Naomi Klein closes her book “ This changes everything – Capitalism vs Climate“ with these words. What`s the challenge?
Climate scientists agree, climate change is happening here and now. About 97% of scientists have concluded that it’s a human-caused climate change.
We find the reason for this human-made development in the economy. The economical deal is cheap labor and dirty energy. This way maximum profit is guaranteed. Before the neoliberal era emission groth had been slown down to an annual increase of about 1 percent. But the millenium was the watershed. Between 2000 and 2009 the growth rate reached 3.4 percent a year, up to 5.9 percent in 2010. When China became the „workshop of the world“ it also became „the spewing chimney of the world“. The same logic that is willing to work labores to the bone for pennies a day, will burn mountains of dirty coal while spending next to nothing on pollution controls, because it`s the cheapest way to produce.
This connection between pollution and exploitation has been true since the earliest days of Industrial Revoltution. But in the past when workers organized to demand better wages, and the city dwellers organized to demand cleaner air, the companies were pretty much forced to improve both, working and environmental standards. That changed with the advent of free trade. Thanks to the removal of virtually all barriers to capital flows, corporations could pick up and leave every time labor costs started rising. That’s why many manufacturers left South Korea in the late 1990s and it’s why now many are leaving China, where wages are climbing, for Bangladesh.
Naomi Klein looks back to 2009 in her book, when a historical change had been possible.The financial crisis had chattered public faith in laissez-faire economics around the world so much, that there was a tremendous support even in the US for breaking long-standing ideological taboos against intervening in the market to create good jobs. That gave Obama the leverage to design a stimulus program worth about 800 billions $ to get the economy moving again. The other extraordinary in this moment was the weak state of the banks. In 2009 they were still on their knees, depending on trillions in bailout funds and loan guarantees. And there was a live debate unfolding about how those banks should be restructured in exchange for all that taxpayer generosity. The other factor at that time was, that two of the Big Three automakers had so badly mismanaged their affairs, they landed in the hand of government. The US government had in those days the historical chance to invoke its newly minted mandate to build the new economy promised on the campaign trail. This chance has been messed up.
What stopped Obama from seizing his historical moment to stabilize the economy and the climate at the same time was not lack of resources or lack of power. He had plenty of both. What stopped him was the invisible confinement of a powerful ideology had convinced him- as it has convinced virtually all his political counterparts – that there is something wrong with telling large corporations how to run their businesses, even if they are running them into the ground.
Okay the game goes on. We have an economy with powerful banks and corporations that are looking for nothing else but the highest possible short term profit and politicians standing helplessly aside. The next crisis doubtlessly will come. If there is any hope for this world at all, it isn’t in climate change rooms and tall government buildings. Hope is only in a broad rethinking away from the stiffling market fundamentalism that has become the greatest enemy to planetary health. The book by Naomi Klein demands „nothing less than a political, economical, social, cultural and moral make over of the human world “ Mike Hulms, New Scientist, in a review of this book.
I think that’s exactly what our world does need.