Archives

National Wildlife Federation

Part IV: 350.org’s Friends on Wall Street: The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” – Marketing a Fallacy

By Cory Morningstar

April 23, 2014

[Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here] [Part II | Part III]

 

 “Of all our studies, it is history that is best qualified to reward our research.” — Malcolm X

 

naturebarcode1

Prologue:A Coup d’étatof Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots groups do exist) and self-proclaimed environmentalists – who consider themselves progressive – speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources, they also simultaneously promote the divestment campaign. The irony comes from the fact that the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalizing negative externalities through appropriate pricing.”Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.               

Beyond shelling out billions of (tax-exempt) dollars (i.e., investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex, via foundations, the corporations need not lift a finger; the feat is being carried out by both the legitimate and the faux environmentalists in tandem with an unsuspecting public (a public with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis, 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or 3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony).

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled repercussions for humanity and all life.    

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is, all corporations on the planet (thus, all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including fossil fuels) to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system. 

The windmills and solar panels serve as the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons that is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

The purpose of this investigative series is to illustrate (indeed, prove) this premise.

+++

Marketing a Fallacy

 

There-is-No-Alternative

It is imperative to understand that the “solutions” being proposed in response to our unparalleled planetary ecological crisis will be only those that have the ability to enhance profits or build brand value, thus increasing revenues/profits. Yet, the fallacy of such “solutions” cannot be understated. The industrialized capitalist system is dependent upon growth. Infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible – a 5-year-old child can understand this fact because it is simple common sense (i.e., he or she would not wish to keep growing forever). Growth is dependent upon destruction of the natural world and exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people. Violence is inherently built into the system. The idea that a “green economy” under the capitalist system will somehow slow down our accelerating multiple ecological crises and climate change is a delusional fallacy of epic proportion. Ceres allows corporations to continue this delusion and constructs a paradigm that conditions a culture to believe the fallacy.

Symphony of Failure

Vickrey

Environmental Activism in Four Movements

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

by Gregory Vickrey

 

Allegro – Local Failure

In 2010, I wrote an article titled, “Environmentalism is Dead,” decrying the ineptitude and/or downright skullduggery of large environmental nonprofit organizations. At the time, I still held the foolhardy belief that we could keep environmental activism alive at the local level through traditional nonprofit vehicles, particularly because of the “good people” typically involved in such outfits and the hypothesis suggesting small and nimble – and the development of personal relationships – could create more effective tactics within a comprehensive strategy or agenda.

Of course, I was wrong.

I suppose one could argue isolated circumstances prove exceptions to the more idealistic rule, but conversations with activists around the United States and Canada, in particular, have only supplemented my own experiences to the point where the hypothesis above demonstrates abject failure in practice among the grassroots, local and regional fare.

Environmentalism truly is dead.

Must-Read White Paper: The Politics of a New York State Fracking Moratorium

sierraclub2

Above: A picture worth a thousand words ….

“[P]romoters of “safe fracking” like the Natural Resources Defense Council (“we need better information”), the National Sierra Club (“let’s secure strong safeguards”), and the National Wildlife Federation (“reasonable compromise”; the parent organization of Environmental Advocates of New York), Environmental Defense Fund (partnering with Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and other industry players in the “Center for Sustainable Shale Development,” PDF), Citizens Campaign for the Environment (pushing for a moratorium, “Let science guide the process”), and New York League of Conservation Voters (whose 2013 spring gala partners included Chesapeake Energy, Scotts Miracle-Gro, and other industry polluters) would like to have an apparent easy win to headline their fundraising letters. Even while many of their staffers recognize the need for a ban, these same staffers have been discouraged from publicly supporting a ban. The grassroots must stand firmly for this position to help these staffers use the courage of their convictions.”

CPNY | Coalition to Protect New York

June 16, 2013

Knowing that the whole country, indeed the whole world, is looking to New York State to stop fracking and lead the way for others to piggyback on our success, we find it especially important that we get it right. We can help not only ourselves but also every other citizenry affected, and we can change the course of history. We cannot waste time; too much is at stake. We can’t play games. We must demand what we need to survive. And we must win.

1. What is the effect of calling for a moratorium? Doesn’t a moratorium buy us time to organize for an eventual ban?

We understand and are tempted by the respite that a moratorium seems to promise. Who wouldn’t like to buy time for rest and recuperation, and to fight more fiercely down the line?

However, after careful examination of the political and economic landscape, we realize that the price of a statewide moratorium is clearly too high — it works against our achieving our ultimate goal of a total and complete ban.

“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.

Environmentalism is Dead | Counterpunch

“This. Is. Serious.”

Environmentalism is Dead

By GREGORY VICKREY

Another tragedy befalls the environment and we can count on those that were once environmentalists to capitalize, figuratively and literally. As you read, perhaps a 1000 or so organizations are happily signing (or being bribed to sign) yet another refined letter to President Obama, praising his efforts to date and encouraging ‘change’. With stellar coordination, you witness the appeals via email from these faux-enviros that clearly state how you can save the sea turtles, or protect the shrimp, or rid us of our reliance on oil by donating today.

This particular letter in circulation is about climate change, and is directly tied to the Gulf of Mexico in its appeal. As it stands, responsibility for pushing the letter lies with the minions at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Repower America aka the Climate Protection Action Fund aka The Alliance For Climate Protection (RA), and a few others.

The letter begins with ‘applause’, as one would expect. Continue reading, and, apparently, President Obama has done an amazing job prioritizing clean energy, solving the climate crisis, enacting fuel efficiency standards that are defining a new paradigm for vehicular motion, and hitting all the right buttons at the Environmental Protection Agency. Who knew?

One can naturally assume The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and Repower America know. And with a thousand or so other signatures on yet another letter driven by the same old set of corporate enviros, the rest of us know something as well.

Environmentalism is dead.

In its place we have the notions of ‘pragmatic solutions’ and ‘noncontroversial approaches’ to appreciate.

Such words of discourse come from The Nature Conservancy itself. It is a disgrace to ecosystems everywhere and the next seven generations that they pimp nature dot org as their official website. A quick look-see into the world of TNC and comprehension dawns. Their corporate partners in environmental crime and shame:

3M Company
Alliant Energy
Altria Group
American Electric Power
Bank of America
Barrick Gold Corporation
The Boeing Company
BP
Cargill
Caterpillar Inc.
Chevron
The Coca-Cola Company
Delta Air Lines
The Dow Chemical Company
Duke Energy Corporation
Eastman Kodak Company
Ecolab Inc.
ExxonMobil Corporation
MeadWestvaco Corporation
Monsanto Company
Nestlé Waters North America
PG&E Corporation
Plum Creek Timber Company
SC Johnson & Son, Inc.
Temple-Inland
Weyerhaeuser Company
Xerox Corporation

Scratching your temple?

It is difficult to tell which organization was the most influential in writing the letter to President Obama, but it reads with the gimmickry of a Karl Rove production. Examining information about the National Wildlife Federation makes one consider that they, NWF, may have been the lead, considering they take donations from the likes of the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Defense, The Boeing Company, Walt Disney Company, and on, and on, and on. Care to visit with a Wolfowitz at a fundraiser? Throw a few thousand at NWF.

The mathematics of connection get simpler, even as the names get more complicated, with Repower America aka blah blah and blah. The CEO of National Wildlife Federation is on the board at RA. Repower America prostitutes itself with absurdity while dancing with John Kerry, Joe Leiberman, and Lindsey Graham – the “authors” of some pile of papers related to some charade about some climate (shout out to NRDC!) that will serve no useful purpose other than to keep the timber industry viable. Seeking relevance, Al Gore may be seen here at RA when he is not serving in his role at Apple Computer, Inc. of child-labor/sweatshop city fame. Repower America is also blessed with the presence of Joseph Stiglitz, a former Vice President at that most prestigious of entities, the World Bank.

To quote a Wonder Pet, “This. Is. Serious.”

Environmentalism is dead. It has been co-opted and corrupted to the point of absolute strangulation, and what remains of the corpse is being devoured rapaciously by the necrophiliacs at your favorite corporate-controlled big enviro – yes, the list of cannibals is much longer than The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, and Repower America, and the responsibility lies with those not herein named to prove themselves worthy candidates for resurrection as organizations willing to serve the next seven generations instead of the next seven figures.

Without environmentalism, there are no environmentalists.

We must save ourselves and our planet as humans.

Gregory Vickrey is a consultant in the nonprofit and political arenas and may be reached at gregory.

http://www.counterpunch.org/vickery05212010.html

Why Big Green Must Die

May 17, 2010

Why Big Green Must Die

Salazar Unleashed

By JOHN HALLE

Following the announcement of the right wing rogues’ gallery which would serve as Obama’s cabinet, the appointment of Ken Salazar, a well known shill for the oil and gas industry, elicited comparatively little comment.

Among the few who managed to express their outrage was Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity who described Salazar as “a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agricultural interests in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species.” (See also Jeffrey St. Clair’s “Ken Salazar and the Tragedy of the Common Ground” and Obama’s Used Green Team and Phillip Doe’s “The Man in the Hat“.)

Those recalling the narcotized climate of the early Obama administration won’t be surprised that these other warnings were never heard underneath the waving of pom-poms and the mindless chanting of the mantra “It’s not the personnel, it’s the policy.”

That this phrase has now become a sick joke is the essential lesson of last Friday’s New York Times which reports that under Salazar’s stewardship “(t)he federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

These were issued “without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.”

In the weeks to come, as the true extent of the catastrophe emerges, more fingers will be pointed at Salazar, possibly even leading to his resignation.

But Salazar shouldn’t take the hit.

Who deserves the blame for Salazar are those who unleashed him on us.

These include Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke who “welcome(d) the news” of Salazar’s appointment, noting that “Salazar’s own connection to the land gives me hope.”

No less effusive was Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said, “Senator Ken Salazar as been “a champion for America’s public lands.”

The League of Conservation Voters Gene Karpinsky weighed in, praising Obama for “Filling his cabinet and administration with environmental stewards, dedicated staff, scientists and experts.”

Not to be outdone, Carl Pope of the Sierra Club described President Obama as “the Greenest President in history” specifically singling out Salazar for having “act(ed) on the scientific evidence that a disrupted climate means that federal land managers must take into account the need for connecting ecosystems to preserve their natural values.”

And so rather than turning him back, Salazar was provided with the Green stamp of approval with completely predictable consequences.

Those who deserve the blame are those whose silence mattered and who could have made a difference if they spoke. And whose complicity equalled death for the Gulf of Mexico.

If we didn’t know it by now, the lesson for us is patent:

For the environment to live, the big green groups, the enablers of Salazar, this and other environmental atrocities to come, must die.

John Halle is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle

http://counterpunch.org/halle05172010.html

COMMON DREAMS | Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate

Note – This article has been endorsed by James Hansen.

Published on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate

Dangerously Allow Industry to Set Agenda

by Gary Houser and Cory Morningstar

“Governments will not put young people and nature above special financial interests without great public pressure. Such pressure is not possible as long as big environmental organizations provide cover. So the best hope is this — individuals must demand that the leaders change course or they will lose support.” – Dr. James Hansen

With climate scientists warning that we are in a global emergency and tipping points leading to runaway catastrophe will be crossed unless carbon pollution is rapidly reduced, one would expect groups identified as environmental defenders to be shifting into high gear. Instead, we are witnessing the unspeakably tragic spectacle of a mainstream environmental movement allowing itself to be seduced and co-opted by the very forces it should be vehemently opposing. At the very moment when moral leadership and courage are needed the most, what we see is a colossal failure of both – with potentially irreversible consequences for our civilization. If Congress chooses an inadequate response to the crisis, policies can get “locked in” which virtually guarantee that these tipping points are crossed. These organizations are using their significant financial resources to create a public impression that the “environmental community” has given its “stamp of approval” to this policy and to marginalize the voices of the genuine grassroots activists who represent the heart and soul of the climate movement. With nothing less than the future of the planet at stake, these groups must now be publicly challenged and held accountable for their actions.

The stage has been set for this necessary debate by publication of Johann Hari’s excellent commentary entitled “The Wrong Kind of Green“. In this piece, Hari provides important insight into some of the relevant history. He describes how in the 1980s and 1990s some of the larger environmental groups began to adopt a policy often called “corporate engagement”. The basic idea was that by participating in “partnerships” with corporations – some involving receipt of monetary contributions – there would be opportunity to exert positive influence.

It is not possible to look into the minds of those who promoted this shift. Perhaps there was a sincere hope that corporations would be moved toward more responsible behavior. Whatever the case, the critically important task at this time is not to evaluate possible motives but rather the real life consequences. To do so honestly, all self-interested blinders must be set aside.

The truth is that this policy has created a “slippery slope” leading to severely compromised stances – nowhere more apparent than in regard to the over-arching issue of climate. In 2007, a coalition was formed between corporations and environmental organizations called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP – whose purpose was to influence U.S. climate legislation. Some of the large groups that joined were Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Nature Conservancy, and National Wildlife Foundation. In January 2009, USCAP presented its proposals and these became the framework of the Waxman-Markey bill.

The physical context is that previously projected worst case scenarios are already being surpassed and humanity is running out of time. Ice is melting far more rapidly than expected, releasing the “albedo effect” where open water absorbs more heat and accelerates further melting. The normally quite cautious National Science Foundation is ringing alarm bells about the methane – a greenhouse gas over 30 times as powerful as CO2 – now venting from the Siberian seabeds. According to the NSF statement: “Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.” These are only two examples of “reinforcing feedbacks” that can significantly move the process closer to tipping points.

Within a context so dire that in reality a war-time level of mobilization is needed, what kind of legislation is being offered? First of all, the emission reduction targets themselves – apart from the theoretical strategies for achieving them – categorically ignore the science. The goals do not even aim at stabilization at 350 ppm (let alone the lower figures more likely to be necessary) and the time frame for enacting meaningful reductions is not even remotely close to the speed needed to prevent disaster.

Beyond the issue of targets is that of reduction strategies. USCAP would like to see a trillion dollar carbon market put into place, where traders can claim “pollution rights” to the sky and seek profits from the exchange of such “rights”. Such a system – which would determine whether life-supporting ecosystems survive or collapse – would be placed into the same manipulative hands on Wall Street that brought on the financial meltdown. As this commentary goes to press, several traders in the European carbon market (the world’s prototype) have been arrested in connection with a ), NRDC and EDF are sending their own people to promote it at carbon trade conferences.

The next immoral concession is to allow the industry to “buy” its way out of actually reducing emissions by supporting so-called “offsets” – such as forest preservation projects in the developing world. Sounding plausible in theory, offsets are actually riddled with verification issues and defects such as loggers simply moving elsewhere. But the bottomline “wrong” here is that any form of offsetting should never be looked at as an alternative to reducing emissions. It should only be seen as an additional action to take.

Then there is the unbelievable capitulation represented by the removal of EPA authority to regulate coal-burning. Now that the EPA has finally been empowered by the Supreme Court to act against a carbon-fueled ecocide, this ability has been effectively stripped from the House bill without a murmur from the USCAP “greens”. The result of all these concessions is a pathetically weak bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will not even begin to reduce emissions until 2018. Other studies indicate that if all available offsets are used, reductions could actually be postponed an astonishing 19 years until 2029.

The USCAP “greens” proclaim that their positions are being driven by “political expediency”. But there is a stunning “disconnect” which these groups have been reticent to address. How does one negotiate with a melting iceberg? Can the inexorable laws of physics be placed “on hold” while emission reductions are scuttled in a process of political “horse-trading”? What is the meaning of “expediency” when it leads to the collapse of society as we know it? John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Reseach, stated at the “4 Degrees and Beyond” conference at Oxford that “political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it is completely useless”.

The Sierra Club is experiencing what may be a positive change in leadership and to its credit has not adopted the policy of “corporate engagement” described, yet it has failed to truly mobilize its base against the dangerous shortcomings of the USCAP endorsed legislation. In 2008, the Sierra Club bestowed its highest honor – the John Muir Award – to climate scientist Dr. James Hansen. In presenting the award, Sierra Club President Allison Chin said: “He is truly a hero for preserving the environment”. How does the Sierra Club reconcile the honoring of this man for warning the world and then essentially ignore his core message that present climate legislation is based on false solutions that will waste precious time?

NRDC and EDF, on the other hand, have gone far beyond mere silence. While their websites claim a dedication to public service ( NRDC’s motto is “The Earth’s Best Defense”), they have been actively promoting the USCAP accomodation. If they had not lost sight of their original missions, they would have sought out members of Congress willing to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and used their resources (in 2008, NRDC had an operational budget of 87 million dollars) to throw weight behind them. Instead of emboldening this kind of voice, they have done the exact opposite by allowing industry to define what is “feasible”.

The real climate movement – the one with its backbone intact and composed of grassroots activists and principled groups like Friends of the Earth and Center for Biological Diversity – is already in a “David versus Goliath” situation as it tries to confront the most powerful lobby in the country. But that task has been made infinitely more difficult by these big budget groups using their money to isolate and “box in” the smaller ones.

We close this commentary with the following direct appeal to both the leadership and the members of these groups that have chosen the path of accommodation:

The verdict is in. Your experiment in “corporate engagement” has resulted in a disastrous failure that now threatens the planet. We fully expected the massive campaign from the fossil fuel industry to strip any substance from this legislation. But you have blindsided those of us who are fighting with all our hearts for the future of the earth. Your coffers have grown and now you are using this money to drown us out.

Your stance does not represent those in the grassroots movement, many of whom are young and see the disasters that are looming within their own lifetimes. In your comfortable offices, you do not speak for those willing to put themselves on the line and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the very forces you seek to accomodate. The rationale for your corporate “partnerships” was the issue of exerting influence. But the question begging to be asked is who influenced whom? Though your treasury is more full, what truly has been gained and what has been lost?

Your intentions may have been honorable, but the agenda of “defending earth” has been hijacked. Along the way, your vision became blurred and you lost sight of this mission. In this “experiment’, you are the ones who have been “had”. It now appears to have been a terrible Faustian bargain, and we are all paying the price. At the very moment of greatest need for an empowered public advocacy in the face of the most overwhelming threat in human history, your leadership is not to be found.

Your accommodation and your defense of abominably weak Congressional legislation has already had a destructive global impact. It was this legislation that set the bar intolerably low in Copenhagen and instigated a “race to the bottom”. The entire world-wide movement for climate sanity has become blocked by the denial, blindness, and paralysis embodied in U.S. climate policy. When you take this stance in the name of “defending the earth”, you are actually creating an insidious and dangerous deception.

For the sake of the planet, we appeal to your organizations to reclaim the integrity of your original visions. The position you presently advocate will squander the precious little time we have to implement true reductions before the irreversible tipping points are crossed. The stakes could not be higher. We ask that you join hands with the grassroots activists and groups and support the following eight points:

1) Officially recognize that we are truly in a global emergency and that irreversible tipping points are likely to be crossed if humanity does not act in time;

2) Officially recognize that this emergency is of such a magnitude that a war time level of mobilization is needed in order to effectively deal with it;

3) Stand squarely for the necessity that climate legislation be based on the setting of emission reduction targets and a time frame which are defined by the science;

4) Due to the severe ecosystem damage that will ensue in response to a 2 degree (celsius) rise, an overall goal of no more than one degree (celsius) rise must be sought;

5) Clearly renounce cap and trade and offsets as false solutions that will squander precious time;

6) Stand squarely against any attempt in Congress to strip EPA of its authority to regulate carbon;

7) Support a comprehensive approach to the crisis that combines elements of legislation, regulation, and public investment;

8) Support a legislative component based on a continually rising carbon fee with a 100% distribution of the proceeds to U.S. citizens, with the amount of the fee determined by an emission reduction schedule driven by science.

We also ask the members of these groups to withhold their organizational support until their leadership recognizes the necessity of these changes. On this defining issue of our time, may we strive to remove the barriers that divide us and work together.

Gary Houser is a public interest writer, documentary producer, and activist with Climate SOS seeking to raise awareness within the religious community (here) about the moral issues at stake and working to create a more empowered climate movement.

Cory Morningstar, in addition to being a mom, is an activist with Canadians for Action on Climate Change and has collated latest scientific findings here.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/20-1

Environmental Activists Target Big “Greens” For Link to Corporate Polluters

For Immediate Release:

April 1, 2010

CONTACTS:

Brihannala Morgan (415) 341-7051

Matt Wilkerson (828) 622-9525

Environmental Activists Target Big “Greens” For Link to Corporate Polluters

Fossil Fool’s Day Protests Set for 30 Cities; Target Coal, Oil, Natural Gas and Big Banks

SAN FRANCISCO—More than 30 cities throughout North America have organized demonstrations against the fossil fuel industry, corporate banks and big environmental organizations for April 1’st national Fossil ‘Fools’ Day. Demonstrations are being coordinated by Rising Tide North America , which has also launched an online campaign targeting “Big Green” groups that have taken money from the worst corporate polluters. Key targets of the campaign include Conservation International, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Wildlife Federation and Environmental Defense.

The National Day of Action – organized by Rising Tide North America, Mountain Justice, a coalition of Canadian climate activists and others – will feature clownish parades, flyering, subversive advertising, creative street theater, and non-violent direct actions targeting the coal, oil, natural gas and banking sectors. Cities where actions will take place include Asheville, Boulder, Chicago, Edmonton, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Ottawa, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington D.C. Corporations targeted will include Chevron, JPMorgan Chase, NW Natural Gas, Pepco and Shell.

“Extractive industries are holding our climate and our communities’ hostage,” said Lacy MacAuley, an organizer of the Washington D.C. actions. “I am participating in this Day of Action to tell fossil fools, like JPMorgan Chase and Pepco, that their destructive investments are threatening our homes, our communities, and our climate.”

In conjunction with protests across the country, Rising Tide North America is launching an online campaign targeting environmental NGOs criticized for taking donations from some of the worst corporate polluters. Groups like the National Wildlife Federation, Conservation International, Environmental Defense, and NRDC are being accused of allowing their financial and political relationships with Corporate America to compromise their positions on climate change. Beginning in the 1980’s, the National Wildlife Federation pioneered fundraising strategies based on taking money from polluters like Shell and BP in exchange for forestalling real critiques of the companies behavior. This practice has become systemic amongst the Big “Green” groups and Thursday’s online action will demand an end to it.

“In Dec. 2009, we received a wakeup call in Copenhagen where the world’s governments failed to enact effective climate legislation and many large players in the environmental movement were neutralized by decades of compromise and corruption,” said Matt Wilkerson of Rising Tide North America. “A grassroots movement of environmental justice groups, climate justice groups, Indigenous peoples, frontline communities and energized activist networks are mobilizing to counter the toxic influence of industry and their proxies in big environmental NGOs over policy and public opinion. Professional environmentalists have sold us out to greedy corporations and it’s time regular people took the lead in solving this grave ecological crisis.”

In the past decade, climate change and climate justice have gone from issues discussed amongst scientists and policy experts to being the impetus for a growing international movement that has stopped dozens of proposed coal fired power plants, directly challenged entrenched interests in the Canadian tar sands and Appalachian mining industry and worked in solidarity with frontline communities. After Copenhagen, the grassroots climate movement will shift its attention from negotiations and compromise to more frontline and anti-corporate struggles.

Fossil Fools Day began in 2004 with coordinated actions across the United States and Canada. Events are held in many cities around the world. These events oppose energy derived from fossil fuels, promote education about alternative sources of energy, and encourage support for climate justice, sustainable communities, corporate responsibility and a clean renewable energy future.

###

Rising Tide North America’s Online Action calling on the “Big Green” groups to stop taking corporate polluter’s donations – http://bit.ly/aVhTGH

Rising Tide North America recently released a new publication called “The Climate Movement is Dead: Long Live the Climate Movement” critiquing the relationship between the green groups and Corporate America.

For more information, visit fossilfoolsday

Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer decentralized network with over 50 local chapters and contacts throughout Canada, Mexico and the United States challenging the root causes of climate change.

Controversial deal between US-based conservation NGOs and polluting industry slammed

By Chris Lang, 28th May 2009

Photo by AMagill on flickr.com

Last week, an organisation called Avoided Deforestation Partners launched what they blandly describe as “an agreement on policies aimed at protecting the world’s tropical forests”. Under this agreement, “companies would be eligible to receive credit for reducing climate pollution by financing conservation of tropical forests”. It is a loophole allowing industry to write a cheque and continue to pollute. This is another nightmare vision of REDD, similar to that recently proposed by the Australian government. Another similarity with Australia is the support received from what is at first glance a surprising source: big international conservation NGOs.

REDD-Monitor received the following anonymous contribution about the agreement. We reproduce it in full in the hope of generating further discussion about this liaison between conservation NGOs and polluting industry.
The following organisations signed the agreement: American Electric Power, Conservation International, Duke Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, El Paso Corporation, National Wildlife Federation, Marriott International, Mercy Corps, Natural Resources Defense Council, PG&E Corporation, Sierra Club, Starbucks Coffee Company, The Nature Conservancy, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Walt Disney Company, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Woods Hole Research Center.

The agreement is available here.

When, in years to come, the history is written of how humanity came to lose the battle against climate change, May 20th 2009 will go down as the day that the tide decisively turned against planetary survival. For this was the day that those with the influence and power who could have taken a stand of moral principle, and who could have demanded the kind of action needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the US, decided not to. Instead, they offered some of the biggest, filthiest planetary polluters an ‘easy out’, by lobbying the US Congress jointly with them, that US carbon emissions should be offset against oversees credits for ‘avoided deforestation’.

Surprisingly, it was not the professional lobbyists, union leaders or government officials who demonstrated the loss of their moral compasses on May 20th. It was the big international conservation organisations who, we have all been led to believe, are supposedly looking after the planet’s wild places. In a statement issued alongside fossil fuel-burning power giants such as American Electric Power, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the conservationists – including The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defence Fund, Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society – called for unlimited access for ‘avoided deforestation’ carbon credits in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (also known as the Waxman/Markey bill)- thereby potentially allowing major polluters not to make significant reductions in their own emissions for many years to come. In this, they were largely reaffirming what was already included in this desperately weak piece of draft legislation.

The interests of the big US international conservation NGOs (let’s call them BINGOS) and large corporations have been converging for some years. The BINGOs have realised that the fat profits of mining, utility and financial services companies are a ready source of income for their fast expanding empires. The corporations have realised that the compliant BINGOs are potentially their best green public relations’ agencies, if paid the right amounts of money. The BINGO’s spiralling budgets have grown ever more dependent on hand-outs from the private sector, and the Boards of all the main US conservation groups are now stuffed with corporate executives.

In fairness, the statement does recognise that the rights of indigenous peoples need to be respected in REDD programmes. However, the day before the BINGO-polluter love-note was announced, the chief scientist of one of the BINGO signatories – Peter Kareiva, of the Nature Conservancy – confirmed what many indigenous people and environmentalists already knew: that “the traditional protected areas strategy has all too often trampled on people’s rights”. Kareiva also said that “The key question is to what extent have we – and by “we,” I mean the big conservation NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and WWF – mended our ways so that we no longer disrespect the rights of indigenous people in pursuit of our missions.” The fact that Kareiva still has to ask the question is telling in itself, in that the BINGOs have been told for many years that their anti-people approach is unacceptable and probably ultimately ineffective. TNC’s chief scientist rightly concluded that the entire protected areas strategy “warrants a critical re-examination”.

Kareiva also asked the question “Should the conservation movement be proud of the 108,000 protected areas around the world it has thus far helped establish?” Many indigenous people know the answer to that question, and it is why they remain deeply concerned and sceptical about grand international plans by conservation organisations to ‘protect’ their forests in order to supposedly prevent climate change.

Do the math, and it’s not hard to see why the BINGOs have finally sold their souls to the devil. Around 150 million hectares of tropical forests is in protected areas worldwide, much of it under the control or management of international conservation groups. Each hectare of forest contains around 100-200 tons of carbon, and each ton of carbon could be worth around $10 at the moment (and potentially much more in the future). The BINGOs know that they have a big stake in an asset potentially worth $150 billion and upwards.

But there would have to be a buyer for this asset to actually be worth anything. Step in the big fossil fuel-burning power utilities, which, like most US businesses, have been cosseted and protected from global environmental realities by eight years of the Bush administration. If there is an easy way to avoid changing their business model, of avoiding the installation of more efficient technology, or of losing market segment to renewable energy producers, they will surely take it. Avoided deforestation offsets on a grand scale – brokered by their chums in the conservation groups – would be just the ticket.

But as US environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of Earth have pointed out, this is a sure route to climatic ruin. The terms of the Waxman/Markey bill as it stands – and as demanded by the BINGO-polluter axis – would allow the polluters to carry on polluting and will “lock in a new generation of dirty coal-fired power plants.”

These groups – organisations that, unlike the BINGOS, have not allowed themselves to grow bloated and complacent feasting at the teats of mammon – point out that “the American Clean Energy and Security Act sets targets for reducing pollution that are far weaker than science says is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. They are further undermined by massive loopholes that could allow the most polluting industries to avoid real emission reductions until 2027.” That is, they can largely be offset against ‘carbon credits’ bought from overseas projects, such as for putative ‘avoided deforestation’ schemes.

How has this potentially catastrophic turn of events come about? The decision-making process for the Waxman/Markey bill which will perpetuate the US’s addiction to fossil fuels was, we are told by the environmental groups “co-opted by oil and coal lobbyists”. Were the environmentalists slightly less polite, they might have added “and their trough-snouting apologists in the conservation BINGOs”.

And as we all know, where the US leads, the rest of the world tends to follow. If the Waxman/Markey bill becomes law, it is likely to set a precedent that negotiators at the Copenhagen climate summit in December will look to for inspiration.

So the May 20th statement is not just an act of egregious short-sighted greed and duplicity by the supposed conservationists; it is little more than an act of global environmental treachery. One of the coordinators of the joint statement, Jeff Horowitz of ‘Avoided Deforestation Partners’, describing the statement as a ‘landmark’, said “When environmentalists and major corporate leaders can agree, real change has come”. He is right, real change has indeed come, and it is a landmark: it marks the point that the conservation BINGOs finally abandoned any last pretence to be acting in the interests of the planet.

The gravy train may well be headed the way of the BINGOs, but the cost could be dangerous climate change that will eventually wipe out many wildlife habitats, including tropical forests. But when the good ship Mother Earth does start sinking, at least we’ll now know who should be the first to be thrown overboard.

http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/05/28/controversial-deal-between-us-based-conservation-ngos-and-polluting-industry-slammed/