Monday, September 22, 2014

The Narrative of Collapse: "Queen of Antarctica"

The continent of Antarctica (from Wikipedia) as it could appear after that the runaway greenhouse effect has caused the disappearance of the ice sheets. This image also shows the effects of sea level rise and  of "isostatic rebound", that is the continental shelf rising up being freed from the weight of the ice. Antarctica was completely deglaciated up to about 50 million years ago and, at that time, it had a nearly tropical climate and hosted a variety of life. In a post-global warming age, it could become ice-free again and host human settlements for the first time in the earth's history. This is the subject of the novel titled "Queen of Antarctica"

In previous posts, I have been exploring the concept that narrative is a form of dealing with the future as legitimate as running models and solving differential equations, and perhaps even more so. One of the results this idea has been a complete "climate-fiction" novel that I wrote over the past summer, "Queen of Antarctica." It is not published, it may never be (this is the sad destiny of many novels). But I submitted it to a publisher and, who knows? It might even appear in print.

In case you are interested in this novel, I can tell you that it is an epic story set in a remote future, after the Great Hyperthermal; the runaway greenhouse effect coming after the climate "tipping point." In the novel, the Great Hyperthermal badly wrecks the earth's ecosystem, but does not kill off humankind - at least not completely. But the survivors must retreat to the extreme latitudes of the planet in order to find a climate that makes human life possible. The result is that two very different civilizations develop independently in the extreme North and in the extreme South of the earth. Some ten thousand years after the Great Hyperthermal, the earth's ecosystem shows signs of recovering and galleons from Greenland travel along the length of the Atlantic Ocean to land in Antarctica. A civilization clash ensues: the North is more advanced, technologically, while the South has a more advanced social structure, developed in order to survive the harsh conditions of a deglaciated Antarctica. It is not just a fight of armies, but the clash of two different ways of seeing the world. The fight starts and the initial victory may go to those who have the best weapons; but hope lies elsewhere.

I have been discussing this novel together with Jim Laughter, the author of another Cli-Fi novel, "Polar City Red". Here is the podcast made at the "Doomstead Diner."


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)