Dire and detailed description of what tragedies are in the making for humanity as global warming continues its seemingly inexorable rise.
Guzman (Law/Univ. of California; How International Law Works, 2010, etc.) writes that climate change is “perhaps the greatest international challenge of this century and beyond,” yet “people have not come to accept how serious it is.” By focusing on the human cost of global warming, his hope is that people will act. What will happen, Guzman asks, if the Earth’s temperature rises—and this is a conservative estimate—a mere 2 degrees centigrade? Plenty, as it turns out, and none of it good. A series of well-researched and clearly written chapters outlines the consequences. Rising seas will cause some nations, such as the Maldives, to simply sink. In other poor, low-lying nations, flooding and increasingly violent storms and the subsequent social disruption may create untold millions of “climate refugees”—20 million in Bangladesh alone. As glaciers melt, ancient water-management systems will be disrupted as new patterns of flood and drought emerge. Fresh water will become scarcer, and perhaps more than 1 billion people will have access to far less water than they do now. As climate refugees huddle together in inevitably crowded camps, new diseases will emerge with fewer resources to treat and prevent them. The social and political costs will be enormous; governments will be overwhelmed by the failure of basic systems, from food production to sanitation. Those areas of the world—say, the Middle East or Pakistan and India—already dangerously enmeshed in enmity may explode into violence as the battle for resources, especially water, intensifies. Though exact scenarios are difficult to predict, such dangers, notes Guzman, are real. But global warming is not unmanageable if we can simply muster the political will to enact and enforce regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
A disturbing yet realistic examinations of the consequences of a warmer world. (Kirkus Book Review, December 17, 2012)