Discover more from Story Voyager
Celebrating one year of our climate journey
Finding hope and taking action together
First time here? Story Voyager is a climate fiction newsletter I email to subscribers. I’m currently writing a series of non-fiction articles about climate change in the Holocene. Or you can start by reading There Is Hope my climate fiction series.
Story Voyager is one year old 💚, and it's been an incredible journey. For those who might be new to our community, Story Voyager is where we explore climate change through the lens of climate fiction or cli-fi. Under the motto Travel your imagination, we embark on a unique journey of reading, researching, writing, and exchanging ideas with like-minded individuals. Our mission is to change the narrative about the future of humankind by delving into the world of climate fiction, crafting in-depth articles, and even embracing everyday life projects. Join the conversation, and let’s change together the narrative about the future of humankind.
There is hope
As autumn slowly settles in, we look back at a summer of extreme weather events. This was the hottest summer on record in the Northern Hemisphere. In the United States and the Middle East, the humidity reached levels that scientists consider deadly. Wildfires raged over Canada, Greece and Hawaii. The average global ocean surface temperature reached an all-time high, and the list goes on.
It’s easy to lose hope in the face of so much loss and devastation when facing disasters beyond our comprehension. Planet Earth seems to buckle under the weight of our actions, but hopelessness brings with it a feeling of impending doom, and while it is hard, we must not lose hope. In the spirit of my climate fiction series, There Is Hope, I would like us to look at three things that give us hope about the future of humanity.
We are slowly restoring the ozone layer
I was born in the 1980s, the decade in which scientists realized (in 1985) that a dangerous hole in ozone was forming over the Antarctic. So the 1990s weren’t just Nirvana, Britney Spears and Spice Girls, but also the decade of the ozone-hole-over-the-Antarctic. Everyone was talking about it, and by September 2006, the ozone hole peaked at 29.6 million km². Which was alarming. By September 2022, the ozone hole's size shrank back to 23.2 million km². How did this happen?
The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion released in 2022, a report of the Montreal Protocol established in September 1987 to regulate the worldwide production and consumption of 100 man-made chemicals or ozone-depleting substances (ODS), announced that the ozone layer is expected to return to the 1980s levels by 2040 globally, by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2066 over the Antarctic. Banning the production of ODS globally contributes to ozone restoration and adverts global warming of an extra 0.5–1°C by 2050. According to the United Nations, the Montreal Protocol ‘is to date one of the rare treaties to achieve universal ratification’ and proof that global cooperation is effective in tackling environmental problems.
We could save the whales to save ourselves
When discussing natural ways of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, we usually focus on planting forests and restoring wetlands. But, a new study found that blue whales and other baleen whales play a direct and indirect role in sequestering CO2. An average great whale sequesters 30 tonnes of CO2 a year. By contrast, a tree absorbs only 22kg. The carbon contribution of a single blue whale was valued at $1.4 million. But the contribution of whales to CO2 reductions in the atmosphere doesn’t stop here.
The nutrient-rich excrements of large whales can help trap more CO2, as they are consumed by phytoplankton, which, in exchange, can stimulate carbon fixation in the oceans through a process known as nutrient cycling. The great whale conveyor belt, the migratory behavior of the whales from high-latitude nutrient-rich waters where they spend the summer to low-latitude nutrient-poor breeding ground in winter, is another contributing factor. During the breeding period, whales fast and contribute to nutrient cycling in nutrient-poor waters by inputting carcasses, urine, placenta, sloughed skin and other byproducts.
By protecting the blue carbon ecosystems and allowing the whale population around the globe to recover, we could increase the effectiveness of this nature-based solution to climate change. Could saving the whales be the second treaty to achieve global support and help us tackle the most urgent issue of our times?
We could reduce plastic pollution by 80% by 2040
According to the United Nations, 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute around the world, and half of the plastic production is single-use plastic. We have plastic in our forests, we have plastic in our rivers, we have plastic in our oceans, we have plastic in our bodies. All this plastic is damaging our health and the environment. But there is a way out. The United Nations laid a path to help us reduce plastic pollution by 80% by 2040.
The initiative seems to be drawing on the Japanese concept of reduce, reuse, recycle or mottainai, which translates as ‘What a waste!’. The origins of this word can be found in the Buddhist concept of mottai, which means ‘undue importance’ to which the negation nai was added, giving a deeper meaning to the phrase ‘What a waste!’, namely that by waisting something we render it meaningless. The United Nations added the concepts of reorient and diversify, which means finding alternative materials to plastic wrappers, sachets and takeaway items.
While we might render single-use plastic meaningless by throwing it away, plastic pollution is not meaningless for us. If we don’t act now, we will increase plastic pollution by 80 million metric tons by 2040. Additionally, a Center for International Environmental Law report states that the plastic industry will release up to 1.34 billion tons of CO2 annually by 2030.
A combination of government, industry and citizen action is needed to reduce plastic pollution by 80% by 2040. About 40% of the single plastic production goes into packaging, which is thrown away as soon as a purchase is made. I will be more mindful next time I go shopping!
Reflecting on our community growth
One year ago, I embarked on this Substack adventure to amplify our voices in the battle against climate change. I started with just an idea and zero subscribers, but the past year has been a remarkable journey thanks to you, our incredible Story Voyager community. Together, we've achieved significant milestones that deserve celebration.
From those humble beginnings, we've grown to over 1,000 subscribers - a testament to your passion and dedication. I want to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you for your unwavering support. It's your subscriptions, your engagement, your likes, shares, and comments that have breathed life into Story Voyager. Thank you for being part of this incredible community. 💚
Join us in taking action
You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere. —Ursula K. Le Guin
These words by Ursula K. Le Guin resonate deeply with our mission here at Story Voyager. Climate change isn't just a distant challenge; it's an urgent, everyday concern. To truly make a difference, we must embody the change we wish to see in the world.
The everyday life project
An everyday life project is an experiment in which you engage in an activity for a limited time to channel attention to a specific aspect of your daily life. Examples of everyday life projects include tracking your steps with a device to ensure that you move enough or having a reading challenge on Goodreads to increase the number of books you read in a year.
With this in mind, I invite you to embark on an everyday life project alongside me. Let's explore climate change together and share our experiences. It could be reading a climate fiction book or any other activity that raises awareness about climate change in daily life.
I'll be taking on two everyday life projects:
I've decided not to buy any groceries wrapped in single-use plastic for the rest of the year. I'll share my progress and challenges along the way. Will you join me in this journey of discovery?
In the following months, I will read Dune by Frank Herbert with, and and delve into the environmental and social issues Frank Herbert weaves into his epic novel. We will exchange letters, notes and chat about Dune right here on Substack. Will you join us?
Your climate awareness exercise
Alternatively, here’s a fun little exercise you can do to create more awareness about climate change. Some months ago, I checked out Greta Thunberg’s Twitter page and saw something in her bio: Born at 375 ppm. And I thought, what a clever way of creating climate awareness! So I did it as well. If you go to my bio, you will see: Born at 340 ppm. And guess what? It worked. I was asked by several people here on Substack what that means.
So what is the exercise?
Born at 340 ppm means that in 1981, the year I was born, there was an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 340 parts per million (ppm). In 2003, when Greta Thunberg was born, the atmospheric CO2 concentration was 375 parts per million (ppm). An increase of 35 ppm in 22 years. In comparison, during the European Little Ice Age, the atmospheric CO2 concentration decreased by 7 to 10 ppm over 100 years, causing global temperatures to drop by 1°C.
Now it is your turn:
What was the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in your birth year? You can calculate that here. 👈
Share your findings in the comments section.
That’s all. Take action now! 💚
Climate fiction, as we've explored together, is more than just a genre; it's a vital tool to bridge the gap between the climate crisis and our collective imagination. In the words of Amitav Ghosh, the climate crisis is not only an environmental issue but a cultural and imaginative one. As Albert Einstein once wisely said, ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them’. Climate fiction offers us a fresh perspective, a new way of thinking, and a means to grapple with the most urgent issue of our times: climate change.
This is what you can expect from Story Voyager in the year ahead.
1. Completing my first book: I’m thrilled to announce that I will finish writing my climate fiction series and publish my first book here on Substack by next summer. It's a project close to my heart, and I’m excited to complete this literary journey with you.
2. Exploring our planet's history: Our series on the history of climate change in the Holocene will continue. Join me as we unravel the mysteries of our planet's past and gain insights into our present and future.
3. Sustainable practices in historical communities: A new non-fiction series is on the horizon. We'll delve into the sustainable practices of historical communities, exploring their wisdom in managing resources like water and respecting the environment. It's a journey back in time to discover alternatives to our consumerist society.
4. Growing our community: My goal for the next year is to welcome 100 paid subscribers to our community. I would like to raise money to commission illustrations for my cli-fi novel, There Is Hope. Your support keeps Story Voyager thriving, and I'm excited to embark on this journey with you.
5. New writing projects: On Story Voyager, expect new writing projects, including an AI novella and a utopian climate fiction novel. The novella will kickstart our creative exploration next summer, and the novel will debut toward the end of next year.
This is just the beginning of what promises to be an incredible year ahead, and I'm eager to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback. Your insights have been instrumental in shaping the Story Voyager community. What topics, discussions, or projects do you hope to see as we move forward in the coming year?
Thank you for being a part of Story Voyager's remarkable journey. Here's to another year of exploration, discovery, and transformation. 🌍💚