February 22, 2015

Slice of PIE: Thinking Up Innovative Solutions – Isn’t That What Speculative Fiction Is All About?

Using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in London this past August, I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. The link is provided below…

“Science Talk 1027 Climate Catastrophes: Past Present and Future – The Earth has been warmer in the past and subject to abrupt events. What can these tell us about likely future warming? Jonathan Cowie”


Pandering: “Pandering is the act of expressing one's views in accordance with the likes of a group to which one is attempting to appeal. The term is most notably associated with politics.”

Why isn’t the title of this talk “Climate Catastrophes: Past Present and Future – The Earth warmer and colder in the past and subject to abrupt events. What can these tell us about likely future warming and cooling?”

Because it’s not politically expedient to discuss global cooling right now, even though in the state I live in, the effects of the last glaciation period roughly 40,000 years ago are quite literally everywhere – I walk on glacial moraine every time I step on undisturbed ground. I have gone swimming and fished in an uncounted number of kettle lakes. Whenever I drive along our main boulevard to the “shopping mall”, I pass through a glacially sorted business that serves as a major source of pre-sorted gravel, sand, and rock.

So excuse me for not getting hyped about global warming. Global cooling is by far more disconcerting to me and my neighbors because the end result is an integral part of our everyday lives.

It was also the raison d’être (the thing that is most important to someone or something : the reason for which a person or organization exists) that REAL LIVE SCIENTISTS in the 1970s were all about ameliorating the effects of global cooling. Of course those who are in power now insist that “this was never so!” (http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/global-cooling). At the time the possibility of us cycling back to an ice age was a real fear. At least the media made it appear as a real fear…

But REAL LIVE SCIENTISTS today are completely certain that the “science is settled” and that there isn’t anything more that we can learn – climatologists in 2015 are (paradoxically) the evolutionary peak of the science. There’s no more to learn. The computer models are to be seen as conclusive and irrefutable.

Today’s climate scientists with the inevitability of anthropogenic global warming say with complete confidence and seriousness: “The industrial imposed climate forcing is so large that we can not at this level of forcing, return to an ice age.” End of discussion. There is a 99% consensus and anyone who says anything else is a climate denier (“Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot and Ellen Goodman, among others, have described climate change denial as a form of denialism. Several commentators, including Goodman, have also compared climate change denial with Holocaust denial.”) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial)

It reminds me of my high school football team prancing around the field after they won the conference championship and the crowd chanting, “We’re number one! We’re number one!”

Scientists being certain about...anything makes me smile. By intent, science is about change. Very few theories or even mathematical constants, like the speed of light, survive for very long unchanged – even the “c” in E = mc2 , well-known as a “constant” may not be...constant. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/speed-light-not-so-constant-after-all

Also, while climatologists blame the machinations of Big Oil and public relations advertising and conspiracies for the lack of concern in the US, Canada, and the UK, I wonder if any of them have considered the possibility that the reason common folk mistrust them and their proclamations is that in order to even GET a PhD, you have to be rich...and who trusts a rich man? (One half of the current US Congress is made up of millionaires. *shrug* I just have trouble believing that PhDs and millionaires care much about me with my master’s degree in guidance counseling and my wife’s job as a classroom aide in an elementary school or my daughter’s quest for a master’s degree in art therapy or her boyfriend’s job in a company that creates and assembles high quality photo albums for people...)

The upshot of all of my ranting above is that speculative fiction writers are FAR MORE LIKE ME than those who clamor to take my cars and house and comforts away in the name of “climate science”. I have no trouble with accepting climate change – whether natural or accelerated a zillion times by me driving to work, eating hamburgers, and forgetting to turn out my lights.

Let the arguing cease. Let the posturing of both sides who wave their VERY EXPENSIVE and cash-sucking and fabulously fancy degrees in my face cease and desist.

Let the normal science fiction folk – like me – begin to offer me things I can actually DO to combat climate change. None of the PhDs seem impressed that I recycle my aluminum cans, turn out my lights, replace incandescent with LED bulbs, wash my clothes with cold water, and bike or walk as often as I can. The message I get is that they *shrug*. Like old-fashioned televangelists, snake-oil salesmen, and revival preachers in the Old West, they clamor for me to believe THEM! When the public opinion polls show that “people” don’t trust them, they clamor more loudly that I should believe THEM!!!

Let the Speculative Fiction establishment – represented by the attendees of World Con and the people whose sessions they attend – eschew rhetoric and powerpoint presentations and offer up some speculative solutions that DON’T insist I pauper myself or that deliberately crisscross the planet to appear as Keynote Global Warming Summit Speaker in (please don’t tell me this is “accidentally” a lovely vacation destination…) Paris, France. Why Buenos Aires, Cancun, Milan, Bali, and Paris?

Where are the ANSWERS speculative fiction folk? Gimme some futures I can help achieve!

Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_glaciation
Image: http://myspot.mona.uwi.edu/physics/sites/default/files/physics/uploads/CC-WhatCanIDo.jpg

No comments: