Environmental Leader Spotlight: Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is an author and activist and has dedicated her life to climate change and unpacking the choices we make that has large consequences on our environment. She is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (2007) and “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies” (2001). She is currently working on a new book and film on how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation. You can follow her on Twitter at @NaomiAKlein.

In this TED talk she speaks broadly about climate change and specifically about the complexity of human choice and risk that enables oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, the lunacy of oil extraction in Alberta’s Oil Sands, and our willingness to push mother nature to its extreme limit and thus our existence on this planet.
Throughout the talk, she often refers to the ‘jump shot’. The ‘jump shot’ involves following solutions that are pushing the boundaries of science, that are untested and require a stretch of the imagination–seemingly magical solutions to our most pressing problems. One highly publicized solution to the Gulf Oil leak was to shoot golf balls into the leak. This ‘jump shot’ solution came after 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea. It highlights the lunacy and zeal that we pursue to meet our energy wants–not ‘needs’.

She also highlights Alberta’s Oil Sands as another example of our lunacy and zeal. In a previous post, David Suzuki, a prominent Canadian environmentalist, speaks specifically about the massive effects of oil sand extraction and how it represents some of our last efforts to exhaust our fossil fuels. The process of oil sand extraction involves 3 times more pollution than conventional oil extraction. Furthermore, it produces large amounts of toxic by-products that sit in a tailing pond and have been reported to be leaking into major water ways that supply thousands of people.

The main point that she makes throughout the talk is about the risks that we are willing to take to continue living our lavish lifestyles. We continually ask ourselves, “how much hotter can we let the planet get before we HAVE to change our lifestyles?” This question is absurd on its own, but is also irrelevant. We have to change our lifestyles because we have pushed our limits already. Check out some science at the 350.org, a popular climate change movement, on which Naomi Klein sits on the Board of Directors.