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.
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.
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
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
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
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