One of my liberal friends chided me earlier this week when I predicted it would be only days before the man-made climate-change zealots grabbed onto the anti-capitalism, anti-producer protest on Wall Street. After all, labor unions have already done it. My friend told me I’m jaded and that the problem is corporate greed. Well, later today I plan to channel the protesters and put my hand out for a freebie to which I think I’m now entitled — a “free” steak dinner, paid for by someone else. In this case, it will be paid for by my successful liberal friend who I’m pretty sure is one of the dastardly 1 percent the protesters are so jealous of. How do I know I won the bet? Because radical leftist feminist Naomi Klein proved my point in her comments:
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The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.
These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.
We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.
The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.
What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline.