Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. Climate
After reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate, she is my new favorite feminine eco-warrior. Her words have inspired me to keep my head in this uphill battle for the survival of humanity and for our Earth. I made sure to watch the accompanying documentary directed by her husband Avi Lewis. Both her book and her husband’s documentary have been a HUGE enlightenment for my work in the environmental field.
These resources have not only exposed me to some very brutal realities that I didn't know about, but have also taught me how to look at everything that is happening around us in a light of opportunity. Naomi Klein is a member on the board of directors for 350.org, a columnist for The Nation and The Guardian, and a reporter for Rolling Stone.
Her book came with me everywhere I traveled to towards the end of 2016, beginning of 2017. From the banks of the French Loire river to the crystal clear Mediterranean waters of Sardegna, Italy and even all the way to Grenada, the West Indies Caribbean island. I finished the book in my hometown Marietta, GA just north of Atlanta in my childhood home where I grew up. In each town and country I brought my book to, I made sure to take into consideration my surroundings and ask myself what would I do if tomorrow the government decided to dredge up the Loire River, build an offshore oil rig off the coast of the majestic Golfo Aranci, Sardegna, or construct a pipeline that would run right through the legendary Chattahoochee River that I grew up playing in. I would fight back.
As the documentary opens, Klein poses the question are we so innately greedy and selfish that there is no way to fix the problems we have caused? She explains her visit on a retreat she attended in Buckinghamshire, England hosted by the Royal Society, the oldest scientific association in the world which has included legendary scientists such as Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Isaac Newton. During this three day retreat scientists from around the world discuss geoengineering as a Plan B for our Planet Earth. Concepts such as fertilizing our ocean with iron to pull carbon, injecting particles into our atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space, and the most recently discussed “Pinatubo Option” spraying sulfuric acid into the stratosphere to drop temperatures by half a degree.
What is very vaguely mentioned during the retreat are all of the numerous negative effects these technological “solutions” would have on our Earth one being the major tampering with our climate causing massive droughts in our world’s poorest regions, Africa and Asia. As if they weren’t already battling climate crisis. Solving the issue of pollution with more pollution is not the answer and we do not have a planet B.
Our kind has the mindset of manipulation and treating our natural ecosystems as if we were their masters and they are here to serve us. When in fact, quite the opposite, nature has been here for over 4.5 billion years (22,500 times longer than us). Our survival directly depends on nature. We are not the masters, Mother Nature is and will always be in charge. How we choose to live our lives whether we disregard or take care of her will determine our fate.
10,000 year old forests are being clear cut and stripped all in the name of big oil and big money in the Alberta, Canada tar sands oil fields. Klein touches on the disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy leaving hundreds of people in some of the poorest neighborhoods of New York abandoned to die without any medication. How can one of the wealthiest nations on Earth not have enough medical supplies or attention for pockets of poor dying people after such a massive devastating natural disaster? But I thought we had dominion over Earth, right? What happened after Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, and Matthew, droughts in Syria causing massive political unrest, record rains in France, flooding in Canada and India, extreme heat in Australia, longer summers and shorter winters? I thought we were in control? And this is only the beginning.
Before reading Klein’s chapter in her book about the connections between trade agreements and the environment, I had never really thought too much into Free Trade. It never even crossed my mind that trade rules and regulations like the WTO and the Free Trade Agreement would seek out ways to deter green energy programs and progressive renewable initiatives from getting off the ground. Instead of competing with each other for creating the best most efficient form of clean energy production, countries will rush to bash each other for whatever they can get their hands on at UN summits.
Here is a perfect example, Pablo Maccaario's moved his Italian solar company to Toronto in 2010 when the prospects were looking positive for clean energy in Ontario. By 2012, with only one coal-fired power plant left, the province was well on its way to completely coming off of coal and gas. When legislation created the feed-in tariff program allowing for energy providers to sell back to the grid, the catch was they had to source 40-60% of their materials from within the province.
As soon as word got out, Japan and the EU were not happy about this locally sourced content requirement. And just like that, fingers were pointed, charges were pressed, and foreign investors pulled out. Leaving poor Maccaario and his solar lab as if it were an abandoned junk yard.
It makes you think about what else these countries are stopping from coming into fruition all in the name of power and money, claiming that these kinds of buy local incentives lead to “free trade distortion.”
How will our world and environment be affected by agreements such as NAFTA and TAFTA and regulations or lack thereof by free trade and globalization?
Our global problem is the western ideology of capitalism, we need more, a bigger house, a third car, a newer phone. Do we stop and think about how our choices affect our world? China is choking in their own pollution all in the name of our high-demanding capitalist and consumerist lifestyle.
On a positive note, It’s refreshing to see that there are millions of people around the world voicing their concern right now and physically getting in the way of corporate greed. Whether it be being arrested for a peaceful protest, putting their bodies between extractive machines and the Earth, or speaking out against dirty actions. How lucky are we to be a part of this movement. This is history. This is BLOCKADIA, as the people on the front lines call it.
Once in a dusty bar in Budapest sipping on some Pálinka with my best friend, Stacia Sheputa, we brought up the topic of massive peaceful protests. She mentioned how in order to create an effective and efficient protest, we have to appreciate each other’s talents and differences and unify in these talents, have direction and a goal, and recognize the huge benefits and opportunities that will result in these massive protests. It’s all about believing in the movement and outcome.
I would say the most important thing would be to tell them to get informed. Read the news, read the headlines, listen to NPR, get to know what's happening around the world, talk to people, start a conversation, get involved in your local government, know who and what you are voting for, step outside of your comfort zone and wake up to the fact that every choice you make plays huge role on the thousands of lives living all over the world. We are only person on this earth in the sea of 7 billion others. What will you do to fight for humanity? People don't like thinking that they might be misinformed, under informed, or living ignorantly in their own world. So if you strike up a meaningful conversation with someone and they don't know what you're talking about, they will most likely be intrigued to know more and to do more research so that they can intelligently carry on that conversation with you the next time. Once people start becoming informed and start realizing their choices really matter, that is when the power of activism strikes and you notice people with the desire to act in order to make a difference.
We have to keep fighting our fight because time is running out and we are our last hope. Our work is more important than ever before now because we have the information, the data, the science, the technology and the will power all in our hands. We won't just sit back and watch as we burn to the ground in a 6th mass extinction. We are the Environmental Warriors and we will pass on our legacy to those who will continue to spread the word. Power and strength to us all in every environmental field that we have chosen to lead because we are going to do amazing things. We are doing amazing things. What if this climate movement is our chance to build the most resilient, clean energy driven, healthier world? With that I will leave you with one of Klein's inspiring quotes on page 7 in her introduction that really made me sit and think about our future: