If you haven't yet heard of the steampunk indie fantasy awesomesauce that is Senlin Ascends, ... well, now you have. Go buy it and read it. Mark Lawrence says so, Emily May on Goodreads says so, hell, ALL the reviewers on Goodreads say so. And so do I.
Oh, and here's the author Josiah Bancroft writing about ...
Five Reasons Americans Have Trouble Believing in Climate Change
I’ve been trying to explain to my international friends why it is that so many Americans refuse to believe in climate change. The psychology of it is complicated, like the psychology of people who dress up like clowns and stand on the roadside late at night, only to be shot by the police. In the interest of furthering our understanding of each other, I’ve broken the reasons for our national incredulity into five points.
1. “Climate Change” is a terrible brand. Americans are some of the most savvy and voracious consumers in the world. Our national pastime is reading and writing Amazon reviews. And as a result, we know a thing or two about branding. Take our drugs, for example: they all have X’s, Y’s and Z’s in them. Everyone knows that XYZ’s are futuristic letters, that’s why they appear at the end of the alphabet. “Clymyt Changz” is a brand name we might’ve gotten behind. The hip-hop-pop single almost writes itself.
But the problem with “Climate Change” as a brand isn’t just the spelling. The word choice is also uninspired. To your average American, the word “climate” conjures up thermostats and balmy beaches. It’s a warm and snuggly word. “Change” is a little bit more uncomfortable, but it does appeal to our American optimism. Perhaps the “Change” will be for the better! When the world warms up, we can just wear shorts and crop tops to work. It’s not a catastrophe; it’s a fashion opportunity.
If you want Americans to take Climate Change seriously, just change the name to “Murder Weather,” and we’ll come around. “Murder Weather” is a brand which projects dread and danger. Nobody likes murder, and the weather has been just awful recently. I can’t imagine why.
2. Americans prefer to be afraid of things they can shoot. Why do you think we all own a gun or three? Our nation is chock full of murderers, robbers, rapists, Bath Salts zombies, regular zombies, werewolf zombies, and ravenous dogs. I won’t leave the house with anything less than a bayonetted bolt-action rifle. But you can’t shoot greenhouse gases because they’re invisible, and therefore, probably not really dangerous.
If you want to bring Americans around to the idea of solving the Murder Weather problem, just declare war on it. We love declaring war on things because it gives us more things to shoot at. We declared War on Drugs, and shot all the drugs. We declared War on Poverty, and it’s been open season on the poor ever since. We declared a War on Illiteracy, and the book burnings have never been better attended.
Declare a War on the Environment, point us at whatever needs to be shot, and we’ll do the rest.
3. Americans are bruising for a good apocalypse. Y2K, Hale-Bopp, the End of the Mayan calendar, and Black Friday Sales. Ah, there is nothing sweeter than Armageddon! Nothing stirs the American soul so much as the thought of empty highways, abandoned shopping malls, and contrail-less skies. The thought of living in a fallout shelter, surrounded by MREs, gold doubloons, bottles of rum, and a rack of guns is a fantasy that teeters upon the erotic for your average blue-blooded American.
As a culture, we like to get out ahead of a problem. Far, far ahead of it. In fact, we prefer to just skip over the whole tedious process of trying to solve a problem, and go straight to post-apocalyptic survival mode. Unlike the rest of humanity, we aren’t cowards. We earnestly believe that we will survive the end times, and not, for example, be crushed to death in a food riot.
If you want to get Americans to contribute to Murder Weather initiatives, you have to threaten things that we actually love. We don’t care about the ocean, or endangered animals, or hungry foreigners, or international stability, or the coastline cities, or the continuation of the species. We care about coffee. Tell Americans that Murder Weather imperils the supply of coffee, and they will rise up as one and boom in a unified Tommy Lee Jones baritone, “This is bullshit! Give me my coffee!”
4. We think smart people are stupid. There was probably a time in American history when we needed smart people. We needed them to put the roads down and build airplanes and get us started with the major sports leagues. But now, our phones are smart, and we have the internet, so we don’t really need a bunch of eggheads telling us what’s what. We don’t need to read the scientific papers or comb through decades’ worth of data. We know how we feel about the idea of Murder Weather. And it’s something we just can’t believe in.
The problem Americans have with scientists is that scientists can’t admit that science is a belief system that is based in faith and government funding. In America, we have the freedom to be any sort of Christian we want. We can be a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, an Episcopalian, a Seventh Day Adventist, a Pentecostal, a Methodist, a Mormon, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Christian Scientist, or even a Catholic! In America, we are free to not believe in Science, or the false gods of Observation, Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, and Analysis.
The Red Hand, artwork by the man himself - Josiah Bancroft
If you want Murder Weather to appeal to your average American, get yourself an average American spokesperson, someone folksy and authentic. Someone who never utters the words “peer-reviewed” or “incontrovertible.” They should say things like, “Folks, what we have here is the devil playing games with us. The devil is in the air! He’s turned his demonic hordes into invisible gas, and they’re eating up all our air and turning our waters to poison and giving our children horns!”
5. We think that everyone is trying to sell us something. There’s nothing we Americans fear more than being a sucker. Think how dumb we’d look to our children if we bought into the whole “Climate Change” religion and made all these changes only to find out later that we’d improved our air quality, water quality, biodiversity, and energy independence for nothing. We’d look like a bunch of assholes!
Here’s an analogy to illustrate this: You’re an American Joe buying a house. You pay for a home inspector to come out and check the place out. The home inspector crawls through the crawl spaces and climbs on the roof and inspects the wiring and tests the water for lead. He takes pictures of everything and sends it all in a nice PowerPoint presentation. The news is bad. The foundation’s cracked, the roof is leaking, the floor joists are termite-chewed, and the water has got more lead in it than a grizzly bear’s behind. You don’t like the news, and so you decide to get a second opinion. The second home inspector comes out, looks around, and gives you the same bad news. You get a third opinion, then a fourth, then a fifth, and on and on, all the way to a hundred. And all the home inspectors say the same thing: “This house is unsafe. I wouldn’t let my spouse and children sleep here. It’s dangerous. Here’s a list of what you’ve got to do to fix everything. It’s going to cost a bunch, and be inconvenient, but in the end, if you work real hard, you can probably save the house.”
Then you, the American Joe homeowner, have a buddy over to drink some beers and shoot the shit. You sit in your yard and crack a couple of cold ones. You tell him all the bad news about your house. And he says, “Naw, Joe, your house looks fine. Look at it! Looks fine. I bet it stands for a thousand years. Those home inspectors are just trying to sell you stuff you don’t need. And just think how dumb you’d look if you made all those repairs and fixed the house up nice and it turned out that your family wasn’t even in danger! And look, if the house is going to fall down, then the house is going to fall down, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You still got the fallout shelter, right? You can always live underground.”
... and back to you, Tim. Fun fact: Murder Weather translated into German is Mordswetter. Which means Fantastic Weather.
Josiah is not only a highly talented wordsmith and poet, no, he's also a chalkboard artist, and a musician. You can and should follow him online.
Next week Michael R. Miller will be speaking his mind. Stay tuned!
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