The Australian Youth Climate Coalition

This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

The latest AYCC news and media from all across Australia

This Changes Everything

Christina Hobbs read Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything", this is her review.

It’s 1995 and the cute Attwatter prairie chicken is facing extinction. Following a decade of regulatory rollbacks in the US, oil and gas companies are wreaking havoc on grasslands along the Western Gulf Coast. The bird’s breeding habitat is almost entirely destroyed.

But then something surprising happens.   

Mobil Oil, responds to public outrage by ‘gifting’ 2,303 acres of prime chick breeding land to The Nature Conservancy (NC). The company is applauded for its environmentalism, the NC lauded for its ‘partnership approach’, and the myth of 'Big Green' teaming up with toxic industry to deliver tangible environmental results without regulation –“collaborating not criticising”- becomes part of our free market folk-law.

In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein cuts through the cloud of greenwash, hush-up and outright propoganda that confounds our collective understanding of the climate crisis.

Naomi Klein depicts a world in which Mobil has merged with Exxon becoming the most powerful company in the world.  The reckless business model of the fossil fuel industry is now threatening half of all bird species on the planet and entire nations are at risk of becoming environmental sacrifice zones.

In one of her most eye opening moments of research, Klein, eager to learn the fate of the Attwatter prairie chicken, discovers that the NC – the  largest environmental organisation in the world - is moonlighting as a fossil fuel company. In the name of “conservation fundraising” it began drilling on the land gifted by Mobil. The last known sighting of a prairie chicken on the reserve was 2012.

The NC is an extreme example, but Klein illustrates that many large environmental organisations, deploying the marketing and messaging tactics of their ‘corporate partners’, are raising millions of dollars positioning themselves as the custodians of our climate care-factor, yet, achieving remarkably little. The NC is not the only one merging interests through funding, management and investment with a fossil fuel industry gone rogue on power and political protection.

For Klein, the real inconvenient truth about climate change is that it's not about carbon - it’s about capitalism. The system is broken, and to solve climate change “we’ll have to change everything”. It’s a daunting reality. But the convenient truth for Klein, inspiring almost every chapter of the book, turning it into a compelling and motivating read, is that we can “seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better”.

Klein doesn’t attempt to elucidate an ideal alternative to capitalism, preferring instead to share examples of grassroots movements that are already curbing environmental damage, decentralising energy towards community owned renewables, and shifting power back to workers and everyday people.

Throughout the book Klein leans heavily on North American examples and research. But she highlights the Maules Creek Coal Mine protest camp and on-going fossil fuel divestment campaigning as powerful examples of Australian resistance to the existing system.

According to Klein it is this “sense of moral clarity, after so many decades of “chummy green partnerships” that is the real shock for the extractive industries.

But Klein isn’t afraid to show us the future that awaits if we choose to continue with the logic that has brought us to the precipice of catastrophic tipping-points. She highlights a decade of abandoned promises by some of our most famous Green Billionaires. And provides disturbing insight into the millions of dollars some of these investors are spending developing technologies that assume we fail. Bill Gates’ financial backing of climate manipulation technologies, including sun blocking chemical sprays and hurricane suppresses are particularly disturbing.

Klein didn’t write this book to convince anyone that climate change is real; she wrote it to compel us to act, and to make our actions meaningful. If there’s one thing that we can learn from the saga of the poor Prairie Chickens, it’s that there is no one ‘better tasked’ to change the system for us.   

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