Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism

Jacob Darwin Hamblin. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-19-974005-5
Hamblin (Poison in the Well) takes advantage of the Freedom of Information Act and thorough re-search to produce this chilling and cynical study of post-WWII collusion between scientists and the military to create alternative weapons of mass destruction: famine, plague, pestilence, drought, and earthquake. The Cold War paranoia that swept the world made the possibility of biological warfare a real fear: some governments believed that the virtue of using pathogens to decimate a country's popu-lation and economy was that "this could be done without declaring war." This obsession with prepar-ing for and protecting against total war led nations to join in global monitoring of the atmosphere, and Hamblin notes that in the International Geophysical Year of 1957 "humans were carrying out a major experiment on the earth." Among the plans considered was the melting of the polar ice cap to turn pen-insulas into islands. Hamblin reads Richard Nixon's support of a ban on biological weapons as an as-tute diversion from the efficacy of nuclear weapons and concludes that "when every problem is treated as a global crisis, real global crises are easily ignored." His dark review of recent history offers an un-settling theory of how close we have already come to total destruction. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/27/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-19-067415-1
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