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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read book!, July 8, 2011
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This review is from: Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (Hardcover)
This is a must read book for anyone interested in climate change and its impact on humanity. It's also a must read book for everyone else that wants to continue to live in our biosphere. Which is to say, it's a must read for everyone.

The author starts out introducing us to a number of themes he carries forward. Specifically:

1) Climate change causes stressors on planetary civilization and these changes threaten American national security. This is not the author's point of view, but that of our military. Want an example? Consider Afghanistan. Why do they grow poppy? They've been in prolonged drought (a stressor as a result of global warming), and poppy only uses one fifth the water wheat does. The US runs around burning their crops, whereas the Teleban supports the farmers and helps them feed their children. [So are we going to solve the Afghan problem? Use critical thinking and decide for yourself.]

2) Societies can adapt by 'armed lifeboats', whereby they secure their borders against mass migrations, increased internal militarization, and conduct counterinsurgency operations abroad. The author sees this as a malignant adaption to Global Warming and warns us with case after case where this fails. Unfortunately, as the author points out, this is the direction the US is taking.

3) Societies can also adapt by learning to live within the limits of the planet earth. [Hey, I CAN use a solar panel to heat hot water instead of producing CO2 or nuclear waste.]

4) Counterinsurgency destroys societies and eventually fails anyway.

Next, the author takes us on a tour of the world, concentrating on regions between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Sections are dedicated to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Impacts of global warming and resultant counterinsurgency operations are discussed.

Lastly, the author again focuses back on the US. It seems that big-oil has waged a successful campaign to discredit global warming here and this is discussed in detail. Obama has even delayed putting solar collectors back on the White House. [A weak and feckless president who should have never been elected (and I'm a Democrat).]

Finally, the author offers a prescription for moving forward. Many other authors are ready to abandon capitalism entirely (as it got us into this mess), but Christian does not. He feels that capitalism can morph/change into a benevolent la-la being that will suddenly embrace what the yippies and hippies have been saying all along. All that is needed is for a price to be put on Carbon emissions (a Carbon Tax), and the invisible hand of Adam Smith will soothe things out and reduce CO2 emissions to zero.

[You can see I part company with the author on his last point. You really think our national congress, that is bought and paid for by big oil will ever pass a Carbon Tax? If you do, you are one of the most Pollyanna people on earth. Instead, it is up to us, everyone, to think globally but act locally. To paraphrase Kennedy, I should ask not what I can get the congress to do, but what I can do myself to ameliorate global warming. And I can do plenty. I can first read up on the issues (skipping the pablum of the American corporate press). Next, I can think critically. Finally, I can act. I can buy locally grown food so there's less of a carbon footprint. I can install solar panels. I can buy a more fuel efficient car. And so on. HEY, IT'S UP TO US TO SOLVE GLOBAL WARMING - NOT SOMEONE ELSE.]
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 12, 2011 2:01:21 PM PDT
R. Pauli says:
Great review... thanks. I may get the book.
I refer people to two others: "Climate Wars" and "The Great Disruption"

Posted on Jul 16, 2011 2:42:14 PM PDT
JBG says:
I'm as alarmed by climate change as anyone, and I do not doubt that it introduces stresses that make adjustments in *all* countries more difficult. But...

1) The biggest contributor to state failure is the drug trade, and the process is playing out before our eyes in neighboring Mexico. The drug laws have to go. (If there were plenty of water in Afghanistan, many farmers would still grow poppy, because the drug laws make that so much more profitable.)

2) It is crucial that countries that have restrained population growth act decisively to prevent those that have not from dumping the excess onto them. Else the irresponsible will dominate everywhere. If too many of those floundering in the water are allowed into the lifeboats, *all* will drown.

3) Markets deliver reliably whatever their boundary conditions call for. Our markets currently call mostly for ecological destruction. We have to find a way to turn that around, the influence of Big Oil/etc to the contrary notwithstanding. That is, we have to keep working the political levers, however discouraging the effort may seem.

As the author says, we fortunate people also have to learn not to be so piggy. People will always compete for status, but it need not always be via consumption. People can also seek to stand out as knowing how to live well on modest means. Some Quakers, for example, show the way. The opportunity is open before all of us.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 8:16:35 PM PDT
This is a really good review. I just heard about this book and this gives me a good overview. The reviewer loses points with me for going all Ed Begley, Jr. in that last couple of lines, but still gets very high marks for his masterful use of the word "feckless", which I am afraid couldn't be more apt.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2011 1:59:00 AM PDT
Cal Page says:
Actually, I'll remove the 'feckless' comment, if:

1. The person in question asks me in person to do so.
2. The person in question agrees to a four hour sit down, presentation, and discussions with myself and a few other high caliber thinkers such as Naomi Klein, Bill Moyers, Dr. James Hansen, Chris Parenti, etc. About a dozen people ought to get the message across.
3. The person in question agrees to actually do something about Global Warming, instead of just talking about actions fifty hears hence, or more commonly no action at all.

[Why the meeting? The person in question has, on purpose some say, locked himself in a small, tight 'bubble' like a black hole in reverse. No discordant ideas are allowed in. (If you were a wall street minder, would you allow otherwise?) Never the less, whether or not the person in question will be seen as Carteresque by history hangs in the balance.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2011 5:42:57 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2011 8:28:24 AM PDT
R. Pauli says:
Umm... probably because they are not fighting 3 trillion dollar wars.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2011 4:00:09 AM PDT
Cal Page says:
Comrade Dwyer,

Christian Parenti devoted an entire chapter to India in "Tropic of Chaos". In these twenty one pages, you can clearly see that India is not that well off. The chapter opens with the author meeting with farmers in the Southern Region, where they note the monsoons are now less regular or don't come when expected. Crops therefore suffer. A number of guerrilla organizations are simmering under the surface. Why? I seems the so called 'green revolution' in India isn't all that green. Bt cotton was introduced by the West, but it leads farmers to ruin because it requires too much water, chemicals, and depletes the soil in only 10 years. Farmers go into debt to try and keep up but can't. The suicide rate is quite high. Between 1997 and 2005, over 150,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide, mostly by ingesting pesticides.

About 70% of the Ganges river depends on glacial melt from the Himalayan glaciers. Paradoxically, this has increased because of global warming, but when the glaciers are gone, so will 70% of the water supply for over 700 million farmers on the subcontinent.

The US intelligence community has noticed. Adm. Dennis C. Blair told Congress, "For India, our research indicated the practical effects of climate change will be manageable by New Delhi through 2030. Beyond 2030, India's ability to cope will be reduced..."

The author concludes the chapter by stating "India's internal war is a stark example of the catastrophic convergence. Poverty made worse by neoliberalism meets counterinsurgency and repression meets climate-driven crisis."

Posted on Aug 4, 2011 12:05:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2011 12:08:33 PM PDT
I'm excited by this book but am only up to Africa so far. I do enjoy reading with Google Maps at my elbow. Regarding a prescription for moving forward, I'd like to suggest the possibility of a world-wide community of interest. Here's what I emailed Dr. Parenti.

"The subject matter is deserving of more than a book. This needs a movement. Would you consider hosting a blog somewhere? ... What we need is lots of people to provide muscle, some technical experts and a few politicians. No need for international conferences, we have the Internet. See High Noon by J.F. Rischard and you'll understand where I'm coming from."

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 11:32:06 AM PST
G. Starr says:
The White House is a "weak and feckless president"?

I'm sorry, I don't trust political opinions from people who use dangling modifiers incorrectly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2012 5:05:50 AM PDT
treesrock says:
Carter initiated a LOT of destructive deregulation. Yes, a good guy with best intentions. Even so, Presidential record is spotty. And, FWIW, I'm hardcore Dem, and admire Carter personally.
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