Nature, for sale? can we trust who’s selling it?

The following is from the monthly review and believe it or not the guardian                    Murray Bookchin : Ecology and Revolutionary Thought

It seems self evident to me that capitalism cannot expand forever on a planet that is finite, A system modelled on cancer will only kill its host.

“Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly. The liberal euphemisms for the processes involved are “growth,” “industrial society” and “urban blight.” By whatever language they are described, the phenomena have their roots in the domination of man by man.”

Murray Bookchin

Nature is something we should live in harmony with right? But financial capital is trying to put a price on it, it’s mind-boggling that they think they can value the earth and then trade in earth futures? I really can’t get my head around this, we can destroy what we want and keep expanding as long as we buy teslas and plant trees.

“if we diminish variety in the natural world, we debase its unity and wholeness; we destroy the forces making for natural harmony and for a lasting equilibrium; and, what is even more significant, we introduce an absolute retrogression in the development of the natural world which may eventually render the environment unfit for advanced forms of life.”

Murray Bookchin

Monthly review lays out some of the disturbing theories on nature as capital, then we look at some of the bad actors at the forefront of promoting this crap, I start form a unbiased and totally objective viewpoint in my analysis of these crooks!

The study entitled “The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital,” published in Nature in 1997, that provided estimates of seventeen ecosystem services across sixteen biomes based on a “simple benefit transfer [or value transfer] method.” The study assumed a constant per unit dollar value per hectare of a given ecosystem type, which was then multiplied by the total area of each type to obtain aggregate values. Values were obtained by relating benefits in the human economy to analogous benefits provided by ecosystem services.
Darwin’s “complex web of relations”—to monetary terms, allowing them to be aggregated to stand for global ecosystem services as a whole, while valued/priced in terms of capitalist commodity relations.

The 1997 Costanza study was widely acclaimed among environmentalists, if only because it gave what seemed to be hard numbers to the notion that the world economy was dependent on the world ecology—now itself reduced in terms of ecosystem services to dollars. In that study, Costanza and his coauthors depicted the value of annual world ecosystem services in 1995 as $33 trillion in current dollars, slightly less than double the $18 trillion world GDP.54 The notion of natural capital valuation was further advanced in the Millennium Economic Assessment in 2005, which took as its main message the dangers of the “running down of natural capital assets” and neglect of environmental services across the globe. The United Nations was to launch a System of Environmental-Economic Accounting, utilizing the natural capital/ecosystems services approach.55 In 2014, in an updated analysis entitled “Changes in the Value of Global Ecosystem Values,” Costanza and his colleagues estimated that world ecosystem services in 2011 were equal to $145 trillion annually (in 2007 dollars), compared to a world GDP of approximately $73.6 trillion.

Yet, while current attempts to place values on nature can serve useful pedagogical roles and help enhance strategic planning, they are increasingly being integrated with goals of capital accumulation. As Friends of the Earth noted in The Financialization of Nature, “promoting ecosystem markets involves the same methodologies and institutions for pricing and trading which were developed for economic evaluation.” Thus, over the last three decades, “the history of ecosystems services research” has been accompanied by “a parallel history of ecosystem function commodification,” operating through universities, governments, and businesses, using the same language and methods of ecosystems services accounting, but further extending the analysis to the creation of actual natural-capital markets. This occurs through three steps: (1) designating an ecological process as an ecosystem service to the human economy, (2) imputing to it a single “exchange value,” and (3) establishing ownership and managerial rights so as to link users and providers of the service in a market exchange, permitting financial investment and accumulation.

For the IEG (now teamed up with the New York Stock Exchange, a minority investor in the former), the significance of the 2014 Costanza-led study of global ecosystem values is that it shows that ecosystem services have a value far exceeding that of world GDP—one that, in the context of environmental concerns, can be opened to accumulation and financial exploitation via ecosystem function commodification.  “Nature’s economy is larger than our current industrial economy and we can tap this store of wealth” based “on natural assets and the mechanism to convert them into financial assets,” thereby transforming the economy into “one that is more equitable, resilient and sustainable.” In this perspective, “intrinsic value” is used as the umbrella term for potential economic values of the natural environment that have “not yet been identified or quantified,” representing vast new openings for financial investment and wealth as the boundaries between the capitalist economy and unpriced nature erode.                                                                                                                   Although carbon trading markets were behind much of this, of near-equal importance have been initiatives associated with biodiversity and conservation. In September 2016, the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature introduced its “natural capital charter” (Motion 63) as a framework for treating all biodiversity as natural capital values. This was preceded by the global Natural Capital Protocol of multinational corporate business initiated in July 2016 by the Natural Capital Coalition (now renamed the Capitals Coalition).  The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, published in 2010 and 2011, initiated under the auspices of the Natural Capital Coalition with the support of the United Nation Environment Programme and the European Commission, was to be a heavy promoter of the valuation of natural capital.

A watershed initiative with respect to the accumulation of nature was launched by the Swiss-based global investment bank Credit Suisse, which in 2016 introduced a report on Conservation Finance: Moving Beyond Donor Funding to an Investor-Driven Approach, followed by a report that same year on Levering Ecosystems: A Business-Focused Perspective on How Debt Supports Investment in Ecosystems Services. The Credit Suisse scheme is to move beyond donor capital in conservation to construct a “conservation finance space.” The key here is to reorganize conservation finance to create in each case a definite “financial vehicle” or company, controlling the natural capital/ecosystem services, which would generate major financial returns to investors. The goal is to turn ecosystem services into “an asset treasured by the mainstream investment market.”  This was the basis for the NACs listing on the New York Stock Exchange, which used the same methodology of creating a “financial vehicle” or “natural assets company” as an intermediary in the conversion of a “natural asset” into “financial capital” consecrated by the launch of an Initial Public Offering of the natural asset company.

So this is were it gets surreal, Credit Suisse bank guiding global climate policy towards a “conservationation finance” why the fuck should be trust them to sell nature.

“The very idea that nature is an object to be dominated by man stems ultimately to begin with from the very domination of human by human, and throughout history we have been projecting our social relationships, the way we have visualised our society, onto the natural world”

Murray Bookchin

Credit Suisse was publicly contrite after being kicked off a sustainable investment index over the affair. “We understand that the index was not really happy with us being involved with Abacha (see below) – we were not happy ourselves,” a spokesperson said in 1999.
Over the past three decades, Credit Suisse has faced at least a dozen penalties and sanctions for offences involving tax evasion, money laundering, the deliberate violation of US sanctions and frauds carried out against its own customers that span multiple decades and jurisdictions. In total, it has racked up more than $4.2bn in fines or settlements.

Sani Abacha – the hunt for the billions stolen by Nigeria’s ex-leader
January 2021

That includes the $2.6bn the Swiss bank agreed to pay US authorities after pleading guilty to conspiring to aid tax evasion in 2014; the $536m it was fined by the US five years before for deliberately circumventing US sanctions against countries including Iran and Sudan in 2009, and other payouts to Germany and Italy over tax evasion allegations.

The bank likes to say it’s just rogue bankers. But how many rogue bankers do you need to have before you start having a rogue bank?” he said. Neiman alleges there has been a culture at the bank “which encourages its bankers probably from the top down to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, bury their heads in the sand on a good day, and on many days, actively assist folks to skirt whatever the law may be in order to best protect assets under management”.”

I started reading about how the rich are trying to wriggle out of repairing the mess their greed has dumped on us, only to find that their solutions are influenced by some of the corrupt bastards on the earth

Over the past three decades, Credit Suisse has faced at least a dozen penalties and sanctions for offences involving tax evasion, money laundering, the deliberate violation of US sanctions and frauds carried out against its own customers that span multiple decades and jurisdictions. In total, it has racked up more than $4.2bn in fines or settlements.

Is this really who will stop the world ending?

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