Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 4, 2016

'Climate Wars' VIA Gets Audience Heated

Kelleen Cullison

Gwynne Dyer is everything one would expect in an internationally renowned journalist: he’s personable, witty and down to earth. His VIA talk, “Climate Wars,” however, was a stark contrast to Dyer’s charming demeanor. It was a terrifying wake-up call on just how close the disastrous effects of climate change may be.

The VIA, which took place on Oct. 25 at 3:30 p.m. in Cordier Auditorium, featured Dyer, a long-time historian, freelance journalist and author. He’s a 30-year veteran in the journalism world, but it wasn’t till around 2008, in Washington, D.C., that he heard the piece of “gossip” that led him to this project. “The Pentagon is getting interested in climate change,” Dyer said. From that statement, Dyer embarked on a year of research on climate change and its military implications that would result in a radio series, book and a lecture.

Dyer’s account of his findings during the VIA was a culmination of what is currently happening, what will happen and why it is going to happen with the world. He started off with the facts: the accumulation of ancient carbon dioxide that people have put into the air by burning fossil fuels is warming the planet exponentially and there is only a small window of opportunity during which the effects can be reversed.

He warned his MU audience that that the military’s interest backs the idea that climate change is more than a hoax. His accumulated findings from scientists, think tanks and retired military generals placed a 20-year time limit by which humans have to push their gridlocked governments to act. “You can’t negotiate with physics,” Dyer said. 

The hypothetical result sounds like something out of an apocalyptic novel. War and famine break out, with human beings fighting in an ultimate death match to see who will be among the remaining half-billion populous the new world order will be able to sustain.

Dyer finished his presentation by answering a few questions before thanking the audience for their time. Seemingly stunned, the crowd shuffled out in contemplative silence. “It’s honestly terrifying that we have less than 20 years to try and fix this,” said Ellexsis Cook, first-year. 

Dyer remained after to sign copies of two of his books, “Climate Wars” and “Don’t Panic: ISIS, Terror, and Today’s Middle East.” As a freelance journalist, he has traveled around the globe, syndicating his articles to 175 different papers worldwide. Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, he currently resides in London, where he first became interested in journalism while pursuing his PhD in military and Middle Eastern history from the University of London. 

Dyer’s columns have ranged from political, social and military commentary. Over the course of his career, he has made several television appearances, and even created a seven-part documentary, “War,” in which one episode was nominated for an Academy Award. His award-winning radio documentaries span a variety of topics including “The Gorbachev Revolution,” an in-depth personal look at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s, and his six-part series “Millennium,” which focuses on the emergence of a global culture.