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I once listened to a futurist - they are, who's kidding who, the equivalent of cli-fi authors in the world of science and business - this futurist, who runs scenarios workshops with the likes of NASA scientists, said that humans have the power to create the future ... but telling stories of the future we want to see.

It'd be an interesting conversation to look at the works of cli-fi authors. How many of their stories are doom and gloom, about a dark and hopeless future that's been brought about by the climate crisis? And how many work, in their novels, through the doom and gloom horrors to show us how we might get to a better future?

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Isn’t it interesting that even in such fields as business and science people need a blueprint of thought on which to base their enterprise or research? Some years ago I studied a bit of landscape architecture and I was surprised to learn that the way we build our cities is based on someone’s vision of how a society should live. The American car city, for example, is based on the ideas of Frank Lloyd Wright who thought that people won’t need to walk in the future. He did include microgrids though.

I’m also interested in that conversation about how cli-fi authors imagine the future, gloom & doom vs a better future. I think I’ll take your questions as my guide for my cli-fi reading and try to analyze that. I do believe that the gloom & doom stories are a valuable contribution to the conversation if they make us reflect on the zeitgeist and question our assumptions.

I really liked how you formulated this question: ‘And how many work, in their novels, through the doom and gloom horrors to show us how we might get a better future?’ Because writing about a utopian future where everything is perfect doesn’t make for a very good story plot.

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Love that you mentioned how it doesn't make for a very strong plot if everything is perfect; that has been my worry about the general utopian fiction label. I know it's an oversimplification of a genre, or sub-genre, but when I try to put it into view as a writer, it's just this camera that keeps panning from peaceful scene to peaceful scene. Which, there's no story in that. It's like a screensaver at a spa.

And, I think generally audiences wouldn't enter a book and become emotionally attached to characters that aren't struggling in some way, or whose journey is to... make a perfect society more perfect?

I don't know if that adds anything to the conversation or, if it does, how it does, but found myself nodding as I read your comment and wanted to reply.

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This is a great question, one that makes me think of the cyberpunk genre of speculative sci-fi. For 30-some years, cyberpunk and its neon dystopia has been one of the most popular subgenres of SF, depicting the world as a battlefield between ultra high tech corporations selling out humanity from their glittering towers and the hackers scraping by in the wreckage left over by corporate pillaging, trying to take down the system. By this example, it seems like showing the dystopia has more led toward than cautioned away from the negative example. I think that really speaks to how the worlds we imagine can power hope or despair over the future. I'm really excited to see where more hopeful futures can lead us, of the cli-fi / solarpunk variety. Science fiction helped power the space race, after all, which led to leaps forward in technology and improvements in every day living. (Of course, there was also a lot of exploitation baked into that particular vision of the future, so hopefully we will imagine more kindly this time around.)

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You think that the dystopian imagination led to actual dystopian societies in the real world? I mean, there are authors who think that our offsprings might look back at our society 50, 100 years from now and find our way of living dystopian. But whether dystopian imagination led to it being manifested in the real world, I’m not sure. I know that some people in the past imagined our car cities, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, but of course in his imagination everything was much more romantic than how it turned out to be in reality. But from around that time, there is also the film Metropolis, and modern cities do look an awful lot like it… I must read more about and reflect on your intriguing idea.

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I don't honestly know if dystopian imagination led to the building of dystopian societies. That might be overstating the case, though it is true that in order for people to build anything, it must be first imagined. I feel more confident saying that depictions of cyberpunk dystopias don't seem to have made good warnings. Like, the movie Bladerunner didn't seem to make people think: hey, let's not make a future where corporations have the power to own mining colonies on far planets, can build thinking, feeling robots, and then force them to go work there forever. I think depicting the negative as a warning has less effect on the cultural zeitgeist than depicting the positive as inspiration. The far more positive future depicted in Star Trek has inspired technological advances for decades, for example. So far, people seem to be taking solarpunk and positive cli-fi depictions as the starting point for new futures we can work toward achieving.

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It’s an interesting point of view and taking the mining on other planets as an example makes me think of the ‘Occupy Mars’ T-shirt that takes a totally new meaning when worn by a certain someone (ahem Musk). At the same time, I don’t think that the main role of literature is to educate and inform. But rather to explore the personal sensibilities of an author towards the context in which they live. I’ve seen dystopian sci-fi writing discredited in the last years by some and I wonder why. Dune is dystopian. Yet it is one of the best sci-fi books I ever read. Writing fiction cannot be turned into activism. This being said, I love your example of Star Trek’s influence on real world technology and discoveries, perhaps even mentality towards interplanetary travel and the way we relate to other species. And from a psychological perspective it is better to ask ourselves the question ‘How could this end well?’ instead of ‘How could this go wrong?’ if we want to solve the climate crisis. But writing cannot turn into preaching.

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Heh about the t-shirt 😆!

That's so interesting, thinking about the main role of literature. Personally, I believe in the idea of literature as a collection of human knowledge, and that the act of writing literature is a way of knowledge-making. I've never really thought about each piece of literature as the point of view of the writer and their experiences in/of the world. I think both perspectives are true and compelling.

I don't know that we could ever leave dystopia behind--I think our natures are too curious and too fascinated with the macabre for that. 😉 But if writing trends are a pendulum, I think we have swung far enough over to dystopia for a bit, and I'm enjoying this swing back toward less dire fates. The rise of cozy science fantasy & fiction that is happening right now is really delightful, for example!

I love the idea of asking how could this end well--especially in light of the climate crisis. I think we've already determined the how could this go wrong question pretty thoroughly!

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I need to pick up with Parable of the Sower again but I think the genre is needed. What damage we have to the environment has made (some) irreparable changes. If we are compelled to action, inspired, and moved by fiction, then this is the time for our entertainment to inform us. Dystopias are visions of what feels like the worst case scenario, but cli fi feels like that bridge better here and that future. No stacked skyscrapers and a scorched sky, but suspicious and dangerous neighbors, true resource scarcity, and the parched mouths of dying citizens. Perhaps cli fi will show us the 10 feet in front of us so we can make radical direction changes.

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Yes, radical change doesn’t come by panicking but but being able to see 10 feet in front is us and changing the course of action. I also hope that cli-fi will contribute to a shift in our beliefs, values and the way we relate to the natural world. There isn’t going to be a hero that will save us from climate change but rather a network of communities that work to tackle local issues and build the sustainable infrastructure of the future. It will take all of us working together and pushing through in all areas of human activity, be it science, technology, politics, society, education, philosophy, arts. Because I don’t believe that anyone wants to live in this alternative world that you described so well of resource scarcity, suspicion between neighbors, parched mouths.

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Feb 21, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Yes, we definitely need to evaluate how working together will save us. But I also hope cli fi reveals how arguments of scarcity and overpopulation do not take into account all the food and resources we waste. How many oranges are really going to be sold in the supermarket?

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Interesting point, do you mean that if we stop wasting resources there would be enough for everyone? That in some places there’s scarcity and in others waste?

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

It’s worth a try. I don’t think we realize what scale we produce in order to satisfy the look of opulence. Some parts of the world are also accustomed to generating a lot of waste while others, by necessity, must conserve.

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'Satisfy the look of opulence' - feels like we're already living in one of these dystopian movies where the rich feats while the poor look on. The other day I read an aptly titled article 'Visiting an altar to capitalism that aspires to be more' about the luxurious new Columbia Business School who wants to change capitalism. The author puts it very nicely: 'Change capitalism through luxury building design!'

There is a thirst for excessive opulence in our world today.

Here's the article (it's quite short): https://thequestions.substack.com/p/visiting-an-altar-to-capitalism-that

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Good recommendation. Thanks!

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Feast not feats ;)

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It is notable that Frank Herbert's Dune as perhaps the most politically incisive Climate Fiction novel, was an allegory for the struggle over Middle Eastern oil (in which The Spice represented oil).

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May 6, 2023·edited May 6, 2023Author

I am obsessed with this book! And Frank Herbert is my idol. Next to Margaret Atwood.

I didn't know that the spice was representing the oil wars in the Middle East. I recently read 'The Power of Geography' by Tim Marshall and understood for the first time how the West's thirst for oil influenced this region.

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Yes. Frank Herbert was a reporter. He wrote Dune as an allegory for the games of empire he saw playing out as the Western colonialist world vied for dominance over oil supplies in the Middle East (in order to control the world by controlling its energy supply). Another inflection that is noteworthy in Dune is that it is essentially "Lawrence of Arabia" set in space, with Paul Atreides as "Lawrence".

Here is an example of what Frank Herbert saw playing out in the decade before he published Dune. This was the first coup coordinated by the US to take over another country.

https://fairobserver.com/politics/scary-cia-mi6-coup-destroyed-iran-and-damaged-the-world

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I really appreciate these recommendations. Speculative fiction set was thin the world of climate change is so important right now.

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I have a longer list on my Goodreads (that keeps on growing): https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/104752177-claudia-b?ref=nav_mybooks&shelf=cli-fi

Though I'm missing books that are rather more utopian than dystopian in nature.

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This is great, thanks. I have chapters from a post climate change/ virus novel I wrote before the pandemic that is oddly utopian -- at least I see it that way -- at my everlands newsletter. I think we can imagine utopia within dystopia, but it will always be enrobed in disaster.

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Thanks, I actually already had a look at Everelands. You were brave to publish the first 10 chapters in a single post. 😅 I'll dig into it in the next days.

Do you think that utopia can only be imagined within dystopia?

I was having a look at the book Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. But the reviews on Goodreads don't paint it very utopian... I got some 'Brave New World' vibes when it comes to relationships. But it's utopian so I might have a look at it as well.

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so glad you checked out The Lost City of Desire. I posted those chapters one by one but then aggregated them into a longer post for the website. I'll keep posting chapters one at a time until the end. I'm not familiar with Ecotopia, but I'll check it out. As for utopia's relationship to dystopia, I guess to imagine utopia you have to think that what you are living in might not be so great, or that it could be improved. Hmm. I like the idea of utopia growing out of dystopia. When I think about how we pollute, how we treat animals, how we focus so much energy on "building" and consuming, I began to believe that in 50 years we'll look back on our current days with the idea that they are dystopian in many ways. But then again, I like how publishing goes these days -- 15 years ago I wouldn't have been able to communicate as a writer the way I do now.

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Substack is fantastic for writers. I also appreciate the exchange a lot and I’m learning so much from more experienced writers, like yourself.

I also believe that utopia needs dystopia to take birth. This reminds me of a trip to Bali. At a temple the tree trunks were wrapped with a black and white checkered cloth and a Balinese man explained to us that there is no good without evil. Someone who only knows good will fear everything, but someone who experienced evil can recognize and appreciate the good. That’s why they make offerings to both the good and not so good spirits and gods.

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I had never heard that about the Balinese.

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The Book of Eli......

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I haven't seen it but I just looked it up and it sounds like a must watch. Thank you.

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There’s a company with a product that you should know about. It’s truly amazing. The product is renewable, sustainable, and can be done organically with no GMO’s.

https://justbiofiber.com/

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I am remiss. I should mention it contains graphic violence. It’s not the storyline, at least. Just so you know.

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Not iconic, but certainly well done.

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There's a lot to unpack and consider in this piece. I realized with some alarm how uninformed I am in the foundations of climate fiction. With your wonderful curriculum of study (I love that concept, btw!), I intend to rectify my lack of knowledge.

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I'm also trying to catch-up with climate fiction and hope to explore and write more in the future. As time allows. :)

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Excellent writeup, Claudia. We can't have enough posts like this. Need to restack and share. Ignorance is bliss they say, until it isn't...

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Thanks, Alexander. It was a stretch writing this article but I also needed to clarify some things for myself, so the work was worth it. I'm glad that you enjoyed it and thanks so much for sharing. 🙏

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Apr 20, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

I picked up Oryx and Crake because of your recommendation and I LOVE it! I haven't read any of Attwood's works except Handmaid's Tale, and I was quickly reminded of why she's one of the greats. I've noticed that a lot of media that deals with dystopia tends to have a class of human's with some sort of mutation (zombies, cyborgs, etc)- in Oryx and Crake, Crake modifies the individual, not the systems that 'corrupted' humans in the first place. Humans were the ones who polluted, who caused the oceans to rise, so there must be something fundamentally wrong with us and our big brains. Just an interesting parallel to a lot of attitudes towards climate change. Thanks again for the rec!

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Dear Marie, I'm so happy that my reading list inspired you to look into Oryx and Crake! I'm a bit behind with my cli-fi reading, so I am actually reading the same book right now! 😁

You're so on pint with your observation that the problem with the current state of affairs on this planet it's us. I'm reading a very good book about this right now. It's worth adding that it's not humanity itself, but rather our current worldview that's the issue. Crake's solution is quite extreme but it works as a hyperbole in a fiction story. In the real world, I think that we'll have to take a hard look inside and reconsider our stance towards nature and the living world.

Will you continue with the next books in the trilogy?

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Apr 8, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

Claudia, how are you generating these fantastic images? If you are using one of the text-to-image AI thingies, which one is it?

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Hi Felicia, I am using Midjourney. It takes a lot of tinkering with the prompts, but sometimes they come out nice and I think that they are a nice visual addition to my stories even though I must say that they don't reflect the visuals of my world as I imagine them. But I don't plan to use them commercially so they are good enough.

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Interesting, did not know this could be considered a genre. Have had an idea in my head of writing a book that could be labelled as 'cli-fi', in which I want to sketch a future society in order to explore themes of humanity, ethics, and philosophy surrounding a post-climactic (if this is not a term yet I am hereby coining it, post-apocalyptic has been done to death by now) world.

First need to finish the one I am working on now, though!

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Yes, it's a genre since 2011 but lots of books were labeled cli-fi retroactively. I agree that the post-apocalyptic genre was done to death, it's time for new narratives that don't put technology and humans at the centre of the universe but rather depict a society living in harmony with nature and technology as a means to maintain balance with the natural world around us. Good luck with your book idea! I hope you'll write it!

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Yeah my idea was to contrast the two actually, as a kind of 2 different directions of development

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This is a good idea. Will the stories take place in the same world?

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Yes. I am really fascinated by the whole red zone vs green zone thing, like happened in Iraq, or like the E.U. tries to block out migrants.

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Unfortunately, it's going to be a huge issue as things are getting hotter...

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Great piece, and great recommendations. LOVE Jemisin's Broken Earth Trilogy, as well as Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry of the Future. They were my intros to cli-fi, and have been quite taste-shifting for me as a writer and reader.

Hope you enjoy them as well!

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Thank you, this gives me more confidence that I've selected the right books for my cli-fi reading list. I'd like to know more about how cli-fi shifted your tasted in reading. What attracted you the most?

Thank you as well for the recommendation. 💚 I'm looking forward to your book launch on Substack.

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Thanks so much, Claudia! And of course--I really love what you're doing with Story Voyager and am happy to share your work with others :)

As for my shifting tastes... I studied creative writing in college, with fiction and creative nonfiction emphases, and with the fiction path they taught almost strictly literary fiction. Deep, intimate stories set in the present or near past, and all of which seemed primarily concerned with pushing/prodding/stretching family dynamics.

I engaged with the material then, and in meaningful ways. I loved it. And, though I'm not exactly sure when it shifted, or how, I think I've just kind of become bored with the types of things I was reading then?

If I had to guess it's a mixture of things:

- I'm married now, and am a dad, and have been "part of the workforce" for coming up on a decade. These things were not true while in college, and have changed me as a person in many, many ways.

- The settings in the stories I was taught weren't "mailed in," but they definitely can't stand up to what the settings in cli-fi (or speculative fiction, in general) can become. I mean, a lot of times I remember stories read in college taking place in a house, or at work, or at some combination of house and work. Which of course can be true with cli-fi, as well. But with literary fiction it seems like locales are, well, limited by reality in the present.

- There's a layer of hope I find to be intrinsically present in cli-fi that isn't there in realistic fiction. I'm not a believer that all stories need to end with the hero completing their journey, but there are several examples I can think of in realistic fiction where it's quite doom and gloom from beginning to end.

Maybe there's a time that I return to literary fiction with more enthusiasm. But I do think that authors of contemporary literary fiction are starting to blur the genre's edges -- they too are living with climate crisis on their brains, for example, and so their art cannot help but be influenced by that. And so I think literary fiction is evolving, to potentially be more cli-fi, and/or to be more hopeful.

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Feb 24, 2023·edited Feb 24, 2023Liked by Claudia Befu Ibarra

What a great breakdown of the problems cli-fi is attempting to grapple with, and an awesome reading list! I have read some (The Broken Earth trilogy, The Ministry for the Future), have others on my list (Ecotopia, Earthseed), and didn't know about some of the rest. Some others on my list: Ecopunk! Anthology, No One's Rose (comic book series), and The Lesson, by Caldwell Turnbull.

As I mentioned above, I'm most interested in stories of hope about the future--I feel we have so throughly documented catastrophe and dystopia and cruelty that there's no where left to go in speculative fiction but into a future that isn't ruined beyond all possibility.

Oh, I also have a recommendation, one I have read and struck me powerfully as being utopian but still recognizing the violence that is simply part of human nature: Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing.

I am excited to watch you embark on your cli-fi voyage, and see what you think of the readings! 😊

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Thank you so much for the reading suggestions, Elnora. I’m also interested in finding more utopian works. For some reason I seem to find dystopian books easier. And this brings me back to other exchange we’re having on this thread but with a new perspective: perhaps writers do influence each other and writing dystopia is not coming just from a place of personal creative interest but it’s also shaped by literary trends. At the same time, I read an article about a study that was warning against writing cli-fi because we might spread panic in society or encourage the creation of eco-fascistic movements… Ultimately, writing from a place of truth is probably the best writing advice I ever read. I’ll add some of your recommendations to my list. And I’m really curious to hear what you think about Ecotopia once you read it. It’s also on my extended list.

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Trends are definitely another factor to consider for sure! I think along with writers influencing each other, trends also speak to wanting to go where the readers are, and how reader influence helps to shape what gets written. Trends are also influenced by marketing, and what publishing houses choose to publish, and of course, money and what is projected to sell. So many angles to what gets written and why.

That's great writing advice. I mean, it could be argued that publishing that study itself could spread panic!

We'll have to check in about Ecotopia! 😊

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That is so true, I did panic a little when I read an article published by the author of the study in LitHub! 😂 Especially the eco-nazi part got me.

You are so right about the publishing trends and how the publishing industry influences what gets written. And I do hope that people start writing more utopia. But does utopia start with dystopia? Or is the utopia not perfect? How to find a plot for a story in a world where all the problems were solved?

Ecotopia seems to have quite some controversial ideas. I’m really curious to read it.

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I'm going to have to look up this article now--I'm curious! 😊

I think the key to plots in utopias is to acknowledge that while we might do better living in the world instead of constantly trying to conquer it, people will always be people and there's no fix for that. 😉

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Perhaps we should read the article together and have a letter exchange about the perils of writing climate fiction! 😄

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I'd love to do that! I've looked for the article on LitHub but I can't find it--if you could give me a link that would be super helpful. If you lead I will happily follow!

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Last comment, my OCD tends to make me do things in three parts.

Your acceptance of the projected "end of century" warming is misplaced. It is built around a deeply flawed "Climate Paradigm" from the late 80's/ early 90's.

Do you know the book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Kuhn?

People tend to think of "SCIENCE" the wrong way. We imagine it as this noble endeavor of selfless researchers advancing human understanding of the Universe. That's partially true, but SCIENCE is practiced by people and funded by even more people. SCIENCE is a social process and it doesn't work the way you think.

Kuhn invented the term "paradigm shift" to explain how scientific thought tends to advance in these big lurches. When suddenly everything that people used to think is revealed as flawed and untrue, and a new way of thinking emerges.

We are having a paradigm shift in Climate Science, right now.

Because observable reality is no longer matching what the "old paradigm" of the Climate Moderates, who have dominated the field since the 80's prevailed in Academia, projected. The world is warming up MUCH faster than they said it would. They were wrong and your chart is worthless.

Here's an example of how that's playing out today. This reporting happened yesterday.

Sudden Ocean Warming May Be ‘First of Many Heat Records to Shatter’

https://apnews.com/article/climate-change-hot-oceans-el-nino-la-nina-ec00bc89848d18dec9bf4db4444c999e

Earth in hot water? Worries over sudden ocean warming spike - May 2, 2023

The world’s oceans have suddenly spiked much hotter and well above record levels in the last few weeks, with scientists trying to figure out what it means and whether it forecasts a surge in atmospheric warming.

From early March to last week, the global average ocean sea surface temperature jumped nearly 0.2°C (0.36°F), according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, which climate scientists use and trust. That may sound small, but for the average of the world’s oceans — which account for 71% of Earth’s area — to rise so much in that short a time, “that’s huge,” said University of Colorado climate scientist Kris Karnauskas. “That’s an incredible departure from what was already a warm state to begin with.”

Climate scientists have been talking about the ocean warming on social media and amongst themselves, AP writes. Some, like University of Pennsylvania’s Michael Mann, quickly dismiss concerns by saying it is merely a growing El Niño on top of a steady human-caused warming increase.

Michael Mann is the dean of the "Climate Moderate" faction of Climate Scientists. In the field he is immensely powerful. If he says you are a "doomer" you will lose your funding and might even lose your job. He has ruined peoples careers by labeling their research as "flawed" or "alarmist". He says things like this, Climatologist Michael E Mann: 'Good people fall victim to doomism. I do too sometimes' The Guardian 02/21

Doom-mongering has overtaken denial as a threat and as a tactic. Inactivists know that if people believe there is nothing you can do, they are led down a path of disengagement. They unwittingly do the bidding of fossil fuel interests by giving up.

“What is so pernicious about this is that it seeks to weaponise environmental progressives who would otherwise be on the frontline demanding change. These are folk of good intentions and good will, but they become disillusioned or depressed and they fall into despair.”

“Too late” narratives are invariably based on a misunderstanding of science.

“If the science objectively demonstrated it was too late to limit warming below catastrophic levels, that would be one thing and we scientists would be faithful to that.”

“But science doesn’t say that.” - Dr. Michael Mann

So, you need to understand how serious it is for other Climate Scientists to cross him and say this about the emerging MONSTER CLIMATE SHOCK that is developing.

Other climate scientists, including U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oceanographer Gregory C. Johnson, say the sudden warming doesn’t appear to be caused solely by El Niño. There are several marine heat waves or ocean warming spots that don’t fit an El Niño pattern, such as those in the northern Pacific near Alaska and off the coast of Spain, he said.

“This is an unusual pattern. This is an extreme event at a global scale” in areas that don’t fit with merely an El Niño, said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi. “That is a huge, huge signal. I think it’s going to take some level of effort to understand it.”

It’s been about seven years since the last El Niño, and it was a whopper. The world has warmed in that seven years, especially the deeper ocean, which absorbs by far most of the heat energy from greenhouse gases, said Sarah Purkey, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography. The ocean heat content, which measures the energy stored by the deep ocean, sets new record highs each year regardless of what’s happening on the surface.

Since that last El Niño, the global heat ocean content has increased .04°C (.07°F). That may not sound like a lot, but “it’s actually a tremendous amount of energy,” Purkey said. It’s about 30 to 40 zettajoules of heat, which is the energy equivalent of hundreds of millions of atomic bombs the size that leveled Hiroshima, she said.

On top of that warming deep ocean, the world had unusual cooling on the surface from La Niña for three years that sort of acted like a lid on a warming pot, scientists said. That lid is off.

“La Niña’s temporary grip on rising global temperatures has been released,” NOAA oceanographer Mike McPhaden told AP in an email. “One result is that March 2023 was the second-highest March on record for global mean surface temperatures.”

If El Niño makes its heavily-forecasted appearance later this year, “what we are seeing now is just a prelude to more records that are in the pipeline,” McPhaden wrote.

Karnauskas said what’s likely to happen will be an “acceleration” of warming after the heat has been hidden for a few years.

The graphic you show isn't worth anything. It's Old Paradigm, the actual situation is much worse.

You should check out my latest piece if you want to know what's happening and what the rest of the year is going to be like.

https://richardcrim.substack.com/p/the-crisis-report-37

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Your section on "Is Global Warming Real?" while accurate in the general sense is seriously flawed.

CO2 levels for the last 2.1 million years have fluctuated between 180ppm and 280ppm.

The Ice Core record is clear and exact, “natural” CO2 levels rarely exceeded 280ppm in the 800,000 years before the Industrial Revolution started.

Additional research showed that “natural” CO2 levels have been below 300ppm for at least 2.1 million years.

Carbon Dioxide Higher Today Than Last 2.1 Million Years — (2009)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090618143950.htm

“The low carbon dioxide levels outlined by the study through the last 2.1 million years make modern day levels, caused by industrialization, seem even more anomalous” -Richard Alley, Glaciologist

More recent research has established that it has been 23 million years since “natural” CO2 levels were as high as they are now at 420ppm.

A 23 m.y. record of low atmospheric CO2 — May 2020

https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article/48/9/888/586769/A-23-m-y-record-of-low-atmospheric-CO2

Current atmospheric CO2 concentration is known to be higher than it has been during the past ∼800 k.y. of Earth history, based on direct measurement of CO2 within ice cores. A comparison to the more ancient past is complicated by a deficit of CO2 proxies that may be applied across very long spans of geologic time.

These data suggest present-day CO2 (412 ppmv) exceeds the highest levels that Earth experienced at least since the Miocene, further highlighting the present-day disruption of long-established CO2 trends within Earth’s atmosphere.

We measure Global Warming from 1850 because that’s when the CO2 level was approximately equal to the “highest” natural level that had occurred in millions of years. Everything after 280ppm is the result of “human action”.

Your statement that: "The global warming record-keeping started in 1880" is SERIOUSLY WRONG.

All of the Climate Models use 1850.

They use 1850 when modeling how much warming will result from doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere from 280ppm to 560ppm. This report.

An Assessment of Earth’s Climate Sensitivity Using Multiple Lines of Evidence

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33015673/

Which says, “there is a 95% chance at CO2 levels of 560ppm that the GMT will increase at least 2.3C and possibly as much as 4.5C, there is a 66% chance that the GMT increase will be between 2.6C and 3.9C”. There is a 05% chance that the GMT could increase as much as 5.7C.

Is “THE REPORT” that is accepted as the “gold standard” of climate modeling. It synthesizes the results, of what are seen as the best climate models in the world, to produce those numbers.

Climate Models use 1850 as their baseline because CO2 levels were at 280ppm.

All of the CO2 in the atmosphere over 280ppm is NOT NATURAL. 1850 was the last period of time that CO2 levels were that low. Which makes it the perfect place for our models to start from.

Remember, our models are trying to show their validity by reproducing the observed warming from 1850. If they can reproduce the past they have credibility in terms of predicting the future.

So, if 1850 is the baseline that makes sense, why do we measure Global Warming from “the late 19th Century” or 1880?

Mostly because the Fossil Fuel Industry prefers it that way.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2018/09/07/exactly-how-much-has-the-earth-warmed-and-does-it-matter/?sh=213bd7105c22

From an article in Forbes; “Exactly How Much Has the Earth Warmed? And Does It Matter?” published September 2018. Written by a University of Houston Energy Fellow it is the climate equivalent of the post 2000 election, “you need to just move on” statement by Republicans. The basic argument deconstructs as follows:

1850 was an arbitrary choice — The debate exists in part because the UNFCCC did not define preindustrial when setting the targets. What does “preindustrial” mean anyway? You can make an argument that it should be 1740, or 1820, or 1880. Each of these dates shifts the goalposts. We should pick a date all of us can agree on.

Many people don’t agree with 1850 — There was no “worldwide” network of weather stations in 1850. So, the temperature measurements from 1850–1880 are uneven in both number and quality. Attempts to “fix” the data are always going to be biased and using it typically adds 0.4℃-0.6℃ to the amount of global warming that has occurred. We cannot move forward until we have a starting point that everyone agrees with and “many people” will never agree with 1850.

An exact value doesn’t matter — Although there are some out-of-the-mainstream views to the contrary, there is strong evidence the Earth has warmed about 1° C since pre-industrial times. Uncertainties in the data and lack of agreement on a reference date make it impossible to give a precise value.

1880 is a baseline we can all agree on — By 1880, a global network of weather stations using standardized equipment had been established. This makes it the most logical baseline for measuring global warming from CO2. Which, we can then agree, is 1.2℃.

It’s unfortunate that 1880 was the hottest year of the 19th century but that’s the year we started getting solid measurements. Being able to agree on the data and stop arguing about it is the most important thing at this point.

We need to work together, using 1880 lets us do that — This shift is actually good for those who subscribe to the belief that fossil fuels are the primary or sole cause of this warming.

If you really believe that it is urgent to reduce fossil fuel usage, then you understand how important that it is to stop fighting each other over a “few tenths of a degree that no one cares about” and start doing the real work of making that happen. Not agreeing with 1880 as the baseline makes you part of the problem at this point.

That’s why, since the “Trump Years” both NASA and GISS state.

“Earth’s average temperature has risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century.”

That’s why the Director of the GISS has stated in defense of the 1.2C measurement for Global warming. That 90% of Global Warming has occurred since 1980. That, although it appears that 1.1C of warming has happened since 1980, the actual amount is probably less.

Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2020 (2021)

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4882

Measuring warming from 1880 was a HUGE behind the scenes fight in Climate Science and it was a political decision.

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I will definitely read "War Girls". I am very familiar with the Biafran War. It was an atrocity sponsored by BP for control of the Nigerian Oil. Oddly enough I was thinking about it last year when I wrote this.

Random Thoughts — 10 : Exhibits in an Atrocity Museum

https://smokingtyger.medium.com/random-thoughts-10-bc925df01b3f

A meditation on how so many other atrocities of the 20th century are being forgotten and what a Museum to recall them should be.

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I know you saw this already but this seems like a good place to add these to your list. Consider the "Climate Novel in History". Which you are right, we put this topic in the sci-fi ghetto. Where cultures obliquely talk about things they don't want to talk about openly. Anyway, here are some examples of Cli-fi books in the sci-fi genre. It's important to remember that there are "Denier" Cli-Fi books as well and that they have an impact.

Two Deniers

Fallen Angels (1992)

by Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Michael Flynn

Book Overview

Two Space Hab astronauts are shot down over the North Dakota glacier by the new Eco-totalitarian government given carte blanche to control the greenhouse effect.

If you don't know who these guys were, then you don't know much about sci-fi from the 60's/70's/80's. These guys were hugely influential. In this book, they became "Global Warming Deniers". They stated that, contrary to "alarmist" fears there was actually going to be another ice age. They pushed the theory that Milankovitch Cycles controlled the Climate and it was going to get colder.

You still find Climate Change Deniers who believe this idea. This book influenced a lot of sci-fi readers.

State of Fear (2004)

Michael Crichton (better known for Jurassic Park)

Book Overview

A techno-thriller novel by Michael Crichton, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to curb global warming. Basically, eco-terrorists plot mass murder to publicize the danger of global warming and scare the world into accepting an Eco-Dictatorship.

Crichton is another "Climate Denier". This book was on the best seller list. Climate Deniers bring up Crichton all the time.

"Crichton, who has studied the issue extensively, rejects many of the conclusions reached by the National Academy of Sciences and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—for example, he does not believe that global temperature increases in recent decades are most likely the result of human activities". Jan 28, 2005 Brookings Institute

An overlooked Gem

Natures End (1986)

Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka

Book Overview

It is 2025 and the planet is rapidly approaching environmental death. Dr. Gupta Singh, a Hindu guru with a Jim Jones-like following, has proposed the suicide, by lottery, of one-third of the world's population. His followers have elected a Depopulationist majority in Congress. ...

If you can find this book you should read it. It's eerily spot on about today's climate reality. It's a very good read and was also influential. Strieber was an up and coming sci-fi star (see his book War Day) but got derailed after he wrote a book on Alien Contact. He went waaaaay down that rabbit hole and lost all credibility. It's a shame, this book is brilliant.

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