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This Changes Everything

By Bobby Righi 

“There is a willingness to sacrifice large numbers of people in the way we respond to climate change – we are already showing a brutality in the face of climate change that I find really chilling.…We are with full knowledge deciding to allow cultures to die, to allow peoples to disappear…. I think the profound immorality and violence of that decision is not reflected in the language that we have. We are not speaking about this with the language of urgency or mortality that the issue deserves.” Naomi Klein in Earth Island Journal, Fall 2013. 

Naomi Klein will be in Seattle on Sunday, September 28, at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. as part of an international book tour to promote her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, that tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.

In the last couple of years Klein spoke to the founding meeting of a large, newly consilidated union in Canada; she was on the Bill Moyers show and visited survivors amidst the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. She has worked in support of the Idle No More movement of First Nations Peoples fighting for their lands.

Klein attended the Heartland Institute’s convention where climate change deniers rail against science, and she reported on scientific meetings like the December 2012 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco where Brad Werner, a geophysicist from the University of California presented research that shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. He said that challenging this– through mass-movement – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe.

This book promises to be a provocative challenge to our current economic model as well as to mainstream environmental groups. Klein has exposed the reformist behavior of some of the “Big Green” groups and the way they partner with fossil fuel corporations to smooth out concerns over climate change.

Naomi Klein emphasizes the need for collective action and solidarity: “The book I am writing is arguing that our responses to climate change can rebuild the public sphere, can strengthen our communities, can have work with dignity. We can address the financial crisis and the ecological crisis at the same time. I believe that. But I think it’s by building coalitions with people, not with corporations, that you are going to get those wins.” Earth Island Journal, Fall 2013.

What questions might we expect in her new book?

• Do we have to make sacrifices in order to fight climate change?

• How do we build solidarity among groups to insist on curbing the fossil fuels corporations’ power and force them to use their immense profits for the public good?

• How do we fight economic inequality at the same time as climate change and achieve full employment at a living wage?

• What does the incessant violence against young Black people and the heartless treatment of thousands of children seeking refuge along our border have to do with climate change?

• What can we do to repair the damage to the land, rivers, and oceans that has been caused by extractive industries?

• How can we work so as to put power into the hands of communities to develop and control alternative energy sources for the common good?

Naomi Klein may raise these questions and offer hopeful examples but it is up to us to work together here and now to achieve justice on a healthy planet.

Bobby Righi is a PSARA member and serves on PSARA’s Environmental Committee. 

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