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Friendly fire in the war on climate change

Hans A. Baer

Mann singles out Kevin Anderson, a British-based climate scientist, who gave up flying about fifteen years ago, as having been taken in by the deflectors. In actual fact, Anderson maintains that individual actions may serve as the catalyst for deeper systemic changes which would contribute to climate change mitigation. Is Mann himself, as a privileged academic and a former advisor to the Clinton campaign on energy and climate in 2016, perhaps deflecting attention from the greater contribution that elites of various sorts make to emissions?

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In the closing words of his book, Mann seeks to address the assertion of those he terms “progressives” that current climate policies don’t sufficiently address social injustices, arguing that “simply acting on the climate crisis is acting to alleviate social injustice” (p. 266). Unfortunately, he appears to be hostile to climate justice activists who in calling for “system change, not climate change” are also calling for transcending capitalism, not merely tweaking it to make it slightly more social just and environmentally sustainable.