Where Naomi Klein goes wrong

Well, trying to narrow it down a bit from “everywhere” of course.

I always think of climate justice as multitasking. We live in a time of multiple overlapping crises: we have a health emergency; We have a housing emergency; We have an inequality imperative; We have a racial injustice emergency; And we have a climate emergency, so if we try to solve them all at once, we’re going to get nowhere. We need feedback that is truly intersectional. So how do we decarbonize and create a less polluted world, while also creating a fairer society on multiple fronts?

Many environmentalists hear this and think: “Well, that sounds a lot harder than just implementing a carbon tax or switching to green energy.” And the argument that we make in the climate justice movement is that what we’re trying to do is build a power base that’s invested in climate action. Because if you’re just talking about carbon, anyone whose daily emergency—whether it’s police violence, gender violence, or housing insecurity—is going to think: “This is a rich man’s problem. I’m focused on the daily emergency of survival.” But if you can connect the issues and show how climate action can create better jobs and reduce inequality and lower stress levels, then you start to get people’s attention and you can build a broader constituency that supports climate policies. Investments are made to pass.


As the Stern Review points out, people buy less of things that are more expensive. More of that stuff is cheap. So, trying to solve climate change and everything else at the same time is more expensive. Therefore, humans will solve climate change less.


All of these are actually Stern reviews. If climate change is a civilization-destroying and urgent problem, we should solve it at the lowest possible cost – because it is essential.

However, if climate change is of equal importance to solving the servant problem—along with subsidized child care—then that’s just one of the many things we need to screw up in order to optimize society, right? At which point the urgency of solving climate change goes away – because we just said it’s just as important as solving the servant problem. And if there’s no urgency to it, then most of what we claim about it can stop, right?

The logic employed here by Klein – as always – simply does not work. Climate change is really, really important – well, let’s solve it as cheaply as possible, because that’s the way to get people to do something. Or, there are all these problems that need to be solved – well, that doesn’t make climate change very important, does it? Reducing the effort it should put into it and reducing the burden we should be willing to bear to solve it. Again just because of how people work.

Is climate change important? So, deal with it. Is it just as important as all these other things? So less effort on climate change. QED.