Naomi Klein – This Changes Everything

Book Review: This Changes Everything – Written by Naomi Klein

Review Written By: Areej Riaz

People say don’t judge a book by its cover. This book’s cover said, “Once a decade, Naomi Klein writes a book that redefines its era. No logo did so for globalization. This Changes Everything is about to upend the debate about the stormy era already upon us.”

Needless to say, I judged the cover. I formed a spontaneous impression about the book which made me grab it and read it cover to cover within a week, curious to find if the book did the trick – if it does, indeed, ‘change’ the discourse.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, is about the environmental rationale for social and economic reform. Naomi Klein, a former climate denier, writes through her experiences of studying and learning about the politics and science of climate change, exploring the need to change economic systems and, political and social structures to survive the climate crisis. 

Naomi questions why government policies and laws around the world challenge climate action when there is clear evidence of opportunities for financial gain. The book questions and explores why trade agreements contradict climate action? Why governments won’t get off of fossil fuels when it would bolster economy? Why people feel threatened by climate revolutions and movements?

 “The real reason why we are failing to rise on the climate moment is because the actions required directly challenge our reigning economic paradigm (deregulated capitalism combined with public austerity), the stories on which Western cultures are founded (that we stand apart from nature and can outsmart its limits), as well as many of the activities that form our identities and define our communities (shopping, living virtually, shopping some more)”.

I agree with Klein: there is a lot keeping us from redefining capitalism in light of the climate crisis. Her critique is not limited to peoples’ denial and reluctance to change status quo, she also targets faulty policies and decision making which fail to understand the urgency of the climate crisis, thus failing to adequately respond.  She defines challenges and recommends necessary changes in economy, culture, energy and agriculture markets, reiterating Stern Review’s finding that climate change is “the greatest market failure the world has ever seen”.

My personal favorite part in the book is her take down of big names in the industry that seemingly champion green reforms, and yet are not keen to accept the radical changes needed to stay within recommended levels of Greenhouse Gas Emissions rise. The dismissive list ranges from clean tech capitalists and planet geoengineering enthusiasts to big green groups and billionaires that are well-known household names!                                         

Klein’s foremost recommendation is to be open minded and flexible, as processes will need to be rebuilt and reinvented, but this presents an ideal opportunity to correct the structural flaws in the socioeconomic and political systems that have remain largely unchallenged.

Hands down, this is a thoroughly researched book, with name dropping at every other page. It’s a who’s who of environment sector, but it could also be controversial as not everyone will agree with Klein’s analysis or her suggested solutions.  If you love the art of storytelling which is based on author’s personal experiences, research and evidence backed facts, this is the book to read. Naomi takes us through the undulating parts of climate discourse from trade conversations to green tech to climate conferences and everything in between. The book unearths dramatic truths, failures and hypocrisies, and fantastic criticisms. It is definitely a pleasure to be part of her journey, which began from denying the impacts of changing climate to urging governments, private corporations, civil society and communities to transform the current capitalistic environment.