After Reading Naomi Klein: What To Do?

Readers of Ny Tid will at least have noticed the review of Naomi Klein’s book “This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate”. As to myself, I have meanwhile been reading it twice (the second time in the frame of an ongoing reading circle).

The book makes it clear beyond ANY doubt that we do have a climate problem. Unluckily, the Finnish edition of the book will not appear before autumn this year, by which time the election for the next riksdag will be over. Thus, I shall now try to formulate a few ideas what to do NOW (or during the election) about the matter. – This will become a really rather long text. The rea­son why I take this trouble is, a.o., the idea that somebody might take some of the present­ed ideas up and use them in, e.g., letters to newspapers – which, I think (and considering just how many copies of such a letter will be spread once the paper accepts it), is the most effi­cient way of spreading ideas to the public (which I myself, though, cannot use because of my inability to write in the language of the newspapers who are supposed to publish my contri­butions).

The situation of the global climate is that it will warm beyond control and repair if we allow that all those diggers and drillers who want to take coal and/or oil from the ground really take out all the already known reserves of these and sell them for being burned – it will give them huge profits but be catastrophical for VERY many people on this globe, and of course also for the ecology. Thus, the biggest share of those materials should stay in the ground.

The political situation about these matters is that there are some half-hearted international efforts to come to some agreement about limiting the rise in the global temperature to 2 deg., but that one also always wants all the bigger players to take part in the agreements, among them, of course, the USA. In the USA, though, the recent mid-term election has been won by the Republican party, which then immediately re-instated James Inhofe as the chairman of the Senate committee for, a.o., the environment. James Inhofe has made it very clear, also in writ­ing, that he considers the idea that humans could have an influence on the climate as some­thing similar to blasphemy; thus, he agrees that there is a climate change, but denies any human influence on it. Reportedly, he has meanwhile also managed to get the agreement of some larger gremium to this position. Aside of this, the governor of Florida (also a Repub­lican) was forbidding his officials to use the terms “global warming” and “climate change” in any official text … . Altogether, it seems that at present and in the nearer future the climate will have to be saved from overheating not “in cooperation with” but very much “in spite of” the USA.

The conclusion for the Finnish voters from this is fairly obvious: no vote for any party which has a tendency to push for any closer cooperation (be it about TTIP or about NATO) with, by that a stronger dependency on, the USA. Which basically leaves just De Gröna and Vänster­förbundet as possibilities (and also there one should take care not to vote for candidates who might be inclined to believe that the TTIP might create some jobs …); the Sannfinländarna may not either be very USA-minded, but they have already said clearly that they do not intend to bother greatly about the environment.

The possibilities for further political activities to save the climate, anyway as far as recom­mended by Naomi Klein, are rather slim. It is not very probable that sufficiently many Finns will get together to help, e.g., the US and Canadian Amerindians in their fights against the oil and coal companies (who want to dig and drill in the tribal areas, spoiling the Indian way of life in the process). But one can (AND SHOULD) of course join the recent initiative of the British paper The Guardian: with an article titled “Why we are putting the climate threat to Earth front and centre” (in The Guardian Weekly of 13.03.15, pp.12/13) it started a “Keep it in the Ground campaign”, which can be followed up under (to be widely spread, mentioned and referred to !!!).

Technically, though, Finland should indeed have this and that possibility to contribute to solutions of the climate problem. The Finnish forests, who as a consequence of the climate change and the increased levels of carbon dioxide are also growing better than earlier, could well be used to develop advanced technologies concerning wood and biochar, and little should hinder the Finnish industry from developing floating or even flying (i.e. being suspen­ded from a tethered balloon, dispensing with an expensive tower) wind power. Special possibilities could be derived from the Finnish mökki culture: similar to conditions in, e.g. large areas of Africa, where many are living far from the next electric grid, there should in Finland be quite a market for methods by which locally produced electricity could be stored for later use (to mind come batteries, storage by compressed air, flywheels, perhaps still some more …).

Which leads up to the next problem, namely the technical incompetence of our politicians: When Hbl on Sö 8.03.15. was publishing the answers of the various political parties to questions concerning the environment, it was ONLY Samlingspartiet which mentioned any specific technical solution: “Lönsam CCS-teknik behövs som ett sätt att fasa ut kolkraften”. In this, CCS is presumably meant to mean “Carbon Capture and Storage”, which is a technique which could rather easily be applied in England (because the necessary infrastucture is largely in place), but VERY MUCH LESS EASILY in Finland, and how to make anything “lönsam” from it is still the secret of Samlingspartiet. In other words, the mentioning of CCS was presumably just a convenient way to postpone any concrete action about the problem … Thus, it seems that technical competence and/or interest is widely lacking. And if the politi­cians should turn for advice to the industry, there is the problem that any firm who has anything to offer at all will take great care not to mention any alternative possibilities (after all, it wants to sell ITS OWN product), may even be inclined to blackpaint and even sabotage any altern­ative.

Thus, the most promising way to solutions may be that a reasonably nonpartial technical institution (such as SITRA) should invite suggestions from the public, analyze them, and then invite the industry to consider the more promising suggestions for further development. Which in the long run might also result in jobs and increasing exports. – Suggestions I could even provide myself, but should in that case need the help of somebody who could help me with the language (at a guess, I think that proposals which are submitted in Finnish will be considered more favourably than suggestions from some such non-Finn …).

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