Review of Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything"


Naomi Klein's latest book 'This Changes Everything - Capitalism vs the Climate' certainly made me think hard; it's essential reading for anyone concerned to prevent runaway climate chaos and the general trashing of the planet. The main points I registered from reading the book are that: in our capitalist, free market system with big corporations in control, governments are never going to act together to reduce emissions effectively, that individual small actions, though commendable, make very little difference and that the only way forward is an immediate mass, grassroots movement with direct action. A mass movement along the lines of and on the scale of the abolition movement and the civil rights movement is needed to combat the profit at all costs, big multinational companies and turn things around at this late stage.

In this well researched book, Klein explains very clearly why a handful of climate change 'deniers' have had such an influence [they have big funding from the fossil fuel industry which is terrified that action will be taken to spoil their profits] and how financial/economic circumstances have worked against any significant action. Despite all the international climate talks emissions have gone up 57% since the 1992 Earth Summit. She admits that she has been in a sort of denial because she hadn't made climate action the urgent priority in her life that it needs to be - perhaps that is true of most of us.

She explains how 'the market' has reigned over the ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions and is designed for maximum, endless use of natural resources. She also rubbishes the high tech methods being suggested to reduce emissions, especially by rich entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson.

This book is not all 'doom and gloom' however, there are many examples of communities and other bodies taking significant action. The third part of the book is devoted to the movements currently working to keep fossil fuels in the ground; it particularly focuses on indigenous people fighting to keep their lands from the hands of the extractive industries. The campaign to get large organisations to divest from fossil fuels [reinvesting in clean energy technology], the Keystone XL movement to stop the pipeline from tar-sands sites, various actions against fracking and communities generating their own renewable energy all feature. So do transition towns with energy descent action plans and small scale farming, producing crops for local use without the chemicals derived from oil.

In fact there is so much information in this book that I can't start to do it justice - I hope that many people will read it and think about it [I have a copy to lend].

And what should we be doing as part of a grassroots movement to 'save the planet'? Well, at the very least we can keep signing the petitions, supporting those taking direct action, writing to MPs and newspapers, etc. I hope that Sustainable Crediton people are not part of climate change denial in that they fail to see how urgent it is to take action now!