Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On Wente's "It Girl" Article

It's curious that Margaret Wente is so clear about the errors Klein commits in her new book, when it appears from Wente's article today, "The It Girl of climate change doesn't get it," that she's looked at "every interview, excerpt and review," but hasn't actually read the book.  It reminds me of a film buff I know who refused to see Atom Egoyan's beautiful film Exotica because it was just about strippers.  As if.

I'm only on chapter 4, and I'm convinced Wente's concerns are unfounded.  She claims Klein ignores "elementary facts" about China and India's role in GHG emissions, but a cursory look at the index of the book reveals a column of page references under the headings of 'China' and 'India.'  Klein clarifies that we've outsourced our emissions when we outsourced our factories.  I think she gets it.

Klein's not suggesting we just cut emissions growth in the US and Canada, rather she calls for a change worldwide:  "Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us" (22).  And that's just in the introduction to the book.

The big difference between this movement and the Occupy movement, is that we've been offered a clear and possible solution that can be put in place if people worldwide can convince leaders this is vital to our survival.  Yes, that's a big 'if,' but because it's difficult doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted march after march after march.

I question Wente's insistence that, yet again, this can't possibly make sense or work or help anything.   I wonder if it's a matter, as Klein suggests, that "it is always easier to deny reality than to allow our worldview to be shattered" (37).  But we do have to "grow up," as Wente says, not to see that "climate change is a complex and fiendishly hard problem" as Wente suggests, but instead to see that we have a real choice to make, that we can take this path towards radically decreasing emissions worldwide even though it's going to be hard. It's not the fun choice in the short term, but it's the only choice that gives us a long term.

As Leonardo Dicaprio said at the UN today, we're looking at climate change as a fiction, but we're seeing undeniable evidence of climate change every week that's decades ahead of scientific projections. This disaster has grown beyond individuals and now requires industries taking large-scale action.  We must end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given. It's not just achievable, but good economic policy.  This is not a partisan debate, but a human one.


Owen Gray said...

Wente is like some of your students, Marie, -- who, having seen the movie -- claim they understand the book.

Marie Snyder said...

Exactly, except they're teenagers, not "journalists."

Lorne said...

Wente's piece, as usual, epitomizes her lazy journalism and lazy thinking, Marie. The fact that The Globe continues to employ her only contributes to the further degradation of its reputation.

Marie Snyder said...

And I didn't even mention the derogatory implications of calling a professional, well-educate and seasoned writer an "it-girl"!

Ron Waller said...

Naomi Klein certainly gets it. (Wente, as usual, doesn't know what she's talking about). Klein says neoliberal free-market fundamentalism is the problem. This is obvious with free-trade globalization which has allowed First-World countries to export their emissions to undeveloped countries by outsourcing manufacturing.

Free trade creates a regulatory race to the bottom. This international decentralization makes it difficult, if not impossible to get all countries to agree on reducing GHG emissions. (Which is what the plutocrats want.)

The solution? Fair-trade globalization. Under this model, instead of free-trade blocks and free-trade organizations, there are common regulation blocks and organizations. These use tariffs as a disincentive for unethical behavior. Countries that pollute the environment, abuse workers or have a mercantilist agenda (producing more than they consume) are punished with high tariffs (denied access to the markets they need to sell their goods to.)

Global free-market ideology is the problem. Global big government is the solution. (It's ultimately a struggle between plutocracy and democracy.)

Ron Waller said...

BTW, the solution to our problems will always come down to economics which governs how people and countries behave.

Economics essentially boils down to accounting and incentives.

The reason we have a dirty-energy problem is because of accounting. There are external costs ("externalities") being passed onto society that are not being factored into the price of dirty energy which makes it appear cheaper than it actually is.

So if dirty energy costs are properly factored into its price (through carbon taxes) clean energy becomes less expensive.

Next there are incentives. Climate change treaties are woefully inadequate in setting goals and achieving them. Countries basically police themselves and there is no accountability. So in order to put teeth into international regulations, there has to be a price to be paid for noncompliance. This is achieved through tariffs and, if necessary, sanctions.

Free-market plutocrats (and wannabes) want a world free from rules and accountability. They are freeloaders who want to make easy money by passing costs onto others. Their economic model is not only morally bankrupt, it is unstable and unsustainable. Therefore the greatest threat to humanity is free-market capitalism.

The solution is the big-government mixed-market Keynesian system we used in the post-war era. Not only did it create modern living standards (what's left of them) it's a system free-market ideologues and plutocrats despise.

Anonymous said...

Wente seems to be a blowhard.

Here's something on a different topic but you may enjoy it.......

I hate to interrupt the Tour like this, but I have some pretty incredible news! A journalist named Margaret Wente from the Globe and Mail has figured out why women don’t ride bikes.

Her ground-breaking article (entitled “Where are all the female cyclists?”) was inspired by a story she read in the New York Times about the imbalance of male and female riders using New York’s Citi Bike bike share program, and not only sheds light on the reason for the gender gap, but also debunks some myths about the female psyche that were, until now, completely undebunkable.

- See more at: http://winnipegcyclechick.com/sweat-pink-streamers/#sthash.chE5UVoL.dpuf