“In order to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves.”
— Derrick Jensen, Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization
Formed in the mid 1980s in order to dispel the environment vs. economics tradeoff in the public’s mind, the Grand Canyon Trust has been a rich man’s dream organization from the beginning. The Trust relies on a gullible consumer society believing what it wants to believe, and many of the philanthropists supporting GCT might still swear by the group’s founding principle, which argued that endless economic growth could be decoupled from environmental impact.
God only knows the extent of conscious deception on the part of GCT backers over the years. But one thing is certain. Now that their basis has been exposed as myth, and the signs of global environmental collapse are everywhere, the death of the Grand Canyon Trust’s founding philosophy hasn’t reached the desk of its Executive Director, Bill Hedden.
On April 27, 2012, Hedden delivered “a most thoughtful and provocative speech,” according to the Trust’s facebook administrator, titled, “A Just and Healthy Future for the 100%.” He spoke at The University of Colorado Law School symposium in honor of GCT Trustee David H. Getches. His remarks began with a troubling observation:
“Three years ago,” he said, “I asked a neighbor’s grown daughter why the food security movement struck such a chord with young people these days. She answered simply, ‘Because we know that you guys aren’t going to do anything about climate change, and when everything falls apart we want to be able to feed ourselves.’
“Of course, in those days, we believed that the Congress would surely pass legislation to curb our domestic carbon emissions, and somehow international agreements would pull us out of a planetary climate nosedive. But the intervening years have shown us that my neighbor’s daughter was right…”
Bill Hedden observed that, “These are hard things to think about.”
I am sure it is extremely difficult for Hedden to consider these “hard things.” I hope you’ll read his speech of April 27 about being awakened to the urgency of the global warming problem through a series of confrontations with the younger generation. Then come back here for a better understanding of the catastrophe that has already occurred.
Read Bill Hedden’s speech here:
‘A JUST AND HEALTHY FUTURE FOR THE 100%’
My Response to “A Just and Healthy Future for the 100%”
I don’t have any kids myself, which allows me to respond honestly to Bill Hedden’s mea culpa to the younger generation and ever-more-heart-breaking call to action on their behalf. Let’s get this straight from the top: not having kids is a huge advantage here because my view of the future is not obscured by what I would otherwise need to believe if I had children to be concerned about. I’m free to arrive at any conclusion, allowing the facts as I perceive them to be my guide. The loving parents, Bill Hedden among them, probably aren’t capable of sharing my perspective of climate change and what it means for our civilization. In fact, it appears that Hedden (the conservationist!) only allowed himself to begin to see the magnitude of the issue after the younger generation exposed his protective blanket of misinformation and started hammering him on his feeble efforts to save the planet.
But despite what he’s learned, and despite the looming global calamity he acknowledges, Hedden still relies on the much too easy carbon pollution narrative of his own generation and ends up failing young people once again. Amazingly, on the issue of global warming, the executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust just doesn’t get it. Perhaps that’s because he’s been selling the public for years on the idea that they could make a difference if they bought a hybrid vehicle, or bought a backyard wind turbine, or bought a piece of paper certifying that a tree was planted somewhere to “offset” one’s emissions. Or maybe it’s just because what follows is beyond what “we normally allow ourselves to understand”.
For example, one of the most endearing aspects of Hedden’ talk is its lack of memory of key details surrounding recent global climate efforts, which we’re sure GCT at least watched closely. Though he does remember that just a few years ago our generation hoped for a global deal on carbon emissions, he does not apparently recall either that a) the proposed deal was nowhere near what the science said needed to be done while leaving all the hard work to future generations, or b) what the consequences would be for the Earth when such reductions were not immediately forthcoming. In the face of this colossal failure of humanity’s current power structure, Hedden spends no time analyzing where his own organization, funded mostly by the 1%, fits in the scheme of things, and his message is now pathetically reduced to urging that people be the change they want to see in the world! Such a massive disconnect between reality and advocacy is often called greenwash. I think young people are at least owed the truth behind this failure.
Can we hazard a guess at how many times in the last twenty years Bill Hedden has sat in Grand Canyon Trust conference rooms watching videos on climate change? I can’t, but I’ll venture one thing about those videos: they generally avoided topics like ocean thermal inertia, or an in-depth look at all of the forcing components (measured in watts per square meter), or carbon cycle issues like ocean outgassing of CO2 during (theoretical) atmospheric drawdown attempts. Hedden says that he relies, among other things, on James Hansen’s speeches, but I have to wonder if he’s also read his book and papers, since everything I discuss here comes from those sources.
Virtually all activists make the same mistake regarding climate inertia, and this talk is no exception. On the Colorado Plateau, he tells us that “Native grasses will be extirpated from the region within 30 years, taking the habitat for the rabbits and mice, which feed the coyotes and snakes and foxes and raptors. That is what it means to wreck the base of the food chain.” Fair enough, but because of ocean inertia, most climate impacts to occur in the next 30 years are going to happen regardless of what humanity does over that period. So if Hedden’s science is right, and if exotic grasses can’t provide habitat either, then it’s likely already too late for most of the mammals on the Colorado Plateau. This idea cannot be emphasized enough. If there are any tipping points driven by atmospheric temperature that are lurking out there in the next few decades, then we’ve probably already passed any opportunity to avoid them.
Second, there is a very inconvenient truth for environmentalists in the components of overall climate forcing (the changes that affect the energy balance of the planet). Not talking about it has the effect of a huge lie on one’s environmental audience, whether the omission is intentional or not. Humanity has accidentally raised an extremely short-lived “aerosol parasol” over its head which blocks roughly half of the warming that would otherwise be occurring due to greenhouse gases. And the source of the parasol is fossil fuel emissions. If James Hansen’s view someday prevails, and somehow unified humans decide that overall climate forcing must be reduced this century, then a realistic reading of the forcing equation means that any global warming solution must, in addition to massive emissions reductions, include some sort of geo-engineering of the planet’s atmosphere. Such a desperate and extremely dangerous yet essential human messing with Earth’s climate goes against everything environmentalism was supposed to stand for. What would Hedden’s 7 billion people making a difference say once they notice that the sky is turning white? Of course, his speech conflates “saving ourselves” with “saving the planet” and perhaps you have to be pretty old to care about that distinction anymore. I just see human hubris, the very same thing that brought us here to the edge.
There’s one last climate truth that needs discussing due to it being left out (as usual) from this latest “progressive” speech on global warming. The issue is that carbon, once released from long term storage underground when humans burn fossil fuels, cycles between the atmosphere and other short term storage, such as the surface ocean and forests. In other words, it won’t be long before carbon in a tree or in the ocean is back in the atmosphere, while only the Earth’s natural processes can return carbon to long term storage. So not only have we already initiated irreversible climate impacts, we really have no practical way of achieving geo-engineering by extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere. In the words of James Hansen:
“At present there are no technologies capable of large-scale air capture of CO2. … The cost of removing 50 ppm of CO2, at $500/tC, is ~$50 trillion (1 ppm CO2 is ~2.12 GtC), but more than $200 trillion for the price estimate of the American Physical Society study. Moreover, the resulting atmospheric CO2 reduction is only ~15 ppm after 100 years, because the extraction induces counteracting changes in the other surface carbon reservoirs – mainly CO2 outgassing from the ocean …. The estimated cost of maintaining a 50 ppm reduction on the century time scale is thus ~$150-600 trillion.” (my emphasis)
By contrast, Hedden’s view is of a series of unnerving climate symptoms showing the vulnerability of human food supplies to rising temperatures and melting ice and suggesting by their magnitude that things are beginning to spiral out of control. But we also get the sense that the problem could be solved if the now 7 billion people on the planet would start making lifestyle changes and tell their local politicians to outlaw fossil fuels. After all, “the answers usually aren’t complicated”. Until that happens, he recommends “an unprecedented joining together to save ourselves, using all the resources of technology and love available to us.” (There’s always a certain whiplash effect in trying to comprehend anything from GCT, don’t you think?)
At least Hedden honestly reveals some feelings of helplessness and futility in his professional work (“rearranging the deck chairs”), and this is refreshing, given that GCT apparently continues its long relationship with David Bonderman, who, with a net worth around $1.9 Billion and, as one of the world’s well known private equity players, symbolizes the global economic juggernaut that is wrecking planet Earth. If young people want to know why the Grand Canyon Trust isn’t doing anything about global warming, they need look no further. Bonderman, among his so many other business interests, is heavily invested in coal around the world, everything from mining it, to shipping it, to burning it; if it’s a coal sector, he’s probably making money from it. And some of that money ends up as a big chunk of the income column at GCT.
Is there any wonder then why Hedden does not mention James Hansen’s call for an accelerated (starting in 2010) two-decade decommissioning of all of the world’s coal-fired power plants? This is not a mere recommendation, as Hansen wrote four years ago that “continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.” But such a rapid global shutdown of coal, without a realistic baseload power substitute, would of course likely mean the end of industrial civilization as we know it. Hedden himself admits that “Without massive action, most scientists believe we are headed toward atmospheric CO2 of at least 650-700 ppm, levels where the fossil record shows that delicately named non-linear scenarios kick in.” I ask the reader then, given his sincere concern for climate effects beginning to get out of hand, is he being clear enough in describing what will need to happen to our civilization, one way or another?
This is where the young protester, remembering the futility of Occupy last fall, may want to keep Hedden at arm’s length, instead of linked arm in arm. Trying to explain the title of his talk, which remarkably joins the 1% and the 99% together in perhaps “not enough lifeboats”, we can only guess how that’s going to work out. At least the notion of our doom is starting to cross Bill Hedden’s mind. Too bad he can’t quite admit why.
There are 21 members of the GCT Board and like any gathering of humans, it is represented by a variety of citizens with mixed agendas—some good and some not so good. Within the board is this group of powerful industrialists/capitalists/
Ty Cobb: Chair, Washington D.C.
Mr. Cobb is a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP, where he is a Litigation Practice Group Director and the Chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group and also Chair of the Securities Enforcement Practice Grou
Patrick Von Bargen, Vice-Chair
Patrick Von Bargen joined the government relations and public affairs firm of Quinn Gillespie & Associates in October of 2008 and focuses on clean technology, renewable energy, and natural resources issues.
Bud Marx, Secretary-Treasurer: Laguna Beach, California
Oscar (Bud) Marx is a retired Ford Motor Company executive. After 32 years with Ford, in 1995 he became CEO of TMW Enterprises, a private equity partnership with diversified investments in electronics, plastics, metal-forming, technology, and real estate. He has also been Chairman of the Board of Amerigon Inc., a high-tech developer of heating and cooling products based on Thermo-Electric technology, since 1999
Carter F. Bales: New York, New York
Carter Bales is Chairman and a Founding Partner of NewWorld Capital Group. Before NewWorld, he was Managing Partner Emeritus of The Wicks Group of Companies, a private equity firm focused on the information industries. He co-founded Wicks in 1989 and was a Managing Partner until his Emeritus role in late 2006. Mr. Bales was a Director of McKinsey & Co. from 1978 to 1998…
David Bonderman: Fort Worth, Texas
David Bonderman, Partner in TPG, Fort Worth, Texas, is a private investor with holdings in banking, airlines, media, and other areas
William D. Budinger: Aspen, Colorado
Bill Budinger, inventor, holder of over three dozen patents, founded and served for 33 years as Chairman and CEO of Rodel, Inc., a privately held manufacturer of products for the semiconductor industry.
Louis H. Callister: Salt Lake City, Utah
Lou Callister is a founder, former chair, and currently of counsel to the law firm of Callister, Nebeker & McCullough in Salt Lake City and is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” in banking law
Mathew Garver: Atlanta, Georgia
Mathew Garver, Partner in Arcadia Capital Group, based in Atlanta, GA is a private middle market investment company. He also serves as a consultant to DLA Piper on large infrastructure development projects in the US and Europe.
William Grabe: Greenwich, Connecticut
William O. Grabe joined General Atlantic in 1992 and retired as a Managing Director in 2010. He continues to support GA in an advisory capacity. Mr. Grabe currently serves on the boards of AKQA, Quality Technology Services, Lenovo, Gartner, Inc., and Compuware Corporation.
Pam Hait: Phoenix, Arizona
Pam Hait is a writer and author and principal with STRATEGIES, a marketing firm specializing in tourism, development, Native American issues, and community relations.
John W. Milliken: Salt Lake City, Utah
John Milliken is the owner of Milcom, Inc., which was founded in 1993 to own and manage real estate investments in Utah, all of which have since been sold. Raised in the east, John spent 10 years working for W. R. Grace & Co. in New York City before moving to Utah.
Hansjörg Wyss: West Chester, Pennsylvania
Hansjörg Wyss is Chairman of Synthes, Inc., an international company that manufactures and distributes surgical implants and instruments. His success as an entrepreneur has afforded him the time and the resources to develop his skills as a true explorer.
Some links to one of America’s most controversial
EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to being a major contributor to many environmental groups, and serving on the boards of the GCT and the Wilderness Society, David Bonderman is the founder of Texas Pacific Group (TPG Capital) and is Charirman of the Board and Director of Ryanair discount airlines in Ireland…Forbes lists his private wealth at $1.9 billion.
FROM GOOGLE SEARCHES...
COAL BILL A GOLD MINE FOR PRIVATE EQUITY BARONS . ….
AN EXCERPT: Proposed clean air rules recently released by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency that aim to cut mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, while likely to benefit workers in key swing states, will also produce other, unexpected winners — private-equity heavyweights Henry Kravis and David Bonderman.
The two, whose firms have invested in an energy company that runs coal power plants, will see more than $1 billion in savings because the EPA’s proposed rules go easy on the type of coal used in their plants.
TPG AND GIC INVEST IN INDONESIAN COAL
AN EXCERPT: TPG is teaming up with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund to take a significant minority stake in Delta Dunia, a coal mining services company, in one of the largest private equity deals ever done in Indonesia.
AN EXCERPT: Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., the world’s biggest casino company, plans to build a postponed retail development next year between its Flamingo and O’Sheas casinos in Las Vegas that includes a giant Ferris wheel….Leon Black’s Apollo Management LP and David Bonderman’s TPG Inc. took Harrah’s private for $30.7 billion including debt and transaction costs in January 2008.
The Billionaires Betting On Internet Gambling
AN EXCERPT: In 2008 private equity firm Apollo Global Management, run by billionaires Leon Black, Joshua Harris and Marc Rowan, joined with TPG, the buyout shop run by billionaire David Bonderman, to purchase Harrah’s Entertainment in a massive $30 billion leveraged buyout. The deal has so far not been a good one, but Black and Bonderman are still trying to make it work. The company, now called Caesars Entertainment, has been investing heavily in its online operations and backing a new Washington D.C. lobbying effort that includes former FBI Director Louis Freeh. If online gambling in the U.S. opens for business, it would certainly help Black and Bonderman, two investing legends, get out of a tough spot.
RyanAir CEO: “Global Warming Is Bull$#it
AN EXCERPT: The CEO of Europe’s largest airline Ryanair has called global warming “bullshit” and “horseshit” in an interview with the Irish Independent. Michael O’Leary’s scathing assault on the scientific theory targeted not just the idea of global warming itself, but those who perpetuate it.
From the Irish Independent:
“Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it’s all a load of bullshit. But it’s amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 12 years, they say ‘climate change’.”
TPG Capital Forms Venture to Buy Oil and Gas Properties in North America
AN EXCERPT: TPG Capital, the private-equity firm that manages more than $47 billion, has formed a venture to buy North American oil and gas properties, starting with an acquisition in Mississippi…
DOUG MEYER is the Zephyr’s Colorado Plateau Chief, except we still don’t know what that means. He lives near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don’t forget our loyal Backbone members!