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This Changes Everything

In our world of click-bait articles and alarmist news, I think it is easy to forget the transformative power a book can have on a person's life (I would say that our attention span is wearth saving, but that's another post). Earlier this year, I read This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein, which really changed how I looked at the climate crisis and its solutions. Here is a book talk I wrote for school about it (I love my school!). 

Is there some problem in this world which you dream of solving? Maybe achieving gender parity, ending hunger, or stoping racism. What if there was something that mobilized people everywhere with goals like this to unite in order to create the world they wished for? This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein, is about an issue with the potential to do just this - to recreate society. It is about the climate crisis. 

We all know this is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. For us to have an opportunity for any sort of decent future, developed countries need to start reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 8-10% a year, starting in 2020. For context of how radical a target that is, Canada’s current goal is to reduce our emissions just 30% by 2030. If we’re already having trouble doing this, how are we supposed to take the much more drastic action truly necessary? Only by rethinking the way we do, well, everything. As Klein writes, “Climate change isn’t an ‘issue’ to add to the list of things to worry about… It is a civilizational wake up call”. 

The first part of the book expands more on this, discussing how many of our current systems serve as barriers to climate action - for example, free trade agreements and the myth of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. In order to address climate change, we need to address the underlying systems that caused the problem in the first place. We can’t heal our climate without healing the deep divisions in our society. And if we don’t heal our climate, then these divisions will just get worse. The second section tackles many of the false solutions commonly put forward to address the crisis, including how neither billionaires, conventional green groups, nor geoengineering is going to save us.

The third section presents solutions, focussing on different groups around the world who are fighting to protect their land from resource extraction.  The crisis will disproportionally affect those who didn’t cause it, further exacerbating existing divisions and inequalities. The millions of people facing starvation due to warmer temperatures in Ethiopia and Somalia, are not the same ones responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions which caused this. We are, but we aren’t feeling as strongly the affects of our actions. This is the inherent inequality of the climate crisis.

The message is that we must rise up and save ourselves before it’s too late, creating a more just and equitable world in the process. This won’t just happen. It will require hard work by everyone, everywhere, but it would be well worth it. Business as usual is literally not an option. We can’t push forward with our current destructive system forever. Something must change, and we get to pick whether it will be our flawed social order or 
our climate

What I liked most about this book is how it gave me hope. It can feel like there’s just no future, and that nothing we can do would help. Instead, this book presented a future even better than the present. 

Caring about climate change is not just for the tree hugging environmentalists. In this new movement, there’s a place for all of us. No matter what you are passionate about, no matter what change you want to see in the world, the fight for climate justice can be the uniting force that makes it happen.

But don’t just take my word for it. If what I’ve been saying sounds remotely interesting, terrifying, or inspiring to you, please, please read this book. If everybody did, and committed to its convincing thesis, I believe that, well - that might just change everything
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