From the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, an explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is a book of such ambition and consequence that it is almost unreviewable ... Klein’s fans will recognize her method from her prior books ... Her strategy is to take a scourge ... trace its origins, then chart a course of liberation. In each book she arrives at some semihopeful place, where activists are reaffirming embattled civic values ... To call This Changes Everything environmental is to limit Klein’s considerable agenda ... The voices Klein gathers from across the world achieve a choral force ... To change economic norms and ethical perceptions in tandem is even more formidable than the technological battle to adapt to the heavy weather coming down the tubes. Yet This Changes Everything is, improbably, Klein’s most optimistic book. She braids together the science, psychology, geopolitics, economics, ethics and activism that shape the climate question. The result is the most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring.
The proposition that the world's political and economic institutions are preventing us from meeting the lethal challenge of global warming is hardly novel. But Naomi Klein in her new book articulates the case as forcefully and comprehensively as anyone has yet managed ... Klein is a first-class sloganiser. Our dependence on deposits of coal and oil made from prehistoric vegetation and animal matter make us 'a society of grave robbers'. We're treating nature like 'a bottomless vending machine'. Yet despite lobbing in these occasional firecrackers Klein's a pretty pedestrian writer. She seems to fill pages with tedious acronyms and the names of obscure academics. The descriptive passages of the natural world are soporific. Nevertheless, Klein doesn't pretend that she is producing a dainty work of literature. This is a piece of political advocacy. And that's the light in which it really ought to be judged ... One might quibble with the language but the alacrity with which climate change has slid down the agenda of Western politicians over the past decade, even as the science has grown more alarming, makes it difficult to push back against that basic conclusion
This Changes Everything is as much about the psychology of denial as it is about climate change ... Much of this book is concerned with showing that powerful and well-financed rightwing thinktanks and lobby groups lie behind the denial of climate change in recent years ... As a result of human activities, large-scale climate change is under way, and if it goes on unchecked it will fundamentally alter the world in which humans will in future have to live. Yet the political response has been at best ambiguous and indecisive ... For Klein none of this is accidental ... Klein is a brave and passionate writer who always deserves to be heard, and this is a powerful and urgent book that anyone who cares about climate change will want to read. Yet it is hard to resist the conclusion that she shrinks from facing the true scale of the problem ... This is a dangerous world, but not because an all-powerful elite is in charge. None of the states contending for power in the Middle East, Ukraine or the South China Sea can control or predict the consequences of their actions. No one is in charge in the world’s conflicts. Another problem with pinning all the blame for climate crisis on corporate elites is that humanly caused environmental destruction long predates the rise of capitalism ... Throughout This Changes Everything, Klein describes the climate crisis as a confrontation between capitalism and the planet. It would be more accurate to describe the crisis as a clash between the expanding demands of humankind and a finite world, but however the conflict is framed there can be no doubt who the winner will be. The Earth is vastly older and stronger than the human animal ...The change that is under way is no more than the Earth returning to equilibrium – a process that will go on for centuries or millennia whatever anyone does. Rather than denying this irreversible shift, we’d be better off trying to find ways of living with it.