Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

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."


  1. You don't need a publisher. Google "no publisher needed" and you'll find a lot of information about self-publishing ebooks.

  2. Yes, of course it is not a problem to make your novel available one way or another as an e-book. The point is that a professional publisher provides professional editing and professional quality. It is a different world.

  3. "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."

    I second the "even more so". We need to wake up to a different story of ourselfs and our world if we want to hope for a future as mankind. This story needs to get out there, numbers wont do.

    More and more scientist wake up to the awareness that facts are not the truth and we need to tell stories. The most important story that science tells us, is that we are all connected with all of nature in a most profound way.

    This story can not be told by numbers and equations alone. Too long have we believed those numbers and equations for being the truth, even if the most brilliant masters of these tools had always tried to make us aware of the deeper truths behind them.

    Albert Einstein, Max Planck or Werner Heisenberg, Hans Peter Dürr, James Lovelock or Stephen Hawking always empahsized the importance of the philosophy behind the numbers and equations like quantum dynamics or relativity.

    "The dualism between matter and mind is... rendered obsolete. The alternative in the 19th century was between a “positivistic explanation of nature” and a “Christian Creator-God and world ruler”. In both systems, humankind was contrasted with nature, which he could and was permitted to subjugate, whether justified by divine destiny or by evolutionary superiority. We leave this false alternative behind us, clearly also in the sense of the new access to a consciousness of omni-connectedness, a consciousness that the natural sciences open up for a non-dualistic view of the world.
    This makes it possible to recognize humanity in fundamental commonality with the rest of nature, without thereby falling into a conventional naturalism or simply invoking cosmologies that may have corresponded with the worldviews and ways of life of cultures that remain close to nature."
    (Hans Peter Dürr, physicist, atlernative nobel prize winner)

    It is very astonishing that most of our understandings in modern day sciences, especially physics, seem to lead down a path of understanding the cosmos that resembles the teachngs of buddhism. The stories behind the physics of quantum dynamics, philosophy, neurosciences, social sciences and psychology come together and tell us, that on a very fundamental level we are connected with nature, each other and all beings in this universe. By destroying this planet for money we destroy ourselfs.

    While this story is no longer deniable in any science but economics, we still lead our lifes as if these connections between us and our cosmos do not exist. If we come up with the right numbers in the political discourse, it still legitimates the destruction and exploitation of this world and each others, as if numbers and equations were truth. The less people know about numbers and equations, the more they take them for truth.

    We can only hope to change if the new story, the story behind the numbers, the story of interconnectedness of all things, is told as often as possible.



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)