The view from where I used to live in the fall of ’06
Above, is an image of climate change and rising sea levels. Granted, this was during a storm, and also I lived on what is essentially a large paved-over sandbar. But still, Norfolk, Virginia is one of the US cities most affected by the rise in sea levels that comes with climate change. So, not only do I see it on the news and think about it, I see it in a pretty obvious way. And it makes its way into my fiction. I have a story I’m shopping around to SFF magazines set in the near future (edit 2018: the story is Kitty Itty And The Seawall Broke, and I published it myself. You can find links to buy a copy by clicking here.), where the sea has swallowed up the North Carolina barrier islands and coast, and displaced residents scrape a living out of salvaging scraps from submerged towns. A half-finished story is set in an equatorial Africa where daytime temperatures over 50C/120F are an almost daily occurrence, and cities have moved underground (also, there are aliens checking out the local humans) (edit 2018: that story ended up in the trunk because I realized I was writing characters from a position of shallow cultural knowledge, and also it was kinda sucking. But, like many stories destined for the trunk, I learned some stuff writing it). Speed Glacier revolves around the adventures of a group of radical eco-warriors and their improbable craft/weapon in the war against the forces of pollution. Yet another story, My Name is Gerald, is not actually about climate change, but the background descriptions are of a Midwestern USA where the crops have moved north and hot, dry, dust bowl conditions reign.
Climate change has altered the world slightly over just my lifetime to date, and humans, let’s face it, don’t live very long in the perspective of events like global climate shifts. It’s changing fast. And that makes it a hell of an element for speculative stories. Don’t get me wrong, other authors are not particularly missing the boat on this. I have seen climate change as a plot or background element in a number of SF short stories (my primary reading material — I don’t take in novels half as often as I used to).
But I’ve been mulling writing some more stories focused on what the future world might look like in different circumstances. The screw-it-burn-all-the-coal future. The holy-crap-lets-ban-fossil-fuels future. The amazing-new-carbon-sequestering-technology future. The we-tried-to-fix-it-and-screwed-up-here-come-the-glaciers future. The possibilities are endless, which is a quality that endears SFF to me.
I’ve even considered, despite never having done such a thing, the possibility of soliciting the stories of others and building a climate change themed anthology. I’m a bit scared of the prospect; I hear it’s a hell of a lot of work for a group of people, and I can’t help but observe that I am only one person, and one without experience in that area to boot. But it’s something to consider.
Also to consider: will my eventual grandkids or great-great grandkids end up emigrating to Canada to escape the tropical heat of middle US America? Hmm.