Average sea levels have risen around 23 centimetres since 1880 and that rate is accelerating, with another 3.2mm of rise each year in 2019. What if that rate continues to accelerate as the polar ice caps melt and the water heats up? Most of the eastern seaboard of Australia would be underwater, drowning Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
By 2221 most Australians might have moved to Hobart in southern Tasmania to escape the sea rise and ever-increasing temperatures.
This is the world Craig Ensor imagines in his new novel, The Warming.
The Warming is an intriguingly positive rendering of the future death of our planet. Told through the lens of a life-long love story, it shows that perhaps descending into war and mayhem amid environmental chaos is not necessarily our destiny.
This is a very different kind of climate fiction. It depicts a world where every country welcomes climate refugees and we’ve created artistic and academic enclaves towards the north and south poles. I have to say, though, I did wonder a little what our future descendants might have done with all the poor people and the football nuts when they formed these intellectual paradises.
In an isolated coastal town south of Sydney, young Finch Taylor is captivated by the mysterious beauty April Speare and her pianist husband William when they move into a nearby beach house with a piano and a tragic secret. Finch soon begins a lifelong love affair with music, and with April. But as he and April follow the great migration south to Tasmania, and eventually to a warming Antarctica, they must decide whether to bring children into a world without a future.
In 2221 the world is dying. Scientists have accepted it’s only a matter of a few generations until the earth will be unfit for human life. Many people have stopped having children; others have children as a protest of hope. But mostly, they bide their time. There is nothing to be done except move further south. As Finch Taylor muses:
By the time I arrived at the University of Tasmania, over two hundred years after the first scientific acknowledgement of the warming, the universities had accepted the fact that there would be no stay or reversal. There was no technological solution. The warming had a momentum which no amount of political change or technological advancement could stop. The solution was simple: to move. As we had done for thousands and thousands of years. Move from land to land. Southwards. Or northwards, for those on the other side of the equator. Two choices.
The technological advancements in The Warming also fascinating. Self-driving cars, of course, but also new ways to mark university students. For piano students, grades are based on the player’s ability to emotionally impact the listeners. Technology measures the level and type of emotion felt by each individual listener.
The Warming is a story that starts small and slowly creeps outwards until you can see the whole picture stretching back through time. For many chapters it’s simply the story of a 15-year-old boy with a major crush on a married 22-year-old woman, who also happens to be the only female for miles around.
It moves beyond this as both Finch and April age and grow towards each other. But in essence, The Warming remains throughout a love story at the end of the world.
Grab a copy from your favourite bookstore or online at:
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.