This Changes Everything addresses one of the most pressing issues today: climate change. The book outlines exactly how we’re harming the planet and why we’ve thus far failed to stem our destructive behavior. Author and activist Naomi Klein also points out how some early movements are meaningfully fighting climate change and what more needs to be done to prevent global disaster.
The fight against climate change has been ongoing, with mixed results. If we continue to pollute the earth at our current rate, we could face the real possibility of environmental and social collapse.
Back in 1990, global leaders in an attempt to curb climate change agreed to a goal of limiting global temperatures to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius. The most effective way to make this happen would be to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Yet to meet the goal, wealthy countries would have had to cut carbon dioxide emissions by eight to ten percent. Not only have countries failed to cut emissions, but the opposite has occurred.
In 2013, global carbon dioxide emissions were 61 percent higher than they were in 1990!
So what exactly is the problem? Our inability to tackle climate change appropriately is mostly due to short-term greed and extractivism. Extractivism is the exploitation of natural resources for profit.
The story of Nauru, an island in the Pacific Ocean, illustrates just how disastrous extractivism can be.
Nauru was rich in a valuable mineral called phosphate. In the 1960s, Nauru allowed mining companies to begin extracting the phosphate, creating an incredibly profitable industry. By the 1970s, Nauru had the second-highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world.
This prosperity, however, came at a price. The people of Nauru became greedy, especially for imported processed food. Diabetes and obesity rates soared, so much so that the small nation soon became known as the “fattest country on earth.”
What’s more, the phosphate was mined carelessly, and quickly. The mineral was soon mined out, and the industry collapsed along with the island’s economy.
Today, Nauru is riddled with debt and vast swaths of land have been destroyed by the former mines.