The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
This book is a surprisingly quick and easy read in spite of its scientific concepts and report-style narration. It’s a “science fiction” book based on what happens over the span of about 400 years, from a few decades ago to about the year 2400, focusing mostly on our present century.
At mid-century climate change has increased temperatures by 6 degrees Celcius (11 degrees Fahrenheit), food riots and famines have resulted from dried up crops, insect populations have destroyed forests and increased disease transmission, and the social order has been thrown into chaos.
And then real catastrophe strikes. In 2093 the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fully breaks up and the resulting ocean level increases by 5 meters. Mass migration ensues. Greenland follows and adds 2 meters.
All of this is eventually referred to as the Great Collapse, a double meaning referring to both the ice sheets and the social order. 1.5 billion people are displaced and the Black Death reemerges to again decimate the human population.
The book does not have many characters but one is a heroic woman who genetically modifies a lichenized-fungus to absorb high amounts of carbon dioxide. This combined with a solar minimum helps create some semblance of climate stability, or at least helps humanity on the road to recovery.
This sounds depressing, but what news about climate change isn’t? This book is a welcome reprieve from the average climate change warning in that it creates a real future world for us to grasp as opposed to endless charts and computer models.