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Naomi Klein, renowned journalist and author of How to Change Everything, joined our April 2021 virtual summit to discuss climate change and youth activism. In this #AskOBI video, she explains how two crises we all face — fossil fuel capitalism and authoritarianism — are rooted in othering.

View the full conversation, "We Belong to the Earth and We Belong to Each Other," and more here.


Naomi Klein: The climate crisis is an ecological crisis, it is an industrial crisis, it is a consumption crisis, it is a crisis of imperialism and colonialism. And underneath it all, it is a crisis produced by the logic of othering.

The age of fossil fuel capitalism that created and perpetuates the climate crisis is inseparable from the project of white supremacy, from the intertwined genocides of the transatlantic slave trade and the violent theft of Indigenous lands.

Once the age of fossil fuels began, more othering was required. Fossil capital requires sacrifice zones. You have to have people and places deemed worthy of sacrifice cast outside the circle of belonging. Now with climate change, the sacrifice zone has widened to a planetary scale. The impacts remain highly unequal and distributed according to these fault lines of race and class. But no one is truly safe. 

We are in a moment of system failure. We have strongmen figures around the world who are tapping into deep insecurities, deep fears and vulnerabilities, saying "Don't look up at the system, don't look up at the people who produce these crises.” They don't want the attention focused on the system. They would rather have it focused on the immigrant, on the criminal, on the invader, on the replacer.

“Look at the other.”

That is what a world built on othering has produced: a world on fire.