Disaster Capitalism is a hard act to follow. but Naomi Klein has manage to provoke again in an article on the implications of environmentalism and climate change. She admits that the criticism of the Right about serious environmentalism sounding the death knell of modern capitalism, whereas most on the Left are still under the illusion that green consumerism is all that is required.
All of this means that the climate movement needs to have one hell of a comeback. For this to happen, the left is going to have to learn from the right. Denialists gained traction by making climate about economics: action will destroy capitalism, they have claimed, killing jobs and sending prices soaring. But at a time when a growing number of people agree with the protesters at Occupy Wall Street, many of whom argue that capitalism-as-usual is itself the cause of lost jobs and debt slavery, there is a unique opportunity to seize the economic terrain from the right. This would require making a persuasive case that the real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system—one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power. It would also require a shift away from the notion that climate action is just one issue on a laundry list of worthy causes vying for progressive attention. Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.
Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closely—they might just understand something the left still doesn’t get.
* * *The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, “Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.”
Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong. Before I go any further, let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest, the Heartlanders are completely wrong about the science. The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.Read it at The Nation
Capitalism vs. the Climate
by Naomi Klein
Morris Berman reflects on Naomi Klein's essay in La longue durée at Dark Ages America
(h/t) Keven Fathi)
Naomi Klein, climate scientists, and serious environmentalists, as well the opponents of environmentalism, are correct in viewing this as calling for a fundamental reconfiguration of civilization. One side embraces the necessary change, while the other side rejects it. This is going to be one huge emerging conflict since, on one hand, many vested interests are threatened and, on the other, the very future of the humanity is at stake.
One of my predictions for 2012 is that global warming, which the left calls it, or "climate change," as the right calls it, is going to start coming to the fore as one of the big issues, socially, politically, and economically. The Kyoto treaty expires in 2012, and the international conference in Durban to replace it with something "with teeth" is going to become a focal point in the news. This issue is going to move to the front burner. I expect to see it play an increasingly prominent role in the demands of the protestors worldwide as environmental conditions deteriorate, affecting the less affluent first.