El Precalentamiento del Capitán Planeta…Al Gore coming to Chile
AL GORE!, former vice president of the United States, loser candidate for president who was probably just misunderstood, winner of the 2007 Oscar for Documentary feature for the global climate change flick, Inconvenient Truth, father of daughters who attended the elite National Cathedral School (NCS) of Washington DC (one got busted for smoking pot (gasp!). The other daughter wrote copy for the television shows Futurama and Saturday Night Live.
Gore comes to South America on May 11, visiting Buenos Aires for a conference in the morning, and Chile, for a half hour of speech, a half hour of questions and 15 minutes with the president, in the afternoon. He is trying to grab the 11pm flight out of the continent.
All for $200,000 dollars. Luckily there are so many millionaires in Chile, like the populist presidential candidate for 2009, Sebastian Piñera (valued by Forbes at 1.2 billion), and studious businessmen who will be sniffing this conference out for opportunity or trends.
Piñera is the defacto host of Gore’s trip here, related closely to two of the three official hosts, Chilevision, which he owns, and Oikoscorpchile, an organization linked by family ties, through William Thayer, a former minister and Christian Democrat.
Furthermore, Piñera may best represent the paradigms presented by global climate change: capitalism, consumption, search for market incentives to behavioral change and the relationships between first and third world nations. It is commented that he is brilliant as he is arrogant and “mal educado.”
Piñera was on the vanguard of the spirit of Pinochet’s popular capitalism, bringing Mastercards and ATM machines to Chile in the early 80’s. He currently sits in the cockpit of LAN Chile Airlines, a company that has recently announced a 5 billion dollar investment over five years for the purchase of 52 new planes for its fleet expansion. He is the lead investor in one of the first soccer teams, Colo-Colo, to go public and sell its shares on the stock market. Piñera is one of those guys whose yacht has a helicopter landing pad.
The recent owner of the Tantauco National Park (purchased it from Jeremiah Henderson, a US timber magnate), which encompasses over 100,000 hectares, or about 200,000 acres of land on the southern tip of the island of Chiloe. My personal theory is that he will use the park’s capacity to capture carbon emissions that are generated by his airline, LAN Chile, thus saving money in the case of any international agreement forcing carbon offsets. The rich Pacific waters surrounding the tip of this island is the area are the breeding ground for the Blue Whale. Last year, twenty-three were sighted by the CCC, the Center for Whale Conservation.
OikosChileCorp, the second official host of the encounter is, is a curious entity which states as its mission: “more than a conservationist NGO, OikosChileCorp is a paradigm which promotes conservation from a positive and all-encompassing viewpoint, with the inclusion of the different variables implied in development: Triple Bottom Line:
Business development, Social Development, and Environmental Sustainability.”
Also, “We are the projection of intelligence in the Social value of a Company.”
Who to Trust?
What does this mean? Note the order of priorities. Is this some sort of visionary business-speak projecting a new business model to the world? Are these business people who have realized that the time has come to stop an economic model based upon rampant exploitation and seek out some other more “harmonious” relationship between man and nature. Are they just seeking a vision into the future of business, and climate change has been vaulted into a significant enough realm that the studious, religious, conservative and value-oriented business community in Santiago de Chile are looking at with a keen eye.
An experienced lawyer in mining and environmental issues indicated to me that Oikos is a group of people who don’t have experience in these matters. Although, there is a similarly named organization which provides environmental analysis and evaluation, since the 1990’s.
“This organization is brand new, an ad-hoc vehicle for fundraising and initiatives like this.” This lawyer also pointed out the family relationship between Piñera and the associate William Thayer.
Frankly, their website sounds like a cross between dianetics and a science-fiction novel…or some fictional creation of Kurt Vonnegut (RIP). Thus my suspicions.
Is this a fad, and the rich now are into conservation, now that they have already bought up their large pieces of land, converted them into productive entities, razing or flooding forests and now, recently, find it laudable to seek a Chilean identity through conservation of its land? (It took a fucking American, among others, Douglas Tompkins, to shame Chileans into conserving and not exploiting the rich variety of eco-systems present in the country.) Just the other day, a couple hundred fair-skinned and well-dressed people packed an auditorium in the wealthy neighborhood of Vitacura to drink wine more expensive than I can buy and clap politely for the presentation of the $140 dollar photography book of the Parks of Chile which highlights the work of Guy Wenborne, whose rich aerial photographs are the some of the most elegant exponents of Chile’s natural landscapes.
How is one to “trust” the motives of the people who have prepared this grandiose, and immensely exclusive event for Gore. Entrance fees vary between US$ 140 and US$180. There are 1600 seats.
How can one trust this sort of organization, Oikoschile, with someone like Fernando Léniz as a declared associate? To start with, he was the general manager of the right-wing newspaper El Mercurio, which received cash from the CIA before the coup in 1973, and he has been fingered as the actor who managed the relationship. Shortly thereafter, he was the head of the Corma, or, the Corporación Nacional de Madera, during times of Pinochet, when the most aggressive development of the forestry industry took place, thus wiping out thousands of acres of old-growth forest. Maybe he was an environmentalist after all.
Barrick Gold and Pascua Lama
How is one to trust this sort of organization which initially had Barrick Gold contributing USD$50,000 for projects which aim to increase conscience and knowledge about climate change and the environmental conservation.
Upon finding out that Barrick was a sponsor, the Gore camp forced them out, saying that they were not advised about their presence. It would have been an egregious error not to have acted.
Barrick is developing Pascua Lama, which is to be the largest gold mine in the world, and to date represents the largest investment in Latin America in the mining sector, at 2.4 billion dollars.
It is a company rightly villified, and has inspired protests, international and (here too) community organization, chain letters which circulate the world, as well as numerous documentaries, some of which are in the works right now, AND NEED FINANCING (See Lauren Rosenfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org). They have played dirty since the beginning.
Original plans called for the “transplant” of a glaciar, which they had initially called an “ice field,” in order to mine the earth for the gold below, at an elevation of 4500 meters. Chemical processes involved in the mining threatened the water supply of the fertile agricultural valley below, an oasis in an otherwise dry region. Their waste dump is going to be placed on a rock glaciar, which is a dense mixture of rock and ice.
Furthermore, the company has resorted to questionable land acquisition tactics. One emblematic case is that of the property owner who apparently sold his land, about 20,000 acres, for 20 dollars. This man since regained his land back in litigation. In another case, the Agricultural Community of Huasco Altinos is in litigation attempting to regain their rights to almost 200,000 acres of land deeded in 1903 and at risk of loss to the land purchasers of Pascua Lama, according to conversations with local environmental authorities.
Don’t listen to me though, just go to Barrick’s Q and A site which provides lots of clear and rational explanations for this whole fuss.
The DGA (Dirección General de Aguas) or State Water Authority, states that the construction of the mine has already destroyed between 50% and 70% of the glaciars Toro I and II, specifically indicating that these reductions in glaciar size are not due to global climate change, indicating it comes from the soil particulates which are covering the glaciars, enhancing there melting.
So, that Barrick was accepted to be a sponsor of this event for me indicates the lack of criteria, or, alternatively, the priorities of these businessmen organizing the event.
Who am I to trust? How can I begin to trust this new flock of Chilean visionary businessmen if I can’t even get into the conference? Is climate change and Al Gore too cool?
Anybody want to sponsor me? Only 180 bucks.