“We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land and have no history or connection to the country may legally secure the right to come in and by the nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape that is utterly transformed and desecrated” –Wade Davis (2012)
This long article began as a review of Naomi Klein’ 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, but it has grown into something much larger, a consideration of the roles of ecopsychology and our individual connection to ecology in the greater politics of climate change, resource extraction, and environmental destruction.
At nearly 500 pages plus 60 pages of endnotes, Klein has written an imposing book. Most of the space is taken up with case histories to illustrate and reinforce Klein’s arguments. Klein is a very good storyteller and she has done a great deal of research; the book is a goldmine of specifics. In this discussion I summarize her conclusions, omitting most of the factual background for those conclusions. I assure you it is there.
In chapter after chapter Klein convincingly makes her points, but I do not believe she succeeds in her main point that it is capitalism vs. the climate. In fact, she even suggests several “capitalist” solutions to the climate crisis. As I will describe later, I believe she has done something even more valuable by reframing the issue as Extractivism vs. Blockadia, abstract economics vs. our connection to the earth.
Klein begins with a discussion of the climate denial movement. There are different shades of climate change denial: People who insist that climate change is not happening, that it is happening but is not caused by human activities, or that it is happening but is not an important problem. These contradictory views have in common that they are all arguments against taking action to reduce carbon emissions. For the most part, people promoting these views are conservative politicians, dirty energy companies, or supporters of these politicians or corporations.
Beyond denying the reality of climate change, deniers often express fears “that climate change is a Trojan Horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of ‘green communitarianism’”. The first shock in this book is Klein’s assertion that they are right – that business as usual and climate stability are mutually exclusive; that massive economic and cultural change are required if we are to avoid catastrophic climate chaos. That a growth-oriented capitalist economy and a stable climate cannot co-exist.
The people who are in denial, according to Klein, are the progressives, liberals, and environmentalists who believe we can reform the system and get by; that radical change is not required. We are up against a non-negotiable deadline and a rapid and complete makeover of the economic system is needed.
I have a long held passion for creating a different – more heart-full and earth-connected – way to be together online. That passion has recently led me to find partners and launch a wonderful endeavor we’ve called Earth +Digital Wisdom where we can explore our belief that the digital realm – like all of life – is sacred, and explore what that means in practice.
Here’s a video that Firehawk Hulin (one of my partners in Earth +Digital Wisdom) and I created to describe what we are up to and why:
As part of this Grand Adventure, we have designed a simple series of four free online Elemental Ceremonies that we are offering free, as our gift to Life.
The next two are scheduled for Saturday August 2nd (Air) and Saturday August 23rd (Earth); from 10am – noon Pacific Time so our friends across all US and European time zones can be there. You are formally invited and most welcome; I think you will really be touched and surprised to find an experience of true ceremonial space online.
In the supermarket, I am barely paying attention to the woman passing my purchases under the scanner. As she recites her formula, “Did you find everything you want?” it is clear she is barely paying attention to me. Our minds are occupied, but not with each other or with the here and now. We are both somewhere else.