People send me stuff. This time is a novel about climate change. – Anthony
CAGW as self-organising narrative, referencing previous posts on fiction, and offering a free downloadable novelette
By Andy West
I’m a long-term WUWT reader, but extremely rare commenter. The last time was back in January when I had time at various airports, and I commented on Willis’ Venusian atmosphere post.
I first became interested in the topic of Global Warming, as it was known then, almost 6 years ago. The trigger for me was watching Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and realising that the film was a very powerful narrative which lacked proper balance and was all about advocacy, with references to underlying theory frustratingly vague and infrequent. The cherry-picker scene was kinda sciencey, yet somehow even that aroused questions rather than convincing me. I had no means to evaluate the science aspects back then, so resolved to look into them (wow, armed only with a long-ago physics degree did that take years longer than I thought!) But in fact my chief interest was not the climate science.
My passionate hobby is evolutionary science, and particularly the evolutionary bounds on, and processes within, sentient populations. Those processes include the development of memeplexes, ‘self-organising narratives’, if you will, and I very quickly realised that here, right under my nose, was a doozy of a specimen already far into burgeoning growth that I nevertheless hadn’t noticed at all. Until that time I’d made the mistake of believing that the science underpinning CAGW was ‘certain’, ‘solid’, was hard fact, and a solid factual cage prevents memeplexes from escaping and evolving. They thrive on mysticism and doubt, on unbounded (or very poorly bounded) fact-spaces. So I’d missed the obvious.
Well a little more on memeplexes later. Meanwhile I should explain that I’m a writer on the side (mainly high-concept Science Fiction, but occasionally more mainstream work and a little poetry), so during my regular trawls of the climate blogs the following posts caught my eye, the first being here at WUWT:
People send me stuff. Here’s one about UEA offering a prize contest for “creative climate writing”. – Anthony.
“The scholarship is open to all applicants to the Prose Fiction and Poetry strands of the MA, whose writing demonstrates a commitment to environmental themes, in particular to furthering the general understanding of the impact of climate change.”http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/24/poetic-license-ueas-creative-climate-writing-prize/
The above is an annual bursary, worth £5000, open to students undertaking the UEA MA Creative Writing course.
Here’s another, this time from Australia, courtesy of Bishop Hill:
Philippa Martyr, writing in Quadrant magazine, looks at academic grant awards relating to climate change. Like this for example: Literary Studies: “The project will devise and develop a new ‘cultural materialist’ paradigm for science fiction studies and apply it to a case study of science fictional representations of catastrophe, especially nuclear war, plague and extreme climate change.” ($239,000) http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/7/24/climate-change-and-literary-studies.html
Given the establishment offering the prize, I suspect the first effort will contribute to the narrative of man harming the planet through the medium of climate change, and the second will likely re-interpret existing literature to align to that same narrative. Just two more contributions added to the (probably) hundreds of thousands of narrative reinforcements in press releases and articles and talks and action-days and all the rest. The fact-space is still far too unbounded to restrict this aggressive accumulation of narrative weight, which already leans far too heavily upon sceptical questions and healthy debate. But pending the maturation of climate science, other means can be used to help restore some balance.
Every narrative can have its roots exposed by the light of a counter-narrative, can be challenged by a different story. The many excellent posters here and at other good sceptic blogs create a kind of patchwork ‘resistance’ narrative based on emerging science and science-audit and political comment. But the fiction posts above inspired me to contribute in a way that I’m personally able to do, with a self-contained piece of counter-narrative expressed in science fiction, something that may hopefully be a useful and very readable means to keep minds open.
Anthony’s post above starts with those immortal words ‘People send me stuff’.
I have read that so many times and never thought I’d be sending stuff, but here I am doing precisely that. And my stuff is high-concept fiction. I offer the novelette ‘Truth’ free to WUWT readers and in fact also for free distribution elsewhere as you please (the work is under a creative commons license with no-commercial-use and no-making-derivatives, but you can email / put on websites / whatever). In fact though I hope everyone has some pleasure reading it, the main value would be in migrating out from the fully sceptic audience, so send it where you will. My intent was an enjoyable way to make folks stop and think, to raise questions, to counter the massive narrative weight of ‘certain’ CAGW and indeed to portray the social phenomena behind that weight as a means to do so.
For anyone nervous of SF geekiness, don’t worry it has no ray-guns or spaceships or time-warps; it’s only loosely SF and has plenty of action too. And those self-evolving memeplexes I mentioned are luridly portrayed, one in particular… Please do not baulk at the first use of the word ‘denier’, the context will become clear. Mention of climate change issues appears only slowly, but fear not there is purpose in this and a lot comes later on to stir minds, or for those already asking healthy questions, still an interesting perspective, a glimpse at depths of social realism, and some parts to revel in too :) .
‘Truth’ is about an hour’s read. Go here wearenarrative.wordpress.com to grab the pdf. Just look for the tasteful 1950s B-movie front-cover image above.
Or pull the book direct from here: http://wearenarrative.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/truth.pdf.
In fact the blog is brand new and not made known to the world until this post. In truth I wasn’t expecting much of any traffic and have little time to respond anyhow, but I’d appreciate it if anyone drops by with a comment on the story. In case anyone is wondering, there was definitely no grant funding for this story, and I can say with confidence that it isn’t going to win a prize from any consensus organisations!
A final word on memeplexes. I’m sceptical of the three Cs: ‘consensus’, ‘certainty’, and ‘catastrophe’. Nevertheless I don’t know whether CO2 will work out to be big problem, a modest problem, or possibly not a problem at all. I really don’t think anyone yet has the means to know. But to compare CAGW with other social memeplexes: if the existence of God was unequivocally disproved tomorrow, there’d be no need for the huge infra-structures of religious paraphernalia.
And, more interestingly, if he/she beamed down tomorrow and introduced himself/herself, there would likewise be no need for the same infra-structures. We’d all just get his/her phone number. Similarly if the case for CAGW was indeed proven (inclusive of all main mechanisms), the fact-space would be just as constrained as if it was disproven, and the whole memeplex would collapse. In the proven case, just as for historic major disasters or wars, everyone’s shoulder would be at the wheel, we’d all know what to do and all the social messaging and CC related promotion hierarchies and political positioning would evaporate overnight.
As this clearly isn’t anywhere remotely close to happening, while terms like ‘believers’, ‘disbelievers’, ‘faith in the science’ (or loss thereof) and the ugly ‘deniers’ term, all abound, then I’m guessing there’s probably very little that is certain within the wicked problem of climate, least of all attribution.