Struggles over drinking water, new outbreaks of mass violence, ethnic cleansing, civil wars in the earth's poorest countries, endless flows of refugees: these are the new conflicts and forces shaping the world of the 21st century. They no longer hinge on ideological rivalries between great powers but rather on issues of class, religion and resources. The genocides of the last century have taught us how quickly social problems can spill over into radical and deadly solutions. Rich countries are already developing strategies to garner resources and keep 'climate refugees' at bay. In this major book Harald Welzer shows how climate change and violence go hand in hand. Climate change has far-reaching consequences for the living conditions of peoples around the world: inhabitable spaces shrink, scarce resources become scarcer, injustices grow deeper, not only between North and South but also between generations, storing up material for new social tensions and giving rise to violent conflicts, civil wars and massive refugee flows. Climate change poses major new challenges in terms of security, responsibility and justice, but as Welzer makes disturbingly clear, very little is being done to confront them. The paperback edition includes a new Preface that brings the book up to date and addresses the most recent developments and trends.
One may think that, if the main tenet of the book is not proved, then the reading thereof would be a waste of time. In this instance, I would suggest this to be incorrect. I found much to educate myself upon the reasoning of warring factions, and the human mind set in general. I was particularly fascinated by the author's chapter upon the topic of 'shifting baselines'. I will not try to explain same here, but as I read this section, I was struck by that feeling one gets when reading something which one, sort of knew already, but had not formulated into a solid idea
I am not a great reader upon the subject of war and so, perhaps the wiser amongst you will already be more aware of the data concerning American attitudes to civilians in Vietnam: Mr Welzer explains their callous attitude to fellow human beings, and also those of the German people during the Nazi era, in a way which does not excuse, but equally does not simply vilify those whose actions are not acceptable to us. I found that his reasoning provided the best, most understandable, explanation that I have come across. If we do not comprehend, but merely scorn those who do not think in ways that we find acceptable, we leave the door open for such regimes to be re-born. The book would have been worth the read just for this, but I found much more to commend it to me and I now commend it to you.