BOOK REVIEW…This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the climate

This is the first book I have read by Naomi Klein and it came with a recommendation to stop reading everything and read this instead. The message she gave was too urgent and life-changing to wait. The lasting impression I felt is a feeling of appreciation for those who give their time to protest, and I was grasping the relevance of political participation more than ever before.

Klein slam dunks many of the theories that are regularly discussed on how to reduce climate emissions globally. The major theory is that by working with big businesses we can find the solutions to the climate crisis without damaging profits. Examples of how she believes this is a false belief stretch from the detailed examination of all-talk-and-no-action ‘climate messiahs’ such as Richard Branson, and the company formally advertised as “Beyond Petroleum”. BP’s downright dirty dealings in the Deepwater Horizon disaster highlight that the marketing department, in charge of the bunny hugging talk, have no control over the parts of the company providing the profits.

 

The greatest lesson for me comes from Nauru; an island nation “in the middle of nowhere”, looking for a place in our globalised world. Nauru is the island version of Les Miserables’ Fantine character. This small island, formerly known as Pleasant Island, has been systemically stripped of its physical assets and then stripped of its monetary wealth. To get by, it relied on money laundering, providing a tax haven, and it now hosts an immigration detention centre for Australia. The lesson we should learn is that by ourselves, we are all Nauru’s. Our towns and mountains and clean water are just as vulnerable to “extractivism” as Nauru, if there is a profit for someone by destroying it. Nauru however, was in the middle of nowhere, with no collective protection. The way to protect our spaces is to join together and identify what we want and why we want it. Klein uses the term “Blockadia” to describe the emergence of a network of direct action protests across the globe to slow damaging profiteering. The action has created unlikely alliances. But the track record of action other than direct protest shows limited positive outcomes.

The book has inspired me to review what is happening now in the South Wales Valleys where I live. We are a deprived area, suffering after the coal mines closed in the 1980s with little replacement of employment. The answer? More coal mines.

Fros y Fran land reclamation scheme was granted planning permission in 2007. To reclaim the land, the company are first extracting 10 million tonnes of coal, or in other words, open cast mining the site.

There is another proposed reclamation scheme currently going through planning, Nant Llesg. This is following on from reclamation failures, where devious businessmen dug out the coal, leaving the business to go bankrupt before the reclamation work could begin.

Read more about the new open cast mines in South Wales in this article by George Monbiot.

For further info from Naomi Klein, visit the This Changes Everything website.

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