Climate scientists released a scary report this week saying that global warming is likely to be both ‘stronger than expected and arrive earlier than expected’. Since 2000 large spikes in releases of the gas have seen the amount in the atmosphere grow much faster than expected when the Kyoto treaty was drawn up in 1990. The principle reasons for this increase include the growing economy, China’s increased use of coal and most worryingly, a decrease in the amount of absorption by the world’s natural ‘sinks’.
The UK and New Zealand have both had news stories this week with ministers seeking to go back on ‘unrealistic’ Carbon emission cuts. The problem for all these countries is as the world economy is in such a delicate balance right now (and always, you could argue), to be the first one to start making the drastic changes neccessary means a massive hit to your economy and job market. 12 States including California and New York are sueing the US government for failing to do enough about the problem. All across the news, there are gloomy tales of doom if we don’t change but very little positives highlighted of changing to a less energy intensive future.
SF Writers have a huge part to play in all this. I’m not saying we should all run off and become Mundane. However, science fiction has a capacity to inspire unlike any other genre – just look at the Space Race to see the dreams of the genre in action in the real world. At the moment people understand global warming is a problem. They just don’t have an image in their head of what can replace the current state of affairs. Most of the books that deal with climate change are overwhelmingly apocalyptic, offering no respite and little hope. If we as SF writers can paint a picture of a future where we have adapted to the problems globalisation has caused us without the world ending or life becoming depressingly morbid, we can achieve something that few people are able to do. We can stop scaring people into change and start inspiring them.
[story via the new Guardian America site, image by alasam]
If you’re concerned about the environment and reducing your carbon footprint, forget about local food and driving a Prius. One of the biggest reductions you can make is to not have that second kid you were thinking of. It’s worked in China, hasn’t it?
Well, not really. Chinese culture works similar to the West in that the male child retains the family name. But in addition, that male child will be around to take care of the aging parents. Girls, on the other hand, basically become part of their husband’s family and have little to no contact with their birth family. While that may be changing in the cities and more modern areas, the old ways prevail in rural China. And there’s a lot of China that still behaves that way.
So what to do? Well, first off a family hoping for a boy that first time around will abort any females. Demographically, this is a nightmare as it leads to a surplus of males, some of whom will resort to violence to spread their genes, while others might resort to something a bit kinky, like wife-sharing.
If you can’t get your boy the natural way, China’s got a market for that, too. Roughly 190 children a day go missing in China. For comparison, England and Wales combined report less than half that number in an entire year. A boy can fetch several hundred pounds, about six months’ salary for a factory worker.
Something must be done about the population, but trying to make a law about something like this without taking culture into account can lead to big problems. A better way might be providing contraception to those who need it.
(image via September Mourning)
One of my favorite settings for science fiction is after the fall of Man. You know the one, where cities are deserted, weeds growing up through the streets, etc. Occasionally there are humans eking out a living, but they are no longer dominant. Yeah, that kind. Well, a book that came out recently, The World Without Us, imagines what would happen environmentally if humans just vanished from the face of the earth. I prefer humans to still be around in my stories, but this concept is fascinating.
If you scroll down on the website’s main page, you’ll find an artist’s rendition of New York between 2 days and 15,000 years after the disappearance of humanity. According to the book’s author, the subways would flood after only three days, after twenty years streets would collapse and rivers would form in the space left over.
Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the post-nuclear holocaust genre to pick back up.
[image from mondolithic.com]
A new toy that’s been developed will be able to greet you and your family’s pet by name, as well as display emotions. The 17-inch doll comes in at 1/5 the price of the now defunct AIBO at $300, primarily due to the outsourcing of processing power to your computer, which it will connect to using Wi-fi. Zeno will be able to learn faces and names, as well as being fully mobile (walking, at least, no jump jets – yet). Its first debut was at Wired Magazine’s NextFest conference Sept. 13th-16th in LA. The developer’s website has an email list for those of you dying to keep track of its next appearance. [image courtesy Wikipedia Commons]
Zeno covers pretty much everything you need — vision, hearing, speech — to move about the world and the crafty outsourcing of computing power potentially allows for updates. Combine it with this guy and I’m definitely in!
(via PC World)