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Naomi Klein on taking climate change seriously


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Jacobin magazine interviews Naomi Klein from the COP21 climate talks in Paris, where protests have been banned and an official state of emergency continues in the aftermath of the recent Paris attacks. Klein argues that climate change is not an exclusively environmental issue, but one that intersects many other social and political problems, from Middle East wars to the racist criminal justice system. An excerpt:

Certainly with Palestine, people know that water is a major driver and that water scarcity is one of the clearest impacts of climate change in the region. Climate change is an accelerant. If you have a preexisting problem, climate change will make it worse.

Look at New Orleans under Hurricane Katrina. If you have a society with out-of-control police and criminal justice system, if you have crumbling public infrastructure, and then you lay on top of that climate change, you have hell on earth. All these things start to go crazy, you have got vigilantes on streets shooting black people — all goes nuts, right?

I think that this is the best way of understanding how climate change plays out in the Middle East. Whatever is wrong gets more wrong. That’s why the slogan “system change not climate change” is more than a slogan, because we have a system that is sick on a lot of levels, and climate change makes it sicker.

Scientists say that climate change loads the dice. You were already going to have a storm, but because of climate change it turned into a super storm. You were already going to have a drought, but because of climate change it becomes a historic drought. It is an accelerator. If you already have systemic racism and inequality, then climate change pushes you into the ugliest place you can possibly get to.

Image: Police at a November 29 protest preceding the COP21 talks in Paris. Via Jacobin.