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It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social

October 28, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part I

 

Introduction by Michael Swifte, WKOG collective:

 

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

 

 

The Social Dilemma Documentary

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Let’s begin.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

— The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

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

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

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

 

The Atlantic, November 2016 issue

 

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

 

Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0

 

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

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

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

 

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

April 9, 2017, Arianna Huffinton on Twitter

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

Time Well Spent Twitter account, 2014-2018

 

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

Time Well Spent marketing under Tristan Harris

 

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

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

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

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

 

Tech For Good, World Economic Forum website

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

“Time Well Spent” – in Partnership with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

Time Well Spent merges with Thrive Global

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

 

Thrive Global Website

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

Arianna Huffington

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

Salesforce partnership with Thrive Global.

 

Thrive Global Clients

Thrive Global Clients

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

— Edward Bernays, Propaganda

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

—Celebrity Culture, 2006

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

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

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

TIME: Davos 2020, Next Generation World

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

 

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

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

 

Image

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

Image

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

Harris, March 22, 2020, Twitter.

 

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

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

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

Center for Humane Technology Alliances

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

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

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

 

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

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

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center For Humane Technology Funders

Center for Humane Technology funders

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

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

 

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

 


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

 

— Naomi Klein, Praise for the Future We Choose

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

Christiana Figueres, Twitter, May 21, 2019

 

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

Social Media – We Think the Price Is Worth It

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

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

 

Dan Schiller, historian of information and communications [Source]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[Source]

[Source]

[Source]

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

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

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

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

Next: Part II

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

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

The Grayzone

September 7, 2020

By Max Blumenthal

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh Fox Planet of the Humans billionaires

Filmmaker Josh Fox

“Censorship, plain and simple”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mining a green future and burying the cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

minerals renewable energy IEA

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mining com Greta Thunberg AOC

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

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

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

minerals electric cars IEA

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shell game of fossil fuel divestment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Century Funds Bill McKibben invest fossil fuels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund incubates 350.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rockefeller Brothers go “green,” invest in Halliburton

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

A foundation-supported “ragtag bunch”

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

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

Josh Fox International WOW funding foundations

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Producer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Danish connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Seeing green in Biden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

_____

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.

_____

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.

_____

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.

_____

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.]

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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.

2012-11-05-green1.jpg
Clean Water Action

2012-11-05-green2.jpg
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:

 

2012-11-05-bio1.jpg
Massachusetts logging for biomass

2012-11-05-bio2.jpg
Michigan trees chipped for biomass

2012-11-05-bio3.jpg
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.

 

2012-11-05-old1.jpg
2012-11-05-old2.jpg2012-11-05-old3.jpg
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.

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