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Product name: Forecast: The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: Stephan Faris

Publisher: Scribe

Price: $29.95

Size: 256 pages

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The title Forecast suggests both weather report and a more general prediction of things to come. Yet, interestingly, this book does not leap into a hypothetical global future.

Instead, it gives us an account of where and how the brunt of human-induced climate change is being felt right now, using this as an indication of the direction in which we are heading.

Each chapter gives a concrete example of how the consequences of our carbon-intensive lifestyles are already being expressed in economics, politics and culture. And it's not pretty.

As political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon, from the University of Waterloo in Canada says: "What climate change does is decrease the resilience of a society...It makes it more brittle and more vulnerable to shock and various kinds of pathologies, including major violence."

Looking at Sudan's Darfur region, author Stephan Faris unpicks the tragic link between climate change-induced drought and the outbreak of civil war.

In coastal regions of the United States, he observes the hardships that soaring storm insurance premiums create for property-owners and those with mortgages.

In Brazil and New Mexico he ponders the potential for climate change to accelerate the spread of diseases such as malaria.

A journalist who has lived in Nigeria, Kenya, Turkey and China, Faris is adept at interweaving his own observations and interpretations with those of scientists, social commentators and members of the communities he visits.

One of the most insightful and discomforting chapters of his book looks at the way Europe's anti-immigration political parties are strategically adopting the language of sustainability. A key member of the far-right British Nationalist Party tells Faris:

"The point is to start preparing now by putting the ideology and language of environmentalism into nationalism. It's the crisis of the future. That and overpopulation, which are symptoms of exactly the same thing. People that have an irreverence for the land breed like rabbits."

And yet, as Faris points out in a searing epilogue, it is the developing world that is far more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is fuelled largely by emissions from the developed nations. Emissions know no borders, and neither should responsibility for our environment.

Printed on paper from sustainable regrowth forests

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