Monday, May 17, 2010

Global Warring

How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map

This is a chilling book about global warming. The world is already undergoing dramatic geopolitical change. Western industrialized nations (read the US) are weakening, while emerging nations (read China and India) are gaining strength. These changes are going to accelerate due to the dramatic climate change we're experiencing. And Paskal makes the point that most don't see the coming challenges, don't acknowledge them, and aren't undertaking strategic actions to address the changes.

Paskal investigates several hot spots where climatic change can disrupt current international relationships. China and India both depend on Himalayan glaciers for their water supply, and those glaciers are melting (the pace may be controversial, but not the fact that they're melting). The monsoons are failing. Northern China is desperately short of water, and Chinese development is aggressively polluting their available water supply. The desperation for water will influence their relationship and their strategic goals in the world.

The Arctic is warming the fastest of anywhere on earth, and the Northwest Passage will likely sonn be navigable, fulfilling the dream of explorers of the past. This will open up the Arctic Ocean as a valuable shipping route, and also open up the treasure house of resources. But who will control these resources? Canada has the best claim, but virtually no navy and or ice breaking capability. The US argues that it should be declared international waters, opening it up to the avaricious eyes of the Russians (with their powerful icebreakers and increasing presence). Paskal argues that the best strategic move for the US would be to support Canada, and include the Arctic in its vision of a North American defense system, but when talking about continental defense, the US is still fixated on defending just two oceans.

Even the very definition of a state is under assault. How would you suggest we treat a nation whose Pacific atoll has just submerged under the rising ocean levels? Does it still have a vote in international fora? Does it still have rights to the resources in what used to be its maritime boundaries? These are just a few of the difficult questions facing us in the future.

Events like Katrina show just how dismally unprepared developed nations are to deal with harrowing climate events - and there are more of them coming.

Paskal, a Montrealer by birth, has around the world and is currently based in London. She has a penetrating and analytical mind, and a compelling writing style. Enjoyable is perhaps not the word to describe this powerful book, but you cannot read Global Warring without adjusting your view of the world's future.


Hasan said...

As usual an amazing review of the book. Given my interests in Geopolitics I think I am going to like this book. Let me add it to to my Amazon wishlist.

Lib Gibson said...

I think you'll love it. I found it hard to put down.