Home > Newsletter > The Future is Hot, It’s Getting Hotter

The Future is Hot, It’s Getting Hotter

By Tobias S. Buckell

William Gibson was famous for saying the future was here already, it was just unevenly distributed. A quote I’ve loved, as I grew up on a boat in the Caribbean. I remember that in a five year period starting at around ten years old, I lived that quote as I traveled from an isolated area in the developing world all the way to ending up living near a US city.

I was living a very isolated existence in the southern Caribbean where most of the Western world was a science fiction-like setting I saw on the television occasionally (I saw TV when ashore, not as much on the boat). When I moved to the US and British Virgin Islands I used my first elevator, saw my first department store, ate my first fast food meal (and threw up, my body couldn’t even make sense of it). Was exposed to computers. It was a new sort of world.

It wasn’t more than a few years later I took a jet to Washington DC to visit my stepdad’s parents. Flying over the eastern seaboard of the US reminded me of the city-wide planet of Trantor from Isaac Asimov’s novels. The highway system we saw as my new grandparents drove us from DC to Ohio blew my mind. In five years I’d moved from one existence, to another. Unevenly distributed futures is a phrase that is very personal to me.

When I decided to explore the nature of global warming for Arctic Rising one of the things I wanted to explore was that sort of complexity. The world is large and the future that isn’t here yet will still also be unevenly distributed, and the fall out from a changing climate will be as well. It’s not that water will dry up and places will get warmer. It’s that some places will have get more arable land, and others get drought. Some places will get more rain. More snow. Some places will be colder. There will be more storms. Some people are going to get rich. There will be an oil boom in the Arctic. There will be Arctic Tiger nations. And it’s going to be an interesting mess of human activity.

How will ordinary people live in this unevenly distributed future?  For most, the primary concerns will be the same as always: having enough food, water, and shelter.  For others, like Anika Duncan, a polar airship pilot from Nigeria and my main character, the world will be a complex and challenging place as she is caught up in a geo-political storm.


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From the Tor/Forge March newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.


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  1. March 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Yep, the future will tend – on the grand scale – to be warmer. It’s been getting warmer since about the year 1700, when the Little Ice Age began gradually to end. The rate of warming over the past three centuries has been very slow and more or less steady.

    As that rate can be expected to continue, we’re nowhere near the prospect in our lifetimes of enjoying global surface temperatures matching those of the Roman Warm Period, much less those of the prosperous Medieval Warm climate optimum that preceded the catastrophic Little Ice Age.

    What’s more, the global warming process that “upticked” a tiny bit in the last two decades of the 20th Century came to an effective end in 1998, and since that time (despite the continuing growth in the anthropogenic increment of atmospheric carbon dioxide) global surface, deep oceanic, and stratospheric temperatures have trended flat or in slight decline.

    As we gain greater insight into the extraterrestrial (predominantly solar) factors which really control the Earth’s climate, it’s understood that the current and especially the next cycle of solar variation will result in significantly colder global temperatures over the next decade and more.

    But, no, the global climate change we’ve been experiencing isn’t man-made, and the combustion of fossil petrochemicals (to accelerate the Keeling Curve) has not a goddam thing to do with it.

  2. March 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    This can be flipped too, we have an unevenly distributed past. I spent seven years living part of the time in the 1880s — went right from the 1960s to the late nineteenth century, just by moving to the rural West Indies (without living on a boat).

  3. mk
    June 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Tucci displays the typical ignorance, arrogance, stupidity, and intellectual dishonesty of AGW deniers. He actually knows no climate science but has just cobbled together a story from denialist blogs. He doesn’t even know that most of the folks who run these blogs now acknowledge that there is AGW but that the climate’s sensitivity is is overstated by the “CAGW alarmists”.

  1. March 5, 2012 at 2:34 pm
  2. March 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm
  3. March 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm
  4. March 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

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