A best-selling anti-globalization activist and author argues that surviving the climate emergency will require radical changes in how we live.
The time for marginal fixes has expired, writes Klein (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, 2007, etc.). We will not be saved by toothless international agreements, spurious political bargains, outlandish geoengineering environmental groups in bed with corporations or magical thinking of any kind—and surely not by deregulating the capitalist system responsible for the crisis. Carbon emissions continue to rise, and greenhouse gases dangerously accumulate as the fossil fuel industry ramps up devastating extraction. In part, Klein’s narrative is a personal story about her own awakening to and increasing engagement with the climate issue. But this always-interesting polemic is built mostly on her interviews with experts, environmentalists and activists and her colorful on-site reporting from various international meetings and conferences and particularly from worldwide pockets of resistance to corporate bullying. “Blockadia,” she calls these places, where communities have risen to oppose open-pit mining, fracking and pipelines. In them she finds hope for a grass-roots rebellion, a kind of “People’s Shock” where push back against the aggressive energy industry can be a catalyst for advancing a range of policies dear to the progressive agenda. Klein has no time for deniers of man-made global warming, but she credits right-wing ideologues with better understanding the high stakes, the vast scope of the changes necessary to meet the climate challenge. This awareness accounts for their vigorous opposition to the activists’ docket and for the movement’s consequent loss of momentum for the past decade. The author’s journalism won’t slow down the fossil fuel companies, but it surely holds out hope for activists looking to avert a disaster, for a widespread people’s movement that, if it happens, “changes everything.”
A sharp analysis that is bound to be widely discussed, with all the usual suspects, depending on their politics, lining up to cheer or excoriate Klein.