Naomi Klein: ‘The economic system we have created global warming’

DER SPIEGEL: Ms. Klein, why aren’t people able to stop climate change?

Naomi Klein: Bad luck. Bad timing. Many unfortunate coincidences.

SPIEGEL: The wrong catastrophe at the wrong moment?

Klein: The worst possible moment. The connection between greenhouse gases and global warming has been a mainstream political issue for humanity since 1988. It was precisely the time that the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama declared the “End of History,” the victory of Western capitalism. Canada and the US signed the first free-trade agreement, which became the prototype for the rest of the world.

SPIEGEL: So you’re saying that a new era of consumption and energy use began precisely at the moment when sustainability and restraint would have been more appropriate?

Klein: Exactly. And it was at precisely this moment that we were also being told that there was no longer any such thing as social responsibility and collective action, that we should leave everything to the market. We privatized our railways and the energy grid, the WTO and the IMF locked in an unregulated capitalism. Unfortunately, this led to an explosion in emissions.

SPIEGEL: You’re an activist, and you’ve blamed capitalism for all kinds of things over the years. Now you’re blaming it for climate change too?

Klein: That’s no reason for irony. The numbers tell the story. During the 1990s, emissions went up by 1 percent per year. Starting in 2000, they started to go up by an average of 3.4 percent. The American Dream was exported globally and consumer goods that we thought of as essential to meet our needs expanded rapidly. We started seeing ourselves exclusively as consumers. When shopping as a way of life is exported to every corner of the globe, that requires energy. A lot of energy. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Naomi Klein: ‘The economic system we have created global warming’

  1. Don Graham

    We are all culpable for the poisoning of our planet. Carbon emissions are not the only contributor to the smoke screen that global climate change and warming have become.

    Of the 87,000+ man-made chemicals loosed upon all of US living on this planet, which will have the most long term effect – the fallout from Fukushima, or the other man-made chemicals? The decreasing resources crisis spreading eastward out of California to the Dust Bowls of this and every other continent is a related consequence that is a contributing factor to the conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and alsewhere.

    My point is that the tipping points for developing any effective responses to the demise of virtually all life forms on this planet have passed. Blaming those consequences on capitalists, communists or God is a waste of time. Even if we all committed suicide today, Fukushima would continue to spew its poisons into the biosphere, would it not?

  2. Paul Woodward

    If you have reached the conclusion that the demise of virtually all life forms on this planet is already inevitable — that there is nothing humanity can do to prevent this — then why waste your time reading about this? Why not just go fishing?

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