Excellent and critical commentary on the connections between climate change, capitalism, and environmentalism as it has been practiced for the past feExcellent and critical commentary on the connections between climate change, capitalism, and environmentalism as it has been practiced for the past few decades. Clear in the conclusion that such practice is not working, and we need to change it from the bottom, because economic and political (and, yes, environmentalist) leaders are not going to do it quickly enough. This is a chronicle of a movement at the fetal stage of development (to which Klein aptly makes analogies) and a plea for attention, nurturing, awareness, education and involvement in order to take it to the next stage. What that next stage looks like was not clear to me, and may indeed not be clear to the people making such pleas, perhaps because we haven't actually ever done that next stage before. Analogies in terms of scope and depth of social change are drawn to the abolitionist movement, which has stretched over about two centuries and is still running. This movement needs to move even faster and spread even wider. It remains interesting, however, that those on the wrong side of abolition (wealthy, entitled, upper-class Western Civilization white males) are pretty much the same as those on the opposing side of the climate justice movement.
Having read Klein's "Shock Doctrine" recently, I really see these two books as one evolving story that isn't done yet. Reading this book alone, I would have been looking for more of the astounding investigational depth into the status quo that Klein provided in "Shock Doctrine." Her depth of discussion on the connections between industry and politics in North America is adequate, but could have had more power by calling out specific donations and lobbies and the damaging, de-regulating legislation that those relationships produced. A key link to the the US military as the single largest US consumer of fossil fuels is made, but not explored much further. Some of this may have required repetition of points from "Shock Doctrine" but then, if repetition is required to draw further conclusions in an even larger context, I'm not averse to that larger combined perspective. That perspective is exactly what is needed to open so many eyes to the depth of change that is needed. Klein seems to stop just short of that level of (justified) outrage in her chronicle here, though. Together, "Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything" are a nearly complete picture of what's wrong, and what we're up against in the industry-military-politics-economics-climate fight. Maybe her ongoing reporting efforts and next book can draw all of those together?
I loved this book, don't get me wrong. I also wanted more depth, more scathing arguments, and more moral outrage at the (often corrupted) people and groups who insist on maintaining the status quo that is driving the need for a growing climate justice movement....more
Mr. Davis provides a languid, somewhat rambling story of his own rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, during which he explores a number of views andMr. Davis provides a languid, somewhat rambling story of his own rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, during which he explores a number of views and topics covered extensively by several that have written before. There is much cross-over here between the historian, naturalist and adventurer (invoking John Wesley Powell's trip on the same river) and the concerned citizen (invoking McPhee's stories of David Brower, and Reisner's "Cadillac Desert"). Mr. Davis takes kindly to his river guide, a native Havasupai, and explains a little archaeology along the way as well. The geology of the Canyon is touched on at times, and I would have liked a cross-section plate near the front to accompany the provided river map and help keep the reader oriented in space and time during the rafting trip. Nevertheless, this is a casual read, something of a gentle introduction to the numerous historical, societal, scientific, engineering, and political issues around the lower Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. The reader whose interest is piqued by any given aspect of Mr. Davis' story will find plenty more in that vein by previous writers, from the prehistorical through the native tribes, through the controversy of Glen Canyon Dam, and to the present political and climatological issues on the River....more
This was a good overview of troubles in various places both historically and at present that can be attributed, in part, to climate change. The authorThis was a good overview of troubles in various places both historically and at present that can be attributed, in part, to climate change. The author's "catastrophic convergence" of economics, politics and climate is certainly valid and helps explain many of the events in recent history that have been otherwise attributed (too often with over-simplified, hand-waving arguments) to ethnic tensions and poor governance. This is somewhat like a book that I have been looking to read for a long time, but have not yet found. However, the author's case studies do not bring the history of that convergence up to the present, especially with the Arab Spring events and the situation in Syria that have clear roots in the climate-related pressures of the Middle East region.
That's not to say that the tropics are the only place these things have been happening, and the trouble is, the roots of so many diverse troubles can be traced to a number of factors, and never solely climate or governance or ethnic strife or natural resource policies. One issue that ties many of these factors together is economic influence and policy, which the author does seem to address well in the cases presented. The central geographical proposition, that these things are occurring in the tropics, is very similar to Thomas Barnett's "Pentagon's New Map" and later works. While Mr. Barnett focuses primarily on governance, economics and military policies and the balancing of power through those means, this book makes a strong case (except possibly in the discussion of Mexico, which was focused primarily on the drug trade) for the influence of climate and the changes it may bring in such a dynamic balance. The discussion of American and EU responses, both actual and preferable, to these pressures could have used some more and deeper discussion.
Otherwise, some map errors and typos detracted from the writing, and a few of the histories were overly brief and/or convoluted, with events presented out of chronological order. Graphical helpers such as more detailed (and correct) maps and timelines for each case might have helped considerably. An expansion of the "convergence" to patterns of natural resource governance, use and abuse is almost necessary, in my opinion. That's the book that I was really looking for, that incorporates all of those factors and provides historical analyses of their interplay. Perhaps that's the book that I need to be writing......more
In the original edition, I would have rated it 4 stars for Friedman's easy explanations of a still-emerging global phenomenon of economic integrationIn the original edition, I would have rated it 4 stars for Friedman's easy explanations of a still-emerging global phenomenon of economic integration and its impacts on the vital natural aspects/resources of our planet.
However, I've downgraded that rating to 3 stars, as Friedman has insisted on issuing "upgrades" or "versioned" editions since the original, instead of just writing a new book entirely. I'm not going to buy version 3 of the same book if I already read version 1, and there's been no indication of "what is new in this version" on which I would be willing to focus and, for that matter, pay full price *again* for just these updates. For annual updates to software features and performance, that's a great business model. For book publishing, it is decidedly not, and gives the impression that the original was far from complete when rushed into print......more
Enlightening for its narrative of Alexander Hamilton's machinations to develop Federalism and consolidate early American financial power in the easterEnlightening for its narrative of Alexander Hamilton's machinations to develop Federalism and consolidate early American financial power in the eastern cities. The later chapters are bogged down by confusing descriptions of the movements and allegiances of a huge number of people in the western region. It seemed to me that the ultimate outcome of the "rebellion" and "suppression" were not as some history makes out. The rebellion itself was localized and therefore essentially stillborn, and significantly reminded me of the much more recent Occupy Movement: both opposed the concentration of financial power and sought the redistribution of land/wealth, and both really went nowhere on their own until legitimized by the militaristic suppressive responses of local/state/federal government. After reading this, it surprises me that the Occupy Movement never made a point to trace it's own historical roots to this period, when the federal banks were first established by Hamilton in clear cooperation with his friends' private credit/interest mechanisms that were developed with explicitly predatory motivations. That any of the rebellion and suppression resulted from western citizens exercising their rights to distill whiskey without overbearing taxation was especially ironic in the immediate wake of the American Revolution, with some of its own roots in opposition to unfair taxation......more
Generally interesting, as I grew up and went to college around many of the locations mentioned, and have read about some of the Revolutionary War histGenerally interesting, as I grew up and went to college around many of the locations mentioned, and have read about some of the Revolutionary War history in the areas of NYC and NJ. However, the footnotes ramble a bit too much, often starting or ending up off-topic, and the book as a whole is more about the author's study of various topics that are only rooted in, or tangential to, the Revolutionary period, rather than remaining focused in that time. Some of the discussion, as of the weather that affected many of the events around NYC and NJ during the War, was welcome. I could have done without some of the more personal accounting of the author's travails during his research for the book--a back injury carrying a too-heavy pack during his trek around Morristown, the charter boat captain's agonizing over propeller damage during a trip across NY Harbor, and his relentless search for a signal location in the NJ hills west of the Harbor. The author seemed to miss entirely the idea that things were not always so good--the soldiers that marched to Morristown in 1777 barely had shoes, they rowed across that Harbor without outboard motors, and they scouted those signal locations on foot and horse instead of by train and rental car. ...more