Tropic of chaos Climate change and the new geography of violence

Christian Parenti

Book - 2011

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New York : Nation Books c2011.
Physical Description
viii, 295 p. : maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Christian Parenti (-)
  • Pt. 1. Last call for illusions
  • Who killed Ekaru Loraman?
  • Military soothsayers
  • War for a small planet : adaptation as counterinsurgency
  • Pt. II. Africa
  • Geopolitics of a cattle raid
  • Monsoons and tipping points
  • The rise and fall of East African states
  • Somali apocalypse
  • Theorizing failed states
  • Pt. III. Asia
  • Drugs, drought and Jihad : environmental history of the Afghanistan War
  • Kyrgyzstan's little climate war
  • India and Pakistan : glaciers, rivers, and unfinished business
  • India's drought rebels
  • Pt. IV. Latin America
  • Rio's agony : from extreme weather to "planet of slums"
  • Golgotha mexicana : climate refugees, free trade, and the war next door
  • American walls and demagogues
  • Implications and possibilities.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Recent media coverage of global warming mostly focuses on melting glaciers and such catastrophic weather conditions as hurricanes and tornadoes. Yet according to award-winning journalist Parenti, another fast-developing side effect of elevating temperatures is just as troubling. In the geographic belt skirting the equator that Parenti dubs the tropic of chaos, extreme weather is triggering increasing episodes of tribal violence and political unrest. Parenti takes readers from the drought-afflicted savannas of Kenya, where armed farmers are killing each other over limited water supplies, to shantytowns in Brazil, where scarce resources are driving desperate citizens into the deadly drug trade. Instead of responding sympathetically to these third world crises, wealthier countries have taken a harder line, erecting barriers and conducting counterinsurgency tactics in a militant approach Parenti argues will only cause more economic and environmental damage to the wider world. While the landscape he surveys is grim, Parenti offers several tactics to encourage better resolution of its problem, including raising awareness among political leaders and recognizing that progress will come only through creative compassion. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this scathing study, Parenti (Lockdown America) argues that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the planet in the form of devastating droughts and other weather aberrations that create a shortage of arable land and resources. In the developing world, these challenges intersect with the ongoing crises of poverty and violence to create what Parenti terms a "catastrophic convergence." Arguing that coming environmental shifts will "act as a radical accelerant," he describes how cold war militarism and neoliberal economics have eroded community fabric and public services in such disparate places as the arid savannahs of Kenya, the mountains of Afghanistan, the favelas of Brazil, the jungles of Colombia, and the deserts of northern Mexico, opening the door for "socially disruptive forms of adaptation," like brutality, genocide, and corruption. As the developing world sinks deeper into crisis, the developed world takes the "armed lifeboat" approach, consolidating wealth and firepower while ignoring the rising tide of need among the planet's most vulnerable citizens. Parenti's careful reporting and grasp of politics and economics support the book's urgent message—that impending global chaos is all but assured unless the developed world finds the political will to imagine a better future. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An investigative journalist visits the economically and politically battered post-colonial nations around the earth's mid-latitudes and reveals how extreme weather in the era of climate change is breeding banditry, humanitarian crises and state failure.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An investigative journalist visits the economically and politically battered post-colonial nations around the earth's mid-latitudes and reveals how extreme weather in the era of climate change is breeding banditry, humanitarian crises, and state failure.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This heavily researched and important book by Parenti, contributing editor at The Nation, clearly illuminates the undeniable link between climate change generated by the industrial North and devastation and violent conflict in the global South. Taking readers on a tour of war torn and poverty infected countries like Kenya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Mexico, Parenti exposes the rising tension which is becoming an increasing threat to privileged nations like the US who are simply ignoring the problem and attempting to shield it out with military might. This book is a must read for anyone concerned with climate change, human rights, national security, and the human race's ultimate survival. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Review by Publisher Summary 4

An award-winning journalist combines on-the-ground reportage with incisive analysis to reveal the disturbing connection between climate change and increased social and political violence.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun. Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure. In Tropic of Chaos, investigative journalist Christian Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe--the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet's midlatitudes. Here he finds failed states amid climatic disasters. But he also reveals the unsettling presence of Western military forces and explains how they see an opportunity in the crisis to prepare for open-ended global counterinsurgency. Parenti argues that this incipient "climate fascism"--a political hardening of wealthy states-- is bound to fail. The struggling states of the developing world cannot be allowed to collapse, as they will take other nations down as well. Instead, we must work to meet the challenge of climate-driven violence with a very different set of sustainable economic and development policies.