Time to Choose

Time to Choose

Directed by Charles Ferguson (2015)

Film Review

The appraisal of the renewables market is clearly out-of date in this 2015 film. Nevertheless¬† it contains excellent new material on mountaintop removal (for coal) and coal mining and pollution in China; the growing rollout of rooftop solar in the Third World (as of 2015, 70% of Bangladeshi residents still lacked access to electricity); and the disastrous replacement of Indonesia’s tropical forests with palm oil plantations.

As of 2015, 70% of the world’s carbon emission come from burning fossil fuels and 30% from destroying the world’s forests for agriculture.

The filmmakers link Brazil’s ongoing destruction of the Amazon to the country’s growing export of soy to Chinese pig farms. The country’s massive rainforest destruction has significantly reduced rain fall, leaving Sao Paulo’s 20 million residents to confront chronic water shortages. Illegally driven from their land to create soy plantations that only benefit a handful of billionaires, many subsistence farmers are left with no way to support themselves.

Illegal destruction of Indonesia’s tropical rainforests for palm oil production also displaces many of the country’s subsistence farmers, as well as leading to the near-extinction of orangutan populations. Palm oil is the main ingredient in many processed foods.

Owing to the clear cutting and burning of their rainforests, Indonesia currently has the third highest level of CO2 pollution after China and the US.

The main premise of this film is that we already have all the necessary technology to end rainforest destruction and replace fossil fuels with cheaper and cleaner renewable energy. For decades, the main obstacle to environmental reform has been billionaire oligarchs blocking forest conservation and the roll-out of renewable energy technology.

Filmmakers also emphasize the contribution industrial agriculture plays in increasing carbon emissions. This relates to the abandonment of traditional farming practices that capture carbon in the soil. At present real food (ie non-processed foods produced by traditional farming methods) is referred to as “specialty crops.”

Anyone with a public library card can view the film free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.

 

 

 

Should We Pay Corporations to Destroy the Planet?

Pricing the Planet Episode 1

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary is about an endangered species trading scheme in which banks like J P Morgan and Goldman Sacks invest in projects that protect endangered species (eg bees, coral reefs, orangutans) or ecosystem services (eg (rain forests, clean water, wetlands clean air, topsoil). They then sell credits in these projects to corporations who wish to engage in mining and development that kill these species or destroy rain forests and wetlands.

In 1988, Bush Senior was the first to promote this model of environmental protection with his No Net Wetlands Loss policy. It enabled corporations that were destroying wetlands to purchase credits in wetlands that being set aside for preservation. This model was later employed in carbon trading schemes in which industries are allowed to emit CO2 pollution if they purchase credits in reforestation projects that capture CO2. After nearly 20 years of operations, this scheme has made speculators in carbon credits fantastically rich while allowing CO2 emissions increase exponentially.

Bankers and corporate executives argue that endangered species trading is the only way to save the planet because government regulation hasn’t worked (largely because banks and corporations have blocked effective environmental regulation). Most grassroots environmentalists oppose species trading. They argue that bees, reefs, orangutans and rain forests can only be saved with a total ban on activities that endanger them.

Globally Malua BioBank runs the largest “mitigation” project. They recently purchased the Malua Forest in Borneo for $64 million. They sell credits in the Malua Forest to palm oil companies to enable them to destroy other Indonesian rain forests, as well as companies that use palm oil products.

The Nature Conservancy (whose current CEO is a former Goldman Sachs banker) and other large environmental NGOs support “species banking” because they rely on large corporate donations to cover their staff salaries.

The video can be viewed free at the Al Jazeera website: Pricing the Planet