Some speculative fiction from Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (yes, the dynamic duo who wrote one of the must-read books for anyone concerned about climate chaos, Merchants of Doubt: The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future.
As one might guess from the title, this is a speculative look at how our climate future might play out over the next 50 years.
The authors’ note:
Science fiction writers construct an imaginary future; historians attempt to reconstruct the past. Ultimately, both are seeking to understand the present. In this essay, we blend the two genres to imagine a future historian looking back on a past that is our present and (possible) future. The occasion is the tercentenary of the end of Western culture (1540–2073); the dilemma being addressed is how we–the children of the Enlightenment–failed to act on robust information about climate change and knowledge of the damaging events that were about to unfold. Our historian concludes that a second Dark Age had fallen on Western civilization, in which denial and self-deception, rooted in an ideological fixation on “free” markets, disabled the world’s powerful nations in the face of tragedy. Moreover, the scientists who best understood the problem were hamstrung by their own cultural practices, which demand-ed an excessively stringent standard for accepting claims of any kind–even those involving imminent threats. Here, our future historian, living in the Second People’s Republic of China, recounts the events of the Period of the Penumbra (1988–2073) that led to the Great Collapse and Mass Migration (2074).
I have a bit of hesitation in recommending this, simply because it sounds like I’m peddling doomer porn, which is not my intent at all. But if you’re familiar with the work of Oreskes and Conway, particularly Merchants of Doubt (and if you’re not, then what are you waiting for?) then you they don’t indulge in tawdry, cheap thrills.