My latest LA Times book review is for Naomi Klein's new essay collection, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, which traces more than a decade of Klein's outstanding, on-the-ground reports from the pivotal struggle to begin the transformational work needed to save our species and the rest of the Earth's living things from a devastating, eminently foreseeable, and ultimately avoidable climate catastrophe.
Klein's essays trace the arc from denialism, through to peak indifference (the moment at which denialism begins to wane of its own accord, thanks to waves of disaster that convince doubters without any intervention by activists), to nihilism ("if there's only one rhino left, we might as well find out what he tastes like"), to hope, in the form of the Green New Deal (a successor to Klein's own Leap Manifesto) and the Extinction Rebellion movement, along with its extraordinary founder, the Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg.
It's strong tonic for a moment in which it's all too easy to despair. Highly recommended.
The boldly ecstatic vision of climate justice — a Green New Deal that gives every person meaningful, full employment in solidarity work and mutual aid that saves our planet from our species and saves our species from itself — is a powerful tonic, an antidote to despair.
In "On Fire," Klein shines a spotlight on a world in crisis, illuminating the terrible (the Great Barrier Reef, finally dying after years of inaction, despite urgent warnings); and the inspiring (the people of Puerto Rico soldiering on despite hurricanes, official neglect, structural racism and a state hollowed out by colonialism).
Klein brings us inside her family discussions as choking clouds of smoke sweep across the ancient forests of British Columbia, and inside the activist camps rallying around young Greta Thunberg and the extraordinary Extinction Rebellion she has touched off.
It's an urgent book that never surrenders hope, committed to the idea that we can act and insistent that we must. Klein's message could not be more timely, because the time for action is now.
Review: Naomi Klein's 'On Fire' urges us to quit hitting the snooze button on climate change [Cory Doctorow/LA Times]