Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shelf Life [adult]

This Changes Everything
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
@SPL: 363.73874 Kle

If you’re the sort of person who cares about the environment but feels too overwhelmed to know where to start, This Changes Everything is the perfect book for you. However, initially? It won’t seem like it. Stick with it. It’s worth it.

Klein being Klein, her overarching argument is economic (or anti-economic, depending on where your sensibilities fall). Her core thesis? Our entire economy, made global by a series of trade agreements since the late 1980s, is founded on a principle of endless growth that can’t help but kill the planet. It’s a pretty bleak diagnosis, but Klein sees hope.

Klein’s signature plain, impassioned writing style makes her arguments more accessible than anyone else writing about society today. She ruthlessly, methodically kills any hope that free market solutions like carbon sequestering will do any good. Similarly, large-scale state initiatives like carbon taxes are a fool’s errand - easily exploited, and logically flawed.

Klein instead sees hope in burgeoning localized, small-scale economies, sustainable power initiatives likes wind and solar, and the resistance to big oil being led around the world by the localized (often indigenous) populations most affected.

It could be argued that Klein hasn’t considered all the angles in the local resistance case studies she showcases. In Pungesti, Romania, for example, it is strongly suspected that local resistance against Chevron’s fracking attempts was fueled by Russian oil interests as much as by worried local farmers. Still, whether or not Russian oil triggered the fight, the people of Pungesti are the ones who won it.

So, such flaws do not take down Klein’s larger argument. This Changes Everything remains a strong, hopeful work that belongs in a class with Carson’s Silent Spring and and Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. It’s highly recommended to anyone with an interest in economics, sociology, ecology… or, um, just breathing clean air.

This review appears in the Stratford Gazette. Written by Shauna Costache, Librarian.


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