I read the four books below 18 months ago, in June and July. This will not do, and, I have a plan. I will be revealed together with some other professional/work-related new year's promises I will write about soon. All four books below concern sustainability. Each book "review" starts with a number of asterisks which represents the number of quotes from that book further down in this blog post.
about books I have read.
On the costs of flying more:
"Stern’s report shows that the dollar losses of failing to prevent a high degree of global warming outweigh the dollar savings arising from not taking action. It therefore makes economic sense to try to prevent runaway climate change. But what if the result had been different? What if he had discovered that the profits accruing from burning more fossil fuels exceed the social cost of carbon? We would then find that it makes economic sense to kill people. That sounds ridiculous. But it was, in effect, the conclusion of another report commissioned by the British government, and written by the former chief executive of British Airways, Sir Rod Eddington. Though he never spelt it out in these terms … Eddington discovered that it makes economic sense for people to die in order that we can travel more. … I do not believe we have the right to make that decision."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xii-xiii.
On George W Bush as a climate campaigner in comparison to Donald Trump:
"After years of obfuscation, denial and lies about climate change, all but the most hardened recidivists in the US government are rebranding themselves as friends of the earth. In February, two senior White House officials published and open letter seeking to correct inaccurate stories in the press ’that the President’s concern about climate change is new.’ ’In fact’, they reported, ’climate change has been a top priority since the President’s first year in office’. To prove it, they had found 37 words he said about the subject in 2001; 46 words in 2002, and 32 words in January 207. In January 2007 he had even managed to say ’climate change’. This demonstrated, they claimed, that he has shown ’continued leadership on the issue’."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xv
On the shallow environmentalism of the middle-class:
"we can no longer blame the slowth of the global response to climate change only on governments and corporations. They cannot act until we want them to. At the moment we want it all: palm-fringed beaches, monster trucks, plasma screen TVs and a clean conscience. The middle-class people I know … recycle their bottles and buy handmade candles, organic meat and locally produced vegetables. This permits them to feel that they are on the side of the angels, without being obliged to make any significant change to the way they live. But as soon as they are asked to make a decision which intrudes on the quality or quantity of their lives, their concern about the state of the planet mysteriously evaporates. If the biosphere is wrecked, it will be done by nice, well-meaning, cosmopolitan people who accept the case for cutting emissions, but who won’t change by one iota the way they live."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xvi-xvii
On the interlude between ecological constraint and ecological catastrophe:
"Fossil fuels helped us to fight wars of a horror never contemplated before, but they also reduced the need for war. For the first time in human history … there was a surplus of available energy. We could survive without having to fight someone for the resources we needed. Our freedoms, our comforts, our prosperity are all the products of fossil carbon, whose combustion … is primarily responsible for global warming. Ours are the most fortunate generations that have ever lived. Ours might also be the most fortunate generations that ever will. We inhabit the brief historical interlude between ecological constraint and ecological catastrophe."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xxi
On goverment regulation as the only way to rein in hypocrisy:
"Most environmentalists – and I include myself in this – are hypocrites. … We might buy eco-friendly washing-up liquid and washable nappies. But we cancel out any carbon savings we might have made ten thousand-fold whenever we step on to an aeroplane. Our efforts are tokenistic. By and large, whatever our beliefs might be, we consume as much as our incomes allow. Environmentalism is for other people. What this means is that changes of the kind I advocate in this book cannot take place without constraints which apply to everyone, rather than to everyone else. … The role of government must be to establish the limits of action, but to guarantee the maximum of freedom within those limits."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xxiv-xxv
On staying in bed as a virtuous act:
"I have one purpose of writing this book: to persuade you that climate change is worth fighting. I hope I have been able to demonstrate that it is not - as some people ... have claimed - too late. ... Failing all that, I have one last hope: that I might make people so depressed about the state of the planet that they stay in bed all day, thereby reducing their consumption of fossil fuels."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.xxix
On love destroying the world:
"The effort to tackle climate change suffers from the problem of split incentives: those who are least responsible for it are the most likely to suffer its effects. … asking wealthy people in the rich nations to act to prevent climate change means asking them to give up many of the things they value … for the benefit of other people. The problem is compounded by the fact that the connection between cause and effect seems so improbable. By turning on the lights, filling the kettle, taking the children to school, driving to the shops, we are condemning other people to death. … Many of those things we have understood to be good – even morally necessary – must also now be seen as bad. Perhaps the most intractable cause of global warming is ’love miles’: the distance you must to travel to visit friends and partners and relatives on the other side of the planet. The world could be destroyed by love."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.21-22
On Exxon funding the climate deniers:
"Among the organizations that have been funded by Exxon are some well-know websites and lobby groups, such as TechCentralStation, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Some of those on the list have names which make them look like grassroots citizens’ organizations or academic bodies: the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change … the National Wetlands Coalition; the National Environmental Policy Institute; the American Council on Science and Health. … By funding a large number of organizations, Exxon helps to create the impression that doubt about climate change is widespread. For those who do not understand that scientific findings cannot be trusted if they have not appeared in peer-reviewed journals, the names of these institutes help to suggest that serious researchers are challenging the consensus. … On the whole, they … will find one contradictory study … and promote it relentlessly. They will continue to do so long after it has been disproved by further work. "
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.28
On professional climate-change deniers:
"the people who have been paid by Exxon are not, as they claim, ’climate skeptics’. They do not fit the ususal definition of ’skeptic’ … They are members of a public relations industry, which begins with a conclusion and then devises arguments to support it. … One of the reasons why the professional climate-change deniers have been so successful in penetrating the media is that the story they have to tell is one that people want to hear."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.40
Nobody ever riots for austerity:
"the thought that worries me most is this. As people in the rich countries … begin to wake up to what the science is saying, climate-change denial will look as stupid as Holocaust denial … But our response will be to demand that the government acts, while hoping that it doesn’t. We will wish our governments to pretend to act. We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want them to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.41-42.
On the politics of energy labeling:
"While energy labeling in the European Union has improved, the manufacturing companies have done their best to make it as confusing as possible. For example, companies selling fridges and freezers in the EU are obliged to give them labels showing how much electricity they consume. At first the sequence ran from A to G … and the expectation was that the standard for every category would be steadily raised as time went by. But instead of doing this, the European Commission, under ’political pressure by the manufacturers’ simply added two new categories to the scheme: A+ and A++. So the appliance now sold as grade ’A’ should in fact be grade ’C’ … In October 2005, a group of manufacturing countries, including the United States, China and South Korea, sought to persuade the World Trade Organisation that all energy labels ware a ’barrier to free trade’ and should be made illegal."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.75
On the case for more local governance:
"big, expensive schemes often find more favour with governments than small, cheap ones. This is partly because a small number of large projects is easier to administer than a large number of small ones. But it is also because the bigger and more expensive a project is, the more powerful the lobby which demands that it be approved. Nuclear power stations can be built only by large construction companies, and large construction companies swing more weight with the government than the small operators hoping to install wind turbines."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.94
On the paradox of mass movement:
"In managing our transport systems, our governments must constantly negotiate the paradox of mass movement. They must create a system which, for the sake of speed and efficiency, treats us like a herd … At the same time it must grant us the illusion of autonomy. The song of the open road, the pictures in the advertisements of cars on lonely mountain passes, the names of the vehicles, especially the all-terrain vehicles which seldom venture beyon the suburbs – Defender, Explorer, Pathfinder, Cherokee, Touareg – all speak of a freedom which is not to be found on our highways. … The faster cars become and the more the roads fill with traffic, the greater the tension between the metaphor and reality."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.142-144
On the absurdity of Disney's existence:
"Until 2004, the highest-paid executive in the world, Michael Eisner of Disney, ran a corporation whose core business was that of investing animals with human characteristics, a practice by which the first hunters … came to know their prey"
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.143
On the evils of biofuels:
"we have a finite amount of agricultural land and of the water required to irrigate it. … When biofuels are widely deployed, they will help precipitate a global humanitarian disaster … The European Union’s target of 20 per cent [biodiesel] by 2020 … could be great enough to push hundreds of millions of people into starvation, as the price of food rises beyond their means. … The market respons to money, not need. People who own cars – by definition – have more money than people at risk of starvation … In a contest between cars and people, the cars would win. Something rather like this is happening already. Though 800 million people are permanently malnourished, the global increase in crop production is being used mostly to feed animals … The reason is that those who buy meat and dairy products have more purchasing power than those who buy only subsistence crops."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.158-159
On the double morals of pretending to being ethical:
"Thinking like ethical people, dressing like ethical people, decorating our homes like ethical people makes not a damn of difference unless we also behave like ethical people. … While it is easy for us to pour scorn on the drives of sports utility vehicles, whose politics generally differs from ours, it is rather harder to contemplate a word in which our own freedoms are curtailed, especially the freedoms which shaped us. … Who could be surprised to discover that ’ethical’ people are in denial about the impacts of flying?"
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.172
On why flying is worse than driving:
"There are … reasons why flying dwarfs any other impact a single person can exert. The first is the distance it permits us to cover. … the carbon emissions per passenger mile ’for a fully loaded cruising airliner are comparable to a passenger car carrying three of four people’. … But while the mean distance travelled by car in the United Kingdom is 9,200 miles per year, in a plane we ca beat that in one day. On a return flight from London to New York, every passenger produces roughly 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide: the very quantity we will each be entitled to emit in a year once a 90 per cent cut in emissions has been made."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.173
On who benefits from flying:
"Faced with both the lobbying power and the aspirations of their customers, hardly any government appears to be brave enough to stand up to the airlines. The British Department for Transport, like the airline industry, claims that expanding airport capacity is ’’socially inclusive’, in that it enables poorer people to fly. But … people in social classes D ad E (at the bottom of the official economic scale) scarcely fly at all. Though flights are often very cheap, they can’t afford to take foreign holidays: even in the age of the 50p ticket, people in these classes buy just 6 per cent of the tickets. … 75 per cent of those who use budget airlines are in social classes A, B and C."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.177
On how cutting emissions means cutting flight:
"Even the British government, which at other times manages to find its way to the conclusions the aviation industry requires, admits that ’there is no viable alternative currently visible to kerosene as an aviation fuel’ There is, in other words, no technofix. The growth in aviation and the need to address climate change cannot be reconciled. … a 90 per cent cut in emissions requires not only that growth stops, but that most of the planes which are flying today are grounded. I recognize that this will not be a popular message. But it is hard to see how a different conclusion could be extracted from the available evidence."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.182
On airships as an alternative to airplanes:
"Total climate impact [of airships] is 80-90 per cent lower than that of aircraft. … They have a range of up to 10,000 kilometers. But, though faster than ships, their top speeds are currently confined to around 130 kmph: a flight from London to New York would take about 43 hours. They also have trouble landing and taking off in high winds and making way if the wind is against them. This makes both take-off times and journey times less reliable than those of jets. … A 90 per cent cut in carbon emissions means the end of distant foreign holidays, unless you are prepared to take a long time getting there."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.185-187
On air flight vs other energy needs:
"If long-range propeller planes took the place of jets … and flew below the level at which condensation trails are formed, we might be able to get away with a smaller [than 90 per cent] reduction. The alternative is to cut the carbon emissions produced by other parts of the economy by more than 90 per cent in order to accommodate a greater contribution from flying. To do this, we would have to argue that flying is more important than heating or lighting. As it is practiced only by those who are – in global terms – rich, this argument would be difficult to sustain. … these privations affect a tiny proportion of the world’s people. The reason they seem so harsh is that this tiny proportion almost certainly includes you."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.186-187
On hoping for the impossible
"at the back … of the mind of everyone who has considered these matters, is the notion that, however real our predicament and the difficulties of escaping from it seem, they cannot possibly be true. Someone or something will save us. A faith in miracles grades seamlessly into excuses for inaction. The first of these is the hope that many people place – that I sometimes catch myself placing – in unproven technologies. Surely ’they’ – the unidentifiable, omnipotent scientists who have taken the place of God and lurk always on the fringes of our consciousness – won’t let the collapse of the biosphere happen. Within the necessary timeframe, indeed, so our imaginations tell us, in the nick of time, they will deliver us from evil by inventing a device which harnesses nuclear fusion, artificial photosynthesis, ’hydrinos’ or solar power on the moon. … The second miracle of deliverance, or excuse for inaction, is related to the first one: a belief that a new technology will permit us either to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere once it has been released, or to cool the planet by artifical means."
Monbiot, G. (2007). Heat, p.206-208
On politics vs climate change:
"Climate change has never received the crisis treatment from our leaders, despite the fact that it carries the risk of destroying lives on a vastly greater scale than collapsed banks or collapsed buildings. The cuts to our greenhouse gas emissions that scientists tell us are necessary in order to greatly reduce the risk of catastrophe are treated as nothing more than gentle suggestions, actions that can be put of pretty much indefinitely."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.6.
On the impotence of the U.N. climate summits:
"the only thing rising faster than our emissions is the output of words pledging to lower them. Meanwhile, the annual U.N. climate summit, which remains the best hope for a political breakthrough on climate action, has started to seem less like a forum for serious negotiation than a very costly and high-carbon group therapy session, a place for the representatives of the most vulnerable countries in the world to vent their grief and rage while low-level representatives of the nations largely responsible for their tragedies stare at their shoes."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.11
On politics vs climate change:
"climate change has become an existential crisis for the human species. The only historical precedent for a crisis of this depth and scale was the Cold War fear that we were heading toward nuclear holocaust, which would have made much of the planet uninhabitable. But that was (and remains) a threat; a slim possibility, should geopolitics spiral out of control. The vast majority of nuclear scientists never told us that we were almost certainly going to put our civilization in peril if we kept going about our daily lives as usual, doing exactly what we were already doing, which is what the climate scientists have been telling us for years."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.15
On why we fail to decrease greenhouse gas emissions:
"we are not doing the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would have given us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.18
On the war between the economic system and the planetary system:
"the things we must do to avoid catastrophic warming … are now in conflict with the fundamental imperative at the heart of our economic model: grow or die. … the bottom line is what matters here: our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with the many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.21
On where the denialists’ arguments come from:
"At the [right-wing think tank] Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change [in 2011] most of the speakers are not even scientists but rather hobbyists: engineers, economists, and lawyers, mixed in with a weatherman, an astronaut, and a ”space architect” – all convinced they have outsmarted 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists with their back-of-the-envelope calculations. … the true purpose of the gathering [is to provide] a forum for die-hard denialists to collect their rhetorical cudgels with which they will attempt to club environmentalists and climate scientists in the weeks and months to come. The talking points tested here will jam the comment sections beneath every article and YouTube video that contains the phrase ”climate change” or ”global warming.” They will also fly from the mouths of hundreds of right-wing commentators and politicians – from Republican presidential hopefuls all the way down to county commissioners"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.32-34
On fact resistance:
"According to Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project, [one’s] political leanings or ideological outlook … explains ”individuals’ belief about global warming more powerfully than any other individual characteristic.” More powerfully, that is, than age, ethnicity, education, or party affiliation. … the lead author on this study … attributes the tight correlation between ”worldview” and acceptance of climate science to ”cultural cognition,” the process by which all of us … filter new information in ways that will protect our ”preferred vision of the good society.” If new information seems to confirm that vision, we welcome it and integrate it easily. If it poses a threat to our belief system, then our brain immediately gets to work producing intellectual antibodies designed to repel the unwelcome invasion. … In other words, it is always easier to deny reality than to allow our worldview to be shattered [and] leftists are equally capable of denying inconvenient scientific evidence."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.36-37
On the climate vs right-wing think tanks:
"If the dire projections coming out of the IPCC are left unchallenged, and business as usual is indeed driving us straight toward civilzation-threatening tipping points, then the implications are obvious: the ideological crusade incubated in think tanks [on the far right] will have to come to a screeching halt. … They know very well that ours is a global economy created by, and fully reliant upon, the burning of fossil fuels and that a dependency that foundational cannot be changed with a few gentle market mechanisms. It requires heavy-duty intervention: sweeping bans on polluting activities, deep subsidies for green alternatives, pricey penalties for violation, new taxes, new public work programs, reversals of privatizations – the list of ideological outrages goes on and on. Everything, in short, that these think tanks … have been attacking for decades."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.39
On why hardcore conservatives *have* to doubt climate change:
"More fundamentally than any of this, though, is [hardcore conservatives’] fear that if the free market system really has set in motion physical and chemical processes that, if allowed to continue unchecked, threaten large parts of humanity at an existential level, then their entire crusade to morally redeem capitalism has been for naught. With stakes like these, clearly greed is not so very good after all. And that is what is behind the abrupt rise in climate change denial among hardcore conservatives: they have come to understand that as soon as they admit that climate change is real, they will lose the central ideological battle of our time – whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.40
On why hardcore conservatives *have* to doubt climate change - part II:
"from [the hardcore conservatives’] perspective, the scientific reality of climate change must seem spectacuarly unfair. After all, … how can you win an argument against government intervention if the very habitability of the planet depends on intervening? In the short term, you might be able to argue that the economic costs of taking action are greater than allowing climate change to play out for a few more decades … But most people … tend to have a moral aversion to the idea of allowing countries to disappear because saving them would be too expensive. Which is why the ideological warriors … have concluded that there is really only one way to beat a threat this big: by claiming that thousands upon thousands of scientists are lying and that climate change is an elaborate hoax. That the storms aren’t really getting bigger, it’s just our imagination. And if they are, it’s not because of anything humans are doing – or could stop doing. The deny reality, in other words, because the implications of that reality are, quite simply, unthinkable."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.43
On keeping free market fundamentalists fed and clothed:
"By this point in history … free market fundamentalists should, by all rights, be exiled to a similarly irrelevant status [as neo-Stalinists], left to fondle their copies of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in obscurity. They are saved from this ignominious fate only because their ideas about corporate liberation, no matter how demonstrably at war with reality, remain so profitable to the world’s billionaires that they are kept fed and clothed in think tanks by the likes of Charles and David Koch, owners of the diversified dirty energy giant Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.44
On perceptions of climate change:
"One of the most interesting findings of the many recent studies on climate perceptions is the clear connection between a refusal to accept the science of climate change and social and economic privilege. Overwhelmingly, climate change deniers are not only conservative but also white and male, a group with higher than average incomes. … A much discussed paper on this topic … offer a simple explanation …:
”Conservative white males have disproportionately occupied positions of power within our economic system. Given the expansive challenge that climate change poses to the industrial capitalist economic system, it should not be surprising that conservative while males’ strong system-justifiying attitudes would be triggered to deny climate change.” …
What makes … callousness among deniers possible is their firm belief that if they’re wrong about climate science, a few degrees of warming isn’t something wealthy people in industrialized countries have to worry much about."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.46-47
On writing off huge swaths of humanity:
"most people on the planet who are hit hardest by heat and drought can’t solve their problems by putting a new AC system on their credit cards. And this is where the intersection between extreme ideology and climate denial gets truly dangerous. [The climate denialists’] worldview provides them with the intellectual tools to write of huge swaths of humanity, and indeed, to rationalize profiting from the meltdown."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.48
On insurance companies standing to profit from climate change:
"In the U.S. … the largest [insurance] companies [are] employing teams of climate scientists to help them prepare for the disasters to come. And yet … many companies and trade groups have provided substantial funding to think tanks that created the climate change denial movement. … what many of the insurance companies wanted from [such think-tanks] was not action to prevent climate chaos but rather policies that would safeguard or even increase their profits no matter the weather. That means pushing government out of the subsidized insurance business, giving companies greater freedom to raise rates and deductibles and to drop customers in high-risk areas, as well as other ”free market” measures."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.50
On trade vs climate:
"What is most remarkable about [the] parallel process – trade on the one hand, climate on the other – is the extent to which they function as two solitudes. Indeed, each seemed to actively pretend that the other did not exist, ignoring the most glaring questions about how one would impact the other. Like, for example: How would the vastly increased distances that basic goods would now travel – by carbon-spewing container ships and jumbo jets, as well as diesel trucks – impact the carbon emissions that the climate negotiations were aiming to reduce? How would the aggressive protections for technology patents enshrined under the WTO impact the demands being made by developing nations in the climate negotiations for free transfers of green technologies to help them develop on a low-carbon path? And perhaps most critically, how would provisions that allowed private companies to sue national governments over laws that impinged on their profits dissuade governments from adopting tough antipollution regulations, for fear of getting sued?"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.76
On trade vs climate – part II:
"questions [about the conflict between increased trade and its effect on the climate] were not debated by government negotiators, nor was any attempt made to resolve their obvious contradictions. Not that there was ever any question about which side would win should any of the competing pledges to cut emissions and knock down commercial barriers ever come into direct conflict: the commitments made in the climate negotiations all effectively functioned on the honor system, with a weak and unthreatening mechanism to penalize countries that failed to keep their promises. The commitments made under trade agreements, however, were enforced by a dispute settlement system with real teeth, and failure to comply would land governments in trade court, often facing harsh penalties."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.76-77
On scientists' cowering under the logic of the current economic system:
"Rather than pretending that we can solve the climate crisis without rocking the economic boat, Anderson and Bows-Larkin argue, the time has come to tell the truth, to ”liberate the science from the economics, finance and astrology, stand by the conclusions however uncomfortable … we need to have the audacity to think differently and conceive of alternative futures.” Interestingly, Anderson says that when he presents his radical findings in climate circles, the core facts are rarely disputed. What he hears most often are confessions from colleagues that they have simply given up hope of meeting the 2 degree temperature target, precisely because reaching it would require such a profound challenge to economic growth. … In other words, changing the earth’s climate in ways that will be chaotic and disastrous is easier to accept than the prospect of changing the fundamental, growth-based profit-seeking logic of capitalism."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.88-89
On green consumption vs less consumption:
”So what to do in the meantime? Well, we do what we can. And what we can do – what doesn’t require a technological and infrastructure revolution – is to consume less, right away. Policies based on encouraging people to consume less are far more difficult for our current political class to embrace than policies that are about encouraging people to consume green. Consuming green just means substituting … one model of consumer goods for a more efficient one … indeed, they encourage us to go out and buy more new, efficient, green cars and washing machines. Consuming less, however, means changing … how often we drive, how often we fly, whether our food has to be flown to get to us … how large our homes are. And these are the sort of policies that have been neglected so far.
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.90
And then there was Harvey:
"During good times, it’s easy to deride ”big government” and talk about the inevitability of cutbacks. But during disasters, most everyone loses their free market religion and wants to know that their government has their backs. And if there is one thing we can be sure of, it’s that extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the British floods – disasters that, combined, pummeled coastlines beyond recognition, ravaged millions of homes, and killed many thousands – are going to keep coming."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.107
On exactly who should pay for climate mitigation measures:
"the annual ”British Social Attitudes” survey … asked a set of questions about climate policies in the year 2000, and then again in 2010. … These results, and other like them, have been cited as proof that during times of economic hardship, people’s environmental concerns go out the window. But that is not what these polls prove. Yes, there has been a drop in the willingness of individuals to bear the financial burden of responding to climate change, but not simply because the economic times are hard. Western governments have responded to these hard times … by asking those least responsible for the current condition to bear the burden. After paying for the crisis of the bankers with cuts to education, health care, and social safety nets, is it any wonder that a beleaguered public is in no mood to bail out the fossil fuel companies from the crisis that they not only created but continue to actively worsen? Most of these surveys, notably, don’t ask respondents how they feel about raising taxes on the rich and removing fossil fuel subsidies, yet these are some of the most reliably popular policies around."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.117-118
On rejecting unilateral sacrifices:
"The lesson from all this is not that people won’t sacrifice in he face of the climate crisis. It’s that they have had it with our culture of lopsided sacrifice, in which individuals are asked to pay higher prices for supposedly green choices while large corporations dodge regulation … it is not the ”we” are broke or that we lack options. It is that our political class is utterly unwilling to go where the money is (unless it’s for a campaign contribution), and the corporate class is dead set against paying its fair share."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.118-119
On having plans as being vaguely anti-capitalistic:
"The financial crisis that began in 2008 ”should have been an opportunity to invest in low-carbon infrastructure for the 21st century” … What stopped Obama from seizing his historical moment to stabilize the economy and the climate … was the invisible confinement of a powerful ideology that had convinced him – as it has convinced virtually all of his political counterparts – that … there is something sinister, indeed vaguely communist, about having a plan to build the kind of economy we need, even in the face of an existential crisis. … by the 1980’s, the battle of ideas waged out of the same Washington think tanks that now deny climate change had successfully managed to equate the very idea of industrial planning with Stalin’s five-year plans. Real capitalists don’t plan, these ideological warriors insisted – they unleash the power of the profit motive and let the market, in its infinite wisdom, create the best possible society for all."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.124-125
On winners and losers of a transition away from fossil fuels:
"Any response to the climate crisis that has a chance of success will create not just winners but also a significant number of losers – industries that can no longer exist in their current form and workers whose jobs will disappear. There is little hope of bringing the fossil fuel companies onside to a green transition; the profits they stand to lose are simply too great. That is not the case, however, for the workers whose salaries are currently tied to fossil fuel extraction and combustion. What we know is this: trade unions can be counted on to fiercely protect jobs, however dirty, if these are the only jobs on offer. [But] when workers in dirty sectors are offered good jobs in clean sectors … progress can happen at lightning speed."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.126
On terraforming and terra-deforming:
"Science fiction is rife with fantasies of terraforming – humans traveling to lifeless planets and engineering them into earthlike habitats. The Canadian tar sands are the opposite: terra-deforming. Taking a habitable ecosystem, filled with life, and engineering it into a moonscape where almost nothing can live. … All to access a semisolid form of ”unconventional” oil … that is so difficult and energy-intensive to extract that the process is roughly three to four times as greenhouse gas intensive as extracting conventional oil."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.139
On innovation in the energy sector:
"Increasingly … extreme extraction methods … are being used together, as when fracked natural gas is piped in to superheat the water that melts the bitumen in the tar sands … What industry calls innovation … looks more like the final suicidal throes of addiction. We are blasting the bedrock of our continents, pumping our water with toxins, lopping off mountaintops, scraping off boreal forests, endangering the deep ocean, and scrambling to exploit the melting Arctic … Yes, some very advanced technology is making this possible, but it’s not innovation, it’s madness."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.144-145
On time frames and stranded assets:
"[Fossil fuel] investments won’t be recouped unless the companies that made them are able to keep extracting for decades, since the up-front costs are amortized over the life of the projects. Chevron’s Australia project is expected to keep producing natural gas for at least thirty years, while Shell’s floating gas monstrosity is built to function on that site for up to twentyfive years. Exxon’s Alberta mine is projected to operate for forty years, as is BP/Husky Energy’s enormous Sunrise project, also in the tar sands. … The long time frames attached to all these projects tell us something critical about the assumptions under which the fossil fuel industry is working: it is betting that governments are not going to get serious about emission cuts for the next twenty-five to forty years. … If the companies have miscalculated and we do get serious about leaving carbon in the ground, these huge projects will become what is known as ”stranded assets” – investments that lose their projected value as a result of, for example, dramatic changes in environmental policy. When a company has a great deal of expensive stranded assets on its books, the stock market takes notice"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.146
On running faster and faster just to stay in place:
"For a fossil fuel major, keeping up its reseve-replacement ratio is an economic imperative; without it, the company has no future. It has to keep moving just to stand still. And it is this structural imperative that is pushing the industry into the most extreme forms of dirty energy; there are simply not enough conventional deposits left to keep up the replacement ratios. … That means that an oil company looking to reassure shareholders that it has a plan for what to do, say, when the oil in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay runs out, will be forced to go into higher-risk, dirtier territories. [This] means that, so long as this business model is in place, no coastline or aquifer will be safe."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.147
On promises to shareholders taking precedence over averting a global catastrophe:
"[The fossil fuel] ”industry has announced, in filings to the SEC and in promises to shareholders, that they’re determined to burn five times more fossil fuel than the planet’s atmosphere can begin to absorb.” Those numbers also tell us that the very thing we must do to avert catastrophe … is the very thing these companies cannot contemplate without initiating their own demise. They tell us that getting serious about climate change, which means cutting our emissions radically, is simply not compatible with the continued existence of one of the most profitable industries in the world."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.148
On the (non-)value of nonbinding climate agreements:
"The influence wielded by the fossil fuel lobby goes a long way toward explaining why the sector is so very unconcerned about the nonbinding commitments made by politicians at U.N. climate summits to keep temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. Indeed the day the Copenhagen summit concluded [in 2009] – when the target was made official – the share price of some of the largest fossil fuel companies hardly reacted at all. Clearly, intelligent investors had determined that the promises governments made in that forum were nothing to worry about"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.150
On bickering about which is The Most Important problem today:
"Environmentalists have a long history of behaving as if no issue is more important than the Big One – why, some wonder (too often out loud), is everyone wasting their time worrying about women’s rights and poverty and wars when it’s blindingly obvious that none of this matters if the planet decides to start ejecting us for poor behaviour? … They are … wrong. The environmental crisis – if conceived sufficiently broadly – neither trumps nor distracts from our most pressing political and economic causes: it supercharges each one of them with existential urgency."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.153
On the implausible no-consequences stories we tell ourselves:
"our entire culture is extravagantly drawing down finite resources, never worrying about tomorrow. For a couple of hundred years we have been telling ourselves that we can … burn [fossil fuels] in massive quantities, and that the airborne particles and gases released into the atmosphere – because we can’t see them – will have no effect whatsoever. Or if they do, we humans, brilliant as we are, will just invent our way out of whatever mess we have made. And we tell ourselves all kinds of similarly implausible no-consequences stories all the time, about how we can ravage the world and suffer no adverse effects. Indeed we are always surprised when it works out otherwise. We extract and do not replenish and wonder why the fish have disappeared and the soil requires ever more ”inputs” (like phosphate) to stay fertile. … We drive down wages, ship jobs overseas, destroy worker protections, hollow out local economies, then wonder why people can’t afford to shop as much as they used to. We offer those failed shoppers subprime mortgages instead of steady jobs and then wonder why no one foresaw that a system built on bad debts would collapse."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.165
On extractivism and sacrifice zones:
"Extractivism is a nonreciprocal, dominance-based relationship with the earth, one purely of taking. It is the opposite of stewardship, which involves taking but also taking care that regeneration and future life continue. Extractivism is … the reduction of life into objects for the use of others, giving them no integrity or value of their own – turning living complex ecosystems into ”natural resources,” mountains into ”overburden” (as the mining industry terms the forests, rocks and streams that get in the way of its bulldozers). … Extractivism is also directly connected to the notion of sacrifice zones – places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained, or otherwise destroyed, for the supposed greater good of economic progress. … in order to have sacrifice zones, you need to have people and cultures who count so little that they are considered deserving of sacrifice."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.169-170
On loosing the illusion of being on top of the world:
"the illusion of total power and control … has given way to the reality of near total powerlessness and loss of control in the face of such spectacular forces as Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan. Which is just one of the reasons climate change is so deeply frightening. Because to confront this crisis truthfully is to confront ourselves. … we should not underestimate the depth of the civilizational challenge this represents. As the Australian political scientist Clive Hamillton puts it, facing these truths about climate change ”means recognizing that the power relation between humans and the earth is the reverse of the one we have assumed for three centuries.”"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.175
On the extractivist left:
"Fossil fuels, and the deeper extractivist mind-set that they represent, built the modern world. … Ever since the French Revolution, there have been pitched ideological battles within the confines of this story: communists, socialist, and trade unions have fought for more equal distribution of the spoils of extraction, winning major victories for the poor and working classes."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.177
On corporate-affiliated green groups’ "treachery":
"big, corporate-affiliated green groups don’t deny the reality of climate change, of course … And yet several of these groups have consistently, and aggressively, pushed responses to climate change that are the least burdensome, and often directly beneficial, to the largest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet … Rather than advancing policies that treat greenhouse gases as dangerous pollutants demanding clear, enforceable regulations that would restrict emissions and create the conditions for a full transition to renewables, these groups have pushed convoluted market-based schemes that have treated greenhouse gases as late-capitalist abstractions to be traded, bundled, speculated upon, and moved around the glob like currency or subprime debt."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.198-199
On the confrontation-avoidant properties of the climate movement:
"at the upper echelons of the climate movement, our soaring emissions are never blamed on anything as concrete as the fossil fuel corporations that work furiously to block all serious attempts to regulate emissions, and certainly not on the economic model that demands that these companies put profit before the health of the natural systems upon which all life depends. Rather the villains are always vague and unthreatening – a lack of ”political will,” a deficit of ”ambition” – while fossil fuel executives are welcomed at U.N. climate summits as key ”partners” in the question for ”climate solutions.”"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.200
On the climate compensation/carbon offset scam:
"It should hardly be surprising that so many questionable [carbon] offset projects have come to dominate the emissions market. The prospect of getting paid real money based on projections of how much of an invisible substance is kept out of the air tends to be something of a scam magnet. And the carbon market has attracted a truly impressive array of grifters and hustlers who scour biologically rich but economically poor nations like Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, and Congo, often preying on the isolation of Indigenous people whose forests can be classified as offsets. … In the bush of Papua New Guinea, carbon deals are known as ”sky money”; in Madagascar, where the promised wealth has proved as ephemeral as the product being traded, the Betsimisaraka people talk of stranges who are ”selling the wind.”"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.220
On geoengineering moral hazards:
"well before it was seen as a potential weapon against global warming, weather modification was simply seen as a weapon. During the Cold War, U.S. physicists imagined weakening the nations’s enemies by stealthily manipulating rainfall patterns, whether by causing droughts or by generating targeted storms … So it’s little wonder that mainstream climate scientist have, until quite recently, shied away from even discussing geoengineering. In addition to the Dr. Strangelove baggage, there was a widespread fear of creating a climate moral hazard. Just as bankers take greater risks when they know govements will bail them out, the fear was that the mere suggestion of an emergency techno-fix – however dubious and distant – would feed the dangerous but prevalent belief that we can keep ramping up our emissions for another couple of decades."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.261
On geoengineering as the last spike in the coffin?:
"This is the strange paradox of geoengineering. Yes, it is exponentially more ambitious and more dangerous than any engineering project humans have ever attempted before. But it is also very familiar … as if the past five hundred years of human history have been leading us, ineluctably, to precisely this place. Unlike cutting our emissions in line with the scientific consensus, succumbing to the logic of geoengineering does not require any change from us; it just requires that we keep doing what we have done for centuries, only much more so. … If we respond to a global crisis caused by our pollution with more pollution – by trying to fix the crud in our lower atmosphere by pumping a different kind of crud into the stratosphere – then geoengineering … may cause the earth to go wild in ways we cannot imagine, making geoengineering not the final engineering frontier, another triumph … but the last tragic act in this centuries-long fairy tale of control."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.266-267
On the ” distributional consequences” of geoengineering:
"Boosters of Solar Radiation Management [i.e. a particular type of geoengineering] tend to speak obliquely about the ”distributional consequences” in injecting sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere, and of the ”spatial heterogeneity” of the impacts. Petra Tschakert, a geographer at Penn State University, calls this jargon ”a beautiful way of saying that some countries are going to get screwed.” But which countries? And screwed precisely how? Having reliable answers to those key questions would seem like a prerequisite for considering deployment of such a world-alteraing technology. But it’s not at all that clear that obtaining those answers is even possible."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.269
On geoengineering winners and losers:
"if the historical record, backed by multiple models, indicated that injecting sulfur into the stratosphere would cause widespread drought and famine in North America and Germany, as opposed to the Sahel and India, is it likely that this Plan B would be receiving such serious consideration? It’s true that it might be technically possible to conduct geoengineering in a way that distributed the risks more equitably. For instance, the same 2013 study that found that the African Sahel could be devastated by SRM [Solar Radiation Management] done in the Northern Hemisphere … found that the Sahel could actually see an increase in rainfall if the injections happened in the Southern Hemisphere instead. However, in this scenario, the United States and the Caribbean could see a 20 percent increase in hurricane frequency … In other words, it might be possible to tailor some of these technologies to help the most vulnerable people on the planet … but not without endangering some of the wealthiest and most powerful regions.”
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.275-276
On geoengineering as a backup sprinkler system:
"Nathan Myhrvold likens SRM [Solar Radiation Management] to ”having fires sprinklers in a building" – you hope you won’t need it, ”but you also need something to fall back on in case the fire occurs anyway.” [But] dimming the sun is nothing like installing a sprinkler system – unless we are willing to accept that some of those sprinklers could very well spray gasoline instead of water. Oh – and that, once turned on, we might not be able to turn off the system without triggering an inferno that could burn down the entire building. If someone sold you a sprinkler like that, you’d definitely want a refund.”
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.277
On leaving Earth as Plan C:
"In some cases, the effect of the astronaut’s eye view proves particularly extreme. Their minds hovering out in orbit, there are those who begin to imagine leaving the planet for good … Perhaps this is mere coincidence, but it does seem noteworthy that so many key figures in the geoengineering scene share a strong interest in a planetary exodus. For it is surely a lot easier to accept the prospect of a recklessly high-risk Plan B when you have, in your other back pocket, a Plan C. … We know this escape story all to well, from Noah’s Ark to the Rapture. … if geoengineering has anything going for it, it is that it slots perfectly into our most hackneyed cultural narrative, the one in which so many of us have been indoctrinated by organized religion and the rest of us have absorbed from pretty much every Hollywood action movie ever made. It’s the one that tells us that, at the very last minute, some of (the ones that matter) are going to be saved. And since our secular religion is technology, it won’t be god that saves us but Bill Gates and his gang of super-geniouses"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.287-289
On sacrifice zones appearing in affluent countries:
"What has changed in recent years is largely a matter of scale. … the industry … is extracting more, pushing into more territory, and relying on more risky methods. … for a very long time, sacrifice zones all shared a few elements in common. They were poor places. Out-of-the-way places. Places where residents lacked political power … it was possible for privileged people in North America and Europe to mentally cordon off these unlucky places as hinterlands, wastelands, nowheres … And up until quite recently, that has held up as the grand bargain of the carbon age: the people reaping the bulk of the benefits of extractivism pretend not to see the costs of that comfort so long as the sacrifice zones are kept safely out of view. But in less than a decade … the extractive industries have broken that unspoken bargain. In very short order, the sacrifice zones have gotten a great deal larger, swallowing ever more territory and putting many people who thought they were safe at risk."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.310-311
On the fracking next door:
"Fracking now covers so much territory that, according to a 2013 Wall Street journal investigation, ”more than 15 million American live within a mile of a well that has been drilled and fracked since 2000.” … This is coming as a rude surprise to a great many historically privileged people who suddenly find themselves feeling something of what so many frontline communities have felt for a very long time: how is it possible that a big distant company can come to my land and put me and my kids at risk – and never even ask for my permission? How can it be legal to put chemicals in the air right where they know children are playing? How is it possible that the state, instead of protecting me from this attack, is sending police to beat up people whose only crime is trying to protect their families?"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.312-313
On fossil fuels becoming the only game in town:
"This is the Catch-22 of the fossil fuel economy: precisely because these activities are so dirty and disruptive, they tend to weaken or even destroy other economic drivers: fish stocks are hurt by pollution, the scarred landscape becomes less attractive to tourists, and farmland becomes unhealthy. But rather than spark a popular backlash, this slow poisoning can end up strengthening the power of the fossil fuel companies because they end up being virtually the only game in town."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.316
On politics vs climate change:
"As the anti-fossil fuel forces gain strength, extractive companies are beginning to fight back using a familiar tool: the investor protection provisions of free trade agreements. … after the province of Quebec successfully banned fracking, the U.S.-incorporated oil and gas company Lone Pine Resources announced plans to sue Canada for at least $320 million under the North American Free Trade Agreement’s rules on expropriation and ”fair and equitable treatment.” In arbitration documents, Lone Pine complained that the moratorium imposed by a democratically elected government amounted to an ”arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of the Enterprises’s valuable right to mine for oil and gas under the St. Lawrence River.”"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.358
On the weaponization of trade agreements:
"current trade and investment rules provide legal grounds for foreign corporations to fight virtually any attempt by governments to restrict the exploitation of fossil fuels, particularly once a carbon deposit has attracted investment and extraction has begun [since] successful campaigns to block [fossil fuel] exports … violates a fundamental tenet of trade law"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.359
On renewables vs brute force engineering:
"this need to adapt to nature is what drives some people mad about renewables: even at a very large scale, they require a humility that is the antithesis of damming a river, blasting bedrock for gas, or harnessing the power of the atom. They demand that we adapt ourselves to the rhythms of natural systems, as opposed to bending those systems to our will with brute force engineering. … moving to renewables represents more than just a shift in power sources but also a fundamental shift in power relations between humanity and the natural world on which we depend. … Proponents of fossil and nuclear energy constantly tell us that renewables are not ”reliable,” by which they mean that they require us to think closely about where we live, to pay attention to things like when the sun shines and when the wind blows, where and when rivers are fierce and where they are weak."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.394-395
On climate change and cumulative emissions:
"climate change is the result of cumulative emissions … And since the climate is changing as a result of two-hundred-odd years of such accumulated emissions, that means that the countries that have been powering their economies with fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution have done far more to cause temperatures to rise than those that just got in on the globalization game in the last couple of decades. Developed countries, which represent less than 20 percent of the world’s population, have emitted almost 70 percent of all the greenhouse gas pollution that is now destabilizing the climate."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.409
On strong social movements as our last hope:
"only mass social movements can save us now. Because we know where the current system, left unchecked, is headed. We also know, I would add, how that system will deal with the reality of serial climate-related disasters: with profiteering, and escalating barbarism to segregate the losers from the winners. To arrive at that dystopia, all we need to do is keep barreling down the road we are on. The only remaining variable is whether some countervailing power will emerge to block the road, and simultaneously clear some alterantive pathways to destinations that are safer."
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.450
On foreign interference in post-colonialist socialist experiments:
"Since the 1950s, several democratically elected socialist governments have nationalized large parts of their extractive sectors and begun to redistribute to the poor and middle class the wealth that had previously hemorrhaged into foreign bank accounts, most notably Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran and Salvador Allende in Chile. But those experiments were interrupted by foreign-sponsored coups d’état before reaching their potential. Indeed postcolonial independence movements … were consistently undermined through political assassinations, foreign interference, and, more recently, the chains of debt-driven structural adjustment programs"
Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything, p.454
We live on a new planet:
"global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, *no longer a threat at all*. It’s our reality. We’ve changed the planet, changed it in large and fundamental ways. And these changes are far, far more evident in the toughest parts of the globe, where climate change is already wrecking thousands of lives daily."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.xiii
On Eaarth replacing Earth:
"We *may*, with commitment and luck, yet be able to maintain a planet that will sustain *some kind* of civilization, but it won’t be the same planet, and hence it can’t be the same civilization. The earth that we knew – the only earth that we ever knew – is gone."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.27
On the energy contained in one barrel of oil:
"One barrel of oil yields as much energy as twenty-five thousand hours of human manual labor – more than a decade of human labour per barrel. The average American uses twenty-five barrels each year, which is like finding three hundred years of free labor annually. And that’s just the oil; there’s coal and gas, too. It’s why most of the people reading this book don’t do much manual labor anymore, and why those who do use machines that make them hundreds of times more powerful than their forebears. It’s why we’re prosperous, why our economies have grown. It’s also, of course, why we have global warming and acid oceans; in essence we’ve spent two hundred years digging up all that ancient carbon, combining it with oxygen for a moment to explode the pistons that take us to the drive-through, and then releasing it into the atmosphere, where it accumulates as carbon dioxide. … each gallon of gasoline represents a hundred tons of ancient plants."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.27-28
On Earth turning into Eaarth:
"On the old planet – the one with the Arctic ice cap the one where hurricanes didn’t strike Spain and Brazil, the one where jellyfish didn’t bloom in great slimy clouds across the oceans – we had one Saudi Arabia and one Kuwait. They sat atop enormous pools of oil. Now, every day more so, they sit atop big empty holes. And there are no more Saudi Arabias, no matter how much money you have. So does modernity disappear along with the oil? It’s a questions worth asking, when six of the twelve largest companies in the world are fossil-fuel providers, four make cars and trucks, and one, General Electric, is, as its name implies, heavily involved in the energy industry. Just buying fossil fuel requires almost a tenth of global GDP, and almost all the other 90 percent depends on burning the stuff."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.30
On robust utilization of coal:
"In early 2009, just as Obama was getting set to unveil his energy plans, word came that 2,340 lobbyists had registered to work on climate change on Capitol Hill (that’s about six per congressman), 85 percent of them devoted to slowing down progress. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity spent more than any other organization in Washington lobbying on climate change – and also producing a series of commericals, including one in which lumps of coal sing Christmas carols. Its goal: ”robust utilization of coal.”"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.56
On the costs of not combating climate change:
"Swiss Re, the word’s bigget insurance company … contracted with Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment for a report on the most likely outcomes [of climate change], which was published on 2005. The Harvard team modeled two ”climate change futures,” one with the kind of gradual change we used to expect, and the other with the kind of disruptive, quick, and nasty change we’ve already seen. (The team didn’t even bother modeling a worst-case scenario … that comes closest to what we’re experiencing on the new earth.) Even in the milder scenario, climate change ”threaten world economies.” But their second, more real-world simulation predicts that as storms and other disruptions become more frequent, they ”overwhelm the adaptive capacities of even developed nations; large areas and sectors become uninsurable; major investments collapse; and markets crash.”"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.67
On war, terrorism and climate refugees:
"Four major studies in the last two years from centrist organizations in the United States and Europe have concluded that ”a warmer planet could find itself more often at war.” Each report ”predicted starkly similar problems: gunfire over land and natural resources as once-bountiful soil turns to desert and coastlines slip below the sea.” … The directors of climate research for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington predicted recently that as ”climate-induced migrations” increased the number for ”weak and failing stats,” terrorism would likely grow. By midcentury, according to some recent models, as many as 700 million of the world’s 9 billion people will be climate change refugees."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.83
On scarce resources and warfare:
"history shows that whenever humans have faced a choice between starving or raiding, they raid. … Here’s the bottom line from that Pentagon report, a picture of a new planet that, at least as far as conflict goes, resembles nothing so much as the old one: ”Wars over resources were the norm until about three centuries ago. When such conflicts broke out, 25% of a population’s adult males usually died. As abrupt climate change hits home, warfare may again come to define human life.”"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.85
On slow and steady replacing accelerating speeds:
"Our time has been marked by ever-incraseing speed – paddle-wheeler to locomotive to airplane to rocket, Model T to Formula 1. Can you imagine slower? Maybe so: the Slow Food movement has spread steadily around the world for a decade. Now there’s Slow Design, embracing the return of handwork; and the Slow City campaign. Our time has been marked by great ups and downs, booms with the occasional bust. Can you imagine steadiness? Can you make that work in your mind?"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.103-104
On Alan Greenspan’s one big mistake:
"[Alan Greenspan’s] belief system had turned out to be ”flawed,” he testified to Congress. ”I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity,” he said – and you almost felt sorry for him. I mean, we’d lost our money, but he’d lost an entire belief system. As he put it, ”The whole intellectual edifice collapsed in the summer of last year because the data inputted into the risk management models generally covered only the last two decades, a period of euphoria.”"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.105
On developing an neighborless lifestyle:
"Access to endless amounts of cheap energy made us rich, and wrecked our climate, and it also made us the first people on earth who had no practical need of our neighbors. In the halcyon days of the final economic booms, everyone on your cul de sac could have died overnight from some mysterious plague, and while you might have been sad, you wouldn’t have been inconvenienced. Our economy, unlike any that came before it, is designed to work without the input of your neighbors. Borne on cheap oil, our food arrives as if by magic from a great distance … If you have a credit card and an Internet connection, you can order most of what you need and have it left anonymously at your door. We’ve evolved a neighborless lifestyle”"
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.133
On agriculture in an altered world:
"by 2030 Indian laborers would be 30 percent less productive, simply because of increased heat. As one Bengali farmer put it, ”Working under the open sky during summer has become nearly impossible – for farmers and their cattle alike. … Eons-old farming practices suddenly don’t work. ”We’ve stopped seasonal planting,” explained one small farmer in Uganda. ”Now we just try all the time. We used to plant in March and that would be it. Now we plant again and again”."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.155
On bad business models:
"the BP [oil] spill that dominated the headlines for much of the summer of 2010 … was an accident. … But the greatest danger we face, climate change, is no *accident*. It’s what happens when everything goes the way it’s supposed to go. It’s not a function of bad technology, it’s a function of a bad business model: of the fact that Exxon Mobil and BP and Peabody Coal are allowed to use the atmosphere, free of charge, as an open sewer for the inevitable waste from their products. They’ll fight to the end to defend that business model, for it produces greater profits than any industry has ever known."
McKibben, B. (2011). Eaarth, p.219