A potentially even more serious problem that corporations and politicians are contributing to is global warming, also known as anthropogenic climate disruption or ACD. Corporations and individuals across the world rely on fossil fuels and they are among the most profitable resources on Earth. Most travelers and consumers are forced to choose gas vehicles because they are the most readily attainable and affordable vehicles. Oil companies claim this is because renewable solar and wind technology just aren’t efficient enough to meet the demand for energy currently being met by the oil industry but this is a lie. New electric, hydro, and solar vehicles are expensive and not as widely available mainly because oil companies sabotage renewable industries as this article will discuss. Electric stations are not being made widely in America either and public transit that runs on renewable sources of energy is rare. However, more than 50% of the total energy used in Iceland, Sweden, Norway is derived from renewable sources.
In the first half of 2017, 35% of Germany’s electricity was produced via renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro power.1 (Hydroelectric power, however, is not sustainable despite being renewable as the construction of hydroelectric power plants creates pollution and displaces and kills wildlife.) In 2012 399,800 Germans were employed in the renewable energy sector,2 debunking the tired old argument oil companies and pro-oil politicians make that eliminating the oil industry would result in vast unemployment. Germany seeks to cut greenhouse gas consumption by 80–95%, increase the efficiency of their electricity by 50%, and procure 60% of their energy from renewable sources by 2050. In 2013 52.1% of Sweden’s energy was derived from renewable sources while in Norway 65.5% of their energy was derived from renewable sources.3 Sweden aims for a fossil fuel free vehicle fleet by 2030. They also make use of tidal energy, which is a very underused technology. About 85 percent of the total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestically produced renewable energy sources.4 In 2011, 65 percent of Iceland’s energy was derived from geothermal, 20 percent was generated from hydropower, and only 15 percent was generated from fossil fuels. In 2013, Iceland also began harnessing and using wind energy. 87% of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy.5 These countries aren’t so far ahead on renewables because their countries have more advanced technology than the US. It is simply a difference of priorities. The political and corporate rulers of these countries are simply less greedy and willing to sacrifice the Earth for a quick buck. America has more than enough resources to be the most sustainable country on Earth but not nearly enough political or corporate will and these corporate and political rulers make it their business to impede these technologies.
Renewable energy technologies are not being funded or developed widely in America because American gas and oil corporations and car manufacturers profit enormously from fuel inefficiency and pointless production and consumption, and they’re not willing to give these profits up. Gasoline is an inefficient fuel and gasoline-powered cars require frequent trips back to the dealership (or a mechanic) because the combustion of gasoline puts a great deal of strain on engine parts. More dying cars and the production of new, inefficient cars provide more money for car dealerships, mechanics, and oil companies. Designing more efficient models requires more work and initial funding as well. If everyone was self-sufficient and our cars lived as long as we do (or were replaced with bicycles and sustainable public transit), oil companies, car manufacturers, and governments would not profit nearly as much. As oil supplies dwindle, the price increases and oil companies seek to reach the “peak oil” price, which is the highest price gas will ever reach. (Supply and demand are affected by countries and companies that hoard oil as well). Until peak oil is reached, there will be many individuals financially vested in the global use of gasoline and oil.
Politicians often talk about the “essential” jobs we would lose if we get rid of oil and gas companies. However, this is the same argument used for saving anything destructive. Nazi Germany could have declared that without the Reich, millions of Germans would lose jobs. It’s the same logic here. This argument is disingenuous and deflective of the real problem of global warming. We are all capable of doing all kinds of jobs. Our skills are transferable and we would all be happier doing work that benefits everyone, instead of stubbornly clinging to fossil fuels and bringing on another ice age for the sake of a few “jobs.” There will be no jobs or money on a dead planet.
Major American car companies often advertise their new models that get slightly better gas mileage than their previous models as well as their hydrogen and electric concept cars, (some of which are never released or are simply cost prohibitive for most) and they act as if they have solved the crisis. Exxon Mobil and other oil companies even claim they are at the forefront of sustainable energy while denying the existence of ACD. They do all of this to continue generating revenue while ignoring the calamitous problem.
From 1996 to 1999 General Motors produced electric cars called EV1s that worked without any problems, but due to political pressure, GM repossessed all of the EV1s it had sold and had them crushed in a desert. This was discussed at length in the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? The only existing EV1 that has not been disabled sits in the National Museum of American History. This was not the only time efficient technologies have been literally crushed. Governments have also contributed to this a great deal by subsidizing the oil industry, rewarding it with tax breaks, procuring oil through war overseas, and by penalizing electric car owners. As an example of the latter, in early 2017 Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana all introduced legislation that penalized electric car owners by forcing them to pay an additional fee of $180 every year. Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana have done the same in the past, charging fees of up to $300 per year. In Georgia such ridiculous fees led to an 80% drop in electric vehicle sales.6 Proponents of these penalties attempt to justify them by blaming electric cars for a loss in gas tax revenue.
America’s government and large corporations simply do not want to risk making less money, even for a brief period. Changing their infrastructure and business relationships to create electric cars would cost them a great deal of money initially, and unlike oil, companies can’t enlist the government to steal wind or solar power from destitute countries. The corporate state is the fundamental problem, not a “lack of technology.” The technology has long been available to build cars with much higher fuel efficiencies, as well as cars that use no gas at all. In fact, the first electric car was built sometime between 1832 and 1839 by Scottish inventor, Robert Anderson.7 This technology is not foreign to oil or car companies. In fact, despite never selling solar panels, some oil companies like ExxonMobil own patents on solar technology simply so they can sue solar companies for using the same technology and keep selling oil. Shell has solar competitions called “Shell Eco-Marathons” wherein they push the limits of solar technology without ever making it available to the public. One of Shell’s Solar Racers traveled 3,587 miles on one gallon of gasoline.8
Global warming or ACD should not be a difficult problem to solve, but governments and corporations have made it incredibly difficult because of the money they make on gas and their insistence on making more of it, regardless of the apocalyptic results. As mentioned the largest oil companies are subsidized by governments. In fact, according to a report by Oil Change International and the Oversees Development Institute, the richest 20 governments (also called the G20) of the world spend $450 billion subsidizing the fossil fuel industries every year collectively9, four times what is spent on renewable sources of energy. Some of these oil companies are government-owned and supposed to run for public interest but most do not. In addition, governments often make even more on gasoline taxes and industries that rely on gas than oil companies do on the sale of gas. This gives them even more incentive to keep the gas prices high and the efficiency of cars low. Many governments also own large oil fields and they don’t want to lose the potential profit under their feet, even if it means the destruction of our Earth. They don’t care about destroying the Earth and future generations as long as they continue to amass capital doing it.
Some political and corporate actors (especially in the media) who deny climate change claim the science is “not in” on global warming. But this is absurd. 97% of scientists agree ACD is real.10 Average global temperatures have risen over the 20th century and there are substantial records of that, especially in the Arctic. In November of 2016, average temperatures in the North Pole were a shocking 36 degrees higher than average.11 In December temperatures reached 50 degrees above average.12 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded13 (16 of the 17 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000) and C02 levels are higher than they have been in 3 million years.14 The excess carbon in the atmosphere and Earth’s decreasing solid water are both measurable and we can see the effects of both: global flooding of many coastal regions, mass migration from coastal towns, (25 million just in the mid 90s15) and an increase in extreme weather and disasters like hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, and flooding. Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the wildfires and droughts in California and Oregon are recent, devastating examples. Parasites and diseases that thrive on increased moisture and heat are proliferating too from the increase in warm moisture in the atmosphere. Ancient diseases and infectious microorganisms frozen in the permafrost are also being released, putting humans and other animals at risk.16 Melting of the ice caps poses a grave danger for two other reasons. Large amounts of methane are trapped in the ice and methane warms the Earth 28-36 times more severely than carbon dioxide does according to the EPA. This is because methane holds so much energy and is also a precursor to ozone, which itself is a greenhouse gas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the carbon equivalent of methane contained in Arctic permafrost is 1.4 -1.7 trillion tons, and that between 800 billion to 1.4 trillion tons of carbon will be released into the atmosphere by 2100. To put that in perspective, right now all human activity across the globe releases 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere yearly. One study estimates that the cost of such a methane release would be $60 trillion17 though as the methane release would kill most life on Earth, the economic cost is immaterial. The melting of the ice caps also decreases the Earth’s albedo, which is a measure of its reflectivity of the sun. The ice caps reflect 80% of the suns rays. If melted they would expose the dark ocean currently underneath the ice to the sun, which absorbs 90% of the sun’s rays, thus increasing water temperatures and devastating marine life. Ocean temperature rises are already causing coral bleaching and killing marine life humans depend on as a food source. The wildlife that lives on the ice caps is also dying and it’s not just polar bears as popularly depicted. More than 80,000 reindeer have died from the melting of sea ice in the Arctic region of Russia alone.18
The ice caps, (which are projected by some scientists to soon disappear for the first time in 100,000 years19) Greenland’s ice sheets, and valley glaciers are melting and receding more and more every year, regardless of those who refuse to accept this. The select few who try to change this are often stifled by congress or corporate parasites who represent the private sector. For example, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) showed that Fox News misled viewers about climate science in 93% of their prime-time programs that discussed the topic over a six-month period in 2012. Even “liberal” corporate news stations are awash with climate science denying garbage and panelists from the oil and gas industry.
UN failures and summits are also to blame for the lack of progress on ACD. The richest countries in the world gather to these summits and make commitments to lowering gas consumption for good press but never follow through. Even the goals themselves are not nearly ambitious enough. In 2007 the European UN agreed to reduce its emissions by only 20% by 2020. America has been even less committed. Obama also increased offshore drilling by 75%, fracking in the US, (which has been banned in California and NY) and approved the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (originally developed as a partnership between TransCanada and ConocoPhillips), which is intended to run oil down from Canada to refiners in the gulf region and Texas. The government used the joint terrorism task force to fight and prosecute those who protested the pipeline, classifying them as “terrorists.” The pipeline was later shut down but not without significant sacrifices from environmental activists, environment groups, and Native Americans. Trump then undid that progress and ordered construction on the pipeline to resume as President.
As of 2017 the Bakken pipeline or Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion, 1,134-mile-long underground pipeline that crosses four states (largely through Native American land recognized by the government) and underneath the Missouri River faced similar protests but it was not defeated. Over 300 Native American tribes gathered in protest along with many other concerned parties, to which Energy Transfer Partners and the state responded by hiring security firm, Frost Kennels, to sic dogs on protesters, calling in police from six states (Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana, and Nebraska20), the National Guard, and other thugs to intimidate, beat, and incarcerate activists. 126 were arrested on October 22nd 2016 alone. Some arrested were even been held in dog cages. To terrorize protesters, the state also brought in an MRAP (mine resistant armored vehicle), armored vehicles with sound cannons, helicopters, drones, and 300 militarized police with flash grenades, tear gas, bean bag launchers, pepper spray, rifles with silencers, shotguns, and live ammunition.
The day before dogs were sicced on Native American protesters (including a pregnant woman and a child who were bitten) on March 3, protesters submitted a supplemental brief, illustrating the locations of sacred burial sites not to be disturbed by digging. Tara Houska, an Ojibwe from the Couchiching First Nation and national campaign director for Honor the Earth explained on Democracy Now that the next day Dakota Access maliciously and egregiously “skipped over 20 miles ahead to bulldoze those [burial] sites. In the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 110(k) states, if they—if the company intentionally destroys or disrupts sacred places, that the permit cannot be issued, that the Army Corps cannot issue these permits…that this project cannot be approved. And that’s exactly what happened here.” Construction of the pipeline was also in violation of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laremie signed by US treaty commissioners and representatives of the Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations, which recognizes all land in question as property of these tribes. Construction was also in violation of the Sioux Treaty of 1868 between the US government and the Oglala, Miniconjou, Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation, which guaranteed Lakota ownership of the Black Hills and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Powder River Country. (This land was illegally seized in 1877 and broken into small reservations by the US government. In 1980 the Sioux Nation fought to get the land back in the Supreme Court, which ruled the US did steal the land but the court offered money, which was refused as the tribes only wanted their land back). The pipeline is also in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
In Iowa eminent domain was used to take the land to build the pipeline, which is the power of the government to take private property for public use or economic development. The government offers compensation in exchange but the government legally doesn’t need the consent of the owners to take the land. The government of the Philippines also uses eminent domain. In the UK, New Zealand, and Ireland, the legal mechanism is called “compulsory purchase.” In Australia and Hong Kong it is called “resumption” or “compulsory acquisition.” The property taken doesn’t have to be put to a use that benefits the public, so in essence eminent domain is nothing but legalized stealing and so long as there are governments, it must be abolished.
It’s not just climate change and the destruction of Native treaty lands protesters were concerned about. Directing a pipeline under a river is ecocidal. Pipelines leak. North Dakota alone had 200 pipeline leaks over the course of 2 years. With construction complete, the Dakota pipeline directed under the Missouri river has already leaked, and everyone dependent on that river downstream (about 21 million people) for drinking water, crops, and washing has been affected. Certainly, this is only a boon for private water companies who are happy to truck in water stolen from depleting aquifers for top dollar to fill the void of clean water created by the oil company’s pollution.
During the protests, mainstream, corporate news stations avoided covering the story and the scant coverage they provided was extremely biased and pro-police. Many independent journalists who covered the protests like Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman were issued warrants for their arrest. Goodman was charged with “inciting a riot” for reporting on the dog attacks on the protesters but fortunately these charges were thrown out.
The four main contractors of the pipeline were Sunoco Logistics, Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, and Dakota Access who received loans from a litany of banks including Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC, Wells Fargo, Citibank, TD Securities, ING, Bank of Tokyo, Mizuho Bank, and many others. Shell and Phillips are also invested. Despite issuing federal permits for the pipeline, Obama actually visited the Dakota and Lakota Nations at Standing Rock on June 13, 2014 and said “I know that throughout history, the United States often didn’t give the nation-to-nation relationship the respect that it deserved. So I promised when I ran to be a President who’d change that — a President who honors our sacred trust, and who respects your sovereignty, and upholds treaty obligations, and who works with you in a spirit of true partnership, in mutual respect, to give our children the future that they deserve… Let’s put our minds together to advance justice — because like every American, you deserve to be safe in your communities and treated equally under the law.”21 Like so many other promises Obama made, this commitment went unfulfilled and was just another lie told for good press.
In May of 2016 the federal government also approved the construction of two other massive pipelines: the Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail also owned by Energy Transfer Partners. These pipelines will ensure that fracked gas from the US will continue flooding Mexico. (Both Comanche Trail pipeline and Dakota Access are named after Native American tribes to make it appear as if they have the support of these tribes. The government uses a similar tactic. For example, half of Chippewa land was declared the Minnesota Forest Reserve on June 27, 1902 and renamed the Chippewa National Forest to make it seem as if they still had the land.)
In late October of 2016, Amnesty International sent a team of human rights observers to monitor police and their torture of protesters. But this had little effect. The protesters at the Standing Rock camp were all brutally evicted, and the corporate-state is as brazen as ever in their abuses of protesters and sacred lands. Fundamentally, this showed the failure of nonviolence protest. As Arundhati Roy said, “Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?” This was the main problem with Standing Rock protests. There was no audience, except for the few who cared. The mainstream, corporate news didn’t cover the story, the state did everything it could to crush protests, and average Americans just didn’t care and still don’t. Nonviolent protest assumes the people you’re appealing to actually care about right and wrong and they often don’t. The oil companies, the banks funding them, the cops, and the private security firms they hire to hunt down protesters don’t care if what they’re doing is wrong. They want the profits their actions afford them and will stop at nothing to get them.
What was needed were armed defenders of the nonviolent protesters at Standing Rock. Much like the Deacons for Defense and Justice provided armed protection for nonviolent Civil Rights groups like CORE and the SNCC in the 50s and 60s and prevented many deaths and other abuses, armed protectors could stop further abuses of nonviolent protesters. All most police respect is violence and money, and the threat of violence is the only thing that will get them to stop. They’re cowards and we need to push back in ways they understand.
Oil Giant Parasites
Despite the recent activity of Energy Transfer partners, they only had a revenue of $9.151 billion in 2016 and a total gross profit of $1.2 billion that year, which is peanuts in comparison to the revenues of other oil giants that have also committed crimes against humanity and nature. For example, Unocal (Union Oil of California), which merged with Chevron in 2005, was sued by villagers in Myanmar for profiting from the Myanmar military regime’s murder, rape, torture, and enslavement of locals to construct its Yadana natural gas pipeline from Myanmar to Thailand.22 Unocal settled for an undisclosed sum and the human rights violations continued under Chevron. Check out the documentary ‘Total Denial’ or the NGO Burma Campaign UK for more on this. The Chevron Corporation in the United States made $220.264 billion in revenue in 2013. The company is most active on the west coast of North America, the U.S. Gulf Coast, Southeast Asia, (especially South Korea) South Africa, and Australia. In 2010, Chevron sold an average of 3.1 million barrels per day (490×103 m3/d) of refined products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. It has also been responsible for environmental damage in Ecuador, oil spills in Angola and the coast of Rio de Janeiro, destroyed forests in Bangladesh, and stolen gas from Poland and Romania.
Total SA in France made 171.65 billion euros in 2013. Italian executives of Total SA have been arrested for corruption charges. In April 2010, Total SA was accused of bribing Iraqi officials during the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein to secure oil supplies, dubbed the UN “Oil-for-Food Programme,” for Iraq. A United Nations report later revealed that Iraqi officials had received bribes from oil companies to secure contracts worth over $10 billion. They have also bribed Iranian officials to give them access to Iran’s Sirri A and Sirri E oil and gas fields. The Securities Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice settled the charges, expecting Total SA to pay $398 million, more than the oil fields were estimated to be worth.
Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands had a revenue of $459.6 billion in 201323, over half of Netherlands’s $866.68 billion GDP that year.24 In 1996 human rights groups sued Shell for collaborating with Nigeria’s military rulers to commit crimes against humanity, including torture and murder of leaders of the Ogoni tribe in Nigeria. Typical of guilty of corporations, Shell agreed to pay $15.5 million in damages but denied any responsibility. Shell also paid the Nigerian military to stifle dissent and prevent protests of their company.25 In a cable released released by wikileaks, Ann Pickard, former Shell vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa bragged that Shell had approved every politician in every relevant Nigerian ministry and had knowledge of all their activities.26 She also requested the USG’s help in tracking down militants opposed to Shell and asked if they knew of any surface-to-air missile shipments to the militants. Further, she asked for intelligence on rival, Gazprom. Celestine AkpoBari, of Social Action Nigeria called Shell “more powerful than the Nigerian government.” Shell has also spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and California and made plans to drill in the Arctic. The company regularly engages in greenwashing, calling a $10 billion oil sands project in Alberta, Canada a “sustainable energy source”
ExxonMobil Corporation made $420.836 billion in 2013. They have spilled countless barrels of oil all over the globe, including in Yellowstone River and they have funded global warming disinformation and denial. If you want to know more about this, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power is worth a look.
Most American oil giants owe their existence to Standard Oil. Standard Oil dissolved in 1911 when the US Supreme Court ruled it was an illegal monopoly that violated antitrust laws. But it didn’t go away; it dissolved into 33 smaller companies. John D Rockefeller became the richest man in the world as a result. He and his family became majority shareholders. Sohio (Standard of Ohio) was created that same year in Cleveland Ohio. Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) became Exxon. Standard Oil Co. of New York (Socony) became Mobil. Standard Oil Company (Indiana) or Amoco became BP, which was originally the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Standard Oil Brazil originally owned by SO of New Jersey became a part of Exxon. The ownership of various pipelines was also broken up as a result of the ruling. Union Tank Lines and the Solar Refining Company of Lima Ohio were also sold off. Standard Oil of Kentucky was bought by Standard California, which became the Chevron Corporation, (Texaco was later acquired by Chevron) and Standard New York was bought by BP.
The Non-profit Industrial Complex
Unfortunately, more problems that aggravate ACD are the many massive, disingenuous “nonprofits” and NGOs that claim to work for the environment but that truly only care about money. Most common members (who just pay a monthly or yearly membership fee) of these organizations are genuine environmentalists but they have no say over what the leadership of these giant “nonprofits” and NGOs do. Those decisions are made by their CEOs or Presidents. Greenpeace is an example of such a “nonprofit”.
On May 10, 2010 seven Canadian NGOs including Greenpeace, the David Suzuki foundation, and Forest Ethics, along with 19 timber corporations signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. The agreement was supposed to protect 178 million acres of the forests of Canada but the signatory companies have ignored the agreement and only signed it to begin with for good press to increase their revenue. The environmental NGOs and nonprofits involved only shamefully legitimized and gave credence to these companies claims of environmentalism. Greenpeace and Canopy, two founding signatories, left the agreement in December 2012 and April 2013 respectively. Other environmental organizations suspended work with Resolute (one of the nineteen timber companies that signed the agreement) on May 21, 2013, announcing that “Resolute will not do the minimum that the science says is required to protect our forests and the threatened caribou that call them home.” Resolute was also logging and building roads in the habitats of endangered species, about which Greenpeace claimed Resolute was deceiving the public. In response Resolute filed a $7,000,000 defamation lawsuit against Greenpeace Canada on May 23, 2013 for “interfering with their economic relations” with their customers. Three Forest Stewardship Council certificates belonging to Resolute covering more than 8 million hectares of forest were also fortunately suspended after an appeal by the Grand Council of Crees. But Canada’s forests have already been devastated by logging.
One could place all the blame on Resolute and the other logging companies for lying about their commitments. But how could these nonprofits be so credulous? Money must have traded hands for these nonprofits to work hand in glove with the logging industry. Logging companies and environmental nonprofits are supposed to have contradicting purposes. There can be no “alliances” between them. The fact that these nonprofits eventually came out against Resolute shows they are not completely morally bankrupt but at the very least they are highly gullible and at worst they are highly corrupt.
The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) is another major example of a disingenuous NGO that only cares about profit. Its revenue was 654 million Euros in 2013. The WWF was founded by Prince Philip (who killed a tiger just as he and friends were inaugurating the WWF on September 11, 1961) and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Godfrey A. Rockefeller of the Rockefeller dynasty made super-rich from Standard Oil also helped found the WWF and served as Executive director from 1972 to 1978. He served on the Board of Directors and the National Council of the WWF from 1977 to 2006 as well. The Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rockefeller Family Fund have also given millions to Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
The aforementioned oil giant Royal Dutch Shell was the first major corporate sponsor of the WWF (it also funded the establishment of the WWF UK) and John Hugo Loudon, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell from 1951 to 1965 became the President of the WWF from 1976 to 1981. In 1967 after Shell’s recent devastating oil spill, the WWF prohibited criticism of Shell in order to keep the money from the oil giant flowing. In 2010 the WWF was paid by Shell and BP to study which forests in the southern hemisphere should be retained and where land could be cleared for industrial use.
Shell isn’t the WWF’s only corporate crony by any means either. Prince Bernhard established the nature trust called the “1001 club” (that continues to fund the WWF today) originally consisting of leaders of South Africa’s apartheid regime, despotic rulers like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, (responsible for genocide in the Congo) and Jose Martinez De Hoz (convicted for crimes against humanity), other aristocracy, and industry titans. Global corporations aside from Shell like Coca-Cola, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa, and Marine Harvest have all profited from the group’s “green” image only to carry on their businesses as usual.
The WWF supports these corporate giants by setting up “round tables” of industrialists to negotiate lucrative commodities, such as palm oil, timber, sugar, soy, biofuels, and cocoa where the WWF approves their massively environmentally destructive projects to make these companies look “green” by association in exchange for massive corporate donations. For example, the WWF founded the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil,” which “unites 400 palm oil industry players” and sanctions the corporate destruction of forests to make room for palm oil plantations. (The highly corrupt, plutocratic HSBC is a member of this roundtable that finances palm oil industry and it has donated $100 million to the “climate partnership” with the WWF.) Orangutan habitat in Indonesia has been decimated by this process and when orangutans go into the newly formed plantations to find find food, they are killed by the companies in charge. Wilmar International, (which made $43 billion in 2014) is an example of one such company. It has a consultation contract with the WFF on sustainability and the company is clear-cutting forests in Indonesia to make room for palm oil and biofuel crop production.
Another example is the IOI Corporation Berhad, (Industrial Oxygen Incorporated Sdn Bhd). As a co-founder of the round table, they have paid their workers under minimum wage, confiscated their passports, and are also clear-cutting forests in Indonesia and Malaysia to make room for palm oil and biofuel production. Much of these forests are owned by natives like the Kanum with land deeds but that doesn’t stop the company that calls these plantations “reforestation,” giving them and other palm oil companies “emission credits.” Runoff from their oil mills also pollutes local water sources. In Indonesia Papua, 9 million hectares were earmarked for oil palm plantation according to an agreement with the provincial government of Indonesia and the WWF.
The WWF is also tied to the World Congress on Biofuels, to which WWF is the only NGO invited and the Global Harvest Initiative, a corporate agricultural lobby group, which includes Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, and the WWF. The WWF has made a deal with Monsanto to label their GMO soy “produced sustainably” and it maintains a close relationship with the agribusiness giant. VP of the WWF, Jason Clay, is in charge of partnership with Monsanto. Before Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil legalized GMOs, Monsanto’s GM products spread to them via illegal smuggling27 (Brazil is now the second largest producer of GMOs) from Argentina where in one hospital in Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena surrounded by GM soy production and toxic pesticides, birth defects now affect 3.5% of all patients, increased from 1% before GMO crops were introduced28). It is likely the uncontrollable spread of GMO pollen from Argentina led to a change in these surrounding states policies on GM crops. Dr. Hector Laurence of the WWF Argentina is also the director of GMO companies, Morgan Seeds and Pioneer owned by Dupont.
In India the WWF agency, Wild India, hired natives and put a Nepalese royal family member in charge of safari tours of tigers that cost $10,000 per person. They also set up live cameras to capture the tigers. Despite the enormous profit this has brought the NGO, none of the money made is used to benefit or protect tigers or their habitat. Quite the contrary is true as Wild India’s infrastructure (lodging, etc.) for ecotourism and jeeps that burn fuel through the forests on their safari tours have harmed tigers and polluted their habitat. Millions of natives in India and Africa as well have been targeted for resettlement by the WWF and their governments to make room for this eco-tourism. (The Indian government even prohibits natives from gathering honey in the jungle to force them out into industrial cities.) The WWF claims the native tribes were “disturbing” tiger habitat, killing tigers, and selling them to Chinese businessmen, despite the fact that they worship tigers. The WWF’s claims are totally unfounded and hypocritical.
After retiring the leaders of NGOs and nonprofits like the WWF and Greenpeace often gain employment in the very industries they were supposed to be fighting. Timber, big agribusiness, gas, and mining companies are happy to hire a former Greenpeace President because it makes their company look “environmentally conscious.” But it’s just an egregious form of greenwashing. As an example, as highlighted in the documentary End: Civ, former president of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore BC joined an organization of forest company CEOs in 1991 called the British Columbia Forest Alliance, (not to be confused with the Ancient Forest Alliance) which advocates clear-cutting forests and is primarily funded by the logging industry. In 2006, Moore became co-chair the “Clean and Safe Energy Coalition,” which promotes the use of nuclear energy. In 2010, Moore became a representative for the Indonesian logging firm Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which has illegally cleared vast rainforests. He also now advocates planting GM crops and GM trees and denies humans have anything to do with global warming.
Paul Gilding, former president of Greenpeace Australia, is now a consultant for BP, Suncor, and the Western Mining Corporation, and the former president of Greenpeace Norway now works for the whaling industry. In June 2010 Greenpeace also agreed to a deal that would allow nations like Japan to continue hunting whales for commercial purposes. Nonprofits and NGOs must be unionized to prevent this kind of corruption. Some attempts have been made to do this but not without significant backlash from their leadership. For example, LA’s Greenpeace office was shut down by its parent company called The Fund For Public Interest Research when attempts were made to form a union in 2002 to receive health benefits.29 However, some nonprofits have succeeded in unionizing, such as La Clínica de La Raza, a California based charity, health clinic and the Exploratorium, a San Francisco based, participatory museum. According to Corey Hill of the East Bay Express only 6% of nonprofits are unionized.
Regular employees and volunteers of such giant NGOs and nonprofits are regularly taken advantage of and manipulated into supporting highly destructive practices. So long as governments exist, there must be laws that prevent those in highly unsustainable industries to join environmental NGOs and nonprofits and vice versa. The true land defenders and environmentalists do not run massive NGOs or corporations or make millions of dollars. They are, for the most part, not household names but rather humble, ordinary people (often natives or indigenous peoples) who make up but one of many fighting these corporations through protest, sabotage, and other direct actions without positive recognition from the mainstream, corporate media.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) are one such example who have attacked Nigeria’s oil facilities in the Niger Delta, causing Nigeria’s oil production to plummet to its lowest level in twenty years. While blowing up pipelines is not exactly environmentally friendly, it is less environmentally damaging than the oil companies end goal for the oil, which is to refine it, ship it, and sell it to consumers who then burn it for energy. Further, it hurts the bottom line of oil companies, which makes it financially difficult for them to build more infrastructure. It is also a symbolic win in the fight against imperialism. The Niger Delta Avengers demand the proceeds from Nigeria’s oil go to Nigerians, instead of massive, transnational oil companies and plutocratic governments. Nigeria has an incredibly ugly history with oil, which makes the NDA’s actions all the more understandable. Royal Dutch Shell began pumping oil out of the state in 1958 and they have worked with the notoriously corrupt Nigerian government to quell dissent. As mentioned Shell has repeatedly funded Nigerian soldiers to carry out brutal executions and torture those who resist the oil giant.
Most so-called “solutions” to ACD that industries have invented are not sustainable, despite being labeled as such, and this compounds the massive problem of ACD as people assume the market is “taking care of it.” Most people don’t realize even “green” sources of energy like solar panels can have some environmentally destructive impacts. The majority of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels require minerals, metals, and metalloids (some rare) like arsenic, quartz, aluminum, boron, cadmium, (a known carcinogen and genotoxin) copper, gallium, indium, iron ore (steel), molybdenum, phosphorous, selenium, silica, silver, tellurium, (which is three times rarer than gold) and titanium. These have to mined, which is by itself environmentally destructive as it displaces soil and kills life above and below ground, it can pollute water sources, mining quartz can cause silicosis in miners, and mining equipment is gas powered. Refining quartz also requires enormous furnaces, which consume a great deal of energy and emit carbon dioxide and silicon dioxide. Refining silicon further into polysilicon requires toxic hydrochloric acid and creates the toxic byproduct, tetrachloride, which can be recycled to make more polysilicon but is often just dumped (acidifying the soil and releasing toxic fumes) as the recycling process requires costly equipment. Fortunately, in 2011 China passed a law requiring companies to recycle at least 98.5 percent of their silicon tetrachloride waste but the extent to which these regulations are being adhered isn’t well documented.
The electricity needed to produce solar cells also often comes from coal plants. China makes about half of the world’s PV panels and uses many coal plants to produce them. Further, Chinese electricity is about twice as carbon intensive as that of the US. If solar plants could be built to power the manufacturing of more PV cells this would eliminate this problem but it may take a great deal of pollution to get to that point. Manufacturing solar cells from silicone (the most common kind) also involves the unique risk of silane, a highly explosive gas made of silicon and hydrogen, which has killed scores of industrial workers. Silane delivers silicon molecules to surfaces when it is heated, breaking into silicon and hydrogen.
Many companies that produce PV panels also use hydrofluoric acid or hydrochloric acid to clean sliced polysilicon wafers and increase their ability to collect light. These acids can burn through human flesh and decalcify bone and they must be disposed of in a way that does not damage the environment. Indiscriminate dumping of these acids has destroyed much wildlife and polluted water sources. For example, in 2011 Jinko Solar Holding Company spilled hydrofluoric acid into the Mujiaqio river, killing hundreds of fish.
Manufacturing PV panels also requires a great deal of water for cooling, chemical processing, cleaning, and air-pollution control. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “Utility-scale projects in the 230- to 550-megawatt range can require up to 1.5 billion liters of water for dust control during construction and another 26 million liters annually for panel washing during operation. However, the amount of water used to produce, install, and operate photovoltaic panels is significantly lower than that needed to cool thermoelectric fossil- and fissile-power plants.”
Wind turbines also require enormous amounts of fiberglass, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and concrete (for foundation) and these have to mined as well, which inevitably disrupts ecosystems, kills wildlife, and can pollute water sources. (Wind turbine blades could alternatively be made of hemp fiber to reduce the amount of nonrenewable resources required.) Turbines, however, are more efficient than solar panels, so their ecological footprint is less profound.
Fortunately, there are less well-known types of transparent thin-film solar cells made of plastics that can be adhered to windows, metal, plastic, and other building materials to generate electricity with the same or better efficiency as silicon PV panels. They are also less expensive to produce, require fewer raw materials, and are far less environmentally damaging. However, most thin-film technology uses cadmium for production or copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium sulfide. As both contain cadmium, neither are very safe since cadmium is a genotoxin and carcinogen. Most thin-film corporations recycle their cadmium safely but consumers need to know about the importance of doing this as well when their thin-film stops working. Some but not all solar companies have free pick up programs that recycle consumer thin-film when it no longer works. Some thin-film companies use more benign zinc sulfide or magnesium chloride instead of cadmium and there is research being done on solar cells that use no toxic or rare elements at all but these are still a long way from being ubiquitous, cheap technologies and any kind of thin-film requires electricity to produce. As most electricity used to produce solar cells comes from coal plants, (especially in China) this is not currently sustainable. Even replacing all of the coal plants with another “green” technology so that solar panels can be produced without coal is going to require the use of a lot of dirty sources of energy.
There is no such thing as a completely “sustainable” harm-free energy source (aside from human labor) at least not now. Therefore, rather than seeking to replace every source of dirty energy like coal and gas with some less environmentally damaging (but still damaging) source, we absolutely must reduce the amount of energy we use. We humans use an absurd amount of energy. Our energy use is not sustainable and we don’t need nearly as much as we use. Most of it powers the ridiculously bloated corporate / state sector. It is the engine of capitalism and has very little positive effects on common people. The energy required to heat homes during the winter (something hard to eschew if one lives in a cold area) is substantially less than the energy costs of monocropping, CAFOs, world-wide trade, and the mass production of products. These are practices that, for the most part, only benefit the richest people in the world.
Fundamentally, we humans (especially in the first world) must reevaluate our priorities and how we want to live. Native Americans and many native tribes in South America, Africa, and Asia use a fraction of the energy common middle-class people use because they don’t see every new bit of technology as a “need” and they live substantially better, happier lives living off the land in harmony with nature without exploiting it and extracting everything of financial value. However, oil companies, hydroelectric companies, big agribusiness, CAFOs, timber companies, mining companies30, and complicit governments all wage war on these native populations and their pristine environments. America in particular was built on the genocide of Native Americans.
Nigeria is but one example of a region under assault for its resources. Another example is the Brazilian and Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, the most biodiverse jungle on the planet that produces 20% of the world’s oxygen and contains five million species of plants, animals, and fruits, 50% of all the animal and plant species on the entire planet. The most shortsighted, ignorant, and unconscionably greedy investors and corporations have logged large large parts of it for timber and to make room for GM monoculture of cash crops and cattle, which is one of the biggest contributors of methane pollution in the world. Five million hectares of Brazilian forest have also been destroyed to make room just for sugar cane grown primarily for bio-fuel. Further, oil giant Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, pumped oil from the Amazon rainforest for 28 years since they discovered oil fields there in 1964 with no regard for the pristine environment or its residents. (The oil giant never even consulted residents to get their permission to drill.) In the process they have “intentionally dumped billions of gallons of toxic wastewater into rivers and streams, spilled millions of gallons of crude oil, and abandoned hazardous waste in hundreds of unlined open-air pits littered throughout the region”31 filled with crude and toxic sludge that overflow with heavy rains into steams where residents procure their drinking water. Local indigenous populations have suffered widespread outbreaks of cancer, birth defects, and miscarriages as a result of Texaco / Chevron’s pollution, and Chevron has done nothing to clean up their mess or compensate their victims.
There is no one “market” solution or technological solution to anthropogenic climate disruption; only human and Earth-based solutions. Far more important than technology is making lifestyle changes, (using less energy) and fundamentally caring for the Earth and future generations. We use far too much energy and human activities are primarily destructive when they don’t have to be. In fact, they can be quite positive. We humans could go completely off-grid through the use of solar, geothermal, wind, and tidal energy. We could make cable and communications giants like AT&T and Comcast (that spy on us, sell our information to advertisers, broadcast propaganda, and fleece us) a thing of the past by setting up communal, collectively owned radio towers. It is not naïve to start with a vision of the world they way we want it to be and build from there. It is naïve to think that by taking jobs that pay, regardless of their impacts, we will ever get to where we want because the “unguided hand” of the market is really a guided one. It is guided by powerful, parasitical tryants and their greed, vanity, and propaganda.
Widespread, human use of fossil fuels is contributing to the Holocene extinction event, which as mentioned in part one, has killed half of the world’s species. The WWF and Zoological Society of London have projected that if human activities continue as they are, we will lose 2/3 of the world’s species by 2020.32 Our waterways are being poisoned by pipeline leaks, industrial waste, litter, radioactive waste, chemicals, mining tailings, and runoff from massive, unsustainable, conventional farms. Water-tables are being poisoned by fracking, mining, and drilling. Our food is being poisoned with synthetic pesticides, insecticides, and GMOs, and our air has never been so polluted. Meanwhile, our politicians scream “drill baby drill!” Even under self-described “environmentalist” democrats like Obama, there was more oil exploration and drilling than ever before in history. Politicians remain obsessed with “jobs” and “the economy” when both will be useless if there is no clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, or healthy food to eat.
If the richest corporations and states of the world are not stopped, they could bankrupt us all and quite literally destroy the Earth in the process. Therefore, we must resist. We must sabotage their operations and stop buying their products. Global warming and all of these problems I have discussed are solvable problems. If we can organize and unite against these institutions that treat us like expendable cattle, we can stop and reverse global warming and its disastrous effects. We must learn from indigenous populations and adopt sustainable lifestyles that benefit nature rather than destroy it. We must see ourselves as a part of nature instead of alien to it. By destroying nature, we destroy ourselves and by saving nature, we save ourselves.
15 Myers, N. (1997). ‘Environmental Refugees’, Population and Environment 19(2): 167-82
20 << https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzEKNLJqG3cwVF9YV0pQZTJFT0E/view >> North Dakota Governor, Jack Dalrymple, was able to call in police from six states by declaring a ‘state of emergency’ and then invoking the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which was originally intended to assist disaster relief efforts.
30 Forty percent of the world’s forests are currently threatened by mining according to Sierra Magazine.