Sunday, May 3, 2015

A word on climate change.


I've been nattering on for the past couple of weeks about my real life stuff -- to the point where I've managed to bore myself. So enough of that junk. Let's talk about Sage and Webb's story.

If you've read the Pipe Woman Chronicles or the Land, Sea, Sky books, you know that I have a habit of using real-world problems as a springboard for my plots. Well, one of the springboards. My brain is kind of complicated, as it turns out, and weird stuff gets associated with other weird stuff when I get going on plotting a book.

But I had a bit of a problem when I started thinking up a plot for the Pipe Woman's Legacy duology. I  wanted to write these books for adults, which meant Naomi and Joseph's kids had to be at least 20, or pretty close to it. I mean, I guess you can write an adult book with a kid as a protagonist -- but the kid had better grow up in a hurry or the grownups reading the story are going to get bored pretty fast. (Yeah, yeah, Harry Potter. But think about it: when did the series really start to get interesting? When the kids got older and the tone of the story got darker, right?)

So okay, Sage has to be at least 20 years old at the start of Dragon's Web. Which makes Webb, oh, 17 or 18. (Sage's birthday is May 25th or so, but I never have picked a birthday for Webb. Maybe I'll let you guys do that.) But that posed another problem: the gods would have been in charge on Earth for 20 years by then. They brought most of the recalcitrant humans into line ten years before, when Darrell, Sue, and Tess took on Lucifer. So what could possibly be left for Them to fix?

Then I read Mayan December by Brenda Cooper. And on the very first page of that novel was my solution: climate change.

Earth is a closed ecosystem. Moreover, even if we took our lifestyle back to the Stone Age right now today, and stopped spewing any manmade pollution into the atmosphere anymore ever, it would take something like another hundred years to get greenhouse gases back to pre-Industrial Revolution levels. I could very easily see the gods saying to us, if They came back today, "Yeah, well, We're really sorry, but there's nothing We can do to clean up the mess you guys have made. There's a natural system in place that takes care of that, and it's hardwired in. We can't modify it to make it work any faster." And then They'd leave it up to us to figure out a way to fix it.

I can hear the howling from the tinfoil-hat brigade -- about how the 97 percent of scientists who agree that we should be worried about climate change isn't 100 percent, and anyhow scientists once agreed that the Earth was flat and the sun revolved around us, and so on. While I acknowledge their right to be skeptical, I also think it's foolish. When 97 percent of experts tell you, say, that your car needs a new timing chain or you're going to find yourself at a dead stop on the expressway in 55-mph traffic, you'd be an idiot not to shell out for the new timing chain -- even if the car's working fine right now.

In any case, what I write is fiction. So I've chosen that the premise of these two books is that climate change is, in fact, underway; that we're 20 years closer to disaster at the start of these books; and that it's up to humans to figure out a lasting solution.

In reading a little bit about the subject, I've discovered that there are a number of proposals for getting greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere. Some of them are really pretty simple. But we're not going full-tilt on them because it's hard to get funding. Why? Well, because the people who could fund them want to develop projects that would make them more money. Never mind improving and sustaining life on Earth -- if they can't make money at it, it's not going to happen. Is it me, or does that seem short-sighted?

I hope we can get to a point soon where saving humanity is more important than making money.

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These moments of pie-in-the-sky blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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