Saturday, 8 March 2014
If J. G. Ballard were alive, he would have appreciated the irony. The town he lived in for forty years, and where he wrote the bulk of his books, was flooded.
Fiction turning into reality? Was Ballard a seer? Did he intimate that those polar ice caps in the North Pole would really melt?
Maybe he was just writing science fiction. If the writings of any post-war English writer were to materialise, then Ballard's world would be the least desirable to live in. Yet we very much are living in a Ballardian world. High-rise skyscrapers, the advent of tech gizmos such as Skype, terrorist attacks, mass surveillance. His early disaster trilogy - novels such as The Drowned World and The Drought - may be waiting around the corner too.
Marx mentioned that capitalism by its very nature is unsustainable. With population growth, the globalised economy will find increasingly difficult to prosper. Add to that the stratospheric cost of global warming - these floods have already cost high sums - and we will be deeper in trouble. It is not clear if these floods are attributable to global warming per se, but the correlation between the two is stark.
Yet governments the world over are reluctant to even legislate incremental remedies. Cameron calls it 'green crap'. Milliband hardly ever mentions it. It was curious how, following these floods, the response from the climate change sceptics was muted. It is an established fact in the scientific community. (Empirical observation has forced these impartial observers into radical political positions.) Many say that, even if it may exist, it is not man-made. That position is becoming more difficult to defend, too.
Anyway, read his crystalline prose and familiarise yourself with our imminent dystopia.