We Have The Knowledge: The Collapse of Western Civilization.

The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway was interesting to read for one major factor. Instead of the many books that are published on climate change, that are looking forward, this one looks back and bases its “fictional” conclusions on the past. The scientists/authors make very extreme climate change events seem plausible, even conceivable to those without a lot of background on the subject. Oreskes and Conway mention people in “Active denial” – those who insisted that extreme weather reflected natural variability, and “Passive denial” – those who could not find compelling justification for broad changes (7). I found that very telling, and might even add passive activism, as those who believe that climate change is happening, but are too overwhelmed with the plethora of information available to even try to indulge in a “where to start” idea. This type of passivity I would also relate to the narrator in the book Climate Changed.

Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall write in their article, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security”, “the view of climate change maybe self deception as increasingly we are facing weather related disasters.” There have been many storms in recent years, and it makes news for awhile then the coverage just drops off, as what fuels the media is the new (next) big disaster. We touched on this in class, about what it would take for people to continually be interested in these events, and be involved enough to bring them to action.  In the interview with the authors, Oreskes says “we know beyond a reasonable doubt that business as usual will lead to more damage…It’s way too late for precaution. Now we are talking about damage control.”(75) That very statement alone should draw attention from people, as it’s very obvious that the world is experiencing (life changing) weather events. However, especially in America, we tend to have tunnel vision until it happens to us personally.

I feel this book represents the term “Cli-Fi” very well, as Conway says “Fiction gives you more latitude, and here we try to use that latitude in interesting and thought provoking ways, but always with the goal of being true to the facts…”(66). Perhaps the more people start reading this type of literature they will go from passive activism to true active activism. The great thing about this book, is that they are scientists so they are basing their predictions on the past, from research and knowledge in this area. The Collapse of Western Civilization was an easy and fast read for anyone that wants a quick dose of Cli-Fi, or in general wants more information on how our current events could indeed affect the future of this planet.

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