As a child my favorite chore was hand-pumping water from the thirty-foot well on our family homestead. The pump was shiny black and the water ice-cold. Then my father was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer linked to chemicals used in oil and gas production. It's been nine years since I drank that water. I am from an impacted community in East Texas, home to oil and gas industry, on the southern route of the Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline. My involvement in the climate movement is motivated by the reality my community faces.
Gone are the days when the tarsands were an obscure experiment in making oil from tar. Today, the bitumen deposits in central and northern Alberta have become a political hot potato, an issue forced onto the world stage by coordinated protests and direct actions. But a look at the history of the environmental groups that have signed on to the tarsands protests raises the question of whether or not an agreement between green groups and tarsands operators is on the horizon.
Frustrated by his failure to make Canada a global energy superpower, Prime Minister Stephen Harper turned on the environmental movement with a ferocity never before seen in Canada. He and his ministers blamed charities that opposed their mass sell-off of unprocessed bitumen for jeopardizing Canada’s economic health. They accused them of laundering foreign money. They warned that eco-terrorists were afoot in the land. The government’s smear tactics did not get Alberta’s heavy oil moving to export markets.
We told you on Monday about an open letter penned by James Hansen and three other prominent climate scientists calling on the world to ramp up development and deployment of “safer” nuclear power. The scientists argue that renewable energy isn’t enough to spare the world from the wrath of global warming, and that the power of the atom needs to be better tapped to help get us off fossil fuels.
Naomi Klein, in a recent interview, Green Group’s May be More Damaging than Climate Change Deniers, has sparked a furious debate amongst activists on the right and left of the North American environmental movement. Thanks to Klein’s article, the flames of controversy have been fanned and brought forth some fiery rhetoric around a dispute which has smoldered since the emergence of a more combative and distinctive left current within the environmental movement.
The following article is the third installment of an investigative report that demonstrates why billions of dollars are pumped into the non-profit industrial complex by corporate interests, effectively to manufacture discourse in order to protect the ruling classes from systemic change. The first installment outlined the key players: Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, the Rockefeller family, Bill Gates, and Bill Ackman. The key instruments employed by the state and the oligarchs were/are a cluster of foundation-financed NGOs.
When discussions begin among environmentally concerned people about foundation funding and how it offsets resistance, a common complaint is that such a discussion is unnecessarily negative. With all of the world at stake, so goes the argument, we need to involve as many “diverse” views and strategies to stop climate chaos as possible. Rather than “being divisive,” we need positive thinking.
Journalist and author Bill McKibben is one of the most prominent climate change activists in the USA, and is founder of the growing network 350.org. He is coming to the UK for a speaker tour this week, and before he set off, I caught up with him over Skype from my house in Oxford.
Adam Ramsay: The climate movement in the UK grew to a peak around 2009, around the time of the Copenhagen talks, then died off and there's been a lot of introspection about that. Is that a pattern we've seen globally, or just in the UK? What should be done about it?