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Kate Aronoff's Overheated
Credit: Courtesy of Bold Type Books

What’s overheating the planet? Kate Aronoff says capitalism is

Most informed human beings acknowledge that Earth is hurtling toward an ever-worsening climate crisis and that humans are stoking the furnace. What then shall we do?

Author Kate Aronoff says the answer involves reigning in capitalism. Her new book is Overheated: How Capitalism Broke the Planet and How We Fight Back.

Aronoff argues that the fossil fuel industry, “the most powerful and politically entrenched companies on earth,” has co-opted what should be a democratic process to keep life on Earth sustainable. She asserts that they have hijacked reform movements by funding climate change deniers, and by directing governmental policy.

The New Deal’s through-line wasn’t socialism or even big government, but a thoroughly democratic political economy.

Aronoff has an alternate vision for what it will take to survive this crisis. She is a strong supporter of the Green New Deal. She says that while President Biden is providing a breath of fresh air in the climate debate, his actions so far are not adequate in relation to the level of the crisis. Among other measures, she recommends nationalizing the fossil fuel industry and radically reimagining politics.

The climate crisis has been long framed as an issue of either techno-utopian tinkering, entrusting a few billionaires to save the day, or of collective self-sacrifices, us-versus-us.

In this conversation, renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben, a founder of, joins Aronoff to discuss the themes of her book and the path forward. It’s a sober discussion, but not without hope for viable solutions.

Kate Aronoff is a staff writer at The New Republic, the co-editor of We Own the Future: Democratic Socialism, American Style, and the co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal. Bill McKibben is the author of the groundbreaking climate change book The End of Nature.

Town Hall Seattle presented this event on April 27, as part of their Civics Series. Town Hall’s Wier Harman introduced the event.