Klein denies deniers’ denials

When Naomi Klein uses the word “denier” and its derivatives no fewer than 28 times* in a single article, she telegraphs her belief that those so labelled cannot be motivated by facts. Jo Nova, once again prepared to fearlessly battle climate bigotry, confronts Klein’s vacuous arguments with her usual cutting perspicacity, real science and humorous mockery of her opponent’s weaknesses.

Though there’s little chance of any direct reply from Klein, the sceptical climate scene is sadly lacking in such talented writers and thinkers as our beloved Jo. Here, she’s done it again, treating another breathless Earth-saver with robust scorn.

Naomi Klein’s lengthy ramble is notable for not commenting on the science or refuting sceptical claims. Instead, she rabbits on about opinion polls, political loyalties, age and ethnic groups and, of course, it’s all about America — the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

It goes without saying that opinion polls don’t reflect the weather. The only climate they reveal is that of current thinking — they don’t help anyone discover the facts.

Klein, seemingly, cannot conceive of the possibility of spontaneous natural inquiry raising doubts about the claims of AGW. Instead, she thinks that any doubts are falsely created only by the counterfeit opposition funded by oil companies. She has failed to notice that the sums spent by environmental groups on promoting the AGW cause amount to hundreds of millions of dollars every year. By that measure, the sceptics are like a flea on an elephant — they don’t register.

But she provides a brief but an encouraging account of the weakening in the AGW position over the last few years. Not from any sceptical sympathies, of course, but still a heartening catalogue of failures in the warmist campaign. Recent changes in public opinion reflect growing uncertainties in the hitherto unquestioned assertions of alarm.

Klein talks knowledgeably of “the chance of triggering catastrophic climate change” and believes NASA’s James Hansen when he says that mining the oil in the Alberta tar sands alone would be “essentially game over” for the climate. So for her the stakes are high, meaning that the climate movement needs to have one hell of a comeback.

She believes that the earth’s atmosphere cannot safely absorb the amount of carbon we are pumping into it (without explanation), we have “exploited the atmosphere” beyond its capacity to recover (without explanation), and we have “pushed nature beyond its limits” (without explanation).

The climate crisis, she says, “demands a new civilizational paradigm” — as though the village must fundamentally change. How? I see people live together, they teach and help one another, they try to do better than their parents did, they try to make the most of the abundance of nature. What would you change?

But she says climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable.

Where is she going with this? She asserts dogmatically, in an ex-cathedra style beloved of popes and tyrants: “It is true that responding to the climate threat requires strong government action at all levels,” including “shredding the free-market ideology” that she says “dominates” the global economy.

She probably wants to begin the prescription. And so it proves.

She gives us a list of six areas of life that must be transformed to achieve the goals of societal transformation required to amend the climate. It’s impossible to believe that she’s actually serious about many of the policies she specifies. Let me mention just a few:

1. Reviving and Reinventing the Public Sphere

“After years of recycling, carbon offsetting and light bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis. Climate change is a collective problem, and it demands collective action.”

Fair enough. I never thought those expensive, inefficient, mercury-filled light bulbs would improve the environment. But she starts with mass-transit systems, not realising that light personal vehicles are the cheapest, most efficient way of going exactly where we need to go (which is precisely why we buy them).

Replacing a car with a heavy train is inefficient; running railway lines everywhere is impossible, so you still need short or medium trips by private means anyway. She wants “energy-efficient affordable housing along those transit lines”. Brilliant. Ruinous housing costs are keeping the dream of owning a house from all but the highest-paid of our young adults. Adding a railway to every subdivision would only make houses even more expensive.

Renewable energy: demonstrated to be the most expensive, except for hydro stations. Renders the most efficient communities much less efficient.

2. Remembering How to Plan

She welcomes a proposed return to “polycultures” in farming, “a much more labour-intensive method than industrial agriculture, which means that farming can once again be a substantial source of employment.” But it’s simply a recipe for making it far more expensive. Does she realise that farms produce food and she is proposing to increase the price of that food?

3. Reining in Corporations

“Only a very small sector of the population sees any restriction on corporate or consumer choice as leading down Hayek’s road to serfdom.” Identifying consumers with the corporation is sinister indeed. Restrictions on consumers apply to individuals, which certainly defines serfdom. She’s lost her ability to reason. But it gets worse.

“It is precisely this sector of the population that is at the forefront of climate change denial.” Wow. If you object to restrictions on the freedom of the consumer, you’re probably a climate denier. This woman is a piece of work.

4. Relocalizing Production

International trade is by definition bad. You sell goods overseas, then book a ship to take your goods to your nice customer. But no, shipping must be rationed to what we decide is necessary (trust us). It’s much better to sell your goods locally for less money, and then buy locally at higher prices than from overseas. It’s more expensive, but better for the economy.

Try explaining to your accountant that buying at higher prices makes better sense economically.

5. Ending the Cult of Shopping

This is strange. Klein says that economic growth is incompatible with “the deep emissions cuts demanded by science (at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050).” (I’ve not heard of any science that demands this.) Although she acknowledges that “greater efficiency is almost always accompanied by more consumption,” it is a fact not widely known among environmentalists. Some other method is needed to achieve the required cuts in emissions.

Klein talks of an “ecological crisis that has its roots in the over-consumption of natural resources” as though it were true. Feel bad? You’re meant to. Because we can solve this “crisis” only by reducing “the amount of material stuff we produce and consume.”

No matter how our population grows, we must not increase our industrial production, for that will destroy the Earth. Honestly.

“Yet that idea is anathema to the large corporations that dominate the global economy, which are controlled by footloose investors who demand ever greater profits year after year.” Has this woman ever been to an annual meeting dominated by aggrieved shareholders who were voted nowhere near the dividends they were “demanding”? What disconnected planet is she living on?

Klein’s economic recipe is so far into the rarified atmosphere of green totalitarian theory it beggars belief:

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.

Growth would be reserved? Sectors would expand their share? The corporate sector would contract? Anyone who imagines these goals might be part of an actual economy, planned by actual politicians who must place themselves before the will of the people every three to five years, is stark raving bonkers. The government would have the power to grow into the worst of all “corporate sectors”.

This woman might not be officially stupid, and probably has more degrees than most people, but she is deep in a dream of ignorance, and that’s worse than being stupid. She needs waking up.

It’s a dream that does occasionally admit some reality, as she says:

So when the Heartlanders react to evidence of human-induced climate change as if capitalism itself were coming under threat, it’s not because they are paranoid. It’s because they are paying attention.

Which is clever, because it gives enough credit to the sceptics as to make it sound as though she’s describing their real understanding, while making her audience pay a little more attention themselves.

6. Taxing the Rich and Filthy

Ha ha, very funny.

Now Klein attacks her favourite class of bad person (rich ones) while revealing an appalling lack of economic understanding. She thinks the only source of finance is taxation. She never thinks to ask about the source of the funds that were earned and available to be taxed. That source is available for any enterprise. Never mind, though, it makes a good story for the choir she preaches to and they all applaud.

She would tax “carbon” and financial speculation. Taxing financial speculation arises from a previous ideology, not from a study of the climate. I would agree with such a tax, perhaps, but it still has nothing to do with changing the climate. Only with changing society’s philosophy. She wants to eliminate “absurd subsidies to the fossil fuel industry” but they don’t apply in New Zealand as far as I know. Again, at first sight I would agree, as I question why such subsidies might be necessary.

Klein wants to tax oil companies heavily, saying it’s “high time for the “polluter pays” principle to be applied to climate change.” Who is the polluter when a private citizen drives his legal private car across public roads? Is it the driver, or the oil company who sold him the petrol? It is of course the driver.

But the oil company (in the plural, I guess) are a handier target and possessed of large amounts of cash. Klein must imagine that citizens will be happy for petrol prices to rocket after the heavy taxes are applied.

After this she just goes nuts with long-refuted lies about oil money funding sceptics and descriptions from her book of scary effects of higher temperatures. Even though she hasn’t given any reason to expect higher temperatures.

She finally cannot resist returning to the small, home-grown remedies she claimed earlier would not work (“it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis”) and talks about a printing press, food activists and solar panels for community buildings. Oh, yeah, they’ll change the climate.

Naomi Klein sets out to paint a battle between capitalism and the climate but she ends up with a problem of definitions. She mistakes the Earth and its climate for her favourite political philosophy: socialism, with the new environmental flavour.

She describes the climate as a catastrophe waiting to happen and socialism as the natural remedy. She neglects to give proper evidence for either.

Just like anyone describing their religion.

* On average, Klein repeats “denier” on every page. Lest we forget.

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2 Thoughts on “Klein denies deniers’ denials

  1. Mike Jowsey on 20/11/2011 at 8:05 am said:

    Can you say Watermelon? I bet she doesn’t shave her legs.

    However, without researching who in hell she is, I would surmise that she is simply another rat on the sinking HMS Boiling Planet shilling for one last rally against the evils of denialist consumerist corporatist capitalist Heartlanders. Pay her no mind, for she clearly is without one.

    HMS Boiling Planet is indeed taking on water and, as the Chief Engineer of the Titanic said, “She will sink”. The latest evidence of this flooding of the engine room is the IPCC draft report:

    According to a preliminary report released by the IPCC, there will be no detectable influence of mankind’s influence on the Earth’s weather systems for at least thirty years, and possibly not until the end of this century.


    “It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.”


    What will remain of the AGW charade? Already there is a discernible change of emphasis from climate to weather …

    “Our work adds to what we know about climate change in the real world and places the whole problem of climate change in a new light,” he said. “Nobody has looked for these daily changes on a global scale. We usually think of climate change as an increase in mean global temperature and potentially more extreme conditions — there’s practically no discussion of day-to-day variability.”

    and this revealing snippet:

    “It’s important to know what the daily extremes might do because we might care about that sooner,”


    So, regardless of whether the climate is warming, the new paradigm is that the weather extremes are increasing in frequency, power and duration. What causes this? Nobody is saying, but implied is AGW, despite the major indicator of the theory (warming) not happening and predicted by the IPCC (whatever that prediction is worth) to continue not warming for the remainder of this century. The likes of Klein will continue to spout their vitriolic misinformation and hate speech against Heartlanders and the global power brokers will continue to impose a price on carbon (because they can).

    Interesting times.

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