journalist and bestselling author. Her new book is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Her previous books include No Logo and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Extended web-exclusive interview with Naomi Klein about her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest for the hour is Naomi Klein, journalist, best-selling author, activist. He new book is called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Her past books, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. As we move into this weekend of climate activism, hundreds of events taking place not only in New York, where a U.N. climate summit will happen on Tuesday, but a major climate people’s march will be taking place on [Sunday], "Flood Wall Street," a different kind of activism, taking place on Monday. But, Naomi, I wanted to go back to the beginning of This Changes Everything, because part of the beauty and the power of the book are the specifics, the details. You begin on a hot tarmac with a U.S. Airways plane. Tell us this story.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, this was just, you know, a news story I came across while I was researching the book. And it was two summers ago, record-breaking heat in Washington, D.C., and it was so hot that the tarmac melted. And somebody posted a picture online of—he said, "This is my plane." And the wheels were stuck in the tarmac, and they couldn’t get the plane out. So, everybody had to get off the plane, because they were hoping that by making the plane lighter, that they would be able to pull it out of the melting tarmac. But it didn’t work, so they got, you know, a more powerful tow truck to pull it out, and they finally got it out. And so I start the book with this story. Everybody gets back on the plane, flies to their destination. None of the reports mention climate change or the fact that there could possibly be a link between emissions, like from flying, and the reason the tarmac is melting. It’s just a sort of quirky story.
But, you know, what I say at the start of the book is we are all metaphorically passengers on that flight. You know, we’re all doing—you know, faced with this crisis, experiencing it and doing the very things that are making it worse. And that’s what our governments are doing when they move from conventional oil to tar sands oil and when they move from conventional natural gas to frack natural gas, which has higher rates of methane leakage. We’re all passengers on that flight. So that’s why I started it, because I think it sort of shows us where we’re at.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you also say that we shouldn’t delude ourselves to thinking that we can achieve some kind of a transformation in our use of energy without reordering the way we live our lives, and it’s going to cost. How do you see paying for the transition that has to occur?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, we often here, like, "We’re broke." It’s not that we’re broke. It’s that the money is in the wrong places, and we’re not willing to go get it. We have politicians that aren’t willing to go after the money that’s stuck at the top of the economic pyramid. And we have corporations who fight every attempt to do so tooth and nail. So, you know, I don’t like giving a sort of exact estimate for how much it would cost to seriously adapt to and mitigate, to use the U.N.—you know, lower our emissions and deal with the heavy weather already upon us. There’s a lot of estimates out there. But, you know, at the low end, people talk in the hundreds of billions; at the higher end, a couple trillion dollars globally, that we need to do the transition away from fossil fuels and deal with the reality of climate change that’s already locked in.
So I do, yeah, a rundown in the book of some of the places where we could get the money, like a financial transaction tax, which just slows down a part of our economy that is generally just sort of fueling mindless consumption, just money making money. And obviously we need to slash fossil fuel subsidies. We can get money from cutting back military spending. We could have a billionaires’ tax. We can have a carbon tax. So, yeah, I make a list, and, sure enough, you know, it easily adds up to a couple trillion dollars. And so, the issue is not that the money’s not there; the issue is that we have politicians who are not willing to go after that money.
And that comes back to the central thesis of the book, which is, we can talk all we want about how we have the technology and how we know what the policies are, but if we’re not willing to have a full-throated ideological debate about what values we want to govern our societies, whether we believe that good can come out of collective action, whether we believe in defending the public sphere, then we’re not going to get anywhere. And that’s what I find hopeful, because there are so many movements that also are in the midst of defending the public sphere against, you know, brutal attacks. And that, if we are willing to link climate action with that broader ideological struggle, it’ll build our coalitions for us.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, you also talk about the divestment movement on the—and you mentioned it briefly earlier. Talk about more about that. That’s really grown—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —very rapidly now, and the impact that that’s having.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah. Well, the fossil fuel divestment movement, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student movement spread so quickly. And, you know, there were a few campaigns on a couple of U.S. campuses, like Swarthmore, where there was—there were divestment movements specifically focusing on coal. And those predate this sort of national, and now international, fossil fuel divestment movement, which really comes out of the research that was first published three years ago by British researchers at the—it’s called the Carbon Tracker project, where they did this breakthrough research, where—you know, we know the fossil fuel companies have a business model to continue to grow, and that’s antithetical to climate action. We already knew that. But they crunched the numbers in this extraordinary way, where they said, "OK, we know that there is such a thing as a global carbon budget." And Bill McKibben, you know, popularized this research in Rolling Stone, and then with the Do the Math tour, in a way that I think just woke people up, you know, in a way that hadn’t happened before.
And what Carbon Tracker showed and what Bill laid out so well, right, is we know how much carbon we can emit and still give ourselves a 50-50 chance of staying below two degrees’ warming. The science on this isn’t controversial. And what the Carbon Tracker people did is they added up what the fossil fuel industry already had in reserves. Now, these are the pools of carbon they’ve already laid claim to, that are already counted towards their stock price. They’ve essentially already spent the money, right? And that added up to five times more carbon than our atmosphere can absorb and still have that chance of staying below two degrees’ warming. Two degrees is already a dangerous target. You know, as you guys know, it’s very controversial at U.N. meetings when they set that two-degree target. You know, I remember in Copenhagen—and, Amy, I’m sure you remember, as well—African delegates were saying that this was a death sentence. But this is what our governments agreed to. The U.S. government agreed to it. The Canadian government agreed to it. And yet, the fossil fuel companies are planning to dig up five times more carbon than that. So they’ve essentially declared war on life on Earth, and they’re also saying, "We don’t believe these politicians are serious when they set that two-degree target." So, that’s where the fossil fuel divestment movement comes in, which is, it’s clear that, left to their own devices, you know, they will bring us towards this catastrophic warming.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to 2010. You know, we’ve been covering these climate summits. I remember, of course, seeing you in Copenhagen. We were in Cancún, in Bolivia for the People’s Summit in Cochabamba. We were in Durban, Doha, this year in Warsaw, Poland. We’re heading to Lima, Peru, next year in Paris. In 2010, Democracy Now! interviewed Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator at the time, Angélica Navarro, when we broadcast from the summit just outside Cochabamba in Bolivia. She explained what the climate debt is and why it’s needed.
ANGÉLICA NAVARRO: What we are trying to explain to the developed countries is that they have to think their actions in—also having into account the consequences to the others. And what are these consequences is that peasants are suffering more of drought or that there are more typhoons, or there are more floodings. How can you express to a farmer that has lost, as I just heard, part of their crops due to drought, and that it’s not the responsibility of them? How can I explain them that it’s something very far in the north that is causing this increase in drought? We call it that they have to have a debt and that they have to repay this debt. But I want to reassure the public it’s not necessarily a financial debt. It’s an emission debt. So you have to take out of the atmosphere the CO2 that you have put in and that is creating this problem to this farmer. That is the debt.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator at the time, Angélica Navarro, in Cochabamba for the World People’s Summit on Climate Change, a sort of non-official summit. Now, you quote Angélica Navarro in your book. Talk about climate debt.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, in the introduction to the book, I talk about meeting Angélica in 2009. I was working on a story, and somebody suggested I meet with her. And she put the argument to me about climate debt. I had never heard it before. And she described it in this incredibly hopeful and inspiring way. She said, if we take out—if we respond to climate change based on principles of equality and historical responsibility, which basically means that the people who got a 200-year head start on emitting have to lead, then it is a chance for what Angélica described as a "Marshall Plan for planet Earth," that it really would close the inequality gap between North and South.
And, you know, there’s an intimate connection between climate change and colonialism, and the debts of colonialism and the debts of slavery, because it was when Europeans adopted the steam engine that the colonial project was sort of superpowered, because it meant—it seemed at the time that they had transcended the natural world. You know, the ships no longer depended on the winds, and the factories no longer depended on the vagaries of water levels to fuel their water wheels. They seemed invincible. But climate change is a delayed response, right? Because all of that—all of the time that coal was being burned, since the Industrial Revolution, it’s been building up in the atmosphere. So, it wasn’t that we had transcended our relationship with the natural world. It was just that it took a while for the world to talk back. And now it’s roaring. And that is climate change.
So, there is—it’s really not a different story than the original story of how our world became so unequal. It’s all the same story. It’s another chapter in that story. And, you know, I’m arguing, Angélica has long been arguing, that we can respond to climate change in a way that heals those ancient wounds. And, to me, that is an amazingly inspiring and hopeful vision.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You also talk about others who have other ideas of how to deal with the problem—geoengineering—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —and one conference that you attended during your research on geoengineering. Could you talk about that?
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, well, look, the point is, is that we have been emitting now for so long. We have been going in the wrong direction now for so long that, as Michael Mann says, the Penn State climate scientist who wrote The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, there’s a procrastination penalty. So, we’re now in a situation where, you know, if we had started in 1990 or 1992, we maybe could have done this gradually. But now, we have to do it so radically that it requires things like what we’ve been talking about—contracting, deliberately contracting parts of our economies, these huge investments in the public sphere. And this is so unthinkable to our economic elites that we are now increasingly hearing, "Well, it’s inevitable, and because it’s inevitable, we need to start thinking about these technofixes, like geoengineering." So, I mean, to me, it’s very telling that it is more thinkable to turn down the sun than it is to think about changing capitalism. And—
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, "turn down the sun"?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, so, one of the geoengineering methods that gets taken most seriously is called "solar radiation management." Solar radiation management, managing the sun. So, what you—so the idea is that you would spray sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere, then they would reflect some of the sun’s rays back to space and dim the sun and cool the Earth. So, climate change is caused by pollution in the lower atmosphere, and so they’re saying that the solution to that pollution is pollution in the stratosphere.
And, you know, it’s really frightening when you look at some of the modeling that is being done about what the possible downsides of this could be. And this is sometimes called the Pinatubo Option, because it would simulate the effects of a very powerful volcano. And we know that after these eruptions, these very powerful volcanoes, that send sulfur into the stratosphere, we do see cooler winters. And Mount Pinatubo is an example of that. But we also see interference with rainfall, interference with monsoons in Africa, in Asia. So we’re talking about potentially playing with the water source, which in turn plays with the food source, for billions of people. And there’s no way to test it. So, some models show this is very dangerous. Other models show that it can be managed. But the point is, you can’t test something like this without deploying it. You know, you can test how—you could talk about nozzle test: You can make sure you can actually spray it. But the point is, we would not know how this would interact with an incredibly complex climate system until it was actually deployed. So you’d have to essentially use all of the world’s population as guinea pigs.
And I think what’s—you know, this is why I say this changes everything. There are no nonradical options left. And this is why I think climate change is particularly hard for centrist serious liberals to wrap their minds around, because they’re always looking for those nonradical solutions, you know, splitting the difference and something that will seem reasonable and politically sellable. The problem is, we’ve got climate change which will radically change our physical world, or geoengineering, which is, you know, a deliberate attempt to radically change our physical world with absolutely unknown consequences and untestable consequences. Or we, rather than try to change the laws of nature, try to change what we actually can, which is the laws of economics.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you have the Heartland Institute describing geoengineering as, quote, "much less expensive than seeking to stem temperature rise solely through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions"; Cato Institute arguing "geo-engineering is more cost-effective than emissions controls altogether"; Hudson Institute saying that geoengineering, quote, "could obviate the majority of the need for carbon cuts and enable us to avoid lifestyle changes." The very point you’re making.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, so, I mean, some of the scientists who are at the heart of this research—you know, people like David Keith or Ken Caldeira—they would say, "We absolutely do not see this as an alternative to emission reduction. We see this as potentially a stopgap measure." And you can understand why many climate scientists, who have been sounding the alarm now for decades, saying, you know, "We are in huge trouble. We need to cut emissions," seeing no action—in fact, seeing us going in the wrong direction—would be desperate enough to start trying to propose these technofixes.
AMY GOODMAN: What’s wrong with seating the clouds over drought areas?
NAOMI KLEIN: Look, all of this is a huge gamble. But what you’re talking about is—you know, you’re talking about a regional response. And actually, that’s not entirely new. There have been these attempts to do regional weather modification. Actually, it’s banned in international treaties, because it was the first—the sort of first wave of discussion around this was not about responding to drought, it was using climate engineering as a weapon of war. And this was actually attempted during the Vietnam War, to try to flood deliberately the Ho Chi Minh Trail. So, there’s a whole Cold War history around weather modification. So this is a new incarnation of an old story and the idea that this could be done at a global scale as a climate fix. But, of course, once you unleash these technologies, you don’t—it’s not well-meaning climate scientists who decide how it’s going to be deployed. It’s governments who decide how it’s going to be deployed. And you can easily see a scenario where, you know, say, the U.S. and Europe do a sort of emergency geoengineering response that has a negative effect on China and India, and they then retaliate with their own.
You know, the point is, I don’t think this is around the corner, but I do think it underscores just how radical a situation we find ourselves in, that serious people are seriously discussing this as if it’s sane. It’s not. And that should prompt us, I think, to talk about much saner solutions, like, hey, we can switch to 100 percent renewable energy. We have examples like Germany. They’re heading for 60 percent renewable energy in a decade. You know, why don’t we do that instead, because it’s a lot lower risk? It does require us to challenge the—it does require that we have this ideological war, that we take on corporate power, which is why it is so important that we’re having actions like Flood Wall Street and that we have a new generation of climate activists that understand who the actual barriers to climate action is, because I think most people would rather put a solar panel on their roof than turn down the sun.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Naomi, one of the climate scientists cited in your book is Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Democracy Now! spoke to him last year at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw.
KEVIN ANDERSON: In the short term, the only way we can get our emissions down is to actually reduce the level of energy we consume. Now, we can also put low-carbon energy supply in place, you know, power stations that are renewable—wind, even nuclear, as well. These are all very low-carbon power stations and other energy sources. But they take a long time to put in place. And we now—we’ve squandered the opportunity we had to make those changes. So, we still need to do that, but it’s going to take us 20, 30 years to do that. So what we need to do in the interim is to reduce the amount of energy we consume, and therefore reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that we emit.
And the levels of reduction we now need in carbon dioxide, and therefore energy consumption, are such that for many of us—for the wealthy of us, certainly—we can’t carry on as we’re going now. So we’ll have to consume less. And there’s absolutely no way out of that. The maths are absolutely clear.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre, who took a 25-hour ride by train to get to the conference.
NAOMI KLEIN: I quote Kevin a lot in the book, and Alice Bows. You know, their research is really hard to argue with, and they’re the ones who are saying that we need to cut our emissions by 8 to 10 percent a year in the industrialized world. And that is not compatible with the economic system that we have. The only precedent for emission reductions at that level in a sustained way is in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Now, we don’t want that. We don’t want to just let our economy crash. So we need to manage it. We need to have a strategic economy, a deliberate economy. We need to grow the areas that are helping people and that are low-carbon, and we need to contract the areas are just mindlessly emitting.
AMY GOODMAN: So take us on a tour of this great transition. What would it look like today if the United States was serious about dealing with climate change? What first needs to happen?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I think two things need to happen at once, and this is what the German experience shows us. You need to have bold national policies, like you need to have feed-in tariffs. You need to have clear goals—how much of your grid is going to switch to renewable energy, by what time. You need to have the right incentives in place. I think what Germany shows, too, is, you know, we often think that—and, you know, there are these groups that exist just to make this argument—that it’s a big problem, so we need only big solutions, and so they argue in favor of nuclear power and industrial agriculture. But actually, what Germany shows is that the fastest transition we’re seeing anywhere in the world is happening through a multiplication of small-scale solutions, with well-designed, smart national policies. But that’s not enough. You also need to say no to the fossil fuel companies. So we need to close those carbon frontiers, right? We need to have clear no-go zones—no drilling in the Arctic, no new tar sands, and wind down the tar sands. We need to enshrine these fracking moratoriums into law. We need to turn the moratoriums into bans, and we need to expand them. So, it’s the yes, on the one hand; it’s the no, on the other hand.
And it’s also—you know, I talk in the book about the connection with—in my country, in Canada, I think there’s a really clear connection with respecting indigenous land rights, because some of the largest—it’s simply a fact that some of the largest pools of carbon are under the lands of some of the poorest people on the planet, and much of it is under indigenous land. So, there are tremendous fights being waged by indigenous people around the world to keep the drillers out of the Amazon, to slow down the tar sands. But one of the most important things that needs to happen is that the benefits of this new economy, of this next economy, of the transition, the people who have been hurt the most, who have been on the front lines of the extractive economy and have got the worst deal in the unequal exchange powered by fossil fuels, need to be first in line to benefit, so that there are real options beyond just extractive economies, because people are being asked to choose between having running water and having an extractive project in their backyard which will potentially poison their water. That’s a nonchoice. People need better choices than that.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about the position of the United States. I mean, we were both in Copenhagen when President Obama swooped in. This was in 2009. Describe the role of the U.S. in the climate negotiations.
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I think the most destructive role that the U.S. plays in these negotiations is insisting on pretending that the world was born yesterday. And, you know, the way these debates play out, the central stumbling block, the central debate, is over whether we are going to respond based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. And that means that we have to acknowledge that we have known about this, we have known about this for a long time, that the rich world got rich burning carbon, and that there is a historical debt that’s owed to the developing world precisely because the effects of climate change are being felt first and worst there. So there needs to be an equitable response. And the most destructive role that the U.S. plays in these negotiations is just coming and saying, you know, "We don’t acknowledge that. We don’t accept the concept that we’re more responsible because we started first." And that just derails every discussion.
And I think part of the responsibility for this, you know, is shared by the environmental movement in the United States, because there is this sense that that is a political no-go zone. You can’t talk about any kind of redistribution of technology or wealth between North and South, that that is toxic. You hear that phrase a lot. And, you know, I don’t think it’s impossible for the U.S. government to have an equitable, equity-based response to climate change. But I think if they’re not being pressured internally by the environmental movement to make equity a priority, then it’s not going to happen. And I don’t think that that has been enough of a priority for the U.S. environmental movement.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about the impact—much is made of the growing influence of the more advanced of the countries of the South and East, of China, India, Brazil. What’s your sense of whether they’re having any kind of a different road on the whole issue of being able to attack climate change?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, so, I mean, part of the reason why it is so important for countries like the U.S., Canada, the European Union to lead by example, to lead by cutting our emissions decisively, and also by committing to an equity response, which means, you know, helping the developing world to leapfrog over fossil fuels, whether that’s with money or technology or both, is that if we don’t, if our countries don’t do that, it’s an incredibly convenient excuse for governments in China and India to go, "Well, why should we do anything? They started it." And that’s exactly what’s happening. So we’re in this no-win, tit-for-tat fight. So, you know, by leading, we take away the best arguments of regressive governments in those countries, which are using it with abandon.
The other thing that I think we need to acknowledge is that, you know, the fossil fuel resistance movement is a global movement. And, in fact, it was born in the Global South. You know, we talked about these amazing movements in North America, but in the book I talk about really how if we want to talk about where this all started, I would say it started on Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. I mean when Shell Oil was kicked out, and they still have not returned, and a huge amount of carbon has been kept in the ground because of that tremendously courageous struggle. And the whole slogan, "Leave the oil in the soil, leave the oil in the ground," I mean, this is a slogan born in Nigeria and Ecuador, in the incredible movements to save the Amazon from oil drilling and to save the Yasuní. And so, in a sense, what’s happening now is that, you know, as the fossil fuel frenzy moves north and we pillage ourselves, we are starting to see some of the forms of resistance that were born in the Global South come to the North, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi, you spent something like seven years writing this book, but you not only wrote the book in seven years, you also had a baby, Toma, who’s two now. Can you talk about how you relate trying to get pregnant and issues of fertility with the environment?
NAOMI KLEIN: Mm-hmm, yeah. I have a chapter at the end of the book called "The Right to Regenerate." And it’s a very personal chapter. I struggled with whether or not to include it in the book or not. But I wrote about it because I kind of needed to write about it in order to write the rest of the book. I wrote it first, and it ended up being the end of the book. But it was—it’s seven years since The Shock Doctrine, but I’ve really been working on this book for five years. And five years, you know, in my personal life, what I was going through is I was trying to have my first child. I lost several pregnancies, and then eventually was lucky enough to have a baby and become a new mother. So this was—you know, I was going through this process, doing these sort of high-tech fertility treatments, having a sort of disastrous experience with that, and then I started to see sort of intersections between what I was going through and the research I was doing into climate change. Because I was sort of hitting a biological wall myself, or being told that I was, I became—I felt like it helped me to understand, you know, in a kind of really personal way, what it means to hit those boundaries, those natural boundaries. See, I think we tend to see our bodies as machines, and we see the Earth as a machine, and we are incredibly resilient, we have all these built-in redundancies, but we are not invulnerable. You know, we bend, but we break. You can hit the wall. And having had that experience of just hitting a wall, of my body just telling me no, while I was doing this research, I found it actually really helpful to believe, actually, it is possible to hit the wall. So, you know, I tried to learn from that.
And I also started to notice that the way in which climate change was playing out in the natural world is also often as a fertility crisis, that we were making the world less fertile, whether we’re making the soil less fertile, whether we’re deliberately making seeds less fertile so that they can be patented and owned, or simply that warming temperatures and acidifying oceans are wreaking havoc on many species’ ability to reproduce. The first example I noticed was a story about how the eggs of sea turtles were—you know how sea turtles amazingly go through that process of going up on beaches and digging holes and burying their eggs in the sand. Well, because the sand is just a little bit warmer, the eggs are cooking in the sand and not hatching. Or, the male eggs are dying, and the female eggs are hatching, and of course that creates a reproductive crisis later on. So I started to see all kinds of the examples of how climate change was playing up as a bottom-up extinction crisis, meaning that it wasn’t the adults that were dying, but it was the very young who were losing their food sources or were just simply losing their ability to fight for life in those early days—you know, the ability of oysters to form their hard shells in the earliest days. We know that acidification has that impact. But what we didn’t know, what scientists were surprised by, is how much more vulnerable the young are to that, that in those first early days of forming the shell, if there’s even a slight change in pH levels, they won’t be able to do it. So, these are some of the earliest signs of how climate change is playing out in making our world less alive.
So, just going through that personal experience, I think, kind of attuned me to see some of this. I always see my books as a process of pattern recognition, you know? Once you sort of identify a pattern, you kind of see it repeat. That’s what happened to me with The Shock Doctrine. And that happened to me with fertility in this book.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you also talk in the book about, once your son was born, the impact it had on you of bringing much closer to home what climate change will mean for the future, for our offspring—
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —for our children and our children’s children.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I didn’t write the book because, you know, I was worried about my son’s future. I started writing the book before he was born. But it has brought the crisis into my heart in a new way. And what I find is, you know, we all get scared reading these reports about melting glaciers, but sometimes it’s kind of hard to wrap your head around, you know? And so, what I found in my personal experience, the moments where I was just sort of blindsided by the reality of this crisis and just sort of overwhelmed by emotion were not—was not when I was reading those scientific reports or even doing the reporting. It was when I was reading—when I read children’s books to my son.
I had this moment early on when—you know, so, basically, this was my life for a while, just like writing this book, taking breaks and reading stories, board books, to Toma. And he has this favorite book, Looking for a Moose, where a bunch of kids set off on a journey to see a long-legged, bulgy-nosed, something-something-antlered moose. And I had read this book, you know, 75 times. And this slogan that they keep saying, "Have you ever seen a moose? Have you ever seen a moose? We’ve never seen a moose," and finally, they see all these moose. They say, "We’ve never, ever seen so many moose!" And it just hit me. I’m like, "Wait a minute. He might never see a moose," because I had been in northern Alberta and I had been talking to members of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, and they had been describing how the moose were sick, when they would find moose covered in tumors, or they were just disappearing. And this is happening all over North America. You know, they’re extremely affected by climate change and extremely affected by the toxins associated with fossil fuel extraction. I’ve only seen a moose a couple of times in my life in the wild, this extraordinary experience. But I just have those moments where it’s like, "Wait a minute. He may never have these experiences that I’ve had."
AMY GOODMAN: What’s happening to the oceans?
NAOMI KLEIN: So, it’s a big question, but—you know, I wrote a lot of this book while I was living in British Columbia, is where my family lives. And it’s an interesting vantage point from which to think about this, because the Pacific Northwest, the waters along that coast are some of the most rapidly acidifying waters, and it’s for a variety of reasons. And one of them is climate change. Some of it’s natural upwellings. But we’re already seeing the impacts on oysters. I mean, oyster farms, some of them—there’s one oyster farm that is actually—oh, I think it was in Washington state, and now it’s opened a hatchery in Hawaii because it can no longer hatch—they can no longer have the hatchery in those waters, and they bring the oysters back—not exactly a low-carbon solution—back after they form their shells. We’ve seen scallops just wiped out in British Columbia in the past couple of years, linked to acidification. Strange starfish diseases—there’s a wasting syndrome where suddenly like the limbs are falling off, and this is happening on a massive scale all along the Pacific Northwest. We don’t know if that’s linked to climate change or something else; it isn’t exactly clear yet. But the oceans are definitely changing. And you see it. It’s not like, OK, this is happening down the road. It’s happening a lot faster than was predicted.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Naomi Klein, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Naomi Klein is a journalist, best-selling author, activist. Her new book is called This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Thanks for spending this time with us.
NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you, guys.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.