Another popular theme in science fiction. I have read numerous books and watched countless films with Global Warming at the fore, be it snow, rain, ice, wind, tornados, tsunamis, or an all out end of the world as we know it… they all arise from this theme. I’ve learned about the effect of collapsing ice shelves (The day after Tomorrow), the devastating effects of solar flares (2012) as well as ‘witnessing’ a variety of environmental experiments via the films on the Syfy channel, (the acting is bad, the scripts are awful, but some of the concepts are quite good).
So… Global warming is the ‘century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects’(Wikipedia)
Extreme weather conditions are often cited as a direct result of Global Warming, whether we have the hottest January on record or an increase in Hurricanes.
In Science Fiction, extreme weather is frequently the cause of Earth’s impending demise, with characters racing to counter the unprecedented extremes, or succumb to them.
In most of the films I’ve watched with extreme weather scenarios, the scientists are very fortunate in that they have sophisticated equipment to warn them about the incoming storm/hurricane/flood/volcanic eruption etc etc, but refuse to believe the given results – even though the equipment is doing what it was designed to do. There is of course that one character who isn’t fooled, who tries to convince the majority, but by the time they start listening to him/her, it’s usually too late.
The Barren Earth
In my mind, a future with continued Global Warning is that of a barren, drought-ridden expanse of land where little grows, livestock dies and water – or what is left of it – becomes our most valuable resource. An article on CS Globe discusses a controversial scientist’s claim that Earth could be heading towards something he refers to as Venus syndrome, ‘where global warming becomes so bad Earth can no longer sustain human life.’ (source), although his vision is the opposite of mine (rising sea levels).
The truth is, we are abusing the planet we rely on to support life. We’ve become a busy little place over the last one hundred years or so, chopping down trees, dipping into natural resources such as oil and gas, pumping chemicals into the sky… and if the Greenhouse effect is to be believed, it’s going to get hotter.
I did watch a program about this a few years back, and I can’t remember all the details, but I’m pretty sure the scientists were arguing that Earth went through a natural cycle of warm and cold spells – implying that what we’re being told isn’t all doom and gloom, but I suppose time will tell who is right and who isn’t.
Another possible scenario for us (and this one is very futuristic), is that the Earth did indeed achieve the status of ‘Venus syndrome,’ is totally beyond the ability to support life, and those of us who could afford it (or were just plain lucky), have moved on to new pastures. Our technology has usually advanced to the point where we’ve created ships that are capable of travelling great distances, and usually with faster than the speed of light travel, or with the ability to jump from one point in space to another. We’ve discovered new life-supporting planets and have taken what remains of humanity aboard these great ships, although in some science fiction, the journey has already been taken and life couldn’t be better…