Monday, March 19, 2012

Climate Refuge in Polar Cities? Sci-fi author Jim Laughter seems to think it could happen, and soon!

Jim Laughter thinks it’s time to figure out how to build self-sustaining cities in the polar regions because climate change will eventually make most of the Lower 48 and the rest of the Earth uninhabitable. Perhaps as early as 2075, which is when his new sci fi book POLAR CITY RED is set. In Alaska. Get ready. Meanwhile, read the book, if nothing else.

These polar cities may be “mankind’s only chance for survival if global warming really turns into a worldwide catastrophe in the far distant future,” Laughter says. His novel is just fiction, of course, but it's based on some very strong facts. Not everyone agrees. Some people thing global warming is a hoax created by Al Gore. Not Jim Laughter. He knows better. His cli-fi book tells a gripping tale of survival and solidarity in the face of climate change.

Jim Laughter isn’t a scientist or any other kind of expert. A U.S. citizen in his late fifties living in Oklahoma, he’s lived all over the world as a USAF technical writer. And now, a devoted grandfather of four, Laughter wants to shake people out their everyday indifference to the great emergency of our age: climate change.

“The inactions of others can make us underestimate threats to our own safety,” British writer Camilla Cavendish once wrote in the Times of London.

Cavendish cited studies that suggest a kind of herd mentality. If climate change is a problem, then people would be doing something about it. Since they’re not, then there is no problem. However, once people are aware of this dangerous tendency to follow the herd over the cliff, we can break away and forge our own more sensible path, she wrote.

Jim Laughter wants people to realise that the world is on a path that could possibly lead to a future where just a few hundred million people survive in specially-designed cities in the Arctic. His novel is set in 2075. But some scientists say it could happen far sooner than that.

Laughter has done his research. POLAR CITY RED is based on the work of hudnreds of scientists, experts, reporters, and many others around the world. A few years ago, a Google keyword search for “polar cities” would have produced no results. Today, there are nearly 3,000 sites that feature or offer comment on the idea which is central to POLAR CITY RED, including one with a series of possible polar cities illustrations.

Jim Laughter Quixotic quest to write a sci novel about climate change and polar cities began less than a year ago. Having heard various conflicting news reports about climate change, Laughter decided to research the subject as thoroughly as he could. The genesis of POALR CITY RED comes from a dire op-ed by the eminent British scientist James Lovelock in January 2006 in the Independent newspaper.

Lovelock wrote that the Earth will heat up far faster than any scientist expects due to many positive feedbacks such as melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice. “… Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable,” he wrote.

Lovelock’s viewpoint was widely criticised as excessively pessimistic fear-mongering by many experts. No stranger to controversy, Lovelock first proposed the “Gaia Hypothesis” of Earth as a single highly complex organism in the 1970s. In 2007, with many leading scientists listening, he reiterated his claim that “global heating” is progressing very fast and was likely to produce an apocalyptic six-degree C. rise in the global average temperature before the end of this century.

POLAR CITY RED takes its cue from Lovelock's work. Read it and weep. But also read it and take action now to change the apathy all around us vis a vis climate change. The fate of mankind is at stake. Jim Laughter's book says it all in a quiet, page-turning work of pure fiction. But it might turn out to ne true 60 years from now. Pay attention. Then again, don't pay attention. It's up to you.

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