The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review of: Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats

Review of: Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Oxford, England: OneWorld Publications, 2010.

In this book with a dire sounding title, long-time political and military essayist, Gwynne Dyer, discusses an aspect of climate change that has not receive due attention in popular debate. In accepting the fact of climate change as near-certain, and second, assuming humanity's responsibility for future environmental catastrophes, Dyer examines the political-military conflicts that global warming could produce in the world if humanity cannot stop or reverse climate change.

Loosely using what the strategic political industry might call “assumption-based planning,” in providing a narrative of hypothetical examples Dyer does not quite provide anything beyond a popular, not a scholarly, history of the future yet to happen. Definitely not a Tom Clancy thriller, and far short of a well-written and studied analysis, Dyer misses some of the important points that would otherwise support his appeal to a thoughtful and serious crowd. That missing crowd in the debate both believes in climate change and wants political and personalized solutions, to implement ideas, that work to stop or reverse global warming, if at all possible.

The book, Climate Wars, falls between two audiences. Furthermore, it confuses somewhat, as a lack of starkly clear reference points do not allow readers in some parts to distinguish whether the author's supporting evidence exists as facts or hypotheticals in those sections of the book that has future history as its intent.

Beyond the incredible needs for anaylsis on the political-military struggles of the subject, Dyer sometimes swings a huge ax at people's incredible blindness of how the politics in the international arena will change if a hot and dry world started wars to feed or safeguard their nations. The ax often misses its target more than it hits. What he could have accomplished with this direct and needed approach in Climate Wars, Dyer did once succeed doing over thirty years ago with a work at the height of the Cold War, when he wrote of the need for nuclear weapons disarmament.

Climate Wars, in the other view, does merit some word for the essentials of the matter, and in this regard it receives an honorable mention. Again, accepting a reality of climate change (or global warming, if one prefers that term), and humanity's responsibility for it, climate change poses a severe challenge to human behavior and the national interests of every country on earth. If readers suspend all doubts of the grand argument, then the future of the world has a hot, dry, and difficult time providing enough available food and fresh water for the size of the projected future populations.

If true, climate change portends a civilizational breakdown, and near collapse heading to partial extinction, if the extreme projections become reality. Short of the extreme, a somewhat milder prognosis for climate change would also result in a complete collapse in democracy and the idea of natural rights, giving way to more authoritarian governments. This would create a completely separate, and smaller, portion of “haves” in the ruling class using the “have nots” in the underclass to support them.

As asserted here, if one believes in a future of climate change, the scenarios predicted by Dyer's several examples culminate in possible extreme geographic changes, refugee migrations, mass starvation, wars, including nuclear wars, all in a world unhinged in a quest for survival of the strongest. This does, however, presuppose what Dyer only assumes: The continued existence of nation states, which realistically have no such guarantee.

Does Dyer's work solve anything? Does it solve the problem of climate change? Does he even provide a viable political solution to the lack of contemporary political cooperation for controlling the fossil-fuel emissions, claimed to cause global warming? He does not have any of these solutions.

Dyer only rehashes the same and worn mantras of an alarmist: It will come. It might destroy humanity or large portions of it! Governments must do something, including forcing average people to sacrifice everything for a governmental answer to climate change—solutions by any means or force necessary. No plan does he present, just like most of the other literature, except by implication the use of force and coercion by nation-states.

Climate Wars makes appeals to the world for a technological and habitual solution, for what first needs a political-economic plan to create them, a viable and sustainable political-economic plan. As the world indeed teeters on the point of massive change, in political relationships between government and governed, in the areas of economic systems, macro-geography, and the culture of our 21st Century civilization, most climate change activists stand almost as guilty as the climate deniers in one very important respect: Every person has a direct and personal interest in the climate change phenomenon, and so little empowerment to do anything practical about it in their own lives.

Many activists and all the deniers in this critical issue of survival neither have the moral high ground nor the right ideas, whether to change the environment's future or to dispute the scientific facts and models. The world needs better ideas to solve the problem. It cannot rely on any government or transnational governmental organization to fix the problem, or stop the fix as the climate change deniers would like to do.

Two thoughts: First, better solutions than authoritarian measures and coercion must get formulated to alleviate a post-diluvian world of climate change. Second, these hopefully more tangible tools of solving climate change, more than the mere declarations and resolutions of no effect, must allow an affordable means for individuals to implement those solutions, and provide the useful those tools for people within their homes and neighborhoods. I know several friends who already have done some of this, at great personal expense, in admirable fashion. Climate change solutions must address most of all the Issues of the cost and the individual willingness to pay that cost. Without these two conditions fulfilled, we might need to get ready for a hot, dry, hungry world, and a contest of wars for survival.


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