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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book talks to military about projected geopolitical effects - view of CCS for coal seems accurate
Outstanding book. This offers a perspective that isn't available for the most part to people. The author talks about the effects not focused on in the media (the media often focuses on rising sea levels which are later happenings and will be the least of our problems for many decades), he talks about the move of the very dry sub tropic atmospheric regions northward...
Published on February 7, 2009 by J. Waugh

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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long on editorializing; short on analysis
Gwynne Dyer is an insightful analyst of international political and military affairs. His single volume work, "War," and its related video series (currently unavailable, alas) is a seminal work in the understanding of the institution of warfare in modern society. Much of that earlier work was spent addressing the issue of whether war is simply unavoidable, in which case...
Published on December 30, 2009 by Dennis J. Buckley


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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book talks to military about projected geopolitical effects - view of CCS for coal seems accurate, February 7, 2009
By 
J. Waugh (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climate Wars (Paperback)
Outstanding book. This offers a perspective that isn't available for the most part to people. The author talks about the effects not focused on in the media (the media often focuses on rising sea levels which are later happenings and will be the least of our problems for many decades), he talks about the move of the very dry sub tropic atmospheric regions northward (already occurring) and what it means for the worlds farm areas - not good and is impacting areas already. Then he talks about possible geo-political impacts of these. Mr. Dwyer talked with Military planners as well as scientists to find projected effects of Global Warming, long before we have to worry about rising sea levels. And in particular with the Military planners (US and foreign) what projected geopolitical effects they see - big destabilizing ones. The US military under President Bush sees this as real and the biggest threat to the US in the decades ahead, because of what it does to stability of other countries. He touches on where we are in relation to actually dealing with the problem (not good) and touches on whether he thinks the world's political establishments can actually deal with this in a timely way.

He also analyzes ways of dealing with the problem, both from a phasing out CO2 emissions perspective, but he also analyzes proposed geo-engineering stop gaps - which would be possibly used when we blow the deadlines (as we're on track to) and face disastrous consequences. He analyzes how this scientific based problem became enmeshed into ideological struggles in the US, Australia and Canada and not other parts of the World (for the most part) - fascinating analysis.

Regarding the previous reviewers opinion on the authors analysis of Coal CCS - I have to disagree with what the reviewer said. The author analyzes it, just as he analyzes all the other solutions (or proposed solutions), dispassionately and with an even hand - the main issue he saw with CCS (besides the fact that a true CCS plant hasn't been built yet) was that it will result in very expensive electricity (as a good portion of the power and construction investment costs from the plant would have to be used for CCS) and looking at it from a market perspective, it won't be very successful because of that (cause it will be very expensive electricity). (i.e. you could put CCS on your car, but it would be complicated and expensive and there are other cheaper solutions available to get to the same end goal of eliminating/reducing CO2 emissions).

Mr. Dwyer's own opinion is that we won't be able to get our act together enough to prevent the big feedback's from kicking in and taking control of climate change away from just CO2 emissions reduction - and that we'll eventually (probably) have to entertain some of the geo-engineering solutions (he doesn't actually like that conclusion) and that it would be smart to have researched/tested them and have them available to us before they're needed - these things might prevent ice caps from totally melting (Antarctica and Greenland), but wouldn't keep the oceans from becoming too acidic and dying for the most part.

This is a phenomenal work, obviously compiled with great effort and care. The extensive interviews he conducted were done in 2008 and included the latest opinions of scientists and military planners at that point. It provides a well reasoned opinion on things and possible geo-political outcomes based on projected effects that isn't available in most publications on climate change or in the political debate relating to it. Its a work to get, but its worth it - best climate change book I've read in years.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Geopolitics of Climate Change, September 8, 2009
By 
Randy A. Stadt (Edmonton, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climate Wars (Paperback)
The title "Climate Wars" hints at Dyer's contention that global warming will not be a benign phenomenon where things will continue as before. Rather like the human body, where a fever of only three and a half degrees Celcius is potentially fatal, an increase of only a few degrees can potentially cause massive changes in the earth's climate. The earth's biosphere appears to be more fine-tuned and fragile than we thought, and we have unknowingly pushed it far toward making the earth a far less habitable place for humans to live.

He believes that irreversible changes are coming at a rate higher than even recent generally accepted predictions, so that the goal, for example, of the U.S. and British governments to achieve 80 percent cuts to emissions by 2050, is not enough. To illustrate what may be coming, then, he creates a number of fictitious scenarios, set at various times in the relatively near future. These scenarios are possible futures he imagines in a world increasingly under stress from the effects of climate change. They illustrate his point that global warming is not the relatively easy problem that, for example, CFC's and the ozone layer was, where the world could simply rally together and deal effectively with it.

Though there are technological hurdles to be overcome, they are not insurmountable, and could largely be dealt with in the next couple of decades if the international community, with a single mind, made a decision to move away from oil and coal energy sources and develop alternatives. Of course that would include, among other projects, building five million wind turbines around the world in the next five years - quite an undertaking, but certainly doable, especially if you consider that the world builds 65 million cars a year. He believes that we could achieve 80 percent cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, if the political will were there. And politics is the arena where the game will be decided. It is political will, not technological solutions, that that will limit our response to the coming crisis.

As the effects of climate change manifest themselves it will become clear why the international community will not be of a single mind. Developing nations, such as India and China, will not agree to curb their emissions to the same degree as the old, fully industrialized nations, at least not at first. They will consider it a matter of basic justice that they be allowed to catch up in economic development before making their cuts, and that the West will have to take the initiative and actually accept deeper cuts initially than if everything were across-the-board. This is going to be an extremely hard sell with voters in the developed countries, who will certainly object to paying for benefits that will be spread to countries that not only are not paying for them but are continuing to belch out greenhouse gases.

Another feature of climate change that can lull policy makers to inactivity is the huge amount of latency between cause and effect. There is roughly a 40 year lag in seeing the effects of current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. So at the time when we need to act (now), climate effects are only beginning to be felt, and we don't feel the sense of urgency that we ought. And to make it worse, thirty years from now when we're really working hard to address the problem, it will seem that it isn't helping, because things will actually be getting worse, even though we would then be mitigating the effects for a future generation. So the difficulty is not only in getting started, but in staying the course.

This forty-year lag in climate effect means that regardless of what we do now, there will be at least some negative changes felt in mid-century. These changes, including drought and sea-level rise, will cause some countries to suffer a lot more than others. The one critical, indispensable, sine qua non of reducing and then eliminating greenhouse gas emissions is international cooperation. And we see that even today, when things are relatively good, that is hard to achieve. But when climate change starts causing food shortages and mass displacement of people, any chance of international cooperation will vanish. Climate treaties will not be much of a priority for especially the developing countries as all their efforts will be focussed on maintaining order and feeding their people. Conflict over dwindling resources and access to food will intensify as, after all, Dyer notes grimly, "people always raid before they starve."

There is general agreement that we need to keep warming below 2 degrees Celcius so that feedbacks don't kick in that would make warming a self-sustaining process. Dyer thinks we won't make emissions-reducing deadlines to prevent that. So it will be necessary, today, to begin preparing, for future use, geo-engineering strategies which would produce a cooling effect, allowing us the time to stop carbon dioxide emissions and then bring atmospheric concentrations back to a safe level, while keeping the temperature from rising more than 2 degrees. One such technique, mimicking the action of volcanoes, could be the release of sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, producing a temporary "global dimming."

Dyer's dark forecast is more extreme than the views held by most policy makers and climate scientists, but it is not implausible. Plausibility factors much into of our lives, for example our decision to buy fire insurance even though it is not likely that we will ever experience a house fire. As so much is at stake in the uncertain predictions of climate change, to err on the side of caution can hardly be called foolish. And as worldwide oil resources dwindle and prices skyrocket, we are going to have to make massive changes away from oil-based economies anyways. We ought to consider ourselves fortunate that we are only now facing this coming crisis, and not fifty years ago when we had no alternatives to fossil fuels.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great addition to the climate change literature, but inaccurate on carbon capture, December 3, 2008
By 
David Lewis (Ferndale, Washington) - See all my reviews
This book should be required reading for anyone interested in climate change.

Dyer got up to speed on this issue in part by interviewing many of the senior scientists personally. He has been mostly interested in military issues until now. Read this book, and you'll discover that climate change is a military issue. Perhaps the dire scenarios Dyer calmly discusses here will help more people understand that this issue must be faced at some point. Maybe, beyond hope or expectation, we'll be able to do more in the way of changing the way we use energy to support our way of life now rather than waiting to be overcome by events, such as increased international tension leading to war, later.

My main caveat with Dyer's analysis comes over his assessment of carbon capture and storage. It seems to me he's just buying into the widespread rejection of what Big Coal has done over the last number of years as they touted carbon capture while not building a single full scale plant anywhere in the world. People are rejecting the technology rather than the politics Big Coal employed, and Dyer has fallen into this trap. He says people "believe" in carbon capture but are "delusional" as if the IPCC itself wasn't the foundation for the interest. But this is a minor point: he's only devoted a few pages to carbon capture in this book.

Otherwise, everything else in this book indicates Dyer is thinking for himself after careful study. Dyer is a good writer who has looked deeply into the subject. He has a unique perspective, he writes what he thinks, and what he thinks is worth paying attention to.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long on editorializing; short on analysis, December 30, 2009
By 
Dennis J. Buckley (Harrisburg, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Climate Wars (Paperback)
Gwynne Dyer is an insightful analyst of international political and military affairs. His single volume work, "War," and its related video series (currently unavailable, alas) is a seminal work in the understanding of the institution of warfare in modern society. Much of that earlier work was spent addressing the issue of whether war is simply unavoidable, in which case we are collectively doomed by the arrival on the scene of nuclear weapons. In this sense, "War" is still timely and quite thought provoking.

With the decline of Russia and the outright collapse of the Soviet system, the prospect of Mutually Assured Destruction via nuclear holocaust has been dimmed in public perception and practically abandoned by Dyer. This is unfortunate as nuclear weapons have not disappeared, and we seem to be on the brink of a new and even more perilous "nuclear age." But Dyer has moved on to other topics as may be seen in this book.

In "Climate Wars," Dyer attempts to apply his exceptional understanding of military and policy decision making to an inter-relationship with climate change/global warming. The idea that nations will use military force to stem the influx of "climate refugees" from environmentally ravaged countries or to wage war for rapidly depleting resources is a frightening concept worth exploring. Dyer at least raises these prospects, but most of his book is focused on trying to persuade the reader of the reality of this impending global catastrophe while periodically taking swipes at the United States for its venality and short-sightedness in refusing to accept the concept of climate change and for not exercising global leadership in meeting the challenges of the same.

Dyer does much the same thing in about one third of his editorial columns, and that may be why this book is so unsatisfactory. It is one long editorial rather than the sort of trenchant analysis that Dyer provides when he is a bit farther removed from his subject (i.e. more objective).

Dyer's intellect is powerful enough, and his writing style pleasing enough, that any work of his is worth reading. This volume, however, is a disappointment.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Global Warring, December 6, 2009
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Climate Wars is a bit different from the other climate change books you may have read. This book's central theme is that dwindling resources, water shortages, and droughts/floods caused by global warming are setting up the possibility of regional and perhaps global wars as the haves and the have nots are further separated.

Increased immigration due to expanding regions of drought will heighten political tensions between Mexico, the US and Canada, and will pit southern Europe vs. northern Europe, thus destabilizing the EU.

As glaciers recede and drought increases, will countries such as India divert waterways that now run into Pakistan? Will Pakistan use its nukes to secure water for its starving people?

Most compelling is Dwyer's research that shows military planners from many countries are already worried that climate change will lead to wars as we move toward 2100. Wars will have the effect of slowing progress on the climate change mitigation that will be required to solve the problems that created these wars in the first place - a vicious cycle for sure.

Although Dwyer presents the worst-case scenarios for many examples in this book, it becomes clear to the reader that climate change isn't just about global temperatures - it may be about global war.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all bookclubs whose members care about the world their children are inheriting, October 29, 2009
By 
Michael Lefcourt (Brisbane, Australia) - See all my reviews
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I will keep this review short and sweet because many of the other reviewers have already given enough detail on the highlights that Dyer has extracted from his many interviews he carried out in researching this book and the plausible near-future military/environmental scenarios he goes on to create from the information. In brief, Climate Wars is a well-researched, well-written, unputdownable and terrifying book that must be read and discussed by anyone who cares about the world our children are inheriting. William Rankin said it best in his review of Climate Wars on the amazon.ca site:

This book is hugely important and Gwynne Dyer has done a service to all of us by writing it. It is a call to everyone to look up from their lives and realize what is in store for us - and much sooner than previously thought - if we continue to depend on carbon fuels. Dyer's interviews with NASA scientists and military planners from around the world make it abundantly clear why climate change is the greatest threat to global security, why a rise in temperature of only two or three degrees Centigrade spells disaster for our planet and how the calamity may unfold. To date, this vital information has been largely soft-peddled by governments and the media. Dyer delivers his message at the gut level.
Read it, understand it, act upon it!

To add to Rankin's last line above, it would be tremendous if this book could be taken up en masse by bookclubs around the world especially with the Copenhagen meetings on climate change looming in December. And wouldn't it be tremendous if all the leaders attending the meetings were sent a copy of the book in advance as a requirement for participation in the discussions?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book could not be better, April 17, 2012
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This review is from: Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats (Mass Market Paperback)
Contrary to what the previous reviewer wrote, this book is a truly excellent examination of the likely geopolitical consequences of man-made global climate change. It goes beyond simply describing what will likely become of the Earth's climate - several other books have already covered that. This book does summarize the science of global warming and the probable effects on our climate, but then describes the flooding in some parts of the world, droughts and famines in others, which will lead to mass migration and conflict.

My title was meant to be hyperbolic in order to counter the previous review, which I considered entirely unwarranted. However, this is indeed a great book, and a chilling warning to humanity.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single most compelling look at our future, August 25, 2010
By 
David Keppel (Bloomington, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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This book does what few of us dare to: it actually looks at a world that has crossed the threshold of runaway global warming, where positive (self-reinforcing) feedbacks kick in. As Dyer explains, if carbon emissions from fossil fuels warm the planet more than 2 degrees, then natural processes, so far held in check, begin to take it much further. What would happen to human society in such a world? The first key fact is that in many parts of the globe there would be a shortage of food. And very likely there would be conflict.

Dyer had a heated debate with Indian activist Vandana Shiva on Democracy Now about geoenginnering. If, like me, you distrust technological fixes, you may well agree with Shiva. But it is a sign of the strength of Dyer's book that it is the best discussion of the hazards of geoengineering that I have seen, even though he advocates it.

If there is a weakness in the book, it is that it is written with analytical, almost fatalistic detachment, and thus it is not in itself a call to action. We must change how we live and we must do the seemingly impossible and very steeply cut our carbon emissions -- right away. This will be extremely difficult. Read Dyer's book, think about the world he describes, and you will find you have the energy to try very hard indeed.

I have just read a library copy, but I am sure I will wind up buying the book anyway. (You buy a dictionary even though you have looked at one in the library. This is a text to come back to.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buy this book!, May 31, 2012
This review is from: Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats (Mass Market Paperback)
A great book which gives you a stern wake up call to what anthropogenic warming means in terms that actually matter and relate to our lives. Understanding what the human reactions are likely to be as the climate changes makes for inspiring reading. This book should be read by everyone to realize the possible scenarios we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Never bombarded with factual data but enough to back his points, Gwynne Dyer has succeeded in writing a truly important book! Buy it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you have an abject fear of fear-mongering, avoid this book at all costs., January 17, 2015
By 
I do recognize that inciting fear can cause problems. On the other hand, like the "scared straight" programs that brought convicts out of prison to steer troubled youths away from crime with "tough love," an unblinking look at some dire possible outcomes of our current actions can motivate a change in behavior.

Canadian Gwynne Dyer provides such an unblinking look in this book. He projects eight hypothetical scenarios in which future climate changes have brought some degree of devastation to a specific region of the world. The damage runs the gamut from coastal flooding to outright war. Following each scenario, he devotes a chapter to analyzing the likelihood of its occurrence and ways by which it might be avoided. These analyses rely on interviews with relevant experts, whom Dyer often quotes at length. Noteworthy among them is Chapter 6, which dissects the politics behind the Kyoto Protocol and COP15 (the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.)

The book is not perfect. For one thing, I question why, in Scenario Seven, the mere discussion of geoengineeering provokes terrorism, and why this deters (indeed, paralyzes) the Western powers while China and Indonesia press ahead with injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.

Dyer's scenarios can be grim, but he remains hopeful that we ultimately will manage to confront and overcome the challenge of climate change. There are many good books on the science of climate and its expected results: heat waves, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and so on. This is one of the few books that examines the possible social and political effects of those changes. I recommend it in much the same way as a friend might recommend the figurative "whap up'side the head" to correct some immediate misunderstanding.
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Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats
Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats by Gwynne Dyer (Mass Market Paperback - April 1, 2011)
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