As we stand on the edge of apocalypse, we must wake up and acknowledge that what the big greens are not saying is far more important than what they are saying.
From the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with Love. Excerpts from a controversial new book to be released 2010-2011. This article – When Silence Kills | The Art of Annihilation –is thethird in a series in which we continue to discuss the connection between environmental campaigns and their corporate sponsors.
When Silence Kills | The Art of Annihilation
By Cory Morningstar
“The evidence that large-scale climate change is unavoidable has now become so strong that healthy illusion is becoming unhealthy delusion. Hoping that a major disruption to the Earth’s climate can be avoided is a delusion. Optimism sustained against the facts, including unfounded beliefs in the power of consumer action or in technological rescue, risks turning hopes into fantasies. Sooner or later the constant striving to control events must come up against reality. How long will it be before well-meaning people who have accepted the message of green consumerism – that we can all make a difference by changing our personal behavior – begin to say to themselves, ‘I have been doing the right things for years, but the news about global warming just keeps getting worse?’ Clinging to hopefulness becomes a means of forestalling the truth.” – Clive Hamilton, Requiem for a Species
What defines criminal negligence? In Canada, the criminal code states that lack of intent to harm is no defence if the damage results from conscious acts performed in careless disregard for others: “Everyone is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons” (where “duty” means a duty imposed by law). Significantly, Section 222(5)(b) states that “a person commits homicide when, directly or indirectly, by any means, he causes the death of a human being, by being negligent.”
In the United States, the definition of criminal negligence is even more compelling: “Crimes Committed Negligently (Article 33.1) A crime shall be deemed to be committed with clear intent, if the man or woman was conscious of the social danger of his actions (inaction), foresaw the possibility or the inevitability of the onset of socially dangerous consequences, and willed such consequences to ensue.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed with indirect intent, if the man or woman realized the social danger of his actions (inaction), foresaw the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences, did not wish, but consciously allowed these consequences or treated them with indifference.” “A Crime Committed by Negligence (Article 33.1): A criminal deed committed thoughtlessly or due to negligence shall be recognized as a crime committed by negligence.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed thoughtlessly, if the man or woman has foreseen the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences of his actions (inaction), but expected without valid reasons that these consequences would be prevented.” “A crime shall be deemed to be committed due to negligence if the man or woman has not foreseen the possibility of the onset of socially dangerous consequences of his actions (inaction), although he or she could and should have foreseen these consequences with reasonable.” Wow.
A Moral Minefield – RINGOS
Why is it that well informed international environmental NGOs who claim to represent the best interests of civil society are not accusing the climate skeptics, the big investment banks and the fossil fuel energy corporations of high crimes against humanity? Is it because they fear that their funding from wealthy friends such as the Rockefellers will decline?
Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, spoke March 19, 2010 at Innovative Philanthropy for the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Impact Investing: “In this second phase of philanthropic innovation, our Rockefeller Foundation predecessors helped establish the non-governmental organization sector as the ‘missing middle’ between giving and direct impact. This included support for entities – we call them RINGOS, Rockefeller Foundation Initiated NGOs.”
The concept of philanthropy was first embraced in the days of 19th century American robber barons. As the monetary wealth of these robber barons grew to astronomical levels, so did the anger of the working classes. Philanthropy was the answer to this problem, resulting in the end of public hostility and the acceptance of obscene individual wealth. And how we have evolved. Today, the CEOs of the top ten green groups in the U.S. rake in from $308,000 to $496,000 per year. (Remember that the next time they call you for a donation, needed to push corporate hand-out suicide pacts, passed off as “win-win” legislation.)
Meanwhile, the Global Humanitarian Forum reported in 2009 that every year, climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead and exacts economic losses of US$125 billion. Four billion people are vulnerable, and 500 million people are at extreme risk. An estimated 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change every year. This estimate is derived by attributing a 40 percent proportion of the increase in the number of weather-related disasters from 1980 to current climate change and a 4 percent proportion of the total seriously affected by environmental degradation based on negative health outcomes.
Sandy Gauntlett, Oceania focal point for the Global Forest Coalition, is amazed that no one has yet charged large corporations with negligent homicide as a result of their actions in deforestation. Gauntlett states: “When we look at the amount of climate gases resulting from deforestation alone, we see enough emissions created by some countries to account for the level of unprecedented climate catastrophes occurring around the planet.” He adds: “Even worse than the actions of the corporate criminals responsible for the rise in climate emissions, at least morally, are the actions of some of the large environmental NGOs. These NGOs, who made their names and reputations as defenders of the victims of environmental abuse, now seem to be courting the corporate lobby in the belief that within these actions lies the solution to all of the problems of the world created by the corporate lobby. These are the people to whom we have given our voices, our monies and our mandate. To think that they are prepared to even consider working with the creators of this devastation is like being stabbed in the back by an old friend.”
Gauntlett continues: “Even more so we, as Pacific Indigenous Peoples, ask that when they call for your donation, you remember the small island states who, 10 years ago, asked for urgent action by the rest of the world, pointing out that their (the industrialized world’s) growth was resulting in coral bleaching, flooding, and salination of the fresh water supplies without which the islands face a grim and very uncertain future. Several years ago, when French nuclear testing in the Pacific seemed at least partially responsible for contamination and health problems on small Pacific atolls, the Rainbow Warrior sailed out and relocated people from the most threatened islands. The world cheered these environmental heroes and all of us gave monies, time and energy to support Greenpeace and other organizations who were daring to take on the might of the developed world in defense of the small islands. So impactful was the campaign by Greenpeace at the time that the French Government sent saboteurs and spies into the harbour of a political ally to sink the flagship of the organization. A photographer paid for denying the French with his life. The scuttled ship was towed to Matauri Bay at the beaches of local Maori and sunk there as a permanent memorial to those horrible days. It is an incident I remember well as I had been on the ship only the day before. I later went on to work at Greenpeace as a fundraiser and believed passionately in their mission statement and campaigns.”
Gauntlett’s final words on this subject demonstrate a growing sentiment across the globe: “Amazingly, times change and the once proud and anti-market campaigners of Greenpeace seem to (like myself really) have grown old and tired of banging heads against brick walls, and with regret, I have decided to never again give money to or support Greenpeace while I am uncertain of the level of cooperation between them and the industrial lobby. After more than 30 years of environmental action and support, it is time that I took back my mandate and gave it instead to organisations that I trust with the same amount of certainty I once did with Greenpeace. They are certainly not alone and probably far from being the worst, but this is the country where the Rainbow Warrior lies as a memorial to defiance.”
The Ethics Resource Center’s 2007 National Nonprofit Ethics Survey reports troubling observations. The report states that conduct that violates the law or an organization’s standards is on the rise, and nonprofit violations have reached levels comparable to business and government. It observes that financial fraud is higher in nonprofit organizations than it is in business or government and furthermore, the boards, while critical in shaping the perceptions of employees with regard to ethics, are not setting clear ethics standards for their organizations. Where boards have heavy influence, we also see high levels of misconduct. In conclusion they state: “The recent erosion of ethical behavior in this sector is very troubling, and the trend cannot be allowed to continue.”
Runaway Climate Change
Leading climate expert James Hansen (among many other scientists from several disciplines) believes that methane clathrates (or hydrates) played a crucial role in the largest mass extinction, the “end-Permian” event 251 million years ago, in which more than 90 percent of terrestrial and marine species were exterminated. Methane clathrate is frozen methane gas that lies on ocean floor sediment off the continental coasts of our planet. Since 1992 it has been recognized that the shallow Arctic methane clathrates would be subject to melting by global warming, releasing methane gas into the atmosphere (U.S. Geological Survey Marine and Coastal Geology Program, Gas (Methane) Hydrates – A New Frontier, September 1992).
The end-Permian event was accompanied by a temperature rise of as little as 6ºC. Life took 50 million years to recover the diversity that had existed prior to the mass extinction. It is considered that methane clathrates may also have played a role in other mass extinctions, such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which occurred 55 million years ago. Hansen warns that humanity is putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere today at a rate that is 10,000 times higher than the rate during the PETM.
In Hansen’s recent book, according to the penultimate chapter, The Venus Syndrome, it might be even worse. Hansen posits a possible future Earth in which a “runaway greenhouse effect” takes over: anthropogenic global warming from greenhouse gases causes a massive increase of water vapor into the atmosphere as the heated oceans evaporate, which in turn causes further warming. Today, the Arctic methane clathrate deposits are destabilizing, and if not re-stabilized will release vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and add more acid to our oceans. The oceans will then become more acidified by dissolution of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This scenario would end all life on Earth. Today, the rate of ocean acidification exceeds anything witnessed in the past 65 million years.
Tragically, the Arctic summer sea ice has now passed its tipping point to melt down – the Arctic has finally shifted to a new climate pattern in which “normal” has become obsolete (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 21 October 2010). A recent study (funded by the National Science Foundation, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council in Canada, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the European Research Council) shows that even though during the Pliocene Epoch (2.6 to 5.3 million years ago) it was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit, or 19 degrees Celsius, warmer than today, CO2 levels were only slightly higher than present. According to another study by David Lawrence, this means that the rate of permafrost thaw will likely triple. No Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPPC) climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra. Leading scientist Shakhova and colleagues estimate that roughly eight million tons of methane are now leaking into the atmosphere each year from the East Siberia Sea. As previously stated, studies suggest that the destabilization of methane clathrates likely triggered the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum that saw global temperatures rise by around 6°C (over 20,000 years as opposed to what we are experiencing / causing over 200 years) with a corresponding rise in sea level as the whole of the oceans warmed. The rate of carbon addition at that time almost equals the rate at which carbon is being released into the atmosphere today.
“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/Paleo-climate scientist
Drinking the Kool-Aid
The model-based projections of the rate of future global warming take no account of the loss of the Arctic summer ice, nor of the methane emissions from thawing permafrost, nor of the methane emissions from the melting Arctic gas hydrates. It has been well known for a long time that these are by far the greatest dangers, all unavoidable with enough warming. To date, the world has agreed to being led (to the gallows) by the climate modellers. Yet, the models have already been proved to be sensationally wrong. Modellers are not climate experts, nor in life sciences, nor ecologists – the climate science leaders are complex math/computer modellers. The reliance on models has given the governments and compromised NGOs an excuse to do nothing.
As it is, the IPCC relies on models that exclude approximately half of the adverse climate change impacts on food crop production (two examples being heat waves and floods). Even so, the IPCCstates that the absolute limit for agriculture is a 3ºC global average warming (from pre-1900). Beyond a 3ºC temperature increase, we had best consider that agriculture would enter into an irreversible decline headed to collapse in all regions of the world, even when we use the dangerously incomplete models that attempt to give us a sense of what is coming down the pipe.
What do the big greens have to tell us about the alarming changes to our food crop production now being witnessed? Nothing. The big greens have been deadly silent. They continue to ignore the risks and the projections of global warming and climate disruption on our food security. We have to expect disastrous impacts on northern hemisphere agriculture resulting from the loss of the summer sea ice in the Arctic. If the Arctic summer sea ice is already in irreversible melt down, as many scientists now believe, the food security situation of the northern hemisphere is no better, and perhaps even worse, than that of the southern hemisphere.
Meanwhile in Canada, the Harper regime government has the propaganda machine working overtime, selling the lie of “Climate Prosperity” to Canadian citizens while planning to slip 16 billion of our tax dollars to his friends at Lockheed Martin for F-35 stealth fighter jets. Compare this to the four-year, $1.43-billion ecoEnergy program, introduced in 2007, which provided money to corporations for the development of false solutions passed off as new clean-energy technology. This program expires in 2011. The new budget (2010) offers a token $25 million for the next four years. Military budgets have steadily increased from $15 billion in 2005-2006, to $18 billion in 2008-2009, and this year $20.6 billion – representing one-fifth of the total government direct program spending on an annual basis. The 2010 budget is 56% higher than the 1998-99 budget. But why spend money on clean, safe renewable energies that will save lives when you can spend money that results in the extermination of men, women and children in the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq? And why do anything to protect citizens from catastrophic climate change when you can unveil an outrageous greenwash campaign instead? For the Conservative government led by Stephen Bush Harper, this massive Suncor-sponsored campaign to reframe dangerous climate change as something positive for Canada’s economy and our children is just another example of the dangerous denialism that has slowly and effectively saturated the most critical issue of our time.
Denialism has proven to be almost as effective as Jonestown Kool-Aid. For many years, Western democracy has been considered and designed as governance by a process of negotiation and compromise between three partners: 1) governments 2) corporations, and 3) civil society (with the big greens at the forefront). In the case of our Earth, her inhabitants and climate, we must consider this nothing less than a three-way silent truce for global catastrophe.
“The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel.” – H. L. Mencken,Chicago Tribune, 23 May 1926
Soma and the Big Greens | A Love Story
“The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the centre of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream somawas passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, ‘I drink to my annihilation,’ twelve times quaffed.” – Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the soma routine was not a private addiction; it was nothing less than a political institution. Soma was the very essence of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness – all of which were guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. However, this most valued of the slaves’ subjects’ absolute privileges was, at the same time, by far the most powerful instrument of rule in the dictator’s arsenal. The systematic drugging of citizens for the benefit of the state (and incidentally, of course, for their own pleasure and amusement) was a main vice in the policy of the world controllers. Soma was invaluable. The daily soma ration was nothing less than insurance against personal maladjustment, social unrest and the spread of subversive ideas. [www.huxley.net] Sound familiar?
Where is the line that distinguishes the bystander from the perpetrator when atrocity becomes both systemic and political? Passive messaging and symbolic campaigns creatively and successfully do nothing less than deny the existence of universal truth and scientific knowledge. Such brilliant tactics effectively and subtly refute the crisis, thus enabling further denial discourse and behavior. If we do not challenge and successfully eradicate what has evolved into the universalizing of symbolism and hegemonic ideology of the big greens, indeed, we will be crushed by them. The evidence is upon us that climate change is now incontrovertible, as is the realization that this is by far the greatest catastrophe to ever confront our species.
One Sky – But Many Puppets
Truth and Deception
“We were warned repeatedly by highly paid consultants and well-funded studies that discussion of global warming or the climate crisis was unproductive. But we reject the either/or dichotomy, and maintain, as our founding 1Sky principles above suggest, that we must be clear about the planetary emergency we are facing….” – 1Sky Board of Directors (Jessica Bailey, KC Golden, Bracken Hendricks, Bill McKibben, Billy Parish, Vicky Rateau, Gus Speth and Betsy Taylor), 6 August 2010
The above is a key statement that supports the (non)meaning behind what climate justice activists have come to call “the big greens.” Organizations whose CEOs live fat cat lifestyles thanks to exorbitant paychecks that exceed those of state senators. The faux climate movement no longer reflects the reality we must all face – now or never. This is it. Pollyanna’s cheerleading days have officially expired and it is time to send her and her fellow cheerleaders packing. On August 6, 2010 the big greens state that we must be clear about the planetary emergency we are facing, yet, immediately following this statement, they call upon citizens to celebrate and participate in a day of actions that had nothing to do with solving a planetary emergency and everything to do with perpetuating a meaningless brand.
McKibben and friends are planting daffodils in the shape of 3-5-0 as the planet advances in a crisis of such magnitude that our children will most likely not survive it. Not so surprising considering in Cochabamba Kelly Blynn, 350.org co-founder, explicitly stated that they (350.org) would NEVER change their brand (by endorsing/reflecting the 300 ppm as per the People’s Agreement) as 350 was “the most powerful brand in the world.” Her words – as spoken in Cochabamba in April 2010. McKibben now refers to the number 350 as “iconic.” They have come to believe their own hype. Pass the soma please….
We can acknowledge that 350.org has been most successful in creating global awareness in regards to the number 350 – that being the uppermost amount in parts per million of atmospheric carbon that humanity must target. However, the reality is that we are at 390 today and only accelerating. Is this considered dangerous climate interference as defined by the IPCC? The answer is yes. Did NASA’s James Hansen call upon civil society to declare a planetary emergency in 2008? The answer is yes. Yet McKibben and friends speak of neither. Hansen’s dire plea is ignored. Dead silence. Epic fail. Most critical, why do McKibben and friends not educate on the necessary emissions reductions we must achieve if we are ever to get back to 350? It has been known by scientists for years that only zero CO2 emissions can make atmospheric CO2 drop. Nothing less. Could it therefore be considered nothing less than criminal negligence for McKibben, 350.org and friends to tell us that we are on the road to hell but refuse to give directions to the only way to get off that road (a freshly paved one of eco-asphalt lined with happy daffodils and shiny new electric cars, no less)? The map to safety is M.I.A.
“No one on the corner has swag like us – Hit me on my banner prepaid wireless – We pack and deliver like UPS trucks – Already in hell just pumping that gas – All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!) – And (KKKAAAA CHING!) – And take your money” – Paper Planes, by M.I.A.
Message to Pollyanna – this is Cassandra. Please go away before you kill us all. We don’t want to go down on your sinking ship.
The big greens understand the global implications of runaway climate change – the implications being the elimination of humanity and all evolutionarily advanced life. They recognize the current major calamities all over the globe. Yet, they continue to deny out loud to the public the critical state of the atmosphere, confirmed by the world’s leading research organizations; NASA, NSCDC, Potsdam, Tyndall, Hadley-Met, CSIRO, BOM, the world’s academies of science and others. By depriving the public of the gravity of this emergency, big greens effectively ensure that humanity remains ineffective in the imperative, urgent task of implementing changes in our social and economic spheres – at a speed and magnitude of such force, the world has yet to ever witness an effort of such scale.
“We are unleashing hell on Australia.” – Prof. Neville Nicholls, world expert and lead author for the IPCC, Monash University
“… many, many scientists now … are frantically, hysterically worried.” – Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, former head of the UN’s World Climate Research Program, now at Macquarie University
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told the Oxford 4 Degrees and Beyond Conference that “Political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless.” Schellnhuber briefed U.S. officials from the Barack Obama administration who chided him that his findings were “not grounded in political reality” and that “the [U.S.] Senate will never agree to this.” Schellnhuber told them that the U.S. must reduce its emissions from its current 20 tonnes of carbon per person average to zero tonnes per person by 2020 to have even a chance of stabilizing the temperature increase at around 2ºC.
Could it be that 350.org does not campaign on the imperative of zero because 350 ppm, in fact, demands a zero fossil fuel economy at breakneck speed? This is a vital observation being that the money “donated” by such foundations as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is only possible because of an explosive oil economy that continues to break record profits in the billions.
Did any of the big greens ever message the critical Potsdam Institute information to their supporters? (TckTckTck, for example, claims to have over 17 million members.) Of course not – informing U.S. citizens of the reality that they must achieve zero emissions by 2020 to avoid catastrophic 2ºC could result in: 1) negative impact on the economy, and/or 2) negative impact on NGO funding, and/or 3) negative impact on the brand.
The dangerous symbolic messaging that the big greens churn out has done far more damage than good. Such passive messaging, in which they excel, ensures that society remains indoctrinated under the illusion of happiness only made possible by consumer capitalism. This indoctrination has been suicidal. Literally. What is even uglier is that it seems McKibben and friends have accepted, therefore believe, their marketing strategists’s advice that there is no other way to reach their audience – other than to appeal to their selfish identity. Do they believe that their supporters (Americans being their primary target) are so shallow that the only way to entice change is to market campaigns and messaging that will lure citizens by feeding into the most negative characteristics of the human species – those of selfishness, greed and apathy? Such marketing campaigns succeed not by motivating people to make any meaningful change or sacrifice, rather such marketing motivates individuals to do only the actions that people may consider when they are not motivated enough to make a real change or sacrifice.
Big greens may not have zero faith in humanity – but they certainly do appear to have zero faith in their target audience. They have identified their audience first and foremost as self-serving consumers – as opposed to recognizing and building upon the fact that these are people. Citizens. With families. A reality that encompasses characteristics to be nourished. It is true that contemporary profit-driven, capitalistic and money-worshipping wealthy societies have fallen into a death trap, losing perspective and failing to realize that the value of money is totally subjective. However, does this mean that organizations should cater to these characteristics – brought about by relentless corporate messaging that has inundated and polluted our minds – thereby reaffirming them? Do we believe that our citizens are so shallow and so past the point of human sentience, empathy, capacity for critical thinking, and the ability to love beyond themselves that we just continue to distribute soma to the masses? Because the 21-year-old marketing prodigy told us so in between texting his investment banker on his Blackberry?
We may have lost our own self worth, beaten down by unwavering, relentless indoctrination – our bare souls laid siege by unabashed propaganda hell, but should the role of those who claim to speak for civil society not be the one to help civil society reclaim our humanness?
Fittingly, in our consumer capitalism society we now find that even social conscience itself has become a hot commodity. If the markets see our social conscience as an asset to exploit – and they absolutely do – at least this means we still collectively have a conscience, even if we have to peel back a thousand brands to eventually uncover it.
“People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them. We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.” – George Monbiot
Unfortunately, the multimillion dollar social structure of the non-profit industrial complex is ruled by the expediency of public relations, politics and funding – not by high moral values. Furthermore, we are all ruled by the multi-billion-dollar banks who remind us of our enslavement to the system whenever we threaten to allow our moral values to lead us.
The bizarre “party” on 10:10:10 forgot to mention in the “top ten” ideas for the day that we must use all of our democratic powers and rights – including our moral obligation to break the laws that continue to protect the corporations while sentencing people to certain death. 350.org and partner TckTckTck proclaimed on 10:10:10, “We Own the Media Today.” In reality, the media own 350.
The Consequences of Modern Day Soma
Deconstruction, reconstruction, muzzling and outright lies within the corporate-owned mainstream media (MSM) have been a long-term barrier to truth. From organizing public support for controversial issues that threaten our very well being, even when our own children will be paying the ultimate price, to ensuring that certain political “leaders” are elected, or that women start smoking and the public keeps buying the consumer products they don’t need which ensures billions in corporate profits, the role of “communication” has been and remains pivotal. Today we witness that mainstream communication and public relations have become nothing more than basic propaganda, because the underlying facts and reality have to be reconstructed and watered down to make the message easy to swallow.
The plutocracy needs us to continue to buy crap we don’t need, consume things we don’t need, waste things we never needed to begin with, and most important of all – to quit thinking. Be passive. Be complacent. Dissent is effectively framed as unpatriotic or ungrateful. Take your soma three times a day, more if necessary.
The greatest threat to the corporate power that has a complete stranglehold on our global society, including governments, is a society of people who can sustain themselves independent of the corporate institution. A zero-carbon perpetual-energy world made up of citizens who embody and value the right to critical thinking, free of mind pollution, provides the greatest threat to corporate power. No corporation can dominate every drop of sunshine. No corporation can capture every breath of wind.
“So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting. The acceptance of policies which counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?” – George Monbiot
2100|Tomatoes and Flat Screens for the Bourgeois
In a “good news scenario” posted on 4 October 2010, titled Policy Reform to 350, McKibben envisions the future. A scenario whereby global society reverses levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to 350ppm by 2100 – this made possible by the consequences suffered by way of devastation that finally resulted in the imperialist governments waking up and smelling the coffee – thus acting. McKibben assumes in this scenario that governments are simply unaware, which is not at all true. Governments are absolutely aware of the consequences that we will face – and they have chosen not to act. They have all been briefed, in no uncertain terms, by the world’s foremost scientists and military experts.
The scenario McKibben writes of is neither factual, nor is it scientific. Indeed, he omits the most critical aspect of failing to deal with this crisis at breakneck speed – that of the amplifying feedbacks, many of which are now operational. Climate change has a full spectrum of dangerous consequences spread over many centuries into the future, however McKibben makes no mention of this reality. The reality that this scenario excludes is this: If we do not stabilize the climate by achieving virtual zero carbon emissions within a decade (Annex 1, or developed, countries), positive feedback mechanisms will continue to amplify, and become irreversible. This would result in runaway climate change. Humans will not survive this. The positive feedbacks will not simply retreat when Nature sees that we have finally learned our lesson and repented, as McKibben fantasizes within the article. He makes zero mention of tipping points and the point of no return. In fact, his scenario is survivable, including plug-in cars, tomatoes and even flat screen televisions. There is no mention of the billions who will have perished south of the equator nor is there mention that Africa will now be a furnace – void of all life. In McKibben’s “good news scenario,” exceeding 2ºC does not lead to uncontrollable temperatures of 4ºC, 6ºC, 8ºC and higher. This fantasy demonstrates the ultimate in denialism. If the “leader” of 350.org is believing in such delusional fantasy while packaging it as possible and rational, we are in terminally serious trouble. NGOs should be opposing this nonsense head on – but they won’t. Because in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, when it comes to the critical issues of climate change, mum is the word.
350.org would like you to believe that 350 ppm is the most important number in the world. Not true. 350 ppm is recognized by climatologist James Hansen as the highest tolerable carbon level allowing survival of life on Earth. In reality, we need to get back down to levels below 300 ppm in order to re-freeze the Arctic sea ice. Then return to pre-industrial levels, which we know were safe. Until then, the Arctic sea ice will continue to accelerate in its death spiral, accelerating feedbacks. As we lose the albedo effect (reflection of sun off the ice), the solar energy, rather than being reflected, is then absorbed into the ocean. Such warming amplifies further feedbacks such as ocean acidification and melting of permafrost, which has led to the current situation of destabilized methane hydrates that are now leaking methane into the atmosphere. There is double the amount of carbon in the methane hydrates than in the entire atmosphere. We’re talking big numbers here.
These are all tipping points, beyond which catastrophic runaway feedback loops become irreversible. At this point, no amount of human ingenuity will save us. No amount of monetary wealth will save us. The term runaway greenhouse effect is best described as the conditions that led to the current greenhouse state of Venus. Terrifying? Yes. Yet this is the path we are currently on. For anyone who wishes to see what is happening to our ice – as you read this – watch the unbelievable time lapse footage that has only recently been witnessed by scientists. It is nothing less than incredible. You will understand the enormity of our situation once you see these images: http://bit.ly/bbH8mV
Thawing frozen soils could unleash a carbon bomb – massive volumes of carbon dioxide and methane frozen in the earth’s soils are a “time-bomb ticking under our feet.” – World Congress of Soil Science, 4 August 2010
Watch for the next article – fourth in the series, in which we continue to discuss the connection between environmental campaigns and their corporate sponsors. Article number one in the series ‘10:10:10 – Marketing, Manipulation, and the Status Quo’ and article number two in the series ‘Explosive Climate Report Text Revealed’ can be read at: http://bit.ly/cUYCrn
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on ‘Canadians for Action on Climate Change’ and ‘The Art of Annihilation’ site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on twitter:@elleprovocateur