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Naomi Klein On Why The Climate Change Deniers Are Right

Author and activist Naomi Klein argues that climate change deniers have a better grasp of the political implications for the radical change needed to address the problem than many green groups downplay, especially those she calls "big, slick centrist green groups".
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The first chapter in Naomi Klein's new book is titled "The Right is Right" about climate change. Not about the science -- which they're completely wrong about-- but the political implications such radical interventions in the economy would have, transforming how we live.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Marc Morano of Climate Depot. Naomi Klein, in your book, This Changes Everything, you talk about him. In fact, you talk about a number of these groups. You open with them in a chapter called "The Right is Right."

NAOMI KLEIN: OK, well, let’s be clear: They are not right about the science. They’re wrong about the science. But I think what the right understands, and it’s important to understand, that the climate change denier movement in the United States is entirely a product of the right-wing think tank infrastructure, the groups like Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute. The Heartland Institute, which people mostly only know in terms of the fact that it hosts these annual conferences of climate change skeptics or deniers, it’s important to know that the Heartland Institute is first and foremost a free market think tank. It’s not a scientific organization. It is—just like the other ones I listed, it exists to push the ideology, the familiar ideology, of deregulation, privatization, cuts to government spending, and sort of triumphant free market, you know, backed with enormous corporate funding, because that’s a very, very profitable ideology.

And when I interviewed the head of the Heartland Institute, Joe Bast, for this project, he was quite open that it wasn’t that he found a problem with the science first. He said, when he looked at the science and listened to what scientists were saying about how much we need to cut our emissions, he realized that climate change could be—if it were true, it would justify huge amounts of government regulation, which he politically opposes. And so, he said, "So then we looked at the science, and we found these problems," right? So the issue is, they understand that if the science is true, their whole ideological project falls apart, because, as I said, you can’t respond to a crisis this big, that involves transforming the foundation of our economy—our economy was built on fossil fuels, it is still fueled by fossil fuels. The idea in this—we hear this from a lot of liberal environmental groups, that we can change completely painlessly—just change your light bulbs, or just a gentle market mechanism, tax and relax, no problem. This is what they understand well, that in fact it requires transformative change. That change is abhorrent to them. They see it as the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of their world. It’s the end of their ideological project. So, that is unthinkable, from Marc Morano’s perspective and Joe Bast’s perspective. So, rather than think about that, they deny the science.


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So when I say "the right is right," I think that they have a better grasp on the political implications of the science, of what it means to how we need to change our economy and what the role of the public sphere is and the role of collective action is, better than some of those sort of big, slick, centrist green groups that are constantly trying to sell climate action as something entirely reconcilable with a booming capitalist economy. And we’re always hearing about green growth and how it’s great for business. You know, yeah, you can—there will be markets in green energy and so on, but other businesses are going to have to contract in ways that requires that strong intervention.

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