Monday, June 4, 2012

Two very different views of global warming by two different climate change awareness writers: David Brin and Dan Bloom

By Dan Bloom

Here are my views. Further down, in the interests of exploring both sides of these issues and to give
a  more optimistic and perhaps realistic view of things, see the perspective of a man much wiser
than me, David Brin, the brilliant science writer and sci fi author.

Me, I cannot see the future and I’m no prophet, of course, but I have seen the future – so to speak — and it’s dank, dark and dystopian.
In 500 years, if we do not tame climate change and global warming worldwide, humankind will be no more and the entire planet will be a mess. While the human species will be gone, forever, other lower species will survive and continue on as before, without us.

Yes, by 2500, humankind be no more if we do not stop global warming in its tracks now. It’s written on the wind, and scientists, most of them, know it.

Will humans exist 500 years from now? Will there be any of us alive? Our descendants, I mean.
Will the human species be extinct by then? These are deeply human questions, and I pose them here as a deeply human climate activist and journalist.

Okay, you don’t have to agree with me. You may even want to criticize me and ridicule me. That’s fine. I am all ears and all points of view are welcome at my home. But let me tell you this, as a modern-day Jeremiah: God’s creation, the Earth and His people, are at risk because of what we are doing to the His creation with excessive CO2 emissions and other man-made global warming impacts.

So what am I doing about all this? Well, last year, as a book producer, I commissioned novelist Jim Laughter in Oklahoma to write a book about mankind’s shaky future on this third rock from the sun, and he said yes. The novel, titled ''Polar City Red'', is out now, in paperback and on Kindle, and the entire story, from page one to the final paragraph, belongs to Mr. Laughter. His name is on the book cover, not mine, and all profits, if any, go to him. It’s his book. But it’s my vision.

What did I do? I gave the book its title, and I suggested, as a former 12-year Alaskan resident, its theme and its setting in Fairbanks. Jim wrote the entire yarn, creating his own cast of characters and giving it his own time frame. I originally suggested setting it in 2500, some 30 generations from now. Jim decided to set the story in 2075, to give it a more immediate and closer to home feel. He was right to do so.

Having read the book as it was being written chapter by chapter, and again as a completed paperback, I can tell you this: climate denialists are going to say it’s not science, and die-hard climate activists are going to say it’s just fiction.

People are going to be of two minds, too: Some will champion the novel and see it as a book of prophecy that we need pay attention to, and others, equally eloquent, will give the book a bad grade and send the author to the back of the room. Me? I support and champion Mr.
Laughter’s vision completely, and I feel this small novel could be one of the most important novels ever written by a human being.

Laughter’s “polar Western” is set in Alaska just 60 years from now, and it poses a very important and headline-mirroring question: Will mankind survive the “climapocalypse” coming our way as the Earth heats up over the next few centuries? The end is not coming in 100 years, but it might happen by 2500 A.D.

What do our religious leaders and moral leaders -- even our politicians -- have to say about all this? They are listening to the climate debate and boning up on the science, and some are already giving sermons on the issue and writing their own blog posts about it.

In Jim’s novel, sea levels rise and millions of “climate refugees” make their way north to Alaska and Canada. Think scavenger camps, “Mad Max” villages, and U.N.-administered “polar cities” — cities of domes, as the author calls them.

Polar City Red is more than mere science fiction. Laughter, a retired grandfather of four, comes across as a probing moralist and a modern Jeremiah. His worldview befits a former Christian pastor who built two churches and finds in his inherited religion both an anchor and a place for hope.

And his book is not just about climate change or northern dystopias. It’s also about the moral questions that must guide humanity as it tries to keep a lid on global warming’s worst-case scenarios while also looking for solutions to mankind’s worst nightmare: the possible
final extinction of the human species due to man’s own folly and extravagant ways. This is where our moral leaders and religious leaderse come in: they need to speak up about the morality and ethics of fighting climate change as a moral imperative, pro or con.

Can a small, 150-page novel have much of any impact of the world at large? No, it’s just entertainment, fiction, science fiction, a good book to put on your summer reading list. But I’ve already gotten feelers from Hollywood producers in Los Angeles and an Indian director in Mumbai. This story of ''polar cities'' as a mere thought exercise  has legs. Don’t dismiss me out of hand. Read the book first and then say your say.

Writing the novel took Laughter seven months of research and keyboarding, but I have a feeling that what he wrote will last 100 years or more. I care about 500 years from now. I care about people 50 generations from now. Why? Because I’m human, that’s why.

Polar City Red is more than a “cli-fi” thriller. It also exposes the underbelly of humankind’s most terrifying nightmare: the possible end of the human species and God’s deep displeasure at what His people have done to His Earth.

The book is prophetic, futuristic and moralistic. As a reader, you will get through this nightmare alive. But will our descendants, those in Alaska and Canada and Norway — where most Israelis will have fled to in 500 years — survive the Long Emergency we find ourselves in now? That’s the question that Jim Laughter poses. And you don’t have to believe in global warming to enjoy the story. And you don’t have to be climate activist to understand the dire straits we are in.

I can tell you this: the book ends on a note of hope and redemption, so it’s not a downer at all. Polar City Red might inspire you or it might annoy you, but as the world heads closer and closer to climate chaos, even where YOU live and work,  Laughter’s book sounds an ominous note.

However, not everyone agrees with me on this, and one of my most perceptive critics, David Brin, whose insightful columns on science often appear on his blog, too, is one of them.

He said in a recent email that while he admires the passion that I bring to the issue of human-wrought climate change, and specifically global warming, he is much more optimistic, noting, among other things that he is less pessimistic than I am. He said:

“I do not perceive global climate change rendering Humanity extinct. On the other hand, I consider that your literary and concious ''exaggeration'' to be vastly more sane than the opposite reaction, of ostriches who bury their heads in the sand while declaring all of the smartest folk in our civilization to be the fools.

“The continuing War on Science now has expanded to include every knowledge clade in American life. Journalists, school teachers, skilled labor, economists, civil servants, diplomats, judges, professors. I can name only two centers of intellect in American life that are not under direct attack by a relentless propaganda machine. Indeed, scientists are not being undermined in order to distract from global warming. Rather, climate change is being trumped up as an issue in order to denigrate science.’

”It should not be an issue. Seven percent of all the men and women who understand the equations and have studied the data have recommended that we take prudent – economically sound – measures to mitigate a potentially dangerous situation that could seriously affect the lives and livelihood of our children. These sensible men and women, many of whom I know personally, who have studied climate on twelve planets, know a heckuva lot more about this than we do, yet fanatics are saying ‘Ignore expert advice! Go to witch doctors instead!’

”Let us get this straight. These are the brilliant minds who transformed the weather report from a four-hour joke to a ten-day reliable forecast, saving us billions every year. If you despise them, then stop relying on their forecasts.

”Especially since the recommendations do not amount to ‘sitting in the dark and shivering while ruining the economy.’ Nobody wants that. Not even hippies. There are prudent measures we could take now, to prevent the worst mass extinction event in 65 million years. ’

”This is political. It is a putsch by the same Junkers feudal caste that foisted Hitler on the German people… “in order to prevent socialism.” It is a Big Lie campaign by the feudal aristocracy that started and maintained the diaspora for 2000 years’

”I am an optimist, unlike you, Danny Bloom. I believe we can convince our neighbors to shut off the Fox lie machine and come back into the light, where adults argue and negotiate honorably, listen to expert advice, and then work together to solve problems. Like grownups.”

I understand what Mr. Brin has written above, and I appreciate his feedback. He is right, too.

No comments: