[Marxism] Fwd: Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism? by Elizabeth Kolbert | The New York Review of Books

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 24 08:51:38 MST 2014

(Elizabeth Kolbert reviews Naomi Klein's new book on global warming. 
Kolbert wrote her own book on the looming Sixth Extinction that we can 
assume does not pose socialist solutions. Otherwise, you would not 
expect her to be on the staff of the New Yorker Magazine. I have a 
feeling that her criticism of Klein's "fuzziness" is correct but don't 
expect Kolbert to offer anything more focused. I suppose I should get 
around to reading Klein's book and Kolbert's as well. Whatever you say 
about them, I am certainly averse to the idea that "catastrophist" books 
undermine the struggle for socialism.)

The need to reduce carbon emissions is, ostensibly, what This Changes 
Everything is all about. Yet apart from applauding the solar 
installations of the Northern Cheyenne, Klein avoids looking at all 
closely at what this would entail. She vaguely tells us that we’ll have 
to consume less, but not how much less, or what we’ll have to give up. 
At various points, she calls for a carbon tax. This is certainly a good 
idea, and one that’s advocated by many economists, but it hardly seems 
to challenge the basic logic of capitalism. Near the start of the book, 
Klein floats the “managed degrowth” concept, which might also be called 
economic contraction, but once again, how this might play out she leaves 
unexplored. Even more confoundingly, by end of the book she seems to 
have rejected the idea. “Shrinking humanity’s impact or ‘footprint,’” 
she writes, is “simply not an option today.”

In place of “degrowth” she offers “regeneration,” a concept so 
cheerfully fuzzy I won’t even attempt to explain it. Regeneration, Klein 
writes, “is active: we become full participants in the process of 
maximizing life’s creativity.”

To draw on Klein paraphrasing Al Gore, here’s my inconvenient truth: 
when you tell people what it would actually take to radically reduce 
carbon emissions, they turn away. They don’t want to give up air travel 
or air conditioning or HDTV or trips to the mall or the family car or 
the myriad other things that go along with consuming 5,000 or 8,000 or 
12,000 watts. All the major environmental groups know this, which is why 
they maintain, contrary to the requirements of a 2,000-watt society, 
that climate change can be tackled with minimal disruption to “the 
American way of life.” And Klein, you have to assume, knows it too. The 
irony of her book is that she ends up exactly where the “warmists” do, 
telling a fable she hopes will do some good.


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