This Changes Everything

I’m behind on my 75-book reading goal for the year, and it’s all Naomi Klein’s fault. I read This Changes Everything, and it took me forever to get through it.

It took so long because (a) Naomi Klein books read like gluten-free bread, dense and chewy, but probably good for you; (b) because she packs an encyclopedia’s worth of research into every chapter; and (c) because I kept collapsing onto my bed like a suicidal slug after every second page.

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Min thought I was getting sick for a while, because he kept finding me in my slug-like state and I didn’t want to admit I was reading this particular book because I knew he would suggest that I, say, STOP READING and thus stop feeling so defeated. But, I’d heard that the second half of the book was more hopeful than the first, and I felt that if a brilliant thinker like Naomi Klein could dedicate years of her life to researching climate change, the least I could do was read her work. Oh, and maybe stop driving my car.

I will summarize the first half of the book for you, in case you don’t have access to antidepressants and thus can’t read it yourself. It says: Hell + Handbasket.

Also, there are a lot of scary deadlines. Like, RIGHT NOW. Stop oil subsidies, divest, create local economies, end globalization, develop renewable energy sources, and get crackin’ THIS AFTERNOON. Tomorrow morning’s too late.

Plus, if you drive a car, you would have owned slaves if you lived a couple hundred years ago.

(Yeesh, even the summary of this stuff is a big sack of suck.)

Okay, onto the second half. By continuing to pillage with wanton disregard for people and the environment, oil companies have lost their social licence to operate. There are grassroots movements around the world mobilizing against these companies, and against the governments (including ours) that have been corrupted by oil money.

So that’s more hopeful.

And I have to say, having finished the book, I’m now reading the news differently. It’s as if every protest and petition is one more step in a global movement toward greater equality and sustainability.

At least, I hope it each protest is another step. Because otherwise, I’m the slug that’s stuck inside the handbasket, and I now know exactly where I’m heading.

(Incidentally, there’s a lovely article by one of my favourite activist-writers, Tzeporeh Berman, posted on the National Observer site this week, which offers us Canadians reason to hope.)