The burning question: time is running out.

Author:Williams, Stephen
Position:This Changes Everything Capitalism vs. the climate - Book review

This Changes Everything

Capitalism vs. the climate

By Naomi Klein

20[pounds sterling] Allen Lane

ISBN: 978-1-846-14506-6

The essence of this book is a stark warning: time is running out. Published simultaneously in America and the UK is September 2014, This Changes Everything appeared just a few weeks before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report that indicated that atmospheric concentrations of three greenhouse gases were at their highest in more than 800,000 years. Consequently, the report warned, "Earth is heading for a four degree Celsius warming by the end of this century over levels in preindustrial times, a recipe for disastrous and worsening drought, floods, rising sea levels and loss of biodiversity".

'Ambitious' carbon emission curbs would shave just 0.06% points annually from global consumption this century, targeted to grow by 1.6%-3% annually, the IPCC said. Under the lowest of four emissions scenarios, global average temperatures over this century are likely to rise by 0.3[degrees]C and 1.7[degrees]C, leading to between 2655cm rise in sea level.

Under the highest scenario, warming would be between 2.6[degrees]C - 4.8[degrees]C, causing sea level rises of 4.5 cm to 8.2 cm.

But it is not just sea-level rises that pose the greatest threat--there is already evidence that extreme weather events are growing in their destructive potential.

It is this dire prospect that author Naomi Klein rails against, asserting that climate warming is such a clear and present danger that we must take action. And the action that she says is absolutely vital is to completely reappraise and set aside our relentless quest for economic growth.

She argues that doing those things would decrease emissions sufficiently to avert disaster, but it runs counter to the prevailing ideology of deregulated capitalism.

She writes: "We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe--and would benefit the vast majority--are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets".

Klein is known, through her previous books, to be a provocative and outspoken critic of globalisation (No Logo) and neoliberalism (The Shock Doctrine), and many might be tempted to dismiss This Changes Everything as yet another shot of leftist, anti-free-market diatribe. They would be mistaken.

For as the IPCC report states...

To continue reading