Fire and Geopolitics in a Climate-Disrupted World
Simon Dalby is Emeritus Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada. He has written extensively on climate change, environmental security and geopolitics.
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Fire is a key physical process on earth, one that humans alone have worked out how to partly control.
Fires make the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is heating the planet, melting the ice sheets, changing weather patterns and making wildfires worse.
The power to use fire has transformed human societies and propelled us to the role of the dominant species in the biosphere. Now as the products of the combustion of fossil fuels are accumulating in the atmosphere the climate is changing rapidly. Our civilization is burning things, especially fossil fuels, at prodigious rates. So much so that we are now heading towards a future "Hothouse Earth" with a climate that is very different from what humans have known so far.
Simon Dalby argues that humanity’s success in using fire has radically changed our circumstances, and unless we work out how to constrain this firepower soon, our success with combustion threatens to undo what we have created.
By focusing on fire and our partial control over one key physical force in the earth system, that of combustion, Dalby is able to ask important and interesting questions about us as humans, including different ways of thinking about how we live, and how we might do so differently in the future. Simply put, there is now far too much "firepower" loose in the world and we need to think much harder about how to live together in ways that don't require burning stuff to do so.
The current challenge is to make a new economy for life after fossil fuels if a liveable earth is to be made available for future generations.
“Pyromania explores how we have reached the limit of the planet's natural resources and how we could stop burning up the atmosphere and using it as a free dumping ground for pollutants from fossil fuel. Fire, once an important element to human life, is now possibly our most relevant threat.” - Mia Funk, The Creative Process “Simon Dalby gives us a radically new approach to the global problem of global heating and climate breakdown. Focusing on the human relationship with fire over time, he shows how our tardy response to the disastrously rapid burning of fossil carbon is forcing us to come to terms with the downside of that relationship. Essential reading.” - Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies, Bradford University “In this remarkable tour de force, Simon Dalby convincingly ...