Gulf Streams Stops

Written By: Charles - Jan• 30•08

-3  44% 17% 1mph WSW bar30.24 rises windchill-5  Winter

                 Waning Crescent of the Winter Moon

The day continues cold.  We reached -15.8 this morning at 6:24AM.  Since then, we’ve gained about twelve degrees. The windchill all day has been brutal. 

Kate finished cushions for the window seat in the kitchen.  I put Hilo on it while it was on Kate’s worktable to see if she would like it.  She seemed nervous.

This week I’ve slept like a rock.  An odd phrase, but apt in the nothing till morning meaning I intend here.    

Yesterday I finished Fifty Degrees, the second in Kim Stanley Robinson’s eco-thriller/near future sci-fi trilogy which begins with Forty Days of Rain and ends with Sixty Days and Counting. His Mars trilogy is better as science fiction; it’s wonderful; but, this trilogy strikes closer to home and imagines a time period when we pass some of the tipping points talked about in the news these days.  The Gulf Stream stops because the thermohaline barrier breaches.  Weather patterns swing wildly from one extreme to the other.  The West Anarctic Ice Shelf begins to leave land and drift into the ocean, causing several centimeters of sea level rise. 

The book imagines a loose team of scientists, policy wonks and politicians who in their various spheres create solutions and fight to realize them before the worst becomes worse.  There is also some Buddhist material, too.  The characters are interesting and make the books worth reading, as was true of the Mars trilogy.  Robinson imagines, however, a science  triumphant, even dominant which I find suspicious.  It was industrialists and technocrats who got us in this mess, with our individual complicity, and to imagine that rationalism, their primary tool, will dig us out seems suspect at the core.

The facet of it that rings true to me is the paradigmatically American approach of, keep trying until solutions come.  That the scientific will play a necessary and perhaps even lead role I don’t question.  I just don’t want an approach that leaves aside the many individual decision makers, those of us in our cars and at home with our dishwashers.  This is science-fiction, not political-fiction, or a novel of manners (though it has some aspects of this genre), so the focus is congruent, yet I want to see us stretch all the way out for solutions.

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