Boken On Fire consists of a series of texts and lectures from 2010 to 2019 – a period in which the situation worsened enough for that turning point forcing himself forward. As in previous books, Klein's speeches are also frontline reports, post-storm Puerto Rico or from indigenous areas in Canada that are being ravaged by the oil industry's fracking projects.
The first text – "A Hole in the World" – is about the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and Klein portrays the false minimization of risk that helped the oil company to obtain the deepwater drilling license. There was "virtually no danger of leaks," and any oil spills would be absorbed and purified by the natural systems. When the disaster was a fact and the hole in the seabed spewed millions of barrels of oil over weeks and months, all illusions of human control burst: The complexity of ecosystems was demonstrated day after day through a series of fatal and unpredictable effects.
Klein describes a meeting in Louisiana where a BP representative serves up foggy talks about how the company promises to do everything they can to improve their efforts, and that they are doing everything in their power to speak to a local fisherman who says: " We've had enough, we no longer trust you. " You pretend you know, but you know nothing – becomes the motto for the settlement of politicians and elites who have lost all credibility – a chorus that is also repeated in various forms by Greta Thunberg.
When Greta Thunberg arrived in New York, she was, among other things, welcomed by Klein, who gives much room for Thunberg's uncompromising criticism in the book's introduction. Klein has even helped cut through the lies that have hindered climate action. IN On Fire Among other things, she describes her visit as a critical observer at the annual congress of The Heartland Institute, the most important think tank for conservative libertarian climate realists, which The Guardian reported in October has received (indirect) support from, among others, Google.¹ The Heartland Institute, referred to as lie factory, is known from its work with tobacco giant Philip Morris and may have contributed to Americans' belief in man-made climate changes fell from 71 percent in 2007 to 44 percent in 2011.
The Heartland Institute describes climate change as the perfect fight for the left: "[The] grant that we have to do everything they want to do anyway." The Conservatives see science as a cover for political interests, but as Klein says: When the capitalists feel that the climate issue is an attack on everything they stand for, they are absolutely right! They have really understood the situation, namely that their solidarity exploits, overconsumption and growth economy are the very problem the environmentalists want to put to life. Klein's alternative is The New Green Deal – as presented by, among other things, the young congresswoman Ocazio-Cortez and the Sunrise movement – a program that is also supported by all the major climate movements.
New Green Deal
"When science recommends political revolution as the only solution to climate problems," as it says in one of Klein's titles, the time is ripe for a drastic change. Together with the populist and racist tensions in the United States and the rest of the West, the climate situation can withstand a comparison with the period in the US in the 1930 century, according to Klein. Then Franklin D. Roosevelt got a breakthrough for his New Deal program of welfare and social planning, precisely because tensions in society made such measures the only alternative to a revolution and a political uprising. Klein recalls that environmental problems were also part of the backdrop for Roosevelt's program: The Dust Bowl, a result of deforestation and unruly agricultural practices.
The New Green Deal is a draft of a climate justice policy: It primarily involves a downturn in the carbon industry, but also a shift in power and resources. The big companies that pollute should be forced to pay for a green shift and a new infrastructure. The argument is that this will create economic growth and can thus be combined with a strong welfare policy. The constellation of power that creates social injustice is the same one that creates continued pollution and an irresponsible climate policy, Klein insists.
Klein points out that climate change action paralysis is a form of historically poor timing: Climate change awareness began to emerge at the end of the 1980 century, just as neoliberalism reached its peak with free global markets, privatization and deregulation. If we have lost control, it is because we have listened to those who say we should let go of everything. If we lack a plan, it is because we have been told that planning is counterproductive.
Disillusioned voters in the West must first and foremost regain the belief that we can change society and act politically. We no longer have to accept conservative pessimism with the claim that it is the short-term and selfish "human nature" that prevents us from doing anything about climate change. As Klein points out with a well-laid sarcasm, there are plenty of political leaders in the global South "who have actually been able to care for future generations, despite being human".
It is quite possible that society can change quickly and fundamentally, Klein argues, but not through sheer cuts, taxes and cuts, which will create counter-reactions and relapse, as in the yellow west of France. Excessively flexible solutions like carbon quota trading are just a bluff. The solution must be help with restructuring and retraining and new labor markets, as we have seen in part in the green shift in Germany. Similarly, it is unacceptable å take responsibility for injured parties in other countries and climate refugees at the border: Isolationism contributes to international conflicts. The rich countries have a duty to change before the poor countries have to do so, Klein believes.
It must become a democratic people's demand that the large, powerful oil companies that have contributed to the damage must undertake the transformation to a sustainable society. Without using investments in the green shift as a pretext to pump up the rest of the oil reserves, as we see in Norway.
Klein argues that solving all the problems at once is not only possible, but necessary. And as she says in the speech to the English Labor Party, reproduced in the book: "Winning is a moral imperative. There is too much at stake, and the time is too short for us to aim lower. ”If anyone thinks rhetoric is overbearing, we need to remind ourselves that climate scientists say that with our" business as usual "attitude we are on heading toward an 4 – 5 degree warming, a scenario the researchers describe as “incompatible with a global civilization”. There is a great deal that needs to be put into place to make the carbon economy viable in a decade, but it is imperative. If the plan is lacking, it is up to us to improve it. The world is at stake in the next decade's electoral matches – and there will be no rethink.
1.The Guardian11. October 2019