For the first time, I was asked to write a book blurb. That book is now ready for you to buy and you should do so. It’s Stan Cox and Paul Cox, How the World Breaks: Life in Catastrophe’s Path, from the Caribbean to Siberia. The authors travel the world to disaster sites and tell amazing stories of people’s resilience in the face of these disasters. But of course, these disasters, many of which are blithely called “natural disasters,” even though they are the product of a combination of natural and human forces that reflect preexisting inequality, can only happen so often before the both social and ecological systems around the world break down. They tell stories of these geoclimatic disasters–fires, tornadoes, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.–showing how climate change makes many of these disasters far worse, but also highlighting the human experience in them. Ultimately people are amazing because they are so resilient. So is the planet. But at some point, and that point is rapidly approaching, neither people nor the planet can take so many disasters, one on top of the other. Systems do break down. That’s the story of this book. Ranging from the Greenberg, Kansas tornado to fires in Australia to landslides in India, the authors tell amazing stories. But the authors point out that this talk of resilience becomes an excuse for nations not to do anything about climate change. Kiribati may be about to be swallowed into the ocean, but if that nation’s people are resilient, they will figure something out. That something will of course mean becoming climate refugees, which is hardly an answer. They talk about how we are now being told that we have to be flexible and expect catastrophe, giving up ideas of security. It’s amazing to me how this language mirrors that of neoliberal economic planners who have forced workers to give up any idea of security in order so that the global wealthy can capture more profits. Of course, those not wanting meaningful action on climate change are the same people foisting the current economy upon us. The authors ultimately call for a climate justice movement that includes reparations from industrialized countries to the world’s poor nations forced to bear the burden of climate change impacts.
This is a very good, very readable book that many of you will enjoy. You should buy it.