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This Changes Everything: Capital vs. the Climate Essay

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Updated: Aug 28th, 2020

This Changes Everything: Capital vs. the Climate

“This Changes Everything: Capital vs. the Climate” is a book written by Naomi Klein and published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster Publishing. The book is considered to be a testament to movements against Global Warming. It offers great insights and well-supported analysis against deniers of climate changes, who are supported by corporations and industries that stand against anything that would diminish their profits. The book’s central motif is that to survive, humanity needs to reform from individualistic and towards the collective model – something that is fiercely opposed by the members of the industrial-capitalistic camp.

The first chapter of the book serves as an introduction to the subject. It begins by presenting the arguments and choice quotes of the deniers of global warming – something that sets the mood of the story and puts the reader on the right side – the side of the pro-science and pro-environment movement. The main idea set forth by Naomi Klein in this chapter is that the Environmental subject is being viewed as a battleground between the right-wing and left-wing political ideologies. She states that “For the left, Climate change is the perfect thing. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.” This reasoning explains why the power-hoarders and factory owners are so adamantly against climate change policies – they see not only a threat to their profits, but their property as well, as socialism for them is associated with redistribution of wealth and power.

Some of the other ideas that are covered by the first chapter are how the corporations are stripping the world clean of resources, while simultaneously financing pseudo-scientific research to support their cause. They also provide a new worldview to their adepts and followers, slowly transforming individualistic ideas of capitalism into something more akin to national and even racial superiority – the strong eat the weak kind of mentality. This serves as preparation for future conflicts and wars for resources, which will happen between the rich and well-armed minority against the separated and poorer nations of the world.

The second chapter of the book focuses more on how attempts to find a compromise between environmentalism and capitalism essentially failed. The reason why these two concepts cannot coexist and are forced to remain separate and opposite one to another is simple – a serious environmental action demands cooperation, while capitalism is largely based on competition. Competition between companies and between nations as well. The competition involves the elimination of other competitors, whether through outmatching them or using lawsuits and other dirty tricks to get them off the track. This is seen in a series of lawsuits filed by numerous countries against one another’s sustainable energy projects. Naomi Klein calls these actions “bizarre,” stating that “rather than compete for the best, most effective supports for green energy, the biggest emitters in the world are rushing to the WTO to knock down each other’s windmills.”

Another idea pushed forward by Naomi Klein is that globalization aided global pollution rather than prevented it. Instead of uniting nations under the goal of saving Earth, globalization ended up paving the way for global multinational corporations to claim cheap labor markets. Some of the greatest “emitters” in the world are India and China, both are known for being used by Western powers as they outsource production base. Also, globalization allowed western mining and resource-extracting corporations access towards more rural regions of the Earth, where they can mine and extract without any care for potential damage they cause.

The chapter is finished with a utopian description of the environmentally-friendly economic model, which involves degrowth, luxury taxes to discourage needless consumption, the introduction of a base level of income, large investments into green technologies and energy-saving technology as part of the New World Order, described by several thinkers, academics, and journalists, such as Tim Jackson, Maccario, and Alyssa Battistoni. This model is called utopian not because it is impossible, however. Many utopian projects are doable in real life. The problem is with the current consumerist philosophy of the world – many people would not give up their creature comforts, even if it means saving the planet.

Moreover, those who hold power and influence will do everything to keep it that way

After reading these two chapters, it became obvious to me that Naomi Klein is a supporter of socialism and collectivism, at least when it comes to social and environmental policies. This is not a bad thing. Arguments and ideas she puts forth in these two chapters are backed by facts, are logical, and are hard to argue against. I agree with her assessment of the situation regarding saving the world from Global Warming and the ongoing energy and resource crisis. The world is not going to be pulled out of the crisis through the effort of any one company or any one nation. Human history shows time, and again that greatest victories and achievements were done together. The overarching thought that Naomi Klein seems to suggest throughout her book is that humanity will either stand together or will perish alone.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "This Changes Everything: Capital vs. the Climate." August 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/this-changes-everything-capital-vs-the-climate/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'This Changes Everything: Capital vs. the Climate'. 28 August.

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