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.
When Bernie Sanders said if you’re white you “don’t know what its like to be poor” during the heat of a democratic debate, I knew exactly what he was getting at, even though he didn’t phrase it well. If you are white and poor, you are not poor BECAUSE you are white. If you are white and poor in America, you are NOT poor because a non-white person took your cookies. If you are poor and white, it is because the greed of billionaires is out of control.
The political system has been so corrupted by crony capitalism that the millions of poor Americans now include not just blacks, Latinos, seniors and students, but increasing numbers of hard-working whites whose jobs have been shipped overseas. It is now clear that the rising tide of economic recovery is not lifting boats punched full of holes by the corporations who hijacked the government and write the laws and tax code for their own benefit.
Things are bad, but there is a silver lining in this storm cloud. Now that the ranks of the poor have grown to include millions more Americans, they have a common cause against the multi-national corporations. America is now an Oligarchy and if the TransPacific Partnership is ratified, it will be impossible to restore democracy without violence and bloodshed. The neoliberal ideology of selfishness has been exposed as morally bankrupt, destructive and unsustainable. This is why America is feeling the Bern.
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.
ps; If you found this enlightening, please consider sharing it with others.
I don’t pretend to be a professional journalist. I am just a mom and curious student who is trying to help the public understand how they have been deceived. This is important because the entrenched systems that keep this constant stream of misinformation and disinformation flowing are a threat to public health and have effectively dismantled democracy. Concerned citizens who want genetically engineered (GE) foods labeled as such are not needlessly frightened about some imaginary threat. They want to vote with their dollars in the absence of credible evidence that GMOs are safe for:
a) long-term human consumption,
b) long-term animal consumption,
c) the non-GE species at risk of contamination via unwanted pollination,
d) the micro-organisms that are necessary for healthy soil (via glyphosate), and
e) crucial pollinator species at risk from pesticide use and monoculture farming.
My last blog post took apart a piece of nonsense Jon Entine contributed to Forbes just as everyone was focused on the largest climate justice mobilization in human history. Every time I see someone else share it on social media I call attention to its glaring error. The same article was used by its author as the basis for a talk at the National Academy of Sciences in which Entine tries, and fails, to pass himself off as an objective observer. Jon Entine points to two recent scientific publications in an attempt to end what he calls the “faux-debate” over the safety of GE foods. The first, by Snell, et al has already been
trounced, and the other so-called 100-billion-cow study by a researcher at UC Davis, says nothing about whether GE food is safe for long-term human consumption. In a nutshell, cows that eat GE feed for 90-120 days before they go to the slaughterhouse do not indicate that it is safe to feed our children an increasing variety of GE foods year after year.
The GMO cheerleaders keep trying to find a study that will be convincing enough that we will all stop wondering about the questions that have not yet been answered. Entine even stoops to the same name-calling that labelling proponents are often accused of, by comparing them with ‘new earth’ Creationists. He calls for co-ordination between regulatory agencies and to reducing the length of the approval process from years to months. The latter suggestion clearly prioritizes corporate profits over public health.
The National Research Council has been charged with producing a report on genetically engineered crops in 2016. The are also inviting the public to submit comments and documentation. I have no doubt that the GMO industry will try their darndest to steer the results in the direction they want, using any and every means at their disposal. The same playbook that was used by Big Tobacco has been adopted by Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Media and Big Ag because it works. The more we understand about how it works, the better equipped we will be to identify and counter its abuses.
I’ve been gathering data to illuminate the machinery that has been trying to drive public opinion where Monsanto and like-minded corporations want it to go. I noticed some rather odd contradictions with respect to funding of genetic engineering’s chief apologists. In my next post we’ll explore the flow of money into specific scientific research from the corporations who benefit from it.
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.
When I walk along the edge of Lake Ontario and see little boys tossing pebbles into the water it always brings me joy. My own little boy did that once, drawn inexorably toward the shoreline and delighted by the rings he created as they moved ever outward. We smile at their efforts to make a mark on a great body of water, but little children understand something that the rest of us forget. The first lesson of ripples is that the only moment that any of us will ever have is right now. We sense this when we crouch beside children to see the shiny new world through their eyes. Now is the dividing line between the past and the future, between desire and fulfillment. Every pebble we toss, every decision we make happens on that frontier between our intentions and our actions.
As soon as we toss the second pebble we see that interesting things happen where two worlds collide.
The border where the sea meets the shore supports tremendous biodiversity and in science, intersections like this hold important lessons. The interactions between industrial scale monoculture, genetic engineering and chemical pesticides are having a devastating impact on the living earth. We are only beginning to see the connections to mammalian health and there are even deadlier interactions connected to the burning of fossil fuels. Corporations profiting from genetically modified seeds were allowed to be responsible for safety testing but their methodology was, unsurprisingly, inadequate. Longer term studies have now been released that are cause for concern. I am now trying to process the understanding that my child, for most of his life, has been used by transnational corporations as a science experiment without my knowledge or consent and that despite my effort to end it, this experiment continues, because I don’t buy groceries at his father’s house, or the school cafeteria.
The more pebbles you toss into the pond, the more complex the ripples become.
There are bound to be some messy interactions between the ripples created by different groups and we need to allow for this while understanding that although our goals may differ in their specifics, we all share the same fundamental needs for clean air, water and non-toxic food. The politics of division is incredibly corrosive, and it threatens the very biosphere when it fragments opposition to ecocide. Whether people stand behind the Idle No More protesters as settler allies, or march against GMOs as fellow earthlings or Terrestrials, it is the joining in a common purpose that will tip the balance of power away from oppression and exploitation and towards justice and sustainability. Some people think the living earth is a sentient being, but whether Gaia has consciousness or not is a moot point if we argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin while ignoring the transnational corporations that are destroying the biosphere we need to survive. We are all on the same side in our need for air, water and food.
Ripples begin from point at which the pebble falls and travel at their own speed.
Although it is inevitable that trolls will try to sow conflict by trying to find differences between the indisputable needs of First Nations’ communities and the sympathetic desire of Settler Allies for a better world for all of our grandchildren, I think we are all bright enough to recognize and reject any false narrative that attempts to weaken our shared momentum. We all need to begin where we are. Settler Allies are not equally educated or aware of indigenous issues, and this isn’t going to change overnight. My lack of in-depth understanding of the historical issues should not preclude my participation as long as I recognize and respect First Nations moral authority and sovereignity in events that they organize. Settler allies’ understanding of the importance of dismantling the oppressive colonial power structures will grow over time, and gradually spread outwards throughout the wider community. Patience and understanding will help this process unfold.
Once they start, ripples keep going and cannot be stopped.
Years ago I would watch my son sleeping and unconsciously match my breathing to his. My love for him and the primal instinct to protect was a powerful and transformative force. When I became a mother my circles of concern and compassion expanded outward to take in other children not born into the privileged life my son enjoys. News stories of abuse and neglect that make everyone sad, seemed suddenly to cut much deeper. The protective instinct a parent feels is a powerful, primal thing. No matter what other roles I may adopt, I am a mother first, and that means I would stop a bullet for my child. While the threats to our childrens’ health are widespread and numerous, I am not going to back down just because the problem I’m trying to solve is massive and intractable.
It is no surprise that Idle No More movement has risen on the shoulders of indigenous women. Mothers Against Drunk Driving made a real difference because they have an unassailable moral authority. Mothers of children everywhere are struggling against the corrosive power of transnational corporations and winning skirmishes on the ground in their own communities. These small victories send hope and courage rippling outwards to more families, friends and neighbours, increasing numbers of whom are finding it necessary to get off the couch to defend their communities as the tentacles of unrelenting corporate greed reach further into our daily lives.
As a species, we are finally connecting the dots between the countless smaller battles being fought in communities around the globe. We are dropping pebbles into the same pond because the issues are interconnected. The campaigns of groups like Idle No More, Seed Freedom, and Occupy all have a fundamental purpose in common with Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Arab spring brought people from all faiths and walks of life into the streets to recognize their common cause, and we are seeing small groups of people in the west now coalesce in social media. There is a growing awareness that we are all on the same side, and the divide-and-conquer tactics of transnational corporations are losing traction.
The pebbles of change will continue to drop and whether we march city streets, or meet at the blockades, we can all join hands and hearts in defense of the earth. There is a reason we are all drawn toward the shorelines of lakes, rivers and oceans to make ripples. It is the same thing that draws us to the barricades to make waves. The place where two worlds meet is where the tide turns and ripples begin to spread outward. This connection is where the magic happens.
This random insight hit me as I tumbled into bed two hours too late last night, having written 6 blog posts in 2 days. No recreational drugs were involved in this effort, not even caffeine. It was as if I turned on the spigot at a well into which thousands of bits of information had been pumped, building up the pressure. All the little bits of evidence that the world is going to hell in a handcart were shoved together inside a brain not quite big enough to hold it all, and now the flow has reversed.
I’ve been dismayed by the wide variety of problems we face today, and the inability of people to just connect the dots and realize that our children’s children are in grave danger and we need to do something about that before its too late. Divisions between any two groups on this planet are a problem because they distract us from the deception that that’s more important than the air we breathe and the water we need to live on this planet. If you think about basic human needs that we all have in common it really is not that complicated. We are all human, and beyond that, we are all Terrestrial.
We are all on and of this Earth. This planet is our home, just as we are home to billions of tiny micro-organisms that populate our skin and our intestinal tracts. The health of the parent organism depends on the health of its population, and too many of these populations are ailing. It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m sick of a culture where rape is considered acceptable to joke about while we allow massive corporations to rape the planet for the profit of the few. If the Earth is our mother, think about that. We allow corporations to rape our mother. Yes, that is a truly disturbing picture. How many of us are saying that’s OK, as long as I get paid for it? Under the law of this land the person who co-operates with a crime is guilty as an accessory to it. It’s time to wake up to that fact.
I often tell my child that every problem has a solution and most have several. Saving the Earth has millions of solutions and we don’t have to pick just one. Some of us are pushing to divest from fossil fuels, others are fighting to get genetically engineered foods properly labeled and others want fluoride out of the drinking water. There are thousand of courageous people working at worthy and noble causes. These are all important, but the task of fixing all that is broken in our world will be much, much easier once we have wrestled control of our democracies out of the bloody hands of corporations who are murdering mother earth.
Repairing our broken democracies really is the foundation of any plan to save the world. That is the first prize we must keep our eyes on. That is the intermediate step that will bring all our plans closer to fruition. Terrestrialism is a little seed of an idea that I would like to plant in other brains. As an identity, it spans every living being on this planet – it is a club we already belong to. If you can shift your perception to encompass that idea, the world you perceive will change into a far less threatening place.
If you’re wondering how this will work, understand that it really is all about what you focus on. If you are focused on repairing the damage we have done to the biosphere so that our grandchildren don’t drown during a hurricane, how important is it to establish exactly who knocked down the world trade centre? Once you realize that the past cannot be undone, but the future can be saved, it becomes easier to entertain two conflicting viewpoints in your brain as well as in your circle of friends, without making a big deal out of it. Bringing the guilty to justice is certainly a worthy cause, and that is a goal we should work towards, but our basic needs for air, clean water and healthy food must be prioritized.
Keeping the goal in mind is helpful when fracking your brain by filling it up with the thousands of points-of-view that you are exposed to every day. Some of these ideas will stay with you, not unlike the chemicals that are pumped into the ground under our aquifers, but many will be ejected as unhelpful. Whenever you find a deep fissure between ideas, look for the elements of distraction and deception that go along with the politics of division, and realize how many of these dichotomies are false and illusory. We are all of this earth and we all have a duty of stewardship towards her.