Toronto Book Review

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OCEANS RISE EMPIRES FALL: WHY GEOPOLITICS HASTENS CLIMATE CATASTROPHE BY GERARD TOAL

In his scholarly examination, geography professor Toal explores the intricate relationship between geography and the politics of nations, shedding light on how world powers manipulate the earth for their own gain. Drawing on his expertise, Toal argues that the pursuit of territorial control, economic dominance, and geopolitical influence has led nation-states to exploit the planet’s resources indiscriminately, ultimately making Earth a less hospitable place.
Total delves into the historical context of geopolitics, tracing its intellectual roots and highlighting key figures such as British geographer Halford Mackinder and political theorist Carl Schmitt. He argues that the modernist ideal of endless growth has fueled relentless competition among nations, resulting in environmental degradation and ecological crises. However, he critiques the title of his own work, noting that it does not fully capture the scope of his analysis, which also encompasses discussions of climate change and the decline of empires.
Throughout the book, Toal examines the geopolitical implications of major events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he views as a manifestation of international competition and its detrimental effects on the environment. He also explores NATO’s expansionist agenda and its role in exacerbating tensions with Russia, ultimately questioning the sustainability of such geopolitical strategies in the face of climate change.
Despite the grim assessment of nation-states’ actions, Toal remains cautiously optimistic about the potential for change. He argues that with courageous leadership and international cooperation, it is possible to mitigate the destructive consequences of geopolitical competition and pave the way for a more sustainable future.
Overall, Toal’s work offers a compelling critique of nation-states’ exploitation of the planet and serves as a call to action for addressing the urgent environmental challenges facing humanity.

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