to death in a refugee camp.

Climate Wealth Summit Undermines Essence and Intent of Earth Day

In 1969 John McConnell, felt it necessary to propose a holiday in which we celebrate the Earth’s life and beauty. Along with a celebration of the Earth, he also intended Earth Day to alert earthlings about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. McConnell said, “Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.” Today would he not roll in his grave at the thought of a ‘creating climate wealth summit’ – in essence – profiting from the collapse of civilization. Their ‘climate wealth’ solutions could be compared to the Ku Klux Klan working with the ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation to ensure rights and justice for those suffering from racism.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”­ Chinua Achebe| Nigerian Writer

The global community must choose

The world has a choice to make: humanity over corporate profits or corporate profits over humanity. The global community can choose profits resulting from the actions of compromised and self-serving people, institutions and governments; or, the global community can choose humanity through altruism and ethical solutions. In global solidarity, citizens must defend our dying Mother earth. We must create a new world; a world of meaning, sharing, beauty, culture, love and respect in a race towards a zero carbon where all children and all life will flourish.

Ethical grassroots organizations and progressive governments are now left with the daunting task of saving the planet from complete collapse and total catastrophic, irreversible climate change. The global community must lend support to the organizations and the governments that have the courage to lead.

The world has a choice to make.

We choose life.

Cory Morningstar, Canadians for Action on Climate Change | Joan Russow PhD Global Compliance Research

Visit the ‘TIME TO BE BOLD’ declaration as we move towards the ‘World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, April 19th – 22nd.Earth Day Hijacked by Climate Wealth Opportunists

April 21st, 2010 will Mark the fall of the Mainstream Environmental ‘Movement’

For many in the climate justice movement, the growing trend of cozy alliances between many of the mainstream ENGOs with multinational corporate partners has been a toxic recipe; the price of which may be nothing less than complete ecological devastation. The result of these unscrupulous relationships is undeserved legitimacy for transnational corporations, as compromised NGOs run hand in hand with CEOs and executives in a race to the lowest common denominator. The common denominator is money and the finish line is paved in gold – but at what cost? Species extinction is happening at a scale of epic proportions, droughts and storms are happening at unparalleled magnitude; irreversible climate change catastrophe now stares at us in the face. The most inconvenient truth of all – that today – we now stand on the cusp of epic collapse of civilization. Has Earth Day become nothing more than a day of greenwash opportunism and will it mark the fall of the mainstream environmental movement.

Creating Climate Wealth Summit

Invitation from the ‘Earth Day Network’:

“Please join Earth Day Network and the Carbon War Room on April 21, 2010 from 6:00 p.m.-10:00p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building for a celebration on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day! Join Sir Richard Branson, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and celebrities. Join attendees from the Creating Climate Wealth Summit, our keynote speakers Richard Branson and Lisa Jackson, and enjoy a night conversing with other professionals that are making a difference in the climate change market! Held at the beautiful Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C., this night will not only bring together those that are making a difference in the climate marketplace, but it will provide superb dining, excellent entertainment and a night of networking not to be missed! Seats are limited and will sell out; tickets will only be available in advance. Purchase before March 31, 2010 and receive a 10% discount! Ticket prices: $450 – Full Ticket, $295 – Non-profit and Academic, Please contact us regarding government rates. Leadership Celebration Dinner Guests include Richard Branson; Founder and Chairman, Virgin Group Denis Hayes Honorary Chair, Earth Day Network Organizer, Earth Day 1970 Lisa Perez Jackson Administrator, EPA.”

Executive board members of the ‘Carbon War Room’ include CEO of Virgin Unite and former CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile (partner of original Havas tcktcktck campaign), and George Polk; currently leading a new $1 billion initiative by George Soros to invest private equity in climate change business models.

Richard Branson is ubiquitous. His corporations Virgin and Virgin Atlantic are partners in ‘The Climate Group’ (comprised of corporations and government) and he has worked with tcktcktck in the past. In 2007, HSBC announced that The Climate Group, along with WWF, Earthwatch, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, would be a partner in the HSBCClimate Partnership, and donated US$100 million to the group – the largest-ever single corporate donation. As of December 2008, The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, as well as several partner organizations. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects.

‘Sir’ Richard Branson is presently working with the New Royal Society initiative on ‘solar radiation management’ with “the right stakeholders” to “create a strategic roadmap for governance and regulation” in the geoengineering “battle area.” As well, Branson is fervently developing “tourism ventures into space”. You can book your place in space on Richards “sexiest spaceship ever” at your earliest convenience, because, according to Richard, “Everybody should have the chance to experience space travel one day”. Branson also has massive investments in biofuel research including palm and soy – both of which have had devastating consequences.

Turning food and Displacement into Corporate Profits

Amsterdam, 17 March 2010 – “A roadmap for introducing biofuel blends into commercial jet fuel, to be discussed today at the World Biofuels Conference in Amsterdam, will lead to faster deforestation and climate change and spells disaster for Indigenous peoples, other forest-dependent communities and small farmers …”

Read the rest of the post here.Learn more about devastation and displacement resulting from biofuels here.

Peter Diamandis, strategic advisor from the “Climate Response Fund” is also interested in space tourism. Diamandis is an international leader in the commercial space arena, having founded a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight utilizing a Boeing 727-200 aircraft. He is the Chairman & co-founder of the Rocket Racing League (www.rocketracingleague.com). Diamandis is a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Space Adventures (www.spaceadventures.com), the company which brokered the launches of four private citizens to the International Space Station.

CNN, March 23rd, 2010:

“Virgin Galactic has envisioned one flight a week, with six tourists aboard. Each will pay $200,000 for the ride and train for at least three days before going. About 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list for seats.”

Expanding the market for aviation, and creating a market for space travel in a climate crisis, while people die, and are displaced, is nothing less than psychopathic behavior. Could any of the 80,000 blinded narcissists on the waiting list be one of the 100 top paid CEOs still raking it in, in Canada? The total average compensation for Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs was approx. 7.5 million dollars in 2008—a stark contrast from the total average Canadian income of $42,305. They pocketed what takes Canadians earning an average income an entire year to make by 1:06 pm January 4—the first working day of the year.

[Click here to read more and download the full report. Click here to use our CEO pay calculator to find out how quickly a top CEO will earn your salary.]

Now compare the above ‘Climate Wealth’ invitation with excerpts from this letter from Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, to the United Nations representatives; September 27th, 2007:

“Sister and brother Presidents and Heads of States of the United Nations: The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change, and the disease is the capitalist development model. Whilst over 10,000 years the variation in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the planet was approximately 10%, during the last 200 years of industrial development, carbon emissions have increased by 30%. Since 1860, Europe and North America have contributed 70% of the emissions of CO2. 2005 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years on this planet. …

Faced with this situation, we – the indigenous peoples and humble and honest inhabitants of this planet – believe that the time has come to put a stop to this, in order to rediscover our roots, with respect for Mother Earth; with the Pachamama as we call it in the Andes. Today, the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the world have been called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life. …

In my own country I suffer, with my head held high, this permanent sabotage because we are ending privileges so that everyone can “Live Well” and not better than our counterparts.”

Read the letter from Evo Morales in its entirety here.

Watch Evo Morales speak of the inequality of climate change here.

The Rich get Richer and the poor die of hunger and thirst

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human” – Aldous Huxley

It seems the wealthy and their partners have become completely blind to the reality of the climate change crisis. There is fiction and non fiction – the wealthy and their partners live in a narcissistic world of deception created by themselves. They fail to acknowledge the current reality – instead, they cling to false solutions in a fantasy world. They do so at the expense of survival of all species on earth. Is the wealth such elites accumulate by profiting from the climate crisis, which they created in the first place, to be given to the poorest of the poor; the disenfranchised men, women and children, who die of hunger and thirst?

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

The corporate climate groups sprouting up left right and centre are not about saving civilization from devastation, these corporately inundated climate groups are about protecting the capitalist system itself and protecting corporate profits at all costs. Just like governments are not in Iraq and Afghanistan to ‘liberate the people’ … corporations are not creating alliances with NGOs to ‘save humanity’. When they pretend otherwise – they both deluding themselves and the public. Corporations never fail to exploit crisis, such as ecosystem collapse, to further vested corporate economic interests. The United Nations has reported that in 2008 the world’s largest corporations caused 2.2 trillion dollars worth of environmental damage. If these corporations were not able to externalize these costs by way of destroying and poisoning the natural environment, one-third of their profits would be lost. Almost twenty years after Rio, emissions have reached an all time high. As corporate profits have soared – so have carbon emissions. Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) in 1992, the world has witnessed a staggering increase in CO2 emissions of over 40%. The global community must acknowledge that the capitalist system cannot ensure our survival – it can only ensure our certain demise.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

The Staggering Inequality of Climate Change

Globally, the wealthiest 8% emit 50% of all emissions

And most of this is for a display of opulence and over consumption. Professor Stephen Pacala of Princeton University calculated the emissions per person based on 6.5 billion people. What he found is startling. He found that the 3 billion poorest people emit essentially nothing. Simply stated, the development of the desperately poor is not in conflict with solving the climate crisis. Ironically, the reluctance of developing countries to drastically cut carbon is often used as an excuse by developed nations to do nothing. For example, Zimbabwe emits 0.93 tonnes of carbon per person, while the United States emit 19.66 tonnes of carbon per person. Canada emits 17.86 tonnes of carbon per person. India produces 1.17 tonnes of carbon per person while China produces 3.7 tonnes of carbon per person. Bottom line – a person in Canada or the U.S. produces approx. 20 times the carbon than an average person in a vulnerable, developing country such as Zimbabwe.

The wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions

Furthermore, Pacala’s data shows that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for ¾ of global emissions.

“In contrast, the rich are really spectacular emitters. …the top 500 million people [7.5% of humanity] emit half the greenhouse emissions. These people are really rich by global standards. Every single one of them earns more than the average American and they also occur in all the countries of the world. There are Chinese and Americans and Europeans and Japanese and Indians all in this group.”

The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions

Pacala’s data shows the globally wealthy could solve the crisis. Most importantly, it also shows there is absolutely no other way. Humanity must cut fossil fuel emissions massively and the only people who can cut global fossil fuel use to the extent needed are the wealthiest 15%. Furthermore, most of the cuts will need to be made by the wealthiest 7½%, because they are using almost all of it. The globally wealthy must make the major reductions. Below is the Nov. 09 Global Carbon Project carbon budget. In the graph it shows that the carbon emissions budget for the Unites States and Australia budget (& I will assume Canada) until 2050 will be used up by 2019.

Humanity will not longer survive within the Capitalist System

Ecology and economy are interdependent. Both words have a common root: the Greek word “oikos” which means home. A whole earth economy is an economy based not on the wealth of a few but the welfare of the many – not living better than others – but “living well”. A whole earth economy recognizes the earth has ecological limits and that if these limits are not respected there will be serious, irreversible consequences. The warning from Rio in 1992 continues to be ignored;

“Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our well being (Preamble, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)”

If the global community continues to fail to heed the admonitions of the past, it is the rights not only of present, but also future generations who will suffer. The time has long since passed for tolerating the gross negligence of those who satisfy their insatiable wants at the expense of the fundamental needs and inalienable rights of others.

Ethics verses exploitation. It’s that simple. Choose a side.

A Kiss of Death to Faux ‘Green’ Capitalism and Those that Defend It

The only way climate catastrophe can be prevented is if the global community confronts those who impede action.  Once confronted, such compromised organizations , individuals and governments who continue to place their own self interests above that of humanity, will come to be seen as not just self serving, but highly unethical and criminally negligent.  They must be shunned by society.  Opulence and over consumptive lifestyles must become not a source of status, but a source of shame. The licenses and charters of corporations that perpetuate this negligence must be revoked.

Divesting in the bad and investing the good

All products that are destructive to human health and the ecosystem must be phased out and then prohibited. Rather than spending money on the food and the products that perpetuate ill health, exploit people, cause death and destroy the natural environment, the global community must invest in and subsidize what is necessary for humans and what is beneficial for the ecosystem.

Suicidal Tendencies; Refusing to Face Reality at One’s Own Peril

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Einstein

The absolute apathy of the mainstream ‘environmental movement’ has never been more clearly demonstrated than in the invitation for the ‘climate wealth summit’.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) model is one of the best we have at this time, keeping in mind it omits Arctic carbon feedbacks (like all the models), so in reality, the future looks much more terrifying. The MIT median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm.

About 4.5 million years ago, during the early Pliocene period, temperatures on Earth were some 3 to 4 degrees C (5.4 to 7.2 degrees F.) higher in the tropics, and perhaps 10 degrees C (18 degrees F.) warmer near the poles. Palm trees grew in Antarctica and alligators inhabited swamps above the Arctic Circle. We are now firmly on this path.

While the wealthy and their partners cover their ears to the cries of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised, who plead for no more than a right to simply stay alive, the wealthy and their partners, blind to the suffering of others, instead create new markets for wealth profits. The wealthy thus make a mockery of those who are already suffering from the dire effects of climate change. The actions of the wealthy elite could be compared to eating Christmas dinner in front of a person starving to death in a refugee camp.

Climate Wealth Summit Undermines Essence and Intent of Earth Day

In 1969 John McConnell, felt it necessary to propose a holiday in which we celebrate the Earth’s life and beauty. Along with a celebration of the Earth, he also intended Earth Day to alert earthlings about the need for preserving and renewing the threatened ecological balances upon which all life on Earth depends. McConnell said, “Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure.” Today would he not roll in his grave at the thought of a ‘creating climate wealth summit’ – in essence – profiting from the collapse of civilization. Their ‘climate wealth’ solutions could be compared to the Ku Klux Klan working with the ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation to ensure rights and justice for those suffering from racism.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”­ Chinua Achebe| Nigerian Writer

The global community must choose

The world has a choice to make: humanity over corporate profits or corporate profits over humanity. The global community can choose profits resulting from the actions of compromised and self-serving people, institutions and governments; or, the global community can choose humanity through altruism and ethical solutions. In global solidarity, citizens must defend our dying Mother earth. We must create a new world; a world of meaning, sharing, beauty, culture, love and respect in a race towards a zero carbon where all children and all life will flourish.

Ethical grassroots organizations and progressive governments are now left with the daunting task of saving the planet from complete collapse and total catastrophic, irreversible climate change. The global community must lend support to the organizations and the governments that have the courage to lead.

The world has a choice to make.

We choose life.

Cory Morningstar, Canadians for Action on Climate Change | Joan Russow PhD Global Compliance Research

Visit the ‘TIME TO BE BOLD’ declaration as we move towards the ‘World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, April 19th – 22nd.