[personal profile] wingedbeast
Waterworld, if you've forgotten (and most have) was the movie set in a world in which global warming caused the ice-caps to melt... and nothing else. The story is your fairly average, low-budget, action piece with Dennis Hopper playing the over-the-top bad guy and Kevin Costner as the blander-than-bland good guy.

Item of note: I know that Kevin Costner can play someone with emotions. I've seen it in Bull Durham.

Now, I say the story is a fairly average, low-budget action piece. But, the movie itself had a high budget. I don't know where the budget went. If it all went to Dennis Hopper, that might have been a good choice. I suspect that it went to the efforts of shooting, off the coast, on settings that would allow you to view this as a world where there's no dry-land in the background of any of the shots, not until they come to the remaining island.

Still, the concept is workable, but for a couple problems.

The first problem that leaps to my mind in Waterworld is the weather. It's all blue skies and calm seas and no storms and that's not how either the ocean or Global Warming works.

For a bit of High School science, storms happen due to temperature imbalances. This is part of why more heat-energy in the atmosphere can result in more powerful storms and more extreme weather in general. It's also the case that storms can gain energy over the ocean. So, an Earth that had the icecaps melt to the point of drowning the entire planet... isn't going to see a lot of calm weather.

That takes a lot of change to the world-building but, I think, also leads to a way to save on budgets. Instead of building complex sets of wood (from trees that no longer exist, so where did that wood come from?) use submarines.

Another problem is that the MacGuffin is the ideal "dry land" being sought both by the good guys and the bad guys. The bad guys declare that, if there's a tree (of which they shouldn't have a concept outside of mythology) they'll bulldoze it (of which they should have even less of a concept). The good guys expect it to be a land of green and life. Both want it for the resources and the expectation that this will be some kind of Garden of Eden.

Well, there's a problem with that in both the practical and the philosophical.

In the philosophical, whether the good guys or the bad, they're looking to go back to a time before. The Smokers (the bad guys) are looking to go back to a time when mankind could dominate nature. The good guys are looking to go back to a time when people could farm. The thing is that you can't go back again. That common reason why post-apocalyptic story lines seem so inviting is, itself, a false promise. You're not going back in time, you're going forward.

In the practical, there's the weather. One island amidst an entire Earth of sea is going to see constant storms. This will be no peaceful land of resources. The best you have is an anchoring spot, perhaps with some life that's evolved for the storm, less strong trees and more flexible.

Both of these can work together.

So, like most of these cases, I can work with the basic premise of the plot given. A small child has, tattooed on her back, a map that will allow one to get to the nigh-mythical dryland. This MacGuffin leads the good guys to see her as a symbol of hope and the bad guys to see her as a symbol of the resources they wish to exploit. They both wish to go to a world before humanity screwed it up.

The problem is that you can't go back again. We're not going to be able to return to a world just like we never pumped massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Depending on the science of the world, the icecaps may re-freeze, exposing more land, but we won't be getting the same ecologies back again. Depending on how long seeds can remain viable, maybe some of the old plants.

No, what is to be found isn't a lush, green, tropical paradise just there to be either stripped of resources or with which one can live in bountiful harmony. Those dreams were dreamed and found to stay dreams.

What can be found is a mountain-top, potentially with already existing structures to be used as bunkers, and what life has managed to survive, there. Most likely, types of moss, fungus, and insect. This isn't what the old stories told them to expect, trees baring fruit and large animals to cut into steak and leather. And, it isn't pretty, either.

It isn't nothing, however. That moss, fungus, and insects are better known as more easily accessible sources of calories, vitamin C, and protein than are easily found at sea. Additionally, it would be something few people would ever imagine that they could have, something for which they may no longer have a phrase, a port in a storm.

As boons go, as the rewards of victory go, it's so small as to make one wonder if there's any value to fighting over it at all. But, with work, it can be made into so much more. A point of safety for whole communities. A regular port of trade. A place for cultural and human exchange.

It's not worth fighting over, you'll never get as much out of it as you spend taking it. But, it is worth working on. And, in that, it may not be that return to the fabled old time land with fat that can be reaped in mass amounts, but it is still hope. And, that's something.
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