Our environment is under assault as never before in human history, with its ability to sustain our civilization no longer by any means assured. The dominant force propelling this ravaging is the lust for ever-larger corporate profits. The planet and its wildlife face clearcutting and deforestation, unsustainable mining, chemical pollution, and global warming. In Alberta the tar sands have become a national sacrifice zone while the industrial heartland northeast of Edmonton is subjected to unlimited development regardless of the ecological cost. While overpopulation is a danger, the world’s real threat is overconsumption. The hundreds of billions of dollars spent on advertising yearly around the globe are designed to create wants where they don’t exist and then turn those wants into needs that must be met. The result of this runaway consumerism is a waste of our natural resources and huge mountains of garbage. The ecological footprint, the area of land needed to support each person, keeps relentlessly expanding. Rather than living off the interest the biosphere generates, since the 1980’s the human race has been squandering its principal. One of many false claims of neoliberal globalization, that everyone in the world can consume at the same level as North Americans, would require the resources of several earths. Ultimately, to maintain the constant profits capitalism requires, the economy must keep expanding without limit on a finite planet.
When corporations are confronted with evidence of how their activities are damaging the planet and human health, the first line of defence is stonewalling: unrelenting denial of the problem or any contribution from their operations. When this becomes too absurd in the face of mounting evidence, they embark on a long drawn out stalling campaign, calling for ever more studies before anything is done. In this they are supported by “experts” for sale as well as government and corporate media allies who together sow doubt and confusion among the public. They are frequently aided by artificial “grass roots” Astroturf groups created by public relations firms to back the corporate position. Meaningless intensity targets for each industrial site are proposed while ignoring total cumulative impact. When all else fails jobs are held hostage. P.R. campaigns seek to greenwash the corporate image with bogus claims of sustainability while they carry on with business as usual. Even the backers of nuclear power are peddling it as “green”. Industries may also use strategic lawsuits against public participation (slapp suits), frivolous lawsuits designed to intimidate activists. Governmental “smart regulations” allow corporations to police themselves, while “free trade” treaties harmonize environmental regulations to the lowest common denominator. Independent peer-reviewed academic research critical of corporate environmental or health impacts is dismissed as “junk science”. Government scientists, attempting to do their job of protecting the public, face interference and intimidation from their bureaucratic overseers if their findings possibly threaten corporate profits.

Global Warming

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming    (2010) by Naomi Oreskes     Detailed chronicle of how free market ideology combined with corporate funding and the "think tanks" they financed to create the denial industry and its attacks on environmental science.

An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It    by Al Gore (2006)     Quick, easy, but comprehensive introduction to the dangers of global warming and industry and government denial.

Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled the Climate Crisis––And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster    by Ross Gelbspan (2004)     Details corporate and government collaboration in their effort to block action on global warming.

The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing the Climate and What It Means For Life on Earth    by Tim Flannery (2005)     Detailed look at the causes and effects of global warming, corporate and government responsibility, and possible solutions.    Also Audiobook CD

Other Environmental Topics

Little Black Lies: Corporate & Political Spin in the Global War For Oil    by Jeff Galius (2012) (Canadian)     Brief look at the collusion between the Federal and Albertan Conservatives and oil companies in Alberta's tar sands and the spin by corporate media in presenting associated issues.

World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse    by Lester R. Brown (2011)     Describes the growing danger of global warming, soil depletion, and water depletion, the danger posed to agriculture and civilization, and an alternative renewable energy program.

Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism    by Sharon Beder (2002)     Details corporate use of front groups, phony Astroturf “grass roots” citizen’s groups, lawsuits against activists, corporate funded “think-tanks” and public relations firms.

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent    by Andrew Nikiforuk (2010) (Canadian)     Lively and easily readable account of the environmental, economic, and political damage caused by Alberta's tar sands development.

The Republican War On Science    by Chris Mooney (2005)     U.S. governmental interference in global warming research, environmental regulation, and stem cell research as well as promoting creationism.

Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future    by Jeff Goodell (2006)     Details coal’s environmental impact, contribution to global warming, and U.S. political influence of its corporations.

Nuclear Power is Not the Answer    by Helen Caldicott (2006)     Exposes the true costs and dangers of nuclear power and weapons proliferation, and explores the renewable alternatives.

Oil Sands Fever: The Environmental Implications of Canada’s Oil Sands Rush    by Dan Woynillowicz (2005)     Pembina Institute’s brief overview of Alberta’s tar sands development, its environmental cost, and the province’s low royalty rates.

Tar Sands Showdown: Canada and the New Politics of Oil in an Age of Climate Change    Tony Clarke 2008     Explores the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the tar sands in relation to the wider context of world oil politics and global warming.

Endgame: The Problem of Civilization    by Derrick Jensen (2006)     Explores the environmental and social damage caused by our unsustainable civilization and economic system