Wilson Center Senior Scholar Martin Walker recently reviewed Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map
by Cleo Paskal, for his UPI column, “Walker’s World.”
The Copenhagen summit showed that climate change is as much about geopolitics and power as it is about the weather. China‘s blunt refusal to accept any binding limits on its carbon emissions, despite the agonized pleas of small island governments facing extinction, demonstrated that this new aspect of the game of nations is going to be played as hardball.
And yet, as Cleo Paskal argues in her pioneering new book “Global Warring,” China is also powering ahead on every aspect of climate change. While protecting its right to pollute (because it depends heavily on coal as its main homegrown energy source), China is using state subsidies to seize the lead in solar power manufacturing….But perhaps Paskal’s most striking story is the way that China is also seeking to become a major player in the arctic. China has acquired an icebreaker, a seat with observer status on the Arctic Council and its own arctic research base at Svalbard. (China also has two research bases in the Antarctic.) …
Paskal’s book is full of such vignettes, illustrating the way that climate change and the intensifying competition for resources is starting to change the nature of power politics. Paskal, a Canadian who is a fellow of London’s prestigious Chatham House think tank and a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, has been a pioneering scholar of the new terrain where climate change confronts national security, where geopolitics, geoeconomics and global warming all collide. It is not just rivalry for oil and gas supplies and water, but also for fishing rights and undersea mining and mineral rights that may well be up for grabs when some of the lowest-lying Pacific island countries disappear under the rising waves. …
“We need to start thinking about the legal and economic implications of these developments now, before we have to start tackling them in the middle of a crisis or a humanitarian emergency,” Paskal told a seminar at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Center Friday. …
Paskal sees China and Russia taking these issues more seriously that the United States and Europe, and her book is not just a wakeup call for Western leaders but is also an arresting and original work on climate change, probably the most important book on the environment to be published this year.
“As pressure is put on food, water supplies and national boundaries, famine and war may become more frequent,” Paskal concludes. “This instability may make populations more tolerant of autocratic governments, especially nationalistic capitalist ones where the political, economic and military sectors combine to protect existing resources and aggressively try to secure new ones. China and Russia already have a head start on this model.”
Read the full column on UPI.