Sunday, July 03, 2011

What worries Margaret Atwood worries us, too


We just finished reading Oryx and Crake, which Wikipedia summarizes better than we can. It was published in 2003 and so we're a little late to this particular party, but better late than never. Maybe. It definitely requires a stiff upper lip and a pitcher of mojitos.

Basically, it's a post-apocalyptic vision of a world in which bioengineering solutions to famine, over population, and climate change become the future's worst nightmare, a world where spliced artificial species replace all the real ones when corporations profit motives replace good sense. It's a troublesome book because, as the author says, nothing she write about hasn't been invented or begun to be invented.

Particularly troublesome to us was the descriptions of future climate including daily storms, searing heat, cessation of all snowfall, changed locations of major cities, etc. Having just read Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent call-out of President Obama in the New Yorker (full text here), we're freshly convinced we're doomed in this department.
Obama knows—and, indeed, has stated as much—that if we continue along our present path we’ll guarantee our children a much more dangerous future. Taking the steps that would reduce the risks of climate change is not going to be politically popular, which is why it is the President’s obligation to press for them. It may be beyond our power to control the climate, but we can determine it. This is precisely what we’re doing right now, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
President Obama is failing us, and failing future generations (and present non-human ones) by acting like the unusual weather patterns this summer are merely an Act of God and failing to act like the leader of a country that needs to get its head out of its ass.

We'd rather not end up like Atwood's Snowman or any of the other humans in her novel. This isn't a joke. This isn't researchers looking for grant money. This is a possible future, an ugly, awful, painful future.


James Barnes said...

Chickie-nobs, anyone?

Demarcated Landscapes said...

Exactly. Thanks, James, for the nauseating, salient link.