Stop Climate Coalition Collapse Chaos

The world’s biggest climate march is being held in New York on Sunday. 100,000 people are expected to attend. Similar events are being held around the world, organised by

http://peoplesclimate.org/

which is an umbrella group for a number of other organisations. A letter publicising the event in the Guardian was signed by representatives of:

Avaaz

38 Degrees

Greenpeace-UK

Tearfund

Oxfam

Save the Children

WWF-UK

The Climate Coalition

Cafod

Christian Aid

Friends of the Earth

Campaign against Climate Change

People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

The Campaign against Climate Change is at http://www.campaigncc.org/ and the Climate Coalition at http://www.theclimatecoalition.org/

Both are themselves umbrella organisations, with many of the other signatories sheltering under their umbrella

The rain it rains upon the just / As well as on the unjust fella. / But more upon upon the just because / The unjust’s stolen his umbrella.

The Climate Coalition has 11 million supporters – a figure obtained by adding up all the members of all their hundred plus supporting organisations, from Friends of the Earth to Surfers against Sewage. Details of two of the English marches in England, in London – and Stroud. are available at their site. You can sign up for the London march via Eventbrite (do you need a ticket?) and there are separate comment threads for the two marches. No comments so far.

Surfers against Sewage can be found here: http://www.sas.org.uk/

where you can see a couple of their members marching against climate chaos, complete with surf boards and faces painted blue (should that be Smurfers against  Sewage?)

They claim to belong to Stop Climate Chaos, which is the old name of the Climate Coalition, except in Ireland and Cymru. [I bet the real SAS are miffed at the smurfers having got that domain name. Or perhaps they are the real SAS? They look fit, and infiltrating dodgy political movements is right up their street, isn’t it?]

Of the other organisers:

38 Degrees has nothing to do with temperature, but refers to the angle at which avalanches start. They specialise in launching petitions, or popular referenda, as they’re called. Of the fifteen petitions on their site under the heading  “environment”, only two are about climate change: “ENERGY BILL: EMAIL YOUR MP” and “TELL NICK CLEGG TO TAKE A STAND ON CLIMATE CHANGE”, both of which are marked: “Update: This is no longer a live campaign”.

Their top environmental campaign is: “PUT AN END TO THE CRUEL CONDITIONS IN PUPPY AND KITTEN FARMING. On 4th September, MPs could take a stand against the cruel conditions many young pets are sold in. There’s a debate in parliament that could kickstart a ban on puppy and kitten farms.” 

And they invite you to click on a link marked “Get Started”.

So get started and kickstart a ban. If you can’t get Clegg to make a stand, at least kick a kitten.

Perhaps they’re trying to tap into a new market among climate activists, under the mistaken impression that there’s a popular pressure there waiting to be siphoned, and little realising that the global warming popular movement consists of Barak Obama, Bob Ward, and a half dozen other people whose names I forget, but who anyhow won’t be marching in London on Sunday.

Emma Thompson will be there. And someone called Jarvis Cocker.

Of the signatories of the letter to the Guardian, the one that caught my eye was Avaaz. According to Wiki:

“Avaaz is a global civic organization launched in January 2007 that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict; it works to ‘close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.’ The organization operates in 15 languages and claims over thirty million members in 194 countries,and The Guardian considers it “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network”.

The latter claim is pretty weird, considering that the Guardian’s survival policy depends on becoming itself  “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist network”. The claim is backed up by a reference to an article at:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/02/avaaz-activist-group-syria

which is about Avaaz’s central role in organising the Syrian resistance to the Assad regime. The article is an extended interview with “Ricken Patel, Avaaz’s Canadian-British co-founder and director” and the same Ricken is the first activist consulted at the Guardian article by science correspondent Adam Vaughan

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/08/activists-promise-biggest-climate-march-in-history

“Ricken Patel, executive director of digital campaign group Avaaz, one of the organisers of the People’s Climate March on 21 September, said: 

‘We in the movement, activists, have failed up until this point … Our goal is to mobilise the largest climate change mobilisation in history and the indications are we’re going to get there… climate change threatens us all so it brings us together.’

Nearly 400,000 have signed a call on Avaaz’s site, saying they will attend one of the global events, which also include marches in Berlin, Paris, Delhi, Rio and Melbourne… We’re building for the longterm here. This is about launching a movement that can literally save the world over the longterm. We want to build to last. We recognise that at this stage what needs be done is build political momentum behind this issue – our governments are nowhere near even the planning to reach the agreements needed to keep warming below [temperature rises of] 2°C.’”

But back to the 2012 Guardian article, which is about Avaaz’s role in an attempt to liberate western journalists in Syria which resulted in the tragic death of thirteen Syrian activists:

The tragic loss of life, combined with Avaaz’s increasingly pivotal role in the Syrian uprising, has raised inevitable doubts about such a young organisation. In particular, questions have been asked about whether an internet campaign with such a limited track record is equipped to be operating in such a brutal war zone.

The accusation of inexperience clearly irritates Ricken Patel, Avaaz’s Canadian-British co-founder and director. He stresses the personal experience of Avaaz’s senior team – the 20-odd war zones that Avaaz’s campaigns manager previously worked in; the time served by its campaign director at the US state department and Amnesty; and his own four years in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Afghanistan. ‘I spent four years right up close to this stuff, this isn’t new for me,’ Patel says as we speak in Avaaz’s New York headquarters…

Since then its internet membership has soared, doubling every year to 13.5 million. Its fundraising ability has followed suit: it has raised $3m through small donations to fund activities across the Arab spring … Initially, it was better known for its online petitions against such targets as Rupert Murdoch and climate change polluters. As time has passed it has taken more and more risks, expanding both the scale and scope of what it does – from “break the blackout” campaigns in Myanmar and Tibet, to engagement with the Arab spring uprisings in Tunisia and Libya…”

A campaign director who worked at the State Department (and Amnesty ???) and

a co-founder and director who worked in in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Afghanistan. Excuse my cynicism, but you do’t go there without State Department  permission, which means that you’re working for the CIA or one of its sister organisations.

On its website it currently boasts  38 million members. This is not impossible. There are enough Westernised democrats in Arab countries to justify this number of adherents.  But excuse me Mr CIA director if I point out that you don’t convert a billion Moslems to the cause of climate change simply by financing a website with an Arab-sounding name. A billion Arabs fed up with living under dictatorships are not going to turn to CIA-financed websites, but to the people thay know, who tend to be their local Imams, Sunnite or Shia, according to their geographical tradition.

Dear Mr CIA director, I’m all for spending the American taxpayer’s money on spreading the word for western democracy. That means plurality of ideas. But push the feudal owners of half the world’s fossil fuel resources too far, and they may begin to play the democratic card themselves.

I won’t be at the People’s Climate march in London this Sunday. Nor at Stroud. But the day I turn up at these fixtures will be the sign that I have been financed by Big Oil, or Big Sunnism, or Big Shiaism, or anyone else who is prepared to pay the rent.

Any offers?

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4 Responses to Stop Climate Coalition Collapse Chaos

  1. foxgoose says:

    Avaaz does indeed seem to be a strange organisation.

    This piece in Counterpunch suggests that heavy-duty activists are mightily pissed off that paid, professional “protest” organisers have headed off their chance of having their traditional planet-saving punch-up at the upcoming march.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/19/how-the-peoples-climate-march-became-a-corporate-pr-campaign/

    It’s also fascinating that Avaaz started life as a spin-off from MoveOn.org – set up to protect Clinton and, subsequently, to bankroll Obama’s election bid.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avaaz

    This nugget on Patel’s skill set seems to support your CIA suspicions:-

    ….”he learnt how to bring rebel forces to the negotiation table, to monitor elections (covertly), to restore public faith in once corrupt political systems and to spot when foreign forces were being manipulated.” He returned to the US and volunteered for MoveOn.org, where he learned how to use online tools for activism.

    Seems quite a … errr…. “robust”… cv for the average environmentalist. Hard to imagine our own dear activists like Monbiot & Worthington jumping out of black helicopters & rounding up warlords.

    I know you & I have vastly different political viewpoints, but the increasing tendency for governments to try and control both sides of public debate by operating “grassroots” protest movements to channel public dissent strike me as being Orwellian & truly scary.

  2. alexjc38 says:

    And don’t forget the non-physical dimension of global warming – there’s such a lot going on, this weekend. Something for everyone, from a glow-in-the-dark green Jesus down to the Pagan Environmental Coalition of NYC meeting up for refreshments at the Lovecraft Bar before they go on the march (watching out for CFACT infiltrators, as well they might):
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/pj-gladnick/2014/09/20/huffpo-devotes-religion-page-global-warming-cult-worship

    Back on the earthly plane, Emma Thompson had an emphatic message for everyone this morning on the Andrew Marr show, BBC1:

    Andrew Marr: So, Emma Thompson can get on a [diesel-powered] boat and get up to the Arctic and see it – what can the rest of people do?

    Emma Thompson: … Inform yourselves, and understand the fact that actually, even though we’re up against huge difficulties, because fossil fuels are a very, very difficult thing to give up, but we now understand that we cannot afford to use them any more – it’s as simple as that.

    You first, Emma… No, that’s okay, you first… No, I insist, after you!

  3. foxgoose says:

    Geoff – my comment of Sept 20th is still stuck in moderation.

  4. TinyCO2 says:

    As I wrote at BH, with all those causes under one umbrella, 40,000 (maybe) is not such a big number out of a possible 64 million. It doesn’t even acount for all the 0.1 million I left off.

    The unions attended as did the Women’s institute. You name it, the charities were there (probably shaking tins and trying to mug people of their mobile phone numbers.) Add the anti capitalists and the anti frackers. The march could have been called The Big Green Whinge.

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