Green activist Naomi Klein has a new book out today. If past form is anything to go by – No Logo; The Shock Doctrine – it will become an instant bestseller and will be informing liberal arguments for months and years to come. Here’s what you need to know about her latest, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
1. It’s all about Naomi.
“At some point about seven years ago I realised I had become so convinced we were headed towards a grim ecological collapse that I was losing my capacity to enjoy my time in nature.”
Bomb the global economy back to the Dark Ages right now! We cannot, under any circumstances, allow Naomi’s feelings, mental health or picnics to be jeopardised by prosperity!
2. Even the BP spill is really about Naomi.
“After more tests, my doctor told me my hormone levels were much too low and I’d probably miscarry for the third time. My mind raced back to the Gulf – the toxic fumes I had breathed in for days and the contaminated water I had waded in. I searched on the chemicals BP was using in huge quantities and found reams of online chatter linking them to miscarriages. I had no doubt that it was my doing.”
(Though a bit later Naomi is forced to admit that, no, it was just an ectopic pregnancy which had nothing to do with the sins of Big Oil).
3. Naomi is a watermelon – green on the outside, red on the inside
“What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”
and [from an interview in the Guardian]
“We need an ideological battle. It is still considered politically unthinkable just to introduce straight-up, polluter-pays punitive measures – particularly in the US.” To Klein, environmentalists should have just gone to war on business, and on the whole concept of capitalism.
and [from an interview in Macleans]
4. Naomi has been watching the way Jay Z and Beyonce use Blue and learned a useful lesson.
“What gets me most are not the scary studies about melting glaciers, the ones I used to avoid. It’s the books I read to my two-year old. Looking For A Moose is one of his favourites. It’s about a bunch of kids who really want to see a moose. They search high and low – through a forest, a swamp, in brambly bushes and up a mountain. (The joke is that there are moose hiding on each page). In the end, the animals come out and the ecstatic kids proclaim: “We’ve never ever seen so many moose!” On about the 75th reading, it suddenly hit me: he might never see a moose.”
Naomi, you and your son live in Canada. The world’s moose population is currently over a million, half of it in Canada. You are more than rich enough to take a long vacation with your family to gaze wistfully at whatever species you want be it the marine iguanas of the Galapagos or the Siberian Tiger. So by what tortured logic do you imagine it is probable or even possible that your son might “never see a moose”?
5. Naomi makes Jeremiah sound like Polyanna
“If we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, major cities will drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas; our children will spend much of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts.”
6. Naomi is probably now off entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Christmas card list
Naomi notes that in 2006, at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, the bearded self-publicist who created the Virgin empire pledged to spend $3 billion over the next decade “to develop biofuels as an alternative to oil and gas, and on other technologies to battle climate change.” But she is disappointed to note that only a fraction of the promised sum has yet materialised – and that Branson is now a bit cagey when talking about it.
“It can be argued – and some do – that Branson’s planet-saviour persona is an elaborate attempt to avoid the kind of tough regulatory action that was on the horizon when he had his green conversion.”
No shit, Sherlock!
7. Naomi may possibly be under the illusion that she is Gaia
“And I suppose part of me is still in that oiled Louisiana marsh, floating in a sea of poisoned larvae and embryos with my own ill-fated embryo inside me. It’s not self-pity that keeps me returning to that sad place. It’s the conviction that there is something valuable in the body-memory of slamming up against a biological limit – of running out of chances – something we all need to learn.”
8. Naomi needs to pay her fact-checkers more
“In Germany, you see avery rapid rise of renewables. That gives me a lot of hope. Germany is acountry Canadians can relate to: the economy is not that different fromours. They have managed a dramatic energy transition, starting from sixper cent of their energy from renewables. Now they’re at 25 per centwith a goal of 60 per cent.” [from her interview in Macleans]
It may give you a lot of hope, Naomi, but for the people who have to suffer the consequences of these wonderful green policies you extol it is hell. German industry has been hamstrung; German taxpayers must pay around Euros 24 billion per year in green subsidies; electricity prices have risen by 80 per cent since 2000; nearly 7 million German households now live in energy poverty; economic growth is almost non-existent…
No but wait. I’ve just remembered: this is the whole point of your book. All of that bad stuff I’ve just described is actually good and desirable because….because…because Naomi Klein says so. Right?
9. Naomi Klein is a one percenter – and therefore happily cushioned from all the economy-destroying measures she proposes
Klein does not easily fit into most people’s view of a committed environmentalist. She drives a car (it is a hybrid). She flies, already a lot more than most people, and is set to rack up air miles that would make her, by her own admission, “a climate criminal”. There is a brightly coloured plastic playhouse in the garden that was probably made in China. [from a profile in the Guardian]
Oh, and No Logo sold over a million.
10. The interview she gave to (a clearly infatuated, slavering) Vogue is both depressing and unintentionally hilarious
On her two-year old son:
On her social circle:
We’ve convened at Soos Resto/Bar, a newfangled Malaysian café, for dinner with a group of friends including her lanky, droll Random House editor, Louise Dennys (the niece of Graham Greene), avant-garde filmmaker John Greyson, fiction writer Kyo Maclear and her composer husband, David Wall, a onetime member of the almost-famous alt-rock band Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. As the wine and conversation flow, we all devour plates of nasi lemak ordered by Klein’s husband, Avi Lewis, a TV host and documentary filmmaker who exudes graciousness and transparently adores his wife.
Her acolytes include everyone from prominent activists–“Naomi’s work has sharpened and modernized what you could broadly categorize as ‘the Left,’ ” Arundhati Roy tells me by email from Delhi–to celebrity chefs like Noma’s René Redzepi, who recently invited her to Copenhagen to address the MAD food conference. The book trailer for The Shock Doctrine was made by no less than director Alfonso Cuarón, who volunteered to do it because, he tells me by phone from Mexico, “Naomi is like a great doctor–she can diagnose problems nobody else sees.” Designer Vivienne Westwood is a co-executive producer on Klein and Lewis’s upcoming screen version of This Changes Everything. (She recently sent baby Toma a onesie with the slogan I Love Crap.)
Wow! Don’t you just WISH you too could dine on nasi lemak and climate justice with Naomi’s groovy hipster set?