It had to happen eventually. The creaking old laptop that was once my pride and joy1 has finally gone to the great orchard in the sky, and I have been forced to visit the grocer for a new piece of fruit. Being that I am a creaky old geek, I couldn’t just nip down to the computer store and buy an off-the-shelf model. No, I had to have the processor upgrade, the maximum memory and a Fusion drive, which means it will be about a week before I can access all my files2. Until then I will be servicing the digital world from this iPad, which is a wonderful device for everything but writing. Posting will be (even more) intermittent, at best, and brevity will be my watchword. You have been warned…
It was new when Hot Topic was born.
You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, etc.
That’s the title of my first post at New Zealand’s new The Daily Blog. It’s an attempt to underline the long term imperative provided by sea level rise, to help a general audience to appreciate that every tonne of CO2 counts. The Daily Blog launched last week. Editor Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury has pulled together over 30 of NZ’s “leading left-wing commentators and progressive opinion shapers to provide the other side of the story on today’s news, media and political agendas”. I’ll be blogging there every two weeks, covering climate science and policy with an eye to the run-in to the next election in 2014. Wish me luck…
If only all Christmas music was as good as this. The finest voice in soul, and a Green with it, reminds us what today should feel like. Compliments of whatever shakes your tree from Gareth and all the writers who have contributed to Hot Topic over the past year. Should Al pall, then spend a few minutes pondering the energy problems confronted by a Glasgow legend during the festive season. Nadolig llawen.
I am regretfully giving up writing regular posts for Hot Topic. Age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease affecting central vision, has been advancing for some years and has come to the point where reading of the kind on which I have depended for my posts has become difficult and laborious. It’s four years since Gareth [...]
A few weeks ago I burned a little midnight oil and, hunched over this very keyboard, wrote a little story about The Last Climate Denier in New Zealand. If you were to think that it was a tad satirical, you would not be wrong. It’s a sad story, set in a parallel universe that bears a striking resemblance to The Burning World, and was my entry in this year’s Royal Society of NZ Manhire Prize (fiction section). Now I learn that by some strange misjudgement my short story finds itself in the shortlist for the prize. I can’t publish the story here until after it loses (which will be late November), but in the meantime you can download it here. It’s a two hankie story, so be prepared…
At last it can be revealed — the project that’s been swallowing most of my writing time over the last year. The Aviator is a work of speculative fiction1, the first in a series set in The Burning World, and it’s my first foray into extended fiction — in which a plot idea borrowed from a bloke called Swift is wrapped around a dystopian vision of a climate-changed near future, all garnished with tales of strange people with even stranger ideas. This is how the great NZ comics artist Dylan Horrocks, who provided the book’s magnificent cover, describes it:
The Aviator is a light-hearted journey (by state-of-the-art airship) around a world transformed by climate change and subsequent political collapse. Rock God Evangelists, super-rich survivalists, back-to-nature primitivists, heavily armed luddites, goats with the secret of eternal youth, and a horny artificial intelligence with a taste for bluegrass and classic Hollywood films; The Aviator is a Gulliver-esque romp through a future we hope won’t come to pass.
The Aviator is currently available via Amazon for Kindle readers, and as an epub for other devices. You can download a free sample of the book — roughly 10% of the 100,000 word total — at Amazon. Editions for sale via Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo are in the works, and a paperback edition will be available in September. All digital editions are DRM free. When the publishing process is done and dusted, and I’ve stopped jumping through promotional hoops, I’ll be starting on book two. I have lots of ideas I want to explore from the vantage point of Thunderbird (the airship), if she’ll let me.
It’s been snowing most of the day chez Hot Topic, so any chance I may have had of viewing the transit of Venus across the sun earlier today was lost in a haze of snowflakes and cloud. However, thanks to the fact that the sun provides the energy that drives the climate system, I can justify posting this wonderful NASA video, produced by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. More imagery here. Breathtaking, I hope you’ll agree.
It will, with luck, be a quiet Christmas chez Hot Topic. A small family gathering instead of the usual table groaning with relatives, but I will shortly have my hands deep inside a turkey, and we will all be reminded that my mother makes the best mince pies in the world. Then it will be time for the cook (for it is me) to retire to the hammock in the shade of the birch tree with a book and a glass of wine and fall asleep. A very merry primary gifting period to all of Hot Topic’s readers and contributors. Normal service will be resumed when my liver has recovered and the mince pies are all gone.
It is time for us to start writing it [the future]. We cannot do so if we limit the discussion by imposing the interests of any particular culture or interest or institution. We need to take the discussions that the cleverest of us occasionally manage to have over beer at midnight, and put them front and center, into the public sphere. A cold, hard look at the present and the future can be frightening, but it also can be exhilarating. It is time for us to be willing to say what mustn’t be said, and consider doing what mustn’t be done. This is no time for an excess of propriety. But the time for blame and recriminations is over. We can’t afford them anymore. Let’s move on.
Let’s look reality in the face and decide what needs to be done.
The tag line for Planet 3.0 is Beyond Sustainability. That can be taken two ways: as a statement of the fact that we are living well beyond the planet’s means, eating natural capital; and as a pointer to where we need to go – -beyond traditional ideas of sustainability to design ourselves a system that will enable the survival of our civilisation.
The conversation Tobis wants to spark is vital. Go and have a poke around Planet 3.0, and contribute to the discussion. We’ve only got the one planet to play with. Time to start treating it right. The current paradigm is getting us into trouble. What might a new paradigm for benign development look like?
Hot Topic is very pleased to support Planet 3.0. You can find a full list of the supporting blogs here. It’s an honour to be in such distinguished company. Good luck to all who sail in her…
David Mitchell (on his soapbox) tells it like it is, with an appropriate degree of emphasis. By way of being a place-holder to mark my return to NZ and climate blogging. Currently overwhelmed by the amount of catching up of all sorts that I have to do, but something like normal service will resume shortly. Meanwhile, my heartfelt thanks to Bryan for doing so much work in my absence, to Simon for his thoughtful contributions, and to Glenn and John for keeping the Climate Show ticking over so well. Thanks all!