Naomi Klein: This economic model is at war with life on Earth

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At the opening night of PowerShift 2012 in Ottawa this past weekend, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois from Quebec delivered a powerful speech in which he was very explicit in identifying capitalism as the enemy. He concluded with a statement along the lines of 'we either get liberty, or we die,' in which he meant liberty from capitalism. During a press availability session at PowerShift, asked Naomi Klein to comment about this statement: 

Naomi Klein: I think that this economic model, the reason why this movement is necessary, is because this is an economic model that is fundamentally at war with life on Earth. And you know this sounds like a very dramatic thing to say, but our planet's life support systems are in crisis. We are approaching multiple tipping points.

So, you know that might not be the precise rhetoric that I use, but I do believe that we are fighting for life. Absolutely that's at the core of it. And that it isn't about a single corporation here or there but it is about a system, and it’s a system that dies if it doesn't continue to grow. That isn't fundamentally able to do anything but what it is doing right now. 

And you know Bill McKibben and I are launching a campaign on the day after the U.S. election called 'Do The Math.'  It's calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies, on the grounds that, it’s them or us. 

And it really is them or us, because if you look at, well if you read the piece that Bill wrote for Rolling Stone, which you know is a summary of a lot of some really great new research out there. About the amount of oil and coal that the fossil fuel industry has in reserve right now. We know how much it is, and we need them to keep 80 per cent of that in the ground if we are to have a hope in hell in staying below two degrees. Which by the way is way too much. 

So we've done the math you know, we’ve crunched the numbers. It's not that we hate you, exactly. I mean, some of us may … But It's actually that we care, we care too much, about our future, about our children's future, to let them continue with this suicidal model.

Oil companies in some way, are a great microcosm for this capitalist logic of grow or die.

Their stock price depends on having as much in reserve as they have in production. So they have to constantly be growing, they can never stop. So if you add up everything that they have in reserve, what you see is that it’s five times what the planet can handle. 

And you know that's capitalism in, I say miniature, but they are some of the largest corporations on the planet, it’s not so miniature. But I think it's a good way of understanding what it is that were up against.

And so I'm really excited about this campaign. It's modeled on the divestment campaign against apartheid. And we are going to many university campus’s starting November, I think Bill is starting November 8th, or November 7th. 

The demand is for students to say to their campus administrators who are administering their endowments, their university endowments that are all heavily invested in fossil fuels. You tell me, you do the math. 

Tell me how it is that you can prepare me for a world that you don’t believe in. I think it's going to start a really powerful debate... 

For more information on the 'Do the Math' speaking tour with Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, visit

Ethan Cox is's Quebec correspondent. 

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