Still working my way through this one but thought I'd whet the appetite of potential readers by drawing out the main points in what can only be described as is a scintillating introduction. A genuine stick of dynamite. Perhaps the definitive work on climate change to date. There is hardly a single line that doesn't deserve to be highlighted, underlined and generally broadcast across the planet. Which brings us to the key point. Klein is telling us that our planet is dying. Right in front of our eyes. Not in one hundred years time. Not even in twenty years time but right now. And we're all complicit. At least all of us in the developed world. But most significantly it is not so much the individual that is complicit, though clearly we each must take some responsibility, but rather our insane economic model, the one that generally goes by the name of capitalism. Capitalism and its leading exponents in the boardrooms and in the parliaments are driving our beautiful planet into the ground in pursuit of a meaningless GDP and their own avaricious ambitions. Corporate profit is killing the planet and systematically undermining every attempt to reverse the process. It's a sobering work that Klein has produced and as the title suggests, it should change everything, but bizarrely nothing seems to change. It's business as usual and to hell with the consequences. Here are her key points.


First up is Klein's realisation that in fighting against climate change, we can also engage in resisting so much else that is sick and unjust about our current set up. By waking up to the horrors of what man-made climate change is doing to our planet, we quickly come to the realisation that so much that is ailing in our social and political systems are interconnected, and the fight against one injustice can become a fight against all injustice. Klein puts it this way;

And through conversations with others in the growing climate movement, I began to see all kinds of ways that climate change could become a catalysing force for positive change  how it could be the best argument progressives have ever had to demand the rebuilding and reviving of local economies; to reclaim our democracies from corrosive corporate influence; to block harmful new free trade deals and rewrite old ones; to invest in starving public infrastructure like mass transit and affordable housing; to take back ownership of essential services like energy and water; to remake our sick agricultural system into something much healthier; to open borders to migrants whose displacement is linked to climate impacts; to finally respect Indigenous land rights  all of which would help to end grotesque levels of inequality within our nations and between them. P7

In the face of an existential threat to human life on this planet this is a surprisingly upbeat, optimistic vision. Rather than succumb to the enormity of the situation, Klein chooses instead to see climate change as an opportunity, a chance to rally the disparate struggles for justice into one cohesive all powerful movement for social justice on a global scale. This is no insignificant point. Because given the enormity of the task in front of us it would be all too easy to shrug ones shoulders and succumb to defeatism and resignation. Clearly Klein has no intention of following that path and is imploring us not to do so either.

Having established her overall vision of resistance, Klein gets down to the nitty-gritty of just who is responsible for the dire situation we find ourselves in, and this is Naomi Klein's strength as witnessed in her two previous contributions, No Logo, and The Shock Doctrine. To merely describe the effects of climate change is near to totally useless. Only by isolating the real culprits, both the system and the leading individual proponents of that system, will we have a hope, however slim, of halting and then reversing the damage. Klein is in absolutely in no doubt that global capitalism is the villain and she has no intentions of being mealy-mouthed in her denunciations. It's far too late for the diplomatic, gently-gently approach that so many of our politicians choose to adopt. No, for Naomi Klein it is time for jack-blunt speaking. Global capitalism must be replaced by something more democratic, more rational or the eco-system of our planet is finished. The rate at which other species on the planet are becoming extinct should be warning enough for we homo-sapiens but still the global corporates run rough-shod over everyone and everything. Hear is Klein at her most direct;

I think the answer is far more simple than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the period we have been struggling to find a way out of the crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe  and would benefit the vast majority are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets. P18

So there we have it. The one percent lording it over the interests of the ninety nine percent. The elite of global billionaires consistently making decisions that enhance their already obscene fortunes at the expense not only of the ninety nine percent but of the planet itself. We are clearly living through a historical moment of collective madness unique perhaps in the entire history of our species. Madness that these corporates should be destroying our collective home and madness that we are still allowing them to do so. Klein reinforces the point;

When historians look back on the last quarter of a century of international negotiations, two defining processes will stand out. There will be the climate process: struggling, sputtering, failing utterly to achieve its goals. And there will be the corporate globalization process, zooming from victory to victory: from the first free trade deal to the creation of the World Trade Organisation to the mass privatisation of the former Soviet economies to the transformation of large parts of Asia into sprawling free-trade zones to the structural adjusting of Africa. 

Klein continues;

It was always about using these sweeping deals, as well as a range of other tools, to lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational corporations to produce their goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible - while paying as little in taxes as possible.

Klein then concludes;

The three policy pillars of this new era are familiar to us all: privatisation of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and lower corporate taxation, paid for with cuts to public spending. Much has been written about the real world costs of these policies the instability of financial markets, the excesses of the super-rich, and the desperation of the increasingly disposable poor, as well as the failing state of public infrastructure and services. Very little, however, has been written about how market fundamentalism has, from the very first moments, systematically sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith. P19

However daunting it may seem, it is patently obvious that without dismantling the infrastructure of global capitalism, there is virtually zero chance of getting on top of the exploding volcano that is climate change. Although the technology to switch to renewables is already available, corporate profit margins keep standing in the way. A rational world and a capitalist world are just incompatible but too few politicians will dare to recognise this obvious truth. Klein puts it succinctly;

The bottom line is what matters here: our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity's use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it's not the laws of nature. P21

The problem is we have all been indoctrinated, both from the right and the left, to believe in endless economic growth. Sure, on the left we might dream of a more equitable growth, but growth is what we have all been indoctrinated to believe in. Could this model of endless growth be at the heart of the problem? Klein is convinced that it is but I am yet to be convinced. Of course this will be a largely academic discussion point if we really are on the edge of an apocalyptic environmental meltdown. And on this point I am one hundred percent in agreement with Ms Klein, who explains;

underneath all of this the real truth we have been avoiding: climate change isn't an issue to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message- spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions  telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us we need to evolve.P25

If you read nothing else this year, then find time to read this book. And if you find yourself too bogged down to read the whole book then at the very least read the introduction. It is a call to action the like of which we have seldom heard. We ought to be afraid, for ourselves, our children and our species. Naomi Klein tells us to harness that fear in order to fight for our very survival.

Fear is a survival response. Fear makes us run, it makes us leap, it can make us act superhuman. But we need somewhere to run to. Without that the fear is only paralyzing. So the real trick, the only hope, really, is to allow the terror of an unlivable future to be balanced and soothed by the prospect of building something much better than many of us have previously dared to hope.


End JPK Copyright 13/5/15

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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 May 2018 06:50 )