Climate Feedback

The new world order

Olive Heffernan


Cleo Paskal must be cursing the publishing gods. Had Paskal , author of Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map, finished her book last fall – when ‘climate security’ was a buzzword in foreign policy circles – she’d have timed it perfectly, writes Keith Kloor in a review on Nature Reports Climate Change. All anyone wants to talk about these days is purloined emails, errors in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the literary pursuits of its chair Rajendra Pachauri.

But, notes Kloor, Paskal’s book is about much more than security experts talking up the threat posed by rising seas. Instead, the author – a London-based journalist and a scholar at the think tank Chatham House – presents a vision of a new world order, in which the United States and the European Union face off against China and Russia as climate change takes hold.

Paskal argues convincingly that that short-sighted domestic and foreign policies are already eroding “the West’s position in the global balance of power”. Writes Kloor:

Exhibit A is the Arctic, where the US and EU are pushing for ‘global governance’ of the still-frozen Northwest Passage, a route expected to become a prized shipping channel to Asia and Europe with continued warming.

Canada currently claims the Northwest Passage as part of its territorial waters, and this standoff could prod Canada to explore a strategic relationship with Russia, which has its own designs on the Arctic. Meanwhile, China is knocking at Canada’s door, eager to purchase a slice of the country’s abundant natural resources. In a ‘stateless’ Northwest Passage, Russia and China could end up being the big players, especially if they forge stronger economic ties to Canada, writes Kloor.

Paskal goes on to argue that in just about every corner of the world, the United States being is outflanked by China, mainly because China’s economic interests are integrated with its foreign policy — what Paskal refers to as ‘nationalistic capitalism’. Market economies, by contrast, seek to maximize private profit, not to advance the state’s agenda.

Kloor’s full review of the book is freely accessible available here.


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    Bill Hewitt said:

    Looks like a great book. One of the many ironies in the Arctic being opened up for shipping and mining is that storms could get worse.

    As to China, the book appears to be sending a wake-up call that we need to continue to push, prod, threaten and cajole China to enter into and support international regimes.

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