What if northern Siberia becomes more inhabitable and appropriate for agriculture, while large sub-Saharan regions become too dry for a large population to live there – how will the exchange of populations be organised? And what if a new gigantic volcanic eruption makes the whole of an island uninhabitable – where will the people of that island move?
The Sunrise Motel remains flooded after Hurricane Irma hit the area on September 11, 2017 in East Naples, Florida Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Reading and watching reports on the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma this week, I was reminded of Trisolaris, a strange planet from The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin’s sci-fi masterpiece.
A scientist is drawn into a virtual reality game called “Three Body” in which players find themselves on the alien planet Trisolaris whose three suns rise and set at strange and unpredictable intervals: sometimes far too far away and horribly cold, sometimes far too close and destructively hot, and sometimes not seen for long periods of time.
Life is a constant struggle against apparently unpredictable elements. Despite that, players slowly find ways to build civilisations and attempt to predict the strange cycles of heat and cold.
Do phenomena like Irma not demonstrate that our Earth itself is gradually turning into Trisolaris? Devastating hurricanes, droughts and floods warming – do they all not indicate that we are witnessing something the only appropriate name for which is “the end of nature”? “Nature” is to be understood here in the traditional sense of a regular rhythm of seasons, the reliable background of human history, something on which we can count to always be there.