Well, maybe the subject line to this post is not quite true… but probably soon enough. We can call the products: the eco-tar sands; or Greenpeace Oil; or Suzuki Sustainable Bitumen; or otherwise.
There’s about one word that I would like to send along to the nine environmental groups that signed the “historic agreement signifying a new era of Joint leadership in the Boreal Forest” — The Canadian Boreal Initiative, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Forest Ethics, Greenpeace, Canopy, The Nature Conservancy, Pew Environment Group International Boreal Conservation Campaign, & The Ivey Foundation —
It’s called co-opt.
The definition I think we can run with is: “To neutralize or win over (an independent minority, for example) through assimilation into an established group or culture.”
The example given by the Free Online Dictionary is fitting:
co-opt rebels by giving them positions of authority.
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There was a time when several of these organizations were considered “rebel-like” — voices in the wilderness speaking up for things that matter. Maybe many folks didn’t always agree with messages, or tactics, or otherwise; however it was still good to hear another opinion; another perspective in opposition to whole-hog development.
Now don’t get me wrong… I think there is definitely a place for industry, communities (First Nation and settler alike), environmental groups, governments, investors, and so on to come together and devise solutions, or even developing good working relationships.
In fact, I think it’s essential.
However, pardon the cliche, this starts at the ground-level, at the community-level. Not in the ivory tower boardrooms of corporations and environmental corporations (what almost all of these organizations have become).
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Somebody please explain to me where large environmental organizations and large logging companies differ.
Large logging companies seek to remain as sensible, valuable, affordable investments for their investors — often large mutual fund companies, pension funds, institutional investors (e.g. banks), and so on. These companies pump out distributions, or return on investment, or profits, or whatever else to their investors. In return governments (federal and provincial) give them access to timber and land, with the expectation that jobs and community investment will come along with that.
On the parallel hand, large corporate environmental organizations have created institutional structures that absolutely rely on the philanthropic foundations (largely from the U.S. and Europe) that fund them — and ironically enough, often large foundations that were created as a result of some individual or family exploiting natural resources or otherwise to make their fortune (i.e. there is no such thing as clean money) — with the addition of some individual donations.
Large environmental organizations do what any large organization does these days: they set up a corporate structure — the root of the word corporate comes from Latin corpus: to form into a body. (I’ll quietly point out that’s the same Latin root for: corpse).
And thus, the corpus/corpse/corporate process begins: form a hierarchy or command structure (e.g. we know who the general is of the Suzuki Foundation), draft a strategic plan with vision, mission, goals, objectives, strategies and so on, hire administrators and financial controllers, and year-in and year-out grind out “proposals” and shmooze the philanthropic foundations…
(there’s a reason they call big whitewater rafting trips, or yacht cruises up the “Great Bear Rainforest”, or whatever else — FLOAT & BLOAT)
The funny thing with corporate environmental organizations is that they often operate with the same corporate culture of many big business organizations — secure the cheapest labour possible and demand the longest hours all in the name of “save the planet”.
There are no “environmentalist labor unions”… and I’d be quite surprised to hear of the environmental organization that offers an industry competitive wage with full benefits…
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And thus… organizations (environmental) faced with securing donations and grants to continue (and justify) their existence must enter negotiations and sign deals that render them neutral and ineffective — all in the name of “results-based” operations… They have to resort to signing agreements that use empty meaningless language that parallel insurance agreements that leave insurance buyers screwed when they actually have to make a claim.
I don’t want to paste much of the agreement into these posts as it’ll drive the few readers of these posts away faster than fellow diners after sneezing on the group appetizer tray…
From the “definitions” section of the agreement; ecosystem-based planning which forms the foundation of this agreement:
“Ecosystem-based management” or “EBM” means management systems that attempt to emulate ecological patterns and processes, with the goal of maintaining and/or restoring natural levels of ecosystem composition, structure and function within stands and across the landscape;
This is the same bogus, bullshit language whereby early foresters suggested that clearcuts emulate natural disturbances (e.g. fire, blowdown, insect attacks, etc.).
Horseshit… the only natural disturbance that actually physically removes the wood from the ecosystem is maybe tornadoes — and that still results in wood being deposited elsewhere in an ecosystem — not cut into 2×4’s and used to hold up cheap plaster walls in an Arizona suburb, in a house bought with a sub-prime mortgage, by someone who probably shouldn’t have been given a mortgage, but the bank sold the mortgage to bank in Greece, or Iceland — so-fuggedaboutit…
(forget about it)
So tell me — Greenpeace-Mr. Suzuki-ForestEthics, etc. — how does a tree leaving the forest on the back of a logging truck in north-central Saskatchewan “emulate ecological patterns and processes”?
And “maintain” and “restore” framed by “and/or“…
For crying out loud! these are not parallel terms, which is generally what “and/or” implies.
Maintain means to keep up or carry on; to keep in an existing state. Thus, something cannot be “maintained in an existing state” if something is being taken out — for example: trees.
Restore means to bring back into existence; reestablish. I haven’t quite met a “restoration” process that means remove indigenous critters — for example: trees.
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This is horseshit, bullshit, cowshit language. Instead of framing things in an agreement like this, in empty meaningless language why not say it, as it is.
For example, Ecosystem-based Management (in this agreement anyways) means:
a system of economic trade-offs formulated in boardrooms in urban environments that may/may not include local communities, governments, or organizations (aboriginal or settler) by individuals that may/may not have an understanding of actual ecosystem processes and probably couldn’t tell a caribou from a cow.
Oh yeah, I know Mr. Greenpeace, “EBM” is informed by the “Precautionary Approach”… wait lets define that as it should be:
Precautionary approach (definition from page 5 of agreement) means that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage to the revenue streams of the corporations and/or environmental corporations involved see definition of EBM and don’t let a good story get in the way of sound corporate decision-making.
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What does this have to do with salmon?
These types of empty, bumpf-filled, bullshit agreements between industries and “stakeholders” are becoming more commonplace.
Am I against logging? – absolutely not (I grew up in a logging town).
Am I against decisions on rural landscapes being made in urban corporate boardrooms (industry or environmentalist industry)- absolutely!
Where should rural decisions be made… I think you know my answer.