The Hunger games : the climate change arena

This article is part of the Climate Nerd Chronicles.

Bannière CN

Here we imagine Katniss and Peeta faced with a climate change arena.

« Ladies and gentlemen, let the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games begin ! ». Katniss took a deep breath and looked at the scenery. The tributes were surrounded by water, the salted kind. Behind her, she could see a beach and further away a lush forest, deep green, covering a very high mountain. She started to make a plan in her head : grab Peeta, rush to the forest, stay hidden there and take time to think of a better plan to survive.

   HG1

Since plans never work as intended, the two friends finally reached the protection of the forest stuck with Beetee, a science weirdo, who kept blabbering about the high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. All Katniss and Peeta could think about was the heat, and how the shade of the trees would save them from the terrible sun  rays.

HG2

As they advanced through the forest, they soon realized the trees were not as luxuriant as they looked from afar. They had reddish marks on their trunks, and the leaves seemed to be consumed by some sort of worm. According to Beetee, the worm came from foreign lands, through oceans it should never have crossed. But again, with a changing climate, species migrate.

Up and up they went, until they finally found water. Beetee was kind of excited by something he called moraine. Apparently this meant a  gigantic glacier once stood there. How ice could have kept still in such a furnace was a mystery to both Katniss and Peeta. Their dry throats welcomed the healing water. As the sun set, they set-up camp, ready to embrace the coolness of the night.

Except the coolness never came. The heat wave was unforgiving. The cannon thundered, announcing the death of one of the tributes. Maybe by the hand of another tribute, maybe from the lack of water. The sleep did not come. It was too hot. Way too hot. Until the rain came. The life bringer, soaking them, soaking everything around them.

When the earth began to move, they did not know first if it was real, or if it was the fruit of their sleep deprived imagination. And then, they were fully awake, caught in the mud slide. The too-dry earth could not cope with the sudden rush of water. Trees were crumbling. The three tributes ran, fast as they could, knowing each step could be their last. Down the falling mountain. Through the nightmarish forest. Down, and down again.

Back to the beach, where another unpleasant surprise waited for them : dead fishes, everywhere. And the smell to go with it.

Peeta broke the silence « What the hell ? What happened there ? Who killed those ? »

« Well, you can blame ocean acidification for that. », Beetee explained « the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also unsettles the chemical equilibrium of the seas, it gets more acidic, and the micro-organisms cannot survive. Fishes live on micro-organisms. Without their food fishes cannot survive either, so… »

Katniss broke down before the end of the explanation. This was too much. She ran and ran through the forest, nothing seemed to matter anymore, the acidification of the ocean, the tree diseases, the melting glaciers, the suffocating warm nights, all of this was true. Climate change was everywhere, and very much caused by mankind. She had heard of it, sure, but never realized before how threatening it was. And the worst thing was there was no way to escape it.

And then she heard them :

« Look at her, she’s crazy ! » The voices seemed to come from all around her : « none of what she says is true, this is all a big hoax to make people care about her ! », they were getting louder and louder « Climate change is a lie ! A lie ! A LIE ! ». Tears were streaming down her face, and a silent cry was stuck inside her head.

climate_skeptics

A part of her was still conscious of Peeta, next to her, trying to communicate something she could not quite get.

The voices were stronger : « Katniss, we will forgive you if you tell the truth, we can save you, come to us, tell them how climate change is a lie, tell them how you staged everything and we will give you a lot of money, we will protect your family and your friends, come with us, come ! »

And then, she finally found her voice : « NO ! », and she heard Peeta say « Katniss, don’t listen to them, they’re climate skeptics, they try to make you mad, Katniss ! ».

Katniss looked at Peeta, deeply moved by the whole experience and told him « Promise me, if we get out of here alive, we will fight climate change.

-I promise. »

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