Tag Archives: climate

Going On The Account: Reality Checked

So the last time I pitched Red Jenny, the person I was describing to said, “You mean, you really think climate change will make a war possible between the US and Canada?”

Had that happened after this post, I could have held up Syria as a case study in climate change geopolitics.

 
Which makes what may happen there soon all the more tragically ironic, as we’d be going back to the Middle East so soon because of oil, although not for oil.  If anything, we have less reason to go to war there to fight for new petroleum, and instead are looking at intervening thanks to our overusing this resource over the last few decades.

 
So no, I don’t think what I set up is all that far fetched; the consequences that thematically built the book did come and bite everyone’s asses pretty well.  Depending on how Syria plays out, I might look back and think I didn’t go far enough…

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction

Going On The Account: From the Bottom, And Over the Top

Yeah, it’s been a pretty dead summer; part of the reason The Pirates of New York took so long to leave drydock was a whole host of mundane distractions that just piled up on each other, so getting that put out cut into some other projected project time,and the dominoes, they just didn’t stay up…

 
So, getting my time back in line, putting a few things in order and all that.  No more time for excuses here, which means when things happen they best be noted sooner rather than later.

Like another effort to find the HMS Hussar being underway.  You may remember we talked about her before, and now that some of the local shore line has been altered by Sandy last year, there’s a chance she may have been exposed when the silt shifted.  The chances are a long shot, as over the course of 200 years (which can be unforgiving to wooden hulls under the East River) the number of vessels that could have come to rest there is high enough that the ship found might have had some other treasure that came through much later, like Canadian hooch avoiding Treasury agents or was the sister ship for overflow from the barge Mobro, either of which are worth note just for historical purposes…

 

 

And speaking of coming later, when I was doing the last work I had thought the Northeast Passage was still a few years off from seeing much regular traffic.  Right now, the container ship Yong Sheng is taking this route, and expected to make Rotterdam in five days as of this post.  Which means I might actually get to visit that tiki bar on Baffin Island I envisaged for the sequel…

Assuming that I get to it, which depends on a few factors, such as encouragement.  Yeah, yeah, here’s where you usually hear the “poor-artist-needs-some-stroking-of-the-ego” pitch.  Just my ego, I promise, nothing more…

Although a few other signs might be available to me soon, he said cryptically…

Leave a comment

Filed under Pirates, Writing

Going On The Account: The Doldrums

Well, it had to happen sooner or later:  My publishing schedule versus IRL, with one going the way of the opponent…

Due to a series of events over the last week and a half that made it nearly impossible to put the end of the book into a form I was happy with, I’m going to have to ask for a mulligan and announce a delay this week.  Yes, what you read is a lot better than how it looks as a first draft, hard as it may be for some of you to accept…

 

As a way to make it up to you, for those wanting to see climate change making someone’s life hell this week, I draw your attention to the video FUTURESTATES : That Which Once Was By Kimi Takesue:  A tale of two people dealing with rising sea levels and what it does to them.  For a piece that tackles a global phenomenon, it’s a very personal film that works well with the topic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: A Shore Thing…

My thanks to Robert Gonzalez at io9.com who found two sites, one with stills and one with GIFs (from which the above comes), with renderings by Nickolay Lamm of what some sections of the East Coast would look like after inundation from a 25-foot rise in sea levels.

For those keeping track at home, the (soon-to-be-finished) novel assumes sea level rises like that occur during surges, with the normal now being about fourteen feet. Of course, with the frequency of such storms likely to rise in the future, the number of days you can visit these places and see water levels like these is probably going to increase every year…

Also of note, and it’s a minor quibble, but if the ocean’s coming in and covering your structures, they are not going to keep their picture postcard good looks after a while; a few months into a changed coastline, and the extra water and currents working your base is going to leave your monuments looking less like this and more like…

 

(All right, not so accurate either, but hey, demonstrative needs and all…)

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: Such A Blooming Idiot

No, this isn’t about my last post

In the course of putting together the novel, I thought I had considered everything in terms of climate change, and what that would mean for a city on Lake Erie.  Breakdown of most non-essential government, check; geopolitical realignment leading to resource war, uh-huh; looks like we got most of it here…

 

And then I read about the return of algae blooms to Lake Erie, due in part to climate change leading to more agricultural runoff into the lake from increased rains.

 

Maybe part of me is such an optimist, that I didn’t want to believe that the lake could be dying again the way it had back in the 1970s.  Those were bad times for the lake, which seemed all the worse when you consider that Lake Erie is Buffalo’s main source for drinking water; a return of the possibility of lake death would have changed the tenor of the piece.  I make reference in passing to acid rain and zebra mussels, but a serious algae problem just wasn’t coming up in the crystal ball.

 

A scene involving a pirate raid on a smuggler where glops of algae are churned in the wake of the boats would have been an interesting set piece to build on, the characters too busy pursuing a few dollars’ worth of booty to pay attention to the damage around them, or even willfully ignoring the greater damage around them.  That could have really punctuated the work, and made a sly point with some dramatic imagery.

No point in bemoaning the lost opportunities.  There’s always the next work to try and get it all in…

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Going On The Account: Visual Aids

Hey, no one said I can’t put up pieces that are not part of the Blogtober madness…

 

Just wanted to offer the following multimedia piece published in today’s NEW YORK TIMES online edition, showing the effects of sea level rises on a selection of American cities.  This does a great job of detailing on interactive maps what we can expect in a time our children will know better…

 

Y’know, maybe we should look again at those listings in southern Ontario…

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: Blogtober – Seeds of Doom

This is the twenty first entry in the Blogtober self-flagellation exercise; maybe I should be glad I never got that journalism career, the way the carping’s coming hard and fast here…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Speaking of distressing things, there was an article at io9 that directed me to this older piece from Nature that makes an interesting claim:  That for every rise of the mean temperature by one degree Fahrenheit, we can expect a species’ geographic range to extend northward by fifty miles.   Thus, if the average temp goes up ten degrees, we should expect species that are at home five hundred miles to the south of us to be quite comfortable in the New York area.

Of course, if the temperatures go up over that ten degree mark, we could be seeing so radical a die-off from the extreme conditions that the rest of this discussion is rendered meaningless, so let’s stick to this as our upper limit, shall we…?

Now, for the sake of visualization, as you can see on the map provided here, 500 miles to the south of New York would put you in the center of Wilmington, NC, a place we considered a little while ago.  Which means that should we see radical climate shift, that the great outdoors here would look much like they do down there now.

And of all the species that would be getting some southern hospitality here, the one we have to fear most has no fangs or claws…

The kudzu plant, a decorative vine imported from Japan that became an invasive species in the US, would feel quite at home here.  Compare the 500-mile radus map linked above with this map of kudzu’s infestation area, and you can see that the New York area could soon disappear under a sheet of green the same way areas near Atlanta and Mobile have.  And this assumes that the plant hasn’t adapted for here yet; one sighting in Albany was noted in 2006, and some areas north of the city have been observed to be overgrown during the warmer months.

In addition to the issues with overgrowth taking out the native plants, there’s the problem of kudzu being a major source of surface ozone pollution, which can increase the rate of global warming as well as being a direct health threat itself.  Which means it will not only bake you and choke your garden, it’ll destroy your lungs; lovely stuff, kudzu…

Sometimes, the threats you need to pay the most attention to are the ones you don’t hear…

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Speaking of threats, if you’re looking for further detailed examination of the world our children will know better, you’re in luck.  The World Bank just released their climate change report, detailing the changes they envisaged for a world that is four degrees Celsius warmer on average, the same scenario I run with.  Theirs is a bit more  precise and covers a wide number of factors affecting areas beyond Western New York; in all fairness, they have a bigger staff…

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction

Going On The Account: Blogtober – Coincidence or Consequence?

Welcome to day ten of the continuing Blogtober crisis, where before the end of this we’ll find some way to justify keeping Ted Koppel on the air long after it’s finished

 

Speaking of crisis impact, I’ve had a few folks ask me how what we just went through compared with what I’m writing now, which is a fair question, all said.

 

Yes, it’s easy to see that there’s much of my work that echoes a lot of what we just went through.  The situation in the Midwest does seem like the “Big Dry” and the storm does seem to have done similar damage to what Hurricane Alejandro had wrought when he came ashore in the novel, although he swiped a little to the east of where Sandy had been.  And if the normal sea levels where the novel has set them were the same height as where the surges that came with Sandy that took out the tunnels, making the flooding we saw permanent (which seems possible when you have Governor Cuomo stating his belief that we’re going to get storms like this a lot more often),  then yes, I could probably claim to be the next Morgan Robertson, whose book Futility about a giant ship being  christened Titan sunk in the Atlantic by an iceberg just did not sell all that well until the Titanic disaster14 years later…

 

Of course, it’s not all radical climate shift we have to worry about.  Part of what sends this time our children will know better into such a calamitous state is a shift in the balance of power after Korea reunifies, which may not happen soon.

 

Although President  Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea doesn’t seem resigned to a long wait; in fact, minister for reunification Yu Woo-ik is drawing up a sensible roadmap for it, trying to avoid some of the issues the Germans faced when they came back together…

 

Well, there was also that part about an Arab-Israeli Cyber War I threw in there…

 

…which admittedly was written after word about Struxnet hit the wires, although this does not seem to be the end of the story…

 

O-kaaaa-a-a-a-a-y….  I think I’m going to make this a quick post; I have to see about talking to some folks and let them know that, yes, I do want to see those southern Ontario listings after all…

 

And maybe download some Morgan Robertson while I’m at it…

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: Ship to Shore

I know I said that I was going to be offline for the week, but I had to come closer in to thank Susan Rocan at Mywithershins for posting an interview she conducted with me.  I have to say, I thought she asked some very tough questions; part of me kept hoping that she graded on a curve…

 

As noted earlier, I’m going to be out of touch for most of the week otherwise, and back ashore by this time next week.  In the meantime, to reiterate the point, I leave you with this…

 

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: Just Wind In Sails

Remember how a couple of days ago, I wanted to kick myself for not having made more of the potential for our dark future to be even darker because the electrical grid couldn’t be sustained in the face of droughts?  Well, it’s time to take a harder look now that we have a working example of this thanks to the Indian blackouts.  Of particular notice is this tidbit suggested in this piece:

Theories for the extraordinarily extensive blackout across much of northern India included excessive demands placed on the grid from certain regions, due in part to low monsoon rains that forced farmers to pump more water to their fields…

Oh yeah, time to reconsider a few assumptions…

 

Mind you, maybe I could talk my way through it with some BS-based salvation; yeah, maybe make like everyone listened to Thomas Dolby’s advice…

 

Oh don’t look at me like that!  Besides, I write about people on the seas aboard rigged vessels, so of course I’m going to suggest that…

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Pirates, Writing

Going On The Account: Strange Days Indeed

First off, happy birthdays for those with their big events to celebrate on the 4th (236 years) and the 1st (30 years in this form).  Apologies for the lack of word before now, but some of what’s been going on around me, believe me, the less you’re drawn in the better…

So what better time than bringing up the past to look at a few pieces that discuss the future?  Recently there were two pieces from the Associated Press about faster sea level raises on the US East Coast and claims that this last June is going to be “what global warming might look like.”  Both of which came out just as someone indirectly brought to my attention this piece from SLATE in 2009 about a weather disaster doomsday, which ties it all together pretty neatly…

All we need now is a pertinent story about pirates, though it seems the biggest news about pirates is Canada’s passage of Bill C-11, which is kinda-sorta-maybe tied in, a little…?

 

Speaking of things to come, I may be looking at at least one week off in terms of sharing the book.  There’s going to be a week were I’m going inland with an oar on one shoulder and a WiFi device under the other arm; when I get somewhere where I can’t justify having either with me, I’ll take a few days away from the water and the grid.  There may also be a week before that when I may need to concentrate on a few other things and need to push stuff aside for a small bit.  I’ll give plenty of warning before any of that happens.

 

Whichever side of the 49th you’re on, hope it’s a good week (whatever part of it you get for yourself)!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing

Going On The Account: Say… What?!?

I got word just now that North Carolina is going to make it illegal to accurately predict sea level changes.

Yes, the same people that have a very narrow definition of marriage are going to out-crazy themselves with an act covering how the state will predict the rise in sea levels.  House Bill 819 goes on to state in Section 2.(e) the following:

The Division of Coastal Management shall be the only State agency authorized to develop rates of sea-level rise and shall do so only at the request of the Commission. These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900.  Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise. Rates of sea-level rise shall not be one rate for the entire coast but, rather, the Division shall consider separately oceanfront and estuarine shorelines.

What are they, HIGH?  Not that I’d suggest the North Carolina legislature is enmeshed in the thrall of addictive plant products that get users hooked  to the point of causing a major health crisis.

Then again…

But seriously, really?  That a state would legislate a scientific process by discarding logic and game the system so as to be able to make it illegal to do anything other than putting their fingers in their ears and going Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah  ad infinitum until the bad smart person just gives up?

What do they think this is, 1633?

I went back to some of the notes and files I put together for doing…   well, you know…  and saw how the Tarheels fared in the scenario I had.  On average between calm periods and the extended inundations during a now-extended hurricane season, Wilmington International Airport is under an inlet to the sea that rolled over Southport and Carolina Beach, Beaufort and Cape Hatteras are great places to scuba dive, and Camp Lejune is in an even better defensive position now that it’s on a peninsula.

But after reading this, I might want to see if there’s more to be done onto them to be mentioned in the back end of the book.  I’ve seen climate change deniers of all stripes, many of whom are starting to realize lately that yes, there is something going on here and it may be time to rethink the denial, but this just makes me want to get all Books of Samuel on their asses.

 

There’s denial that’s just plain stupid, and then there’s this, something criminal that will hurt thousands of people.  If this does not kill them, then it will certainly ruin them through economic disincentive, their properties either uninsured or under-insured thanks to poor risk assessment legislated into existence by narrow minded folks who probably live inland away from the impending disaster.  And again, those without the means will pay the most when the time comes, bearing the cost of another’s foolishness.

Part of me hopes that this becomes for the climate denial movement the high-water mark.  (Pun not intended; oh hell, maybe it was…)   Once word gets out that people need to change the law to keep their fantasies alive and spit on facts and observation,  that maybe this would wake people up and get them to see that much of the “doubt” is really a psy-op campaign by special interests to allow them to keep a very enriching status quo in place.

Mind you, I never thought a statehouse would actually go this far to deny climate change, so it might get a little wetter before it dries out…

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Writing