Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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25 Mar 2011

Naomi Klein in Totnes: The Movie!

Well, it has been Naomi Klein week here at Transition Culture!  Here is the film, beautifully produced by those good folks at nuproject, of Naomi’s talk in Totnes last weekend.  Amazing they have turned it around so quickly.  Here’s the film … enjoy …

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Patricia Kahler
25 Mar 10:46am

Thanks Rob! Lots of food for thought! Hope we can get it all together for our children, and theirs yet to come! I Believe that Heaven on this Earth is possible if we choose it!Luv Trishwildfire

Eva Wojcik
25 Mar 6:32pm

Yes, it’s about time we ALL faced reality, even if the far right deniers continue to deny climate change exists. One way to fight them and the Koch brothers ilk is the share knowledge.

William Kramer
27 Mar 9:43pm

Klein’s talk provides a great summary and analysis, but I would go a bit farther in Klein’s statement (at about 15:00) that the scientific faction allied closely with capitalism was first expressed as a result of the tobacco industry’s co-opting of science. I believe an earlier and more significant split (and every bit as heated as the tobacco “wars”) evolved rapidly after publication of Rachael Carson’s “Silent Spring” (1962). Capitalist-oriented scientists quickly mounted an anti-Carson campaign propagandizing the environmental benefits of pesticides and related synthetic compounds, while the more “environmentally friendly” scientists took to support the defense of Carson’s work. That split was maintained by the Tobacco Wars, the Nuclear Wars, and now the Climate Change Wars.

Bill Sans
28 Mar 5:12pm

Principle of Historical Responsibility… It wasn’t principled values that guided the West’s development so I doubt that appeals to “Historical Responsibility” would gain much traction. We in the West ought to feel a sense of responsibility, but if we were acting on what we ought to do we wouldn’t be in this position. While I agree there is a ideological bent towards free market absolutism exemplified in the West – of which there are particularly fervent adherents – this conviction is little more than a trumped up version of simple human greed.

The U.S. balked at Kyoto because economically it made no sense: the initial costs of greening U.S. industry/trade would only work if their competitors took the challenge on at the same time. Perhaps from a much longer term perspective a green U.S. would be at a competitive advantage but we’re not able to forecast this prospect with any reliability. Also, given the added pressure of green mandates you would expect a number of technological advances that could contribute to economic advantage, but again, this is a highly risky proposition.

A greener global economy is an economy with artificial equalities where some may be better off than other given their historical wealth and level of development. Artificial equalities produce more complex and volatile real inequalities, which in turn create greater competition and the tendency for states to violate the conditions of the agreements that bind them.

Asking people to do what is seemingly contrary to their continued growth is a non-starter if the time window between investment and return is too great. Individual wants will always outweigh collective needs as long as we have a system as inherently unequal as the current economic hegemony. In this system, appeals to Historical Responsibility will continue to fall upon deaf ears.

As I see it our choices are: 1) Convince the power elite that there is an economic advantage in a heretofore unimagined no-growth, anti-growth paradigm. 2) Create a popular, likely violent, groundswell calling for change. Either solution is destined for challenges that will impede progress certainly almost immediately.

The fatal flaw in either solution is the requisite change in perspective from individual advantage to one of collective advantage. We are not adapted to think this way. We only go with the group when we believe it is in our individual interests to do so and our individual interests are mostly short-term and pressing. Combine this tendency with our innate status drives to be better-than, more powerful-than the next person, and you see that our capacity for collective, sustained, sacrifice-intensive action is greatly impaired.

People will not give up their status willingly, for the same reasons countries won’t participate in broad-sweeping environmental mandates – the near-term costs are too high and far-term consequences for neglecting to change are too distant. Certainly we will change as the environment requires us to but by then it will be too late.

I admire Naomi for taking on a nearly impossible challenge but I am still waiting for a response to environmental change that is actually practicable. As it stands the burden of human nature continues and will continue to queer our efforts.

28 Mar 9:13pm

I totally agree that the knowledge sharing might help the humanity survive. Yes, it is not an easy time for the capitalism and word economic. Only together,we can save the Earth to the next generation. I loved Naomi’s speech.

Pat Bushell
29 Mar 4:12pm

Perhaps people need to be reminded that our economic system is man made, mainly designed for those at the top, and that its replacement with a fairer version can only be a good thing in the long run. As it is, the economic crisis takes up more media time and space than the planetary crisis, and yet we all know that the planet is the only one we’ve got It seems to me that people are more afraid of the collapse of the financial system, (which is quite likely to happen anyway since we can all see now the way it’s built on sand) than the collapse of the global ecosystem. We need to remind ourselves of what is more permanent, to see things in proportion. If a financial crash happens and we can face it without panic, all helping each other, we have a good chance of replacing it with a system that is better for everyone.

Michael Grove
2 Apr 8:07am

I whole heartedly agree with William Kramer’s comment of 27 Mar and the fact …

“That split was maintained by the Tobacco Wars, the Nuclear Wars, and now the Climate Change Wars”

IS at the core of THE PROBLEM which DIVIDES the whole of our SPECIES on a GLOBAL SCALE!

Blake Ludwig
2 Apr 5:15pm

@Bill, the development in the West was very much based on new and higher values. The fire of change that took us from monarchies to democracy was an incredible evolution. And within that development there has always been different threads propelling democracy forward – one was enterprise and outward movement, the other more inward – more socially focused.
Now we find our sense of social responsibility is at odds with the outer extremes of global enterprise and their ‘lack of morals’ and quite rightly. However the way to change that isn’t to distance ourselves from ‘them’; we need enterprise and business as much as we need social consciousness, but we also need a much bigger vision of what’s possible between us all.

15 Apr 8:57pm

I got a lot from this talk, thank you to all concerned. For me the key is what we do about it all. I work in the organic sector and one of the biggest challenges and one of the most satisfying/frustrating parts of that work is in trying to get people, businesses, organisations to talk/listen to each other and to look ahead together. There are real challenges farmers, food processing companies and shops face in getting a more sustainable food product out in a consistently high quality form on a daily basis every day all year. But these challenges will be met, in my opinion, when enough people are willing to compromise enough to make it all work and to work not just as a fad but for a generation, hopefully a little longer than that.

Richard Laverack
24 Jun 9:45pm

Dear Totnes Transitioners,

First, as an expat slowly making his way back home (wherever that is), I would like to thank the whole Town for being the example it has evolved into, and I am sure, will keep evolving further. I should also like to thank the organisers of this event, and the visit by Prof Tim Jackson for their excellent choice of guests.

I have been in Australia for the last 40 years, and Ms Klein mentioned the country several times in her talk as being somewhat of a “bastion” of right wing denialists, Lord Monkton is currently speaking there ! She is right.

What I would like to do is place a few articles and talks before you some of which support and amplify Ms Klein and some which have differing views.

The first is a film clip from the University of California of a talk given by Naomi Oreski called “The American Denial of Global Warming”. Ms Oreski goes into the history of Climate Change research and traces believe it or not quotes from Lindon B Johnson advocating for a reduction of carbon emissions. The research was well established during his Presidency. The talk at

supports Ms Kleins details of the few scientists that switched from one “issue” to another to support free market fundamentalism, a talk well worth absorbing, although much will be familiar.

The other papers I have read recently are by Tim Garret, Assoc Prof of Atmospheric Science at the University of Utah. He has 2 papers recently publiched the first called, “The Thermodynamics of Civilisation Growth” at

The other “No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity along with mitigated climate change” at

In both papers he tends to differ from Ms Klein as far as eventual outcomes are concerned and leans towards the “almost” admission by Tim Jackson that collapse is inevitable, if not economic, then collapse caused by the climate induced outcomes.

Tim Garret’s conclusions are as follows;

Acceleration of carbon dioxide emissions is unlikely to change anytime in the near future. Civilization’s growth has inertia.

Commonly advocated remedies, such as population control and reducing standard of living, are not available knobs to be “tweaked”. They are only a response to available energy supplies.

The primary relevant knob is the energy efficiency of civilization.

If energy efficiency increases it accelerates civilization’s wealth but leads to super-exponential growth of CO2 emissions.

Absent collapsing civilization, switching to non-CO2 emitting power must be done at an extraordinarily fast rate only to stabilize CO2 emissions, about one nuclear power plant per day.

Stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations below a level of 500 ppmv that might be considered dangerous requires both civilization collapse and extremely rapid decarbonization.

If civilization collapse occurs due to global warming, it will manifest itself economically through hyper-inflation.
I read Naomi Klein’s political expose on the rise of “disaster capitalism” and agreed wholeheartedly, but I think there is a tendency here for her to try and find a “happy ending” for an audience. Sad to say I cannot really see this happening, that is why I left Australia.

I am now an avid reader of your website and am currently living in Spain looking at what “Los Indignidados” are structuring. I hope to visit Totnes early next year.

Thanks once again for your brilliant efforts.