In the nineteenth century commercial flows of oil began to be utilized in America. Oil was largely used for kerosene lamps and later began to be used in early automobiles. John D. Rockefeller could see its potential and began a refinery, which was being supplied by many smaller oil drills in America. The oil industry was unstable, and this made Rockefeller’s business of refining and marketing of oil products difficult to predictively control. Eventually he decided to buy as many of the oil wells as he could, to ensure that the supply of oil was more efficient. Rockefeller achieved this by reaching an agreement with a rail transport company for a discounted rate for guaranteed oil cargo. This discount put independent oil drillers out of business, as they couldn’t transport oil at this cheaper rate. Rockefeller bought most of these wells at reduced prices, putting many people out of their jobs.
By the early twentieth century, Rockefeller had control of 90% of the world’s oil market. He was able to circumvent America’s monopoly laws by hiding his activity. He set up false competitor corporations, that were owned by his company called Standard Oil. It was very hard to detect this due to long trails of commercial arrangements that hid the connection between the many interests of Standard Oil. Eventually, public opinion toward Rockefeller grew very sour. They resented his massive wealth. He had become the first billionaire in world history. They resented the pain his monopoly caused to many workers he had put out of business and to their families. The American government finally decided his monopoly must be broken up and Standard Oil was split into several smaller companies. Rockefeller had shares in these companies and his wealth continued to grow greatly.
His son, David Rockefeller, realised the significance of public opinion and set to work to give the Rockefeller family a better public name as their businesses and investments grew. They entered the tradition of philanthropy, and up until today the Rockefeller name is widely known for their philanthropic causes that are hugely extensive in America and around the world, investing billions of dollars in many causes to lift the public good. Their philanthropy began in education, setting up schools and building or sponsoring universities. They didn’t just give grants to education, but they directed the uses their grants were put to, the kind of education that was established. That is, their philanthropy gave them huge influence in the education sector and in every other sector they would invest into in the years to come. Today, they continue to invest massively in the university sector around the world, extensively participating in the direction of academia. That is, much of their investment is targeted towards certain fields of research and grants are given to researchers who are working in the Rockefeller Foundation’s desired fields and aspirations.
The foundation also invested in medical research, using the chemicals in oil to produce pharmaceuticals. This was seen as a great benefit to the nation. But like the monopolist nature of Standard Oil, the pharmaceutical industry began to take control of medicine and health in America and around the world, earning the foundation huge sums of money. This was philanthropy that made very significant profits. Till today, pharmaceuticals are priced very highly, well above their real cost, available only to those who can pay for them, unless governments step in to pay for others. Until recently, when India moved into the market and made cheaper version of pharmaceuticals, most people couldn’t afford lifesaving drugs. Pharmaceutical monopolies developed no effective care for the poor.
The Rockefeller Foundation also invested in chemical fertilizers, an offshoot from oil products. This was to enable masses of people in increase their yield in farming, as a philanthropic effort towards the poorer millions in the world. Fertilizers swamped the market, not only being used by local farmers, but also by large farming corporations that took large portions of farming land, including farming corporations the Rockefeller Foundation had an interest in. Huge profits were made, not only in the sale of fertilizer, but also in large-scale farming. New techniques in agriculture were also promoted through Rockefeller’s educational influence. The claim was that with fertilizer and large-scale farming we could feed the masses and save them from starvation (and panic about population growth served this business as well). This has since been shown to be false. An overuse of fertilizers has degraded our soils, increasing poverty and conflict in many regions, as farming corporations have displaced people from land and food markets.
The foundation also invested in genetically modified (GM) farming. This included new seeds for higher yields, again as a service to poorer farmers and to the masses needing food. This technology has taken over in parts of the farming industry, but it leaves poorer farmers dependent on the seed producers. Each year they must repurchase seed, as GM crops do not produce reusable seed. The industry controls seed, which looks more like Pharaoh than God’s good creation. This is an industry designed towards a practical monopoly, to make massive profits. However, GM seeds, the insecticides and the fertilizers that are used in large scale farming, all work to deplete the region of its natural ecosystems and natural composting of the soils. This, in the long run, brings poverty to the farming sector, to local communities. and destruction to the natural environment.
The best way to support the poor and support farming is to build local community, rather than destroy community through big business interests taking over farming and marketing of food. “Efficiencies” in food marketing mean community and family farmers are being pushed out. The same thing is happening to local farmers, that happened to smaller scale oil produces when Standard Oil took over. We have seen this practical monopoly encroach into education, health and the farming sectors, for an “efficiency” that enables us to compete as empire in the world. Large agricultural organisations making deals with large grocery-store franchises put local families out of business. Neither the large farming companies nor the large marketing stores care for the environment. More importantly, when we lose our local community, we impoverish the whole structure of our families and wider society. No wonder Isaiah said that environmental restoration comes from the ground up, by reconciling with and restoring community and the interests of the poor.
Later in the twentieth century, the Rockefeller Foundation began to shift attention to environmentalism, and especially to what was called “global warming,” or now called “climate change.” It invests large sums of money into climate research, through many of the corporations and educational or scientific research institutions where it has influence. The “climate lobby” also supports climate activism on student campuses, or other global activist movements. The climate lobby supports media spokespeople and politicians. Politicians move government support into climate research or even into legislation. It is not just the Rockefeller Foundation that supports the climate lobby, but a consortium of billionaires, like the Rothchild’s and George Soros. It’s not always clear to the public where climate lobby support comes from, as related organisations are set up and the finance trail isn’t apparent. Activists are made to look like grassroots individuals, but they are often orchestrated and sponsored by corporate interests.
There is a large divestment strategy in place, with the Rockefeller Foundation sponsoring attempts to force companies to divest funds from the fossil fuel industry and is bringing a government action against EXXON Oil and Gas. People with little personal money are suing huge corporations that have expensive legal teams, to make them shift their funds out of fossil fuels, in legal actions obviously financed by the climate lobby. Many such legal actions are going on around the world against fossil fuel corporations. The lobby has so far succeeded in moving trillions of dollars out of the oil industry.
Meanwhile, investment is being made in “environmentally friendly technologies,” and the moving of trillions of dollars into these industries enhances their market value for investors. With this increased funding, the wealthy are sponsoring United Nations programs that support the climate lobby. The United Nations and Non Governmental Organizations are becoming more dependent on the climate lobby and its business interests. This heavily financed business sector is increasingly directing global policy. Governments are more impotent in curtailing these corporations, in taxing them to fund the poor, or in responding to media and professional debate. Governments are less able to curtail the growth of monopoly interests in new technology sectors. That is, weaker governments and a stronger United Nations, more dependent on business funding and lobbying, is often in the interests of huge billion-dollar fund managers from around the world.
This move towards a “global government,” directed more by large investment portfolios than by local people and their governments, is scary to many people. This is one reason for the kick back in Brexit and in electing nationalist governments like Donald Trump’s. “Petrol makes our nation strong,” it is said, and keeping the jobs of constituents in fossil fuel related industries is important. However, it is unlikely that nationalist governments will genuinely represent the middle class or the poor, but instead will support traditional big business. Yet, many see the climate lobby producing a “new world order,” which will replace the petrodollar. They see this new movement as anti-American, opposed to the American constitution, breaking down American sovereignty, which its politicians are sworn to uphold. Many see the United Nations, the media, and the professional class in the environmental lobby, as non-democratic, forced upon the world by a new order. They see this as a breakdown in grassroots democracy. The voting public feel they have lost their franchise to political correctness and lobbyists supported by new global markets.
There is certainly a “bullying” about the climate lobby. There is a fear that this bullying will spread into other areas of our personal lives, forcing us into mindsets and lifestyles that we have not chosen for ourselves, but will become part of a new cultural mandate. Add to this the growing surveillance technology of our time, people are becoming uncertain about the kind of world we are building. This fear is producing more polarisation in our views and relationships.
Many Christians also add in speculations about “end-times,” which are not only false but also very unhelpful, making the situation even more polarising. “End-times” speculations are self-serving and have always been employed in the support of national interests, where the main concern is the perceived collapse to our own lives, when collapse has been happening to millions of other people for generations. A better response would be Isaiah’s vision of reconciling community through grassroots restoration of environmental and social conditions. This isn’t motivated by big business, but by the cross of Jesus Christ, in a new self-giving kingdom, which rejects the greed of the old world, that exists in both the “old world order” and a proposed “new world order.” Both these orders are old, compared to the newness of Christ’s faith, hope and love, which is making our world new.
Allan Savory is a leading researcher into desertification around the world. He notes the increasing rate of desertification on all continents. After many mistakes over his career, Allan has now proven techniques in turning around desertification in many nations. His methods have been adopted by thousands of people, as well as by the Zimbabwean government, yet his research receives no funding from environmental organisations and is not accepted, nor taught in universities. See www.savory.global
For years, scientists believed that cattle were responsible for destroying the land. Allan has found the opposite is true. It is large scale movement of cattle that rehabilitates the land. Moving cattle in large groups prevents overgrazing and breaks up the soils. Their urine and manure provide the fertilizer the soils need. This soil can retain moisture and sustain grasslands. Whole ecosystems have been restored, including clean water streams, the return of important trees, rich wild animal life, and sustainable community providing enough food, as well as income from food sales. Allan claims this is the only way desertification can be stopped and reversed. He also claims that poor agricultural techniques are more destructive that coal mining or any other extraction industry.
In European feudal life, the commons land, which held the common people’s livestock, was rotated with crop land every few years. When Europeans came to Australia, they introduced private property rights and fencing. The loss of integration in farming techniques, or what Savory calls “holistic management,” has been substituted with chemical farming, which has had many negative impacts on the environment. We try to overcome these impacts with further technology, rather than finding ways to return to integrative patterns in farming, as nature intended.
If we follow this way in Nigeria, fencing cattle away on distant ranches, our agricultural and social relationships will deteriorate even further. Communities are richer as we stay together. Building larger cities, while rural human communities deplete, is not good for rural land. It robs our farms of their diverse inputs, which brings them to rely on chemicals. Humans and their integrated relationships then are not bad for rural environment, but good.