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Revkin writes: "She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet."

Naomi Klein speaks to reporters at Occupy Wall Street, Liberty Plaza, NYC. (photo: David Shankbone)
Naomi Klein speaks to reporters at Occupy Wall Street, Liberty Plaza, NYC. (photo: David Shankbone)



Naomi Klein's Inconvenient Climate Conclusions

By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times

09 December 11

 

aomi Klein, the author of a string of provocative and popular books including "The Shock Doctrine," recently took on global warming policy and campaigns in "Capitalism vs. the Climate," a much-discussed cover story for The Nation that has been mentioned by readers here more than once in the last few weeks.

The piece begins with Klein’s conclusion, reached after she spent time at a conclave on climate sponsored by the libertarian Heartland Institute, that passionate corporate and conservative foes of curbs on greenhouse gases are right in asserting that a meaningful response to global warming would be a fatal blow to free markets and capitalism.

She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet.

Please dive in. The piece is particularly relevant this week given the continued standoffs and disconnect between stated goals and behavior at the climate treaty talks in Durban, South Africa. Whether you embrace or dispute her conclusions, the article is a worthy and substantive provocation. I disagree with her in pretty profound ways, yet some of her points echo my assertion awhile back that greenhouse-driven climate change is "not the story of our time" but a symptom of much deeper issues. I contacted Klein, who kindly spent quite a bit of time engaging in an e-conversation about her argument. Here's our chat:

Q.

First, I was happy to see you dive into the belly of the many-headed beast challenging the need for greenhouse-gas cuts (as was clear from your piece, you recognize that there's no single species called "deniers"). There are lots of slings and arrows awaiting anyone exploring this terrain, as was the case with the Heartland meeting in 2008. What prompted you to do an in-depth look at global warming stances and the issues underlying this "crisis"?

A.

I got interested after attending the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Like a lot of people who watched that train wreck up close, I came away wanting to understand the massive gap between the euphoric expectations of the environmental movement and the real political outcomes. When I got home, I was stunned by a new Harris poll that showed that the percentage of Americans who believed in anthropogenic climate change had plummeted from 71 per cent to 51 per cent in just two years. So here we were thinking that the world was on the verge of some kind of climate breakthrough while a large segment of the U.S. population was rejecting the science altogether. I wanted to understand how that could have happened.

I had a bit of an “a-ha” moment reading this paper by the excellent Australian political scientist Clive Hamilton, in which he argues that a great many American conservatives have come to see climate science as a threat to their core ideological identity. Then I read Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, which explains that many of the key scientists behind the denier movement hold a similar point of view – they are old-school Cold Warriors who came to see fighting environmentalism as a battle to protect “freedom” and the American way of life.

But as I read all this, I found myself thinking that from within the hard-right worldview, these responses were entirely rational. If you really do believe that freedom means governments getting out of the way of corporations and that any regulation leads us down Hayek’s road to serfdom, then climate science is going to be kryptonite to you. After all, the reality that humans are causing the climate to warm, with potentially catastrophic results, really does demand radical government intervention in the market, as well as collective action on an unprecedented scale. So you can understand why many conservatives see climate change as a threat to their identity. Too often the liberal climate movement runs away from the deep political and economic implications of climate science, which is why I wrote the piece. I think we need to admit that climate change really does demand a profound interrogation of the ideology that currently governs our economy. And that’s not bad news, since our current economic model is failing millions of people on multiple fronts.

Q.

Your examination of liberals' views appropriately reveals the unwillingness – at least of "mainstream" liberals? – to acknowledge the full scope of what would need to happen on a world heading toward 9 billion people seeking decent lives. Certainly others - e.g., Growthbusters and the Post Carbon Institute - have not.

But you also seem to presume that the only strategy that can work is "radical government intervention," when there are other approaches that have gained some traction - including no-brainers like strengthening standards and incentives for energy efficiency and conservation (which surveys show have very wide support, including among Republicans outside the obstructionist fringe, see p.5 here) while reviving long-eroded basic research and development in basic energy-related sciences. (Even George Will has warned the new Republican power brokers against neglecting science.)

A.

I agree that some market incentives and R&D investments are part of the solution, and I say so in the piece. But do I think they can get us to 80 per cent emissions reduction by mid-century? No. Not everything is win-win, some very powerful players are going to have to lose if we ever decide to get serious about climate change, which is why the denial movement is so well funded. A recent example is the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, which I have been a part of. We all know that real solutions lie in shifting to renewable energy. But in the meantime we also need to ask our governments to say ‘no’ to the dirtiest extraction projects on the planet – projects that, if fully realized, would make catastrophic climate change far more likely. And since the eighties, our governments have gotten really bad at saying no to corporations, in large part thanks to the triumph of the no-intervention (except when we need a bailout) “free-market” ideology represented by the Heartland Institute.

Investment in public infrastructure is another form of government intervention in the market – not just R&D but building public transit systems and smart grids, and shoring up levees and sea walls and the like. There is no question that robust public infrastructure is key to both reducing emissions and preparing for the heavy weather that we cannot avoid. Yet for the right-wing think tanks that sponsor the Heartland conferences (not to mention the modern-day Republican party), this is ideological heresy. Their whole reason for being is to shrink the public sphere in the name of low taxes and the benefits of privatization. What I’m arguing is that the idea that we can win the climate fight without engaging in ideological battle over these core questions about the role of government has always been a fantasy. Trying to dodge this fight is a big part of why we lose, and we need to get over it. It’s no coincidence that the countries with the most enlightened climate policies are also, overwhelmingly, the most social democratic.

And by the way, it’s not just that most of the big green groups avoid the growth question (with notable exceptions, as you point out). It’s that the solutions that groups like EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) have pushed are very often consumption based: buy these light bulbs, drive a hybrid, etc… And often these changes make sense. But the not-so subtle impact of putting so much emphasis on individual shopping habits has been to reinforce both consumerism and individualism. Tom Crompton and Tim Kasser have written some wonderful stuff on this. In this report, for example, Crompton argues that environmentalists need to do more to challenge the individualistic worldview in their campaign work.

This is particularly salient in light of the social science I reference in my article, particularly the research coming out of Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project, which has found that the major determinant of whether a person rejects the scientific consensus on climate change is whether they have a strongly “hierarchical” or “individualistic” worldview. One set of stats that didn't make it into my piece: 78 per cent of subjects who display an “egalitarian” and “communitarian” worldview believe that most scientists agree climate change is happening (which is true) – compared with only 19 per cent of those with a “hierarchical” and “individualist” worldview.

For me, it follows from this that part of being an effective environmentalist is trying to win more people over to a worldview in line with the laws of physics and chemistry, rather than offering shopping advice and touting “market-based solutions.” Put another way: if we know that aggressive regulation and rebuilding the public sphere through collective action are integral to meeting this challenge, then we have a responsibility to say so, and to defend the worldview behind those policies.

Q.

You note that China, to which much of the world has ceded its manufacturing, is unabashed about its thirst for coal and other resources. But when that reality is combined with China's (and India's) prime imperative of sustaining growth, and with projections showing that nearly all of the growth in emissions of CO2 in the next couple of decades is coming in fast-emerging developing countries, it's hard to see your prescription having any impact where it matters - in the atmosphere.

A.

I’m not sure why you think my prescriptions wouldn't have an impact. A big part of what I’m arguing for is a major rethink of so-called free trade. China and India’s massive spike in emissions are intimately linked to their governments’ frenetic embrace of this export model of development, which always sacrificed environmental and labor standards in the name of rapid economic growth. (Arundhati Roy’s latest collection, “Broken Republic,” is indispensible for understanding how much resistance there is to this model within India.) If we in the Global North slow down trade by re-localizing our economies in sensible ways, that kind of meteoric rise in emissions slows down too.

Of course the need for a higher standard of living is painfully real in China and India, which is why another piece of the puzzle that I touch on in the piece is “climate debt,” something I’ve been writing about for several years now. Basically the argument is that we who live in the industrialized countries that emitted most of the carbon that created the climate crisis have to acknowledge our historical responsibility, first by leading the way on emission reductions, then by offering assistance to countries that did little or nothing to cause the crisis but are suffering the worst effects. That assistance can take many forms, from debt forgiveness to technology transfers, to direct economic support (perhaps through a tax on financial transactions). This assistance will provide opportunities for poor countries to meet their development goals in ways less ecologically costly than extraction-based exports.

Once again, the right understands this reality very well, which is why the Heartland crowd likes to claim that climate change is a socialist conspiracy to redistribute wealth. It’s not a conspiracy, but it’s absolutely the case that climate change raises very troubling questions about the true costs of the wealth that has accumulated in the Global North. It’s also the case that climate talks will remain virtually deadlocked until our governments deal with this thorny issue of historical responsibility. Again and again, this is the issue over which the talks stall.

Q.

Back in 2007, I conceived and spearheaded our "climate divide" package documenting how rich emitters were already insulating themselves from climate risk through wealth and technology, so I'm very cognizant of that issue.

But in 2009, as I reported more and more on the inherent threat of climate extremes in some of the world's poorest places (sub-Saharan Africa, particularly) I became concerned that the uncertain impact of greenhouse-driven warming paled beside other drivers of risk (persistent poverty, doubling populations, and the existing pattern of super-drought). [These factors] would completely dominate, or at least obscure, a greenhouse contribution for decades to come.

As a result, Somalia is emblematic of what could be coming, but in no way is the human devastation there evidence of greenhouse-driven disruption.

Even if real, new adaptation money ever shows up, this guarantees intense competition for it among nations with differing levels of confidence in the source of their climate-related injuries, as described here and here.

Thoughts?

A.

There is no doubt that climate assistance can be highly divisive, especially if countries are fighting over scraps. But in a way, I think you’ve just made the argument for why climate change forces us to have a deeper discussion about failed paradigms. The countries that are most vulnerable are those that have been laboratories for neo-liberal economics and Cold War (or "War on Terror") dirty wars, leaving behind non-existent public infrastructure and lots of angry guys with guns (as Christian Parenti shows so well in his new book, “Tropic of Chaos”). This is precisely why I argue that climate change isn’t an issue, it’s “a message,” telling us that we need radically new ways of thinking about progress and power. Otherwise we are just dealing with the symptoms.

Q.

On us leading the way, it's fine to think this would result in others de-carbonizing, and I'm all for the moral imperative of the established emitters leading the way, but a lot of discussions with folks in (or deeply analyzing) developing countries over the years provide me with little confidence that the Alphonse-Gaston stasis would be broken by us stepping first.

A.

I’m slightly more optimistic. China and India have already invested heavily in emission reducing technologies, despite the fact that they are not required to do so under Kyoto. In fact China has been doing so much, the U.S. has challenged its renewable energy policies at the WTO (another argument for why “free trade” is a menace to climate action). I’m convinced that if the U.S. had come to Copenhagen with science-based emission targets, it would have been a game changer. Partly because when the U.S. refuses to accept its historical responsibility, it strengthens the hand of developing country politicians who want to cloak polluting, destructive and often corrupt development practices in anti-imperialist rhetoric.

But it’s also the case that these governments are under intense popular pressure within their own countries to adopt less ecologically damaging policies. (This will be very clear during the upcoming summit in Durban, a city with a highly mobilized and militant movement against environmental racism. See: groundwork.org.za.) China’s environmental movements are also formidable, as are India’s, though they often express themselves as battles against mining or mega-dams. If developing country governments are no longer able to play the anti-imperialist card to defend dirty development, these movements will be much better positioned to win significant environmental victories.

A great recent example is Bolivia: Evo Morales’s government has championed the idea of “climate debt” at the UN, but at home Morales has been pursuing development projects that don’t match his rhetoric of environmental concern. Over the past few months, Morales has faced an internal uprising, led by indigenous groups, and was forced to make significant concessions. So part of what we need to be thinking about is: what policies are most likely to empower environmental defenders in the Global South? And one of them is for us to stop being such easy villains. When it comes to politics, I guess I don’t believe in any kind of stasis, as this autumn's “Occupy Wall Street” explosion attests…

Q.

[This question was posed yesterday, considering Klein's argument along with similar prescriptions from David Roberts of Grist and Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress (read Romm's capping thought in the linked post).] One question that's bubbled up for me is whether your (and David Roberts' and Joe Romm's) push for a drastic approach could be seen as simply a looking-glass version of “shock doctrine”?

A.

I think we're all trying to avoid the really big shocks that would likely come with the temperature increases we are locking in, and that we aren't calling for targets that are more drastic than those many countries have already agreed to in principle, then betrayed with their actions (certainly that's the case with my own country's actions - Canada).

Shock Doctrine, as I define it, is a purely opportunistic, anti-democratic tactic, designed not to solve problems but to exploit them. We are trying to solve the problems, at their root. Moreover, I would argue that Obama won an electoral mandate in 2008 for serious climate action, and simply lacked the courage and commitment to follow through with the leadership necessary to turn his promises into policy. He can blame Congress, but we know he has never led, so we don't know what real leadership would have produced.

Any notion that Roberts, Klein or Romm will come up with a communication approach or political innovation or "Occupy"-style campaign that could produce the pace of change they seek where it matters (think, again, of India, China and regions with no energy choices outside of firewood, dung or kerosene) is as doubtful to me as my notions of fostering a culture of innovation, care and connectedness may be to them.

And we're all almost certainly wrong in one way or another in any case, given how both nature and technological leaps continue to surprise the best planners and analysts. I also don't share former Scientific American editor John Rennie's confidence that politicians, led by public conern, will someday set their agendas based on the "objective facts" on climate risk.

This is how Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain described the climate policy challenge in 2005 and, if anything, his statement is more germane now given prospects for prolonged international financial ills: "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge."

In a situation like this, as I wrote in a reaction to Rennie, I see powerful logic in taking steps on energy and resource conservation that are no brainers, while building the capacity for people to be adaptive, alert, innovative, caring and connected and thus capable of sustaining the human adventure with a mix of resilience and inventiveness as signals shift.

Here's a closing thought.

In her piece, Klein, spends a lot of time focused on the valuable body of social science research I've also explored here showing the normal nature of the wide range in human perceptions of global warming (and other kinds of risks saddled with complexity and uncertainty).

Getting comfortable with that reality means getting comfortable with differing views, and with a picture of the path forward that is utterly human - meaning variegated, imperfect, the result of pushing, nudging and pulling, of activism and resistance, invention and inertia, argument and, hopefully occasionally, common purpose.

 

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+65 # Barkingcarpet 2011-12-09 09:28
Nature IS going to kick our butts, regardless of our rules, laws, or wishes.

What are WE going to do about it?

Moo along? Or get busy and change the human world.

Education, community, and healthy, whole, intact, functioning, ecosystems are our true wealth.

The rest is infantile and psychotic corporate tantrums of greed, waste, and denial.

Yes we SHOULD, get busy.
 
 
+15 # universlman 2011-12-09 10:24
Quoting Barkingcarpet:


Yes we SHOULD, get busy.


whether it is trying to fix terrorism, banking, hurricane levies, climate change or anything, our usual response seems to follow the same wasteful cycle:

first we ignore the problem, then when the evidence becomes obvious, we deny that it exists, then following a disaster, we overreact with an ill considered quick fix

it would be if we used rational planning instead of political wrangling
 
 
+12 # Ma Tsu 2011-12-09 20:03
Below Tony Blair is quoted as saying, "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge."
There is a contravening view from evolutionary biology: Nature appears to favor those organisms which leave the environment best suited for their progeny to survive.
As we perch atop the food chain, responsible in part for the largest mass extinction in sixty five million years, are we to imagine we enjoy nature’s favor?
Shall we be the first species in the history of life on earth to cause its own extinction simply because we are too distracted, too shortsighted and too lazy and shortsighted to change our ways?
Get busy, indeed!
Join us at nationaloptimistsparty.org
Future generations, if any there are to be, will thank you. Reverentially.
 
 
+12 # RLF 2011-12-10 06:59
Everyone is responsible! Stop having children...this would be a good start. The world is over populated and humans will die in their own excrement. All of the good things people want to do work fine for a small population but otherwise lots and lots of people starve.
 
 
0 # tm7devils 2012-01-16 11:37
Quoting RLF:
Everyone is responsible! Stop having children...this would be a good start. The world is over populated and humans will die in their own excrement. All of the good things people want to do work fine for a small population but otherwise lots and lots of people starve.

I have read, and readily believe, that there are two to three times to many humans on this planet. To have 9 billion+ on this mortal coil will certainly be the downfall of the species.
Only when the death rate is twice a high as the birth rate will we start making progress...and many think it is too late no matter what we do, I among them. In other words, humans are going to screw themselves into oblivian...in more ways than one. The un-enlightened 'self-interest' of most of the human population will see to it that microbes and cockroaches will inherit the Earth...not the meek or the far-seeing!
 
 
+34 # Deward 2011-12-09 09:42
Is there ay way to replace our republic with a monarchy? If so, Naomi for queen.
She is spot on. Climate change is real and much worse than most realize. And it is a direct result of our capitalistic paradigm. The type of social shift required will be nearly impossible, because the underlying current paradigm is woven into out laws.
Climate catastrophes so huge that the fabric of law breaks down will be required to rebuild society on a sustainable basis. I fear that waiting for this monumental catastrophe will be to have waited far, far, too long.
Happy holidays everybody.
 
 
+1 # LessSaid 2011-12-10 17:38
Quoting Deward:
Is there ay way to replace our republic with a monarchy? If so, Naomi for queen.
She is spot on. Climate change is real and much worse than most realize. And it is a direct result of our capitalistic paradigm. The type of social shift required will be nearly impossible, because the underlying current paradigm is woven into out laws.
Climate catastrophes so huge that the fabric of law breaks down will be required to rebuild society on a sustainable basis. I fear that waiting for this monumental catastrophe will be to have waited far, far, too long.
Happy holidays everybody.


Let's not make Naomi queen anytime soon. Remember, Obama new climate was for real until he became president.
 
 
+10 # WLawpsh 2011-12-09 09:57
The excess and abuse that contributes to the environmental degradation is a symptom. The cause is imperialism.

Since imperialism is contrary to the anti-imperialis m established by the Constitution's Commerce, Defence and Treaty Clauses' respect for the territorial sovereignty of Foreign Nations and Indian Tribes, and since the tyranny over the domestic population complements imperialism regardless of the Bill of Rights' Fundamental Freedoms of speech, detention, public trials without secret evidence and so on, therefore alleviation of the symptom is as easy as asking the courts to address the obvious unconstitutiona lity of the federal imperial statutes under which the imperialism unconstitutiona lly is taking place.

Right?
 
 
+1 # readerz 2011-12-09 17:16
In English?
 
 
0 # NOMINAE 2011-12-10 05:28
Quoting readerz:
In English?


It's in English. Educated English. Catch up, don't drag down.
 
 
+8 # NOMINAE 2011-12-10 05:37
Quoting WLawpsh:
The excess and abuse that contributes to the environmental degradation is a symptom. The cause is imperialism.

Since imperialism is contrary to the anti-imperialism established by the Constitution's Commerce, Defence and Treaty Clauses' respect for the territorial sovereignty of Foreign Nations and Indian Tribes, and since the tyranny over the domestic population complements imperialism regardless of the Bill of Rights' Fundamental Freedoms of speech, detention, public trials without secret evidence and so on, therefore alleviation of the symptom is as easy as asking the courts to address the obvious unconstitutionality of the federal imperial statutes under which the imperialism unconstitutionally is taking place.

Right?


Impeccably argued, but the flaw lies in the invalid assumption of an unbiased and incorrupted judicial system. Our present judicial system, running up all the way up to the most egregious offender - The Supreme Court of the United States is now all too easily and all too conveniently corrupted and bought.
 
 
+36 # Ed Felien 2011-12-09 10:03
We are publishing the following in our December editions of Southside Pride:

An open letter to MN Attorney General Lori Swanson
BY ED FELIEN

Dear Attorney General Lori Swanson, If it was possible for the State of Minnesota to sue the tobacco industry for the damage they knowingly perpetrated on Minnesota citizens and recover monies to compensate for those damages, then why is it not possible to sue the five major oil companies and Koch Brothers Refinery for the health problems and deaths that have resulted from the transmission and burning of fossil fuels when they have known for years the damage they were doing to the people of Minnesota and to the climate and planet?

Read the entire article at southsidepride. com
 
 
-55 # Joeconserve 2011-12-09 11:09
I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and remind each of you that you are living in the best country that the world has ever known. It is a country that was formed on Judea/Christian values and its Constitution reflects those values.
 
 
+20 # LessSaid 2011-12-09 13:23
Quoting Joeconserve:
I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and remind each of you that you are living in the best country that the world has ever known. It is a country that was formed on Judea/Christian values and its Constitution reflects those values.


And just what does this has to do with environmental destruction.
 
 
+8 # readerz 2011-12-09 17:18
Merry Christmas to you, a little early though... if you are in a holiday spirit, you might want to remember that we are in Advent, which is when we contemplate the end times, in this case brought about by humans. That's what our country should be thinking about too.
 
 
+8 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 02:55
Dream on, Joe, nowhere in the Constitution does it mention God, and the framework of US laws came from English common law. Everyone in the US should be free to choose whatever religion, or not. The false insistence that the Constitution was based on religious principles can be viewed as a ploy by some to inject religion into politics, where the founding fathers staunchly rejected it. The fact that you posted this inappropriately , in a thread about climate change, makes me think you might be one of those. Merry Xmas, Joe, and good will to all.
 
 
+15 # NOMINAE 2011-12-10 05:42
Quoting Joeconserve:
I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and remind each of you that you are living in the best country that the world has ever known. It is a country that was formed on Judea/Christian values and its Constitution reflects those values.


@ Joeconserve

Yo! Joe !

This Country was not only founded upon freedom OF religion, it was also founded upon freedom FROM religion. Find an antidote for the Cool Aid in your stocking this year.

*Spoiler Alert* The rabid Plymouth Rock Pilgrims did not "found" this Nation.
 
 
+8 # Capn Canard 2011-12-10 06:34
Joeconserve, THANK YOU! And a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to you as well!! But Joe, we all really need to evolve and for Conservatives evolution it is well past due. Part of evolution is realizing that the idea of the "best country that the world has ever known" is just a very weak and unfounded opinion. Part of the popular American Mythos. Such belief is the last dying gasp of a supreme xenophobic arrogance still grasping for power while it's now desiccated body is tilled into the political soil like so much manure. It is over. I sure hope we all survive, but my optimism is quickly diminishing as I write this. I am sure you really believe in that Conservative fantasy. Good luck to you, but we will all need good luck.
 
 
-18 # phantomww 2011-12-10 10:55
Wow, all the negative votes for saying wishing people a Merry Christmas and saying that the US was the best country in the world. Amazing how many here must truly hate America. I, for one, can not think of any other country that I would prefer to live in or have been born in. Although, I have to admit, Australia looks pretty good but I do like being the only world super power.
 
 
+7 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 17:05
US "exceptionalism " has ever been an excuse to flout international law and aggregate an exploitative empire while maintaining the US is spreading democracy. Lot of hypocrisy in a few statements on this thread. I don't see hate for America on this thread, I see people who wish the US would live up to its democratic rhetoric and stop exploiting and warring upon other peoples.
 
 
+17 # Pickwicky 2011-12-09 11:11
Tony Blair is right; "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge."

This is especially true of the USA. So what do we do about that?
 
 
+22 # Kootenay Coyote 2011-12-09 15:00
It is a rational fallacy to adhere to the false Economy or Ecology dichotomy: there is NO viable Economy without a viable Ecology: the former lives inside the latter. Our theories of Economy are all parasitic. We have much to learn from those so-called 'primitive' societies that adapted, however harshly, to a way of life in balance with their territory. & we have knowledge & techniques that can still enable us to do this & live full lives.
 
 
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-12-10 06:48
Kootenay Coyote, I AGREE. We will definitely need to redefine everything. The primitive societies will be leaps and bounds ahead of us. In order for us to survive we will need to redefine VALUE. Our current definition of VALUE is the reason there is the possibility of a massive tidal wave of destruction that could smother us! Right now I am of the opinion that we are locked in a death struggle.
 
 
+15 # readerz 2011-12-09 17:20
I don't think that solar energy would be adverse to an economy. It would just be a different source, and we wouldn't be paying a foreign government and the current billionaires for the privilege. If we could forward the computer industry in such a short time, then we can do it.
 
 
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-12-10 06:42
readerz, solar is only one of many solutions. If things happen as quickly as they are projected to happen then the grid will be a major liability. Thinking of solar or wind or other forms energy is great, but don't ever think the gov't will be helpful for any of that. It will be dependent on individuals and small communities, the schizoid Gov't will be a obstacle rather than a source. What I am saying is that we will have a hell of a time trying to organize this sort of movement on a massive scale and Corporate Whores will fight it every step of the way, unlike the computer industry which allowed massive profits for producers. Perhaps I am too old to see the Wealthy as willing to change a system which rewarded them for all the destruction they caused. I doubt they will change just out of the goodness of their hearts, and the profits to be made on the other end are virtually flat, there is no motivation for them. Zero.
 
 
+4 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 06:15
Check the info from the Rocky Mountain Institute. RMI has described a strategy that would grow the economy, eliminate, using renewables, the use of oil, and allow a similar level of energy use. Googling "Rekindling the Fire" will put you on their trail. Their plan is not a pipe dream, it is well thought out and based on what is possible if we can get the ball rolling soon.
 
 
+24 # m... 2011-12-09 11:21
Where is the discussion of the most basic, underlying problem, POPULATION GROWTH.
In the mid 90's the numbers were like this. Every 10 days there are 3 Million more humans on the planet than 10 days ago.
I am sure that number has grown exponentially along with the size of human population.
We are now a CONSUMER-MARKET driven world. ALL of those people, a number which adds up to the size of a major metropolitan area every 10 days-- want STUFF and the energy to use that STUFF. The same STUFF all Consumers want.
We could ALL recycle until doomsday and not do a thing about climate change as every 10 days, there are millions more people buying STUFF ad recycling the Waste they produce. And we all know that recycling, energy conservation, etc, happens already on a far too small a scale.
What can be done, if anything? Who here believes that Humans will come together and save the world from ourselves? Especially a world evermore run by a growing, planet-wide Plutocratic-Oli garchical-Globa l Corporate Cabal?
When will people learn that Corporations, especially in Western Nations, are driven not by patriotism or concerns for the well being of all mankind, but by the singular legal requirement and mandate to increase their shareholder's wealth and that the only way to control that collective effort and the collective outcome of it is through Legislation, Regulation, Taxation and Tax Structure, all backed by certain judicial sanction if disobeyed?
 
 
-13 # James Marcus 2011-12-09 11:35
Buncha Bunkum!
Any possible 'science' errors by Naomi.....is hardly our worst environmental problem and certainly not worth the distraction,... . or attack.
Stay focused.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2011-12-10 07:03
People don't trust scientists because we see sooo much pro business crap science...it has made people distrust it all. Scientists need to start policing themselves to make science credible again.
 
 
+2 # perkinsej 2011-12-09 11:40
We need to start thinking about how to deal with a warmer world in the next century. Adjustments will be necessary, but civilization is not doomed. Also some positives -- more of Russia and Canada will be open to large scale agriculture. Meanwhile, tighter regulations on building near coastline will be sensible and appropriate.
 
 
+7 # Fraenkel.1 2011-12-09 12:23
The simplest approach is to reduce the earth's human population. Up to the 19th century the system was stable despite all the burning of coal. Even without global warming the earth would run out of sufficient usable resources due to population increase. The way things are going between nuclear holocausts and plagues of different sorts we shall have reduced population. Imagine this can be avoided, we need fewer babies born, careful conservation of resources, proper recycling, no more throw away economy and proper rules on money. Policies will have to be based on evidence not "faith based" wishful thinking. I blame religion for that. We will have to give up on greed as a basic philosophy of life. I propose a "maximum wage law" with high marginal tax rates for the rich.The tax revenues will go to facilities and services needed to stabilize and maintain the economy. This is not pie in the sky. It is not impossible. But unlikely.
 
 
+3 # bluebluesdancer 2011-12-10 13:06
No child should be born that is not wanted. Encourage people to have abortions if they either don't want a child or cannot support a child. Protect the innocent from all the abuse and cruelty that so many have to endure in 'families' where they are not loved.
 
 
+7 # jwb110 2011-12-09 12:28
This is all very interesting but the science behind global warming is held to be true by a far larger number of scientists than the bought and paid for variety that the GOP/TP trots out.
To think that "fixing" would jeopardize the "world economy" is just as foolish as thinking that "Not fixing" it won't also jeopardize the "world economy". In this instance, the GOP/TP may be the fools from whom the money is soon parted.
As for the Tony Blair comment buy Pickwicky, Blair has iot all wrong. The economy that would be sacrificed would be the one that exists that makes fast easy money and has no competition. New kinds of manufacturing would result in at least addressing the need for some changes. The Oil companies will drive the earth to destruction before consideration of taking their hands off the throats of the American people. Ford had a car planned for introduction in 1940 that ran on hemp oil. We are 70 years behind fixing the problem for some strange reason.
If you want to have real change then lets get back to a "real free market" system where no single industry has a chokehold on an entire economy. No subsidies, No bailouts. Succeed or fail. And for heavens sake put a muzzle on the Fed Bank!
 
 
0 # bluebluesdancer 2011-12-10 13:07
kucinich.house. gov/UploadedFil es/NEED_ACT.pdf
 
 
+12 # RJB 2011-12-09 12:39
First and foremost we get money out of politics. There can be no progress for anything other than the corporate agenda with the current system of political bribery in place.
 
 
+3 # sj-ias 2011-12-09 12:41
America cannot become a competent nation if its people and its leaders embrace wishful thinking. The Right practices wishful thinking on climate change, the Left practices wishful thinking on Social Security solvency. A competent America would let go of its fables and set higher standards for itself. I wrestle with these issues in a book manuscript, "Integrity at Scale," available at www.IntegrityAtScaleBlog.com." If we are to abandon wishful thinking on climate change, we have to state the logic chain more rigorously than Naomi Klein does. 1. Our technology choices force us to consume fossil fuels. 2. Our consumption of fossil fuel creates CO2 emissions. 3. Our ongoing emissions drive the stock of atmospheric CO2 steadily higher. 4. A rising stock of CO2 warms the planet more and more. 5. A warming planet produces dangerous climate change in many areas. 6. Rising climate change triggers extreme weather events, and those events produce humanitarian catastrophe and economic hardship. If we wish to prevent humanitarian catastrophe, we have to go back to step 1 and replace all those technologies that require fossil fuels with technologies that don't. Environmentalis ts have let us down by not framing the challenge with sufficient rigor; had they been doing so for the past 20 years, the public would better understand the joyful challenge ahead. It's essentially a handyman tech replacement challenge, not a hairshirt "consume less" challenge.
 
 
+7 # noitall 2011-12-09 17:32
Sad, scary, a bummer, a drag, freak out time, but TRUE, me thinks. The bacon IS burning. Maybe we've exhausted all the chances given by Mother Nature. If our religions paid Her more respect, would we be facing this today? Maybe we aren't created in the image of God...maybe our life is JUST equal to the rest of life. At least we don't have to worry about HELL. We've created our own.
 
 
+8 # Crusader Rabbit 2011-12-09 14:52
Klein implies what James Lovelock stated very plainly in this 2008 Guardian interview:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

The three years since the Lovelock interview have done nothing but confirm his conclusions.
 
 
+10 # Activista 2011-12-09 15:18
"“hierarchical” and “individualist” worldview" is killing US
Naomi is right - see lot of liberals do NOT have systemic view - sleep well with Prius in their garage - thinking how they are saving Earth.
Carter was right - it means to turn the thermostat down, true sacrifice.
 
 
+4 # Capn Canard 2011-12-10 07:01
Activista, TRUE SACRIFICE, YES! I believe it is the structure of the economy that is killing us. This profit motive ideology is the cancerous growth that we feed by environmental depletion. All WAR are wars for natural resources or access to resources to increase economic gain.
 
 
+1 # Activista 2011-12-10 09:12
Agree - this is systemic problem - maximizing short term profit is destroying everything.
Would like to see yet rational answer for $1.3 trillion militarism.
Resources (oil) are often cover for land grab/occupation (Israel).
 
 
-5 # tclose 2011-12-09 15:33
I have a hard time agreeing with Naomi's conclusions - in my view striving for radical change to the US DNA of unbridled capitalism is a losing game. I think the US will eventually get to understand the need for greenhouse emission restrictions, but not any time soon. In other words, some degree of environmental destruction is inevitable and the best we can do is minimize it. These are things I think we can do:
- Continue to make progress in the reductions through energy savings (use of CFL and LED lighting, etc.), high mileage vehicles, alternate fuels, etc.
- Continue to make the case to the American people through environmental and political groups. Eventually even they (we) will come to their senses.
- Other nations have more sense than we do in terms of acceptance of science fact rather than fiction. They will eventually gang up on the US to do likewise - this may take the form of economic sanctions against the US that will make the GOP take notice.

This will of course not be enough to stop the inexorable increase in global temperatures, but no form of extreme action against the US capitalist machine is going to solve the problem. Only a steady concerted pressure on the part of the other half of the American population will - challenging the climate deniers at every turn, challenging polluters in court, giving support to legislators who have the strength to fight for climate regulation, etc.
 
 
+12 # noitall 2011-12-09 17:25
We might be having THIS fist fight as we're plunging toward earth, who knows?. Americans are still at the "Gee, does that mean we'll have to pay a deposit on bottles?" stage. Ignorance is not bliss. Unless us spoiled Americans actually see how close we are, we won't be able to imagine living more like people living in mud huts, than just giving up on a convenience in order to save our unworthy butts. The bacon IS burning.
 
 
+5 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 02:57
Environmental destruction is already upon us.
 
 
+8 # BellBuoy 2011-12-09 20:59
Its a bitter irony that we in Earth First! discovered this connection (now addressed by Naomi Klein) between Anthropomorphic caused climate and Capitalism over 25 years ago. We challenged the status quo and were not only bombed, beaten and jailed by the system, but shunned and ridiculed by the Environmental Establishment. Yes; the present Imperial Capitalist Oligarchy and it's consumerist followers will have to be radically transformed. The question is; by our own maturity and wisdom, or by the harsh methods of natural feedback mechanisms? Our time for choice is fast running out. We must focus on local economies, stop supporting the wage-slave economy, and get the hell out of our cars. There is no shortage of excellent solutions, only a shortage of wisdom and will. Old habits die hard.... Happy Solstice?
 
 
+5 # Ken Hall 2011-12-10 06:22
I remember an old cartoon I saw somewhere, very apt to what you wrote. A fat cat CEO is sitting behind a desk saying, in successive cels, "Ga$, you want ga$? Sure, no problem, I'll sell you all the gas you need!" "Coal, you want coal? I'll sell you all the coal you want!" "Nuclear? You want nuclear, and I can sell it to you, no problem!" "Solar...solar? Ummm, you want solar energy? Umm, no, that's totally unfeasible, can't be done!"
 
 
+3 # Capn Canard 2011-12-10 07:15
I believe we need to understand that our very cultural and philophic beliefs are the problem. The idea of profit/money needs to be discarded completely. Our system of Value based on QUANTITY has proven to be a dead end. We need Value to be redefined as a QUALITATIVE aspect of human interaction. It is simple: if it has a bad outcome then it should not be valued... that is the complete opposite of our current economy. I don't see this happening unless there is a fundamental and profound shift in human consciousness and so far I see very little evidence of that. Good luck... Try permaculture, say goodbye to gas, coal, nuclear, hydro...
 
 
+2 # prudd 2011-12-11 08:13
There is a silver bullet to climate and per capita energy consumption - the city. Reverse all market 'theories' and incentives to make cities affordable and to make suburbs unaffordable - as they logically should be - and the climate problem is radically altered for the better as people consume less.
 
 
+2 # Don Thomann 2011-12-11 09:02
Talk, talk, talk - about WHAT to do, WHEN to do it, HOW to do it- yet we all continue to live in the same destructive way.
Meanwhile "the ship is sinking," "the trestle-bridge is gone,"
"the wings have fallen off the plane!"
Oh yes -
The population of the world WILL be reduced - forcibly!
And, those who remain will have a cesspool to live in.
 
 
0 # Hey There 2011-12-12 23:23
Things to consider regarding climate change.
1)How much fuel the military uses in wars.
2)What effect atomic testing has had on the environment and climate.
3)What effect bombing has on the environment and climate.
4)No one controls the output of the sun.
5)Humans don’t control WHEN volcanoes, earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes happen.That goes for floods and droughts too.Where people in charge have a choice is to take measures to protect lives and property as was not done in New Orleans.
6)When reading how climate affected civilizations it is apparent that there were adverse effects that had NOTHING to do with human activities as in the Ice Age.
7)Damage is done to the environment by nuclear plant accidents and possibly affects the climate as well.
8)A common person using gas to get to work, buy food, etc, appears to have little effect on the environment while corporations do have an effect and should be compelled to correct the amount of pollution they create. Oil spills and loss of life can be curtailed if made a priority rather than excessive profits.
 

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