“The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats” with the emphasis on survival. “Global society will live or die as a high-energy enterprise” in the closing hopeful (i.e. hope in the sense of someone else will sort it out) chapter drives home where Gwynne Dyer is coming from. Business as usual, with technology (or innovation) patching up the damage, will somehow deliver the same energy punch as cheap oil.
It’s doubtful that any of coal, hydro, wind, sun, biofuel, geothermal (fill in the latest fad here) will suffice. Even the combination of all the above is unlikely to cut it. Our high-energy days are surely numbered and whisper it not that billions of the walking dead may truly have to die as this input falters.
And say that it doesn’t falter. That it continues to drive our unsustainable lifestyle further down the road of climate change, soil depletion, water drawdown and species extinction.
However, Climate Wars is what it says on the tin. So let’s judge the book on its cover and ignore the Unholy Trinity of Bottlenecks – oil, soil and water. Even so, the book’s message is that we’re fucked if we’re relying on politicians, government or the free market. It paints several grim pictures of industrial civilisation imploding.
None of this will be new to forward thinkers. New to me in the penultimate chapter was Canfield Oceans. The first of these existed some billion or two years ago as an oxygen-free sea. Then oxygen got going and that should have been that for the Canfield Ocean.
But they seemed to crop up again and again coincident with most mass extinctions. And the mechanism that caused their return was… global warming. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. They spewed toxic hydrogen sulphide into the atmosphere, much as volcanoes do, but by orders of magnitude more.
The good news is that one isn’t about to happen any time soon. Dyer oddly claims that it’s our only extinction threat. Industry’s wholesale destruction of nature, i.e. our support system, springs to mind as just one other candidate.
A compelling read and well written, Climate Wars is a fine addition to the futurology canon. Just remember to factor in the missing roadblocks.