It's the second to last day of the climate conference and I have the worst case of laryngitis of my life. I open my mouth and nothing comes out.
It's frustrating because I was just at Hillary Clinton's press conference and desperately wanted to ask her a question – or six. She said that the U.S. would contribute its "share" to a $100-billion financing package for developing countries by 2020 – but only if all countries agreed to the terms of the climate deal that the U.S. has slammed on the table here, which include killing Kyoto, replacing legally binding measures with the fuzzy concept of "transparency," and nixing universal emissions targets in favor of vague "national plans" that are mashed together. Oh, and abandoning the whole concept (which the U.S. agreed to by singing the UN climate convention) that the rich countries that created the climate crisis have to take the lead in solving it.
On the ninth day of the Copenhagen climate summit, Africa was sacrificed. The position of the G-77 negotiating bloc, including African states, had been clear: a 2 degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures translates into a 3-3.5 degree increase in Africa.
That means, according to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, "an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger" and "water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people." Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts the stakes like this: "We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale.... A global goal of about 2 degrees C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development."
One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call “mismatch” or “mistiming.” This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.
The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.
In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.
But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).
Canadian author Naomi Klein is so well known for her blade-sharp commentary that it’s easy to forget that she is, above all, a first-rate reporter. I got a glimpse into her priorities as I was working on this interview. Klein told me she was worried that some of the things she had said would make it hard for her to land an interview with a president of the one of the Big Green groups (read below and you’ll see why). She was more interested in nabbing the story than being the story; her reporting trumped any opinion-making.
Such focus is a hallmark of Klein’s career. She doesn’t do much of the chattering class’s news cycle blathering. She works steadily, carefully, quietly. It can be surprising to remember that Klein’s immense global influence rests on a relatively small body of work; she has published three books, one of which is an anthology of magazine pieces.
Having read the interview with Naomi Klein, Joe Romm’s commentary on the interview and Klein’s succinct rejoinder, I do not want to unnecessarily extend the discussion prior to the publication of Klein’s forthcoming book. However, Alice Bows and I do want to respond briefly to Romm’s suggestion that “green groups disagree” with our conclusion that “dangerous climate change can only be avoided if economic growth is exchanged, at least temporarily, for a period of planned austerity within [developed] nations” because they think our “view of economics … is wrong”. Our disagreement with Romm’s assertion stems from two related arguments.
Congratulations on your hasty and unnecessary hatchet job on a book I haven't even finished yet, based on an edited interview about one-tenth of its content. A book of which you haven't read a single word.
Disagree with the interview I gave, fine. But to assume you know what evidence is in the book and can therefore dismiss it outright is a new twist on old-school arrogance. Impressive.
Nice work as well on telling people not to see a film that is also far from finished, based on material that is not even planned to be in the documentary at all. (Feel free to call me next time you'd like to check a fact.)
Let's hope your next work is not subjected to such extreme prejudice.
Joe, we clearly have some disagreements -- as well as huge common ground. But if anyone is guilty of taking a sledge hammer to an ally here, I suggest you take a quick glance at what's in your (bloody) hand.
Naomi delivered the following speech on September 1, 2013 at the founding convention of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union. Full text of the speech follows the video.
The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. At last count, there were active divestment campaigns on 305 campuses and in more than 100 US cities and states. The demand has spread to Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Britain. And though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds, and in late April ten US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago).
In December 2012, the Indigenous protests known as Idle No More exploded onto the Canadian political scene, with huge round dances taking place in shopping malls, busy intersections, and public spaces across North America, as well as solidarity actions as far away as New Zealand and Gaza. Though sparked by a series of legislative attacks on indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, the movement quickly became about much more: Canada’s ongoing colonial policies, a transformative vision of decolonization, and the possibilities for a genuine alliance between natives and non-natives, one capable of re-imagining nationhood.
I woke up just past midnight with a bolt. My six-month-old son was crying. He has a cold – the second of his short life–and his blocked nose frightens him. I was about to get up when he started snoring again. I, on the other hand, was wide awake.
A single thought entered my head: Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. Actually it wasn’t a thought. It was a feeling. The feeling of hunger. Lying in my dark room, I pictured the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation lying on a pile of blankets in her teepee across from Parliament Hill, entering day 14 of her hunger strike.
This week in the Phoenix, Wen Stephenson profiles Naomi Klein -- "black-clad and sharp-tongued mistress of the global anti-corporate left, friend to Occupiers and scourge of oil barons" -- as she turns her attention to the cause of climate justice. Below is a longer excerpt from their conversation -- about Klein's alliance with 350.org's Bill McKibben, her views on the environmental movement, and the ways in which her struggles to become a parent informed her views on climate (and vice versa). This interview took place on November 8, 2012. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Wen Stephenson: How did your collaboration with Bill McKibben and 350.org come about? What led you personally into this?
Naomi Klein: My first engagement with the climate issue was around the issue of climate debt. I was actually doing research about reparations for slavery, writing a long piece for Harper's, in 2008. I've always been very interested in the Durban anti-racism conference [in Durban, South Africa]. In the lead-up to that UN conference in September 2001, the reparations movement in the United States and in Africa really took off. It was becoming incredibly mainstream. Manning Marable was having pieces published in Time magazine, it was on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Naomi Klein, black-clad and sharp-tongued mistress of the global anti-corporate left, friend to Occupiers and scourge of oil barons, stood outside a dressing room backstage at Boston's Orpheum Theatre one night last month, a clear-eyed baby boy on her hip.
"I'm really trying not to play the Earth Mother card," Klein told me over the phone the week before, as she talked about bringing Toma, her first child, into the world. But she didn't need to worry.
Inside the dressing room, she'd been fielding questions from a small gaggle of young reporters alongside 350.org's Bill McKibben, who had invited her to play a key role in the 21-city "Do the Math" climate-movement roadshow that arrived at the sold-out Orpheum that night. With a laugh, Klein noted to the reporters that McKibben's devastatingRolling Stone article last summer, "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" — revealing that the fossil-fuel industry has five times more carbon in its proven reserves, which it intends to extract, than the science says can be burned if we want to avoid climate catastrophe — had received no industry pushback.
Less than three days after Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States, Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute blamed New Yorkers’ resistance to big-box stores for the misery they were about to endure. Writing on Forbes.com, he explained that the city’s refusal to embrace Walmart will likely make the recovery much harder: “Mom-and-pop stores simply can’t do what big stores can in these circumstances,” he wrote.
And the preemptive scapegoating didn’t stop there. He also warned that if the pace of reconstruction turned out to be sluggish (as it so often is) then “pro-union rules such as the Davis-Bacon Act” would be to blame, a reference to the statute that requires workers on public-works projects to be paid not the minimum wage, but the prevailing wage in the region.