Wednesday, 15 December 2010

World Building:Climate change

There are those who are strong-minded enough to research a subject without being diverted on the way; I am not, I have to confess, one of them.  Even in the days when reference books ruled I could end up reading diverse tomes that really had little to do with the matter in hand – sparked by some reference or throwaway comment.  Now, when the cobweb that stretches across the globe can trap information in seconds, whole hours can be happily spent following one strand to another until I might hesitate to name the original thought.  Wonderful fun and who can honestly say that finding out anything new is a complete waste of time?

Ellen’s Tale is, of course, just that: a tale, a story, a work of fiction and not a proven piece of research.  I realise that the premise on which the book is based will not be to everyone’s way of thinking; however, I will nail my colours to the mast and say I follow the opinions of the current climate change faction who claim change is being accelerated by mankind. Now obviously one cannot know for sure what, if anything, will happen but the facts seem, to me, to support some kind of drastic climate change and whether or not it is change caused by man’s activities or just another in a continual cycle of change is, I feel, immaterial really.  The difference between climate changes previously and that predicted for the near future is the fact of the present human population; it is not just primitive life forms or prehistoric animals at risk but millions of our fellow companions.

Ellen’s Tale didn’t necessitate much extra research as my reading had already encompassed climate change which fuelled the story in the first place. For those who are interested in the subject and who have not already read around it I found the following interesting, but they are probably not for the fainthearted or for those who depress easily!

‘When the Rivers run Dry’ by Fred Pearce, is an excellent account of how perilous the world’s fresh water supplies are and one which ends on a more hopeful note than his ‘The Last Generation’ does.  But the ‘Last Generation’ gives an interesting historical perspective to climate change.

Mark Lynas books ‘High Tide’ and ‘Six Degrees’ are also two I found interesting.  The first outlines the degree to which climate change is impacting on the world today and the second tries to explain what each degree of warming could do to different parts of the world. 

Another readable account which shows the impact of climate change on the world today is ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe’ by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Lester R Brown’s ‘Outgrowing the Earth’ explains very well the very real problems facing future food security in a world where population is outstripping water supplies and land suitable for producing food; a must have book.

‘The Weather Makers’ by Tim Flannery presents us with two choices for the future: one catastrophic and one where we could thrive, albeit in a changed world.

These aforementioned are relatively recent publications but one of my older books was published in 1989 ‘The Greenhouse Effect’ by Stewart Boyle and John Ardill and shows that my interest in the subject stretches back into my history and that concerns on climate change are not recent.  I also remember, when much younger, stating to great derision from my peers that I thought the next global war would be caused by the desperate starving of the undeveloped countries and this was well before the first televised famines of Africa.  I cannot, at this distance of time, remember what sparked the comment but I still do fear the consequence of ignoring the food and water supplies of the world.

So these are just a few of those who have helped form my opinion about the subject but also, over the years, I have followed the arguments, for and against in science journals, listened to the increasingly concerned debate over the past three decades and these, combined with the travels of my youth, when I discovered how marvellous our planet can be, have fed into the brain cells.  An accumulation of theories, facts and opinions.  All of which I realise may well evolve and change as new theories, facts and opinions materialise.  Nothing is ever fixed.

details of  Ellen's Tale and The Storyteller's Tale the first and second parts of the Sefuty Chronicles may be found on

alberta's thoughts on almost anything can be found on

and thoughts on reading and books on


  1. Whatever your views on climate change, too many people, companies and governments are hiding their heads in the sand. Until China and especially the USA get their act together there will be few major changes made. I've had Tim Flannery's book on my shelves for a while.

  2. not just governments and companies I fear the ordinary folk seem to have a cut off point and If it envolves a leap of faith and projection into the future they seem to loose the will somehow

  3. Climate change is a great topic to write about. My current WIP is a marine-focused sci-fi novel, and will definitely deal with climate change.

    If you're ever looking for more info, check out my blog: I write about climate and ocean science in an accessible way, I love the authors you've mentioned above, and I'm always happy to answer science questions from authors for their books. you can find my email on the About page of my blog.

    Good luck with your writing!