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Naomi Klein: Climate Change “Not Just About Things Getting Hotter… It’s About Things Getting Meaner”


Naomi Klein: Climate Change “Not Just About Things Getting Hotter… It’s About Things Getting Meaner”

Michael Winship

A week and a half ago, just as a blizzard was barreling up the East Coast, I traveled to my hometown, Canandaigua, NY, and before a standing-room-only audience of more than 400 at Finger Lakes Community College, had a conversation with author and climate activist Naomi Klein.

Our talk was part of the George M. Ewing Forum, named in honor of the late editor and publisher of our local newspaper. He was a worldly and informed man, dedicated to good talk and a lively exchange of ideas. The forum brings to town a variety of speakers each year, some of them from the area, others not.


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Excellent article!! Here is the most important line: "So it’s really about connecting the dots and laying out this vision." This is an issue of the 0.1% controlling the 7.2 billion people on Earth. Everything is connected. The interlocking boards of the major extractive and polluting corporations must be revealed!! We are talking about a few thousand people controlling the future of the planet. Until we notice that water privatization, corporate agriculture, GMO's, pesticides, fossil fuel and nuclear power industries are all implicated, all important and related, we will be fractured and lose our potency. Indigenous people and those from exploited lands, mostly south of the Equator, know this lesson. We would do well to learn from their experiences. Share the Vision, vote with your pocketbook. As the new book Zero Waste Home states: REFUSE, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (compost). Where are more investigative journalists like Naomi Klein?


I think Ms. Klein is one of the most intelligent writers of our time; but I do think she gives the military a pass and the term patriarchy is nowhere mentioned in this long lecture. She does speak of the separation from nature and Biblical view of dominance over the natural world; but that's as far as she goes.

I think it's a good thing that she's pro-Bernie Sanders, and that she explains how decentralizing energy systems will help to decentralize corporate power.

I just ordered the book, "Dark Money" after listening to compelling points made by the author--interviewed on Democracy Now. So while Ms. Klein speaks about the widespread influence of the Koch Brothers, and understands that corporations have made most of the key policy decisions of our times; she still reverts to that annoying generic WE clause.

At one point in this lecture, she totally internalizes the messaging of Koch Brothers' financed think tanks by saying, "We don't believe in regulation."

Really? Who's THAT we?

At another point, explaining the distinction between the "every dog out for himself" mentality and that of cohesive connection, she also asserts: "I don't think WE value that."

Ms. Klein in the above instances takes the success of the Koch Brothers' messaging along with the cash purchase of most political animals, and through them, existing policy...and concludes that it's WE that have particular values. That is a ridiculous fallacy and it actually shows support for the propaganda campaigns long-run by outfits like the Kochs, ALEC, Pete Petersen, and so forth.

The explanation of New Orleans and how The Shock Doctrine took hold, and how this horror could be a model for the future is, in my view, Ms. Klein's most significant insight. And she made this case fantastically in her book by the same title.

I also applaud her for pointing out that there's a vast difference between population numbers and actual patterns of consumption. I made this same point many times when this forum's previous fixtures turned every form of corporate malfeasance around into a dire discussion based on population numbers. Incidentally, Bill Gates is very into this very thing and he's another billionaire known to fund his favorite causes.

I am repeating this on the population item to those who possibly didn't read the entire article:

"But the issue around energy demand is much more about the consumption habits of a small minority of the world’s population than it is about numbers of people on Earth. It is a relatively small percentage of people on this planet who are responsible for the vast majority of emissions. Thomas Piketty has done a really interesting breakdown of the connection around wealth and emissions, showing that we really are talking about 10 percent of the world’s population being responsible for the vast majority of emissions.

"So when we change the subject to population, which is what I think this is pointing to, my concern is that it’s not that population isn’t an issue. But I think that it changes the conversation away from the consumption habits of the wealthy to the procreation habits of the poor, which is convenient for us. But the truth is that where population is growing fastest are in parts of the world that are the poorest and have the lowest emissions, like sub-Saharan Africa. So there are certainly issues around how we consume but I don’t think that population is the overriding issue. I think it’s our consumption habits."

Ms. Klein is a brilliant writer, speaker, and woman... but like all humans, she has her blind spots.


Two more observations:

Towards the end of the lecture, the subject of agricultural models comes up and I am disappointed to see Ms. Klein not mention the work of Vandana Shiva. After all, she represents millions of the world's peasant farmers and they are on the front end of climate change... while also tackling Monsanto's murderous model.

Ms. Klein also doesn't mention the TIPP or TPP and these "trade treaties" co-opt public input altogether and essentially give corporations a total free pass to continue their vast plunders. THAT is why Exxon isn't worried! (Although I certainly hope that some judge or legal authority does more than give them a tap on the wrist for purposely working against--and doing their utmost to keep the public in the dark on this vital matter--TRUTH insofar as the relationship between fossil fuel mega-usage patterns and the destruction of our planet's atmospheric balance and capacity to regulate its own temperature).

Sadly, Ms. Klein is incurious about the truth behind nine 11 AND the Paris attacks... as if it was mere coincidence that those attacks occurred at the particular moment where groups from all over the world were intending to protest in very visible ways.

How convenient (as Dana Carvey playing Saturday Night Live's Church Lady would put it)... that thousands would face a virtual National Security ban on protest... so as to leave the same empowered corporate moguls in charge of all negotiations.

C'mon, Naomi... dare to connect those dots! THEY didn't want another Seattle/WTO debacle.

In this instance, other key "dots" are connected. Bravo to that:

"And then there’s the climate justice movement. And the climate justice movement is really about marrying the fights for economic and racial and gender justice with the imperative to get off fossil fuels."

Bernie Sanders does this:

"And so I think that when climate action is married with those urgent needs for jobs and better services and a better quality of life for people, that’s when people will fight to win."


C. Koch observes that his company hasn't been nationalized. That is a great idea. Too bad it won't happen (it could, perhaps, if enough hue and cry were raised; though generally, we save that up for the Super Bowl).

Imo, Volkswagen should be nationalized for its emissions cheating scandal (not to mention its use of slave labor [and the murder of the slaves' children via their "childcare"] during WWII).


"Sadly, Ms. Klein is incurious about the truth behind nine 11...

Too bad she's not alone in that.


Your hypocrisy is boundless. When I post pro-vegetarian comments, you ridicule them. You lack the moral authority to tell people to live simply.
You are not alone in your hypocrisy. Naomi Klein and the 350.org guy are also meat-eaters who conveniently overlook the fact that animal agriculture produces half of all greenhouse gases. If these people are leaders, why are they not calling out the meat industry? Why are they not asking their followers to become vegetarians or vegans? Because they receive funding from the animal agriculture industry, that's why.
They keep the spotlight on fossil fuels while misleading the public by not pointing out that the climate crisis ends when animal agriculture ends. The end of the crisis would deprive them of their income-producing positions so they clam up and say nothing about how the climate crisis could end immediately at no cost to taxpayers.


"Naomi Klein and the 350.org guy are... not asking their followers to become vegetarians or vegans... Because they receive funding from the animal agriculture industry..."

BULLSHIT. You are a liar. You are making shit up to serve your ideology.

Evidence please?


"... the climate crisis ends when animal agriculture ends."

This statement also is not true in a causal way, which i think is how you intend it to be read.

But your statement can be seen as true in a deeper way.

It's a HUGE positive step if humans end industrial meat production. That step will be even more positive if we end the entire industrial agricultural complex that meat production is part of, redirect the vast subsidies that currently go toward that model, and instead subsidize site-appropriate, culturally appropriate, intensive agroecology and permaculture, with strong support for local and regional markets, in every region of the world.

Transforming agriculture alone, would by no means "end" the climate crisis. But if one looks at what larger transformations in society and the political economy will be necessary in order to carry out such a transformation of agriculture, then in that larger sense, your statement is true.

The key point i want to make to you, is that transforming the agricultural system as demanded by the climate crisis, requires far deeper social and cultural transformation than simply choosing an ethical lifestyle. We need to move entirely away from looting as the basis of the economic system, and address the historical legacies of the looting economy with land redistribution and wealth redistribution; and we need to end the great value given in this economy to rampant human ego, whether as a "Master of the Universe" like a Goldman Sachs executive, or as a manipulated "consumer" who learns what to desire from corporate ads.

None of which is to assert that "it does not matter what you do as an individual." i do not believe that is true. But also, it is not true that "the only action that can and will solve the problem is to make the ethical individual personal choice."

Even if your true desire is to achieve meatlessness among humans... you have better chance of real impact by taking a larger view: What will be required if we are to end industrial meat and transform agriculture? How will we work the necessary transformation? Such transformation is nowhere near as simple as brow-beating everyone into becoming vegan by individual personal choice.


Speaking of which, I suggest that your focus on "that annoying generic WE clause," as you call it, is both annoying to your readers and a source of analytical error for you.

For example, in this comment you state:

At one point in this lecture, she totally internalizes the messaging of Koch Brothers' financed think tanks by saying, "We don't believe in regulation."

Here is the paragraph in which I found that quote:

That said, the fact is that there is a very ambitious target in the agreement, [but] no policies to make it a reality, okay? So the agreement says that we pledge to keep temperatures below two degrees and we’ll endeavor to keep them below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now, we have already increased temperatures to one degree Celsius, okay? So we’re already in the dangerous era of climate change. But we can’t stop now. It’s just the nature of it. You know, we’ve already locked in impacts. So 1.5 is an extremely ambitious target. We would need to be cutting our emissions by at least 10 percent a year or more in wealthy countries if we were going to take that target seriously. If you add up all the targets that governments brought to Paris — because the way it was structured is, we have a goal, but because we don’t believe in regulation or anything top down — and this is where the ideology comes in — everybody can just go home and voluntarily say what they’re going to do and then we’ll add it all up and hope it works out. And it turns out, no, it doesn’t work out. It adds up to three to four degrees of warming. (emphasis added)

Ms. Klein is talking about the disingenuousness of the agreement reached in Paris; the quoted clause is a rhetorical device serving to support the explanation thereof. No serious reading of it leads to the conclusion that Ms. Klein does not believe in regulation herself, or that "she totally internalizes the messaging of Koch Brothers' financed think tanks." That interpretation is absurd.

Interestingly enough, you "flamed" one of my recent posts in almost those very same words. That, too, was based on an over-reliance on the "We Frame" meme and a total misinterpretation of my statements.

You are too good of an analyst and writer to be that sloppy. Or that unkind. Please let it go. State your case as you wish to state it, but accord the same right to the rest of us. Using the word "we" as a short-cut for referring to the culture, the nation, etc., is a generally accepted expedient in modern colloquial English.

Let the next careless schlub do a really sloppy job of making the rhetorical case. Who cares? It's enough that yours will be so much better.



Well, she's probably a "broke the mold" case, but are you familiar with Matt Taibbi? His latest book that I know of is The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. I just got a copy of it - haven't read it yet.

He used to write for Rolling Stone where, a few years ago, he did an incredible piece about the Tea Party. I don't want to give too much away, but here's my favorite sentence:

Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit.


If being cognizant of 'The China Study' does not make a vegetarian of one, nothing will:


You also post as Thysanal or something along those lines and probably other names.

You either don't understand the IMPORTANT point that I am making, or you wish to blur it into nonexistence in the way that so many men think they can speak for both genders and in the way that most established bodies of power leave women (not to mention Indigenous Peoples, Hispanics, Blacks, Muslims) OUT of the equations.

NO. The great "we" is mostly what white men have decreed; and pointing out where Ms. Klein took the product of Koch Brothers' funded think tanks "commonsense" and applied it universally to all shows where SHE fell into the P.R./cultural conditioning trap.

The FACT that she never speaks of patriarchy, left out Vandana Shiva, and takes the 911 story as FACT suggest that there are blind spots to her otherwise astute understanding of the dynamics of shock doctrine uber-capitalism.

Rhetorical devices are a literary way of pretending that what's SET by dominators speaks for all.

You have no objection to that frame because it suits you (likely as a white male sexist pig),and you want to retain THAT status quo.

All over the world, others do not.

THEY deserve a voice and THAT voice, distinct from the WE that has run things, MUST challenge the use of this false frame.


Don't call me a liar. That violates the community guidelines. In the movie Cowspiracy, none of the Big Green organizations would say whether or not they received funds from the animal slaughter industry and when a spokesman for that industry was asked if they made donations to The Big Green industry, she refused to answer the question. Connect the obvious dots and stop calling me names.


Your italicized conclusion is wrong. I am not brow-beating anyone. If true progressives decide to stop eating meat, the animal slaughter industry will have to scale down its activities and that is that. A vegetarian world would produce half the greenhouse gases compared with the world we have today so it follows that a vegetarian world ends the climate crisis. No money required, no laws required, no begging corporations to act more responsibly required. You are either dense or simply unwilling to admit that my position is correct so you resort to calling me a liar. You should be ashamed of yourself. Do you apologize or do I need to demand that CD close your account?


Disappointing response, although, I suppose, to have been expected. I had hoped for more comity from you.

I post under only one name. Are you really so deluded that you believe you have evidence to the contrary? Making stuff up about people is not consistent with rational, or civil, discourse.

First of all, that's a false dichotomy. Do you really think there are only two possibilities here?

Second, maybe I don't understand. Either way, it's rude to use it as a bludgeon.

As I have already clearly demonstrated, she did NOT do that.

How very gracious of you to allow her some blind spots. Like you said, we all have 'em. (I will remember not to bother with irony with you henceforth.)

Maybe to you. To many, they are, at least sometimes, a less fraught aid to self-expression. You have no standing to dictate this.

You have no clue how ridiculous this conjecture is. You have no standing, and no manners, to make it. Not that I owe you anything in the way of my bona fides, but I am no fan of white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal class structure. (Recognize the quote?)

THEY also include the CD Forum Community. Stop dictating to us.


Again, bullshit. You have no evidence, you make the assertion, you are lying.


i do not apologize. But it's not about me. It's about what you are doing here.

As long as you continue to:

  • Cudgel people with your self-assigned "moral superiority";
  • Ignore the deep social and economic transformation needed to overturn the entrenched meat industry;

Your crusade here is self-defeating.


Oh for pete's sake, really?
You threaten to shut down webwalk's CD comments., expecting an apology?
Do you have any idea how condescending and preachy you are being in this instance?