Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate (A Review)

I greatly looked forward to reading Naomi Klein's latest, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate, and having read it, I'm pretty happy to recommend it. Klein's book approaches our fossil-fuel dependency as a cultural crisis and an economic fixation on the profit motive--an "extractivist" ethos that insists on exploitation of our natural resources for monetary gain. Her book is, in many ways, a wake-up call, viewing the echo chambers of the denialists and the pie-in-the-sky carbon-fixing schemers as needing to just face reality.

And the reality is grim. We are poisoning our planet with fuels that are not clean to burn in the first place and are increasingly more difficult to extract. We're dumping toxic chemicals into our air and our water, and the possibility that life as we know it right now is in any way sustainable is pretty much foolish.

Which might imply that this is an altogether grim book, but no. Along the way, we are introduced to pockets of resistance across the globe against the extractivist forces. Who, after all, may have the money, the propaganda, the hired security, the ability to purchase government officials by the job-lot and armies of lawyers at the ready--but might not actually be a match for a dedicated local resistance, which comes from, in some cases, even historically disadvantaged people--who are, let's be clear, often disproportionately screwed over by the forces of "progress".

What she shows is an alternative--maybe there's a sustainable future where companies don't make hand-over-fist profits, but people, working together, can discover old and tried methods for  insulating homes against heat and cold, irrigating and fertilizing crops, and mix those things with new technologies like solar panels to live just a bit lighter on the earth. Maybe there's something to the idea that the "quality of life" doesn't have a monetary value, but is precious and should be preserved just because.  Because it's the only way we--humans--even can go on. Maybe we need to see the connections between ourselves and the dying fish and dolphins and coral reefs and caribou and realize we, too, are a part of a chain of being on this planet, and what hurts any creature, weakens us all.

I found this book a wise and engaging read, by no means alarmist, but very clear-eyed and realistic. So if you were wondering whether you'd like this--I'd say if you care about the environment and are skeptical of our Cash Rules Everything Around Me culture, you'd like it rather a lot. I did.

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