Scientists are watching a melting glacier roughly the size of France in western Antarctica. In May 2014, NASA and University of California scientists reported the melt “appears unstoppable” and this will spell the end of the entire region’s ice sheet, resulting in a sea-level rise of about 10 to 16 feet.
That tidbit was presented in the first 14 pages of Naomi Klein’s latest effort, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” and she builds from there in a book that will both anger and depress many.
The anger will come to some readers, when they wonder, “Can we as a people really be THAT stupid to allow a climate catastrophe to happen?” It will depress readers when they realize that if the end of the world doesn’t happen there will still be a “hotter and wetter” future we face.
Of course, climate change-deniers needn’t read it because it won’t change their minds. This might be because of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by fossil fuel companies, including Koch Industries, to cloud the issue by advancing their argument that the all the science isn’t in and climate change is a massive “hoax” or, as one congressman put it, “Lies from the pit of hell."
Environmentalists already know what the book reports and what must be done if we don’t want the planet to become “a smoldering, lifeless” rock in space. They will argue that climate change theory has been known for more that 20 years and, 98 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is manmade and something must be done now.
Klein writes that International Energy Agency warns “that if we don’t get our emissions under control by 2017, our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock-in’ extremely dangerous warming.”
Klein is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies,” as well as being a contributing editor for Harper’s magazine, a reporter for Rolling Stone and a syndicated columnist for The Nation and The Guardian.
“This Changes Everything” is a well-written, well-documented and well-argued book that contains 100 pages of footnotes, an index and even more footnotes scattered at the bottom of pages throughout the book.
She argues that what is needed is a total change in how the world does business and an environmental Marshall Plan to save the planet by switching to renewable energy sources as some countries such as Germany and Denmark are attempting. And, she writes, we only have about a decade in which to do it.
This is where it will get tricky: It pits fundamentalist capitalist philosophy against the survival of the world.
She argues that capitalist philosophy that has prevailed during the last 30 years -- unfettered, deregulated, expand-or-die globalization, profits-over-all capitalism – is wrong and must change and that government regulation will be necessary in order to save the planet.
This government regulation, among other things, must include leaving about $10 trillion in known fossil fuels reserves in the ground; income and property redistribution; more spending on mass transit and public housing; carbon taxes; doing away with Big Oil subsidies; ending projects such as tar sands pipelines, coal terminals, the decapitation of mountains and strip mining for minerals; and, higher taxes on the wealthy.
Of course, she argues, the extremely wealthy, Big Business through their wholly-owned minions – Congress – will try to prevent that from happening.