Freelance journalist Faris takes a globe-spanning look at the effects of climate change, already apparent in our time.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, he argues, “there are places in the world where global warming has been experienced for a generation.” Faris suggests that even modest rises in temperature are leading to a diverse array of consequences, some beneficial, most not. These in turn inspire ominous sociopolitical chain reactions that potentially range from genocide to resource wars to nuclear conflict in Kashmir. To support this argument, the author traveled widely, through the Napa Valley, the Amazon, India, the Mediterranean and the Arctic. It was reporting from Darfur, however, that first sparked his concern; the genocide there, Faris came to realize, was partially rooted in the widespread failure of arable land, linked to dramatic declines in rainfall. “The impact of climate change on a country is analogous to the effect of hunger in a person,” he notes. In the party-happy Florida Keys, he dived to observe bleached coral reef colonies devastated by warming waters, which also caused an epidemic of staph infections among the local people. The entire Gulf Coast remains vulnerable to hurricanes amplified by the same warmer waters, a fact not lost on insurers. “It’s not that climate change is out there in the future,” said one. “It’s already happening.” In disputed Kashmir, a volatile political situation could easily worsen with the receding of the region’s fabled glaciers and resultant drinking-water shortages. Contrastingly, in the wine regions of California and Oregon, warming temperatures have produced the unexpected boon of richer, more alcoholic wines, while in the Arctic, a struggle for newly revealed resources is just getting underway between the United States, Canada and Russia. Faris writes deftly about the developing world (his journalistic specialty), talking to a diverse array of experts and laypeople who bear witness to the likelihood that climate change will severely disrupt already beleaguered regions.
A dire message delivered in a colloquial, approachable tone.