Note to readers: As author of the new climate thriller, ''Polar City Red'', that was inspired by climate activist Danny Bloom, I had the opportunity to pick his brain about the current state of the Earth’s ecosystem. Danny has long been a proponent of the theory that global warming will eventually render the Earth’s atmosphere uninhabitable, causing the near-extinction of the human race if we are not careful and do not take steps to alleviate the problems now. I wrote ''Polar City Red'' based partly on his ideas, and centered on much of the research that he provided to me. With this in mind, I want to dig even deeper into the mind of this climate activist and unravel a few of his inner thoughts. Hang on. I have a feeling this is going to be an exciting ride!
-- JIM LAUGHTER,
author of POLAR CITY RED
JIM LAUGHTER: Dan, you were the inspiration for my novel titled ''Polar City Red'', and have been privy to every step of its development. Now, six months after publication, what's your take on the message of the book, and does it fall in line with how you see global warming affecting the Earth in the future?
DAN BLOOM: Jim, from the moment I began reading your novel chapter by chapter as you wrote it last year and this, I felt that finally someone has put the concepts of what polar city life might be like inside the covers of a fiction novel. The arguments and statistics that scientists use to illustrate climate change and global warming --and the arguments by the climate skeptics and climate denialists to say that climate change is a hoax -- can only go so far in convincing the public it is real and to take action. But to put the ideas and emotions into a fiction novel with real characters interacting with time and space and climate science, you are a pioneer in the science fiction field, what I like to call CLI FI for climate fiction. Your book puts all the science and stats into a work of fiction and makes it all even more real. Your book touched me deeply. I do hope it finds a wide audience world-wide, and someday in translation as well for readers in Japan and Germany and Sweden, among other nations.
JIM: Dan, according to your ideas, and taking into consideration humanity even back to the prehistoric caveman days, there have already been about 180,000 generations of humans on this planet. Now you predict the Earth can sustain only another 30 generations before the ecosystem causes humanity to become extinct or near extinct, with maybe just a few hundred thousand humans left on Earth. If this is true, what is your analysis, and more importantly, what is the solution to fix the problem?
DAN: You know, Jim, I cannot see the future, I can only guess and estimate and put forward some ideas. I do believe that we have about 30 generations left to fix the problems OR ELSE. And I am hopeful that we will find a way to fix the Co2 emissions problems and stop our use of coal and oil, and all fossil fuels. I am an optimist, and even as your novel ends in the epilogue on a positive, optimistic note, I also agree that humans can solve the problems future generations face, but it's going to take some serious work.
QUESTION: Dan, you’ve developed an idea that once global warming destroys the Earth’s ecosystem, the human race will be forced to escape to the Arctic Circle and other frigid areas of the world to survive, and they’ll do it living in what you’ve termed Polar Cities. Please explain how these polar cities will be established, how they’ll be governed, and how they’ll be maintained to ensure the survival of the human race.
DAN: Good question, Jim! Again, I am just postulating. I cannot "see" the future. But the way I see all this unfolding is this: Slowly, over the next few centuries, the global temperature of the Earth warms up 4 to 7 degrees . Life in the central regions become impossible for humans due to lack of growing seasons, lack of food, lack of power and fuel. Drought is imminent. As a result, slowly, individually and in waves, people start making the trek north to Alaska and Canada. They find refuge as climate refugees in polar cities. They will be governed by the USA, Canada, Russia, etc., and also by the UN, which will by then be based in Greenland. Who will get in and who will not be admitted will become vexing questions. I do not have the answers. I see a kind of scary sci fi scenario pretty much as you wrote in your novel, complete with marauding bands of scavengers and other murderous elements. It won’t be very pleasant. Life will be difficult, but at least it will be life.
QUESTION: Global warming to many people is like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. We’ve heard about them all of our lives but no one has ever actually seen them. What can you say to convince the average person on the street that global warming is real, and that it will eventually affect everything in their lives or the lives of their future generations?
DAN: You know, Jim, there is not much I can say to wake people up. They need to wake up on their own. We cannot force people to wake up. Nature might do it, as the recent Superstorm Sandy showed amazing images of destruction. Your book is a big wake up call. We need movies, TV shows, college courses about polar cities. But all that comes later. I do not know how to wake people up. But I am sure that anyone who reads your book cover to cover will never be the same.
QUESTION: When I wrote Polar City Red, I did it strictly as a fictional account of one possible outcome caused by global warming. How close to you think I got to reality?
DAN: As a mere reader, I think you hit the nail on the head! You used your novelist's imagination to take all the scientific statistics and theories and turn out an emotional adventure thriller that would make one hell of a TV movie of the week or even a National Geographic "what if" kind of documentary.
QUESTION: You’ve been an ardent student of Dr. James Lovelock, a prominent advocate of global warming; a man that has written books about global warming, and who predicted the almost immediate end of the human race due to the effects of global warming. Now Dr. Lovelock has revised his theory and says the end of humanity may come much later than his previous predictions. As his student, how has his change of heart affected your personal outlook on the dangers of global warming?
DAN: Good question. Actually, Lovelock, who has seen my polar cities website and images and wrote back to me saying, "this may very well happen and soon", still believes in climate change and global warming. But he just moved the time frame from 2100 AD to around 2500 AD or 3000 AD in his opinion. And that's fine. Nobody knows the real time frame. But it will happen. Climate chaos threatens the human species, but it won't happen real bad for another 100 to 1000 years. I am with Dr. Lovelock and he is with me. He said the best retreat is toward the poles. I got that idea from him. Polar cities, the concept, comes from Dr. Lovelock, directly. He is the genius here.
QUESTION: I saw an article that describes your vision of what Polar Cities will look like in the future. According to the pictures, they will be mostly underground structures designed for single and multiple families and will be sustained by geothermal energy and other non-fossil fuel energy sources. How do you propose to tap the energy sources of the Earth without causing further damage to the atmosphere and ecosystem?
DAN: You keep asking good questions, and I don't have the answers to that. But I can tell you this: we need to stop depending on coal and oil as soon as possible. We need to tighten the noose around coal and oil soon, yesterday! But to answer your questions, scientists can answer that best of all. You are a novelist and your novel answered the questions very well. I am just a dreamer with a sense of public relations. But I am not a scientist. I do hope wind and solar and ocean tide energy can be harnessed soon. No more oil or coal use, please!
QUESTION: If your Polar Cities theory becomes reality and humanity is forced to evacuate the lower hemisphere for a more northern climate, do you predict the surviving humans will live in an advanced technological state, or do you predict we’ll regress to a pre-industrial lifestyle? What is your reason for either answer?
DAN: Another great question! I predict that we will regress to pre-industrial lifestyles, and people will live very much as people lived in the 1500s. It won't be a pretty picture. But some of our descendants will survive and make it through. I am an optimist. I see your book as an optimistic book. The ending is perfect.
QUESTION: In my book, Polar City Red, I’ve drawn attention a number of governmental conspiracy theories where the U.S. and other worldwide governments have been creating underground cities since the 1950s in order to save the wealthy elite of the world, leaving the rest of us poor slobs to slug it out for ourselves. If your Polar City theory becomes reality, how will you ensure that the average citizen is deemed worthy to survive?
DAN: You are so right, and your novel describes it well. Polar city life will be run by those who power and connections, and the average Joe will not get in. It will really be the scavengers against the polar city residents. Humanity will descend into chaos, and there will be billions of dead people. From a world population of say 10 billion or even 25 billion when the bad stuff happens, maybe at most 200,000 will survive in polar cities. I do hope people read your book and wake up. No more business as usual. And again, Superstorm Sandy, while not caused by global warming, is a wake-up call, too. Or the images from it should be a global wake-up call about sea level rises and disaster preparedness.
QUESTION: Dan, what's next for you and your Polar City project? Will you continue to hammer away at the politicians and scientists that have their heads buried in the sands of denial, or will you think to yourself, “Hell, I’ll be dead and gone before all of this crap hits the fan. Let the future generations fend for themselves?”
DAN: Jim, this is now my life's work. I will continue 24/7 until I am dead. And then I hope others will carry on the Polar City ideas. I care about the future. I care about people 500 years from now. I don't know why, but I do. I really do care. I think it's because I love life so much and I love what human beings have achieved, too. I don't want to see this human species end. It would be a shame if it did. So I am speaking out until I am dead. Your book will last a long time, perhaps for 500 years in print and in electronic archives.
FINAL NOTE FROM JIM LAUGHTER: Thanks, Dan, for letting me pick your brain. I hope you enjoyed ''Polar City Red'', and I hope other people around the world will buy it, read it, enjoy it, and heed its warning.
-- Jim Laughter