IT'S ALL A PLOT! I don't even like conspiracy theories, but it's all a plot! Naomi Klein's new game-changing book This Changes Everything is like a conspiracy novel about cock-blocked ecological policy—it's a little drier than The Da Vinci Code, but it has more human warmth than the Harper's Index of times the World Trade Organization has buried energy programs under red tape.
Considered one of the world's top public intellectuals, Klein is instantly recognizable thanks to the widespread popularity of her best-selling books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine. Her books are radical not only in their ideas but in their sheer readability. This Changes Everything is densely packed with situations and experiences that make climate change both personal and interesting. There are many stories that are just interesting to read—like one about the annual Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change, where bloggers gather to let Marc Morano and Chris Horner baby-bird-feed them climate conspiracy theories.
Klein does an excellent job of continuing the pragmatic demystification of high-level bureaucracy and regulation she touched on in her previous books. One chapter about global trade was a little thick, but whenever I had a question, I knew Klein would provide an answer within the next few paragraphs. This Changes Everything lays out a history of climate change: Not coincidences and barely conspiracies, these are just the events that happened and shaped the world in which we are now living.
I want to stress, this isn't a depressing book. If you're worried that reading about climate change will simply make you feel helpless, Klein is right there with you. She explains in the introduction that she was afraid for years to research this topic because she felt overwhelmed by the paralyzing imminence of climate change catastrophe. The only way to approach this subject with vigor is from a perspective of Fixing This Shit.
This Changes Everything does a few things that I didn't expect. It doesn't call Americans lazy. It doesn't accuse climate deniers of stupidity. It asserts that the change we, as a society, need to make to ease the severity of global warming would not return us to the Dark Ages, but to the kind of energy use of 1970s-era America. And people love the '70s. Instamatic cameras, bicycles, and The Godfather, right? That sounds kind of awesome.