In my lifetime, the calls of warning about Global Warming/Climate Change began as a few voices. By the time I was in high school in the 1990's, the voices of warning grew louder. Now, in the early part of the 21st century, global Climate Change has become one of the key issues facing the planet today, and is gaining ground as a society-wide fear. Works of Fiction often reflects a society's collective fears. During H.G. Well's time there was a fear of our new technologically understanding failing us,and the new empire of technology and science would collapse into a state of nature. In the 1940's and early 1950's, there was a collective fear of Communism being imposed on Western Civilization by an invasion of the Reds. Once the Soviets and Red Chinese got the bomb, our fears became visions of mushroom clouds, ruined cities, and rats of unusual size. That common fear of a nuclear holocaust lasted until the 1980's, even I had a fear of nuclear war. Coupled with this, was the ever present fear of technology, alien invasion/abduction, and humans of a different skin color. However since the 1960's, science fiction has reflected a growing collective fear, with roots in reality, about global warming/ Climate Change. This only increased with the establishment of Earth Day in 1970. Now, FWS is not a political blog, and I try not to inject my personal religious/political into the subject FWS covers. That being said, the topic of Climate Change is complete flame bait, and I understand that some think that Global Warming is a liberal snow job, but I'm not one. Let me be clear: this blogpost is not about the genesis of Climate Change, if it's man-made or a natural global cycle, but the consequences of Climate Change. So, don't get on my ass or up my ass about your political or religious theory. Save it for another internet outlet. Please comment if you wish to add something to the discussion of how Climate Change (man-made or not) will fuel future wars. Let us move on now to the good stuff.
The Human Race, Climate Change, and Primitive Wars
Conflict between different groups of humans is as old as the species, and back in the dark epoch of time, Climate Change was a genesis of some of the first conflicts. Prior to farming, the hunter-gather way of life caused humans to be tied to the lands and product of that land. If there was a lack of rainfall, increase of heat, increase of cold, the animal population would move out of range of these hunter-gather groups, and these same environmental changes could also disrupt the vegetation that these humans depended on. Without this supply of food and water, their lives were in a critical state. This could led the group to seek out other regions with better hunting grounds and supplies of water. With this is one of the primary originals of human migration across the face of the global, it also is the origin of war. If this area had good hunting and good water, it is likely that someone else owned it, and there was going to be a fight.
Even after our species was more or less established within agricultural societies, the threat of Climate Change remained. If a region drought lasted too long, it could force a group to search out more agreeable lands, and those lands could be occupied and thus, war is the result...again. Such was the fate of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples from one of my home states: New Mexico. While hard archaeological evidence is yet to be found of why the "Anasazi" peoples abandoned their communities, speculation of warfare after their crops failed during an extended drought. This is similar theory to the collapse of the Mayan civilization, crops fail, society tumbles especially when there is an large urban population depending on the farms. Even today, we falsely believe that our technology separates us from nature and the effects of unstable ecosystem, but what has happened in New York, Somalia, Syria, New Orleans tells us differently.
How Climate Change Fuels Conflicts: TODAY
Vladmir Lenin summed up the resolution of the post-war situation in Russia during the Revolution and the goal of their new government: "Land, Peace, and Bread." While the speech was address issues of landlessness among the workers, ceasing operations in the Great War, and bread for the hungry masses. This old saying could match how Climate Change today is fueling the low-intensity conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, and even the civil war in Syria. As the Earth's temperature rises and rainfall decreases, this directly correlates to a rise in low-intensity conflicts. In these regions, there is lethal combination of increased population growth (especially since there is lack of sex education), drought, crop failure, economic down turn, lack of government involvement. This breeds desperation, and is especially bad in a region where the Avtomat Kalashikova 47
All of these led to war, either a small scale between tribal groups for resources, or larger scale involving armed gangs (like those Janjaweed mother fuckers) and warlords curving out a territory and power base, or even full-on wars between nations for resources. Even in America, there is conflicts fought with lawyers, paper, and legislators over resources. Recently, Texas (where I live) and Oklahoma (where I used to live) are fighting over usage of the Red River. Securing of vital resources today is mostly via alliances, trade deals, corporations making deals with local governments...however, there have been military options. During the 1973 Oil Crisis, the Nixon Administration was believed to be preparing a military invasion of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Abu Dhabi, to secure the supply so that the crude oil would flow.
How Climate Change Fuels Conflicts: TOMORROW
Climate Change would make poorer nations more desperate, triggering instability and overall global Climate Change is a "threat multiplier" and could create more failed states that will fester into a breeding ground for terrorism. In the unstable region of Africa, according to article I read by David Biello, by 2030 African civil wars and low-intensity conflicts could rise by 55%, with an increase of 400,000 combat deaths to these conflicts. Adding fuel to the wars would be a drop of crop production of 10% to 30% per degree of warming over current temperatures. Like today, this primal urge to eat and provide for your group forced those to take what they need with guns. As David Biello stated: "Fighting for something to eat beats starving in their fields
." Along with crop failure, forcing the hungry to take what they need, there is going to be mass migration away from low-line coastal regions and flood zones to higher ground. This may not be confined to just higher elevations in their nation-state, but across borders.
These massive movements across borders could spark hostilities when the military attempts to shut down the borders. Nation-states under threat could launch military actions to capture lands not in the danger of flooding or farmlands that are producing, or even water sources. Some believe that the Climate Change could finally trigger the nuclear war between India and Pakistan as they put pressure from their large populations.
The Military Today and Climate Change
The United States Military Advisory Board recently ruled that: "Climate Change is a national security issue
". Former British energy and climate secretary Chris Huhne said in 2011 that Climate Change would lead to an increase threat of wars, violence, and military action against the United Kingdom. He even went as far as saying that Climate Change would reverse the process of civilization! This point of increased violence has been clearly demonstrated by the recent developments in Syria. Drought that spanned from 2006 to 2011 displaced 1.5 million people from the farms and rural areas to the major cities of Syria. The lack of support to these farms from the al-Assad regime started a spark that reddened in the flames of civil war across Syria. This is the security challenge that faces the military with Climate Change, and if models are correct, instability could be more normal with nations in at-risk regions of the global. The richer nations, like the UK and US could face more failed states, more terrorism, and less friends in that region.
In addition, the major industrial nations could face larger scale (and more expensive) humanitarian operations, loss of coastal bases and harbors for naval operations, change in salinity impacting sonar and submarine operations, lack of local resources for long-term military operations (trucking in water for example). With the increased of costs, decrease in global security, and economic downturn, the military could be great strain to delivery their mission with less. This includes fuel, water, and food. In response to this incoming threat, some military organizations are developing "greener" military vehicles, MILSPEC solar technology, new smaller naval vessels, and intelligence gathering in these at-risk regions.
What Would a War in a Post-Climate Change World Look Like?
That greatly depends on which climate model comes to pass and how governments and people response to the crisis. It seems that Climate Change will reach its apex about 2100, and any military organization will have modified their operations over the course of the changing world...because Climate Change (for the most part) is slow process. If we look at military operations in 2100 the biggest factors would be weather patterns, availability of fuel/power, what human civilization is like in 2100...is it a Mad Max
situation, or are still big governments like the United States and China?
If there still are government-backed military organizations like today, than it is likely that seapower in a world of floods and changed coast lines will be the main offensive engine. I can see massive platforms being moved into position, and being the base-of-operations for the military unit that is conducting operations in the AO rather than a land base, where supplies could be hard to come by, including fresh water and a steady power supply. Also foreign military bases could be a focus point for refugees and marauders. These sea-platforms would allow for the military taskforce to conduct operations and have a safe behind-the-wire site.
In the post-Climate Change world, military meteorology and weather-prediction technology will be critical in any military operation, along with all-weather capable equipment and personal. We could see infantry/Special Forces use garments similar to the Life-Suits from After Earth
, were the clothing could adapt to rapidly changing climates and conditions. Mobility would also be key, with the shattered conditions, getting in and getting out would be critical and prevent from situations similar to military operations in Somalia in the 1990's. My impression is that heavily combat elements (like tanks and field artillery) would be out in favor of lighter, more mobile firepower options (like the Dragon
assault ship from AVATAR
We could also see more "river assault" like units, similar to the brown-water navy of Vietnam that would operate in flood urban areas. Any soldiers of the post-Climate Change would be trained more than current troopers on dealing with civilian populations, due to the amount of refguees that could be displaced from rising sea levels. A great deal of this military hardware is assuming that governments can survive the Climate Change madness, fuel/raw material is available, and technology continues to advance. If governments, trade, technology, crops, and basic laws fail in the wake of Climate Change, we could see war return to its pre-civilization models, where some prey on others for their needs, and small communities are isolated, and relay on themselves for protection...Max Mad, Quest for Fire
Will Future Wars Be Between Floating City-States?
In the 1995 film Waterworld,
the pirate-like "Smokers" raid floating communities where survivors attempt to build new lives, and are undermanned and lightly armed. This makes the communities prime targets for these raiders. That sci-fi universe, warfare is similar to our ancestors' experience war many thousands of years ago prior to civilization. Brink
told a similar story or an island community being the last resort of hope for the refugees. I guess that some groups with money and desire could construct floating artificial islands that are the last bastions of civilization, much like the Colossus Resort from Black Ops: II
or the Ark from Brink,
There will be still dry land (sorry Waterworld
even if the polar ice caps completely melt. Remember that the polar ice caps did not exist during the Triassic Period (about 248 to 206 Million Years ago), and there was still dry land. The real reason for construction of artificial islands would be for these groups to protect what they have from the crumbling outside world, and if these became the only sources of some lost-tech, than these sites could be hotspots of conflict.
Climate Change and My Own Science Fiction Works
Given that I was born in the late 1970's, and raised in the 80's, I originally had a fear of Red Soviet nukes blasting Oklahoma into doomsday, however, always in the background was message of how precious this planet was. We were taught about rising pollution, the need for recycling, the hole in the ozone layer, and rising heat. All of this entered into my brain and shaped my ideals about the future, which effected my sci-fi writings. The genesis for off-world colonization is frequently attributed to Climate Change in my sci-fi works. My first MSF novel, Endangered Species
which at publishers directly correlates exo-solar colonization with Climate Change, and the main character, Jorja, had her father killed in a super-storm that hit Mississippi. To me, Climate Change is a solid reason for that massive (and expensive) endeavor to be undertaken.
Climate Change Conflicts and Science Fiction
The 1962 British novel The Drowned World,
J.G. Ballard shows us the world of 2145, when the polar ice caps have melted, and life as we know is changed, and while the 1960's were a dawn of the public's understanding of the damage we, as a species, are doing to our planet, it was not the beginning for sci-fi exploring the topic. Since the early 20th century, which Delgue
by S. Fowler Wright in 1927 might be one of the earliest, the topic of how the environment can effect mankind and mankind effect has been told and retold. During the 1960's environment movement that led to education in schools, city recycling programs, and Earth Day, more and more science fiction stories featured Climate Change of some kind.
Much like all-out nuclear war or a plague, Climate Change serves a vehicle for authors and creators to show desperate lawless futures, where the strong survive, the weak die, and the inner humanity is lost...or found depending on the story. Climate Change used to compete with with the nuclear holocaust for the genesis of the apocalypse, but after the end of the Cold War in the 1990's, and the dangers of Climate Change becoming more real and more popular in the news, sci-fi authors and creators turned more towards Climate Change for inspiration, drawn from our society's collective fears, and it worked. In 2010, the Global Warming themed biopunk/sci-fi novel The Windup Girl
won a number of awards seemingly solidified that Climate Change in the science fiction establishment. With this popularity of Climate Change theme in science fiction stories has lead to entirely new sub-genre of literary that some are calling "Cli-Fi". Maybe there should be a new network...or even blog?
Examples in Sci-Fi
Viper's Creed (2009)
In this 2009 Anime series, the situation of Climate Change grows much worse, fueling the nations of Earth to response with World War III, then even worse environmental damage. By the series, in the middle of the 21st century, the Earth's sea levels have risen 35%, vast road networks connect the remaining cities. While these cities attempt to rebuilt some thing like civilization, unmanned armed mecha is plaguing the cities, along with crime, marauders, and all-out war. To protect these floating beacons of society, the cities hired private military companies, like Fort Davia City hiring Arqon Global Securities to backup their police force. One of the key weapons of the PMCs is the motorcycle transformable mecha vehicle, the Maneuver Blades that are directly powered from a power transfer strip embedded in the highway.
In 2154, if you have the cash and you are a member of the elite of Terran society, than you can relocate to Elysium. In GSO, is a massive Stanford torus space station that is the apex of 22nd century technology. The opposite is true of Earth. It looks more like a cross between the Cursed Earth from Judge Dredd
, where Terrans struggle everyday for food, water, and safety. While the movie is not out yet, there are mentions of a ruined and overpopulated Earth that looks hot and dusty. Since Climate Change is in vouge, it seems logically for that plot element to be included in Elysium.
This film will be review in FWS in August.
Battle Engine Aquila (2003)
On the Earth-like alien world of Allium, greenhouse gases have led to the melting of the polar ice caps, leaving only 13 islands as the only dry land on the face of this planet. Two factions remain on Allium, the more industrial and war-like Muspell, and the more peacefully, and technological advanced Forseti (which you play as). Throughout this Xbox/PS2 mecha-flight combat game, you battle for control of these islands, and the endless oceans become an issue for the flight mode of your battle engine and deploying military forces to the battlezone. This is one of the more interesting military science fiction games that seems to been forgotten about.
Our good colony-ship, Elysium,
is on a 123 year long trip to take 60,000 colonists to the exo-solar Terra-like planet of Tanis in the year of 2174. Terra had become environmental unstable and overpopulated, forcing off-world colonization via sleeper colony ships. End result? Space Zombies.
In this forgotten classic of 1989 and my favorite B-Movie, the toll of mankind's environmental damage causes an reaction from good ole mother earth, resulting in the "Convergence". These event floored cities, smashed landmasses together, and created a river of wind called the slipstream. While the Convergence is not the main vehicle of events in the movie, it created the unique melting of cultures seen in the film. There is little in the way of war in Slipstream
, but you get the impression that a majority of the world is divided up into communities, with only the Settlement being close to the way things were, and there are groups that pray on the isolation of humanity. One of the groups that is really interesting in Slipstream
is the Hedonistic/Museum society that still maintains a pre-Convergence way of life in a massive underground bunker complex, sealed against the shattered society outside. There, in their bunker, they have champagne, fine food, fancy parties, air conditioning, and a full stocked library.
In this 2009 pilot-reused-as-a-TV-movie, a 200 billion dollar space mission is launched to explore the Epsilon Eridani star system. While the Phaeton
is in transit, news breaks that Earth will be uninhabitable within a century, and now the mission of the Phaeton
is the survival for the human race. During the movie, one character uses the situation for his own gain. He asks two astronauts to playup their fighting in exchange for in-land vistas for their families, which foreshadows the coming darkness.
The Road (2009)
I've only seen this film once, and it still stands strong in my mind as one of those great post-apocalyptic films that communicates the danger and fear of a world gone mad. This film shows a world after a terrible event that mostly likely is Climate Change-based, most of the animal and plant life is gone...turned to ashes and memories. The Road
is not Mad Max
or Book of Eli
, but is an exploration of not the event, what happens to us after civilization falls and how we can retain our humanity. While very sad and somewhat depressing, the Road
is a touching film that is even more powerful if you are parent.
Wow. Who would have figured that FWS would use a Disney/Pixar movie for an example? Yep, WALL-E
tells the story of the little maintenance-robot that could, and how Earth becomes overrun with trash, and humanity abandons the Earth in massive starships to allow the robots time to clean up. Damned Pixar movies!
Earth Star Voyager (1988)
In the mostly forgotten 1988 space travel epic miniseries by ABC and Disney, the entire reason for the colonial evaluation of a planet well beyond Earth was to save the human race from the destruction of the environment in 2088. The series filmed its 2088 urban scenes at the site of the 1986 EXPO in Vancouver, using the remains of the Soviet area and other, including the small tramcar system. These few scenes used BLADE RUNNER
as an visual reference, including a green neon dragon sign. When two of the characters are walking in the open crowd street, acid rain falls, causing plastic ponchos and breathing masks to be whipped out. Some of the similar themes were used in Ronald Moore's 2009 Virtuality
"Earth that was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many
." Overcrowding, climate change, and depletion of natural resource caused mankind to flee Earth-That-Was and match out to another star system. Little is mention on this topic during the series or movie.
BLADE RUNNER (1982)
In the original 1968 novel by PDK Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
, the world of 1992(!) and its inhabitants has suffered much from a World War were nuclear weapons were exchanged. To solve the destruction, off-world colonization was undertaken. In the 1982 film, the angle of environmental damage is heavily hinted at some sort of man-made destruction of the environment along massive over population. In some BR
sources, Los Angeles has a population of 200 million. The movie also heavily hints at off-world colonization via Replicate slave labor is mankind's way of escape.
After Earth (2013)
While After Earth
may have met with criticism at the box-office, the plot uses Climate Change to force a very, very limited of humanity off of Terra to Nova Prime. Before the construction of the six Ark Generational FTL vessels could be completed, environmental destruction continued at a accelerated rate, and the UN used its newly formed military taskforce to secure hot-spots of hostility.
Split Second (1992)
In this terrible 1992 action science fiction film that I watched on HBO back-in-the-day, the London of the far-off future date of 2008(!) is partially flooded, causing the Police to use jeeps and boats to patrol the streets. While the original concept of a flooded London was interesting, the film takes a nose-drive into shitty territory very quickly with the rat monster. Trust me, this movie is bad.
Soylent Green (1973)
One of the earliest films that I watched that had Climate Change as a center point of the plot was this 1973 gem. In the dark future of 2022, New York City is populated with 40 million people, the world is much hotter, crops are failing, pollution is exploding, and nothing works, nothing runs. Fresh food is a rarity, and the people survive via heavily processed foods. The most popular and consumed is Soylent, a wafer, green in color, made from people, the ultimate renewable resource.
This film was based off the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room!
by Harry Harrison.
In the later portions of the 21st century, an artificial urban island called the Ark was constructed has a symbol of what modern green technology could do. This advanced status, caused the Ark to be overrun with refugees by the time that global warming really hits the fan. These refuges are treated like 3rd rate citizens, which causes a revolt against the Ark government. These rebels demand access to more water rations and the full-run of the Ark complex. While this plot is fully possible in our real future, the game was a serious disappointment. Pity.
Much of the state of Terra is ignored in the theatrical release of AVATAR
, but the footage appears in the Extended Collection Edition, and it adds something to film. In the AVATAR Survival Guide
handbook it talk much more about the shitty state of Terra with 20 billion people and the importance of the Unobtanium for energy generation in the numbers they need for the survival of the human race. Much of Earth is used to feed or shelter the massive population, even Yellowstone Park is used for homes. It is only mentioned that both former Marines, Quaritch and Jake, fought in wars over nations that possess rain forests: Nigeria and Venezuela. It is rumored that Pandora was going to be colonized by RDA, until Jake showed up, and some rumors hint that this is going to be the plot of the next two AVATAR
was an attempt at a epic global warming movie which "borrowed" heavily from the Mad Max
films, and depicted a harsh struggle between floating communities and marauders that praying on these isolated groups. At the beginning of the film, it set that the polar ice caps completely melted, totally covering the Earth in water...no more dry land in the year 2500. While this is a nice plot device, even in 1995, it was assumed that if the polar ice caps completely melted, the sea levels would rise 37 inches, nit enough to submerge every landmass.
This film came out in between my Senior year in High School and Freshman year in College, and I dragged my girlfriend to see this one....and damn, it was bad! Too silly and illogical for its own good, it did have an interesting view of the dark future of humanity. At the time Waterworld
was made, it was the most expensive movie, and it was a hellish shoot. Even in that era prior to the internet, the troubles of this film were well known in the mass media, and Waterworld
nearly ended the career of Kevin Costner.
The Colony (2013)
In the year of 2045, the world is an ice bucket due to mankind attempting to reverse Climate Change, and the experiment blows up in the face of mankind, causing a new ice age...and not one with nut-hungry squirrels, but with flesh-eating zombie-like people, who are called "ferals". In order to survive, underground colonies have been constructed that look like Cold War-era bunkers that have strict sick day policies. In seems in this lower budget film with tons of acting talent, the whole of mankind lives underground and the limited population is slowly dying off. Check out Xenomorphosis.com's review of the Colony:
Man After Man: Anthropology of the Future (1990)
This is one amazing book from 1990, and has been in my collection since 1992. Not only does Dougal Dixon design incredible art, he weaves that art with a compelling narrative about the continued evolution of Mankind after horrors of Climate Change, interstellar space travel, and genetic engineering. In order for humanity to survive the destruction of the environment, genetic engineer is undertaken along with some cybernetics, and selective breeding for the space colonial venture. In the end, the human race that we know dies on the changed Earth, with only the genetically altered remaining on Earth and out in space searching for a new home. Honestly, this is a great read.
SPEC OPS: the Line (2012)
The Spec Ops
line of games were okay, I played a few since their release in 1998, but they were never great games. My mind was changed when I first saw trailers for the 2012 SPEC OPS: the Line.
The most dramaic element of the game was its setting, a sand-flooded Dubai, six months after the storms. The game never mentions how or why these sandstorms occur on such a mammoth level. 2K Games even stated in a interview: "we're not making any statements about capitalism or global warming or any crap like that
". That being said, the game offers the player a chance to play in a setting could be a reality in a Climate Change future.
Around the mid-23rd century, the Earth is a bad place to live. The damage to the environment results in massive Climate Change that triggers massive extinction, mutations, and wars over the remains of the rain forest. Things looked bleak for the human race until the arrival of the Yma. These technologically and spiritually superior beings come to Terra to haul the damage, and teach the human race how to live on their own world. By the dawn of the 24th century, the Yma are now the caretakers of Terra and her peoples. In 2358, the Yma and a small human team journey to Darwin IV using the Yma FTL technology. In 2005, the Discovery Channel created a CGI and location filming to tell the tale of an robotic probe expedition to Darwin IV, a journey that took some 42 years at 20% of light-speed. This 94 minute documentary style program altered the book, but kept most of the alien animals of Darwin IV.
In the future of 2588, Terra is a wasteland from either environmental destruction or nuclear war, the manga is never quiet spells it out. Clusters of humans live in towns that are not named, but numbered, and these towns are controlled by a centralized computer system. The humans living in these towns have a choice: live as low-class with few rights, or join the town's military and serve for the right to call yourself a citizen (gee...where have I heard that one before?). Grey
was a brutal manga that read back in the 1990's when Viz brought it to America, and could show the future of warfare in a post-Climate Change world. FWS will be covering Grey
in more detail in a Forgotten Classics
blogpost sometime soon...
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Our world is upside down after the Seven Days of Fire, when it is believed that a nuclear war wiped out most of humanity and altered the environment. One thousand years later, the Earth is a surreal place, with mutant plants and animals spread, forcing the remains humans into small settlements. This toxic jungle spreads further and further every year. While this wonderful Anime OVA from 1984 is not strictly a Climate Change movie, it interesting that a man-made destruction leads to extreme and hostile Climate Change.
TERRA NOVA (2010)
In the short-lived FOX network (surprise) time travel show, 2149 sucks. Only 20% Government run food centers are open, lethal strains of the flu are hitting China, USA unemployment rates are at 70%, and you can only have 2 children.It is heavily hinted that the human race cannot live on Terra much longer, and they take to a temporal rift back 80 million years for salvation.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
The world of the 21st century is a dark one. Global sea levels has risen to drown cities and coastal regions, resulting in a decrease in the population. This crisis triggers the creation of advanced robotics, called Mecha to help mankind. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
was one of those films I had forgotten about until I started research on this topic, and I had even seen in the theater with the wife back in 2001. I can clearly recall that the film was rather emotional, but little else. During a recent family trip to a local big-box store, I picked the film on DVD for five bucks, and I was amazed how much enjoyed the film now in 2013. During my recent watching, I kept thinking how much this film was more like an Isaac Asimov story than that piece of shit I, Robot