Now that I’ve promised to post about books I’m beginning to read, I figure I might as well read something profound.
Enter “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate” by Naomi Klein.
I’ve always been drawn to environmental issues. Like basic human rights, environmental concern should transcend politics and religion. Regardless of locality or mythological tendencies, all societies share the environment. We suffer when any one of us destroys it, and the scientific evidence that we’re destroying it is not insubstantial. Should you be of the mindset we’re not actually destroying it, you must at least accept that we all suffer when it suffers, and it is undoubtedly suffering.
If any topic should inspire global attention and communal effort, is it not the land and water without which we have nothing? Is it not our job to search for solutions? Regardless of why we find ourselves at this point, should we sit idly by knowing our children may suffocate or starve or thirst or drown?
It seems, as usual, I’m naive. Every day, nations prove me wrong. Religions prove me wrong. Economic ideologies prove me wrong. The world wants to experiment. The world wants to try new things. Many attempts to find solutions have already begun, but existing geopolitical relationships and free trade agreements stifle them even after they’ve proven successful. Economic ideologues worship the free market like a universal savior, but time and again the free market has proven incapable of regulating itself, let alone solving global crises. Religious fundamentalists tout the dominance of man over nature, of mankind’s right to exploit the resources provided by mythological creators, and they see no reason to worry or to change. These people all value ideas that cannot exist without humanity, but they seem to place no value on protecting the earth needed to sustain that humanity.
This book has sat on my shelf for a few months. I hesitated to read it for many reasons. 1) You don’t read a book like this for escapist pleasure, and with recent work/job/life issues saturating the air like an abundance of springtime pollen, I’ve looked for escapism in my leisure activities. 2) I knew it would piss me off, and, after reading a few dozen pages, I’m already pissed off. 3) I’m not sure there is a third reason, but I wrote the word “many” earlier, and “many” requires a list at least three items long.
In my career, I invent and design software solutions. As I get older, I’m increasingly looking for ways to create solutions that benefit more than a company’s (or my own) financial situation. There are solutions to our environmental issues. There are, in fact, capitalist solutions to our environmental issues. But capitalism does not breed selflessness. Corporations, as a rule, behave in their own self-interest (it’s probably the only way they’re anything like people), and we cannot expect free market forces to solve a problem they’ve helped create. Innovative solutions, new business models, and unregulated technology can be the end result of our efforts, but I firmly believe government intervention (via subsidies, emission regulation, and revised trade policies) will be necessary to spur that progress.
I’m hoping this book awakens my imagination, improves my awareness and understanding, and offers insights that together spark an idea. I can’t fix the problem, but maybe in some small way I can help. Let the adventure begin.
Also published on Medium.