Grim and uncompromising story of the effects of sea level rise on populated coastal areas.
The hard choice which the authors describe is as follows: aGrim and uncompromising story of the effects of sea level rise on populated coastal areas.
The hard choice which the authors describe is as follows: a slow, resource-intensive, retreat of cities and infrastructure from coastal areas, or doing nothing until a disaster renders a place uninhabitable. For examples of the former, see New York City or Amsterdam, which invest millions in sea walls, dikes, or other large-scale engineering projects to set back or accommodate the effects of climate change.
By contrast, there are urban locales which may already be doomed by the end of the 21st century. New Orleans faces tremendous difficulty from the threat of more frequent and stronger hurricanes, as well as its situation in a basin and below sea-level. Miami, by contrast, sits on porous limestone, and rising seawater could easily contaminate the city's groundwater. Even worse, the city suffers from feckless political leadership (That is, Sen. Rubio and Gov. Scott) who deny that climate change is even an issue and blithely allow real estate development on the most precarious shorelines.
After an investigation of cities, the authors focus on coastal real estate development, the effects of geology and different types of shorelines on sea level rising, and the effects of climate refugees. There is also a chapter on junk science - meaning manipulation, lobbying political leadership, and funding junk science to disprove or cast doubt on scientific evidence, using tactics similar to the tobacco industry in the mid-20th century. But to borrow the authors' phrase, this is all "whistling through the graveyard".
This is a clear and frightening book, designed to raise awareness by describing a range of consequences in clear and jargon-free prose. While ultimately even the most advanced modeling cannot predict where and when a climate-change disaster will strike, active preparation and long-term planning will be essential for the coming decades. ...more
Short, intriguing narrative on the island of Taiwan from WWII to the Korean War, and how it became the last held territory of the Republic of China anShort, intriguing narrative on the island of Taiwan from WWII to the Korean War, and how it became the last held territory of the Republic of China and a linchpin of the U.S.' Pacific strategy.
As the title suggests, the island was not at first planned to be a holdout for the forces of Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang. In the 1943 Cairo Conference, when the time came to draw the lines around the postwar boundaries of China, the Chinese government staked claims on Tibet, Xinjiang, the northeast, and thought about the Ryukyu Islands (which FDR would have obliged), but declined because of the lack of a functional navy. Taiwan, on the other hand, was within reach.
The first years of post-war Guomindang rule were catastrophic. The governor general, Chen Yi, had inflamed tensions between the local population and the new government through mismanagement, brazen corruption, inflation, and food shortages. All this boiled over into the '2.28 incident', where police fired on unarmed civilians, and thousands were imprisoned or executed.
The collapse of the Guomindang military in the north and central part of the country through 1947 and 1948 left Chiang with few viable options - there were plans to hold out in Fujian or Zhejiang along the central coast, but also in the southwest border with Burma, Hainan Island in the very south, and the Zhoushan islands southeast of Shanghai. The United States government had already given him up for lost, but local officials were crucial in guaranteeing that regime's survival. For example, a retired admiral, Charles Cooke, was able to persuade Chiang to pull back forces from Hainan and the Zhoushan islands, and was able to provide him much needed fuel and ammunition. By January 1950, President Truman announced there would be no American intervention in the civil war, well after it was obvious that Chiang had lost.
What saved Taiwan was, of all things, the Korean War - the United States grew jittery after the signing of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship in February 1950, and North Korea's invasion in June of that year. After that, it was only a matter of days before Truman announced the deployment of the 7th fleet to Taiwan. Chiang, who saw an opportunity for closer relations and to retain his seat in the United Nations, offered to send troops to join under UN Command.
While Chiang occasionally proclaimed retaking the mainland, the book suggests that he had admitted it was not a real possibility. Instead, it was useful as a bargaining tool with the Americans, who eventually signed a treaty of mutual defense in 1954.
In summary, this book disentangles a confusing political situation. The book uses a good variety of new sources, including Chiang Kai-Shek's diaries and declassified State Department reports. There are also multiple tangents which I was not able to fit in here, including how Japan was involved in training troops for a potential attack against the mainland which never materialized. ...more
Critique of contemporary use of the word 'strategy' by the US and UK, and instead calls for a return to strategy in a Clausewitzian sense, where it isCritique of contemporary use of the word 'strategy' by the US and UK, and instead calls for a return to strategy in a Clausewitzian sense, where it is the application of military means to a political end.
Ultimately suggests that the lack of long-term strategy (instead concentration on tactical or operational methods) led to failure of interventions in Afghanistan + Iraq. Replete with interesting historical examples. ...more
The title is not at all an exaggeration. Over her journalistic career, Oriana Fallaci enjoyed unlimiteA posthumous collection of fourteen interviews.
The title is not at all an exaggeration. Over her journalistic career, Oriana Fallaci enjoyed unlimited access to notable figures - those that call themselves leaders, and those who have obtained power. She is perhaps most famous for goading Henry Kissinger into calling himself a 'cowboy' and admitting that the Vietnam War was 'useless', or for tearing off her chabod during a sit with the Ayatollah Khomeini.
You could read this collection as a study of contrasts - how Fallaci interrogates both Golda Meir and Yasser Arafat, or the Shah and the Ayatollah, or Indira Gandhi compared to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto or Deng Xiaoping versus the 33-year-old Dalai Lama. Her technique is to conduct impeccable background research, and to follow lines of interrogation that lead often to contradictions, outright denial or even admission of fault. These interviews lasted for hours, were often emotionally charged, and led to pointed fingers or raised fists or some absurd, disgusting, indefensible, morally bankrupt statement.
One contention that you could draw from Fallaci's interviews is that nearly all of the people in power or leadership have only earned their place from their ambition (or craving?) for power, not at all from any special quirk of the intellect or moral strength. But this does not mean that she does not respect some of those she talks to. She finds Robert Kennedy a tragic, almost too distant figure who becomes even more closed off during the course of the interview (a rarity for her). Despite her opposition to political Zionism, she finds much to admire in Golda Meir - a quiet tenacity, perhaps.
There is little of the blatant prejudice against Muslims that I have heard punctuates her other works. She finds much to fault with the Shah of Iran, who candidly admits what too many men hide - their belief that women are not as intelligent as men. Likewise, she feels overwhelming disgust with Muammar Ghaddafi as he obsesses over his schemes and shouts that he is the Gospel, but who wouldn't?
I'd hope to see such interviewing techniques and provocations come back, but perhaps now it is easy to avoid being questioned in such a way. Why bother to sit for an interview for six hours when you can tweet and have the networks scramble to figure out what you 'really' mean?
In sum - this is a fine collection of interviews, although the editing leaves much to be desired. There are spelling mistakes and even missing words, and perhaps these could be corrected for a future edition. ...more