In her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, environmentalist Naomi Klein advocates a ban on fossil fuels and a statist utopia where government “creates” a record number of jobs through “investment” in wind and solar energy. (Full disclosure: I have not read Klein’s book, nor do I intend to read it. However, I did read fawning reviews by Mark Bittman in New York Times and Drew Nelles in the Globe and Mail—more than enough time spent contemplating Klein and her reviewers’ dishonest claims.)

Why should we care about what Naomi Klein and her ilk write? First, their claims contradict facts, yet the media lap them up and spread them to their uncritical readers, touting climate change as “the defining issue of our age” that will lead to a disaster—unless drastic measures are taken to counter-act it. Second, Naomi Klein and her media fans argue that to combat climate change, we need “Marshall plan-level” government control to end capitalism and to extinguish the fossil fuel industry. Such measures would lead to incredible human misery and shortened lifespans (for evidence, consider life before the individual rights and fossil fuels were discovered). Therefore it is important to counter the untruthful claims of Klein and others and to defend both capitalism and the fossil fuel industry as crucially important to our well-being.

As Alex Epstein shows in his forthcoming book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels (based on meticulous research using data from nonpartisan international sources, including the World Bank and the International Energy Agency), there has been no significant global warming in the last century. The temperature increase over the last hundred years has been less than one degree Celsius, which is non-significant as temperature has gone through both cooling and warming trends—and shows that CO2 is not a significant cause of temperature fluctuations. Importantly, the global temperature has been flat for the last 16 to 26 years (surface temperature vs. satellite temperature record)–completely contradictory to the environmentalists’ claims.

Climate is always changing—not due to human activity and CO2 emissions but due to natural causes. The fossil fuel industry is not the villain that Klein and others paint it. Quite the contrary, the fossil fuel companies are critically important to our well-being. They provide 87% of the world’s energy, powering the plants and farms producing our food, clothes, medicines, vehicles, computers, furniture, and all other material goods on which our survival and well-being depend. Fossil fuels also power our homes, offices, hospitals, and means of transportation. They provide raw materials most of the products we depend on daily: clothes, footwear, plastics. Most renewable energy sources such wind and solar, on the other hand, have proven too undependable to play a significant role in human progress in the modern industrial society with its unprecedented levels of income and life spans, achieved largely thanks to the fossil fuels. (See Lawrence Solomon’s column here.)

One reviewer of Klein’s book points out that she is not very clear about the meaning of capitalism. Yet she claims capitalism is bad for the planet (because, according to her, it causes climate change) and should therefore be banned through government force. She may be foggy about capitalism but she is wrong: capitalism is good for the planet.

Capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s definition, is “a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.” There are no capitalist countries in the world today, so capitalism could hardly be blamed for climate change, or for anything else. However, if it did exist, pollution would be reduced (because of private property and the protection of property rights) and more innovative solutions to energy and raw material problems would be found (because of competition and free trade). For evidence, consider the 19th century America, the closest that world ever came to capitalism, and its unprecedented level of innovation and wealth creation

Environmentalists like Naomi Klein are intentionally unclear and misleading about the fossil fuel industry and capitalism, because it serves their purpose of taking away our freedom to live our lives and run our businesses the way we choose (without violating the rights of others). If we care about human flourishing, it behooves us to learn the truth about the environmentalists’ claims (Alex Epstein’s new book would be an excellent starting point), to defend the fossil fuel industry’s right to produce energy, and to advocate capitalism.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed, “capitalism” is a variably used word, which should be avoided.

    A caution on the fact that there has been no increase in the instrumental temperature record for 16 years:

    From the normal cycle of the past ~150 years I’d expect a decrease, as there was from the 1930s into the 1970s, an apparent 60-year cycle – we should be halfway to a minimum. However, there are many factors which could change apparent cycles, including longer cycles and stackup or subtraction among factors with different periods.

    What is most important about the lack of rise IMJ is that alarmist models failed to predict it, as they failed to predict several things. So they are not able to predict climate temperature.

    PS: 16-26 years seems odd, I’ve only heard analyses of 16-17 years. Of course the instrumental record is overstated, even the BEST attempt at a proper database relies on raw data shown to be affected by UHI and station distribution.

    Island Individual

    Advancing Individual Freedom for Rights and Prosperity

    http://www.moralindividualism.com

    Keith Sketchley

    Saanich BC

    250-216-3966

    • Thanks for the comments, Keith. Re: 16- to 26-year period when the global temperature has been flat–according to Ross McKitrick’s statistitical calculation at the University of Guelph the difference between the 16 and the 26-year period depends on whether the surface temperature record or a satellite record of the lower atmosphere is used. This is explained by Matt Ridley, the British science journalist in the WSJ article to which I was trying to link.–I was able to read the article online for free, but the link leads you to a page which requires payment. Go figure. You can read Matt Ridley’s article by googling “Matt Ridley climate change.”

  2. The fatal flaw in Klein’s claims is that she is operating on theories disproven by reality.

    The 17-year long plateau in climate temperature is one of several failures of alarmist theories to predict climate. Called “models”, they’ve failed to predict sea level (no acceleration of its slow rise since ~M1750, according to official databases collated by PSMSL.org), temperatures in the troposphere, and water vapour content. As well, there is a fundamental limit to the effect that CO2 can have on climate temperature, due to particle physics – a saturation effect. Even the IPCC says that in a document, except they incorrectly start the calculation well above zero CO2.

    Her economic theory is that of Karl Marx, who coined and popularized the word “capitalism”. His view of humans was uncreative and untrustworthy. Marx had a deterministic theory that businesses control people (i.e. exploitation is possible). That’s consistent with avoidance of personal responsibility – “the corporation made me do it”, which is consistent with the view that humans are incapable of figuring things out and deciding. It overlooks that humans are creative and productive – that ethical behaviour is life-reinforcing (read Craig Biddle’s book “Loving Life” for an explanation).

  3. Most environmental activists believe the Marxist view, as David Suzuki revealed in his speech to the occupy mob in Vancouver BC, in which he blamed corporations for environmental problems.

    People like Klein are intentionally vague on their meanings, to cash in on common meanings to con people who are concerned about specific things but accept negatives about people. Even short of that, since they are not real thinkers activists may actually believe themselves – that’s irresponsibly ignorant given what they demand be taken away from people.

    They of course refuse to acknowledge the benefits of free economics protected by defense and justice systems. Most vocal activists around here are against defending ourselves, and often side with enemies of the successful. (Americans and Jews being favourite targets.)

    The psychological question is why people like Klein ignore the evidence, I think they are living the underlying presumptions of Marxism – negativity and determinism, but following his teaching of revolution. (Yes, taking action seems contradictory to determinism, but Marxism actually praises contradictory logic.)

  4. Naomi Klein has a long history of activism against businesses, including an article “Disaster Capitalism” and anti-“globalization” publications. And strongly anti-Israel and anti-USA, as neo-Marxists usually are (likely because Americans and Jews are proof of the success of productive business activities thus of the failure of their ideology). “She has encouraged the Occupy movement to join forces with the environmental movement, saying the financial crisis and the climate crisis have the same root – unrestrained corporate greed.”

    The documentary “The Take” has been criticized as inaccurately portraying Argentina’s Juan Peron as a social democrat. (Produced by Klein and her husband Avi Lewis, who is the greatgrandson of Jews persecuted by Soviets, who escaped to a type of society that Klein and Lewis try to tear down – Canada’s, and replace it with the ideology of the USSR.)

    (Quotes from Wikipedia articles on them, which include the claim “Lewis conducted a June 11, 2007 interview with political writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After repeatedly and openly sniggering at Hirsi Ali’s complimentary remarks about the United States, Lewis sharply questioned some of her views….” [Hirsi is the brave woman from Africa who escaped Totalitarian Islam by getting to Holland then the US.] And from the opinion of a civil rights lawyer in Victoria as to why neo-Marxists are against Americans and Jews.)

    • Thanks for those insights on Naomi Klein’s ideology and activities, Keith!–It is unbelievable that her most recent book won an award funded by the Weston family. Business’ appeasement of its enemies knows no bounds…

Leave a Reply