“Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War” – Plato.
This wisdom is as valid today as it was 2,500 years ago. Wars go on and on. They are exactly the anti-dote of sustainability. Though, they may be the only “sustainability” modern mankind knows – endless destruction, killing, shameless exploitation of Mother Earth and its sentient beings, including humans.
Yes, we are hellbent towards “sustainably”, destroying our planet and all its living beings, with wars and conflicts and shameless exploitation of Mother Earth – and the people who have peacefully inhabited her lands for thousands of years.
All for greed, and more greed. Greed and destruction are certainly “unsustainable” features of our western “civilization”. Not to worry, in the grand scheme of things, Mother Earth will survive. She will cleanse herself by shaking and shedding off the destroyers, the annihilators – mankind. Only the brave will survive. Indigenous people, who have abstained from abject consumerism and instead worshipped Mother Earth and expressed their gratitude to her daily gifts. There are not many such societies left on our planet.
In the meantime, we lie about the sustainability we live in. We lie to ourselves and to the public at large around us. We make believe sustainability is our cause – and we use the term freely and constantly. Most of us don’t even know what it is supposed to mean. “Sustainability” and “sustainable” anything and everything have become slogans; or household words.
Such buzz-words, repeated over and over again, are made for promoting ideas, and for bending people’s minds to believe in something that isn’t.
We pretend and say that we work sustainably, we develop – just about anything we touch – sustainably, and we project the future in a most sustainable way. That’s what we are made to believe by those who coined this most fabulously clever, but untrue term. It is the 101 of a psycho-factory.
As Voltaire so pointedly said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities; can make you commit atrocities.”
Sustainability. What does it mean? It has about as many interpretations as there are people who use the term – namely none specific. It sounds good. Because it has become – well, a household word, ever since the World Bank invented, or rather diverted the term for “sustainable development” in the 1990s, in connection, first, with Global Warming, then with Climate Change – and now back to both.
Imagine! – There was a time at the World Bank – and possibly other institutions, when every page of almost every report had to contain at least once the word “sustainable”, or “sustainability”. Yes, that’s the extent of insanity propagated then – and today, it follows on a global scale, more sophisticated – the corporate world, the mega-polluters make it their buzz-word – our business is sustainable, and we with our products promote sustainability – worldwide.
In fact, sustainable, sustainable growth, sustainable development, sustainable this and sustainable that – was originally coined by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit – held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.
The summit is intimately linked to the subsequent drive on Global Warming and Climate Change. It exuded projections of sea level risings, of disappearing cities and land strips, like Florida and New York City, as well as parts of California and many coastal areas and towns in Africa and Asia. It painted endless disasters, droughts, floods and famine as their consequence, if we – mankind – didn’t act. This first of a series of UN environment / climate summits is also closely connected with the UN Agendas 2021 and 2030. The UN Agenda 2030 incorporates or uses as main vehicle – the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.
In a special UN Conference in 2016, Bill Gates was able to introduce into the 16th SDG “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, the 9th of the 12 sub-targets – “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.”
These 17 sustainable development goals, are all driving towards a Green Agenda, or as some prominent “left” US Democrat-political figures call it, the New Green Deal. It is nothing else but capitalism painted Green, at a horrendous cost for mankind and for the resources of the world. But it is sold under the label of creating a more sustainable world.
Never mind, the enormous amounts of hydrocarbons – the key polluter itself – that will be needed to convert our “black” economy into a Green economy. Simply because we have not developed effective and efficient alternative sources of energy. The main reasons for this are the strong and politically powerful hydrocarbon lobbies.
The energy cost (hydrocarbon-energy from oil and coal) of producing solar panels and windmills is astounding. So, today’s electric cars – Tesla and Co. – are still driven by hydrocarbon produced electricity – plus their batteries made from lithium destroy pristine landscapes, like huge natural salt flats in Bolivia, Argentina, China and elsewhere. The use of these sources of energy is everything but “sustainable”.
According to a study by the European Association for Battery Electric Vehicles commissioned by the European Commission (EC), “The ‘Well-to-Tank’ energy efficiency (from the primary energy source to the electrical plug), taking into account the energy consumed by the production and distribution of the electricity, is estimated at around 37%.“https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/themes/strategies/
See also Michael Moore’s film “Planet of the Humans” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE&feature=emb_title .
Hydrogen power is promoted as the panacea of future energy resources. But is it really? Hydrocarbons or fossil fuels today amount to 80% of all energy used worldwide. This is non-renewable and highly polluting energy. Today to produce hydrogen is still mostly dependent on fossil fuels, similar to electricity.
As long as we have purely profit-fueled hydrocarbon lobbies that prevent governments collectively to invest in alternative energy research, like solar energy of the 2nd Generation, i.e. derived from photosynthesis (what plants do), hydrogen production uses more fossil fuels than using straight gas or petrol-derived fuels. Therefore hydrogen, say a hydrogen-driven car, maybe as much as 40% – 50% less efficient than would be a straight electric car. The burden on the environment can be considerably higher. Thus, not sustainable with today’s technology.
To enhance your belief in their slogans of “sustainability”, they put up some windmills or solar cells in the “backyard” of their land- and landscape devastating coal mines. They will be filmed for propaganda purposes along with their “sustainable” buzz-words.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the IMF are fully committed to the idea of the New Green Deal. For them it is not unfettered neoliberal capitalism – and extreme consumerism emanating from it, that is the cause for the world’s environmental and societal breakdown, but the use of polluting energies, like hydrocarbons. They seem to ignore the enormous fossil fuel use to convert to a green energy-driven economy. Or, are they really not aware? Capitalism is OK, we just have to paint it green (see this https://www.globalresearch.ca/great-reset-revisited/5723573, and this https://www.globalresearch.ca/iwf-und-wef-vom-grosen-lockdown-zur-grosen-transformation-covid-19-und-die-folgen/5724357 .
Let’s look at what else is “sustainable”- or not.
Water use and privatization – Coca Cola tells us their addictive and potentially diabetes-causing soft drinks are produced “sustainably”. They tout sustainability as their sales promotion all over the world. “Our business is sustainable from A to Z. Coco Cola follows a business culture of sustainability.”
They use enormous amounts of pristine clean drinking water – and so does Nestlé to further promote its number One business branch, bottled water. Nestlé has overtaken Coca Cola as the world number One in bottled water. They both use primarily subterranean sources of drinking water – least costly and often rich in minerals. Both of them have made or are about to sign agreements with Brazil’s President to exploit the world’s largest freshwater aquifer, the Guarani, underlaying Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. They both proclaim sustainability.
Both Coca Cola and Nestlé have horror stories in the Global South (i.e. India, Brazil, Mexico and others), as well as in the Global North. Nestlé is in a battle with the municipality of the tiny Osceola Township, in Michigan, where residents complain the Swiss company’s water extraction techniques are ruining the environment. Nestlé pays the State of Michigan US$ 200 to extract 130 million gallons of water per year (2018).
Through over-exploitation both in the Global South and the Global North, especially in the summer, the water table sinks to unattainable levels for the local populations – which are deprived of their water source. Protesting with their government or city officials is often in vain. Corruption is all overarching. – Nothing sustainable here.
These are just two examples of privatizing water for bottling purposes. Privatization of public water supply on a much larger scale is at the core of the issue, carried out mostly in developing countries (the Global South), mainly by French, British, Spanish and US water corporations.
Privatization of water is a socially most unsustainable feat, as it deprives the public, especially the poor, from access to their legitimate water resources. Water is a public good – and water is also a basic human right. On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.
The public water use of Nestlé and Coca Cola – and many others, mind you, doesn’t even take account of the trillions of used plastic bottles ending up as uncollected and non-recycled waste, in the sea, fields, forests and on the road sides. Worldwide less than 8% of plastic bottles are recycled. Therefore, nothing of what Nestlé and Coca Cola practice and profess is sustainable. It’s an outright lie.
Petrol industry – BP with its green business emblem, makes believe – visually, every time you pass a BP station – that they are green. PB proclaims that their oil exploration and exploitation is green and environmentally sustainable.
Let’s look at reality. The so far considered largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It was a giant industrial disaster that started on April 20, 2010 and lasted to 19 September 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico on the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, spilling about 780,000 cubic meter of raw petroleum over an area of up to 180,000 square kilometers. BP promised a full cleanup. By February 2015 they declared task completed. In reality, two thirds of the spilled oil still remains in the sea and as toxic tar junks along the sea shore and beaches; they have not been cleaned up – and may never be removed. – Where is the sustainability of their promise? Another outright lie.
BP and other oil corporations also have horrendous human rights records – just about everywhere they operate, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, but also in Asia. The abrogation of human rights is also an abrogation of sustainability.
In this essay BP is used as an example for the petrol industry. None of the petrol giants operate sustainably anywhere in the world, and least where water table-destructive fracking is practiced.
Sustainable mining – is another flagrant lie. But it sells well to the blinded people. And most of the civilized world is blinded. Unfortunately. They want to continue in their comfort zone which includes the use of copper, gold and other precious metals and stones, rare earths for ever more sophisticated electronic gear, gadgets and especially military electronically guided precision weaponry – as well as hydrocarbons in one way or another.
Sustainable mining of anything unrenewable is a Big Oxymoron. Anything you take from the earth that is non-renewable is by its nature not sustainable. It’s simply gone. Forever. In addition to the raw material not being renewable, the environmental damage caused by mining – especially gold and copper – is horrendous. Once a mine is exploited in a short 30- or 40-years’ concession, the mining company leaves mountains of contaminated waste, soil and water behind – that takes a thousand years or more to regenerate.
Yet, the industry’s palaver is “sustainability”, and the public buys it.
In fact, our civilization’s sustainability is zero. Aside from the pollution, poisoning and intoxication that we leave around us, our mostly western civilization has used natural resources at the rate of 3 to 4 times in excess of what Mother Earth so generally provides us with. We, the west, had passed the threshold of One in the mid-sixties. In Africa and most of Asia, the rate of depletion is still way below the factor of One, on average somewhere between 0.4 and 0.6.
“Sustainability” is a flash-word, has no meaning in our western civilization. It is pure deception – self-deception, so we may continue with our unsustainable ways of life. That’s what profit-bound capitalism does. It lives today with ever more consumerism, more luxury for the ever-fewer oligarchs – on the resources of tomorrow.
The sustainability of everything is not only a cheap slogan, it’s a ruinous self-deception. A Global Great Reset is indeed needed – but not according to the methods of the IMF and WEF. They would just shovel more resources and assets from the bottom 99.99% to the top few, painting the “new” capitalism a shiny bright green – and fooling the masses. We, The People, must take The Reset in our own hands, with consciousness and responsibility.
So, We the People, forget sustainable but act responsibly.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.