January 01, 2015 | Ronda Jambe

My year’s top book: Naomi Klein

Having read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine some years ago, I was keen to read her latest book on climate change and capitalism.
Now only about 1/3 through (holidays getting pleasantly in the path) I can say that my view of her as one of the world’s premium intellectuals has been confirmed. She is issuing a calm but passionate wake up call.

wake up for blog

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate offers as clear an analysis of the global situation as could be presented. And no, she does not advocate a total dismantling of the capitalist system. Rather she invites us to understand the power structures that have distorted capitalism into the all-devouring system that has taken us to the brink of climate disaster.

For those who don’t think they can weight through the whole 500 odd pages, I offer this quite detailed review by Paul Heft, which appears on the excellent Resilience.org site:

Heft Notes: Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”

My overall impression of the global situation is that we now must evolve as a species, move beyond our tribal past, and accept the wisdom of science in formulating our systems of management and control of resources. We must first and foremost acknowledge that endless growth is not possible on a finite planet (see, already this is old hat knowledge for many of you, we just don’t know how to change our structures to tame the growth monster.)

One commentator at a Canberra talk recently said that we could all be comfortable on this planet if we aimed for a standard of living of about 1970s Australia. That doesn’t mean giving up what has been invented since then; rather it means more efficient and flexible systems for our urban design, transport, and food production/distribution.

A dialogue we need to have, a transition we need to make, together. With global equity and non-violence at its core. For non-humans as well as our closest DNA relatives.

To me, her voice of reason and passion speak to my heart. Have a look at the review at least, the green fairy would like to know what you think.

green fairy blog

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 11:31 am | Comments (19) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Someone tell her that the planet has not warmed for the best part of two decades.

    Comment by Rafe Champion — January 2, 2015 @ 6:49 am

  2. Although I am only about 60% through the book I agree that Naomi Klein’s research and comment is excellent. Rafe Champion is ignoring the evidence that the recent world temperatures have been on a very high plateau. More carbon dioxide, and especially methane from fracking, could, as scientists have been warning, tip the system into a period of very fast warming.
    Carbon resources are all finite. Our planning should aim to conserve what we have for use over the generations beyond the next two or three

    Comment by John Turner — January 2, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  3. Well that probably explains the complete disappearance of Alaskan summer sea ice Rafe! And or the melting of formerly permanently frozen permafrost!

    Perhaps the real reason for this melting and warmer ocean temperatures; is all down to a guy called Clark Kent, experimenting with his heat vision?

    Levity aside, there is a finite limit to how many people our small green planet will support.

    We need plants to provide food and regenerate the oxygen that supports all sentient life, with a full two thirds being provided by the oceans, sometimes called the lungs of the world!

    We need arable land and water; and we seem to be running out of diminishing supplies of both.

    We need durable goods to allow us to live in comparative comfort.
    And we need plows to till the soil to grow the crops that feed us.

    And although Rafe assures us the world isn’t warming, we seem to see the ongoing desertification of formerly arable land; and there also seems to be lower rainfall numbers at the margins, that transform formerly marginal land, into arid land that supports little, let alone viable crops!

    In some parts of Africa the replanting of forests has reversed some of that.

    Even so, you’d think we would have learned from the Mayans, or the Easter Islanders; both of who over harvested their native forests, and altered their survival prospects as the most visible consequence.

    With the Mayans having to relocate the entire race, and the Easter Islanders robbing themselves of that option, (no trees, no boats) needing to turn to cannibalism to survive?
    So we need to do some things differently, and continuing to populate our already massively overcrowded living space/planet isn’t one of them!

    Ask the Easter Islanders, what the options are when you’ve overused or used up the available resources.

    Coal i.e., is just fossilized wood, and is in finite quantities. Ditto other mineral resources!
    You get to dig them up just once.

    And while one can build up the population, while this comparatively short term resource lasts; what happens when it runs out!

    We’ve all seen the mineral boom, and what happens when that’s simply wasted, buying elections?
    Or providing welfare for people who just don’t need it or simply hiss it up against the nearest wall.

    Further wasting it on short termism, is just not an option, it never ever was!
    We’re all in this thing called life boat Australia, and all need to contribute to our ultimate survival!

    There ought to be no such thing a privileged passengers, refusing to do a fair share of the work, or demanding and getting vastly more ( a huge undeserved, unearned share) of our universal survival supplies; and pardon the homespun homily.

    And the national interest must trump political self interest/ the party interest; and wouldn’t that make an extremely welcome and pleasant change, as indeed, would a modicum of future vision, in our so called leaders!

    The seventies was not a bad era.
    There was work for those who wanted it; housing was both abundant and affordable, and one wage was enough to modestly but adequately support an average family.

    Moreover, it was and era that included unprecedented prosperity, where we were the third wealthiest nation on the planet, and a creditor one at that!

    That was before we dumped the gold standard and or, floated the dollar.
    Or started selling the family farm and the family silver to foreign carpet baggers; and acting to wind up the farming co-ops that had served us and literally thousands of small rural towns so well; through a couple of world wars and the great depression.

    Fixing things that just ain’t broke seems to be our forte!

    Even so, our almost exclusive reliance on primary produce and a virtually single market, made us vulnerable to the effects of change and market loss.

    Today we’re in much the same boat with our reliance on mineral exports, and selling them to China, for virtually all our increasingly scarce export incomes!

    So it behooves us to export to all the world.

    The only way we can hope to do that is with high tech manufacture; and investing in our own people and their better ideas!
    The very basis for the once spectacularly successful Irish economic miracle!

    And to achieve that, we need the cheapest possible energy options, one of which is thorium and attached to micro-grids, which if kept in public hands, would more than halve the current gold plated price of industrial energy!

    To further enhance that result, we need a government, with enduring resolve and the courage of conviction, ready willing and able to not only accept change and or reform, but usher it in!
    As opposed to acting to actually make us the poor white trash of Asia!?
    Simply put doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always got.

    We need to our so called leaders to govern for the whole nation; as opposed to the shrinking privileged parts of it, or the political parties or political cronies/he who must be Obeid; replete with the divide and rule constructs that not only allow that particular paradigm, but do immense damage, or hold the nation back for decades.

    And just when we need to hit the accelerator pedal as never before and start to power up the national economy.

    Part of the solution, and to maximize the power of discretionary spending, is ending poverty in all its forms and guises, as where and when we find it!

    Not only do poor people drive less, Smokin Joe, but as a general rule, spend less!
    And only because they have no other choices.

    Simply eliminating the robber baron/profit demanding middle man and the inherent waste they create, would virtually halve the cost of living, a great first step to reducing poverty, and indeed, the endless cost/wage/price spiral!

    And of course the privileged bluggers are just not going to surrender their privileged if entirely unproductive positions, but argue vehemently to retain them!

    Be they double handling paper shuffling (in triplicate)public servants, mortgage or health insurance/water brokers etc.

    These sometimes free services are simply not free, but are paid for by the gormless and gullible public/tax payer!
    Ditto derivatives and or securitized mortgages! Recent and harmful changes to the national wealth/prosperity!

    So, the whole formula encapsulated is:
    The return of energy and essential service to the government!
    And as the only available means to reduce energy costs to their lowest possible PUBLIC cost!
    Along with the return of an ability decide what those options will be.

    The fact that the lowest costing options (thorium and biogas) also happen to be carbon negative or carbon neutral; will be of increasing benefit, as the world starts to tax or place a tariff on carbon!

    The second part of the formula, is the roll out of the world’s lowest costing, but totally unavoidable tax!

    And very doable if we but eliminate tax avoidance; but particularly on the part of some of the biggest income earners!

    Finally, we need to replace the herd of sacred cows, with commonsense pragmatism, which is the only vehicle that will enable some of the proposed long term and endlessly sustainable options.

    In today’s global economy, we just don’t have that much room to increase general wages or benefits; we do however, have many commonsense options available to us to significantly reduce the costs, that are the principle reason for most of this nations poverty or quite shameful homelessness!? Affordability is a real rather than imagined issue!

    In business, enduring real success is entirely dependent on volume not margins!
    The very same success oriented thought process (beyond the scope of most circular thinking public servants/entirely self centred tax practitioners) ought to be applied to our tax collection methodology.

    To date, our inherently unfair tax system has driven 95% of corporate Australia and their tax receipts offshore; and the reason, we’re told, for the introduction of the still hated Granny killing GST.

    The combination of the world cheapest energy, (very doable) as well as the lowest real tax rate, (even more doable) will indubitably, not just reverse that exodus, but create a brand new one in our direction.
    And no, that’s not a population increase per se, just the relocation of some of it!

    Finally, building and owning a nuclear powered (much much safer now) national bulk freight forwarding fleet fleet, will further enhance our ability, to export our highly transformed goods to the world!

    And a must do, given we can’t all be door openers/massively overpaid leather polishing pollies!
    Alan B Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — January 2, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  4. The sheer stupidity of the OP and John Turner’s posts just defies belief.

    Obviously someone who does not understand the difference in logic between A and not-A, or in political economy between the public and private ownership of the means of production, is not “one of the world’s premium intellectuals” and it is mere stupidity to say that she is or agree with her.

    Obviously all Naomi Klein has done is re-cycle the slogan-squark of the state-worshipping classes, and all her followers are doing is squarking them.

    If the problem is “capitalism”, then obviously the solution is total and unlimited government power over everything.

    But no. The leftists/morons rush to assure us that’s not what they had in mind. So then the solution is the mixed economy, which is what we’ve got now?

    No, because then they’re contradicting themselves.

    So in other words, all they’ve got on offer is confused garbled-brained slogan-squark with no sensible concept of what they’re talking about. Complete idiots who, given the chance, would kill thousands of millions of people with their policies while preening themselves on how non-violent and sustainable they are.

    They have completely failed to understand that government is not some kind of super-economising super-being.

    Comment by Peter Hume — January 3, 2015 @ 7:44 am

  5. Agree with Alan, and Klein poses some excellent policy suggestions that would move us towards non-violent resolution of these dilemmas.

    Her chapter on geo-engineering is gob-smacking scary, told from an insider perspective as she has access to these nutters. Wouldn’t be the first time madness has prevailed…

    Comment by ronda jambe — January 3, 2015 @ 11:09 am

  6. Peter, I had to approve that comment. Your rhetoric is rather unpleasant and I fear you doth protest too much.

    I also doubt that you have read either the review or the book, or you would have worked out that Klein is NOT a great advocate of more and bigger government, rather of citizen control.

    She decries the distortion of government by vested interests, as do most sensible people.

    And as for advocating policies that would kill millions, don’t know what you are talking about, except that she points out that could be a very real unintended (?) consequence of mindless geo-engineering.

    Be specific, or at least inform yourself, please, and be polite.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — January 3, 2015 @ 11:24 am

  7. Peter Hume needs to read a few other works that deal with the world’s mixed economies. If he read and understood Professor Mariana Mazzucato’s book, “The Entrepreneurial State”, subtitled, “Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths” he might understand that many modern products, such as the Apple “i” products, or the Google algorithm, are based on the basic research conducted by US Government research facilities, often part of the US military or space programs. In the case of pharmaceutical drugs, the research is mainly carried out by government funded medical laboratories.
    If Peter wished to understand why sovereign government fiscal operations are so important he could read and understand the blogs of the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He might then understand that Australia cannot run a balanced domestic (SG) budget until it overcomes the present Current Account deficit. The CA balance will only get worse under the policies presently being followed.
    It is a simple accounting fact that the SG outcome, the CA outcome and the Private Sector outcome add to zero.
    The Private Sector cannot operate in a deficit for a sustained period.
    Peter could look at the slides in Dr Stephanie Kelton’s address to the Field Institute of Toronto, Canada, given in late 2013.
    The following extract makes the situation clear;
    The Private Sector Cannot Create Its
    Own Net Financial Assets
    • Assets and liabilities cancel each other out
    – Loans create deposits
    • Net financial assets must come from outside the
    domestic private sector
    • Private Sector = Public Sector + Current Account
    Surplus Deficit Surplus
    (S – I) (G – T) (X – M)
    • If the Public Sector is running a deficit and the current account is in surplus, the private sector will necessarily be in surplus.

    Comment by John Turner — January 3, 2015 @ 2:38 pm

  8. Deary me. I was going to comment on Klein, but Alan’s comment has diverted me. Alan, there has always been sea ice melt around Alaska during the summer. My father brought a ship down from the Beaufort Sea through the Bering Straits in the 60s. The 60s were one of the coldest decades in the last century. And I think that one misstatement, right at the beginning of your post confirms a pattern of wilfully negligent, if not downright false, argument on your part. I skipped the rest of the comment.

    Ronda, thanks for the reference to the review, especially one that is a bit skeptical. It’s long and I didn’t read it all, but this one quote seemed to say it all: “Climate change is the result of a system in action: the capitalist system, which also results in inequity and many injustices (at all scales, from individuals to countries). ”

    So Klein thinks that burning fossil fuel is unique to capitalism? Or does she just think that other systems are so bad at creating wealth that they burn fossil fuel, just less of it? We know that the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the world is, or will soon be, communist China. So Klein fails a basic analytical test – her model doesn’t model the real world.

    I think that she’s a best-selling author, but not any sort of an intellectual.

    Comment by Graham — January 3, 2015 @ 6:27 pm

  9. Graham, Klein argues rather persuasively I think, that the economic system based on endless growth cannot continue. The capitalist system does much more than burn fossil fuels, it also treats whole social sectors and earth systems as dispensible.
    Communist China was always equally exploitative in its means and ends, and now that it has embraced the growth mantra it is also exceeding itself at producing destruction to its environment.
    She takes this perspective right back to Francis Bacon’s believe that humans can dominate nature, a flawed approach that is brining hubris now.
    I encourage you to learn more about her arguments, they may not be new but she pulls together a lot of threads in ways that speak to me.
    But then, I believe we are facing a climate and social justice emergency.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — January 3, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

  10. I agree that Klien pulls together evidence from many sources.

    I was impressed by her arguments that much of foundation of present western wealth was accumulated from the slave trade and the contribution slaves made to the UK cotton cloth industry and the sugar industry the US and West Indies colonies.

    Fossil fuels have supported consumerism since the invention of the steam engine and as a consequence have raised the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 250 to 400ppm. There is substantial evidence that long wall coal mining and fracking are introducing substantial quantities of methane into the atmosphere.

    China is presently making more effort than the USA the UK or Australia to curb internal use of fossil fuels as it exports consumer goods. China has decided to substantially expand its output of nuclear power and expects by about 2020 to be adding via nuclear the equivalent of the Three Gorges Hydro generators every 16 months.

    They are working very hard to develop fail safe modular nuclear units for export to under developed countries. If that is successful China will have shown just how important the entrepreneurial efforts of the state really are. But, evidence of that are already available to anyone who keeps abreast of the writings of those economists whose thinking is not constrained by neo-liberal ideology.

    Comment by John Turner — January 3, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

  11. Yes, John, the distinction between capitalist and other economic systems is perhaps now no more useful than left-right labels.
    Certain actions need to be taken to presever the ‘common wealth’, a term that has sadly lost currency.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — January 4, 2015 @ 2:07 pm

  12. Naomi Klein mentions “this grim work of immersing myself in the scary science. “( .https://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/tag/naomi-klein/page/2/)
    This must be a misrepresentation, as she shows complete ignorance of science.

    There is no science to show any measurable effect of human emissions on climate. Humans contribute 3% of atmospheric CO2. The effect is trivial, and not measurable, so the effect has no scientific significance.
    In any event, we know that the current rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 has not caused global warming as predicted. CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas, and by itself, does not cause warming. Warming causes the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 does not cause the warming.
    Putting Klein forward as an intellectual is as ludicrous as when Bob Carr promoted himself as an intellectual. She is a self promoting activist, talking baseless nonsense about climate change

    Comment by Leo Lane — January 6, 2015 @ 2:00 pm

  13. Leo Lane makes no mention of his own scientific knowledge but I doubt if he has done any mathematics to support what he has written. I have an ancient qualification in the field.
    I will quote a few facts. Anyone can calculate the quantity of atmosphere that is available. There is 5.25 x 10^15 tonnes (move the decimal point 15 places to the right if you do not like the scientific notation).
    The human race is burning about ten billion tonnes of carbon per annum (1.0 X 10^10) so there is no doubt that, since the start of the industrial age, the total carbon combusted has easily been enough to increase the atmospheric carbon dioxide from 250ppm to the current level of 400ppm and to provide the quantity absorbed by the oceans.
    So human beings have been the culprits!
    The only real argument is what has been the effect. It is well known that carbon dioxide traps the heat which radiates from the earth and that that radiation is at a wave length that suits the carbon dioxide. It is also known that methane is even more capable of trapping the outgoing radiated heat.
    So all the scientific evidence is that scientists understand that the human race is doing just those thing which are likely to bring on a catastrophe if we persist in doing what we have done in the past.
    We also know that the human race needs some smaller quantity of fossil carbon every year for every future generation

    Comment by John Turner — January 6, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

  14. Leo, statments like that wihtout proof are like talking through your hat.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — January 6, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

  15. There is nothing new in what I say, Ronda.

    Robert Carter gives an excellent summary and source reference here:

    Comment by Leo Lane — January 6, 2015 @ 9:18 pm

  16. Really, Leo, you will have to better than the much-debunked Bob Carter. And since you are only able to quote a Telegraph article, here is my offering:


    Carter’s article doesn’t actually point to credible scientific sources, he is a clown.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — January 7, 2015 @ 1:10 pm

  17. I like playing around with large numbers. In the Telegraph article quoted by Leo Lane, it is reported that Bob Carter claims that natural sources contribute 200 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year so the 7 billion human contribution is insignificant.

    Had natural sources contributed that much each year, since the invention of the steam engine, the atmosphere by now would contain 1.3% carbon dioxide or 13,000 ppm. So either Carter or the Telgraph, or both, are wrong.

    The only claim about climate change that I have a doubt about is the claim ocean acidification and that doubt only arises because there is 280 times the tonnage of ocean as there is atmosphere so 400ppm of the atmosphere is only 1.43ppm of the ocean. That does seem insignificant.

    Comment by John Turner — January 7, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

  18. No, John, you are wrong, for the same reason that your previous post was wrong. You fail to take into account that in dealing with atmospheric carbon dioxide, you are dealing with a dynamic system.

    I have already pointed this out to you.The CO2 does not hang around while you make calculations about it. It is part of a process, and it is not static.

    Comment by Leo Lane — January 7, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

  19. Leo,
    There are only two other places where carbon dioxide can go after being introduced into the atmosphere from a previously stable and isolated environment (coal seams or oil pools trapped in geology domes or tar beds.

    The system is dealing with individual molecules. Those individual molecules can go into the oceans where they may convert ions of magnesium into an largely insoluble solid, magnesium carbonate, which settles out or into animal bodies in the food chain which ultimately decay into a recirculating load and there is no evidence that the total vegetable or animal weight in the circulating load is increasing.

    There is no point in making a remark about dynamic systems unless you can designate which dynamic systems are making a permanent contribution towards removing carbon dioxide from the total of the system.

    Human activity is introducing carbon previously held in a stable isolated environment into the dynamic situations which comprise the atmosphere itself or the vegetation and animal matter on the earth’s surface or its oceans.

    Comment by John Turner — January 7, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

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