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Naomi Klein on Bill Moyers: Hurricanes, Capitalism & Democracy

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Naomi Klein, author of the essential Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, joins Bill Moyers to discusses the links between capitalism and climate change.

Moyers & Company Show 145: Hurricanes, Capitalism and Democracy from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

This is actually a two-part episode, but Klein ends at 33:30. (The second part is an interview with Trevor Potter on money in politics.) Here is one exchange with Moyers that caught my attention:

NAOMI KLEIN: So one of the things that you find out in a disaster is you really do need a public sector. It really important. And coming back to what we were talking about earlier, why is climate change so threatening to people on the conservative end of the political spectrum? One of the things it makes an argument for is the public sphere. You need public transit to prevent climate change. But you also need a public health care system to respond to it. It can’t just be ad hoc. It can’t just be charity and goodwill.

BILL MOYERS: When you use terms like “collective action,” “central planning,” you scare corporate executive and the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation because they say you want to do away with capitalism.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, first of all, I don’t use a phrase like “central planning.” I talk about planning, but I don’t think it should be central. And one of the things that one must admit when looking at climate change is that the only thing just as bad or maybe even worse for the climate than capitalism was communism. And when we look at the carbon emissions for the eastern bloc countries, they were actually, in some cases, worse than countries like Australia or Canada. So, let’s just call it a tie. So we need to look for other models. And I think there needs to be much more decentralization and a much deeper definition of democracy than we have right now.

BILL MOYERS: Decentralization of what, Naomi?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, for instance, you know, if we think about renewable energy, well, one of the things that’s happened is that when you try to get wind farms set up, really big wind farms, there’s usually a lot of community resistance that’s happened in the United States. It’s happened in Britain. Where it hasn’t happened is Germany and Denmark. And the reason for that is that in those places you have movements that have demanded that the renewable energy be community controlled, not centrally planned, but community controlled. So that there’s a sense of ownership, not by some big, faceless state, but by the people who actually live in the community that is impacted.

These pesky issues of governance, the nature of the state, and legitimacy seem to popping up all over these days.

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51 comments

  1. just me

    Here is a project for Naomi Klein’s “Do the Math”: Pattern Wind Project in California desert – federally subsidized greenwash, environment screwed, community powerless to stop it:

    http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/9732

    Silence of the Lambs: U.S. Govertnment Authorizes Killing of Endangered Bighorns in Path of Wind Project

    May 19, 2012 (Ocotillo)

    Significantly, the final project approval document signed by Salazar state that the project will power a mere 25,000 homes–a four-fifths drop from the 130,000 homes claimed by Pattern in its testimony to Imperial Valley Supervisors, County Planners, and in the EIS. Where did the missing 105,000 homes go? Were approvals granted under false pretexts?

    Moreover, the wind speeds Pattern know acknowledges at the project site are lower than the Department of Energy’s recommended minimum standard for a viable wind energy project.

    The site also poses risks to human health, from deadly Valley Fever spores being kicked up by construction dust to infrasound hazards to residents of Ocotillo, who will be surrounded on three sides by whirling turbines 450 tall or more.

    If the project is going to generate only a fifth of the power promised by proponents, and the hidden costs are staggering and irreversible, why hasn’t the federal government halted the project and weighed whether federal subsidies should be withdrawn?

    I expect this also blocks real, local solutions from being developed.

    Discussed more in an earlier (lengthy) NC thread here: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/28813.html#comment-718059

    1. Carol Sterritt

      No, please say it isn’t true about the Big Sheep. I have alwys envied them as being able to live so far outside the hubris brought about by humanity’s need to subvert the wild things.

      And why isn’t the environmental movement saying that to centralize wind, and solar, as an energy source is truly stupid? Look at the 12 million people who were affected by lost power, when Sandy’s winds tore apart the power lines, toppled the poles with transformers and the rest of it. Then examine the cost of putting all that infra structure back together. (To say nothing of the economic losses to the households that lost power.)

      Why not let every American household have solar panels and wind turbines on their roofs? That is happening here in Northern Calif. It’s also happening in Chicago! And the wind turbines are identical in appearance when walking by the house that has them, to houses with attic fans. Small and sort of “little elf castle turrets” on your roof tops. Very pleasant looking indeed, and that is before you consider how nice this is for the environment!

      1. just me

        Carol! You have wind turbines on your roof? Please tell me more — link to an example? — that’s what I’ve been waiting for. It was in the thread link I posted above your comment, like here: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/05/28813.html#comment-718207

        I think the whole purpose of things like the phony “green” wind project and the phony “green” Sunrise Powerlink is to keep us dependent on megacompany dirty energy, in our case brought in from Mexico, all the while plunking down dud placemarkers on the “green spot” to keep real green solutions from growing. Sucks the wind out of the green movement, so to speak. Reverse inoculates the market from catching viral rooftop healthy energy.

  2. Middle Seaman

    The program is underwritten by the same evil rich entities that are blamed for global warming.

    Naomi Klein’s talk is disappointingly simplistic. Every societal change faces opposition form established societal or economic forces. Therefore, the main issue is to mobilize a majority convinced of the urgency and necessity of the change. Blaming the oil industry is way too easy. We didn’t do even a fraction of the work needed to build a coalition to fight for alternative fuels.

    Sadly, our current way of life cannot be readily changed with green energy; we don’t have enough of it. We don’t have a good, European style, public transportation and wont have one in the next 50 years.

    There many other issues Naomi Klein fail to address either in depth or thoroughly. That’s too bad.

    1. kj

      Middle Seaman, thank you for your observation that “Therefore, the main issue is to mobilize a majority convinced of the urgency and necessity of the change.”

      Could you address this in depth and more thoroughly? It would help us better understand your observation — and it would also let us know the standard for ‘depth/thoroughness’ to which you hold Klein.

      1. banger

        However you look at it the urgency for change, particularly in addressing climate change, just isn’t there so there is no possibility of mobilizing that public. There is no “there” there. Why that is the case is a complicated subject nearly no one wants to address.

        1. just me

          What if you never saw the there there?

          What if the there there that you’re seeing as insurmountable by puny citizens is really just a few dirty kingpins?

          I’m thinking of the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, and the CARB (California Air Resources Board) vote to kill the zero emissions mandate in California 10 years ago. California had electric cars, people liked them, wanted them, but big oil and big auto and their friends in government didn’t, and… “it all came down to the CARB vote”…

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj6BaSVE2ZI&feature=youtu.be&t=7m9s

          At the public hearing, there were only “4 people out of 78 that are supporting this proposal [to end the zero emissions mandate]. How did we end up with this?” asked one of the board members. Speaking to end the mandate, the few industry representatives were given lots of time to talk, but the many people speaking to keep the mandate were held to short time. And then the board voted to kill the mandate. And then nearly all the electric cars were recalled and shredded. And then we went to war for oil.

          Note too that the CARB board wasn’t hearing industry arguments like “Hummers and oil are too profitable to allow alternatives like electric vehicles to spread like ‘cancer’ and spoil our market.” Instead they were fed pablum like alternative hydrogen fuel cell technology, which needed five miracles to be practical. “We’re giving environmentalists the music and we’re giving the industry the action” was a joke that wasn’t a joke – http://youtu.be/Gt6avG7C6Ow?t=7m42s — just like how we now get sweet-sounding but ludicrous remote wind farms and a “green” Sunrise Powerlink that in fact would not commit to carrying any green energy at all but will be mighty useful to import dirty energy from Mexico to captive energy company customers in the United States.

          Also, government thumb on the scale — in 2002 the maximum federal tax credit on an electric vehicle was $4,000. In 2003 the tax deduction on a Hummer was $100,000. I’m just reading the subtitles. You can watch most of the movie on youtube with Greek subtitles (no part 8 – ?)

    2. Redgerrymander

      Actually, your criticism of the TV Show, “underwritten by the same evil rich entities that are blamed for global warming,” is exactly what Ms. Klein describes in her book, “Disaster Capitalism.”

      When PBS was well funded by the government (i.e. living up to its name of ‘public’), it did not need to self-censor itself. This honest, speaking-truth-to-power was despised by business interests, who preferred their media owned and on message.

      Intense lobbying over the years by business organizations, think tanks and ‘foundations’ leads to a vicious spiral of budget cuts until PBS can no longer do its job effectively.

      Thus weakened, PBS must attract funding, and because they are desperate and a niche broadcaster (they’ve never had the lavish budgets that private commercial networks had) that air time comes cheap.

      So it’s a win-win for the private interests. First, their lobbying was successful. PBS is now beholden to private interests via private funding.

      Second, private interests now have another channel to influence and manipulate public opinion behind the screen of being ‘charitable and public minded’.

      Also, if you’re looking for an in-depth exploration of these themes, I highly recommend any of Ms. Klein’s books. Sadly, a half-hour of television is no replacement for a well-researched and documented piece of non-fiction.

      1. banger

        The PBS problem is more complicated than what you cite. One chief aspect of the problem is that journalism as a profession is very strictly run ideologically these days. There is little room for coloring outside the lines that mainstream journalists face. Most of the journalists that work in the PBS, NPR and so on family want to have a career and they know that they will probably not be able to work if they report in a way that the corporate elite want them to report.

      2. banger

        Klein does manage to address the important questions. Climate change is indeed opposed because it implies that the collective is important. But her hope, and that of all progressives, is that, somehow, the public will wake up and call for the federal government to make plans on dealing with the crisis. That won’t and can’t happen and the left needs to stop imagining that it can. There is not a hint of a movement in that direction, in part, most people do not trust government on any level but particularly the feds–because it is too distant removed and corrupt. I don’t have the answer because I see no way that the feds can win back the trust of the American people at this time as long as the mainstream media is the most corrupt institution of all because it creates a narrative of carefully woven half-truths that has little relation to reality but it is all we have. As long as the mainstream has a stranglehold on the mythological framework they will continue to create an increasingly fantasy-laden framework desinged to deceive whatever demographic it is aimed at as they move towards refining their methods to micro- and niche- markets.

        1. gepay

          I do not believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming as causing climate change. I do believe we must change our dependence on fossil fuel. One needs only to look at the Gulf of Mexico. That was not caused by AGW but by BP, the regulators being suborned, and all of ours’ use of oil. Coal and nuclear are not the answer. Can anyone say clean coal without their nose growing longer or say Fukushima?
          What I mean is that man-made climate change caused by man increasing the trace gas CO2 in the atmosphere is a conjecture. Correlation is not causation. Our ignorance of the climate and weather mechanism is to large to say anything definitive at this point. What is the definition of climate change anyway. However our technology has advanced to the point where we can damage the environment irrevocably = can anyone say nuclear winter or many other ways = and are. We should deal with known problems. We don’t have to make up possible reasons for cutting back on our use of fossil fuels. The universe is filled with energy.

          1. different clue

            “Believe in” is too religious, but I accept the reality of manmade global warming. I am just a lay amateur science buff with no professional authority to stand on or academic rank to pull, so my lay amateur reasons for thinking what I think will either be convincing in their own terms or they won’t be.

            In science, as far as I know, a theory is tested by using it to make measurable or testable predictions which are proven true or false by experiment or observation. Failed prediction after failed prediction shows the theory to be wrong, so a new theory is crafted to explain the known facts. But if the predictions a theory makes possible turn out to be correct or allow the finding of new information where the theory says it will be findable; then the theory is accepted for now and strengthened with the new information which can be worked into it.

            I first read about predicted global warming in the very latest 1970s in an article in CoEvolution Quarterly. The article briefestly said that CO2 (and lesserly some other gases) trap heat within the atmosphere which keeps Earth surface warm enough for life to live on. We are putting enough CO2 into the air above what was up there before the Industrial Revolution that if we keep doing it, we will experience feelable heating and icecap/glacier melting and stronger storming and etc. This prediction was offered before any of that was beginning RELative to the Interglacial we are/were already in. Some years after that I began to read about the “future global warming threat” elsewhere. Then I began reading here and there some scientists suggesting some warming may have just begun . . . and building models to “predict” how and where such warming would show up first and worst. They predicted the Arctic would rise in temps faster than the non-Arctic. About 10 years later, that prediction has happened as predicted. Prediction after prediction that I read in the popularized science for layfolk book Hothouse Earth by John Gribbin, written years before Gore wrote Earth In The Balance; have come about as predicted. So manmade global warming theory has impressed me with its before-the-fact proven-to-be-true predictive power. More and more predictions keep getting met or exceeded. I see no reason to doubt the theory’s usefulness or predictive power at this point.

            I am 55 years old. If you are younger, you will live your life in a Big Heat Rising world. Reality is the stuff that stays real no matter how hard people wave it away, wish it away, talk it away, or pray it away. You don’t have to believe me. You will end up believing your own future experience.

            The hopeful side of the theory is the hope it offers for heat stabilization or even rescue dewarming if the right things are done in the right way. I’m sure the NaCap thread posters will offer us future opportunities to discuss what those right things might be.

          2. Mr. Eclectic

            Different clue, just wanted to say what an excellent post, especially the second paragraph, re scientific method and theory.

  3. Max424

    Central planning! NO WAY!

    Giggle. How do you think we got here? Decentralized planning? How did you think the most extensive rail network the world has ever seen (or ever will see), in less than two decades, was literally torn to shreds and eliminated.

    People at the local level said, all at once: I no longer want to move about on public transit. I want to drive everywhere, on a massive, centrally planned highway system that doesn’t exist yet, so I’m going to personally, rip up some railroad tracks in anticipation?

    Hey Fred, whaddaya say you and I twist some ties like General Sherman’s boys!

    Giggle number two. Here’s a good idea. It involves central planning, by get this, one guy, the President. But don’t worry, central planning scaredy cats, it also allows for decentralization, local solutions, and … drum roll … market forces!

    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/take/beyond-carbon-policy-a-national-feed-in-tariff/231

    1. Redgerrymander

      Silly me, I always thought that the destruction of the streetcar system in the US had something to do with “The Great American streetcar scandal”. But, I guess it was ‘people at the local level’ all along who just upped and decided to start pulling up the tracks in front of their homes to make space for more cars and highways…

      According to Wikipedia:

      “..(the Great American streetcar scandal) refers to allegations and convictions in relation to a program by General Motors (GM) and other companies to purchase and dismantle streetcars and electric trains in the 1930s and 1940s. Several of the major companies involved were convicted in 1949 of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies.

      Some believe that this plot helped to cause the mid-century decline of public transit in United States cities. A key proponent of this theory is Bradford C. Snell, whose 1974 testimony against G.M., Chrysler, and Ford brought the issue to national awareness. Snell argued that the deliberate destruction of streetcars was part of a larger strategy to push the United States into automobile dependency.”

      Here’s a link to the complete posting on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy

    2. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      I’m open to anything better than carbon tax and especially cap&trade, but the author of this article for some reason chooses to ignore all the state mandated programs so far.

      I only check up on CA now and then, but they began their state mandate in 2002 and even brought back Guv Moonbeam, er, I mean Guv Sunbeam.

      They mandate 33% renewable by 2020. This is sort of an update after 10 years into the plan:

      http://cleantechnica.com/2012/07/29/california-renewable-energy-forecast-just-keeps-getting-brighter/

      Note that so far solar is only 1% of the 33%, and I have been desperately trying to find some evidence that solar works at some approximation to being affordable. My gut tells me it could as much as double electric rates, and that makes me wonder how many people will be charging up their $40K electric cars. But if we must bring back the bicycle and just use electricity for light bulbs and AC, then I guess that may be as good as we can do.

      So the author of this article breathlessly quoted a P&G exec whom stated there is no way to get to 33% without solar being 40% of the 33%, and didn’t ask how much dat cost. So I guess I wait till 2020 to find out, but at least I am now safely in AZ, but wondering where we will buy our power. But I got a bicycle already and deodorant is cheap.

      1. different clue

        A straight-up carbon emmissions tax would be the best thing actually. Raising the price of carbon energy would incentivize people to use less of it. Such a tax would become a “market force”. (In truth, a “market force” is ANYthing which affects the behavior of buyer-seller participants in ANy market. Changing the price of something through imposing a tax is just as much a “market force” as changing the price of something through permitting
        a private choke-point toll-charging rent-seeker monopoly).

        Higher carbon-tax driven prices for electricity for AC? People might be incentivized to buy more eFFICient AC systems like the Ice Bear. http://utopianist.com/2011/08/ice-bear-could-make-air-conditioning-95-more-efficient/
        Even more higher-er carbon-tax driven prices for electricity for AC? Someone named Harold Hay designed a system of roofborne waterbeds and moveable insulation panels
        for chill-harvest and heat-sinking for climates like Arizona. In fact, Arizona was where he did his work.
        http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-community/harold-r-hay-zmaz76soztak.aspx

  4. Mafer

    I am sure that everyone who watches this video will, in their heart of hearts, know that the divestment strategy will fail to have a meaningful impact on the status quo. The medicine is far too weak. However, nobody will call out the charlatan, since the tactic´s proponents will accuse naysayers of helping to perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Reformists, like Klein, make careers out of doomed-to-fail half-measures that sound superficially attractive. However, the reformists themselves are one of the principle impediments to change, since they sow illusions by telling the people that taking power -i.e. Revolution- is neither necessary nor desirable. And for that very reason it is necessary to speak up.

    1. different clue

      A divestment strategy might allow the people pursuing it to find eachother and build a movement of people working together to do organized things. If divestment fails, they will be organized into a movement able to do more effective things.

  5. jennifer hill

    Deep Democracy will require the current form dissapate, be irrelevant and that will not happen naturally as it were. So dismantling the status quo to allow for what I believe is a more organic and atomized will require be a long and protracted process. They can be done simultaneously with the kind of planning she discusses, and will result in less centralization as smaller geographic domains have more control over various functions of government and commerce. When the effect of decisions are in your direct sphere of perception there is a reason to be very concerned with the affect they have on your community. The current version of capitalist democracy is quite removed from the consequences of its actions, and that has resulted in the disconnect, and the denial of the poverty they have caused for nearly half of all American citizens.

  6. indio007

    I’m sorry but she really is an elitist sycophant. the most reliable predictor of whether someone believes in climate change is whether they believe in abortion? That’s straight up demagoguery.

    Richard Feynman said “The only thing I know for certain is that how hard it is to know something for certain.”

    Climate change science is pseudo science. There isn’t even an adequte eplaination of gravity

    1. Susan the other

      Is weather pseudo science too? How about ag science and famine. Is there a famine science – oh that’s right it’s called Monsanto science – just poison everyone’s food, and famine solved! Mmmm. Love all those free market solutions. Except of course for the fact that there is no fucking free market. All there is is nonsense, risk management, actuarial tables and hedged insurance headed for train wreck with fate. Fate has been heavily discounted.

    2. toxymoron

      You are free to “believe” in gravity or not. But I would reconsider jumping out of high windows in disbelief.
      You are free to “believe” in global warming or not. But I would reconsider continuing pumping large quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere.
      FWIW, you may disbelieve those ecologists that claim we are consuming the resources of 2, 3 or even more earths. That statement is fully wrong. Even a million earths can’t give us the fossil fuels we are burning every year.

    3. different clue

      I offered a comment up above to gepay about why I find the emerging science of manmade global warming to be impressive enough to take seriously and to act upon. You are free to go upthread and read it, or not . . . as you wish.

      If you believe as a matter of True Belief that global warming is a liberal hoax, etc. etc., then might I suggest that you have a tremendous contrarian investment opportunity laid out before you? People like me will arrange our lives around our belief that the global is warming and we will do this and avoid that based on our beliefs and expectations of more manmade warming to come.
      If we are wrong and you are right, you could make a lot of money investing in all the things we are divesting away from. For example, as people retreat in panic and despair from the edge of a rising ocean, you could buy up all the seaside beachfront property you can afford. You could then cash in by selling it back to us at a huge markup when we realize our fears of a rising ocean were just silly. Do you really believe in no-such-thing-as-manmade-global-warming? Put your money where your mouth is. Step up and take this opportunity to become rich.

    4. Neal Heidler

      re:”Climate change science is pseudo science.”
      No it isn’t.
      There are literally thousands of reputable, respected, professional scientists doing climate research and publishing results that very strongly point to C02 as the cause of AGW. This view is widely accepted in the scientific community.

      This while your belief:
      “Climate change science is pseudo science.”
      Is accepted among right wing crackpots and at FNC.
      I’ll go with the scientists.

  7. Dave of Maryland

    If the topic is hurricanes and the recovery therefrom, disaster recovery has been a disaster.

    The Weather Channel still reports live from the Jersey shore. Things have been cleaned up, but I see no rebuilding going on. Nor do I see excited homeowners waiving insurance checks live on camera. I don’t even see hordes of out-of-state, fly-by-night contractors trying to get rich quick. All I see is nothing.

    Which is no different than Katrina, where, years later, little actual rebuilding has been done. Nor any different from Greensburg, KS (a town I lived in briefly when I was a kid), leveled by an F5 tornado. In the case of Greensburg, an addled city government declared the city must be rebuilt “green” (as in “Greens”burg, I kid you not) which resulted in concrete bomb shelter houses. In Greensburg, at least 75% of the population moved away. Was it because they did not like the new building code? (Which were draconian, arbitrary, and silly.) At first I thought so, but then I realized that if there had been money, if there had been actual rebuilding, the majority of the population would have stayed and rebuilt. Instead, the majority of the residents of Greensburg, KS, like the majority of the people wiped out by Katrina, and now by Sandy, became economic refugees. Displaced citizens. They fled. Lives simply wasted. Was there homeowners insurance, or were the policies inadequate to rebuild?

    Rebuilding means truckloads of 2 x 4′s, truckloads of sheetrock, truckloads of shingles and siding. Rebuilding means the Army Corps of Engineers. Rebuilding means organized government programs to hire every man, woman and teenager to work short-term reconstruction projects. Sign over your insurance money to the government and your house gets rebuilt. It’s that simple. EVERYBODY IN A HOME BY XMAS would be the goal.

    The US in fact built massive military bases in Iraq in record time. Including houses, apartment blocks, business districts, airports, mass transit, the works. WE CAN DO THIS. At least, we can do it in far off countries that we previously bombed to bits.

    So why aren’t we doing it for ourselves, when we need it? When do we put ourselves, and our immediate needs first?

    Instead we have Presidents who do porno tours. “I feel your pain. Please cry on my shoulder. Wait a minute. The cameras weren’t ready. Let’s do it again. Can you cry some more? Okay. Good! What’s for lunch? This touring biz is sure hard work!”

    Tell me about global warming at your own risk.

    1. different clue

      You are correct about rebuilding. The question is where and how? Rebuilding right along the edge of a rising ocean full of stronger storms seems too stupid to believe. Retreat to somewhat higher ground and rebuild there.

      Tell you about global warming at my own risk? Well, I am risk-averse. I will let the heating surface of a warming planet tell you about it instead. It has decades to spend making its point to you, and it will spend those decades making its point loud and clear, and then louder and clearer. Some people will be too stupid to listen. Those people are not my problem. And I will do whatever I can to make very sure that they fail in their whining pleading demanding efforts to make their problem my problem . . . fail to succeed.

  8. Clive

    Yeah, but… I still don’t want a big ugly wind farm in the beautiful countryside where I live. Not, as the saying goes, in my back yard. Doesn’t matter if it is centrally planned or locally ordained. Sorry Naomi, I think you’re wrong on that one.

    Here in the UK, our electricity supply requires c. 60Gw installed generating capacity. This can satisfied by appx. 10-12 large scale nuclear plants of the — erm… — Fukushima size. These plants can be built near where there are already existing nuclear plants and little or no grid reinforcement is required. Or several thousand acres of wind farms in the most beautiful, unspoilt parts of the country with hundreds or thousands of miles of new interconnect lines. These lines need to be 400kv, not exactly invisible. Oh, and something other than unreliable renewables to mop up the baseload in a guaranteed way.

    The key to operating these plants safely is good governance, good design and proper regulation. A “safety culture” that’s not just in name only. While Naomi is quite correct, those on the conservative side of politics are intrinsically threatened by the ramifications of climate change it is also true to say that — equally but opposite — those on the left are intrinsically threatened by the possibility of Big Science, Big Industry and, dare I say it, Big Growth might have to feature in our future plans.

    This one cuts both ways I’m afraid.

    1. just me

      The key to operating these plants safely is good governance, good design and proper regulation. A “safety culture” that’s not just in name only.

      Think you need to listen to the “Clean, Safe, Too Cheap To Meter” segments of Harry Shearer’s Le Show. I’m sure Atty, Your Friend the Atom, would welcome you… Wait! Atty, is that you?

      1. Clive

        Well, I’m guessing that you’re a US resident in which case

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_by_country#section_1

        c. 20% of the electricity used to power the device used to write your comment came from nuclear power. So like it or not, little atty the atom is your friend too.

        I’m awaiting your suggestion for how in any reasonable timeframe you think it can be arranged to decommission those generation assets and replace them with renewables. Let alone decarbonise the other 70-odd %. Seriously, if you’ve got a plan to do that I’m all ears as its better than my nuke based option. I wish it wasn’t the case that I have to conclude that nuclear is the least-worst.

        On the other hand if it just wisecracking, well, I can do that too but it seems so unfair to have such a mismatched competition…

        1. Christophe

          Here’s the suggestion you requested — use less energy.

          At present it is an optional choice, desirable only to those who wish to get ahead of the curve. Later, when all the attractive temporary solutions have been exhausted, it will be the only choice. At that point the curve will be much more crowded and therefore much more treacherous. We only get to choose when, not whether, we start wasting less energy.

          How much more damage will we do to ourselves proving that we can temporarily put off adapting to our changed environment? And what possible benefit can such a delay afford any species? Adapt, or….

  9. docg

    Naomi Klein is monumentally naive. She is not alone, of course. Climate change denial is one thing, but assuming we can turn things around by controlling the fossil fuel industry and encouraging people to buy (outrageously expensive) electric cars is also a form of denial. It is also an insidious and arrogant form of neo-colonialism, because the heaviest use of fossil fuels is going to come from non-Western societies struggling to develop — and feed their starving multitudes.

    “Any attempt to slow global warming by imposing economic restrictions is sure to have devastating effects, not only on the economies of emerging industrial nations such as China and India, but the poorest of the poor in every part of the world. And in the face of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the effects on many working and middle class families may also be dire. If global warming can be characterized as a man-made disaster, ill informed and panicky attempts to reverse it can be seen as part of the same depressing trend, founded in human arrogance, hubris and sheer pig-headed ignorance. If nothing else, the recent ethanol farce should give us pause before we embark on yet another, possibly far more costly, folly.” http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/search?q=climate

    The ONLY intelligent response to this very real, but also very slow moving, threat is: adaptation. New Yorkers are now debating the wisdom of sea walls, of the sort already in place in many port cities, including Rotterdam and London. Such measures make far more sense than Quixotic attempts to put the fossil fuel industry out of business, which will never happen, and for very good and very human, reasons, not simply the opposition of greedy businessmen.

    1. Susan the other

      Adaptation is what she is talking about. We must modify our behavior to prevent more than a 2 degree c. temperature rise which will in turn trigger all the weather disasters and sea level rise predicted. A do the math movement to ask people to disinvest in risky behavior is entirely applicable. That’s part of deep democracy. Did you notice that Jim Hansen recently spoke to trade unions in NYC and asked them to get on board by demanding green jobs? Article here a few days ago. But as long as the unions are dependent on big employers that is a risky approach. If we want the corporations to adapt, it’s best to really hit them where it hurts – their stock value. Unless you fancy adapting to a 40 foot sea level rise affecting close to 70 million people here in the US. Is the fossil fuel industry above change? If not, what can it do to contribute? It could get behind the funding of cleaner mass transit for starters.

      1. docg

        Fossil fuel production could be cut back drastically tomorrow and the best we could hope for would be postponing the inevitable for a few short years. Meanwhile, we would have devastated the world economy and destroyed the lives of billions of vulnerable people worldwide. And no one is predicting a 40 foot rise in sea level, not any time soon at least. 1 foot would be serious enough, I can assure you.

        The bottom line is that we have no choice but to adapt to the various problems climate change will be posing over the next 50 to 100 years. Meanwhile I would hope we’d see major advances in alternative fuel technologies so fossil fuels could ultimately be phased out — in a timely, reasonable manner, free from the sort of hysteria and panic peddled by folks like Naomi.

        I don’t doubt climate change is real. And I feel certain much of it is fueled by human activity, yes. But given the huge number of mouths to feed and hands to warm worldwide, the generation of power through fossil fuels has become tantamount to a force of nature. You can’t just turn off that spigot, sorry, any more than you can command the Earth to stop producing earthquakes, eruptions and tsunamis.

        The notion that we can turn global warming around is sheer hubris, compounded by folly. Beat your breast if you like, say your mea culpas, buy an electric car and lobby the oil industry if that’s going to make you feel better about yourself. But that’s ALL it’s going to do.

        1. EconCCX

          But given the huge number of mouths to feed and hands to warm worldwide, the generation of power through fossil fuels has become tantamount to a force of nature. @docg

          That’s the thing. Sustainability has become unsustainable. See this response to Klein by the superb money-reform writer Derryl Hermanutz.

          Sustainable Living

          Derryl is a “fixing a hole” writer. It really doesn’t matter if he’s wrong; he’s right.

    2. different clue

      How do we adapt to degraded survival conditions if the conditions keep degrading faster than we can degrade our civilization and culture to keep up? Your advice amounts to this: nothing can be done to change the course of atmospheric carbon loading . . . . so there is nothing for it but to lie back and think of England. Luckily for us, your ignorance-based view of what can be done is entirely wrong. Information-rich reality-based people will attempt smarter and more effective approaches.

  10. gozounlimited

    Poor Naomi has Climate Change and Geoengineering confused. Sandy was a purposed, geoengineered storm, so if you want to Occupy Sandy ….Occupy Geoengineered Storms. Ms. Namoi wants to accuse people (who understand global geoengineering) of being oil lobbyists …. an elitist and ignorant mindset.

    If she wonders why “politicians” avoid global warming, it’s because they know weather anomalies are being caused by market weather geoengineering. Example …. Midwest farmer insures his crop for three times the value of the harvest. Geoengineered drought provides the farmer a big payout from insurance, feds, and market. Wall Street firm makes millions taking positions in commodities knowing climate manipulation will create desired results.

    Naomi needs to educate and sophisticate up so she can play a progressive rather than backward role in climate science.

    By the way ….blue green algae is caused by nitrates ….. fertilizer…. warming, cooling doesn’t change natural facts.

    And Al Gore wants to shove his cap and trade while knowing global warming, as advertised here, is a scam. Wake up sheeple!

    1. docg

      Geoengine-what???? What on Earth (no pun intended) are you talking about? Sandy was a geoengineered storm? If so, I’d love to meet the geoengineer who geoengineered it.

    1. different clue

      Its many things. Its the fossil carbon, its the tree death carbon, its the desertification carbon, its the soil dehumification carbon . . . and only minorly yet is it the methane.

      If we don’t reverse the warming in time to avoid releasing the methane, then there really WILL be nothing for it but to lie back and think of England.

  11. E.L. Beck

    Decentralization drives a political system closer to the people that are affected, but those people must engage with the political system in order to benefit, otherwise all that changes is the view from the lobbyist’s window.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree with your assessment. At risk of shutting off legitimate contraversy I would some form of active troll control. I like to eat fish but red-herring gets old after a while. [Can't finger any particular posts -- this chain 'feels' troll polluted.]

    2. Yves Smith

      I usually delete first time posts that look trollish, that’s the usual tell, if I see them before anyone has responded. On any union-favorable posts, there is a LOT of clearly orchestrated trolling. But if someone has responded, the thread becomes bizarre, so I actually wind up expunging very few comments.

      The other tell of a troll is not following up on the original remark. Bona fide commentors have ego and come back to have a look and defend themselves.

    3. different clue

      Some of these people seem like sincere doubters and others seem like angry denialist rejecters. Their whole carbon-soaked way of life is coming apart one way OR the other. Millions of people will go violently mad, run spree-killingly amok, etc.; as THEIR form of “considered response” to global warming. It is far deeper than organized trollery.

  12. Uncle Bob

    Yes, I believe in the Global Warming cycle, but I wonder if there are cycles within cycles, within cycles that are way more complicated that just human caused reasons. After the past few natural disasters in the past few years,(Mt. St. Helens Volcano, Indonesian sunami and the recent japanese disaster, seeing how quickly nature changes things; I believe humans are partially responsible..but what does “partially responsible” mean? It means I believe we affect the environment around us just as the environment affects us; inside and out..

    What confuses me are conflicting messages;
    “one storm does not define global warming”..”Superstorm Sandy is proof that Global Warming is happening”

    The explinations that are given for the differencess between weather forcasting and Climatological forcasting; i.e. If they can’t accurately forcast the weather after 72 hrs., how can they accurately forcast the climate chamge.

    When I was in college in the 1970′s, the earth was supposed to be cooling, headed for an ice age. Afterall, technically, we are living in between ice ages. Then “Conservation” was the big buzz word. Conserving Energy, Recycling..using less..etc

    I disagree concur Ms. Klein’s assertion that the Energy Industry has a powerful lobby..well duh!! No Shit!

    What she faile to mention are the confusing, mixed and changing messages coming from her side

    1. different clue

      A lot of the mixed messages come from the wish of many scientists to retain their public image of measured rational credibility. They wish to avoid being smeared or slandered or even just mocked and ridiculed as “alarmist”.
      I have read that some scientists are quietly discussing among themselves the need to through caution to the hot rising winds and hit the panic button in public.

      About cycles within cycles . . . just a few years ago I read about something called Pacific Decadal Oscillation . . . one of those cycles along with El Ninyo and La Ninya and numerous others. The PDO cycle theorists saw a correlation between changing temps in a big piece of the tropical pacific with warmer and then cooler 10-15 year clusters of years in Eastern North America. Matching E.N.A. weather datasets with tropical Pacific water temperature datatsets, they suggested trying to predict what cluster-quality of years would hit ENA correlated to what water-temp pattern appeared to be setting up in the Pacific. I remember them saying that the sorta cooler-summer colder-winter pattern we were in through the mid 90s into the latest dubbleOs (what some people call the “aughties”) would give way to another stretch of hotter summer warmer-winters starting any time now. My lay amateur science-buff feeling is that if manmade global warming is real (as I think it is), then the coming 10-15 year stretch of hot-summers warm-winters in Eastern North America should be on average more hotter-er than the last “warm cycle” from the eighties to early nineties was.
      That’s MY little prediction to test the predictive power of MY little version of the natural-cycle/manmade heatering interaction theory.

  13. Bill Jones

    “So one of the things that you find out in a disaster is you really do need a public sector. It really important.”

    What utter bollocks.

    My neighbors and I lost electrity for a week, had roofs and houses damaged and roads blocked by trees.

    We managed.

    This line should read
    “So one of the things that you find out in a disaster is that if you are dependent on the government, you really do need a public sector.”

    But we knew that anyway.

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