We need to enlarge our circle of compassion, says Naomi Klein

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Zahura Ahmed, Congress 2016 student blogger

There is no doubt that climate change is real and contributing to natural disasters around the world: our global temperature has risen by approximately one degree since the preindustrial era; recently we have seen how the Fort McMurray wildfires have displaced thousands of families; and the current extreme heat wave in India and Pakistan is expected to cost many lives. Climate scientists have said that this is the decade to make significant changes in order to prevent global warming. Urgent and swift action is needed. Award-winning author and journalist Naomi Klein believes that nations must take a leap, rather than small steps, in order to shift the world to a place where climate change does not pose the level of threat it does today.

Klein emphasizes an important point: climate change is not only a cause—a cause of disaster and the Earth behaving in strange ways—but also a symptom. It is a symptom of a system that promotes privatization, deregulation and cuts to social spending. It is the symptom of a system that places the importance of economic growth above all else. The system is neoliberalism, which, according to Klein, is waging a war against life on Earth. She speaks of needing deep changes to this system—a shift of power away from corporations and a select few, and towards communities and citizens. Klein highlights the need for collective political and citizen action to “leap” towards a system that implements renewable energy at the forefront, creates equal opportunities, redistributes power and rebalances the scales of justice.

Klein is calling for a system that not only fights climate change, but also fights the many injustices that people around the world are facing. She is calling for enlarging our circle of compassion as Canadians to include the most vulnerable and those who have been most negatively affected by our current system. She concludes: now is not the time for small steps, now is the time to leap.

Naomi Klein delivered a Big Thinking lecture entitled This changes everything: Capitalism vs. the climate yesterday at Congress 2016 at UCalgary. Watch the video here


Congrès des sciences humaines