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You’re Not Taking “Radical” Away From Us, Bill!

Posted by keith on 6th December 2011

On Monday 5th December, 2011, Bill McKibben, author and figurehead-leader of 350.org wrote the following in the Daily Kos:

You think OWS is radical? You think 350.org was radical for helping organize mass civil disobedience in DC in August against the Keystone Pipeline? We’re not radical. Radicals work for oil companies. The CEO of Exxon gets up every morning and goes to work changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere. No one has ever done anything as radical as that, not in all of human history.

Bill McKibben is wrong, in almost every way possible…almost. The following phrase is entirely correct:

We’re [350.org] not radical.

Correct, 350.org are a mainstream, symbolic protest group. Some of the supporters may be radical, but not the organisation.

The following phrase is correct, but not exclusively, and not at all in the way Bill claims:

Radicals work for oil companies.

The reason this phrase is correct is because genuine radicals exist in every walk of life, whether in oil companies, government, retail, social care, community work…anywhere there are people then there are potential radicals. Bill McKibben would like this not to be true, because Bill McKibben until very recently thought that he was a radical. In an interview with The Ecologist in July 2009, he said the following:

Do I think that Copenhagen will produce an agreement that gets us back to 350 anytime soon? No. It’s too radical a target for the political world at the moment. But getting it out there will move that process further in the direction of science. We are well behind the curve now and catching up is going to be extremely difficult. With 350 at least we know where the curve is. It’s arguably the most important number in the world. It sets a boundary condition for our civilisation to work.

Over the last 2 or 3 years, Bill McKibben has defined his work around the number 350, a number he considers to be too radical for the “political world” (whatever that is) and presumably for the oil companies that he has now accused of being radical. This is cock-eyed to say the least, but more than this it is deeply offensive to the people who consider themselves to be genuine radicals for two reasons. First, to compare the oil industry in semantic terms to the people who work on the very edges of society, taking huge risks and carrying out things in the name of a living planet that few (civilized) people would even dream of doing, is abhorrant. Organisations such as WWF, Live Earth and CAN International, which are counted among 350.org’s partners, are far closer to the corporate-industrial mindset, then they are to the genuine radical activists who are trying to undermine the industrial system that is killing the planet.

Second, Bill is attempting to redefine what the word “radical” means in the context of environmental action and consciousness. You cannot distance a word from its context: if I take a shit then that’s simply what I am doing; if I accuse someone of being a total shit then it’s another word entirely. The context in which Bill McKibben is speaking is that of combating civilized (“anthropogenic” is incorrect) climate change, and the word “radical” has close connotations – positive and negative, depending on your viewpoint – with the people who are taking a stand way beyond that of the mainstream paradigm that 350.org and their ilk occupy. Like the corporate hijacking of the word “green”, any attempt to hijack the word “radical” from those that pride themselves in its meaning is unacceptable and counterproductive.

Or maybe it’s not counterproductive, as far as Bill McKibben is concerned. Maybe he has started to realise that 350 is the wrong number, and that no amount of symbolic, pandering to politics “action” will make the blindest bit of difference to the state of the global ecology except perhaps make things a lot worse because we are so busy signing petitions and sitting on government building steps we have forgotten to think differently. Maybe he understands that the real radicals are right, and he is afraid to admit he is wrong.

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Interview With Bill McKibben, Winner of Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship and Gregory Vickrey, Winner of International Peanut Butter Subsistence Prize

Posted by keith on 24th February 2011

Climate reality writer and activist Gregory Vickrey. (L) ( Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Founder of 350.org, writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben. (R) (Photo: Nancie Battaglia /
350.org)

Bill McKibben, Schumann distinguished scholar at Middlebury College, is the author of a dozen books about the environment, including “The End of Nature” (1989), regarded as the first book for a general audience about global warming. He is also founder of the global grassroots climate movement 350.org, which organized what CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Most recently, he was the recipient of the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. Of this honor, McKibben said:

“I’m a beginner as an organizer; it’s a great honor to be included on this list of people who have changed America for the better. I am deeply grateful to The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute for this recognition of my work. I am even more appreciative that this award is representative of a shared conviction that now is a singular moment in our history for all people of good conscience to come together in defense of the planet. Our work has never been more urgent.”

Gregory Vickrey, Peace of the Action distinguished board member and generally unknown writer and activist, is the author of not a few critiques of environmental organizations, including “Environmentalism is Dead”, likely one of the least read articles on Counterpunch, ever. He has been lucky to work with Cory Morningstar of Canadians for Action on Climate Change; otherwise, he’d be extra-unknown. Most recently, he was the recipient of the $0 Peanut Butter Subsistence Prize. Of this honor, Vickrey said:

“It sucks to be broke and targeted, but what can I do? The entire world is at stake. So few of us stick to our guns and speak the truth about climate change – recognizing it as the greatest crime against humanity in history – I’d hate to cull myself from that group. Even if it meant I could also afford jelly on occasion.”

On that note, I interviewed Bill McKibben and Gregory Vickrey and would like to share our conversation with you.

Mickey Z.: You’ve noted that this award highlights your shift from writer to organizer. Can you tell us more about how and why you made that shift?

Bill McKibben: At some point, it became obvious to me that we were losing badly in the global warming fight, and that one reason was we had no movement. All the scientific studies and policy plans on earth don’t get you very far if there’s no movement to push them. So we’re doing our best to build that – too late and too slowly, but as best we can.

Gregory Vickrey: I think Bill is genuine here. He did realize we are losing badly in the global warming fight – and we still are. It is important to question ourselves when we endeavor to build a movement. In Bill’s case, I think one of the first questions was funding. And that’s can be a dangerous question, especially when one considers the history of the environmental movement, and even recently sees organizations like The Nature Conservancy cutting deals with Dow Chemical. Unfortunately, with the incarnations of what was to become 350.org, we find seed money from the likes of Rockefeller Brothers Fund (think big oil), and we find a pronounced effort to create a brand, rather than a movement – and that strategy was created by Havas, one of the world’s largest marketing firms.

MZ: Of your work, Derrick Jensen has said: “One of the problems that I see with the vast majority of so-called solutions to global warming is that they take industrial capitalism as a given and the planet which must conform to industrial capitalism, as opposed to the other way around.” How do you respond to this critique?

BM: It strikes me that the single biggest variable explaining the structure of the world today is the availability of cheap fossil fuel – that’s what happened two hundred years ago to create the world we know, especially its centralization. I think if we can put a serious price on fossil fuel, one that reflects the damage it does to our earth, then the fuels that we will depend on – principally wind and sun – will push us in the direction of more localized economies. Those kind of changes have been the focus of my work as a writer in recent years.

GV: What strikes me is that Bill did not respond to the question that was asked. What Bill says instead is that we should depend upon the political system that got us into this mess to get us out of it by taxing the crap out of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, we could elect Bill (or me!) as president and we still wouldn’t get the policy in place to force corporations to kill the carbon economy. Jensen is on point with the quote you provided, and Bill and corporate brand 350.org ignore that part of reality.

MZ: So many people believe they’re already “doing their part,” e.g. recycling, using CFL bulbs, bringing their own bag to the grocery store etc. How do we help them see ASAP that this isn’t even remotely enough?

BM: Well, I think we keep encouraging them to become politically active too, not instead. It’s good to do what you can around your house; and our job is to help people realize that there are ways they can be effective in a larger sphere too. That’s what movements are. And especially with climate change, the feeling that you’re too small to make a difference can be crippling.

GV: This is another arena where Bill has no forthright response at the ready, because he and 350.org are not in the business of systemic change. They believe in green capitalsm, so changing light bulbs is good, recycling is good, etc. See, the “feel good” in recycling allows us to continue consuming at preposterous rates. Changing light bulbs damns us to suffer Jevons Paradox, and corporations love that. So 350.org loves that. Instead, we should be making people aware of reality: our only chance is effective zero carbon emissions, and we must get there in a matter of years. That means dramatic systemic change. That means drastic lifestyle changes. It’s apolitical, in the end, because Mother Nature doesn’t care about having a seat at the table in DC. She doesn’t need it.

MZ: The US Department of Defense is the world’s worst polluter, the planet’s top gas guzzler, and recipient of 53.3 percent of American taxpayer dollars. How does your work address this situation and the concurrent “untouchable” status the US military has among the majority of American citizens?

BM: I’m not sure it really does, directly. Indirectly, I think the biggest reason we have the oversized defense that we do is that we rely on distant and unstable sources of energy as the core of our economy. I remember one sign in particular from the early Anti-Iraq-War rallies I went to: “How did our oil end up under their sand?”

GV: Bill’s work doesn’t address militarism at all. We need to drastically cut military spending in order to subsidize systemic change in the short term, and that mechanism is the fastest way to start cutting carbon. You won’t find that on the 350.org website.

MZ: Since 51 percent of human-created greenhouse gases come from the industrial animal food business, are you encouraging people to adopt a plant-based diet lifestyle?

BM: I’ve written time and again that industrial agriculture, especially factory livestock farming, is a bane – not only for its greenhouse gases, but for myriad other reasons. Interestingly, though, scientific data from the last couple of years is leading to the conclusion that local, grasspastured, often-moved livestock, by the action of their hooves and the constant deposition of manure, improve soils enough to soak up more carbon and methane than they produce. (This would explain why, say, there could have been more ungulates on the continent 300 years ago than now without it being a curse to the atmosphere). So there may be hope for meat-eaters as well – but only if you know and understand where your dinner is coming from.

GV: Again, Bill misses the point. Beyond eliminating militarism, we can cut into our carbon budget most drastically and immediately by scrapping the agro-meat industry. In time, Bill’s scenario providing hope for voracious meat eaters may come into effect, but we do not have the time to gradually shrink agro-meats. If we implement a strategy of incrementalism here, we are doomed to suffer the worst effects of climate change.

MZ: Is there a question you’ve always wished to be asked during an interview? If so, please feel free to ask and answer now.

BM: I’ve … done a lot of interviews.

GV: How do we get to zero? In short, the United States, Canada, and Australia must get to zero emission before 2020, with most of the cuts occurring over the next 5 years. Europe, Japan, China, India, and a few other countries must accomplish the same before 2025. The rest of the developing world must accomplish the same before 2030. Even in the best of circumstances, this scenario does not protect us from the feedback loops that are not included in any of the predictive models. But it gives us our best shot. Assuming policy-makers balk at this, we need an all-out global uprising to overcome, overwhelm, and overtake the system, and to be prepared for massive sacrifice. The system and its masters will not be easily returned to the masses. We must give them no choice.

MZ: What do you like to do when not engaged in writing, organizing and activism? What inspires you outside of those realms?

BM: I like to be outdoors – cross-country skiing most of all, or hiking. That’s why I live in the woods. And that’s why it’s tough to be on the road so much organizing. But I love the people, especially the young people, who are my colleagues.

GV: I chase dogs and kids and soccer balls. I succumb to the “need” of college basketball. I wonder where my next meal is coming from.

MZ: How can readers connect with you and get involved with your work?

BM: By going to 350.org and signing up. We spent what little money we had on a website; it works in about a dozen languages, and we think it’s pretty sharp.

GV: People can learn more about Bill’s work here and here. People can go to my website to get in touch and learn more about climate reality; it works in one language – occasionally two when I can manage to get a translator – and it’s pretty sharp considering I still owe the guy who helped me with it some cash. Maybe I can fix him a peanut butter sandwich instead.

Note: The preceding interview is not real. Mickey Z. and Bill McKibben held an interview that may be found here; their sections remain the same. Gregory Vickrey’s sections are a fictitious addition meant to bring the reality of corporate brand 350.org to the fore, and to urge everyone to get serious about climate change. Wake up. Tear down. Rise up.

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Brilliant Rant About Symbolic Action and 10:10

Posted by keith on 8th October 2010

I have been sent a link to this wonderful “rant” – no, it’s not a rant, it’s telling it like it is – on the Powershift forum.

Here’s the Richard Curtis video he refers to, and if Mr Curtis would like my opinions on 10:10 then I would love him to bring his little red button to my house so we can discuss it…

Yeah, but what about the climate impact of the detergents and water to clean up afterwards? ;-)

This is just sick; not the fake blood (cinematic suicide bomber chic?), but the whole belief in piffling measures like low energy lights and the like as being the way we can cut emissions. We have to offer a vision outside of the present consumer paradigm that encourages a shift in lifestyle rather than the substitution of existing consumption trends. Actions like this are a simplistic exhortation to change brand or product, not to change the nature of the human system and its impacts on the biosphere. And if, in the rhetoric of “10:10″, this is just something easy to get people interested, that’s absurd too — a lot of recent work on issues around behavioural economics demonstrate that such incantations to change only work where the change is insignificant or equivalent, but fail when it requires a real and difficult realignment of lifestyle patterns.

I’ve just been sent the blurb — AGAIN — on the Crude Awakening demo in London — http://www.crudeawakening.org.uk/

Yet another example of people who want to “save the planet” and keep their iPods (OK, I’m generalising on that point!), when in fact it’s their atrophied, consumer-oriented outlook on the potential of their lives that’s the problem. Their perception of the drivers for the “problems” they seek solutions to are wholly divorced from reality, and rely on the simplistic media-spun agenda that is shaped by the very same forces that they state their opposition to. E.g., there’s no discussion of the resource supply issues related to oil (and other) as a source of energy — why do you think the industry is drilling in deep water/the Arctic in the first place?

There is no climate solution within the paradigm of consumption; that’s a demonstrable fact. We have to shift our lifestyles to a new economic and organisational structure that restricts demand, but unfortunately none of the self-proclaimed leaders of the eco-establishment appear to have the guts to promote such a concept at the leading edge of their agenda (of course, you might find such exhortations in the small print, but they won’t lead their sound-bites on this approach).

It doesn’t matter if, at present, most people “won’t like it”; it’s the only option that is able to address the drivers of the human suicide cult called “growth economics” — physical reality doesn’t negotiate, doesn’t compromise with ‘political reality’, and for that reason the eco-establishment as much as the political and economic establishment are going to be thrown into crisis by these trends as they arrive over the next two or three decades. Personally I think I’d rather be disliked for making a case based on evidence rather than promoting an eco-delusion assimilated by market forces. More importantly, people might not “like it” today, but if that argument is not put because of the movement’s adherence to the shibboleth of growth then the public will never have the choice of considering any option other than the market-centric solutions offered by all mainstream parties/groups.

As far as I can see, initiatives like this are just spinning a delusional rope that will in the near future hang them! Clearly, in the reversal of McLuhan’s observation, “the message has become the media”; and in the process the actions that they promote are conceptual extrapolations of reality (aka. ‘hyperreality’), not a realistic commentary on our situation that the public are able to assimilate and act upon. These “environmentalists” should stop using the Web 2.0/digital media that are driving IT emissions up and resource availability down, ditch their mobile phones and other lifestyle gadgets, and start living a more simpler way of life where we reduce consumption not for the motivation of “reducing emissions” (which, by many measures, does not have this effect on the economy as a whole) but rather to avoid the need to earn income and therefore the need to work long hours — in the process creating the spare time to engage in more activities that create a less consumptive and more local/resilient system, thus creating a feedback loop that reduces their lifestyle impacts further.

Simplicity is the future, not the illusion of some carbon-friendly ecotopia.

Another 10% next year? I don’t think so.

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Green Youth Movement: The Frightening Face of Young Consumerism

Posted by keith on 14th May 2010

An impending sense of dispair tends to fall over me when I open my mailbox in the morning. Alongside the genuine spam comes a pile of cut-and-paste guff that spews from the keyboards of public relations firms who have been paid a few bucks to send out sycophantic press releases on behalf of their clients: rather like opening a tin of spam and finding, rather than the glutinous pink stuff you expected, it has also acquired a green fungal glaze.

I have been holding back from opening one particular mail for a few days, maybe expecting it to gently expire and bury itself in my Junk folder. But it refuses to die, and so I have just opened something entitled: “Girl Meets Green”. Even the title is wrong: did “Girl” come across a pulsating blob of verdant matter and politely introduce herself? Maybe “Girl” fell in a vat of paint, was heroically rescued, and has looked in the mirror for the first time since this life-changing event.

Or maybe it’s just lazy PR-speak for another light-green bit of eco-hypocrisy

Hi Keith,

Get ready, because the world is about to get a little
greener, thanks to one ambitious 17-year-old.

The “Green Teen,” a.k.a. Ally Maize, and founder of the Green
Youth Movement is joining forces with the internationally-recognized
environmental company, RecycleBank, to change the world, one city at a time.

Would you like to read the full press release and find out how?

Best,

Annie

What would be the point of reading an even longer version? I’m off to the website of the Green Youth Movement, to see how they are going to make the world greener.

Green Youth Movement’s goal is to educate kids all over the world on living green, and to one day establish this very important information as part of the curriculum in our elementary schools. The mission of GYM is to educate kids and teens about environmental awareness, eco-friendly behavior and small steps that collectively embraced by this age-group can make a big difference for the future.

My name is Ally Maize and I am passionate about the environment and I am taking a stance to help with issues regarding global warming. I have built this site not only as a resource for those people seeking information but for those people who want to try to make a difference and help our environment.

As founder of GYM, I hope to one day garner the support of politicians and educators to create a practical and research based environmental course of study that would ultimately become integrated in every elementary school education curriculum across the nation.

It is my belief that providing youth with meaningful and practical methods of conserving and utilizing resources is the key to changing the direction of global warming. As the effects of global warming continue to advance from a theoretical construct to a reality, it is necessary that each of us assume responsibly to make a difference. Establishing The Green Youth Movement has been my way to embrace what I regard as one of the most significant issue that plagues our future.

GYM aims to enlighten young children and their parents about the vulnerable state of our environment and challenge them to think about the world around them.

I have met some incredible young people with vision, passion and the willingness to stick two fingers up at the system in order to create some kind of change. I have learnt from some young people what it feels like to be a concerned person in a society that values shopping, celebrity and vacations above the fundamental need to have a functioning ecosystem. I have seen young people cry – including my own children – at the thought that certain types of humans are capable of such horrific acts in the pursuit of wealth and status. Oh, that I had such knowledge at such an early age – what could I have done by now?

Well, if I had been Ally Maize, I could have got to meet Miley Cyrus, Renee Zellweger and that prime example of eco-conscious thinking, Paris Hilton. I could also, as per the above introduction to GYM, have become utterly deluded that small, superficial actions create big change; adopted the lie that politicians have any part to play in a sustainable future; in order to alienate part of my audience entirely, I would have referred to “teens” as “young children”; and finally, I would have got my parents to by me an electric car for when I passed my driving test – well, she does live in Beverley Hills…

Oh, but it gets worse – far worse!

The web site is packed full of tips for a Green Lifestyle, the vast majority straight out of high school textbooks, but also plenty that have been conveniently melded to suit the high-flying, Beverley Hills lifestyle that all Green Consumers should also aspire to. Here’s some classic advice on standby power:

Most people think that when you turn something off, it actually turns off. Most people assume that it stops drawing power. Unfortunately, that’s not true in the case of most electric devices. Most of them just hover in standby mode.

The “Phantom load” is the energy that is sapped by appliances when they are plugged in, but not turned on. By turning everything off or unplugging, you save big on your energy bill. In the average American home, 40% of all electricity is used to power appliances while they are turned off.

* Turn off lights, TV, computer, DVD player, cell phone charger, and stereo when finished using them.
* Reduce your demand. Do you really need 2 TV’s in one room?
* Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not charging.

So what does this actually tell us? First, that it’s ok to have loads of gadgets in your house as long as you switch them off, and by “loads” I mean a TV in every room (so long as it’s not TWO TVs in every room). Second, that despite other advice talking about air conditioning (“Installing a programmable thermostat to keep air conditioning at 78 degrees F when it’s hot outside”), somehow devices on standby (or rather “turned off”) consume 40% of electricity in the home – clearly utter nonsense!

Let’s see what GYM tells us about travel – I would assume it would be to avoid flying and driving, and to try to base your life around your local area as much as possible:

The greening of the travel industry-whether away for business or pleasure is now required.

Here are some tips to help you choose where to spend your travel dollar and green-up your trip:

* Greening your travel starts even before you leave home by unplugging unused appliances, turning down the thermostat of the hot water heater, adjusting your AC/heater thermostat and stopping your newspaper.
* Book flights electronically and book flights with airlines that recycle the waste created when serving food and beverages to passengers.

Stop right there! Why are you booking flights, electronically or otherwise – and what difference does it make how you book “your flights” when you are intent on taking a hunk of metal into the air in opposition to gravity? Ah, I see, it’s ok if the airline recycles their waste – don’t worry about the carbon dioxide. Do I sense the Beverley Hills lifestyle clouding Ally’s view of what sustainable travel is?

I would also love her to explain why she is heating water in her house when she has gone on holiday…

Sprinklers:

Use a sprinkler timer. Timers will automatically shut off your sprinkler system after a set period so you dont have to remember. Also use sprinklers that emit large drops of water, low and close to the ground (not the sidewalk or street), and water early in the morning. This will ensure that the water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating.

Whoa! Where did that come from? Ok, it came from the section called “Green for Home and Work“, which strangely omits to mention the option of using water butts, watering cans and getting rid of that water-hogging lawn because LIFE IS NOT A FASHION SHOW!

Some might say I’m being harsh on a 17 year old, but then not all 17 year olds have their Mom and Dad to buy them an electric car with custom plates, employ a huge “Board of Advisors” or pay for a PR company which doesn’t even bother to check the nature of the people to which they send out press releases – yes, it was sent to news@unsuitablog.org.

If this is the face of the future then I would rather sew my eyelids together.

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The Copenhagen Communiqué: A Right Royal Greenwash

Posted by keith on 27th December 2009

Corporate Communique

(This is a guest post by David McKay, environmental activist and writer)

The Greenwash presses have been running over time recently with the Copenhagen climate talks ever present in the news. Apart from the greenwash provided by the conference itself to its participants, companies have been keen to use the opportunity to claim that they, too, want to see a ‘good deal for the climate’. Apart from the very obvious nature of Hopenhagens attempt, as has been shown in previous posts on this blog, there have been some less obvious campaigns. One that caught my eye recently is ‘The Copenhagen Communiqué’, which has recently appeared as a stamp in the corner of many companies newspaper adverts and websites. Given that these companies included such luminaries as EDF energy, this stamp needed some investigation.

The Copenhagen Communiqué is a project of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders’ Group on Climate Change, a group of ‘business leaders’ the prince has got together who supposedly all care a lot about climate change, along with The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. They’ve also issued a communiqué for both the Bali and Poznan conferences, so are quite an established group. For many established readers of the Unsuitablog, the concept of business leaders issuing advice on climate change might already raise a few eyebrows, especially as the many signatories include BAA, Shell, BP, Asda, Rio Tinto, Unilever, Adidas, Statoil, Nestle, Coca Cola… just about all the corporations with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of consumerism and industrial civilisation all in one list. Here’s what they say:

This communiqué is being issued by the business leaders of over 500 global companies. It calls for an ambitious, robust and equitable global deal on climate change that responds credibly to the scale and urgency of the crises facing the world today.

Earlier this year, the world’s twenty largest economies (G20) came together and agreed an unprecedented, coordinated response to the global economic downturn. At the London Summit, the leaders of the G20 pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to restore confidence and growth to the economic system.

World leaders now need to demonstrate the same level of coordination and resolve to address climate change. Economic development will not be sustained in the longer term unless the climate is stabilised. It is critical that we exit this recession in a way that lays the foundation for low-carbon growth and avoids locking us into a high-carbon future.

Within the first few paragraphs the intention of the communiqué is already clear – that their primary goal is not to protect the victims of climate change, and the earth’s biosphere but to protect their prosperity and profits. Some might argue that as long as this helps stop climate change that this isn’t a problem, but will these corporations really support the action necessary to combat climate change, or just appear as such and take advantage?

…it will create the conditions for transformational change in our global economy and deliver the economic signals that companies need if they are to invest billions of dollars in low carbon products, services, technologies and infrastructure.

Note how these ‘leaders’ are simply asking the government to make it profitable for them to invest in these new technologies, not taking the initiative themselves. Only if the taxpayer can guarantee them profits will they do anything. But why do they care so much about these low-carbon technologies if the old dirty ones continue to be profitable?

Action at the sector level will help accelerate the large-scale deployment of clean technologies through robust funding solutions, technological transfer and capacity building. The least developed economies need additional assistance including increased and adequate financing, and expanded cooperation to help them adapt to and join the new low-carbon economy.

Here it becomes clearer. The corporations will create the new technologies if the government subsidises them, then they will sell them to the poorer nations in order for them to meet their targets, and those poorer nations will use money from western governments in order to purchase these technologies, money which no doubt they will end up paying back at a later date.

Measures to deliver a robust global greenhouse gas emissions market…

They also ask for carbon markets, which corporations could then use carbon markets as they have done with the European trading scheme, lobbying and persuading governments to issue too many permits, resulting in low carbon prices and effecting their operations very little.

Measures will be needed; to deliver a step-change in energy efficiency, to promote the rapid development, demonstration and wide deployment of low-carbon technologies and also to stimulate new markets for low-carbon goods and services. These measures will include ambitious performance and efficiency standards, bold public procurement commitments, and the development of incentives. Robust intellectual property protection as well as other enabling policies are key.

Communique Signatures

It is clear what these corporations are seeing in this text is not so much a bold statement on how to prevent dangerous climate change, but how to develop themselves new markets using taxpayer money and subsidies from government, and increase the dependence of poor nations upon them. However, this aim is neatly covered up with environmental rhetoric, with noble-sounding statements on limiting temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, helping poorer nations adapt and limiting deforestation elsewhere in the text. But these are being used to mask the real mission behind these companies – to make money from climate change.

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Trudie Styler DVDs, Flights and More Sick Bags Please

Posted by keith on 1st October 2009

Do you have a beautiful Tuscan mansion? And another in New York, southern England, the Caribbean and probably all sorts of other places? And do you fly on a regular basis between them, and anywhere else that takes your fancy…in private jets…and helicoptors? And do you have personal chefs, masseurs, lifestyle advisors, gardeners and houshold maids? And have you had a Hilarious.Run.In with a Guardian journalist that more people need to see, just for the entertainment value? And do you promote healthy, sustainable living and tell people to save the rainforest?

Hi Trudie!

Love the moves…

Now, one video alone is never enough to move the contents of your stomach upwards, forcefully opposing the laws of gravity to emerge in a chunky stream of meal remainders. What we need is a proper emetic, in the form of this press release from Marissa at Trudie’s PR agency, Krupp:

GAIAM AND TRUDIE STYLER CREATE DVDS IN TUSCANY

Trudie Styler and Celebrity Trainer James D’Silva to Star in

Series of Mind Body Fitness DVDs

NEW YORK, NY – Gaiam, Inc., the leading distributor of lifestyle media and fitness accessories, today announced that it will produce a series of mind body fitness DVDs with Trudie Styler, the actress, producer, and environmental campaigner.

She will be joined in DVD workouts that combine elements of yoga, Pilates and ballet with traditional exercises by celebrity fitness trainer James D’Silva, who trained as a ballet dancer in his native Goa. He specializes in workout regimes to increase flexibility, strengthen and tone muscles, and improve posture.

The programs are filmed on location at Il Palagio, the Tuscan villa Styler shares with her husband Sting, and will feature music from Sting’s #1 classical album of 2006, “Songs From the Labyrinth,” plus extensive bonus material.

The first two DVDs will launch in October 2009, the third in December 2009, and two more DVDs and Myofascial Release kit in 2010. Each DVD will reflect elements of Styler and Sting’s philosophy on eco-friendly living.

“Trudie Styler embodies Gaiam’s lifestyle message of good health, wellness, and sustainability,” said Lynn Powers, CEO of Gaiam, Inc. “Her dedication to a personal lifestyle that focuses on health, the environment and social responsibility serves as an example for all.”

Trudie Styler said, “I have enjoyed yoga, Pilates and dance over the years and I certainly feel I have benefited from the integrated mind body experience they offer. It’s exciting that through Gaiam, James D’Silva and I are able to introduce these routines to others. I hope they will derive as much pleasure and benefit from them as I have done.”

The DVDs will feature Styler and D’Silva performing various mind body fitness routines, in the setting of the Il Palagio estate in Tuscany. They will also contain interviews with Styler, Sting and D’Silva covering thoughts on the environment, music and several of Sting’s songs.

“These new DVDs will combine fitness, aesthetics, and artistry designed to enhance the spirit of the workouts,” said Gaiam President of Entertainment and World Wide Distribution, William S. Sondheim. “Additional bonus segments will give viewers a glimpse at how Trudie and Sting have personally dedicated themselves to inspirational practices and green living.”

Bonus material will include a tour of Il Palagio’s kitchen and gardens. More than 70% of the food at Il Palagio comes from the estate itself, including products that are sold to the public such as honey, olive oil, fruit, vegetables, Tuscan salami and, coming in 2010, wine. Additionally, there is a behind-the-scenes look at how Il Palagio uses the surrounding land to create a self-sustaining and eco-friendly house that runs on bio fuels. And lastly, a lifestyle piece about organic wine production, the conversion of estate lands into biodynamic vineyards, and the story behind Sister Moon, the couple’s organic wine label.

You want them, don’t you? All of them.

Strangely, my reaction to this slightly misdirected press release was not over-effusive, sycophantic congratulations and a promise to promote the DVDs all over my blogs. I thought this would be more appropriate:

Hi [name withheld to protect the innocent]

To be honest I would rather eat my own hand than watch flying-addict Trudie, she of the 4 or 5 homes (I lose count), tell everyone how to live in a sustainable way on only $10m per year, while delightfully pirouetting to Sting’s self-obsessed ballads.

Thanks for asking, though.

Keith

To give her some credit, she is probably just as pissed off with sending this banal crap out as I am with receiving it. Her response was perfect:

So you’re passing? Just kidding. Thanks for letting me know and have an awesome weekend :-)

:-D

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Earth Day Poseurs (From The Daily Beast)

Posted by keith on 28th April 2009

No, not Cowell!Material girlGodfather of something or other

A bit late here, but I always like the chance to have a pop at hypocritical celebrities, given that in the USA especially, celebrities are a major source of general information (yes, you heard that correctly) on such topics as economics, global politics, social welfare and the environment. People listen to celebrities because, to a great extent, celebrities are the news.

The Daily Beast brings us this little gem of a lineup:

Those who live in solar houses shouldn’t throw stones, and yet an increasing number of celebrities are jumping on the green bandwagon before taking a look into their own public records. They’re not exactly hypocrites, and most of the time Barbra Streisand and Al Gore (especially Al Gore) direct the public’s attention to unsexy topics like climate change. But beneath their megawatt smiles and shouts of “Go green or else!” some disturbing personal trends have emerged. Like, say, a $22,000 water bill.

Prince Charles Prince Charles, Royal Fraud?

To be fair, the Prince of Wales appears, on the outset, to be a champion of the environment—he is even joining forces with Elizabeth Hurley to launch a healthy, undoubtedly sexy, organic food line. However, during his recent environmental tour to South America, he traveled 16,400 miles by private jet, causing an uproar among carbon-emissions number crunchers (he used 322 tons, if you’re counting). Perhaps a green how-to book will make amends? It was recently announced that the heir to the throne is penning an adult and children’s book called Harmony to be released by HarperCollins in 2010. The Kumbayah-esque title will explore climate change and direct readers to “restore the lost balance between Man and Nature.”

Simon Cowell Leaving (Daily) on a Jet Plane

One good reason for Simon Cowell to dump his high-paying gig on American Idol: No more weekly U.K. to L.A. flights. While Cowell’s carbon emissions are through the roof partly because of his sweet rides—a gas-guzzling Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari, and Rolls Royce Phantom fill his garage—an even more egregious blunder is his transcontinental judging trek, which requires him to pull double duty on AI and Britain’s Got Talent. (Susan Boyle and American Idol’s winner-in-training Adam Lambert certainly aren’t going to critique themselves.) Tonight Fox is launching a “Green It. Mean It.” campaign for Earth Day, so watch for Simon’s trademark grin to be especially sheepish before he hops back on his plane.

Barbra Streisand Not So Funny Figures

Yentl done good. Sort of. Barbra Streisand donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation three years ago with a special plea to the former president to focus on climate change. She should have started by taking a look in one of her backyards. Here are some laughable numbers: Watering the lawn at her Malibu mansion costs a reported $22,000 a year, and she keeps a vast 12,000-square-foot backyard barn air conditioned (to keep the rafters from overheating?).

Madonna Madonna’s Plastic Overdose

The pop star is wrapped up in other worries right now (come to think of it, how many private flights to Malawi has she made recently?) but her splashy spread on the cover of Vanity Fair’s eco-friendly issue remains a sore spot for the green brigade. After it was revealed she spends $120,000 a year on bottled water—a special Kabbalah-blessed variety at $5 a pop—many were outraged at her extravagant use of the plastic landfill enemy. Guy’s ex tried to make up for her faults by performing at the Live Earth concert series; however, the show generated over 1,000 tons of garbage and many still nitpick her wasteful fleet of cars, including two Hummers.

John Travolta Private Jet Fever

Pulp Fiction star John Travolta doesn’t apologize for loving his airplanes—but does he really need five private jets? The personal runway outside his Florida home may be convenient for him and his Gulfstream and Boeing 707s, but now, in environmentalist circles, he has fewer fans than his mega-flop Battlefield Earth. It’s calculated Travolta puts out 800 tons of carbon emissions every year, or 100 times the norm per person. He said recently, “Everyone can do their bit” to help fight global warming.

Al Gore Al’s Inconvenient Power Use

The godfather of all things green had a slightly hilarious PR nightmare a few years ago when it was revealed his 10,000-square foot carbon-neutral mansion used nearly 221,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. He tried to make amends, but a year later the Tennessee Center for Policy Research called him out—energy use at his home actually increased 10 percent and became the equivalent to 232 homes once the greening was done. He defended himself from critics by installing solar panels, a geothermal system for heating, cooling and hot water, and by using energy derived from solar, wind, and methane gas. Maybe the one-time VP deserves a pass.

On the other hand; if you are, like Al Gore, an apologist from the growth economy and all Industrial Civilization stands for, then maybe you’re no better than any other celebrity…

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And The Earth Day Winners Are…

Posted by keith on 20th April 2009

Earth Day 2009

In case anyone wants to accuse me of laziness, for using the text from other peoples’ emails and for banging on about Earth Day again (not for no good reason, I hasten to add), I would like to say in my defence that I have to trawl through, read and delete all this damn stuff which comes squeezing its way through my internet pipe every day like lots of little green goo-soaked monsters.

So, given this effort, and how I still don’t seem to have got through to the inane fools sending me so much pseudo-green trivia and corporate PR-puff, here’s my Top 3 Crap Earth Day Emails, in approximate order of hypocrisy:

3. Coupon Sherpa : for uber-trivia – as though coupons are actually a major issue, the promotion of coupons that encourage people to buy more stuff, and iPhones, which are made by a near-slave workforce with virtually no environmental regulation

As Earth Day nears, Coupon Sherpa’s new iPhone application demonstrates how mobile coupons can reduce waste

[Fort Collins, CO] – Envision all the printed coupons you receive via newspapers, magazines and direct mail. Millions upon millions of Americans are bombarded by piles of paper coupons every week. Coupon Sherpa offers an alternative that is friendly to the environment, convenient for consumers and beneficial for retailers.

Introduced in early April, Coupon Sherpa is an iPhone application that allows shoppers to access in-store coupons on their iPhone or iPod Touch. Approved by Apple, Coupon Sherpa (www.couponsherpa.com) is available at the iPhone App Store. There are coupons to over 100 merchants on Coupon Sherpa including Finish Line, Zales Jewelers, Coldwater Creek and Jackson-Hewitt. The coupon categories include clothing, restaurants, pet supplies, sporting goods, home & garden and entertainment.

The debut of Coupon Sherpa is timely, especially since Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22. The waste created by paper coupons is substantial. According to a report by the nonprofit group ForestEthics, “mail advertisements create 51.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.” [Ed: Mail adverts do not equate to coupons, you moron!] That number is equivalent to the emissions produced by heating about 13 million houses or mowing more than 20 billion lawns.

“We know that paper coupons will not be completely replaced, but providing consumers and retailers with an outlet for mobile coupons is a positive start towards reducing the waste created by the mountains of mail we all receive,” said Luke Knowles, who created Coupon Sherpa with his brother Jesse Knowles. “In the future, an increasing amount of coupons will be presented on mobile devices, and that will be great for the environment.”

2. Kelly Ripa and Electrolux : for being an incredible mix of greenwash and hypocrisy. This is like punching someone in the face and then saying “sorry” in a really sarcastic way.

Kelly Ripa Launches Virtual Campaign To Benefit Global Green

How Green Is This! Talk show host and eco-Mom [Ed: Eco what?! More like Hyper-Consuming Mom], Kelly Ripa launched Electrolux’s newest eco-friendly washer & dryer in limited edition “Kelly Green” just in time for Earth Day and kicked off an online campaign to encourage people to renew their commitment to living green by planting a virtual flower for a friend. For every virtual flower planted at electroluxappliances.com , Electrolux will donate $1 to Global Green USA to support their healthy green schools initiatives across America.

Pass me the sick bag!

1. Lexus and Alicia Keys : for leaving me open-mouthed with astonishment at the sheer level of environmental hypocrisy, coupled with a brilliantly conceived splash of student brainwashing; all for less than the cost of a single car.

To kick off Earth Month, Lexus, the top-selling luxury automaker, and multi Grammy award-winning recording artist, Alicia Keys, will honor Los Angeles’ Thomas Jefferson High School with a $10,000 Grand Prize for its environmental achievements through the “Lexus Keys to Innovation” program. The “Lexus Keys to Innovation” program is a unique way for Lexus and Alicia Keys to recognize and reward students who have successfully implemented innovative environmental programs in their schools and communities.

Through “Lexus Keys to Innovation,” Lexus and Alicia Keys presented ten schools across the country with a $2,000 donation to support existing environmental programs. Thomas Jefferson High School’s “action plan” proposed that the $10,000 Grand Prize be used to create a native “green” space on campus for the students and faculty to utilize as an interactive educational tool.

The mission of the program is to better this South LA high school and community by bringing a much needed green space to the area which is currently dominated by [huge amounts of greenhouse gases generated by vehicles such as those produced by Lexus,] concrete, meat packing plants and factories. Additionally, the space will help to improve the air quality around the campus, and will allow students at Thomas Jefferson High School and nearby Harmony Elementary School to use the Green Space as an outdoor science lab.

The Environmental club at Thomas Jefferson High School will make this project a community effort by partnering with the local Harmony Elementary School to teach the younger members of their community the importance of taking an active role to better the environment.

During a school-wide assembly [and marketing opportunity] on April 2nd, Lexus’ vice president of marketing, Dave Nordstrom, will present the Grand Prize as well as commemorative, native Californian sapling to plant in the “green” space to Thomas Jefferson High School. As an added “thank you” to the students of Thomas Jefferson, Alicia Keys has videotaped a special message that will be played at the assembly, prior to Dave’s commemorative.

Now, will you all join me in sticking two fingers up at the winners – including our special celebrities. May they all be washed away when the tide turns…

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Greenpeace Lose The Plot

Posted by keith on 29th January 2009

Greenpeace Lose The Plot

I’ll admit it, I signed up to the Greenpeace “Airplot” scheme, putting my name down to be a joint owner of a piece of land adjacent to London Heathrow Airport which would have to be compulsorily purchased should the airport be expanded. Make no mistake, this is a good idea and I applaud Greenpeace for doing it: one of the few good ideas they have had in the last few years (I think wasting 6 months trying to convince Woolworths to ban incandescent light bulbs might go down as one of their worst).

I mentioned the awful hypocrisy of film actress Emma Thompson speaking on behalf of Greenpeace about the need the prevent airport expansion a few days ago. For a moment, I thought that maybe Greenpeace had not briefed her properly and that her statement “This is not a campaign against flying” was just a foot-in-mouth moment.

Then it got worse…

From: Emma Thompson, Greenpeace
To: keith@theearthblog.org
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 4:15 PM
Subject: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

My fellow plot owners,

On Wednesday there will be a vote in parliament on a third runway at Heathrow. Ahead of this vote we urgently need your help to put pressure on Labour MPs to vote with their conscience and say NO to a third runway. We already have the support of the LibDems and Tory MPs.

Send a letter to the 57 Labour MPs who have opposed Heathrow expansion.

The government is treating us as if we’re stupid. They’re asking all of us to reduce our energy consumption while they build another runway at Heathrow. I think it’s the most egregious piece of hypocrisy I’ve seen in a long time…

I thought I’d highlight that last bit. I’m not sure what you call a hypocrite who accuses someone else of hypocrisy. Maybe a Hypocrite Squared. I responded in the only way I could.

From: Keith Farnish
Sent: 23 January 2009 16:22
To: Webteam
Subject: Re: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

Great, does that mean Emma Thompson isn’t going to fly any more?

Keith

Well, you would, wouldn’t you? This astonishing reply came back:

From: info
To: Keith Farnish
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:45 PM
Subject: RE: Airplot: Help us swing the vote on Heathrow

Dear Keith,

Thank you for your email.

We are not campaigning to stop people from flying altogether, but we do want to prevent the number of flights from growing to dangerous levels – the growth in aviation is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change.

This campaign is against airport expansion, and if you would like to find out more please do visit the following pages of our website:

www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/does-economic-case-third-runway-stack-20090114
www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/the-case-against-heathrow-expansion-a-briefing
www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/10-reasons-to-stop-heathrow-expansion

Many thanks for your support and best wishes,

Donna

Donna Hayter
Supporter Services
Greenpeace UK

www.greenpeace.org.uk

Very polite, but horribly naive, and possibly the most concrete evidence so far that the environmental mainstream are not trying to save the Earth or the future of humanity, they are merely trying to salvage Industrial Civilization, whatever hypocrisy it takes, and however pointless and fruitless the task.

My response was hardly worth it, given the incredible denial Greenpeace are now swimming around in, but I made it nonetheless, because if there is a chance that Donna might understand, then she might get out of Greenpeace and do something tangible.

Dear Donna

Flying, and carbon emissions in general are already at dangerous levels; massive reductions in excess of 90% by 2030 are needed to prevent runaway climate change. Are Greenpeace saying that we can leave global carbon levels at 385ppm and still be safe?

If the campaign is not against flying then how are you going to prevent airport expansion – or are Greenpeace staff still flying around the world, as they were when I was a volunteer?

Regards

Keith

I did not get a response.

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Emma Thompson vs Geoff Hoon vs Planet Earth

Posted by keith on 22nd January 2009

Another Way To Fly

The combined political and corporate power of UK Government Plc, the British Airports Authority (BAA), British Airways and others too numerous to mention, want to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport in London. Geoff Hoon, Secretary Of State for Transport, nicknamed “Buff Hoon” by some (buffoon) has essentially signed in blood the desire of the UK Government to build this 3rd runway: if it all goes to pot, Buff gets it, but then again if it goes ahead then Buff gets it. I almost feel sorry for the guy; he’s probably no worse than most politicians, just a power-hungry imbicile that does what he is told in order to climb the greasy pole.

Then you have Emma Thompson, fine actress, media luvvy and – apparently – a green activist. Greenpeace has shown her a field to the north of the existing airport and requested she talk up the case against flying; except this is a bit of a problem when you are the kind of person who regularly jets around the world between homes, offices, film sets and studios in order to earn lots of money. Oh, and you also have Greenpeace, whose head-office staff I am reliably informed are also not averse to the odd jaunt across the world for pleasure (I hear New Zealand and India are very popular).

This film tells the story…

So, Emma Thompson suddenly doesn’t like planes! Funny that.

Here’s how The Guardian reported the who malarky that ensued:

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon picked on the Oscar winner Emma Thompson who emerged as a leading figure in the campaign to stop the third runway at Britain’s biggest airport.

In an interview with the Guardian, Hoon was outspoken in his criticism.

“She has been in some very good films. Love Actually is very good, but I worry about people who I assume travel by air quite a lot and don’t see the logic of their position, not least because the reason we have got this problem in relation to Heathrow is that more and more people want to travel more and more,” he said.

He added: “BAA do not wake up in the morning and think ‘we need a bigger airport’ and airlines do not say ‘we need to put on more flights’ unless there is a demand for it. So the point is about not just Emma Thompson, but lots of people. If someone living in LA says he did not think it was a good idea to expand Heathrow, well the last time I looked the only way to get from LA to Britain is Heathrow.”

Thompson, who has helped Greenpeace buy an acre of land on the site of the proposed new runway, gave an equally tart reply: “Get a grip Geoff. This is not a campaign against flying – we’re trying to stop the expansion of Heathrow in the face of climate change.

“It sounds like the transport secretary has completely missed the point. Again.”

They both sound like complete arses. Geoff: BAA and the airlines exist to make a profit, and a third runway will make operations less costly, increasing profits — all they need is a corporate-friendly government to give the nod and concrete will be laid. And Emma, darling, if you don’t want to look like a hypocrite, cut out the flying.

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