Book Review: The Winds of Change
Once or twice a summer we hit the laundromat in Huntsville, Ontario; between the wash and spin cycles I wander over the bridge to the Bookcase, one of the loveliest bookstores I have seen anywhere. Selection is limited but every book in the joint is chosen with intelligence and care. I have never failed to find something wonderful about the environment, food or politics; last year Peter Singer; this year, Eugene Linden's The Winds of Change.
Karl Marx said "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." Linden looks at climate change from an historical perspective and demonstrates that from early Mesopotamia through the Mayan empire through India during the Raj, climate changes have ignited dramatic and powerful societal and political changes. He suggests that without the onset of the little ice age, all of us in North America would be speaking Norwegian.It is very effective. We may think we are better equipped than the Akkadians or the Mayans, but we are also very close to the limits of our infrastructure and our resources. He suggests that the changes will harsh, disruptive, and violent.
Marx may have got it backwards, we are perhaps now in the farce stage. Linden notes when looking at America:
"The public views climate change as likely to be moderate and incremental, a problem for future generations, and with the qualification that the best minds disagree about whether it is a threat at all. Then there is the narrative gathering steam in the scientific journals in which the overwhelming preponderance of climate scientists assert that humans have already had dramatic effects on climate, and that climate, when prodded, is prone to violent and extreme swings rather than gently paced changes."