From the Bleeding Obvious Files: “Science Fiction Helps Understand Climate Change”

Guest humor by David Middleton

When I saw this on Real Clear Energy this morning, I just had to click the link…

Science Fiction Helps Understand Climate Change

Why… Of course it does.  Here’s an “oldie, but a goody”…

The First International School on Climate System And Climate Chang (ISCS)

Author:Yan Zhang,Yiming Liu 2004-11-19

The First International School on Climate System And Climate Chang (ISCS), sponsored by China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and co-sponsored by the Office of IPCC Working Group I, State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and National Natural Science Foundation of China, was held in CMA from August 23 to September 1, 2004. It received extensive attention from the meteorological departments and relevant scientific research institutions. More than 16o students including young researchers, doctoral candidates and master degree candidates specialized in climate system and climate change research took part in the study. They are from over 40 organizations, such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education as well as CMA National Climate Centre, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences (CAMS) and eight meteorological institutes, National Satellite Meteorological Centre, seven Regional Meteorological Centres, provincial meteorological bureaus, etc.

Fifteen world famous experts from countries including France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, U.S.A., Canada and China, were invited to serve as the lecturers of ISCS. They were: Dr. Jean Jouzel from France, Vice-Chairman of IPCC Working Group I; Dr. Robert Delmas from France, Director of the Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysics and Environment; Dr. Ulrich Cubasch from the Meteorological Institute in Free University Berlin; Dr. In-Sik Kang, Director of the Climate Environment System Research Center of Seoul National University; Dr. Akio Kitoh, Director of the Climate Research Division of the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan Meteorological Agency; Dr. John Ogren and Dr. Zhanqing Li from U.S.A; Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld from Israel; Dr. Chung-Kyu Park and Dr. Won-Tae Yun from Korean Meteorological Agency; as well as some renowned scientists in China, namely, Prof. Ding Yihui, Dr. Dong WenJie, Prof. Lin Er’Da , Prof. Pan Jiahua, Mr. Chen ZhenLin.

[…]

This session of School includes 45 teaching hours altogether and most of them were conducted in English. The wonderful lectures given by Chinese and foreign experts attracted great interest of the participants. During the session, the students were also invited to watch the American scientific film “the Day After Tomorrow”, which demonstrated “the breath-taking catastrophe brought to mankind by climate change”, and visit the GAW station in Shangdianzi, Miyun District, Beijing and the Great Walls in Simatai and Gubeikou.

[…]

Beijing Climate Center

I found this 14 years ago… I am shocked that it’s still on the Internet.  Just in case it gets vanished, I took a couple of screenshots:

During the session, the students were also invited to watch the American scientific film “the Day After Tomorrow”, which demonstrated “the breath-taking catastrophe brought to mankind by climate change”…

I couldn’t make this kind of schist up if I was trying.

Can imagined futures of drowned cities and solar utopias help us grasp the complexity of climate change? Diego Arguedas Ortiz takes a look.

By Diego Arguedas Ortiz
15 January 2019

It’s the year 2140 and two kids ride their skimboards in the heart of Manhattan, near the point where Sixth Avenue meets Broadway. If you are familiar with this junction you would know it is far from the US’ current coastline. But in Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel New York 2140, Manhattan is flooded after unabated climate change causes the sea level to rise by 50ft (15.25m). The amphibian city is now a SuperVenice, a grid of canals populated by vaporettos where characters must learn how to deal with a world both familiar and unrecognisable to us. Mid-Manhattan skimboading is all too possible in this future.

Robinson’s 2017 climate-fiction novel belongs to a growing cadre of works about drowned nations, wind farm utopias or scarred metropolises decades into the future. As diplomats draft the rulebook for the global response to the climate crisis and engineers race to produce better solar panels, writers have found their role, too: telling what Robinson calls “the story of the next century”. In doing that, they might be helping readers across the world comprehend the situation in which we currently find ourselves.

[…]

The BBC

In all of my years in the oil & gas business (~38), we’ve never viewed this as a training device…

“We bring in the world’s best deep core driller…”

After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, N.A.S.A. recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet.

—Devin Rush

It is just another day at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a few astronauts were repairing a satellite until, out of nowhere, a series of asteroids came crashing into the shuttle, destroying it. These asteroids also decimated New York soon thereafter. Then, NASA discovered that there is an asteroid roughly the size of Texas heading towards the Earth, and when it does hit the Earth, the planet itself and all of its inhabitants will be obliterated, worse, the asteroid will hit the Earth in 18 days. Unfortunately, NASA’s plans to destroy the asteroid are irrelevant. That is when the U.S. military decides to use a nuclear warhead to blow the asteroid to pieces. Then, scientists decide to blow the asteroid with the warhead inside the asteroid itself. The only man to do it, is an oil driller named Harry Stamper and his group of misfit drillers and geologists. As he and his drill team prepare for space excavation, the asteroid is still heading towards the Earth. When the crew are launched into outer space, they are determined to destroy this asteroid.

—John Wiggins

IMDB

Although, I do know one petroleum geologist who did become an astronaut.

Disclaimer: I actually love the movies, The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon… Bad science fiction is some of the best entertainment there is… 2012 is one of my favorites… particularly when Los Angeles falls into the Pacific Ocean and Yellowstone blows up Woody Harrelson!

So… There you have it.  Climate science is the only science best understood through the lens of science fiction!

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88 thoughts on “From the Bleeding Obvious Files: “Science Fiction Helps Understand Climate Change”

  1. Synopsis: “We prefer our warm soft fantasies that show we’re right, rather than cold hard reality that refuses to support us.”

  2. I have no doubt understanding of climate science can be improved by science fiction. I highly recommend starting with Fallen Angels!

    • Yes, the Tide Pod Generation has morphed into to the Bird Box Generation seamlessly, hasn’t it?

      When I was about 10 I tried to emulate a cartoon character by jumping off a tower of cushions into a “trampoline” held by my much younger brothers. Needless to say, it didn’t work quite as well as the cartoon showed me for some reason.

      Of course, my father gently reminded me how little fiction can actually reflect fact, quoting several ancient philosophers and modern thinkers.

      By that I mean “yelling at me for five solid minutes” for going through the top of coffee table…

      • South Park somewhat addressed this when Cartman jumped off a roof wearing only cardboard wings, with the obvious result. When his mother rushed to the hospital the doctor informed her that her son his being treated for extreme stupidity.

      • Yesterday saw a video of something called the Boiling Water Challenge.
        If you recall the bucket of ice water challenge, you will have the correct mental image of what this challenge consists of.
        Science by assertion is Mensa level cognition by people who can be induced to eat Tide pods, swallow spoonfuls of cinnamon powder, eat an armload of saltines, fill your mouth with Mentos then drink Diet Coke, drink a gallon of milk without stopping to breath, pour lighter fluid on yourself and light it…simply by daring them in a you tube video.
        People being so easily duped by “science by assertion” just goes to demonstrate that the scenario in Idiocracy is not so far-fetched after all.

        *Some of these challenges do demonstrate at least some form of thought, such as the one which females to prove they were real women by taking and posting themselves passing the “Underboob Pen Challenge”. The inventor of this mem almost won the yearly Real Men of Genius award, but was beat out by the guy who went from house to house posing as a “breast inspector”.

  3. Title of article is “The First International School on Climate System And Climate Chang

    Shouldn’t it read “The First International School on Climate System And Climate Cha-Ching!

    • Disappointing that the author of the ‘Mars’ trilogy has jumped on the Climate Crises bandwagon, but hardly shocking. So many otherwise good writers are apparently convinced that sometime in the next 50 years were going to get 50 meters of sea level rise… suddenly enough that even wealthy cities like New York and DC can’t manage to build a dike or ship in enough fill to raise the surface level.

      And frankly, that’s stupid. Hell, even if it did somehow happen that the sea suddenly rose by 50 meters in a single afternoon, there’s no reason they couldn’t go in, build a dike or dam, and drain the flooded area.

      Just like New Orleans did after it was flooded by Katrina.

      ~¿~

    • There are a few problems with that “scientific” film of Al Gore’s:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/11/AR2007101102134.html?noredirect=on

      U.K. Judge Rules Gore’s Climate Film Has 9 Errors

      By Mary Jordan
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Friday, October 12, 2007

      “LONDON, Oct. 11 — A British judge has ruled that Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” contains “nine errors.”

      High Court Judge Michael Burton, deciding a lawsuit that questioned the film’s suitability for showing in British classrooms, said Wednesday that the movie builds a “powerful” case that global warming is caused by humans and that urgent means are needed to counter it.

      But he also said Gore makes nine statements in the film that are not supported by current mainstream scientific consensus. Teachers, Burton concluded, could show the film but must alert students to what the judge called errors.”

      end excerpt

      “Scienfific film”! That’s funny!

  4. I wish we had a modern Gilbert and Sullivan to pop out patter songs for these special occasions. The pickings are so rich.

    • Tom, be careful what you ask for. Here it is, from modern Gilbert & Sullivan:

      I am the very model of a modern Climate-Scientist,
      I’ve information computationist and climaticist,
      I know the I P C C, and I quote the temps historical
      From Glacial to Mannical, in order categorical;
      Although I’m really not acquainted well with matters statistical,
      My theory is the basis for the equations marcottical,
      About the causes and effects I’m teeming with a lot o’ news, (bothered for a rhyme)
      With many cheerful facts about the data that I choose to choose.

      I’m very good at integral and differential calculus;
      But I have no clue about least squares – I think that’s miraculous:
      In short, in matters computationist and climaticist,
      I am the very model of a modern Climate-Scientist.

      I know our mythic history, Arrhenius’ and the Goracle’s;
      I answer hard inquiries as long as they’re pal reviewable,
      I quote in elegiacs all the schemes and all the climate tricks,
      In forecasts I can floor peculiarities hiatus-ics;
      I can’t tell undoubted measurements from temperatures Ouija-ous,
      I know the croaking chorus from errors of models numerous!
      Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din of late, (bothered for a rhyme)
      And delete all the emails from that infernal nonsense Climategate.

      Then I can write a global temp from inverted Tiljander,
      Using public funds and grants for which I always pander:
      In short, in matters computationist and climaticist,
      I am the very model of a modern Climate-Scientist.

      In fact, when I know what is meant by “HadCRUT” and “Nature trick”,
      When I can tell at sight a regression line from a hockey stick,
      When such affairs as lawsuits and surprises I’m more wary at,
      And when I know precisely where the ocean heat is hidden at,
      When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern climatery,
      When I know less of ethics than a novice in a nunnery –
      In short, when I’ve a smattering of the science of the clime – (bothered for a rhyme)
      You’ll say a better Climate-Scientist has hidden the decline.

      For my climate science knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
      Has only fit the curve down to the beginning of this century;
      But still, in matters computationist and climaticist,
      I am the very model of a modern Climate-Scientist.

  5. And this drivel is written with a straight face. You need fantasy to understand “reality”

    Copied from the L. Ron Hubbard playbook.

  6. I am a bit dismayed on how the average fool will realize Zombies aren’t real, but films such as “The Day After Tomorrow” has them convinced regarding humanity’s doom.

      • Yes, the concept of the “fast zombie”, as opposed to the more common slow and clumsy ones, proved to be impossible to look away from.

        • Well technically, all these stupid stunts are kinda proving Darwin right…so sorta sciency, I guess.

          As the saying goes, stupidity SHOULD be painful.

          • But… Those who survive near-Darwin Awards tend to pass on their stupidity to their children, thus supporting Lamarckian evolution… 😎

          • Yes, but thankfully, they aren’t having children, or a least as many. And some of them are taking themselves out of the gene pool in less spectacular ways (i.e. vasectomies) because they don’t want to bring children into such a terrible, terrible world.

            Good. More for the rest of us, I guess.

      • We’ve already been invaded: they’re just not from outer space, *and* they’re preaching global warming disaster.

  7. Not a bad idea though.

    Propose something utterly wacky as a conference, have it all paid for by donors and paying participants, have a good old knees up, bit of a party for a few days……Oh wait. The IPCC have that covered.

    Back to the drawing board.

  8. Our Man Flint from 1966: Scientists use eco-terrorism to impose their will on the world by affecting extremes in the weather.

    • No one is badder than a dude that can sleep with the top of his head on one chair and his heels on another, with nothing in between.
      Trivia to impress your friends: In one scene in Our Man Flint, an assassin tries to shoot Flint in a filthy bathroom. Flint sees him in a mirror and greets his old pal, Hans Gruber, before beating him up.
      22 years later, the movie Die Hard borrows the name, and the main bad guy is also named Hans Gruber.

  9. It”s understandable that if you have an appreciation for science fiction, that you will also have a first rate education in climate science.

  10. “Science Fiction Helps Understand Climate Change”

    “Climate Change” IS “science fiction,” so that would appear self-evident!

  11. From the Bleeding Obvious Files: “Science Fiction Helps Understand Climate Change” yes yes yes the whole climate-change-narrative is fiction, we all understand now.

  12. The AGW conjecture depends upon the existence of a radiant greenhouse effect caused by trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with LWIR absorption bands. Such a radiant greenhouse effect has not been observed in a real greenhouse, In the Earth’s atmosphere or anywhere else in the solar system. The radiant greenhouse is science fiction so hence the AGW conjecture is science fiction as well. Any “science” based on the AGW conjecture is science fiction as well.

    • Williams says: ” Such a radiant greenhouse effect has not been observed in a real greenhouse, In the Earth’s atmosphere ”

      If you wish to observe the radiant greenhouse effect it is really simple. Obtain one of these: https://www.fluke.com/en-us/products/temperature-measurement/ir-thermometers

      Now wait for a cloudless night, go outside, point the instrument towards the sky, and observe the reading.
      ….
      Keep in mind that empty space has a temperature of about 4 degrees K.

      You’ll be surprised the reading you obtain.

    • I am mildly embarrassed to confess I only recently discovered this.

      I had previously casually assumed that ‘greenhouse gases’ were believed to trap heat in the same way glass panels in a greenhouse behave. This at least made a bit of sense.

      The idea that CO2 is some sort of magic gas that spits out free energy once it gets warm is so blatantly junk that I think I just dismissed it as being something that no one could ever take seriously. I am still slightly gob smacked that this is actually the cornerstone of climate science.

      I guess it shows why most ‘climate scientists’ seem to not talk about the if and how of warming, but how the warming with be destroy life as we know it. I knew it all was dubious, but hadn’t realise just how everything was a giant distraction.

      (Also, if CO2 is such a magic gas, then why are we now producing runaway warming in a controlled environment and using it as a power source? Maybe because the science behind it is junk?)

  13. Well, look at all I learned about robotics by watching “Short Circuit” and “The Terminator” and laser technology from “Real Genius.”

  14. Kim Stanley Robinson and I share a history and for a while when he needed answers to the hard questions he would turn to me.

    True, the actual hard question was, “Excuse me, is this the correct room for the Zombie Vampire Smackdown?” but the fact remains *I* was the person he selected to ask.

    (“No, they have swapped rooms. You now need to go upstairs.”)

    Nice man. Very friendly and polite. Also once held a door open for me. Struggled with his books but definitely a nice guy.

  15. You can actually lean things from reading science fiction. Recently I read some H.G. Wells and leant that Wells really didn’t get on with Kipling and that the monthly publishing of serialised novels in magazines was the Edwardian version of Twitter flame wars. Don’t like someone’s political point of view? Slag him in The Strand as part of your latest adventure!

    Other classic science fiction was also very useful. From the Earth to the Moon by Verne taught me that it is completely acceptable to dispose of dead pets by throwing them out the airlock and Slaughter House Five showed me that everything was pre-ordained, nothing can be altered and if your life is surrounded by utter misery now there was little point in worrying as you were only going to end up in an alien zoo shacked up with a hot movie starlet as part of their captive breeding programme. Or something.

    Can we learn from Science Fiction? Well… depends. To learn anything STEM you are going to be required to read some pretty hard and writers clever enough to get the science right often fail to provide matching plots and characters (cough… Greg Egan… cough).

    Social? Animal Farm? 1984? Can we with a straight face argue that these are not a form of science fiction and that they were not intended as a social warning?

    (also apparently Wells once had a screaming argument with Orwell during a dinner party. Beginning to think Wells wasn’t a people person…)

    You do find a lot of science fiction attempting to push a viewpoint. Nordenholt’s Millions (1923 – Connington) is a novel where a mysterious plot convenience starts removing the nitrogen from the soil causing all the earth’s plants to die. A strong, ruthless but pragmatic ruler steps in and bravely saves a million while building a cure while letting the rest of the world go jump. It’s dry reading to be honest but interesting in historical context on the view that a strong ruthless but pragmatic leader with total control is the new black. Or brown. Or Brownshirt… The old ruling system had caused the Great War and therefore the old system needed to be replaced for the greater good. Average novel, interesting historical reflection.

    We also get stuff like The Windup Girl by someone I can’t be stuffed googling. It won a Hugo and was filled with climate change, GM crops, CO2 evilness and post fuel. Frankly it wasn’t THAT good with inconsistent world building, a messy story line, a Windup Girl (basically a self aware artificial person) who is treated like an object and actually gets ‘given’ to a crime boss as a gift by one of the ‘good guys’ but later forgives him and goes back to him (serious? WTF?) but that was okay because the rest of the book ticked all the important CO2 Bad, GM Food Bad, West Bad etc etc boxes. Can (or should?) Sci Fi educate? Or is Sci Fi sometimes seen as another tool by our Social Elites attempting to draw attention to the correct ways of thinking?

    Or is sometimes an adventure just an adventure? Is Conan Doyle a visionary who attempted to alert us to the dangerous of giant sky monsters living in the upper atmosphere, or a guy who liked writing stories?

    Answers due by next Book Club 😀

  16. I’m rather fond of movies with giant drooling ants and hunky guys who shoot them… but that’s just me.

    • I prefer the good looking young blonde, who’s only purpose is to scream theatrically at the proper point… but that’s just me.

  17. I was turned on to science fiction by a couple of my former students and as a result have read hundreds of science fiction books. One of the things that I enjoy most is the authors extrapolation of currently proposed alterations to our societies, economies, medical treatments, the physical sciences, military capabilities and other areas. They often cause me to stop and consider how sometimes seemingly small changes can be amplified through time. Some of the earlier books have turned out to seem almost prophetic. I have used these books as an escape from reality yet sometimes they have resulted in bringing me back to confront current issues. It is amazing how sometimes impossible occurrences can be made to sound so rational and believable. To think that an author’s skill in weaving a story and combining facts with the impossible could somehow result in people buying into a theory which is ludicrous in the extreme causes me to realize just how ignorant and gullible my fellow humans can be.

  18. You must admit “Rossum’s Universal Robots” – broadcast as RUR – from the original 1920 play as being relevant to current views about what happens when robots take over all the menial jobs and then take over all the middle management jobs and leave millions of people with nothing to do and no reason to exist – except as cannon fodder when they revolt against the Deep State.

    Science fiction is always ahead of science. Just think Jules Verne – “A voyage to the moon and around it” and H G Wells. But the latter was a convinced socialist and anti Christian, just like many of the current politicians. Also as shown in the “Murdoch Mysteries” – a skirt chaser. Comment in the Encyclopaedia Britannica – “None of his contemporaries did more to encourage revolt against Christian tenets and accepted codes of behaviour, especially as regards sex, in which, both in his books and in his personal life, he was a persistent advocate of an almost complete freedom.” – Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/H-G-Wells .

    • I don’t really subscribe to the idea that Wells was this massive visionary. Time Travel? Still to be commercially viable. Invisibility? Think they are waiting on cold fusion before they start on that one. Modern Utopias? I am sure they will get it right ONE day.

      It does seem that he at least followed developments. He became away of the pedrail system being developed by Diplock and used the ideas in his short ‘The Land Ironclads’ and in The War in the Air he has gyroscoped monorails (which do actually work) replace all conventional railways and 4 wheeled cars.

      Problem here is he backed evolutionary dead ends and ignored the growth industries. Diplock abandoned pedrails not that long after and despite working, the advantages of gyro stabilised rail were never that impressive. Wells also seemed to have a habit of willing anything he didn’t like out of existence. In Land Ironclads his machines succeeded because artillery couldn’t hit lumbering 100 foot long targets and were quickly overrun. In War in the Air conventional fixed wing aircraft were a technical dead end that everyone soon gave up on – although it may be argued that he did this it help drive his overall plot.

      To be honest I am never completely sure what to think of Wells’ fiction. I struggle a bit with his style. Burrows and Conan Doyle I have never really had a problem with style wise, so it can’t just be ‘the era’. The quality and quantity of his works definitely deserve him a place in writing history and his influence is widespread. I think I enjoy the fact he did write and did have a big influence more than the fact I actually enjoy reading him. Not sure if that makes sense, but like I said, I struggle to define to myself what he and his books means to me.

      Just don’t think he was the amazing future visionary everyone wants him to be.

  19. I think his stories displayed a common theme: unintended consequences. Especially “The Food of the Gods”.

    SR

  20. After 40+ years in the petroleum service industry (GSI, 4; Gearhart Industries, 12; Halliburton Services, 11; Computalog/Precision Energy Services/Weatherford, 15) I was chosen to rep/assist Sandia Labs (1985) in the area of high pressure (20+ Kpsi)/high temp (400+*F) seals for geothermal down hole research. Most of the wells serviced were 400+*F @15,000 to 20,000 feet in depth. Dewar Flask and engineered polymer o-rings with PEEK backups would allow for several hours of down hole ops with wireline/slick line logging tools. At times blackened stainless/high nickel alloy outer pressure housings were observed when high % of H2S was incurred at elevated pressures and temps.
    With todays technology, geothermal wells are ripe for HPHT steam generation for turbines, mimicking coal, oil and gas fired steam without the pesky CO2 and other gasses in the emissions. It’s time to consider these technologies as the best viable option for “FREE GREEN” low cost energy. Regards, George Reagan, retired engineer, Fort Worth, TX.

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