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1 Daniel Ballard  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 12:01:07pm

I have got to get my and my wife's parents to read that piece. Fox viewers all.

2 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 12:09:59pm

Klein continues on (it really is a long piece, far beyond what Grist extracts):

The fact that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it is a symptom of a much larger crisis, one born of the central fiction on which our economic model is based: that nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract. But it is not just the atmosphere that we have exploited beyond its capacity to recover—we are doing the same to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.

So in a way, Chris Horner was right when he told his fellow Heartlanders that climate change isn’t “the issue.” In fact, it isn’t an issue at all. Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true for the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.

And this relates to the failure of the UNFCCC and the upcoming COP17. Global humanity is finding itself in a position which can not be handled by us, even when we give a perfunctory nod to the reality of AGW.

The 21st century is the first time, from the beginnings of H. sapiens, that we as a species are facing global limits.

3 WINDUPBIRD DISEASE [S.K.U.M.M.]  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 12:21:28pm

it sums up why I hate them all at once!

conservative white males’ strong system-justifying attitudes

That's it, right there.

4 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 12:24:47pm

However, I will point out that I think Ms. Klein does go wrong in some of her later assertions in the piece. Too often her generalizations lead her to conclusions that are themselves questionable, e.g.:

After years of recycling, carbon offsetting and light bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis. Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action. One of the key areas in which this collective action must take place is big-ticket investments designed to reduce our emissions on a mass scale. That means subways, streetcars and light-rail systems that are not only everywhere but affordable to everyone; energy-efficient affordable housing along those transit lines; smart electrical grids carrying renewable energy; and a massive research effort to ensure that we are using the best methods possible.

The private sector is ill suited to providing most of these services because they require large up-front investments and, if they are to be genuinely accessible to all, some very well may not be profitable. They are, however, decidedly in the public interest, which is why they should come from the public sector.

Traditionally, battles to protect the public sphere are cast as conflicts between irresponsible leftists who want to spend without limit and practical realists who understand that we are living beyond our economic means. But the gravity of the climate crisis cries out for a radically new conception of realism, as well as a very different understanding of limits. Government budget deficits are not nearly as dangerous as the deficits we have created in vital and complex natural systems. Changing our culture to respect those limits will require all of our collective muscle—to get ourselves off fossil fuels and to shore up communal infrastructure for the coming storms.

Her understanding and use of "profitable" are colored by the contemporary American financial system. She fails to understand that in a larger, bio-economic sense "profit" is still necessary - any organism needs to get a return on energy exerted that is just as large as that exerted, or else it dies.

Life runs on consuming energy, and we must get more energy out of the fruit from climbing a tree than it took to climb the tree, or else we'd never do it in the first place.

I will also note that, as much as I prefer rail and wish US cities were built around rail lines, that even nations with high rail usage are still strong net carbon emitters. That's because these societies still use a great deal of energy, and while rail is more efficient than everyone operating their own automobile, all that efficiency buys is that the society still grows to consume other items in other ways.

5 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 12:42:41pm

On the whole, I do think that Ms. Klein is trying too hard. She's trying to pour all the current hot topics in her (as some would say, "left") circle's portfolio: the nastiness of corporations, raising taxes on the rich, etc.

If it seems like I am a bit wordy on this... I came across this article earlier today (via Grist also) and was thinking of doing a Page on it.

Ultimately there is too much here to cover in depth, and Ms. Klein has written (well) a piece that ultimately I'd judge (in my increasingly curmudgeonly way) as more facile than illuminating.

6 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 1:13:47pm

One more comment on Klein's piece:

Half of the problem is that progressives—their hands full with soaring unemployment and multiple wars—tend to assume that the big green groups have the climate issue covered. The other half is that many of those big green groups have avoided, with phobic precision, any serious debate on the blindingly obvious roots of the climate crisis: globalization, deregulation and contemporary capitalism’s quest for perpetual growth (the same forces that are responsible for the destruction of the rest of the economy).

Klein is the one avoiding the obvious. The reason AGW became significant isn't because of "capitalism" (which again, I think her understanding is only a parody of what really is "capitalism"), but because of the "A" in AGW.

Only because we have 7 billion people is there a problem. If there were only 1000 people on the planet each person could burn as much oil and coal per day as they could find and it wouldn't matter.

It's Klein's ideological blinders that become evident in this piece. Of course, her intention on writing such an article is indeed to to draw attention to herself (and her employer, The Nation) and in that she has succeeded (it is getting good coverage.) Yet ... the irony of reading someone writing about others' biases only to use that as a tool for the writer's own ideology...


7 Obdicut  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 1:17:32pm

re: #6 freetoken

Well, no. It's not because of the "A", but because the "A"s act in an unsustainable way. There is no direct reason why 7 billion people couldn't live on earth in a sustainable fashion. it'd be a heavy challenge, but there isn't any actual barrier to it.

8 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 1:43:26pm

re: #7 Obdicut

Well, no. It's not because of the "A", but because the "A"s act in an unsustainable way. There is no direct reason why 7 billion people couldn't live on earth in a sustainable fashion. it'd be a heavy challenge, but there isn't any actual barrier to it.

Well... maybe. Yes, I simplified, but felt the need to confront Klein's immediate and complete silence on the problem of population.

As for if "there isn't any actual barrier to it"... we'd have to get into the ecology of it (the energy economics) - how many people could our planet sustain for extended periods (say over hundreds of thousands of years?)

9 Obdicut  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 2:52:56pm

re: #8 freetoken

That entirely depends on what technology we develop. Water isn't actually consumed in almost anything we do, and sunlight and heat-exchange with the earth provide an immense amount of energy if we capture them. The natural world is probably the hardest part. If we were okay with a crapsack world where everyone was just eating algaeic gloop and stuff the limit would be absolutely gigantic.

That's very far from where we are, though. I'm just pointing out if you're going to take her to task for inaccuracy, then accuracy is a nice thing to have. The problem is that we are not acting in a sustainable manner, nor even attempting to get to a sustainable state. The larger the population, the more difficult the challenge it is to be sustainable.

10 cinesimon  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 2:53:29pm

Freetoken, Klein's understanding of American capitalism is based on what it has become. It's all very well to criticize her for not understanding what it truly means, and that 'profit' is not necessarily measured strictly financially - but you seem to be excluding the reality that, in today's world, financial profit is THE ONLY form of profit acceptable to the right wing as far as ideology and policy goes, and to corporations who see breaking even the current weak laws as a necessary part of doing business because their only true and relevant obligation is to provide profits to shareholders. It's their only obligation. They say that over and over again, and prove it over and over again with their business practices, their lobbying and their political donations. That is the real world.
Only a very few shareholders in large corporations care about anything beyond their dividends and stick prices.

11 cinesimon  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 2:59:52pm

And Freetoken your childish assumptions about her only reason she writes is to "get attention" is nothing more than a bizarre, evidence-free cliche that the right loves to shop around. The fact is, of all the attacks on her from you guys, you can never actually point out any factual issues - so you have to reduce yourself to convoluted and naive(if we're to believe that you actually think your argument is true) defense of the corruption of capitalism, and silly personal insults.
That you have fallen for the cliched arguments against Klein seems due to your own ideological blinders.
Klein is an excellent researcher and writer, and while she may seem ideologically blinded to you, you make it very clear that your ideological blinders are anchored to very shallow, very naive beliefs, 'informed' by very dishonest people who rely primarily on the gullibility of those who believe their nonsense for credibility.

12 cinesimon  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 3:07:59pm

Obdicut the issue for me immediately, is that the right wing have adapted the christian supremacists' stance which is that resources are Ours given to us by 'god', and we shall consume what we like when we like, and if we run out and it becomes harder to survive, that's because god wills it - not because we are unable to manage resources.
It's a great argument for corporations who use natural resources such as the Great Lakes for example - righteous consumption, only answerable to an invisible man, no responsibility in the realm know as the real world. And a voter base who supports their abuse of the planet. This is what they understand capitalism to be.
And these are the people we're supposed to debate...
They're incapable of honesty, and refuse to look at policy based on facts - and until that changes, the only thing we can do is try to educate. Which is a huge battle in itself, of course.
But Klein does a great job in this area - apparently though, Freetoken thinks she's nothing more than an attention seeker(meaning she really doesn't care)- which is a cliche I and most reasonable people who actually know her work beyond what her critics say about her find over-the-top laughable.

13 freetoken  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 3:57:27pm

re: #11 cinesimon

I'm criticizing Klein because she is (or comes off as) trying to bring legitimacy to her pet causes (like OWS) on the back of the reality of AGW and the difficulties in addressing that issue.

You evidently don't know my posting history here. I was writing about sustainability here long before others, and AGW, and limits to growth, and so on.

I simply see Klein as being opportunistic and not really helping the cause of actually addressing what is probably the most complex issue humans face - limits to resources and the results of spoiling our own nest.

And yes, I did take her to task explicitly about the issue of population.

14 WINDUPBIRD DISEASE [S.K.U.M.M.]  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 4:02:48pm

re: #9 Obdicut

algaeic gloop

this line deserves at least fifty updings

remember the krill-burgers in Neuromancer? :D

15 windsagio  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 4:04:50pm
16 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 4:08:41pm

re: #11 cinesimon

your childish assumptions
nothing more than a bizarre, evidence-free cliche that the right loves to shop around
you guys
convoluted and naive
your own ideological blinders.
very shallow, very naive beliefs

Dude. Get off that high horse. Besides, you're not talking to a right-winger.

17 Obdicut  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 4:17:50pm

re: #13 freetoken

And to be clear, my only criticism, in turn, of you, is that population on its own isn't the problem, it's that there is no, zero, focus on sustainability. And this, too, has been one of my complaints about OWS. They're complaining about the division of the pie, not how the pie is created.

18 Amory Blaine  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 4:57:10pm

Money is power. Without money and power you can have as many high ideals as you want you will still be impotent.

19 Romantic Heretic  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 6:18:31pm

The fact is we have forgotten this piece of Native American wisdom, or never knew it.

We do not inherit the land from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.

One thing that Ms. Klein wrote I agree with quite strongly. We are coming to the end of the Enlightenment. The thought and cultural patterns that originated during that time are reaching the end of their usefulness. The question is, "From here do we go onwards or downwards?"

20 dragonfire1981  Mon, Nov 14, 2011 7:38:14pm

Naomi Klein is a Canadian and very much to the left on the political spectrum. She makes a lot of good points but she's definitely looking at the situation from a certain point of view.

To most Canadians, the ideas the right is bandying about on Climate Science and wanting to defund the EPA and roll back environmental regs is insanity. There's still a lot of people put off by the refusal of the United States to sign on to Kyoto, but that's another matter for another thread.

The bottom line is that U.S. environmental policy is not seen in a very good light by a lot of other people. Corporations have far too much power and sway when it comes to American government decisions.

21 (I Stand By What I Said Whatever It Was)  Tue, Nov 15, 2011 4:43:18am

re: #17 Obdicut


NWO talking point! Agenda 21!

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