Green energy movement hijacked by the ‘eco-industrial complex’
by Alison Despathy
“We must take control of our environmental movement and our future from billionaires and their permanent war on Planet Earth. They are not our friends.” Jeff Gibbs, filmaker, Planet of the Humans
Jeff Gibbs (in photo, above) drove all the way from his home in Michigan to share his documentary – Planet of the Humans – at the Essex Cinemas in Vermont last week. What began as a quest to save the planet and shed light on the widespread environmental damage happening at alarming rates, his film quickly evolved into an urgent plea and exposition of the dangers and deceptions within the “green” energy-related movement ever since it was hijacked by corporations and investors out to make a profit.
Gibbs refers to this situation as the ‘eco-industrial complex.’
Planet of the Humans chronicles the environmental movement and the controversial role of renewables. Vermont has a starring role. Gibbs weaves in Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring and its influence on the early stages of authentic environmentalism which emphasized regulation and removal of chemicals, toxins and practices destroying and poisoning humans and the earth.
Although the path forged by Carson defines genuine environmentalism, another take on the environmental movement – the war on carbon – has become louder and squashed the competition with corporate backing to position itself at the forefront of present day “environmental justice”. This war on carbon has sucked the life out of the actions necessary for achieving true environmental justice. The decarbonization vortex continues to distract from effective action and leads to destructive decisions as is evident with Vermont’s S.5 – UN-Affordable Heat Act legislation.
Gibbs doesn’t hold back, his commitment to investigative journalism is his driving force and it is evident that he has no agenda other than seeking truth and real answers. Along the journey, his willingness to dig deep and expose the harsh realities and shocking limitations of renewables is prescient for the current Vermont conversation.
Gibbs explores how and why this movement was led astray. A straightforward and typical tale -industry and investors identified a new market, the heat was on and the full force propagandized drive for the ‘green’ revolution took hold and was heavily funded by those with financial stake who wanted in on the wave.
Keeping in mind Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act, its requirement to reduce carbon emissions and Vermont’s at-all-costs drive to electrify and embrace renewables- it is apparent that many in Vermont including legislators and certain environmental groups have fallen prey to this heavily marketed and funded corporate version of environmental justice.
How do we reclaim and ensure true environmentalism in Vermont with this all-out corporate campaign to “go green” – no matter what the cost, no matter what the risk and with the burning questions of do renewables actually bring more destruction and do they even hold the potential to reduce fossil fuel consumption and use when they are directly dependent on it for their existence? Will the people and environment become collateral damage in this blind drive?
Former Senator Joe Benning shares words of wisdom with the filmmaker while out on a ridgeline hike with Vermonters where a 21-tower wind farm was slated to happen. Benning’s words echo many Vermonters feelings about the love we hold for forests –“If the goal is to try to make Vermont the leader in climate change, I appreciate looking to the sky in the hopes that we can do that, but more importantly I am personally looking at the ground thinking this is not the kind of legacy I would want to leave to my kids. When I was a kid, we would go hiking in these woods, we would be able to drink the waters down the hill here and now you have to question that.”
This statement brings forth the heart of the matter- should we destroy and poison our earth in order to ‘save it’? There is an obvious disconnect here. How far down this continued destructive path will we move until we realize what exactly it is we are doing? This is the real dilemma.
Due to present day technologies and the insatiable and timeless need by some for power and profit, the earth is experiencing unprecedented environmental destruction. In addition to global corporations, many individuals have positioned themselves to earn immense profits from this “green movement.” Former Vice President Al Gore and David Blood, long time asset manager for Goldman Sachs, have created their Generation Investment Management company with ‘green funds’ that support highly destructive biomass and biofuels industries. Sierra Club held a “green” fund called Aspiration, also mentioned in the film that was subsequently shut down soon after the film was released.
Blackrock’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) framework and coercive demand on the companies it invests in to join the ESG game is another example of this synced “green” messaging which emphasizes a narrow focus and obsession on carbon to gauge progress and a blind demand for renewables which grips the world despite its own set of major problems as Gibbs reveals. In Vermont it is the same story, there are multiple individuals and entities set to gain from the S.5- Clean Heat Standard legislation-many of whom actually designed the legislation itself.
Bill McKibben- “Vermont’s environmental hero” makes several appearances in Planet of the Humans, including an interview clip about the donors to 350.org and his role in promoting biomass. Gibbs wonders if some have lost their way with their support and advocacy for renewable energy and their unrelenting drive to rid the world of fossil fuels at all costs- even at the expense of the health of humans and the environment.
Gibbs shares a poignant observation regarding several key environmental players– “What are they hiding? And why are they hiding it? Is it their ignorance? Or is it something else? What if they themselves have become misguided? What if they made some kind of deal they shouldn’t have made and are leading us all off the cliff?”
Bill McKibben’s involvement with David Blood and Al Gore, his support of a “green” fund called – Green Century Funds and his testimony in Vermont Senate Committee on Government Operations to support Senate Bill S.42 –the divestment of Vermont’s state pension funds from investment in fossil fuels – raises questions and should be explored. What are the driving forces and implications of this decision? Will this divestment shift simply move support to other destructive industries such as mining, natural gas infrastructure and companies, deforestation, and the promotion of biofuel and biomass, all of which poison water, lands and people?
Does this divestment shift fuel Blackrock’s monopolized ESG index funds and continue to allow corporations and institutional investors to determine what environmentalism looks like and how we get there? With corporations leading the way, we know what lies ahead is an abusive and dominating road lacking in real solutions.
McKibben also wrote an opinion piece back in November in the New Yorker entitled “Dimming the Sun to Cool the Planet is a Desperate Idea Yet We’re Inching Toward It”- This article gently promoted and created a soft landing space for the role of Solar Radiation Management (SRM) aka- solar geoengineering. SRM involves widespread spraying of chemicals and compounds in an attempt to reflect the sun’s rays and cool the planet. This entire practice is highly debated and controversial, brings great risk, and contradicts itself through history, practice and outcome. There are monumenal ethical and legal issues related to this experimental and toxic solution to “save the planet.” These actions prompt the necessity to investigate and question if we are indeed being led off the cliff or to the promised land.
Supplying energy to people throughout the world is an ongoing challenge and dilemma. Latching onto false solutions of biofuels, biomass and technologies that demand massive increases in destructive mining, devastation of the earth and abuse of people is not a real solution.
Many would like to think that these alternative “Green” options are our saving grace. Gibbs and his film Planet of the Humans clearly shed light on the dark side of renewables, the inherent issues these technologies hold and their role in perpetuating the ongoing practice of exploitation and domination of the environment and people. Planet of the humans helps encourage, actually demands, an opportunity for difficult albeit necessary and long overdue conversations.
In direct relation to Vermont – Legislators are currently assessing S.5 after the Governor’s veto. Many have been told a “pretty story about renewables and electrification”. Lobbyists and special interest groups are currently shaming, coercing and battering them with Pavlovian messaging–”We have to act now. We aren’t doing enough and We are leaders in climate change.”
Without a comprehensive knoweldge base or honest, unbiased discussion on the subject area, impulsive and destructive legislation such as S.5 evolves and brings risk to Vermonters, our economy and our environment. –A closer look at the origin of S.5 -the Clean Heat Standard -lands it right in lockstep with corporate environmentalism. Not surprising given the history and trajectory that Gibbs helps surface in his meticulously researched film. Planet of the Humans is a must see for all as we work to engage honest conversations in order to achieve real environmental justice in Vermont and throughout the world.