CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE WITH NAOMI KLEIN

CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE WITH NAOMI KLEIN


Well there are a lot of you aren’t there?
That is why we were late. We were trying to let everyone get in and get a seat today.
Welcome, my name is Donald Bruce. I am Dean of the college of Arts here at the University
of Guelph. And we are very pleased to have so many of you here today for this rather
special presentation. We have Naomi Klein and in conversation with Barry Spintf from
here at the University of Guelph. Since there are so many of you, no doubt thius is a topic
that is of great interest. And I think also you come out becuase of the speaker and the
things shehas to say on this topic. Since about 2010, we have partenered with
the Edon Mills writers festival in bringing in Keynote speakers during the annual festival.
And amongst these speakers we have had Wade Wade Davis, Sheila Grant, Michael Pollins, Sarah
Ayotant, all of whom have spoken about issues issues which are very important to all of us in contemporary
world. And we are very pleased to continue this partnership again this year with Naomi
Klein. In passing, I note, that apparantly Edon Mills is one of the first communities
in North America to declare as a goal, becoming carbon neutral. Go Edon Mills!
The partners in this group are response to the event, College of Arts, the College of
Biological Sciences, Café Philosopohique, ASTRA, that is the Arts Science Technology
Research Alliance, the Bookshelf here in downtown Guelph, and the Edon Mills writer festival.
All believe that it is an essential role and duty of the University and of the writter
to serve as a focal point for fasilitating public debate about important issues that
face us all. And since we are currently in a federal election season, this is no doubt
a very good time to discuss and analyze public issues to get in the spirit of debate and
critical inquiry, which is in the air. Most of the events at the Edon Mills Writers
Festival take place tomorrow, Sunday September 13th in Edon Mills. The schedule of these
events is on the website, it is very easy to find just google it for Edon Mills Writers
Festival. There are free shuttle busses from the University Centre here on campus and from
the Sleeman Centre Downtown that start at 11 o’clock if you want to check that out,
see who the speakers are. There are a number of different writers who will be in attendence
at the Writers Festival some known, some unknown, some young, some old. But it is always a very
stimulating time, a very interesting event and I encourage you to attend. And now to
today’s event, our program will consist of a book reading and commentary by Naomi Klein
and then a conversation between Naomi and University professor Barry Smit, and audience
question and answer period, so you will have a chance to ask some questions about Namoi’s
book. And the questions that will be discussed today and then afterward a book signing.
Books will be available for purchase at that end of the hall, and the signing will take
place at this end of the hall. So if you would like to do that, you get your book, line up
down the centre here please and we will have some people ready so we can move the whole
thing along. The book signing will have to end a little bit after 3 o’clock because Naomi
Klein has another engagement later in the day. That said, I will now call upon Dr. Barry
Smit to introduce our speaker, but first I would like to give you a little background
about his won work and expertise in climate change. Barry Smit has had a long distiguished
career here at the University of Guelph and has been recognized as a leading researcher
in the area of climate change. He is professor _______and geography, and has held a prestigeous
Canada research chair in global environment change. His research and practice on climate
change impacts and adaptations, span more than 30 years and he has authored more than
100 scientific papers and four books. Barry`s work has been influencial in internation negotiations
on climate change and has been applid in development initiatives in Asia, Africa, the Americas,
the Artic and elsewear. He has collaborated with major UN organizations and international
development agencies and has advised governments in countries as diverse as Norway, USA, bangladesh,
and UK. In Canada he has councilled federal and provincial governments, the senate and
business and community groups. He served on Ontario`s expert pannel on climate change
adaptation. As a member of the intergovernamental pannel on climate change he was a co-recipiant
of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for service canadian society he was invested the order
of ontario in 2013 and recieved the Queen Elizabeth the 2nd Diamond jubilee Medal and
in 2013 he was awarded the social science and humanities research council canada gold
medal that organizations highest honor for research. Please welcome Dr. Barry Smit.
There’s a film version of the book This Changes Everything, and it premiers tomorrow at the
Toronto International Film Festival at the Ryerson theatre and there are two other showings
as part of the TIFF. It’s also going to be screened at Guelph’s own Bookshelf cinema
from October 9 to October 22nd, so you will have the opportunity to see it right here
in Guelph. And as an appetizer, for that film and for our discussion, Naomi has arranged
for a preview of that film, and that will be shown now.
The majority of the Human race does not see global warming as a serious threat. Celebrate!
Climate legislation is dead. We in the “Global North”, we are less than twenty percent of
the population but we are responsible for all the seventy percent of the global emissions.
“We are drilling all over the place”. On the other side of the world those people are the
most affected by climate change, most affected by environmental injustice have the least
responsability for creating this crisis in the first place. The amount of fossil fuel
that we are combusting year on year is growing. We are going completely in the wrong direction. I’ve spent six years wandering through the reckage caused by the carbon in the air, and
the economic system that put it there. That old paradigm will be forced to change, either
by the environment around us or by us. We see communities who are thrown into the frontline.
We see the incredible tranformation, they become stronger, they stand up So here is the big question, what if Global warming isn’t only a crisis. What if it is the best chance
we are ever going to get to build a better world. Change, or be changed. There are limits, lets clebrate the limits, because we can reinvent a different future. More to come We are very fortunate to have Naomi Klein here in Guelph, today in person.
Naomi is an internationally recognized journalist, author activist, filmmaker. She’s published
in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the News week, the Guardian, Globe and Mail,
Rolling Stones, lots of places. She has numerous awards for journalism and for activists scholarship.
She is an contributing editor to Harpers, that’s Harpers the magazine, not Harpers the
political campaign. Although that’s a fascinating idea isn’t it?While with Harpers her reporting
from Iraq in 2004 earned her the James Aronson award for social justice journalism. She served
as a fellow at the London School of Economics at the Nation Institute. She is a board member
of 350.org and she is widely recognized as one of the worlds top intellecutals. And her
first book No Logo was an international best-seller. Many ackilades, for instance the litterary
review of Canada named it 1 of the 100 most important Canadian books ever published. And
No Logo has a particular fasciniation for me, when I was about 18 I started playing
golf. And i noticed that everyone who played golf would wear the hats with the logos of
golf companies. And this is not just the professionals, this is hackers like me wandering through
the woods and the swamps looking for their balls. And they were paying 4xs the price
of the hat to put a Logo and I was poor so I cuoldn’t affrod them, but I also thought
this was bizar. So i declared to myself that I wasn’t going to wear anything of these logos
in my attire, unless the companies payed me for so doing. Now it may surprise you to learn
that in the four decades so there after no company has ever come to to me and offered
to sponsor. So when the book came out I was overjoyed. My daughters and my friennds were
too. They gave me gifts of these books, I think I had about 6 of them at one time. So
it is no wonder that it is an international best seller. Her next book the Shock Doctrine,
also an international best-seller, appeared on many Best of the Year lists. And it too
challenged conventions, and it drew both pros and condemnations as challenging works of
journalism should do. And it also spawned a short film and a full length documentary
that was premiered at the sundanse film festival. But today we are talking about her ltest book,
this one. This Changes Everything, capitalism versus the climate. It’s also an instant best-seller,
critically acclaimed, winner of the 2014 Hilary Weston writers trust prize for non-fiction,
and for those who have not read the book, I mean for those who have not yet read the
book, this is an imporessive comeprehensive critique of the state of the world. In my
work I examine PHD theses, and I’ve examined dozens in geography, in climate science, in
Ecnomics, in politcal science, in biology, in lots of things. Yet this book synthesizes
across all of those disciplines and more. It draws on History, POsychology, Philisophy,
Geology, Engineering, Ehtics, its amazingly impressive in its rigger and its scope so
you may agree with the conclusions or you may not. But you certainly can’t challnge
the substance and the rigger of the evidence and the arguments that are pulled together
in this book. Adn also it addresses not a trivial topic, it addresses fundamental challenges
facing the earth and all of us. Now as a scientist I ,like hundred of others, have sort to contibute
by analyzing changes in the environment, by seeking causes by documenting consequences
of these changes for ecosystems, for ecnomies, for societies and for communities all around
the world. But if you think of the earth, like the big ship titanic heading into grave
danger, the work of a scientists it a bit like shiffling the deck chairs around on the
titanic. Namoi Klein is doing something quite different. She has walked right up into the
bridge, into the control room and is arguing with the people there, that you should change
the course of this damn thing! SO this is a profound book, provocative book, a contraversial
book, and we are fortunate to have Naomi Klein here to talk about it ,please give a warm
Guelph welcome to Naomi Klein. Thank You. Thank You so much, I’d like to
begin by acknowlodgeing that we are on the traditional territory of the Attawandaran
First Nation. It is such an icredicble honor to be intoridcued by a great scientist like
Barry Smit who has spent decades raising the alarm documenting the reality of climate change,
giving our leaders all the evidence they needed to act and it is not rearranging the deck
chairs on the titanic it is just such critical work and we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Iwant to thank all of our hosts here, University of Guelph, thank you Dean Bruce for hosting
us here, Thank you to the Edon Mills festvial, to Vicki Isotamm and Kim Lang in particular
to Bookshelf, I was just remembering that the last time I was in Guelph It ha sbeen
a really long time, it has sctually been since the last election campaign, I was here speaking
at a rally supporting Thomas King, the wonderful Thomas King. An indication of just how influencial
I am. So we are here to talk about climate change but since this is part of a wonderful
litterary festival that I hope many of you will be participating in, in the coming days.
I thought I would start with a short reading from the introduction of the book. And I decided
to bring my son Toma here today. How you doing sweetie? He is doing really good. We will
see how long that lasts, but thank you Jennifer for helping make that calmness happen. In
honor of Toma I am going to read a little part of the book that is about him when he
was younger, he is three now. So, it won’t be a long reading. What gets
me are not the scary scientific studies about melting glaciers, the ones I used to avoid,
it is actually the books I read to my two year old, Looking For a Moose is probably
one of his favorites, it is about a bunch of kids that really really really want to
see a moose. They searched high and low, through a forest, a swamp, and bramalea bushes and
up a mountain for long legged, bulchy nose, antlered moose. The joke is thatthere are
moose hiding on every page and they keep going ” Have you ever seen a moose?” “No I have
nevere seen a moose”. IN the end the animals all comeout of hiding, and the kids extatically
proclaim we’ve nevere ever ever seen so many mosse. He just said “Can we hear Benny?” I
think he is listening to Elton John as I speak. On about the 75th reading it suddenly hit
me, he might never see a moose. I tried to hold it together. I went back to my computer
and began to write about my time in northern Alberta, tarsands country, where members of
the Beaver-Lake Cree Nation told me about how the moose had changed. One women described
killing a moose on a hunting trip only to find that the flesh had already turned green.
I heard a lot about strange timours too. With locals assuming it had to do with the animals
drinking water contaminated with tar sands toxins, but mostly I just heard about how
the moose were gone. And not just in Alberta quote: “rapid climate change turn north woods
into moose grave yard” reads a May 2012 headline in Scientific American. A year and a half
later, the New York Times was reporting that one of Minesota’s two moose populations had
declined from 4000 in the 1990’s to just 100 today. Will he ever see a moose?Then the other
day I was slayne by a miniature board book called snuggle wuggle. Very embarassing. It
involves different animals cuddling with each poster givin a ridiculously silly name. How
does a bat hug, it asks. Topsy turvy, topsy truvy. For some reason my son reliably cracks
up at this page. I explain to him that it means upside down, because that is the way
bats sleep. But all I could think about was the report of some hundred thousand dead and
dying bats raining down from the sky in the midst of record breaking heat acrossparts
of Queensland Australia. Whole colonies devastated. Will he ever see a bat?
I knew I was in trouble the day I found myself bargaining with starfish, red and purple ones
are ubicados in British Colobia where my parents live, where my son was born, and where I have
spent about half of my adult life. They’re always the biggest kid pleasers because you
can gently pick one up and give it a really good look. “This is the best day of my life”
my seven year old neice visiting from Miriam Chicago claimed after a long afternoon spent
in the tide pools. But in the fall of 2013, stories began about a small wasting disease
that was causing starfish along the pacific coat to die by the tens of thousands. Termed
the sea star wasting syndrome. Multiple species were disintegrating alive, their virbant bodies
melting into distorted globs with legs falling off and bodies caving i. Scientists were mistified.
As I read the stories I caught myself praying, for the invertabrates to just hang on for
just one more year. Long enough for my son to be amazed by them. Then I doubted myself:
“Maybe its better if he never sees a starfish at all”. Certainly not like this. When fear
like that used to creep through my armour of climate change denial. I used to do my
utmost stuff it away, change the channel, click past it. Now I try to feel it. It seems
to me I owe it to my son. Just as we all owe it to ourselves, and to one another. But what
should we do with this fear that comes form living on a planet that is dying. Made less
alive everyday. First accpet that it won’t go away. That it is a fully rational response
to an unbareable reality. Next use it. Fear is a survival response. Fear makes us run,
it makes us leap, it can make us act super-human. But we need somewhere to elap to without that,
the fear is just paralyzing. So the real trick, the only hope really is to allow the terro
of an unlivable future to be ballance and soothed by the prospect of building something
much better, than many of has previously dared hoped. Yes there will be things we will loose,
luxuries some of us will have to give up. Whole industries that will disapear. But its
too late to stop, and its too late to stop climate change from coming. Its already here,
and increasingly brutal disasters are headed our way, no matter what we do. But its not
to late to advert the worst, and there is still time to change ourselves so that we
are far less brutal to one another when those disators strike. And that it seems to
me ius worth a great deal. Because the thing
about a crisi this big, this all encomapssing is that is changes everything. It changes
whqt we can do what we can hope for , What we can demand from ourselves, and from our
leaders. It means that there is a whole lot of stuff that we have been
told is inevitable. That simply cannot stand. And it means that
there is a whole lot of stuff that we have
been told is impossible, that
has to start happening right away. Can we pull
it off? All I know is that nothign is ineveitable, nothign except
that climate change changes everything, and for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us. So that concludes the reading part of
the eveneing.

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