Time to be honest

Nick Buxton speaks to Tim DeChristopher, an activist shaking up the mainstream US environmental movement
May 2011

Photo of Tim DeChristopher © 2010 Daphne Hougard.

Tim DeChristopher caused consternation among oil executives and their US government cohorts in December 2008 when he won 14 bids at an auction of oil and gas leases in Utah – worth $1.8 million dollars – and then announced he had no intention of using or paying for them. It turned out he was a 28 year old economics student from Salt Lake University, who came to the auction to take direct action to keep fossil fuels in the ground in an area known for its natural beauty.

Forcing delays in the auction in the dying days of the Bush presidency, his action proved successful as most of the leases were subsequently cancelled by the Obama administration. However this environmental victory did nothing to prevent the legal system punishing DeChristopher for his principled audacity. In March 2011, an eight person jury - confined by the parameters set by the judge who disallowed any examination of his motives - found DeChristopher guilty. He will face sentencing on 23 June, and could face up to ten years in jail and up to $750,000 in fines.

Since his arrest, DeChristopher has emerged as a leading and critical voice in the US environmental movement, calling for more radical direct action and slamming the major environmental groups for pursuing a strategy of ‘incrementalism’ that has not delivered results.  He has also urged environmentalists to be honest and not pretend we can stop climate change; but instead look to stop its worst effects and make sure that we undermine the structures and corporations that will try to benefit from the climate crisis. Red Pepper writer Nick Buxton spoke with DeChristoper at a student-led conference on sustainability at the University of California of Davis on 30 April 2011.

What were the influences that led you to disrupt the auction in Utah?

Well I was always interested in the environment. After high school, I spent five and a half years working with so-called ‘troubled youth’, taking them out into the wilderness. It soon became clear to me that they were good kids, but ones who didn’t fit into a broken system. As I explored this, I could see that all decisions for organising the world were based around and argued in terms of economics, and that is why I went to study economics at Salt Lake University.

While at university, I helped set up a group focused on outdoor conservation and recreation, and started to get involved in environmental campaigning and the fight against the climate crisis. By 2008, I had made a personal commitment to take direct action, such as the one I took at the oil and gas auction, if an opportunity presented itself.

What did you learn from your experience of taking direct action?

I went into the auction with the typical direct action mindset: that if I could take direct action to keep the oil in the ground then it would be worth it. I have since learned that the indirect impacts of direct action are even more powerful, in terms of inspiring others to take action and stimulating discussion on what our role as citizens should be.

I also went in thinking that I was sacrificing my freedom by taking such an action. This is not really the case. The sacrifice had happened before: when I had spent years being obedient to a system that is powerful and destructive; when I accepted the myth I had no power to change things; when I voluntarily disempowered myself.

The moment I fully resisted this system, I discovered real power and liberation. I would never go back.

Why do you think environmental movements, particularly in the US, have been so ineffectual in mobilising an effective response to the greatest crisis humanity faces?

I think it is because we are a nation of people who consume a lot, and have therefore become far too comfortable with the system to dare to change it. The main control the system has is through scaring people that they have too much to lose by challenging it, and that we need to hold on to what we have.

I think also the problem is that we have too many rich people in the leadership of the environmental movement, who have benefited from the status quo. It is hard to change the world when you have little personal investment in changing it.

What do you say to the mainstream environmental groups, who argue that working within the system is the only way to deliver environmental policies?

We have had plenty of opportunity to work within the system. In the 1980s and 1990s, asking the power structures to do the right thing was perhaps a reasonable strategy, but not any more. A huge amount of money has been spent and it has failed catastrophically. Environmental groups got into bed with corporations such as Shell and Dupont - in alliances such as the Climate Action Partnership - to produce a US climate bill last year that was worse than nothing, strengthened the fossil fuel industry and completely deflated the climate movement.

The reality is that the green movement has spent a lot of time studying science and economics, but not history - understanding how change happens in this country.

We can, for example, learn a great deal from the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the civil rights movement who decided to act and directly challenge bus segregation, against the advice of Martin Luther King who said it was a bad idea. The first group of students was repeatedly attacked and almost killed, but prior to their journey they had already sent a message to ask others to pick up where they left off. And they did. Students and activists soon filled the jails of Mississippi and they brought about an end to bus segregation. The key is they never had an end date to their actions, and they won.

In the US, we are gearing up for a huge summer of direct action against coal, and particularly the devastating practice of mountain top removal in the Appalachian mountains. We have a huge march on Blair Mountain in early June, and then are calling on people to join a rolling programme of busloads of arrests every day after that over the summer.

At a US youth environmental conference, called Powershift in April 2011, you caused a stir when you said we should face up to the truth that we have already lost the battle against climate change. Can you say more about this and the challenges environmental movements now face?

Our challenge has changed. It is no longer about just reducing emissions. We have to work out how to hold on to our humanity as we head to increasingly difficult times.

The turning point for me was when Terry Root, a lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told me privately after an event at Stanford University that it was too late to stop a climate crisis, that her generation had failed mine. I was shocked and asked why she had not said that on the public panel. And she said that she was scared that saying the truth would paralyse people. And it is true, what she said did first put me into a dark place of despair. I found myself mourning my own future, knowing it could be nothing like my parents. But sharing that grief with others, I found knowing the truth also empowered me to fight back in a more serious way.

I can see why scientists and environmentalists shy away from talking about the truth. No-one enters the world of climate science to help humanity through a grieving process. But we are at a time in our movement where we need to be honest about these things

How should confronting that truth of climate change shape our actions?

First I think it is crucial that we don’t reinforce current power structures. I received a letter after my Powershift conference speech saying that I should be careful not to dismiss those in power, saying that the US Department of Defence is a great ally because they recognise the dangers of climate change and are acting to address it. I don’t care if the military is taking climate change seriously. But you can be sure they are not a group whose power I want to reinforce when things become ugly.

We can already see where the system has collapsed for economic or environmental reasons how power structures will respond. We saw this in Darfur where environmental catastrophe didn’t lead to everyone thinking, hey, this is clearly a sign that we must rethink how we live. Instead, it led to governing forces scapegoating certain groups, with deadly results. The greatest impact in Darfur was not the environmental catastrophe itself, but the response of those in power to it.

So in all our actions we need to look to overturn these power structures. We should not be asking major corporations like Walmart or institutions like the military to be kinder and gentler. We need to start working now on putting in place power structures that share our values as we enter difficult times. When things get ugly, and access to resources becomes difficult, we want to have trust that those making decisions will act justly, and not just favour the strong. This will mean allying now not with people at the top who have caused the crisis; but with people at the bottom, in particular those who have suffered from climate change.

We also need to stop being defensive against accusations that our demands will lead to damaging the economy. Mainstream green groups typically respond by talking about growth, green jobs, and the advantages for corporations of the green economy.

But I believe we should embrace the charges. No, we are not trying to disrupt the economy, but yes we do want to turn it upside down. We should not try and hide our vision about what we want to change, of the healthy, just world that we wish to create. We are not looking for small shifts: we want a radical overhaul of our economy and society. I think once we start talking about it, we will find more allies than we expect: trade unions, health workers, LGBT groups and so on.

Where do you think activists should invest their energies, locally or nationally?

In a hyper-individualised society, it is no surprise that climate action has been focused up to now on personal responsibility to limit consumption. We receive typically about three thousand adverts every day to consume, so green consumption bolsters that. The mentality is that the problem is one of individual and consumer habits, and that the answer to the climate crisis is lifestyle changes. This reinforces the idea that our primary identity is as a consumer, and reinforces a system that is the main problem. How can we recover and assert a system based on us as human beings rather than consumers?

A lot of us obviously start small-scale, local, in our social and environmental activities but we invariably come up against roadblocks imposed by the larger power structures. We can’t have a sustainable aspect of an unsustainable system. So we need to be clear from the outset that we want to change a larger system; to always challenge those roadblocks.

Do you maintain hope in this situation?

I have hope in the end in the ability of people to build a better world in the ashes of this one. I am not sure if that is a hopeful vision or not.

However, the future is not determined and we can still shape it. I was born the year Reagan took office, and grew up in a world where corporations were all-powerful and it was accepted there was nothing you could do to challenge them. Yet we have seen just this year in the Middle East, and in Wisconsin  in the US, that people power is not an idealistic concept. It is the only thing that can bring about real change.

I know it will mean navigating the most intense period of change we have ever seen, but there is still a huge range in what our future could look like. That is why it is even more important to keep fighting.


The centre-left's narrative on climate change has convinced no one

Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall

Airport expansion is a racist policy

Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram

Resisting airport expansion, from the ZAD to Heathrow

Kelvin Mason speaks to John Jordan who is squatting the site of a planned airport in France

It's happening: 2016 is the year of climate disobedience

Kara Moses describes a season of record-breaking milestones in the fight against climate change

person 29 May 2011, 16.26

Tim DeChristopher seems to think that trade unions are going sincerely challenge a system that rewards their lack of productivity. Interesting when China’s productivity is making his cause all the more conducive to the military industrial academic complex torch passing all the more expedient. China will gladly accept or even pay people like Tim DeChristopher to make it all the easier.

If you want to challenge a system & replace it with an even greater oppressor iinternationally and then suggest that only hard left leaning groups have the answer, then you are just as misguided as the ones you demonize. Grow up Tim DeChristopher, change yes comes from the people but handing power to a few socialist elites has killed more & starved more yet than the ones you seem to relish in hating.

Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it’s well thought out. Mob thinking ends up in killing inocent people. An economist should learn to read a wider variety of economic ideas before swearing allegiance to the one that produced more war, death, suffering and pain than any other in history. Naivety is no excuse. He knows better.

SustainabilityDon 30 May 2011, 03.12

As I understand Tim, he is advocating non-violent direct action through an alliance of supporters from labor unions, health workers, LGBTs as a method for the desired Power Shift. And it is clear that he advocates economic democracy. Is it constructive or fair to make him into an advocate for failed systems of central control by the state or a political party?

Mr. “person”—- are you in favor of reducing the gross inequality of power, wealth and income in the US and globally and dealing with the consequences of exponential economic growth historically? What is your positive approach to the issues you see as important? Do you have something positive to offer? I’d like to hear it. You could make a contribution to advancing the discussion.

If all you can do is carp intelligently as you have here, then that’s a contribution to the democratic process too, but I would think you could do better.

person 30 May 2011, 03.44

SDon, absolutely.

1st off, calling for non-violent interaction but suggesting that only left leaning groups ‘have the answer’ by implication is well… average thinking. But in the likely result of entropy in human behaviour: creating yet another chasm in an expanding culture war will only create less cooperation.

Squeaky wheel activism without a real solution in the name of such protest will close more ears… again. He and many such activists have not offered a constructive plan other than obvious platitudes. But this is not abnormal from those crying wolf without the environmental or economic expertise. We need to do better. We have int’l competitors who’ll supersede despite what we consider as our ‘right’ or ‘self evident’ in our normalcy bias.

But I wouldn’t think that a socialist publication would be so open minded as to understand that there are many ideas that are not necessarily socialist in offering progress. This is the problem.

Suggesting that socialist ideas will answer the call given the historical legacy is indicative of being a parochial minded soldier for that which you think you’ll avoid. Governments kill & have killed more of their own than corporations. Spare us the violin.


So long as we continue to use fiat-currencies controlled by central banks selling debt to crony-capitalists; with co-opted big government (&socialist leaning) cohorts: we’ll end up as 1930s Italians *where it’s been done before*. This may require a rather long lesson in economics so please feel free to ask in subsequent messages if what I’m saying isn’t that clear as a basis to make my argument more obvious. My apologies up front.

Encouraging self-sustaining economic principles on a micro level is the beginning. Asking or giving a government the power to entertain the debt as described above isn’t. That’s because it takes the power from the individual’s safety. Giving ‘care’ as such becomes the cookies the more lazy minded feel is their right and can be used to lord over them as they become more ‘efficient’ in modern economic terms. I.E., less robust to handle the inevitable factors of life, economic cycles and generational mega trends in capital flows. We need to store wealth before we can have any value to protesting because we are slaves otherwise.

You see, when you sell your future and your productivity away (as we have with the WTO-China-Clinton-Gore event); then Perot was right with his speech on the great big sucking sound.

Neither the socialists nor the anarcho-capitalists have the answer … but this should be obvious.

Once you have sound economic money based on commodities and savings thus, you’ll not be subject to the whims of corporations, governments and special interests. Once you have that, you can make more real choices of environmental consequence.

Protesting with special interest groups only creates a divide the suggested power brokers can use to keep the status quo so long as it’s useful… before they shift their capital to another market entirely. Thus, protesting as such is playing in the hands of your captors.

Does this make sense? I realize that I’m talking big conceptually but, I really believe that we’re not helping the environment at all so long as we stick to false political paradigms. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

person 30 May 2011, 04.40

To answer your specific query, you asked if I’m in favour of:
1. reducing the gross inequality of power/wealth and income in the US and globally and

2. dealing with the consequences of exponential economic growth historically?

1. Yes.
2. Yes.

1. But simply legislating these changes into effect is not sustainable when the very unions (public & private sector) that demand unsustainable standards will help environmentally one iota to use your American syntax. With the resulting capital flight to the East as investors demand at least some return on investment above -below zero-. So long as Westerners continue to buy Asian made goods; you can’t blame the “inequality of power & wealth and income” on others. It was all of us, more others as I’ve gone through the pain of buying more domestic production; that have created this problem in addition to the above stated WTO agreement. It’s ironic but our collectivist conformation bias will not reveal rigour if we continue to personally make decisions against our long term sustainability.

2. The consequences will not be reversed with union and government standards in quality of life. If we do not empower ourselves, we’ll not be changing anything. Unless we purchase, invest in and consume domestic production: we fool ourselves. It simply doesn’t take 6.5 billion to make products for 6.5 billion. If we don’t embrace this fact, unions will be the problem, socialism will exacerbate it.

Dislocations in economic understanding, arbitrage and massive money printing will have more effect than the players thinking they can collectively have the power to change anything. Embrace this, and you’ll begin to understand how big our predicament is in.

Without this, we are just another recipient of a constitutional republic that did fairly well for a few years.

EcoDemocrat 31 May 2011, 15.31

Person, you said:
“We need to store wealth before we can have any value to protesting because we are slaves otherwise.”
“when you sell your future and your productivity away (as we have with the WTO-China-Clinton-Gore event) . . .”
“massive money printing will have more effect”

I’m not sure I understand all of what you advocate, but I think you said we should save our money and buy only American goods, and maybe you said we should flood the market with new (or counterfit) money and devalue the dollar. And if we save enough money we can be independent of government and special interest groups and socialists.

That’s all well and good for someone who can afford offshore accounts or caches of money hidden away from banks and other financial corporations, and can afford to act independently of the systems by which our country is run. (Though I don’t agree with the way congress is stifling action, it is the only system we have.) I suppose you might mean by being independent of those systems you might mean checking out of society maybe one of two scenarios:

1) living in the woods and wilderness, armed to the teeth and resisting all attempts to get you to participate in society with those caches of money I mentioned, or
2) going to live somewhere like Aruba or the south of France where you can lazily spend your hoarded money (in offshore accounts) in leisurely ways no longer subject to the tax burdens that most American live under. One of these scenarios might work if we all had the means, but it is a pipe dream at best. Only the upper 1 or 2 % of Americans can afford to ignore government by simply leaving.

But this says nothing of what you think should be done about global warming, which is the subject of the article. And if the government isn’t the agency to take action, and emissions producing industries won’t take action, who do you suppose should actually do something about the inevitability of the problem?

You mentioned something you call a “military industrial academic complex.” Since when has the military industrial complex become entangled with the academic world. They are usually arrayed against each other, not aligned. You know, as in pacifists academics being attacked by National Guards. Do you suppose you can lump together the academic world (that supports taking action to stave off global warming) with the scary, gun toting, military industrial complex (that takes no sides in the debate about global warming) in order to make the academic side seem scarier?

You keep using the word “socialists” to describe half the population of the U.S. (Democrats) as if you would arrest and prosecute anyone who isn’t conservative. That sounds an awful lot like McCarthyism. I’m going to sound off here – Where do you get off calling me or any other American socialists. We are not Russians, or Cubans, or even 1940’s Italians. You have hijacked the term socialist to mean anyone who thinks that we should help out the elderly and the infirm, anyone who supports Medicare and Social Security. We are Americans dammit! We are democrats, Damn you! We are not socialists and I resent the implications. It’s time somebody called you out and had you beat for using terms like that with such abandon. Did your mother teach you nothing?

In a calmer note:
You mention handing power to a few socialist elites as if having a democrat in the White House is like having Mussolini as president. Were we any better off with a Republican president who started the war in Iraq under false pretenses, and who denied global warming, even to the extent that he ordered a panel of non-scientists to alter the results and recommendations of the climatologists before allowing the release of years of research that took years to collect and verify?

Before you accuse the present administration of “produc[ing] more war, death, suffering and pain than any other in history” you might recall that more of our military died in the Iraq war and in understaffed Afghanistan during the Bush administration than in Afghanistan during the last two years. Get your facts straight.

And in the end, you still had nothing constructive to say about handling global warming or the effects that global warming will have on the citizens of this or any other country. I don’t know exactly what you advocate we embrace at the end of your writing, but it is surely not any kind of solution for changing the way this country deals with global warming.

person 31 May 2011, 22.40


You have mistaken my points… a lot. Some of this is likely given the breadth of the macro-economic discussion and the macro-eco-impact from the examples given. I say people (in general so keep your skirt on) seem to have little understanding of these issues.

As for not offering solutions, I gave some. I even suggested correlations (unions for example). You’ve missed that. I will expand below however, since you’ve asked.

I’m an environmentalist & have dedicated decades to my scientific work so easy on critical nature of your assumptions. I’ve made great sacrifices to live by my words & work. When corporations & governments & NGOs didn’t fund my work, I did. If you want to change the world, you change yourself first.

On a side note, perhaps I’m not innocent of this but, your tone leaves a lot to be desired. Sorry in advance if mine was not more gentle.

FYI: I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat supporter. I’m not even American. American/English is not even my native tongue. I think your political parties are both ignoring economic & general environmental impact but, no more than any other country generally.

However, it is personal action that makes the most difference. You had an issue with: “We need to store wealth before we can have any value to protesting because we are slaves otherwise.”
I can explain more but, you seem to think you have no power to do anything and that you have to be wealthy to do it. If you want to remain a victim, that’s your choice. But since your response required an above average capability, I’m surprised by your lack of imagination. Or at least your display of it – no harm intended BTW. You can do a lot, you just have to research and not place your blind religious faith in governments, corporations or even religions to solve all your problems. I’m sure you’re a capable person! There is a lot on the subject to read from.

Points of clarification:

1. – Predicament: “massive money printing will have more effect” Read it again, I suggested this was a problem. Read on:
Military Industrial Academic Complex is working together. You don’t notice because you are in America or perhaps haven’t studied economics deeply. Keynesian Economics is guiding your current administration’s war machine quite aggressively in order to sustain your Petro-Dollar-Reserve status. Academic institutions across the West are very much working hand-in-hand because they know that it is this very Complex that is required in order to keep America’s USD$ as THE Reserve. That’s why they’re printing yet calling it a strong USD$ policy.

It’s impressive when you assess Obama’s & Bernanke’s rhetoric; no their hyperbole with your Democratic administration’s expanded “Kinetic Military Action” (seriously, do you think the world is stupid?) and conflicts stepped up and newly introduced around the world. Obama has out-Bushed Bush in doing so. You can no long blame Bush for what you have voted for. Grow some confidence, claim responsibility and move on. It’s the only way to grow. It’s been 2&1/2yrs now.

1. – Solution: In reference to the above X-complex, you can improve this situation through Austrian economic & Libertarian freedoms & action. Environmentally, it means changing your consumption patterns. For ex. living next to work, down-sizing, eating less meat etc.

2. – Predicament: Socialist misconceptions. This is referring to the socialization of debt, the socialization of corporations that have failed (GM & Chrysler), the socialization of the banks (Goldman, JP, Lman & countless others the world over), the socialization of the food stamp program through conflict of interest *JP Morgan*!, the socialization of hand out programs supporting the housing sector propping up dropping housing *Fannie Mae*, the socialization of costs of a wide variety of other programs.

2. – Solution: No bailouts for ‘too big to fails’ and spend the money on eco-innovation for internationally competitive endeavours such as rare earth applications (green energy & battery applications) for example. Obama said he was going to do similar things but, he spent the money on bailing out the richest and the wealth & massive unions. It is not just socialists that are the problem, but the crony-capitalists they seem to be work with – I stated that already.

3. – Predicament: “when you sell your future and your productivity away (as we have with the WTO-China-Clinton-Gore event) . . .”
Please look this up. This post is already too long for me to explain the last 20yrs of economic history of neo-liberal fiscal policy. Instead of discussing the importance of keeping jobs in the West & making that the number one issue, your well funded academic apologists used socialist left leaning politics to rule the agenda while your leaders sold you out to Asian production. Again, this is embroiled in the environmental debate more than you think.

3. – Solution: You can not control your environmental impact so easily when you’ve outsourced your production. Whether you can save or not, whether you think you have the power to do so or not, whether you really can or not: These opinions are all irrelevant as is mine. If you do not encourage saving as a nation (& the necessary downsizing & expectations associated required to do so) you’ll not be able to encourage production domestically where you can have more eco-relevant products that lower GHGs. You’ve in effect, sold your manufacturing control ‘right’ when your practiced Keynesian economics got addicted to socialism ‘for free’. Sorry, you can run a country for decades doing that. But look up history, other countries, other empires don’t care. Eventually you run out of other people’s money.

3.cont’d – Solution still: This can be rectified with real, not phony money. Until the USD$ is not printed to oblivion, economic regression will further a lack of personal & national empowerment. You can’t affect Climate Change in any other way without the control you need unless you are simply poor. That is the less desirable way to reduce GHGs. Your Fed Reserve (Bernanke & Obama’s eager blessing) have chosen this for you. America needs to start accumulating resources domestically, PMs, rare earths, energy related etc. while the emerging economies require them. When America can manufacture, it can do more. Unions are working against this as they demand more environmentally damaging wealth to perpetuate while not spending the resources on more environmentally conscious product & service life cycle.

My point about political spectrum was to illustrate that (to the believers of this false paradigm) that so long as you are obsessed with being left-leaning, (or right leaning), socialist (or capitalist) etc. your power brokers that own your economy (& media, academia, banking etc) will continue to dupe you while participating in capital flight away from America.

I hope this helps in suggestions. It’s a big topic & I haven’t done it much justice considering the limited space and very limited understanding the general public have of this but, I’d be happy to elaborate.

person 31 May 2011, 23.51

EcoDemocrat, Cont’d.

Further actions on suggestions for Climate Change:
– I’ve decided to get a little facetious here because people are not looking at the results of their intentions … and so I present what looks like occam’s razor at times. Hang on… it’s very dark humour but, there’s enough truth to make you wonder.

DeChristopher, by buying Oil contracts & not paying for them to take delivery for their consumption, he has by example expecting others to do the same, inadvertently made oil slightly more scarce, making it cost more (if people were to follow suit). This means more profit for the producers. This type of ‘activism’ is counter productive for the climate but, productive to DeChristopher’s career as perhaps a union head or well paid eco-costing spokesman.

The original article implied “unions, lgbt, health workers etc.” where on side.

4. Predicament: – one could view the average wealth of the public & private sector unions as causing more damage through climate change. Since the union members are wealthier than the average American or Brit etc. they have more to spend. Because they have more disposable income, they consume more products & services.

4. Solution: – Get rid of the unions. Contentious as it sounds, the poorer people are, they less they consume, the lower the GHGs. However, getting rid of the unions may happen on its own. Since unions are loosing power by demanding higher production costs, the products they manufacture are being out-sourced to mostly China. Ironically, the socialist empire is doing a great job of making us in the West poorer since, companies can not afford to survive in the West. That will ultimately reduce GHGs since we continue to choose to buy cheaper foreign made goods. Perhaps we are doing it to ourselves.

5. Predicament: – Highly prized Quality of Life and Standard of Living. These 2 factors are what create GHG producing products & services the most. Since production is mainly in Asia for the average product (ie. most of) then, their creation (extraction or natural resources), their use (energy and pollution), their disposal (pollution and landfill) creates effect on Climate Change.

6. Solution: – Reduce average Quality of Life & Std. of Living. By making life cost more through much higher inflation (excessive printing), offering more social & health services to the average person and growing government: More inflationary printing is required. This in effect causes food & energy to cost more. Since this is being done, the environment wins since people can no long afford to live as well as they did months before. We are doing rather well on this account. Obama especially has done a great job of this since he has extracted trillions from the tax payers (interest & original debt/deficit) forcing funds to debt repayment to the richest few Banks.

7. Predicament: Agro-business. Massive agriculture business are incredibly efficient at producing food at lower costs to feed 100’s of millions of people for relatively low cost. These capitalist adventures are costing the climate change predicament dearly.

7. Solution: Legislate away the mega-agro-businesses. By forcing massive farming to be more eco-friendly, we can force smaller local production. By eliminating pesticides, we can cause more crop that is less resilient. Both of these help reduce the supply of food and thus lower GHGs. This means that disposable income can be reduced as people have to spend more on food & energy. This further lowers the standard of living in terms of costs being higher but the environment wins as do local food production jobs. Many people will find it difficult but, we can give them more welfare to pay for it. This in turn will cost more debt carry so if we tax the population more, there is less income for purchasing GHG producing products or services.

8. Predicament: War. War causes a lot of damage environmentally.

8. Solution: Increasing war between empires (perhaps USA-West vs China & BRICs) in the short term killing perhaps a billion people. This is obviously a horrendous suggestion but, with a billion less people, there would be far less impact and far less climate change. I know I know… I just thought hey, if you religiously follow your governments, when actually will you stop and say enough is enough? Perhaps people are more important than that? You decide.

Ok, I had a bit of prodding there but, you’ve got to wonder what the hell people think when they don’t think these things through. I just thought I’d
illustrate how ridiculous people’s misguided views are.

doris 2 June 2011, 09.56

What is a GHG? I lost you there, Person, on that acronym.

Interesting points but I’m definitely no economics expert and I don’t plan on being one. I get that lowering standards of living will do wonders for the ‘environment’ but do we really need to say that war and billions of mostly innocent people dying is a solution? Yeah I know you’re digging but is poverty and people dying of cold and starvation really a solution? If you think it’s gonna come down to that then surely those poor should get organised asap and those of us able to, should help them. Well that’s part of what I’m doing.

You seem to advocate a lot of economic solutions but where are the people rising up and ‘creating a better world themselves’ solutions? Or did I miss that?

Plus you know it really bugs me when people flippantly call others stupid. Either people don’t know better, forget or they are doing it on purpose, in my opinion. We need to get over ourselves, talking as if we have all the answers… ahem.

But anyway, good discussion here. Thanks people for your comments.

person 3 June 2011, 17.12

It was very refreshing to hear your open & honest comment :-) & thanks for defending me! :-)))

GHG: Green House Gases (the ones that contribute to Climate Change). The argument is classically around the 1Tr ton mark accumulating for 2050 & whether the anthropometric contribution is closer to 1% or 100% of the problem. And dear future attackers of this description, this is just a small truncated, yes, very short description of the topic.

Yes doris, I was just stirring the pot (as I stated) regarding poverty vs. GHS contribution. My point about that post was that many of what apologists advocate contradict their actions.

There is also a question of what is poverty because many say they are poor and or that they don’t contribute yet in reality, consuming a social service, cashing a welfare cheque, cashing a pension or union cheque are contribute just as much as higher disposable income that results in the same: consumption. And that is related to the carbon cycle: extraction, manufacture, usage, pollution, disposal & sometimes contamination.

I suggested actions that people could do to reduce their environmental impact, such as consume less generally (meat, driving, purchases, social program consumption etc.) in addition to economic.

I concentrated on the economic because of DeChristopher’s arguments and the general topic of this article. It is also the misinterpretation of economics and they way people view their own personal finances that underlines the problems we encounter.

More later, must go. Good points Doris.

Judy Cross 3 June 2011, 20.32

If it’s honesty you are after, you might start with the fact that they manipulated the data.


person 5 June 2011, 17.34

Yes, as I said. There are opinions ranging from the 1%-100% impact on GHG emissions contributing to it.

As time goes on, we are discovering that there are a lot more political arguments for economic control over the world economy against the will of the people. The IPCC is largely a political organization with command control economy aspirations. This is in direct contradiction to human rights & freedoms. The IPCC’s strategy leaves absolutely no choice for the individual or country.

But that is another topic entirely.

I was arguing that those who say they are behind Climate Change and then illustrate that in practice they are more about activism where they profit from the proceeds of that activism are arguably hypocritical. And thus, couldn’t in all sincerely be trusted by anyone with above average healthy skepticism. Which I suppose may of the defenders are partisan believers to their political masters. They seem to obey like mindless soldiers.

I’ve lost faith in politics. I believe in personal action. When I see it people’s personal lives where it cost them personally: I tend to find them more credible. Perhaps it’s just me but, the political silver tongues are full of it.

person 5 June 2011, 17.37

sorry for the typos… my keyboard is sticking a lot lately.

person 6 June 2011, 05.05

Dear partisan soldiers. Do you really believe in your masters’ commands?


plutotune 7 June 2011, 12.12

Tim DeChristopher had the courage to do what he new was right. Changing things is never easy.

plutotune 7 June 2011, 12.27

Hi person.

I gotta follow orders, you see I’ve got no choice.
The world is a social carve-up.
Binary logic necessitates you gotta take sides!

Your Libertarian logic has so many flaws.
Why do you think that individualistic and diverse human views generally coalesce, aggregate and eventually evolve into a dominant point of view or a master discourse.
Why do you think only the Libertarian mind can remain outside of this inevitable universal aggregation.
You could argue that libertarians are forcibly co-opted into the clutches of the social elites, but ultimately, this further reinforce the logic that the world is a binary social see-saw.
Why? Language? Limitations of the human brain?

The fact that individuals can remain aloof of these social realities but still affect change, without becoming part of the system, is fanciful.

This is it. It is systems which affects change, which regulate the corrupt. The wisdom of the crowd? Well maybe, but needs to be regulated and this has to be performed socially, hence the need for democratic governance…. no escape!

Now, the rub is, what is the philosophical underpinning of democracy. You see, you share your libertarian mindset with some esteemed company: Descartes, Locke et al.
For me, as an advocate of Social Ecology (Murray Bookchin etc.) I struggle with crazy stuff.
Descartes believed in the mind/matter dichotomy. Only the human mind within known logic is of: Substance (God) and all else on the planet has no intrinsic value and thus can be objectivised. Clearly the origins of this logic is to be found within monotheism.
Likewise, your libertarian mindset elevates your privileged position above all else. But don’t you see that the monotheistic/enlightenment tradition is at odds with your principles – your philosophy originates in the Divine Right of Human Kings!
Ahhh, George III would be proud.

Real democracy is human social evolution. Ecological evolution is of continuity, where the human brain is a product of species evolution (and adaptation and maladaptation). And this is where the human animal (as a subjective agent) cannot be divorced from other animals inevitable agency. Treating all else as an instrument of human gain and as objects to appease our own ego and grandeur and position in the social reality, is obscene. Surely, if we are
‘categorically’ different (which ultimately makes not sense), it is still in relation to the origin of our ancestry, as far as we know.

So this is the point. Libertarians truly desire subjective teleology i.e. the goal of the individual should not be undermined, either through being objectified and conceptualised by eg. Kleptocratic Investment Banking ideology(reducing humans to neoclassical mathematical economic models); or be reduced by other subjective agents such as Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon. Understood.

Problem is, libertarian philosophy doesn’t facilitate this. Libertarians ultimately embrace social tyranny and objectification. Where’s the regulation!

And on AGW, in a sense i agree with you.
Certainly global warming causing ecological affect/effects – (see the extinction rates of some species against the background rate in the fossil record). But, some environmental lobby/groups are as self-serving as the Banksters on Wall Street.

Adherence to a social ecology is our only hope. Without fellow subjects/fellow persons, cooperating and competing, life isn’t worth much at all!

person 13 June 2011, 04.41


Sorry for delay, I’m not always in town. I’d like to say I was refreshed by your intelligent reply. It’s so rare these days. I really liked the use of your references.

I didn’t even realize I used the word libertarian in my entire string… so I did a search. I found it once as an adjective to describe rights & freedoms generally because of the power of the individual. That’s it. That is not to say that the power of people is not great – it is. Although, your somewhat anti-personal freedom approach is somewhat disconcerting. I may have this wrong? Please advise if I didn’t quite get that. It’s just that you believe that social ecology demands that people must follow & obey… reading between your lines.. I think.

Legal frameworks of countries ideally have a healthy balance between freedoms and social adherence. Just as do political subscriptions. This is especially the case in their moderation outside of your rigid definitions demanding a narrow interpretation of how we view the world. I.E., to use your words, “monotheistic/enlightenment tradition is at odds with your principles”.

You said, “I gotta follow orders, you see I’ve got no choice. The world is a social carve-up. Binary logic necessitates you gotta take sides!”

Yes but, humans are not binary and the world is not that simple as per my comment intro. So long as you take sides within a system that is as flawed as it is (due largely to central bank controls) then you shouldn’t take sides.

That is because the system has become a massive machine serving few masters. But it is not a defense of the contrary. Collectivism has the worst track record at respecting the vary lives of its members.

You said, “Adherence to a social ecology is our only hope”. Yes, social ecology is a hope, just not the only one.

Bar the considerations, I agree with the sentiment of a lot of what you said.

AndresC 22 June 2011, 14.21

It is an interesting problem that you touch on, Person: Is it possible to be an environmentalist and a humanitarian at the same time ?
As Devil’s advocate: It follows that a reduction of population by 50% would allow a far more even distribution of wealth and resource use, without endangering the planet to the extent it now is. Surely it is up to the governments of the India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria (et al) to follow China’s example on birth rates……

person 24 June 2011, 04.55


Bare with the post (you will eventually see how it’s related)… I think the war expansion currently underway (Obama’s USA vs. Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq etc.) are about control. This is a control that some say will transition towards a wider WW3 & of which an aim is to do just that, kill competitors. It may not be yet but, wait.

When one of the polar competing super-powers physically enters in retaliation (Russia? China? etc.); escalation will be matched by Western ‘allies’ because the USD$/petro dollar relationship will be challenged. Don’t be fooled, this is what keeps our currencies in higher value giving us high stds of living & quality of life. No oil-$ relationship (of the current magnitude) no social democracy. Unions & social movements are out of touch with what dictates the very lineaments of what feeds their pocket books. Read my earlier posts. The dislocations are profound. Back to war. Why? How on earth did we get here?

Obama increased the troops in Afghanistan 40,000 during the 1st month honeymoon in 2009 when the media generally ignored it. And now he says he’s going to remove 5 & 35K troops (June 2011). So…. hypocrisy comes to mind. And to think Obama got a Nobel Peace prize for this & expanding the number of wars & troops, US military bases with the social engineering and manufactured consent through the academic/military/industrial/media complex… incredible! Why is this relevant?

Side note: Just how much is the media ignoring?

Still don’t believe you’re being manipulated?

When the results of an action conveniently suit a hypothesis that appears to have little to do with those initial results, you must ask yourself, who benefits? And by how much? I’m not suggesting I know the answer absolutely but, decades of research of taught me that the world is not such an innocent place & so-called conspiracies are not as limited as many would always like to believe. After all, those who stand to gain, will operate with others who stand to gain in unison.

Again I don’t know but, that which is likely… if it is always benefiting the same people in subsequent generational downloading; then just how conspiratorial is it? Perhaps more purposeful than the media industry they own are telling us. If they own the cover, why wouldn’t the cover be controlled? Who knows… devil’s advocate for you.

So here we are, you are saying that we ought to kill 50% of the population? How exactly do you propose this? Through honesty? Through war? Through domestic gender-cide (the result of the abortion industry), killing the elderly? Seriously, what are you saying, that this ‘culling’ is humanitarian? You sound Neo-Malthusian. Would you be willing to remove your environmentally taxing consumption? Perhaps remove your pension? Your health care? Your heating or cooling? Perhaps you travel by air? Just how much are you willing to give up? Would you be willing to sacrifice your life for the remaining ones on earth? Because if you are, I might be able to buy what you’re saying. Actions reveal more than words. The boy who cried wolf was full of shit.

You used the term ‘wealth distribution’. This is often a very misunderstood term. Mostly, it is an empty term. (See Herbert Marcuse on how he uses it with his Marxist leaning – clever but misleading). If you’re not convinced, try Saul Alinsky method. Back to the point. It is not a pie that has finite resources or money. You ignore efficiency, choice, savings, self-sufficiency & how these can be achieved without the command economy you pine for. Your pre-suppositions of wealth & resource distribution is highly misleading if not rather naive & simplistic. Sorry, I don’t mean to offend. I’m happy to discuss why but, if it is not a decoy, please advise.

On your side, it is possible to achieve isotropic values through fungible currency exchange only to a point. People have different abilities. Discouraging the productive to compensate for others won’t last long where we’re going:

Just how much does this look likely?
If you can enjoy the maths:

Comments are now closed on this article.

Red Pepper · 44-48 Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7JP · +44 (0)20 7324 5068 · office[at]redpepper.org.uk
Advertise · Press · Donate
For subscriptions enquiries please email subs@redpepper.org.uk