This Changes Everything: A Synopsis of Naomi Klein


The only way to save the planet from catastrophic climate change is to undo the system of runaway capitalism that is producing it, and each of us has an urgent role to play in that effort.

That is the thesis of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, which I’ve decided to synopsize here for those who don’t have the time to read a 450-page book. The page numbers in parentheses will allow you to search for the expanded argument in Klein’s book (Penguin edition, 2014) if you like.*

I’ve structured this as a series of responses to questions people are asking in this current election season in hopes that this format, too, will make it more accessible. I think that a vote for anyone but Bernie Sanders is a vote against the survival of our planet for our children and our grandchildren. I’m happy to share more and hear your own thoughts!

(*And if you do decide to purchase it — consider a brick-and-mortar store rather than Amazon!)

(Written in late 2019. Update in late 2021: this has been a year when climate consciousness has finally built to a swell and even the moderate politicians I inveighed against two years ago are moving the crisis to the center of their agendas. Sometimes hope takes the form of “better late than never.”)

What’s the greatest existential threat facing humanity right now? 

I just can’t believe that the situation is as dire as some people say it is. Don’t you think climate change is overhyped?

Why is capitalism the root of this threat?

What is socialism and why is it necessary right now?

Hasn’t socialism failed time and again? 

What does socialism as it already exists look like in practice?

How else might socialism look in the future?

How will we pay for everything socialism is promising?

We’ve made amazing advances in technology; don’t you think science is a safer fix than socialism?

Wouldn’t a more “electable” candidate than Bernie be better for the fight against climate change?

Isn’t Sanders’s socialism a huge political liability, at the very least?

Aren’t you preaching to the choir? Do you think anyone but a hard-core progressive will really join this “revolution”?

Will people eventually wake up to the harm we’re inflicting on our planet?

Is there any hope for our planet?

Too Long, Didn’t Read: In a few sentences, why should I vote for a socialist, again?