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Poor arguments obscure a vitally important topic
on 3 February 2013
Welzer is writing about an extremely timely and important topic; the implications of climate change for future world security, and specifically how and why people might resort to violence as climate change takes hold more strongly.
All the more disappointing, then, that the referencing, logic and research is so poor throughout this book. To take just a few examples:
- In a table on p.112, Welzer claims that the UK has experienced a 'violent environmental conflict' since 1971 to the present day. Really??
- On p.171, Welzer writes that: "Global warming has come about because of the thoughtless use of technology, so any attempt to fix things through more and 'better' technology is part of the problem, not the solution." The logic here is deeply flawed; thoughtful use of technology will be essential in any solution to climate change, and his conclusion is in no way implied from his premise.
- On p.105, he equates morally attempts to reduce carbon emissions with violent conflicts over resources in Somalia and on p.156 he claims creationism in the USA is a 'mirror-image' of radical Islamic fundamentalism. This is moral relativism of the worst sort.
- On p.101 he claims that international aid organisations routinely factor in bribes and extortion into their delivery of aid. I've got quite a bit of experience in the world of disaster relief, and find this claim extremely hard to believe, especially given the stringent bribery laws in this and other countries.
These are just a few examples of what is a general trend throughout the book. The result is a deeply unpersuasive text, despite the fact that I think Welzer's core argument is sound. Such an important topic deserves a better book than this.