- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Nation Books; 1st Edition edition (14 July 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1568586000
- ISBN-13: 978-1568586007
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.4 x 23.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,042,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Tropic of Chaos Hardcover – 14 Jul 2011
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“Christian Parenti offers an unusual and compelling analysis of violence through the lens of the environment….Parenti also turns a sharp eye upon the repression, surveillance, and counterinsurgency that first-world nations have employed to combat growing violence in water-scarce, conflict-ridden regions, and calls for a more enlightened approach.”
Jan McGirk, ChinaDialogue.net
“Tropic of Chaos is a must-read. It telegraphs an urgent message of how quickly climate catastrophe is morphing around the globe.”
Astra Taylor, Bookforum (online)
“[A] harrowing tour-de-force… if you read one book on climate change this year (and really, who can bear to read more than one?), Tropic of Chaos should be it. The way you understand the changing climate, and the resulting conflicts that serrate our world, will be transformed.”
Nomi Prins, Truthdig
“Tropic of Chaos” is a wake-up call to humanity, particularly to the richest nations (with the U.S. at the top of that list) that produce the greatest amount of carbon that accelerates climate change. The detrimental effects of our environmental gluttony at the heart of our economic avarice are not blurry fatalistic hypotheses—they are here, today. As “Tropic of Chaos” illustrates so clearly, we can’t afford, morally or economically, to be lax about the impact of catastrophic convergence on the global population or allow private profit-motivated interests to ruin civilization.”
Foreign Policy In Focus
“[An] impressive new book… If Naomi Klein, Mike Davis, and James Howard Kunstler had teamed up to write a book, the result would read something like Tropic of Chaos… Tropic of Chaos illustrates the strengths of merging climate projections with left historical analysis of the poverty and conflicts that define much of the Global South. The result is an important map key to the (possibly near) future, if not strictly a climate book. Viewing climate change as an amplifier of existing inequality and disorder results in a split-screen, one that deals as much with the last century as the current…there is no denying the relevance and immediacy of the book’s main thesis, powerfully illustrated by the current drought-related famine in Somalia… Tropic of Chaos not only asks the right questions. An argument could be made that it deals with the only questions currently worth asking. Climate change is the X Factor lurking behind every other conversation over the direction and shape of our civilization. If the temperature goes up by the predicted six degrees Fahrenheit, Parenti is correct to conclude that all bets will most certainly be off. ”
“[Parenti] has written a sweeping discourse on the collision set in motion between the natural and the social world…[Parenti’s] book remains an important and cogently written, if frightening, contribution to our understanding of the planetary crisis and how we got here.”
“Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, by Christian Parenti, is a rarity among nominally popular books, in that it seeks to describe what the world will look like if climate change is left unchecked. Exceedingly well-researched…it nevertheless lays out a narrative all the more frightening for those living in a world whose leaders seem increasingly resistant to doing anything about climate change.”—
“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. . . . 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.”
The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, Canada
“There’s much to admire in Tropic of Chaos, notably the breadth of Parenti’s research and how he ties it into a coherent, big-picture view of the world. The book also offers timely insights into the origins of this month’s famine in East Africa.”
Washington City Paper
“Parenti’s exploration of how, say, a water shortage in equatorial Africa causes nomadic herdsmen to roam far afield—only to be met by a rival tribe that raids their animals and kills their men to protect fertile land—illustrates the domino effect extreme weather can cause anywhere in the world.”
“Like the climate scientists he invokes in his analysis, Christian Parenti seeks to understand a dizzyingly complex problem. . . . His book embarks on a tour of the so-called ‘tropic of chaos,’ the equatorial belt where much of the world’s population lives, and where changing weather patterns have led to conflict and destitution. At each stop, Parenti draws connections between violence and global warming.”
“Scathing. . . . 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.”
“An investigative journalist’s tough analysis of how some of the world’s most vulnerable states—those with a history of economic and political disasters—are confronting the new crisis of climate change. . . . A dark look at a looming world crisis.”
Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
“A brilliant weather report from the near future of world politics.”
Naomi Klein, author The Shock Doctrine
“A richly investigated and original account of the role climate change is already playing in contemporary conflicts. This glimpse of the future we most fear arrives just in time to change course.”
Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
“To read this disturbing, indeed frightening book is to appreciate fully the fix we’re in. On the one hand is a looming planetary crisis, the product of climate change, resource scarcity, and widespread poverty. On the other hand is the misguided conviction, to which Americans in particular cling, that military power, deftly employed, will insulate the developed world from these problems. It won’t, Christian Parenti argues. He’s right. We can’t say we weren't warned.”
Pablo Solón, Chief Climate Negotiator and Ambassador of Bolivia to the United Nations
“This important book highlights a new dimension of climate change. It’s not only about the loss of biodiversity, glaciers, and island states but also about a new era of conflict, violence and chaos. Parenti shows us how climate change already produces war and aggression. But he also invites us to think about real and structural alternatives to unbridled capitalism and runaway climate change.”
Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day
“Tropic of Chaos is a penetrating look at natural disasters and the humans that make them happen. This engrossing, deeply researched account takes us on a journey around the globe to uncover the social production of catastrophe. A book that’s hard to ignore, and difficult to put down.”
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
“Christian Parenti’s exhaustively researched Tropic of Chaos presents a disturbing idea: that the species which caused the climate crisis will be the one most affected by it. This powerful book charts how climate-driven violence is already taking hold. If we don’t act with urgency, a troubled future awaits us.”
Saskia Sassen, Professor, Columbia University and author of Territory, Authority, Rights
“We know we confront multiple catastrophic events. They have been analyzed and debated. Like no other book I know of, Parenti gives us the vortex itself. He does so through knowledge and facts in a manner that brings it all to life. What a great book, really extraordinary.”
"A richly investigated and original account of the role climate change is already playing in contemporary conflicts. This glimpse of the future we most fear arrives just in time to change course." -Naomi Klein, author The Shock DoctrineSee all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Somalia presents a tragic case study of the violence of climate change. As I write this, hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing Somalia for Kenya to find relief from intense drought and the resulting famine. The Miami Herald (10 Aug 2011, AP article) printed an Associated Press article reporting the rape of many women refugees once they reached the Kenyan boarder by groups of armed men. "One 30-year-old woman who watched two of her five children die as they trekked through Somalia was raped after reaching what she hoped would be the safety of Kenyan soil." (AP, 09 Aug 2011) According to the report, some of these armed men would order the woman's brother to rape her. If he refused, he or she or both would then be killed. Once these people manage to cross the border, their future does not get much better. Kenya does not have the resources to protect or feed the 400,000 refugees that are already staying in a camp built for 90,000. "Officials here say they are being overwhelmed by the influx of tens of thousands of Somali refugees, and can't stem the attacks. " (AP, 2011)
Parenti's book is certainly an important book for anyone interested in looking at a brief history of how many societies have changed when the climate changes - Somalia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico and others are discussed - especially during a drought. More important is the understanding of the dynamics at play right now, today, during many of our debates in this country: The war in Afghanistan, immigration across our border with Mexico, and our current debt criss.
I highly recommend this book
Most books about the climate crisis can overwhelm us with negativity and a sort of end-of-days mentality. Mr. Parenti's book is the opposite. It is a book that virtually pulses with a love for democracy and belief in the power of human beings to finally do the right thing. And it is a great read as well. What could be better?
Parenti illuminates the catastrophic convergence that is resulting from climate change and violence in failed and fragile states in the so-called “Tropic of Chaos” – the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America geographically located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer. The countries that Parenti describes have extremely high poverty incidence. They are societies in which tradition and culture have been deeply ruptured, and which experience massive movements of population from rural to urban areas and trans-national labour migration, attributed by Parenti to the impacts of climate change that are already beginning to bite. The concomitant violence has its roots in the legacy anomie of colonialism, post-colonial militarisation and resulting accessibility of weaponry, the gross corruption of kleptocratic regimes, and the immiserating failure of neo-liberal economic re-structuring policies fostered by the IMF and the World Bank since the 1970s.
Parenti signals alarm about the devastating effects of climate change in countries that lack the stability, resources and state legitimacy to respond. He cautions the likely increase in global refugee populations – from estimated current levels to some 250 million to one billion people by 2050. Parenti critiques the emerging response to this convergence in the US, Europe and other developed economies that is characterised by counter-insurgency, militarism, and hardening of policy responses to the converging crisis. Tropic of Chaos concludes with an assertion that both the technology and financial resources to prevent catastrophic environmental destruction do exist already. What is lacking according to Parenti is political will in the dominant economies and a relegitimisation of the state’s role in the economy that could direct investment and government purchasing into clean and green technology.
Parenti deploys theoretical references in his critique and extensively cites climate data throughout Tropic of Chaos. He uses individual stories to give a sense of personal realism to a catastrophic global crisis. The accounts of small wars, cold war, insurgencies, counter-insurgencies and resource and drug violence are greatly detailed and to some extent divert the reader from the main idea expounded in the book, which is that the fall-out from climate change in the poorest, most populous and most fragile states will have massive population movement implications that the rest of the world has not yet realised and is in danger of responding to badly. This is the spectre of a police state in which personal freedoms are severely restricted and violent repression of immigrants is commonplace.
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