The following letter was written by Dr. David Bowering, retired Chief Medical Health Officer of Northern Health in British Columbia, in response to a review of This Changes Everything in the November 2014 issue of the Literary Review of Canada. (Click here for a response from economist Peter Victor, as well as more context on the review, and here for a response from Greenpeace Canada’s Keith Stewart.)
I have recently retired from a long career in public health in British Columbia. I must say that as I look “upstream” for the antecedents of the current burden of chronic disease including diabetes and heart disease along with mental health problems and addictions, I have reached much the same conclusions about the pervasive adverse effects of global corporatism as Naomi Klein.
Although I am new to this discussion and don’t know Mark Jaccard, I am dismayed by his belittling review of her book.
I think her arguments are deeper and better than his.
That said, he is right that capitalism is not going to disappear overnight or on time to slow down or halt global warming. We need both approaches. Let the capitalist Greens do their best to come up with better technologies and let jurisdictions such as California (and B.C.?) come up with improved policies. At the same time, the scale and pace of environmental degradation is entirely the fault of capitalism. As individual citizens who are not part of the elite one percent, we need to shed ourselves of a religion that only improves the lives of the high priests while the rest of us increasingly lose our quality of life and our sustaining community and social networks and while we are forced to watch while all the important decisions are made in corporate boardrooms and behind closed doors.
All this good stuff about more energy efficient cars would be great if the old gas guzzlers were recycled, but they aren’t. They continue to be driven by poorer and poorer people until the worst of them end up in Mexico still polluting at the same rate. The new hybrids only add more pollution, even though it is less per car. Klein is absolutely right about the need for consumers to change their ways and about the need for things such as mass transit, bike lanes and policies that support local food production.
Goodness knows we are subjected to endless pro-corporate and pro-growth messages and rationalizations about how good it is for everyone. Too bad Mark Jaccard couldn’t keep his ego in check and simply allow her book to be as effective as possible given the urgent need to attack global overheating on every possible front.
From This Changes Everything Blog, here