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The Big Answer


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This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

a book by Naomi Klein

(our site's book review)

Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything Is a Scary Masterwork of Climate Change Truth

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

The Amazon blurb says that The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

Choosing Disaster Capitalism rather than The Climate will allow capitalists to reach Capitalism's inevitable conclusion: irreversible disaster
Choosing Disaster Capitalism rather than The Climate will allow capitalists to reach Capitalism's inevitable conclusion: irreversible disaster

In This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies.

She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.


The Needed Climate Change Actions Are to Be Seen as Catalysts for Fixing Us Economically, Socially, and Culturally

Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.

Is there a chance the climate change deniers will wise up before Earth is renamed Hell?
Is there a chance the climate change deniers will wise up before Earth is renamed Hell?

However, as Klein says, ". . . the only thing rising faster than our emissions is the output of words pledging to lower them." Obama and Trump both failed the climate change challenge—both had gotten plenty of campaign contributions from Big Oil so they were both "beholden." Klein thinks of the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen as the moment when the realization truly sank in that no one was coming to save us. Our leaders were much more influenced by Big Oil's money than they were with guilt trips from authors, editorials ebooks, conferences and summits. Money talks and B.S. walks, and the fact that it was the money that represented B.S. and the summits et al. represented something extremely valuable that would have extreme economic costs soon outlines the irony of the situation.

Trump will not ride in on a white horse to save us from global warming—in fact, he calls it a hoax, since it's so much easier to deny it than to act like a  responsible human and help us avert disaster—in 2009, Obama failed us as well
Trump will not ride in on a white horse to save us from global warming—in fact, he calls it a hoax, since it's so much easier to deny it than to act like a responsible human and help us avert disaster—in 2009, Obama failed us as well

"No matter how many times we have been disappointed by the failings of our politicians, this realization still comes as a blow. It really is the case that we are on our own and any credible source of hope in this crisis will have to come from below," says Klein.

The tobacco industry was able to, for years, threaten scientists, fudge data, and promote misleading reports in order to dismiss claims about the harmful effects of smoking; climate change is about elites lying to us yet again
The tobacco industry was able to, for years, threaten scientists, fudge data, and promote misleading reports in order to dismiss claims about the harmful effects of smoking; climate change is about elites lying to us yet again

We Are Not Stopping the Fire—in Fact We Are Dousing It with Gasoline

"Major cities likely in jeopardy [from the predicted 7 degrees Fahrenheit temperature rise by 2100] include Boston, New York, greater Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

We are not stopping the fire. In fact we are dousing it with gasoline
We are not stopping the fire. In fact we are dousing it with gasoline

". . . we are not stopping the fire. In fact we are dousing it with gasoline. After a rare decline in 2009 due to the financial crisis, global emissions surged by a whopping 5.9 percent in 2010—the largest absolute increase since the Industrial Revolution," says Klein.

If the forests burn and plants die out due to global warming, there will be no oxygen getting produced and therefore nothing for any animals or humans to breathe—perhaps only cockroaches will survive
If the forests burn and plants die out due to global warming, there will be no oxygen getting produced and therefore nothing for any animals or humans to breathe—perhaps only cockroaches will survive

Actions That Would Give Us the Best Chance of Averting Catastrophe Are Extremely Threatening to an Elite Minority (the Shadow Government's Neocons and Oligarchs)

She continues, "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." We can deal with our situation, but the elites in charge are unwilling to sacrifice anything—money, time, convenience—even if their reluctance kills billions of people, kills most plants and animals, wrecks the planet, and makes Earth uninhabitable for anything but cockroaches.

Deregulated capitalism, once a great boon to economic health, has changed its status. It has become a death sentence and a suicide pact not just for our democracy, but for our country as well
Deregulated capitalism, once a great boon to economic health, has changed its status. It has become a death sentence and a suicide pact not just for our democracy, but for our country as well


The elites in charge are unwilling to sacrifice anything—money, time, convenience—even if their reluctance kills billions of people, kills most plants and animals, wrecks the planet, and makes Earth uninhabitable for anything but cockroaches
The elites in charge are unwilling to sacrifice anything—money, time, convenience—even if their reluctance kills billions of people, kills most plants and animals, wrecks the planet, and makes Earth uninhabitable for anything but cockroaches

She goes on, " . . . 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."

Neoliberalism was a way for the rich to get richer while exploiting the nonrich but saying the nonrich would get the 'trickle down.' They didn't. Instead, they got trickled ON.
Neoliberalism was a way for the rich to get richer while exploiting the nonrich but saying the nonrich would get the "trickle down." They didn't. Instead, they got trickled ON.

Deregulated capitalism, once a great boon to economic health, has changed its status. It has become a death sentence and a suicide pact. Neoliberalism was a way for the rich to get richer while exploiting the nonrich but saying the nonrich would get the "trickle down." They didn't. Instead, they got trickled ON.


The Right Power Shift Away from Corporations and Toward Communities Can Change This Balance of Power

A power shift away from corporations and toward communities depends on the great many people who are getting screwed under our current system building a determined and diverse enough social force to change this balance of power
A power shift away from corporations and toward communities depends on the great many people who are getting screwed under our current system building a determined and diverse enough social force to change this balance of power

There needs to be a shift in who wields power, a shift away from corporations and toward communities. But this depends on the great many people who are getting screwed under our current system building a determined and diverse enough social force to change the balance of power. The rebellion needs to avoid violence since immediate and harsh marshall law would be the response. Climate change tells us we need to evolve. (What book shows very specifically how our people can evolve so that we can face climate change? The Forest Through The Trees. As Klein says, 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 hope.)

Klein sees the cynical war by the rich against the middle class and poor that inevitably leads to extreme concentration of riches in the hands of the few who can then capture government to perpetuate their dominance
Klein sees the cynical war by the rich against the middle class and poor that inevitably leads to extreme concentration of riches in the hands of the few who can then capture government to perpetuate their dominance

Klein points out that the tiny incremental steps we have been taking toward heading off a climate change disaster have been a disastrous failure. We either go big or go home.

“Climate scientists agree: climate change is happening here and now. Based on well-established evidence, about 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening. This agreement is documented not just by a single study, but by a converging stream of evidence over the past two decades from surveys of scientists, content analyses of peer-reviewed studies, and public statements issued by virtually every membership organization of experts in this field.”—Report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2014


The Root of the Carbon Problem Is Capitalism, Not CO2

Klein's disaster capitalism is exploitation of the have-nots by the haves, including rigging of the ladder of class mobility so nonrich cannot ascend it—the world's expert on this is Noam Chomsky, author of Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power
Klein's disaster capitalism is exploitation of the have-nots by the haves, including rigging of the ladder of class mobility so nonrich cannot ascend it—the world's expert on this is Noam Chomsky, author of Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

". . . the root of the carbon problem is capitalism, says Klein. Or at least the kind of unfettered, absolutist 'disaster capitalism' that was the target of her previous effort, The Shock Doctrine. In that sense, the aptly titled 'This Changes Everything' might be seen as the third volume in Klein's controversial and thoroughly researched challenge to neoliberal ideology." (Source: Review: 'This Changes Everything' by Naomi Klein, Chris Bentley, Chicago Tribune)

Klein writes of a decisive battle for the fate of the earth in which we either take back control of the planet from the capitalists who are destroying it or watch it all burn
Klein writes of a decisive battle for the fate of the earth in which we either take back control of the planet from the capitalists who are destroying it or watch it all burn

Many Reviewers See Her Book as the Definitive Climate Change Book

“Gripping and dramatic. . . . [Klein] writes of a decisive battle for the fate of the earth in which we either take back control of the planet from the capitalists who are destroying it or watch it all burn.” (Roy Scranton, Rolling Stone)

“This may be the first truly honest book ever written about climate change.” (Bryan Walsh, Time)

"The most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring.” (Rob Nixon, The New York Times Book Review)

"This is the best book about climate change in a very long time—in large part because it's about much more. It sets the most important crisis in human history in the context of our other ongoing traumas, reminding us just how much the powers-that-be depend on the power of coal, gas and oil. And that in turn should give us hope, because it means the fight for a just world is the same as the fight for a livable one." (Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and co-founder of 350.org)

This Changes Everything is the work book for . . . [a] new, more assertive, more powerful environmental movement.” (Mark Bittman, The New York Times)

"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, author of The God of Small Things and Capitalism: A Ghost Story)

“Naomi Klein is a genius. She has done for politics what Jared Diamond did for the study of human history. She skillfully blends politics, economics and history and distills out simple and powerful truths with universal applicability.” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)

“[A]robust new polemic. . . . Drawing on an impressive volume of research, Ms. Klein savages the idea that we will be saved by new technologies or by an incremental shift away from fossil fuels: Both approaches, she argues, are forms of denial. . . . Ms. Klein is aware of the intractability of the problems she describes, but she manages optimism nonetheless.” (Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times)

"Klein is a brave and passionate writer who always deserves to be heard, and this is a powerful and urgent book." (John Gray, The Observer (UK))

“If global warming is a worldwide wake-up call, we’re all pretty heavy sleepers. . . . We haven't made significant progress, Klein argues, because we've been expecting solutions from the very same institutions that created the problem in the first place. . . . Klein's sharp analysis makes a compelling case that a mass awakening is part of the answer.” (Chris Bentley, The Chicago Tribune)

“Naomi Klein’s latest book may be the manifesto that the climate movement — and the planet — needs right now. . . . For those with whom her message does resonate — and they are likely to be legion — her book could help catalyze the kind of mass movement she argues the world needs now.” (Mason Inman, San Francisco Chronicle)

“Powerfully and uncompromisingly written, the impassioned polemic we have come to expect from Klein, mixing first-hand accounts of events around the world and withering political analysis. . . . Her stirring vision is nothing less than a political, economic, social, cultural and moral make-over of the human world.” (Mike Hulme, New Scientist)

“A powerful, profound, and compelling book.” (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive)

“Klein is one of the left’s most influential figures and a prominent climate champion. . . . [She] is a gifted writer and there is little doubt about the problem she identifies.” (Pilita Clark, The Financial Times)

If we fail to respond to climate change, we will end up paying the ultimate price, but it won't be just in the USA . . .
If we fail to respond to climate change, we will end up paying the ultimate price, but it won't be just in the USA . . .


. . . It will be the whole world paying the price! All this so a few sick-minded oligarchs can have more yachts and a few more zeros on their bank balances! As the planet burns and floods around them, they'll stand on the roofs of their palaces screaming insanely: I WIN!
. . . It will be the whole world paying the price! All this so a few sick-minded oligarchs can have more yachts and a few more zeros on their bank balances! As the planet burns and floods around them, they'll stand on the roofs of their palaces screaming insanely: I WIN!

About the Author: Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and author of the New York Times and international bestsellers The Shock Doctrine, No Logo, This Changes Everything, and No Is Not Enough. A Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, reporter for Rolling Stone, and contributor for both The Nation and The Guardian, Klein is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. She is co-founder of the climate justice organization The Leap.

Our leaders and the Republicans have had their palms greased with tons of Big Oil money so they can all put their heads in the sand and ignore climate change—but when the disasters begin, they'll either drown or burn (good!)
Our leaders and the Republicans have had their palms greased with tons of Big Oil money so they can all put their heads in the sand and ignore climate change—but when the disasters begin, they'll either drown or burn (good!)

To sum up, although this book is very disturbing, it gives a fair assessment of the research regarding climate change and global warming, and how the Big Oil faction does everything it can to muddle the issue and spread lies. Klein provides examples of what can be done, what is being done and what needs to be done to heal our life support systems and bring us back to some sort of equilibrium with the natural world. The book actually maps out the scale of the economic and political change needed to address climate change and proposes some ways of our getting there. It also reasserts the overwhelming moral case for doing so. We hope that This Changes Everything will inspire action and change in the 2020s like Silent Spring did in the 1960s. Naomi Klein is to be congratulated for having the courage to write this book. This world needs a million Naomi Kleins! Her The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is great as well.