Thursday, March 10, 2016


 Posted for my friend and fellow insurgent, Karen Dwyer.

ACTION: Miami, Florida, Sunday, March 20 to Friday, March 25:

WHAT: Walk for the Future Generations of All Natural Life

WHO: Aboriginals, allies, activists, groups, policymakers

WHERE: Base camp: Trail Lakes Campgrounds, ‪40904 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL ‪ 
Begin walk: Pump Station S334, 1 mile east 177 Ave. & SW 8th St., Miami, FL

End walk: Collier Seminole State Park, 20200 Tamiami Trail E., Naples, FL

WHEN:   March 19, Gathering Day at Base camp; check-in at 1:00 p.m.

March 20, Begin Walk, Pump Station S334, 9:30 a.m.

March, 25, End Walk, Collier Seminole State Park, 5:00 p.m.

 A growing alliance of aboriginals, activists, and environmental groups will step up efforts to save the Florida Everglades.  

In an 80-mile, six-day protest march across the Everglades and Big Cypress, from Miami to Naples, winding through seven national and state parks, a World Heritage site, and designated Outstanding Florida Waters, along the proposed route of the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG), the alliance will be inviting everyone—from legislators to land barons—to partner with them in saving South Florida.  

Their goal is to:

*Stop the expansion of new Everglades oil operations and fracking, 

*Shut down the River of Grass Greenway, 

*Promote local and state fracking bans, 

*Halt the deregulation of archeological artifacts, 

*Oppose the regulation of indigenous plant gathering, 

*Compel policymakers to send clean water south to restore the Everglades as mandated by Amendment 1 and the massive 30-year Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

  During the walk, the alliance will stop at key points for protests and press conferences.  

Everyone is encouraged to attend these to welcome walkers, hold signs, listen to speakers, and call on policymakers to reject destructive projects and unfriendly bills.  

*At Pump Station S334 on the levee, they’ll address Everglades Restoration and sending clean water south

*At Raccoon Point, new irresponsible oil operations and bills that fast-track fracking

*At Monument Lake, site of the historic Seminole Conference, sacred sites and bills that threaten them

*At Big Cypress Headquarters, ROGG and seismic testing in respective petition deliveries

*At Everglades City McLeod Park, ROGG with a call for Everglades City Council and Miami Parks Service to officially withdraw their support.  

*At night, everyone is welcome to meet up at base camp for fire circles.  The march, press conferences, and fire circles are meant to offer ample opportunity for community engagement in defending Everglades water, wetlands, and wildlife. 

Bobby C. Billie, Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples and Betty Osceola of the Panther Clan and Miccosukee Tribe are spearheading this alliance-building effort because the Greater Everglades is their homeland.  

All three indigenous communities—the Independents, Seminoles, and Miccosukees—have already had their traditional way of life threatened by irresponsible development: 

First, when the Everglades was drained.

Second, when toxic levels of mercury in the water, plants, fish, birds, and animals forced them off their tree islands deep in the Everglades.  

Bobby C. Billie, warns that the most important concern is “the destruction of the Natural World that sustains us all:  the Earth, the Water, the Air, the Trees, the Plants, and the Wildlife.  These Creations must survive in order that we may all survive.  Nature has a right to live a life undisturbed by further development.”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Trees Can Be Trees, Or Trees Can be Money: The Holleran's Sugar Bush and the Constitution Pipeline

What makes the destruction of the Holleran family Sugar Bush all the more head-shakingly sad--and predictable--is the profound misunderstanding of in what, as minimum conditions, a 21st century movement for ecological integrity must consist, of what it must mean by "the local is the global, and "the global is the local." 

To be sure, no slogan is worth a tinker's damn until it informs the very bone marrow of our strategy and oxygenates the blood vessels of our resolve. It's thus not surprising that the consequences for things like trees and soil and all of the creatures and biota dependent on their intimate relationship are as predictable as the rasp of chainsaws and diesel engines the moment we accede to a worldview in whose vocabulary "global" and "local" are valued as property and revenue

And trees are especially important--to global climate, to animal habitat, to aesthetic experience.

 When they're reduced to commodities whose worth lay not in the integrity of their relationship to human communities, but in the capacity to be exploited and exchanged, we're all in trouble. 

Stop the Tennessee Pipeline, Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
What, in other words, we forfeit when we accept the worldview of the capitalist--for whom everything and everyone is either an obstacle or a potentially exploitable resource--is the right to be taken seriously when we try to make anything--like maple trees--an exception. We can deny that we accept these ideological premises, but we use the language of "property," and every time we do we signal the extent to which we're either woefully naive about the difference between the defense of property and the defense of an ecology, or we're willing to execute a strategy that, for the zillionth time, the oil and gas, the pipeline, the export industry, and the banks know will fail. 

It's not merely that we forfeit the moral high ground when, for example, we hold up "Stop the Pipeline!" signs for a family whose already tried to negotiate merely to move the right-of-way to protect their own property. 

It's that we forfeit the ground itself insofar as the pipeline company has every reason to believe we'd not be protesting "Stop the Pipeline!" in front of neighbors ready to wave the American flag over "their" piece of the Constitution.  
Tennessee Pipeline Cut. Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

If, in other words, we're going to defend ecological integrity, the human community--including families like the Hollerans--cannot be our single or even primary measure of value.  After all, the vast majority of such communities--including corporations--are more than willing to sacrifice ecology for property. 

It's just not true that community rights are necessarily consistent with ecological stability, and so long as we continue to defend the first conflating it with the second, we'll not only continue to mistake property value for ecological integrity, in so doing we'll continue to undermine the necessary conditions of our insurgency, namely, a planet that can sustain us.

Let me put this differently: so long as the primary foci of our protests are human beings to the exclusion of the ecologies upon which we're all dependent--whether that unit of value comes in the form of families like the Hollerans or neighborhoods, or corporations, or the state--property will continue to govern how we conceive what's worth defending. 

Truth is, where we human beings think we occupy the undisputed center of what constitutes value, all else can only be assessed in terms of what's useful to us. 

That's what we call "property."

The fossil fuel companies and the pipeliners know this; hell, they embrace it as surely as the sun rises on a denuded hillside. 

They know that if what matters to us is protecting property as property that we're essentially on their team, that everything's about negotiation and compensation.  

And once we're all on the same team, whatever claims protesters might make about "the environment," well, they just don't need to be taken seriously because nobody cares enough to lay siege, be arrested, be arrested en masse, be pepper-sprayed, tear-gassed, beaten, or shot to defend it. 

Negotiation and compensation: what's left to protest other than the money?

116 Environmental Activists killed in one year.
 And that's really it.

That the environment knows no property lines, or that the neighbor's property is just as much a part of the planetary environment as is anyone's, doesn't seem to register in anyone's calculation of value. 

That protesters virtually everywhere but in the U.S. are being murdered to insure the free flow of oil and gas doesn't seem to impact our misplaced confidence. We just don't seem to get it that these are the same companies, and that means we have to take the same risks as all these other brave folks to stop companies willing to spend billions to make more billions.

How do we not get this? The neighbor who waves his "Vote for Trump!" sign in front of a cheery tree-cutting crew is as irrelevant to the fact that the U.S. Constitution helps to facilitate the conversion of ecology into property as is my vote for Bernie Sanders--unless I am willing to take a stand for the integrity of my neighbor's trees--even if he doesn't like it

Even if he threatens me.

Even when, as a matter of strategy, we decry the abuse of the laws that govern eminent domain, we concede to the fossil fuel capitalist everything essential for him to win. The central concept of eminent domain is "property," it's central issue the what, when, and who of its disposition as a resource for human use. 

Is what happened to the Hollerans a grotesque abuse of these laws? 

Sure it is. 

Protest FERC, Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
 But that's irrelevant insofar as the family had already conceded to Williams precisely what empowered the company to take their land and mow down their sugar bush, namely, that trees are property, that what's needed is the right compensation for property loss. Once the Hollerans agreed to the terms of this "debate" over the where of the pipeline and the exchange value of the lost trees, they forfeited the right to defend the trees as trees. 

For example, 

Cathy Holleran said her family has sought a re-route for part of the pipeline onto a neighbor's land — a neighbor she said was not opposed. If that were to occur, she would be eager to agree to an easement that would spare the bulk of the maples. As for ancillary benefits from the pipeline, she was dubious.

"Somebody will benefit, but it won't be us because we are out here in the boonies," she said. "They're never going to pipe gas to our house. We don't even have cable TV." (

Such a "re-route" will, of course, contribute every bit as much to climate change as the original route: the gas still gets to market. Moreover, it doesn't really matter whether the gas goes to the global markets or remains local; it's "ancillary benefits" involve the emission of greenhouse gases either way. Once, in other words, the trees were in the way of the pipeline, they could be trees or they could be money, but they could not be both, and the Hollerans chose the latter. At that moment, there never was any "Stop the Pipeline!" At least not at that juncture of the right-of-way.

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
 To those who'd argue that that calling out the abuse of eminent domain is an effective stalling strategy--that it can monkey wrench a project until relevant environmental or habitat protection laws stall it for another year (March 31st in the Holleran case)--sure. 

Perhaps this is what Catherine Holleran had in mind when she argued in a cease and desist letter dated February, 2016 that:

“We [the Holleran family] assert our [Fifth Amendment] rights, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that we must receive compensation before eminent domain condemnation. As compensation hearings have yet to be held, we find any action to develop our property to be unconstitutional. We hope that your client will proceed with good faith negotiations with our counsel prior to any tree cutting, especially given their affinity for the name ‘Constitution Pipeline” (

But this too has become a threadbare tactic in that we know FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) exists to permit pipelines, that judges execute laws written by and for an industry that poses an existential threat to human beings, nonhuman animals, and environmental stability. We know that the vocabulary of "property" and therefore "profit" will govern every aspect of this decision-making whether by the state or the industry. We know that the morally weighty distinction between a "vital public interest" and a "profit-seeking enterprise" is long lost not merely to corporate personhood, but to a long and hoary American history whose laws have privileged wealth over life from its inception. 

Part of what's so troubling here is that what the experienced protesters of the anti-fracking and anti-pipeline movements know is not necessarily what the Hollerans are in a position to know. 

The disconnect is quite striking: the Hollerans clearly seek to exhaust every avenue of a legal system stacked against them not for the sake of saving the maple trees per se, but for saving North Harford Maple ( that depends on them. 

The protesters claim to want to "Stop the Pipeline!" But these are obviously not the same thing; in fact, they're wholly opposed projects. 

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
Put differently: I don't begrudge the Hollerans a livelihood. But as a business dependent on a certain kind of property, maple sap, it's reasonable to ask what distinguishes their business from Williams other than the trivial difference (qua property) between maple sap and natural gas. 

If the answer to that question is "nothing" because the real issue is ecological integrity and not property, then why do the protesters defend the Holleran's quest for compensation? 

Why, in other words, aren't the protesters holding up signs that say "Move the Pipeline!" instead of "Stop the Pipeline!"? 

And if the answer to that question is because there's a world of difference between tapping sugar bush and building a high pressure pipeline--that it is about ecological integrity--why on earth are the protesters defending the Hollerans? 

The sad truth is that the Holleran's sugar maples were lost long before Megan Holleran, daughter and family spokesperson, was quoted in the Pike County Courier:

This is our land and family business. The pipeline has been years in permitting and we just staged our equipment to set up for this year’s syrup production. If they cut the trees now they would destroy our equipment and that’s criminal. That’s property destruction. We asked them to negotiate with our attorney before cutting and that hasn’t happened yet. I’m ready to stop them by standing in the right of way if they try. (
 Here's why:

When Holleran appeals to the word "now," she implies that Williams could come later to cut down the trees--just not now while they need the trees to make money.

When Holleran appeals to the word "property," Williams knows that what the dispute is about is not trees, not an ecology, and not the biota of that land. What they know is that this is really all about money--the meaning of "property"-- and that the Hollerans are willing to play a very specific game of negotiation according to rules that privilege the pipeline company. Williams knows precisely who will win.

Tennessee Pipeline Cut. Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

When Holleran refers to negotiation with the family attorney, Williams knows that neither she nor any of the protesters are going to stand in the way of the tree-cutters once a judge has ruled in favor of the company's egregious abuse of eminent domain. Why? Because every one of the players in this story--including the protesters--has already agreed to the fundamental rules--that trees are property, maple syrup sites, a staging location for machinery. And with that, it all becomes a matter of whose property, for what use, for how long, and under what conditions.

Simply put: there's no such thing as "No Pipeline!" and "Move the Pipeline!" In the first case the pipeline doesn't get built; in the second it does.

If the Hollerans are victims, it's not of Williams; it's of the protesters who effectively used the family as an opportunity to stage one more "direct action" in the "fight" against the construction of natural gas pipelines. I don't doubt that the protesters were invited. I don't doubt that their motives were essentially good--if misbegotten. But once their leaders knew that this was about relocation and compensation--and never really about stopping the pipeline--why did they move forward? 

Was this about stopping a pipeline or preserving the appearance of a movement? 

Lastly, I have often heard the anti-fracking movement compared to the American Civil Rights movement. I've been tempted to that comparison myself. 

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
 But until we become unified and far clearer than we are now about the point of our protest, this comparison is odious.

Civil rights movement leaders may have argued among themselves about many things, but that the movement was about the fundamental dignity of human beings regardless ethnicity, heritage, geography or culture was not one of them. 

That human beings are not property is the governing principle of what we mean by civil rights--by human rights. That's what so many fought and died for during the Civil Rights movement.

We're apparently not that brave.

Until we are prepared to extend the fundamental idea of unimpeachable dignity to the defense of the planet--to treat it and its inhabitants with the respect owed beyond "property," we will not gain traction or win battles beyond the NIMBY-ism ascribed to us by the gas industry. 

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee
 But that, of course, would mean deep-going alterations in the way we, especially in the wealthy North, live--and decisions far more difficult than whether or not to spend an afternoon or even a whole weekend holding up signs. 

But such meaningful alterations in our ways of life seem awfully hard to hope for among movement builders who'd "stop" a pipeline only to retire to eating a cow, a pig, a chicken.

Indeed, if we can't even see that the most vulnerable among our sentient fellows are not property, what hope is there for things like sugar bush?

Wendy Lynne Lee

Monday, December 21, 2015

Educators Against Intolerance - An Open letter

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee, 12.10.15
Note: This came to me from a colleague in the English Department at Bloomsburg University. If you're an academic follower of this blog, please consider signing. We in the academy have, I think, a special duty to be out in front of standing up to bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance. Here is a modest opportunity to do just that.

Dear Colleague,

In light of recent events there is a heightened sense of intolerance in the US, especially towards Arab and Muslim Americans. A few faculty members from Harvard, MIT and Princeton have helped draft a letter (pasted below) that speaks out against such intolerance and discrimination. 

This letter is being circulated to solicit signatures from other educators who share these concerns. Once a sufficient number of signatures are collected (ideally by Wednesday December 23rd), the letter (along with the names of the signatories) will be sent to appropriate media/public outlets (such as the NYT) in the hope that they will be interested in publishing it.  

I have already signed the letter and am forwarding this email in case you would also like to do so. Signing the letter only takes a few minutes. Please click the link here to sign:

If you would like to see the names of those who have signed so far please click here

Please also forward this message to other academic colleagues in the US - both those in your department and in other departments/institutions - and encourage them to sign and also forward. Since the hope is to get the letter published, it would be best to not post it for now on social media. 

If you have any questions, you can email:


The Letter:

Recent events have, once again, brutally violated the nation’s sense of security. Many Citizens believe that another terrorist attack is as likely today as it was in the days following 9/11. Almost half worry that they or someone in their family will be a victim of terrorism. 

 But this fear can also disconnect us from reason and have devastating consequences. The reduction in immigrants’ rights codified by the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the restrictions on free speech established by the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917-18, and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII were all policies born from fear, and all resound throughout history as stark contradictions to American values.

 We are concerned that we could head down a similarly dark path today. Hours after the San Bernardino massacre on Dec. 2, 2015, the top Google search in California using the word “Muslims” was “kill Muslims”. Public personalities have openly called for barring Muslims from entering the US and have not ruled out building databases to track American Muslims.

 While denounced by the majority, such rhetoric normalizes intolerance. It permits actions with undesirable and unintended consequences. The visa waiver bill, voted through by over 90% of the House on Dec 8 2015, is one such example. Under this bill, specific individuals from the 38 countries eligible for a visa waiver would be barred from using it. Those newly excluded would include British citizens of Iranian descent, as well as Germans who volunteered for relief work in Syria. As such legislation is often reciprocated by other nations, it may well relegate American Arabs and Muslims to second-class citizen status and deter all Americans from traveling to places where our help is critical.

 Broad-brush, discriminatory and highly visible measures targeting Arab and Muslim populations are likely to create division, not heal it – playing right into the extremists' hands. Making it harder for individuals to travel hurts the very exchange of ideas that fosters tolerance in our society and allows our universities to become world leaders in producing knowledge and promoting free speech and rational discourse.

 Our universities indeed exemplify how we thrive by enabling people from different cultures, religions, political values and priorities to cohabit and work together productively. As we interact with our students, fellow educators, and policy makers, we are constantly reminded of how important this diverse and open exchange is, and the critical part it plays in informing the fabric of our values.  As we see signs of fear clouding our judgment, we are compelled to speak out in defense of tolerance, rational discourse, and basic human values. 

 We therefore categorically reject all forms of intolerance and any discriminatory treatment of Arab and Muslim Americans and other minority groups. We call upon each other and upon our leaders to do the same.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Latest in Climate Change Capitalism's Brilliant Public Deception: The Breakthrough Energy Coalition

Today I received an listserv email from a natural gas cheerleader promoting  Bill Gate's "Breakthrough Energy Coalition."
The is absolutely nothing but a placating cover for a "coalition" whose singular objective is to cash in on the last gasps of fossil fuel extraction and/or cash in on climate change. That their board of directors includes a few billionaire philanthropists cannot possibly make up for the fact that it also includes companies who stand among the most vile human rights abusers on the planet, especially with respect to the exploitation of the developing world and indigenous peoples. 

And nowhere on their website are we told two fundamental truths:

1. If the wealthy North continues to consume at the rate it now does, there will be no technology that can save us--any of us--from the consequences of climate change, including desertification, deforestation, pandemic disease, war, and terrorism.

2. If we continue to consume animal bodies, especially but not exclusively those who've lived out their short and miserable lives on factory farms, we might as well just commit collective suicide now because we're condemning our children and grandchildren to a planet so despoiled by climate change that words like "mitigation" will become the taglines of dark satire and even darker jokes.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition isn't interested in any more than cosmetic fashion about either of these two truths, and in fact, would convince us that we really can have it all--loads of material wealth, lots of bacon-burgers--and a clean beautiful plaanet.

Ain't gonna happen.

In fact, the only thing "transformative" about this ugly ensemble is their transformation of the planet into their off-shored bank accounts, and their ability to convince us that they're acting in our interests.

it's hard to imagine a more cynical bastardizing of the term "philanthropic" than The Breakthrough Energy Coalition. 

Here's their mission statement: 

The world needs widely available energy that is reliable, affordable and does not produce carbon. The only way to accomplish that goal is by developing new tools to power the world. That innovation will result from a dramatically scaled up public research pipeline linked to truly patient, flexible instuments committed to developing the technologies that will create a new energy mix. Breakthrough Energy Coalition
We at BEC will exploit any form of energy we can, and like our fellows over at Exxon or Chevron, we'll call it "responsible," and we'll get away with that because the governments of the countries that fly our flags are only to happy to let us write their environmental regulations, lease us access to their rain forests, their labor pools, and their minerals. 
"Dramatically scaled up public research" is best for our companies since, as is our tradition, we'd like tax-paying citizens to fork over for the research that we'll then exploit to enhance our revenue streams. 
"New energy mix" means that whatever the technologies taxpayers help us develop will make us money--that is, so long as you all keep up the consumption.
Whatever this group's stated commitment to the "Green Energy Revolution" (Mission Innovation | Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution), we can be certain of one thing:

Their first priority is to transform climate change into climate cash, and if we think that has anything to do with social justice, preserving species from extinction, narrowing the gap between the wealthy North and the struggling South--or, God forbid, reducing consumption, we are fools.
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a textbook example of how multinational capitalism postures itself to:
a. Cash in on climate change.
b. Make itself look like it cares about the world's vulnerable people all the while it continues business as usual.
c. Insure the longevity of capital accumulation any way it can.

For just a tiny few substantiating examples that make it abundantly clear that it is woefully irresponsible to promote this group, please consider just a smidgeon sample from its its board of directors:

MUKESH AMBANI--Reliance Industries Ltd, India--among other highly polluting interests, petrochemical company:…/mukesh-ambanis-reliance-industries…
"Mr. Thakurta’s book [GAS WARS], which argues that Reliance tried to influence the previous government to raise the price of natural gas by leaning on favorably inclined politicians and officials, is yet another blow to Mr. Ambani’s image — not only for what it says but also for the fact that Mr. Ambani’s threat of legal action against the authors if the sale of the book is not stopped has been laughed away by them."

Reliance has also been found guilty of human rights abuses in the already highly threatened Amazon:…/recommendations-from-2010-2012-and-…/:

"On 1 December 2010 the Council on Ethics recommended the exclusion of the companies Repsol YPF (now Repsol S.A) and Reliance Industries Limited from the Government Pension Fund Global. The companies were partners in a joint venture which was conducting oil exploration activities in Block 39 in the Peruvian Amazon. Repsol was the operator of the joint venture. Block 39 is located in an area which is thought to overlap the territories of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. In the Council’s view, the exploration activity undertaken by the companies in Block 39 would increase the risk that any indigenous peoples who may be living in voluntary isolation within the block would come into contact with outsiders, leading to potentially serious consequences for these peoples’ life, health and way of living. This would constitute an unacceptable risk of the companies contributing to serious and systematic human rights violations."

AILKO DANGOTE--Dangote Industries, Nigeria:

9 % Investment in Block I in Joint Development Zone ( JDZ ) of Nigeria Sao-Tome along with Chevron Texaco and Exxon Mobil

Dangote, in other words, is in league with three of the top human rights abusers on the planet--especially in Nigeria, and especially concerning torture: 

"In 1999, a group of Nigerians of the Niger Delta region, where Chevron engages in oil production activities, brought a lawsuit against Chevron in US federal court. The plaintiffs allege that they suffered human rights violations, including torture and summary execution, at the hands of the Nigerian military and police acting in concert with Chevron to suppress the plaintiffs’ protests against Chevron’s environmental practices in the Niger Delta. The claims against Chevron are based on two incidents. First, two protestors were shot by Nigerian military and police allegedly recruited by Chevron at its Parabe offshore platform. Second, two Nigerian villages, Opia and Ikenyan, were attacked by Nigerian soldiers using helicopters and boats allegedly leased and/or owned by Chevron, and these attacks allegedly caused the death and injury of a number of villagers."

Dangote has its own deeply troubling history:…/169022-nigerias-human-right…:

"PREMIUM TIMES had on June 30, exposed the massacre of seven youth at Mr. Dangote’s multi-billion naira cement factory after demonstrators gathered to protest the shooting, by a soldier, of 19 year-old Terhile Jirbo.
Mr. Jirbo was attacked for relieving himself near the cement factory and refusing to pack the waste with his mouth when a soldier ordered him to do so.
Mr. Jirbo survived the attack but the bullet tore his mouth apart and left him permanently disfigured.
Villagers, who responded after the shooting by staging what several witnesses said was a peaceful demonstration to the Dangote factory, met a bloody pushback by the troops.
Hours after the protest, the soldiers opened fire, killing seven of the protesters including a woman, who was shot in the head at close range.
The 19 year-old woman, Doose Ornguze, a resident of Tsekucha, near Mbayion, survived the first shot at her, and was trying to crawl to safety before a soldier walked up close and fired into her skull."
JOHN ARNOLD: (John D. Arnold - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)  "is an American billionaire and former hedge fund manager who specializes in natural gas trading. His firm, Centaurus Advisors, LLC, was a Houston-based hedge fund that specialized in trading energy products."

And from a Rolling Stone expose:

In 2011, Pew began to align itself with a figure who was decidedly neither centrist nor nonpartisan: 39-year-old John Arnold, whom CNN/Money described (erroneously) as the "second-youngest self-made billionaire in America," after Mark Zuckerberg. Though similar in wealth and youth, Arnold presented the stylistic opposite of Zuckerberg's signature nerd chic: He's a lipless, eager little jerk with the jug-eared face of a Division III women's basketball coach, exactly what you'd expect a former Enron commodities trader to look like. Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning documentary The Smartest Guys in the Room and remembers those tapes of Enron traders cackling about rigging energy prices on "Grandma Millie" and jamming electricity rates "right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour" will have a sense of exactly what Arnold's work environment was like.
In fact, in the book that the movie was based on, the authors portray Arnold bragging about his minions manipulating energy prices, praising them for "learning how to use the Enron bat to push around the market." Those comments later earned Arnold visits from federal investigators, who let him get away with claiming he didn't mean what he said.

As Enron was imploding, Arnold played a footnote role, helping himself to an $8 million bonus while the company's pension fund was vaporizing. He and other executives were later rebuked by a bankruptcy judge for looting their own company along with other executives. Public pension funds nationwide, reportedly, lost more than $1.5 billion thanks to their investments in Enron.

In 2002, Arnold started a hedge fund and over the course of the next few years made roughly a $3 billion fortune as the world's most successful natural-gas trader. But after suffering losses in 2010, Arnold bowed out of hedge-funding to pursue "other interests." He had created the Arnold Foundation, an organization dedicated, among other things, to reforming the pension system, hiring a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Dick Armey named Denis Calabrese, as well as Dan Liljenquist, a Utah state senator and future Tea Party challenger to Orrin Hatch.
Soon enough, the Arnold Foundation released a curious study on pensions. On the one hand, it admitted that many states had been undercontributing to their pension funds for years. But instead of proposing that states correct the practice, the report concluded that "the way to create a sound, sustainable and fair retirement-savings program is to stop promising a [defined] benefit."  

Had enough?
How about PATRICE MOTSEPE--African Rainbow Minerals:
"The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) deems the relocation of a Limpopo community to make way for a platinum mine as “adversely affecting” the communities concerned. The world’s largest platinum-mining company, Anglo Platinum (Angloplat), relocated the communities that surrounded its Potgietersrus platinum mine in Mokopane."

"Villagers say that in 2000, Motsepe’s people offered them an 8.5 percent stake in the Modikwa platinum mine on credit, promising to develop schools, hospitals, homes and roads in the hills of Limpopo province. While Motsepe today is a billionaire, the 80,000 community members still collectively owe about 158 million rand on their share. “They promised to develop the village,” Moime said in front of her crumbling home, where a row of bricks serves as a kitchen surface. “Houses were never built. Roads weren’t built properly. We’re not happy at all....Almost 14 percent of South Africa’s 53 million people live on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank. Black citizens on average earn a sixth of what their white counterparts do and 1.9 million households have no income, census data shows...Motsepe is worth $2.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His 40.7 percent stake in African Rainbow is worth $1.39 billion and a share in financial services group Sanlam Ltd. is worth $597 million. He also has about $200 million in cash and is the board chairman of Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd., in which African Rainbow has a 14.6 percent stake."

The charity run by Bill and Melinda Gates, who say the threat of climate change is so serious that immediate action is needed, held at least $1.4bn (£1bn) of investments in the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, according to a Guardian analysis of the charity’s most recent tax filing in 2013.
The companies include BP, responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Anadarko Petroleum, which was recently forced to pay a $5bn environmental clean-up charge and Brazilian mining company Vale, voted the corporation with most “contempt for the environment and human rights” in the world clocking over 25,000 votes in the Public Eye annual awards. 

VINOD KHOSLA, Khosla Ventures: Khosla Ventures:
Included in his portfolio is 
Ciris Energy develops technology for the production of electricity from buried coal and other hydrocarbon deposits. Their technologies, ISBCTM and ESBCTM, share a common component: the microbial bio conversion of carbon. The ISBC technology process is conducted below ground in coal seams where indigenous microbes convert coal to methane. The ESBC technology is conducted above ground after coal has been mined and combines a low cost thermochemical pretreatment of coal with engineered microbes to convert coal to chemicals and methane.
 GreatPoint Energy:GreatPoint Energy produces clean, low cost natural gas from coal, petroleum coke and biomass utilizing its bluegas™ catalytic hydromethanation process.
And, last but not least, The Climate Corporation, owned and operated by Monsanto: Monsanto Acquires The Climate Corporation

Well, not quite last--if you think Mark Zuckerberg is some awesome philanthropist, you should review that assessment:

How Mark Zuckerberg’s Altruism Helps Himself - The New York Times:

Mark Zuckerberg did not donate $45 billion to charity. You may have heard that, but that was wrong. 
Here’s what happened instead: Mr. Zuckerberg created an investment vehicle.Sorry for the slightly less sexy headline. Mr. Zuckerberg is a co-founder of Facebook and a youthful megabillionaire. In announcing the birth of his daughter, he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, declared they would donate 99 percent of their worth, the vast majority of which is tied up in Facebook stock valued at $45 billion today. In doing so, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan did not set up a charitable foundation, which has nonprofit status. He created a limited liability company, one that has already reaped enormous benefits as public relations coup for himself. His P.R. return-on-investment dwarfs that of his Facebook stock. Mr. Zuckerberg was depicted in breathless, glowing terms for having, in essence, moved money from one pocket to the other. An L.L.C. can invest in for-profit companies (perhaps these will be characterized as societally responsible companies, but lots of companies claim the mantle of societal responsibility). An L.L.C. can make political donations. It can lobby for changes in the law. He remains completely free to do as he wishes with his money. That’s what America is all about. But as a society, we don’t generally call these types of activities “charity.”
 Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Chan are simply sheltering their money, and making you think they care about you.

Bull shit.

That these companies also dabble in sustainable energy, food production, etc. should not be taken as anything like a commitment to a sustainable world. They're simply diversifying their portfolios to make as much as they can under the current circumstances.

And that's all--except for that they'd like you to believe they're interested in you and the planet.

Of course, there are the easy invite me to your next party Big Green Corporations like the Sierra Club who trip all over themselves to get photo ops with the Breakthrough Boys:

Michael Brune, executive director of the environmental group, the Sierra Club, said clean energy was already "winning the fight" against fossil fuels. "Now, these incredible public or private commitments, which are historic, essential, and timely, show that the nations of the world-- as well as many of the world's leading visionaries and philanthropists--are committed to making clean energy even more widespread, even faster," he said. "What's now clearer than ever is that our future will be 100 percent clean energy, and that dirty fossil fuels are merely riding out their final wave."

 Were this not so tragically wrong, it would almost be funny. "Riding out their final wave"? Absolutely--right on the backs of the world's poorest peoples in places like Nigeria.

So, no, it's not funny.

And this isn't really about the Sierra Club, EDF,, or any of the other  Big Greens who are already so compromised it's hard to distinguish their donor lists from the boards of directors at Shell or Monsanto or Exxon.
Photo: Carley Aurora Lee-Lampshire
Kolkata, India 2009.

Breakthrough may dwarf them all--and the cost of this latest play to sucker us into believing we can continue to consume at ever increasing rates--that there are no limits to growth with the right technologies?

Us. Or rather, the most vulnerable among us--just like always.