Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars - Sustainability Book Club

Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars: The
Fight for Survival as the World
C. Yip
Cal Poly Sustainability Study Group
Born: 1943, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
At 16, Royal Canadian Naval Reserve.
BA, History, Memorial University of Newfoundland
MA, Military History, Rice University.
PhD, Military & Middle Eastern History, King’s College London.
Senior Lecturer, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 1973-77.
Journalist, 1973-present.
Columnist on International affairs, in over 175 papers in 45
• 9 books.
• Documentary TV series, “War.”
• Defense Department studies on the impacts global warming
trends (eg. National Security and Climate Change, 2007)
• Published Climate change reports
• Interviews
..."this is a book about the political and strategic consequences of
climate change"... (x)
"First, this thing is coming at us a whole lot faster than the publicly
acknowledged wisdom has it.”
“Second, all the stuff about changing the light-bulbs and driving
less, although it is useful for raising consciousness and gives people
some sense of control over their fate, is practically irrelevant to the
outcome of the crisis."
"Third, it is unrealistic to believe that we are really going to make
those's too late now.” (xii)
"And fourth, for every degree that the average global temperature
rises, so do the mass movements of population, the number of
failed and failing states, and very probably the internal and
international wars.” (xiii)
Scenario 1: The Year 2045 & Chapter 1
Geopolitics of Climate Change
EU collapse – north south split
Russia rises
China slides into chaos
South Asian and Central American famines
Expanding deserts and mass migrations
A 2.8 degree celsius rise leads to the partial failure of the oceanic
carbon sinks, the melting of the permafrost, an ice-free Arctic
in summer, bigger hurricanes, rising sea levels and megadeaths from mass starvation, and maybe nuclear wars.
Scenario 2: Russia 2019 & Chapter 2:
An Inevitable Crisis
Struggle over Arctic resources
by Russia, Canada, and
Technological development
generated population
growth altering the climate
making a crisis inevitable.
Die-offs will probably halt
population growth.
Scenario 3: United States, 2029 &
Chapter 3: Feedbacks: How Much How
Desertification of Central
America leads to the
disintegration of the
Mexican government and
mass-migrations northward,
answered by a deadly US
border defense.
The possible complex feedback
loops in the Earth’s climatic
system can alter the rate and
timetable of the crisis.
Scenario 4: Northern India, 2036 &
Chapter 4: We Can Fix This…
Pakistan-India nuclear war
generated by water and food
Maybe there are technical
solutions if implemented by
the world’s peoples.
US shift from Clinton
acknowledgement but
blocked from action [Kyoto
Protocol] by the Senate to
G. W. Bush administration’s
denial of a problem.
Scenario 5: A Happy Tale & Chapter 5:
…But Probably Not in Time
• Oil price shock leads to alternative energy development and
• Carbon Capture and Sequestration.
As conditions worsen, international negotiations will get more
difficult, and with an uncertain outcome.
Scenario 6: United States & United
Kingdom, 2055 & Chapter 6: Real
World Politics
As efforts at a global agreement fails, the US mines the waters of
the Great Lakes to stave off disaster, while England turns to
food self-sufficiency and blocking immigration.
Copenhagen 2009 was much less effective than Kyoto 1997.
Scenario 7: China, 2042 & Chapter 7:
Emergency Measures
New forms of eco-terrorism arise out of the ecological and ideological
motives. High technology versus conservation.
Individual countries try desperate schemes to lower temperatures on
their own. 2039 Indonesia and the Philippines try high-altitude
balloon release of sulfur into the stratosphere to lower
temperatures funded by China. When an eruption of Mount Toba
added to the effect and the combined effects dropped the
temperature 4 degrees Celsius causing worldwide crop failures, and
deaths from starvation. [Ergo, the dangers of climate
Geo-engineering (global dimming, carbon dioxide extraction, etal.),
reforestation, and ocean fertilization might buy time while
international solutions are worked out, or possibly not.
Scenario 8: Wipeout & Childhood’s
In 2175 about 300 million survivors, speaking English and
Russian cluster around the shores of the Arctic Ocean with
small population clusters elsewhere. The oceans were
smelling of H2S [rotten egg] gas.
Humans have destabilized the earth’s climate system, and
through its actions may have already initiated “an extinction
event simply by taking over so much of the planet’s surface
for our own purposes.” [268]
“The job, for the rest of this century, is repairing the damage we
did over the past two centuries of industrialization to the
homeostatic, Gaian systems that we we didn’t even realise we
depended upon until relatively recently.” [271]

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