Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's the end of the world and he feels fine

Posted by goatchurch at 1:03 AM
James Lovelock, popularizer of the Gaia Hypothesis, which has had several outings in Science Fiction, has given a recent interview:
In 1965 executives at Shell wanted to know what the world would look like in the year 2000. They consulted a range of experts, who speculated about fusion-powered hovercrafts and "all sorts of fanciful technological stuff". When the oil company asked the scientist James Lovelock, he predicted that the main problem in 2000 would be the environment. "It will be worsening then to such an extent that it will seriously affect their business," he said.

"And of course," Lovelock says, with a smile 43 years later, "that's almost exactly what's happened."
On the subject of what the future holds now.
Most of the things we have been told to do [to prevent climate change] might make us feel better, but they won't make any difference. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable.

"It's just too late for it," he says. "Perhaps if we'd gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don't have time... Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear... our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.

...

Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, he explains, when "we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn't know what to do about it". But once the second world war was under way, "everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do, it was one long holiday ... so when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose - that's what people want."

...

What would Lovelock do now, I ask, if he were me? He smiles and says: "Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan."
So, here's the question to all right-thinking SF fans out there.

Is it more enjoyable to write SF about space travel and aliens and how the act of shopping is going to drive the technological revolution, or do you want to write Mundane-SF that looks a bit funny now, but stands a chance of becoming increasingly relevant as time progresses?

Anyone can write a cyberpunk crime story today, but the people who look good are the ones who wrote it before the mainstreaming of the Internet. The technology was all there to see back in the 1980s; but precious few people recognized how important it was at the time.

9 Comments:

OpenID reading said...

Is it more enjoyable to write SF about space travel and aliens and how the act of shopping is going to drive the technological revolution, or do you want to write Mundane-SF that looks a bit funny now, but stands a chance of becoming increasingly relevant as time progresses?

I'd much rather hoard food, build a mountain hideaway and prepare, if what you say is true is really true. Whether I like one particular form of S.F. over another is pretty irrelevant.

3/04/2008 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Icarus said...

Would his ideas have been considered mundane when he first proposed them?

3/04/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

You could write about a failure to act in the face of dwindling resources and set it in ancient Rome, on Mars, or in the US 20 years from now and it would be relevant to the problem of people fiddling while Rome burns.

Even the story of the prophetic scientist who was ignored reminds me of Cassandra of Greek mythology. It's entirely possible to deal with the issue of impending eco-catastrophe in any number of creative ways. I don't see why it has resemble Children of Men. A movie I loved, by the way.

Cinderella is a story that has endured, but what events did that foretell? None. 2001, A Space Odyssey was an enduring story, but we have yet to encounter a murderous AI.

I'm sorry I give you such a hard time. I do love this blog and would enjoy seeing more posts. I encourage anyone who wants authors to take their work seriously, I just don't agree that serious, social issue SF has to be confined to the possible or the inevitable.

3/05/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger dan said...

Polar cities dubbed "Lovelock cities" in honor of James Lovelock

Polar cities are now being dubbed "Lovelock cities" in honor of James Lovelock, who has said that in the future human populations will likely be reduced greatly by global warming and only "breeding pairs in the Arctic" will keep the human species going. This is where the idea of polar cities germinated from.

Now, after blogging about polar cities for almost 2 years, and getting a little ink here and there, mostly in the blogosphere (and almost nothing in the mainstream media) I have decided to dub polar cities as "Lovelock Cities" in honor of James Lovelock, and also to help reporters and editors and readers understand better that these so-called polar cities at NOT at the poles per se, but merely in northern areas of the world; some Lovelock cities might be situated in Colorado, Switzerland and Britain, in fact. New Zealand and Tasmania, too. Patagonia, too. None at the North Pole because the North Pole will be underwater (or is that under water?).

At any rate, you heard the term first today here: LOVELOCK CITIES. May they help preserve the human spirit and the human species in the far distant future, IF WE NEED THEM. Let's hope we never need them. Remember, this is all a "just in case" scenario. A "what if" scenario.

Here's a timeline for Lovelock Cities:

2008-2050 : business as usual; meetings, conferences, talk talk talk

2050 - 2080 : preparations finally get underway

2100 : first mass migrations to Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Britain, Tasmani, New Zealand, Patagonia begin

2200 : second wave of mass migrations bring more people north from India, Africa, Asia and the Americas -- and south to Tasmania and New Zealand

2300 : World Government Body (WGB) set up first officially sanctioned polar cities for breeding pairs in the Arctic, also known as Lovelock Cities

2400 : major climate disasters worldwide with scarce food, fuel, power, and other resources (coupled with overpopulation) begin reducing world population from 9 billion people to 1 billion people

2500 : world population declines to just 200,000 "breeding pairs" in the Arctic (and southern extremes as well, including Antarctica) in 100 to 30 Lovelock Cities situated in those regions and administered and governed by the World Government Body or some such entity, perhaps the IPCC. [Mad Max conditions outside these Lovelock Cities, aka polar cities, last for 1000 years... until 3500]

4500 : The human species has made it through the Great Interruption, intact but greatly reduced in numbers. Full recovery possible beginning in 4500. Hope springs eternal.

Note A: children born in Lovelock Cities (aka Polar Cities) are mixed DNA humans of combined Caucasian-Asian-African-Hispanic-Arab stock, creating a new "race" on Earth

Note B: a new religious perspective develops before, during and after the Great Interruption to help humans cope with and understand what has happened to them

6/19/2008 07:11:00 PM  
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