Thursday, March 12, 2020

Guest blog by Timothy S. Johnston: The Second Cold War is Coming, and the Culprit is Climate Change

The Second Cold War is Coming, and the Culprit is Climate Change

(Graph from Wikipedia Commons, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies)
We are currently experiencing the greatest shift in climate in recorded history.   Earth has suffered five of the hottest years on record in the last decade.  Storms are growing in intensity.  Cropland is not producing what it once did.  Ocean levels are rising due to melting continental icecaps, ocean shipping facilities will soon be overwhelmed and inundated, and coastal metropolises such as New York City will have to build shore defences or citizens will have to abandon coastlines to move inland.

Economies will collapse.

People will rebel.

There will be military coups and dictatorships and chaos.

Countries will go to war for resources to sustain exploding populations.

And all because of global warming and climate change.

We’ve known about it for decades now.  Burning fossil fuels has been a major contributor, but not the only one.  We’ve been slashing and burning forests with impunity, especially in tropical areas, and the resulting emissions of carbon to the atmosphere is also a major cause.  Rice paddies, cattle populations, and rotting landfills are others.  Back in the 1970’s there was a major debate about nuclear power, and nations mostly backed away from it and kept on burning fossil fuels.

We reap what we sow, as a farmer might say, and they’re in serious trouble now too.

But is it all doom and gloom?

No.  There are alternatives, and my current series, The Rise of Oceania, takes place on Earth in the near future when superpowers are reeling from the effects of global warming, but they are also taking action.  They’re searching out new resources for their suffering populations, trying to mitigate the disaster by building floodwalls and shore defences, and shifting to cleaner power sources like fusion.

The oceans could be considered humanity’s salvation.  Seventy percent of the planet lies underwater.  There are vast, untouched resources there for us, should there one day be a need that outweighs the cost of extraction/harvest.  Consider kelp, for example, as an option to substitute for dying crops on land.  Many cultures already make use of various types of seaweed.  Under the right conditions, kelp grows a meter a day.  Earlier this year, and to the surprise of many experts, researchers reported massive kelp forests in the arctic, flourishing due to the changes in water temperatures and conditions.  One article on the discovery cites a current increase of kelp usage in world diets at 7% per year.

(Kelp.  Image from Wikipedia Commons, US National Park Center)

And there are other extremely valuable resources in our oceans.

Areas underwater near thermal vents (conduits releasing heat and gas and minerals from the Earth’s mantle, called Black Smokers) are littered with mineral nodules made up of manganese and iron.  These are gravel-sized or larger sediments on the ocean bottom.  No need to drill or dig — simply get down there (under immense pressures) and scoop them up.  When conditions on the surface reach a point where it becomes cost effective to mine nodules underwater, you can bet that the superpowers are going to start doing it.

(Manganese Nodule.  Image from Wikipedia Commons, user Koelle, de.wikipedia)

(Black Smoker, from Wikipedia Commons, US Geologic Survey)

(Video from EVNautilus on YouTube:  Hydrothermal Vent — Black Smoker)

Fish can be farmed underwater too, held in pens by bubble fences and harvested quickly and easily.

These are the three main resources that superpowers will be looking for, and in my new series of books — The Savage Deeps is out in stores now — a Second Cold War fought between the superpowers underwater is the focus.  Not a single scene takes place above the water.  It’s about the nations of the world competing for resources and new technologies, often engaging in outright fighting.  There are massive submarine battles, torpedo battles, hand-to-hand combat in scuba gear, spycraft and espionage and sabotage and sub chases.

And lots of death.

And all underwater.

Global warming and climate change are pushing human beings on a dangerous course that right now can’t be corrected.  We can try to minimize the damage, but we started on this course at the outset of the Industrial Revolution in 1750 AD, and we’ve been burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon into the atmosphere (and other greenhouse gases like methane) for nearly three centuries.  We have to make changes or we’ll suffer the doomsday scenario described at the beginning of this article.  Those changes not only involve a shift to cleaner energy, but to supporting the less developed nations of the world to make changes, challenging superpowers like China to move away from using cheap coal, and we will also have to look for new resources as we deal with the damage we’ve caused.

The oceans may be our best hope at survival, and there will surely be competition under the waves, where no one can see what’s happening, and where people on land won’t even notice lost subs and divers and underwater habitats.

These are The Savage Deeps.

— Timothy S. Johnston, 4 March, 2020

About Timothy S. Johnston:

Timothy S. Johnston is a lifelong fan of thrillers and science fiction thrillers in both print and film. His greatest desire is to contribute to the genre which has given him so much over the past four decades. He wishes he could personally thank every novelist, screenwriter, filmmaker, director and actor who has ever inspired him to tell great stories. He has been an educator for twenty years and a writer for thirty. He lives on planet Earth, but he dreams of the stars. Timothy is the author of The War Beneath and The Savage Deeps. His futuristic murder mystery/thrillers include The FurnaceThe Freezer, and The Void.

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The War Beneath won a 2018 GLOBAL THRILLER Award.  Now come The Savage Deeps.

War has come to the darkest depths of the deepest oceans.

Mayor Truman McClusky of Trieste City is at war with the world's superpowers. Laying claim to the resources of the ocean and its floor is the only way to survive in a world where global warming and rising sea levels ravage the surface. But when a Trieste City spy ends up dead—his body beaten beyond recognition—Mac realizes that his city is in mortal danger. The occupying force in Trieste knows more about his plans for independence than he thought, and they will stop at nothing to control Trieste and her people.

Mac flees with a small team that includes scientist and newcomer to the underwater city, Dr. Manesh Lazlow. Together they head for a secret base in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where they plan to create new technologies to fight the superpowers for dominance over the oceans. But the French have picked up Mac's scent and will stop at nothing to kill him. Mac must elude the French, protect his citizens against sabotage and spycraft, and discover the identity of a spy in his midst if he is going to save his city and compete with the superpowers. But he's just a tiny player in the grand scheme of ocean politics . . .

. . . unless he can get his new deep-sea engine working. With it he'll be able to forge deeper than any other sub in the oceans. And if that happens, then all hell is about to break loose.

At six kilometers down.

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