Naomi Klein is the star of the new American left. At 44, the writer and activist has twice written blockbusters combining ground-level reporting and economic analysis that challenged people to take a hard look at what they took for granted: their shopping choices, America’s place in the world, and the devastating effects of arcane trade policy and rampant free market ideology. Along the way she gained a following that spans academics, celebrities and street and factory protesters.
Her first book, No Logo, about the power of brands over sweatshop workers in Asia who made the products (and the consumers in America and Europe who consumed them), politicised a generation of twentysomethings. It became the handbook of the anti- globalisation protests, and inspired two Radiohead albums.
Seven years later, her second book, Shock Doctrine, analysed how wars, coups and natural disasters were used as a pretext to impose so-called “free market” measures. Now Klein is back, writing about capitalism, only this time the fate of the entire planet is at stake. With her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, Klein hopes to set off the kind of powerful mass movement that could – finally – produce the radical changes needed to avoid a global warming catastrophe and fix capitalism at the same time. She argues that we have all been thinking about the climate crisis the wrong way around: it’s about capitalism – not carbon – the extreme anti-regulatory version that has seized global economies since the 1980s and has set us on a course of destruction and deepening inequality.
“I think we are on a collision course,” she says. Twenty-five years ago, when the first climate scientist was called to testify to Congress and make global warming a policy challenge, there might have still been time for big industries to shrink their carbon footprints. But governments at the time were seized with the idea that there should be no restraints on industry. “During that time,” Klein writes, “we also expanded the road from a two lane, carbon-spewing highway to a six-lane superhighway.”
When we meet in her Toronto home, Klein is juggling a schedule that combines the standard author book readings and television interviews and planning for an event in New York City billed as the biggest climate march ever seen. Her husband, film-maker Avi Lewis, is out shooting a companion film due for release in January. The two text back and forth during our chat.
On Sept. 22 and 23, the United Nations will host separate daylong conferences on two issues of incalculable importance to the future of humanity: population and climate change. Though the two meetings will take place just one day apart, neither is likely to refer to the other. And that will be a missed opportunity, because scientific research increasingly affirms that the two issues are linked in many ways.
The population gathering in the General Assembly on Sept. 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. The next day’s summit has been convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for government and business leaders to brainstorm ideas for addressing climate change.
The coincidence of these meetings occurring a day apart offers a teachable moment for the global decision-makers gathering in New York. Actions to promote the well-being of women might produce mutually reinforcing benefits in both areas.
Population, the lives and status of women, and climate change are rarely linked at the United Nations — or in any other intergovernmental conversations, for that matter. Intuitively, it’s easy to understand that the growth of world population from 1 billion people at the start of the Industrial Revolution to 7.3 billion today has something to do with the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But most of the climate change the world is currently experiencing stems from decades of carbon-intense development by the world’s wealthier countries. These countries’ populations are growing much more slowly (and in a few cases not at all), compared to those of poorer countries with low greenhouse-gas emissions. So what’s population got to do with climate change today?
That’s a question researchers are beginning to answer. Published science presents growing evidence for climate-population linkage that is complex, far more nuanced than the conventional “rich-versus-poor” debate, and worth working to understand.
Continue reading at: http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related
HAMBURG, Germany — Europe is living through a new wave of anti-Semitism. The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews calls it the worst the Continent has seen since World War II. He may well be right. Attacks on synagogues are an almost weekly occurrence, and openly anti-Semitic chants are commonplace on well-attended marches from London to Rome. And yet it is here, in Germany, where the rise in anti-Semitism is most historically painful.
On Sunday, thousands of people marched through Berlin in response, and heard both Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck denounce the resurgence in anti-Jewish hatred.
We’ve seen this before, of course. But there’s an important difference this time. The new anti-Semitism does not originate solely with the typical white-supremacist neo-Nazi; instead, the ugly truth that many in Europe don’t want to confront is that much of the anti-Jewish animus originates with European people of Muslim background.
Until recently, Germany has been unwilling to discuss this trend. Germans have always seen Muslim anti-Semitism as a less problematic version of the “original” version, and therefore a distraction from the well-known problem of anti-Jewish sentiment within a majority of society.
And yet the German police have noted a disturbing rise in the number of people of Arabic and Turkish descent arrested on suspicion of anti-Semitic acts in recent years, especially over the last several months. After noticing an alarming uptick in anti-Semitic sentiment among immigrant students, the German government is considering a special fund for Holocaust education.
Of course, anti-Semitism didn’t originate with Europe’s Muslims, nor are they its only proponents today. The traditional anti-Semitism of Europe’s far right persists. So, too, does that of the far left, as a negative byproduct of sympathy for the Palestinian liberation struggle. There’s also an anti-Semitism of the center, a subcategory of the sort of casual anti-Americanism and anticapitalism that many otherwise moderate Europeans espouse.
But the rise of Muslim anti-Semitism is responsible for the recent change in the tone of hate in Germany. Until recently, the country’s anti-Semitism has been largely coded and anonymous. Messages might be spray-painted on walls at night; during the day, though, it would be rare to hear someone shout, as protesters did in Berlin in July, “Jews to the gas!” Another popular slogan at this and other rallies was “Jew, coward pig, come out and fight alone!” — shouted just yards from Berlin’s main Holocaust memorial. And this is the difference today: An anti-Semitism that is not only passionate, but also unaware of, or indifferent to, Germany’s special history.