This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

  The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.
  In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
  In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.
  Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.
  Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.

Quotes and thoughts while reading:

Unfortunately I only have the kindle version, which means no page numbers. But we can do location numbers.

"There is no way this can be done without fundamentally changing the American way of life, choking off economic development, and putting large segments of our economy out of business." - Thomas J Donahue (loc 577)

"it is always easier to deny reality than to allow our world view to be shattered, a fact that was as true of die-hard Stalinists at the height of the purges as it is of libertarian climate change deniers today." (loc 689)

"[U.S. business elites] launched a counterrevolution [in the late 60s/early 70s], a richly funded intellectual movement that argued that greed and the limitless pursuit of profit were nothing to apologize for and offered the greatest hope for human emancipation that the world had ever known. Under this liberationists banner, they fought for such policies as tax cuts, free trade deals, for the auctioning off of core state assets from phones to energy to water - the package known in most of the world as "neoliberalism." " (loc 719)

"former CIA director R. James Woolsey predicted hat on a much warmer planet 'altruism and generosity would likely be blunted." We can already see that emotional blunting on display from Arizona to Italy. Already, climate change is changing us, coarsening us. Each massive disaster seems to inspire less horror, fewer telethons. Media commentators speak of "compassion fatigue", as is empathy, and not fossil fuels, was the finite resource." (loc 993)

"the real reason we are failing to rise to the climate moment is because the actions required directly challenge our reigning economic paradigm (deregulated capitalism combined with public austerity), the stories on which Western cultures are founded (that we stand apart from nature and can outsmart its limits), as well as many of the activities that form our identities and define our communities (shopping, living virtually, shopping some more)." (loc 1170)

"Indeed the three policy pillars of the neoliberal age - privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and the lowering of income and corporate taxes, paid for with cuts to public spending - are each incompatible with many of the actions we must take to bring our emissions to safe levels." (loc 1351)

"when climate change deniers claim that global warming is plot to redistribute wealth, it's not (only) because they are paranoid. It's also because they are paying attention." (loc 1729)

"First, let's be sure what rationing is not. It is not starvation, long bread lines, shoddy goods. Rather, it is a community plan for dividing fairly the supplies we have among all who need them. Second, it is not "un-American." The earliest settlers of this country, facing scarcities of food and clothing, pooled their precious supplies and apportioned them out to everyone on an equal basis. It was an American idea then, and it is an American idea now, to share and share alike - to sacrifice, when necessary, but sacrifice together, when the country's welfare demands it." - From the 1942 Office of Price Administration pamphlet (loc 2150). Man what the heck happened to us?

"We can, if need be, ransack the whole globe, penetrate into the bowels of the earth, descend to the bottom of the deep, travel to the farthest regions of this world, to acquire wealth." - William Derham - Physico-Theology (loc 3182)

"This was a time when intervening directly in the market to prevent harm was still regarded as a sensible policy option. Confronted with unassailable evidence of a grave collective problem, politicians across the political spectrum still asked themselves: "What can we do to stop it?" (Not: "How can we develop complex financial mechanisms to help the market fix it for us?")" (loc 3712)

"Simple principles governed this golden age of environmental legislation: ban or severely limit the offending activity or substance and where possible, get the polluter to pay for the cleanup." (loc 3731)

"Climate change legislation will result in higher direct energy costs for the typical American family." the site warned, further claiming (outlandishly) that it "could result in a net loss of more than two million U.S. jobs each year." As for fellow defector BP, company spokesman Ronnie Chappell explained, "The lowest-cost option for reducing emissions is the increased use of natural gas." (loc 4193) Yeah, sure Chappell, lets burn more gas.

"Richard Branson got at least one thing right. He showed us the kind of bold model that has a chance of working in the tight time frame left: the profits from our dirtiest industries must be diverted into the grand and hopeful project of cleaning up their mess. But if there is one thing Branson has demonstrated, it is that it won't happen on a voluntary basis or on the honor system. It will have to be legislated - using the kinds of tough regulations, higher taxes, and steeper royalty rates these sectors have resisted all along." (loc 4696)

  "In a true emergency, who would be immune to this logic? Sure, the idea of spraying sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere like some kind of cosmic umbrella seems crazy to many now. But if our cities were so hot that people were dropping dead in the thousands, and someone was peddling a quick and dirty way to cool it off, wouldn’t most beg for that relief in the same way that they reach for the air conditioner on a sweltering day, knowing full well that by turning it on they are contributing to the very problem they’re trying to escape?
   This is how the shock doctrine works: in the desperation of a true crisis all kinds of sensible opposition melts away and all manner of high-risk behaviors seem temporarily acceptable. It is only outside of a crisis atmosphere that we can rationally evaluate the future ethics and risks of deploying geoengineering technologies should we find ourselves in a period of rapid change." (loc 5138)

"Robert A. Frosch (the vice president at General Motors) explained: "I don't know why anybody should feel obligated to reduce carbon dioxide if there are better ways to do it. When you start making deep cuts, you're talking about spending some real money and changing the entire economy. I don't understand why we're so casual about tinkering with the whole way people live on the Earth, but not tinkering a little further with the way we influence the environment." (loc 5235)

"Since the doors to foreign investors were flung open near the end of British colonial rule, oil companies have pumped hundreds of billions of crude out of Nigeria, most from the Niger Delta, while consistently treating its land, water, and people with undisguised disdain. Wastewater was dumped directly into rivers, streams, and the sea; canals from the ocean were dug willy-nilly - turning precious freshwater sources salty, and pipelines were left exposed and unmaintained, contributing to thousands of spills. In an often cited statistic, an Exxon-Valdez-worth of oil was spilled in the Delta every year for about fifty years, poisoning fish, animals, and humans." (loc 5646)

  "In the past, people committed to social change often believed they had to choose between fighting the system and building alternatives to it. So in the 1960s, the counterculture splintered between those who stayed in cities to try to stop wars and bash away at inequalities and those who chose to drop out and live their ecological values among like-minded people on organic farms or in manageable-sized cities like Bellingham, Washington. The activists and the exodus.
   Today's activists don't have the luxury of these choices even if they wanted them." (loc 7444) This seems rather poignant, when I think about joining a commune, or staying in the small town I live in. I've already escaped the big city, and I'm not sure I want to go back. But isn't that where I could try and make the most change happen?

" the age of fossil fuels, we can render the earth less alive by far more stealthy means: by interfering with the capacity of adults to reproduce in the first place, and by making the first days of life simply too difficult to survive. No corpses, just an absence - more handfuls of nothing." (loc 8047)

Final thoughts: The structures and institutions of the late 60s and early 70s, namely those that encompass Neoliberalism, have been brought out into the world for what they really are. Policies that take the wealth from the middle and lower class, and focus it upwards, to the wealthiest. Yes, the veil has been thoroughly lifted, but for how many people? When the majority of people realize that the rhetoric they have been fed has been finely crafted we will see many changes, some of them in the realm of climate change. But until that point, those in power will stay in power, and the extractivist policies we have seen for the past 40 years will continue.


© JKloor 2015 Books