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The Big Answer


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On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

a book by Naomi Klein

(our site's book review)

Naomi Klein Makes the Case for a Green New Deal

The Amazon blurb says that #1 international and New York Times bestselling author Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, makes the case for a Green New Deal—explaining how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.

For more than twenty years, Naomi Klein has been the foremost chronicler of the economic war waged on both people and planet—and an unapologetic champion of a sweeping environmental agenda with justice at its center. In lucid, elegant dispatches from the frontlines of contemporary natural disaster, she pens surging, indispensable essays for a wide public: prescient advisories and dire warnings of what future awaits us if we refuse to act, as well as hopeful glimpses of a far better future. On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal gathers for the first time more than a decade of her impassioned writing, and pairs it with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of our immediate political and economic choices.

Fossil fuel corporations, which have funded a decades-long campaign of disinformation, assure us that climate change is illusory and we should be out chasing shinier objects
Fossil fuel corporations, which have funded a decades-long campaign of disinformation, assure us that climate change is illusory and we should be out chasing shinier objects

These long-form essays show Klein at her most prophetic and philosophical, investigating the climate crisis not only as a profound political challenge but as a spiritual and imaginative one, as well. Delving into topics ranging from the clash between ecological time and our culture of “perpetual now,” to the soaring history of humans changing and evolving rapidly in the face of grave threats, to rising white supremacy and fortressed borders as a form of “climate barbarism,” this is a rousing call to action for a planet on the brink.

Naomi Klein (Photo: Kourosh Keshiri)
Naomi Klein (Photo: Kourosh Keshiri)

To Face the Challenge of Climate Change We Must Be Willing to Transform the Systems That Produced This Crisis

To avoid this . . .
To avoid this . . .


We are simply going to have to stop doing this
We are simply going to have to stop doing this

With reports spanning from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef, to the annual smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, to a Vatican attempting an unprecedented “ecological conversion,” Klein makes the case that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis.

An expansive, far-ranging exploration that sees the battle for a greener world as indistinguishable from the fight for our lives, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal captures the burning urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the fiery energy of a rising political movement demanding a catalytic Green New Deal.

Lying fossil fuel spokespeople are leading Trump to call global warming a hoax, so we have the classic case of the blind leading the blind
Lying fossil fuel spokespeople are leading Trump to call global warming a hoax, so we have the classic case of the blind leading the blind

Klein says that "During normal, nonemergency times, the capacity of the human mind to rationalize, to compartmentalize, and to be distracted easily is an important coping mechanism. All three of these mental tricks help us get through the day. It’s also extremely helpful to look unconsciously to our peers and role models to figure out how to feel and act—those social cues are how we form friendships and build cohesive communities.

"When it comes to rising to the reality of climate breakdown, however, these traits are proving to be our collective undoing. They are reassuring us when we should not be reassured. They are distracting us when we should not be distracted. And they are easing our consciences when our consciences should not be eased."

Projected change in annual mean surface air temperature from the late 20th century to the middle 21st century, based on a medium emissions scenario. This scenario assumes that no future policies are adopted to limit greenhouse gas emissions
Projected change in annual mean surface air temperature from the late 20th century to the middle 21st century, based on a medium emissions scenario. This scenario assumes that no future policies are adopted to limit greenhouse gas emissions

Many People Have Noted That Naomi Klein Is the Intellectual Godmother of the Green New Deal

“Naomi Klein is the intellectual godmother of the Green New Deal—which just happens to be the most important idea in the world right now”—Bill McKibben

“Naomi Klein’s work has always moved and guided me. She is the great chronicler of our age of climate emergency, an inspirer of generations.”—Greta Thunberg, climate activist

“A critically important thought-leader in these perilous times, a necessary voice as a courageous movement of movements rises from the ashes.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

“Naomi is like a great doctor—she can diagnose problems nobody else sees.”—Alfonso Cuarón, Academy Award-winning director of Roma

“Naomi Klein applies her fine, fierce and meticulous mind to the greatest, most urgent questions of our times. . . . I count her among the most inspirational political thinkers in the world today.”—Arundhati Roy, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The God of Small Things

“Naomi Klein is a precious gift: every time I read her words, my heart leaps from sadness and anger to action. She takes us deep, down to the roots of what is wrong—and then up, up to a height from which we can see what must be done. Everything we love is at stake now: these writings are our best and brightest hope.”—Emma Thompson, actress, screenwriter, activist, author, and comedian

“The greatest theorist of climate change.”—Amitav Ghosh, author of The Hungry Tide

He just read On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal
He just read On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

"Masterful. . .What separates Klein from many other advocates for a Green New Deal is her balanced combination of idealism and politics-based realism. . .Another important addition to the literature on the most essential issue of our day.”—Kirkus Reviews

Klein’s passion for action reflects the political, social, and scientific gridlock that makes such sweeping, transformational legislation imperative. Her zeal and eloquence will inspire, engage, and motivate those who are concerned about the planet’s future to become even more involved in taking any and all possible steps to curb or reverse further disruption and destruction.”—Booklist

“For a quarter century, now, Naomi Klein has been an outspoken and fearless voice on that which late-stage hyper-capitalism has wrought upon the world: income inequality, overreaching corporate power, for-profit empire building and, of course, the consequent climate crisis. Honestly, we don’t deserve her, and looking back at her seven books one can’t help but think of Cassandra, her warnings ever accurate yet unheeded… with her eighth book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, Klein collects her longform writing on the climate crisis—from the dying Great Barrier Reef to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico—and somehow manages to strike a hopeful note as she calls for a radical commitment to the Green New Deal, the kind of collective mobilization that saved us from the brink in WWII, and might be our only hope now.”—Lit Hub


Many People Have Noted That Naomi Klein Is the Intellectual Godmother of the Green New Deal

'What could possibly cause all this melting ice? My money's on all those long, hot stinkers you've been letting! Pee-yew! I mean, what else could it be?'
'What could possibly cause all this melting ice? My money's on all those long, hot stinkers you've been letting! Pee-yew! I mean, what else could it be?'


In Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, things seemed to get, as Alice learned in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser; with climate change, people who know disaster is coming keep doing the same thing that created the disaster—curiouser and curiouser
In Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, things seemed to get, as Alice learned in Wonderland, curiouser and curiouser; with climate change, people who know disaster is coming keep doing the same thing that created the disaster—curiouser and curiouser


People who know disaster is coming keep doing the same thing that created the disaster—curiouser and curiouser
People who know disaster is coming keep doing the same thing that created the disaster—curiouser and curiouser

In a Twilight Zone mood, we are now submitting for your approval: "We’re hurtling down a one-way road toward the Global Warming world order at mind-boggling speeds, the terrain is getting more treacherous by the minute, and we’ve passed all the exit ramps. From this point forward, there is no turning back, and the signpost ahead reads 'Danger, climate catastrophe ahead.'"

Science has gifted us with amazing ways to ruin the environment and amazing ways to kill each other—if these two continue, life will eventually degenerate to rats fighting in a toilet
Science has gifted us with amazing ways to ruin the environment and amazing ways to kill each other—if these two continue, life will eventually degenerate to rats fighting in a toilet

Klein tells us "In addition to the wildfire of student strikes, we have seen the rise of Extinction Rebellion, which exploded on the scene and kicked off a wave of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience, including a mass shutdown of large parts of Central London. Extinction Rebellion is calling on governments to treat climate change as an emergency, to rapidly transition to 100 percent renewable energy."

If solar panels and wind and hydropower replaced oil, we could begin cleaning up our planet
If solar panels and wind and hydropower replaced oil, we could begin cleaning up our planet


Most prominent among this new political breed willing to support the Green New Deal is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, at twenty-nine, became the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress
Most prominent among this new political breed willing to support the Green New Deal is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, at twenty-nine, became the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress

There Is Now a Bloc of Politicians in the United States, Europe, and Elsewhere, Ready to Translate the Urgency of the Climate Crisis into Policy

Klein tells us "There is now a bloc of politicians in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, some just a decade older than the young climate activists in the streets, ready to translate the urgency of the climate crisis into policy, and to connect the dots among the multiple crises of our times. Most prominent among this new political breed is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, at twenty-nine, became the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress." Four Green New Deal supporters are women of color and known as the Squad.

The Squad—one of Trump's favorite targets for racist and snarky comments and tweets
The Squad—one of Trump's favorite targets for racist and snarky comments and tweets

Many clearly favor FDR’s New Deal as the example to follow for implementing the Green New Deal. Others favor the mobilization in WWII as the best example. Regardless of the example(s) followed, the climate crisis is screaming at us to act now and act big. It's a shame we do not have a president who will act like a statesman and lead the project. His opinion is that global warming is a hoax and he said on Twitter: "I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called Carbon Footprint to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas and the Military — even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!" (Source: The Squad, Wikipedia)

We are ass deep in the sixth extinction, and the best Trump can come up with is snark?! Republicans fearfully following his lead are displaying suicidal gullibility and shameful amounts of cowardice.

Many clearly favor FDR’s New Deal as the example to follow for implementing the Green New Deal
Many clearly favor FDR’s New Deal as the example to follow for implementing the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal (GND) is the name of many proposed economic programs in the United States that would focus on economic inequality and climate change. It is named after Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program from between 1933 and 1936. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released a 14-page document about the GND on 7 February 2019. They want to push the United States to using 100% renewable, zero-emission energy sources. Their plan would also address poverty in the U.S., and implement universal health care. The American Action Network estimated the plan would cost at least $1 trillion, and the document did not show where the money would specifically come from. (Source: Green New Deal, Wikipedia)

The agricultural element of the Green New Deal has been boiled down to cow farts—beef is responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and that livestock accounts for 14.5% of total global emissions
The agricultural element of the Green New Deal has been boiled down to cow farts—beef is responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and that livestock accounts for 14.5% of total global emissions. See Here's what the Green New Deal actually says.

Like F.D.R.’s New Deal in the 1930s, the Green New Deal Would Transform Our Government's Role in Society—Good!

"Republicans, on the other hand, are already targeting the [Green New Deal] resolution as a socialist plot to ban hamburgers and destroy capitalism. It’s not hard to understand why. Implicit in the plan is a fundamental reimagining of the role of government, one that harks back to F.D.R.’s New Deal in the 1930s. It is also a rethinking of how to break the logjam on climate policy in Washington. Instead of fighting incremental battles on cap-and-trade and carbon tax, the Green New Deal seeks to ignite a popular movement that breaks through today’s toxic partisanship with sheer human will. . . . To Klein, climate change isn’t simply another important issue; it’s 'a message, one that is telling us that many of Western culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable.' . . . She views this crisis as one 'born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need.' The days of these Enlightenment ideals are over, Klein says: Our current world is 'built on false promises, discounted futures and sacrificial people; it was rigged to blow from the start.' . . . 'The clarity of [activist] Greta [Thunberg]’s voice gave validation to the raw terror so many of us have been suppressing and compartmentalizing about what it means to be alive amid the sixth great extinction.'" (Source: Is the Green New Deal Realistic? Two Sympathetic Authors Weigh In, Jeff Goodell, NY Times)

" . . . despite the fact that, sure, it’s expensive to deal with the crisis, but we know how not just expensive, but just the devastating human costs inaction carry, why have we talked and talked — our governments, why they’ve been talking for more than 30 years about lowering emissions, while global emissions have gone up by 40%. . . . And these governments are adapting to climate change. They may not be adapting the way the United Nations would like them to adapt, by cutting emissions, by building seawalls, whatever it is. They’re building border walls. They are adapting through this unleashing of white supremacist ideology, and creating the intellectual rationale for allowing millions of people to die. I mean, that’s what I mean by climate barbarism." (Source: “On Fire”: In New Book, Naomi Klein Makes the Case for a Green New Deal to Save the Planet, Amy Goodman, Juan González, Naomi Klein, Democracy Now)

"As for those children and grandchildren and generations to come who were invoked so promiscuously? They are no longer mere rhetorical devices. They are now speaking (and screaming and striking) for themselves. Unlike so many adults in positions of authority, they have not yet been trained to mask the unfathomable stakes of our moment in the language of bureaucracy and overcomplexity. They understand that they are fighting for the fundamental right to live full lives — lives in which they are not, as 13-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor puts it, 'running from disasters.' On that day in March 2019, organizers estimate there were nearly 2,100 youth climate strikes in 125 countries, with 1.6 million young people participating. That’s quite an achievement for a movement that began eight months earlier with a single teenager deciding to go on strike from school in Stockholm, Sweden: Greta Thunberg." (Source: Excerpt: Naomi Klein’s ‘On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal’, Naomi Klein, TVO)


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