On Grist, author Naomi Klein (No Logo, The Shock Doctrine) answers questions about climate change. In the Q&A, Klein talks about declining belief in climate change, especially on the Right, as well as the political and market changes that are necessary to successfully combat it.
When it comes to declining belief in climate change, Klein says “If you really drill into the polling data, what you see is that the drop in belief in climate change is really concentrated on the right of the political spectrum.” Given that there is a 24/7 “news” outlet for climate change denial propaganda, this is hardly surprising. Klein goes on to say, “On the right, climate change is seen as a threat to the right’s worldview, and to the neoliberal economic worldview. It’s seen as a Marxist plot.”
I find it amusing when high-profile figures on the Right talk about climate change like it’s some conspiracy of the Left to force people to live a certain way. One of the most amusing climate change critiques came from ex-presidential candidate Rick Perry when he said it was a plot by scientists to line their pockets with grant money. OK, those are not his exact words, but the meaning is pretty much the same. My point is that climate change is not some grand plot of the Left to control people’s lives. In fact, I think it’s safe to say most liberals aren’t all that invested in the topic, even if that is a shock to many on the Right. Klein says, “Climate change is not a big issue for the left. The big left issues in the United States are inequality, the banks, corporate malfeasance, unemployment, foreclosures. I don’t think climate change has ever been a broad-based issue for the left.” I tend to agree.
There have been prominent people on the Left who have been vocal about climate change, the most obvious is Al Gore, but I don’t think climate change is a defining issue for many liberals. We believe it is real, we believe it is a big problem, but many of us aren’t sure how the problem will be solved without sweeping changes, which can only happen by government action. “If you take climate change seriously, you do have to throw out the free-market playbook.”, says Klein.
I’ve stated in the past that infinite growth capitalism is incompatible on a planet of finite resources. It is possible to build a sustainable economic system but it will mean doing away with the excesses of our current system. “Can we meet our climate targets in a system that requires exponential growth to continue?…If you’re a locally based business, you don’t need continual growth year after year. What requires that growth is the particular brand of corporate capitalism — shareholders who aren’t involved in the business itself. That part of our economy has to shrink, and that’s terrifying people who are deeply invested in it.”
It would be more terrifying if we did nothing.