Paskal, Cleo (2010) Global Warring: How environmental, economic, and political crises will redraw the world map. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
No, that’s not a typo; it’s a play on words. Global Warring, not Warming. Think geo-politics meets climate change. Despite the book’s title, this is less about war and more about nation’s jockeying for position. Much of the book examines the positioning that is already underway to control the Arctic Sea once we’ve defrosted the last of the ice.
Paskal brings a historical perspective, drawing lessons from past fights over shipping lanes. You’d think in this modern age that ships would no longer be so strategic. For heavens sake, this isn’t the time of the British Empire. But in a globalized world, it is a lifeblood. She explains, “This expansion through importation is also what made most modern powers, which is why transportation routes are so critical.”
She also considers the impacts of rising sea levels to national security, mostly from the perspective of the US. For example, we may lose a vast portion of the Gulf Coast, from Houston to Mobile, in the next 50-100 years, (where ¼ of the oil and about 15% of the natural gas is produced and where a number of refineries are located). A storm surge less than that of Katrina also could flood a significant percentage of ports, interstates, railroads and even some airports.
The author reveals how much more strategic China is being, with their ‘nationalistic capitalism.’ A Chinese company, HPH, runs many of the ports and shipping choke points (including the Panama Canal.) As she puts it, “Countries in which national security policy makers don’t have control over energy supplies…are geopolitically more vulnerable than more politically integrated nations.” China is also seen by some as a better negotiation partner because their interests are clear and their policy is less likely to change than in the US where Congress changes its mind regularly.
She also examines the interests of many other nations. The arctic sea lanes are opening along Russia before Canada. India is considering requiring that all new infrastructure be ‘climate proofed. Europe may soon find dangerous heatwaves and every-other-year phenomenon.
This book will have you considering a whole new basket of issues to worry about. You better hope the policy wonks are reading this book.