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Harvard: Capitalist Think Tank Invests in Water to Profit From Climate Change

Started by Richard Mellor, December 12, 2018, 11:13:31 am

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Richard Mellor

Harvard: Capitalist Think Tank Invests in Water to Profit From Climate Change

Harvard's Paso Robles Wineries: Source Bloomberg
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

It is a barbaric civilization indeed that affords the fruits of human intellectual and physical labor like healthcare to people on the basis of how much they can pay for it. But capitalism is barbarism. Education, energy, transportation to name a few, none of these social necessities should be a business, be run on the basis of profit.

But I read some months ago about a major corporation that is in the education business buying land in Latin America as an investment also implying it is participating in agriculture which, should be an important human activity. It seems that this corporation, Harvard University, is using its $39 billion endowment fund to buy up thousands of acres in the California Central Coastal Valley and with the land purchases comes water rights and there are huge supplies here.  Harvard is paying above market prices for the land and initially small concerns in the area had no idea who the buyer was.

Harvard is intending to use the land and its water source for vineyards that have now reached $305 million in value according to the Wall Street Journal. Leaving aside what the purchases will do for land prices, there are many small operations as well as some San Luis Obispo officials who are concerned that Harvard?s wine businesses will use up water and have a negative affect on the entire community. The California Central Coast has ?experienced drought conditions for 30% of the past two decades compared to 14% for the past 100 years?, the Journal adds. What Harvard, a capitalist think tank, is doing is taking land that should be public and using it to make money to produce a commodity based solely on that commodities profit potential so it can educate more members of the ruling class in the decades ahead.

What the US ruling class refers to as ?freedom? gives this huge private corporation and its billionaire owners the right to own land and what?s under it and refuse to disclose any details of its activity.  Harvard has a policy not to discuss its individual investments apparently.  Harvard spokespersons do admit that it is investing in natural resources like land, ?..because we believe its physical products (in this case water) are going to be in increasing demand in the global economy in the coming decades.? The reader should think climate change and global warming here. Harvard, as a capitalist institution and intellectual center recognizes that climate change is real, it is socially destructive and are moving to take advantage of it as there is nothing capitalism can do to halt this looming global catastrophe that threatens the human species. Capital thinks short term, as Barak Obama?s friend Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago says, ?You never want a serious crisis to go to waste??

Other sections of the capitalist class will all be frothing at the mouth with Harvard?s entrance in to what it calls agriculture as for some chaos will ensure, ?the best property with the best water will sell for record breaking prices and properties without adequate water will suffer in value? says one real estate appraiser. So the small winery owner or farmer and there?s precious few of them, will be driven out of business though some of them will get good prices for the land. Hedge fund managers and other social parasites are investing in this way.

There have been complaints from some local residents living in the vicinity of Harvard?s land that vineyards that Harvard planted in 2012 have caused residential wells to run dry. Harvard now owns thousands of acres in the area. One small family owned vineyard owner is concerned that there is no way that the inflated prices Harvard paid for the land makes ?economic sense? if all the education corporation wants to do is ?grow and sell grapes?  A Harvard official maintains that all of this activity is purely ?agricultural in nature?.

In 2014 California governor Jerry Brown introduced legislation aimed at preventing water depletion in the area including the water under Harvard?s land and gave until 2020 to draw up the plans top do that.  So here?s what happened in 2017 per the WSJ:
?To help write those water plans the big landowners in Shandon (the area in question) voted in 2017 to create their own water district governed by a five member committee?.?  Matt Turrentine, a local former grape broker who quit the business and is the agent and land purchaser for Harvard is on that committee. So big business all around decides what we grow what we eat, what we do with a precious natural resource like land.

This is not unlike the BP crisis a few years ago when government regulators handed over the writing of deep water drilling regulations to the energy industry. If I recall the NY Times reported at the time that the rules were written in pencil. The point at when the US working class tires of this abuse is getting closer and not too late hopefully.

Harvard has applied to build three large reservoirs in one of its vineyards in the Cuyama Valley and there have been some objections from other small local producers concerned that Harvard will simply send the water to the cities leaving water more scare local, driving up prices and likely driving small producers out as well.

Water, land, and how we use it, what we grow on it and its use in general should not be in the hands of private corporations like Harvard and determined by profit as opposed for use, for human need and in a way that is in harmony with nature. Harvard is lying when its mouthpieces, pimps really, talk of it being involved in agriculture, it is involved in creating profits. Are more vineyards what we need? Do we need to grow anything at all on it especially as agricultural production in California central valley is wholly artificial, imported water, imported labor and chemicals; It?s a desert remember.

One thing is certain to me, this move by Harvard is to protect its business interests in the wake of global warming and water shortages. It will harm the environment of this beautiful state further.  Capitalism has historically taken public land and by that I mean land held in common and driven its occupiers from it with violence and with catastrophic consequences, from the enclosure of the commons in Britain and the genocidal wars to drive Native Americans from the land here in the US including slaughtering their food supply.

Capitalism cannot not do this no matter what its liberal wing says about Climate Change. Capitalism is a growth system and growth and accumulation of capital comes before the long term health of the environment. "A farmer has a right to farm and can utilize the water under their property" says a Harvard consultant defending the farce that Harvard is a farmer but reminding us that everything is a commodity and capitalist private property rights are sacred. Of course, if the average person wants to farm in California they are free to do so----if they have the money.

This land that is a natural resource should be taken out of private hands and what we do with it determined through a collective process. Small farmers are different not that we have many of them, I think only 2% of the US population work on the land.  The Native American community must play a central role in any public land management as they have been the historical carers of it prior to colonization and along with rural communities, workers, small farmers, environmentalists, naturalists, scientific experts and workers organizations and communities how we relate to the land that nurtures us can be determined in a responsible way, responsible to nature and humanity not hedge fund managers and other unproductive human activity.

This cannot be done in isolation of course and when I drive a little out of my small town through the suburbs the housing built by developers who may come from any region in the US or the world it is nauseating looking at these ugly 4000 sq. foot monstrosities, rows and rows of them destroying the local environment, a middle class ghetto completely out of pace with the local natural surroundings. Human shelter, which is what housing should be, must also be taken out of private hands. A home should not be a commodity either.


Source: Harvard: Capitalist Think Tank Invests in Water to Profit From Climate Change