Introduction—John Joseph Adams

Welcome to the end of the world, already in progress.

Apocalypses are something of a specialty of mine, having edited five anthologies on the subject so far, and it is extraordinarily clear to me that climate change is nothing short of an apocalypse in action. And when the head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is the author of a book calling climate change “the greatest hoax” and says things like “Man can’t change climate [only God can],” it brings to mind the dystopian volumes I’ve edited as well.

One of the many problems we face is simply in popular comprehension. It’s hard to imagine how a two-degree increase in the average global temperature could possibly affect you or me, or why a three-foot rise in sea level would matter to someone who doesn’t live on a coastline. We might hear about the rapid extinction of fauna in some far-off place and respond with nothing more than, “That’s a shame…”; or complain to our neighbors when beach access is closed to us because some small sea bird is nesting. It all feels distant, either in space or in time—something that’s affecting someone somewhere far away, or will affect a future generation as yet unborn.

But that sense of distance is a false one. It’s happening now, and we will feel the affects in our lifetime. As I write this, my home state of California is in its fourth year of drought. The snowpack that we rely on every winter to sustain our water supplies throughout the year never came.

Better minds than mine are working on solutions to the problem of climate change, some of whom have applied their expertise in the stories in this volume. It’s an enormous problem with ramifications for every species on Earth. It will require the cooperation of every nation that shares this fragile globe.

Fiction is a powerful tool for helping us contextualize the world around us. By approaching the topic in the realm of fiction, we can perhaps humanize and illuminate the issue in ways that aren’t as easy to do with only science and cold equations.

It’s my hope that this anthology will serve as a warning flare, to illustrate the kinds of things we can expect if climate change goes unchecked, but also some of the possible solutions, to inspire the hope that we can maybe still do something about it before it’s too late.