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Boiling Point: Hijacking the Planet for Power and Privilege
First published in Empire Burlesque yesterday, 9 December 2009
Who ever would have thought, even in their darkest, most paranoid dreams, that the Copenhagen climate change talks would be hijacked by a handful of rich nations seeking to give themselves more power and riches while imposing new burdens and new injustices on the rest of the world?
The mind boggles. Who ever would have thought, even in their darkest, most paranoid dreams, that the Copenhagen climate change talks would be hijacked by a handful of rich nations seeking to give themselves more power and riches while imposing new burdens and new injustices on the rest of the world? And that amongst this avaricious, duplicitous elite one would find the government of a man who now bears the Nobel laurel for his unstinting dedication to the welfare of all humanity?
Yet as unlikely as it may seem - the rich screwing the poor? What next? – that's exactly what has happened at the great international conference that opened this week in Denmark with the avowed intent of pulling the planet back from the brink of a potentially fatal disequilibrium. America, Britain, and, er, Denmark are among the handful of rich nations who have drawn up a secret draft agreement that they hope to impose on the conference in its closing days, when the elite's heavy hitters like Barack Obama and Gordon Brown swan in to take a bow.
The plan would let rich nations emit twice as much per capita pollution as developing countries, while the latter will be subject to stiff new dictates from the rich in order to receive technical assistance for climate change programs. The elite plan also calls for completely bypassing the UN – the only international forum in which poor nations feel they stand on a slightly more equal footing with the elite – and turning over climate change funding and future negotiations to an "independent" board ... most likely run by that reliable appendage of empire, the World Bank. As the Guardian reports:
And as noted in a follow-up story by the Guardian:
Another shock! Elites clubbing together in secret, seeking to circumvent legal processes for their own corrupt advantage? And, and, and....Americans being involved in such dirty business?! Say it ain't so, O!
The Copenhagen talks have become captive of what we might call the "Reform Syndrome"; i.e., the absolute, urgent imperative to put together a crappy deal that gorges the rich and hobbles the poor in egregious ways -- but which can be palmed off on a compliant media and a diverted public as some kind of "reform." The important thing is that an illusion of positive action be created -- while the same-old same-old keeps grinding on behind the scenes.
This scenario has been playing out in the most crude and brazen fashion during the "debate" over health care "reform" in the United States, which has seen a "progressive" administration literally sell its "reform" agenda to the very corporate interests that are the ostensible target of the reforms, allowing them, again literally, to write most of the "reform" legislation themselves.
And this has been the modus operandi of most of the international climate change efforts, which have seen no appreciable reduction in the pollution that is driving the destabilization of the planet -- but has seen the creation of vast new "carbon trading" markets an other speculative ventures for the rich and powerful to feast upon.
Genuine climate change experts like Sir David King of the UK have been saying that no deal would be far better than the kind of bad deals that are brewing in Copenhagen. And that was before the secret agenda of the "circle of commitment" was revealed. (The same dynamic applies to health care reform, of course: better no bill at all than the monstrosity now wending its way through Congressional intestines. Back off, buckle down, and start again.)
The details of the elite's Copenhagen agenda will now doubtless now be modified -- or plastered over with a new coat of PR paint -- in the light of the firestorm the revelations have provoked. But the true intention of the rich nations in these negotiations -- as in all others -- is clearer than a shining stream pouring down from a melting ice cap: the weakest go to the wall.
But as Arthur Silber pointed out last month in his articles on global warming, this is what our "complex, intricate... corporatist system," with its "dizzyingly numerous interconnections between "private" business and government," does. This is what it's for. And, as he notes, this is the system that we are trusting to resolve the globe-wrenching problems of climate change.
Silber also makes the pertinent point that while this system goes on its merry way, profiting both from its unceasing pollution of the planet -- which may have already reached the point of no return -- and from the fitful and co-opted attempts to mitigate its effects, millions of people are absorbed by their anxiety over these potential dangers ... even as they ignore, or in some cases, celebrate, vast, man-made catastrophes that could be dealt with today, right now -- and with a bare minimum of cost.
For example, Victoria Brittain details a vast, man-made environmental disaster that could be resolved this afternoon with a single phone call. From the Guardian:
As Brittain notes, the Israelis have already lifted another part of their strangulating blockade, after a bold intervention by U.S. Senator John Kerry, who in March of this year demanded that the Israelis lift their prohibitions on ... pasta.
Or what about the vast, spreading, man-made disaster that is Afghanistan? As Silber notes, many people who decry the potential disasters of climate change actively support the catastrophic intervention in Afghanistan -- which, as we pointed out here, produces the very ills that is ostensibly designed to reduce (just as Israel's choking of Gaza does). Yet here too, the vast suffering and degradation of millions of people could be addressed more effectively at a modicum of the cost it now takes to kill and plunder them.
Jeffrey Sachs (via the Angry Arab) takes up this theme at the Huffington Post, while noting the aforementioned inherent disabilities of our present system to address the problems it ostensibly seeks to resolve:
Yes, who could possibly have foreseen that the avatars of such a system would seek to exploit the growing anxiety over climate change to augment their own dominance? Whatever happens to the planet -- or to the Iraqis, or to the Afghans, or to the millions of people going down in the flood of financial flim-flam and health care "reform" scams -- the elites will remain as they are now: well-wadded, well-protected, and well-connected in their fortified enclaves of privilege and power.
To paraphrase John Ging: We are running out of words to describe how bad it is around here.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 10, 2009.
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