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Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Thanks to a challenge from a climate change activist, I’ve recently read Naomi Klein’s book: “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”.
She starts off acknowledging that she became interested in climate change circa 2009 and seriously started her literature review and visits with climate change experts then. She even attended a conference of climate change skeptics associated with the Heartland Institute as well – presumably to show us she has considered all sides of the issue. Not a lot of time to familiarize herself with the intricacies of climate change.

It soon becomes clear that Ms. Klein has an agenda other than helping her readers understand climate change. Apparently there are no stories about the drastic effects CO2 will have on our world she does not believe. She tells them all again and again through nearly 600 pages of well written prose. This soon becomes tedious to anyone with an inquiring mind and some interest in learning about climate change.

Her primary thesis is that capitalism is a disaster for the common man. She sees a need for a new and kinder system of government that will give less credence to capitalistic principles and focus instead on equal incomes for all. She outlines how James Watt and others initiated the use of fossil fuels for energy and started the slide into all the harmful effects of their use as an energy source. She shows no appreciation whatsoever for all of the beneficial effects of fossil fuel uses. She does not seem to understand that most of us living today actually owe our lives to energy from fossil fuel.

She goes on to claim climate change considerations demand that fossil fuels must be phased out very quickly and that only a new form of world government can accomplish that. She sees climate change mainly as a catalyst to arouse suppressed populations around the world to insist that fossil fuel “extreme energy” and other “extractive technologies” be fought tooth and nail. Her brave new world will subsist on energy derived from the wind and sun. Her technical basis for that prospect is the analysis of Mark Jacobsen, et al, which indicates renewable energy systems can be installed to supply all needs within a few decades. Surely a recipe for energy poverty and ultimately depopulation.

Ms. Klein’s wrath continues to grow, and the more she writes, the more tedious her story becomes. She continually brings up the growth of environmental movements around the world which are allegedly using common tactics to fight so called extractive technologies. We’ve seen some of their activities here in Canada as related to oil sands and pipelines. Ms. Klein refers to these groups in whole as “Blockadia” as if she has coined the terminology. Maybe so!
Who should read Ms. Klein’s book? Certainly not those interested in learning about climate change. Definitely nothing to learn about energy. Possibly this book would be of interest to those wanting to learn how strong, if unwarranted, beliefs can be used to rally behind a political concept. Ms. Klein’s selling of the worldwide “Blockadia” movement may well help it rise up to bite many in coming decades.

How many stars should this book rate. Let’s start with 5 for good writing and a lot of effort. I subtract a star each for extreme repetition and tedium, another for accepting every story about climate change as the unvarnished truth and one more for exhaustive bias with respect to denigrating progress humans have made in understanding and using energy for the benefit of humans and the environment. That leaves a single star rating.


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