Books: Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything


Naomi Klein’s 2014 book on climate change, the full title is This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. I’ve picked out these quotes because they struck me as powerful, or because I feel they could in some way relate to or inform painting, art practice and the art world. These are not Cliffs Notes and I recommend anyone who hasn’t read the book to do so. The accompanying images are art works that I think of in relation to climate change, although I don’t know the intensions of the artists in this regard.

“… weapons giant Raytheon explained, “Expanded business opportunities are likely to arise as consumer behaviour and needs change in response to climate change.” … This is worth remembering whenever doubts creep in about the urgency of this crisis: the private militias are already mobilising.” p.9


Dirk Skreber Untitled (2003) oil on canvas 300 x 170cm

“Encouraging the frenetic and indiscriminate consumption of essentially disposable products can no longer be the system’s goal.” p.85

“… we have an economic system that fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, while failing to place value on those things that most of us cherish above all -” p.88

“It is a matter of the well-off 20 percent in a population taking the largest cuts.” p.91


Jules de Balincourt Think Globally Act Locally (2007) oil and acrylic on panel 243.8 x 335.3cm

“Over the course of the 1970s, there were 660 reported disasters around the world, including droughts, floods, extreme temperature events, wild-fires, and storms. In the 2000s, there were 3,322” p.107

“… there is a simple, direct correlation between wealth and emissions – more money generally means more flying, driving, boating, and powering of multiple homes. … the travel habits of the most affluent class have an impact on climate 250 percent greater than that of their lowest-earning neighbours.” p.113

[Klein quoting Glenn Albrecht] “A feeling of global dread asserts itself as the planet heats and climate gets more hostile and unpredictable” p.165


Dana Schutz Big Wave (2016) oil on canvas 304.8 x 396.2cm

[Klein quoting William Barnes and Nils Gilman] “The hopes that many Greens place in a technological fix are an expression of high-modernist faith in the unlimited power of science and technology as profound – and as rational – as Augustine’s faith in Christ.” p.189

“… the ever powerful desire to be seen as “serious” in circles where seriousness is equated with toeing the pro-market line -” p.210

“… the very “extrinsic” values that we now know are the greatest psychological barriers to climate action – from the worship of wealth and fame for their own sakes to the idea that change is something that is handed down from above by our better, rather than something we demand for ourselves.” p.212

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Smile @smilestreetart WE DELIGHT IN THE PASSIVITY OF YOUR OBEDIENCE (2016) poster, London

“… our culture’s most intoxicating narrative: the belief that technology is going to save us from the effects of our actions. … This is the great promise of geoengineering and it remains our culture’s most powerful form of magical thinking.” p.255

“… African delegates at U.N. climate summits have begun using words like “genocide” to describe the collective failure to lower emissions. … climate change as a form of “slow violence …” p.276

“… our children may judge as humanity’s single most immoral act.” p.284

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@smilestreetart WE DELIGHT IN THE PASSIVITY OF YOUR OBEDIENCE [detail] (2016) poster, London

[Klein quoting Deeohn Ferris] “we’re all in the same sinking boat, only people of colour are closest to the hole.” p.314

“We know that we are trapped within an economic system that has it backwards; it behaves as if there is no end to what is actually finite (clean water, fossil fuels, and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions) while insisting that there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually quite flexible: the financial resources that human institutions manufacture, and that, if imagined differently, could build the kind of caring society we need.” p.347

“… climate change is demolishing the idea that any counter-cultural pocket can provide a safe haven.” p.404

“… if governments are unwilling to live up to their international (and domestic) responsibilities, then movements of people have to step into that leadership vacuum and find ways to change the power equation.” p.411

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Protesters at the People’s Climate March, 29 April 2017

“… only mass social movements can save us now.” p.450

“… we will need the climate revolution playing on repeat, all day every day, everywhere.” p.452

“The climate movement has yet to find its full moral voice on the world stage, but it is most certainly clearing its throat.” p.464


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