The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and—finally—the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment—the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies—failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization.
In this haunting, provocative work of science-based fiction, Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway imagine a world devastated by climate change. Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder. Based on sound scholarship and yet unafraid to speak boldly, this book provides a welcome moment of clarity amid the cacophony of climate change literature.
Science historians Oreskes and Conway arouse the intellect without inviting the imagination in this soulless treatise. In 2393, a historian of the Second People's Republic of China reviews the "Penumbral Age" (1988 2093), when politicians, corporations, and scientists ignored the statistical significance of climate disaster. Carbon dioxide warming the planet, deadly summer heat and fires, and the collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet lead to a second Black Death and "the Great Collapse" of the Western world. Other authors have successfully dramatized catastrophes with objective documentation and narrative distance, but these historians miss a sense of urgency and omit characters who might invite sympathy. They provide no friends, only facts and figures. The premise of a future historian regarding the past (our present) never truly develops, reducing potentially explosive material to a clever textbook. Accurately researched and logically persuasive, this is nevertheless a political manifesto, not dramatically structured or emotionally involved storytelling.
Short and insightful
This short story essentially asks why we are not doing enough to solve the climate crisis despite knowing it is coming. It also questions some essentially arbitrary statistics dogmas about significance levels, ie why we put so much weight on 95 % significance levels, and the idea that success is based on GDP. The fallacy that all regulation or government control is intrinsically bad and that the free market is the solution are exposed as logical fallacies. It is salutory to realize that as far back in 1978, science was concerned about the west Antarctic ice shelf disintegrating.
Fascinating and frightening
Actually more of a Syfy thesis rather than a book but far from a quick read. If you buy this in electronic format and I recommend that you do, you’ll find yourself following links to the factual information that supports the authors views from the future.
Before reading this I would have told you I was a Climate Change Agnostic somewhere between the extremes of Climate Change Deniers and Climate Change Alarmist. I am now a believer and keenly concerned for a future that, at my age, I am unlikely to see. No matter where you think you stand on the issue of Climate Change, I’d highly recommend this book before you engage in even one more conversation on the topic.