Thursday, March 8, 2012

System change, not climate change II

Here is the follow up to my post about David Graeber and Kamikaze capitalism. Naomi Klein , the world famous author of "No Logo" and anti-globalization fighter, also argues that global warming is not just another issue; instead, it forces us to discuss deeper our paradigms and  the way we live. In her seminal article from Dec 2011 in The Nation, "Capitalism versus the Climate", she wrote that the Heartland Institute is right in one point: a meaningful response to climate change indeed implies an attack on capitalism and free markets.

 In his interview with her, Andrew Revkin writes:
"She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet."

Changes in consumerism are not enough to decarbonize society; she openly argues against the environmentalist mainstream:  "Too often the liberal climate movement runs away from the deep political and economic implications of climate science, which is why I wrote the piece."

 In contrast to "soft" approaches and governance strategies, Klein argues for a profound change, and environmentalists should openly try to convince people of their world view:

"For me, it follows from this that part of being an effective environmentalist is trying to win more people over to a worldview in line with the laws of physics and chemistry, rather than offering shopping advice and touting “market-based solutions.” Put another way: if we know that aggressive regulation and rebuilding the public sphere through collective action are integral to meeting this challenge, then we have a responsibility to say so, and to defend the worldview behind those policies.

 Global warming is a deeper issue, and there is no easy way out. What is needed is a profound shift in paradigms. Vulnerability is also a consequence of failed politics:

The countries that are most vulnerable are those that have been laboratories for neo-liberal economics and Cold War (or “War on Terror”) dirty wars, leaving behind non-existent public infrastructure and lots of angry guys with guns.

 This why there is more at stake than only saving energy or emitting less greenhouse gases:

 This is precisely why I argue that climate change isn’t an issue, it’s “a message,” telling us that we need radically new ways of thinking about progress and power. Otherwise we are just dealing with the symptoms.

So lean back, stop working immediately, and start to read Naomi Klein's article, or, in case your time is short, the interview with Andrew Revkin.


Karl Kuhn said...

well, hmm, what to say ...

Do we need even more left- or right-wing paranoids in this debate for whom climate change is just a token to advance other agendas?

Don't like taxation?

Don't like consumption?

Have fun with an ever more rational debate ...

hvw said...

Of course she is right, but stops half way through her analysis. She needs to re-read her Marx, and, as everybody else interested in the subject, she might want to read what Larry Lohmann has to say about it, here for example.

Werner Krauss said...


Hm, can you elaborate a little bit more? Reading through Lohmann, freshing up our Marx, and relating it to Naomi Klein again is maybe a little bit too much to ask from us. But I like the first quote concerning carbon trade in the Lohmann article: "What, exactly, are we trading in?"

hvw said...


reluctantly, to wet your appetite. Not in any way trying to summarize Lohmann's ideas in any complete or even correct way:

LL identifies both, carbon trading schemes and these modern financial instruments as symptomatic for the root-problem. Which is trying to solve "real" problems, i.e. problems based in the physics of climate, linked to economy and politics, and problems related to the uncertainty of economics, by constructing virtual marketable entities, fictitious commodities, that can be traded, but the connection of which to the real problematic phenomena is close to pure fantasy. That would be "carbon credits" and financial derivates such as CDFs, respectively.

This approach is based on the free market ideology (invisible hand will fix it, once it can grab something) and bound to fail and even amplify the problems. This in my mind also relates to other commodification strategies such as the quantification of "ecosystem services" and "life cycle impact assessment". The plebs version of buying into that ideology is what Klein criticizes, buy the right car, change lightbulbs, etc. and stay ignorant of the big picture and the politics in it. Just continue to consume (the right stuff of course).

Once you try to look at the politics in a long-term global context and at the relationship of these problems to our politico-economic organization and accept hypothesis such as "it is necessary to dramatically slow economic growth or even stop it", you get via people such as Herman Daly straight to good old Marx and the really big and scary picture.

eduardo said...


I particularly liked two things of this post:

-the nice layout :-) even though it is not written in Greek

-that the 'laws of physics and chemistry' compel us to regulate society. I will scour my old uni books, perhaps they also tell us how.

Werner Krauss said...


thanks, I do my best in the art of the layout!

On klimazwiebel, climate is to 98% a men's affair, so I did my best to post something appropriate for yesterdays' World Women's Day.

We already spent so much time here on klimazwiebel to argue with skeptics, about the self-regulation of markets; or about consumer- and market-based solutions and other governance theories; so I thought that it might be refreshing to have a look at the other side. I cannot remember many arguments here against the oil industry; I think it is worth discussing whether the oil industry contributes to global warming or not. If so, it is possible to draw conclusions different from those normally discussed here.

I agree, your funny interpretation of Klein's expression "the laws of physics and chemistry" is legitimate, somehow; I am not sure if it is the most interesting reading of it. At least, the existence of the IPCC is also based on "the laws of physics and chemistry" - except you, Eduardo, have recently turned into a linguist and insist on unambiguous language (which would come to me as a surprise).

I think the occupy movement deserves attention, even here on klimazwiebel. otherwise, we might miss somehting.

Werner Krauss said...

@Karl Kuhn #1

So how does your non-paranoiac "no other agenda" plan look like?

Hans von Storch said...

Werner/6 - true, World Women's Day is an argument.
But the formulation "the existence of the IPCC is also based on "the laws of physics and chemistry"" is disappointing for an educated eprson like you, Werner: the task of the IPCC is to determine the degree of consensus, based on legitimately published material, about the dynamics, perspectives and impacts of climate. This material is, or should mostly, be based on the "laws of physics and chemistry", but of course there are also lots of Ansätze, ad-hoc choices and tacit assumptions. Are the laws of ecology part of the laws of chemistry - such as "when a predator eats you, your life ends" - is that physics or is it chemistry? So, there are more laws. What about laws of societal dynamics, its dependence on climate, vulgo: climatic determinism?

Werner Krauss said...

yes, I know, I stand corrected - it's great to be educated! But still, is this the most interesting part of the Naomi Klein interview? Or is it just a part where you guys can insist that she is not correct and thus avoid a discussion of her arguments?

Hans von Storch said...


certainly, she makes a point, an important one, which I would expect is tacitly supported by quite a few, namely of using climate change as a vehicle for something else, for a value-based political agenda. Science has one role, namely to provide an ironclad argument that the agenda must be implemented.

I appreciate her honesty and clarity, but I take the liberty opposing both, her agenda and her attempt of degrading science and climate to auxiliary argument for the grand cause of bettering the world.

Actually, I consider man-made climate change a serious issue, which we need to deal with. And not consume it unsustainably as a mere support argument for preferences of how to organize societies.

These people burn up the case of man-made climate change by high-jacking it for other purposes.

Werner Krauss said...

sure, I see the problem. Also he one of climate determinism. But to see it the other way round:
You say:
"Actually, I consider man-made climate change a serious issue, which we need to deal with."
Okay. But on the other hand, no action is possible, because each action because of climate change is deterministic, right?
How to face then the challenge?

Or in terms of Naomi Klein: climate change is a serious problem; it is the result of burning fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions; these emissions are immediately connected with the very organization of our societies - so how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without touching the very organization of our society?

@ReinerGrundmann said...

this is where the Hartwell framework offers useful advice. It embraces the so called Kaya identity, see below.

I agree with Hans that people like Naomi Klein want us (i.e. everyone insofar we are consumers) in western society to consume less, burn less fossil fuels, etc. But would this solve the problem? Or is it another attempt at preaching how sinful we western rich people are?

If we want to reduce carbon emissions close to zero, then either population (P), consumption (g), energy used in production (e), or carbon used to produce that energy (f) must go to zero. This captures the idea that emissions are driven by the above factors.

I would think that the following options are not really options:

* depopulating the Earth
* stop eating and commuting
* stop using energy

Therefore, argues Yoichi Kaya, the only long term option is to develop zero-carbon energy sources cheaper than existing carbon based energies.

There is a nice online tool here

Werner Krauss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Werner Krauss said...

(sorry, 2nd attempt, too many mistakes in the first try -:)


Of course, it's my own fault - I brought myself into the uncomfortable position to defend Naomi Klein. But no reason to complain.

I think she would not object to your fine p,g,e,f suggestions - who would? But even when you reduce population, consumption, energy used in production or carbon used to produce that energy to mere letters, you still cannot delete the inherent unequal power relations, the inherent politics and values. There is no energy without those ingredients. Or, to put it positively: there is always an agenda behind energy. The option "no agenda" does not exist.

Unfortunately, Naomi Klein does not write about Kaya, it would be interesting. But thanks for reminding me of this link, I will learn more about it.

But Naomi Klein writes the following about the Breakthrough Institute:

"Far from learning from past mistakes, a powerful faction in the environmental movement is pushing to go even further down the same disastrous road, arguing that the way to win on climate is to make the cause more palatable to conservative values. This can be heard from the studiously centrist Breakthrough Institute, which is calling for the movement to embrace industrial agriculture and nuclear power instead of organic farming and decentralized renewables."

No need to convince me now that organic veggies are idiots. They are not, they are only different. I also do not subscribe to the nature romanticism etc inherent in Klein's agenda. But this is not about subscribing. And not the veggies are our problem when discussing climate change - it is the oil industry, right? And the politics behind. There is the possibility that the Tea Party wins, and, if we like it or not, climate change is part of the election campaign. It's legitimate for Klein to NOT separate energy and politics - as Hans' position that we have to separate is legitimate, too: it is DIFFICULT!

I mean, on the lowest (and I really mean: lowest) level we could at least agree to what James "how states think" Scott wrote about David Graeber:

“if we can’t tolerate cantankerous people like David, then we don’t deserve to exist.”

Same is true for Naomi Klein (as much as I know, I am really NOT an expert on her), and it's true for the occupy movement - even when we don't subscribe to their agendas (if they have one, at all).

Werner Krauss said...

to hvw #4

Thanks a lot! You really make me curious; seems like the link Graeber also makes between the financial and the climate crisis (see my previous post). I think one of the achievements of the occupy movement is to make these links explicit. Which is a lot, as mainstream climate discourse has managed to completely separate the both, as if they were not related. I agree, the occupy people seem to stop at a certain point - or, as Graeber, are more on the Bakunin instead of the Marxist side of the debate.

Any opinion about Reiner #12? Would be interesting to hear a comment from your perspective!

eduardo said...

'nuclear power instead of organic farming and decentralized renewables."

Indeed Klein is very transparent not only in her intentions but also displaying the profound crisis that the anti-capitalist movement is undergoing since 1990. Going down that road they become more and more similar to the US republicans. Instead of engaging with the broad public opinion, they just prescribe the 'laws' that tell us what to do. Klein invokes the laws of physics, the Republicans the 'laws of morality'. There is always some god out there to punish the folks that do not live according to her (8th March) laws.

Why does Klein suggest that we should be promoting decentralized renewables ? For the climate change issue, centralized or decentralized energy sources would be irrelevant. However, the much touted 'laws of physics' recommend exactly the opposite . Decentralized systems are always less efficient. Maybe centralized energy sources do not fit the predetermined idea about how society should look like, according to her.

PS: I may remind Klein that make-up requires chemicals and animal experiments.

Werner Krauss said...

@Eduardo #16

1) to your P.S.:

I posted the Naomi Klein article on the International Women's Day. Your P.S. is an embarrassing demonstration that still today even in Germany among educated scientists it is necessary to fight for women's rights and respect. To use "make-up" as an argument against a woman who argues exclusively in terms of politics is a shame and totally unbearable. It is simply sexist (and I am afraid, you are even proud of that).

It is telling about the situation in many scientific departments, where sexism in everyday language never became a topic of critical discussion. It is unbelievable to read this here in the 21st century on klimazwiebel: we discuss a woman's article, and your unconsciousness brings "make-up" to your mind and you use it as an argument against her. klimazwiebel stinks.

2) to your remark that the anti-capitalist movement resembles more and more the US Republicans:

in the light of the article we discuss here, "Capitalism versus climate", this is a strange argument. A great part of this really long article is decidedly written against the US Republicans. She is also not "punishing the folks who do not live according to her", but she is arguing politically against the Republican party. But maybe your "reading" of this article was reduced to stare at her picture and to reason about her make-up.

3) I do not share the "alarmist" side of her use of the argument of "the laws of physics and chemistry" - we discussed this at various other occasions and at length here on klimazwiebel.

But to reduce her use of the argument only to this side is not very enlightening. As much as I know from you, you make use of "the laws of physics and chemistry" to understand anthropogenic climate change, and as far as I remember, you are not against thinking about climate policies to face this challenge. This does not make you a determinist. It just shows that you are concerned. That's what Naomi Klein is too. She just draws different conclusions - what is at stake here is not determinism but a political debate (socialism versus neo-liberalism, for example).

It is a good demonstration of your way of arguing that you invoke yourself the "laws of physics" against Naomi Klein's argument for decentralization of energy sources. But maybe you think you have the exclusive right to do this, because you are a man and a scientist.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

In her tour de force for The Nation Naomi Klein has provided a frank assessment of some of the pressing problems for a progressive project in the United States. I mention ‘United States’ explicitly because it is worth bearing in mind that the political geography is essential in order to grasp the meaning of her long article. Some of the political suggestions on her list could be seen as realized in continental European countries, others as acceptable. Consider this summary she provides towards the end:

“Responding to climate change requires that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency. We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South. Of course, none of this has a hope in hell of happening unless it is accompanied by a massive, broad-based effort to radically reduce the influence that corporations have over the political process. That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.”

Here Klein summarizes the progressive (read: socialist or social democratic) agenda supported, even demanded by science (she uses the term “scientific imperative”). Klein believes that the power of scientific knowledge could boost the egalitarian case. But here she forgets another important insight she quotes elsewhere, namely that people’s ideologies are seldom challenged by facts. So it will be useless to marshal scientific evidence in order to convince people who do not want to believe. This makes her manifesto look like the mirror image to the republican agenda. She advances a partisan case to combat climate change, combining all the worthy ideological demands from a left wing, egalitarian, welfarist perspective. No matter how much one sympathizes with that (I certainly do) the problem is that it is a minority position in the USA and it seems to pale in comparison to the right wing Republicans or the Tea Party. So the reliance on the science seems to be the only hope to introduce some power from ‘above’. A stick to beat the ‘deniers’. Doen't she see that we then end up in the Climate Wars and all we get is a daily newsfeed of ‘dispatches from the front line’ (Michael Mann). I cannot see how this would work as a political strategy with any prospect of even modest success.

This is where the bi-partisan pragmatic approach from the Breakthrough Institute comes in. It has a clear advantage in terms of political strategy. It rightly suggests that you cannot promote climate policies on the basis of a minority partisan platform (even if supported by the world’s best climate scientists). You have to engage ordinary people (especially those who are suspicious of climate science) with pragmatic solutions. What Klein, and many others, including climate scientists and environmental NGOs have suggested, is to wage an ideological battle armed with scientific arguments. This is a recipe for defeat.

Georg Hoffmann said...

Naomi Klein, seriously?

Harald Veizer was acused her of climate porn (if I remember right) because of its farfetching speculation what climate change might mean for political stability in some parts of the worlds. He asks in Klimakriege for a social reaction on the climate challenge. But compared to Klein this is at best Soft Porn. She just throws in a buzz word (climate, physics) in order to ask for what she wanted to ask for in any case, ie major system change etc etc. So much about climate change is a technical issue.

PS @Werner The Makeup-Gate is also a portray-gate. I checked on you last couple of dozens contribution pointing to texts and contributions of others. The first portray on the Zwiebel, hurray!

PPS Veizer is at least well written, with Klein I have the feeling of a time travel to the 60s, intellectually, politically and in writing style Hope that can be said even a couple of hours after womens days.

Werner Krauss said...

@reiner, #18

Thanks, well argued. I agree mostly. Also with your argument that one should not use science to win a political battle.

I think it is difficult to compare Breakthrough and Occupy, as the former are governance oriented, while the latter are situationist and performance oriented, with revolutionary airs.

David Graeber is different from Breakthrough in being anarchist and utopian. I guess he is not giving direct advice (like Breakthrough) how to deal with the financial / climate problem; he is more playing the role of "avant-garde".

And Klein has really to be seen through the American lens, I totally agree.

Werner Krauss said...


Congratulations for mentioning twice the word "porn" and making a fake-submissive gesture to "political correctness" at the end of your contribution! And hej, showing a female portray is the cause of all the trouble? What you, Georg, want to say is similar to the good old classic: aren't those bitches responsible for getting raped when they are walk around like this in public?

But I understand, you have to defend your male honor after my critique of Eduardo's masculinity. Great job, Georg!

Georg Hoffmann said...

@Werner, you are looking through me.
Anyway, just a question. There were dozens of articles here with contributions of so many people (mainly men actually) So why did YOU (not me nor Edouardo not Naomi) decide to put her portray here. What does it contribute for the understanding of an article where we exclusively have to appreciate the politico-philosophical reasoning?

And hey the idea of linking my comment to justifying rape is really good. I'll put that in my little ad-hominem-toolbox for further usage. It's a sort of extension of Godwin"s law onto feminism isnt it?

Anonymous said...


please allow me some suggestions for the next World Women's Day:

A pink background of Klimazwiebel website!

Everything in blue, no wonder, that here are so many men.


Georg Hoffmann said...

@Werner, you are looking through me.
Anyway, just a question. There were dozens of articles here with contributions of so many people (mainly men actually) So why did YOU (not me, not Edouardo, not Naomi) decide to put her portray here. What does it contribute for the understanding of an article where we exclusively have to appreciate the strength and beauty of her politico-philosophical reasoning?

And hey the idea of linking my comment to justifying rape is really good. I'll put that in my little ad-hominem-toolbox for further usage. It's a sort of extension of Godwin"s law onto feminism isnt it?

Hans von Storch said...

For me the significant and unacceptable part is Naomi Klein's effort to hijack science for a political agenda, which goes with severe repercussions in science itself. Claiming "science tells us to pursue this or that policy" is simply not true; our values tell us, possibly based on some scientific understanding.

This agenda is legitimate, certainly, but others are as well. I would share Eduardo's view that there is a "spiritual" (nor sure, if this is the right word for what I want to express) relationship between Republicans and radical climate activists.

What do you, Werner, mean with "each action because of climate change is deterministic"? and what with "these emissions are immediately connected with the very organization of our societies - so how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without touching the very organization of our society?"? What do you mean with "touching", what with "very"?

You could replace your sentence by "these emissions are immediately connected with the presence of consumers" and argue as before? What would you say if radical islamists would argue "these emissions are immediately connected with the presence of infidels", or to historical cases, when adverse weather was directly connected to the presence of witches in Schwaben?

All this has very much to do with people, who simply know what is best for us, our souls, and for the world in general. Voicing their views is legitimate, but being disgusted by such talk is also my good right. Which does not mean that I would like to silence them, banning them for being present in the public arena. Because their case is legitimate, even if inconsistent with my values (e.g., Merton).

PS: Georg, I remember we had a portray of Fred Singer before, did we?

eduardo said...

@ 16


I pointed out to the deep contradictions that Klein's discourse has. At no moment did I misuse or made reference to her being a woman.
Do men not use make-up ? or dot you think that men cannot use make-up ? perhaps is your subconsience that is sexist . Of course men do use make-up and they may if the they wish. What is contradicting in Klein discourse is to advocate organic agriculture and at the same use artificial chemicals, and as I said promote with that animal experiments, just to look better, man or woman.
The same could be said if one climate advocate would drive a sport car - and there are few of them. Or if climate scientist organize a conference in Hawaii, there is one at this moment.
Or advocate marriage fidelity and have a few affairs on the side -man or woman, also there are quite a few examples.

Klein is also misusing the term laws of physics. We claims that the laws of physics compel us to reduce carbon emissions. This argument could be reasonable. But the she adds, ' and to use decentralized renewables' which is totally contrary to the 'laws of physics'. Thus she is cherry picking to support her political, and not scientific, point of view. therefore , she has , for me personally, not a smidgen of credibility, man or woman.

Anonymous said...

Ich dachte ja, das mit dem Porträt von Georg sei ein Scherz gewesen, aber manche hier nehmen das doch ernster.

Ok, ich finde es gut. Wer kennt schon Naomi Klein? Ich schaue mir gerne die Leute an, die bestimmte Meinungen vertreten und meine daher, dass man ruhig öfters Porträts abbilden können (gerne auch von hübschen Frauen ;-)

Ein ernsteres Thema und geeignet für einen eigenen Artikel wäre in der Tat der Frage, warum die Klimadebatte so männerlastig ist. Auch wenn der Klimawandel Risiken für die gesamte "MANkind" darstellt, ist es ja dennoch ein Problem, das beide Geschlechter berührt.

@ Eduardo

Aus der Nummer kommen Sie nicht mehr heraus. Bei Männern sind inzwischen rasierte Achseln und Haargel fast schon Pflicht, Schminke und Make-up aber ausschließlich für Johnny Depp und diverse Vampirdarsteller reserviert. Ihr Argument muss ich daher als glasklar ad-feminem einstufen. (und da versteht unsere Gesellschaft gar keinen Spaß mehr, Sie rühren am letzten Tabu ;-)

Zum Trost: Es geht schlimmer, man nehme sich mal eine Minute für Rush Limbaugh (nein, diesmal nicht über Klima, sondern über sluts):


Hans von Storch said...

Man muß aber einräumen, dass es eine sehr hohe Korrelation zwischen Nutzung von Schminke und Prominenz (auch von Klimaadvokaten gibt). Beim Fernsehen wird man vor Interviews geschminkt, wird abgedeckt mit chemischen Produkten. Ältere Herren, z.B. einige spanische Caballeros und ehemalige Bundeskanzler färben ihre Haare, auch mit Chemie. Natürlich ohne Treibgas.

Anonymous said...

Schminke mal beiseite gelassen, interessant ist, dass Naomi Klein hier nicht einen einzigen Anhänger gefunden hat, ich schließe mich HvS Post #10 an. Ein seltener Moment von Einigkeit.

Ich heize übrigens immer noch mit Gas (und mit schlechtem Gewissen) und setze mich gleichzeitig für CO2-Emissionen ein. Ist das verwerflich oder gar Heuchelei?

In meinem vorherigen Beitrag schrieb ich "Porträt von Georg". Nein, so weit sind wir hier natürlich noch nicht, das "von Georg" sollte sich auf den Scherz beziehen.


Werner Krauss said...

@Eduardo, Georg, Hans & Andreas

Parts of the discussion of Naomi Klein's article "Capitalism versus Climate", differed from all previous discussions on klimazwiebel. There was discussed:

- the nice layout of the article (though it is not Greek(?));

- the use of makeup (and especially the use of makeup that requires artificial chemicals and animal testing);

- what category of porn Klein's article is;

- what is allowed to say a few hours after "International Women's Day"

- her writing style;

- the colors blue and pink;

- the existence of a portrait of a female author on klimazwiebel on International Women's Day;

- pro and con of male cosmetics;

- the relation between cosmetics and celebrity;

- and that Naomi Klein did not convince anyone on klimazwiebel, which is interpreted as a sign of unity.

If someone asks why climate is such a male dominated issue - here we have a textbook example of how male dominance is established: through the more or less subtle gendering of the issue once a powerful woman is suspected to pollute the purity of science.

(This has nothing to do with Klein having good arguments or not and discussing this. Reiner or Hans in his first contributions made reasonable arguments against her approach without gendering the issue. The problem I want to address here is exactly the gender issue - something I think we should take seriously).

@ReinerGrundmann said...

you succeeded exposing the gendered dimension well, perhaps too well. But you also initiated this by posting the blog on Women's Day and emphasizing the fact that you did it symbolically. Why?

Perhaps we should run an experiment. Repost a short summary of Klein's article without any reference to the gender aspects, and no photograph of her. Invite everyone to post (or repost) comments. Let's see if Klimazwiebel manages to have a serious discussion about her arguments.

Anonymous said...


Inzwischen habe ich den langen Artikel von Naomi Klein gelesen und bereue zutiefst, mit dazu beigetragen zu haben, dass das eigentliche Thema unterging.

Erst mal ein Kompliment, ihre Beiträge über Graebner und jetzt über Klein waren klasse, Sie führen eine soziologische/ökonomische Dimension in die Klimadebatte ein, die in den meisten Blogs fehlt. Sie schrieben im anderen Thread an Reiner gerichtet"I highly appreciate your comments and interest, and we should feed klimazwiebel from time to time with more those "sociological" approaches. Ich würde es mir sehr wünschen, Sie und Reiner sind ja geradezu prädestiniert dafür.

Doch zurück zu Naomi Klein:

Sie stellte eine grundsätzliche Frage, die ich nach Herzen zu verdrängen suchte: Sind die Klimaschutzziele nur zu erreichen, wenn von unserem Wirtschafts- und Gesellschaftssystem Abschied genommen wird?

In N. Kleins Worten:
The other half [der grünen Bewegung] is that many of those big green groups have avoided, with phobic precision, any serious debate on the blindingly obvious roots of the climate crisis: globalization, deregulation and contemporary capitalism’s quest for perpetual growth (the same forces that are responsible for the destruction of the rest of the economy).

Ich bekenne, nie richtig tief darüber nachgedacht zu haben, intuitiv hätte ich immer sofort mit einem klaren "Nein" geantwortet. Aber ich merke, diese Frage trifft ins Mark, darüber sollten wir auf jeden Fall diskutieren.

Mein erster Gedanke war ganz ähnlich wie von HvS in #10 formuliert. Ich möchte nicht die Klimadebatte in Links/Rechts-Parteiengezänk verwickelt sehen, ich möchte nicht, dass linke Bewegungen das Thema für ihre Zwecke besetzen. Warum die Klimadebatte noch zusätzlich mit gesellschaftlichem Umbau etc. überfrachten, ist es nicht so schon schwierig genug? Für Kritik am ewigen Wachstumsmodell gibt es ja auch andere Gründe als CO2, bitte sucht euch einen anderen Aufhänger.

Was aber, wenn Naomi Klein recht hat und dieser gesellschaftlich/ökonomische Umbau eine notwendige Bedingung für die Erreichung von Klimaschutzzielen ist?

Keine Ahnung, ich bin weiß, männlich und kann finanziell auch nicht klagen. Zum Revolutionär tauge ich nicht, da werde ich plötzlich ganz konservativ. Irgendwie denke ich, der Umbau zu einer karbonarmen Wirtschaft ist ein sehr langer Prozess. Wie sich die Gesellschaft auf dem Weg dorthin verändern wird, sollte man nicht planen, das wird sich ergeben. Aber vielleicht verdränge ich wieder.

Ja, Naomi Klein stellt gute, unbequeme Fragen. Ich habe keine Antwort.


eduardo said...

Maybe the Klimazwiebel should invite Ms Klein to a discovery journey to Germany to read a little bit about German history. She would be surprised to find out that the experiment with planned economies driven by scientific theories has been decided already 20 years ago. She may also hark a bit further back in German history to discover the consequences the application of a sound scientific theory, Darwin's theory of evolution, to human societies. Meanwhile I wish her good luck. I am totally convinced that she will win over many opinions from the middle ground.

While she reads those parts of world history, I would ponder over the following quotes from her wonderfully balanced and well informed article:

'Horner, whose prematurely silver hair makes him look like a right-wing Anderson Cooper, likes to invoke Saul Alinsk'

'All of this means that the climate movement needs to have one hell of a comeback. For this to happen, the left is going to have to learn from the right.'

'According to McCright, co-author of the “Cool Dudes” study, the most extreme, intractable climate deniers (many of them conservative white men)'

'Taxing the Rich and Filthy'

I will now change my usual make-up to darken my skin a bit and dye my hair black, just in case I come across Ms Klein.

Hannah said...

Good grief..... I printed out the article Thursday thinking that it was interesting (not the same as agreeing) and spent quite some time in Copenhagen, discussing feminism, capitalism and climate change....and now it turns out that I was all wrong and I should have been discussing make up and celebrity! :o) In short:
- I like the layout and even as a heterosexual woman I would much rather look at the fragrant Ms Klein than Mr Fred Singer; :o)
- It is perfectly possible to buy chemical free make up that hasn’t been tested on animals and I am sure that the lovely Ms Klein wear a politically correct foundation; :o)
- As a Danish woman, having worked as a corporate lawyer in London I am utterly convinced that all British men, of a certain age, have spent their formative years watching Scandi porn. It has never particularly offended me and I have always considered it a reflection on them rather than me; :o)
- Yes, it is true that girls love pink, however with a few exceptions, this fondness for pink tends to stop around the age of 10 years; :o)
- Call me old fashion but I prefer to be the one wearing the makeup....lipstick on a man would be rather a turn off.
In any event I dotted down some thoughts on the article while in Copenhagen which I will try to make sense of at some point today but it has been a weird couple of days....a christening, a death and several ghosts from the past so feeling rather “Aubade”: In the meantime I looked up Ms Klein on wiki: interesting what makes us who we are so in her case her mother’s stroke and École Polytechnique massacre.

Georg Hoffmann said...

"Klein was born in Montreal, Quebec and brought up in a Jewish family with a history of peace activism. Her parents had moved to Montreal from the U.S. in 1967 as war resisters to the Vietnam War.[2] Her mother, documentary film-maker Bonnie Sherr Klein, is best known for her anti-pornography film Not a Love Story.[3] Her father, Michael Klein, is a physician and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her brother, Seth Klein, is director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Her paternal grandparents were communists who began to turn against the Soviet Union after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had abandoned communism by 1956. In 1942 her grandfather Phil Klein, an animator at Disney, was fired after the Disney animators' strike,[4] and went to work at a shipyard instead. Klein's father grew up surrounded by ideas of social justice and racial equality"

One should just imagine she became a conservative insurance salesman or a banker.

A straighter family history one can find only in prussian noble families being in the military service in the 8th generation.

eduardo said...

It seems that Klein even rejects the idea of decoupling between economic growth and energy use. That would amount to wriggle off the inescapable diagnosis for the world economy that she has on offer:

'The way out is to embrace a managed transition to another economic paradigm, using all the tools of planning discussed above. Growth would be reserved for parts of the world still pulling themselves out of poverty. Meanwhile, in the industrialized world, those sectors that are not governed by the drive for increased yearly profit (the public sector, co-ops, local businesses, nonprofits) would expand their share of overall economic activity, as would those sectors with minimal ecological impacts (such as the caregiving professions). A great many jobs could be created this way. But the role of the corporate sector, with its structural demand for increased sales and profits, would have to contract.'

In Klein's opinion there should be a world authority that decides which countries may grow in which are not allowed to grow. It seems easy to me. Certainly the UN can agree on that point over the coffee break. Or is she thinking of another, more con-straining authority, that would impose growth patterns on the individual countries that happen to go astray ? maybe by invading recalcitrant countries ?
Also, in each country an authority that decides which sectors should grow and which sectors are forbidden to grow. This strategy sounds really familiar.

Are these really suggestions out of the climate crisis for the 21st century ?

I am unsure about how to react to 'taxing the rich and filthy'. If by that she means taxing only the people that are rich and filthy at the same time, yes, they should pay.

If she however means taxing all rich and all filthy, then no, I would be against.

Anonymous said...

@ Eduardo

I strongly disagree about N.Klein's proposed solutions, too. But to be fair, she raises some good questions, e.g.:
Is it possible to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 within this economic paradigm?

Or in Revkin's words:
"She challenges the environmental left to embrace this reality instead of implying that modest changes in lifestyle and shopping habits and the like can decarbonize human endeavors on a crowding planet."

She reminds me of Marx: Good questions, bad answers ;-)


Werner Krauss said...


filthy rich means in German "steinreich" oder "stinkreich"

the rich and filthy - the filthy rich means:
"Very rich, possibly having become so by unfair means."

Hannah said...

Andreas, agreed. Charles Bukowski said: you begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romantisme or politics. Problem of course being here that doing it one light bulb a time takes a pretty long time and is unlikely to, well, have any impact :o)
Werner, the gender/feminism comparison/angle is really interesting and new to me......normally people always bring up religion.....I discussed it with a friend in light of the "40 pct women in the board room" discussion. I will give it some more thought and return.....

Werner Krauss said...

Andreas and Hannah,

could elaborate shortly where exactly you disagree with Naomi Klein's solutions?

And do you think the current capitalist system with the ideology of free markets / corporate industries / consumerism / privatization / exploitation of workforce and natural resources in the global South etc will be able to handle the climate & energy problem appropriately?

And if not, what are more reasonable strategies than those suggested by Naomi Klein?

Hans von Storch said...

Werner, you seem to tacitly adopt a view point, which is often observed, namely that there is only one significant problem, namely anthropogenic climate change. All other problems are minor compared to climate. Other people, with different sets of values, may not share your view point, legitimately so.

One of the point which made the climate change debate unsustainable was just that, that there is essentially only one problem, therefore the experts, climate scientists, know the solutions, and we others have to accept the "guidance" (vulgo: orders) of the experts.

Mrs. Klein is smarter than you - I understand that she claims that the key problem is capitalism and related issues of societal organization; climate is just a symptom. That is an honest assertion, again legitimate, but not shared by me.

Actually I do believe that the conventional democratic system, which changes all the time, will also be able to deal with the two problems, climate and energy - which are different albeit intertwined - as well as with more so far unkown to us.

Hannah said...

My problem is that I am pragmatic (think Kaya Identity), I work with the world as it is and what I think is possible to achieve (which in my day job as a lawyer working for a charity is "saving" one person at the time), this is why I found Ms Klein's article so interesting, also in connection with feminism. She throws the "rule book" away in the sense that she says "never mind what the world looks like, let's discuss what it ought to look like". I may not agree with her vision but the anarchist in me rather like her courage :o) and as Hans says above she is smart, the link between the general dissatisfaction with capitalism and climate change is, as a strategy, not stupid at all. I will have a go at linking it with feminism once I have watched "Masterchef" (British cooking program) with my daughter :o)

Werner Krauss said...

@ Hans #41

I am sorry, but I don't think at all that anthropogenic climate change is the "only one significant problem" and that "all other problems are minor compared to climate". I never did. Or is this assumption just a rhetorical trick to strengthen your own argument, as it is often observed in the blogosphere? Very smart, indeed, but not very sustainable.

Anonymous said...

@ Werner

Puh, da war einiges, was mir aufgestoßen ist. Ok, das mit Links/recht, Besteuerung der Reichen ist wohl der besonderen amerikanischen Situation geschuldet.

Was mir so richtig aufstieß, ist die Sache mit den Grenzen des Wachstums.
Bin kein Ökonom, aber die Idee, dass sich entwickelte Staaten freiwillig von Wachstum verabschieden, ist absurd. Ähnlich absurd wie der Gedanke, dass ich morgen mit dem Rauchen aufhöre. Unser ganzes System basiert auf Wachstum, die Grenzen werden wohl eher dadurch erreicht, dass zwar jeder Staat Wachstum gerne hätte, es aber keiner mehr erreicht.
N. Kleins Ansatz erscheint naiv: Die Welt scheitert schon daran, Übereinstimmung für ein bisschen CO2-Reduktion zu erzielen. Und da soll dann Übereinstimmung für eine ökonomische/gesellschaftliche Revolution erreichbar sein? Wer die Klimadebatte überfrachtet, wird erst recht scheitern, meine ich.

And do you think the current capitalist system with the ideology of free markets / corporate industries / consumerism / privatization / exploitation of workforce and natural resources in the global South etc will be able to handle the climate & energy problem appropriately?

N. Klein hat mich verunsichert. Weiß nicht. Wo sind die Ökonomen hier?

And if not, what are more reasonable strategies than those suggested by Naomi Klein?

Mal angenommen, N. Klein hätte mit ihrer Voraussetzung recht. Dann hätte ich immer ein abgrundtiefes Misstrauen Leuten gegenüber, die die neue Gesellschaft am Reißbrett zu entwickeln versuchen, ich denke, die Geschichte zeigt, dass das nicht funktioniert. Ich würde die Zeit arbeiten lassen und die Gesellschaften sich langsam an immer enger werdende Grenzen anpassen lassen, wie und in welche Richtung auch immer.

Ich ahne schon einen Gedanken und antworte jetzt schon: Nein, in der Klimapolitik geht das nicht, uns läuft die Zeit davon.

Puh, jetzt bin ich aber mächtig in Vorleistung getreten, eigentlich wollte ich wegen meiner Unsicherheiten lieber erst mal den anderen lauschen.

Sorry, Hannah, for writing in German. The topic was too difficult, the wine was too much. But you impressed me, I've never heard a woman talking of Charles Bukowski before.


hvw said...


Nice that making you curious worked, I just very much like Lohmann's thinking.

This thread has become a bit overwhelming, also I am quite busy re-doing my makeup and re-checking what the laws of physics can tell me about latte macciato vs. cappuccino, so please excuse a short reply.

I don't easily comprehend how climate change, aka a predicted increase of global average temperatures on the order of 1/100 K per year could possibly "supercharge" a political movement that is primarily driven by a radical shift in the distribution of power, income and standard of living, which is happening on a yearly timescale (middle class to homeless in the US etc ...). But then, Klein is the expert on public opinion and not me. All power to her. She may invoke 10m sea level rise by 2014 to foster her cause and all real climate scientists (real=wanting to do science and nothing else) will silently like it, the public statements to the contrary by directors of research institutes notwithstanding. On that level some PR is part of the job, I guess.

The link between climate change and "financial crisis" for me is the analogy of how those who mainly caused the problem (western industrialized societies and capitalists, respectively) frame the space of possible "solutions" in a way that only allows action that doesn't substantially harm them.

Reiner #12 provides another excellent example: "Therefore, argues Yoichi Kaya, the only long term option is to develop zero-carbon energy sources cheaper than existing carbon based energies."

"cheaper" gives it all away. If you think about it, "cheap" has no meaning in this context, you can put an almost arbitrary cost on any energy source, depending on the desired outcome. examples:

- Do you factor in the cost of future environmental damage, for example from climate change cause by the energy source. Probably not in this context, else stuff would be a bit circular. Shouldn't you though?

- To assess the cost of nuclear energy, you could possibly come up with a number that includes all that is commonly externalized (waste storage etc.) but how do you price the risk? According to common economics it equals infinity, since no insurance company today will underwrite the risk of any nuc. power plant in existence.

- Discounting of risk and of environmental damage is pretty arbitrary even though "climate economists" write a lot about it.

- the list is endless ...

Usually sentences such as Reiner's (Kaya's?) try to convey, under the cover of a seemingly objective criterion (cost), just a very shallow ideological message: The only viable options are those that do not change the current power structure and economic setup. "Cost" likely is interpreted as a mixture of "what do I have to pay today per KWh?" and of "what do selected economists calculate within the currently accepted economic theory?", in other words, its the aggregate measure of desirability from the point of view of those who profit most from the current setting.

Werner Krauss said...

Hannah and Andreas,

thanks for reacting to my admittedly far too big question! I highly appreciate your openness and courage just to think aloud!

I totally agree, Hannah, that Naomi Klein opens up space to think beyond restrictions and conveniences. For example, Andreas, why is it impossible to question "growth" as an iron rule for our societies? (I stopped smoking, by the way). And what does it mean to load (überfrachten) the climate debate with too many "other" issues - who sets the rules what is allowed to link with the climate problem and what not? Climate scientists as self-acclaimed experts in social theory?

For me, the weakest point is the authoritative claim on science when Naomi Klein talks about climate change. On klimazwiebel, we know better, I agree. Totally. But we should keep in mind that the critics themselves assume hegemony over climate change and how to deal with it. They easily assume the authority to decide who is allowed to speak and who not. What is sustainable and what isn't. They do so not always with arguments, but with (more or less) subtle rhetorical strategies, as we have seen on this thread.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

hvw -45

Not sure what you mean by statements such as "action that doesn't substantially harm them" and "those who profit most from the current setting".

From the context I assume you mean the fossil fuel lobby. But I could be wrong, so please explain.

Hannah said...

Andreas, thanks.....I do try....;o) hope you haven't got too much of a headache this morning :o)
Werner, thanks for letting me think out Eduardo writes in a different post...these are days of gloom....and perhaps time for reflection. Those who take their Christianity more seriously than I do will know that this time before Easter is in fact meant to be a time where one thinks. Moses went up Mount Sinai and came back to find a gold calf, Jesus lost his cool in the Tempel etc....:o) So if you will allow me to continue to think out loud and throw some balls in the air...this morning I was struck by this article: (Financial Times has a similar story on the front page but it is pay walled). Now, when you first read this you think (if you happen to think equality is a good thing) “Great, no need for mandatory quotas then”. However, if you think a bit further two things springs to mind: 1) the increase has probably something to do with the threat of mandatory quotas and people wanting to secure the best possible women and not end up with whatever is left on the shelf and 2) we are talking non-executives here, the increase in female executives is much smaller. I used to be against mandatory quotas (patronising for women, best person for the job etc), now I think that if what we want to achieve is 30 (UK) or 40 (DK)% women on boards, then the Norwegian way is probably the way to go but what it seems to me that we haven’t really thought through (and this is where Ms Klein comes in) is that means changing our society (particularly in UK) fundamentally. We already have (pretty much) equal opportunities in UK and DK. Women are all over universities, law firms, banks etc but at entry level. Given that this was also the case 20 years ago the firms should now be full of female partners and executives, which they are not,of course. In the UK they seem to think that if only they got decent childcare all would be solved. Well, there is decent childcare in Denmark and still not 40% women on boards etc. The problem is, to my mind, that the corporate world is still a man’s world in terms of what is deemed important and as long as this is the case (and maybe this should be the case and is the most effective way for society, Epokhe! :o) then the 30-40% non-ex plus executive won’t happen unless mandatory and perhaps more important it doesn’t make sense for it to happen.

hvw said...


Sorry, convoluted sentence. "Them", with respect to climate change, refers to "western industrialized societies" in that sentence. I am afraid that doesn't make my statement terribly precise either. Meant is simply everybody and every entity that profits from our current politico-economic status quo (which is tied to an increasing rate of CO2 emissions) and takes action to keep it that way. The "fossil fuel lobby" certainly is part, but by no means the whole of it.

So I used again that term "those who profit from the status quo", which you seem to have trouble to understand. Admittedly this is not super precise, as it depends to some extent on the characteristics of the implicitly proposed alternative to the status quo. But can't you form an idea about a) a class of people who currently get better and whose getting better crucially depends on economic growth in its current form while they likely won't feel a severe impact from climate change, and b) a class of people for whom it is the other way round?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Werner Krauss said...

@ namenlos #50

Sorry, but it is not possible to use klimazwiebel for endlessly meandering monologues. Interesting or not, your contributions are way too long. Feel free to send me a manuscript, and sign with your name. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, why should I believe that I do not even waste my time henceforth?


Anonymous said...

It Would Be Better to Think Out of the Box.

I left my unfinished comment here (I had some problems with the links and the formation over there (Perhaps you will miss some add blocker on that side.).).