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FLASHBACK 5 YEARS to 2009: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

December 10, 2012

The Art of Annihilation

by Cory Morningstar

 

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“This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky. $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins.” Lumumba Di-Aping

 

On December 11, 2009, one of the most important briefings in the history of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP15) took place in Copenhagen. If we lived in a world in which what we see, what we are told, and what we believe matched our existing reality, this briefing would have become the basis of all future climate negotiations and discussions. Of course, that is not the world we live in. Rather, we live in a world of unfettered illusion that is fed and fetishized by a feast of denial, apathy, subservience, obedience, consumption and distraction.

Leading up to COP15, the institutionalized environmental “movement” united under an umbrella organization/campaign titled TckTckTck, a social media giant, contrived by some of the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most powerful marketing executives. (The trademark TckTckTck was registered, on November 30, 2009, by the EURO RSCG firm, a subsidiary of Havas Worldwide). [1] One such TckTckTck partner was the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change consisting of corporations such as Shell, RBF and Coca-Cola. (Signatories here) When this information was uncovered and made public, TckTckTck removed them from their website. (See screenshot).

The Demands

“350 ppm is a death sentence.… The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million.… CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” AOSIS Briefing 2009 [2]

Despite the “demands” by the hope industry for a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” – which consisted of an inadequate 40% global emission reductions by 2020, with no disclosed baseline – the G77, AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), and the Bolivian government (under the leadership of Indigenous president, Evo Morales) aggressively pursued the scientific targets necessary in order for the world to avoid complete ecological collapse and a global genocide of unparalleled proportions. This empty demand of a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” was the marketing centre of the campaign that grew from that oligarchy’s wet dream, the corporate social engineering creation, TckTckTck.

Bolivia and the AOSIS called for an agreement to keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than a 1ºC rise and to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm. In stark contrast, the corporate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) “demanded” that temperatures not exceed a +2ºC rise and further “demanded” that world emissions peak within 8 years (meaning that emissions would continue to increase, business as usual, for a further 8 years, at which point we would begin an effort to decrease). TckTckTck includes over 350 international partners (280 in 2009) including Avaaz, 350.org (who signed on at inception – see HAVAS pager/press release), Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund (and many more pro-REDD advocates and climate-wealth profiteers) as well as Climate Action Network International [3] who represents (and speaks on behalf of) over 700 NGOs. CAN also lobbies governments for REDD – a false solution that breeds a new form of climate racism and climate colonialism. [“In Africa, REDD is emerging as a new form of colonialism, slavery, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab.”] [During COP15, a representative from the IPCC stated that at an increase of temperature just below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised would not survive, and below 1.5 degrees there would be a chance of survival.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and climate justice, the hundreds of corporate NGOs, by campaigning to convince the public to accept the global average temperature further rising up to a 2ºC limit, thereby sanction most all species on this planet to an unprecedented annihilation within decades. (Note: Consider that at under +1ºC, we are already committed to a minimum +2.4ºC not including feedbacks [Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper]. Further, note climate scientist James Hansen’s warning that even 1ºC now looks like an unacceptably high risk.)

While the non-profit industrial complex, including the vast majority of the climate justice movement, may have succeeded in keeping both their eyes wide shut, leaders of vulnerable countries did not. [Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales].

 Truth

Artist: Abezgus E.V., Koretsky V.B. , Title: Neo- colonialism is nation’s robbery, Year: 1965

“I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” — Lumumba Di-Aping

One of the most inspiring leaders present at the COP15 was the ever so eloquent Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77. (The G77 bloc is the major group of developing countries, many of which are among the most threatened by effects of climate change, as well as the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15.) Although Di-Aping was Sudanese by birth, his parents (who called themselves “Lumumbist”) named Di-Aping after the famous Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. (Lumumba, the anti-colonialist democratically-elected prime minister of the Congo, was assassinated in 1960 having been deemed a severe threat by the U.S. due to his uncompromising ideas of freedom and African unity. He played a leading role in the struggle for the liberation of Africa and all of Africa’s resources.)

At the historic press conference which took place on November 11, 2009 in Copenhagen, Di-Aping addressed the international NGO community. The conference room was packed with representatives of the non-profit industrial complex and corporate media complex, which includes the so-called progressive media. In a most direct approach, Di-Aping asked NGOs to support the demand that developed countries cut emissions 52% by 2017; 65% by 2020; and 80% by 2030 (based on a 1990 baseline). Further, Di-Aping asked the NGOs to demand GHG emission cuts well above 100% by 2050, which would (perhaps) keep the global temperature from exceeding a rise of no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would perhaps allow Africa to merely stay alive.

A 2ºC rise in global temperature, which the non-profit industrial complex campaigned upon, would mean a 3.5ºC rise for Africa. This temperature is certain death for the African peoples – certain death for billions. In addition, a 2ºC global temperature rise guarantees a minimum 4ºC+ global temperature for future generations. In the film footage provided below, one bears witness to Di-Aping speaking directly to the Climate Action Network (International) representatives.

One must note the disturbing irony. After the press conference was finished, a standing ovation erupted. The room shook with an audience both inspired and enraptured. Depending on one’s depth of understanding of foundations, corporate power structures and the non-profit industrial complex, one may or may not be surprised at what happened afterwards, which was, quite simply, nothing. The white ivory towers, ever so acquiescent to their hegemonic rulers, wrote off the African people by continuing their “demand” for “a fair, ambitious, binding agreement.” In other words: “Sorry about your bad luck, Africa. Enjoy your future of hell on Earth … and fuck you.”

The non-profit industrial complex, with CAN and TckTckTck at the forefront, stuck to their 2ºC and other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared on occasion to demand that temperatures not exceed 1.5ºC, while any discussion demanding that 1ºC be supported and campaigned upon sent this faction, too, running scared like frightened field mice. Climate justice amounted to nothing more than a branded trademark. Silence and compliance reigned as the champagne circuit discussed career options over cocktails.

Below are excerpts from the only transcript that exists.

“The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.”

“… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.”

“So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate skeptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of ‘incentivizing’ profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.”

“Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].”

“It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.”

“If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].”

Raw Footage, Lumumba Di-Aping, December 11, 2009 [Running time: 12:30]
Three days earlier, on December 8, 2009, a meeting comprised of approximately 100 African representatives of the non-profit industrial complex was announced. At the onset of this impromptu gathering (which also included a small handful of African parliamentarians), it was requested by the organizers that all microphones be turned off in order to ensure that discussions about to take place would not be recorded. (It must be noted that Di-Aping made a point of turning his microphone on.) Following introductions, Di-Aping was given the floor. Standing before the audience, Di-Aping was still. Initially he did not speak. Rather, he sat silent, as tears streamed down his face. After a long silence, Di-Aping spoke in unabashed candor. He cradled his head in his hands and stated: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The silence was deafening. The audience froze. People had no idea of how one should react to a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting – in fact sharing – his raw emotions.

“This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces.” — Lumumba Di-Aping commenting on the (non-binding) Copenhagen accord

After regaining his composure, in methodical tone, Di-Aping meticulously explained the science demonstrating why the 2ºC target being sought by the leading obstructionist states was not only certain death for Africa, but also representative of a new type of climate fascism being imposed on the African people. Di-Aping pointed out that the African negotiating delegations were weak, due to many having been “bought off” by the industrialized states, while simultaneously members of the South Africa delegation had aggressively sought to disrupt the unity of the bloc. Di-Aping, stressing the urgent need to hold Africa’s negotiators to account and the difficult struggle ahead, was unequivocal in his assessment, bluntly stating, “You have no idea of the powers that are arrayed against you.”

One example of a foundation serving as a front group for US industrialists cited by Di-Aping was the Climate Works Foundation. The CEO of Climate Works is William K. Reilly. Prior to his position with Climate Works, Reilly served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of the World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation, and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. As well, he headed the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Di-Aping called upon the NGOs to demand that their African leaders reject the agreement and further, to make very clear demands. Di-Aping suggesting campaigning on the slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide.”

After the meeting was concluded, Di-Aping apologized to those present explaining that as a child in Sudan, he was taught that it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

Plato’s Climate Justice

It is beyond obvious that the word “justice” loses all of its meaning when the “climate justice” movement 1) refuses to support what is necessary in order for the world’s most vulnerable to simply survive, and 2) refuses to represent those on the front lines of climate change who have pleaded with them to represent the interests of the world’s most vulnerable. In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus argues that justice is mere trickery – the interest of the strong – nothing more than a name for what the powerful elites or cunning ruler have imposed on the people. This description seems to fit like a velvet glove within this context.

It is interesting to note that the taping of this conference can be found under Rockefeller’s 1Sky (now officially/publicly merged with 350.org) video archives where they highlight under the description: “Pt. 1 includes sections ‘Introduction’, ‘Importance of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm’, and ‘Unacceptable targets and resulting deaths.’” In both parts 2 and 3 as well as in other video clips of this same press conference, 1Sky neglects to make mention of Di-Aping’s scathing comments regarding the conduct of the NGOs. Thus, 1Sky/350.org provides an inadequate description of the press conference to those they falsely claim to represent – purposely neglecting to highlight the significant fact that the G77 had requested that NGOs campaign on the absolute necessity of deep and immediate emissions cuts. There is no disputing the fact that 1Sky/350.org et al purposely rejected these ambitious emissions targets. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion andThe Climate Cartel: 1Sky, 350.org and Rockefeller Brothers | Stronger as One]

Of little surprise was the fact that corporate media gave no coverage to the Di-Aping press conference. The so-called “progressive” media, incidentally also funded by the corporate elites via their tax-exempt foundations, were also silent when it came to sharing the very critical issues Di-Aping had spoken of on the international stage. Controlling, manipulating and shaping public opinion has never been such a good investment. It has never been so easy. Ironically, the same “dirty oil money” that funds the “polluters” as decried by “the left” is the same “dirty oil money” that funds the environmental movement. Even the “scruffy little outfits” have lined up to get a taste of the candy. And once they taste it, they’re hooked, bought and sold – all in one breath.

As to be expected, the corporate creation TckTckTck also buried the Di-Aping press conference. TckTckTck boasts 17 million followers. “Followers” is indeed an appropriate description – like sheep to the slaughter. TckTckTck can ask 17 million followers to buy a video game for 9.99 to “save the planet” (“because today you can change the Fate of the world for only $9.99!”) yet they will not and cannot distribute any reports of relevance. 350.org, which claims to have “the most powerful brand in the world,” did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. 350.org promotes climate scientist James Hansen as their “350 messenger” in order to legitimize their “brand,” yet they will not and cannot distribute Hansen’s scientist papers (or even summaries) to their followers. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, “representing” over 700 NGOs, did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. Nor did the climate justice movement itself.

“…[B]eyond 1 degree C may elicit rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage.” — 1990, United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases

The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis humanity has ever witnessed. The disappearance of the 1ºC maximum temperature rise cited in 1990 by the United Nations may well be considered the greatest crime against humanity of all time. [http://theartofannihilation.com/category/articles-2010/expose-the-2o-death-dance-the-1o-cover-up-part-i/] The greatest danger we face today is continued ignorance, denial and obedience, as methane torches erupt and ice sheets disintegrate at an ever accelerating pace.

One may wonder if grossly undermining the ambitious positions put forward by Bolivia, ALBA states, the G77 and small island states was part of the “critical work” the non-profit industrial complex speaks of.

In fact, it was.

What the public and, tragically, what remains in the charred ashes of the environmental movement itself, neglects to understand is that the critical work that the non-profit industrial complex performs brilliantly is not work to advance civil society, who these self-appointed NGOs falsely claim to represent. Rather, the critical work is performed in the spirit of “bread and circuses” for those who the non-profit industrial complex serves first and foremost – their funders.

The Movement is Racist

“It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West, we [Africans] are still considered disposables.” — Lumumba Di-Aping

The question must be asked: was this deliberate dismissal of Lumumba Di-Aping’s briefing nothing more than blatant racism? The short answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

An underlying, perhaps subconscious, yet very real and deep-rooted racism (or at least a complete obliviousness to that which is considered “other”) very quietly hums along beneath the entire system – resulting in the EuroAmerican-dominated environmental “movement” acquiescing to the industrialized capitalist system. Thus the reality of those oppressed and exploited on the receiving end of the system is an inconvenient fact that is ignored at all costs by practically everyone (predominantly the privileged white) within the complex.

“Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious. Though Kovel coined the term, most of the research has been done by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner.” [Source: Wikipedia]

There is no other sound explanation for how those who state they are “fighting” for “climate justice” were/are willing to undermine countries like Bolivia, Tuvalu and the G77, AOSIS and ALBA states, with a full understanding that millions more lives will be lost. The true grassroots organizations that actually tell the full truth and fight for what is necessary (Earth Peoples, and Global Coral Reef Alliance as just two examples) are marginalized and isolated to the point of invisibility by the complex.

There is no other sound explanation for the dead silence on the ongoing genocide in the Congo since 1996. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Hyppolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) of the Congo are the three “leaders”  facilitating the Western pillage and occupation of Central Africa, responsible in large part for over ten million people dead since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996. Of course, these are the African faces of Western occupation and imperialism. [4] This genocide far exceeds that of the Holocaust, which to this day is seared into the minds of all EuroAmerican societies. Yet the question must be asked, what if these men, women and children of the Congo were white? After 19 years of suffering and death, the Congo remains locked under illegal occupation by the Imperialist powers, including the United Nations itself.

On September 11, 2001, 3,000 people, predominately white Americans, were killed when the Word Trade Center’s twin towers were destroyed in New York. This operation opened up the door for an unparalleled slaughter in the Middle East, which only continues to escalate. The illegal occupations and covert wars (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) are now expanding far beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, most recently with the invasion and decimation of Libya (2011) resulting in as many as or more than 100,000 deaths. This NATO-led imperialist invasion under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” instilled and incited a most horrific and unimaginable racial “cleansing” of the black population, including black women, whose breasts were cut off their bodies with machetes.

Not only was the NGO community silent, 78 NGOs (again, predominantly white) led the way for the invasion. When the “evidence” (which provided a premise for NATO entry into the country) presented by the NGOs was proven false, was the international community horrified? Did the NGOs apologize profusely for their pivotal role in the slaughter and the obliteration of an entire country that, prior to the invasion, possessed the best living standards in all of Africa? No, not on your life. Instead, they are adamant to carry out a repeat performance in Syria. Yet another imperialist-imposed destabilization. And when an Italian grassroots anti-war group organized an urgent appeal to the UN to demand the opposite – no foreign intervention – and distributed it to the international community of NGOs, how receptive was “the movement”? Although the U.S. and Canada have been integral in placing sanctions upon Syria, with the U.S. chomping at the bit to invade, only one organization in Canada and one single organization in the United States endorsed this appeal, in spite of an urgent call-out for signatures including distribution within an international climate justice network. This is important to note as the so-called climate justice movement has full knowledge of militarism’s massive contribution to our escalating climate crisis.

Also in 2011, the non-profit industrial complex was implicated in an attempted destabilization of Bolivia. The NGOs (Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center) who led/lead this charge (demonizing Indigenous president Evo Morales) excel in the manipulation of the public while money channeled from US powers (state and foundations) via USAID and CIDOB (Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano) focus on coercion and manipulation within Indigenous populations, utilizing soft power where tensions may currently already exist. Hard power is the strategy of coercion via force, whereas soft power is coercing via manipulation and seduction – like a slow, methodical, death dance. There are no organizations in a better position to employ soft power methods than those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex.

npicisdirty

This complex has become an essential tool for the power-hungry imperialist states, ever more threatened by the increasing rise of the Global South who resolutely, in unity, work towards severing the chains of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, once and for all. A long-term strategic objective of Western policy planners is to prevent such independence by any means necessary. Thus, the destruction of any/all independent sovereign states (such as Libya, Syria, Iran, etc.) and the destabilization, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia) is crucial. Further, the welfare of the people is of absolutely no concern to those who salivate in the wings, waiting for the opportune moment to invade under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Puppet governments installed by the imperialist states don’t serve their citizens (who are completely irrelevant in the eyes of the corporatocracy), but rather provide a false legitimacy for the occupation of the seized state in order to grant business contracts to the colonial powers and global corporations while privatizing all services. Case in point: Despite the Congo being the world’s largest supplier of both copper and coltan, and many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a miniscule £32 million. “This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded.” [Source: http://www.gata.org/node/5651]

Also Ignored by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex at COP15

  • UNFCCC was already, a binding agreement. So was the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The world was already far beyond dangerous interference with the climate system, according to both James Hansen and John Holdren.
  • Although tipping points were almost always spoken of in the future tense, methane hydrates had already begun venting, shocking the scientific community.
  • Bolivia’s position paper cited that global temperatures must not exceed 1ºC and the world must return to 300 ppm. Ignoring Bolivia’s leadership, the “movement” called for a full degree higher (2ºC) and 350 ppm. 350 ppm is in fact considered the very upper limit / maximum limit for mere stabilization by James Hansen.
  • The fact that climate scientist Kevin Anderson warned the world that by 2050 a mere half billion people would perhaps survive (based on a 4ºC global temperature rise, which is our current minimum trajectory, and a population of 9 billion).
  • That only by achieving zero carbon (as recognized by IPCC) can the Earth even begin to cool.
  • That the Ramanathan & Feng (2008) paper suggests we are committed today to a minimum 2.4ºC rise even if we were to achieve zero emissions tomorrow.
  • That feedbacks, once they are fully operational, are irreversible.
  • That militarism (whose emissions are exempted) is one of the primary contributors to climate change. “My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth/Paleoclimate Scientist
  • That industrialized livestock contributes over 50% of all GHG emissions.
  • That the industrialist capitalist system is the very root cause of climate change. The climate crisis can neither be solved nor averted within this economic system.

After COP15 – The People’s Agreement

Why is it that the video of Venezuela’s fiery Claudia Salerno, who refused to stay silent on the bribery and blackmailing taking place within the COP17 corridors, was not publicized by the movement? Why is it that Bolivia’s Forest Proposal received/receives no support from “the movement”? (Instead they chase the REDD scheme, which is being opposed by indigenous groups across the planet.) Why is it, even though “the movement” claims it wants real action on climate change, they absolutely refuse to endorse the People’s Agreement? [5] Further, the same question must be put to civil society: Why is it, although civil society claims to want real action on climate change, they are only interested in symbolic organizations and meaningless token gestures? Why do we have 17 million citizens following TckTckTck and only 438 following the People’s Agreement? Surely civil society must acknowledge that these are the choices we make and that we make alone. No one has a gun to our heads (yet). Is it simply because the world’s most powerful NGOs are composed of largely white “leaders”? We claim disgust at symbolic, empty gestures, yet, when given the choice of what we wish to support – the People’s Agreement or the meaningless “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” – we fall over one another lusting after the shiny green patina that emulates the American empire, an empire of death, racism, genocide and colonialism. And like the empire, with the other rich nations, the international NGO community believes that they are the chosen ones, in control of the world. The champagne circuit is alive, well, wealthy – and predominantly white.

Further Irony

In 1990, an international environmental NGO believed that policy must reflect the understanding that the world must not exceed a 1ºC temperature rise. Approximately two decades later, with a full climate crisis now engulfing the planet, this same NGO “fought” in Copenhagen for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2ºC. Who was this NGO? None other than TckTckTck partner, Greenpeace, at whose helm sits Kumi Naidoo. And who is the chair of TckTckTck? Kumi Naidoo. The token “black” of the non-profit industrial complex, donned with a white mask – the non-profit version of Obama.

Today

Consider the vulgarity of this following fact. One percent of Earth’s citizens are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. This means that 99% of the non-profit industrial complex and those they protect, in others words, most all those attending the United Nations Conferences on behalf of the wealthy states, are the very ones demanding they be allowed to continue unprecedented gluttony. In the opposite corner, we have Bolivia, many of the African states, and ALBA states – a collective of the poorest people on the planet (in a monetary sense), whose emissions are almost irrelevant – pleading with us to live within reason, simply so they can live at all. Some would describe this as a call for simple decency. While to deny a populace the right to simply live may appear to be normal conduct for state “leaders,” the fact that professional “activists” uphold the same doctrine demonstrates unequivocally that everything can be justified and anyone is disposable when it comes to protecting white privilege.

Three years later at COP18 in Doha, Bolivia once more leads on the world stage. Alone. Again. One would be hard pressed to find even one organization endorsing or promoting Bolivia’s alternate proposal to REDD or any other futurist ideologies that Bolivia has put forward to share with the world – this from one of the most poverty-ridden states in the world. Although poor monetarily, Bolivia’s unsurpassed wealth of knowledge, compassion and visionary philosophies makes it clear that in reality it is the EuroAmerican mindset that is pitiful, starved and depraved.

2ºC = 4ºC = Omnicide

“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” — George Orwell

Today, states and complying scientists are quietly recommending a 2ºC to 2.5ºC target; although most subtle, this target is now to be perceived and thus portrayed as transient warming. Meaning it is not being thought of/identified any longer as equilibrium warming, as the specific 1996 EU target was meant to be (the EU target was where the 2ºC guardrail came from: policy, not science). This means that “experts” (influential institutions and scientific bodies who obediently tow the line) are now in effect recommending that we heat the planet to 4ºC. While Professor Kevin Anderson explains that to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, 1ºC is the new 2ºC and while climate scientist James Hansen states unequivocally that 1ºC is the true danger limit, we are now being prepared to submissively accept 4ºC. The fact is that to avoid 2ºC equilibrium we must limit warming to no more than 1ºC this century. [6] We either drastically conserve and sacrifice today or bury our children tomorrow. And of course, we cannot hold the temperature at 1ºC under the current economic system – the industrialized capitalist system, the very root cause of our climate crisis. The crisis is profound and unprecedented. Collectively, we steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the severity of our multiple crises, our most daunting of challenges and the harshest of realities – all staring at us directly in the face. We look back only to see ourselves.

Why it Matters

“NGOs of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your funding.” — Ashwin Desai

The so-called environmental movement refuses to acknowledge, let alone discuss, the fact that it’s been bought, sold and muzzled, and now lies in ruins in a pile of ashes. Civil society remains largely unaware of this truth, let alone the key factors behind it. And this in itself is tragic, because this issue is one of the key factors as to why we, as a global society, have failed to mitigate our environmental crisis, and why we continue to advance further to the very precipice. Trained from birth to not challenge authority, to not offend, to be obedient, to be polite – we remain silent. Yes, impeccable manners, avoid conflict, and above all, do not question those who “know best.” Our deeply internalized passivism is as great a threat as the forthcoming climate apocalypse itself.

Ignorance really is bliss and I do want change as long as that means nothing really changes. Please pass the soma.

Implications

The implications are many. It is clear that those who claim non-profit status, on the basis that they represent civil society, clearly do not. This then presents the question as to who elected these NGOs who falsely claim to represent civil society, all while serving corporate interests? The logical question that then follows, the question that must be asked, is what constitutes criminal negligence? If countries like Bolivia and G77 are prepared to take the radical, necessary positions to avert annihilation, what does it say about our environmental movement when it resolutely undermines them? If we dismiss this factual information, what does this disclose about us? Do we deserve anything more than the representation we are receiving if we deny the facts? Finally, how can governments expect to take the necessary positions if, when they do, they do not receive the support of civil society?

Lastly, what the hell do we expect when our entire movement is funded by the very same interests that are intent on destroying us? We need to stop defending and finding excuses for those selling us out and start defending our children from a future being shaped and moulded by the global oligarchy. We can’t have it both ways.

“So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come. And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t. But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West. Thank you. [Thundering Applause]” Lumumba Di-Aping

In the volumes of information that will be left on our finite planet when all traces of life have, for the most part, disappeared, the film footage of Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of the G77 will serve as a testament to who was responsible for criminal negligence, crimes against humanity, and finally, lastly, a global genocide destroying most all life: the non-profit industrial complex.

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents.]

 

Notes:

Briefing to Civil Society NGOs by Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping. December 11th, 2009.

Full transcript:

Thank you for, I suppose, inviting me to address you this afternoon. As you know, the last few days since the beginning of this conference we have witnessed many events. I’m going to go very quickly through what I do consider to be the most critical aspects for a successful outcome in this conference. And this is of particular importance to us. We do believe that civil society and the parliament have a very critical role for our success. Without you the executive branches can get away with anything.

Now, what do we really believe are the critical success factors that we have to unite behind, because these are not simply negotiable for us as developing countries.

The first fundamental that we have to agree on at 5(4) is the issue of the 1.5 degree Celsius and the 350 ppm. And the centrality of this is because a deal that cannot save God, humanity and nature is not a deal that we should entertain in the first place. Those who articulated a perspective and tried to persuade us that the 2 degrees Celsius is a sound choice have made a trade off between life, humanity, and profit-seeking pursuits. It has no base in science. The very reports that they try to persuade us that they are based on, do not support their case. The IPCC AR4 [4th Assessment Report] says that two degrees Celsius will result in Africa warming up to 3.5[C] and the small islands states equally being threatened by the sea level rise. I will say this and I will say it with absolute conviction. Two degrees Celsius is certain death for Africa, is certain devastation of island states.

The policy decision maker, the scientists who try to do that, is definitely not only ill-advising others, he is ill-advising himself. So that’s one fundamental, if not the starting proposition for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering.

So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace. And this is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, the American people, President Obama to join the effort and to join Kyoto Protocol.

We must defend Kyoto Protocol. And those who think that not defending Kyoto Protocol is the way forward are totally misguided because if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries — and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.

Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package, both for short term and long term, is necessary. How do we define that? Simple. We must avail, or developed countries must avail in the next 5 years, fast track financing. That fast track financing is the equivalent of 1% of the GNP of developed countries. It’s around 400 to 500 billion dollars depending on where … what happens to their economies. Of this, 150 billion dollars can be issued with immediate effect because, as we speak today, the IMF is sitting over 283 billion dollars’ worth of SDR’s [Special Drawing Rights or supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund] that are not allocated. Simply sitting doing absolutely nothing, when we face a threat.

Many of you would say 400 billion dollars is a lot of money. Well, think about how much is being poured into your defence budgets and which wars are you fighting. Is there another war greater than this war on climate change?  I don’t think so. But let me equally give you the fallacy related to how big this amount is. The European [Union] today were proud to announce that there would be 2.3 billion or 2.5 billion dollars available from now until 2012. Well, the sad news is 300 billion dollars was the amount of money that bankers in London city pocketed this year.

So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate sceptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of “incentivizing” profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.

Moreover, would you believe that, what is important here, in this particular conference, is decision making. There is a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. A court decision is binding. An executive decision is binding.

A legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no actions for another 15 to 20 years. Think about the journey from the Stockholm Conference to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. How many years did it take the environmentalists to convince many decision makers that right action on environment is actually the pursuit of greener, low-carbon, carbon emissions?

Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs]. [Applause]

It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.

Now, I want to go back to other issues because it’s critical that we be very clear to each other. United States and United States people and United States civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is because United States is P1 [pledge 1? page 1?]. Another reason is because United States is the greatest emitter, historically and by per capita. And it is important because it wields huge power, both of influence and of signalling direction.

And that basically [is] what led us to conclude and call upon President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol. We understand the difficulties he is in. The deep sense of conservative isolationism. It’s an American phenomenon that you all know. United States was reluctant to do anything during the catastrophe of the Second World War, until Churchill managed to persuade them to join in. But when they joined, peace prevailed and came into existence in Europe. They have this notion of exceptionalism. And that I think, this day, is to think of ourselves as one human family.

I thought that [is] what the United States signalled when they voted President Obama into office. So notwithstanding the difficulties in the United States, I think any simple analysis makes one conclude that the problem is not with the Congress, the problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. So we have to, you have to, play an important role to persuade your Congress and to move forward. Join hands with those children who wrote a letter to President Obama to join, to preserve Kyoto Protocol.

And I want to say something else. We should stop, equally, pushing this notion that the world must continue along the conflict and misguided sense of competition between the Occidentals and the Orientals … that China is the obstacle [right here?]. Three things we say about China and you all know about it. There are more poor people in China than in the entire of Africa. The only way to help China reduce rapidly its emissions is to help it through transfer of technology. Rapid transfer of technology in order to reduce emissions. Because the third neck of this argument: the poor Chinese have arrived, which we must support and that is [the why?] to development.

The conservative thinking that it’s all about nationalists trying to take advantage or starting a competitive advantage is not going to happen. So what I ask of Obama is to join as a president, as the leader of the industrialized nations, is to join Kyoto Protocol, is to refuse a deal based on 2% [degrees] that would condemn Africa and small islands to death, and to help finance the global deal on climate change.

Remember what the United States did, after the war, to Europe. The United States then was … had the size of 66% of the global economy. They launched a Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was 3.2% of the U.S. economy.  And that in addition to the fact, when you factor in the fact that Europe had the capacity and the know-how, you can see that the total package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change, from public finance, is not less than 5%. And it’s commonsensical. Think about it in this way, without going into economics. If you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighbourhood that has been built or infected by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair? It’s not less than 30% of the price of that.

So, I do believe that if the United States did that before, President Obama should follow in that tradition and say to the rest of the world, “We are able. We have more than sufficient financing and capital to help, not only the poor, but to help ourselves because ultimately after we are destroyed, there will be many Katrinas [hurricanes] in the United States.”

If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].

And I do want you to ask President Obama a simple question. Because as much as he’s an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa. Then doesn’t that lay on him any moral obligation to do what he can? Shouldn’t he commit to the principles of which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is somebody like him today being the president of United States. Because if it’s because his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration, or the [regularized?] Democrats, then he should do something about that. He is the president after all. If it’s because he is thinking that this will save his political life for a next term, then inaction will actually lead to the opposite. A leader acts, a leader helps formulate the right policies, the right direction. That’s why one is a leader. A leader takes the toughest stance. If health care is so important and he is fighting that battle, climate change is as 100 times more important and it is your job as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one because you’re moving from a very low base, but that’s part of life.

We will not give up because the West have power, absolute power, and accept whatever choices they will make.  We will continue to defend the interests of our people and the whole world. This equally applies with Australians, New Zealand and Japan and many other developed countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected for office because they claim they support climate change, but then you have to give it to the lobbyists — they are definitely smooth operators. They twist their minds in such a short time that somebody like Kevin Rudd suddenly  moves from where he was, somebody who in Bali was the only prime minister who came to Bali to say “Climate change matters.” And then his delegation here is the complete opposite of that.

So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come. And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t. But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West. Thank you. [Applause]

ENDNOTES

[1] SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS IN TCKTCKTCK: As demands for the TckTckTck (http://tcktcktck.org) campaign for COP15, the organizers, allies and partners were calling for developed states to reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020. While most developed and developing states were calling for developed states to use 1990 as a baseline, the TckTckTck campaign did not have a baseline. Consequently what they were calling for was way below what developing states were demanding. How could an NGO campaign have a percentage reduction without a baseline date? In the TckTckTck campaign demands, it was stated: “Reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020.” Is that from 2009 levels? Or Canadian 2006 levels, or US 2005 levels? It is far from what most of the developing states wanted, at least 45% from 1990 levels. Apart from calling for stabilization by 2015, the TckTckTck campaign had no commitment for subsequent years, such as calling for the reduction of global emissions by at least 95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The TckTckTck campaign was silent on a 2050 commitment. The key issues at COP15 were i) the need for a common baseline such as 1990, and the need for developed states to commit to a high percentage reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 baseline, and ii) the urgent demand to not have the temperature rise exceed 1 degree above pre-industrialized levels and to return to no more than 300 ppm. The TckTckTck campaign seriously undermined the necessary, bold targets that were advanced by many of the developing states.

[2] “Low lying islands and coastlines can take no further sea level rise. The “targets” of 1.5 degrees C rise and 350 ppm CO2 are a death sentence for coral reefs and a suicide pact for low lying islands and coasts. Summary: The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today’s levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long term climate records, not on models. We have not yet felt the climate change impacts of the current excess of greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuels, and the data shows they will in the long run be many times higher than IPCC models project. In order to prevent these long term changes CO2 must be stabilized at levels below preindustrial values, around 260 parts per million. Buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines. The good news is that all the tools for reversing global warming and reducing CO2 to safe levels are ready, proven, and cost effective, but are not being seriously used due to lack of policies and funding.” [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 PPM IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND LOW LYING ISLANDS … THE SAFE LEVEL OF CO2 FOR SIDS IS AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION.”] — The author is Dr. Tom Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, an international NGO for restoration of coral reefs, and a member of the Jamaican delegation to UNCCC. Previously he was Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of Global Climate Change and Biodiversity Issues, where he contributed to the original draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Goreau developed the HotSpot method used for the last 20 years to predict coral bleaching from satellite data. He was educated in Jamaican schools, MIT (BSc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (MSc in Planetary Astronomy), and Harvard (PhD in Biogeochemistry). He has swum and dived on reefs around the world since he was a small child, including most SIDS. His father was the first marine scientist in the world to use diving as a research tool and founded the Marine Science Program at the University of the West Indies.

[3] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the environmental nongovernmental organization (ENGO) community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 NGOs. The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) two fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 700 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (CAN International), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[4] “Another glaring contradiction which does not bother America’s conscience (if it has any) is that American trained and paid Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers have been deployed as “peacekeepers” in Darfur and Somalia while at the same time they are making the blood of millions of Congolese flow into the ground, while billions of dollars in minerals are extracted from the earth and delivered to their corporate customers – with Rwandan and Ugandan middlemen pocketing their cut. America is also trying to sweep under the carpet the genocide that Rwanda and Uganda have committed in Congo since 1996. As we know, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters among millions of refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda. But the invasion became an occupation that has killed six million Congolese – the world’s greatest holocaust since World War Two. The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda, who have plundered eastern Congo’s mineral resources for sale to multinational corporations, most of them based in the United States and Europe.” [Source: Britain and America Target DR Congo, 12/05/2012] [5] The exemplary People’s Agreement emerged from the April 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was endorsed by over 35,000 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and various states. During that year, the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, participated in numerous UN processes under the UNFCCC, and valiantly struggled to include the conclusions of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement in the negotiating documents.

The main conclusions of the World People’s Conference were incorporated into the document of United Nations on Climate Change that became recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries that congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week of August 2010. The most important points that were incorporated for consideration in the negotiations before Cancun were:

1) 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries for a second period of commitments in the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017

2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1ºC and 300 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

3) Guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries

4) Full respect for the human rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants

5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature

7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice

8) Rejection of the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries

9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries

10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to exclude from the protection of intellectual property rights all technologies that are ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change

11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their gross national product to actions relative to climate change

12) Integrated management of forest for mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanisms and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities

13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest to plantations, since monoculture plantations are not forest; instead encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests. [Source: Joan Russow, PEJ News] [6] The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (?Tx2). This value is estimated by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as “likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values.” This is a change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR, 2001), which said it was “likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 °C.” A model estimate of equilibrium sensitivity thus requires a very long model integration; fully equilibrating ocean temperatures requires integrations of thousands of model years. A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR), which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty year period centered at CO2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year. The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake.

 

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.

350.org’s Friends on Wall Street – The “Climate Wealth Opportunists” | Part II of an Investigative Report

Ceres & the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

cereslogo1

March 10, 2014

By Cory Morningstar

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

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

Preface: A Coup d’etat of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that while anti-REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) climate activists, organizations (legitimate grassroots organizations 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 divestment campaign will result (i.e., 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 “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing” (Sustainable Capitalism, February 15, 2012, Generation Investment Management LLP). 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 (aka investments) to those most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex via their 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 populace. (A populace with almost no comprehension of 1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis, 2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, 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, which 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.

+++

 

INCR_Logo

 “One recent weekday afternoon, three men walked out of the Environmental Defense Fund’s midtown Manhattan office on their way to have lunch together. On the left was EDF’s senior economist. On the right was an environmental expert in the Soviet government. Between them was a businessman, a trader in the nascent enterprise of buying and selling pollution rights. Together that trio forms a picture of how the new environmentalism is shaping up: global, more cooperative than confrontational – and with business at the center.” — ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The present can only be fully understood if one understands the past. Therefore, in order to understand the present day 350.org divestment campaign, we must look at the inception/creation of 350.org’s partner: The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres).

Who is Ceres? Ceres is the 21st century puppeteers of Wall Street who, most recently, are pulling the strings behind the 350.org divestment campaign. Ceres represents the very heart of the nexus: millionaire liberals, their foundations, the “activists” they manage, and most importantly, where the plutocrats invest their personal wealth and that of their foundations. [“As a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, Ceres relies on support from foundations, individuals and other funders to achieve our mission to integrate sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.” (Source: Ceres 2010 Annual Report)

On the Ceres Board of Directors we find key NGO affiliations: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, World Resources Institute, Ecological Solutions Inc. and Green America, to name a few. (The history of the Ceres board of directors is discussed at length, further in this report.)

 “Building climate change risks and opportunities into Wall Street research and analysis is a top Ceres priority.” — Ceres Annual Report 2006

Exxon Valdez: Opportunity Knocks

 “… sceptics of the effectiveness of a voluntary environmental ethics question whether or not the Valdez principles contain more smoke than substance.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

On March 24, 1989, one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters in Earth’s history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, shook public confidence in corporate America to the core. This catastrophic event, 5 years after the atrocious man-made disaster in Bhopal, brought corporate misconduct to the forefront. Corporate America found itself in the midst of an unprecedented public relations disaster.

 “…not long after the Exxon Valdez spill, 41% of Americans were angry enough to say they’d consider boycotting the company.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

Within six months of the Exxon disaster, the late Joan Bavaria, then-president of Trillium Asset Management, had formed a coalition that included high profile environmentalists. The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) was formed with its 10-point code of conduct in hopes of reigning in corporate power. [Note that in 2003, the organization dropped the CERES acronym and rebranded itself as “Ceres”.] Presented to the public as The Valdez Principles [1] on September 7, 1989, the strategic name brilliantly exploited the Valdez crisis (the Principles are said to have actually been written before the Valdez spill, in 1988) to build its own brand recognition and value. Ceres would be the watchdog and savior, reigning in corporate power and making it behave. Although corporate America was reluctant, due to the growing hostility and resentment from the public it also recognized that this coalition offered a strategy (“a voluntary mechanism of corporate self-governance”) as a means of re-establishing public trust, securing brand reputation and most importantly, protecting profits and power. Its influence was enhanced by the fact that member institutional investors controlled over $150 billion in assets. Yet, the risks did not go unrecognized:

“A new basis for environmentally-related derivative suits may now be emerging. Various social-activist groups are successfully sponsoring shareholder resolutions at many major corporations to mandate greater environmental accountability by the corporations. These resolutions require the implementation of ‘Valdez Principles,’ which call for the corporations to curtail air and water pollution, conserve energy, market safe products, pay for damage caused to the environment, and make regular reports on environmental matters to the shareholders. If directors and officers of corporations which have adopted these Valdez-type resolutions fail to comply with their mandate, derivative suits against the directors and officers are likely to follow.” — ACE Bermuda News, July 1991

Corporate America held out. Ceres eventually buckled. The Valdez Principles became the CERES Principles (a 10-point code of environmental conduct) [2], with the most powerful language watered down and abolished. This was fully understood by Bavaria, who recognized that without the annual public audits in particular (principle #10), the principles would be meaningless. November 1990:

“Joan Bavaria, co-chairperson of CERES, believes that the first 8 principles are meaningless without the tenth principle allowing public accountability. The difference between having the company develop their own principles, then monitoring them internally is like putting a fox in the chicken house.” — The Valdez Principles. Is it Time to Put Bambi in the Boardroom? California Journal, November 1990

In the meantime, environmentalism was changing and becoming big business. The world had embraced Neoliberalism (or had it shoved down their throats by the IMF and World Bank) with a statement of neoliberal aims being codified in the Washington Consensus in 1989. This was to be the means of liberating the market from state intrusion, which would instead serve to shield the expanding corporatocracy. Neoliberalism would prove to be the instrumental tool of choice in what would serve, protect and expand the power of the oligarchy.

From the CNNMoney Fortune article: ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, February 12, 1990:

“Far fewer activists of the 1990s will be embittered, scruffy, antibusiness street fighters. AS AN EXAMPLE of the new breed, consider Allen Hershkowitz, who freely drops the names of his CEO acquaintances. As a solid-waste-disposal expert at the litigious Natural Resources Defense Council, Hershkowitz has won many legal battles with business. Now high-ranking executives of major companies regularly make the pilgrimage to his office in the elegant, airy, and amply funded New York City headquarters of NRDC, coming to him lest he go after them. As he explains, ‘They come in here to see what they’ve got to cover their asses on. ‘The cocky 34-year-old Ph.D., who serves as an adviser to banks and Shearson Lehman Hutton, among others, elaborates, ‘My primary motivation is environmental protection. And if it costs more, so be it. If Procter & Gamble can’t live with that, somebody else will. But I’ll tell you, Procter & Gamble is trying hard to live with it. ‘Still, for all his militancy, Hershkowitz is no fanatic or utopian. He understands that a perfect world can’t be achieved and doesn’t hesitate to talk of trade-offs: ‘Hey, civilization has its costs. We’re trying to reduce them, but we can’t eliminate them.’ Environmentalists of this stripe will increasingly show up even within companies. William Bishop, Procter & Gamble’s top environmental scientist, was an organizer of Earth Day in 1970 and is a member of the Sierra Club. One of his chief deputies belongs to Greenpeace. Eager to work with business, many environmentalists are moving from confrontation to the best kind of collaboration. In September an ad hoc combination of institutional investors controlling $150 billion of assets (including representatives of public pension funds) and environmental groups promulgated the Valdez Principles, named for the year’s most catalytic environmental accident. The principles ask companies to reduce waste, use resources prudently, market safe products, and take responsibility for past harm. They also call for an environmentalist on each corporate board and an annual public audit of a company’s environmental progress. The group asked corporations to subscribe to the principles, with the implicit suggestion that investments could eventually be contingent on compliance. Companies already engaged in friendly discussions included DuPont, specialty-chemical maker H.B. Fuller, and Polaroid, among others. Earth Day 1990, scheduled for April 22, the 20th anniversary of the first such event, is becoming a veritable biz-fest. ‘We’re really interested in working with companies that have a good record,’ says Earth Day Chairman Denis Hayes, who predicts that 100 million people will take part one way or another. Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard have donated equipment. Shaklee, the personal and household products company, paid $50,000 to be the first official corporate sponsor. Even the Chemical Manufacturers Association is getting in on the act, preparing a list of 101 ways its members can participate. The more than 1,000 Earth Day affiliate groups in 120 countries propose to shake up politicians worldwide and launch a decade of activism. THE MESSAGE that leading environmentalists are sending, and progressive companies are receiving, is that eco-responsibility will be good for business. Says Gray Davis, California’s state controller, who helped draft the Valdez Principles and who sits on the boards of two public pension funds with total assets of $90 billion: ‘Given the increasing regulation and public concern, there’s no question that companies will eventually have to change their ways. The first kid on the block to embrace these principles will increase market share and profit substantially.'”

The primary NGOs involved in the Valdez Principles from inception were the Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The necessity of the “environmental movement” as the face and foundation of Ceres cannot be understated. In 1989 it was well understood by all players that NGOs were very much perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the public. The non-profit industrial complex was perhaps the only entity in the position of lending the much needed legitimacy and credibility that could mollify the public and allow the corporate world to continue their raping and pillaging, unregulated, under voluntary compliance. And while there is little doubt that well-intentioned individuals with sincere intentions were present in the formation of Ceres (as the corporate watchdog), many such “activists” will never admit to themselves that they are enablers of the very systems collectively destroying us. There is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. Privilege has a convenient way of convincing one’s self to be blind.

“The New York Times/CBS News poll regularly asks the public if ‘protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.’ In September 1981, 45% agreed and 42% disagreed with that plainly intemperate statement. Last June, 79% agreed and only 18% disagreed. For the first time, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, profess concern for the environment in roughly equal numbers.” ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE NEW CRUSADE, CNNMoney Fortune, February 12, 1990

The Valdez Principles, which morphed into the completely watered down Ceres Principles, became the perfect antidote to appease an outraged populace. Corporations could breathe a sigh of relief for a continued voluntary system of corporate self governance – freshly laundered in a light green wash. At a time when public support for environmental protection was unprecedented, restrictive federal regulation power would be avoided. Corporate supremacy would continue apace.

CERES: Clearing House for the Institutionalization of Private Governance

 “It is high time that myths were called what they are. They are stories which may help explain our feelings but they are stories nonetheless and they do us no good.” — Margaret Kimberley

The CERES “Sustainable Governance Project” (SGP) was officially announced to the public in Washington, DC, 2002. The non-profit industrial complex was and continues to be an instrumental tool in building public acceptance for expansion of neoliberal policies. Hence a key focus of SGP in 2001 (prior to the official launch) was “expanding collaboration with climate change experts at groups such as The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Redefining Progress, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund, and many others.” (Source: 2001 Annual Report) Jump forward to 2013 and the Ceres network includes over 130 NGOs.

Today, Ceres serves as the underwriter and clearinghouse for the institutionalization of private governance. Such transformation is now well under way and evolving as witnessed under the guise of the “green economy.” Such strategy is calculated and requires tactical execution. For such transformation to be successful, key critical elements must coalesce: the real or perceived (manufactured/purposeful) decline of public regulatory power; the appearance of “civil society” (self-appointed NGOs) to emanate a patina of legitimacy, credibility and trust; the perception of “caring” corporations (see “Who Cares Wins“); and lastly, media to disseminate the compiled elements in endless waves. When these elements coalesce seamlessly, fertile ground is laid for private regulatory institutions to emerge. By stressing the “risks” (i.e. water scarcity, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) Ceres successfully lays the groundwork for corporate takeover of goods, services and now ecosystems.

The Ceres Network Companies (the first pillar) make up the crème de le crème (approx. 70 corporations) of the corporate world. Examples include Citi, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Suncor and Virgin. The Ceres Coalition (the second pillar) is comprised of more than 130 institutional investors, environmental and “social advocacy” groups, and public interest organizations. Examples of coalition members are Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rockefeller Financial Asset Management, NRDC, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (a founder of Avaaz) and The Carbon Neutral Company.

 

SupportingSponsors2008

Leadership Circle

Image above: Just a few of the 2009 and 2013 Ceres Conference Sponsors.

The Ceres Coalition represents: the Ceres Network Companies, Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) (publicly launched in November 2003 at the first Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at the United Nations) and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP: a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations.) [Ceres Membership Requirements] [3]

“Ceres is a national network of over [130*] investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and the capital markets to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Coalition members serve on our board of directors, participate on company stakeholder teams and engage with the Wall Street community to incorporate social and environmental costs into their research practices. More than [100*] companies worldwide, many of them Fortune 500 firms, make up the Ceres Network of Companies.” [4] [*Updated to reflect current status]

The network of Ceres companies represents a broad range of corporate interests, including oil and gas, electric utilities, and financial services. More than one-third of the company members are in the Fortune 500. Members include McDonalds Corporations, Bank of America Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Citi Bank, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nike, PepsiCo, Suncor, Sunoco, Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Virgin America, and Time Warner, to name just a few. Ceres has close ties with high-level leaders at the New York Stock Exchange, United Nations, World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, American Accounting Association, the American Bar Association and many of the world’s most powerful corporations. The forté of Ceres is briefing/advising powerful corporate boards, from Nike to American Electric Power, on risk and opportunity.

In addition to working with investors in the Ceres Coalition, Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR):

“INCR members, whose collective assets total about $[11*] trillion, include many of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers.” [*Updated to reflect current status]

INCR has grown from 10 institutional investors managing $600 billion (2003) to 100 institutional investors managing more than $11 trillion in assets (2012).

In 1997 CERES launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), now the de facto international standard for corporate voluntary sustainability reporting implemented by more than 1,800 corporations worldwide.

Benefits for corporations adopting GRI “standards” included/include guideline tools for “brand and reputation enhancement, differentiation in the marketplace and protection from brand erosion resulting from the actions of suppliers or competitors, networking and communications.” [Source] Since releasing its first Reporting Guidelines in 2000, its global network has grown to more than 600 organizational stakeholders and over 30,000 people representing different sectors and constituencies. GRI has also developed key strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organization for Standardization. [Source]

Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres (2012) and a founding board member of the organization. She also directs Ceres’ INCR. Mindy Lubber’s blog “Sustainable Capitalism” is integrated with Forbes. Lubber is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post (acquired by Time Warner in 2011) and Forbes. Lubber has been honored by the United Nations as one of the “World’s Top Leaders of Change.” (Other award winners were the corporations Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart and Reebok). Lubber was named one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Corporate Governance” by Directorship magazine and is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

Skeletons (and Skolls) in the Ceres/1Sky Closet

skoll

Photo [Source: Skoll Foundation]: Green capitalist Al Gore with (left to right) Chris Fox of Ceres, Gillian Caldwell of 1Sky (350.org officially merged with 1Sky in 2011), Sally Osberg of the Skoll Foundation and Alessandro Galli of Global Footprint Network.

In 2009, 1Sky’s campaign director, Gillian Caldwell, a lawyer by training, was paid $203,620 (US) through the Rockefeller Family Fund. Although McKibben often refers to 350.org/1Sky as a “scruffy little outfit” – a salary of more than $200,000 is hardly typical of a legitimate grassroots organization.

In the Dec 3, 2009 article Prepping for Copenhagen as found on the Skoll Foundation website, the author reports, “The Skoll Foundation, along with a number of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners, will be participating in the Copenhagen meetings on climate change later this month. Reflecting the high caliber of environmental leaders in the Skoll portfolio, some 10 Skoll social entrepreneurs and/or their organizations will be at Copenhagen: ACORE, Amazon Conservation Team, BioRegional Development Group, Ceres, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, Fundacion Gaia, Global Footprint Network, Health Care Without Harm, IDE-India, and Gillian Caldwell (formerly of Witness), representing 1Sky.” [Emphasis added.]

In the December 15, 2009 article More from the Ground in Copenhagen, also featured on the Skoll Foundation website, Skoll CEO Sally Osberg reports:

 Just a couple of highlights from the Climate Leaders’ Summit: Leadership on climate change – both moral and real – is coming from the sub-nation state levels and small countries.

What Osberg neglects to report is the fact that these very states were deliberately and grossly undermined by the non-profit industrial complex, with corporate TckTckTck, 350.org(1Sky) and Avaaz at the helm of the elitist fifth column. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide | Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Who Cares Wins

havas_media_meningful_brands_main

 “To address the tough environmental and social issues facing global corporations today, we need to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders who challenge us to innovate and operate in a sustainable manner. No one has access to such a vast network of valuable, independent input as Ceres.” — Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

It is clear why branded agencies such as 350.org, SumofUs, Avaaz et al, who dominate social media, are heavily financed (and in many cases were created by) the oligarchs. Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, founder of One Young World, (recently a featured speaker at the 2013 World Form on Natural Capital), makes the case that “social media and corporate social responsibility are not two separate subjects; rather, they are intrinsically interlinked. Businesses that embrace the new rules are set to both make more money and become forces for good in the world.”

“Grow Through Karma Off-Setting: Consumers will actively buy from companies who are good, so they feel that they themselves don’t have to personally undertake social projects, as they have done good by making their purchase with you. Good brands provide a moral alibi for buying.” — Who Cares Wins – The Rise of the Caring Corporation, by David Jones, Global Chief Executive, Havas Worldwide, Creator of the “TckTckTck” campaign and Co-founder of One Young World.

Those born into today’s “young world” are indiscriminately lusted after and seduced by predatory marketing agencies bankrolled by the world’s most powerful corporations and oligarchs, via their foundations. Thus, in stealth synchronicity, the brilliant (albeit pathological) sycophants have created a world where corporate pedophilia runs rampant and indoctrination of youth is perfected and normalized. One cannot deny such a virtuoso performance. Nor can one deny the profound repercussions of such vulturesque exploitation. For adults who willingly offer up their children as sacrificial lambs to appease the corporate gods, denial must be considered the preferred opium of the 21st century.

global-youth-summit-one-young-world-600-50845

The name of the game is this: Corporations present themselves as humble and caring elements integral to society with a fierce determination to “do better.” Rather than refusing to comply with ethical environmental and social conduct, which only serves to tarnish brand image, the corporations embrace and welcome all criticisms. This stratagem is made even more effective when CEOs unabashedly take the first opportunity in any given situation to point out the harmful impacts of their industry, articulated with deep concern, followed by a laundry list of all the magnificent things the corporation is looking at for the future that they believe will alleviate environmental degradation and unbridled exploitation.

 

 [Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of GreenThe Art of AnnihilationPolitical ContextCounterpunch,Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.]

 

Endnotes:

[1] The Valdez Principles: In September 1989, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies set forth the following ten broad principles for evaluating corporate activities that directly or indirectly affect the biosphere.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will minimize and strive to eliminate the release of any pollutant that may cause environmental damage to air, water, or earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard habitats in rivers, lakes, wetlands, coastal zones and oceans and will minimize contributing to global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, acid rain or smog.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve nonrenewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning. We will protect wildlife habitat, open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Waste

We will minimize the creation of waste, especially hazardous waste, and wherever possible recycle materials. We will dispose of all wastes through safe and responsible methods.

4. Wise Use of Energy

We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources to meet our needs. We will invest in improved energy efficiency and conservation in our operations. We will maximize the energy efficiency of products we produce or sell.

5. Risk Reduction

We will minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate by employing safe technologies and operating procedures and by being constantly prepared for emergencies.

6. Marketing of Safe Products and Services

We will sell products or services that minimize adverse environmental impacts and that are safe as consumers commonly use them. We will inform consumers of the environmental impacts of our products or services.

7. Damage Compensation

We will take responsibility for any harm we cause to the environment by making every effort to fully restore the environment and to compensate those persons who are adversely affected.

8. Disclosure

We will disclose to our employees and to the public incidents relating to our operations that cause environmental harm or pose health or safety hazards. We will disclose potential environmental, health or safety hazards posed by our operations, and we will not take any action against employees who report any condition that creates a danger to the environment or poses health and safety hazards.

9. Environmental Directors and Managers

At least one member of the Board of Directors will be a person qualified to represent environmental interests. We will commit management resources to implement these Principles, including the funding of an office of vice president for environmental affairs or an equivalent executive position, reporting directly to the CEO, to monitor and report upon our implementation efforts.

10. Assessment and Annual Audit

We will conduct and make public an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these Principles and in complying with all applicable laws and regulations throughout our worldwide operations. We will work toward the timely creation of independent environmental audit procedures which we will complete annually and make available to the public.

[Source: A New Agenda for Managers, The Challenge of Sustainability] [2] Ceres Principles:

1. PROTECTION OF THE BIOSPHERE: We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. SUSTAINABLE USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES: We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. REDUCTION AND DISPOSAL OF WASTES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. ENERGY CONSERVATION: We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. RISK REDUCTION: We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. SAFE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION: We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. INFORMING THE PUBLIC: We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT: We will implement these Principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. AUDITS AND REPORTS: We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

[3] [Ceres Membership Requirements: All coalition members must be approved by the Ceres Board of Directors. All coalition members pay annual membership dues that are scaled from $50 to $2,000, depending upon the size and type (non-profit, grant making, or investment firm) of the organization. Coalition members are also strongly encouraged to participate in Ceres’ engagement work, including through our multi-stakeholder dialogue processes, investor engagements and other opportunities.] “The primary direct costs of endorsing the CERES Principles are the payment of annual dues and the completion of the annual CERES report form. The dues for a company differ according to the size of the company, but, for a large multinational corporation, are usually in the range of $50,000 dollars a year. The costs associated with dues are not prohibitive considering the size and the budget of the companies.” [Source.] [4] “Once companies officially join Ceres, they gain access to exclusive benefits, such as a customized stakeholder advisory team that provides advice on sustainability reporting, strategy, policies and specific initiatives.”

Are Green Groups Ready for Tarsands Deal?

Straight

Nov 20, 2013

By Dawn Paley

Gone are the days when the tarsands were an obscure experiment in making oil from tar. Today, the bitumen deposits in central and northern Alberta have become a political hot potato, an issue forced onto the world stage by coordinated protests and direct actions.

But a look at the history of the environmental groups that have signed on to the tarsands protests raises the question of whether or not an agreement between green groups and tarsands operators is on the horizon.

In Canada, Native-led opposition to the Enbridge pipeline through central B.C. has become one of the most visible faces of anti-oil protests. An ongoing 14-month blockade near Smithers, B.C., stands in the way of proposed gas and tarsands pipelines. Campaigns to stop oil tankers from travelling the B.C. coast have raised the spectre of an oil spill in the province’s coastal waters. Protests in Ontario have picked up against the Enbridge-proposed reversal of the 38-year-old Line 9 pipeline, which would pump tarsands crude to the East Coast.

Actions against the tarsands, though, are not limited to Canada.

Since 2011, thousands of people in the U.S. have been arrested protesting tarsands infrastructure, like the Keystone XL pipeline proposed to carry tarsands crude from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. In June, protesters dogged Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his visit to London, England, where, among other actions, they interrupted his speech to Parliament.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, according to Edward R. Royce, the chairman of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Affairs. “Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of petroleum and natural gas to the United States. After Saudi Arabia and Mexico, it is the United States’ third-largest supplier of petroleum,” Royce told the committee last March 14. Today in the U.S., securing access to oil is synonymous with national security.

Tarsands, shale gas, and related infrastructure are increasingly important environmental themes in B.C. But there’s a deal-making trend among some of the key players on the West Coast enviro scene that some consider greenwashing and others portray as pragmatism. As resistance to the tarsands mounts, will a conciliatory brand of anti-tarsands activism also take root?

The Tar Sands Solutions Network is a new coalition—headed up by controversial environmentalist Tzeporah Berman—that brings some of Canada’s biggest environmental groups together with smaller organizations to get the word out about their activism.

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part III | Beholden to Buffett

Counterpunch

October 25, 2013

By Cory Morningstar

[Further Reading: Part I | Part II]

Manufacturing Discourse

“North America’s major freight railroads are in the midst of a building boom unlike anything since the industry’s Gilded Age heyday in the 19th century.” – The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2013

 

“U.S. Refiners Don’t Care if Keystone Gets Built” – The Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2013

The following article is the third installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped into the non-profit industrial complex by corporate interests, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates, and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs. These included/include Greenpeace, Sierra Club, NRDC and others, with 350.org/1Sky at the helm leading the cunning and strategic discourse.

“The biggest mystery about the Keystone XL pipeline is why its final stage hasn’t already been approved by the Obama administration…. From following the contentious Keystone pipeline debate, you can be forgiven if you think that the fight is over whether to build it. That’s not quite right. The Keystone system has already been transporting oil sands from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest for three years – with no major leaks.” — USA Today, September 5, 2013

All (Rail) Roads Lead to Profit

“BNSF is the largest U.S. crude hauler, transporting more than one-third of the Bakken production alone with 85,000 barrel capacity unit trains. The company reports that crude and petroleum car loadings are up 60 percent through June. BNSF CEO Matt Rose said that the road is ‘seeing strong double-digit type growth’ in the shale fracking markets. ‘Everything to do with drilling, horizontal drilling, frack sand, pipe, oil – it’s phenomenal.'” —Keystone and the Buffet Rule, August 20, 2012

Warren Buffett | Berkshire Hathaway

As reported in the first installment of this report, on November 3, 2009, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway would purchase BNSF for $44 billion. The acquisition, approved by both boards of both corporations was approved by BNSF shareholders on February 12, 2010.

BNSF061910Q-Copy 

Galesburg Yard just two tracks from the just-arrived loaded oil train. See photo below (loads at left, empties at right). June 19, 2010: Midwestern Crude Oil Moving In Unit Trains Again

Financing the Big Greens Tar Sands Campaign: The Tides Foundation

“Philanthropy, we are told, is to replace the welfare state: instead of attempting to redistribute wealth via taxation and democratic planning, austerity politicians are in the process of dispatching with what they view as an irritating relic of working class history. In its place we are informed that we should rely upon the charity of the greediest and most exploitative subset of society, our country’s leading capitalists. A group of individuals whose psychological temperament is better described as psychopathic rather than altruistic.” — Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power

Sadly, the far-right is far more interested than the “progressive greens,” and climate justice activists themselves, in the motives behind U.S. foundations funnelling millions of dollars in funding to further promote all energies and focus on the Tar Sands campaign: a campaign that concentrates almost exclusively on the Keystone extension while oil via rail, expedited pipeline projects and fracking continues to skyrocket. The far-right has taken note. Finance/markets and investors have certainly taken note. The only crowd that seems most disinterested in understanding, let alone acknowledging, the millions of dollars being funneled into this campaign are the organizations/activists beholden to 350.org et al – who are in turn, beholden to their funders.

November 8, 2012, Globe & Mail video: Canada’s Pipelines: Beyond Gateway and Keystone (Running time: 2:08 minutes)

“There’s a part of this story you likely don’t know, and people like Bill McKibben – as well as Canadian public figure Tzeporah Berman (who runs an outfit that legally exists as a project of the Tides Foundation called the North American Tar Sands Coalition, a secret outfit that determines both strategy and funding for literally dozens of environmental NGO’s and community groups across North America) – would prefer it stays that way.” — Macdonald Stainsby, Oil Sands Truth

350.org FundingNote: Dirty Oil Sands is now Tar Sands Solutions Network. Graph Source [1]

If we revisit Part I of this investigative report, the condensed timeline may assist in establishing why we see the funding increasingly markedly after 2007.

·       June 25, 2006: Buffett pledged to donate most of his wealth to the foundation established by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, as well as other “philanthropic” organizations.

·       2007: 1Sky (which would officially merge with 350.org in April of 2011) is created by the Clinton and Rockefeller foundations in collaboration with “progressive greens.”

·       2007: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway begins to acquire the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad stock.

·       2007: 60% of Marmon Holdings (Union Tank Car Co.) was acquired by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the remaining 40% to be acquired in the next five to seven years.

·       Feb 7, 2008: Financial Post quoting Warren Buffett: “The tar sands are probably as big a potential source of production 15 to 20 years from now. It would surprise me if the world wasn’t wanting to use 200 million barrels per day [of oil] in 15 or 20 years. The tar sands are the biggest single possibility to fill the gap that, it looks like, will otherwise develop in the next decade or two.”

·       2007-2008, Warren Buffett: advisor to Barack Obama and major financial backer/supporter of Hilary Clinton [Sources:  Aug 16, 2007, June 27, 2007, March 28, 2008, Dec 9, 2007, May 19, 2008, July 3, 2008, July 19, 2011]

·       Aug 19, 2008: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates make a quiet visit to the Alberta tar sands.

·       Railway Magazine Nov 2008: Burlington’s Manager of Businesses Development, Jane Halvorson, identified an “opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries.” Depending, she added, on “partnerships with the Canadian railroads.”

·       Cont’d, Nov/Dec 2008: BNSF document: “Alberta oil sands: No sour deal.”

·       Sept 19, 2008: TransCanada submits application to State Department for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department commences the environmental review process.

·       Feb 2009: Thousands of citizens, including many who live along the pipeline route, express to the State Department serious concerns about the proposal in public hearings and in written comments.

·       April 9, 2009: Game-changer: Canadian oil sands will bypass U.S. for Asia

·       April 11, 2009: CN idea a winner for oil sands

·       August 2009: U.S. State Department approves the Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Pipeline, a key tar sands pipeline. 350.org et al are silent.

·       Nov 3, 2009: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway proposes to purchase BNSF Railway as a wholly owned subsidiary for $44 billion in the largest deal in Berkshire history. As of June 2009, Berkshire Hathaway was the 18th largest corporation on Earth.

·       Feb 4, 2010: 86 U.S. organizations call on President Obama to reject the Keystone pipeline extension.

Tides Tar Sands Campaign Funding[2]

Deception

Number One Financier of the Tides Foundation: Buffett’s NoVo Foundation

Clinton & BuffettsPhoto: Peter and Julie Buffett with former U.S. president, Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative. What the environmental “movement” does not wish to acknowledge is the fact that the Clintons were integral to the creation of 1Sky (1Sky/350.org) as were the Rockefellers. In the Rockefeller Family Fund 2007 annual report, it is clear that 1Sky is an actual Rockefeller-initiated NGO. Such incubator projects are common within powerful foundations, although the public has little knowledge of such practices.

Peter Buffett, musician and youngest son of investor, Warren Buffett, along with his spouse (who serves as president), are the founders and co-chairs of the NoVo Foundation. NoVo was created in 2006 after Warren Buffett pledged to donate 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock to the foundation (value approximately U.S. $2.5 billion). [Source] As the charts below demonstrate, NoVo Foundation is (as of 2011), the top donor to Tides in the timeframe outlined. [Source: [3][4] Prior to being unveiled as NoVo, Peter Buffett’s foundation was recognized as The Spirit Foundation which was established in 1999 (#EI-0824753).

Ten Top Donors to Tides[3]

NoVo Grants to Tides[4]

McKibben, Peter Buffett & the Green Bourgeois

“The conference will also include a major public address on Friday evening by the noted climate change leader, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, as well as a Saturday concert by the talented musician Peter Buffett, author of Life is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment and son of investor legend Warren Buffett.” — Strategies for a New Economy Conference, New Economics Institute press release, May 7, 2012

The expression/noun, elitism, fits seamlessly, like a velvet glove, within the context of the above statement.

elitism — n

1.a. the belief that society should be governed by a select group of gifted and highly educated individuals

b. such government

2. pride in or awareness of being one of an elite group

“In this paradoxical, nightmare-like scenario, where ruling class criminals throw back pennies and moral judgements to those whose lives they have destroyed in the name of capitalism, we begin to see the true meaning of capitalist charity.” — Michael Barker

Bill McKibben and Peter Buffet headlined the weekend conference (Strategies for a New Economy Conference). The entire press release reads like a list of “who’s who” in the world of elitist, classist, green bourgeoisie. The relationship between McKibben, the Ceres affiliates and the oligarchs they serve is laid bare for all to see, with Bill McKibben featured with Warren Buffett’s son, Peter Buffett. Let us be clear, neither the Ceres “society” nor Bob Massie chose Buffett’s name from a hat nor did Buffett fall from the (1)Sky. These are extremely interconnected, well-established relationships with strong alliances and loyalties bound together by privilege, philanthropy, and whiteness.

Buffet’s Top Holdings | Media, Water, Lithium, Agriculture

In 2008, Buffett invested $230 million to acquire 10% of BYD Company, which operates a subsidiary of electric automobile manufacturer, BYD Auto. In less than one year, the investment returned a 500% profit. Indispensable to this electric auto industry is lithium, hence it is no surprise to identify a BYD subsidiary (BYD Lithium Battery Co.) that focuses exclusively on lithium batteries. This is of significant importance since the anti-imperialist sovereign state of Bolivia holds 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. President Evo Morales has vowed repeatedly that, after being oppressed and exploited by foreign interests for centuries, Bolivia will “never cede control” of its lithium reserves. In late 2011, anti-REDD Bolivia rose above what many would cite as an attempted destabilization that was strategically led by U.S. (and pro-REDD) NGOs: Avaaz, Amazon Watch and Democracy Centre. [REDD: A United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation via carbon markets. REDD has been cited as a new form of colonialism by Indigenous peoples throughout the world. According to The New York Times, in 2011 alone, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda. Eight-year old Friday Mukamperezida was killed when his home was burned to the ground. The state of Bolivia’s alternative proposal, ignored by NGOs, can be found here.]

In 2012, Buffett acquired Media General, owner of 63 newspapers in the south-eastern United States. This purchase represented the second media purchase by Buffett in one year. Buffet continued media acquisitions into 2013. It is also critical to note that Buffett joined his close friend and confidant, Bill Gates (the number one shareholder in CN Rail), in investing heavily in Deere & Companythe globe’s largest manufacturer of farm equipment.Gates, who became the largest shareholder in Deere in August of 2011, has been actively pumping millions of dollars into GMO research via his foundation as well as owning shares in Monsanto. [The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation purchased 500,000 shares in Monsanto in 2010. The shares are valued at more than $23 million. On July 15, 2012, the UK Daily Mail reports: “British scientists have won a £6.4million grant from Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates to develop genetically modified crops. The Gates Foundation’s donation is one of the largest single investments to the GM project in the UK.”] The interest in industrialized farming-related stocks shared by both Gates and Buffett (and facilitated by the World Bank and Wall Street) perhaps signal the accelerating land grabs as leading GHG-emitting states and corporations attempt to secure/steal agricultural lands and limited natural resources for a growing population on a decimated planet.

BNSF & IBM to Profit Billions on Water Treatment

The North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus (NAIPC) met on March 1, 2 and 3, 2013 in the traditional territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. The meeting was attended by approximately 97 representatives from 54 Indigenous Peoples’ Nations and organizations.

In the final hours of the meeting, delegates presenting and participating reviewed a draft report of the meeting, made amendments from the floor, and the amended draft report was adopted by consensus. The following text is taken from the full report of the NAIPC, which was formally transmitted to the UNPFII Secretariat for inclusion as an official document for the upcoming UNPFII-12, and to other bodies and fora, as needed. [Decisions and Recommendations of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus to the 12th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to other bodies and fora, as appropriate] [Emphasis in original document.]

·         The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document acknowledge water as a critical element for cultural, physical, and spiritual survival.

·         The NAIPC recommends that the Outcome Document take a position against Aquacide: the killing of the waters by dams, diversions, privatization, deprivations, extractive industrial and mega-agricultural developments, hydraulic-fracturing, toxins, and pollution, and other ways that inhibit or preclude Water’s ability to nurture and support Life. This includes working to immediately halt Aquicide by all forms of exploitation, commodification, and other assaults that impede or destroy the life giving quality of Water.

In stark contrast to such demonstrated wisdom and intelligence, the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male tends to not think in terms of respect for our Earth and shared environment that graciously sustains all life….

“When you start to think like we think, you don’t see water in the pipes. You see dollar signs.” — Eric Berliner, IBM, as quoted in the article, Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business, April 2011

Yet, the stark contrast to wisdom and leadership demonstrated by Indigenous Peoples throughout America and the world, does not limit itself to the privileged Euro-American patriarchal male that dominates the capitalist system. One only has to look at the Tar Sands Solutions Network twitter feed to see who this network (registered to the queen green capitalist, Tzeporah Berman, Forest Ethics) looks to for “leadership” (read from bottom, to view the first chosen/key alliances).

In spite of the rhetoric put forward by Tar Sands Solutions Network claiming “Tar Sands Solutions Network is a growing international network of organizations including First Nations, environmental groups, landowners, farmers, scientists, community leaders, academics, and grass roots groups located throughout North America and Europe,” the facts speak otherwise.

The “solutions” network follows (literally, in all senses of the word) organizations and professional elites that undermine our justice movements from within. The most critical aspect to note is this: Although Indigenous populations are the most impacted by tar sands projects and although Indigenous Peoples have the knowledge and insight to lead us away from global omnicide, there is but one single Indigenous organization being followed by the Tar Sands Solutions Network initial twitter account. (There is one individual Indigenous person – but elitist, groomed, Rockwood Alumni does not truly qualify. No Indigenous, no landowners, no scientists. In order of first added: Pembina Institute, Sierra Club, Dogwood Initiative, Earthworks, Forest Ethics, Friends of the Earth U.S., Greenpeace USA, Honor the Earth, NRDC and RAN with CERES following closely.) On the secondary twitter account, we see a similar pattern (again, from bottom, first chosen, the top big green groups include David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace, National Wildlife Federation, Bill McKibben, Centre for Biodiversity, WWF, Climate Reality, 350.org and Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace USA, Conservation International, RAN, WWF, Tzeporah Berman, etc.). The crème de la crème of the big green NGOs and liberal left with not one single Indigenous organization or citizen. [Information on both twitter accounts accessed on September 19, 2013.] Note that Dirty Oil Sands has been rebranded to Tar Sands Solutions Network. It appears that there is no disclosure regarding funding/financing from the Tides Foundation, or any other source, on the site.

Tar sands corporations are licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water than the entire city of Calgary uses in one year. As much as four barrels of fresh water are contaminated for every one barrel of bitumen produced. Toxic fracking chemicals used to leach the last underground pockets of natural gas, necessary to distill the tar sands, are rapidly poisoning the Canadian province of Alberta’s remaining groundwater reserves. [Source]

Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway’s extensive holdings include the corporate entities ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and General Electric – all with close ties to the Alberta tar sands. In the world of capitalism even death and environmental degradation transcend into insurmountable monetary wealth for the world’s leading psychopaths. “General Electric Water & Process Technologies” stands to gain vast amounts of profit by treating immense amounts of fresh water, which is made  toxic/contaminated during the tar sands procurement process. 

“In 2007, GE entered into a $15-million technology development program with the Alberta Water Research Institute and its research funding partners. The program aims to develop technology to improve water reuse and management in in-situ oil sands operations. GE is also actively involved in developing and proving effective technologies for treating tailings water for industrial reuse, in order to help operators improve the efficiency of their operations.” [Source: September 9, 2010 General Electric Press Release]

In addition to its partnership with the Alberta Water Research Institute, GE also owns a water treatment facility in the tar sands patch via its wholly owned subsidiary, Zenon Environmental Inc., which it purchased for $760 million in 2006. Further, in September 2011, Grizzly Oil Sands ULC “selected GE’s (NYSE: GE) produced water evaporation technology for its Algar Lake project near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.” [Source]

In 2009, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, became the largest shareholder in Nalco, a water-services, treatment, and equipment corporation, which has no public profile yet has 12,000 employees and nearly $4 billion in revenue. In late 2011, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased $10.7 billion of IBM stock. Although this stock has taken a recent hit, one can be assured that this is of no worry to Buffett. Indeed, Buffett is in it for the long haul: “The conventional estimate is that around the world, water is a $400-billion-a-year business. That’s four times the size of IBM’s annual revenue, but that figure includes everything from digging up worn-out water pipes to building billion-dollar desalination plants. IBM says the smart-water market, the information-technology part of water, could be worth between $15 billion and $20 billion a year.” [From the article Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM are Getting into the Water Business. Note that Buffett is heavily invested in all 3 corporations, with Coca-Cola and IBM representing Buffett’s top second and third holdings respectively.]

It is of interest that in late 2012 Buffett sold most of his stocks in GE. [Nov 14, 2012, Buffett’s Berkshire Sells Most of J&J and GE Stakes: “The warrants and high interest rates he was able to garner by lending money to General Electric (GE), Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS) in the depths of the financial crisis are great examples of this investing strategy.”] At this same time Buffett increased his shares in National Oilwell Varco by 47%. National Oilwell Varco is a worldwide leader in providing major mechanical components for land and offshore drilling rigs. As profitable as it is to capitalize on the poisoning/degradation of Earth’s fresh water, it appears the oil industry that destroys the fresh water is too lucrative to not make first priority. 

Rail Tank Car Production

“Amid U.S. Oil Boom, Railroads Are Beating Pipelines in Crude Transport” — Business Week, June 13, 3013

The rail car industry will soon enough finish building the 40,000 oil tankers ordered/required for the tar sands oil. (Growth in crude by rail (CBR) has been rapid, creating a two-year backlog on deliveries of new tank cars.) To accommodate the high pressure loading of the Bakken oil, the oil must be kept thin. For this they need warmers (breakout tanks/oil storage facilities). The specialized heating equipment is used to heat the crude prior to unloading, meaning more crude is shipped and the cost of diluent is saved.

In the September 27, 2013 article A Stronger Network, With More Capacity, How BNSF is leveraging a record $4.3 billion in capital investment, it is reported that “[T]hese capacity improvements will improve service to pipeline operators and short lines, which have built 12 terminals adjacent to BNSF and Canadian Pacific infrastructure in northwestern North Dakota in the past two years, increasing the number of terminals to 16. These terminals are handling crude delivered by truck or pipelines, and according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, terminal capacity has increased to 730,000 barrels per day since they were built.” North Dakota produced an average of 821,431 barrels per day in June of 2013. This amount is set to double by 2017.

The average price of a new tank car increased from $74M [thousand] in 2011 to $100M in 2012, increasing to $133M in 2013. The shortage is exacerbated by tank car manufacturers who retain many of the tank cars they produce to lease. Leasing rates in some instances have more than quadrupled to $2,500 a month. The boom is set to continue with approximately 1 MMB/D (Million Barrels per Day) of new rail-unloading capacity being built or planned in the U.S. during 2013, representing three times the current shipping level. [Source]

BNSF announced in September of 2012 that it would be increasing train sizes from 100 to 104 tank cars and in some cases up to 118 tank cars. [Source:BNSFA single tank car carries approximately 660-720 barrels of crude oil. [Source:BNSF] Therefore, 118 tank cars carrying 720 barrels of crude represents 84,960 barrels of oil. Simply put, a mere 10 trains at optimal performance would exceed Keystone XL’s carrying capacity (which is 830,000 barrels per day). On September 4, 2012 BNSF announced that it increased capacity in 2012 to enable the railroad to haul one million barrels per day out of the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.

But the ‘scalability’ of the concept – up to four million barrels per day – means that the railway can ramp up production vastly by just adding rail cars.” — August 21, 2012, Railways ship bitumen to relieve pipeline bottlenecks

Tank cars are owned by either shippers or lessors, not by railroads. At year end Union Tank Car and Procor together owned 97,000 cars having a net book value of $4 billion. A new car, it should be noted, costs upwards of $100,000. Union Tank Car is also a major manufacturer of tank cars – some of them to be sold but most to be owned by it and leased out. Today, its order book extends well into 2014. At both BNSF and Marmon, we are benefitting from the resurgence of U.S. oil production. In fact, our railroad is now transporting about 500,000 barrels of oil daily, roughly 10% of the total produced in the “lower 48″ (i.e. not counting Alaska and offshore). All indications are that BNSF’s oil shipments will grow substantially in coming years.” [Source: Berkshire’s Corporate Performance vs. the S&P 500] [The PROCOR Corporation (Canadian) is the largest tanker owner. The other tanker manufacturers are the GATX and TILX corporations.]

“Investors like Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett have long seen the opportunity coming and are well-positioned in the business…. Mr. Buffett has a controlling stake in Union Tank Car, and has emerged as a major beneficiary of the crude-via-rail boom as the owner of BNSF Railway Co. – one of North America’s largest railway companies. BNSF reportedly earned U.S. $272-million from crude shipments alone in 2012.” — Feb 22, 2013, Demand for tank cars to ship crude oil by rail rises at breakneck speed

“The potential for railway companies to increase its [sic] exposure to the crude oil transportation business can be exponential. The current consensus is that the lack of available tank cars is causing a bottleneck in the crude-by-rail supply chain, while other impediments to growth include the lack of offloading terminals to deliver the product, absence of rail access to origination sites, and the need for coastal refiners to re-configure their plants to be able to process heavier crude that is produced in the U.S. midcontinent.” Jan 18, 2013

“Less than a month ago, Valero said it would own 9,000 rail cars by the end of 2014. That plan already has been revised, as the company will own 12,320 rail cars by the second quarter of 2015, spokesman Bill Day said. The company hasn’t announced its total expenditures to buy rail cars. But Day said Valero will spend about $750 million on the 5,300 cars it has on order now. That’s about $140,000 per rail car.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013

Translation: Rail tank cars = $$$. Terminals = $$$. Rail track = $$$ in subsidies. Chemical diluents = $$$. All of the above = planetary ecocide, and slow-scale genocide.

BNSF is set to gain massive profits through building rail tank cars, since one of the only obstacles to the crude-by-rail boom is that the shippers can’t purchase the rail tank cars fast enough. The North American rail tank car manufacturers [Union Tank Car Co., Greenbrier Companies, American Railcar Industries, Inc., FreightCar America Inc., Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation, Trinity Industries Inc.]have back orders for 48,000 new rail tank cars through 2014. [Source: Rail Theory Forecasts] When the new rail tank cars emerge into service, North American railroads will have the capacity to ship 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. [5]

The fact that an increasing number of refineries are opting to own or lease these rail tank cars, rather than leaving it to rail corporations, speaks to the anticipated exponential growth. For example, Valero Energy Corp (VLO) announced on January 15, 2013 that they intend to purchase an additional 2,000 railcars, which will bring its current fleet of rail tank cars to 9,000 in order to haul even more of the prolificEagle Ford crudeto its refineries.[Bloomberg, August 22, 2013, Eagle Ford Crude Production Rose 60% in June from Prior Year]. As disclosed in part one of this investigative report, Buffet/Berkshire Hathaway also holds shares in Valero.

“This increasing demand for tank cars means that delivery of tank cars grew significantly in 2012 to approximately 18,000 deliveries, and current backlog suggest[s] more than 23,000 deliveries of tank cars will be completed in 2013. This is in comparison to the less than 10,000 tank car deliveries in 2010 and 2011 and the approximately 20,000 tank cars currently transporting crude oil on railways.” — January 18, 2013, Kapital Wire, 5 Tank Car Manufacturers to Benefit from Crude-by-Rail

One thing is certain: with every gain in profits glorified and celebrated by the industrial capitalists, it is yet another day that our Earth has been savagely plundered for her natural resources – soon, beyond recognition. 

DERAILS

[+++Note from author: The following two paragraphs were written in the spring of 2013, prior to the Lac Mégantic disaster.]

“In 2008, trains carried fewer than 20,000 barrels a day of oil in the United States. But by the end of last year, roughly 500,000 barrels of oil per day moved on the rails. Spills are a key concern.” — The Globe and Mail, July 7, 2013

All pipelines spill. Like 350.org, TransCanada, et al prefer to tell citizens what citizens want to hear. TransCanada predicted the Keystone pipeline would spill once every seven years. However, the reality was that the pipeline spilled 12 times during its first year of production, exceeding 30 spills over its existence. The Keystone XL pipeline will also spill, as rail tank cars spill, and will continue to spill. Corporations could not care less because when they do spill, they will do their best to ensure the taxpayers clean it up. (All while they make billions in unsurpassed profits. All while they continue to access massive subsidies. All while some other states, such as Venezuela, whose governments actually are representative of people, rather than corporations, nationalize their resources. All while other states, already developed – in this instance, a Spanish island – work decade after decade toward a transition from fossil fuels toward zero emissions.) In many, perhaps most, instances, the corporate entity will win(monetarily) and be deemed not responsible for the ecological nightmare.Even when they “lose” by way of a large monetary financial judgement (which is pocket change compared to their quarterly profits), rarely do they ever actually pay any meaningful monetary amounts in the way of settlements. Being the psychopaths that they are, they much prefer to give their money to lawyers rather than the (in many/most cases) impoverished peoples whose lives and land they have completely destroyed beyond repair. Since acquiring former BC Rail lines in 2003 and disconnecting its locomotives’ dynamic engine brakes, CN experienced 11 derailments in 2005 alone. More train wrecks have followed. [Source] Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge Corp. acknowledged responsibility for 804 spills, releasing at minimum 168,645 barrels of crude oil into integral tributaries, sensitive wetlands and water tables in Canadian and U.S. communities. [Source] Case in point: on March 28, 2013, a mile-long Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed, rupturing three tankers and leaking around 15,000 gallons of fuel. Days later, on April 3, 2013, a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed in northern Ontario. Two of about 20 derailed cars were carrying light sweet crude but remained contained. LM4

Photo: Welcome to hell. Downtown Lac Mégantic, Quebec, July 6, 2013

“Quebec disaster: Oil shipments by rail have increased 28,000 per cent since 2009″ — CTVNews, July 7, 2013

The relative indestructibility of the oil tanker is the main selling point put forward by the industry. Yet, the horrific oil-by-rail accident in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, on July 6, 2013, makes this selling “feature” moot. The Lac Mégantic disaster represents the fourth deadliest rail accident in Canadian history, and the deadliest rail tragedy in Canada since the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864. The catastrophe occurred when an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars, resembling a blazing inferno of hell. Forty-two people have been confirmed dead with 5 more people assumed to have been vaporized by the explosions according to the spokesperson for the Quebec coroner’s office. More than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were completely annihilated. Initial newspaper reports described a 1 km blast radius. This horrific accident – a direct result of oil via rail was of unparalleled magnitude compared to any other recent disaster. Yet this inferno, which demolished an entire downtown core, was barely mentioned by mainstream media as it unfolded. (In one example, CNN did a live broadcast of the airplane accident (Asiana Airlines Flight 214), giving zero coverage to Lac Mégantic. Canadian media, ever so slowly, gave exposure to the nightmarish accident in the days that followed.)

And although 350.org would have you believe they are campaigning against tar sands, what is one to make of the fact that these groups made no mention whatsoever of the apocalyptic remnants of Lac Mégantic to their “followers” / supporters. Aside from an honourable mention to 350Maine, the only reference to the most dreadful accident directly resulting from oil via rail (as of July 22, 2013), is a press release (simply titled “Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules”) quietly sent to media on July 22, 2013.

350SearchResultsLacMeganticJuly272013

Yet, 350’s Canadian counterpart, Leadnow, could not ignore a disaster on such an epic scale. So what did Leadnow instruct their followers to do? Did they demand that the transportation of oil via rail be banned? No, rather they instructed their supporters to:

“Tell Prime Minister Harper and the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, that you demand an immediate ban on using dangerous 111A tank cars to transport oil, and join the call for a full review of how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck.”

A ban on 111A tank cars (meaning we need new or alternate models of “safe” tank cars)? A full review of “how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck”? After Lac Mégantic, the question must be asked, do we need a “full review” to tell us the horror just witnessed in real life? 

In the meantime, 350.org et al have yet to mention the approval of Keystone’s phase 3 (March 2012) and the construction that is now completed (to be operational in early 2014). [Forbes, Sept 19, 2013: “With three of the four phases of Keystone in operation or nearly complete, only one section remains.”] There is no mention of the consumptive patterns of the West that ensure every drop of oil will find its way to market. 350.org and others campaign strategically and focus on the supply side issues while the demand side is completely ignored.

The Bakken Region

“The battle over pipelines comes as the United States, which imports roughly 1.4 million barrels of crude oil from Alberta every day, is suddenly swamped with its own oil from unconventional sources like the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. A recent forecast by the International Energy Agency said the U.S. is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia.” — Oil Sands Bust, Macleans, Feb 5, 2013

The anti-Keystone XL campaign “leaders” have ensured that citizens and activists alike will focus almost exclusively on the Keystone pipeline extension, even though it was publicly disclosed, as far back as January 2011, that the majority of the Keystone pipeline was already completed and in operation. If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude or/and the diluted bitumen (dilbit) from to refineries situated in Port Arthur, Texas, where it will be refined and sold on the global market. Yet omitted is the fact that a large portion of potential oil (approximately 25%) that would flow through the Keystone pipeline would be oil recently discovered (so we are told)in the Bakken shale formation. This formation spans North Dakota and part of Montana– the land of the Lakota Indians. (The same Lakota who are excluded from any meaningful leadership positions/senior advisory roles of the faux environmental groups.) Without the Keystone XL, the only way to get all of the Bakken oil to the refineries is by rail car.

“In another positive sign for the industry, BNSF Railway announced in the first week of September that it plans to expand its crude oil transportation capacity in 2012 to a million barrels per day from the Williston Basin in North Dakota and Montana.” — Sept 18, 2012, Rail Companies in Mad Rush to Meet Demand for Domestic Crude Oil

Oil production in the Bakken region has more than tripled since 2008. [Source: Bloomberg). A 2013 report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggests that oil production in North America is on track to grow at an “incredible rate” of 800,000 barrels per day, per year, through 2016, with more than 50% of production expected to come from the U.S.

Billions upon billions of dollars are being invested in the Bakken oil field (i.e., tar sands oil) yet citizens will not be advised of this fact anywhere, other than perhaps in the finance section of the Wall Street Journal, or the BNSF website itself.

rail-estimate-10-15-2013 

Chart: Estimated rail volumes, August 2013 [Source]

Increasing U.S. oil production, under the false pretense of “energy independence and self-sufficiency,” lends much ammunition to those opposed to the KXL. It is of little surprise that Buffett is working closely with Obama in the framing of a new “energy independent United States of America” while the same U.S. foundations funding the Stop the KXL! campaign aresimultaneously funding the Apollo Alliance, the Institute for America’s Future and Blue Green Alliance. All while the Obama administration continues to invade, destabilize and occupy sovereign states all over the planet in order to steal/secure Earth’s dwindling natural resources. 

Today, BNSF is hauling out the Bakken crude oil from North Dakota and ethanol from Nebraska (announced in 2006). All via rail. On October 31, 2012, it was announced that BNSF would purchase the Nebraska Northeastern Railway, a 120-mile line that connects Siouxland Ethanol LLC in Jackson; NEDAK Ethanol in Atkinson; and Husker Ag Inc. in Plainview.

For centuries, talented magicians have absolutely depended upon ardent distraction in order to convince an enthralled audience that what they are seeing is truly real – not simply stealthy sleight of hand. As long as the major players within the non-profit industrial complex are protesting the Keystone XL, and getting paid to do so, the audience fails to consider the tar sands oil fields, Bakken oil fracking, unit oil tank trains, etc. … along with the very root causes of climate change.

index“Unit ethanol trains use similar tank cars (in fact, tank cars used in petroleum crude oil service were probably built for the ethanol boom c. 2006) so content of these cars is determined by the haz-mat [hazardous material] placard (red-and-white lopsided square seen at right side of car). This placard displays the number 1267, which denotes “petroleum crude oil.” (Denatured alcohol, or ethanol, uses 1987.)” — March 24, 2012, BNSF Galesburg Yard’s New Tracks are in Service Video: Fracking: The Dirty Truth in North Dakota | (Running time: 4:36) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN_YwQp4pzY Refineries & Further Genocide

“North American energy companies are starting to invest more in railroad terminals than the railroads themselves. A group of oil and natural gas pipeline operators led by Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA) announced plans just in the past three months to spend about $1 billion on rail depot projects to help move more crude from inland fields to refineries on the coasts. Warren Buffett‘s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, the largest U.S. railroad, spent $400 million on terminals in 2012. For the first time, energy companies that traditionally rented rail capacity are buying the assets because swelling output from Alberta’s oil sands and shale fields in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Eagle Ford in Texas has overwhelmed pipelines.” — Oil Industry Beats Buffett in Railroad Investments Surge: Energy, January 14, 2013 [Disclosed in part I of series]

“Today, the Quinault Indian Nation submitted comments to the City of Hoquiam and Washington Department of Ecology opposing the first of at least three proposed oil shipping facilities that could transform Grays Harbor into an industrial crude oil zone. Westway Terminal Company, based in Louisiana and Texas, seeks authorization for construction of a new oil shipping terminal in Grays Harbor that would give it the capacity to store 800,000 barrels of crude oil at any given time. Westway predicts that it will bring at least ten million barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor, via rail and marine vessels. Two additional facilities for crude-by-rail – amounting to tens of millions of barrels of crude oil annually through Grays Harbor – are also being proposed in the same area, posing major environmental risks to the Grays Harbor community and the Quinault Indian Nation. State and local regulators have decided to allow this proposal to go forward with minimal environmental review…. Crude-by-rail systems are a recent, but booming, phenomenon.” — April 18, 2013, Tribe Opposes Proposal to Turn Grays Harbor into an Industrial Crude Oil Zone

“The boom in North Dakota’s Bakken oil field is speeding to the Northwest, a boon for ports and refineries that could bring in upwards of 200 million barrels of crude each year on mile-plus oil trains. The first oil train arrived last September. Today, all five Washington refineries handle or plan to handle oil trains, called ‘pipelines on wheels’…. BNSF Railway is likely to carry most of those loads. Spokesman Steve Forsberg said BNSF is investing a record $4.1 billion in upgrades nationwide this year.” — May 13, 2013, Oil trains – pipelines on wheels – headed to Northwest terminals and refineries from North Dakota fracking

“In addition, Valero is considering a plan to send light Canadian crude to its Quebec plant by rail, and it is discussing building a rail terminal at its St. Charles refinery in Louisiana to receive heavy Canadian crude…. Tesoro, soon to be California’s biggest refiner when it closes its June 1 purchase of BP’s Southern California refinery, also has launched rail projects to move cheaper crude.” — Rail picks up steam as a way to move crude, May 27, 2013

In 2012, several refineries serving the Northeast faced the threat of shutdown. Today, an influx of cheaper crude oil extracted from Bakken shale rock formations has “saved” most refineries while stabilizing gas ­prices. Just as fracking opened vast reserves of natural gas over recent years, this same toxic process is now unlocking crude oil trapped in shale deposits. The revival of the East Coast refineries is yet another example of how the ecologically devastating drilling process of hydraulic fracturing/fracking is changing the energy equation for the region, nation and world, thus, tragically keeping North America locked into fossil fuels, growth and an accelerating highway of ecological destruction. Further, as mentioned previously, fracking oil is increasing domestic production so dramatically that the U.S. is projected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017. [Further Reading: Shale Oil Reviving East Coast Refineries]

Diluted Bitumen

Another rather unspoken conversation within the Stop the KXL campaign is the (non)discussion surrounding the immense volume of diluent (“dilent eroi”; see below) piped/shipped into the tar sands. Also out of fashion for meaningful discussion is the employment of natural gas. [At present, natural gas is used to heat the excavated sand.] Together, this creates two more sets of environmental hazards while significantly reducing the EROI or energy return on investment ( which is “extremely low, on the order of 5-10%” [compared to] traditional oil recovery”). [Source] [Note that prospects for a nuclear future in relation to the tar sands will be discussed in the next segment of this investigative series.]

Pipelines require dilution of heavy tar sands crude. This requires expensive chemicals to make the crude oil flow more easily.

No doubt seeing an opportunity, Buffett commenced buying BNSF stock in 2006 and continued to buy/increase stock during the following years. This enabled the railway to start transporting the diluting agents/chemicals necessary to thin the tar sands bitumen from U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast, California and Kansas to the Canadian border (at Superior, Wisconsin; Noyes, North Dakota; Sweetgrass, Montana; and New Westminster, British Columbia) where the rail tank cars of diluents were/are then transferred to CN rail, and finally, via rail to Edmonton, for shipment to the tar sands.

Industry officials claim that rail tank cars offer the single most important advantage for transporting bitumen: because of its thickness, it must be diluted with other petroleum-based chemicals in order to flow through pipelines. But, as Buffet knows full well and has understood for years, bitumen can be transported in special rail tank cars without dilution.

In November 2008, mere weeks after the Gates/Buffet tar sands expedition in Alberta, Canada, BNSF’s Manager of Business Development stated the following in BNSF’s Railway Magazine: “We’ll continue moving diluents, but there is opportunity to offer rail service as an alternative to pipelines to get the bitumen blend to the refineries,” adding that for such opportunity to be effective “partnerships with the Canadian railroads” would be necessary.  

Thick as Thieves

The rest is now history. In 2010 Buffett bought the rest of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail for $44 billion while Gates *increased his stake in CN and, by April of 2012, became CN’s single largest shareholder. (*By 2006 approx. $1.4 billion of Gates’ $3.4 billion portfolio was invested exclusively in CN Rail.) Gates and Buffet are considered as “thick as thieves” and often speak to the fact that they consider each other best friends.

On August 13, 2013, Journalstar reported:

“Buffett buys into Canadian tar sands oil company – Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reported a new half-billion-dollar stake in Suncor Energy Inc., which started the Canadian tar sands oil industry, after Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputies spent the most money on stocks in a quarter since 2011. Buffett’s firm owned 17.8 million Suncor shares June 30, a stake valued at more than $500 million in the Calgary-based producer of heavy oil from the Alberta tar sands, according to a federal filing. Suncor is Canada’s largest oil and gas producer. With the Suncor investment, Buffett further injected himself into the debate over tar sands oil and the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, would carry the bitumen condemned by environmentalists.”

McKibben’s Obama Fetish

90 Days, 90 Reasons is an initiative by Dave Eggers and Jordan Kurland who believed that “many of Obama’s voters and donors from 2008 needed to be reminded of all he has accomplished, and all he will do if given another term. They asked a wide range of cultural figures to explain why they’re voting for Obama in 2012, in the hopes that this might re-inspire the grassroots army that got Obama elected in the first place.” Bill McKibben was one such “cultural figure” they approached for an Obama endorsement. McKibben’s endorsement/statement was made approximately 45 days before the 2012 election.

REASON 45: MITT ROMNEY WILL APPROVE THE PROPOSED KEYSTONE PIPELINE.

McKibben states:

“A year ago, 1,253 Americans were arrested outside the White House while protesting the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would run from the tarsands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Liberating that pool of carbon would, in the words of NASA climatologist James Hansen, mean it’s ‘game over’ for the climate. Mitt Romney has promised that, if elected, his first act would be to approve the project. Barack Obama hasn’t said one way or the other what he’d do, which holds out some hope, anyway.” — Bill McKibben, Middlebury, Vermont

In March of 2013, Obama issued an Executive Order to have the southern half of KXL built [New York Times, March 22, 2012: In Oklahoma, Obama Declares Pipeline Support]. To be clear, about six months after Obama expedited the KXL southern half, McKibben publicly stated, in order to promote/endorse him, that Obama had yet to voice an opinion on whether or not he would support the pipeline. 

“In March of last year, President Obama stood among KXL pipe produced by workers in Arkansas and famously announced that he was approving the Southern portion of KXL. Extolling the virtues of the pipeline extension for job creation and economic prosperity when he announced, ‘Today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.’ President Obama not only approved KXL, he issued an executive order to expedite the project….” — Forbes, September 19, 2013

It is not as though progressive green “leaders” have not lied in the public sphere prior to this; such political theatre is the name of the NGO game. Yet, because McKibben has been placed upon a pedestal in the balcony section of the ivory tower, it is important to point out that he clearly lied through his teeth on this one, almost as blatantly as his blatant lie told to Karyn Strickler in an interview on Climate Challenge TV when he pretended to have no idea if his “scruffy little outfit” received funding from the Rockefeller foundations. 

I See Humans – But No Humanity

nohumanity

As well-intentioned, albeit naive, citizens join 350.org et al, in the massively financed campaign to “Stop the KeystoneXL!” and “Defend Our Coasts” (this campaign, as discussed in the first installment of this report, is very much led by Rockefeller’s McKibben, focusing on Canadian pipelines and the illusion of “sustainable” tar sands production), CN is already shipping 10,000 barrels of bitumen daily to Gulf terminals and refineries. “The flow of crude oil from the Williston Basin’s Bakken shale field, centered in North Dakota, has confirmed that its transportation by rail is a viable alternative to its movement by pipeline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the total takeaway capacity from the Williston Basin grew from about 678,000 barrels a day at the end of 2011 to over 1.1 million barrels a day by the end of 2012. Transportation by rail represented most of this expansion, increasing from an estimated 265,000 barrels a day in 2011 to approximately 660,000 barrels a day in December 2012. The principal beneficiary has been BNSF Railway Co., whose daily volume of crude oil is expected to reach 500,000 barrels moving in eight unit trains by the end of this year.” [Source: Keystone Pipeline is not key to importing Alberta crude oil, August 2013]

In the meantime, as we collectively wave our protest signs at the tree branches while ignoring the root cause, CO2 emissions from tar sands production continue to accelerate as the planet passes irreversible tipping points.

Echoing the corporate sentiment “we can do it cheaper” will be easy for the holdings of both Buffet and Gates since corporations continually (and legally) externalize all waste, pollution and ecological damage to citizens, planet and failing ecosystems. CN, BNSF, CP and other transporters of oil will also ignore the fact that the risk of high magnitude derailments is increasing, since corporations spend no more than what is absolutely necessary in order to increase their profits in each and every quarter. The disaster at Lac Mégantic cements this fact. In addition,we must consider the age of many of the existing tracks and the massive weight of the rail tank cars as a factor in any further disasters. Like pipelines leaks and spills, deadly derailments and spills are also disasters waiting to happen – disasters that are absolutely imminent, as we have recently witnessed – and ignored, at our own peril.

With speciesism dominating the collective landscape of human consciousness, consideration for wild animals that will perish as a result of the increased rail traffic appears to be of no concern to capitalists, environmentalists or society as a whole. [“Wild species wandering onto the tracks to their maiming or slaughter [remain] an ongoing problem in both of Canada’s two westernmost provinces, where carnage on the tracks remains a disturbing problem.” Source]

Not to worry, relentless public relations campaigns, branding, green-washing, marketing and intense social engineering (on behalf of the Avaaz Ivy League death squad) will no doubt continue to ease the guilt that sits beneath our collective consciousness. In regard to oil via rail, one can be certain that “National Public Relations” will protect the Enbridge Corporation and ensure damage control when future rail spills incite bitterness and hopelessness in the small communities impacted. Conveniently, CN Rail, Imperial Oil and Encana are also represented by the National Public Relations firm, which is, ironically, the Canadian affiliate to Burson-Marsteller. The irony lies in the fact that Burson-Marsteller is the public relations agency infamous for its cloaking of Union Carbide in Bhopal, Philip-Morris tobacco and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. [Source]

Isn’t It Ironic

Welcome to the 21st century of philanthropic colonization:

“As Barker notes, the philanthropic colonization of civil society is a clear and present danger to democratic governance, and the first step in countering their insidious influence is for progressive activists to dissociate from their foundations. As Barker admits, creating democratic revenue streams won’t be easy, but it is necessary in order to free ourselves from the corrosive social engineering of liberal elites.” — Jay Taber, Philanthropic Colonization, January 10, 2013

I would like to end this segment (part III) with a taste of delicious irony.

On July 26, 2013, Peter Buffett penned a provocative opinion piece for the New York Times titled The Charitable-Industrial Complex.

Buffett writes:

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism….

Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left….

“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back.’ It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity….

“I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism….

“What we have is a crisis of imagination….

“Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one.”

Yes – an absolute crisis of imagination. Although Buffett recognizes that the complex ensures that the structure of inequality be kept intact, Buffett’s own imagination will not allow him to see outside capitalism … even when he is able to understand and acknowledge many direct results of capitalism. It must be understood that such a call for humanism can only be achieved by dismantling and crushing capitalism. Otherwise, we continue to wade in the blood of our brothers and sisters, all while ecosystems continue to fail and die all around us. Buffett cannot manage to cross the line to stand against capitalism. Like so many others, Buffett simply cannot bring himself to step over. Privilege blinds. Yet, there are honest and important critiques in Buffett’s opinion piece and one can be quite certain that they were not met with open arms by the white saviours who dwell within the complex.

One thing is certain. Peter Buffett is far more honest than Bill McKibben.

“If activists fail to address the crucial issue of liberal philanthropy now this will no doubt have dire consequences for the future of progressive activism – and democracy more generally – and it is important to recognise that liberal foundations are not all powerful and that the future, as always, lies in our hands and not theirs.” — Michael Barker, Do Capitalists Fund Revolutions?



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

 

End Notes

[1][2][3][4] Activists should take note of the information/funding sources, disclosed in far-right Canadian Vivian Krause’s investigative reports/research. (“Vivian Krause is a Vancouver researcher and writer. Her work raises fair questions about the science and the funding of environmental campaigns. During the 1990s, Vivian worked on community health and development in Guatemala and Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Masters Degree from l’Université de Montréal. Vivian is also a contributor to The Financial Post.” Source: Huffington Post. From the PowerPoint presentation “Rethinking Environmental Activism Against Canadian Energy.”)

[5] In the third quarter of 2012, 4,500 tank cars were delivered and the time for an order to be processed and the tank cars to be manufactured has now lengthened to around 15-18 months.  

How Tides Canada Controls the Secret North American Tar Sands Coalition

Tzep

[photo] Ms. Berman presenting a “Green” Award to former Liberal Party of B.C. premier, Gordon Campbell … the man who privatized British Columbia, sold it to General Electric and other international corporations, who built highways across farmland and called it “green;” who reversed dioxin effluent safeguards that we fought for and instituted in B.C. to protect our water; who sold off the public and natural heritage of British Columbia and opened the doors to General Electric to occupy hundreds of watersheds, devastate riparian ecosystems, and destroy forests for transmission lines to carry expensive power to mines in the north and to sprawling cities in the U.S. - Photo source: BC government.

Repeat This Aloud

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

Before Tzeporah Berman began her current position as head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition, Tides Canada had already established these structures to create near-total control over budgets– and therefore, most decisions– for staggering numbers of organizations. Berman was around at the time, working for PowerUp pushing forward offsets garnered by river destruction. Some of the participant organizations already had working partnerships with multiple tar sands producers. The over-whelming majority were already greased by primarily high donors and foundations. Thus, joining the NATSC meant, essentially, double dipping.

The Tides Foundation began the NATSC as a project with earmarked funding coming from other large philanthropic foundations. This unelected and unseen structure was created to stand as a vehicle to help forge a similar backroom strategy for and likely negotiation of a “final agreement” to end campaigns against either certain segments or corporations involved in tar sands, likely borrowing from concepts involved in crafting similar deals with forestry corporations.

In 2009, as a part of producing Offsetting Resistance, a full strategy paper document was leaked to myself and Dru Oja Jay. It was an internal paper from a few months prior that outlined the secret nature of the coalition, the internal structures, the over-all short, middle and long term goals of a foundation funded, and foundation directed entity that was earmarked as a project of Tides Canada, and not as a separate NGO.

The pressure applied and leveraged would be out of the hard work of other people. The people who had worked at a community or first nations grassroots level were not only to not be consulted, if deal negotiations were to happen it was without anyone but a select few ever knowing anything about it. Until the press conference.

The documents make this point specifically: “This document is confidential” reads the front page of the strategy paper for the single most important climate campaign of their multi-million dollar philanthropy. But the real kicker is the breakdown of the structures. Under the heading “Enroll key decision makers while isolating opponents” : We will not make the decisions to slow and clean up the tar sands – those in positions of authority will.”

Though there are many problematic proposed solutions contained within the program (carbon offsets, for example), this was written by Michael Marx, then head of Tides’ Tar Sands Coalition in 2008. Specific demands, strategy and more may well have moved on, especially in the face of new coalition partner, Bill McKibben, and the PR group that has brought the world 350.org. Pipeline struggles, in years past, were not as heavily focused upon as now. Keystone (both of them) gets only a whiff in the paper by name; Enbridge Gateway is described but not named. Indeed, how times have changed.

Instead of predictions about the terms of a sell-out, the focus here should be on the structures as they are described. We know automatically the terms will be detrimental to the needs of the climate or of community, simply because the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Environmental Defense, WWF, CPAWS and other organizations who do more than negotiate backroom deals– but publicly embrace and partner with corporations like Suncor, Nexen, Dow Chemical and more– are leading members. The coalition groups are now under the twin auspices of Tides and Pew funding, as well Tides and Pew membership as further “partners.”

This further blurring of foundations who are increasingly “activist” in their own right, speaking and campaigning as “just another green group” is accelerating. In the past few years, new brazen language has come from Tides Canada, previously unthinkable: “At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps (environmentalists and tar sands corporations– MS). As a convener of diverse interests, we’ve played this role before, most notably in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.1”

The quote above was a letter penned by President and CEO of Tides Canada, Ross McMillan. When the Great Bear Rainforest backroom deal was announced, it was publicized as a triumph of “Rainforest Solutions Project,” then comprising ForestEthics, Sierra Club BC, Greenpeace Canada and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN has since withdrawn support for the agreement). Tides was then, to use their jargon, “invisible to the outside,” but now speaks publicly as both a “stakeholder” and financial lifeblood. Now they advertise prior secretive involvement.

When looking at the real structures of the “North American Tar Sands Coalition” remember that it “shall remain invisible to the outside and to the extent possible, staff will be “purchased” from engaged organizations.”

“Purchasing” staff means that a person who is acting in the capacity of the directives of the paymaster coalition is never to public refer to the actual job, or even the organization. As such, even though someone took a leave from, say, the Pembina Institute to become a coordinator within the Tar Sands Coalition steering committee, and cashed paycheques from Tides referencing this work, they would publicly identify with their former employing organization, the Pembina Institute.

In fact, the above perfectly described the Canadian tar sands coordinator for Tides previously, Dan Woynillowicz. Google his name and he appears only as Pembina. The fact that demands, media, talking points, statements and interviews and paydays all then came from Tides direction was to “remain invisible to the outside.” He stepped aside for Jennifer Lash, who appears publicly as Executive Director of Living Oceans BC. She is, in fact, coordinator of Tides Canadian section.

Michael Marx is the former “lead coordinator” from the tar sands steering committee, above the American and Canadian coordinators. These three, in collaboration with media coordinators, form the power nucleus. Other foundations centralize campaign contributions to the Tides Coalition, and will re-direct appeals for tar sands funding to the national coordinators from this one group. This has effectively narrowed the overwhelming portion of all tar sands funding from foundation sources, leaving astronomical power in the hands of an unseen entity.

How does the final say evolve? According to Marx while he was still coordinator: “While NGOs generally prefer a network structure that allows for maximum communication, and minimal centralized control, foundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process”(emphasis mine).

Michael Marx has moved on as mentioned, for Tzeporah Berman to become head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition. Marx himself is officially a campaigner once again with the Sierra Club in the United States.

The “Tar Sands Solutions Network” appears to be the vehicle for a public face to negotiate a “win-win” deal. A couple of years ago, the Mediacoop.ca and later on the Globe and Mail reported a leak of an attempted “fireside chat” that was to happen with no fanfare, media or record of its existence. This chat was to involve some of the largest players in energy corporations operating in the tar sands, “with beer in hand” alongside some of the more compromised and right wing environmental organizations.

That particular meeting was aborted after the leak.

There are other secret meetings as well, ones where you have to sign before hand not to release any information about what is discussed. There– without the input of the multiple indigenous communities and other active community resistance movements that target tar sands on both sides of the colonial border– strategy for the short, middle and long terms are drawn up.

Foundations spring for the event, foundations also “influence” talking points, strategy is laid out and so on. Recently, for example, there was such a meeting held off the coast of British Columbia. People who organize in other areas would likely know many of those who attended. Attendees are all sworn overtly not to speak out about its mere existence.

The coalition is the same invisible Trojan Horse that so many “collaborative model” agreements have come from in the past. Berman is simply the public face of capitalism’s last ditch attempt to save itself. The system needs reinvention as it collapses under strain, and the new class of would be green capitalists seek to emerge out of this crisis like Henry Ford did from the Depression. Exploitation of the working class, continued indigenous colonialism at home, war mongering imperialism, permanently expanding growth economics– all with climate effects being transferred onto the over-exploited majority world– this is all “just the way things are,” because “we don’t have time to try and transform the system,” and so on are invoked in defending a strategy of accommodation to capital.

The reality is it results in defeat; the tar sands are a cornerstone– as is all oil– to a growth economy. Fracking, tar sands, offshore, coal to liquids, mountain top removal and the prize of Utah and Colorado’s oil shale, every last bit of it and more must be opposed. Growth is the problem. Green capitalism is a false promise to unite a growth economy with a healthy atmosphere. It is a lie.

If the economic framework of assigning value to land to be converted to resources for dollars is not challenged, oil will continue. It is not a renegade or rogue industry. It is a perfectly normal, capitalist industry.

Big Energy’s power is a reflection of the centrality of energy, leading to influence. It is a logic completely at peace with accumulation of profit and the dominance of capital. More than “not a rogue industry,” it is the flagship, the pinnacle of industries under late industrial capitalism.

Oil exploitation has existed in every industrial society of the last few centuries; however, like the arms industry, the power nexus of its placement in the over-all economic structure of the West makes it absolutely impossible to decouple a dismantling of the power structure with any hope of weakening some falsely labelled “rogue” industry. We need at minimum to declare no right of any backroom negotiation around tar sands. Nothing can green them, nothing can legitimize discussions. Public or private.

Growth is the elephant in the living room we must confront. We must reject a “green shift” that panders to “have your cake and eat it too” eco-populism, the lefty-green rhetoric of a new green bourgeoisie trying to burst forth.

By making capital sacrosanct (“[F]oundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.”), the negotiation process cannot do anything about the situation of capital dominance.

Capital is most dominant in the North American political party system. The pro-Obama language of the “Tar Sands Solutions Network” likely indicates a nod to board member Bill McKibben, whose own Rockefeller funded, pro-Obama organizing in 350.org has become stuck on a hamster wheel chasing the Keystone XL. Simply put, the same PR professional thinking below the border that designed the Democrats’ Moveon.org are now more than likely having influence on crafting part of the over-all trajectory of tar sands big money organizing. Brand Obama sells, but the products are made of oil.

Let us ask: Can choreography win the day? In the excellent article “The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation” from last week, four Rising Tide community organizers pointed out:

“[T]he mainstream Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns operate on a flawed assumption that the climate movement can compel our elected leaders to respond to the climate crisis with nothing more than an effective communications strategy.”

The people who would negotiate away the work done in other diverse communities are unseen, unelected, unaccountable and have friendly relations with large corporations for a reason. They are not even a large minority of those organizing in opposition to tar sands and the energy industries, however. Those whose resistance have done the most to create this situation?

Some have warm relations with certain facets of Big Green, but all have organized independent of Big Green structures, built separate movements of their own, evolving community directed demands. Through a process of building, what it is that cannot be negotiated has evolved for every different movement in their own manner. There is not just one movement, and there are just as many different sets of principles.

Impacted indigenous communities are building opposition to Line 9 expansion with allies of theirs from outlying communities; People in Utah & Texas are engaged in creative responses of resistance to proposed tar sands mining or pipeline construction; indigenous territory has been reclaimed and rebuilt blocking all energy pipeline construction: Tar sands oil, fracked gas, none of it is being allowed across Unist’ot’en Territory near the Pacific Ocean coastline. There are other paths being walked.

People can now raise a clear voice in opposition to further moves to negotiate a final agreement that no one has any mandate to work on. We must reject the collaborative model succinctly for the tar sands, whether expressed by pipeline deals or in Alberta and Saskatchewan at the source of developments. The impacts globally from setting a North American tar sands collaborative process in motion could irreparably damage resistance to tar sands in places where it is now just getting off the ground around the world.

The current Big Green structures are undemocratic and cloak and dagger in appearance. The participants are organizations and certain individuals with a history of bad democratic practice and serious pro-corporate sympathies.

There comes a time, as has been said, when silence is betrayal. Let this be known as just such a time. Let us celebrate the existing diversity of the movements in opposition to tar sands and fossil fuels, and that have targeted the immediate, essential need to make clear the impossibility of parceling the land as a solution.

We must make certain solidarity is a true bottom line for those who are seen as allies in the battles over tar sands and climate. Solidarity cannot come from secret conversations with the enemy. Let us speak too, of this reality: Big energy is the enemy. Not bad practices within it, but the energy and growth economy itself.

The equivalent of the Canadian Tea Party crowd has filled newspaper columns with stories to frighten you and I about the power of American money. Much of the foundation-led anti-tar sands cash has been coming from the United States, and as such we are supposed to cringe at the origin. Yet it would not matter if the paper trail led one to the moon– resources in and of themselves are not the issue. Were spending resources to be the issue, big energy companies and the federal government within Canada itself have vastly outspent the foundations on both sides of the 49th parallel, promoting unfettered tar sands. The problem is the distortion of active resistance, and the hi-jacking of a public process.

These are battles that determine whether or not we can make a grim situation survivable. Capital has caused this near calamity, we surely need to stop trying to save it from itself any longer. Capital has also polluted our own thinking– and actions– from within. We must reinvigorate a democratic environmental movement through a refutation of back room deals– and organize active resistance to those who would try and negotiate one.

 

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

 

Where’s the Democracy in the Environmental Movement?

The Media Co-op

September 10, 2033

by Dru Oja Jay

Struggles against tar sands and fracking in Canada are missing an ASSE or a SNCC

The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn't know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.The signing of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Greenpeace activists and volunteers didn’t know this was the framework they were organizing in. Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Richard Brooks, Stephen Kallick of the Pew Environment Group, and Avrim Lazar, Forest Products Association of Canada.

With tar sands, fracking and mining all on the rise, there’s never been a more important time for a strong environmental movement in Canada. Surveying the landscape of organizations, one thing is missing: democracy. Which is to say, meaningful informed participation among equal participants.

The images are familiar. People gathered together, making pivotal decisions about their collective direction in community halls, church basements, and conference rooms. Heated debates, pivotal votes, historic gatherings and galvanizing speeches. These are symbols of something that is basic to what it means for people to band together to fight powerful forces and change things.

Movements often have an organization that embodies their spirit. The US civil rights movement in the 1960s was driven forward by the Southern Christian Leadership Congress and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The anti-nuclear direct action in the 1970s had the Movement for a New Society (MNS), and the “antiglobalization” movement of the 1990s and 2000s was an interwoven web of spokescouncil meetings and coalitions. Quebec’s epic student strikes in 2005 and 2012 were initiated by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ).

These and many other movement organizations made historic decisions democratically. They chose their leaders, or chose to have spokespersons instead. They debated, analyzed and decided on strategies and actions. It may not have been perfectly equal, but everyone agreed on the intention.

Today’s environmental movement in Canada is different. There are a few small, member-based, grassroots groups, but there is nothing on the scale of SNCC, MNS or ASSÉ. These groups organize local events and actions, but lack the scale to set the direction for national or even provincial campaigns. The only national-level groups are Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs).

ENGOs are somewhat diverse politically, ranging from the David Suzuki Foundation, whose chair moonlights as a consultant for Shell Oil, to the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign, which fights for Indigenous sovereignty as the best way to stop environmental destruction. But almost all of them have a two things in common: their staff-driven structures depend on foundation funding, and none of them hold meetings where a membership meaningfully and democratically sets the agenda or selects leadership.

(The Council of Canadians is the only exception to both; it is member funded and holds an annual meeting of members. Greenpeace has some financial independence with an authoritarian structure. Organizations like the Sierra Club hold elections, but are dependent on grant money for their operations.)

Instead, strategies for Canada’s environmental movement are formulated at island retreats, in boardrooms, and on staff conference calls. You won’t find any public record of these decisions, and if you do, someone will likely get in trouble. Local activists and community members are enlisted to be a part of campaigns, often at the last minute, but are shut out of the larger discussions.

So, who makes the decisions for Canada’s environmental movement? The lack of transparency makes it impossible to know for sure, but the handful of foundations that ENGOs rely on for funding have considerable sway.

A leaked 2008 strategy paper for the “Tar Sands Coalition” illustrates the power dynamic. Michael Marx, who was the director at the time, authored the document. In it, he declared that the “coalition,” which sets the overall strategy for anti-tar sands activism by ENGOs, “shall remain invisible to the outside.”  “Foundations investing most heavily in the campaign,” Marx explained, “have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.” And that’s why they created an invisible coalition of ENGOs who depend on them for funding.

That coalition exists today, and continues to hold secret meetings to decide on the future direction of anti-tar sands work. At a week-long retreat attended by ENGO reps last fall, participants agreed to not talk about what was decided at the meeting, or to speak about the individual who is in charge of the “coalition,” who controls the distribution of a few million per year in foundation funding.

Because contemporary ENGOs rely on foundation money for all of their operations, they are forced to accept absurd levels of non-transparency, and are susceptible to a high level of foundation control of their activities. (Some fight for their independence more than others, but those who do must compete with more obsequious ENGOs for funding.)

This is not to say that ENGO staff, many of whom are idealistic, highly competent people, don’t have any influence. It is to say that activists, members of the public and residents of directly affected communities have no direct influence at all if they’re not occupying staff positions. In their quest for “exercising some control,” funders are continuously driving a wedge between ENGO staff members and all other movement participants.

It wasn’t always this way. The environmental movement made far and away its largest gains before foundation funding entered on to the scene. Starting in the 1960s, environmental activism became an massive phenonenon, with 20 million people participating in Earth Day 1970. Hundreds of groups sprang up. Many of the larger ones, as Naomi Klein recently put it, had “elite roots.” But grassroots, community-based groups came up with the most impressive victories.

The movement was powerful enough to make then-President Richard Nixon — of all people — enthusiastically sign the largest pieces of environmental legislation the US has seen before or since. Logging companies, nuclear energy advocates and polluters were on the run from hundreds of dedicated volunteers and small organizations.

In the 1980s, foundations like Pew Charitable Trusts began to funnel resources to the most moderate and authoritarian environmental groups, balooning their capacity in relation to lean, local volunteer-based groups. The effect was to reign in activism by demanding less and less while spending more and more. Environmentalists started talking about landing jobs instead of participating in a movement.

In the 1990s, the foundations — led by Pew — landed in Canada. Many groups already had top-down, non-transparent leadership structures. Some, notably Greenpeace, had recently made the decision to adopt a more authoritarian style.

But there were some holdouts. Groups with large, active memberships like the BC Sierra Club, were pulled in with the promise of funds. As Mehdi Najari, a former BC Sierra Club board member told me recently, the BC Sierra Club barely had two staff in the 1980s, but regularly packed out auditoriums across the province during public meetings. Thousands across BC were participating on a volunteer basis.

In 1991, in the wake of an NDP victory in British Columbia, Canadian ENGOs got their first taste of foundation cash. “There was this idea that all that was missing was money,” said Najari. “They went and got big places, big staff,” and NGOs didn’t have to mobilize their members anymore. “Their money was coming from a different channel, they were less and less active.”

It didn’t take much. Najari says the first payment to BC Environmental groups was a little over $600,000, though it later inflated to millions. “For corporations, this is pennies; by spending that amount of money, they could totally change the dynamics of environmentalism in BC.”

Democracy in member-based groups gave way to grant-dependence. Some groups simply used their top-down structures to mold themselves into the image foundations desired. Foundations created entirely new groups like ForestEthics, separate from any membership or popular mandate.

Corporate collaboration became the order of the day. The new game plan was a two step campaigning model. Step one: mobilize a noisy public campaign with lots of volunteer energy to stop destructive activity carried out by corporations. Step two: stop this campaign in its tracks, and enter into negotiations with those corporations behind closed doors.

The result was deals like the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). In both cases, activists involved in the campaign had no idea what the overall strategy was, and were surprised when foundation-coordinated groups yanked funding for organizing and entered negotiations.

While one might imagine that there is some upside to centrally-controlled campaigning, the results are not promising.

Both agreements were trumpeted as quantum leaps for conservation, but in fact represented very limited gains. Ten years in, the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement (which infuriated local activists for its low-ball conservation requirements when it was signed, prompting Rainforest Action Network to withdraw its name) is still not being fully implemented. Four years after its signing, the CBFA is in disarray after Greenpeace and Canopy withdrew. Greenpeace is being sued for $7 million by forestry giant Resolute.

This limited vision is built in to foundation funding. Some foundations like Pew have strong ties to oil companies and have a track record of investing in the same corporations they supposedly are working on stopping. Some, like Rockefeller Brothers Fund, have historic ties to oil companies. Some, like Hewlett, position themselves with green energy. But with very few exceptions, they are run by powerful people with deep social and financial stakes in maintaining the aspects of the status quo which benefit their class.

Greener capitalism is the overall goal. Large foundations seek to legitimize capitalism by giving it a friendlier face. (Some radical foundations exist, but they are much smaller.) As one might expect, maintaining an economic system that gobbles up resources and generates ever-increasing consumption while also trying to be more environmentally friendly usually amounts to doing very little indeed.

Because of these underlying interests, foundation-run projects often fail to meet even modest conservation goals. As Naomi Klein recently noted, “if the environmental movement was going to decide to fight [neoliberalism], they would have had to give up their elite status. And weren’t willing to give up their elite status.” Corporate collaboration, she concludes, has been a “disastrously losing strategy.”

Though it is so often in direct opposition to foundation funding, democracy has many benefits. When thousands of people are involved in debating and deciding on strategies, the sense of ownership and investment they feel marks the difference between holding a banner and being a part of a process of societal transformation.

And because people draw on numerous sources and their own experience, their conclusions often exceed what leaders see as realistic. As Gary Snyder put it in 1978, “without knowing it, little old ladies in tennis shoes who work to save whooping cranes are enemies of the state, along with other more flamboyant figures.”

Direct experience, whether with whooping cranes or a refinery next door, can transform people and unleash creativity within movements — and if we’re lucky, within society at large.

Working at the pace of volunteers instead of full-time staff also opens the door to a more diverse set of participants. Elders, parents and students can be a part of the mix, bringing their unique energies and wisdom.

The model of environmentalism which is currently dominant makes widespread participation and empowerment into a liability. It relies on tight control over activities to execute campaigns where the creativity is in-house or farmed out to an advertising firm for top dollar. It’s a self-fulfilling mentality. If your goal is to control the activities of hundreds of volunteers to get a predetermined result, then those volunteers being empowered, opinionated and self-organized is a liability. (The oft-forgotten history of union-busting in ENGOs highlights this attitude.)

The most important benefit of democracy is the ability to change direction and leadership collectively. Right now, Canada’s environmental movement is a large collection of individuals. Each participant has their own thoughts and opinion on the overall direction of the movement, but none of us has a venue to express that opinion collectively or do something about it collectively. It’s a fundamentally disempowering situation.

Every other movement has had to deal with a wide array of organizations who are in some way at odds with the core of activists pushing things forward. The Civil Rights movement had the legally-oriented NAACP opposing direct action tactics. ASSÉ had to fight FEUQ during both student strikes while it fought the Quebec government at the same time. Having moderate groups around who try to slow things down and blunt the edges is nothing new.

But Canada’s environmental movement is in a more exclusive club: movements which have no independent democratic venue which includes activists and volunteers. Where is our ASSÉ? Where is our SNCC?

We have nothing like them.

This, I should say, is not a new problem. 16 Greenpeace founders signed a letter declaring that “Greenpeace’s leaders are paid too much, have lost their focus and must become more democratic.” That was in 1996.

The struggle for a democratic movement is a long haul, but the need which drives it is nonetheless pressing. The shadowy foundation-controlled Tar Sands “Coalition” has launched the “Tar Sands Solutions Network,” a name that strongly hints at future corporate collaboration deals coming down the pipe. While many of the individuals receiving the funding are surely against this. Indeed, one prominent tar sands campaigner has been quoted as saying he’ll quit if corporate dealmaking comes to the tar sands. But is that enough to change direction?

Only time, and silent struggles within the coalition, will tell. That is, unless an independent, democratic alternative emerges.

An unfortunate side effect of foundation money coming to Canada every year is that it makes starting truly democratic grassroots efforts much more difficult. The expectations of staff pay and resources are much higher, and talented organizers tend to get picked off and hired by ENGOs. Often, they take their social networks with them.

But it is possible.

The most successful movements in history thrived without foundation money. Without them, the world would look very different today. The first step is a developing a recognition of the need for a democratic venue where movement participants can make decisions independent of foundations. The second is finding the will to build it.

 

[Dru Oja Jay is a Montreal-based writer and organizer. He is co-author, with Nikolas Barry-Shaw, of Paved with Good Intentions: Canada’s development NGOs from idealism to imperialism.]

 

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

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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.

Democracy in Reverse | Non-Profit Disaster Capitalism on the Gulf Coast

July 11, 2013

by Elizabeth Cook 

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The most recent public meeting of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, held in Belle Chase on June 12, was an exercise in democracy in reverse.(1)

It is an undemocratic process that is largely for political theater, in my view, so I used it as such. I was as dramatic as possible in presenting the most important points, in my view, of the reality on the Gulf. People have only three minutes to speak. The funding is a long way off, so why not have round table discussions, that can go on all day, where people wander in and out depending on their schedule? No, in three minutes, you have to state all of your concerns about the gulf, BP, oil, the Corexit (2), bioremediation or the lack thereof in the marshes, the dying marshes (3), the culpability of the government in the use of Corexit (4), the fact that the Feds want to expand drilling to Florida (5) and the Corexit is being stockpiled all up and down the Gulf coast (6). If there another major oil well blowout in the Gulf and the Corexit is used in massive quantities again, then this restoration process will have to start all over. Common sense folks (yes, I did say that). 

Working for Warren: Corporate Greens

 

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Intercontinental Cry

June 4, 2013

By Jay Taber

 

In Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse–Part II, Cory Morningstar examines the political theatre of the non-profit industrial complex around the transport of oil, and how corporate greens — financed by oligarchs like Rockefeller, Gates and Buffett — are effectively destroying any meaningful activism in the US. At a time when half the total energy produced in the US is wasted due to inefficiencies, protesting pipelines only to have oil shipped by rail is arguably a meaningless activity. But as Morningstar explains, it is funded.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]