Tag Archives: goldman sachs

JADE HELM 15 and the American Massacre

 JADE HELM is NOT “an ordinary training drill”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

by Jim Fetzer

Something is wrong at Veterans Today. A former Marine, who has published many articles here, was slammed by Gordon Duff and by Jim Dean for perpetrating “a hoax” by raising concerns about this mysterious “training op” called JADE HELM. I admire VT and like Gordon personally, although from time to time we have a divergence in our point of view. I have never felt as positive about Jim Dean because, as an old-time reporter and editor, he has come across to me as having an anti-academic prejudice, which I as a former professor have sensed from our initial encounters. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Robert O'Dowd But let’s consider the case of this article and its author, Robert O’Dowd. Although I had not read any of his work at VT before, I thought it was raising a perfectly appropriate issue as to whether or not JADE HELM, which is an operation that covers at least seven states (and now seems to have expanded to five or six more) could possibly be the cover for imposing martial law under the pretext of conducting operations in urban settings, which are meant to train personnel “for foreign operations”, where nothing about this has struck me as right from the beginning. As a consequence, I was glad to see he had published about it: O'Dowd's article with Editor's Note But I could hardly believe the response from Gordon and Jim. Not only did they “tag team” Robert and imply that he had been played for a sap but asserted that, “We have checked our sources who would be in a position to know if something like this were going on, and it categorically is not.” The problem with this approach is that we ordinary readers are not in the position to verify “their sources”. This is a classic appeal to authority, where we are supposed to take their word for it. And while I might be disposed to accept those assurances on routine matters, in this instance, the case of JADE HELM is anything but “routine”.

Jim Dean piles on

It further astonished me that Jim Dean would reiterate his and Gordon’s position in both the facebook and ordinary comments sections on O’Dowd’s article, which you can easily confirm for yourself. This left some readers, such as Bonny Amey, at a loss as to exactly what was going on. And, indeed, others expressed concern, even in the ordinary comments section, where O’Dowd (in my view, with complete justification) submitted his resignation as a journalist for VT on facebook, explaining that he did not appreciate being used as a whipping boy for having published “a bogus story”, especially when the facts are still in doubt: Jim Dean comment Exchange between Bonnie and O'Dowd Robert O'Dowd's resignation

So is this “a bogus story”?

The fellow who seems to be arranging this op and speaking about it in public is one Tony Mead, where his characterization of “JADE HELM” is reasonably elaborate, involving the use of Army Green Berets, Navy SEALS and representatives of the other branches of the US military, which suggests that those who have asserted that this only involves “the national guard” appear to be wrong. Indeed, if what he is telling us in this video presentation is correct, then the appeal to “the national guard” is a bogus story, which troubles me because I heard it from Gordon Duff. But perhaps he had not looked into the situation deeply enough.

If Gordon had not looked into the situation “deeply enough”, however, then it makes no sense for him to have attacked Robert’s article and assailed him as a dupe who was pushing “a bogus story”. I was troubled enough by all of this that I brought together a group of four guests, including Terri from Nebraska (who had sent me many links), Robert O’Dowd himself (as the one who had raised this issue on VT), Preston James (whom I regard as one of the most astute intellects I have ever known), and last but not least (as a late arrival), Dennis Cimino (with whom I have co-authored multiple articles here) to try to sort all this out:

While I think we made progress in sorting this out, none of our considerations supported the idea that this was “a bogus story” and that no one should be concerned. It came as news to me when my producer, Chance, observed that a parallel operation is taking place in Canada under the name of “Maple Resolve”, which includes closing some 133 Target Stores, not merely for the two months the operation is officially supposed to run but for nine months at the cost of some 17,000 jobs, where their former employees are even being encouraged to find other lines of work. In my opinion, this alters the equation and leaves no doubt:

What conclusion should we draw?

Dave Hodges-Canadian troops to assist US Several features of “the big picture” strike me as enormously important. Walmart and Target are stores with mass appeal for the middle and lower class of both Canadian and American society. That some 15 Walmarts should be taken over in the United States alone and now another 133 Targets in Canada is alarming! There is nothing “bogus” about this story. And other sources, such as David Hodges’ “Common Sense Show” have made equally telling observations about the redistribution of resources for a purported “training op” when it entails the dismissal of 17,000 employees, who no doubt are being left in desperate straits: Operation Maple Leaf Some simple calculations

So what conclusions do I draw from my investigations to this date? Gordon Duff and Jim Dean were wrong to censor Robert O’Dowd, whose article was entirely appropriate for a journal devoted to “clandestine activities”. JADE HELM is not a “training op” but something far more serious. When you calculate the profits per store to Walmart and to Target, they are taking an enormous hit, which can only be for some transcendent purpose that override “the conduct of business as usual”. (We are talking about billions of dollars in lost profits, not to mention the loss of highly qualified, experienced personnel to stock products, to resupply those facilities and to process check outs and deliveries.) As an investigative journalist for Veterans Today, I am committed to doing my best to expose the truth, even when it conflicts with the views of Gordon Duff and Jim Dean, who are at liberty to deal with me as severely as they dealt with Robert O’Dowd. I am committed to serve my nation and its best interests, which I do, come what may.

Friday, May 1, 2015

JADE HELM and the American Massacre

By Zen Gardner 


8 47
I’m prefacing my thoughts with this provocative title for a reason. What is being perpetrated on the American people is virtually a complete dissembling of everything they supposedly hold dear and will only lead to their ultimate destruction. A nationwide massacre of their infrastructure, personal rights and protection, and even livelihoods and food security is not only at stake, but now in progress.

Here are the key points about JADE HELM:

1. Jade Helm is a military exercise endorsed by the American government and perpetrated on its own people in complete violation of not just the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 but is a total affront on every civil liberty the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is supposed to espouse and maintain.
2. Occupying sovereign territory with a nation’s own armies indicates the very people for which a government was established to help provide for and protect are their declared enemy.
3. The fabricated external threat of terrorism has been deftly translated into meaning that anyone challenging the status quo, be it political, economic or psycho-spiritual, is the enemy. Not external enemies but domestic, as has always been the case, but openly declared since the first so-called Patriot Act. Dissent has become illegal and they’ve virtually declared any thinking American an enemy of the State with a litany of laws, rules and regulations at their disposal while mechanisms set in place long ago to protect personal rights have been eviscerated.
4. The very massive size of this operation and the vast amounts of military hardware pouring into distribution locations around the country indicates this is not just an exercise, but a stealth occupation, at the very least designed to intimidate and acclimatize the American mindset to living in virtual martial law conditions, while they step up their preparations for worse social conditions to come.
5. As wars rage on against supposed terrorists abroad, targeting a nation’s own citizens in such draconian measures makes absolutely zero sense, when hardly a non-government induced “terror” incident has transpired. Many more have died from medical and pharmaceutical abuse, police killings and even strikes by lightning, along with a host of other causes. Where’s the big brave justice league on the real problems?
6. The inherent doctrines of personal freedom and individual sovereignty are being violated with abject impunity, a repugnant affront on human dignity.
7. The question haunts: Who’s even noticing? Besides those that fall for the supposed need for such a massive operation, how many are totally ignorant that it is even happening?

The Potential Outcome of this Maneuver?
a. Anything could trigger this operation to go “live”, as has happened repeatedly with such staged government sponsored operations.
b. One resisting individual, real, or more plausibly planted, could cause a chain reaction of events that would be devastating.
c. A typical false flag attack on these infiltrating government deployed forces would easily justify a strong armed response, be the incident a lone personal reaction, staged sniper fire, a planted bomb on a military vehicle, or something or things much worse. Such triggers within a staged drill or exercise have proven to work time and again.
d. Problem-reaction-solution. Since they’ve created the problem of imposing military control and its intrusions on personal freedoms, so-called practiced or otherwise, the reaction would no doubt be begged. Once the reaction appears from whatever quarter, real or simply reported to have happened, the justification for full on mobilization against the American people, designed from the outset, goes into play. Confiscation of guns and all potential weapons is clearly on the agenda as they’ve been practicing for years following natural and unnatural disasters. Precious metals, large amounts of cash, and even stockpiled food could easily be on the list as well.

Conclusion

This Jade Helm 15 operation is no simple exercise. At the very least it is conditioning Americans for more control, even less personal freedom in the metastasizing surveillance state, and something worse in the near future. The bare fact remains that too many will fall for it and continue to stand back in fear and obedience to false, illegitimately imposed fascist controls backed by brute force.

The time is now to withdraw your consent and participation in such fear and obeisance mongering.

See what is happening for what it is. And sound the alarm. Our full awareness of the nature of these staged operations and broadcasting it far and wide has pushed them back before, and we can do it again. Let your awareness, indignation and refusal to accept this be known far and wide.
And be prepared. They’re up to no good and it’s all completely staged for specific reasons. Don’t give them the response they want.
Stay lit with truth.
Spread the word, disengage from their systems, and keep your peace.
Love, Zen

ANONYMOUS HQ

http://anonhq.com/ REALHEROSPROOF3posterReal American heroes do not wear uniforms or carry weapons, they tell the truth and fight tyranny.

j.tremaine

https://johneagleland2.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/chris-hedges-the-myth-of-human-progress-and-the-collapse-of-complex-societies-full-speech/

  •  
Rights

Mother Calls NYPD For Help; Cops Racially Assault Her, Send Kids To Foster Care

March 23rd, 2015 | by Vandita

She caught her son stealing $10 from her wallet and requested that the police come round and teach him a lesson. Creative, but not a good idea in the age of the militarized trigger-happy racially-insensitive cop. Four NYPD cops…

Costco Phasing Out Antibiotic-Treated Meat

0
Health

Costco Phasing Out Antibiotic-Treated Meat

March 23rd, 2015 | by EV

Costco, the second-largest retailer in the U.S., has announced that it will be cutting out antibiotics from their chicken and other meats. This announcement comes just days after McDonald’s announced it will stop…

33% of Americans Out Of Workforce, Highest Since 1978

2
Economy

33% of Americans Out Of Workforce, Highest Since 1978

March 23rd, 2015 | by Undercover economist

In February 2015, the number of Americans aged 16 and older not participating in the labor force hit 92,898,000, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data revealed that over the longer…

US Army Platoon Allows Racism For One Day Every Week. Brawls And Suicide Rated Good for Morale

9
World

US Army Platoon Allows Racism For One Day Every Week. Brawls And Suicide Rated Good for Morale

March 23rd, 2015 | by CoNN

Ah, Racial Thursdays. The long-lost Hill-Billy cousin of Casual Fridays; both allow you to let your true personality shine, though where the latter stops at the exterior, the former allows people to get more than… skin-deep….

ACTIVISM

RIGHTS

Mother Calls NYPD For Help; Cops Racially Assault Her, Send Kids To Foster Care

1

Mother Calls NYPD For Help; Cops Racially Assault Her, Send Kids To Foster Care

March 23rd, 2015 | by Vandita

She caught her son stealing $10 from her wallet and requested that the police come round and teach him a lesson. Creative, but…

NYPD IP Addresses Linked to Attempts at Censoring Wikipedia Entries on Police Brutality

0

NYPD IP Addresses Linked to Attempts at Censoring Wikipedia Entries on Police Brutality

March 20th, 2015 | by CoNN

The NYPD has been caught red-handed censoring cases of police brutality against American citizens on Wikipedia entries. Up to 85…

Eric Garner’s Murder: Director Spike Lee Makes A Powerful Point

0

Eric Garner’s Murder: Director Spike Lee Makes A Powerful Point

March 20th, 2015 | by Vandita

Eric Garner succumbed to police brutality on July 17, 2014. Even after medical examiners concluded that Garner was killed by…

SHOCKING: Cop Raped Woman While Her Infant Daughter Was In Bed

2

SHOCKING: Cop Raped Woman While Her Infant Daughter Was In Bed

March 17th, 2015 | by Vandita

24-year-old Ryan James Bruggink, former Grand Rapids Police officer, sexually assaulted a woman while her infant daughter was…

CYBER

SECURITY

Bank of America Is Under Attack By Hackers

2

Bank of America Is Under Attack By Hackers

March 23rd, 2015 | by legion

Customers of bank of America are under attack. Hackers have created a website that mirrors  Bank of America’s, and sends…

Google Warning: FBI Seeking Access to Computers Globally

5

Google Warning: FBI Seeking Access to Computers Globally

March 19th, 2015 | by Anon.Dos

Google is not going to sit tight on this one, they have decided to come out and boldly go against the United States Justice…

Sony PlayStation User Accounts are Getting Hacked

3

Sony PlayStation User Accounts are Getting Hacked

March 18th, 2015 | by Anon.Dos

Somebody has had their PSN account hacked, their PS4 deactivated and their account utilized to fraudulently buy content worth…

ALERT:Malicious Links Goes Viral On Facebook

0

ALERT:Malicious Links Goes Viral On Facebook

March 18th, 2015 | by legion

Hackers and spammers are taking advantage of social networking websites like Facebook and twitter; they are masking their worms…

POLITICS
  • 33% of Americans Out Of Workforce, Highest Since 1978

    2
    Economy

    March 23rd, 2015

    33% of Americans Out Of Workforce, Highest Since 1978

    In February 2015, the number of Americans aged 16 and older not participating in the labor force hit 92,898,000, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data revealed that over the longer trend, the labor force participation rate was…Read More

ENVIRONMENT

TECHNOLOGY

Bank of America Is Under Attack By Hackers

2

Bank of America Is Under Attack By Hackers

March 23rd, 2015 | by legion

Customers of bank of America are under attack. Hackers have created a website that mirrors  Bank of America’s, and sends…

Is NASA Hiding Alien Life? Live Footage Cutted When UFO Appeared

32

Is NASA Hiding Alien Life? Live Footage Cutted When UFO Appeared

March 23rd, 2015 | by Vandita

NASA is accused of cutting its live video feed from the International Space Station when a UFO appears. Toby Lundh recently…

UBC Students Invent Fast, Affordable Desktop Recycling For Your 3D Printer

0

UBC Students Invent Fast, Affordable Desktop Recycling For Your 3D Printer

March 21st, 2015 | by Tech Anon

Although the idea of creating objects in three dimensions is not a new one, 3D printing or “additive manufacturing” is fairly…

And… China Has Blocked Reuters…

3

And… China Has Blocked Reuters…

March 21st, 2015 | by legion

Another news outlet is meeting the same fate as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in China. The Chinese government…

http://static-shareaholic.s3.amazonaws.com/analytics_frame.html

https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/postmessageRelay?parent=http%3A%2F%2Fanonhq.com#rpctoken=172385458&forcesecure=1

[ X ]

This ad has been matched to your interests. It was selected for you based on your browsing activity. This Advertiser used Google’s DoubleClick ad serving and targeting platform to determine that you might be interested in an ad like this.

http://cti.w55c.net/ct/cms-sh2c.html

The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet

Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever

Photo: Illustration by Victor Juhasz

By Matt Taibbi | February 12, 2014
Call it the loophole that destroyed the world. It’s 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. While the rest of America obsesses over Monica Lewinsky, Columbine and Mark McGwire’s biceps, Congress is feverishly crafting what could yet prove to be one of the most transformative laws in the history of our economy – a law that would make possible a broader concentration of financial and industrial power than we’ve seen in more than a century.

But the crazy thing is, nobody at the time quite knew it. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years.

Wall Street had spent much of that era arguing that America’s banks needed to become bigger and badder, in order to compete globally with the German and Japanese-style financial giants, which were supposedly about to swallow up all the world’s banking business. So through legislative lackeys like red-faced Republican deregulatory enthusiast Phil Gramm, bank lobbyists were pushing a new law designed to wipe out 60-plus years of bedrock financial regulation. The key was repealing – or “modifying,” as bill proponents put it – the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and brokers, which had been passed in 1933 to prevent conflicts of interest within the finance sector that had led to the Great Depression. Now, commercial banks would be allowed to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, creating financial megafirms potentially far more powerful than had ever existed in America.

All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is “complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.”

Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?

From the perspective of the banks,” says Saule Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, “pretty much everything is considered complementary to a financial activity.”

Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination. “Nobody knew the reach it would have into the real economy,” says Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Now a leading voice on the Hill against the hidden provisions, Brown actually voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley as a congressman, along with all but 72 other House members. “I bet even some of the people who were the bill’s advocates had no idea.”

Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry and to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel and, most infamously thanks to a recent high-profile scandal, aluminum. And they’re doing it not just here but abroad as well: In Denmark, thousands took to the streets in protest in recent weeks, vampire-squid banners in hand, when news came out that Goldman Sachs was about to buy a 19 percent stake in Dong Energy, a national electric provider. The furor inspired mass resignations of ministers from the government’s ruling coalition, as the Danish public wondered how an American investment bank could possibly hold so much influence over the state energy grid.

There are more eclectic interests, too. After 9/11, we found it worrisome when foreigners started to get into the business of running ports, but there’s been little controversy as banks have done the same, or even started dabbling in other activities with national-security implications – Goldman Sachs, for instance, is apparently now in the uranium business, a piece of news that attracted few headlines.

Related Wall Street’s War

But banks aren’t just buying stuff, they’re buying whole industrial processes. They’re buying oil that’s still in the ground, the tankers that move it across the sea, the refineries that turn it into fuel, and the pipelines that bring it to your home. Then, just for kicks, they’re also betting on the timing and efficiency of these same industrial processes in the financial markets – buying and selling oil stocks on the stock exchange, oil futures on the futures market, swaps on the swaps market, etc.

Allowing one company to control the supply of crucial physical commodities, and also trade in the financial products that might be related to those markets, is an open invitation to commit mass manipulation. It’s something akin to letting casino owners who take book on NFL games during the week also coach all the teams on Sundays.

The situation has opened a Pandora’s box of horrifying new corruption possibilities, but it’s been hard for the public to notice, since regulators have struggled to put even the slightest dent in Wall Street’s older, more familiar scams. In just the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of scandals – from the multitrillion-dollar Libor saga (major international banks gaming world interest rates), to the more recent foreign-currency-exchange fiasco (many of the same banks suspected of rigging prices in the $5.3-trillion-a-day currency markets), to lesser scandals involving manipulation of interest-rate swaps, and gold and silver prices.

But those are purely financial schemes. In these new, even scarier kinds of manipulations, banks that own whole chains of physical business interests have been caught rigging prices in those industries. For instance, in just the past two years, fines in excess of $400 million have been levied against both JPMorgan Chase and Barclays for allegedly manipulating the delivery of electricity in several states, including California. In the case of Barclays, which is contesting the fine, regulators claim prices were manipulated to help the bank win financial bets it had made on those same energy markets.

And last summer, The New York Times described how Goldman Sachs was caught systematically delaying the delivery of metals out of a network of warehouses it owned in order to jack up rents and artificially boost prices.

You might not have been surprised that Goldman got caught scamming the world again, but it was certainly news to a lot of people that an investment bank with no industrial expertise, just five years removed from a federal bailout, stores and controls enough of America’s aluminum supply to affect world prices.

How was all of this possible? And who signed off on it?

By exploiting loopholes in a dense, decade-and-a-half-old piece of financial legislation, Wall Street has effected a revolutionary change that American citizens never discussed, debated or prepared for, and certainly never explicitly permitted in any meaningful way: the wholesale merger of high finance with heavy industry. This blitzkrieg reorganization of our economy has left millions of Americans facing a smorgasbord of frightfully unexpected new problems. Do we even have a regulatory structure in place to look out for these new forms of manipulation? (Answer: We don’t.) And given that the banking sector that came so close to ruining the world economy five years ago has now vastly expanded its footprint, who’s in charge of preventing the next crash?

In this Brave New World, nobody knows. Moreover, whatever we’ve done, it’s too late to have a referendum on it. Garrett Wotkyns, an Arizona-based class-action attorney who has spent more than a year investigating the banks’ involvement in the metals markets and is suing Goldman and others over the aluminum case on behalf of two major manufacturers, puts it this way: “It’s like that line in The Dark Knight Rises,” he says. “‘The storm isn’t coming. The storm is already here.'”

To this day, the provenance of the “complementary activities” loophole that set much of this mess in motion remains something of a mystery. We know from congressional records that a vice chairman of JPMorgan, Michael Patterson, was one of the first to push the idea in House testimony in February 1999 and that, later that year, an early version of the bill put forward in the Senate by Phil Gramm also contained the provision.

But even one of the final bill’s eventual authors, Republican congressman Jim Leach, can’t remember exactly whose idea adding the “complementary activities” line was. “I know of no legislative history of the provision,” he says. “It probably came from the Senate side.”

Moreover, Leach was shocked to hear that regulators had pointed to this section of a bill bearing his name as the legal authority allowing banks to gain control over physical-commodities markets. “That’s news to me,” says the mortified ex-congressman, now a law professor at the University of Iowa. “I assume no one at the time would have thought it would apply to commodities brokering of a nature that has recently been reported.”

One thing that is clear in the public record is that nobody was talking, at least publicly, about banks someday owning oil tankers or controlling the supply of industrial metals.

The JPMorgan witness, Michael Patterson, told the House Financial Services Committee at the 1999 hearing that his idea of “complementary activities” was, say, a credit-card company putting out a restaurant guide. “One example is American Express, which publishes magazines,” he testified. “Travel + Leisure magazine is complementary to the travel business. Food & Wine promotes dining out . . . which might lead to greater use of the American Express card.”

That’s how insignificant this was supposed to be,” says Omarova. “They were talking about being allowed to put out magazines.”

Even apart from the “complementary” provision, Gramm quietly added another time bomb to the law, a grandfather clause, which said that any company that became a bank holding company after the passage of Gramm-Leach-Bliley in 1999 could engage in (or control shares of a company engaged in) commodities trading – but only if it was already doing so before a seemingly arbitrary date in September 1997.

This meant that if you were a bank holding company at the time the law was passed and you wanted to get into the commodities business, you were out of luck, because the federal law prohibited banks from being involved in physical commodities or any other forms of heavy industry. But if you were already a commodities dealer in 1997 and then somehow became a bank holding company, you could get into whatever you pleased.

This was nuts. It was a little like passing a law that ordered you to leave the Army if you were gay in November 1999 – but if you were a heterosexual soldier as of September 1997 and then somehow became gay after 1999, you could stay in the Army.

To this day, nobody is exactly clear on what the grandfather clause means. If a company traded in tin before 1997 and then became a bank holding company in 2015, would it have to stick with tin? Or did the fact that it traded tin in 1997 mean the company could buy oil tankers and pipelines in 2020?

In 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – the most powerful branch of the Fed, the primary regulator of bank holding companies and the final authority on these things – put out a paper saying it had no clue about the exact meaning of the provision. “The legal scope of the exemption,” a trio of New York Fed officials wrote in July that year, “is widely seen as ambiguous.” Just a few weeks ago, the Fed’s director of banking supervision, Michael Gibson, told the Senate, “I’m not a lawyer,” and that it’s “under review.”

It almost didn’t matter. For nearly a decade, this obscure provision of Gramm-Leach-Bliley effectively applied to nobody. Then, in the third week of September 2008, while the economy was imploding after the collapses of Lehman and AIG, two of America’s biggest investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, found themselves in desperate need of emergency financing. So late on a Sunday night, on September 21st, to be exact, the two banks announced they had applied to the Federal Reserve to become bank holding companies, which would give them lifesaving access to emergency cash from the Fed’s discount window.

The Fed granted the requests overnight. The move saved the bacon of both firms, and it had one additional benefit: It made Goldman and Morgan Stanley, which both had significant commodity-trading operations prior to 1997, the first and last two companies to qualify for the grandfather exemption of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. “Kind of convenient, isn’t it?” says one congressional aide. “It’s almost like the law was written specifically for them.”

The irony was incredible. After fucking up so badly that the government had to give them federal bank charters and bottomless wells of free cash to save their necks, the feds gave Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley hall passes to become cross-species monopolistic powers with almost limitless reach into any sectors of the economy.

And they weren’t the only accidental beneficiaries of the crisis. JPMorgan Chase acquired the commodity-trading operations of Bear Stearns in early 2008, after the Fed pledged billions in guarantees to help Chase rescue the doomed investment bank. Within the next two years, Chase also acquired the commodities operations of another failing bank, the newly nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland, which included Henry Bath, a U.K.-based company that owns a large network of warehouses throughout Europe.

As a result, entering 2010, these three companies were newly empowered to go out and start doubling down on investments in physical industry. Through a fortuitous circumstance, the cost of financing for bank holding companies had also dropped like a stone by the end of 2009, as the Fed slashed interest rates almost to zero in a desperate attempt to stimulate the economy out of its post-crash doldrums.

The sudden turning on of this huge faucet of free money seems to have been a factor in an ensuing commodities shopping spree undertaken by all three firms. Morgan Stanley, for instance, claimed to have just $2.5 billion in commodity assets in March 2009. By September 2011, those holdings had nearly quadrupled, to $10.3 billion.

Goldman and Chase – along with Glencore and Trafigura, a pair of giant Swiss-based conglomerates that were offshoots of a firm founded by notorious deceased commodities trader and known market manipulator Marc Rich – all made notably coincidental purchases of metals-warehousing companies in 2010.

The presence of these Marc Rich entities is particularly noteworthy. According to famed Forbes reporter Paul Klebnikov, who was assassinated in 2004 after years of reports on Russian corruption, Rich made a fortune in the early Nineties striking crooked deals with the Soviet bosses who controlled the U.S.S.R.’s supplies of raw materials – in particular commodities like zinc and aluminum. These deals helped create a fledgling class of profiteers among the bosses of the crumbling Soviet empire, a class that would go on years later to help push Russia out of its communist past into its kleptocratic present.

He’d strike a deal with the local party boss, or the director of a state-owned company,” Klebnikov said back in 2001. “He’d say, ‘OK, you will sell me the [commodity] at five to 10 percent of the world-market price . . . and in return, I will deposit some of the profit I make by reselling it 10 times higher on the world market, and put the kickback in a Swiss bank account.'”

Rich made these reported deals while in exile from the United States, which he fled in 1983 after the U.S. government charged him with tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering and trading with the enemy after being caught trading with rogue states like Iran, among other things. The state filed enough counts to put him away for life, and he remained a fugitive until January 2001, when a little-known Clinton administration Justice Department official named Eric Holder recommended Rich be pardoned. A report by the House Committee on Government Reform later concluded that Holder had not provided a credible explanation for supporting Rich’s pardon and that he must have had “other motivations” that he didn’t share with Congress. Among other things, the committee speculated that Holder had designs on the attorney general’s office in a potential Al Gore administration.

In any case, in 2010, a decade after the Rich pardon, Holder was attorney general, but under Barack Obama, and two Rich-created firms, along with two banks that have been major donors to the Democratic Party, all made moves to buy up metals warehouses. In near simultaneous fashion, Goldman, Chase, Glencore and Trafigura bought companies that control warehouses all over the world for the LME, or London Metals Exchange. The LME is a privately owned exchange for world metals trading. It’s the world’s primary hub for determining metals prices and also for trading metals-based futures, options, swaps and other instruments.

“If they were just interested in collecting rent for metals storage, they’d have bought all kinds of warehouses,” says Manal Mehta, the founder of Sunesis Capital, a hedge fund that has done extensive research on the banks’ forays into the commodities markets. “But they seemed to focus on these official LME facilities.”

The JPMorgan deal seemed to be in direct violation of an order sent to the bank by the Fed in 2005, which declared the bank was not authorized to “own, operate, or invest in facilities for the extraction, transportation, storage, or distribution of commodities.” The way the Fed later explained this to the Senate was that the purchase of Henry Bath was OK because it considered the acquisition of this commodities company kosher within the context of a larger sale that the Fed was cool with – “If the bulk of the acquisition is a permissible activity, they’re allowed to include a small amount of impermissible activities.”

What’s more, according to LME regulations, no warehouse company can also own metal or make trades on the exchange. While they may have been following the letter of the law, they were certainly violating the spirit: Goldman preposterously seems to have engaged in all three activities simultaneously, changing a hat every time it wanted to switch roles. It conducted its metal trades through its commodities subsidiary J. Aron, and then put Metro, its warehouse company, in charge of the storage, and according to industry experts, Goldman most likely owned some metal, though the company has remained vague on the subject.

If you’re wondering why the LME would permit a seemingly blatant violation of its own rules, a good place to start would be to look at who owned the LME at the time. Although it eventual­ly sold itself to a Hong Kong company in 2012, in 2010 the LME was owned by a consortium of banks and financial companies. The two largest shareholders? Goldman and JPMorgan Chase.

Humorously, another was Koch Metals (2.32 percent), a commodities concern that’s part of the Koch brothers’ empire. The Kochs have been caught up in their own commodity-manipulation schemes, including an episode in 2008, in which they rented out huge tankers and used them to store excess oil offshore essentially as floating warehouses, taking cheap oil out of available supply and thereby helping to drive up energy prices. Additionally, some banks have been accused of similar oil-hoarding schemes.

The motive for the Kochs, or anyone else, to hoard a commodity like oil can be almost beautiful in its simplicity. Basically, a bank or a trading company wants to buy commodities cheap in the present and sell them for a premium as futures. This trade, sometimes called “arbitraging the contango,” works best if the cost of storing your oil or metals or whatever you’re dealing with is negligible – you make more money off the futures trade if you don’t have to pay rent while you wait to deliver.

So when financial firms suddenly start buying oil tankers or warehouses, they could be doing so to make bets pay off, as part of a speculative strategy – which is why the banks’ sudden acquisitions of metals-storage companies in 2010 is so noteworthy.

These were not minor projects. The firms put high-ranking executives in charge of these operations. Goldman’s acquisition of Metro was the project of Isabelle Ealet, the bank’s then-global commodities chief. (In a curious coincidence commented upon by several sources for this story, many of Goldman’s most senior officials, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein and president Gary Cohn, started their careers in Goldman’s commodities division.)

Meanwhile, Chase’s own head of commodities operations, Blythe Masters – an even more famed Wall Street figure, sometimes described as the inventor of the credit default swap – admitted that her company’s warehouse interests weren’t just a casual thing. “Just being able to trade financial commodities is a serious limitation because financial commodities represent only a tiny fraction of the reality of the real commodity exposure picture,” she said in 2010.

Loosely translated, Masters was saying that there was a limited amount of money to be made simply trading commodities in the traditional legal manner. The solution? “We need to be active in the underlying physical commodity markets,” she said, “in order to understand and make prices.”

We need to make prices. The head of Chase’s commodities division actually said this, out loud, and it speaks to both the general unlikelihood of God’s existence and the consistently low level of competence of America’s regulators that she was not immediately zapped between the eyebrows with a thunderbolt upon doing so. Instead, the government sat by and watched as a curious phenomenon developed at all of these new bank-owned warehouses, in the aluminum markets in particular.

As detailed by New York Times reporter David Kocieniewski last July, Goldman had bought into these warehouses and soon began pointlessly shuttling stocks of aluminum from one warehouse to another. It was a “merry-go-round of metal,” as one former forklift operator called it, a scheme of delays apparently designed to drive up prices of the metal used to make the stuff we all buy – like beer cans, flashlights and car parts.

When Goldman bought Metro in February 2010, the average delivery time for an aluminum order was six weeks. Under Goldman ownership, Metro’s delivery times soon ballooned by a factor of 10, to an average of 16 months, leading in part to the explosive growth of a surcharge called the Midwest premium, which represented not the cost of aluminum itself but the cost of its storage and delivery, a thing easily manipulated when you control the supply. So despite the fact that the overall LME price of aluminum fell during this time, the Midwest premium conspicuously surged in the other direction. In 2008, it represented about three percent of the LME price of aluminum. By 2013, it was a whopping 15 percent of the benchmark (it has since spiked to 25 percent).

“In layman’s terms, they were artificially jacking up the shipping and handling costs,” says Mehta.

The intentional warehouse delays were just one part of the anti-capitalist game the banks were playing. As an incentive to get metal under their control, they actually paid the industrial producers of aluminum extra cash to store the metal in their warehouses, fees reportedly as much as $230 a metric ton.

Both Goldman and Glencore reportedly offered such incentives, which not only allowed the companies to collect more rent (Goldman was charging a daily rate of 48 cents a metric ton) but also served to discourage industrial producers like Alcoa or the Russian industrial giant Rusal (which has Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg on its board of directors) from selling directly to manufacturers.

The result of all this was a bottlenecking of aluminum supplies. A crucial industrial material that was plentiful and even in oversupply was now stuck in the speculative merry-go-round of the bank finance trade.

Every time you bought a can of soda in 2011 and 2012, you paid a little tax thanks to firms like Goldman. Mehta, whose fund has a financial stake in the issue, insists there’s an irony here that should infuriate everyone. “Banks used taxpayer-backed subsidies,” he says, “to drive up prices for the very same taxpayers that bailed them out in the first place.”

Dave Smith, Coca-Cola’s strategic procurement manager, told reporters as early as the summer of 2011 that “the situation has been organized to artificially drive up premiums.” Nick Madden, the chief procurement officer of Novelis, a leading can-maker, said at roughly the same time that the delays in Detroit were adding $20 to $40 a metric ton to the price of aluminum.

Coca-Cola was the first to file a complaint against Goldman over the warehouse issue, doing so in mid-2011, and many people in and around the industry weren’t surprised that it was the world’s biggest and most powerful corporate consumer of aluminum that came forward first. Other manufacturers, many believe, kept their mouths shut out of fear the banks would punish them. “It’s very likely that commercial companies deliberately avoided an open confrontation with Goldman because it was a Wall Street powerhouse with which they had – or hoped to establish – important credit and financial-advisory relationships,” says Omarova. One government official who has investigated the issue for Congress said even some of the country’s largest aluminum users have been reluctant to come forward. “When some of these huge transnationals don’t want to talk about it, it makes you wonder,” the aide noted.

Still, a few days after the Times published its aluminum-storage exposé in late July 2013, Sen. Brown held hearings to investigate the causes of the alleged manipulation. (One executive, Tim Weiner of MillerCoors, would testify that global aluminum costs for manufacturers had been inflated by $3 billion in just the past year.) After those hearings, and after word leaked out that regulatory agencies had launched investigations, Goldman curtly announced new plans to reduce the delivery times of its aluminum stocks. The bank has consistently maintained that its interest in the warehouse company Metro is not “strategic,” that it only bought the firm “as an investment,” and will sell it within 10 years. JPMorgan Chase and other banks announced that it might be getting out of the physical commodities business altogether. The LME, meanwhile, had already come up with plans to force its member warehouses to increase their output of aluminum.

A few weeks later, on August 9th, 2013, a company called CME Group – one of the world’s leading derivatives dealers – announced that it would henceforth be selling a new kind of aluminum swap futures contract. The new instrument, the firm said, would be “the first Exchange product that enables the aluminum Midwest premium to be managed.”

What this signaled was that before that moment, no one in the financial sector wanted to get within a hundred miles of selling price insurance against the Midwest premium, because it was so obviously corrupt. But then the Times let the cat out of the bag, and next thing you knew, now that everyone was watching, a major derivatives purveyor suddenly felt confident enough to sell a hedging insurance against the Midwest premium, given that it was now presumed, once again, to be free from manipulation and subject to market forces.

That should tell you a lot about how completely people in the business understood that the metals market was broken,” says Wotkyns.

One other bizarre footnote to the aluminum scandal: According to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, any company that becomes a bank holding company must divest itself of certain commercial holdings it may own within two years. To that two-year grace period, the Fed may add up to three additional years. This was done for both Goldman and Morgan Stanley. The aluminum scandal broke, coincidentally, just a few months before Goldman’s five-year grace period was scheduled to end. There was some expectation that the Fed might order the banks to divest some of their commercial holdings.

But there was a catch. “Congress in its infinite wisdom left an ambiguity,” says Omarova. Although the Bank Holding Company Act mandated that the companies had to be compliant at the end of the review period, it didn’t actually specify what the Fed had to do if they weren’t. When Goldman’s review period passed, “the Fed took the position that nothing had to happen,” says Omarova. “So nothing happened.”

The aluminum delays were not just an isolated incident of banks scheming to boost rent revenue. Recently, evidence has surfaced that the same kinds of behavior may be going on across the LME. In order for a parcel of metal to be traded on the LME, it has to be what’s called “on warrant.” If you are the owner of a metal that you no longer want to be traded, you can “cancel the warrant” – essentially taking it out of the system. It’s still in the warehouse, but in a kind of administrative limbo.

When the world LME supply of a metal features high percent­ages of canceled stock, that typically means someone is moving metals around a lot even after they’ve been put into storage – perhaps in a Goldman-style “merry-go-round,” perhaps for some other reason, but historically it has not been something seen often in functioning, healthy metals markets.

In January 2009, before the American too-big-to-fail banks and the shady Swiss commodities giants bought into all of these warehouses, less than one percent of the total global supply of LME aluminum was “canceled warrant.” Today, with world supplies of aluminum about double what they were then, 45.2 percent of the total stock is classified as canceled. In Detroit, where Goldman is supposedly cleaning things up, the percentage is even crazier: 76.9 percent of the aluminum stock has canceled warrants.

You can see hints of the phenomenon in other LME metals. Five years ago, just 1.3 percent of the LME’s copper stocks had canceled warrants. Today, 59 percent of it does. In January 2009, just 2.3 percent of zinc stocks were canceled; it’s at 32 percent today. Zinc incidentally has something else in common with aluminum – a shipping-and-handling-like premium, called the U.S. zinc premium in the United States, which has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by 400 percent between the summer of 2012 and the summer of 2013, when the price plateaued just as the aluminum scandal broke.

Then there’s nickel. Thirty-seven percent of the global stock is now classified as canceled. Five years ago, 0.5 percent was. One industry insider, who is very familiar with and utilizes the nickel market, says that despite the fact that there is a massive global oversupply of the metal, prices are being artificially propped up as much as 20 to 30 percent.

He blames the banks’ speculative weigh stations, saying that nickel producers, despite low global demand, are cheerfully selling their stocks to bank-run warehouses, which are paying above-market prices to put raw materials into the merry-go-round. “They are happy to sell to the banks and to the warehouse supply, while they pray for demand to pick up,” the insider said.

This leads to the next potentially disastrous aspect of this story: What happens if the Fed suddenly raises interest rates, and the banks, their access to free money cut off, can no longer afford to sit on piles of metal for 16 months at a time?

Look at nickel,” says Eric Salzman, a financial analyst who has done research on metals manipulation for several law firms. “You could see the price drop 20 to 30 percent in no time. It’d be a classic bursting of a bubble.”

But the potential for wide-scale manipulation and/or new financial disasters is only part of the nightmare that this new merger of banking and industry has created. The other, perhaps even darker problem involves the new existential dangers both to the environment and to the stability of the financial system. Long before Goldman and Chase started buying up metals warehouses, for instance, Morgan Stanley had already bought up a substantial empire of physical businesses – electricity plants in a number of states, a firm that trades in heating oil, jet fuels, fertilizers, asphalt, chemicals, pipelines and a global operator of oil tankers.

How long before one of these fully loaded monster ships capsizes, and Morgan Stanley becomes the next BP, not only killing a gazillion birds and sea mammals off some unlucky country’s shores but also taking the financial system down with them, as lawsuits plunge the company into bankruptcy with Lehman-style repercussions? Morgan Stanley’s CEO, James Gorman, even admitted how risky his firm’s new acquisitions were last year, when he reportedly told staff that a hypothetical oil spill was “a risk we just can’t take.”

The regulators are almost worse. Remember the 2008 collapse happened when government bodies like the Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision – whose entire expertise supposedly revolves around monitoring the safety and soundness of financial companies – somehow missed that half of Wall Street was functionally bankrupt.

Now that many of those financial companies have been bailed out, those same regulators who couldn’t or wouldn’t smell smoke in a raging fire last time around are suddenly in charge of deciding if companies like Morgan Stanley are taking out enough insurance on their oil tankers, or if banks like Goldman Sachs are properly handling their uranium deposits.

The Fed isn’t the most enthusiastic regulator in the best of times,” says Brown. “And now we’re asking them to take this on?”

Banks in America were never meant to own industries. This principle has been part of our culture practically from the beginning of our history. The original restrictions on banks getting involved with commerce were rooted in the classically American fear of overweening government power – citizens in the early 1800s were concerned about the potential for monopolistic abuses posed by state-sponsored banks.

Later, however, Americans also found themselves forced to beat back a movement of private monopolies, in particular the great railroad and energy cartels built by robber barons of the Rockefeller type who, by the late 1800s, were on the precipice of swallowing markets whole and dictating to the public the prices of everything from products to labor. It took a long period of upheaval and prolonged fights over new laws like the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust acts before those monopolies were reined in.

Banks, however, were never really regulated under those laws. Only the Great Depression and years of brutal legislative trench warfare finally brought them to heel under the same kinds of anti-trust concepts that stopped the robber barons, through acts like Glass-Steagall and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. Then, with a few throwaway lines in a 1999 law that nobody ever heard of until now, that whole struggle went up in smoke, and here we are, in Hobbes’ jungle, waiting for the next fully legal catastrophe to unfold.

When does the fun part start?

This story is from the February 27th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1203: February 27, 2014

Related Matt Taibbi on the Great American Bubble Machine

RelatedThe Feds vs. Goldman

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-vampire-squid-strikes-again-the-mega-banks-most-devious-scam-yet-20140212#ixzz3ESKmJsJc
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Behind the Sound Bytes Lies the Hideous Truth

Wolfessblog -- Guillotine mediocrity in all its forms!

By Gerald A. PerreiraThe Organization of North Atlantic Tribes (NATO) brought together the enemies of the Libyan revolution under one umbrella to achieve their desired outcome. This concoction of insignificant non-entities and murderous gangs parading as ‘jihadists’ are now fighting each other over the spoils of war. They have been handed a resource rich nation state and are now one of the major supporters of the Islamist death squads throughout the region.

Truth be told, Barak Obama is a political dunce. Soon after Obama became the first Black president of the United States, Hugo Chavez presented him with a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s excellent work, Open Veins of Latin America. Obama should have read it.

chavez

Hugo Chavez presenting Obama with a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s book, Open Veins of Latin America.

At that time, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi and a number of other revolutionary and progressive leaders saw a…

View original post 3,501 more words

The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate

It’s time to accelerate the shift toward a low-carbon future

Former US Vice President Al Gore
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for Free The Children
June 18, 2014 9:00 AM ET

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.

imagesCAWCE8K0

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

There is surprising – even shocking – good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. By 2020 – as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline – more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.

No matter what the large carbon polluters and their ideological allies say or do, in markets there is a huge difference between “more expensive than” and “cheaper than.” Not unlike the difference between 32 degrees and 33 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not just a difference of a degree, it’s the difference between a market that’s frozen up and one that’s liquid. As a result, all over the world, the executives of companies selling electricity generated from the burning of carbon-based fuels (primarily from coal) are openly discussing their growing fears of a “utility death spiral.”

Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar; and analysts predict that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020. (Indeed, one day this year, renewables created 74 percent of the nation’s electricity!)

Scorched Earth: How Climate Change Is Spreading Drought Throughout the Globe

What’s more, Germany’s two largest coal-burning utilities have lost 56 percent of their value over the past four years, and the losses have continued into the first half of 2014. And it’s not just Germany. Last year, the top 20 utilities throughout Europe reported losing half of their value since 2008. According to the Swiss bank UBS, nine out of 10 European coal and gas plants are now losing money.

In the United States, where up to 49 percent of the new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years. An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.

To be sure, some of these closings have been due to the substitution of gas for coal, but the transition under way in both the American and global energy markets is far more significant than one fossil fuel replacing another. We are witnessing the beginning of a massive shift to a new energy-distribution model – from the “central station” utility-grid model that goes back to the 1880s to a “widely distributed” model with rooftop solar cells, on-site and grid battery storage, and microgrids.

The principal trade group representing U.S. electric utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, has identified distributed generation as the “largest near-term threat to the utility model.” Last May, Barclays downgraded the entirety of the U.S. electric sector, warning that “a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar­ photovoltaic-power generation and residential­ scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo” and make utility investments less attractive.

See the 10 Dumbest Things Said About Global Warming

This year, Citigroup reported that the widespread belief that natural gas – the supply of which has ballooned in the U.S. with the fracking of shale gas – will continue to be the chosen alternative to coal is mistaken, because it too will fall victim to the continuing decline in the cost of solar and wind electricity. Significantly, the cost of battery storage, long considered a barrier to the new electricity system, has also been declining steadily – even before the introduction of disruptive new battery technologies that are now in advanced development. Along with the impressive gains of clean-energy programs in the past decade, there have been similar improvements in our ability to do more with less. Since 1980, the U.S. has reduced total energy intensity by 49 percent.

It is worth remembering this key fact about the supply of the basic “fuel”: Enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun in one hour to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year.

In poorer countries, where most of the world’s people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether. In his first days in office, the government of the newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi (who has authored an e-book on global warming), announced a stunning plan to rely principally upon photovoltaic energy in providing electricity to 400 million Indians who currently do not have it. One of Modi’s supporters, S.L. Rao, the former utility regulator of India, added that the industry he once oversaw “has reached a stage where either we change the whole system quickly, or it will collapse.”

Nor is India an outlier. Neighboring Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute — making it the most rapidly growing market for PVs in the world. In West and East Africa, solar-electric cells are beginning what is widely predicted to be a period of explosive growth.

At the turn of the 21st century, some scoffed at projections that the world would be installing one gigawatt of new solar electricity per year by 2010. That goal was exceeded 17 times over; last year it was exceeded 39 times over; and this year the world is on pace to exceed that benchmark as much as 55 times over. In May, China announced that by 2017, it would have the capacity to generate 70 gigawatts of photovoltaic electricity. The state with by far the biggest amount of wind energy is Texas, not historically known for its progressive energy policies.

The cost of wind energy is also plummeting, having dropped 43 percent in the United States since 2009 – making it now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity. Though the downward cost curve is not quite as steep as that for solar, the projections in 2000 for annual worldwide wind deployments by the end of that decade were exceeded seven times over, and are now more than 10 times that figure. In the United States alone, nearly one-third of all new electricity-generating capacity in the past five years has come from wind, and installed wind capacity in the U.S. has increased more than fivefold since 2006.

For consumers, this good news may soon get even better. While the cost of carbon ­based energy continues to increase, the cost of solar electricity has dropped by an average of 20 percent per year since 2010. Some energy economists, including those who produced an authoritative report this past spring for Bernstein Research, are now predicting energy-price deflation as soon as the next decade.

For those (including me) who are surprised at the speed with which this impending transition has been accelerating, there are precedents that help explain it. Remember the first mobile-telephone handsets? I do; as an inveterate “early adopter” of new technologies, I thought those first huge, clunky cellphones were fun to use and looked cool (they look silly now, of course). In 1980, a few years before I bought one of the early models, AT&T conducted a global market study and came to the conclusion that by the year 2000 there would be a market for 900,000 subscribers. They were not only wrong, they were way wrong: 109 million contracts were active in 2000. Barely a decade and a half later, there are 6.8 billion globally. 
These parallels have certainly caught the attention of the fossil-fuel industry and its investors: Eighteen months ago, the Edison Electric Institute described the floundering state of the once-proud landline-telephone companies as a grim predictor of what may soon be their fate.

The utilities are fighting back, of course, by using their wealth and the entrenched political power they have built up over the past century. In the United States, brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned corporation in the U.S., have secretively donated at least $70 million to a number of opaque political organizations tasked with spreading disinformation about the climate crisis and intimidating political candidates who dare to support renewable energy or the pricing of carbon pollution.

A Call to Arms: An invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change

They regularly repeat shopworn complaints about the inadequate, intermittent and inconsistent subsidies that some governments have used in an effort to speed up the deployment of renewables, while ignoring the fact that global subsidies for carbon-based energy are 25 times larger than global subsidies for renewables.

One of the most effective of the groups financed by the Koch brothers and other carbon polluters is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which grooms conservative state legislators throughout the country to act as their agents in introducing legislation written by utilities and carbon-fuel lobbyists in a desperate effort to slow, if not stop, the transition to renewable energy.

The Kochs claim to act on principles of low taxation and minimal regulation, but in their attempts to choke the development of alternative energy, they have induced the recipients of their generous campaign contributions to contradict these supposedly bedrock values, pushing legislative and regulatory measures in 34 states to discourage solar, or encourage carbon energy, or both. The most controversial of their initiatives is focused on persuading state legislatures and public-utility commissions to tax homeowners who install a PV solar cell on their roofs, and to manipulate the byzantine utility laws and regulations to penalize renewable energy in a variety of novel schemes.

The chief battleground in this war between the energy systems of the past and future is our electrical grid. For more than a century, the grid – along with the regulatory and legal framework governing it – has been dominated by electric utilities and their centralized, fossil-fuel-powered­ electricity-generation plants. But the rise of distributed alternate energy sources allows consumers to participate in the production of electricity through a policy called net metering. In 43 states, homeowners who install solar PV to systems on their rooftops are permitted to sell electricity back into the grid when they generate more than they need.

These policies have been crucial to the growth of solar power. But net metering represents an existential threat to the future of electric utilities, the so-called utility death spiral: As more consumers install solar panels on their roofs, utilities will have to raise prices on their remaining customers to recover the lost revenues. Those higher rates will, in turn, drive more consumers to leave the utility system, and so on.

But here is more good news: The Koch brothers are losing rather badly. In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills.

In Georgia, the Atlanta Tea Party joined forces with the Sierra Club to form a new organization called – wait for it – the Green Tea Coalition, which promptly defeated a Koch-funded scheme to tax rooftop solar panels.

 

Meanwhile, in Arizona, after the state’s largest utility, an ALEC member, asked the public-utility commission for a tax of up to $150 per month for solar households, the opposition was fierce and well-organized. A compromise was worked out – those households would be charged just $5 per month – but Barry Goldwater Jr., the leader of a newly formed organization called TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed), is fighting a new attempt to discourage rooftop solar in Arizona. Characteristically, the Koch brothers and their allies have been using secretive and deceptive funding in Arizona to run television advertisements attacking “greedy” owners of rooftop solar panels – but their effort has thus far backfired, as local journalists have exposed the funding scam.

Even though the Koch-funded forces recently scored a partial (and almost certainly temporary) victory in Ohio, where the legislature voted to put a hold on the state’s renewable-portfolio standard and study the issue for two years, it’s clear that the attack on solar energy is too little, too late. Last year, the Edison Electric Institute warned the utility industry that it had waited too long to respond to the sharp cost declines and growing popularity of solar: “At the point when utility investors become focused on these new risks and start to witness significant customer- and earnings-erosion trends, they will respond to these challenges. But, by then, it may be too late to repair the utility business model.”

The most seductive argument deployed by the Koch brothers and their allies is that those who use rooftop solar electricity and benefit from the net-metering policies are “free riders” – that is, they are allegedly not paying their share of the maintenance costs for the infrastructure of the old utility model, including the grid itself. This deceptive message, especially when coupled with campaign contributions, has persuaded some legislators to support the proposed new taxes on solar panels.

But the argument ignores two important realities facing the electric utilities: First, most of the excess solar electricity is supplied by owners of solar cells during peak-load hours of the day, when the grid’s capacity is most stressed – thereby alleviating the pressure to add expensive new coal- or gas-fired generating capacity. But here’s the rub: What saves money for their customers cuts into the growth of their profits and depresses their stock prices. As is often the case, the real conflict is between the public interest and the special interest.

The second reality ignored by the Koch brothers is the one they least like to discuss, the one they spend so much money trying to obfuscate with their hired “merchants of doubt.” You want to talk about the uncompensated use of infrastructure? What about sewage infrastructure for 98 million tons per day of gaseous, heat-trapping waste that is daily released into our skies, threatening the future of human civilization? Is it acceptable to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer? Free of charge? Really?

This, after all, is the reason the climate crisis has become an existential threat to the future of human civilization. Last April, the average CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 parts-per-million on a sustained basis for the first time in at least 800,000 years and probably for the first time in at least 4.5 million years (a period that was considerably warmer than at present).

According to a cautious analysis by the influential climate scientist James Hansen, the accumulated man-made global-warming pollution already built up in the Earth’s atmosphere now traps as much extra heat energy every day as would be released by the explosion of 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. It’s a big planet, but that’s a lot of energy.

And it is that heat energy that is giving the Earth a fever. Denialists hate the “fever” metaphor, but as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) pointed out this year, “Just as a 1.4­degree-fever change would be seen as significant in a child’s body, a similar change in our Earth’s temperature is also a concern for human society.”

Thirteen of the 14 hottest years ever measured with instruments have occurred in this century. This is the 37th year in a row that has been hotter than the 20th-century average. April was the 350th month in a row hotter than the average in the preceding century. The past decade was by far the warmest decade ever measured.

Many scientists expect the coming year could break all of these records by a fair margin because of the extra boost from the anticipated El Niño now gathering in the waters of the eastern Pacific. (The effects of periodic El Niño events are likely to become stronger because of global warming, and this one is projected by many scientists to be stronger than average, perhaps on the scale of the epic El Niño of 1997 to 1998.)

The fast-growing number of extreme-weather events, connected to the climate crisis, has already had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward global warming. A clear majority of Americans now acknowledge that man-made pollution is responsible. As the storms, floods, mudslides, droughts, fires and other catastrophes become ever more destructive, the arcane discussions over how much of their extra-destructive force should be attributed to global warming have become largely irrelevant. The public at large feels it viscerally now. As Bob Dylan sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Besides, there is a simple difference between linear cause and effect and systemic cause and effect. As one of the world’s most-respected atmospheric scientists, Kevin Trenberth, has said, “The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities.”

For example, when Supertyphoon Haiyan crossed the Pacific toward the Philippines last fall, the storm gained strength across seas that were 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they used to be because of greenhouse­gas pollution. As a result, Haiyan went from being merely strong to being the most powerful and destructive ocean-based storm on record to make landfall. Four million people were displaced (more than twice as many as by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 10 years ago), and there are still more than 2 million Haiyan refugees desperately trying to rebuild their lives.

When Superstorm Sandy traversed the areas of the Atlantic Ocean windward of New York and New Jersey in 2012, the water temperature was nine degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. The extra convection energy in those waters fed the storm and made the winds stronger than they would otherwise have been. Moreover, the sea level was higher than it used to be, elevated by the melting of ice in the frozen regions of the Earth and the expanded volume of warmer ocean waters.

Five years earlier, denialists accused me of demagogic exaggeration in an animated scene in my documentary An Inconvenient Truth that showed the waters of the Atlantic Ocean flooding into the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial site. But in Sandy’s wake, the Atlantic did in fact flood Ground Zero – many years before scientists had expected that to occur.

Similarly, the inundation of Miami Beach by rising sea levels has now begun, and freshwater aquifers in low-lying areas from South Florida to the Nile Delta to Bangladesh to Indochina are being invaded by saltwater pushed upward by rising oceans. And of course, many low-lying islands – not least in the Bay of Bengal – are in danger of disappearing altogether. Where will the climate refugees go? Similarly, the continued melting of mountain glaciers and snowpacks is, according to the best scientists, already “affecting water supplies for as many as a billion people around the world.”

Just as the extreme-weather events we are now experiencing are exactly the kind that were predicted by scientists decades ago, the scientific community is now projecting far worse extreme-weather events in the years to come. Eighty percent of the warming in the past 150 years (since the burning of carbon-based fuels gained momentum) has occurred in the past few decades. And it is worth noting that the previous scientific projections consistently low-balled the extent of the global­ warming consequences that later took place – for a variety of reasons rooted in the culture of science that favor conservative estimates of future effects.

In an effort to avoid these cultural biases, the AAAS noted this year that not only are the impacts of the climate crisis “very likely to become worse over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond,” but “there is a possibility that temperatures will rise much higher and impacts will be much worse than expected. Moreover, as global temperature rises, the risk increases that one or more important parts of the Earth’s climate system will experience changes that may be abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible, causing large damages and high costs.”

Just weeks after that report, there was shock and, for some, a temptation to despair when the startling news was released in May by scientists at both NASA and the University of Washington that the long-feared “collapse” of a portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet is not only under way but is also now “irreversible.” Even as some labored to understand what the word “collapse” implied about the suddenness with which this catastrophe will ultimately unfold, it was the word “irreversible” that had a deeper impact on the collective psyche.

Just as scientists 200 years ago could not comprehend the idea that species had once lived on Earth and had subsequently become extinct, and just as some people still find it hard to accept the fact that human beings have become a sufficiently powerful force of nature to reshape the ecological system of our planet, many – including some who had long since accepted the truth about global warming – had difficulty coming to grips with the stark new reality that one of the long-feared “tipping points” had been crossed. And that, as a result, no matter what we do, sea levels will rise by at least an additional three feet.

The uncertainty about how long the process will take (some of the best ice scientists warn that a rise of 10 feet in this century cannot be ruled out) did not change the irreversibility of the forces that we have set in motion. But as Eric Rignot, the lead author of the NASA study, pointed out in The Guardian, it’s still imperative that we take action: “Controlling climate warming may ultimately make a difference not only about how fast West Antarctic ice will melt to sea, but also whether other parts of Antarctica will take their turn.”

The news about the irreversible collapse in West Antarctica caused some to almost forget that only two months earlier, a similar startling announcement had been made about the Greenland ice sheet. Scientists found that the northeastern part of Greenland – long thought to be resistant to melting – has in fact been losing more than 10 billion tons of ice per year for the past decade, making 100 percent of Greenland unstable and likely, as with West Antarctica, to contribute to significantly more sea-level rise than scientists had previously thought.

The heating of the oceans not only melts the ice and makes hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons more intense, it also evaporates around 2 trillion gallons of additional water vapor into the skies above the U.S. The warmer air holds more of this water vapor and carries it over the landmasses, where it is funneled into land-based storms that are releasing record downpours all over the world.

For example, an “April shower” came to Pensacola, Florida, this spring, but it was a freak – another rainstorm on steroids: two feet of rain in 26 hours. It broke all the records in the region, but as usual, virtually no media outlets made the connection to global warming. Similar “once in a thousand years” storms have been occurring regularly in recent years all over the world, including in my hometown of Nashville in May 2010.

All-time record flooding swamped large portions of England this winter, submerging thousands of homes for more than six weeks. Massive downpours hit Serbia and Bosnia this spring, causing flooding of “biblical proportions” (a phrase now used so frequently in the Western world that it has become almost a cliché) and thousands of landslides. Torrential rains in Afghanistan in April triggered mudslides that killed thousands of people – almost as many, according to relief organizations, as all of the Afghans killed in the war there the previous year.

In March, persistent rains triggered an unusually large mudslide in Oso, Washington, killing more than 40 people. There are literally hundreds of other examples of extreme rainfall occurring in recent years in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

In the planet’s drier regions, the same extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by man-made global-warming pollution has also been driving faster evaporation of soil moisture and causing record-breaking droughts. As of this writing, 100 percent of California is in “severe,” “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Record fires are ravaging the desiccated landscape.

Experts now project that an increase of one degree Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures will lead to as much as a 600-­percent increase in the median area burned by forest fires in some areas of the American West – including large portions of Colorado. The National Research Council has reported that fire season is two and a half months longer than it was 30 years ago, and in California, firefighters are saying that the season is now effectively year-round.

Drought has been intensifying in many other dry regions around the world this year: Brazil, Indonesia, central and northwest Africa and Madagascar, central and western Europe, the Middle East up to the Caspian Sea and north of the Black Sea, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Western Australia and New Zealand.

 

Syria is one of the countries that has been in the bull’s-eye of climate change. From 2006 to 2010, a historic drought destroyed 60 percent of the country’s farms and 80 percent of its livestock – driving a million refugees from rural agricultural areas into cities already crowded with the million refugees who had taken shelter there from the Iraq War. As early as 2008, U.S. State Department cables quoted Syrian government officials warning that the social and economic impacts of the drought are “beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.” Though the hellish and ongoing civil war in Syria has multiple causes – including the perfidy of the Assad government and the brutality on all sides – their climate-related drought may have been the biggest underlying trigger for the horror.

The U.S. military has taken notice of the strategic dangers inherent in the climate crisis. Last March, a Pentagon advisory committee described the climate crisis as a “catalyst for conflict” that may well cause failures of governance and societal collapse. “In the past, the thinking was that climate change multiplied the significance of a situation,” said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald. “Now we’re saying it’s going to be a direct cause of instability.”

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told the press, “For DOD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate. The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge and more drought.” And in yet another forecast difficult for congressional climate denialists to rebut, climate experts advising the military have also warned that the world’s largest naval base, in Norfolk, Virginia, is likely to be inundated by rising sea levels in the future.

And how did the Republican-dominated House of Representatives respond to these grim warnings? By passing legislation seeking to prohibit the Department of Defense from taking any action to prepare for the effects of climate disruption.

imagesCAK2A0IJ

There are so many knock-on consequences of the climate crisis that listing them can be depressing – diseases spreading, crop yields declining, more heat waves affecting vulnerable and elderly populations, the disappearance of summer-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, the potential extinction of up to half of all the living species, and so much more. And that in itself is a growing problem too, because when you add it all up, it’s no wonder that many feel a new inclination to despair.

So, clearly, we will just have to gird ourselves for the difficult challenges ahead. There is indeed, literally, light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a tunnel, and we are well into it.

In November 1936, Winston Churchill stood before the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and placed a period at the end of the misguided debate over the nature of the “gathering storm” on the other side of the English Channel: “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.”

Our civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology – democratic capitalism – has been failing us in important respects.

Democracy is accepted in theory by more people than ever before as the best form of political organization, but it has been “hacked” by large corporations (defined as “persons” by the Supreme Court) and special interests corrupting the political system with obscene amounts of money (defined as “speech” by the same court).

150px-Business_money[1]

Capitalism, for its part, is accepted by more people than ever before as a superior form of economic organization, but is – in its current form – failing to measure and include the categories of “value” that are most relevant to the solutions we need in order to respond to this threatening crisis (clean air and water, safe food, a benign climate balance, public goods like education and a greener infrastructure, etc.)

Pressure for meaningful reform in democratic capitalism is beginning to build powerfully. The progressive introduction of Internet-based communication – social media, blogs, digital journalism – is laying the foundation for the renewal of individual participation in democracy, and the re-elevation of reason over wealth and power as the basis for collective decision­ making.

And the growing levels of inequality worldwide, combined with growing structural unemployment and more frequent market disruptions (like the Great Recession), are building support for reforms in capitalism.

imagesCAMCT911

Both waves of reform are still at an early stage, but once again, Churchill’s words inspire: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And that is why it is all the more important to fully appreciate the incredible opportunity for salvation that is now within our grasp. As the satirical newspaper The Onion recently noted in one of its trademark headlines: “Scientists Politely Remind World That Clean Energy Technology Ready to Go Whenever.”

China Focus:China fights air pollution as smog persists - Xinhua ...

We have the policy tools that can dramatically accelerate the transition to clean energy that market forces will eventually produce at a slower pace. The most important has long since been identified: We have to put a price on carbon in our markets, and we need to eliminate the massive subsidies that fuel the profligate emissions of global-warming pollution.

We need to establish “green banks” that provide access to capital investment necessary to develop renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, an electrified transportation fleet, the retrofitting of buildings to reduce wasteful energy consumption, and the full integration of sustainability in the design and architecture of cities and towns. While the burning of fossil fuels is the largest cause of the climate crisis, deforestation and “factory farming” also play an important role. Financial and technological approaches to addressing these challenges are emerging, but we must continue to make progress in converting to sustainable forestry and agriculture.

In order to accomplish these policy shifts, we must not only put a price on carbon in markets, but also find a way to put a price on climate denial in our politics. We already know the reforms that are needed – and the political will to enact them is a renewable resource. Yet the necessary renewal can only come from an awakened citizenry empowered by a sense of urgency and emboldened with the courage to reject despair and become active. Most importantly, now is the time to support candidates who accept the reality of the climate crisis and are genuinely working hard to solve it – and to bluntly tell candidates who are not on board how much this issue matters to you. If you are willing to summon the resolve to communicate that blunt message forcefully – with dignity and absolute sincerity – you will be amazed at the political power an individual can still wield in America’s diminished democracy.

Occupy Congress (OCongress) on Twitter

Something else is also new this summer. Three years ago, in these pages, I criticized the seeming diffidence of President Obama toward the great task of solving the climate crisis; this summer, it is abundantly evident that he has taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.

BAROCKEFELLER1

He has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbon­intensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.

All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama’s continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy – which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas. And to put the good news in perspective, it is important to remember that U.S. emissions – after declining for five years during the slow recovery from the Great Recession – actually increased by 2.4 percent in 2013.

Presentation to Lethbridge City Council on Fracking | KLEW

Nevertheless, the president is clearly changing his overall policy emphasis to make CO2 reductions a much higher priority now and has made a series of inspiring speeches about the challenges posed by climate change and the exciting opportunities available as we solve it. As a result, Obama will go to the United Nations this fall and to Paris at the end of 2015 with the credibility and moral authority that he lacked during the disastrous meeting in Copenhagen four and a half years ago.

The international treaty process has been so fraught with seemingly intractable disagreements that some parties have all but given up on the possibility of ever reaching a meaningful treaty.

Ultimately, there must be one if we are to succeed. And there are signs that a way forward may be opening up. In May, I attended a preparatory session in Abu Dhabi, UAE, organized by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bolster commitments from governments, businesses and nongovernmental organizations ahead of this September’s U.N. Climate Summit. The two-day meeting was different from many of the others I have attended. There were welcome changes in rhetoric, and it was clear that the reality of the climate crisis is now weighing on almost every nation. Moreover, there were encouraging reports from around the world that many of the policy changes necessary to solve the crisis are being adopted piecemeal by a growing number of regional, state and city governments.

For these and other reasons, I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build in September and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.

The American poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, “After the final ‘no’ there comes a ‘yes’/And on that ‘yes’ the future world depends.” There were many no’s before the emergence of a global consensus to abolish chattel slavery, before the consensus that women must have the right to vote, before the fever of the nuclear­arms race was broken, before the quickening global recognition of gay and lesbian equality, and indeed before every forward advance toward social progress. Though a great many obstacles remain in the path of this essential agreement, I am among the growing number of people who are allowing themselves to become more optimistic than ever that a bold and comprehensive pact may well emerge from the Paris negotiations late next year, which many regard as the last chance to avoid civilizational catastrophe while there is still time.

It will be essential for the United States and other major historical emitters to commit to strong action. The U.S. is, finally, now beginning to shift its stance. And the European Union has announced its commitment to achieve a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Some individual European nations are acting even more aggressively, including Finland’s pledge to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.

It will also be crucial for the larger developing and emerging nations – particularly China and India – to play a strong leadership role. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in two cities and five provinces as a model for a nationwide cap-and-trade program in the next few years. He has banned all new coal burning in several cities and required the reporting of CO2 emissions by all major industrial sources. China and the U.S. have jointly reached an important agreement to limit another potent source of global-warming pollution – the chemical compounds known as hydro-fluorocarbons, or HFCs. And the new prime minister of India, as noted earlier, has launched the world’s most ambitious plan to accelerate the transition to solar electricity.

Underlying this new breaking of logjams in international politics, there are momentous changes in the marketplace that are exercising enormous influence on the perceptions by political leaders of the new possibilities for historic breakthroughs. More and more, investors are diversifying their portfolios to include significant investments in renewables. In June, Warren Buffett announced he was ready to double Berkshire Hathaway’s existing $15 billion investment in wind and solar energy.

A growing number of large investors – including pension funds, university endowments (Stanford announced its decision in May), family offices and others – have announced decisions to divest themselves from carbon ­intensive assets. Activist and “impact” investors are pushing for divestment from carbon ­rich assets and new investments in renewable and sustainable assets.

Several large banks and asset managers around the world (full disclosure: Generation Investment Management, which I co-founded with David Blood and for which I serve as chairman, is in this group) have advised their clients of the danger that carbon assets will become “stranded.” A “stranded asset” is one whose price is vulnerable to a sudden decline when markets belatedly recognize the truth about their underlying value – just as the infamous “subprime mortgages” suddenly lost their value in 2007 to 2008 once investors came to grips with the fact that the borrowers had absolutely no ability to pay off their mortgages.

 

Shareholder activists and public campaigners have pressed carbon-dependent corporations to deal with these growing concerns. But the biggest ones are still behaving as if they are in denial. In May 2013, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson responded to those pointing out the need to stop using the Earth’s atmosphere as a sewer by asking, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

I don’t even know where to start in responding to that statement, but here is a clue: Pope Francis said in May, “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this.”

Exxonmobil, Shell and many other holders of carbon-intensive assets have argued, in essence, that they simply do not believe that elected national leaders around the world will ever reach an agreement to put a price on carbon pollution.

But a prospective global treaty (however likely or unlikely you think that might be) is only one of several routes to overturning the fossil-fuel economy. Rapid technological advances in renewable energy are stranding carbon investments; grassroots movements are building opposition to the holding of such assets; and new legal restrictions on collateral flows of pollution – like particulate air pollution in China and mercury pollution in the U.S. – are further reducing the value of coal, tar sands, and oil and gas assets.

In its series of reports to energy investors this spring, Citigroup questioned the feasibility of new coal plants not only in Europe and North America, but in China as well. Although there is clearly a political struggle under way in China between regional governments closely linked to carbon-­energy generators, suppliers and users and the central government in Beijing – which is under growing pressure from citizens angry about pollution – the nation’s new leadership appears to be determined to engineer a transition toward renewable energy. Only time will tell how successful they will be.

 

The stock exchanges in Johannesburg and São Paulo have decided to require the full integration of sustainability from all listed companies. Standard & Poor’s announced this spring that some nations vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis may soon have their bonds downgraded because of the enhanced risk to holders of those assets.

A growing number of businesses around the world are implementing sustainability plans, as more and more consumers demand a more responsible approach from businesses they patronize. Significantly, many have been pleasantly surprised to find that adopting efficient, low-carbon approaches can lead to major cost savings.

And all the while, the surprising and relentless ongoing decline in the cost of renewable energy and efficiency improvements are driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Is there enough time? Yes. Damage has been done, and the period of consequences will continue for some time to come, but there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future. Each of the trends described above – in technology, business, economics and politics – represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.

How long will it take? When Martin Luther King Jr. was asked that question during some of the bleakest hours of the U.S. civil rights revolution, he responded, “How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever. . . . How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

And so it is today: How long? Not long.

This story is from the July 3rd-17th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618#ixzz36Mu0RK3d
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

 

Are we already in the post-democratic era?

Thanks very much to syzygysue.

stormacad3

Think Left

Is TPP the post-democracy blue-print for the EU-US Free Trade Agreement?  The implications are outlined.

Before Christmas, I was alarmed to hear Nick Clegg and then David Cameron ‘rather too casually’ mention their support for an EU-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).  It now seems that such negotiations have in fact, been going on in secret for over a year.. and secrecy is the name of the game.  The posted video clip below, discusses the nature of the massive Trans Pacific Pact or Free Trade Agreement (TPP) which Obama has been pushing for, throughout his first administration (1) There is every reason to believe that these alarming negotiations will be the blue-print for an EU-US FTA, and therefore, could act as a pre-warning for the UK/EU populace.

Since the 10-year-old Doha round of global trade talks deadlocked, the EU and the United States have been trying to sign as many…

View original post 955 more words

This One’s For You, JT

Wolfessblog -- Guillotine mediocrity in all its forms!

Buying Up the Planet: Out-of-control Central Banks on a Corporate Buying Spree

A 2008 protest against the Federal Reserve Bank in Charlotte, NC (Credit: Justin Ruckman/cc/flickr)

“Finance is the new form of warfare – without the expense of a military overhead and an occupation against unwilling hosts. It is a competition in credit creation to buy foreign resources, real estate, public and privatized infrastructure, bonds and corporate stock ownership. Who needs an army when you can obtain the usual objective (monetary wealth and asset appropriation) simply by financial means?”                                                                                     — Dr. Michael Hudson, Counterpunch, October…

View original post 1,396 more words