Game of Thrones and the Spectre of Climate Change

A looming climate event that will fundamentally change entire civilizations.

Global elites exclusively concerned with their own power who view everyone ‘below’ them as expendable.

Wars over resources, masquerading as religious disputes, which turn millions into refugees.

Homes destroyed and crops burned in the field as an environmental crisis approaches.

Discrimination and persecution on the grounds of gender, sexuality, disability, race and religion.

Many bloggers and academics have found the troubles of Westeros (the central geography depicted in Game of Thrones) to be too similar to our own.  One particularly lively thread of discussion has arisen in relation to the topic of what Game of Thrones has to say about climate change and global warming.   Here’s a collection of some contributions to this discourse (including, of course, my own!).

Is Game of Thrones Climate-Fiction?

Is a ‘Game of Thrones’ Winter coming?

‘Winter is Coming’Is Game of Thrones an Analogy for Climate Change?

Explaining the Seasons on Game of Thrones.

Does the Climate Science in Game of Thrones Make Sense?

 

Many of this of writing variously points out the importance of paying attention to nature, as it undoubtedly impacts on our social world.  They relate Game of Thrones to physical geography, human geography, organisational studies, politics, sociology, etc.   More importantly they highlight the fact that the characters in King’s Landing, Casterly Rock or wherever are willingly indifferent to the events at, and north of, The Wall, where the hardened Night’s Watch witness the impact of the coming Winter first hand.  Game of Throne’s audience, however, cannot claim to share the scepticism of the Westerosi who are fortunate to live in milder climes (for now).   We know a deeper level of climate change than we have already experienced is coming and that it will change our social, political and cultural world when it arrives.

I don’t want to suggest here that it’s scriptwriters (or even George R.R. Martin) are attempting to embed a cli-fi curriculum into the show. Game of Thrones is one of the most watched TV shows in the world, and each new episode and series is eagerly anticipated by it’s growing number of devotees. When the response of politicians to ongoing destruction of a natural world remains wanting, and when certain vested interests produce ‘science’ which creates confusion about the subject, producers of popular cultural products can bridge-the-gap where others have failed.  Game of Thrones is certainly doing that.

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