Climate Totalitarianism: Some Quotations

It starts with exaggeration, continues with alarmism, and ends with totalitarianism. The “existential crisis” of man-made climate change.

“The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.” (James Hansen, Guardian, February 14, 2009)

Totalitarianism

“When governments are confronted by collapse, they too often resort to totalitarian methods to keep order in the face of chaos. Given the increasingly precarious state of our climate, it is not hard to foresee governments resorting to permanent states of martial law. And it is not hard to imagine a short-term state of emergency morphing into a long-term state of siege.” (Ross Gelbspan, GRIST, April 27, 2010)

“If we want to keep cities safe in the face of climate change, we need to seriously question the ideal of private homeownership.”

“To engage with these challenges, we need to do more than upgrade the powerlines or stage a public takeover of the utility companies. We need to rethink the ideologies that govern how we plan and build our homes.”

“The valorizing of homeownership and property rights results not only in increased exposure to climate-change-fueled fires, but also in our inadequate responses to them…. There is hardly any emphasis on more collective action or larger-scale spatial planning, except for reassessing traffic flow for evacuations. Any suggestion that we might discourage rebuilding on privately owned land is promptly tamped down.”

Discussions have surged over the last two years about the need for coastal communities to retreat further inland as they face rising sea levels—a seemingly more imminent threat. How should we broach the more uncertain risks of fire?”

“This is not an indictment of individual homeowners, who are only trying to find stability through the sole system that has been offered to them.”

“The vulnerable affluence of Porter Ranch and Granada Hills, and the exposed tranquility of Paradise, are two representations of the same westward-expansionist frontier thinking that underlies modern life in the United States. This is the Jeffersonian agrarian ideal, transmuted through the urban, petrochemical century.

“Cheap energy—both the monetary price of subsidized gasoline and the hidden costs of fossil fuels—and the idealization of individual homeownership have created the scorching landscapes we face today.”

“Cheap energy is untenable in the face of climate emergency. And individual homeownership should be seriously questioned.”

“If we can reframe debates about the future of cities beyond rote acceptance of property ownership, it will free up space for us to think about new, more just, and climate-attuned modes of urban living. Responding to climate change in just ways entails radically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting against or adapting to climate change impacts, and doing all of it without further marginalizing oppressed groups of people.”

“Given the scope and scale of the climate crisis, it is shocking that we are being presented with so few serious, comprehensive alternatives for how to live. We need another kind of escape route—away from our ideologies of ownership and property, and toward more collective, healthy, and just cities.”

– Kian Goh, “California’s Fires Prove the American Dream Is Flammable.” The Nation, December 23, 2019.

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January 15, 2022 at 01:03AM

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