1. Jewels
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    Jewels Member

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    Global Warming novels?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Jewels, Jun 9, 2011.

    The article below really got me thinking about writing a novel that deals with these issues. We are a world in total denial and in my opinion these are the issues that should be tackled by the writers of today. I am toying with the idea of writing a novel set in the near future about climate change and the economic meltdown that will follow if the worst case scenarios do come true.

    Does anyone know of any good works of fiction that do deal with these issues?



    Denying the Earth's growth and depleting resources is just eating into our future


    As a consumer-driven society breaks down, happiness will prevail, writes Thomas Friedman.

    You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we'll look back at the first decade of the 21st century - when food and energy prices soared, world population surged, tornadoes ploughed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all - and ask ourselves: what were we thinking?

    How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we'd crossed some growth/climate/natural-resource/population redlines all at once?

    ''The only answer can be denial,'' argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.

    Advertisement: Story continues below ''When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.''

    Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists which calculates how many ''planet Earths'' we need to sustain our growth rates. GFN says we are growing at a rate that is using up the Earth's resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future.

    While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker delivering water in the capital, Sanaa. Sanaa could be the first big city in the world to run out of water within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 per cent of sustainable capacity. ''If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,'' writes Gilding. ''If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth's CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer.

    ''If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.''

    It is also current affairs. ''In China's thousands of years of civilisation, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,'' China's Environment Minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently.

    ''The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation's economic and social development.''

    What China's minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that ''the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit.''

    We will not change systems, without a crisis, but we're getting there. We're caught in two loops: One is that population growth and global warming together are pushing up food prices - rising prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, higher food prices, and more instability.

    At the same time, improved productivity means fewer people are needed to produce more stuff. If we want to have more jobs, we need more factories. More factories making more stuff make more global warming, and that is where the two loops meet.

    As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, Gilding says, ''our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilising as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy in just a few short decades.'' We will realise, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven model, based on people working less and owning less.

    ''How many people,'' Gilding asks, ''lie on their death bed and say, 'I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,' and how many say, 'I wish I had read more books to my kids, taken more walks?' To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.''

    Sounds utopian? Gilding says he is a realist. ''We are heading for a crisis-driven choice. We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we're not stupid.''

    The New York Times

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/denying-the-earths-growth-and-depleting-resources-is-just-eating-into-our-future-20110608-1ft6i.html
     
  2. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah i find this kind of topic REALLY interesting. I frequently have discussions on this topic since it's quite interesting hearing different peopls opinions. I was actually going to write a novel on this type of topic, but instead decided I wanted to write a dystopian novel which deals alot with eugenics.
     
  3. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    It's definitely a great idea for a book, and I like the message of the article. With luck, it will have an effect similar to that of the Jungle.
     
  4. Glimpse
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    Glimpse Member

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    I'm with the above poster on this one.

    It is an incredibly interesting topic to deal with. It has the potential to become speculative fiction, but incredibly, I can see it becoming something quite close to the everyday. I mean, come on, fifty years ago nobody (well not nobody) would have imagined that we'd be living on the edge of a global disaster where the infrastructure just cracks without any sort of incredibly dramatic event. Just the natural entropy of resources on the planet.

    A lot of people when writing spec fiction, however, usually just go for a utopian future where things turn out for the best through solar power or something like that, or a dystopian future where surviving is the day's priority. The funny thing is, it's always post-event; the story never takes place in the thick of it. And often, the global crisis is never the main plot. It's always the human angle, but that's understandeable.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you really need any other works of fiction in the same style for something like this. That's really all I have to say. I think it's the kind of thing where you have the choice of just setting out and writing it.

    Hm. I don't know you. :p

    I have to say, I'd really enjoy reading something along these lines that deals with the environment being more important. Humans moving forward with nature in their mind and all that. Just so long as it doesn't do anything like, "THAT BEAR IS PISSING ON A TREE. THIS COMPLETELY CHANGES OUR TIMELINE FOR WHEN THE END WILL BE."

    I mean, Mongolia basically got turned into a desert (and this was only around 50 years ago, too) thanks to Chinese occupation because the Han Chinese didn't know how to actually look after the earth. The Mongols did. Subsequently, the Mongolian wolf no longer exists, Mongolian horses are no longer the strongest in the world, and an entire country's landscape, which had been around in a perfect state for more than China's entire civilisational history, disappeared.

    Look at that as an example. The wolves in Mongolia went over the Soviet border, or they were killed. Speculate on that sort of thing, and you'll win my heart.
     
  6. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    I think it's important for writers (who still have a big influence) to speak out and be the voice of a generation, as music certiantly isn't as effective as it once was, and even the music that does speak is drowned out by an ocean of irrelevancy.
    So yes, your story is a fantastic idea. I'm writing one that deals with the same issues, although it is positioned as a satire based around the lives of PR workers, ad executives and celebrities who deny that their world is collapsing around them, drawing parallels with worldwide issues.
     
  7. Jewels
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    Jewels Member

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    "I don't think you really need any other works of fiction in the same style for something like this. That's really all I have to say. I think it's the kind of thing where you have the choice of just setting out and writing it."

    Gotta disagree with you on this one. If you want to join in the political / social debate about the envrionment etc then you really need to know what's already been said so you can respond to it.

    The only really great books I can think of off the top of my head are Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, although I am sure there are many more.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Ben Bova's series of novels over the last few years, about exploring the planets of the Solar System, paints a grim picture of Earth politics in the aftermath of greenhouse coastal flooding. In particular, the novels Mars Life, Jupiter, and Saturn have strong political themes associated with global warming as major plot elements.
     
  9. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I don't know in novels, but in sci-fi anime the theme has been present since the mid 70s, in particular I remember Miyazaki's Conan, the story of a child raised in a nearly destroyed Earth after some climate change caused by humans. Nausicaa was on the same theme.
     
  10. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    One of Michael Crichton last novels, State Of Fear, had global warming as one of its main themes. I'm sure there are others but none that I've read. It's an interesting, controversial and timely issue and I think you should go for it.
     
  11. Jewels
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    Jewels Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I will definitely have a look at these books.

    Most books seem deal with the aftermath of global warming but I'm thinking of writing a book about the disintegration of society as we know it as it is beginning, which doesn't seem to have been addressed as much.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's because before a major environmental catastrophe takes place, nothing much happens in civilization. The environmental changes are too gradual to make a good story before then.

    One of the closest analogs I have seen is the Star Trek: The Next Generation story The Inner Light. In that, we see Picard living most of a lifetime on a dying planet, and only because we also get the viewpoint from a millenium later do we learn that the planet's sun went nova. Over one man's lifetime, it was only a progressive, unending drought that presaged the death of the planet.
     
  13. Jewels
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    Jewels Member

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    Very true, environmental changes do take place over a long period, but if recent events are anything to go by then things are starting to speed up (as scientists predicted). I'm thinking along the lines of a psychological sort of exploration of what it's like to live in these times when politicians and the media just want to ignore what's going on and bury their heads in the sand.

    It simply blows my mind when I read everyday of the ridiculous studies being done in universities while the planet is literally dying. For example a recent study found that women are less attracted to men who smile a lot???? Another one was that women are less likely to give money when charity workers knock on the door. I'm serious, money is actually being spent on this rubbish and we are being told to consume, consume, consume as we bury ourselves beneath a giant pile of plastic. It truly is insane.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    People on both sides are so hampered when it comes to understanding the sciences, and so willing to eat up any propaganda offered by their chosen side, that I don't hold out much hope that a work of fiction dealing with the topic will be anything other than a thinly-disguised effort at preaching, to be lapped up by the like-minded.

    If you are just writing mindless entertainment, you can take either side and make a fun novel out of it. If you're actually trying to do something serious, you should probably take the time to review the science - and by that I do not mean what is printed in the popular press or what appears on Bubba's anti-anthropogenic climate change web site.
     

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