This Changes Everything – Klein

(GoodreadsAmazon)

My personal prediction

Humans are going to go through a rather lengthy and difficult learning experience that will likely last 60-200 years.

  • We won’t change our behaviour in time to reach the 2C warming target.
  • Even when we hit that and shit continues to get worse, we still wont change
  • Lots of people will start dying, which will cause global tensions
  • The will to survive will pin nations against each other.
  • More people die and economies slow due to lack of cooperation.
  • Death and poor economies will reduce emissions 👍
  • Over a long period of stagnation emissions in the atmosphere will get absorbed.
  • Slowly the planet will stabalize, with a much smaller human population.
  • Carrying capacity of the planet will have dropped, but trade will pick up again.
  • The painful past will serve to ensure that we factor sustainability into the global rules of capitalism.
  • Capitalism will remain, but morph.
  • Life will go on, just without glaciers, coral reefs, and salmon.

Things we can do

  • Push back against big corporates.
  • Create an anti-hegemony over neoliberal ideals of the free markets.
  • Treat natural resources as rent (pay to use but have to be maintained), not assets (sell as you like).
  • Decentralize energy through smaller wind/solar generation which feeds into the grid (Big energy can’t be relied on to make change.)
  • Commitment to restrict coal burning and replace with renewables.

The Bigger Picture

  • Postcapitalism, Inventing the Future, and This Changes Everything, are all part of a larger movement against neoliberalism and the decay (financial & environmental) it has put us in.
  • We need to identify where in this larger plan we can apply ourselves and act immediately.

The big problem

  • The neoliberal hegemony was extremely effective because of good planning, but critically because it aligned with the interests of wealth.
  • This enabled them to create think tanks that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars yearly from donations, used to steer public, business, & political opinions.
  • An anti-neoliberal movement is going against the grain, and hence against the money.
  • How do you create an effective movement against the money.
  • Say what you want about the profitability of green, it’s much easier to make money of tar, oil, and coal.

The Solution

  • Is postcapitalism
  • Is tackling climate change
  • Is tackling financial stability, or improving our ability to be unstable

Notes

  • While there is correlation between certain ideologies and acceptance of climate change, we need to move away from ideology. Focus on facts and moving people towards facts-based thinking.
  • Reading all this ideological, bipartisan bullshit makes me sad. We are fighting fire with fire.
  • People who refuse to believe in climate change are often prevented by their biases against socialist, non-neolibearl thinking (government regulation, non-free markets, etc)
  • To convert the world you either have to convert people from opposing ideologies, or give up on ideologies all together.
  • The Heartland Institute, a neoliberal think tank, gets around $5M in funding every year. This is just one of many neoliberal think tanks.
  • International trade laws (enforced by WTO) are created with free trade in mind, and often prevent many attempts towards tackling climate change.
  • Trade and climate – in order to make progress on climate change, trade rules need to be modified.
  • When countries search for cheap labour to exploit overseas, they also contribute to dirtier energy.
  • The West is the reason we are in this situation of climate change, not the developing countries, not even China. While going forward they will be contributing to it, it is our problem that we created and hence we need to be first to act.
  • When you say that China or India are the ones that need to focus on clean energy, because they aren’t the bigger contributors, you miss the complexity of the greater system. They are bigger contributors because we want cheap good made in poor countries. We cause their energy demands to rise and then expect them to pay the cost of fixing it.
  • You can’t say that we need to reduce our consumption but also that clean energy and infrastructure will lift the poeple out of poverty. As people come out of poverty they will want the things that they couldn’t have for so long. They will want to be consumers. Also by reducing consumption you will reduce economic activity which will keep the poor poor.
  • She advocates local consumption but fetishising localness does not always reduce carbon.
  • Does consumption have to go down, or can it change its form. Can we move towards consumption of food and services rather than goods, would this reduce emissions?
  • Private sector alone has not yet been effective at moving to green energy at a scale that is required. Government intervention has been the only time cities have made sizeable improvements.
  • Exxon makes ~$40billion profit yearly.
  • We talk about the wealthy being at fault for travel, but in reality, we are the wealthy. We are the ones flying, driving, and consuming. We are the 1% worldwide.
  • The 1% is a fear tactic similar to blaming immigration. We are the 1%.
  • “Mother nature” shouldn’t be respected because she is “alive”, life after all is meaningless. Mother nature should be respected because she is impressive, complex, and useful, because she sustains trillions of conscious beings, which are the meaning in the universe.
  • I am in awe of the non-living mountains as much as the living forests, both should be cherished and preserved. The are complex, grand, irreplaceable.
  • Fetishising the earth isn’t going to stop companies from destroying it, highlighting its usefulness, complexity (to replace), and hence importance to maintain, is going to save it.
  • No more emotional arguments. From now on rational arguments only.
  • Environment taxes shouldn’t go in because the are “right” but because in a finite world, the resources from the planet need to be replenished as part of their extraction. We must ensure the ongoing ability to take.
  • You are fighting logic with fetishism. Useless.
  • Pulling heartstrings like “the coal miners who died from black lung” is fetishising. Stop it. People have died for thousands of years doing the things that humans needed to live and prosper. If we could send down machines do to this dangerous tasks we would have. But these were sadly the costs of our progress. Much like the thousands of babies that died from being put on their stomachs while doctors learnt that that was actually wrong. Bad things happen as humanity works out what is best.
  • Without dying in the coal mines we would never even have gotten the chance to make renewable energy on the scale we can today.
  • Balancing scale with a frog on one side and some rocks on the other. Taking the rocks is fine, sure eventually the frog will drop and slip off, no buggy. Now put a cauldron of boiling water beneath the frog. All of a sudden taking rocks is wrong. That is, unless you replace them at a somewhat equal rate. Otherwise the frog falls into the boiling water. Now replace the frog with a baby. Are you going to take the things?
  • Cap-and-trade systems are ineffective at reducing emissions as the rules ultimately get gamed for profit and become an ability for wealthy companies to just buy their right to pollute.
  • Using gas as a bridge fuel to clean energy is just allowing consumer behaviours to spread to more of the population and entrench through habits. The longer we wait the harder it will be to change. This will lead to using geoengineering as a bridge, which will again strengthen habits. We need to move with real solutions.
  • Geoengineering startups are looking to inject sulfur into the air to act as a reflector of sunlight (Solar Radiation Management, SMR), preventing as much heating from entering the atmosphere. This “essentially replicates gigantic volcanic eruptions” but continuously for decades. This becomes a way for capitalism to continue as normal, and be offset by SRM. The effects this will have on global weather are unknown, but some models show sever drought in Africa and reduced rainfall in SE Asia. You can’t experiment with this, you just have to do it and hope for the best not knowing what the effects will be.
  • Rather than regulate capitalism we are opting to regulate the sun 🤦‍♂️ We’re fucked.
  • We ought to respect complexity, as that is all that supports our consciousness, our selves. Life is impressively complex, but what is even more impressive is the larger balance of life that whole ecosystems support. And even more complex and impressive is the balance of the whole earth. Even the human brain pales in comparison to the grand complexity of the earth. Stop fucking around with it.
  • If I put you on a giant chessboard and told you that massive boulders were going to drop onto every square but one. Would you do everything in your power to try figure out which was the safe square? Of course. In the face of death and low odds, we nevertheless do everything in our power to survive.
  • You can’t expect the developing nations on the rise to be the solution to the problem by going green as they develop since that would put them at a economic disadvantage (going green costing more) and hence make it harder than it already is to move their people through the levels.
  • Don’t feel bad for the earth, for “Mother Nature”, or “life”, they will all survive. The earth will change and shit all over humanity, crushing it to a pulp, “punishing” it for it’s stupidity. Life will continue, in varied forms of course. But humanity, humanity will diminish.
  • Her suggestion – small accumulative green energy solutions (such as Germany’s green energy) which place ownership in the hands of the many, distribute failure, and develop in a sustainable way. (Note: this sounds like localism).
  • Maybe this is all just the fastest way to wards maximum entropy. And so maybe that makes it “right” 🤷‍♂️
  • I’m not arguing that neoliberalism isn’t effective. If you look at the profit motive as a driving force and capitalism as the funnel that it drives through, then obviously if there are less restrictions and friction then capitalism will produce greater profits. The problem with neoliberalism is not profitability, it is that the outcomes of an unstructured system are uncontrollable. This means we cannot use neoliberalism to create a capitalism that is sustainable, or fairer.

Quotes

  • “This irony—the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is so radically changing our climate that it is getting in the way of our capacity to burn fossil fuels—did”
  • “Kahan explained in Nature, “People find it disconcerting to believe that behavior that they find noble is nevertheless detrimental to society, and behavior that they find base is beneficial to it. Because accepting such a claim could drive a wedge between them and their peers, they have a strong emotional predisposition to reject it.””
  • “What is most remarkable about these parallel processes—trade on the one hand, climate on the other—is the extent to which they functioned as two solitudes. Indeed, each seemed to actively pretend that the other did not exist, ignoring the most glaring questions about how one would impact the other. Like, for example: How would the vastly increased distances that basic goods would now travel—by carbon-spewing container ships and jumbo jets, as well as diesel trucks—impact the carbon emissions that the climate negotiations were aiming to reduce? How would the aggressive protections for technology patents enshrined under the WTO impact the demands being made by developing nations in the climate negotiations for free transfers of green technologies to help them develop on a low-carbon path? And perhaps most critically, how would provisions that allowed private companies to sue national governments over laws that impinged on their profits dissuade governments from adopting tough antipollution regulations, for fear of getting sued?”
  • ““Rather than push for the recalibration of the international trade rules to conform with the requirements of climate protection . . . the Parties to the climate regime have ensured that liberalized trade and an expanding global economy have been protected against trade-restrictive climate policies.””
  • “we have lost so much time to political stalling and weak climate policies—all while emissions ballooned—that we are now facing cuts so drastic that they challenge the core expansionist logic at the heart of our economic system.”
  • “Now, I realize that this can all sound apocalyptic—as if reducing emissions requires economic crises that result in mass suffering. But that seems so only because we have an economic system that fetishizes GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, while failing to place value on those things that most of us cherish above all—a decent standard of living, a measure of future security, and our relationships with one another.”
  • “Most of all, these policies need to be fair, so that the people already struggling to cover the basics are not being asked to make additional sacrifice to offset the excess consumption of the rich. That means cheap public transit and clean light rail accessible to all; affordable, energy-efficient housing along those transit lines; cities planned for high-density living; bike lanes in which riders aren’t asked to risk their lives to get to work; land management that discourages sprawl and encourages local, low-energy forms of agriculture; urban design that clusters essential services like schools and health care along transit routes and in pedestrian-friendly areas; programs that require manufacturers to be responsible for the electronic waste they produce, and to radically reduce built-in redundancies and obsolescences.”
  • “The truth is that if we want to live within ecological limits, we would need to return to a lifestyle similar to the one we had in the 1970s, before consumption levels went crazy in the 1980s. Not exactly the various forms of hardship and deprivation evoked at Heartland conferences.”
  • “1970s non-america wasnt actjuallly very good . Thats whenn wiyzerland was level 3”
  • “long-term public planning, and saying no to powerful corporations.”
  • ““What those numbers mean is quite simple. This industry has announced, in filings to the SEC and in promises to shareholders, that they’re determined to burn five times more fossil fuel than the planet’s atmosphere can begin to absorb.””
  • ““The climate justice fight here in the U.S. and around the world is not just a fight against the [biggest] ecological crisis of all time,” Miya Yoshitani, executive director of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), explains. “It is the fight for a new economy, a new energy system, a new democracy, a new relationship to the planet and to each other, for land, water, and food sovereignty, for Indigenous rights, for human rights and dignity for all people.”
  • “As many are coming to realize, the fetish for structurelessness, the rebellion against any kind of institutionalization, is not a luxury today’s transformative movements can afford. The”
  • “Coal, when left alone, helpfully sequesters not just the carbon long ago pulled out of the air by plants, but all kinds of other toxins. It acts, as world-renowned Australian climate scientist Tim Flannery puts it, like “a natural sponge that absorbs many substances dissolved in groundwater, from uranium to cadmium and mercury.””
  • “The cons are that, depending on which sun-blocking method is used and how intensively, a permanent haze could appear over the earth, potentially making clear blue skies a thing of the past.7 The haze could prevent astronomers from seeing the stars and planets clearly and weaker sunlight could reduce the capacity of solar power generators to produce energy (irony alert).”
  • “That role is of a parent, the parent of the earth. But the opposite is the case. It is we humans who are fragile and vulnerable and the earth that is hearty and powerful, and holds us in its hands. In pragmatic terms, our challenge is less to save the earth from ourselves and more to save ourselves from an earth that, if pushed too far, has ample power to rock, burn, and shake us off completely. That knowledge should inform all we do—especially the decision about whether to gamble on geoengineering.”
  • “The oil would get out through another route regardless, and in the grand scheme of things the carbon it would carry represented little more than “a rounding error,” as Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine. Better, they argued, to fight for a carbon tax, or for stronger EPA regulations, or for a reincarnation of cap-and-trade. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera went so far as to call the strategy “utterly boneheaded,” and accused James Hansen, whose congressional testimony launched the modern climate movement, of “hurting the very cause he claims to care so much about.””
  • “As discussed, the resources for this just transition must ultimately come from the state, collected from the profits of the fossil fuel companies in the brief window left while they are still profitable.”
  • “The main power of divestment is not that it financially harms Shell and Chevron in the short term but that it erodes the social license of fossil fuel companies and builds pressure on politicians to introduce across-the-board emission reductions. That pressure, in turn, increases suspicions in the investment community that fossil fuel stocks are overvalued.”
  • “But when Hurricane Irene descended on the state, floodwaters destroyed not only historic covered bridges but as Bill McKibben, a Vermonter and staunch supporter of food localization, said to me shortly after, “It washed away huge amounts of that beautiful local agriculture. The Intervale in Burlington is suddenly under five feet of water. Nothing gets harvested there. There are tons of farms where the beautiful, rich topsoil is now just covered with feet of sand from the river.” He took away from that experience the fact that “If we can’t solve the climate problem, then all the rest of this is for naught.””
  • “Feels like locaism”
  • “The overriding principle must be to address the twin crises of inequality and climate change at the same time.”
  • “the solution is not for the wealthy world to contract its economies while allowing the developing world to pollute its way to prosperity (even if this were possible). It is for developing countries to “develop differently. We do not want to first pollute and then clean up. So we need money, we need technology, to be able to do things differently.”43 And that means the wealthy world must pay its climate debts.”
  • “The difference between this reparations claim and older ones is not that the case is stronger. It’s that it does not rest on ethics and morality alone: wealthy countries do not just need to help the Global South move to a low-emissions economic path because it’s the right thing to do. We need to do it because our collective survival depends on it.”
  • “protecting and valuing the earth’s ingenious systems of reproducing life and the fertility of all of its inhabitants, may lie at the center of the shift in worldview that must take place if we are to move beyond extractivism. A worldview based on regeneration and renewal rather than domination and depletion.”
  • “When a journalist pressed Werner for a clear answer on the “Is Earth f**ked” question, he set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”4 There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner described it as “resistance”—movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture.” According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by Indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.” Such mass uprisings of people—along the lines of the abolition movement and the civil rights movement—represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control.”
  • “The movements explored in these pages—Blockadia’s fast multiplying local outposts, the fossil fuel divestment/reinvestment movement, the local laws barring high-risk extraction, the bold court challenges by Indigenous groups and others—are early manifestations of this resistance.”
  • “Fundamentally, the task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy. This is required not only to create a political context to dramatically lower emissions, but also to help us cope with the disasters we can no longer to avoid. Because in the hot and stormy future we have already made inevitable through our past emissions, an unshakable belief in the equal rights of all people and a capacity for deep compassion will be the only things standing between civilization and barbarism.”
  • “As the historian David Brion Davis writes, abolitionists understood that their role was not merely to ban an abhorrent practice but to try to change the deeply entrenched values that had made slavery acceptable in the first place.”
  • “But we will not win the battle for a stable climate by trying to beat the bean counters at their own game—arguing, for instance, that it is more cost-effective to invest in emission reduction now than disaster response later. We will win by asserting that such calculations are morally monstrous, since they imply that there is an acceptable price for allowing entire countries to disappear, for leaving untold millions to die on parched land, for depriving today’s children of their right to live in a world teeming with the wonders and beauties of creation.”

sebastiankade

Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on sebastiankade.com

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