What might our world be like in forty years time if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations keep increasing and our planet keeps warming? This is the theme of my first novel “500 Parts Per Million”. I wanted to visualise the sort of world that today’s younger people might inherit in their advancing years, or alternatively the legacy that older people like me might bequeath them. The spark for the idea came from some research I did as an economist. 500 Parts Per Million is based on the contemporary environmental issue of global warming, a tale of life, love and survival in a warmed up world. It’s about a planet where the weather has gone haywire, the technologies we rely on don’t work, and where communities face new threats and have to relearn forgotten skills to survive.
Set in 2050, the weather is … devastating. Marc, a young man working in London’s financial district, is summoned to a business meeting in Amsterdam and finds his life changed forever. Washed up on an embankment after a huge storm surge overwhelms Amsterdam’s sea defences, he sets sail on a dangerous adventure that takes him from the rugged Cornish coastline of south west England to the Floating City in Rotterdam, then across the Atlantic to the east coast of the United States. On his travels he encounters an oddball companion, GM Joe, and together they sail up the PeeDee river to the town of Jamesville in drought-stricken South Carolina, where Marc gets friendly with Constance, the mayor’s daughter. But Jamesville has plenty of problems of its own, not just drought, as Marc soon discovers.
The title refers to the potential concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide almost forty years from now. 500 Parts Per Million is a combination of eco-fiction and future fiction with a dash of science fiction mixed in, although there are no aliens, vampires or time lords lurking within its pages. I wanted to write a credible story based on issues identified in scientific reports like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern Report. This makes the novel difficult to pigeonhole into the standard publishers’ marketing categories, but if I had to put a short label on it I’d probably call it future eco-fiction or maybe cli-fi.
Above all, however, my purpose in writing 500 Parts Per Million is to entertain, not preach. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, you might be interested to know that I’m currently midway through a sequel which should be ready towards the end of 2013. I wish you happiness, good health, and good weather.