Book Review – Climate Wars

The first book on my 2012 La Nina Reading List was “Climate Wars” by Gwynne Dyer. The premise of this book is that global warming is happening and will continue to happen and as the world overheats, the result will be a range of “climate wars”.  One of his hypotheses is that the climate will change and affect different regions and countries differently but all countries will be negatively affected in multiple ways.

First, claims Dyer, the globe will experience a crisis in the food supply. Dyer writes that another major factor in the world’s future is that today a number of great powers are already using climate change scenarios to plan military strategy. To prove his hypothesis Dyer created eight future scenarios based on published science and current or past events with each ranging from worst-case to moderate case.  Each scenario focuses on one or two countries and their reactions to climate change.  After each scenario is presented, and written as if the events had already occurred, he then reviews the science and events used to create the scenario.

A reader asked the question, “What does climate change have to do with DomesticFuel?”  Everything, I argue because of you buy into the concept of climate change or global warming, the largest contributor to warming is carbon.  The largest generator of carbon are fossil fuels and fossil fuels are used to create energy and electricity – the crux of this blog. The theory would then be, if you reduce or replace the carbon generated by fossil fuels with lower or no carbon alternative energy sources, then the reduction would help to help to stave off the heating of the planet.

So how does Dyer portray fossil fuels and alternative energy in his scenarios?

Not with much hope.

Dyer accuses biofuels as a major factor in rising global food prices. He writes, “There is nothing wrong with the concept of biofuels in principle. There is an urgent need to replace fossil oil, which returns long-stored carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when it is burned, with non-fossil fuels of similar properties, suitable for power vehicles of every kind, that do not add to the long-term burden of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Biofuels that absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and release it again when they are burned, offer an attractive solution – provided that they do not displace food crops or forests, and that they really are carbon-neutral or close to it. Unfortunately, the present generation of biofuels meets neither requirement. ” 

Ultimately, Dyer writes that there are four conclusions he has reached, and I quote:

  1. 1. This thing is coming at us a whole lot faster than publicly acknowledged wisdom has it.
  2. 2. Second, all the stuff about changing light bulbs and driving less…is practically irrelevant to the outcome of this crisis.
  3. 3. Third, it is unrealistic to believe we are going to make those deadlines.
  4. 4. And fourth, for every degree that the average global temperature rises, so do the mass movements of the population, the number of failed and failing states, and very probably the incidence of internal and and international wars.
What I liked about the book is that this is the only book I’ve come across that thinks through the long-term consequences of global warming based on current global actions. In other words, if we engage in X then Y will happen or if we don’t do anything, Z will happen.  However, the one aspect missing in this book and all others I’ve read is what will happen if we do something or nothing and then discover climate change was blown out of proportion? I’ll just let you, reader, think on this for a while.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – Climate Wars

  1. I agree. Climate Wars is is a cogent analysis and summary of the ramifications of AGW with a global geopolitical strategic perspective. As an optimist it left me pessimistic. Let’s hope nuclear energy will have a renaissance – to complement renewables – or this could be a slow descent into hell for my children.

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