by Naomi Klein
Rare is it for a book to come along and give you something significant to think about, that sticks with you long after you finish reading––if not fundamentally changing your outlook. I suppose saying that This Changes Everything is such a book shouldn’t be overly surprising, given the title. However, such a title started off looking more like a matter of hubris on the part of the author, greatly overrating her persuasiveness. The text gets bogged down early, with Klein seeking out to defend herself against her potential detractors, employing the tone of a conspiracy theorist or closet-socialist that she stresses she is not. (We soon learn that there’s no closet involved with her ideology.) This voice seems likely to scare off the moderates Klein is attempting to recruit in her struggle; I felt that a less reactionary, defensive tone, allowing the facts presented to buttress her proposed solutions would have been more effective than writing at length about the conspiracy theories of the Koch brothers and other climate change deniers.
Then, after about the first chapter, something changed. Suddenly, Klein became much more lucid in her radical argument, of the necessity of dismantling the current unfettered capitalist economic model to properly address the environmental crisis we find ourselves within, and the urgency with which it must be done. She makes an effective case of the problem at hand by presenting many hopeless-seeming real-world scenarios at every turn: governments and corporations taking advantage of the most vulnerable; devastating whole countries; and ruining entire industries, as well as human health, with oil spills and pollutant-spewing factories. And yet, throughout, Klein remains hopeful with her arguments of how we can effect an actual change before it’s too late, keeping a text that easily could have been a non-stop bring-down quite inspirational.
While you may not agree with her proposed methods, it’s hard to argue that we’re fine staying the current course. At worst, This Changes Everything serves to trigger conversation on one of the most important issues of our time; at best, it will help to trigger a change.