Fiction and Climate Change

I’ve just finished reviewing Tony White’s riveting novel Shackleton’s Man Goes North for Arc magazine, a novel about the past, present, and future of climate change.

One thing he’s interested in is seeing how we can predict what the future may hold by looking at what is happening now.  And then he looks at what we humans are doing right now. As part of this he references the IPCC Special Report: Emissions Scenarios.

These scenarios are “alternative images of how the future might unfold and are an appropriate tool with which to analyse how driving forces may influence future emission outcomes and to assess the associated uncertainties.”

Now, the IPCC is a hugely important and influential organisation, and one that in my mind holds the authoritative high ground on pragmatic scientific accuracy, opinion and advice on this absolutely vital and urgent subject.  In its own words, the IPCC is

“the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.”

So, people, this is my challenge: go read this report. Specifically, use the slide-bar on the left and go to page 10. Read the first sentence of the firs paragraph, top left. You’ll probably want to because when I read it in Tony White’s book I wanted to check this out for myself.  If you don’t want to, this is what it says:

“All scenarios describe futures that are generally more affluent than today.”

So that’s fine. Whatever happens with global warming we’ll all be better off.

I write a lot of fiction, I write a lot of SF, but I have to admit to a failure of imagination here, because I never thought of that one. Or perhaps it’s because you just couldn’t make it up.

On  the Antarctic peninsula tough little grasses and lichen are expanding their ranges as the climate warms. What are we humans doing right now? It feels to me like we’re all part of that band playing on the decks of the Titanic.

(Shackleton’s Man Goes South is a great, adventurous and passionate book. It was commissioned by the Science Museum, and you can read it free on their web site.)


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