Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just read "Climate Conflict" by Jeffrey Mazo

The book Climate conflict - How global warming threatens security and what to do about it by Jeffrey Mazo of The International Institute For Strategic Studies is a concise discussion of historical, current and future geopolitics as influenced by climate change. It is kind of an academic version of the more popularizing Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer (reviewed here at Ecowar December 2010). And highly recommended to anyone interested in geopolitics, security issues or climate change.

The bad part is it has an introductory chapter on climate change and one about Darfur - both topics that I for one is getting tired of paying for. The good par is that even these chapters are really good. Short, to the point and comprehensive enough to contain details I hadn't heard of before.

In Mazo's own words, the book is "intended to illustrate the social and security consequences of climate change that will manifest over the next two to three decades regardless of the policies adopted in the next few years to mitigate more severe impacts over the long term. [...] it assumes a best-case scenario in terms of international policy responses to climate change [...]". Assuming a best-case scenario for politics? Did you ever read anything that naive? But as he says: It doesn't matter for the near future anyway.

The historical chapter is almost like a summary of Jared Diamond's Collapse. The final two chapters are a bit unclear in disposition but solid in content. The short-short-short version of the conclusion is:
"It is clear that unmitigated climate change will be nothing less than disastrous for the global community."
But scholarly as it is it qualifies its findings:
"Just as no specific weather event can be definitively attributed to climate change because of normal variation within a complex system, specific social or political developments cannot be definitively attributed to climate or other environmental factors."

It doesn't really deal a lot with bad policy scenarios, local conflicts, resource conflicts related to energy choices and many other issues. But the core issues it sets out to explore it dutifully maps with a bullshit factor of zero. Buy it and read it.

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