This Changes Everything | Naomi Klein

Summary of: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
By: Naomi Klein


Welcome to the summary of ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate’ by Naomi Klein. Through this summary, you will gain insight into the existential threat of climate change, the impediments to finding solutions, and the changes that society must embrace to combat this global issue. You will also explore how the current economic model hinders efforts for promoting sustainable solutions and the need for immediate global cooperation to prevent catastrophic consequences.

The Urgent Need to Address Climate Change

Climate change caused by human activity poses an existential threat to life on Earth, with 97% of climate scientists in agreement. However, there are still individuals in denial who are reluctant to accept radical changes that are required to tackle the issue. Continuing with the status quo economic model based on growth, consumption, and fossil fuels will only compete with plausible solutions. It is imperative that society as a whole takes responsibility for change, whether it be in business, consumption, travel, or daily living. Without significant changes, the emission levels will rise, and temperature increases will result in extreme weather conditions that pose a survival threat to humanity. The cost of deregulated capitalism is a destabilized climate, leading to mass starvation and societal breakdown. Global leaders’ failure to institute fossil fuel restrictions and agreements’ inefficacy are leading to an accelerated erosion of the atmosphere and reducing the window of time for effective action. It is crucial to act now, as even the most successful accords with targets unambitious enough to consign entire nations to disaster seem out of reach. The Earth’s temperature is predicted to rise by at least 4ºC [7.2ºF] by 2099, ultimately leading to the loss of civilized life as society knows it.

The Urgency of Global Cooperation

To limit the temperature increase to 2ºC, it is vital to reduce carbon emissions by 8-10% annually, starting now. However, rich nations’ inability to make these reductions, coupled with yearly emissions increasing by almost 4%, makes achieving this goal almost impossible. The need for global cooperation is crucial as reducing emissions to desired levels requires immediate action. Failure to reduce carbon emissions means no new carbon-generating energy sources should be added worldwide after 2017. Despite the efforts of global summits, meetings, and symposia on climate change, achieving this grand task on a global scale seems unlikely.

Climate Change Wake-Up Call

In the 60s and 70s, significant efforts were made to protect the environment, but pro-business administrations and the desire for consumption shifted priorities. Now, developing countries emit more carbon than developed countries, and efforts to reduce emissions have been hindered by disagreements between nations. Developed nations argue that their actions are futile without developing nations’ cooperation, while developing nations feel entitled to pursue wealth and shift the burden of emissions reduction to developed nations. Climate conferences have made little progress, leaving us with a dire need for action on climate change. As author Naomi Klein argues, climate change is not simply an issue to be added to a list of worries, but a crucial call to action for civilization as a whole.

The Big Energy Industry’s Grip on Power

The existing system favors big energy, hindering a transition to clean and renewable energy. From funneling money to politicians, to influencing environmental groups and lobbying against opposition, the industry exerts immense control. Governments also support fossil fuels and free-trade agreements undermine the growth of clean-energy companies. Polluting environments and endangering workers, the industry continues to thrive despite the known consequences.

Empowering Energy Co-ops

Germany’s hundreds of energy co-ops have played a critical role in breaking away from private energy sources. The government’s lack of initiative and environmental organizations’ passive role have been compensated by local communities that converted to renewable sources and even sold back to the grid. Similarly, the North American opposition to the Keystone XL project has demonstrated the power of grassroots movements in reshaping the energy landscape. Overall, communities are proving that action towards sustainable energy is possible even without government action.

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