Until I saw the Showtime documentary Years of Living Dangerously I never knew there had been a terrible drought in Syria for 4 years running up to the current brutal civil war.
No one suggests that this was the only reason for the unrest but only a fool would say it had no effect on the problems there.
I also realised a couple of things that relate to writing dystopian or utopian fiction, a thing I am battling with on a daily basis.
Making a documentary series about climate chaos and the socio-political upheaval that will follow, showing horrendous images of human stupidity and waste is easy.
I’m not saying the producers of this brilliant documentary series have done a poor job, far from it, it’s very well put together, the presenters are heartfelt and serious and what they are questioning and challenging is vitally important.
They confront public attitudes with a torrent of peer-reviewed information about the devastating effects of man-made climate change.
Even now the majority of people in the developed world don’t want to accept the screamingly bloody obvious, but ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ shows tiny rays of hope in this otherwise ‘up shit creek without a paddle in a barbed wire canoe’ scenario.
However the struggle I have fallen into is to try and throw light on the fact that there is already perfectly viable alternative technology being developed all over the world at such a heady pace it’s impossible for any one individual to keep up.
There is another story to be told here the picture above illustrates dramatically. This is the biggest solar and wind farm.... in the world. Where is it? Germany? California? Australia?
No, it's in China, and remember, all we hear from Daily Mail mor... sorry, readers is 'what's the point of us doing anything when China is building 3 new coal burning power stations a week!'
True, China is burning a shit ton of coal but they are also hell bent on doing something else, they have the largest and fastest growing wind and solar generation of any country and it's set to increase ever faster.
So yes, we are pumping ever-increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, yes we are devastating what’s left of our rainforests, emptying our seas of life, melting our icecaps like it’s going out of fashion.
However we are entering a tremendously exciting, and yes terrifying period of transition, the next 40-50 years will transform our planet in ways none of us can imagine.
It could easily get much worse, it could also get much better.
I won’t live to see most of that but I am driven above all else to politely suggest that the sooner and the more profoundly we change some of our habits, the sooner we adopt new technologies, with all their drawbacks and early-adopter hazards, the better.
It’s not about guilt and redemption, it’s not about re-cycling plastic bottles, it’s actually about economic sense and sustainability.
Not using plastic bottles at all, not cutting down trees and burning them, not fracking for the last pathetic remnants of fossil fuel, not burning crude oil but using it to make useful things like pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics we don’t throw away, harvesting energy as well as crops, using energy and raw materials sensibly and making that normal is the best hope we have.