Carbon Run II: Does Antarctica rise?

Antarctica without ice
Antarctica without ice as envisioned by the British Antarctic Survey

I’m planning a second novel with a climate change theme under the Carbon Run title. The new project doesn’t have a working title yet, although it’s definitely a Carbon Run II. Let’s call it CRII for short. It’s not a sequel, in that I’m not interested in following most of the character’s lives after Carbon Run ends. I’d rather start with a fresh set of characters. I’m not averse, however, to having a Carbon Run character show up in CRII.

Here’s the basic premise of CRII: Around the year 2100, global warming has gotten so far out of control that only the lands above 60° north latitude and below 60° south latitude are friendly to humans. In the north, that leaves the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the extreme northern lands of North America and the Eurasian continent. In the south, the only land below 60° south is Antarctica. All the earth in between, where almost all the human population lives today, no longer supports humanity. It’s either too hot or the weather is too extreme for agriculture on a large scale, although the vagaries of the climate allow small pockets of people to survive.

In Carbon Run, masses of humanity have fled north and south by the 2050s. By 2100, these remnant populations have formed societies in areas of the earth that are now habitable year round. The Arctic Ocean is ice-free during the summer; ice that builds up during the six months of winter darkness is thin and melts away, similar to the ice on the Great Lakes. The vast sheets of ice on Antarctica have retreated primarily to the higher elevations in the continent’s eastern interior, leaving large stretches of ice-free western land as big in area as the western United States. The Antarctic winter is still harsh, but the refugees have learned how to grow food in the barren Antarctic soil and exploit the rich ocean environment. The same is true in the north.

The two societies of north and south are relatively isolated, because of the difficulty of crossing The Belt, the region on Earth between 60° north and 60° south. They can communicate by radio and other electronic means, but the two ends of the earth diverge quickly. The north is a laissez faire society with a weak central government. The south has a strong central government with a culture that sees itself as the last outpost of true human civilization.

After an assassination, an Antarctic government comes to power that decides the north, with its lax attitudes toward environmental protection, is a threat to the entire planet. Diplomacy and persuasion have not worked, and a new leader is leaning toward war as a means to prevent the final end of humanity. One Antarctican asks, is war the only choice, or is peace still possible? He sets off on a secret peace mission, knowing rivals want him to fail, or want him dead.

What do you think?

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