Books about the environment are more often than not filled with exaggerations or filled with self-righteousness, but Cleo Paskal has provided one of the more comprehensive and balanced views on the real significance of environmental change.
Global Warring is a thought-provoking account into the future of international politics. We really need to wake up to the signs of impending change instead of taking our ecosystem for granted. It is important to note that Paskal frequently uses the phrase “environmental change,” presumably to convey an appropriately broader term than the oft-used “climate change” or “global warming.”
The reader gets a crash-course in geopolitics and views problems at both the micro- and macro- levels.
Paskal urges us to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with environmental change. When detailing the effects of melting permafrost and how it has already damaged existing infrastructure like rail lines, she stresses the need to build smart, forward-thinking infrastructure in the future. It seems like such an obvious concept, but not one generally thought of when thinking of the Arctic. Melting permafrost will also create wider sea-lanes, which will result in geopolitical strategy and posturing by the major powers.
Like most books about geopolitics, Paskal focuses on China and the threats its actions pose. She echoes a lot of what is coined by scholars as “the post-American world” and the age of multi-polarity, arguing that if states don’t act quickly, China will advance to the top of the geopolitical hierarchy. China practices what Paskal calls “nationalistic capitalism” (93), where Chinese companies promote national strategic interests abroad. This is a rising trend, especially in the energy sector – Russia, Bolivia, and Venezuela have nationalized their natural resources. Oil is a huge political tool and countries that practice this form of capitalism are influential on the global stage. To American strategists, China’s actions are troubling, and this gets to the heart of the book – international security and environmental change are closely associated. China’s rise is mostly discussed through the scope of economics and trade, but it must also be more frequently discussed through an energy and environmental lens.
Paskal ventures into the unexplored arena of how climate change affects national security, and quite shrewdly tries to fill the knowledge gap. She details impending battles for previously untapped resources, which will affect not only states’ borders but also their status quo. The read is an easy one, but will leave a lingering worrisome feeling – not like fear mongering, but rather an urge to provide practical, comprehensive solutions to weather the future environmental storms. Climate change is more significant than just polar bears floating away on melting ice caps (not to say that is not important). The book truly forces the reader to understand and prepare for the consequences of environmental change.