Understanding Climate Radicalism
June 2, 2016 5:26 AM   Subscribe

What do climate radicals actually want? An excellent and detailed review at Naomi Klein's latest book "This Changes Everything: Captialism vs The Climate" (Previously) attempts to understand what exactly it is that climate radicals want to do and whether it is sufficient or helpful in tackling climate change.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (87 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I actually believe it's too late. No point.
posted by The Seeds of Autumn at 5:32 AM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


I believe that it MAY be too late, but we should try fixing the world anyway, just for kicks.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 5:41 AM on June 2, 2016 [47 favorites]


Am I the only person who goes nuts seeing carbon dioxide constantly called "carbon"?
posted by thelonius at 5:48 AM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yup, its just you. If you're talking about it all the time its just a handy shortform. I am more put out by students putting a superscript 2 on to CO.
posted by biffa at 5:53 AM on June 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


The Seeds of Autumn - Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. We don't know what we don't know (Dunning-Kruger effect), to a huuuge degree here, so it's rash to completely write off the future.

That said, we have to do the best we can with the information we have, so it's probably not unrealistic to be very concerned.

However, to be effective, we have to take care of the important resource of ourselves as actors, so dwelling on how doomed everything seems -- something I do far too much, arguably -- may not be the best way to proceed.
posted by amtho at 6:06 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


How about we talk about the article?

Wow, this is a comprehensive and devastating review of Klein's work. This is the best of the genre, even as there have been a few similar critical-from-the-left reviews preceding it. Dorman puts his finger on precisely the confluence of anti-intellectualism, sentimentalism, populism and millenarianism that fuels "Blockadia" that Klein exalts and seems to me as very troubling and a political dead end. Excellent piece. Here are some key pullquotes:
It is bizarre that a large portion of the left would now regard pre-scientific and pre-industrial modes of life as superior. Worse, it is political suicide. Whatever the denizens of Blockadia may think (and I suspect they harbor a range of views about the nature of progress), the vast majority of every country on earth wants economic prosperity and the benefits promised by science. They may well underestimate the risks and drawbacks, but a movement with any hope of political success has to respect these goals. I will grant that large portions of This Changes Everything adopts the position I’m advocating, but large portions don’t.
...
This is how I would interpret Blockadia, for instance, in the absence of a broader movement that includes both direct action and political contestation: Klein can devote page after page to how righteous these activists are without any attention to whether they have had or have any prospect of having an impact on carbon emissions. Their very activism constitutes its own victory, which is convenient if the more conventional sort of victory is believed to be out of reach. (It is bad form to even bring this up: why, some will ask, am I dwelling on the negative with so much positive energy to celebrate?)
...
But what I find diagnostic is the warm reception [Klein's book] received from virtually every media outlet on the English-speaking left. This suggests that Klein is moving with the political tide and not against it, and that the problems that seemed obvious to me were either invisible to her reviewers or regarded as too insignificant to bring up. The view that capitalism is a style of thinking, progress is a myth, and political contestation is irrelevant to “true” social change belongs not just to this one book but to all the commentators who found nothing to criticize. That’s the real problem.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:09 AM on June 2, 2016 [36 favorites]


Am I the only person who goes nuts seeing carbon dioxide constantly called "carbon"?

If it makes you less nuts, you could remember that methane is also a greenhouse gas.
posted by Slothrup at 6:10 AM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


If I were say, driving, and I realized I was definitely going to crash into a wall, I would still hit the brake. Saying that there is no point is nihilistic, and false. Acting increases our collective chances of survival. Not acting decreases them.
posted by ent at 6:12 AM on June 2, 2016 [27 favorites]


Hmmm. I confess I skimmed and also, don't have the expertise to meaningfully assess his claims, nor did I read the book! Having said all that, his critiques seem sound. Still, then what? I'd like to read an article that points to the specific measures we should be taking to slow, then perhaps someday reverse, climate change.
posted by latkes at 6:13 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


We can try. But I believe the ultra rich and powerful already know it's going to happen and are actively pursuing strategies to survive that. Plus, having invested in that strategy, they are actively combating our strategies to prevent it. I may be wrong, but this explains a lot of their behavior, including asset stripping, propaganda, and shutting down all forms of collective action such as, but not limited to, government.
posted by BentFranklin at 6:15 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


A lot of people who are understandably upset about climate change don't have the science background, or the communication chops, to make the most logical arguments for it.

We've been told over and over, though, that emotional appeals are more effective than science-based arguments. I think, though, that they are effective only in an immediate sense and to people who are open to them. Science-based arguments, even complicated ones, have staying power and are an important part of changing people's minds over time.

Emotional appeals are likely to make skeptics shut down, especially if they seem to vilify or shame those who don't already agree.

Critiques like this one could be valuable, although this one sounds a bit dismissive of the author's perspective. That dismissive and ungenerous approach is a kind of emotional slant that makes me suspicions of the critic, too.
posted by amtho at 6:25 AM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Joseph Heath had a pretty devastating set of critiques of This Changes Everything as well.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:38 AM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


If I were say, driving, and I realized I was definitely going to crash into a wall, I would still hit the brake.

Would Major Kong have been better to flap his arms instead of shouting yee-haw?
posted by fairmettle at 6:38 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you ask people straight up if they're willing to pay more for goods, increase taxes, and lose a lot of jobs in mining and energy intensive industries to tackle climate change most say no. Barring some new undeveloped technology you can't genuinely address climate change without doing all these things. Any climate messaging therefore has to be morally or emotionally based to reach enough people to make a difference.
posted by zymil at 6:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


ask people straight up if they're willing to [substitute their well being for the well being of future people]

Exactly. People, broadly construed, have never done this (consciously) in history. Evolutionarily we're not very well adapted to do it either.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:49 AM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think we're fair and squarely fucked as a species. Several degrees of heat are already baked into the system, life-sustaining resources are going to dwindle, nations are going to bomb the shit out of each other to control them, the ultra-rich are actively pursuing strategies to exploit that, the overall human population continues to grow rapidly, and even if we came up with some Magical Climate Repair Protocol that would allow humans to continue with minimal effects and most nations on earth agreed to it, enough countries and enough corporations and enough polluters would continue doing it the old way because There's Money To Be Made There.

And, besides, the article and zymil are right; if first-world people are asked to give up modern personal conveniences and technological advances and such for the good of the planet, the answer will be a resounding FUCK NO from the vast majority. The Tragedy of the Commons isn't something out of Shakespeare's back catalog.

To summarize neatly: [George Carlin] The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Big difference.

Does that mean that nothing is the right thing to do about it? Not to me, because the upcoming misery is inevitable but also incremental. By doing what little we can as rational actors to postpone it and mitigate it, those of us who are reading this can try to ward off its worst effects until a time when we're all dead and gone. Our kids and grandkids are in for it, of course, but I have my ways of avoiding contributing to that problem as well.
posted by delfin at 6:51 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Emotional or moral arguments built on strong reasoning seems like an achievable goal for the most educated population in the world's history.

People have very much substituted their well-being for the well being of future people, both those close to them (children, both their family's and the community's) and unknown people. Frequently. We treat these cases as outliers, but it's not unusual.
posted by amtho at 6:52 AM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


If you ask people straight up if they're willing to pay more for goods, increase taxes, and lose a lot of jobs in mining and energy intensive industries to tackle climate change most say no. Barring some new undeveloped technology you can't genuinely address climate change without doing all these things.

Per capita energy use, let alone CO2 emission, is basically decoupled from "well being" (as measured by a capitalist measure like GDP) after a certain level. California and many European states have held energy consumption level, or reduced it, despite growing comparably to other developed areas. The difference is basically explained by government policy choices and not "You have to drive a lot in Kansas" or "Use the air conditioner in Florida."

And while some sectors will definitely lose, given that we're talking about replacing them with other, higher growth sectors, even the transition shouldn't be horrible.

Exactly. People, broadly construed, have never done this (consciously) in history. Evolutionarily we're not very well adapted to do it either.

People have more or less deliberately embraced a set of neoliberal high growth policies that reduced worker's power and wage growth, transferring profits to the 1%, in the hope of future higher growth. The net wealth shift has been profound.
posted by mark k at 6:59 AM on June 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'd like to read an article that points to the specific measures we should be taking to slow, then perhaps someday reverse, climate change.

Stop making Plastic, stop using fossil fuels, stop cutting down trees. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It's common sense really and everyone knows deep down what needs done, just like a smoker.

Like a smoker we just can't quit. It's harder than quitting smoking because we've all gotta get off our collective asses and quit at the same time. Take my dad for example. He's been warned if he doesn't stop smoking he'll probably lose his feet. Has he quit? Nope. Do I still smoke knowing this impending possible scenario. Yep.

Personally I'm in the "we are fucked but we have to keep trying" camp.
posted by twistedonion at 7:00 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


ask people straight up if they're willing to [substitute their well being for the well being of future people]

Exactly. People, broadly construed, have never done this (consciously) in history. Evolutionarily we're not very well adapted to do it either.


People do this all the time. In fact we are evolutionarily hard wired for it perhaps more than any other possible sacrifice we could ever make.

It's referred to as having children.
posted by srboisvert at 7:11 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


The most compassionate approached is two-pronged: Take all available action to minimize the suffering of people who currently exist, and take all available action to prevent the existence of additional people in the future.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:12 AM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Skimmed the article and I need to go back and read the whole thing. It seems consistent with the NYRB take.

Not having read the book I'm not sure if they are fair or not. My current impression of the book from these reviews is so negative, though, that I am tempted to read it so I can fully endorse the criticisms.
posted by mark k at 7:12 AM on June 2, 2016


I remember being a kid in the 80s when Reduce/Reuse/Recycle was becoming a thing, and it was listed in order of importance. It's so darkly fascinating that we chucked two of them out more or less wholesale within a few years.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:14 AM on June 2, 2016 [18 favorites]


>ask people straight up if they're willing to [substitute their well being for the well being of future people]

>Exactly. People, broadly construed, have never done this (consciously) in history. Evolutionarily we're not very well adapted to do it either.

This isn't true at all. People who volounteer for military service, or do medical research believe this. (We can argue whether it's effective or not, but that's another matter.) There are all kinds of social workers, teachers, clergy, medical people, etc who decided to pursue helping others to the detriment of their own well being. For some of them, this sort of self sacrifice is the only life worth living.

People pay lots more for their cars so they have airbags, crumple zones, catalytic converters, etc that enhance safety or reduce pollution. People pay more for their air conditioners so that they don't contain CFC's, and more for their fuel so that it doesn't contain lead, and has less sulphur. Now there is much less acid rain, and water systems are recovering. We've eliminated lead paint, banned asbestos, the list goes on.

There are lots of problems, I get it. But revolutions create enormous suffering, and are colossally wasteful, of lives and other resources. Within a lot of political dialogue, advocating revolution or nothing is just a way of giving up without admitting it. The system can, and does work. There have been many victories. Climate change can be another one.
posted by thenormshow at 7:14 AM on June 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong here.

For, "People pay more for [safe/green thing]" weren't all of those mandated by law because cheap, dirty, dangerous goods would still have sold to people who didn't care or couldn't afford to care?

That wasn't altruism, that was the government at the time realizing that they were waaaay on the wrong side of a cost/benefit balance.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:21 AM on June 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


People pay lots more for their cars so they have airbags, crumple zones, catalytic converters, etc that enhance safety or reduce pollution. People pay more for their air conditioners so that they don't contain CFC's, and more for their fuel so that it doesn't contain lead, and has less sulphur. Now there is much less acid rain, and water systems are recovering. We've eliminated lead paint, banned asbestos, the list goes on.

Ah, but that's action at a government level, not an individual level. (Which is arguably influenced by individual concerns, but indirectly at best.) If I go down to the local car dealer, it's not that I'm consciously choosing to buy a car with modern AC, airbags, fuel, etc. for the sake of the environment -- it's that there is literally nothing else for sale because of regulations, unless I'm intentionally buying a used one that's 40 years old.

Look at your local McDonald's. If that's not the clearest depiction of "people know there are better/safer/healthier alternatives but flock to something cheap and convenient but scientifically disastrous instead" around today, I don't know what is.
posted by delfin at 7:27 AM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I look forward to reading this massive 8,000 word essay, but in the meantime: It seems obvious to me that when presented with a list of options to tackle climate change the answer should always be "All of the above." Yes to protests, yes to local, state, and federal legislation, yes to personal change, yes to a technological moonshot, yes to deploying current technologies... CLEAN ALL THE THINGS.
posted by gwint at 7:33 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


"think of the children"

As someone who does not and cannot have children, I feel like I've hardly got a horse in this race.

I'm convinced that the supposed altruism of having children is exaggerated. People get a thrill from parenthood, it's an emotional and instinctual thing, not a conscientious gift to humanity. In a perfect world we would get the same jump of fear and disgust we have for spiders when we see a fast car, we would get the same content fulfillment from good environmental policy as we do from bearing children. But nothing about us is that reasonable or practical.

How do you even convince people that conservation is a way off taking care of the children? A significant portion of the US thinks the world will literally end before we have to deal with the consequences of our "dominion".

The planet will be fine, life on earth will go on no matter what, but today's mainstream politics will drive humans to extinction.
posted by idiopath at 7:46 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ah, but that's action at a government level, not an individual level. (Which is arguably influenced by individual concerns, but indirectly at best.)

If you rule out collective action through the government as a means by which people can act to improve the well-being of people in the future, then, yes, it looks like people don't do very much to improve future conditions. But collective action through government is exactly how people have historically addressed problems like this that require coordination and long-term thinking. It's amazing, how deeply neo-liberalism has penetrated that it makes people think that the only legitimate form of change is that accomplished through individual choice in the market.
posted by praemunire at 7:47 AM on June 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


Interesting article - my TL;DR summary of it is:

1) Klein takes.. "a moral position that expresses values, not a proposition that is intended to lead to laws or policies",

and

2) "It’s all ends and no means. This is a double convenience: first it eliminates the need to be factual and analytical about programs, since announcing the goal is sufficient unto itself, and second, it evades the disconcerting problem of how to deal with the daunting political challenge of getting such programs (if they even exist) enacted and enforced."

But - I think the author misreads the use of the book. The book doesn't seem to be a how-to policy book; the book seems to operate as protest.

------

There are two traps that I think people fall into in 'leftist' / activist movements:

1st trap: Let's protest! Protesting itself can change things!
2nd trap: What does protesting do? Protesting is mostly useless without action steps!

Dorman seems stuck in the 2nd trap, which is important and helpful, but ultimately defeatist and messianic in its own right - does every author have to provide a diagnosis of the solution and a clear path to get there?

Right now it seems to me that the reason we're not doing anything about climate change is not a technological problem but a political will and conceptual matter. If climate change was taken as seriously as a looming foreign invasion, then new technologies and industries would sprout up overnight.

Arguably, the book is doing exactly we would do in such a scenario - to warn each other of the grave dangers, and to put each other in a proper mindset, so that more resources are used to figure out the specifics of how to solve specific problems.
posted by suedehead at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


People get a thrill from parenthood, it's an emotional and instinctual thing

The same can be said for many different kinds of altruism, or maybe altruism itself. Rescuing dogs? Becoming a firefighter? The urge to "protect people" that motivates many to become police officers or soldiers? Teach for America? The arguably ill-advised voluntourism industry discussed in a recent thread? People _want_ to help, once their basic needs are met AND they don't feel like they're being treated unfairly. It's a basic drive, and the reason we were able to have civilization at all. The idea that it's all enlightened self-interest and capitalism needs to be debunked; you need both individual fulfilment and the meaningfulness and impressive effects of loving a community.
posted by amtho at 7:53 AM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


We are doing a lot about climate change. We just need to do more.
posted by gwint at 7:53 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Look at your local McDonald's. If that's not the clearest depiction of "people know there are better/safer/healthier alternatives but flock to something cheap and convenient but scientifically disastrous instead" around today, I don't know what is..

delfin,
I can't tell if you're being slightly arch here?

I thought "your local McDonald's" has become cynical shorthand for cheap-crap-BUT-with-salad-too nowadays?

Isn't the changing menu at McDonald's evidence of a global behemoth at least starting to pay lip service to trendy, greener alternatives?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:54 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


We've eliminated lead paint, banned asbestos, the list goes on.

FYI, that's not completely true. We've banned the most hazardous types of asbestos; friable unbound insulation material, but most other types such as friction material for brakes and clutches, and asphalt shingles are still allowed.
posted by dudemanlives at 7:56 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bearing children cannot be altruism though, if we think of it in terms of reducing suffering. Because living beings will suffer and cause other living beings to suffer. Yes, life is beautiful, etc. etc., and this is not to disparage babymaking, but it's disingenuous to act like it's a selfless or altruistic act at all.

It's altruistic to care for existing children, but not to create more of them to compete for resources.
posted by witchen at 7:59 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Look at your local McDonald's
...
I can't tell if you're being slightly arch here?

ಠ_ಠ
posted by griphus at 8:00 AM on June 2, 2016 [20 favorites]


If I were say, driving, and I realized I was definitely going to crash into a wall, I would still hit the brake.

Just to brutalize a metaphor, I almost did that during a sudden snow storm a few months ago in the middle of the night, took my foot off just in time to zig zag into the rest stop.

Scared deeply! The current ecology is sliding somewhere, events like the north west passage opening and Mt Rainier all grey and naked (was always white and shiny growing up) scare the daylights out of me. But shutting down all gas refineries (slamming brakes) would probably be a net loose. I suggest increasing funding in core science, getting off the planet, planting more trees, investing in robotics to farm currently poor and inconvenient land. Invest in waterfront property currently 50 miles inland.

The bad news is we and the world will change. The good news is we are the most adaptable species yet known.

Move all manufacturing off planet!

There are all kinds of radical crazy ideas, and we're not eve close to how crazy we need to get to.
posted by sammyo at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I should say that we have banned the most hazardous "asbestos-containing products." There are different types of asbestos that occur in nature but I believe US law treats them the same.
/derail
posted by dudemanlives at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2016


Isn't the changing menu at McDonald's evidence of a global behemoth at least starting to pay lip service to trendy, greener alternatives?

Up to a point. Look at the nutritional information on many of their salads -- they may LOOK lighter but they're topped with crispy fried chicken, fatty dressings, etc. that drive fat, sodium and calories up to skeevy levels. Lip service is arguably worse than McGreaseburgers because at least when you look at a Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese you have no illusions about what you're ordering.

(This is not to pick on McDonald's alone -- it's not like Burger King or Wendy's is a massive improvement.)
posted by delfin at 8:04 AM on June 2, 2016


This is a massive article, but it does deserve the read. For me, the takeaway is two-fold.

First, and most importantly, the book makes a moral argument, not a rational one. This is compounded with it slicing the population into "Us" the righteous locally-minded virtuous protesters and "Them" the evil, polluting destroyers of the future.

Second, and also important, the book advocates actions, but not actions that will likely move towards the change that is sought. By showing a disinterest in the detailed challenges of global policy and economics it can be construed as misrepresenting where the key work to address climate change will likely need to happen.

There is also a fairly compelling translation of this specific critique of the book to a larger critique of left political climate movements.

I think both of these arguments and this conclusion fairly compelling and resonant. They are concerns that are worthy of serious consideration and self-reflection.
posted by meinvt at 8:11 AM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Naomi Klein aside, part (maybe all) of the problem is 200+ years of not unwelcome propaganda that the economy is the sole measure of society's progress, and that various forms of consumption are the best way for individuals to express their achievements and their dreams. Our entire public effort is bound up in this belief, and now we have a vast and self-serving media to help us understand that consumption is not only our right, but our duty. This approach is divisive because it rests on convincing people that their stuff isn't as good as the next guy's, so the whole effort is prejudicial to the idea and the practice of widespread collective action needed to deal with climate change. And that's before we even get to talking about the $115 million spent by oil companies in NA to deny climate science.

The world is controlled by an interlocking network of businesses whose existence depends entirely on the existing system. And the system is powered by fossil fuels. (ob. Al Bartlett ref).

In that context, what kinds of personal and collective action could bring about the necessary changes to slowly turn this ship towards a future where 1 to 2 degrees of warming is the maximum, rather than the minimum we could expect?

If climate change was taken as seriously as a looming foreign invasion, then new technologies and industries would sprout up overnight.

That's what I'd like to think too, and you can see some movement to commercialize renewable energy within the context of the existing energy sector. But there's still a widespread belief (and here various propaganda efforts have driven out much real information) that renewable energy will never meet the needs of a growing economy. Again the status quo is telling us that's the only way things can change: any collective action must support the existing system or it won't be allowed.

My personal solution is to cut my consumption as much as possible, spend my money on rooftop solar and insulation, and hope for the best. But until disaster strikes, most people won't be able to think about solutions that involve reducing their material benefits.
posted by sneebler at 8:18 AM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


most people won't be able to think about solutions that involve reducing their material benefits.

Lots of people seem okay with a carbon tax. Lots of people want to feel that they are contributing to the solution.
posted by No Robots at 8:23 AM on June 2, 2016


The most compassionate approached is two-pronged: Take all available action to minimize the suffering of people who currently exist, and take all available action to prevent the existence of additional people in the future.

So kill all humans as quickly and painlessly as possible?

And this, folks, is why you don't tell the AI to make paperclips.
posted by Behemoth at 8:25 AM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm dying in climate change research papers and writing about the public health/refugee impact right now.

One interesting paper I found in my travels, but won't be citing, is that no matter what angle or position articles about climate change take, the comment sections are always just people arguing their own points of view about their area of climate change interest. That people just don't truly engage with climate change messages.
Inneresting...
posted by taff at 8:26 AM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


So kill all humans as quickly and painlessly as possible?

Another fine idea brought to us by the same idiotic but evidently very persuasive demon that sat on Kurt Godel's shoulder near the end of his life convincing him he needed to starve himself to death to avoid death by poisoning. Hyperrationality unrestrained by intuition and focused too much on the short term/immediate picture can lead to some of the dumbest, most irrational outcomes it's possible to imagine. Every horrible, completely incomprehensible long term outcome is a result of many, many small steps that seemed perfectly reasonable and rational from the small picture view.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


And the carbon tax?

Once the tax is paid, isn't there still CO2 entering the atmosphere?

Really, how does that help? Are all the funds in the tax allocated to alt-something? yes? Really?
posted by sammyo at 8:43 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


No Robots: Lots of people seem okay with a carbon tax.

Well, you and I both live in Alberta. Have you read the paper or online news to see what people think about the carbon tax? I'd say this is just the beginning. (CBC link because they're at their best when pretending they're not part of the problem.)
posted by sneebler at 8:44 AM on June 2, 2016


sneebler: Well, you and I both live in Alberta. Have you read the paper or online news to see what people think about the carbon tax?

Do try to keep up, won't you? :)
posted by No Robots at 8:49 AM on June 2, 2016


Once the tax is paid, isn't there still CO2 entering the atmosphere?

Within the current economic context, carbon taxes are pitched as market incentives that make it more expensive to burn fossil fuels. An anti-subsidy, if you will. If it works, it should effect a reduction across whole sectors of the economy, rather than getting bogged down in the details or giving one industry the opportunity to claim that the government is oppressing them.
posted by sneebler at 8:52 AM on June 2, 2016


NR, here's Jim Dinning, environmental champion, offering a blatant dog-whistle response to an important question:

"In an interview Wednesday, Dinning said he has reservations about how the NDP plans to use the revenue from the carbon tax, but said the levy itself is structured well and makes sense. "

That's how Dinning and the oil industry "support" a carbon tax, and this is exactly how the average working person is being primed to understand this issue: blame the NDP for reducing the economic growth we've been told we're entitled to.
posted by sneebler at 8:58 AM on June 2, 2016


Not to worry, sneebler. We've got 'em by the short and curlies now.
posted by No Robots at 9:04 AM on June 2, 2016


At the risk of crossing the streams - when I was a concerned and idealistic youth about global warming, my biggest disappointment from the early years of the Clinton presidency was the failure to impose either a meaningful gas or BTU tax in 1993: Tax History. At the time there were folks advocating for $0.50 or even $1/gallon gas taxes.

So much good could have happened in the U.S. over the past 23 years if this or anything like it had been achieved. It would now be just a cost of doing business.

But, it is equally frustrating that the issues advocates on the left have barely moved the needle on this discussion in the same time period.
posted by meinvt at 9:06 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The way the media does politics isn't helping either: The Media Is Ignoring The Most Important Part Of Stephen Hawking’s Comments On Trump
posted by sneebler at 9:16 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Second, and also important, the book advocates actions, but not actions that will likely move towards the change that is sought. By showing a disinterest in the detailed challenges of global policy and economics it can be construed as misrepresenting where the key work to address climate change will likely need to happen.

This is my major issue with Klein's efforts. She's not put forward the detailed analysis on the economic side to support her work. Which, if this was a document purely focused on marshaling opinion would not be such a great failing. But it's not.

Klein, along with her partner, is one of the prime movers behind the Leap Manifesto (previously here, and more recently). Many of the ideas in This Changes Everything are reflected in the Leap document. Klein put these ideas forward as the major new policy direction for the Canadian New Democratic Party at their most recent convention, to a very mixed reaction. Reaction was, in broad strokes, similar to many of the criticisms raised in the article: it is bound to black-and-white absolutist thinking, and the policies it offered seemed particularly blind to the social and economic history of Canada.
posted by bonehead at 9:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wow, now I wish I was past chapter 1 of Klein's book, which I just ordered. I bought it after my scientist friend whose does statistical and other services for a lot of climate studies held it up to FaceTime and said "this is the most important book anyone of this generation will ever read". So far it's well-written but I don't know enough to engage with the criticism yet.

One interesting paper I found in my travels, but won't be citing, is that no matter what angle or position articles about climate change take, the comment sections are always just people arguing their own points of view about their area of climate change interest. That people just don't truly engage with climate change messages.

Klein actually addresses this in the lengthy introduction to the book. She talks about all the ways we briefly engage with the topic of climate change and then metaphorically "look away". In part:

A great many of us engage in this kind of climate change denial. We look for a split second and then we look away. Or we look but then turn it into a joke (“more signs of the Apocalypse!”). Which is another way of looking away.

I certainly do this. I grew up an environmentalist, donate to causes and vote the right way, but at the end of the day I have a long commute to a corporate job that I like but that isn't big-I important, and I live in a house where you could torch 1/2 of the contents without really affecting my happiness. As David Byrne said, How did I get here? I would actually welcome a world where there were at least incentives to say, repair a TV or keep it for 10 years. I feel a constant pressure to consume, and it's easier to just continue in that vein than it is to make waves by stopping. Example: Not giving gift bags full of crap at kids' parties ... bags of crap are the norm!
posted by freecellwizard at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


The article in the FPP is excellent. Please read it.

Key points from the conclusion:

1. "Large parts of the left reject the notion of progress. The claim that science and its application to production have provided large benefits to much of the human race is now seen as a defense of exploitation and privilege." This is a problem insofar as "the vast majority of every country on earth wants economic prosperity and the benefits promised by science. They may well underestimate the risks and drawbacks, but a movement with any hope of political success has to respect these goals."

2. Klein's book lacks "any sustained consideration of wealth and power," which is counterproductive, since those are precisely the issues the Left needs to seriously grapple with in order to accomplish anything.

3. "The left has adapted to powerlessness." Klein talks admiringly about various activists, but does not stop to ask whether their activism is going to have an impact. "Their very activism constitutes its own victory, which is convenient if the more conventional sort of victory is believed to be out of reach." Goals are treated as if they were programs, and individual conversions and personal lifestyle choices are treated as fundamental, which completely sidesteps the difficult but crucial problem of how to translate those goals and preferences into actual systemic social change.

Dorman is concerned that these issues aren't limited to Klein's book, but rather that they are symptomatic of broader failings within the Left that need to be addressed if we're going to make change happen.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


So kill all humans as quickly and painlessly as possible?

I'd prefer a gradual decline to zero brought about by indiscriminate mass sterilization, but pretty much yes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:55 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The fingering of the Left's adaptation to powerlessness is really important. In this realm, we can see an important contrast between Klein and Notley.
posted by No Robots at 10:05 AM on June 2, 2016


Klein's book lacks "any sustained consideration of wealth and power," which is counterproductive, since those are precisely the issues the Left needs to seriously grapple with in order to accomplish anything.

So we should dismiss Klein and the last 190 years of discussions about wealth and power because she didn't re-write Das Capital?

My sense is that the "broader failing of the Left" is that the bulk of humanity in the industrialized world doesn't want to talk about alternatives to the status quo because it doesn't offer the payoffs of the existing system. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by sneebler at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I read Klein's book last year when it came out and was sorely disappointed. "This Changes NOTHING" would have been a better title. Good review. I am broadly in agreement with it.

I found Klein's argument to be extremely lacking and the focus on localism and indigenous struggles overlooks many of the real problems. ie DEMOCRACY itself is perhaps one of the major impediments to really addressing climate change, also the persistence of individual nations.
posted by mary8nne at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


the persistence of individual nations.

So, do away with nations and allow transnational corporations to rule?
posted by No Robots at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well:

1. "Large parts of the left reject the notion of progress. The claim that science and its application to production have provided large benefits to much of the human race is now seen as a defense of exploitation and privilege." This is a problem insofar as "the vast majority of every country on earth wants economic prosperity and the benefits promised by science. They may well underestimate the risks and drawbacks, but a movement with any hope of political success has to respect these goals."

The goals must be respected, but so must the methods used to get there, yes? It is one thing to say that third-world nations must be given room for economic growth, another to say that they should use the same industries built on fossil fuels, pollution, massive natural resource depletion and, yes, exploitation that current industrialized nations used to get there. Therein lies the puzzle.

3. "The left has adapted to powerlessness." Klein talks admiringly about various activists, but does not stop to ask whether their activism is going to have an impact. "Their very activism constitutes its own victory, which is convenient if the more conventional sort of victory is believed to be out of reach." Goals are treated as if they were programs, and individual conversions and personal lifestyle choices are treated as fundamental, which completely sidesteps the difficult but crucial problem of how to translate those goals and preferences into actual systemic social change.

And this is the problem with leftist activism in general, and always has been. People can listen to philosophical and ideological Greater Good arguments all day long, but they will be motivated to actually _do something_ only if the speaker can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what's being argued (a) directly affects them and their families negatively (b) RIGHT NOW (c) and that actions they can take will have a measurable effect in the other direction.

Easier said than done, especially when half the country is receptive to an echo chamber's message that all taxation is theft, all environmental legislation is fraud, that all regulation of industry is Communist and that scientists in general are filthy liars in the pocket of the UN and the New World Order.
posted by delfin at 10:26 AM on June 2, 2016


So we should dismiss Klein and the last 190 years of discussions about wealth and power because she didn't re-write Das Capital?

ಠ_ಠ

Here's the bit I was trying to summarize:
Why have governments failed to act to counter the threat of catastrophic climate change? Is it solely because of faulty thinking, or could it be that there exists a gross imbalance of power in every modern capitalist country, such that business interests are firmly in control? What institutions wield this power and what methods do they use? Crucially, how can those who struggle for democratic collective action contest this power? What types of organizations can be effective? What structural changes should be prioritized to rebalance power and enable rational solutions to overriding problems like climate change? I wouldn’t fault Klein for failing to provide answers—who has? What is astonishing, however, is that the questions are never posed, not even in passing. What does it mean to espouse radical politics and never take up the issue of power?

But a second absence is even more telling. At various points Klein refers to the need for a price to be placed on carbon; it clearly is not her main interest, since she devotes no space at all to the political struggle required to achieve this, but she recognizes it is an important part of the story. What’s missing, however, is any serious consideration of how much money this will be, out of whose pockets it will be extracted and to whose pockets it will be transferred. ... The reality is that carbon revenues will be immense. If even approximately sufficient global action is undertaken, the sums will be in the trillions of dollars. And despite Klein’s moral calculus, the actual, real-life operation of carbon pricing will guarantee that it is the public at large—everyone who purchases a good or service with a carbon energy component—that will pay it. ...

This is potentially catastrophic on multiple levels. It is intolerable from a social justice perspective in an age of rampaging inequality. It would also be impossible to disguise from voters, making it difficult to impossible to get majority support for a stiff carbon price. Klein blithely recommends using this new source of revenue to finance green investments, but she doesn’t inquire whose money is being spent, nor does she consider that, in practice, governments will simply shift a lot of the investments they would have made anyway over to this new revenue spigot, freeing up more money for their other pet projects. The one word that sums up Klein’s attitude toward this trillion-dollar question is uninterested.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:26 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's a critique with broader application than just the current green-left movement. It's a pretty thorough excoriation of what back in '68 they used to call the "irrational left." Although to my mind, it's never been especially "left" in important ways (its lack of interest in economics is a big giveaway in that respect), and is better understood as what happens when large numbers of liberal individualists start to identify as "left" for culture war reasons without really understanding what they're signing up for. It's a movement that combines the theoretical incoherence, traditional disinterest in class and economics, and tendency to think in moral rather than rational terms that it inherits from mainstream liberalism with the schismatic and circular firing squad tendencies of every left social movement ever. Which is why it's (always been) doomed to utter failure, in either its '60s manifestation or its current one. And all the while, the world actually is burning.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Gerald B, thanks - I hadn't got to that part of the FA yet.
posted by sneebler at 10:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's the bit I was trying to summarize

That was the one part of the review that I thought was genuinely unfair. Klein does spend time early on in the book making clear the broader institutional incentives for corporations, governments, and even environmental NGOs (there was a whole chapter on the latter, I think) to continue using extractive fossil fuel strategies. She may not have spent as much time as the reviewer would prefer, but my impression was that she was trying to write within the constrains of a relatively short overview book, not a three-volume trilogy.

I do agree with the reviewer that she doesn't spend much time on how to change those institutional incentives, or work within them - Klein seems to believe they must be broken from the outside by direct action (mainly by small groups and local communities) which I don't find particularly plausible.

For me, in my more negative moments, the question is simply whether we pass the point of no return before or after the changing climate situation begins to shift institutional incentives on its own. The wealth in fossil fuels is vast, but so is the wealth found in, say, agribusiness (droughts and famines and blights, oh my!), real estate (including, ah, coastal real estate), and insurance (injuries, diseases and property damage are all going to increase as time goes on and things get worse).

National governments, however beholden to fossil fuel interests, are also beholden to these other forms of wealth, who will be bending the ears of politicians more and more as the years go by. Fossil fuel wealth won't be able to compensate in terms either of replacing that bleed-away of wealth from powerful elite sectors or to match the latter in lobbyist dollars.

And governments are also going to increasingly see the rising costs of security and fall in income as impoverished refugee populations inside the country arise. Populist politicians (often appallingly racist or nationalist) will find it easier to wedge the door to power open using raw rage and fear, and will be more open to radical actions to maintain their power.

These are all developments that will go and in fact accelerate which are completely extraneous to political environmentalism, but which the latter might well be able to leverage. They're not arguments for apathy or confidence, obviously, since the human cost of this is likely to be enormous and we may get too far before these various developments meet the tipping point. But one of the things I often notice about environmentalist discussion is the degree to which it is narrowly and sometimes conspiratorially focused on the movement itself, as isolated from all other social events and opposed to a uniform, absolutely antagonistic world of evil Outsiders. The social, political and economic ecology is far more complex than that.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Not wanting to dent I or G, Klein suggests that consumers cut back to reduce C, and then she adds that NX can be diminished by having less international trade.

The leaps of logic required to get from the quite reasonable idea that "we must wean ourselves from this attachment to growth" all the way to having the prevention of all economic growth as measured by GDP being a goal in itself must be quite a sight, I'm sure.

Having read one of Naomi Klein's previous books, I have no doubt that the review is essentially correct about this one. It really brings back the memories, in particular the "general absence of quantitative reasonableness."
posted by sfenders at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other than the genocide argument (that I hope is reductio absurdum) how do we stop a few billion folks from using power?

Cars and trucks spewing noxious fumes are the worst but build up any new vast volume of stuff, people stuff, animal stuff, dino stuff, and there will be resultant effects. Use a magic beam to stop internal combustion or bomb all the refineries and oil fields there will still be stuff burnt. Possibly to worse effect than current cars.

And as much as no one rational denies climate change is there any "scientific" ideas on reversing it or even realistically even slowing? What actual proposal counters over a century of skewing the ecology?

The only option is more tech, if the world is going to be 240 degrees (per a certain theoretical physicist) get the research on and use genetic techniques to modify the species with self directed evoloution so the grand-kids are comfortable.

yep, team Neoloution :-)
posted by sammyo at 11:33 AM on June 2, 2016


Metafilter: I look forward to reading this massive 8,000 word essay, but in the meantime:
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:40 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The only option is more tech

Commander, we must route all auxiliary tech to the genetic climate tech before it overtechs.
posted by sfenders at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes that was a bit of a craziness comment but to "fix" this we need more than science, we need engineering. Climate engineering, well that's currently a craziness concept as the best climate science has is really important models that are at the hypothesis level of science, far far from the standard equation, plug in n million reduction in autos and expect x% reduction in the rate of increase in temperature.

Enforcing the end of hydrocarbon fuels politically does not seem like it's going to happen, but a lot of folks seem to like electric, ramp up that tech so it's cheaper and faster and gas goes away.

That's the kind of radicalism needed.
posted by sammyo at 12:02 PM on June 2, 2016


Not only more tech but, unfortunately, it needs to be something that springs into action rapidly with enough momentum to overcome the financial inertia of the fossil fuel industry.

There's got to be trillions of dollars of global infrastructure that's dedicated to oil ranging from extraction hardware to distilleries and transportation and end point distribution and a huge portion of the cost is probably all but written off at any given point in time. That means there is an enormous system in place that generates tons of money for not a whole lot of additional cost. Continuous new investments are optional for exploration of new wells and better exploitation of existing ones etc but not really required beyond maintenance in a lot of areas. Some players suffer as a result of oil price movements but over all it's simply a gigantic machine, already in place and fully functional, that moves oil and generates profit. Nobody at the money spout end of that machine is going to willingly give up on it. Whatever new thing might have the potential to save the planet must be able to overcome this inertia.

Not sure if there is such a technology around the corner. At this point my only hope is resting on Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks' compact fusion plants (mentioned previously on Metafilter but can't find link right now). A successful roll-out of that kind of technology could enable communities to free themselves from the influence of large energy providers and the fossil fuel industry. But whether or not that effort will pan out remains unknown of course.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:08 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would say this to those who respond to the threat of climate change by saying "It's not really a tragedy. Life will go on without us." Life in some forms will indeed go on. And some many tens or hundreds of million years from now it may once again be as diverse and spectacular as it has been these last millions since the big dinosaur killing asteroid.

But before we get back to that vaulted state, the ecosystem will suffer a devastating loss of diversity. A few species will make it. The vast majority will not. For many, many millions of years, instead of a rich diversity, the global ecosystem will be an impoverished uniformity.

That would be a tragedy.
posted by kaymac at 12:32 PM on June 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


And there is a fantastic environmentally sound use case for the oil infrastructure. One word, take a beat.

Plastic.

Not burn the oil, not plastic bags to throw, but material that is unique and lasts longer and functions better than any alternative. For example, there are sailboats from fiberglass (epoxy resin) that seem to last until there is an accident (physical or economic). Fixing the economics of building parts that are not planned obsolescence is another issue but it's one that tech can deal with in an optimistic valuable way. And not loose the the infrastructure.
posted by sammyo at 12:33 PM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


[A few comments deleted; gently, getting into a fight over highly-personal circumstances in our own lives is a derail from the article and a way to spread around bad feelings, which doesn't really help.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:53 PM on June 2, 2016


Your footprint is likely much smaller now than if you had not put thought and effort into it.

Let me try this again more coherently: I had put lots of thought and effort into it, but I'm not a dictator, so I had to compromise with other members of my family. My point is, most people do have to contend with such compromises as a result of arbitrary shifting social realities and cultural trend nonsense--none of us goes around dictating their will. That's one of many reasons the solutions have to be partly public policy based.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on June 2, 2016


but material that is unique and lasts longer and functions better than any alternative

Absolutely. Plastic is a fantastic choice for things that need to last a long time, like storage bins. But in addition to not burning the oil or making disposable bags out of it we need to stop using it for any other item that doesn't need to last for a period of years. So for example when I order a $40 pair of headphones for my computer it doesn't need to be in a thick clamshell that gives me horrible cuts as I saw at it for 10 minutes with box cutters and scissors. Just give it to me with a little string tag hanging off it showing the price. And I don't really want restaurants to serve me food on a big thick disposable plate and make me guilt-out at throwing it away when I'm done. I would prefer that my consumer choice in these matters be taken away by some sort of draconian environmental regulation. Really!
posted by freecellwizard at 1:08 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


This just popped up on Science Daily... could be promising:

Bionic leaf turns sunlight into liquid fuel: New system surpasses efficiency of photosynthesis
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:55 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


That was a fantastic article. And from a fellow Geoduck!
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 3:58 PM on June 2, 2016


Wow. Ugh. Seems like some of the comments here are buying into this article's essential premise, which is a more sophisticated version of most of Canada's mainstream print media's rather pissy, negative, and unsophisticated reaction to The Leap Manifesto: "Economic change is too hard (to understand), so I don't like it."

Economics is complicated, sure, but it's ultimately based upon values, and that's the philosophical and moral aspect of economics that Klein is addressing. Klein is presenting an alternative path for a shift of values based on the possibility of a survivable world for the future's children. This shift now happens in a pretty ugly & complicated world, and it seems a bit simplistic, but it has to start somewhere.

I can kinda relate to the lazy nihilists who say everything is dum, so who cares? But that part in the Dorman critique where he starts implying that Klein is kinda like a Nazi, but not actually a Nazi, well... WTF? I ain't exactly no pinko tree-hugger myself, but I do get kinda annoyed when I see well crafted essays that seem to openly favor the economic interests of resource extraction industries. Then it just seems like fancy cheap propaganda, a manifesto for the dirty side.
posted by ovvl at 6:49 PM on June 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


a $40 pair of headphones for my computer it doesn't need to be in a thick clamshell that gives me horrible cuts as I saw at it for 10 minutes with box cutters and scissors.

And that clamshell is really just for theft prevention... We just bought a couple of Samsung phones that came in minimal and nicely made cardboard containers. The add-on phone cases came in twice their weight of heavy plastic packaging, and sadly the phone company gave us a gaudy and useless sewn from woven polypropylene bag to get from the store to our house. I'm not clear on why the packaging industry has so much clout, but I guess the answer is "Use more plastic!" because everybody wins.
posted by sneebler at 6:51 PM on June 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


The funny thing about economics that nobody understands is that if we doubled the cost of consumer goods, all that would happen is the rents we pay for housing would fall to compensate, as we bid up the cost of housing from our consumer surplus.

And the rents are so very high now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:23 PM on June 2, 2016


I don't think I understand. The "rents we pay for housing" will fall to compensate (compensate for doubling the price of consiumer goods, right?) because we are "bidding up" the cost of housing? So to make the price of housing rise, would we "bid it down"? And what's a "consumer surplus"?
posted by thelonius at 5:26 AM on June 3, 2016


Klein is presenting an alternative path for a shift of values based on the possibility of a survivable world for the future's children. This shift now happens in a pretty ugly & complicated world, and it seems a bit simplistic, but it has to start somewhere.

It's possible to agree with the end goal, a future where we don't have run-away climate change, but disagree on the means to get there. Klein, both in this book, and in the Leap Manifesto, gets wide agreement on the first part, what to do, but really poor reactions on the second, how to do it.

She has a binary world view: either you agree with her proposals totally, or you're one of the bad guys, and so, an enemy. This Manichaeism is a great source of the disagreement between those who want huge change now, and those who think that it needs to happen in a more managed way. This is the conflict between Klein and people like Rachel Notley, who was the first premiere in Canada to bring any moderation to the oil patch. Klein's proposals don't really figure human costs, those get hand-waved away with fixes we know from historical experience (e.g. from the closures of the Maritime fisheries) can be decades or more to fix. Notley, on the other hand, sees those all too clearly. If she pushes too hard on the oil sector and that results in large unemployment, the political ability to make any further changes will evaporate.

Radical positions are great to shift public conversations toward an end goal, but absolutism is public policy largely unworkable, or worse dangerously blind to consequence.
posted by bonehead at 8:32 AM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


She has a binary world view: either you agree with her proposals totally, or you're one of the bad guys, and so, an enemy...Notley, on the other hand, sees those all too clearly. If she pushes too hard on the oil sector and that results in large unemployment, the political ability to make any further changes will evaporate.

One of the elements that struck me back when I first encountered the work of Noam Chomsky was how he took the time to understand how much systems function without conscious evil of the part of their individual participants (obviously, he's not the first to point this out, but it was the first time I'd encountered a well thought-out pitch of the idea). Once systems get large enough they become, essentially, hostage-takers for vast amounts of capital, for millions of jobs, for large segments of the best-educated and connected part of the population. The wider the spectrum of the population that will be hurt in the short-term, the harder it is to make changes based on the long-term.

But before we get back to that vaulted state, the ecosystem will suffer a devastating loss of diversity. A few species will make it. The vast majority will not. For many, many millions of years, instead of a rich diversity, the global ecosystem will be an impoverished uniformity.

Y'know, this strikes me as true but based on a flawed understanding of what the natural world is and how climate functions - something that I've been thinking a lot about recently, and that I think that we as a society are going to have to face up to, whether or not we handle anthropogenic climate change well.

We think of nature as fundamentally static. Pure, untouched, untroubled. It's a 19th century Romantic fallacy that has survived into the 21st century despite our increasing scientific understanding of how the global system works.

Without anthropogenic warming, the world around us would be in the middle of one of the planet's regularly scheduled ice ages. Millions of species would have gone extinct (not the ones that are going extinct now, necessarily), while others migrated, exploded into newly emptied niches, etc. Nature is regularly devastated, it is only in the human mind that it represents stasis. There's an excellent book whose author tries to winkle out how exactly nature will be altered if we just burn all the fossil fuels we can get our hands on between now and 2100. The result will be selective impoverishment of some ecosystems while others thrive and expand. The effects will not be some "uniform" change to every area of the Earth simultaneously.

Ironically, if you want nature to stay the same, to keep all the pandas and gorillas and shrimp and whatever exactly the way they are, what you'll have to do is establish human control over the climate. Eliminate natural cycles of change, presumably by doing things like closely monitoring the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and actually adding more at cooler points in the cycle. Which may be where we are headed, if we end up surviving the present crisis as a civilization. Come 2100, there may be high-level governmental treaties establishing not just limits on greenhouse gases in the interests of eliminating warming but mandating the burning/release of fossil fuels at certain times and places to prevent cooling. Because of course, quite absent environmentalist concerns about wildlife populations, everyone wants to keep a global climate to which are main food crops and livestock are acclimated. And that can't be done by limiting human effects on the world. Paradoxically, it can only be done by expanding and systematizing them to a new and unprecedented degree.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:07 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Once systems get large enough they become, essentially, hostage-takers for vast amounts of capital, for millions of jobs, for large segments of the best-educated and connected part of the population. The wider the spectrum of the population that will be hurt in the short-term, the harder it is to make changes based on the long-term.

And the case Klein sets up, as a result of that, is a dichotomy, change with little thought to human cost or do nothing. Abandon those hostages or let the criminal system win. It's an all or nothing, excluded middle argument. In truth, why can't we really work to rescue people from the system?

Practically, these are what the criticism about weak economics are about. She is not being honest in her book about what the human costs will be, or provide meaningful solutions.
posted by bonehead at 12:24 PM on June 3, 2016


When rational scientific or policy argument seems consistently to fail, and the anti-climate change crowd seems to rest all its arguments on conspiracy theories and straw men, I don't have a huge problem with the occasional sloppy moralistic jeremiad directed squarely at the NYT liberals who seem to have forgotten about protest as a possibility.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:39 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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