Posted by keith on 28th October 2009
No comment necessary :-)
Posted by keith on 28th October 2009
No comment necessary :-)
Posted by keith on 27th October 2009
Crazy days as the unreal world approaches Copenhagen: corporations and a fair few governments are balking at the potential deals on the table — even though, if we’re being truthful here, they are hopelessly, awfully, ruthlessly inadequate. You will see a HUGE amount of greenwashing going on over the next few weeks, and the astroturfs are going to be piling on the pressure to ensure that everyone, not just politicians, sees a 2 degree temperature rise as something easily avoidable while industry keeps being industrial.
Basically, no one is going to be happy, and the planet will burn because no one in the civilized world will face reality…except one, maybe:
In a sign that some of the oil majors, which are preparing to announce 60pc-70pc drop in net profits this week, are becoming bolder in their opposition to international efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80pc over the next four decades, a senior executive who spoke to The Sunday Telegraph said there was currently a large degree of wishful political thinking about the changes targeted by the global summit.
“If you look at the Copenhagen targets they are basically completely illusory,” he said. “There’s no way to hit those targets and it would be very silly to think that we can.”
At first glance, I reacted with anger; and then realised that, maybe without realising it, he had hit on that very deep truth that needs saying out loud again and again: Industrial Civilization cannot co-exist with a healthy planet.
It doesn’t need an awful lot of analysis to see this; basically, if you are an oil company, the existence of which depends upon people using oil (or a coal company, agribusiness, clothing manufacturer and so on, the existence of which depends on people using whatever you produce) then supporting anything that may hit that business model will be economic suicide. Even if an aspirational 80% reduction in carbon emissions (60% globally) by 2050 has absolutely no chance of stopping runaway climate change, it’s still enough to make the profits crumble, which is one pillar of Industrial Civilization gone, there and then. Make changes that are actually sufficient to rein back climate change — and no one really knows what they are, but let’s say 90% reductions by 2020 — then not only will the entire global economy collapse, but the entire way of life that much of humanity has grown up thinking is its birthright will have to go.
Climate Change Stopped = Industrial Civilization Ended
So, well done, whoever that anonymous source was: you’ve really put the cat amongst the pigeons now.
Posted by keith on 23rd October 2009
Remember that date, because in the future hundreds of thousands of people who took part in thousands of events worldwide will look back and say to themselves: “Why did I think that would do any good?”
Those thousands upon thousands of people are not the people I am blaming for thinking that by marching, letter writing, lobbying, petitioning and otherwise taking part in all sorts of conventional “actions” great changes would begin to take place. No, I have no problem with those people because, quite frankly, what else are they supposed to do? After all, the environmental groups, writers and high-profile campaigners that are regarded as the leaders of the “environmental movement” (sorry for all the quotes) told them that’s what they needed to do — and promised so much. To quote the website largely responsible for this most recent phenomenon:
To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn’t pass the 350 test.
In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.
If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.
To take this at face value, it would be inconceivable to think that by taking thousands of photos and getting them into the media, these leaders (our leaders, we are told) would not make sufficient changes in policy to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide down to that critical figure of 350 parts per million. Why would you think any other way — these people told you it would be enough:
Abp. Desmond Tutu
Dr. James Hansen
Pres. Mohamed Nasheed
Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt
Well, perhaps not those precise words, for in the world of soundbites and voxpops, it’s very easy to get carried away and lend your name to something simply because it seems like a good thing to do.
“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.”
That’s James Hansen, quoted on www.350.org. Where did he say that by taking photos and getting them on the agendas of political high-ups the problem would be consigned to history? It wouldn’t be too strong to suggest that some of these people have been duped by 350.org, and that the people behind the campaign are so deluded by their own concept of “action” that they couldn’t possibly imagine that anyone would think anything different.
I’m not making this up; here is an exchange from way back in May 2008, when the group was first set up, and I found their MySpace page:
Date: May 28, 2008 4:33 AM
Hi 350 (or rather sub-350)
Glad to see someone taking a realistic look at things. I wrote a short article recently on The Sietch, which you might like to look at, based around this subject:
Keep up the good work, and if you have any radical (not symbolic) ideas for “things to do” then let me know.
Thanks for the note. Something radical (not symbolic) that you can do is raise awareness in your community by holding a 350 event, and then make sure everybody calls their elected leaders asking them to push for legislation that has strong enough carbon cuts to get to 350 ppm.
At the time I had nearly completed writing my book, and had come to understand very clearly the huge gulf between the effectiveness of Symbolic and Non-Symbolic actions. Phil’s response demonstrated a level of delusion I had not come across since that realisation: he really thought that by holding an event and appealing to “elected leaders” the 100% cuts in industrial nations’ emissions necessary by 2030 (or earlier) would happen. He really did.
I need to take this discussion off MySpace, as I think your response (see below) has doomed any chance of 350.org working, and you need to know this as soon as possible.
“Something radical (not symbolic) that you can do is raise awareness in your community by holding a 350 event, and then make sure everybody calls their elected leaders asking them to push for legislation that has strong enough carbon cuts to get to 350 ppm.”
Could you please explain in what way doing exactly the same thing that has repeatedly failed in the past to achieve even modest cuts in emissions is going to achieve the 100% cut required to return to 350ppm? Could you please explain how “holding a 350 event” is radical?
I really thought 350.org was the cusp of something different, yet you still are still trying to convince people that “their elected leaders” will do anything that turns its back on the existing consumer culture (a.k.a. Culture of Maximum Harm) — the very culture these “elected leaders” and the brainwashed public are convinced is the only way to live.
I wish you well with your campaign: I don’t want to say it will fail, but it will. If you want to know how to actually get the carbon levels down adequately then the non-technological, non-political, non-symbolic answers are out there — I have some of them, as do a number of other people who have been ostracised by the environmental mainstream: you only have to ask. Bill McKibben was *almost* there about three-quarters of the way through “The End of Nature” then he seemed to lose his nerve, and has deradicalised considerably in the last few years. The environmental movement has singularly failed to address the root cause of the problem, largely because the environmental movement is a big part of the problem.
Please read this quote from my book (www.amatterofscale.com) and then maybe you will start to understand:
—– Start of quote —–
So, go and protest, make some noise, wave some banners, sign a petition: just make sure you stay within the law. I mean it – protest of some form or another is permitted in most nations, but the severity and the type of protest allowed depends in the legislation that is in place; both standing legislation and the widely used “state of emergency” which, in fact is simply an extension of the existing laws. As the Zimbabweans ponder their electoral fate, the Mugabe regime has imposed “emergency” laws to prevent any form of gathering that may threaten the government. What the Mugabe regime knows only too well is that in Zimbabwe, as with many other African, South American and Asian states, protest often takes an entirely different form to the type of protest the people of the industrial West have become accustomed too. The Mugabe regime know that real protest is capable of overthrowing governments; whereas in the USA, for instance, it almost goes without saying that protest will lead to nothing more than a warm feeling in the hearts of those taking part:
One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in an orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing.and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition.
Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others.their function is to ensure the demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned plan of protest.[i]
Laughable, isn’t it, that such a well controlled event – and this is the way every official rally I have ever been on works – should be considered a “protest” by the organisers? The laws in each country are tailored to suit the appetite of the population for change: a country full of people that want to fight for change needs to be kept tightly controlled; a country full of catatonic, drip-fed consumers can march all they like, be given a well-controlled soapbox on TV – and the voltage on the tasers can be turned right down.
That is, unless someone decides to break the law.
Every day, in all sorts of ways, we hand over the responsibility of our actions to other parties. We entrust religious leaders to act as proxy supreme beings, to give us blessings and pray for the delivery of our souls and, as is becoming more common, the protection of the natural environment. We entrust politicians to justly run districts, states, countries, the whole planet, on our behalf, and deliver whatever is in their jurisdiction from whatever evils we have asked them to deal with. We ask the heads of corporations to use profits wisely, to provide fair wages, allow union representation and listen to their staff and respond appropriately – we ask them not to destroy the planet. We ask environmental organisations to look after the planet on our behalf, to lobby fiercely and petition prudently, to give us a world worth living in.
We are guilty of a mass dereliction of responsibility.
When we vote we hope the politicians will do the right thing after they have been elected. When we buy a product from a company, we hope that company are acting in the best interests of everyone and every thing they impact. When we sign a petition, go on a protest march or write a letter, we hope that it will change things for the better. But it is never that simple.
Voters vote for different things: your hope that a politician will increase pollution controls will be running counter to the hope of another voter that pollution controls will be weakened. Your entrustment of a company that they will act ethically runs contrary to the basic needs of a shareholder in that same company, that demands an increase in profits, which requires poorer labour standards, increased use of natural resources, corner cutting and cost slashing across the board. Your petition or protest march may give you hope that something will change when in fact you have simply channelled your anger and concern into a symbolic action that threatens not a single media executive, company director or head of state. You innocently believed that right would out simply because you placed your demands on the wings of dear hope.
When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free – truly free – to honestly start working to thoroughly resolve it. When hope dies, action begins.[ii]
[i] Ward Churchill, “Pacifism As Pathology”, AK Press, 2007.
[ii] Derrick Jensen, “Endgame Volume I: The Problem Of Civilization”, Seven Stories Press, 2006.
—– End of quote —–
Your campaign seems to be based on the hope that something magical will change through holding “events” and lobbying politicians and corporations to change. This approach has pointedly failed for the last 40 years, and yet continues because it feels like something is being done, even while, all the time, the emissions keep going up. There is not one shred of evidence to suggest such an approach will ever work. The point is, emissions will keep going up all the time industrial civilization owns humanity.
I don’t expect you to understand, though, just as 99% of people brainwashed by this culture do not understand. The answers do not lie within the system, the answers lie within ourselves — people who may be addicted to the system but are still individuals who can decide to step out of the toxic river, and maybe knock out a few shopping malls, power plants and TV stations as they go.
Yours in desperate times
He never did respond. I didn’t expect him too.
If you are planning to go to a 350.org event, then please go, but don’t go expecting the group’s aims to change anything: go with a view to helping people understand that only by rejecting the system that the group’s organisers are still pandering to, can the atmospheric carbon levels go below 350 parts per million. Either that, or the Earth will reject humanity.
EDIT: Have amended the title because, as we all know, even 350ppm isn’t low enough, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for giving anyone a false sense of security.
Posted by keith on 22nd October 2009
It was with squeals of delight and amazement that I received this gem of a press release from David at TheGoodHuman.com. Southwest Airlines, a 500 plane, budget airline in the south western states of the USA, has managed to use the word “green” in a spectacularly inappropriate way. See what you think:
DALLAS, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today announced at its annual Media Day a “green plane,” an innovative idea that marries efficiency, environmentally responsible products, Customer comfort, and reduced waste and weight. This plane, a Boeing 737-700, will serve as a test environment for new environmentally responsible materials and Customer comfort products.
It is a flying testament to the airline’s philosophy that environmental decisions make good business sense. All of the initiatives being tested on this Green Plane, when combined, will equate to a weight savings of almost five pounds per seat, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions, along with adding recyclable elements to the cabin interior and reducing waste.
“Southwest is committed to continuing to lead the industry in emissions reductions through fuel efficiency. Efficiency in fuel consumption benefits our Company as well as the environment, and this has been part of our business model since the beginning,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman, President, and CEO. “As we look to the future, we know climate change remains of vital importance to our industry, our Company, and our Customers, so Southwest works hard every day in every area to be a responsible steward of the environment.”
Southwest has designated one aircraft to serve as a test for eco-friendly products, which include:
— InterfaceFLOR Carpet – this carpet reduces labor and material costs
because it is installed in sections, thus eliminating the need for total
replacement of areas such as aisles, where Southwest currently uses one
single piece of carpet. The 100 percent recyclable carpet is returned to
the manufacturer at the end of its service life and completely
re-manufactured into new carpet; the process is completely carbon
— Seat covers – two new products that will be tested on the aircraft
seats, offering more than twice the durability than the current leather
seats as well as a weight savings of almost two pounds per seat.
— On one side of the aisle, e-Leather is an eco-friendly, lightweight
and scuff resistant man-made alternative to traditional leather. It
is made from recycled materials that have been discarded by the
leather industry. It is then upgraded utilizing eco-friendly
technology, resulting in composition leather, a man-made material.
— On the other side of the aisle, IZIT Leather, a new breed of premium
leather alternative, is an evolutionary step beyond calf skin that
offers a lightweight product that is both economical and durable,
but with the genuine appearance and touch of luxurious leather.
— Life Vest Pouch – more environmentally friendly because it offers a
weight savings of one pound per passenger, replacing the current metal
container with lighter durable canvas. The smaller pouch also creates
more room under the seat for carryon items and offers productivity
improvements due to design change.
— Foam Fill – A lighter weight fill from Garnier PURtec in the back of the
seats that reduces weight while providing increased Customer comfort.
— Passenger Seat Rub Strips – switching from plastic to aluminum will help
with durability, which reduces waste, as well as being recyclable.
“Southwest is proud to lead the aviation industry in environmental stewardship and honored to be working with these eco-friendly vendors and our partners at Boeing,” Kelly says. “We are excited to test their forward-thinking products and expect these green products to not only help the environment, but also create a fuel and materials cost saving for Southwest.”
In addition to the green plane, Southwest also announced the Nov. 1 kickoff of its more robust onboard recycling program, which is a co-mingled system that will allow the airline to capture more recyclable material and divert it from the waste stream. This 18-month process involved team work from all areas of the Company to implement the program on the ground at its Provisioning Bases and re-working of waste collection procedures in the cabin.
“The initiative by the Southwest Airlines Green Team, Facilities Maintenance, Inflight Department, and Provisioning Department was a truly heroic effort; when you serve nearly 68 cities there are often 68 different ways to implement a program,” Kelly says. “We appreciate the hard work of our recycling vendor, Republic Services, and we are excited to take a very effective recycling program and make it even better.”
Environmental Stewardship is a responsibility Southwest takes seriously, and efficient operations are the hallmark of our Company and the foundation of our environmental commitment. Over the decades, Southwest has been at the forefront of such efficiencies as paperless tickets, quick turnarounds, installation of winglets, and, more recently; the installation of fleet-wide advanced avionics. This focus on efficiency not only makes good business sense, it is the right thing to do. For more information on how Southwest Airlines cares for the environment, visit www.southwest.com/cares.
I included the entire press release so that you have time to grasp the monumental gulf between the cool new materials they are using, and the sheer amount of energy required to transport hundreds of people in a large metal airframe with fuel-packed wings against the force of gravity and at high lateral speed. I am torn between whether Southwest actually believe their own press releases and their “cares” information (that’s where they got the hilarious phrase “Environmental Stewardship is a responsibility Southwest takes seriously, and efficient operations are the hallmark of our Company and the foundation of our environmental commitment”), and whether they are acutely aware of how crap airlines are in environmental terms and are just desperate to suck up a few gullible souls with their “green” message.
The thing that turned me from the former to the latter opinion (i.e. they are Greenwashing Hypocrites) was this:
Notice the inducement to take no less than sixteen flights (eight round trips) in a two year period; yes, it’s another flight. Which seems to slightly jar with the claim that they take their environmental responsibilities seriously. Let’s get this straight (and I am getting fed up saying this): there is nothing sustainable about burning fossil fuels to keep things in the air. Hence my attacks on organisations like Climate Counts, which promote themselves as being of benefit to the natural environment, but instead end up making people think — and they do, I’ve heard it from ordinary peoples’ mouths — that inherently destructive things can be green.
Seriously people, learn.
Posted by keith on 19th October 2009
I sort of hated Stephen Harper before reading the new book by James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore, but after finishing Chapter Thirteen of “Climate Cover Up“, there’s no “sort of” about it. Whether you believe there is such a thing as Evil or not, by any discription of the term Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada has got to be partaking in Satan’s Brimstone Ball. From my point of view: he is a guy in pathological denial, so utterly inculcated in the industrial economy and all it stands for, that nothing good can exist that challenges this toxic orthodoxy.
So, because I’m feeling generous, I want to share the hate with all of you. Welcome to the world of Harper:
When Conservative leader Stephen Harper campaigned for the prime minister’s job in early 2006, he did so on an interesting two-track campaign. He promised first of all to be a law-and-order conservative who would crack down hard on people who broke the law. And he promised to abrogate Canada’s international legal commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. If any reporters noticed the contradiction, there is no record that they asked him about it. Once elected, the prime minister promptly handed the job of environment minister, which included defending the government’s climate change position, to the Alberta member of parliament Rona Ambrose. Ambrose came across as a Canadian version of the benighted Sarah Palin—attractive, initially popular, and totally out of her depth, which turned out to have been a policy decision. Government scientists in Environment Canada reported to their privatesector colleagues that Ambrose declined to be briefed on the science of climate change.
The Conservative hostility to Kyoto surprised no one. Prime Minister Harper was himself elected as a member of parliament from the oil capital, Calgary (his actual riding is Calgary Southwest), and his party’s base is preponderantly in resource-rich western Canada, and decidedly in oil-rich Alberta.
In 2006 Alberta was awash in cash. Between 1990 and 2006 fossil fuel industry revenues had climbed 61 percent. But that windfall had come with a complicating factor: industry-source greenhouse gas emissions had increased over the same period by 53 percent, accounting for almost half of the total increase in emissions recorded over the same period. Most of the rest came from transportation and from coal-fired electricity generation.
Harper’s position on climate change, that of a loyal Albertan, had been on the record—and perfectly unclear—for years. In a story published December 21, 2006 (“pm Denies Climate-Change Shift”), the Toronto Star’s Ottawa bureau chief, Susan Delacourt, chronicled the evolution of the prime minister’s thinking. In September 2002, for example, he passed off the issue as a controversy of little interest to Canadians: “It’s a scientific hypothesis, a controversial one and one that I think there is some preliminary evidence for . . . This may be a lot of fun for a few scientific and environmental elites in Ottawa, but ordinary Canadians from coast to coast will not put up with what this [the Kyoto accord] will do to their economy and lifestyle, when the benefits are negligible.” In 2004, Delacourt writes, the prime minister updated that position to say, “The science is still evolving.” And by 2006 he was still referring to “so-called greenhouse gases.” If you give him the benefit of the doubt, Prime Minister Harper seemed, even as he took over the reins of power, to be like those well-educated Republicans from Chapter 12, so steeped in uncertainty that he couldn’t bring himself even to believe in the existence of the greenhouse gases that Joseph Fourier had discovered in the early part of the 19th century.
In addition to announcing that he had no intention of trying to meet Canada’s Kyoto targets, the Canadian prime minister also set about dismantling all the climate change policies that the previous Liberal government had implemented to date. He shut down the government’s climate change Web site and removed all references to global warming, and especially to Kyoto, from federal communications, except to say that henceforth he would be resisting international pressure and pursuing a “made-in-Canada solution.”
Here Harper begins to use language that was actually made in America. The Republican spin doctor Frank Luntz was in Kingston, Ontario, in May 2006, speaking to the Conservative- linked Civitas Society and making time on the side for a personal meeting with Prime Minister Harper. (The prime minister confirmed in the House of Commons a couple of days later that he and Luntz had been acquainted “for some years.”)
In the weeks that followed, people started listening more closely to the Conservatives and looking for likely connections to the strategy document, as discussed in Chapter 6, that Luntz had written for the U.S. Republican Party (“The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America”). As Ross Gelbspan recorded on the DeSmogBlog on May 31, 2006, the Kitchener Waterloo Record reported the results in a story headlined “Tory Kyoto Strategy Mirrors U.S. Plan”:
In his 2003 memo, [Luntz] told Republicans not to use economic arguments against environmental regulations, because environmental arguments would always win out with average Americans concerned about their health. Luntz also told his U.S. clients to stress common sense and accountability. “First, assure your audience that you are committed to ‘preserving and protecting’ the environment but that ‘it can be done more wisely and effectively.’ Absolutely do not raise economic arguments first.”
Since the Conservatives took office, they have consistently stressed their commitment to clean air and water, and tried to avoid discussion of cutting back environmental programs— although many have been eliminated. “My mandate is to have accountability on the environment and show real results and action on the environment for Canadians,” [Environment Minister] Ambrose told the Commons last week.
Luntz advises that technology and innovation are the keys to curbing climate change, a theme the Conservatives have repeatedly echoed. “We will be investing in Canadian technology and in Canadians,” Ambrose told MPs.
Despite his general aversion to economic arguments, Luntz . . . advises putting the cost of regulation in human terms, emphasizing how specific activities will cost more, from “pumping gas to turning on the light.” Ambrose has claimed that “we would have to pull every truck and car off the street, shut down every train and ground every plane to reach the Kyoto target. Or we could shut off all the lights in Canada tomorrow.”
In this first year that the Harper Conservatives were in power, Canada was also the official chair of the un Framework Convention on Climate Change, which gave the country two special chances to drag down the process. First, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose was anything but a champion for action. She dismissed Canada’s own commitments, blew off Canada’s reporting deadlines, and on one occasion at least, declined even to attend a meeting, assuming her position as “chair” over the telephone.
Canada also increased international inertia on behalf of the Bush administration. Having refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the United States was effectively sidelined from the process, forced to sit outside of the most critical meetings awaiting word of how the parties to the accord were planning to proceed. Given that the United States was the world’s number-one producer of greenhouse gases, there was only so much that could be decided by the remainder of the world’s powers, but the United States still feared that its interests could be marginalized by a concerted international effort to discourage emissions.
That was no threat with Canada in the room. Having backed away from its own Kyoto commitments, Canada also chose to join the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a sort of anti-Kyoto coalition that included the world’s biggest polluters (China, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States) and the second-tier countries that sell them oil and coal (Australia and Canada). Even Republican Senator (and later presidential candidate) John McCain dismissed the partnership as “nothing more than a nice little public relations ploy.” McCain told Grist writer Amanda Griscom Little on August 4, 2005 (“New Asia-Pacific Climate Pact Is Long on PR, Short on Substance”), that the partnership had “almost no meaning. They aren’t even committing money to the effort, much less enacting rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The group’s apparent determination to create an alternative organization that could be used to undermine the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, combined with the Canadian decision to join the Big Coal coalition during a year when Canada was nominal chair of the UN Framework process, dealt the UN body a telling blow.
At subsequent UN Framework conferences, especially in Bali in 2007, Canada’s obstructionist position became so obvious that people started to believe the Bush and Harper administrations were working together—that Canada was trying to prevent any progress that might demonstrate how badly the United States was out of step. But the theory broke down at the Kyoto Protocol update in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008. By then Barack Obama was already president-elect, though George Bush would retain the actual presidency until January 20, 2009. So the Bush negotiators were still in the room, but with no real mandate: everyone expected that the Obama administration would take a more aggressive tack in approaching climate change.
With the United States removed as a contrarian force, some people expected that Canada would shift to a more productive position as well. But if anything, Canada stepped up its obstructionism, urging other countries to back away from greenhouse gas reduction commitments they had made in Bali the year before. For its efforts Canada was granted the “Colossal Fossil” award. The environmental Climate Action Network chose a “Fossil of the Day” for each day of the two-week conference, and the country with the most nominations was judged to be the Colossal Fossil when the meeting wound down. Canada really earned that international embarrassment.
While dragging down efforts to build an effective greenhouse gas reduction policy on the world stage, the Harper Conservatives continued to emulate U.S. policy at home. Where in 2003 the Bush administration had proposed a Clear Skies Act that ignored greenhouse gases almost entirely, the Harper Tories followed with a Clean Air Act in 2006, which focused on smog and particulate pollutants and promised (still voluntary) emission targets by 2020.
With U.S. president George Bush advocating “energy intensity targets” as a way to address climate change, the same policy started appearing in Canadian climate documents only a short while later, such as in Environment Canada’s 2008 regulatory framework for industrial greenhouse gas emissions. An energy intensity target is something you might expect to get from Frank Luntz: it’s very specific. The definitions are clear and concise. But when you implement it succesfully, you get a public relations boost without any corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Consider, for illustration, the following definition from the World Resources Institute: “Greenhouse gas intensity targets are policies that specify emissions reductions relative to productivity or economic output, for instance, tons co2/million dollars gdp. By contrast, absolute emissions targets specify reductions measured in metric tons, relative only to a historical baseline.” That means that you can reduce energy intensity by a lot (the Canadian tar sands giant Suncor cut its energy intensity by 51 percent between 1990 and 2006) while at the same time continuing to make the problem worse (despite the “intensity” cut, Suncor increased its absolute emissions by 131 percent during the same period).
Thus, intensity targets are for people who don’t want to deal with the problem. Consider this May 7, 2001, statement from Bush White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer in response to a question about whether the president would urge Americans to change their world-leading energy-consumption habits: “That’s a big ‘no.’ The president believes that it’s an American way of life, that it should be the goal of policy-makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one . . . The president considers Americans’ heavy use of energy a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy.” True to his word, until oil prices spiked in the summer of 2008, the Bush administration held its position, touting energy intensity cuts while supporting the expansion of the coal-fired power industry and the aggressive extension of oil drilling into parks and oceans.
Here’s how things played out in Canada during the same period: the provincial administration in Alberta, home to the largest section of Canada’s huge tar sands deposit, announced a climate change strategy in 2008 that would call for no greenhouse gas emission reductions whatsoever before 2020. In a document titled Responsibility/Leadership/Action, Alberta also proposed to pursue energy intensity targets in the short term (2010), to “stabilize” emissions by 2020 and to “reduce” emissions by 2050 by 14 percent from 2005 levels. Put another way, Alberta was planning to give industry free rein until 2020, after which it would introduce regulations so gently that by 2050, the province still would not comply with the target that Canada promised in Kyoto to meet by 2012. Returning once again to the dark definition of Orwellian, it’s hard to imagine how that could seriously be described as responsibility, leadership, or even action.
Now, I get the feeling that you really want to do something about this imbicile; you’re not alone. Want to know the best way? So do I. But anything you can do to ruin his credibility and upset the system that he merrily wallows in has to be a good thing.
Posted by keith on 15th October 2009
Thanks to Bindarri, an Australian creative arts hub, which has exposed the lies of Australian Pulp in promoting their ENVI “sustainable” paper which, unsurprisingly, still requires primary forest to be logged for its production…
Q – how do you sell woodchipped Australian native forest to an Australian market who is becoming more environmentally aware?
A – buy some offset credits and launch Australia’s first carbon neutral paper.
Go Greenwash with ENVI
Australian Paper (AP), the manufacturer of ENVI has had a long history of sourcing fibre from native forests and has been subject to consumer boycotts.
AP’s Maryvale Mill in Gippsland Victoria will consume 350,000m3 of native forest pulp in 2009 [pdf pg 29] as well as producing pollutant emissions. This mill produces its famous Reflex paper and some of the ENVI range.
“ENVI grades are exactly the same paper that AP already produces. The only difference is that they have had the associated greenouse gas emmissions calculated and offset with carbon credits” (quote from Dalton). Some of ENVI’s range includes part recycled content such as “ENVI Recycled 50/50” while some of their papers such as “ENVI DM MATT” and “REFLEX CARBON NEUTRAL” contain no recycled content.
Currently, AP is linked to logging in the Central Highland, Strzelecki Rainforest Reserve and the Baw Baw National Park, which has been recognised by several key scientific studies as one of Victoria’s most biologically significant sites and one of its most important water catchments.
The Central Highlands of Victoria are the world’s most carbon-dense forest according to researchers from the Australian National University. Professor Mackey said “It identifies a gap in climate change policy that Australia needs to address. There has been a lot of talk about the need to address tropical deforestation in developing countries, but these results show we must start by recognising the carbon benefits to be gained from protecting our native forests”.
Accrediting a paper which is sourcing part of their pulp from the worlds most carbon dense forests raises questions about the integrity of the “Greenhouse Friendly” program and what “Carbon Neutral” really means.
While Melbourne is facing strict water restrictions this summer, Melbourne’s main water catchment is losing 20,000 megalitres a year due to logging. Logging reduces waterflow in to our dams by 50% and causes erosion and pollution which impact on water quality.
You can read about the whole clearfelled mess at the Bindarri website, which also contains stacks more information about the corporate links of Australian Paper and other corporate greenwashing they are indulging themselves with.
Posted by keith on 13th October 2009
This is a beautiful, sad advert produced by an agency of the British government. Very powerful, very moving.
It tells us that we are responsible for “over 40% of the CO2”, which is caused by ordinary, everyday things, like heating, powering appliances and driving.
The governments and their corporate masters, decided that they couldn’t afford to tell people that around 30% of all the CO2 was the result of the generation of electricity; electricity that ordinary people use directly, or indirectly in the things they buy, and the things that form the infrastructure that we all use. That might make people go to extra efforts, and stop them doing lots of things that keep civilisation moving.
And the same corporations told the governments most emphatically, that they couldn’t mention the other 30% that was the direct result of manufacturing and transporting all the things that the adverts made ordinary people want to buy, for that would mean the ordinary people might stop buying things and the economy would stop growing, and the corporations would hurt.
The outcome of this was that the British government produced a beautiful film that lots of people would be touched by, and decide that, “yes” they would do their bit, and try and cut carbon emissions by just 40%.
And the other 60%?
Posted by keith on 11th October 2009
I was going to post something else, and then stumbled upon a film that really seems to show in clear light how utterly abhorrant the practice of tar sands mining is.
ABOUT THE FILM
Ever wonder where American gets most of its oil? If you thought it was Saudi Arabia or Iraq you are wrong. America’s biggest oil supplier has quickly become Canada’s oil sands. Located under Alberta’s pristine boreal forests, the process of oil sands extraction uses up to 4 barrels of fresh water to produce only one barrel of crude oil.
It goes without saying that water — its depletion, exploitation, privatization and contamination — has become the most important issue to face humanity in this century. At the same time, the war for oil is well underway across the globe. A struggle is increasingly being fought between water and oil, not only over them.
Alberta’s oil sands are at the centre of this tension. As the province rushes towards a large-scale extraction, the social, ecological and human impacts are hitting a crisis point. In only a few short years the continent will be a crisscross of pipelines, reaching from the arctic all the way to the southern US, leaving toxic water basins the size of Lake Ontario, and surface-mines as large as Florida.
H2Oil follows a voyage of discovery, heartbreak and politicization in the stories of those attempting to defend water in Alberta against tar sands expansion. Unlikely alliances are built and lives are changed as they come up against the largest industrial project in human history.
Ultimately we ask what is more important, oil or water? And what will be our response?
With hope and courage H2Oil tells the story of one of the most significant, and destructive projects of our time.
Whether “hope” is an appropriate response remains to be seen — the industry is getting bigger by the day — but if I can get hold of a copy then I’ll post a full review over on The Sietch, and tell you more.
Posted by keith on 9th October 2009
I’m in possession of what is already turning out to be an excellent book by Jim Hoggan and Richard Littlemore called “Climate Cover Up“. I will be publishing a review once I have finished it; which might take a little while because I have a huge stack of things to get through, but just to whet your appetite, Richard has given me permission to publish some extracts on The Unsuitablog.
Chapter Four, from which this first extract is taken, largely concerns the formation and activities of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), a monstrous “Astroturf” which was created on the suggestion of the public relations company APCO (the same company that fought to promote tobacco in the face of virtually all medical advice). It also discusses at length the Astroturfing activities of The American Petroleum Institute (API). This section introduces a veteran of the anti-climate change lobby, Frederick Seitz, but most importantly “Mr Junk Science”, Steven Milloy. Enjoy.
TASSC’s early membership list included “sound science” supporters like Amoco, Exxon, Occidental Petroleum, Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corporation, Procter & Gamble, the Louisiana Chemical Association, the National Pest Control Association, General Motors, 3m, Chevron, and Dow Chemical. For “science advisors,” they had people such as Frederick Seitz.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, Seitz was a widely admired scientist, a former president of both the National Academy of Sciences and Rockefeller University. In 1978 he took that reputation to work for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. According to “While Washington Slept,” a May 2006 Vanity Fair article by investigative journalist Mark Hertsgaard, over a ten-year period Seitz was responsible for handing out US$45 million in tobacco money to people who were pursuing research that overwhelmingly failed to link tobacco to anything the least bit negative. Seitz later admitted to accepting almost US$900,000 of that money himself.
But by the late 1980s he seemed to have lost a step. In a Philip Morris interoffice memo dated 1989, an executive named Alexander Holtzman reported that he was told that “Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational as to offer advice.” Yet Seitz continued to stand as a TASSC regular, in particular lending his name and leveraging his old National Academy of Sciences affiliation to the global warming denial movement for nineteen more years, dying in 2008 at the age of ninety-six.
It’s probably time to introduce Steven Milloy, a.k.a. “The Junkman,” to our cast of characters. While tassc was originally run by executive director Garrey Carruthers, an economist and former New Mexico governor, Steven Milloy took over in 1997. Milloy’s academic background is also considerable: he has an undergraduate degree in science from Johns Hopkins, a masters in health sciences and biostatistics (also from Johns Hopkins), and a masters in law from Georgetown. But there is no record of his directly pursuing science or law as a career.
Instead, Milloy emerged in the 1990s working for a series of public relations and lobby firms, including the eop Group, which the Web site pr Watch.org describes as “a well-connected, Washington-based lobby firm whose clients have included the American Crop Protection Association (the chief trade association of the pesticide industry), the American Petroleum Institute, AT&T, the Business Roundtable, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, Dow Chemical Company, Edison Electric Institute (nuclear power), Fort Howard Corp. (a paper manufacturer), International Food Additives Council, Monsanto Co., National Mining Association, and the Nuclear Energy Institute.”
Milloy, who is currently an “adjunct scholar” at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and formerly held that position at the Cato Institute, is also the creator and proprietor of the Web site JunkScience.com, which works to “debunk” everything from the dangers of secondhand smoke to the risks of genetically modified foods. Milloy was a founding member of a team assembled by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to create a 1998 “Global Climate Science Communication Action Plan” (the precise contents of which Greenpeace later discovered and made available for public viewing). The api made no bones about its intent in creating its plan for the public. The document plainly states that its purpose is to convince the public, through the media, that climate science is awash in uncertainty. Notwithstanding that the industry’s own scientists were saying as early as 1995 that the science of climate change was undeniable(as in the New York Times report discussed in Chapter 1), the API set out an entire strategy bent on making doubt, in the words of the memo below, “conventional wisdom.” The API document begins with a kind of mission statement (the parenthetical additions appear as in the original):
Victory Will Be Achieved When
• Average citizens “understand” (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the “conventional wisdom”
• Media “understands” (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science
• Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current “conventional wisdom”
• Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy
• Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.
The statement seems to make clear that the goal was not to promote an understanding of science, but to spread uncertainty. The goal was not to put the best case before a deserving public, but to ensure at all times that the public was treated to “balance”—and in this case, the API strategists meant that every time a top scientist offered the public new insights into the risks of climate change, the institute would be there with a contradictory view. Victory would be achieved when the public accepted this balance—this confusion—as “conventional wisdom.” It was also a priority that industry leaders learn not about science but about uncertainty, with a specific goal of attacking the Kyoto agreement, making its supporters appear “out of touch with reality.” There is, however, no contention here that Kyoto supporters really were out of touch, only that the api would like to cast them as such.
The plan went on to describe how the api might achieve these goals, beginning with a campaign to search out and recruit “new (scientific) faces who will add their voices to those recognized scientists who already are vocal.” The document goes on to expand on the list of specific tactics (with my emphasis added in italics):
• Develop a global climate science information kit for media including peer-reviewed papers that undercut the “conventional wisdom” on climate science. This kit also will include understandable communications, including simple fact sheets that present scientific uncertainties in language that the media and public can understand.
• Conduct briefings by media-trained scientists for science writers in the top 20 media markets, using the information kits. Distribute the information kits to daily newspapers nationwide with offer of scientists to brief reporters at each paper. Develop, disseminate radio news releases featuring scientists nationwide, and offer scientists to appear on radio talk shows across the country.
• Produce, distribute a steady stream of climate science information via facsimile and e-mail to science writers around the country.
• Produce, distribute via syndicate and directly to newspapers nationwide a steady stream of op-ed columns and letters to the editor authored by scientists.
• Convince one of the major news national tv journalists (e.g., John Stossel) to produce a report examining the scientific underpinnings of the Kyoto treaty.
• Organize, promote and conduct through grassroots organizations a series of campus/community workshops/debates on climate science in 10 most important states during the period mid-August through October, 1998.
• Consider advertising the scientific uncertainties in select markets to support national, regional and local (e.g. workshops / debates), as appropriate.
Like the Western Fuels Association campaign in the early 1990s and the TASSC campaign that followed, this document once again set out a major work plan that involved burying science writers in “a steady stream of climate science information” concentrating not on quality but on doubt. It can hardly be a coincidence that even as the science itself was becoming ever more certain—and ever more alarming—the “conventional wisdom” in the late 1990s and into the early part of this century turned more and more to confusion and doubt.
More to come, but if that hasn’t already made you angry then I’d be very surprised indeed.
Posted by keith on 6th October 2009
Something has been niggling me for a while: every time I open my Inbox, an old email goes flashing past, annoying but not quite annoying enough to blog about; but I kept it for when the niggle eventually became a pain. Back in April, for that joyous event that some companies like to call Earth Day (Week, Month, etc.), a company called Nature Air sent me a message all about their product.
Nature Air. It sounds like the merest zephyr that brings the tang of the wild into your nostrils and a cooling breeze across your skin.
Wrong. Nature Air is an airline – a small one, yes, with turboprop planes, but nevertheless an airline. “Airline” doesn’t mean life-saving doctors on call, emergency in the wilds of Australia, it means “Commercial enterprise that encourages flying in order to make money.”
So what did this email say?
As you are planning your Earth Day coverage I thought you would be interested in this recent news from NatureAir. While many companies are cutting costs today, NatureAir continues to spend money in an effort to save the planet and create a better future for Costa Rica children.
Just recently NatureAir expanded its sustainable projects and began using bio-diesel. The alternative fuel, formulated with recycled vegetable oils, is used to fuel all NatureAir ground equipment and vehicles. The use of bio-diesel has an enormous impact on the environment. A fleet that uses 1,000 gallons of bio-diesel per year generates enough CO2 emission reductions equivalent to removing 1.4 cars from our roadways. NatureAir is the first company to bring this cleaner, sustainable fuel to Costa Rica.
Please see the release below for more information on all NatureAir’s eco-friendly and educational projects and let me know if you have any questions or would like to speak with someone from NatureAir.
Adventure Travel Media Source
And there was a press release attached — thanks, Carolyn. Now, reading through the email, you would be forgiven for thinking that Nature Air was running their planes on recycled vegetable oil; but, of course, that’s not possible due to the unforgiving nature of aircraft engines, which require highly refined kerosene to stay in the air — hence the caption in the photo above. Apart from running a few tiny ground vehicles on a bit of leftover cooking oil, what else are Nature Air doing to help “save the planet” (their words)?
Furthermore NatureAir reduces CO2 emissions through its fuel-efficient twin-engine planes, reduced taxi waits, and offsetting 100% of carbon emitted from every flight. The airline just embarked on its 5th consecutive year of compensations for its flight emissions, an approximately $90,000 yearly investment. 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions are compensated through preservation and reforestation of tropical forests in Southern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.
Every flight NatureAir takes to the skies guarantees that a forest will be free from clear cutting.
Wow! That’s brilliant! I can take a flight and save a rainforest!
So what about the kerosene being burnt in the engine that isn’t contributing to climate change in any way at all? Oh, it’s being offset by the forest preservation, which would not have been necessary without the greed of market capitalism, which Nature Air are just another part of. And don’t forget that there is no guarantee whatsoever that the preservation will be there for 200 years, which is how long it has to be in place to account for the carbon emissions. Someone must be checking all this.
Let’s check out their certification page at http://www.natureair.com/carbonneutral/…
Oh dear, it seems to have disappeared for the moment. I’ll try somewhere else…
Since 2004, Nature Air has been the first airline to compensate for 100% of its carbon emissions from flight operations. We do this thru a locally certified compensation program, certified by the government and international third party auditors. Nature Air has chosen to support reforestation and conservation programs to help combat the impacts of deforestation in Costa Rica.
Well meaning, I’m sure, but incredibly naive.
The reason I decided to turn to this stupid email from this deluded company was because of a great blog written by my friend Annie on her blog a few days ago. She wrote about whether flying to see the family can ever be justified, which then raised a few comments about children being “denied” the opportunity of seeing far away places, and the chances of exotic experiences that would otherwise not be available if they didn’t fly. This, of course, is not “denial” at all — it is merely the way we were before we were sold the dream of being able to go wherever we want, very quickly, with little regard for our life-support system.
I will end with a comment that was made below the article itself, by another Annie, which I think is a wonderful statement of what holidays are about:
Most kids who fly abroad just go the beach or swimming pool of their hotel, eat chips and have no cultural experience whatsoever! Your children are NOT being deprived by not having foreign holidays. They live in a beautiful place with big gardens. Children need freedom and to be outside in nature not stuck in front of a telly, and the wilds of Wales are as good a place as any for that. Grasshoppers and ladybirds in your garden can be just as fascinating as an exotic animal. Also, your kids get to experience alternative culture at festivals etc. when they are older they can go anywhere they want – and by then trains might be cheaper and better and aeroplanes a thing of the past!