Pink's Reviews > This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
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really liked it

This changes everything. I wish it did. I suppose you have to be quite anti-capitalist to even pick this up. The title certainly makes clear Naomi Klein's view, by pitting capitalism against the climate. I completely agree.

There is a LOT of ground covered in this book and an extensive amount of research. At times it became a bit too much and I was unclear what it's intentions were. I wanted a simpler solution, when of course there isn't one. Yet there were many great ideas and examples of how 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.
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Reading Progress

May 11, 2015 – Shelved
May 21, 2015 – Started Reading
May 23, 2015 –
page 29
5.03% "I have only read the introduction and already it's probably the most important book I've ever read."
May 24, 2015 –
page 64
11.11% "Chapter 1: The right is right. Why the rich elite of the world and big corporations are mainstream climate deniers."
May 29, 2015 –
page 120
June 2, 2015 –
page 190
32.99% "Lots of information, still a very good read, but due back at the library for somebody else, so will have to take a break for a couple of weeks."
June 30, 2015 –
page 256
July 4, 2015 –
page 348
July 12, 2015 –
page 419
July 14, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by Diane S ☔ (new) - added it

Diane S ☔ Great review, Pink. Sounds like it made a big impression on you. Will add it.

Pink Thanks Diane, yes it did make a big impression, it really made me think about these issues in much greater detail.

message 3: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Great review Pink. I have read a few of her books, and they are good at making you think. Think this will make me sad and angry at the vested interests that control so much still

Pink I think you're right Paul, sad and angry is exactly how it made me feel, but somewhat hopeful too. I want to try a couple more of her other books later.

message 5: by John (new)

John Frankham Just for some balance. As one 1-star review says: a sickening collection of lies about the science of climate changes and non-solution to the crisis she complains of ..... I totally agree.

Pink I'm not sure I'd call that balance. 97% of scientists agree with climate change (that statistic is not sourced from this book) which leaves only 3% that don't think it's happening.

I think the solutions are what causes the debates. Certainly the ideas in this book are only one way of looking at things. Naomi Klein obviously has a certain viewpoint about capitalist societies, so her solutions fit very well around an aniti-capitalist solution. It's one that I mostly agree with. However, I don't think it's the way we'll move forwards. A change is obviously necessary for our energy needs, which is why the world is turning to new sources, such as tar sands, nuclear energy or fracking. Whether or not you believe in climate change, the oil and coal is running out and there will need to be new solutions, whether they're green sources of energy or not.

Have you read this book John? There are lots of interesting cases cited about what's happening around the world, which are worth finding out about, even if you exclude her (non) solutions. I'd also question the research behind the one star review you mention, as I doubt it's as comprehensive as the amount of research done for this book.

message 7: by John (new)

John Frankham Hi,

I've read enough of her stuff plus extracts from this book to be able to comment. She is not an expert in the field.

Ever since the UK government produced the Stern Report in 2006, which, unlike most people, I read from cover to cover, I have followed the debate assiduously, and, I like to think, with understanding, having the same analytical training as Stern. And an open mind.

The 97% is a deeply dishonest figure, constantly shown to be dishonest, but still trotted out, as is the dishonest use of the Michael Mann hockey stick, which completely ignores the Mediaeval Warm Period. The leaders of the Warmist camp are constantly finding reasons to reduce historic temperature series, to avoid the now widely accepted fact that there has been no noticeable warming for the last 20 years, no increase in extreme weather conditions, etc.

The BBC has been caught out numerous times lately re the reported strength of hurricanes, the now disproved hottest ever July day, and so on.

The big battalions making the money out of this are the providers of wind farms and related technologies whose subsidies are staggering, with hardly any energy produced. They don't want fracking, which would enrich us all.

Property-owning capitalist democracies are the societies that produce wealth and well-being, and have done for the last two-hundred years. Free trade produces a higher standard of living: if a good is cheaper as an import, then generally that means that the resources used to produce it are less than the home product uses, freeing resources for others goods.

I'm sure we won't agree, but at least we both care passionately about the fate of the world and its current and future populations.

Sorry, I should have stayed silent, but ......

Pink Hi John,

No, no need to stay quiet. That's quite okay. I think it's an interesting conversation, even if we don't agree. (I deleted your double post by the way)

Klein is not an expert in the field, but a writer/researcher with a different objective. To sell books. So I believe she is passioante about what she says, that she researched it well and there are facts and figures to back it up. Though of course statistics can always be bent for anyone's needs, for or against any issue.

Outside of whether capitalist systems are right or wrong and even outside of whether or not global warming is real, I think there are still really important discussions to have. Such as what direction we want to move in for our energy resources. The conversions to green energies such as wind and solar do seem to have stalled, or at least reduced in funding. I think efforts have been invested in newer alternatives such as fracking, which people don't seem to know enough about. Even within the scientific community, there doesn't seem to be unity of opinion whether this is the direction we should be heading, which produces the safest renewable source of energy. Or if it's an earthquake causing, unknown science needing more research. I believe France and Germany still have blanket bans, whereas in the UK they've been given the go ahead by government, only to be stalled after protests. This leaves the public completely confused about what is best.

I think it's problematic to discuss the best solutions for the environment, as it often turns into an argument over politics, such as greens vs capitalists. While I'd be in the anti-capitalist camp, I don't think politics should be the focus, as it detracts from finding real solutions. Though it's hard to keep them separate in practice. As you say we've been moving forwards for two hundred years with wealth and well being, though I don't think this has created a fair world. There are many cities that have skyscraper wealth next to slum cities, so clearly the system isn't working for all.

The arguments about climate change over the past 10-20 years have made people immune and fed up of hearing about it. Yet people are also chucking the baby out with the bath water, in closing their eyes to all environmental or energy issues, which need to be discussed outside of global warming.

One of the things I liked best about this book was the mention of what small societies are doing on the ground level to stop big corporations from stripping the land and polluting the environment, especially throughout North and South America. Most interesting was how Native Americans are reclaiming their land rights and teaming up with other groups, such as farmers, whom they'd usually be in conflict with, in order to keep their rivers clean and land intact. No matter what anyone's opinion on global warming or capitalist societies, surely preventing large scale pollution, deforestation or loss of habitat should be a major focus and priority the world over.

message 9: by John (new)

John Frankham Pink, I replied last night at some length, but the text didn't register (dodgy old Nexus, hence the double dose previously). The only thing I'd say now is re your fourth paragraph, where I'd say one cannot and should not take the politics out of the decisions to be made, as different views and beliefs lead to different solutions to problems even when the objective (say avoiding large-scale pollution, which you cite later) is the same. We need the messy, and democratic, political process to decide. But then, as I've said elsewhere, I have a pretty high regard for our politicians and civil service, and am less cynical than most people, having seen the workings of our system from the inside. Hey, ho ....

message 10: by Pink (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pink Thanks for taking the time to post again John, it's frustrating when you lose your posts, as is the case sometimes.

I agree we need the messy, democratic, political process to decide just about anything that happens. Obviously all the people can't be pleased all the time, but it's the best process we have. I just think it's a shame that people can't discuss the environment at a conversational level, without it always turning to politics, but this is obviously tricky too.

message 11: by John (new)

John Frankham Agreed. Agreed.

If only you and I were in power and opposition turn and turn about, how much more civilised the process would be whatever the outcome.

Oh, well, back to putting the shopping away and feeding the dog.



message 12: by Pink (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pink John wrote: "Agreed. Agreed.

If only you and I were in power and opposition turn and turn about, how much more civilised the process would be whatever the outcome.

Oh, well, back to putting the shopping away ..."


message 13: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Thanks for the great review. Thought provoking topic.

message 14: by Pink (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pink Kelly wrote: "Thanks for the great review. Thought provoking topic."

Yes indeed! :)

David Sarkies Great review. I wonder if it is at all possible to start pushing our government to pull out of some of these trade treaties - in fact I am wondering whether it is at all possible to start tearing them up.

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