Pollution in Shanghai
Another post from 2015 relevant to Monday’s commentary on The Econocracy. Below is an extract from an article on the Guardian website: for the full post see link.
This Changes Everything is as much about the psychology of denial as it is about climate change. “It is always easier to deny reality,” writes Naomi Klein, “than to allow our worldview to be shattered, a fact that was as true of diehard Stalinists at the height of the purges as of libertarian climate deniers today.” 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. There is not much reasonable doubt as to the findings of science on the subject. 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. Governments have backed off from previous climate commitments, and environmental concerns have slipped down the policy agenda to a point at which in many contexts they are treated as practically irrelevant.
For Klein none of this is accidental. Following on from her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, a timely and powerful exposé of the environmental and social devastation wrought by neoliberal policies of “shock therapy”, Klein interprets the marginalisation of climate change in the political process as the result of the machinations of corporate elites. These elites “understand the real significance of climate change better than most of the ‘warmists’ in the political centre, the ones who are still insisting that the response can be gradual and painless and that we don’t need to go to war with anybody… The deniers get plenty of the details wrong… But when it comes to the scope and depth of change required to avert catastrophe, they are right on the money.”
. . . . . [One of the problems] with pinning all the blame for climate crisis on corporate elites is that humanly caused environmental destruction long predates the rise of capitalism. As Klein herself observes in an interesting chapter on what she calls “extractivism” – the economic model that treats the Earth as a bundle of resources waiting to be exploited – human activity was already changing the climate centuries ago. “We started treating the atmosphere as a waste dump when we began using coal on a commercial scale in the late 1700s and engaged in similarly reckless ecological practices well before that.” Moreover, though Klein doesn’t explore the fact, it’s worth bearing in mind that the extractive model was applied on a vast scale in the centrally planned economies of the former Soviet Union and Mao’s China, where some of the largest and worst 20th-century environmental catastrophes occurred.