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This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

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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 Shock Doctrine and No Logo, exposes the myths that are clouding climate debate.

You have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. You have been told it's impossible to get off fossil fuels when in fact we know exactly how to do it—it just requires breaking every rule in the 'free-market' playbook. You have also been told that humanity is too greedy and selfish to rise to this challenge. In fact, all around the world, the fight back is already succeeding in ways both surprising and inspiring.

It's about changing the world, before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe. Either we leap—or we sink. This Changes Everything is a book that will redefine our era.

576 pages, Hardcover

First published September 16, 2014

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About the author

Naomi Klein

103 books5,917 followers
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 Times, Le Monde, The Guardian and The Nation, where she is a contributing editor. Klein is a member of the board of directors for climate-action group 350.org and one of the organizers behind Canada’s Leap Manifesto. In November 2016 she was awarded Australia’s prestigious Sydney Peace Prize for, according to the prize jury, “inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to demand a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality.” Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

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Profile Image for Chris.
389 reviews26 followers
September 7, 2014
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 shareholder interests, increase shareholder wealth.

With this, her newest book, This Changes Everything, she turns to the consequences that this unrestricted capitalism is having on the world at large. Deregulated and globalized capitalism, which destroys the middle classes across the world, destabilizes societies, increases inequality, and enriches the already fantastically wealthy, is ultimately threatening a lot more than people and communities. Our globalized capitalistic system now threatens the stability and resilience of the natural world, our environment, of which we are intrinsically and inseparably a part. After speaking about her own reluctance to face the facts about climate change, a reticence to confront the reality of climate change and global warming and focus on social issues, she decided a few years ago that she must confront it and learn about it. I agree, these issues are too important to be left to so-called “environmentalists”, “hippies”, “tree-huggers” and such. We must now all become environmentalists.

Klein first shows what really is happening across the world today, as we strive to feed the god of economic growth and disregard the ugly sights of its victims:
"… the regular people: the workers who lose their factory jobs in Juárez and Windsor, the workers who get the factory jobs in Shenzen and Dhaka, jobs that are by this point so degraded that some employers install nets along the perimeters of roofs to catch employees when they jump, or where safety codes are so lax that workers are killed in the hundreds when buildings collapse. The victims are also the toddlers mouthing lead-laden toys; the Walmart employee expected to work over the Thanksgiving holiday only to be trampled by a stampede of frenzied customers, while still not earning a living wage. And the Chinese villages whose water is contaminated by one of those coal plants we use as our excuse for inaction, as well as the middle class of Beijing and Shanghai whose kids are forced to play inside because the air is so foul.”

Her conclusion is startling:
… the bottom line is what matters here: 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, it it’s not the laws of nature.”

The philosophy and the worldview that got us here began with the European scientific revolution, a revolution of thought which changed humankind’s relation to the natural world. For all that the scientific revolution has done, vastly increasing the life chances of billions of people across the past few centuries, changing our very civilization and reshaping our societies in the span of just a few generations, the scientific worldview also estranged us from the natural world, by placing us outside of it, as the impartial observer, which can meddle with the world - yet not be affected by it. The steam engine allowed for power generation anywhere it went, regardless of weather, in rain and sun, regardless of its surroundings. This engine, and its progeny, changed the world – in fact, built the modern world. But the whole time, these engines of the modern world were powered by fossil fuels. Fuels that are non-renewable, energy intensive, require extraction from the ground by way of the coal and oil and natural gas industry. And they expel carbon dioxide and other gases and pollutants into the atmosphere.

For hundreds of years, “extractivism” has treated our natural world as a vast warehouse that we can take from indefinitely. We view lakes and forests and oceans as “resources” – a phrase that belies the economic nature of our view of them. Our lakes and forests really just “resources”, like bank accounts and wallets, to be withdrawn from? This cannot continue indefinitely, and our methods of extraction have gotten continually more costly, destructive, and noxious. The figures on fracking alone are horrifying, including the pumping of millions of gallons of water and over 190+ toxic chemicals 8,000 feet underground in order to fracture solid rock and have it expel natural gas. Whole mountain chains, along with their flora and fauna are absolutely annihilated, to extract coal, shale, and natural gas. Most insultingly, the flora and fauna, the forests and animals, are labeled “overburden” to the fracking companies. The results on human populations are also ugly: "mothers living in the areas with the most natural gas development were 30 percent more likely to have babies with congenital heart defects than those who lived in areas with no gas wells near their home. They also found some evidence that high levels of maternal exposure to gas extraction increased the risks of neurological defects." (to learn more about fracking, see Gasland

The oil, natural gas, mining and logging companies, multinational in nature, have expeditions on every continent. If they are stopped in one country, they can resort to free trade treaties and plead that restrictions on mining is against free trade. And they simply go elsewhere, to where the locals are too poor to organize, or too poor to refuse the influx of temporary money and mining jobs, or to where they can buy off the governments.

A number of solutions are put forward, along with significant victories across the world. Looking to the annual reports of the oil companies, if what they call “proven reserves” are actually utilized, the total emissions from those reserves is many times more than what environmental experts concede will increase the world’s temperature by over 4º Celsius. That increase will have devastating consequences for many millions across the world, as the oceans rise and acidify, as global temperature increases and climate is more severe – with more severe draughts and flood, more severe storms, massive disruption to many ecosystems and climates. And these companies have in their official statements that they intend to extract from these reserves, so we know exactly what they intend to do, and we know what the consequences will be if they are not stopped. It's as simple as that.

We need renewal energy, wind and solar, and we need them now. Natural gas is just as polluting as coal - in fact, it may be more polluting. But there is resistance to change from the ways we already know. And to climate deniers, all these fancy, new-fangled wind turbines and solar panels are too threatening, they are not as sturdy as a good old internal combustion engine. And as Klein points out, letting go of our power to generate energy to the vagaries of nature, to sunlight and wind, is against our worldview and modern, scientific-minded outlook, where humankind is the “master” of nature, to direct as we choose. Real men burn coal.

What about geoengineering? Klein addresses this also, devoting a whole chapter to it (‘Dimming the Sun’). I’ll leave it to the reader to explore, merely noting that the worldview which made humankind the ruler of the natural world is the same worldview which thinks that it can engineer whole planets with grand schemes like space-based shields to block out the sun, or by disbursing particulates in the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays back out of the atmosphere. Do we really want to play around with this technology, and in lieu of renewable energy like solar and wind?

Aren’t the emissions trading schemes going to solve this problem? The various emissions trading schemes, where countries establish limits for their emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and then domestic companies are allotted specific limits, and can buy and sell them amongst each other, or get offsets by conducting emissions-mitigating activity, are widespread. However, there are multiple loopholes and unaccounted emissions. For example, ships on the high seas, which put massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, are not emissions that any one particular country is responsible for. Their emissions simply are not under the rules. Other loopholes exist, such as getting credit for reducing emissions from refraining from activity that was illegal anyway, such as illegal but cheaper “flaring” of gas chimneys at mines in Nigeria. As Klein puts it “With emissions up by about 57% since the U.N. Climate convention was signed in 1992, the failure of this polite strategy is beyond debate.” The sad tale of trading in pollution ultimately reflects the flawed view that market-based solutions are the only politically-feasible method of tackling emissions.

In conclusion, this book is timely, crucial, and to be welcomed as a refocusing of our attentions and priorities. There are many across the world who already are laboring thanklessly to prevent further destruction of our environment, but those with other priorities, and who live removed from nature, can easily forget what is happening. Klein writes:
“The deep sense of interdependence with the natural world that animates rural struggles from Greece to coastal British Columbia is, of course, rather less obvious in the densely populated cities where so many of us live and work: where our reliance on nature is well hidden by highways, pipes, electrical lines, and overstocked supermarkets."

The epiphany is that rather than being masters of the Earth, to engineer our world and extract every last drop of “resources” for our profit, we are the Earth’s stewards (at best), and we live inside its systems. Where do we go from here? First realize that we are “products of our age and of a dominant ideological project. One that too often has taught us to see ourselves as little more than singular, gratification-seeking units, out to maximize our narrow advantage…” If we focus solely on ourselves, we will never see the threat which endangers us all. Once alerted to this threat, we need to work to say "No" to extractavist policies, "No" to investment in fossil industries, and "Yes" to renewable energies.

What do you want to do with your life? Do you want to amass toys and capital for your personal enjoyment while the Earth itself is warped beyond habitability? Or, do you want to take part with people across the globe with similar outlooks and through similar efforts to make a sustainable future for us all? I am very inspired by this book and I cannot wait for others to read it and react to it. In all honesty, I intend to alter my actions and take part in activism to combat climate change.
Profile Image for Nicole D..
1,046 reviews28 followers
September 16, 2014
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 civilization. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us.”

Fossil fuel companies are among the most profitable and they are destroying the planet on the fast track enabled by lobbyists and politicians, because it’s more economical (and profitable) for them to do so than to change what they are doing. Do you want to give BP a dollar so you can drive a Suburban, or do you want to deny BP that dollar (or cut it back to .20 cents) and drive a hybrid? These choices are ours to make and the only way the fossil fuel companies will hear us is economically, because they don’t care about us ecologically.

Corporations whose primary objective are profits cannot be allowed to influence decisions about the PLANET. Poor nations suffer because rich nations pollute. When things get bad, the poor nations will be the first to go. “Media commentators speak of ‘compassion fatigue’, as if empathy, and not fossil fuels was the finite resource.”

We are living beyond our environmental budget, and the bill is coming due.

It’s hard to write a review of this book without discussion how you feel about the topic. How you process the information. This book is, to some degree, preaching to the choir. Klein is radical, and this book is no holds barred. Right-wing Americans aren’t going to read this and suddenly say “Oh, wow, I get it now. My bad.”

If we go down party lines, only 50%(ish) of Americans believe climate change is something which needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, the “other” 50%(ish) control corporations and lobbyists. Better planet, one way or another, results in lower profits. Or a complete breakdown of certain industries.

Cheap goods from China? Bad for the environment, good for Wal-Mart. You could see why Wal-Mart (as an example) would want to deny climate change.

You know why the sky in China is brown? So we can have cheap goods. And guess what? It’s not entirely China’s fault. Every time we buy some tchotchke, pan, coffee mug, electronic device “made in China” we are contributing to climate change.

We need to consume less, and we need to consume more thoughtfully - Buy local (do we really need asparagus which traveled 7,500 miles?) Think about the corporations you support and where your goods are coming from.

Corporations are making deliberate decisions for profit which hasten climate change. This is a book for people who want to understand the economics of climate change. Who want to make educated buying decisions. Saving the planet isn’t just about biking to work one day a week, it’s thinking about where and how you spend your money.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,852 followers
November 23, 2019
Some processes set in motion are unstoppable.

Until three centuries ago, human destructiveness was primarily limited to each other. Apart from deforestation, overuse and local exploitation, the relatively few Homo Sapiens could do little harm to nature and they killed each other without directly harming the planet. Not that one could attach a value to human life, but the difference to nature is that the damage isn´t forever. After devastating wars, the survivors repopulated the ruins, but if there is no animal or plant left to repopulate the badlands, they will stay dead. Unless they are anyway so poisoned and contaminated that life for pioneers is only possible for a short, painful time and the only residents sterile, cancer-eaten mutants.

At the beginning of industrialization, the argument that there were no alternatives was partly correct. Exploitation was a necessary evil and formed the foundation of current prosperity and there was no more sustainable alternative at these times. However, the TINA argument has become obsolete and continues to be used in the context of climate change and fossil fuels as if we were still living at the beginning of the 20th century and there were no new technologies.

The justifications for postponing necessary innovations are contradictory. Technologies such as nuclear power and natural gas would continue to be needed for a healthy, balanced energy mix. A transformation of the electricity grid to integrate decentralized, renewable forms of energy would take decades.
First, innovative technologies have been suppressed for decades or nearly a century. Now they are being delayed by restrictions, bureaucratic harassment and subsidies for established corporations. To maintain the costly, obsolete and destructive old system, money that is otherwise desperately needed is wasted. Therefore, change can only be initiated by the civilian population and innovative companies. Corrupt politics and corporations would delay a nuclear phase-out and effective climate protection measures into the 22nd century.

It is particularly perfidious that NGOs such as climate and environmental protection organizations are often instrumentalized and the entire highlight is focused on a not too explosive aspect of the topic. If possible, with as few connecting points to the real problems as possible. To pet the panda instead of keeping the bamboo forest. To swim with the dolphin instead of protecting the sea. This discredits the credibility of many charitable organizations. It's a similar dilemma to Wikipedia, because to be free and independent, you need donations and that makes you dependent on the donors and patrons.

Media coverage prefers topics about climate change instead of environmental degradation and pollution. An annual inventory maybe and news like "So and so many on the leaderboard of threatened species slipped up or down." With ten parameters including signal light with dots. From green for "everything is fine" to black for "everyone is dead." Even this label has two spongy definitions if the data is insufficient or a species has not been assessed. Convenient when species are eradicated accidentally or as collateral damage.

On the other hand, the climate is so wonderfully vague, sophisticated and comprehensive that it can produce endless debates and reports. Practically without having to commit to concrete facts and above all action approaches. It is in the unpredictable nature of the thing. It is as if people are talking more about the weather, with fewer and fewer animal sounds in the background and monocultures overgrowing everything.

However, people do not talk about concrete phenomena that affect the weather. For example, about the thawing of permafrost, subsidence of the ocean currents, defrosting the polar ice caps, acidification of the oceans, desertification, rising sea levels, rainforest deforestation, microplastics, fracking, etc. But about the manipulable macro themes.
It is better to use nice vague parameters such as global annual temperature, CO2 emissions, and statistics with the probability of century events.

Or one leaves the planet at all and relies on the fluctuating solar activity. A potential collapse of the food and drinking water supply outside the developing countries is also preferably less mentioned, unless it causes too much refugee flow if no actual war makes people flee. But then, rather the immigrants, not the reasons for their escape, are the scapegoats. So one builds more and better border fortifications, maybe with one or the other autonomous border guard robot. Walls have always worked flawlessly in the past. It is cheaper to draw a clear dividing line than helping the country behind in development.

As a cynical bonus gift, developing countries may still be compelled to set climate targets. To leave the monopoly on global warming "science" in the industrialized nations. The quest for an acceptable standard of living will be harder to suppress and this is parallel to an increase in the climate and environmental impact.
Ironically, the West benefits in part from climate change in the form of prolonged growing seasons and shorter winter and meanwhile, drastic consequences remain limited to emerging countries.

So far, climate changes have been continuous processes over long periods with anomalies like volcanic eruptions or solar storms. There have never been so many drastic changes at all levels in such a short time. Climate certificates and emissions trading are a drop in the ocean, they have more loopholes and legal mishaps than proven results.
US military and container ships, for example, were not included in the calculation. Especially with the military, too many unpleasant questions would be raised. For instance assistance in the upgrading of dictatorships in oil-rich countries and the bombing of their enemies, worldwide protection of oil wells and pipelines by military presence and bases, etc. In short, the petro-military complex. Climate wars for resources could already be on the agenda. First, all resources of the earth are consumed and with the resulting, superior military power the remains violently claimed.

The amount of issued certificates is arbitrarily raised like on a stock exchange, which modifies limits and minimums and causes inflation. The licenses should have been expensive and difficult to obtain, instead, energy-intensive industries are earmarked for selling large quota surplus certificates. Another, indirect subsidy. If you go after that, one would have to assume that there is much less pollution than certificates. Maybe there will be hyperinflation with those documents, on which a few billion emissions per piece are printed.
This fits in with the negligent casino mentality. Bipolar that this, pragmatically and technocratically, quantifies animals and natural spaces as resources to be used. Everything in nature is carefully calculated with perverted financial mathematics and statistics to precisely find each exploitation possibility. The rescue measures, however, ridiculed with the same instruments. On the stock exchanges, such a business transaction would result in severe penalties. Here, on the other hand, it's all just about nature. Sanctions are for instance possible against countries that issue protectionist subsidies for renewable energies what is against free trade agreements.

Peak Oil is not mentioned but deserves attention. As with diamond cartels or Fort Knox, you do not know what is on with it. How many tons of diamonds are stashed in Antwerp and with how much usury are they selling? Are real gold bars, gold-plated lead ingots or even no bars in Fort Knox? And will the oil reserves last 50 or 200 years? In the first case, one heads towards another significant problem. Not primarily because of the fuels that can be made differently. Or the financial crisis, when oil companies and petrochemical industry collapse. And with them, the vast majority of trading companies fall like a house of cards. But because of the many other substances for which there are no alternative primary materials, without which, however, industry and commerce can not be sustained.

In addition to the known alternatives, there are quite a few new processes, machines, and ideas. Many have not yet been tapped or invented because money has never been invested in research and economic use. Or the patents were bought and thrown into a safe and the involved scientists made silent. Solar energy and geothermal energy can be used in different ways. Or take the imitation of the photosynthesis of a plant with new variants of photovoltaic systems. Direct use of energy from water, wind and tides offers the perfect supplement for cloudy days. The use of chemical energy from fermentation processes could be switched on and off at will or stored.
The result is self-sufficient energy production in plus energy houses. The heat under the house from the earth's core as well as the sun's rays, the temperature in the air and all organic waste are used optimally. Maybe still in a post-capitalist sharing economy. A more than a red rag for the established monopolists.

One thing is ambiguous. The fact that we would be heading for a new ice age. It would be natural for the poles to push themselves over half the continents for tens of thousands of years and bury everything under a hundred-meter-thick ice sheet. Humans would merely position themselves around the equator and sit out the ice age, but it would cause immense, natural species extinction. Possibly not as massive as the current one in the course of the Anthropocene. Although the humans, with so many, also fled animals on a narrow strip around the belt zone of the planet, would probably proceed the same way as today. Ironically, climate change still protects us from this scenario.

It is to be hoped that civic movements such as the mentioned Blockadia, new political movements and a very slow rethinking in established parties will not be too late. Because the greenhouse effect is similar to that on the planet Venus. Superstorms, extreme temperature fluctuations and ever greater uninhabitability are possible future variants. So extreme, that it is deadly to go outside. To get an idea of the reversibility, one can build a snowman in a desert, grow ice in the garden in the spring, stick broken pieces of glaciers back to the Antarctic, activate air currents through fans, accelerate ocean currents through paddles or filter certain elements from the air. Everything is not so easy. The process is irreversible. An environment is so heavily built and so quickly destroyed.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real-life outside books:

Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews964 followers
May 28, 2019
My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.

Expansive and visionary, This Changes Everything urges that bold, structural changes to the global economy must be made if greenhouse gas emissions are to be lowered and cataclysmic climate change avoided. In lucid prose Klein details how neoliberal policies have wrecked havoc on the public sphere and environment over the past four decades, intensifying already-rampant inequality and industrial pollution. As she surveys the threat and critiques incrementalist approaches to climate change, Klein puts forth a wide array of imaginative proposals on how social and environmental justice might be pursued, and she examines recent successful anti-capitalist victories across nations. Klein’s scope is international and inclusive, her argument well researched and accessible; the book’s well worth (re)reading, as well as convincing in its claim that only robust social movements will save the world from imminent ruin.
Profile Image for Adam.
Author 16 books35 followers
September 30, 2014
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 humanitarian aims, but it is also the work of profound evil. This is a totalitarian book that aims to advance totalitarian aims in the guise of combating a supposed emergency. As Klein herself admits, she herself truly began to engage with these issues only when she realized that the aims of environmental radicalism provided a rationale for the adoption of ultra-left positions more generally. In writing this book, Klein has done the world a profound service in a surely-unintended fashion: she has set out in crystal-clear fashion the slightly-hidden agenda that lies behind most so-called “environmental” initiatives: the destruction of capitalism and Western Civilization.

If you think my last sentence was hyperbolic, you should read the book yourself. In it Klein advocates a program that would see a radical redistribution of wealth, not only from the “1% to the 99% within the advanced industrial nations, but on a global basis. She approvingly quotes one academic as, “envision(ing) that “hours of paid work and income could converge worldwide at substantially lower levels than is seen in the developed countries of today.””

When I read that sentence, I was temporarily floored. It is clear enough to myself that the aim of a notable portion of the present-day left is to take what you, I, and our families have and give it away in the name of “social justice”, but it’s rare to see it admittedly so openly. How many in the West would ever willingly accept having our standard of living “coverage” with that of Liberia?

She tries to put as kind a spin on this as possible, writing that, “(w)e will need to return to a lifestyle similar to the one we had in the 1970s” in order to attempt to pull back the shock a little bit. But, I ask you, how many among us would sincerely and willingly see our standard of living rolled back by four or five decades? She does her best to disguise the sort of pain that she’s proposing to inflict upon the majority of Canadians, Americans, and other citizens in advanced nations, as well as the fact that it is more or less it is impossible that such measures would ever be adopted on a voluntary basis. Here and there, however, the mask slips, which was when she writes that, “if these sorts of demand-side emissions reductions are to take place on anything like the scale required, they cannot be left to the lifestyle decisions of earnest urbanites.”

Ah, there it is! These decisions, Klein and her ilk believe, as so important that they cannot be left to the people. Nowhere in her book, beyond in laying out a vapid and shiny vision of a mass-movement of various native peoples and local townspeople resisting oil development, does she ever get too explicit about how the practical politics of this change should be managed, but it doesn’t take too much of a leap to infer that it would be impossible for her anti-capitalist revolutionary movement to operate in accord with basic constitutional liberties and the rule of law. What she proposes, in essence, is for a revolutionary mob to come along and take by force the property of others in the name of the Earth. What she proposes is for a massive increase in the powers of the state over the affairs of the people - one that could not be possibly gained by democratic consent in the timeframe that she suggests (before the end of his decade). When Klein invokes the increase in transit usage and home production of food that occurred during the Second World War as an example, she shows a little more of her hand: those measures were only possible within a context of near-absolute government control of society during a total war.

It is a cliche to invoke Martin Niemöller in a political debate, yet it is irresistible here. Her first targets - the oil companies and select billionaires - may have some aspects about them that are unappealing, but this is really about everyone. This is a vision for a Khemr Rouge-like Year Zero society that will harm practically everyone if even a small fraction of it is allowed to come to pass.

“It is a matter of the well-off 20 percent in a population taking the largest cuts,” Klein writes, but soon enough she adds that, “(t)his does not mean the middle class is off the hook. To fund the kind of social programs that will make a just transition possible, taxes will have to raise for everyone but the poor.” Later she add that this, “is precisely why, when climate change diners claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth, it’s not (only) because they are paranoid. It’s also because they are paying attention.”

Yet, strangely, Klein fails to ever truly engage with the sort of tenacious resistance that such measures would face not only among the oil barons and the other villains of her work, but among ordinary people who do not wish to see the work of generations and their own lives destroyed or stolen and “redistributed” to others. If you would like to see your lifestyle “converge” with that of Nepal, you are more than free to make such a thing happen immediately. If you wish to require that my standard of living be reduced until it is roughly the same as the global average, than you are going to not only need votes but also guns and armies. This is the single greatest flaw of this book: Klein unveils a totalitarian and world-transforming vision and acknowledges that there are ideologues whose ideas differ from hers that she is willing to accord at least intellectual respect to, but she never engages with the reality that there are millions of people - ordinary citizens - in the Western world who would die on the battlefield before they would ever consent to live in her nightmarish version of the future.

Going through this book I thought of a moment in another work that I’d be willing to bet that Klein is familiar with (since it came out of the febrile imagination of the far-left of the British Labour Party during the 1980s). The late 1980s mini-series A Very British Coup is horribly dated now (it was based upon an even-older novel). It imagines the election of a crypto-communist British Prime Minister (who, among other things, funds his wild spending by taking out a large loan from the Soviet Union) and the resistance to him by the United States and the British establishment. In the climactic showdown between the Prime Minister and the sinister head of MI5, the intelligence chief tells the Prime Minister that his ideals represent a threat to everything that he and his fathers have fought for over the centuries, yea onto the Middle Ages. The Prime Minister closes his reply by telling the head of MI5, “don’t forget: I have ancestors too.”

Klein’s mistake here is assuming that she and her allies have a monopoly on virtue. She assumes that they are the “good guys” in this scenario, much as the old-line Marxists of earlier days held a position that took the virtue of “the workers” as an established fact rather than the debatable and mixed proposition that it was. She forgets, in other words, that I have ancestors too and that those of us who believe in individual liberty and the heritage of the English-speaking peoples have things that we believe in every bit as passionately and that we are certain are just as right as the things that she and her followers believe in. By failing to account for this, her extremism ensures that, at best, those who share her beliefs will remain eternally consigned to the fringes of society and, at worst, if they are ever to gain a mass following and the opportunity to implement her ideals that she will not be ushering in paradise, but instead bring on bloody and brutal civil wars that will resemble, more than anything else, the terrible strife that nearly destroyed the Balkans two decades ago.
Profile Image for Simon Clark.
Author 1 book4,978 followers
August 17, 2020
The book everyone should read on climate change.

In a sweeping, powerful book, Naomi Klein articulates why in order to effectively stand up to climate change we must fundamentally restructure the global economy. It is clear that the current economic system - built on neoliberal ideas, particularly around global trade - has utterly failed to stand up to the challenge, and may in fact be fundamentally incapable of doing so. So we find ourselves answering the question: what do we value more? The philosophy underpinning the economy, or our physical environment? I certainly know my answer.

The book is not without its flaws. It's certainly not an appropriate primer to the physical nature of climate change - barring a few vivid case studies it doesn't deal with the science. Klein also makes her points in a somewhat roundabout way, almost muffling her points with too many case studies rather than cutting to the chase. Also, despite the book making extensive efforts to highlight the plight of disenfranchised ethnic groups, it is still very western-centric. But these flaws fall away with the scope of what she has accomplished with the book. It is a powerful call to action, one of those books that causes scales to fall away from your eyes, and makes you see a problem that was standing in plain sight. If you're not pissed off, demanding change, after reading it then we fundamentally disagree on humanity's place on the Earth.

You should read it.
Profile Image for Kevin.
289 reviews920 followers
July 1, 2023
Someone please time-travel back to 2014 and have Klein read Capital!

--The gist of this 2022 updated review (I was reminded of Klein after seeing her name as an instructor for a course in my department) is that “capitalism” (i.e. capitalist property rights: labor market, global market of commodities, stock market, land market, private banking, etc.) relies on abstraction, and how long it can take for even sharp and caring people to grapple with these abstract structures and then imagine alternatives. And if I'm not being facetious, I assume Klein did read Capital Vol. 1., and I appreciate the challenge of popularizing critical structural analysis...

--Witness the evolution of Naomi Klein, one of today's most well-known social activists/authors of the Western Left. Klein's first major book in 2000 (No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies) started from the perspective of the First World consumerist, analyzing the side of capitalism that pro-capitalists boast about, i.e. consumers' choice of endless commodities in “advanced capitalist” countries. Wait until we get to what Marx has to say on commodities...

--7 years later comes The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, on the “rise” of disaster capitalism (i.e. Neoliberalism) in developed countries. Of course, anyone familiar with world history knows that capitalism has always relied on violent privatization to construct the labor market, land market, seize raw materials, and perpetuate capitalist accumulation (i.e. those dispossessed of land/other social relations, who must now sell their labor and depend on capitalist commodities to survive), from the “Enclosures” of the Commons/criminalization of the dispossessed in Western Europe to genocidal pillaging/Slave Trade plantations to militarily destroying/strangling international competition for the imposition of imperialism's global division of labor. See:
-Chapters 26-33 (Part 8 "The Secret History of Primitive Accumulation") in Marx's Capital, Vol. 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production outlines the Enclosures and violent shepherding of the dispossessed into wage labor dependency/discipline.
-easy intro on the logic/contradictions of capitalism's markets: Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works - and How It Fails
-easy intro on “Enclosures” in the Global South, i.e. colonialism/imperialism: The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions and The Agrarian Question in the Neoliberal Era: Primitive Accumulation and the Peasantry
-deep dive: Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present

--Another 7 years later (2014), we arrive at this book where Klein is taking another step by contemplating the existential crisis of capitalist growth on a finite planet. Now, let's return to Marx's Capital (unpacked here) published in 1867...
--Chapter 1 starts with the value theory of capitalism, where social needs (“use-value”) are commodified (i.e. commodities are produced for the sake of market exchange instead of personal use) and how capitalist market exchange focuses instead on “exchange-value” (selling the commodity on the market).
--This has a range of consequences. For example, the environment is a natural “Commons” with immense yet incalculable use-value (how do you quantify and sell clean air, biodiversity, beauty, heritage, reciprocity, etc.? If you cannot quantify/sell under capitalism, then how can you “value” it under capitalism?). Meanwhile, capitalist profits are made through the processes of dispossession + production + speculation in order to profit from market exchange. Thus, a forest has no capitalist value (exchange-value) until it is cut down to produce lumber, or the land is privatized to sell/extract rent/speculate.
--Even with natural resources that have been commodified (clean water, fossil fuels, lumber, fish, etc.), we see crises with monopolization (nature often presents natural monopolies once privatized) and short-term pillaging (this gets into the fallacy of the “Tragedy of the Commons”, a pro-capitalist thought-experiment debunked here: https://youtu.be/xcwXME-PNuE and Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action)
--Furthermore, the environment is a convenient negative “externality” (external to the market, since once again how can you quantify and privatize the entirety of the environment?) where costs can be cut by dumping it onto everyone else (i.e. pollution): The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
--Thus, capitalism's logic fundamentally neglects the incalculable use-value of the environment and accelerates its destruction for the sake of exchange-value, even though the environment's use-value is essential for human survival! Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System
--Marx's Capital Vol. 1 mostly focuses on other contradictions of use-value/exchange-value, in particular how human labor is abstracted as a commodity (wage labor: bought and sold), how capitalists extract their profits from this process, and how this struggle plays out on a fundamental (still abstract) level. Later Marxists have elaborated on themes explored in the later volumes of the unfinished Capital project, such as the “metabolic rift” capitalism creates between humans and nature.

Alternatives: rethinking our value system:
--Just as the Greek myth of King Midas' wish for the "Golden touch" to turn everything he touched into gold quickly becomes a tragedy when his food and drink become gold, we have to reconsider our structural (i.e. production/distribution) value system before we commodify our planet and our thoughts (intellectual property) into sterile objects.
--A useful companion to unpack Capital Vol. 1 is A Companion to Marx's Capital
--I currently find Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World) the most compelling intro to leftist analysis of capitalism's endless growth imperative (for-profit) vs. finite planet.
--We can contrast this with non-leftist liberal "environmentalism"/"Green Capitalism" etc., see these critiques:
-Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis
-A People’s Green New Deal
--Klein's chapter on blockades (Ch.9: "Blockadia: The New Climate Warriors") should be carefully synthesized with How to Blow Up a Pipeline.
--On reciprocity with nature: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
--On structural alternatives to capitalist property rights/markets: Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present
--On incorporating the role of energy in the economy: The New Economics: A Manifesto

“Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth - the soil and the labourer.”
(Chapter 15 of Capital, Vol. 1)
Profile Image for Blair.
122 reviews81 followers
July 2, 2016
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 to reject the scientific understanding of climate change with perhaps the most insightful statement in her book: “The tight correlation between ‘worldview’ and acceptance of climate science is due to ‘cultural cognition’, the process by which all of us, regardless of political leanings, filter new information in ways that will protect our ‘preferred vision of the good society’.”

Filtering information to promote her preferred vision of the good society is exactly what this book is about. This is most evident when confronting the extremely complex scientific problem of climate change. The believing mind simply cannot comprehend the scientific method required to understand this issue.

What We Know and Don’t Know about Climate Change

Scientists are reasonably certain that global warming is real and mainly caused by burning fossil fuels. Supporting this fact is beyond the scope of my review. If you disagree, you are under the spell of a different belief system. The problems begin when trying to understand how this will affect our future in the real world.

Global warming does not mean there will be some terrible new climate. The climates we already have will move to different places. In general, climate zones will migrate toward the poles. If you want to know your future climate, look south. Of course, what exactly will happen in any particular region is more complex than that, but it is a good first approximation.

How fast will the climate change? The answer involves a concept completely absent from Naomi Klein’s thinking, which is uncertainty. The latest IPCC report (AR5) estimates the (equilibrium) climate sensitivity for temperature is between 1.5 and 4.5, which is quite a large range. At the low end we have plenty of time to transition to carbon free energy. At the high end some of the alarmism in this book may be justified, if wrong in detail. The problem with presenting a range like that is believers will pick the figure they want to believe. You just did that, didn’t you? Those values are both unlikely extremes. The reality is most likely somewhere in between.

The hard truth is we do not know how fast climate change will happen, and we do not know how it will affect any particular region. The effects of our actions today will not be felt until decades into the future. The effect of any individual’s carbon dioxide production is felt globally. Therefore any solution must be global in scope, which is a problem for someone so viscerally opposed to globalization.

Seeking Instant Gratification

We all seek instant gratification. People want to use their fossil fuels today and not worry about future consequences. Thus to make people aware of climate change, we seek something with an immediate sensational impact – extreme weather. And what could be better than a hurricane, especially one that reaches New York. After all, when you hit Broadway you’ve made the big time.

Rising carbon dioxide levels lead directly to rising global temperatures. However, the link between that and extreme weather is secondary, and poorly understood. She claims that there has been a fivefold increase in these events since the 1970’s. In reality, the IPCC report says, “It is likely that since about 1950 the number of heavy precipitation events over land has increased in more regions than it has decreased,” and “Confidence is low for a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, owing to lack of direct observations, methodological uncertainties and geographical inconsistencies in the trends.” In other words, she is flat out lying. There is little detectable trend so far. No one really knows how much more extreme weather there will be in the future, certainly not Naomi Klein.

The Disconnect Between Capitalism and Climate Change

Economics is seen as the big bad capitalists exploiting their innocent victims, the common people. This viewpoint neglects the detail that most of those people are also consumers who benefit from the system, even if not as much as they think they deserve to.

There is one basic fact to keep in mind: burning fossil fuels is the cheapest way to produce energy, assuming we ignore the side effect of climate change. Fossil fuels are not some horror inflicted on us by greedy capitalism. The capitalist is responding to all the “greedy” consumers who want to pay as little as possible for their energy. Look at who screams the loudest when gas prices go up.

The notion that a transition to renewable energy threatens the structure of capitalism is nonsense. This could be done, in theory, with nuclear power, which currently produces about ten times the carbon free energy than all other renewable energy sources combined. The result would greatly increased centralization and concentration of power. But even a transition to solar energy would not change much. Large corporations would produce the solar panels, for the same reason they already produce our cars and computers. It is more efficient and gives consumers the lowest prices.

A free market cannot address climate change because it does not measure the carbon dioxide externality. The solution is a tax on emissions to force markets to take this into account. There is no need to dream up an imaginary economic system to add to the uncertainty a changing climate will already bring.

Wanting Something for Nothing

Only a true believer could come up with this remarkable statement, which reflects the central message of the book:

“The resources required to rapidly move away from fossil fuels and prepare for the coming heavy weather could pull huge swaths of humanity out of poverty, providing services now sorely lacking, from clean water to electricity.”

Read it again, replacing could with could instead. This is about a trade off, that most basic economic concept that Naomi Klein seems utterly incapable of understanding. The money invested in renewable energy and climate change adaptation (for ‘heavy weather’) comes out of the same pool that could be spent on alleviating poverty. Using renewable energy will make electricity cost more for everyone. These are upfront costs. Any benefits come in the future.

The best example of a country that pulled huge swaths of humanity out of poverty is China. The inconvenient truth is they did it with unbridled capitalism, and burned a vast amount of coal doing it. It is the same for any other country that has reduced poverty.

Hard Choices and False Choices

The connection between income equality and climate change is actually negative. Lower income people use more energy per dollar than higher income people. Transferring wealth from the rich to the poor will increase carbon dioxide emissions. That is why China is now the largest and fasted growing carbon dioxide emitter.

Unfortunately, the real world is about hard choices. Maybe we should invest in renewable energy, but in the short term it will reduce wealth for everyone. Maybe we should reduce income disparity, but it will increase the burning of fossil fuels.

Of course, we can do it all for free by taking it away from the rich. Have you noticed that strategy has a rather poor track record? While some of the rich are parasites, others are the ones who create our new technology, including renewable energy. You can only eat the rich once, and the feast will not last very long. There is simply not as much wealth to be plundered from the wealthy as some might want to believe.

What Happened to Property Rights?

Much of this book is taken up with the campaigns of local people against resource development. It is all heartwarming stuff, and these people have a legitimate complaint about suffering damage to their health and property so others can benefit. But why do they have so little legal protection? Maybe because the Left is against property itself, and the Right defines property rights so narrowly that ordinary people are excluded.

However noble some of these struggles may seem, they are ultimately about defending property. Klein gleefully reports that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson joined a lawsuit against fracking near his $5 million Texas home, claiming it would lower his property values. This nicely illustrates the point that conflict over development has little to do with climate change. If you stop one project, more oil will be found elsewhere. If you prevent a pipeline from being built, the oil will be shipped on trains that have worse accidents. Chasing these side issues distracts from addressing the real problem.

Climate change is a technical problem to be solved by technology that produces less carbon dioxide. It is also a cultural problem. People have to choose to pay more for their energy and reduce their personal consumption now, in return for reducing harm to other people in the future. That is a hard sell. Saying someone else should pay makes you no different than a climate change denier. You just have different excuses.

A Symbiotic Relationship that Ruins Everything

The book begins with Naomi Klein bravely attending a Heartland Institute conference on climate change. Such a gathering of conservatives dedicated to free market solutions would seem a rather hostile environment. But why would they welcome such a well known opponent?

Because she tells them, “When climate deniers claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth, it is because they are paying attention.” She represents exactly how they want to portray the entire environmental movement. And in turn, they represent the heartless extreme capitalism she wants to depict. Truly we have a symbiotic relationship here.

A believer in conspiracy theories might claim that Exxon and the Koch Brothers funded this book. It better supports their goal of polarizing the public than any number of conferences they can organize. With the goal of hijacking the climate change issue to push her collectivist fantasy, it could be one of the most destructive books ever written. If this book changes anything, it will be to delay real action to address climate change. I suggest you read George Marshall’s Don't Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change for a hard look at addressing climate change. It may help you see why this book ruins everything.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,988 followers
June 5, 2017
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 explaining how capitalism contributes to climate change, and while this review does a better job than I could on breaking down how she does it, I want to include a relevant:

"By posing climate change as a battle between capitalism and the planet, I am not saying anything that we don't already know. The battle is already under way, but right now capitalism is winning hands down. It wins every time the need for economic growth is used as an excuse for putting off climate action yet again, or for breaking emission reduction commitments already made. It wins when Greeks are told that their only path out of economic crisis is to open up their beautiful seas to high-risk oil and gas drilling. It wins when Canadians are told our only hope of not ending up like Greece is to allow our boreal forests to be flayed so we can access the semisold bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. It wins when a park in Istanbul is slotted for demolition to make way for yet another shopping mall. It wins when parents in Beijing are told that sending their wheezing kids to school in pollution masks decorated to look like cute cartoon characters is an acceptable price for economic progress. It wins every time we accept that we have only bad choices available to us: austerity of extraction, poisoning or poverty."

Amidst several striking points, I most appreciate Klein's emphasis on valuing nurturing and regeneration over domination and extractivism. As someone who researches and thinks a lot about gender, I see this struggle play out between the "masculine" urge to destroy and to practice aggression the "feminine" urge to heal and to protect. I wish we as a society cared more about caring instead of profit, because that would help the environment and it may have prevented the incompetent Donald Trump from becoming President. With the awful Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, we need to act fast. A quote that reflects my sentiments in this paragraph, about how we should question what we prioritize in society:

"Now, I realize that this can all sound apocalyptic - as if reducing emissions requires economic crises that result in mass suffering. But that seems so only because we have an economic system that fetishizes GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, while failing to place value on those things that most of us cherish above all - a decent standard of living, a measure of feature security, and our relationships with one another. So what Anderson and Bows-Larkin are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which is surely the best argument there has ever been for changing those rules."

Overall, a dense and important book about an urgent topic in contemporary society. I am genuinely so afraid of the suffering future generations will have to experience because of our negligence, and at the same time I am hopeful that we can lessen their burden if we mobilize now. Please join the fight for climate justice, with me and so many others.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,438 followers
February 11, 2016
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 may only be possible if the electorate, the populace, refuse to accept what we are being offered by our governments and the corporations “serving our needs.”

Oh, what a thing man is…but Klein’s concludes that “humanity is not hopelessly selfish and greedy—the image ceaselessly sold to us by everything from reality shows to neoclassical economics.” Climate change is not merely about climate: Klein explains how it has always has been and always will be about social justice. It isn’t about the politicians or corporations, really, any more, it is about us, though it is true that corporations
“have become the authors of the laws under which they operate…In fact, current trade and investment rules provide legal grounds for foreign corporations to fight virtually any attempt by governments to restrict the exploitation of fossil fuels, particularly once a carbon deposit has attracted investment and extraction has begun. And when the aim of the investment is explicitly to export the oil, gas, and coal and sell it on the world market—as is increasingly the case—successful campaigns to block those exports could well be met with similar legal challenges, since imposing ‘quantitative restrictions’ on the free flow of goods across borders violates a fundamental tenet of trade law.”

Klein makes the inescapable point that we are currently legally bound to accept fracking, oil drilling, and coal extraction on or near our own land and that stopping it from happening requires court action. The poorest and most disenfranchised among us usually have the least tools, but fortunately in Canada and areas of the U.S., some native Indian communities find that the original land grants give them some clout when refusing extractive industry, a strange reversal of fortune in this era of “Drill, baby, Drill.”
”many non-Native people are starting to realize that Indigenous rights—if aggressively backed by court challenges, direct action, and mass movements demanding that they be respected—may now represent the most powerful barriers protecting all of us from a future of climate chaos.”
This is about us. We have the power. Politicians and corporations just make the ride more comfortable or less. One could argue that they are not responsible for changing the world—we are. So…it is time to take action and put in place the kind of leadership we seek. Diverse constituencies must come together to make transformative change.

Klein makes the point that the touted “jobs” that are reaped in building, for instance, the tar-sands pipeline would be swamped by the jobs created if that investment went into green investment. And speaking of investment, it is not enough, Klein asserts, merely to divest of extraction industry stocks, but it is also necessary to reinvest those monies in the place they might do the most good: “today’s climate movement does not have the luxury of simply saying no without simultaneously fighting for a series of transformative yeses—the building blocks of our next economy that can provide good clean jobs, as well as a social safety net that cushions the hardships for those inevitably suffering hardships.”

A couple of months ago I reviewed Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, a book the journalist Chris Hedges collaborated on with the graphic artist Joe Sacco. That book describes the “sacrifice zones” in the United States that sustain the extractive industries and a corporate mindset, rather than considering of the wider body politic. Certain areas of the country and land are “sacrificed” to degradation so that the rest of us can live comfortably. Klein mentions the same phenomenon, but she puts us in the driver seat:
“To fail to [confront an imminent and unavoidable climate emergency]—which is what we are collectively doing—knowing full well that eventually the failure could force government to rationalize ‘risking’ turning whole nations, even subcontinents, into sacrifice zones, is a decision our children may judge as humanity’s single most immoral act.”

Klein does discuss the responses and solutions proposed by scientists and corporate entities to obvious indications of climate change, to give the other side their say. But in wide discussions with the larger scientific community, the solutions thus far proposed all have hideous effects that may be worse than the problem. For instance, one idea that apparently has gained some traction is the concept of exploding sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays and some of its heat, similar to a volcanic eruption. Unfortunately, most scientists agree that this would have deleterious effects on monsoon and other weather patterns and certainly would have consequences we have not yet determined. In other words, the proposed fix is to carry on with our lifestyles and almost certainly do more damage, rather than thinking about how to conserve, protect, to think of the world and the creatures on it as a whole. We could utilize our best minds and skills to recreate our energy future, but that opportunity to date is being wasted on chimerical solutions rather than the more obvious one of paying attention.

What Klein does show us, sadly, is how in the past green movement proponents and non-profits have tried to work with oil and gas companies but have ended up in their pockets: “chummy green partnerships” she calls it. “The climate movement has found its nonnegotiables…and it is delivering some of the most significant victories the environmental movement has seen in decades.” There is a movement afoot, and motion has been detected in pockets of resistance across America and the world. It is gaining mass and momentum, and she is urging us to jump onboard and make the changes we wish to see. We have the power.

What use is despair? If we are going down, we might as well go down fighting. Klein quotes Yotam Marom, and organizer with Occupy Wall Street in New York: “The fight for climate isn’t a separate movement, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity for all of our movements. We don’t need to become climate activists, we are climate activists. We don’t need a separate climate movement; we need to seize the climate moment.” Just possibly we might be able to change the world.

This is a big book, but not a difficult or dense read, since undoubtedly the reader that picks up this book will be familiar with some of the facts. It is a fascinating discursive discussion covering the whole world when giving examples of pollution from and resistance to extractive industries. It is a massive collection and organization of information and a real work of generosity. Thank you, Naomi Klein!
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews502 followers
August 10, 2015
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 grassroots communities ARE working for the good of the climate. Which is usually in opposition to the global energy companies whose incentive is to make money. Then make some more. And more.

Did I learn anything new? Yes, I learnt a lot. Not only about climate change, why it's A REAL PROBLEM and how this will affect everyone (no not hotter summers, yippee). I discovered more about why we're being pushed into extreme energy sources, what governments are(n't) doing about it and the roles ecological and green organisations play to help. Or not. I read about problems encountered by people who really do WANT TO HELP and how easy it is for their good intentions to be turned in another direction. I read a lot of things that made me angry. I expected multinational companies to be making big profits for themselves. I less expected them to be ignoring laws and legislature, simply because they have money and time on their side, to strip the earth of resources before communities can make LEGITIMATE claims through the courts. By which time it's too late to put the resources back in the ground. Is it such a novel idea just to keep them there?

I think more people are beginning to think this way. Most populations don't want to live next to a nuclear plant, they don't want oil drilling in their back yard, or fracking on their doorstep. Demonstrations at ground level have stopped some of these things from happening and they're slowly pushing back the tide of these last wave extractions. More needs to happen of course. Saving one area at a time with protests is not enough and that's where some of the bigger ideas of this book come into play. Living in a more co-operative society, where that literally does what it says. Changing the global dominance of the way the world runs, when it's to the detriment of local jobs, resources, people, animals and land. Yet, I don't see that things will change.

For things to be implemented as Naomi Klein suggests there would need to be a huge rethink on everyday life and a return to a simpler time. For a start, more growing, making and buying of local goods, rather than buying products that have flown halfway across the world because someone else can produce them cheaper. Free trade sounds like a positive thing, but it can also work against us. We're running out of resources to ship these goods back and forth across the world and if we continue down this path of mass consumption things will eventually come to a head.

Coal, oil and gas aren't finite resources, they will run out. By which time it will be too late to start mass investment of real green alternatives. That needs to be happening right now. If we wait another 50 or 100 years too much damage will have been done, which can't be magically fixed. More people will live in land stripped communities, or be displaced from rising sea levels, or suffer from repeated famines due to crop failures. The west won't be exempt either, with increased natural disasters in the way of heat waves and forest fires, or extreme hurricanes. Perhaps in the future there will be an even more two tier society, with the rich living in air conditioned, flood defended, earthquake resistant structures. While the poor languish outside of these areas. Think hurricane Katrina style disaster on a global scale, year on year. Or your favourite dystopian novels come true.

So what if all of this is wrong? What if the 97 percent of scientists who tell us global warming is happening, are actually mistaken? What if it isn't all our fault, it's actually a fluctuation of earth's natural temperatures and there isn't really a problem. Well, in this case, as Naomi Klein says, we'll just have made the world a fairer, better place for everyone, for no reason at all. What a shame that would be.
Profile Image for Monica.
621 reviews631 followers
November 14, 2021
It's clear at this point that books on climate change need to be read when they come out. The problem of climate change is so obvious by now that a book written 8 years ago comes across as talking to the converted. Klein takes aim at the problems of climate change and juxtaposes the issue with capitalism and how corporations and the wealthy not only contribute but accelerate and exacerbate the problems. As usual Klein is thorough and came prepared with a ton of fact filled content. Her take is innovative, and I've got to give more than just a side eye at Richard Branson and his very superficial pledges to climate change that are absolutely meaningless. Branson is all about the show and no substance. This is underscored some eight years later as he participates with his billionaire "brothers" in a race to space while doing nothing to curb climate change (after much talk). Same for Bill Gates and his nuclear dreams. Seems like for the wealthy elite, climate change is both academic and something they can buy their way out of the effects. Klein probably provided a seed for the book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas which talks about how the one percent are very generous about their donations to pet causes but not inclined to pay their fair share in taxes for the common good; the benefits of which their wealth was likely built upon. Through a 2021 lens, everything Klein exposes is on display in bright lights about the corporations, the very wealthy and the economic impact of the pollution and environmental inequity on the poor around the world. The world is being destroyed and it is not nearly as slow as intended. Worldwide, the corporations continue to pull fossil fuels from the ground, the fishing companies keep overfishing and killing species. The airlines keep using technology that continues to pollute, the soil continues to erode, chemicals poison the environment, the droughts continue unabated, farmers are burning forests in the Amazon that provide oxygen for the planet, a food supply that puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the furiousness of climate change and its impact on mankind continues to be mitigated in public life in spite of its obvious impacts. Klein warns us that unfettered capitalism is a huge barrier in dealing with climate change. All that economic strength and corporate power is useless if it creates a planet incapable of sustaining life.

This is a great book. Klein exhibits her usual well researched and documented position. She is an interesting writer who comes armed with facts about everything she asserts. For me, there was little here that I didn't already know that was of substance. But I attribute that to the age of the book, not the author. For me Klein books are must read. She's passionate, righteous, indignant and thorough!!

4+ Stars

Listened to Audible. Ellen Archer was excellent.
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,190 reviews1,079 followers
February 23, 2015
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.¹

I am left with the firm belief that Klein's purpose in writing this book was to simply sell a lot of books, and not to engage in a serious unpicking of capitalism, or, kinda crucially, outlining practicable steps as to how she envisions a post-capitalist future might, you know, work.

It's fitting that Klein closes the book asking how Alexis Tsipras² will answer to history "knocking on [his] door." We already have that answer: by being forced by the EU, the ECB, and the IMF to cave on his election promises to dismantle austerity, utterly failing to achieve a debt write-down, and then spinning it as a victory. The Greek people are being forced into a "humanitarian crisis" to pay for the €237 billion in "bailout" funds that went directly to Greek and European financial institutions since May 2010. This is what is wrong with the realities of late-era capitalism, and it has nothing to do with metaphors of floating in amniotic fluid. Gah.

¹ this kind of writing is so counterproductive that it actually gives credence to the conspiracy theory that Klein is in the pay of big oil.

² The Greek opposition leader at the time Klein wrote the book: now Greece's Prime Minister
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 36 books446 followers
June 21, 2015
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, hopefully prove myself cleverer, courageouser and persistenter than anyone who did!! :P

Anyways: imagine instead people said to each other- oh, there's this great book, just under 200pgs long, you can pick it up from most cash registers, tells you everything you need to know about climate change, what others are doing about it and what we can do about it too. (Hey, she could still make this book. I would advise her to do so.)

But we have This. What's this? It's this! What does it change? Everything. What's everything? Oh, you know, things! It changes those! Okay, then what can I do?


Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
February 2, 2016
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 bodgy job (and hold the jokes about gestation please), but I will reread at some point not just to refresh my memory but as therapy for burn out and political despair. It starts off with the bad news – so devastatingly sad I sobbed for all of us everywhere, humans and non-humans, all but doomed to a future of environmental devastation, so much so that a stranger (but fellow northener) gave up her seat on the tube for me 'you look like you need this more than I do, love'. The next day I was chuckling under my breath and punching the air with a suppressed 'Yes!' for the victories of Blockadia and PEOPLE POWER generally against extractivist corporations and their scary supporters in state power.

The keystone idea here is that the simple reason we're failing to do what we need to do and stop burning the damn fossil fuels already is that the things we need to do are in fundamental conflict with deregulated capitalism. I am in 100% agreement with this. We have the technology, we have the knowledge, we have the desire and wherewithall to help each other out, make sacrifices, work together and all that, we just have this bonkers system that is wired to kill us all. The fact that an elite minority currently has a stranglehold on the world economy is, in Klein's view, just really really bad timing. If climate scientists had got in a decade earlier, we'd be fixed up good by now, and if the whole ozone layer thing had been a little bit later, when governments can get sued for banning dangerous products, we'd probably be hiding behind specially coated windows and only going out at night. Witness the UK's current PM unbanning bee-killing neonicotinoids this year. Activists are working overtime on stuff like this because it gets harder and harder to win through legal channels while corporate forces crunch ahead tearing down regulatory structures designed to protect people from their depredations. Klein describes the past quarter-century for the corporate globalisation process as 'zooming from victory to victory'

But this is just from the intro, Klein goes deep and wide, crafting a thorough, unsparing philosophically rich analysis of the ideology of extractivism (which is associated with rightist groups now, but has an appalling history of support on the left too) and its effects, studded with illuminating case studies (like the island of Nauru). Colonialism is an extractivist ideology and practice – a response to the climate crisis must centre decolonisation. Klein explores the 'magical thinking' of bad solutions. These include the 'merger of big business and Big Green' when environmentalist groups attempt to 'translate [our arguments] into profits, earnings, productivity, and economic incentives for industry'. Some supposedly environmental protection groups even had their own fossil fuel contracts as well as being funded by Shell, BP et al and investing their funds in such companies. This links to the greenwash around fracking, billed as a 'bridge' to cleaner energy, which is pure bullshit – let it be cried from the rooftops please - renewables are now efficient and affordable enough to supply all the world's energy needs and all new investment in energy infrastructure needs to be put into installing them. Carbon credits get slammed here too, obviously.

Next up on the block are 'messiahs' like Richard Branson, who made a great song and dance about going green and throwing money behind green tech after watching that film by Al Gore. But he didn't actually do anything, just throw a bit of money at lower-emission aircraft fuel development and carry on as before. Carrying on as before just isn't going to be an option. This links into the geoengineering strand, which is the scariest thing ever. Klein calls it 'our culture's most powerful form of magical thinking'. The main idea discussed is that of dimming the sun with particulate emissions of some kind, so that the earth can cool down a bit while we... carry on burning fossil fuels. The two really obvious arguments against this are that then solar power wouldn't work (Klein points out the huge environmental racism of the idea – solar is going to be the biggest power source for the global south) and that it's impossible to test the effects of such an intervention in an extremely complex system-of-systems that we don't understand very well. Of course, we could try to predict the effects, but since we can't predict the weather for more than a week into the future with any accuracy........? Klein also points out that geoengineering is always 'plan b' but we haven't actually tried plan a – just stop burning fossil fuels. There's also an insightful critique of the 'astronaut's eye view' concept of saving the planet. The earth as a fragile blue ball we have to care for like a needy child. Actually, it's we who are fragile. She urges us to look at Earth not from outer space but from the roots and soil.

The hopeful leg of the book centres the residents-as-custodian perspective associated with indigenous people's beliefs and practices: love will save this place she says, people will stand up for the soil and water that nourishes them. The successes of blockadia, community movements to take local control of power generation (in Germany for instance), the wave of divestments under pressure from ordinary folks and so on speak to the potential of people power to win this, to force governments to do their job and protect people from unbridled capitalism instead of spurring it along. Put simply, fossil fuel companies have said that they will extract and burn five times more resource than scientists say the atmsphere can possibly take, then they are intent on suicide genocide ecocide on a total scale, and if we don't stop them, we and all our descendants are all dead.

One of my favourite parts of the book, 'The Right to Regenerate' presents a profound insight Klein had, which she came to through the new sensitivities and concerns that her painful struggle to become pregnant had brought to her. Reflecting on a day she spent on a boat in the Mississippi River Delta with people from an organisation dedicated to repairing the damage done to the wetlands by a major BP oil spill (she strongly suspected the exposure to chemicals at the time caused a miscarriage), she recalls that the guide was most concerned about something much harder to observe than the fouled water and the oil-streaked fish and vegetation; the vulnerability of all the eggs and larvae and other juvenile aquatic life, defenseless against the toxins, that normally spawns in the wetlands before populating the oceans and shores: crab, oysters, shrimp, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, marlin are among these species, and a whole generation of them would almost certainly be lost to the spill. 'I had the feeling we were suspended not in water but in amniotic fluid, immersed in a massive multispecies miscarriage' she shares.

She extends this thought to humans; drugs and chemicals are approved for safe use and exposure based on their effects on adults: 'more than three-quarters of the mass-produced chemicals in the United States have never been tested for their impacts on fetuses or children'. She goes on to discuss environmental racism in relation to fertility and children, as well as attacks on women's reproductive autonomy and lack of support for mothers in the US and Canada. Finally she writes about agroecology so movingly that I was fired with passion to become a farmer.

This chapter in particular highlights the salience of decolonising feminist perspectives in climate movements. Klein demonstrates in her own writing the shift required by coloniser peoples towards forms of knowledge drawn from emotional, personal sources, that comprehend human lives as part(s) of a whole. What is making headway in the struggle to save people from climate change is, unsurprisingly, grassroots movement, much of it led by indigenous activists and people in 'sacrifice zones'. Klein emphasises that racism has always directed much extractivist activity, that native people and other people of colour who have seen their environment violated have always protested and attempted to stand up to polluters, and that the main reason rich & powerful white folks are now all of a sudden interested in restoring broken treaties that guarantee rights to fish in such and such a river to such and such a band or nation is that climate change is making an impact even on their back yards now. She also warns aganst treating indigenous people and their non-extractivist relationships to nature as another resource to be mined. Colonists have always been liars, and in leveraging the rights that native peoples have not had to power to get enforced could be a kind of restorative justice, but there shouldn't be cookies for the simple act of keeping your word, let alone hundreds of years late. This reminded me of Onora O'Neill's concept of rights rooted in obligations – what obligations are created by the rights of indigenous people? What are the full implications of 'honouring the treaties'? Settlers will have to go further, Klein says, than raising money for legal battles: 'they will have to become the treaty and land-sharing partners that their ancestors failed to be.' Linking back to an interview with an indigenous man employed on the tar sands, who said he had to tell himself it was the Moon, not the Earth, to keep going, but was unable to find other work, she points out
The only people who will be truly empowered to say no to dirty development over the long term are people who see real, hopeful alternatives.
Again, cllimate change is political. After discussing 'the power of keeping our word' Klein turns to 'the power of paying our debts' – how rich nations must help others to improve the lives of their populations through green development, not through burning fossil fuels. And by 'help', what's meant here is meaningful economic assistance. Aid paid for by taxpayers isn't the source Klein has in mind, rather, the corporations extracting from poor countries and funnelling the riches to global elites should pay up, governments should stop subsidising fossil fuels (for real, I mean, why the hell is that happening?!) and pay for tech transfer instead and so on.

In short, battling climate change means & needs reparations, liberations, decolonisations, and all their implications.
Profile Image for Len.
Author 1 book109 followers
November 21, 2014
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 collective sand. Perhaps that's because we may be past the point of doing anything as a species to save the planet from its man-made demise. Here's what NASA's Dr. James Hansen has to say about our situation:

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from [current levels] to at most 350 ppm.”
Dr. James Hansen

Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to rapidly turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that could send climate change spinning truly beyond our control. This is not hyperbole. It's not a theory. It's not up for debate. It's science and the odds are against us.

Klein's hypothesis seems to be, and I am oversimplifying it, is that only a mass social movement like what we saw in the 1960s on equal rights or during the 1800s like we saw to end slavery will we be able to move the needle to avert this crisis. In fact, she argues that our entire way of life -- our capitalist society -- will need to change in order for us to turn things around. She may be right. For as long as extractionists continue to make obscene amounts of money from fossil fuels and control the political will of nations we will be fighting a losing battle.

Yep. Klein's book was depressing as hell. As she outlines all of the things that are wrong with our systems (political, social and otherwise) it becomes harder and harder to imagine humankind has the will or the desire to stand up to the status quo. Sure, she points out plenty of isolated cases of people rising up to stop pipelines or mining operations around the world. She calls this "blockadia" and suggests this is the start of a worldwide movement to fight for the planet. She makes a compelling case that the world's indigenous peoples will possibly lead this fight because they are perhaps the most threatened by climate change and extraction. She tried to be optimistic about the future, but frankly she doesn't convince me that anything will change on a massive scale, the kind it will take to keep us from raising global temperatures beyond the 2 degree barrier that so many scientists believe will mark the tipping point.

She argues as well that what we do as individuals (like recycling and using canvas bags at the grocery store) is not enough, that we need a movement to energize the masses. But Katrina didn't do it. Superstorm Sandy didn't do it. Drought hasn't done it. What will it take for the 99 percent to stand up to the thieves who are extracting us into extinction?

At one point her argument made me feel like we were all in some warped Hunger Games society, but there is no Katniss Everdeen to save us from the bad guys. Who will lead us to victory? Fredd Krupp? Robert Redford? Leonardo Dicaprio?

I agree with Klein's premise, that we need a Marshall Plan for the planet and our economic system is designed to propagate the problems. I just don't see how we'll drag people away from the Kardashians to do anything about it. Yes, I'm a pessimist. But I haven't seen anything to show me otherwise.

I'm not even sure what I can do about it. I am a good steward of my own environment, but it's not enough. And there's no global movement to join. Am I supposed to blow up fracking equipment and sabotage oil wells? I have a family -- I can't go to jail.

I guess I'll continue to stand by and wait for someone, anyone, to lead us out of this mess.

Profile Image for Katie.
42 reviews
November 26, 2014
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 to them. On the other hand, I was disappointed that despite the title, she doesn't dig deep enough on the subject of capitalism. She makes a lot of really, really great points, but falls short of arriving at the conclusions that logically stem from those points. I think she actually might be doing some damage by dancing carefully around the subject of capitalism. By referring to it constantly as "deregulated capitalism", she has actually given people the false sense that capitalism itself is not the problem. She lays waste to major parts of capitalist theory then gives those who aren't open-minded enough to really question capitalism an escape route. After reading a number of reviews in which people flat out say that she shows that "capitalism itself isn't the problem, we just need to regulate it", it's painfully clear that her treatment of capitalism was too soft and that the right message isn't getting through to people.

For starters, this is less focused on capitalism and more on the human desire to conquer nature as opposed to learning to live in harmony with nature, which is all well and good, but I felt like she repeated this point way too much. In close to 500 pages of writing, she manages to frequently rephrase the same points while failing to expand on others that are very important. For example, she spends a whopping 2 paragraphs each on the food system and militarism, even though they represent a large portion of overall emissions and are huge climate-linked problems we need to tackle. Her points on these subjects were very compelling and I got really excited when she got to them, only to be disappointed when she quickly moved on to something else.

It would also be nice if she at least touched on the subject of resource depletion. I know that it is considered a separate topic from climate change, but it shouldn't be. Both climate change and resource depletion are the result of a constantly growing, profit-driven economic system that knows no bounds. If the goal of the book is to present evidence that capitalism is incompatible with stopping climate change (I'm beginning to wonder if that really was her goal here), why not put one more giant nail in the coffin? I personally think it's an extremely compelling argument that even in the absence of climate change, capitalism is driving us off an ecological cliff. Anyone who cares about the environment, or the fate of the human race for that matter, should also care that we are putting huge reserves of natural resources at risk of disappearing. There will be no clean energy if we use up all the nonrenewable metals to manufacture ipads and killer drones, or if we wait until oil is even harder and more expensive to extract to build out renewables. That's a very powerful, irrefutable point that she easily could have made.

Furthermore, given the title, I was expecting a more detailed argument against capitalism and more discussion of possible economic alternatives. Klein does an absolutely great job of illustrating how some of the big green organizations betrayed their own goals by getting into bed with the fossil fuel industry. That is perhaps the most important points she makes. In doing so, she hits on a critical point regarding the corrupting nature of profit-driven markets. She does a fantastic job of explaining how the profit motive is failing us. However, she stops short of reaching the conclusion that if the profit motive doesn't produce what's best for society, if it actually produces a lot of things that hurt us, then we need to move away from it. It would have made sense at this point to discuss cooperatively owned and managed businesses, cooperative networks/markets, or participatory democracy/economics. It would have made sense to discuss ANY alternatives to capitalism at this point, but she didn't. I can't tell if this was a choice on her part to be soft on the issue of capitalism for fear of pushing people too hard, or if Klein herself still hasn't overcome her own cognitive dissonance. After all, how else can a person discuss how growth is killing us and how the profit motive only leads to greed without calling for a different system that doesn't center on those things? Taxing polluters and regulating emissions, while an important step in the right direction, is not a solution to these particular problems.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more confused I am by her conclusions. She demonstrates how destructive capitalism is, both environmentally and socially (she even discusses the colonial nature of capitalism), but doesn't seem to go beyond the typical liberal solutions of taxing and regulating. She calls for radical, direct action to demand a transition away from fossil fuels, but not for labor organizing to demand any of the economic changes that she says we need (but doesn't really talk about). I was surprised that in a book that confronts capitalism and calls for a "Green New Deal" there was no discussion at all about the labor organizing and strikes that brought us the first New Deal. I think this was a glaring omission.

Another very important point Klein makes is that decentralized, local clean power networks are a necessary part of the solution that will be fought tooth and nail by profit-seeking utility companies because such systems aren't profitable for them. The type of decentralized system she proposes, with public ownership and oversight, is actually the basis of what a new economy might look like, but again, she stops short of making this connection. She even asserts the need for economic planning (which is what has so many conservatives all riled up), but without getting into more detail on how this might be accomplished in an equitable, truly democratic way, she is likely scaring off a lot of people by giving the impression that we should trust our completely corrupt leaders to make those decisions for us. In general, I feel like all her references to a new economic paradigm are too vague. She could have easily made these connections, between decentralized systems and democratic management, and pointed people toward a real way forward, but instead, she leaves us with one vague notion after another. I didn't expect her to delve deeply into any particular economic solutions (there are already entire books dedicated to the subject), but she should have at least mentioned some. People are getting tired of hearing that we need change without presenting specific ideas of what that might entail. And without specific examples of what it might look like, promoting economic planning sounds an awful lot like central planning, which scares people for good reason.

I get the impression that Klein herself has only begun to realize the systemic problems of capitalism and may have written this book before she was adequately prepared to do so. Even after describing one way after another in which the market fails us, Klein falls right back into the market fallacies by saying things like this: "It's true that the market is great at generating technological innovation..." No, that's not "true" at all. It's a belief. It's not a fact. And I expect someone who does research-based writing to know the difference. While she goes on to talk about how the market also drives a lot of terrible behavior, there is no need to walk on eggshells like this. She needs to stop pretending the market is a tool that can be wielded for good, because all the evidence in the world suggests it's not. Plenty of the evidence she herself presents flies in the face of this completely unsubstantiated, ideological claim. I think she has a long way to go with her own understanding of what capitalism is and the difference between regulating it and changing the rules to create something totally new.

Given that her main audience seems to be liberal environmentalists who aren't open-minded enough or brave enough to really question capitalism, I think this book could serve a useful purpose. Most people are completely brainwashed into believing that capitalism is some law of nature or god that we dare not question and I give her a lot of credit for taking on such a controversial topic. Religious-like beliefs like that are hard to chip away at. People don't drastically change strong, ideological views over night and they need steps along the way. Hopefully, this provides a big step in the right direction for those people. Overall, she makes some really great points, pokes some giant holes in capitalist theory (whether she or her readers realize it or not), and offers a somewhat radical and very hopeful outlook on a subject that usually leaves people feeling utter despair. For that, I think she deserves a lot of credit. But for those who have already overcome those ideological barriers, there's nothing new here. The only exception is her discussion of Blockadia, but even that is just the latest in a long, global history of resistance movements that employ direct action. That part of the book at least left me hopeful. If someone with the reach of Naomi Klein can make an effective call for direct action and disobedience, maybe (hopefully) we will finally reach the critical mass needed to start turning things around.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,565 reviews1,891 followers
October 4, 2018
A long book in a small font

What I liked about this book is that she takes to heart her own dictum of never letting a good crisis go to waste and she says - when those on the political right criticise greening the economy on the grounds that it runs counter to 'invisible hand' "free" market ideologies, lets not be coy about it, let's own it and wear it as a badge of pride - seize the opportunity to save the ecology of the planet and take the opportunity to fight for equality, liberty and justice for all, let's embrace inconnectiveness and leave no one behind.

What I disliked was reading words to the effect of 'I have effectively summarised the resistance to saving the environment and rescuing us all from dying horribly, now I am going to spend the next four chapters going over it all again in detail spending the same amount of space on what an individual town in the USA has done as I spend on entire countries in the rest of the world in a small font'. Or alternatively - 'lets look more at the history of this', no lets not, I pleaded desperately, please just continue with the narrative, but no, cold hearted, she plunges on in a small font .

Essentially it is The Limits to Growth, plus politics and plutocrats. If you've read one and can imagine the others - say from reading Donald Duck or even How to read Donald Duck then I think this is largely skippable .

It is wide ranging from climate change, to pollution, that some large and wealthy environmental groups in the USA - shock, horror - themselves invest in fossil fuel companies, that 'Green' billionaires are not all their PR claims they might be (Duh!), the hubris of geo-engineering , divestment, activism and indigenous rights among other topics. In style it is was a bit magazine like, some sections could have been magazine articles (and perhaps they were in an previous life), when she discussed in the final third of the book some resistance movements against the destruction of the environment I felt I would prefer to be reading this as a magazine rather than in a book when the story is going to be already half a year or so out of date even when hot off the press.

As to the audience for this book, well it is certainly not aimed at converting the unbeliever, equally if we accept that I am more or less in the choir here listening to her preaching, I found I had heard much of the sermon before and skipped faster and faster as I moved through the text and I don't think I missed anything worth while. In truth I don't read many books like this at but as I said above if you have read Limits to Growth and recall that money is powerthere is not anything here to surprise the reader, Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front resonated far more with me.

I felt the book sharpened considerably when she discussed the difficulty she had conceiving as this dovetailed powerfully with the implicit argument that we are heading further into worsen ecological disasters through our hubris and belief that we can dominate nature, despite or perhaps precisely because, we don't understand that much about it, and that the alternative way of being is to work with ourselves and what we are rather than to overcome ourselves with chemicals when our difficulties many well be a perfectly reasonable and natural reaction to the environments we are living in. Fertility problems in humans and other animals are not just a medical challenge, but a warning.

The book centres on the Americas, Europe gets a bit of attention, Asia and Africa one or two mentions, the rest of the world even less. Truly it is about Capitalism in the Americas...and with regard to that I would say it is not so much about capitalism versus climate, it is about the invisible hand versus the climate, the idea that in environmental terms our private vices can be public virtues, or that due to some invisible hand everything will work out fine in the end. The invisible hand metaphor comes to Adam Smith from Macbeth - which ought always have been a bit of a warning, there's Macbeth in pursuit of his own self-interest and as you may recall that all ends happily ever after, as on the small stage, so too on the world stage.
Profile Image for Mary Sue Ireland.
11 reviews5 followers
February 8, 2015
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 awareness, or nonchalance, or procrastination, or avoidance. Something like that. But it's nothing like that. Regardless of what the news agencies report, most people worldwide are aware of the environment impact problems and want solutions to them. The solutions have not come (and are not coming) from most governments and definitely not from big business because the politicians and capitalists don't want their profits and sleek way of life interrupted. There is also a prevailing view among the world's wealthy that poor people and people of color are expendable, that our lives do not matter. Reading this book changed my life in some surprising ways. (1) I no longer donate money to environmental groups just because they claim to support the cause. I found out, in fact, that almost all of the environmental groups own stock in the very oil/gas/coal companies that they claim to oppose. One of these groups has even drilled its own oil wells! (2) I no longer believe that recycling, water conservation and changing my light bulbs are solutions to anything. We've been told to do these things to ensure our complacency by making us feel that we are doing our part to help the environment. I continue to recycle, conserve water and turn off the lights, not because these things will solve any problems but because they are the right things to do. These activities alone will make no difference in the overall outcome. The solutions lie in the development of non-extractive sources of renewable power. (3) I joined Idle No More. (4) I moved even further to the left and I didn't think there was any more room over there. (5) I'm writing this review to persuade you to read this exceptionally important book and come to your own conclusions.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
March 4, 2018
“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 thing we have to a global deity”--Klein

I read this book and saw the documentary by the same name, which you can view for free online. Klein visits the Alberta Tar Sands, the largest industrial project on Earth, a project to extract oil from “flyover” land that is also very much sacred land, the province for centuries of indigenous tribes populating what we now know as Canada. She talks with a range of folks, those bent on extracting the oil and those who feel defiled by the rapacious activity. She investigates native collective action, resistance, and this is moving and inspirational (though at the same time almost, for me, hopeless, as there are so few and they are so poor and so typically powerless—I mean in an conventional institutional sense; they are amazingly powerful spiritually—standing up to the billionaires).

We travel to Montana to talk with people about the pipelines, we travel to South America; everywhere we see rapacious practices, short-term thinking, and local resistance. We travel to talk with the anti-mining solidarity committee of Greece. We go to growth-choked China--now committed to solar, it looks like--and to depressing India, still committed to aggressive coal expansion.

Core problem, and a long known one: An economic system that insists on “progress” and rapacious land use and disregard for ecosystem. A capitalist model of growth that is impossible to sustain. Exploitation, not management, of resources. Growth without Limits, at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable people.

And there’s some local resistance, in pockets, sometimes whole countries. We see everywhere locals crying, shouting, resisting, locals committed to wise land use and management. Renewables, working in harmony with nature, and ecosystem. Spirit of the Sun.

The best thing about this book is that we talk to actual people that move us to act, indigenous activists. Klein is a big picture writer, but when she actually makes people come alive, she is at her most effective. Most people reading this review know all of this stuff by now, I suspect, but if you want a not-completely-hopeless book on the subject of capitalism and the environment, this is a good one.

For instance, Germany is a rapid energy transition, now getting 30% energy from renewables. 400,000 jobs have been created from renewable energy in that country in the past 5 years ago. The German government also enacts policies that are destructive, but—and this is the point--local people fought for alternative energy and against nuclear energy and coal. They run the energy grid themselves, through community-base cooperatives. A German woman says: “We realized; this is the moment.”

“Put another way, only mass social movements can save us now. Because we know where the current system, left unchecked, is headed. We also know, I would add, how that system will deal with the reality of serial climate-related disasters: with profiteering, and escalating barbarism to segregate the losers from the winners. To arrive at that dystopia, all we need to do is keep barreling down the road we are on. The only remaining variable is whether some countervailing power will emerge to block the road, and simultaneously clear some alternate pathways to destinations that are safer. If that happens, well, it changes everything.”--Klein
2 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2014
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" revealed more than a year ago in the NYT. Klein claims she researched this topic, but doesn't mention the NYT admission of no warming. Klein has no scientific credentials; she doesn't even have any journalistic cred (she almost finished an undergrad journalism degree).

Every crazy claim by the alarmists is in this rambling mess, including the sad story of Nauru - the island whose inhabitants destroyed it for the sake of mining guano. Somehow, in Klein's fevered mind, this is the fault of CO2 emissions?

Klein claims to fear that her young son - to whom the book is dedicated - will never see a moose, never see a starfish, destroyed by climate change. Never a word about the 4 million children who die annually of pulmonary disease, because their mothers cook indoors over open fires of wood and dung. Poverty and early death are worse than the phony climate change crisis Klein is milking.

Klein's greed and hypocrisy make Al Gore look like Mother Teresa. Klein is right about one thing: in a capitalist economy, some people will do anything for a buck. Klein is already married to a millionaire; she has thousands from previous books. She needed this schlock? Like her knowledge of atmospheric science, that's about as deep as her knowledge of economics goes.

Page after page contains the disgusting phrase"climate denier" or "climate denialist", adapted by Gore from "Holocaust Denier." Coming from Klein, it's ironic, to say the least.

Quite remarkable: a book about a "crisis" that doesn't exist and that offers no solution.

BTW, I'm a meteorologist with a specialization in radiative transfer; I understand the "greenhouse effect" quite well. The heating response to CO2 is logarithmic - rises sharply, then levels off to an asymptotic value. We're long past the "knee of the curve." That's why there's no "crisis."Adding additional CO2 has no additional heating effect.And, no, I don't work for the Koch family.

I can't imagine what prompted the high ratings others have awarded to this propaganda - other than ideology.

Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,650 followers
July 5, 2019
Sigh. This was not an easy book to listen to, and it's proving to be rather difficult to review, as well.

I live in a capitalist society, and it benefits me in more ways than I'm aware of, probably. And I am no economist, but I have never really understood the sustainability of the "growth growth growth" model, where ever more market share and profits must be made in order for "success". It seems to me that way back in 3rd grade or so, we learned of a thing called "non-renewable resources", so eventually they will run out, and the market will collapse. And then what?

That "and then what?" is already starting to happen now in the fossil fuel industry. Normal (and I use the term loosely) methods of coal mining and oil& gas drilling are not enough anymore, and now we have to look to ever more extreme ways of getting at the remains of prehistoric life-forms to keep these companies in the business of providing a means to power our TVs and gas up our cars and heat our houses etc.

...And then what?

We have a while yet. Decades, or centuries, even... but they WILL run out. And what will be left behind when it's gone? A ravaged landscape of pit mines, oil slicks, undrinkable water, pollution? This is what's worth the money now? Of course, that's a problem for future society, not us. "Drill, baby, drill!" right?

As I was reading this book, I kept seeing that scene from The Matrix. You know the one, where Morpheus is explaining to Neo how humans scorched the sky to cut off solar power to the machines in the hopes that it would give them the upper hand.

I kept picturing that image in my head, and honestly, I think that's our future. It's just that we won't have any war against AI machines... we're just going to do it to ourselves. Because we're too afraid, or weak, or stuck in our ways to make a real change to the way society works. Capitalism is unconcerned with the future - it's a model for the here and now, with only eyes for tomorrow in terms of making sure that investments come to fruition and the ROI is good, and the money is banked.

To those of you who have followed along with my reading adventures over the last few years, you'll probably not be surprised that I consider myself to be a progressive, and much like how I was a feminist in all but self-identification, so too am I a socialist. I just needed to clear out the demonized, bastardized definitions of these words and claim them. Those who seek to muddy the waters on their meaning, and make them into slurs or something that people should be offended or ashamed to be called, are those who either really fail to understand them, or benefit from their opposition.

There were some radical ideas in this book even to me at first, but, the rationale and justifications for them make complete sense - including a much more fair and equitable redistribution of wealth, not just in the US, but also globally, and reparations to countries that have been affected by climate change, but have not been involved in causing it. I don't think many will appreciate these ideas, though. I think that given the current state of affairs, agreeing that water is wet might pose a steep political battle.

But here's the thing. Choosing to combat and act on climate change is to OUR benefit. We're not "saving the Earth" by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, we'd be saving ourselves. We're convinced that we are the Alpha species, that we have dominion over the earth and everything in it. We're not, and we don't.

The Earth existed long before us, and it will continue to exist long after humanity has made it uninhabitable. It's not the earth we need to worry about, it's the life it sustains. Several years ago, I read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, and it's a book that stuck with me. That book operated on the premise of humans just disappearing one day, and what would happen to the earth afterward. It was utterly fascinating and has stuck with me since then, because the imagery of all of the ways that humanity has altered this world being suddenly unattended and left to fate was so compelling and terrifying. And yet... peaceful, in a way. Humans are gone, but plants and animals are left to reclaim the land and thrive... at least as much as would be possible considering that eventually there would be new Chernobyl level catastrophic failures everywhere when the lack of reactor management catches up. But as Ian Malcolm says, "Life finds a way." So it might be mutated, horrifying life, but life it would be.

Not so if humanity keeps poisoning the air, water, and land with ever increasing levels of extraction of resources. We will make this world uninhabitable. There is no magical miracle technology that is going to save us in the 11th hour. We have to change OURSELVES. I count myself in that, because I am notoriously bad about driving across town for a latte I didn't need in the first place, among many, many other bad habits. But we have to do something. We have to change, or we are making the choice to give up and forfeit future generations' rights to clean air and water so that big corporations can make a few more dollars now.

There is SO MUCH in this book, so many different aspects that warrant being discussed and addressed, but I just don't know where to even start. I think this book should be required reading, honestly. I know that Naomi Klein can get a bit over the top in her metaphors, but though I thought it was a bit hyperbolic at times, I can appreciate the point she was making.

Before I end this, I just have to make a quick comment on the reader of the audiobook. I found her to be incredibly jarring at times. Whenever she was quoting someone, whether that person was a Native American tribal leader, or a German politician, or Richard Branson, or Bill Gates, etc, every single person sounded the same, and was read in a PROCLAMATION VOICE. Very off-putting. She also pronounced things in a very strange way at times. "Monstrousness" instead of being MON-struss-ness was MON-STROSS-NESS. All emphasized, almost as three words. There were a bunch of these examples, but that one stuck out the most. Just jarring and would take me out of the zone I was in.

That being said, this is a long book, and there's a LOT of information contained and relayed within it, with a lot of sources and a lot of research. I think listening to it is probably a good way to go, even with a less than perfect reader, simply because it's a bit more passive. You can put it on in the car, or while cleaning or doing some other activity, and give your mind a little bit of a break from the bleakness of what this book is about. Because it is bleak. I found myself depressed quite a lot while listening to it, and my patience with my neighbor idling his car for half an hour at a time almost reached its breaking point... but it's still one of those books that I think it is important to read, even though it's difficult to do so. I read it because I care about the environment, and I care about the planet, and I care about the people who live here - all of them - and I wanted to better understand why we are fucking up, and how to fix it. I got my answers, but the solutions are not the easy miracle pill cures that we're accustomed to being offered. I wish they were.
Profile Image for Sara.
105 reviews117 followers
October 19, 2014

[Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2013 posted revenues for $74 billion and $274 million profits. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com 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 intellectual shortcomings are topped by the celebrity-style vanity of sharing worldwide an alleged existential crisis (as the Guardian's Owen Jones puts it), brought about by maternity. Having outsourced research to two assistants (see Acknowledgements), the author does not really make an argument, but usefully reviews a number of environmental and anti-environmental movements, leaving it to the readers to wrap up.

Which I'm always happy to do.

What is climate action's greatest risk? As climate deniers aptly and presciently grasped, it is the inevitable shift from a centralized and hierarchical economic model based on fossil fuels to a distributed and flatter one based on renewables, which we can call 'indianized'. This shift will be matched by a more equitable distribution of income and rights. All the interests vested in the current (centralized and hierarchical) model oppose the shift (geoengineers and green billionaires stand out for originality). To accelerate the transition, struggles are required, possibly modeled after indigenous peoples' decade-long campaigns.

Where the book is weakest is in its inability to distinguish between struggle and struggle, both contemporary and historical. The author's analysis of the abolitionist and civil rights movements is inaccurate and simplistic. The haste with which she blesses the divestment movement born on the most exclusive US campuses, worrisome. Clearly, now a mom, the author has decided that class is no longer an issue. Moral sentiments can replace it, and all our problems are just a matter of ethics succumbing to greed.

But capitalism is a class machine, by definition, from the outset. As the author points out, based on the work of promising scholar Andreas Malm, capitalism is a production system whose aim is to constantly gain the upper hand on nature and workers through technology and technocracy for its functioning and development. The author however does not draw any conclusion from this consideration, preferring to contemplate the moving beauty of (classless) 'people' joining forces against greedy corporations (classless too in their capacity as self-directed drones) to protect Naomi Klein's children and grandchildren's planet.

Effective climate action is probably based on taking, unlike Naomi Klein, an a-moral stance towards fossil fuel capitalism, which now can be simply understood as the root cause for dangerous climate change and as such has to be discarded. It is a technically focused, organizational restructuring, to be carried out in cold blood (as David in 2001: A Space Odyssey discards the dangerous HAL 9000 and super-humanly moves on). The resulting indianized economy can be a prosperous one. We need books that think through the indianization of our energy, financial and industrial systems, leaving to climate deniers to deal with the emotions of an elitist loss.
Profile Image for Michael.
218 reviews46 followers
November 29, 2014
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 our lives and the lives of countless other species. Capitalism fueled by the extractive tactics of those who have more dollars than sense will change the world as we know it into a strange and unpredictable place from which few will emerge alive and none undamaged. She is perhaps too sanguine in her hopes for a coalition of the oppressed that will derail the coal train of destructive capitalism and save the world, but she is absolutely right that we must all speak out against the fouling of the only nest we have by those who have money and want more, regardless of the expense to life on Earth. This should be required reading in every business school in the world and a call to action for us all. I write this on Black Friday 2014, and the irony of naming a day of rampant consumption "Black Friday" is not lost on me, though perhaps it is on those who celebrate it.
Profile Image for Jimmy.
Author 6 books215 followers
June 8, 2020
In 2008, Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi did a tv spot together pledging to combat climate change. Can anyone explain to me what the heck has caused this Republican insanity? Is there a single candidate from the Grand Ol' Party who even believes in it any more? And why not?

Our brains tend to filter new information to protect our belief system.

The groups fighting climate change are not science groups. They are right wing organizations like ALEC, the Cato Institute, the Ayn Rand Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute. Obviously, they are getting the funds from the energy companies.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."--Upton Sinclair.

At the Heartland Institute, they recommended finding shade or buying an air conditioner.

The Chamber of Commerce said "populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological applications." Boycott stores that support the Chamber of Commerce.

Starbucks and Chipotle worry about losing key ingredients due to climate change. Others warn of the billions of dollars it will cost us to deal with rising sea levels alone.

The insurance lobby has been the corporate sector most worried about climate change, for good reason. Instead of pushing for better climate change policy, they contribute to the change denier groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Heartland Institute. So while Heartland spoke against climate change, it also worked to protect the insurance industry's bottom line. So they pushed Congress for policies that would protect them, no matter what the weather. They used such "free market" measures as raising rates and deductibles and dropping customers from high-risk areas. What madness!

In 1966, 40% of college freshmen thought making money was very important. By 2013, that figure reached 82 %.

The same logic that cuts pensions, food stamps, Headstart, and health care before raising taxes on the rich would blast the last ounce of gas and oil out of the earth before changing.

The "Free Trade" movement played a part. The World Trade Organization ruled against many local companies. A "free market" is nonsense anyway. Fossil fuel companies receive $775 billion to $1 trillion annually in global subsidies.

Three pillars of the neoliberal age are incompatible with solving our climate problems: 1. privatization of the public sphere, 2. deregulation of the corporate sector, and 3. lowering of income and corporate taxes at the expense of public spending.

We knew about the climate change problem for a while. LBJ received a report from his science advisers. But it wasn't until the great James Hansen from NASA in 1988 spoke to Congress did it make any impact with anyone.

Globalization aided carbon emissions. China was responsible for most of the increases. Some say we must fight free trade to solve the problem. Multinationals could scour the globe for the cheapest and most exploitable labor. This led to massive infrastructure projects. Dams, highways, ports, coal plants. A free market dream and a climate nightmare.

Environmental groups were convinced to support NAFTA. That left only labor groups to convince. The errors in the agreement could not then be corrected. It is too late to undo the old errors, but we do not have to redo the same errors. What we need to understand is that the climate crisis cannot be solved without rocking the economic boat.

Consuming less is important, but how do we get everyone to do that unless we change the rules? It can't be just for those care because there aren't enough of us. We need to return to the 1970s, not the Stone Age.

Here is what is required: tough regulations, visionary long-term planning, higher levels of taxation for the affluent, large public sector expenditure, reversals of privatization.

The privatization issue is difficult to oppose in the US. A 2009 study claimed about 45,000 people died in the US because of no health insurance. I agree with the author that we need universal healthcare. Opponents continue to act as if it were un-American.

Centralized energy from one source can be knocked out in one blow: natural disaster or terrorism.

Climate disasters are increasing at a very rapid rate. And public funding is decreasing at a very rapid rate.

Fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their products are warming the planet. They failed to adapt to that reality.

The US military may be the single biggest consumer of petroleum in the world.

Jimmy Carter tried to make conservation an act of patriotism. Reagan, to his eternal disgrace, turned that around. Conservatism my ass.

The tar sands in Canada, of the Keystone Pipeline fame, is three to four times as intensive as normal oil extraction.

The investments companies make in oil extraction means they must keep on working for decades before they recoup their money.

The oil and gas industry spent 400,000 dollars a DAY lobbying Congress and other governmental officials. Legal bribery. And they made 73 million in campaign donations in the 2012 election.

Socialist and communist nations have been just as bad with environmental degradation.

The island of Nauru was once successful as a model place to live. Then miners dug for phosphate for fertilizers. The island was dug up deliberately to be destroyed. The same thing is happening on a greater scale with the planet.

Coal absorbs uranium, cadmium, and mercury. When it is burned, it releases that to the world.

The golden age of environmental laws was the early 70s. Now, the "conservative" movement is trying their best to destroy them. And by the way, the results of those laws worked many wonders such as cleaning up the air in LA.

The change came with Ronald Reagan who said, "A tree is a tree. How many more do you need to look at?" Why is he admired so much?

The green groups could have joined a coalition of unions, civil rights groups, and pensioners fighting against deregulation and cutbacks. Their failure to do that cost the planet.

Market based solutions were promoted over regulatory ones. The result was disaster.

Chapter 7 is called "No Messiahs." Billionaires like Richard Branson made promises but did not deliver.

Chapter 8 deals with efforts to come up with a plan B like dimming the sun. If the end is near, we may just do that. Unfortunately, it will not likely work. As William James said, "Our science is a drop, ignorance a sea." In one study, it showed that Africa would get even less rain with such efforts. The solution is plan A: Don't fix the world, fix us. Conservatives would rather regulate the sun than Exxon Mobile. It is we humans who are vulnerable. The earth will go on. Life may end, but the planet will last a while.

"Sacrifice zones" are needed to run the economy. The humans there are categorized as "less than human." It's usually a combination of race, class, and language.

As Rick Santorum said, however, "Drill everywhere." Well that philosophy has made some new enemies. Suddenly, ranchers and suburbanites are becoming environmentalists. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson quietly opposed fracking in his neighborhood because it would "lower property values." Welcome to the club, Rex. That may have been a strategic error. Earthquakes are now happening in oil areas. And, of course, climate change affects us all.

Government cutbacks in Canada lost a few thousand scientists their jobs. All in the name of tar sands. In the US, we had the Halliburton loophole with George W. Bush.

Compare the following two quotes for attitudes:

Rachel Carson in 1964: "I believe that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."

Jason Bostic, Vice President of West Virginia Coal Association, 2011: "What good is a mountain just to have a mountain."

And here's another:

Labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones in 1925: "There is never peace in West Virginia because there is never justice."

But we keep plugging on in what appears to me to be a losing battle against scientific ignorance.
Profile Image for Ebba.
237 reviews22 followers
February 7, 2016
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 book about the conflict between the climate and capitalism, and why we as a society must come together and form a new economic system that does not depend on exploiting the nature and other human beings. I will say that I already believed the main thesis that Naomi Klein puts out which obviously affected my reading experience. I'm active in the green party in my country, Sweden and I study sustainable devolopment so I knew a lot going into this. But still, there was so many different topics in this book that I haven't thought about before especially when it comes to the economy itself. You know, even though I am an enviromentalist, I always kind of felt stupid in some ways because every time a I discuss certain enviromental problems with people they always respond "yeah, I get it, but what about the economy?" and I never really knew how to answer because I couldn't really see any other realistic economical models. Well to put it the cliché way: this book changed everything.

I am a person that questions everything. I don't see things as black and white or right and wrong. But I started to realize while reading this book: I question every single thing around me except for the economical system that I live in even though I know that it is horrible from my point of view. I wanted a different world but I just couldn't see how that would be possible. Well, it might have been my education and my low age but I was seriously so stupid because let's face it, capitalism as we see it today has only existed since the 80's. Humans have polluted the earth for around 200 years but the current system isn't exactly ancient and that was one of the most important things that this book made me realize. We can and we must change it.

Naomi Klein has a way of putting a bit to much info and not enough discussion in my opinion. I prefered when she discussed a topic on several pages than those were she just "info dumped" statistics. It's necessary to know a lot before forming an opinion and she certainly is convincing but sometimes I found that to be a bit boring. But apart from that this book was wonderful and so important. I think this is the kind of book that everyone should read given that you know some basic information about climate change itself before. If you're kind of unsure if you believe it or not, I would recommend reading or watching (there's some really good and simple documentaires out there to watch) something else first. But if you do know about, read this book no matter of your political believes. I think everyone can gain something even though you don't agree on everything.

The book itself does not really deserve five stars but I do not rate my books on quality, I rate them on feeling and how much they impacted me. My heart is so weak when it comes to both climate change itself but also the amazing and powerful fight that is going on against it. I am 18 years old and I live in Sweden, one of the world's most privilage country when it comes to a future affected by climate change, both geographically, politically and economically. I will obviously be affected but not nearly as much as other people in this world. But I do care, I care so much that it hurts. I don't want to live in a world where people are dying in floods, heats, famines and drought. But I also don't want to see a future where my children won't play in the snow as I did when I was a kid. I think that's why I am so emotional when it comes to the fights against it. I'm not kidding, I was seriously crying throughout the third section of this book which is about the movement against climate change.

This book gave me guilt, fear for the future but also hope and it was exactly what my personal activism needed. It brings up the questions society doesn't allow us to ask and things media doesn't show us. It's so extremely important because climate change will in one way or another affect us all and I we do not act soon, it could kill millions of people and some of the things that we value the most. This book is a part of a new movement, the movement that can actually change everything and hopefully create a better future for all of us.
Profile Image for Otchen Makai.
193 reviews50 followers
June 15, 2019
This is a book everyone needs to read.
The few people who gave it 1-3 stars need to read the whole thing and look up the science.
It's not bashing anyone other than the ones who refuse to make the necessary changes we all need to make in order for us ALL TO SURVIVE.
It's so important that people understand what is happening in the world, to the world, TO US ALL.
Knowing and understanding is half the battle.
The other half is making the necessary adjustments and not allowing ourselves to be corrupted by greed, selfishness, and power.
There is so much knowledge dropped in this book that it may just blow your mind, if you're not an ostrich.
Heads out of the sand, people.
Heads up seven-up, wake up, smell the CO2 percolating in our atmosphere. Smell that acidic devastation? That's your earth being warmed.
To everyone and anyone who starts this book and doesn't like the first chapter, don't put it down, push on through. Read it to the end. It has so much valuable information.
Try to read it with an open mind instead of a defensive one.
You got this, tigers.

Highly recommend.. URGE... this book to be read by everyone.
Profile Image for Dave.
259 reviews34 followers
October 27, 2014
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 be totally socialist and she's definitely not anti-civ, although she does seem to have a hint of that sentiment. It's kind of a strange analysis actually. From the title I was expecting her to lay out some sort of proposal for a totally new system. The vast majority of the book is just a cathartic denunciation of the fossil fuel industry. Bashing these industries is fine but if environmentalists insist on constantly putting out 500 page books they need to get beyond the clever rewordings of the same things we've already heard a million times. It's nice that progressives are slowly headed in the right direction, challenging economic growth, fighting for a revival of the commons, localized production, redistribution of wealth and land, agroecological food production, etc. But they're stuck on this green city model of sustainability that has no chance of ever being sustainable. Even when acknowledging things like planned obsolescence and how much less production is really necessary to have the same standard of living if things are designed to last they still use the green jobs argument to push their ideas. It should be obvious that cutting working hours and production is the way to go but politically no mainstream group can handle that. Even when acknowledging the basic income idea (free money, potentially enough to survive on, to every adult whether they work or not) progressives still get sucked into the competition with the right-wing about which direction will give us more work to do. It's just inconsistent logic. And one of the things she says over and over is that our inability to solve the climate issue is due to "bad timing", as if this all would have worked out if it happened earlier, when corporations had less power, or later, when corporations had gotten all possible profits from fossil energy and they decided to go green themselves because it was just an economic necessity. Yet she knows that growth imperatives are the problem and she admits that they've been with us even before capitalism. So clearly she knows it's not just a bad coincidence of timing. It just feels like she was afraid of saying anything unpopular with her fan club. After 500 pages I still don't really get what she's promoting besides the typical solar panel and wind turbine run high-tech modern middle-class fantasy world. I don't want to create the impression that this book is terrible. A lot of people will benefit from reading it. It's just disappointing that she's still sticking with such a mainstream vision of the future when she seemed so close to actually getting it. We need more people to be honest about how far from sustainable we really are.
Profile Image for foteini_dl.
454 reviews126 followers
February 8, 2020
Η Klein (και) σε αυτό το βιβλίο στρέφεται εναντίον του νεοφιλελευθερισμού και του καπιταλισμού, όπως φαίνεται και από τον υπότιτλο του βιβλίου: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Μιλάει για τους κινδύνους της κλιματικής αλλαγής, την ψυχολογία πολλών ανθρώπων που αρνούνται να δεχτούν ότι είναι υπαρκτό φαινόμενο (πριν καν εκλεγεί πρόεδρος ο Trump στην Αμερική) και τα πολιτικά παιχνίδια που παίζονται απ’ αυτούς τους λίγους που αρνούνται να εφαρμόσουν μέτρα μετριασμού της κλιματικής αλλαγής προκειμένου να μην μειωθούν τα κέρδη τους.

Βέβαια, το πιο ενδιαφέρον κομμάτι του βιβλίου είναι αυτό που κριτικάρει τους υπέρμαχους ενός «πράσινου καπιταλισμού» που πιστεύουν ότι το-ίσως μεγαλύτερο πρόβλημα που αντιμετωπίζουμε αυτή τη στιγμή μπορεί να μετριαστεί (γιατί, κακά τα ψέματα, είναι σχεδόν αδύνατο να αντιμετωπιστεί) με μια πιο εξελιγμένη τεχνολογία, συνεργασία με τις πολυεθνικές που ρυπαίνουν το περιβάλλον και πολιτικές όπως το η εμπορία δικαιωμάτων εκπομπών διοξειδίου του άνθρακα.

Το μόνο μείον που μπορώ να σκεφθώ για το βιβλίο, είναι ότι δεν έλαβε υπόψη τον παράγοντα του υπερπληθυσμού, ο οποίος είναι-και αυτός- υπεύθυνος για την εξάντληση των φυσικών πόρων και τις αυξημένες εκπομπές των θερμοκηπιακών αερίων.

Αν περιμένετε να διαβάσετε ένα αντικειμενικό βιβλίο, τότε η Klein δεν είναι για εσάς. Έχει ξεκάθαρη πολιτική άποψη, την οποία δεν έκρυψε ποτέ. Αν, όμως, θέλετε να διαβάσετε κάτι που θα σας δώσει την ευκαιρία να προβληματιστείτε, τότε δώστε της μια ευκαιρία. Είναι απ’ τις λίγες φωνές που δεν κρύβουν τα λόγια τους και έχουν ενδιαφέρον αυτά που λέει (ακόμα και αν οι απόψεις σας δεν ταυτίζονται).
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