'We have a once-in-century chance': Naomi Klein on how we can fight the climate crisis

(The Guardian, 14 Sep 2019) In this extract from her latest book On Fire, the No Logo author looks at why capitalism and politics have got in the way of addressing the climate crisis.

On a Friday in mid-March, they streamed out of schools in little rivulets, burbling with excitement and defiance at an act of truancy. The little streams emptied on to grand avenues and boulevards, where they combined with other flows of chanting children and teens. Soon the rivulets were rushing rivers: 100,000 bodies in Milan, 40,000 in Paris, 150,000 in Montreal. Cardboard signs bobbed above the surf of humanity: THERE IS NO PLANET B! DON’T BURN OUR FUTURE. THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!

There was no student strike in Mozambique; on 15 March the whole country was bracing for the impact of Cyclone Idai, one of the worst storms in Africa’s history, which drove people to take refuge at the tops of trees as the waters rose and would eventually kill more than 1,000 people. And then, just six weeks later, while it was still clearing the rubble, Mozambique would be hit by Cyclone Kenneth, yet another record-breaking storm.

Wherever in the world they live, this generation has something in common: they are the first for whom climate disruption on a planetary scale is not a future threat, but a lived reality. Oceans are warming 40% faster than the United Nations predicted five years ago. And a sweeping study on the state of the Arctic, published in April 2019 in Environmental Research Letters and led by the renowned glaciologist Jason Box, found that ice in various forms is melting so rapidly that the “Arctic biophysical system is now clearly trending away from its 20th-century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but also beyond the Arctic.” In May 2019, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services published a report about the startling loss of wildlife around the world, warning that a million species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” said the chair, Robert Watson. “We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. We have lost time. We must act now.”

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The Guardian, 14 Sep 2019: 'We have a once-in-century chance': Naomi Klein on how we can fight the climate crisis