Tag Archives: fossil fuel

Capitalism vs. Climate in Perspective— Thoughts on Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything

BERKELEY, CA—January 19, 2015 – Naomi Klein’s remarkable book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Simon & Schuster, 2014) is a deeply insightful and unflinching look at the global threats posed by climate change, environmental devastation, and economic injustice.

Klein offers up a new framework for understanding the economic and political roadblocks preventing progress on climate protection and social justice. She does not, however, offer a “one-size-fits-all” solution that will work everywhere around the world.

Instead, she points to tactics—like building broad domestic coalitions with strong global ties to Progressive forces abroad—that could lead to the creation of diverse global solutions. Klein’s solutions are best suited to the U.S. and other advanced economies and thus don’t seem to grapple with the problems of burgeoning global population, oil-producing Middle Eastern dictatorships, volatile impoverished nations like Pakistan, and rapidly developing, coal-reliant economic powerhouses like India and China.

Population, half-hearted conservation, increasing consumption and cow farts – all big contributors to Climate Change. What are YOU gonna do about it? How about a victory garden, car-sharing, a vegan meal or two and working from your home? Some of us can do this! Start with our own efforts, that should come first. –the editor

Today’s economic and climate challenges represent a unique “climate moment,” Klein says, and we must seize it in order to implement sweeping new economic and environmental policies for reorienting humanity’s relationship to the natural resources that sustain life on Earth. This Changes Everything is at its core as much about the redistribution of wealth and power on a planetary scale as well as about the ecocide we’re committing in assailing the climate.

Klein thus argues that we must make a revolutionary shift from an unsustainable economic model based on resource extraction and the exploitation of people to a relationship of interconnection and reciprocity with the natural world. Easier said than done.

To bring this about, we have to build a broad social movement, she declares. It needs to be founded on basic moral values and ecological principles, rather than those of unfettered free enterprise, profit maximization, and perpetual economic growth. The steps on the path to creating this movement, however, are never clearly laid out.

False Ideology and The Policies It Vindicates

The current climate impasse, Klein says, stems from acceding to the fundamentalist free-market capitalism paradigm, a false ideology rife with deep contradictions.It rests on a counterfactual belief in infinite growth and on the tenets of minimalist passive governance, hostility to regulation, and aversion to public sector investment. Their free-market worldview, she believes, has brought us over the edge of disaster to the brink of catastrophic climate change.

Commonsense responses to the climate crisis have been blocked, she tells us, by multinational corporations and other vested interests, especially large energy corporations. So, a core battle of ideas must be fought and won to de-legitimize them and their policies before effective massive action to take on global warming can succeed. That means supplanting the free-market paradigm of resource extraction and perpetual growth with a more sustainable model based on resource stewardship and regeneration. But to do that, you need a broad popular movement to curb the influence of corporate money and oligarchic wealth in politics and to force government to regulate corporations and invest in a far-reaching economic transformation.

Once you postulate a powerful social movement in the service of climate protection and social justice, the rest of Klein’s long-term agenda begins to seem more feasible, although it ultimately requires a major economic restructuring, lifestyle changes, and a political transformation, as well as policies aimed at reducing consumption—a politically taboo subject. Klein’s solutions also require long-term energy and economic planning with an emphasis on the kind of decentralized renewable energy production that has proven so successful for many farmers and ranchers in Western Europe and the U.S., plus investments in energy efficiency and electric vehicles.

She envisions an expansion of the public safety net, carbon taxes, and greater support for infrastructure, including mass transit with electric trains powered by renewable energy. As Klein understands, entrenched vested interests will fight these reforms tooth and claw.

Building a Mass Movement

Advocacy of job-creating public investment could indeed serve as a nucleus around which a broadly based social movement could begin to coalesce, but whether it could be induced to embrace Klein’s larger agenda is unclear.

This movement would likely first be dominated by “bread-and-butter” issues. Then smart leadership would need to weave climate concerns into core demands for jobs, higher wages, less inequality, and a better environment. The broad movement could flourish through the implementation of a “Marshall Plan for the Earth,” to which Klein makes a couple of references.

Where Power Ultimately Resides

Klein has great faith in the activism of indigenous people to block fossil fuel development and inspire broader public opposition. She evidently sees these and other local “pockets of resistance” to fossil fuel encroachment as the yeast from which the broad social movement will arise. Here her argument may be more a leap of faith.

These local communities trying to block resource extraction projects don’t have the power to change the U.S. tax code or alter national spending priorities or ram big, New Deal-like social programs through a recalcitrant Congress, all of which must eventually be done to protect the climate.

Yet their isolated pitched battles may be like sparks awakening the conscience of a nation, particularly youth and those who live in the urban population centers where political power is concentrated and middle class movements are likely to arise. In any case, brilliant as it is, This Changes Everything never fully explains the step-wise process by which the seeds of resistance are transformed into that vitally necessary mass climate movement so key to Klein’s vision. Klein seems to believe that like lightning striking a mixture of amino acids in a beaker, the recurrence of ever-more serious climate-related disasters will catalyze the creation of the movement. But even huge disasters like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina have not yet done so, though they have already clobbered tens of millions of people. If a truly colossal disaster on a gargantuan scale is required to finally empower such a movement, it may by then be too late.

John J. Berger, PhD. (www.johnjberger.com) is an energy and environmental policy specialist who has produced ten books on climate, energy, and natural resource topics. He is the author of Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis and Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science

Follow John J. Berger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/johnjberger

**Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book, review written  by John J. Berger © 2015

Celebrate Independence by Decreasing Your Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Thanks to  Swapdom.com  for sharing! 
Oh beautiful for polluted skies, for amber waves of acid rain. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? No, you say? Well, this is where America is headed if we don’t do something about our dependence on fossil fuels, which negatively affect people’s health, wildlife’s well-being, and, of course, climate stability. Here are a few simple, green ideas for filing down your use of fossil fuels so that this summer you can set forth on a path to keeping our country in good shape!
Carpool Cool
Whether you’re heading to work or roadtripping to some faraway place, consider the carpool as a great way to reduce fossil fuel use, time trapped in traffic, and the boredom of being alone. Chat with coworkers to find a convenient carpool arrangement to get to work, or network with other parents to get the kids rides to school. If you’re feeling extra awesome, start something akin to the Bay Area’s Casual Carpool, a free ride share service where you just show up at an appointed place to create an impromptu carpool to and from work.
Heading farther? Turn to a site like Ridejoy. This easy-to-use site is a great way to find a ride or passengers for long-distance trips. To help you feel at ease with the idea of ridesharing with strangers, the site connects to users Facebook profiles and uses a reference system.
Bump Up the Bicycling
Another Captain Obvious recommendation: Start biking instead of driving! The health and environmental benefits of this are pretty self-explanatory, so ‘nuff said.  Look at this article, Bike Sharing comes to 5 Bay Area Cities.
Switch to Solar
84% of total energy in the US comes from fossil fuels, so investing in solar can pay off big time for the Earth and for you personally! Home solar panels often harvest more energy than a household uses, and the excess can be sold to power companies. How cool is that?
Lights Out Early and Often
We’re all guilty of it, but leaving lights on when you sidle out of a room or depart for the day adds up to a big drain on energy resources and 32% of America’s CO2 emissions. Leave Post-it reminders in logical places around the house to help yourself get in the habit of only using lights when needed. Also, consider switching to CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs), which use significantly less energy than regular old bulbs.
This is our favorite (obvi!). A huge part of fossil fuel consumption is devoted to manufacturing, which results in 14% of the United States’ CO2 emissions. If we reuse things or swap for new-to-you items others no longer need, we’ll start making an impact on polluting production—and get some pretty great gear in the process.
How do you do your part to part ways with fossil fuel use?

Let It Shine!

Do you want to know more about solar energy… this is the book for you!
Do you want to know the history and politics of solar energy… this is the book for you!
Even as concern over climate change and energy security fuel a boom in solar technology, many still think of solar as a twentieth-century wonder. Few realize that the first photovoltaic array appeared on a New York City rooftop in 1884, or that brilliant engineers in France were using solar power in the 1860s to run steam engines, or that in 1901 an ostrich farmer in Southern California used a single solar engine to irrigate three hundred acres of citrus trees. Fewer still know that during the Renaissance Galileo and his contemporaries planned the construction of sun-focusing mirrors as the ultimate weapon to burn enemy fleets and towns, that Leonardo da Vinci planned to make his fortune by building half-mile-long mirrors to heat water, or that the Bronze Age Chinese used hand-sized solar-concentrating mirrors to light fires the way we use matches and lighters today.

In 1918 there were more than 4000 solar water heaters in California (…and heat conserving rammed earth buildings too! My Grandpa built one!) Full of interesting and thought provoking facts. This is a great new book, it covers questions I didn’t even know I had!! This new book does shine!– the editor

In this definitive history of solar technology, John Perlin tells a story that goes back more than six thousand years to when the Stone Age Chinese built their homes to make maximum use of the sun’s energy in winter. The book profiles the fascinating characters who made the solar revolution possible, revealing a group of unknown pioneers, like Gustav Vorherr, who opened up the first school of solar architecture in the 1820s, as well as solar advocates known for other accomplishments, such as Socrates, who 2,500 years ago gave a detailed discourse on designing passive solar homes.

With thirteen new chapters, LET IT SHINE is a fully revised and expanded edition of A Golden Thread, Perlin’s classic history of solar technology, detailing the past forty years of technological developments driving today’s solar renaissance. This unique and compelling compendium of humankind’s solar ideas tells the fascinating story of how our predecessors throughout time, again and again, have applied the sun to better their lives — and how we can too.

What people are saying:
“LET IT SHINE is the solar bible. Thank you, John Perlin!”
— Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute

“LET IT SHINE shows how today’s renewable revolution builds on the tenacious efforts of countless generations of innovators whose vision we may finally be privileged enough to bring to full flower.” — from the foreword by Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute

“With remarkable depth, breadth, and precision, John Perlin lays out humankind’s long reliance on the sun before the carbon era and points the way to a healthy, comfortable, productive, resilient solar-powered world. There is more intelligence and common sense in this volume than in all the federal reports on energy of the last quarter-century combined.” — Denis Hayes, former director of the federal Solar Energy Research Institute and founder of the Earth Day Network

“The authoritative background story behind the worldwide solar revolution, LET IT SHINE is a story of human ingenuity and perseverance told with clarity and depth. The next chapter is ours to write.”
— David W. Orr, professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College and author of Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse

About the author:
An international expert on solar energy and forestry, John Perlin has lectured extensively on these topics in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Perlin is the author of A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization as well as From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity. Perlin mentors those involved in realizing photovoltaic, solar hot-water, and energy-efficiency technologies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and coordinates the California Space Grant Consortium as a member of UCSB’s department of physics. www.john-perlin.com