Christian Parenti links climate change, neoliberal economics, and violence in Tropic of Chaos

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      Tropic of Chaos
      By Christian Parenti. Nation Books, 293 pp, hardcover

      Scholarly New York–based journalist Christian Parenti reports from the frontlines, showing how the effects of global warming—notably droughts—are destabilizing the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the band between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn. The central message is that climate change, in combination with neoliberal economics, is killing millions by fuelling civil wars, ethnic and religious strife, and large-scale criminal behaviour.

      Because a poppy plantation requires one-sixth as much water as a wheat farm, opium production has proliferated in Afghanistan. Because irregular monsoons have caused farmers to starve in India, there’s a growing Maoist rebellion in that country. Because water precious to Pakistan first flows through the Indian state of Kashmir, there are repeated acts of violence by Pakistani militants to claim the region as their own. And because a changing climate has undermined fishing and agriculture in Mexico, vast numbers of people are migrating north, only to find themselves in a bloody drug war near the fortified U.S. border.

      Parenti explains why the West invariably responds to these crises by promoting counterinsurgency measures. They offer nothing to those caught in the crossfire of climate change and free-market economic policies. In Parenti’s view, this doctrine of counterinsurgency will not stem the chaos.

      This book can be a little dense. At times, Parenti lectures readers rather than bringing forward voices of people he interviewed during his travels. Unlike Australian scientist Tim Flannery’s Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet, Tropic of Chaos does not provide much hope that climate change can be addressed. Meanwhile, Parenti’s descriptions of mass migration are far bleaker than those offered in Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders’s Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World.

      There’s much to admire in Tropic of Chaos, notably the breadth of Parenti’s research and how he ties it into a coherent, big-picture view of the world. The book also offers timely insights into the origins of this month’s famine in East Africa.

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      Meme Mine

      Jul 20, 2011 at 9:12pm

      Meanwhile, the UN and the entire SCIENCE world had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 25 years of climate control instead of the obviously needed population control.

      ALGORE is my shepherd; I shall not think.
      He maketh me lie down in Greenzi pastures:
      He leadeth me beside the still-freezing waters.
      He selleth my soul for CO2:
      He leadeth me in the paths of self-righteousness for his own sake.
      Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of reason,
      I will fear no logic: for thou art with me and thinking for me;
      Thy Gore’s family oil fortune and thy 10,000 square Gorey foot mansion, they comfort me.
      Thou preparest a movie in the presence of contradictory evidence:
      Thou anointest mine head with nonsense; my fear runneth over.
      Surely blind faith and hysteria shall follow me all the days of my life:
      and I will dwell in the house of ALGORE forever.

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