Get Invoved with WCTM:

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate

Naomi Klein, a prolific writer, has published a book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate,” which articulately details part of this blog’s central message. Klein advances an inconvenient truth: that mankind’s consumption and pollution of Earth’s natural systems has changed the planet and put the future of many species, including our own, in jeopardy.

We Consume Too Much’s diagnosis of the root cause of emerging, life-threatening deterioration of natural systems is “too many people consuming too much.” That means that all of us, particularly those fortunate enough to enjoy a middle or upper class lifestyle in America, share responsibility for emerging climate disasters. James Lovelock eloquently stated effects of high consumption in his book, “The Revenge of Gaia.” Or as Pogo pointed out, “We have found the enemy and he is us.”

Klein chronicles system deteriorations and blames politicians and capitalism, particularly large energy corporations which mine and distribute hydrocarbons powering global warming and climate change. Her lame hope is for a mass popular movement which will change our values. She asks that we run away now from capitalism’s free market ideology, and the goal of wringing greater profits from higher flows of goods and services, and sees a healthier future in communal approaches which satisfy human needs, yet reduce strains on natural systems.

The latter part of her book, jarringly, chronicles her years-long, and finally successful, attempts to give birth to a child. She makes no connection between resources consumed in her multiple pregnancies and climate change, and she does not acknowledge that mining and manufactures by corporations she attacks made it possible for her, finally, to give birth to a healthy baby. Nor does she recognize that growing populations, produced by millions sharing her natural desire to reproduce, put unsustainable strains on our planet’s limited natural resources. Klein wants her high-resource cut, and she ignores macro issues created by adding 200,000 new, hungry people each day, all drawing on the planet’s natural bounty.

Klein’s blinders were probably necessary to sell the book. It’s easy to badmouth powerful individuals who supervise the work of capturing the Earth’s natural resources, who lead the men and women producing goods and services Klein consumed. It’s harder to say that all of us are responsible, in varying degrees, and through our personal consumption, for dangerous climate changes. Without magic, there is no easy way to kill society’s current axiom that increasing gross national product is and should be a primary goal of public policy, or to shame the common belief that “greed is good.”

Mother Nature can say “too much already,” but no American politician can; there is almost no public support for a world and national goal of fewer people consuming less. It’s heresy. One who argues that there is a problem of “too many people consuming too much” may feel like early Christians felt. Those Christians earnestly believed they possessed important truths about the world, but most of their Roman neighbors continued traditional allegiance to pagan gods and ignored the Christians, or even matched them with lions in the arena. America’s pagan god is the belief that economic growth can, and should, continue indefinitely on our finite planet. That secular god is, for now, unchallenged politically and will continue biting us in 2017.


Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Newsletter