Doomed by Politics

by Joakim Book
The American Institute for Economic Research

Professor Niall Ferguson, the celebrated British historian and now Milbank Family Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, has written a long and dense book. It doesn’t feel like it, partly because the pages are Bible-thin and the prose is mostly in Ferguson’s engaging and pacy style. In Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe, Ferguson asks a central question that us sensible environmentalists ponder from time to time: if a record hurricane is unleashed on a barren and uninhabited island – is it still a natural disaster?

Even the most out-and-out environmentalist is forced to answer ‘no.’ Perhaps, goes a qualification, the next one might hit South Florida and so be a preview of terrible futures to come. Narrowly speaking, our hypothetical hurricane is not a natural disaster, despite its unprecedented force.

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