Book: This Changes Everything

This Changes EverythingI’ve always thought of myself as an environmentalist, but I guess I’ve gotten a little lax in my adult years. I got a big wake-up call with This Changes Everything. Naomi Klein lays it on the line about how bad it really is on this planet. I knew it was bad but I didn’t realize all that was going on behind the scenes. It’s not all gloom and doom; she does offer some hopeful inspirations and ways in which we’re getting it right, but she goes into detail about what is being completely ignored. Bottom line, in order to fix this problem, we’re going to have to get off oil and completely change our economy from a consumer, disposable, buy-buy-buy structure to one that’s not dependent on unlimited growth. Because there are limited natural resources on this planet.

One of the reasons the conservatives deny climate change so much is because if they admit that what big business is doing is destroying the earth, then in order to fix it, big business would have to give up trillion dollar profits. Oil and gas profits are enormous and no one, not CEOs nor shareholders, wants that to change, but profits would be zero if there’s no oil or gas extracted from the earth anymore, which is what is needed to keep us from cooking ourselves.

It’s easy to blame the oil and gas industry but Klein calls out all of us who complacently carry on with our lives. Is your retirement portfolio heavy with dirty companies that make you a lot of money? Are you constantly buying more, more, more? I have downsized a lot in recent years, but I’m guilty in the fashion department. I really don’t need a closet full of shoes.

I was rather shocked to learn that some of the big environmental companies like Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund are in bed with the oil and gas companies. A majority of their donations come from dirty companies. Oil and gas people sit on their boards or act as advisors. These companies that are supposed to be saving the environment have partnered with the oil and gas industry on bills that have gone through Congress and killed the environment. The Nature Conservancy put an oil well on a preserve for an endangered species of birds so they could add to their coffers. Because the oil well was close to the birds’ breeding grounds, there are now no more of the birds on the preserve. Ironically, the land for the preserve was donated to the Nature Conservancy by an oil company looking to get good PR about saving the birds. I’ve given to these companies over the years because I wanted to support the environment, but I will not be giving another cent.

The bright spot that Klein points out is that because people feel helpless in the face of the big business, whether environmental organizations or oil and gas, there have been countless grassroots movements that have taken everyone by surprise. Communities saying no to mines, fracking, and new wells because they know the companies will come in, extract everything, pollute everything and the people will be left with dirty water and countless illnesses. “You can’t drink oil.” has become one slogan. Time and again Klein puts forth scientific data about what is really going on. It was eye-opening. Native American communities have started fighting back against extracting on tribal lands and it’s a way that might just work. They have lived much closer to the land, something that all of us need to get back to. One of the Native Americans Klein talked to said the goal should be “continuous rebirth”. That’s a good goal for the planet and from a personal well-being perspective.

We talk about destroying the earth, but frankly, the earth will be fine. It has survived dinosaurs, meteors, the ice age, you name it. The earth will recover; it’s been here for millions of years, it’s not going anywhere. Humans, on the other hand are another story. We may be the only species to voluntarily extinguish ourselves.

Looking at this from a metaphysical angle, I can see a slightly different perspective. We have the power to change anything, instantly. Whether you believe that or not will determine whether you see a change instantly. There are always enough resources. There is unlimited energy. Nothing is impossible. You just have to focus your energy. In doing that, the Earth will heal as well.