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This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  11,781 Ratings  ·  1,361 Reviews
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon – it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.

In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, exposes the myths that are cloudi
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2014)
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Jacob I just finished reading Naomi Klein’s book and saw your request for a different perspective/approach. I would recommend anything by Alex Epstein,…moreI just finished reading Naomi Klein’s book and saw your request for a different perspective/approach. I would recommend anything by Alex Epstein, particularly his book, “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels”. Also, search YouTube for his talk at Wellesley College last year and Bethel University (on the concept of energy poverty) just a few weeks ago.

Bethel University:

His method of thinking is fundamentally different from Klein’s and consequently his conclusions are different.

Here’s a breakdown/summary of his method of thinking about energy (note: his book and lectures on YouTube have far more clarity and precision that what I’m writing here):

1. Think big picture about all forms of energy (look at all the pros and cons of each form of energy). Particularly today, there is a fundamental bias when discussing energy alternatives; we tend to focus on only the negatives for some energy types and only on the positives for others. For example, with fossil fuels we tend to focus on (actual & speculative) environmental consequences such as resource depletion, pollution, and climate change. However, there is hardly any discussion with regard to, say, ground contamination that is prevalent with wind and solar extraction processes. As a second example, with regard to fossil fuels, there is almost zero discussion about the enormous benefits that cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy has on human life and flourishing. Energy is used to feed the machines that farm our food, run our hospitals, clean our water, build our structures that keep us safe from climate, etc. The more cheap, reliable, and plentiful energy is, the better we can make our environment. There are over one billion people without any electricity today (that’s the equivalent to the population of Canada, the U.S., and Europe combined having no electricity). To ignore the positives and to only look at the negatives of a particular energy like fossil fuels shows biased thinking, which can lead to errors in our conclusions.

2. Standard of Value. Epstein argues that what can happen all the time in society is that people get distracted by goals that they think should be their priority and that have nothing to do with human well-being or even contradict it. Societies can do really destructive things ultimately because they have a goal that is an anti-human goal. He argues that the green movement’s standard of value (the standard they use to judge things as good or bad, moral or immoral) is NOT consistent with human well-being or human flourishing. Rather, the green’s goal is minimizing human impact. They look at any action and judge it as good or moral not based on its positive effect on human life but rather if the action has minimal to no impact on the planet.

Adopting the green’s standard of value would lead you to oppose, in any given decade, whatever is the most practical form of energy (because it will logically have the most impact on nature)… even if billions of human beings need this energy to create a safe living environment.

Adopting the green’s standard of value would lead you to oppose Norman Borlaug’s agricultural technologies which have fed millions and millions of people in impoverished countries (because the technologies alter nature); it would lead you to oppose using DDT to fight malaria (which kills over a million human beings annually) because there was anecdotal evidence that DDT reduced bird populations; it would lead you to oppose golden rice to fight malnourishment in impoverished countries (because the technology alters nature).

Overwhelmingly, the green’s standard of value (human non-impact) is a goal that contradicts human well-being. Having a standard of value that is not human flourishing (and more precisely having a standard of value that nearly always contradicts human flourishing) can lead to errors in our conclusions.

Yes, there are dangerous side-effects to every form of energy (and every technology) and it is crucially important to look at them critically. The point is that we have to weigh both the benefits and the risks together (get the full picture) and then assess the facts based on a proper standard of value. Epstein argues that today’s green movement is backwards. It is an anti-human environmental movement that needs to be replaced by a pro-human environmental movement.

3. Nature is fundamentally hostile and dangerous to human life and we need energy to make our environment clean, safe, and abundant. Nature untouched by human beings doesn’t give us plentiful food, it doesn’t give us clean water, it doesn’t give us safe shelter. Without energy to transform nature, it is a harsh, desolate place for human beings. To quote David Beiderman, "...when it comes to satisfying humanity’s basic needs, almost nothing is given, as almost everything must be created and produced. The arrangements of elements that make up the planet are not organized by natural processes to optimally support human life. Instead, work is required to transform the planet from an environment of scarcity to one rich with food, clothing, and shelter. The ability to do this work is made possible primarily by the fossil fuel industries―coal, oil and natural gas.”

Again, these are just high level summaries of Alex Epstein’s view. If you want a full account, I would recommend Alex’s book, “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels” and the many YouTube videos of him online (see the links above). Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, I think his approach (more precisely, his method) is a proper one to have IF we are to arrive at the right conclusions to our energy and environmental problems both now and in the future.(less)

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Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Naomi’s Klein’s This Changes Everything is absolutely essential for understanding, confronting, and meeting the challenges of the 21st century. I recommend it to everyone.

Naomi Klein is known for her activism and her reporting on corporate malfeasance – the misused power of corporations, and the deleterious effects of unfettered global free-market western-style capitalism unchained from any conceivable governance that might restrict profitability. Profits first, above all else. Protect sharehold
Nicole D.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Climate change is not liberal propaganda

There is only one truth you need to know - from this book, from this review: Denying climate change is profitable, and as long as it remains profitable, the environment degrades. It will get to a point of no return. Do you want to do something now voluntarily or be forced to do something later, when it’s probably too late? “In the face of an absolutely unprecedented emergency, society has no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civiliz
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have read to of Klein's other books and will admit none of them read as well as Shock Doctrine. This Changes Everything reads more like a thesis than a marketed book. Nearly half of the book is documentation and source material. If Klein says it, she backs it up.

My thoughts: The problem is not so much capitalism, but what capitalism has become. Capitalism has had its problems from sweatshops to slavery. America prides itself on being a capitalist nation, but that in itself is a misnomer. Road
Adam Yoshida
Sep 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In reading Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything - a friendly-looking tome with a sky-blue cover - I couldn’t help but recall what Whittaker Chambers’ remark, in reviewing Ayn Rand’s classic that, “(f)rom almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “to the gas chambers — go!”” This is a book that will seduce many people with its tales of various indigenous people standing up against further development and its surface-level commitment to ...more
Klein has every reason to be depressed about the way governments the world over are relinquishing their responsibilities when it comes to air, water, and land pollution. Though she admits to faltering in looking forward to the future we have left for our children, in the end she does not quail: she comes to see that there is a glimmer of hope that humans might actually slow or stop other humans from destroying our habitat, and the habitat of other species on the planet. In fact, our salvation ma ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This changes everything. I wish it did. I suppose you have to be quite anti-capitalist to even pick this up. The title certainly makes clear Naomi Klein's view, by pitting capitalism against the climate. I completely agree.

There is a LOT of ground covered in this book and an extensive amount of research. At times it became a bit too much and I was unclear what it's intentions were. I wanted a simpler solution, when of course there isn't one. Yet there were many great ideas and examples of how g
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wish someone had taught me to question capitalism before college. This past year at university has made me so weary of capitalism and its greed-based consequences, and Naomi Klein's brilliant This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate has persuaded me even more. While I do not claim expertise on the topics of environmentalism or economics, I still must say: it is my responsibility, and our responsibility, to protect this earth we live on. Klein does a thorough and effective job of exp ...more
Believing is Not Enough

Naomi Klein believes that the inequality of wealth and power in the world is unjust and that it should be redistributed more fairly. The problem with this book is not that she wants redistribution; it is that she believes in it too much. She filters all her information about the world through this moral lens, which results in simplistic and misleading conclusions.

She describes this clearly when talking about other believers. She explains the tendency of some conservatives
Emma Sea
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
One giant eye-roll

You make me facepalm, Naomi Klein.

"As our boat rocked [in the Louisiana Gulf Coast delta] I had the distinct feeling that we were suspended not in water, but in amniotic fluid, immersed in a massive multi-species miscarriage."

If you want to change people's minds - right-wing, die-hard meritocracy-spouting capitalist human minds - you can't talk like this and expect them to listen.

I am left with the firm belief that Klein's purpose in writing this book was to simply sell a lot o
Rebecca McNutt
Please don't tar and feather me for this, but I really don't care about the themes within this book. It's the same tired old stuff I've been growing up with since I was a kid, the notion that the planet is dying and in (insert future year here) we'll have giant apocalyptic storms, dead whales and seals everywhere and no safe water left. Mind you, I always find it ironic that my mother, who grew up in the 1970's, has a saved playlist of 1960's-1970's YouTube PSA's predicting that these same thing ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
At every stage our actions are marked by a lack of respect for the powers we are unleashing – a certainty, or at least a hope, that the nature we have turned to garbage, and the people we have treated like garbage, will not come back to haunt us
This book is a brick, a great heavy block with which you can shatter screens of lies and greenwash. Nine months after reading it, I still remember parts of it so well that I'm reviewing without properly rereading, so please accept my apologies for my bodg
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This is not the treatise against capitalism that some people have made it out to be, or that I was hoping for. I'm honestly pretty torn on what I think about it. On the one hand, Klein's focus on direct action is both necessary and inspiring, and I think this is an important step in challenging liberals to step outside their ineffective comfort zone of signing petitions, writing the occasional check to a green org, and calling their absolutely useless representatives who will never, ever listen ...more
Mary Sue Scott
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you would like to read an unbiased view of environmental impacts such as global warming, fracking, coal mining, oil & gas pipelines, and how all of these are intertwined with politics and capitalism, then this is The Book for you. Come to think of it, if you DON'T want to know about these things, this is definitely Your Book. I read every word and I'm now scared as hell. Environmental solutions have been prevented, but not by what I thought. I figured it was people's general lack of aware ...more
Leo Robertson
Pretty good but very long.

As I mentioned in a status update, if the purpose of this book is to empower and inform people, why make it so bloody big? And depressing? I dreaded opening this thing up again and again- what the hell is she going to tell me next? All the while resisting so I could prep some erudite review, wholeheartedly agreeing with the whole thing and proving myself oh so very clever, courageous persistent for keeping up with her to the very end. Well, I won't! And in so doing, hop
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big Naomi Klein fan and I consider myself an environmentalist so I was quite excited to read Klein's new book on climate change. I was worried that it would be depressing -- I don't know about you but with the passing of each day and nothing being done about climate change I get more and more resigned to the fact that the planet is doomed. Frankly I don't understand why it's not a bigger deal to everyone in the world. We should all be alarmed, but instead our heads our buried in the collec ...more
Sep 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites].

Sloppy, shallow book, whose
This Changes Everything is one of those books which has been discussed so thoroughly I feel as though I can add little to it. So I'll keep my remarks to be even more brief than usual.

The main question which Klein leaves unanswered is how much the individual will have to reduce their consumption of energy. This is also necessary, and also difficult to convince people. Who would want to give up their cars or air conditioning?

How can we motivate people to do what it takes? When history knocks, wil
David Schaafsma
“If you drink water and breath air, climate change is your business"--Klein

“If we are innately greedy, there’s no hope. What if a corrupt ‘human nature’ is not the problem, though. What if the problem is a story, one we have been telling us for 400 years, a story about capitalism and progress?”--Klein

That story, begun centuries ago: “The Earth is a machine, and we are its masters.” Mother Earth is a Mother Lode for Man to Progress With rather than Live With, in Balance.

“Growth is the closest thi
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This will be a difficult review to write because I have so much to say, yet I don't know what. It will probably make no sense at all but whatever, I'll try.

Going into this, I was a bit afraid. I've never read a non-fiction book outside from school (apart from biographies) before and especially not one that was this big. But it went really well, and even though it took me a really long time to finish it (by my standards), I'm so glad that I read it. This is exactly what the title suggests, a boo
Xavier Shay
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I have read this year. Couldn't put it down. I highlighted 95 passages, many for me to dig into further.

Not only does it savage the existing fossil fuel companies in detail, from pollution to human rights abuse, but also hits futurists and billionaire do-gooders. Which is all pretty standard for a book on climate change, though did cover some new areas for me: abuses of the ETS, under-reported adverse impact of oil spills on young animal populations that are screwing them over years la
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, as Louise Erdrich said, right now the only book that matters. It is a rousing call to action and activism, a meticulously researched analysis of the science and politics behind the climate crises, and miraculously hope filled.
Joachim Stoop
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Not perfect, but just too important to give less than 5 stars
Richard C.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
A sickening collection of lies about the science of climate change and non-solutions to the crisis Klein claims. Sept 20-21 WSJ carried an article by Steven Koonin, former Undersecretary for Science in the Obama administration, admitting the computer models Klein cites as proof are worthless. There's also no mention of the 18-year lack of any global warming, measured on the ground and by balloons and satellites. At last count, there are more than 50 explanations of the "pause", the "hiatus" reve ...more
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every human struggle needs an image of a better future for supporters to rally around, but it’s never enough to simply know where we want to end up. The accomplishment of profound societal change, if sought peacefully, also demands a set of linguistic and psychological frames revolutionaries can use to inform, impassion, and ultimately persuade people to join the cause of converting aspirations into economic and political realities. Additionally, successful movements require hard data and concre ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
A lot of other reviews I've seen have been accusing Naomi Klein of being a crazy Marxist against western civilization or something, as if that's even a possible combination. My views are much more radical than hers (in my opinion anything resembling a large-scale green socialist system should only be seen as a temporary stage on the way "back" to bioregionalism and the use of democratic technics) so I think those criticisms are completely ridiculous. What she's advocating doesn't even appear to ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction-read
The book could also be titled "This Changes Nothing," because only .1% of humans alive today have the native intelligence to understand why the issue of anthropogenic global climate disruption is a matter of life and death not only for humans but also for the myriad species who are our fellow travelers on planet Earth. Nevertheless, Naomi Klein sends an important message to those who have ears to hear. Increasing the GDP and facilitating consumerism in the name of saving the economy will cost us ...more
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Klein is the current master of political journalism (some would call muckraking) exposing the misery behind the logos on our foreign made clothes or tracing the electroshock and bullet holes that we used to build this monolith of capitalism. Here she takes on the climate change and it is a book alternately filled with hope, exasperation and despair. She skewers all the false idols and hopes we could rely on to fight this oncoming threat like natural gas, population control, geoengineering , gree ...more
Matt Hill
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone told me Naomi Klein's new book would make me see climate change in a totally different way. I didn't believe it - but it's true. It's terrifying, thrilling and inspiring - and it's the most important book about politics to be published since... well, since Naomi Klein's last book.
David Sarkies
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Are We Screwed?
17 February 2016

As I was reading the first part of this book, trawling through countless numbers of examples of how the fossil fuel industry is raping and pillaging our Earth, how our political leaders are in their pockets, and how were are constantly being bombarded with propaganda as to how climate change is really nothing to worry about while the true effects are being hidden behind beautiful pictures much like the slums of Dehli where during the Commonwealth Games, I simply c
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, reviewed

I find it hard to review this in the wake of the UK election in which I was one of only 1,157,613 voters that supported the Green Party. Since the total electorate is 46 million this suggests that only 2% actually care about the environment. If that's accurate then we are completely screwed.

Other reviewers have glimpsed hope in these pages but I'm afraid that I don't share Klein's optimism. Human beings are utterly selfish creatures and they're only getting worse.
I feel we are living in apocal
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Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, documentary filmmaker and author of the international bestsellers No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. She is a senior correspondent for The Intercept and her writing appears widely in such publications as The New York T
More about Naomi Klein
“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.” 33 likes
“Because, underneath all of this is 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 that we need to evolve.” 29 likes
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