Capitalism vs. the climate

Naomi Klein writes: There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.

He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland’s Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually “an attack on middle-class American capitalism.” His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

Here at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who specializes in harassing climate scientists with nuisance lawsuits and Freedom of Information fishing expeditions, angles the table mic over to his mouth. “You can believe this is about the climate,” he says darkly, “and many people do, but it’s not a reasonable belief.” Horner, whose prematurely silver hair makes him look like a right-wing Anderson Cooper, likes to invoke Saul Alinsky: “The issue isn’t the issue.” The issue, apparently, is that “no free society would do to itself what this agenda requires…. The first step to that is to remove these nagging freedoms that keep getting in the way.”

Claiming that climate change is a plot to steal American freedom is rather tame by Heartland standards. Over the course of this two-day conference, I will learn that Obama’s campaign promise to support locally owned biofuels refineries was really about “green communitarianism,” akin to the “Maoist” scheme to put “a pig iron furnace in everybody’s backyard” (the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels). That climate change is “a stalking horse for National Socialism” (former Republican senator and retired astronaut Harrison Schmitt). And that environmentalists are like Aztec priests, sacrificing countless people to appease the gods and change the weather (Marc Morano, editor of the denialists’ go-to website,

Most of all, however, I will hear versions of the opinion expressed by the county commissioner in the fourth row: that climate change is a Trojan horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism. As conference speaker Larry Bell succinctly puts it in his new book Climate of Corruption, climate change “has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution.”

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7 thoughts on “Capitalism vs. the climate

  1. Colm O' Toole

    “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

    LOL. You have to give it to Americans they are certainly imaginative. If they keep digging around like this they will soon discover the coverup; that Hurricane Katrina was a false flag attack by Al Gore.

  2. rosemerry

    The oil lobbies and other interests have been funding such publicity for many years, and with the corporate takeover of nearly all the media and all the Congress, it is not surprising that these selfindulgent views are so pervasive. The USA has no interest in changing its wasteful ways, and this “conference” demonstrates this with great force. I’d like to read all the transcripts, Naomi!

  3. Johnb

    Should the recorded 6% increase in greenhouse gas emissions be sustained year on year (compounded) for the next twelve years, greenhouse gas emissions will have doubled from todays levels.
    That should result in some interesting experiences for these good folk to explain away.

  4. Norman

    The deniers are down to cherry picking, along with the ignorance doctrine that permeates the ranks of their followers. Changing the wasteful ways of the Coal, Oil & Gas industry in this country, will mean that the outdated ways will go by the wayside, such as the buggy whip, the snake oil salesman, as well as the polluters & environmental destroyers too. This is the 21st Century, not the 19th or 20th. The old methods are just that, old, inefficient, costly, to both the health and welfare of the people of this country. The dying gasps are still resonating, but are becoming less so, the further we progress.

  5. Patrick Cummins

    “To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?”

    Some years ago the leader of Canada’s official opposition sent a newsletter to the membership of his party in which he denounced the Kyoto Protocal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocal he wrote was “essentially a socialist scheme to stuck money out of wealth-producing countries.” The person who made this statement was Stephen Harper, Canada’s current Prime Minister.

  6. Patrick Cummins

    Just to correct the typo, the Kyoto Protocal was “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing countries.”

    The person who expressed that view is the current Prime Minister of Canada.

    So it’s no surprise that Canada has been missing-in-action on climate change, and that it’s international stature has diminished significantly.

  7. DE Teodoru

    Ms. Klein, the sensuous and brilliant Ms. Klein is nothing less that the new “Jesus” sent to save us from the myopic & avaricious “entrepreneurs”– French for TAKER IN THE MIDDLE who produces nothing but shuffles papers and pollutes.

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