Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Changes Everything, possibly

I'm reading This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. A big, fat book with nothing on the front fly leaf but the title in a big, bold font. It needs to be big, I guess. Its subject is bigger than Santa Clause, terrorism, Buddha, democracy, free trade, the weather or the healthful benefits of regular exerciseall rolled into one.

            Lots of people have read it; but I'm guessing lots have also started it and put it down. Too much like surgery with no anesthetic. I'm only up to page 100 and my hands are already dripping with metaphorical blood.

            For example: the devastation awaiting civilization as a consequence of climate change may have reached the point of no return and all we can hope for is that we will soon muster the will to begin mitigation. We're pretty much into the chemotherapy/radiation stage of climate change and the prognosis for full recovery is not good. We've smoked too many cigarettes for too long; prevention can no longer be considered a viable strategy.

            Klein demonstrates a whole whack of stuff that we've been denying/neglecting/hiding-under-the-bed-from. For instance, she outlines with examples how the whole free trade/globalization movement of the last few decades is diametrically opposed to environmental protection; an Ontario company making state of the art solar panels is going to go under because free-trade partners protested that its hire-local policies transgressed the fairness rules of the free trade agreement. Extrapolate that to all the other regulations that will make it impossible to follow independent, innovative environmental policies and plans and it's obvious that the corporate, capitalist machine has us by the short and curliesexactly where they've always wanted us. "Consume, consume, consume and shut up!"

            Well, that's just an example. For me, the frustration of reading material like this without any apparent means to influence the consequences of the capitalistic, free trade/growth juggernaut is pretty debilitating by now. Makes me want to crawl under the bed with a pail full of chocolates, a stack of Archie comics and no reason to come out from there . . . ever.

            Come to think of it, that's exactly what I'm doing, actually. Personally curtailing self-indulgences won't be nearly enough: driving to the city to pick up a parcel that could have been mailed, leaving unused lights on, engaging in unnecessary, extremely polluting air travel (twice as much per passenger as by car; four times as much as by train). None of this is going to solve the dilemma our unborn great-grandchildren (of which I will never have any, but you might) will be facing when all the world's resorts are submerged, drought-ridden third world countries turn on the West for having created the mess and all the food-growing ecosystems have been thrown completely out of whack.

            What Naomi Klein is suggesting here is no less than a political/economic reversal, a revolution if you will. What is tragic for us is that a compliant population in Canada today hasn't the information, the courage, the willor all threeto insist that a realistic appraisal of the menace of free-trade/growth/capitalism vs. the future be done. It's becoming more and more clear that we won't even insist that the government we elect begin to plan for the mitigation of what is already manifest in terms of human life on the planet. Polls are showing that we're headed for a minority Conservative or Liberal government, neither of which possess the smarts nor the will to come to grips with the enormous problem we're facing. Throw the NDP into that basket as well, while we're at it. All three are clearly planning little past their strategies for winning election.

            And today, messing with the status quo is not seen as a vote getter.


            Anyone want to join me under the bed? Oh, sorry. I see you're already here with me. Have a chocolate.          



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