In a heightened extension of market perversity, the United Nations has bought into and is promoting the idea of carbon offsets and markets as a means to preserve forests worldwide. The process works like this: Corporation X can "offset" their polluting by purchasing a forest elsewhere thereby preserving, or so say the promoters of this scheme, the ecological integrity and biodiversity of the environment, and offer economic incentives to indigenous people who happen to inhabit the purchased forest.
The head of the World Bank supports this plan (of course, he also promoted The New American Century which lead us to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars), The president of Ecuador supports this plan asserting against all evidence to the contrary that the "owner entities" of the world's forests "can be controlled," and more disturbing except as evidence of the desperation of caring people the world over, Jane Goodall supports this scheme.
Many indigenous peoples the world over are less enthusiastic. They wonder by what authority their lands are being sold out from beneath them? Unable to produce a recognizable deed--thousands of years of stories, traditions, and stewardship don't count to those whose imagination has been shaped by an affirmation of individuality via purchases in the market--these folks face the prospect of becoming squatters on their own land.
Any hint at regulations designed to limit market intrusion/greed are met with dire warnings of the failures of centralized economies or diminished as mere wishful thinking. The market is how the world works these days. You might wish it otherwise, but we have to be reality focused. This argument passes muster the world over and so accustomed are we to this bludgeoning that we are reduced to shouting, "Thank you sir! May I have another?"
Eclipsed in this abusive dynamic, what Naomi Klein has aptly called disaster capitalism in her book The Shock Doctrine, are any ideas of meaningful change. The market may be how the world works, but carbon offsets and markets never ask the question, For whom does this world work? Issues are framed to preserve current power structures; wealth continues to get transferred upward, Shell Oil continues to buy governments (see here), corporations continue to pollute, and people of the land, stewards of the Earth, become displaced, illegal, and unwanted.
All this is, the enthusiastic cheering to the contrary, nothing new. What is being preserved is the ability of transnational business to out maneuver governments the world over, to shape markets exclusively toward "bottom line" considerations, and to lull us into a guilt ridden sleep. I just might need that cup of coffee!