Derrick Jensen returns to The Stoa, along with Lierre Keith and Max Wilbert, his co-authors of the new book: Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It (Politics of the Living).
This event caps our meta-crisis symposium and it also serves as a book launch party.
The second event will start right after the first at 5pm Pacific Time (Los Angeles) and will be hosted on Facebook:
The authors of the book “Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It” are hosting a virtual launch party. The event will feature the authors Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen, and Max Wilbert.
WHAT: You are invited to an online event with Facebook Live
DATE: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 5 PM Pacific Time
Editor’s Note: Saplings cannot replace mature forests, with their hundreds of years of biodiversity and carbon sequestration. The biomass industry is destroying mature forests with a promise of planting saplings. Even if it had come from “waste wood,” huge amounts of energy is still involved in cutting, chipping, transporting and manufacturing of biomass pellets. Adding to that is the emissions involved in the actual burning. Biomass manufacturing is not green, clean or renewable. The sooner we stop doing it, the better.
On December 5, 2022, Mongabay featured a story by journalist Justin Catanoso in which the first ever biomass industry insider came forward as a whistleblower and discredited the green sustainability claims made by Enviva — the world’s largest maker of wood pellets for energy.
On December 15, citing that article and recent scientific evidence that Enviva contributes to deforestation in the U.S. Southeast, The Netherlands decided it will stop paying subsidies to any biomass company found to be untruthful in its wood pellet production methods. The Netherlands currently offers sizable subsidies to Enviva.
Precisely how The Netherlands decision will impact biomass subsidies in the long run is unclear. Nor is it known how this decision may impact the EU’s Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) certification process, which critics say is inherently weak and unreliable.
Also in December, Australia became the first major nation to reverse its designation of forest biomass as a renewable energy source, raising questions about how parties to the UN Paris agreement can support opposing renewable energy policies, especially regarding biomass — a problem for COP28 negotiators to resolve in 2023.
Prompted by exclusive reporting from Mongabay, the House of Representatives in The Netherlands’s Parliament has approved a motion that compels its government to stop paying subsidies to wood-pellet manufacturers found to be untruthful in their wood-harvesting practices.
On December 14, the Dutch House, by a 150-114 vote, approved a motion introduced by Rep. Lammert van Raan of Amsterdam, a member of the progressive Party for the Animals. In his motion, van Raan noted that up to €9.5 billion ($10 billion) have been reserved by the government through 2032 to subsidize the purchase of domestic and foreign-produced wood pellets for energy and heat generation.
“The risk of fraud with sustainability certification of biomass is significant,” van Raan wrote. Then, in reference to a Mongabay story published December 5, he added: “A whistleblower who worked at Enviva, the biggest maker of wood pellets, has reported that all of Enviva’s green claims are incorrect [and] according to an important recent scientific study… Enviva contributes to deforestation in the southeastern U.S.”
Van Raan concluded his motion by writing that the House “calls on the government to ensure that all subsidies do not end up at parties that cheat with sustainability certification.”
The approved motion requires the Dutch government to seek a higher level of proof under the third-party Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) certification process. Enviva already participates in the SBP, but critics note that the certification process is inherently weak and unreliable, especially regarding the climate and biodiversity impacts of tree harvesting.
Van Raan’s motion seeks to address such problems as the SBP standards used by the European Union are not seen as adequately holding pellet manufacturers accountable for their harvest practices. NGOs and journalists have shown, for example, that clear cutting of native, biodiverse forests are common industry practices, yet such harvests are still certified as sustainable. The Netherlands’ challenge is to make the SBP process more rigorous and transparent. And if those higher standards aren’t met, pellet makers like Enviva could lose millions in subsidies.
Whistleblower speaks out
The Mongabay story that precipitated the Dutch motion featured the first employee from within the multibillion-dollar global wood pellet manufacturing industry to ever speak out publicly. The whistleblower, a high-ranking Enviva plant official who declined to be named, told Mongabay that Enviva’s claims of using mostly treetops, limbs and wood waste to produce pellets were false, as were other sustainable policy claims.
“We take giant, whole trees. We don’t care where they come from,” said the whistleblower, who no longer works for Enviva. “The notion of sustainably managed forests is nonsense. We can’t get wood into the mills fast enough.”
Mongabay confirmed many of the whistleblower’s allegations in November when this reporter observed firsthand a forest clearcut in eastern North Carolina where nearly half the trees from a 52-acre industrial site were chipped and transported to an Enviva pellet-making plant. Also, a recent study by the Southern Environmental Law Center illustrated how Enviva’s tree harvesting since opening its first plant in 2011 in North Carolina is contributing to net deforestation in coastal North Carolina and southern Virginia.
In response, Enviva told Mongabay it stood by its public assertions regarding the sustainability of its wood-harvesting practices. The company also said it believed the whistleblower was not credible in his allegations.
Global doubts over biomass as a renewable energy source
In April, The Netherlands voted to stop subsidizing wood pellets for about 50 new heat-generating, wood-burning plants. But existing plants (200 for heat, and four for energy that co-fire with wood pellets and coal) still receive subsidies of nearly €600 million annually ($635 million). In 2021, The Netherlands imported 1.2 million metric tons of wood pellets from the southeastern U.S., much of that coming from Enviva.
The move by the Dutch to hold pellet makers accountable for their sustainable harvest claims — a first in the European Union — comes at the same time the biomass industry suffered its first global setback. On December 15, Australia amended its renewable energy policy to exclude woody biomass from native forests as a renewable energy source. That decision essentially blocks the biomass industry, which has no presence in Australia, from getting started there.
More trouble may lie ahead for Enviva. A Seattle-based law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking plaintiffs in a possible class-action lawsuit against the Maryland-based public company.
The law firm is recruiting Enviva investors who believe they have been harmed financially by what the attorneys call greenwashing — appealing to investors because of Enviva’s ESG (Environment Social Governance) credentials, when in fact the company is allegedly harming the environment and contributing to climate change.
Enviva denies these allegations as well. Hagens Berman has set a January 3, 2023 deadline for plaintiffs to come forward.
The growing unease of governments toward biomass as a subsidized renewable energy source comes after years of pressure from scientists and forest advocates who have presented evidence and argued that burning forests to make energy is dirtier than coal, while also harming ecosystems and reducing forest carbon storage capacity — even as the climate and biodiversity crises intensify.
Mongabay has reported on biomass since 2014 with more than 60 articles, while other media outlets have increasingly brought attention to the topic.
Activists have pressed hard for years to put a biomass discussion on the agenda at annual UN climate summits, to no avail, but are encouraged by events in The Netherlands and Australia. They say they remain hopeful that actions by policymakers will soon match growing public opposition to using forest wood for energy in a climate crisis.
Justin Catanoso is a regular contributor to Mongabay and a professor of journalism at Wake Forest University in the United States.
This book, Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It, by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert, will probably be the most important book published anywhere in 2021, on the most important issue facing all Life on Earth—why we must end the prevailing human economic and industrial practices and the anthropocentric cultural worldviews. It will probably also be the most reviled, attacked, suppressed, censored, dismissed, misrepresented, and slandered book published this year, as well, for some of the same reasons that many people virulently attacked and censored the documentary film, “Planet of the Humans,” last year. Why?
The authors answer the question of why these facts are so difficult to hear, and why they are also so difficult for many of us reluctant messengers to tell, at many points throughout their book, including this passage from the chapter on green energy storage:
“We are being sold a story, and we are buying it because we like it. We want it to be true. We want to believe that our lives can go on with all the ease and comfort we accept as our due. How painless to believe that a simple switch of wind for oil and solar for coal and we can go on with our air conditioning and cell phones and suburbs. Every time we hit a trip wire of unsettling facts or basic math, we soothe ourselves with our faith in technology. If all that stands between us and the end of the world is a battery that can store 46 MJ/kg, surely someone is working on it.”
Most modern humans have been taught all of their lives, by most of the voices of their culture, that their own comfort, pleasure, purpose, social standing, legacy, avoidance of pain, and continued survival depend upon the perpetuation of, and their conformity to, western industrial technological capitalist civilization. That teaching has been reinforced within their psyches by a long series of painful and pleasurable personal experiences. Therefore, they do not want to hear convincing, factual arguments which clearly demonstrate that nearly everything that they have been taught to value and have devoted their lives to is intertwined within a path toward the imminent destruction, collapse, and extinction of not only their so-called “way of life,” but also the real, natural world upon which all biological life on Earth depends. Besides that, most humans of this culture and era do not want to hear that there is no viable and actually existing technological “fix” for this predicament—which the authors of Bright Green Lies make painfully clear—and many do not want anybody else to hear or declare that either. In addition to all of that, most modern, capitalist, technophile humans are not (yet) prepared to engage with the solutions offered in this book: ending most industrial technological activities and allowing Nature and the few humans who still have such knowledge to teach us how to live without those destructive entities, by her truly sustainable laws and systems, (like we did for 97% of the time of our species’ existence), thus enabling all that remains of natural Life to heal and continue. Bright Green Lies also asks its readers—especially those who identify themselves as “environmentalists” or “environmental activists”—to face up to the fact that they must choose whether they value and seek to protect what the authors refer to as the “real world” (the natural, life-giving, life-sustaining world), or, instead, protect the human-made civilizations that order and constrain their lives, because, with what the world has now come to, we cannot save both. Is such a potentially life-shattering choice more than most people can deal with, even when presented with an overwhelming preponderance of factual evidence persuading them that the choice is unavoidable?
Putting aside (for now) the human tendencies toward acting on faith, auto-conformity, or the herd mentality, and assuming that when making the most serious, life or death, joy-or-perpetual-misery types of decisions, most people will still place some value in actual facts and bother to do a little research, we should expect such people to proceed with such appropriate caution when determining how to answer the challenges presented in this book. Knowing that, and being acutely familiar with the reactions of many politically moderate/liberal, save-civilization-first (before the natural world) people to their previous publications and to similar publications by others, such as Ozzie Zehner’s Green Illusions, back in 2012, and to Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans documentary, the authors of Bright Green Lies obviously “did their homework,” while drawing also from their decades of expertise on these topics. Nearly every one of the 478 pages in this illuminating volume contain several footnotes citing a variety of relevant and reliable sources for the multitude of little-known, seldom-mentioned facts about the extent of toxic destruction and ecocide that are routine impacts from our commonly-engaged industrial technologies, as well as from the production of solar panels, wind turbines, lithium batteries and other products that are alleged to be “green” and even “100% renewable!” Beginning with solar power, and moving on from there to wind turbines, “green energy” storage (especially lithium), “efficiency,” recycling, “green” cities, “green” electric grids, hydropower, carbon capture, geoengineering, and several other false and misrepresented “solutions,” Jensen, Keith, and Wilbert repeatedly and clearly assist us in the difficult process of discerning and untangling truth from lies.
Here is a summary outline of some of the more potent revelations (for the not-yet-informed) brought forth in this book:
Promoters of solar, wind and other allegedly “green” technologies have repeatedly and misleadingly conflated the words “energy” and “electricity” when making their claims. The reason that is significant is that electric grid production, which is what solar, wind, hydropower and biofuels are primarily used for, makes up only about 20% (in Germany, the “green” energy technology advocates’ favorite showcase, 15% in the U.S., and ranging between 12 and 35 % elsewhere) of the actual total energy used to power the machinery of modern industrial society. So when they give a figure for how much of Germany’s “energy” is provided by “green renewables,” that figure has to be reduced by 80%–and that still might be too high, due to other falsehoods.
Of the 20% of energy use that goes to electricity (in Germany), only about 14.8% comes from “green renewables,” with wind accounting for 3.5 % and 1.6 % for solar, for a total of 5.1 % between them. (These are 2019 statistics, the most recent available when the book went to press.) Biomass (including logged forests) provides 7.6 % of Germany’s electricity; waste products incinerated along with the biomass provide another 1%; 0.5% comes from geothermal heat pumps; and 0.6% comes from hydro power. In addition to those “renewables,” Germany gets 6.4 % of its electricity from nuclear power. Those are the actual figures for the “green showcase” nation, and the renewable electricity figures are generally lower for the rest of the world. Solar and wind enthusiasts have sometimes claimed that Germany gets as much as 75% of its “energy” from renewables.
Elon Musk, multi-billionaire producer of the Tesla electric car, admitted to a broadcast journalist in July of 2020 that he supported the coup that overthrew Bolivian President Evo Morales in November of 2019. The Tesla car runs on rechargeable lithium batteries and Bolivia has one of the largest lithium deposits on the planet, which many industrialists, including Musk, hope to mine under terms favorable to their interests. Morales is a socialist whose interest is in what is best for his people and their homeland, and who led an international conference in 2010 that produced the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth. Musk told the journalist, “We’ll coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” (TeleSUR English, July 25, 2020 https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/elon-musk-confesses-to-lithium-coup-in-bolivia-20200725-0010.html )
Lithium mining is just one of scores of very toxic industrial activities described in gory detail in this book, along with the names of the chemicals involved in these processes and the various harms and damages that they inflict upon many species of life, human and non-human. The processes involved in producing so-called “green energy” devices, including mining the raw materials, transporting them to factories, refining and forming the materials into more machines and consumable products, transporting it all over the world, clearing the land of the living beings who already live where the devices are to be installed, operation, maintenance, removal after expiration, and replacement, are all just as destructive to Life on Earth as most other modern industrial activities. None of that activity is truly “green” or beneficial to natural ecosystems or living organisms.
Biofuel, a renewable energy source that is much more widely in use than wind turbines or solar panels, depends mostly on deforestation and the creation of vast monoculture tree farms that replace biodiverse natural habitat, causing death, misery and extinction for many species of life, just to grow trees that will be burned for fuel. And what are they fueling? Very often it is energy for industrial factories that will produce more machines to make more toxic and unnecessary consumer products. All “green” energy devices will continue to contribute energy to the rest of the industrial infrastructure, by the dictates and customs of the current economic system and culture.
In their chapter questioning the value to life on Earth of “efficiency,” the authors clearly demonstrate how and why efficiency is no incentive for the reduction of CO2 and other harmful by-products of modern industrialism, when carried out within an economic system devoted to unlimited growth and competition (capitalism) and a culture devoted to maximizing convenience and consumption. Using examples based on Jevon’s paradox (basically that efficiency in manufacture and/or use tends to increase the production and consumption of that thing, rather than providing us more time to do other things besides producing and consuming) and on the facts regarding what has actually occurred with the gradual increases in renewable energy devices—not replacing, but, instead, accompanying continued increases in fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions—their point is made clear, as seen in the following chart:
(If you look for charts like this on the internet, you will have a hard time finding ones that end at 2019. Instead, you will see many charts that project beyond, usually up to 2050, showing that somehow the dismal reality portrayed above will magically explode into a dramatic increase in the use of solar and wind technology, even with industrial capitalism remaining intact. They do concede, though, that fossil fuel use—and, of course, CO2 emissions—will still be a considerable part of the picture by then, because of the energy “needs” of industrial capitalism that renewables just cannot provide. That is a difficult fact to admit, but the main reason that it must be faced is found in a combination of basic physics and the capitalist imperative for the maximization of profit. The physics can be summed up in the fact that the average energy density for fossil fuels is 46 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg) and “the best lithium battery can only store 1 MJ/kg.” The authors also report that “a diesel semi-tractor can haul 60,000 pounds of freight 600 miles before refueling. To get a similar range [with an imaginary, not-yet-invented electric semi-truck], that tractor would have to have about 55,000 pounds of batteries.” So, which truck would any capitalist distributor of products who wants to maximize efficiency and profit prefer to use? In addition to all that, many climate scientists now say that still using fossil fuels past 2030 means unstoppable bio-system collapse. But people have to have something they can believe in, right? And they cannot be allowed to believe in an end to capitalism or replacing that system with many local, truly democratic, community economic systems that are based in cooperation with Earth ecosystems and Nature’s laws.)
One of the grandest forms of deception, exposed repeatedly in several parts of Bright Green Lies, especially the chapter titled, “The Green City Lie,” revolves around a practice called “pollution outsourcing” or “carbon footprint outsourcing.” When measuring a country or city’s pollution or CO2 output, it is common practice to only count what is emitted locally, within the city or nation’s boundaries, omitting completely the emissions made in other countries around the world (typically in relatively poor countries outside of Europe and the U.S.) by citizens and corporations residing in the nation or city being measured. Examples include the facts that the U.S. “annually imports about $500 billion worth of products from China,” and Seattle (considered by many to be possibly the “greenest” city in the U.S.) imports “more than 60% of its food” from countries outside the U.S. After describing the horrific amount of pollution and CO2 emissions created by shipping, trucking and train transport, the authors report that when we do “account for imported products and services, cities are responsible for 60 percent higher carbon emissions than previously thought.” The failure to measure the impacts to other ecosystems of this kind of outsourcing, “allows a city to exist without its occupants coming into contact with the land they depend on, building, in essence, a ‘phantom carrying capacity’ based on the consumption of soil, forests, grasslands, water, and so on from other locations.”
The last example of “bright green lying” given in this book that I will mention here (although there are so many more!) involves the horrific potential impacts to life on Earth from attempting to implement green energy technologies at the scale required to run this ever-expanding, long-ago-overshot, capitalist industrial economic system, replacing the use of fossil fuels. The necessary infrastructure creation for that alone is not only mind-boggling and physically impossible, but also clearly ecocidal. For example, “12 percent of the continental United States would have to be covered in windfarms to meet current electricity demands. But electricity is only one-sixth of the nation’s energy consumption. To provide for the U.S.A.’s total energy consumption, fully 72 percent of the continent would have to be devoted to wind farms.” A slightly more conservative estimate is given in a recent report by a pro-green-energy team of researchers, stating that, if we combined wind farms and solar panel installations to replace all fossil fuel electricity production, we would only have to cover 10 % of the surface of the U.S. (The Race to Zero: can America reach net-zero emissions by 2050?, by Oliver Milman, Alvin Chang and Rashida Kamal, The Guardian, March 15, 2021) That figure does not take into account the amount of additional land surface (and habitat destruction) required for all of the necessary increase in transmission lines, which the authors of the Race to Zero… report estimate would be “enough new transmission lines to wrap around Earth 19 times.” (and that’s just for the U.S.!) To put that amount of Earth surface destruction into some familiar perspective, currently about 2% of the surface of the U.S. is covered with asphalt and concrete pavement. We all have some sense of what that much pavement (on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, freeways, etc.) looks like. Imagine then, 10 to 70 times that much ground covered with wind turbines and solar panels, and much more land than that converted to accommodate new power transmission lines. Do you need any more material than that for new nightmares to keep you awake at night? And I didn’t mention all of the resulting dead birds, tortoises, trees and other wildlife, which Jensen, Keith, and Wilbert also describe in painful detail. Who needs horror movies when we have these kinds of visions springing up all around us? Would such a repulsive scenario be worth submitting ourselves to just to preserve a so-called “way of life” for just a little while longer? It would not last long with most of the natural ecosystems and species of life that keep us all alive destroyed or extinct.
I cannot end this book review without mentioning the love for all inter-connected natural Life that is a continual thread throughout its pages and is clearly the supreme motivating force behind the book’s creation. Jensen, Keith, and Wilbert are what I would call “old school” environmentalists—people who put Earth and all of her interconnected Life first, and have no fondness for any human system or culture that must continually harm and even destroy our living world in order to exist. I also appreciate the authors’ acknowledgement, in their “Real Solutions” chapter, that traditional Indigenous peoples have known the answers to our predicament all along. By following the first ways and the guidance of our natural Earth relatives (of all species), we can help the living world to heal all of our interrelated beings. I will close here with a few top quotes from the book:
“So many indigenous people have said that the first and most important thing we must do is decolonize our hearts and minds. We must grow, they’ve told me, to see the dominant culture for what it is: not as the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to human beings, but instead as a way of life that provides conveniences—luxuries—to one set of humans at the expense of everyone else—human and non-human.”
“Because the earth is the source of all life, the health of the earth must be the primary consideration in our decision-making processes.”
“Often people are so shocked by the idea of their lifestyle disappearing completely that they honestly can’t imagine what could come next. They care deeply about the planet, but what they want to know is: ‘Can’t we find a solution that leaves our way of life intact?’”
“’How can we continue to harvest industrial quantities of energy without causing harm?’ is the wrong question. The correct question is: What can we do to help the earth repair the damage caused by this culture?”
“The truth is that we can debunk each and every piece of bright green technology, and ultimately it won’t make a bit of difference to bright greens or anyone else whose loyalty is not to the earth but to the economic and social system that is dismantling the earth.”
“The best way to prepare for this [systemic collapse] is also the best way to prepare to bring about just human societies after collapse: not by leaning even more into industry, but by building communities based on self-sufficiency, biological integrity, and human rights. This is work anyone can support.”
We are in peril. Like all animals, we need a home: a blanket of air, a cradle of soil, and a vast assemblage of creatures who make both. We can’t create oxygen, but others can–from tiny plankton to towering redwoods. We can’t build soil, but the slow circling of bacteria, bison, and sweetgrass do.
But all of these beings are bleeding out, species by species, like Noah and the Ark in reverse, while the carbon swells and the fires burn on. Five decades of environmental activism haven’t stopped this. We haven’t even slowed it. In those same five decades, humans have killed 60 percent of the earth’s animals. And that’s but one wretched number among so many others.
That’s the horror that brings readers to a book like this, with whatever mixture of hope and despair. But we don’t have good news for you. To state it bluntly, something has gone terribly wrong with the environmental movement.
Once, we were the people who defended wild creatures and wild places. We loved our kin, we loved our home, and we fought for our beloved. Collectively, we formed a movement to protect our planet. Along the way, many of us searched for the reasons. Why were humans doing this? What could possibly compel the wanton sadism laying waste to the world? Was it our nature or were only some humans culpable? That analysis is crucial, of course. Without a proper diagnosis, correct treatment is impossible. This book lays out the best answers that we, the authors, have found. We wrote this book because something has happened to our movement. The beings and biomes who were once at the center of our concern have been disappeared. In their place now stands the very system that is destroying them. The goal has been transformed:
We’re supposed to save our way of life, not fight for the living planet; instead, we are to rally behind the “machines making machines making machines” that are devouring what’s left of our home.
Committed activists have brought the emergency of climate change into broad consciousness, and that’s a huge win as the glaciers melt and the tundra burns. But they are solving for the wrong variable. Our way of life doesn’t need to be saved. The planet needs to be saved from our way of life.
There’s a name for members of this rising movement: bright green environmentalists. They believe that technology and design can render industrial civilization sustainable. The mechanism to drive the creation of these new technologies is consumerism. Thus, bright greens “treat consumerism as a salient green practice.”1
Indeed, they “embrace consumerism” as the path to prosperity for all.2 Of course, whatever prosperity we might achieve by consuming is strictly time limited, what with the planet being finite. But the only way to build the bright green narrative is to erase every awareness of the creatures and communities being consumed. They simply don’t matter. What matters is technology. Accept technology as our savior, the bright greens promise, and our current way of life is possible for everyone and forever. With the excised species gone from consciousness, the only problem left for the bright greens to solve is how to power the shiny, new machines.
It doesn’t matter how the magic trick was done. Even the critically endangered have been struck from regard. Now you see them, now you don’t: from the Florida yew (whose home is a single 15-mile stretch, now under threat from biomass production) to the Scottish wildcat (who number a grim 35, all at risk from a proposed wind installation). As if humans can somehow survive on a planet that’s been flayed of its species and bled out to a dead rock. Once we fought for the living. Now we are told to fight for their deaths, as the wind turbines come for the mountains and solar panels conquer the deserts.
“May the truth be your armor” urged Marcus Aurelius. The truths in this book are hard, but you will need them to defend your beloved. The first truth is that our current way of life requires industrial levels of energy. That’s what it takes to fuel the wholesale conversion of living communities into dead commodities. That conversion is the problem “if,” to borrow from Australian anti-nuclear advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott, “you love this planet.” The task before us is not how to continue to fuel that conversion. It’s how to stop it.
The second truth is that fossil fuel–especially oil–is functionally irreplaceable. The proposed alternatives–like solar, wind, hydro, and biomass–will never scale up to power an industrial economy.
Third, those technologies are in their own right assaults against the living world. From beginning to end, they require industrial-scale devastation: open-pit mining, deforestation, soil toxification that’s permanent on anything but a geologic timescale, the extirpation and extinction of vulnerable species, and, oh yes, fossil fuels. These technologies will not save the earth. They will only hasten its demise.
And finally, there are real solutions. Simply put, we have to stop destroying the planet and let natural life come back. There are people everywhere doing exactly that, and nature is responding, some times miraculously. The wounded are healed, the missing reappear, and the exiled return. It’s not too late.
I’m sitting in my meadow, looking for hope. Swathes of purple needlegrass, silent and steady, are swelling with seeds–66 million years of evolution preparing for one more. All I had to do was let the grasses grow back, and a cascade of life followed. The tall grass made a home for rabbits. The rabbits brought the foxes. And now the cry of a fledgling hawk pierces the sky, wild and urgent. I know this cry, and yet I don’t. Me, but not me. The love and the aching distance. What I am sure of is that life wants to live. The hawk’s parents will feed her, teach her, and let her go. She will take her turn–then her children, theirs.
Every stranger who comes here says the same thing: “I’ve never seen so many dragonflies.” They say it in wonder, almost in awe, and always in delight. And there, too, is my hope. Despite everything, people still love this planet and all our kin. They can’t stop themselves. That love is a part of us, as surely as our blood and bones.
Somewhere close by there are mountain lions. I’ve heard a female calling for a mate, her need fierce and absolute. Here, in the last, final scraps of wilderness, life keeps trying. How can I do less?
There’s no time for despair. The mountain lions and the dragonflies, the fledgling hawks and the needlegrass seeds all need us now. We have to take back our movement and defend our beloved. How can we do less? And with all of life on our side, how can we lose?
Planet of the Humans, an outstanding documentary by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore, drew a lot of attention when it was originally published on YouTube for free. But a coordinated censorship campaign lead to it being taken down from YouTube where it had been viewed 8.3 million times.
“Day 4: Still banned. Our YouTube channel still black. In the United States of America. The public now PROHIBITED from watching our film “Planet of the Humans” because it calls out the eco-industrial complex for collaborating with Wall Street and contributing to us losing the battle against the climate catastrophe. As the film points out, with sadness, some of our environmental leaders and groups have hopped into bed with Bloomberg, GoldmanSachs, numerous hedge funds, even the Koch Bros have found a way to game the system— and they don’t want you to know that. They and the people they fund are behind this censorship. We showed their failure and collusion, they didn’t like us for doing that, so instead of having the debate with us out in the open, they chose the route of slandering the film — and now their attempt at the suppression of our free speech. “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Fascism is given life when “liberals” employ authoritarian tactics. Or sit back and say nothing. Who will speak up against blocking the public from seeing a movie that a group of “green capitalists” don’t want you to see? Where is the Academy? Where is the International Documentary Association? If you leave us standing alone, your film may be next. What is pictured above could be the darkened screen of your next movie. Do we not all know the time we are living in? All this energy spent trying to save our film when we should be saving the planet — but the green capitalists have once again provided a distraction so that no one will see what they’re really up to, so that no one will call them out for thinking we’re going to end the climate crisis by embracing or negotiating with capitalism. We call BS to that — and that is why our film has vanished. But not for long. We will not be silenced. We, and hundreds of millions of others, are the true environmental movement — because we know the billionaires are not our friends.”
Now the movie is up on YouTube again
Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late.
Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars? No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine“). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late. https://planetofthehumans.com/
From Julia Barnes, the award-winning director of Sea of Life, Bright Green Lies investigates the change in focus of the mainstream environmental movement, from its original concern with protecting nature, to its current obsession with powering an unsustainable way of life. The film exposes the lies and fantastical thinking behind the notion that solar, wind, hydro, biomass, or green consumerism will save the planet. Tackling the most pressing issues of our time will require us to look beyond the mainstream technological solutions and ask deeper questions about what needs to change.