Book Review - THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014)
Canadian Electoral Alliance active member Rose Dyson wrote a book review on Naomi Klein's book "This Changes Everything"
BOOK REVIEW for TLE Fall, 2014
by Rose Dyson, Editor-in-Chief
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs the Climate (2014)
Naomi Klein Alfred A. Knoff Canada ISBN 978-0-307-40199-1
What we are confronted with in Klein’s latest book is nothing short of a civilizational wakeup call. It is a timely amplification of the latest warnings from the International Panel on Climate Change that we no longer have decades left to turn things around but just a few years. Either we boldly leap forward and confront our unsustainable way of life or we sink.
The blunt but inconvenient truth is that the problems we face are not about carbon but about capitalism. The constant emphasis on economic growth, extraction of natural resources, and profit has pushed us to the brink of disaster. We need a whole new paradigm on how we organize ourselves, economically, socially and culturally, ideally within the context of democratic political institutions. But given the persistent lack of political will, a bottoms up grass roots demand for change is essential. Fortunately, there is growing evidence around the world that this is happening and Klein provides examples of successful outcomes. The greening of corporate board rooms, on the other hand, along with green millionaires coming to our rescue, has not resulted in enough meaningful change. What we need is a”Marshall Plan for the Earth” - a massive mobilization, larger than any in the history of mankind and fast.
Increasingly, there is a widening, universal recognition of the right to regeneration where the earth, itself, is concerned. Reproductive rights are taking on a new meaning, not just for women but for the decapitated mountains, drowned valleys, clear-cut forests, fracked water tables, strip mined hillsides, poisoned rivers, damaged soil and cancer infested villages. The essence of sustainability is that all of life has a right to renewal and to heal itself.
Today we are significantly less isolated from one another, thanks to social media and the internet. We are now able to engage in almost continuous global conversations. However cacophonous at times, they still afford us unprecedented opportunities for mobilization and action. Our challenge is not only to resist the extractivist, economic mindset we are now locked into, but to offer real alternatives to fossil fuels as a source of energy. More mishaps of one kind or another, either manmade or through natural disaster, are bound to force us back out into the streets and squares. We need to ensure that progressive forces make the most of these windows of opportunity when they arise.
Climate change has yet to receive the kind of crisis treatment that we know our elites are capable of through a mobilization of money and technology given what we witnessed following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the financial downturn in 2008. Yet the risk to human lives is much greater than anything posed by collapsed banks or buildings being blown up. The core problem is the strangehold that profit driven, market logic has secured over public life. Too often the most direct and obvious solutions to climate change are framed as politically heretical. That needs to change. Numerous examples are given of leadership being provided by indigenous educators who point to ways in which their historical systems are designed to promote life. These are infused with a concept of balance and harmony. This book deserves to be widely read by students, educators, policy makers, social activists, parents, grandparents - literally anyone interested in providing hope for future generations.