Maxime Bernier attacked Greta Thunberg’s autism. Naomi Klein says autism made the teen a global voice of conscience

Climate activist Greta Thunberg marches with climate protesters outside the United Nations last week.

Maxime Bernier wants us to think he is sorry. The leader of the extremist People’s Party of Canada had tweeted that Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is “clearly mentally unstable. Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear. She wants us to feel the same.”

Facing a ferocious backlash, he has since backpedalled, calling the 16-year-old “a brave young woman” who unfortunately is a “pawn” of the climate movement.

Author Naomi KleinThunberg is nobody’s pawn. I have rarely met anyone — child or adult — who better knows their own mind. And this is not despite her autism; it may well be because of it. In fact, a big part of what has made Thunberg suach an inspiring figure, is the fact that she is living proof that diversity — in her case neurodiversity — is absolutely key to the survival of our species.

Every person with autism is different, but there are some traits that many with the diagnosis share in common. As Thunberg has said, people with her type of autism tend to be extremely literal and often have trouble coping with cognitive dissonance, those gaps between what we know and what we do.

Many people on the autism spectrum are also less prone to imitating the social behaviours of people around them and instead forge their own unique paths. This can make them intensely vulnerable to bullying.

“For those of us who are on the spectrum,” Thunberg says, “almost everything is black or white. We aren’t very good at lying, and we usually don’t enjoy participating in this social game that the rest of you seem so fond of.”

Many people on the spectrum also have a powerful capacity to focus on a particular area and to not be distracted. This is often a gift, but it can also be painful, as it was in Thunberg’s case. She turned her laser-like focus on the climate crisis, including the failure of politicians to do what is required to protect a habitable planet. The fact that other people around her seemed relatively unconcerned about the urgent need for transformative action did not send her reassuring social signals, as such signals do for children who are more socially connected. The lack of concern terrified her even more.

According to Thunberg, the only way she was able to cope was to find ways to reduce the cognitive dissonance between what she had learned about the climate crisis and how she lived her life. If she desperately wanted powerful politicians to put our societies on emergency footing to fight climate change, then she needed to reflect that state of emergency in her own life.

So, at age 15, she decided to stop doing the one thing all kids are supposed to do when everything is normal: go to school. Every Friday, she skipped class and stationed herself outside of Sweden’s parliament with a handmade sign that said simply: “School Strike For the Climate.”

“Why,” Thunberg wondered, “should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future?”

The rest is history — the speeches at United Nations conferences, at the European Union, at TEDx Stockholm, at the Vatican, at the British Parliament.

To the rich and mighty at the annual World Economic Summit in Davos she said: “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

Videos of her went viral. It was as if by yelling “Fire!” on our warming planet, she had given others the confidence to believe their own senses and smell the smoke coming in under all those tightly closed doors. And so, children around the world began taking their cues from her — the girl who takes social cues from no one — and started organizing student strikes of their own every Friday. (They have now called on people of all ages to join them, starting on Sept. 20.)

Thunberg’s voyage from “invisible girl,” as she described herself, to global voice of conscience is an extraordinary one, and it has a lot to teach us. In a way, she is asking those of us whose mental wiring is more typical — less prone to extraordinary focus and more capable of living with moral contradictions — to be more like her. And she has a point.

During normal, non-emergency times, the capacity of the human mind to rationalize, compartmentalize, and be distracted are important coping mechanisms. It’s also extremely helpful to unconsciously look to our peers and role models to figure out how to feel and act — those social cues are how we form friendships and build cohesive communities.

When it comes to rising to the existential threat of climate breakdown, however, these traits are proving our collective undoing. They are reassuring us when we should not be reassured. They are distracting us when we should not be distracted. And they are easing our consciences when they should not be eased.

In part this is because pretty much every aspect of our economy would have to change if we were to decide to take climate change seriously, and there are many powerful interests that like things as they are. Not least the fossil fuel corporations, which have funded a decades-long machine of disinformation, obfuscation and straight-up lies about the reality of climate change. SOURCE

The Right To A Future

Greta Thunberg, the famous Swedish climate crisis activist, recently landed upon the American shore in a racing yacht sail boat with some solar-power on board. She did not want to fly due to the pollution caused by airplanes.

In an event produced by The Intercept in New York entitled “The Right to a Future,” Naomi Klein, Sr. Correspondent for The Intercept, spoke to and introduced “Greta,” as she has come to be known around the world. The Swedish teenager took Fridays off from school to protest the climate crisis at the Swedish Parliament with a sign that read: “School Strike for Climate.” Then she went global, becoming one of the most well known climate activists in the world.

Greta has been speaking truth to power from the beginning of her appearance on the world stage.

Some of Greta’s Remarks to World Leaders

“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. You have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” — Speaking at UN COP24 conference regarding the climate crisis

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden, you leave to us children.” — Speaking to the UN climate negotiators in Poland in December 2018

“Is my English okay? Is the microphone on because I’m beginning to wonder?” — Speaking to British Members of Parliament who invited her to speak

“I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear that I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
— Speaking to the rich at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

Greta has game.

The Right to a Future Event

At the recent climate event, Naomi Klein stated: “On March 15th of this year, came the first global school strike for climate. Over 2,000 strikes [were held] in 125 countries on every continent. 1.6 million people participated on a single day.” CleanTechnica readers know the climate crisis is urgent, and more people are learning about this topic and are starting to take action.

The next school strike date is set for September 20th. The student organizers would like the adults to join the action.

When asked by Naomi Klein about how many say that dealing with the climate crisis is too expensive, Greta responded, “The money is there. If we can save the banks, then we can save the world.” She continued, “We need to have the polluters to actually pay for the damage they have caused. … What we lack now is political will and social will to do it.”

To see if there’s a StrikeWithUs event near you or to create one on September 20th, please visit that link.

A green new deal for nature

“To many people, modernity meant turning away from the natural world. The accelerating environmental crisis is putting our treatment of the rest of life on Earth back to the centre of our collective wellbeing. This is not about being kind to wildlife out of altruism or compassion, it is about securing the fundamental physical conditions of modern civilisation.”—Common Wealth Report

Plan to restore and rewild 25 percent of the UK to combat climate crisis put forward by progressive think tank Common Wealth.

Connecting greenspace across the country and bringing about more transparent discussions about UK land ownership could improve biodiversity and significantly offset emissions, a new report from Common Wealth argues.

Additionally, the plan outlines how new jobs could be created through the large-scale restoration of peatland, shifting ownership of grouse-hunting land, and greening decommissioned industrial areas. Farmers working on low-grade subsidised land would be incentivised to work on rewilding and maintaining that land.

Naomi Klein, global climate activist said: “This is exactly the kind of deep policy work we need if we are going to turn the Green New Deal from a slogan into a life-saving reality in the UK and around the world.”

Road map

The report is part of Common Wealth’s Road Map to a Green New Deal series, which calls for a transformation of the economy, outlining an increase in government investment to rapidly decarbonise the economy and create millions of well-paid jobs, a 100 percent renewable energy system, a public green transport network, and decent, affordable, zero-carbon housing for all.

The series includes reports by activist groups such as Greenpeace and Green New Deal for Europe, as well as think tanks like IPPR, NEF, and international policy thinkers.

Professor Simon Lewis, author of the report, said: “What is unique about this UK Restoration Plan is by focusing on connection, it combines helping wildlife and helping people adapt to climate change. This Green New Deal for Nature is about modest investments resulting in a big increases in the quality of all our lives.”

The report emphasises the benefit to rural communities, as well as giving urban, working-class communities more access to nature. It comes in the wake of recent calls from the National Audit Office that the government is not prepared for a new system of agricultural subsidies after the UK leaves the EU, leaving farmers exposed to risk.

Others have reported that UK farmers are scrambling to export surplus produce in the lead up to Brexit. Meanwhile, rewilding projects have taken off in recent years, with recent news that rewilding has caused white storks to spread across England for the first time in 600 years.

Practical and thoughtful

Lily Cole, actor and environmentalist said: “While technologists design fancy carbon-capture machines, nature offers us the simplest, most cost-effective and profound way to solve our environmental crisis.

“Re-thinking land use in the UK (and globally), offers us the opportunity to capture huge quantities of carbon, enhance biodiversity, and also improve our own human relationship to the land.

“There can be no doubt that re-wilding will be critical in the drive towards increased environmental sustainability: the question is how to do it.

This report offers practical and thoughtful ideas on how re-wilding might happen in the UK, for example by diverting agricultural subsidies to reward people for providing environmental services instead, or creating land corridors for wildlife between hedgerows.

“I hope the report is the beginning of a positive conversation on how we might turn this crisis into an opportunity.”

Vital contribution

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion said: “A UK Green New Deal is vital to our future, and to the future of the 1.4 million young people who have joined inspiring school climate strikes across the globe.

The Green New Deal is a pluralistic, justice-focused economic plan for a rapid transition, and I welcome Common Wealth’s exciting and vital contribution, drawing on talents and energy from across the climate movement.” MORE

Naomi Klein Knows a Green New Deal Is Our Only Hope Against Climate Catastrophe

In her new book, Klein argues that our current crisis cannot be separated from a long history and brutal present of human exploitation.

KLEIN-COVER SPLIT
Naomi Klein. (Photo by Kourosh Keshiri)

When I spoke with Naomi Klein in August, it was day 13 of Greta Thunberg’s transatlantic crossing on the Malizia II, a zero-emissions racing sailboat. Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who doesn’t fly because of the carbon impact, was making her way to Manhattan for the UN Climate Action summit. Klein’s new book, On Fire: The Burning Case for the Green New Deal, opens with a portrait of Thunberg and a discussion of the youth climate movement. For decades, Klein writes, children have been used as mere rhetorical devices in the discourse of climate change. We have been implored to act on climate change for the sake of “our children.” But, as Klein told me, it is “obvious that this has not worked to inspire decision-makers to do what was necessary.” Now, young people are no longer content to be treated as tropes. “They are speaking and striking and marching for themselves, and they are issuing the verdicts about the entire political class that has failed them.”

The essays collected in On Fire also come together around a central verdict: that the climate crisis cannot be separated from centuries of human exploitation. Colonialism, indigenous genocide, slavery, and climate disruption all share a history. Not only did these historical processes establish the extractive industries that have led to climate change, but they established an extractive mindset, “a way of viewing both the natural world and the majority of its inhabitants as resources to use up and then discard,” Klein writes. Climate activism must fight both. We need a “shift in worldview at every level.”

For Klein, the Green New Deal represents precisely this. Formulated by climate activists and proposed by representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey, the Green New Deal offers a way to transform our infrastructure at the scale and speed required by climate change while simultaneously transforming the economic model and underlying worldview that has caused it. Detractors may call it a random laundry list of progressive initiatives, but for Klein the brilliance of the Green New Deal lies in its supposition that its initiatives—from renewable energy to universal health care—are anything but unrelated. Ecological breakdown and economic injustice are inextricably linked. The solution must be holistic. The Green New Deal offers a way both to “get clean” and to “redress the founding crimes of our nations.”

We spoke about the politics of the climate crisis and the “almost unbearably high” stakes of the 2020 election. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

—Lynne Feeley

Lynne Feeley: Many of the essays in the book focus on what you call the “deep stories” that are interfering with people’s willingness to confront the climate crisis. Can you discuss what these stories are and how they are blocking climate action?

Naomi Klein: Some are the economic stories of neoliberalism—about how things go terribly wrong when people try to work together and how, if we just get out of the way of the market and let it do its magic, the benefits will trickle down to everyone else. I’ve written a lot over the years about how the orthodoxy of neoliberalism—privatization, deregulation, low taxes, cuts to social spending—conflicts very, very frontally with what we need to do in the face of the climate crisis. MORE

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On Fire Book Review: Naomi Klein Beckons Us to Look Behind the Burning Climate Curtain

170 Media Outlets Join Covering Climate Now project.

“Covering Climate Now is a fulfillment of journalism’s most sacred responsibilities”

Image result for cbs: greta thunberg arrival
 In this Aug. 14, 2019 file photo, Climate change activist Greta Thunberg addresses the media during a news conference in Plymouth, England. Thunberg has crossed the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat to attend a conference on global warming. On Wednesday, Aug. 28, before dawn, Thunberg tweeted, “Land!! The lights of Long Island and New York City ahead.” (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Objectivity and truth-telling are no longer the most “sacred” responsibilities of the news media, at least according to the far-left The Nation magazineIt’s now … climate change.

“We see Covering Climate Now as a fulfillment of journalism’s most sacred responsibilities, which are to inform people and foster constructive debate about common challenges and opportunities,” The Nation wrote on Aug. 28.

The NationColumbia Journalism Review (CJR) and The Guardian spearheaded The Covering Climate Now project. On Aug. 28, they announced that 170 news outlets around the world signed on to the agenda-driven effort. They bragged that biased journalism will be delivered to a combined audience of hundreds of millions of people.

The list included a Who’s Who of liberal U.S. media outlets including Bloomberg, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, Newsweek, “eminent specialist publications” NatureScientific American, InsideClimate News, and “distinguished digital publications” HuffPost, Vox, The Intercept and Slate.

Audiences can expect to be bombarded by climate alarmism the week of Sept. 16-23, since all the participating outlets agreed to focus on climate that week — just ahead of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summit in New York.

Although some aren’t waiting. CBS has already been celebrating the arrival of 16-year-old“climate warrior” Greta Thunberg and promoting her journey by low-emissions yacht, while ignoring the fact that people have to fly to NY to retrieve the boat.

“All that’s required is for each outlet to make a good-faith effort to increase the amount and the visibility of its climate coverage—to make it clear to their audiences that climate change is not just one more story but the overriding story of our time,” The Nation said.

The Covering Climate now project launched in April 2019, when The Nation, CJR and The Guardiancohosted an event to discuss how journalists ought to cover climate change. It included far-left voices including anti-fossil fuels and anti-capitalist author Naomi Klein. MORE

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Indigenous Tribes on Front Line of Amazon Rainforest Fires Vow to Resist Bolsonaro’s “Destruction of Mother Nature”

“We’re putting our bodies and our lives on the line to try to save our territories.”

Aerial view of a large burned area in the city of Candeiras do Jamari in the Brazilian state of Rondônia. (Photo: Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace)

Indigenous tribes whose land and livelihoods are being directly harmed by the fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest vowed Tuesday to do everything in their power to resist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s “destruction of Mother Nature” and called on the rest of the world to join them.

“We’re putting our bodies and our lives on the line to try to save our territories,” Brazilian indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara, who was born in a village in the Amazon rainforest, said in a statement. “We’ve been warning for decades about the violations we have suffered across Brazil.”

“If we don’t stop this destruction of Mother Nature, future generations will live in a completely different world to the one we live in today.” —Huni Kuin tribe

“The predatory behavior of loggers, miners, and ranchers, who have a powerful lobby in the [Brazilian] National Congress with more than 200 deputies under their influence,” said Guajajara, “has been getting much worse under the anti-indigenous government of Jair Bolsonaro, who normalizes, incites, and empowers violence against the environment and against us.”

According to satellite data analyzed by Weather Source, there are over 2,000 fires raging in the Brazilian Amazon. The blazes sparked outrage from world leaders and dire warnings from environmentalists, who say the fires could accelerate the climate crisis by irreversibly damaging the “lungs of the world.”

In a statement, a group of leaders with the indigenous tribe Huni Kuin said the fires are “Mother Nature’s cry, asking us to help her.”

“If we don’t stop this destruction of Mother Nature, future generations will live in a completely different world to the one we live in today,” the tribe said. “And we are working today so that humanity has a future. But if we don’t stop this destruction, we will be the ones that will be extinguished, burned and the sky will descend upon us, which has already begun to happen.”

The Xingu peoples echoed that message in a video posted online Monday. Speaking to the people of the world as the wealthiest nations on the planet gathered in France for the G7 summit, a Xingu representative said indigenous tribes “are going to resist for the forest, for our way of living… for the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Embedded video

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein, writing in the Boston Globe Monday, said listening to indigenous peoples and respecting their rights is key to solving the global climate crisis with justice at the forefront.

“Colonialism is setting the world on fire,” wrote Klein. “Taking leadership from the people who have been resisting its violence for centuries, while protecting non-extractive ways of life, is our best hope of putting out the flames.” MORE

Naomi Klein: Why the Democratic National Committee Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate

A girl holds a sign that reads 'pull the emergency brake' as she attends a ceremony in the area which once was the Okjokull glacier, in Iceland, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. With poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists and others bade goodbye to the first Icelandic glacier to disappear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
A girl holds a sign that reads “pull the emergency brake” at a ceremony to commemorate the Okjökull glacier in Iceland, on Aug. 18, 2019. Photo: Felipe Dana/AP

DEAR MEMBERS OF THE DNC:

Your meeting in San Francisco this weekend takes place against a backdrop that is literally on fire. You are gathering one month after the hottest month ever recorded in human history. You are meeting on the same week that smoke from a record number of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest turned day into night in the Brazilian megapolis of São Paulo. And you are meeting just days after Iceland’s prime minister led her country in its first funeral service for a major glacier lost to climate change.

This is the terrifying context in which you will vote on a series of resolutions to determine whether the presidential primaries will include a dedicated debate about the climate emergency. Not the already scheduled climate “forum” or climate “town hall,” which will surely be fascinating for those who seek them out — but a formal televised debate among the top candidates vying to lead your party and the country.

I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of others who have called on you to use your power to turn that debate into a reality.

Many of you are already on board, including the chairs of several state parties, but you are up against some powerful opponents. Let’s take on their two main counterarguments in turn.

First, you will hear that the rules on debates are already set. And, as DNC Chair Tom Perez has declared, the party “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area.” But here’s the thing: Having a habitable Earth is not a “single issue”; it is the single precondition for every other issue’s existence. Humbling as it may be, our shared climate is the frame inside which all of our lives, causes, and struggles unfold.

More immediately, climate breakdown is already pouring fuel on every evil that humans are capable of conjuring, from deadly wars to femicide to unmasked white supremacy and colonialism. Indeed, President Donald Trump is currently throwing a tantrumbecause he is being denied what he perceives as the United States’s manifest destiny to purchase the Indigenous-governed territory of Greenland, which has become increasingly valuable because of the wealth made accessible by melting ice. In short, there is nothing singular about planetary breakdown — it encompasses, quite literally, everything.

Other members of the DNC will argue that the climate debate must be shut down because if you give in to this wave of pressure, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement, it will open up the floodgates for every progressive constituency demanding a dedicated debate of their own.

DNC HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2019/08/13: Members of the Sunrise Movement hubs from all across New York state gathered for a raucous rally on August 13, 2019 outside of the DNC headquarters on 420 Lexington Avenue in New York City to pressure the NY members of the DNC to vote for a climate debate when the DNC gathers in San Francisco on August 22-24. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Members of the Sunrise Movement hubs from across New York gathered for a rally on Aug. 13, 2019, outside the DNC headquarters in New York City to pressure the state members to vote for a climate debate. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
In truth, that will probably happen. And in retrospect, it probably would have served the country better to have a series of issue-based debates, rather than the incoherent free-for-alls we’ve been treated to so far. But the political and bureaucratic hassles you will face should you greenlight a climate debate need to be weighed against something far more important: the fact that, by breaking your own rules, you have a critical chance to model what it means to treat climate breakdown like a true emergency, which is precisely what the next administration needs to do if our species is going to have a fighting chance. And when you think about it (and I hope you do), that is a pretty fearsome responsibility. MORE

The Canadian Green New Deal and migrant justice

Image: kai kalhh/Pixabay

The Canadian Green New Deal movement is picking up steam, as prominent activists join forces with over 80 organizations to demand radical change.

On June 11, Indigenous lawyer Pam Palmater and journalist Naomi Klein were two of the speakers at a Green New Deal town hall in Toronto. More town halls are planned in the next few weeks, with an open invitation to organize events to anyone committed to building the movement.

Instead of implementing temperate solutions such as the carbon tax, the Canadian Green New Deal calls for an economy that redistributes wealth and resources to benefit the vast majority of the population while drastically reducing emissions.

That translates into transformative action on “systems of transit, energy, housing, agriculture, and public services” as well as addressing migrant justice.

“The migrant labour piece needs to be central in that,” says Karen Cocq, an organizer with the labour-advocacy group Fight for $15 and Fairness.

Alongside multiple unions such as CUPE, the Green New Deal coalition includes labour advocacy groups including Migrant Rights Alliance for Change.

Cocq emphasizes solidarity with Indigenous peoples in Canada and abroad who have been displaced due to corporate extractivism, leading to disruption and forced migration. MORE

Green New Deal tour seeks hope and reconciliation in Canada


David Suzuki and Naomi Klein discussed a Green New Deal for Canada at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The Canadian version [of the Green New Deal] is adding more emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous practices.

The Green New Deal “must be based on Indigenous knowledge and science and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years,” according to the Council of Canadians, one of many partnering groups.

Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last October saying global warming requires “rapid and far-reaching” infrastructure transitions. The UN report, completed by leading climate scientists, warns that without serious action to lower CO2 emissions within 11 years, there will be more catastrophes to come, including floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has not been implemented in Canada, which defines Indigenous rights and grants free prior informed consent to the policies that affect them, such as climate change and natural resource development.

On June 11, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples passed Bill C-262 to implement UNDRIP in Canada. It is not yet federal law. Conservative senators objected over fears about its potential impact on resource development and have been accused of stalling. If the bill is not made federal law by the end of the month, new legislation will have to be tabled.

The Green New Deal attempts to align the principles of UNDRIP and traditional Indigenous knowledge with scientific inquiry.

Wanda Whitebird, an elder of the Mi’kmaq Nation from Afton, N.S., welcomed the crowd of a few hundred to the inaugural town hall in Toronto.

Large banners calling for 100 per cent renewable energy and the recognition of Indigenous rights were draped from the second floor of the church. From the front pews to the back, attendees chanted for “climate justice.” MORE

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Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, but not without push-back