Summary and book reviews of Forecast by Stephan Faris

Forecast

The Consequences of Climate Change, from the Amazon to the Arctic, from Darfur to Napa Valley

By Stephan Faris

Forecast
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  • Hardcover: Dec 2008,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2009,
    256 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Beth Hemke Shapiro

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Book Summary

While reporting just outside of Darfur, Stephan Faris discovered that climate change was at the root of that conflict, and began to wonder what current and impending—and largely unanticipated—crises such changes have in store for the world.

Forecast provides the answers.

Global warming will spur the spread of many diseases. Italy has already experienced its first climate-change epidemic of a tropical disease, and malaria is gaining ground in Africa. The warming world will shift huge populations and potentially redraw political alliances around the globe, driving environmentalists into the hands of anti-immigrant groups. America’s coasts are already more difficult places to live as increasing insurance rates make the Gulf Coast and other gorgeous spots prohibitively expensive. Crops will fail in previously lush places and thrive in some formerly barren zones, altering huge industries and remaking traditions. Water scarcity in India and Pakistan have the potential to inflame the conflict in Kashmir to unprecedented levels and draw the United States into the troubles there, and elsewhere.

Told through the narratives of current, past, and future events, the result of astonishingly wide travel and reporting, Forecast is a powerful, gracefully written, eye-opening account of this most urgent issue and how it has altered and will alter our world.

1
“THINGS WILL BREAK LOOSE FROM THE HANDS OF THE WISE MEN” DARFUR, SCARCITY, AND CONFLICT

In 1985, with the Darfur region of Sudan deep in drought, a doctoral candidate named Alex de Waal met with a bedridden and nearly blind Arab sheikh named Hilal Abdalla. The elderly nomad and his tribesmen had pitched their camp across an unforgiving wasteland of rock and sand. Broad black tents rose like sails against the rough horizon. Thorn trees broke ground at lonesome intervals, sparse grazing for the tribe’s camels. The student was long-limbed and gangly, bent forward with the eagerness of youth. The sheikh—tall, stately, stooped by age—asked him in. “His tent was hung with the paraphernalia of a lifetime’s nomadism—water jars, saddles, spears, swords, leather bags, and an old rifle,” De Waal recalled years later. “He invited me to sit opposite him on a fine Persian rug, summoned his retainer to serve sweet tea on a silver ...

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Reviews

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Armed with a master's in journalism from Columbia University and a CV citing his coverage of issues in the Middle East, China and Africa for many prestigious publications, Faris demonstrates incredibly sound reporting. But sometimes the writing is almost too calmly controlled for a subject this cataclysmic. In his epilogue the author states, "In a sense, this book is an exercise in optimism," and "The consequences of global warming described in this book may be alarming, but they're not meant to be alarmist." The lack of passion contrasts with the numbing possible scenarios, such as the potential of tens of millions of refugees entering India, Burma, China, and Pakistan if Bangladesh were to experience large-scale flooding.   (Reviewed by Beth Hemke Shapiro).

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Media Reviews
New Scientist

... He elegantly negotiates the tricky line between the personal and political, and in doing so provides a more accurate and powerful warning about the perils of climate change than many other books in the genre.

Orion Magazine - Fred Pearce

It is not the first time that someone has toured the world to root out how climate change is changing our lives. The pioneer work here was Mark Lynas’s High Tides. But Faris is the most perceptive so far about its growing place in our daily lives, our iconography, and, sometimes, our paranoias.

Publishers Weekly

An intelligent, nuanced report on the complex relationships between increasingly unstable weather patterns and politics, ecology and lifestyles.

Kirkus Reviews

A globe-spanning look at the effects of climate change, already apparent in our time ... Faris writes deftly about the developing world.

Library Journal

This [is an] eyewitness account of practical concerns that add up to a climate emergency.

Author Blurb Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature.
Bad news is good news if it gets us to act. Forecast should--it shows that this is not a crisis for our children, but the central question of our time.

Author Blurb lan Weisman, author of The World Without Us.
Stephan Faris has traveled everywhere, holding his journalist's looking glass up for everyone to see the same carbon-crazed climate monster looming in every reflection. Reader, that mirror is now in your hands: Your world, too, is peering from these pages. Better pay attention.

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Beyond the Book

Hammerfest & The Snow White Project
Global warming usually suggests images of wild tempests and massive floods, but some countries are trying to tap into what they see as potential benefits of climate change. One of the numerous fascinating places that Stephan Faris visited to collect material for Forecast is Hammerfest in northern Norway.  Billing itself as the northernmost city in the world, this small Arctic city has witnessed a recent explosion of growth and tourism thanks to melting ice and the resulting increase of maritime accessibility.


Although the sun vanishes each December and January, about 200,000 ...

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