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For one, they have succeeded in taking what began as a straightforward debate about shifting away from fossil fuels and put it through a jargon generator so convoluted that the entire climate issue came to seem too complex and arcane for nonexperts to understand, seriously undercutting the potential to build a mass movement capable of taking on powerful polluters. Klein traces the recent history of the environmental movement and points out that the s were a major turning point.

The Reagan administration attacked environmental regulations, and the big establishment environmentalists capitulated to this: "In the s, extreme free market ideology became the discourse of power, the language that elites were speaking to one another, even if large parts of the general public remained un-persuaded. That meant for the mainstream green movement, confronting the antigovernment logic of market triumphalism head-on would have meant exiling themselves to the margins. And many of the big-budget green groups having grown comfortable with their access to power and general support from large, elite foundations were unwilling to do that.

Klein points out that this led to splits within the environmental movement, as some new groups were formed that added to the part of the movement focused on confrontations with the polluters, rather than taking their money or greenwashing them. And over and over we see that many rank-and-file members of Big Green groups have been upset when they find out about the deals carried out by the leadership of their organizations.

This was particularly notable when it came out that Big Green had deals with BP after its giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But Big Green isn't everything. A militant movement has always existed: the establishment environmentalists are only the bourgeois-oriented section of the movement. People won't let the bourgeoisie poison the planet and their communities in silence. No matter how much money the foundations pour into the movement, no matter how much the leadership of Big Green preaches about working hand-in-hand with the corporations, the struggle will continue, and the class issues will eventually come to the surface.

These and other currents of struggle continue. But there are limits to how far the militant movement has developed a separate program from establishment environmentalism. It remains wary of overall environmental planning, and it has usually avoided assessing directly the programs of Gore and the IPCC.

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While denouncing market measures, it has generally failed to recognize the carbon tax as another market measure. But the carbon tax is a serious threat to environmental goals, not only because it will fail to achieve the necessary reductions in the use of carbon fuels, but because it converts the slogan of "tax the polluter" into "tax the people" and thus threatens to undermine mass support for environmentalism.

It is up to the working-class movement to develop a realistic program to deal with the environmental crisis. The bourgeois economists will never get it right, and the leaders of the establishment movement will always value their place at the capitalist table higher than the needs of protecting the earth. There has always been a hidden class struggle in the environmental issue, and real progress requires that the working class bring this struggle out into the open.

Green Gone Wrong: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Eco-Capitalism (Electronic book text)

No doubt many of these things can only be achieved partially while capitalism still exists. And the capitalists will constantly strive to take back every concession they make. But some progress along these lines is needed if the earth is to be protected.

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And the constant struggle over these points will help bring the class struggle to the fore and pave the way towards social revolution. Naomi Klein takes for her theme that climate change isn't just another issue, but is going to transform everything. And she is right.

Market fundamentalism isn't going to last forever. It is going to go up in flames as the environmental crisis deepens and as it also shows its increasing inability to provide water, housing, pensions, schooling, or health care to millions upon millions of people around the world. As Klein says, "The challenge.

Climate Crisis and the Democratic Prospect

Right now, the triumph of market logic, with its ethos of domination and fierce competition, is paralyzing almost all serious efforts to respond to climate change. The best sections of This Changes Everything raise issues that many other writers avert their eyes from, such as the faults of the major bourgeois environmental groups "Big Green" , the threat of geo-engineering, and the failure of carbon trading, carbon offsets, and carbon markets. Klein expresses the views of the militant section of the environmental movement. In line with this, the book defends confrontation with the polluters but doesn't quite know how to build a conscious alternative to the establishment environmentalism of Big Green.

But it provides a lot of information showing that this alternative is necessary. Gar Lipow shows that it's possible, with technology that already existed at the time of the book, to drastically cut carbon-based fuels, protect the environment, and yet maintain the standard of living.

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His book is notable for the loving care with which he treats complicated technical matters; he spared no effort in researching his subject. Moreover, technical progress in the decade since he wrote the book only reinforces his conclusions. This book is important because, if it is correct that we have the technical capacity to slash greenhouse gas emissions, then it's clear that the corporate exploiters are the real source of the danger of global warming.

The capitalists don't just insist that everything must be profitable: the present billionaires and large corporations insist that they must be the ones who make the profits, or else the world can go to hell. To stop the threat to the environment, there must be social and political changes, not simply new technical innovations. In this book, as in his earlier work from , An Inconvenient Truth , Al Gore sounds an alarm about the dangers facing the world from global warming.

He has helped spread the word among masses of people, and he is influential among environmental activists as well as the establishment environmental groups. But while he is right on the dangers facing us, he is wrong about the solutions. He has consistently advocated market solutions and covered up their repeated failure.

He has consistently advocated work hand-in-hand with the big bourgeoisie. He is silent about the need for overall environmental planning, and what this would mean for economic planning. And while he is influential among militant activists, it is notable that he is silent about them in this books: talking about them might disturb the big bourgeoisie. Gore's stand is similar to that of the IPCC.

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The IPCC has done good work in demonstrating the seriousness of the threat of global warming. Its reports correctly reflect the current state of climate science. But its proposals for solution are based, not on science, but on the market fundamentalist viewpoint of the governments represented at the UN.


Climate science is one thing and deserves respect; bourgeois economics is another, and deserves opposition. If there is to be a serious movement for climate justice and social change, it will have to go beyond Gore's program and that of the IPCC. Moreover, it should not simply ignore Gore's program and bourgeois environmentalism, but openly evaluate their policies and oppose the fiascoes which these policies have caused. But as of yet, even the more militant wing of the movement tends to be silent about Gore, or occasionally to denounce him for things other than his main environmental policies.

In this book, Gar Lipow takes on the question of how to achieve the technical changes he had outlined in his earlier book, Cooling It! He talks of the "massive political and economic change" which is needed, and of "the hard questions of organizing and winning" p. This is the path which we really need to take. But in essence, he proposes that the movement keep on doing what it has already been doing, but be somewhat better at it. So he provides an intelligent discussion of details, while staying silent on the major obstacles to the movement dealing with social change.

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