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Forecast: The Surprising--and Immediate--Consequences of Climate Change First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest communiqué from the emerging genre of traveling the world in the footsteps of climate change is an intelligent, nuanced report on the complex relationships between increasingly unstable weather patterns and politics, ecology and lifestyles. Journalist Faris shows how the genocide in Darfur has roots in desertification and may be a canary in the coal mine, a foretaste of climatically driven political chaos, and how the resulting emigration of Africans to Europe is causing economic pressures that are being met with fascistic movements in Italy and Britain. Locals are abandoning Key West and New Orleans due to unsustainable insurance premiums; Bangladesh is likely to be flooded out of existence; and drought may wipe out the Amazon rain forest within 70 years. Faris cites a study predicting a world depicted by Mad Max, only hotter, with no beaches and perhaps with even more chaos. But, depressingly, he admits that his travels researching this book released nine times an average person's annual carbon use and that the world many have opened its eyes to climate change, but we're far from taking effective action. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A journalist concerned with on-the-ground evidence of global warming, Faris reports on what he learned in visits to various regions around the world. A global climatic component is involved in local environmental situations, Faris finds, the details of which he expands in presenting the explanations of scientific or policy experts. What counts most in this work, however, are the impressions of climate change Faris gathered from his interviews with local inhabitants. They make tangible the abstractions of the issue in Sudan, Key West, Brazil, California, Canada, and India. In addition to covering local people’s observations about desertification, coral bleaching, and the temperature-sensitive wine-making industry, Faris looks into local political ramifications, especially those concerning people forced to move because of environmental stresses. He presents background to the violence in Darfur and notes the concerns of insurers about America’s hurricane-prone southern coasts. Faris’ reportorial techniques work well in his narrative, priming readers for his recommendation for urgent action on climate change. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Several of the author's examples can readily be seen as changes caused by climate change. Changes in location and productivity of wine grapes are a very good example. We know where they have grown in the past and how they have produced grapes. We also now know where they can be planted successfully that were not productive previously. Given no other changes, this really must be indicative of climate change. The same can be said for the massive changes that are occurring in the Arctic regions of the world.
It gets a little more complicated when you are trying to pin hurricane frequency and strength on climate change. The data is just not strong enough, nor has it be recorded for long enough to be able to make a certain link between the two events. Similarly, the burning of the Amazon and movement of malaria cannot be linked directly to climate change. Any student of malaria knows that it has had a very broad range in the past (including as far north as Russia) and that the disease can be very hardy as long as the proper mosquitoes are present. It is a disease best transmitted by tropical mosquitoes, but is not confined to those species.
Overall, the book is well written and may very well be a very early forward looking peek at what is in store. The data, however, leaves a lot open and we may not know if the author's assumptions were correct until after things have declined.
Chapter 2 finds Faris in Florida (where the waters are rising and the hurricanes are getting really frequent and fierce); from there in Chapter 3 he examines the immigration problem in Europe where the brown and often Muslim folk from equatorial lands encroach upon the relatively rich whites of the north and cause incipient nationalism (read fascism) to begin its rise again.
In Chapter 4 the Amazon is burning and malaria is moving north. In Chapter 5 Faris arrives in Napa Valley to taste the wines and hear how the warmer weather will chase the wine grapes north, perhaps to Alaska. (Well, southern England is now, as it once was in the 14th century, wine grape country.) In Chapter 6 Faris is in Churchill where the polar bears roam and near where the arctic ice is melting and staying melt for so long that a Northwest Passage year round is becoming possible. (Some good yet may come of this global warming, at least for the town of Churchill, although the polar bears will be considerably inconvenienced.)
In Chapter 7, we learn about the water rising in Bangladesh and how the Himalayas do not feed the rivers as they once did, thereby threatening the grain harvest in Pakistan, and how the coming conflict over water between Pakistan and India may result in nuclear war. The aquifers are falling. It costs more all the time to pump that water up from farther and farther down; and someday it will be gone and the crops will wilt and die and famine with spread across the land.
In an epilogue Faris muses about the challenge of climate change and how unlikely it is that we will solve it before the really harsh pain sets in. He asks, "If the richest people on the planet won't make economic sacrifices to address the problem, what chance is there that the rest of the world will?"
Actually the richest people are in denial and they don't really care about the rest of world. This is another book on global warming, engagingly and gracefully written, that will become a target of the deniers, who, like creationists, close their eyes to the science and celebrate willful ignorance. Let them (the people of the future) eat cake is what they effectively say--or actually it will be dirt--and in some places it already is dirt.
But I have to say that some of the problems that Faris addresses--starving people in Africa in particular, and also the poor people in Bangladesh who face the rising waters--are more the result of political mismanagement and greed than they are of global warming. And most significantly in many places in the world there are just too many people for the land to reliably support. Indeed many of the problems of the world would be greatly alleviated, or at least made tractable, if there were say half a billion people on the planet instead of six and a half billion. Unless this truth is realized and acted upon, humanity and the creatures of our stewardship are in for some horrific times to come.