Rachel Maddow’s Blowout & Naomi Klein’s On Fire

Author: Alexx | Category: Books | Date: 12-01-2019

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Rachel Maddow’s new book Blowout must be read together with Naomi Klein’s On Fire.  Blowout first and then On Fire.   Why in this order?

Blowout is Maddow’s expose of the captains of the international fossil fuel industry and the consequences for the world.   Maddow tells the story in her unique style—penetrating interweaving of facts with personalities situated in a multi-strand historical and political context, all spiced with her signature sarcasm.  It’s an engaging read for everyone who wants to know how the oil and gas industry has corrupted democracy, created rogue states like Russia, and become the most destructive industry on earth.   It’s a riveting tale, but something is missing:  As Fareed Zakaria, the New York Times reviewer said, “Blowout is a brilliant description of many of the problems caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.  But it does not provide a path out of the darkness.”

What does provide a path out of the darkness is Naomi Klein’s On Fire. To counter the state of enlightenment-induced depression you may be in after reading Blowout, you need to read On Fire, because Naomi Klein does offer a path out.  While Blowout focuses on the political entanglements and impact of the rapacious fossil fuel industry, On Fire focuses on mot just the widespread ecological destruction that capitalism has wrought around the word but also on the grass roots movements that have emerged to combat humanity’s downward spiral towards an ecological apocalypse.  But not all is gloom and doom in On Fire:  Much of this book of long-form essays is devoted to discussing  what a “serious climate change agenda” would look like.  Klein talks about re-localizing production to reduce the need for long haul transport, rethinking the “growth imperative” that drives consumerism, the absolute incompatibility of growth and a sound climate policy, the need to tax the “rich and the filthy,” and how power must be dispersed and cultural values transformed.  

Klein saves the most inspiring part of the book—the Green New Deal—for the coda, the ending.  She states unequivocally that all the promise of the Green New Deal—the massive job creation focused on green industries;  raising funds through taxing rich corporations, especially the polluters; setting a ten year deadline for getting off fossil fuels, the strong commitment to social justice/economic equity—will not materialize unless grass roots movements pushing for such foundational changes emerge in full force.  

On Fire is a rousing rallying cry for people to take action to combat the environmental destruction and gross economic inequalities that unfettered capitalism and the nefarious fossil fuel industry have created, an industry whose devastating  global political consequences are told in riveting narrative strands in Blowout.

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