I just watched the trailer for “Before the Flood” and spotted a serious error made by one of the talking heads interviewed in Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest documentary. The interviewee says:
“Politicians will do what the people want them to do. Once the American people are convinced, the politicians will fall in line very quickly.”
This fundamental error is the reason climate change is still getting worse. Gilens and Page wrote a paper that demonstrated in 2014 that although politicians respond well to the wishes of billionaires, the average voter has “little or no independent influence” on public policy. This is a difficult fact to accept, as is the reason people have not been shouting louder about the climate crisis.
Ten years ago Al Gore tried to convince us of “The Inconvenient Truth” (2006) that climate change was the most pressing issue of our time. Gore was correct, but his ideas were attacked and marginalized by organized right-wingers. The documentary “Merchants of Doubt” (2015), based on a book of the same name, unmasks the climate deniers, but fails to appreciate the role the corporate media plays in controlling the narrative. For that you have to go back to “Manufacturing Consent” (1992), to learn how the Propaganda Model works. The consolidation of media ownership is part of an even larger problem described in “The Corporation” (2003) which makes the case that if a corporation was a person, they would be considered a psycho.
This is the fundamental root problem of climate change. The biosphere is not under threat because you ate a hamburger this week (although it would be better if you didn’t). The problem is that the greed of billionaires is out of control. The climate scientists are not experts in the politics of power. The mainstream media produces propaganda instead of journalism. Corporations are abusing eminent domain not for public good, but for private profit because the Supreme Court condoned their behaviour. Politicians on both sides of the party divide are beholden to their major corporate donors. The average voter is learning that, worse than being ignored by elected representatives, even if their vote is accepted, it may not even be counted at all. Once we finally realize that the root cause of climate change is a lack of democracy, the way forward becomes clear.
When a critical mass of people wakes up, our peace officers will stop acting like rent-a-cops doing dirty deeds for greedy billionaires. Anti-corruption laws, driven by grassroots action and ballot initiatives, can take government out of the hands of corporations and Wall Street banks, and restore it to the people. Electoral reform can break the corrupt two-party system and ensure that paper ballots are used to audit electronic voting machines. The debate system can be opened up so smaller parties are not unfairly marginalized. When the people take back their power they can stop greedy corporations from destroying the biosphere and solve all kinds of problems.
Every problem has a solution, most have several and you don’t have to pick just one. If you want to be part of the solution, share these ideas with your friends, family, co-workers, clients, classmates and neighbours. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
I’ve been poking around for information on how the money flows from the GMO Lobby to the relatively small cadre of apologists who defend them. When clicking through links about genetic engineering (GE), the same names keep popping up. If you follow the pro-GMO money it tends to lead back to the very corporations who stand to rake in massive profits by keeping people ignorant about what goes into their food supply.
As a starting point, let’s look at Kellogg’s funding of a recent study suggesting that 100 billion cows were healthy right before they were slaughtered for food after ingesting GE feed for only 90-120 days. The study came out of the University of California at Davis, which gets lots of research funding from ‘industry partners’ .
When I started clicking links to the Kellogg Foundation I found some rather odd data. The branding on their website is all about helping children. Nothing in the mission statement about the quality of cow feed. So I searched their grants page for UC Davis and found a number of awards adding up to over six million dollars, only a pittance of which went to grants that had anything to do with children. I fail to see how grants to livestock feed studies mesh with the stated mission of the Kellogg fund.
This sort of inconsistency leads to accusations of corruption and money laundering akin to what the Grocery Manufacturers Association did during GMO labeling campaigns in California and Washington state. Kellogg’s funnelled money into both of those campaigns due to concerns that GMO labeling will eat further into their profits, down 16% in the 2nd quarter. This setback was attributed to changes in eating habits rather than the boycott of Kellogs products to protest their opposition to labeling their GE foods.
I’m not attacking the scientists involved in pro-GE studies. They probably believe that they’re doing good work for the benefit of mankind. Noam Chomsky explained in Manufacturing Consent how the systemic filters ensure that the people who get ahead in the media are the ones whose outlook meshes with that of their corporate masters. There are similar filters operating in academia.
Let’s turn our attention to the cozy group of GMO cheerleaders who jumped on that feeding study like a duck on a junebug and started sharing the shit out of it. I first found it on a Facebook page and followed the links to an article in Forbes by Jon Entine. He’s head of an outfit called the Genetic Literacy Project. Sourcewatch follows the funding through front groups and networked organizations that are funded by right-wing think tanks and ultimately the Koch Brothers, who also support anti-labeling laws.
When I started sharing my views on Twitter, I got into a lengthy exchange with Kevin Folta at the University of Florida. I didn’t find any links to Kellogg’s there, but I did stumble onto some fascinating reports on how the Koch Brothers bought a department and tried to buy the presidency of another of Florida’s state universities. Of the 12 institutions in Florida’s state system, UFlorida has the largest endowment and enrollment and also appears on the list of recipients of Koch brothers’ largesse. Unfortunately, a lack of transparency makes it impossible to determine how much Koch influence might be exerted at UF. Regardless, it is clear that Folta has solid connections to the Genetic Literacy Project and other GMO cheerleaders who present at the same conferences.
Why should you care who funds whom? It’s not just that a handful of corporations are trying to get a stranglehold on the world’s food supply. You should care that YOU DON’T LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY ANYMORE. Let that sink in. This is not just my opinion. Princeton academics have documented this fundamental shift to oligarchy. Predictably, this story received almost no coverage in the mainstream media. Chris Hedges describes what has happened as a corporate coup d’etat. The same kind of stealth tactics that Big Ag pursues have also been used with great success by Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Tobacco and Wall Street took it to a whole new level. Naomi Klein‘s new book, does a great job of explaining how capitalism is destroying the biosphere.
If the corporations have already won, as Hedges and a great deal of evidence suggests, what are the people to do? Citizens in the U.S. and Canada will have to take back democracy from the ground up, starting at the municipal level. (Take a look at what they’re doing in Seattle if you need some inspiration.) In every election at the provincial/state or federal level the number one issue we need to demand accountability on in Canada is ELECTORAL REFORM. In the U.S., campaign finance needs reform to address the corruption and legal bribery that has quietly robbed the people of their power.
Expect the bullshit machine try to scare you with all manner of reasons to keep the status quo. Don’t drink their kool-aid. An estimated 400,000 people who hit the streets of New York on September 21st to demand action on climate change were just the tip of the iceberg. As more North Americans realize their country has been stolen by the .001%, I predict we will see even larger crowds in the street. The police state cannot prevail against a populist uprising.
Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer points out that when economic inequality reaches the record levels we are seeing, the result tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened and showed America the police state had already arrived. Peace is a good thing. Nobody wants a violent revolution, but maintaining the status quo is not an acceptable option to anyone who values their civil rights or the biosphere we depend on for survival. If you don’t get off your arse and demand your democracy back, you will condemn your children to live as serfs on a poisoned planet, who think they are ‘free’ because the media told them so.
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The beginning of the end of rapacious, planet-killing, unfettered capitalism is upon us and some people are worried about how it will unfold. According to a recent article in the Vancouver Observer, the RCMP is keeping a close eye not just on organizations concerned about the environment, but also individual shale gas opponents like me. Frankly, I’m somewhat flattered because the more I learn about how the whole matrix is constructed the more I’m convinced that anyone who isn’t on a government watch list by now ought to be ashamed of herself.
To be perfectly clear, I have never advocated for violence or criminal activity. I believe that the people will rise up to counter the serious threats posed by avaricious fossil fuel corporations, and in a peaceful manner. Most of the violence seen at demonstrations seems to be perpetrated by law enforcement personnel. The G20 was a deliberate attempt to scare us into submission so that we’d stay home the next time a call for action came. It didn’t work. Instead, it woke people up to the massive lies they’ve been sold. “The government wouldn’t let that happen” and “If they did, the press would tell us about it” are nonsense and now everybody who wants to see the evidence can get it online. The timing of that nasty little article in Vancouver was calculated to frighten people into staying home next Sunday instead of coming out en masse in solidarity with the People’s Climate March in New York. The tactic won’t work. I will absolutely hit the pavement to march with millions of other people around the globe, including the UN Secretary-General.
I was at a march once where some clean-cut, muscular guy in combat boots and a bandana got up on a light pole and started barking about kicking some ass. Everyone within earshot looked at him like he had two heads and then completely ignored him. By now, the majority of participants in these events are aware that undercover cops have been known to ‘infiltrate’ and sometimes try to provoke trouble, in order to justify a heavy handed response from their uniformed brethren. You can actually hear an organizer order a masked undercover cop to “put the rock down” about 30 seconds into this video. That may be an extreme example, but it does show what can happen and how it can be countered. If you ever see a similar incident, just pull out your phone and start recording some video. Obviously if they appear to pose a physical threat, the real cops can be asked to deal with them, as happened in the Quebec incident.
A few weeks ago, billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer appeared on the TEDtalks homepage with “Beware, fellow Plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming” making the point that inequality makes everyone less secure. He made the connection that our current level of economic inequality is comparable to what existed in pre-revolutionary France, just before they started lopping off heads. He pointed out that the result of such inequality tends to be an uprising or a police state. Then Ferguson happened. The increasing militarization of the police is now very clear, as is its ultimate purpose. Clearly, fear of an uprising is pushing the U.S., as well as Canada in the direction of becoming a police state. It is instructive to notice whose fear is driving this change.
Any plutocrats capable of reading a history book should realize that the pendulum – their power – has reached its apex and is bound to reverse direction. Sunday, September 21, 2014 will very likely mark a major turning point. The number one issue in the next federal election in Canada will be electoral reform, which will also require dumping Harper. Reclaiming democracy across North America is absolutely essential to fixing the carbon problem because only then can out-of-control capitalism be reined in. If we don’t use legislation to regulate the big polluters on a global basis, our biosphere is toast. Despite what capitalists would have you believe, this is not rocket science. Power needs to come back to the people because the corporations have clearly demonstrated that they are incapable of using it responsibly.
I don’t expect to see police being over-zealous on Sunday for a few reasons beyond being way outnumbered. The intentions of the marchers are clearly peaceful and even if some cops wanted to make work for themselves, they have to realize by now that cameras will be everywhere and if they abuse their lawful authority their behaviour will be held up to scrutiny and, if applicable, ridicule. Another reason is that even though cops are more thoroughly brainwashed than just about any other segment of the population, they have kids too and are smart enough to do the math and realize that their kids and grandchildren will suffer if we fail in this epic struggle. Our cause is just and we are out of time. If you have never considered attending a public demonstration before, now is the time to stand up and be counted. If you think you have a good excuse to sit this one out, imagine how lame it will sound to your grandkids when they ask if you were at the largest climate justice mobilization in the history of the world.
Dear One Percent,
I can understand why you might be a tad nervous these days. Your lofty penthouses must offer spectacular views of the collapse of western civilization. We have reached a fork in the road and there is a real struggle about which way to go. Since you’ve usurped most of the power in the world and your vote counts for more than mine, I’m asking you to please use it wisely.
If we continue down the broad path of globalization, unfettered corporate pillage and the continued massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the super-rich, we are all going to have a bad time. History repeatedly demonstrates the resilience of what a former employer of mine actually called “the great unwashed masses.” The stronger the downward momentum when the people hit bottom, the higher they will bounce. There were no gates high enough, or walls thick enough to resist this force when it erupted in France, Russia, China, or countless other “civilized” nations that didn’t share resources fairly. What’s worse, if ecocide is allowed to continue, there won’t be a world worth living in when the dust settles.
Nobody wants that to happen in America except Fox News. Bloody violence would be a wet dream for both Rupert Murdoch and the pundit class who are employed by the military-industrial-prison-complex. The vast majority of sentient beings on this planet, perhaps especially the cops and soldiers, want peace. However, we all have the right to defend ourselves and our families from abuse. More of us are recognizing that the planet we live on should also be inside our circle of concern, because if she dies, we do too and so more of us than ever are willing to put ourselves in harm’s way to defend the earth.
We are hearing the term ‘revolution’ being tossed around in a less figurative context these days. We are approaching a tipping point and none of us knows for certain what lies on the other side. Let’s take a moment to think about what we want to find there. I expect to see small communities building their own sustainable economies, growing more organic food in more shared spaces. We already see the growth of free-cycling, tool libraries, seed libraries, maker spaces and other alternatives to consumerism. We will see increasing engagement in governance, beginning particularly at the local level and, if necessary, increased civil disobedience in the prevention of ecocide. We will see a new economy growing to fill the void as our current unsustainable house of cards slowly but surely collapses down to a manageable size. The whole fossil fuel industry will gradually subside, while clean, renewable energy companies rise to replace them. Institutional pressure to divest from fossil fuels will accelerate this process. At the same time, we can also expect to see a number of democratic movements coalesce in order to find a way to bring power back to the people from whom it was stolen. Checks and balances on the power of transnational corporations must be restored if we are to save this planet. Please keep in mind that we don’t have another one to go to.
The massive chasm of income disparity represents a threat to everyone, no matter how much or how little money they have. Change is inevitable and its up to you, dear one percent, to make sure the transition goes smoothly. We all need you to become part of the solution by defecting from the forces of unmitigated greed and join our common cause as Terrestrials. We all breathe the same air, and so will all of our children, even yours.
Some of the rest of us.
Some handy links;