Book Review: Disaster Capitalism – Making A Killing out of Catastrophe

Author and journalist Antony Loewenstein, whose first book, the factually incorrect and atrociously written My Israel Question, infamously placed Lebanon inside Israel, remains prone to error. Here’s the very first sentence from the introduction to his latest attempt at book-writing:

Back in 1972 Jørgen Randers, today the professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School, published a book called The Limits to Growth.

Loewenstein’s high-schoolish writing aside, Randers didn’t publish the book, he co-wrote it with Donella H.Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows and William W. Behrens III.

Also, Randers isn’t “the professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School”, he’s professor of climate climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School – there are multiple Norwegian business schools.

Fast forward to paragraph three of the introduction and there’s this:

To encourage a country such as Norway to tax every citizen, [Randers’] suggested solution was for people to pay an extra 250 euros every year for a generation, thereby drastically cutting greenhouse gases and providing an example to other industrialized nations.

Loewenstein is trying to convey Randers’ proposal for a €250 tax to fund innovations that might mitigate climate change.

No point in going further: read any Loewenstein book and you’ll be dumber for it.

Update: Loewenstein speaks no better than he writes, spouting gibberish in a Rolling Stone interview describing the situation in South Sudan:

It’s easily dismissed as just another African civil war, and there’s elements of truth in that, but there’s also a lot of complicity in how the world, especially the U.S., helped the country get born four years ago, and it’s all fallen apart.

And he’s wrong in his characterisation of economic activity in Mongolia, “where in the last year it’s had the fastest growing economy in the world because of resources, and the vast majority of people are simply not benefitting.”

Mongolia has abundant natural resources but is not experiencing anywhere near world-leading economic growth.

Please do read the whole Rolling Stone piece and decide for yourself whether or not the time was well spent.