I thought by now it would be ungentlemanly to keep piling on Naomi Klein’s ridiculous climate-change-means-we-have-to-smash-capitalism book, This Changes Everything. But then I ran across Elizabeth Kolbert’s review of Klein in the latest edition of the New York Review of Books, and I can’t resist. Kolbert is one of the most distraught of the climatistas, and writes the doomiest of the gloom-and-doom climate articles in The New Yorker and elsewhere. And even she can’t stand Klein’s book, if you read between the lines carefully toward the end:
Klein goes so far as to argue that the environmental movement has itself become little more than an arm (or perhaps one should say a column) of the fossil fuel industry. . .
The need to reduce carbon emissions is, ostensibly, what This Changes Everything is all about. Yet apart from applauding the solar installations of the Northern Cheyenne, Klein avoids looking at all closely at what this would entail. She vaguely tells us that we’ll have to consume less, but not how much less, or what we’ll have to give up. At various points, she calls for a carbon tax. This is certainly a good idea, and one that’s advocated by many economists, but it hardly seems to challenge the basic logic of capitalism. Near the start of the book, Klein floats the “managed degrowth” concept, which might also be called economic contraction, but once again, how this might play out she leaves unexplored. Even more confoundingly, by end of the book she seems to have rejected the idea. “Shrinking humanity’s impact or ‘footprint,’” she writes, is “simply not an option today.”
In place of “degrowth” she offers “regeneration,” a concept so cheerfully fuzzy I won’t even attempt to explain it. Regeneration, Klein writes, “is active: we become full participants in the process of maximizing life’s creativity.”
Kolbert concludes by saying that everyone in the climatista kamp is lying about there being solutions to climate change, including Klein. So Kolbert’s real complaint in the end is that Klein gets further to the left on the matter, but is still pollyannish about the realities of the world. But isn’t that what being an anti-capitalist utopian is all about?