Science fiction as fact

The science fiction I’m writing isn’t even fiction anymore.

I’ve been reading about Cape Town, Africa’s impending Day Zero and the water limits people will soon have to face. When the city’s dams reach 13 percent capacity, municipal taps will be shut off. Tens of thousands of people will queue for daily water rations of 25 liters per person at collection points around the city.

Cape Town may be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Day Zero is projected for April, but could happen much sooner. This sounds like the plot of the next big apocalypse movie. But it’s reality for the people of Cape Town.

And water crises don’t just affect big cities like Cape Town, South Africa or Flint, Michigan. Rural America’s sparsely populated, low-income communities are also facing polluted water. Most health-based violations of drinking water standards actually happen in these towns.

What does this mean for science fiction based on real events? Is it belittling for me to write fiction based on real life? I hope not. Many times throughout history, writers have reimagined atrocities and events to investigate those times and help readers understand. That’s what I’m hoping to do with the future.

For the past few years, I’ve been working on short stories about the effects of climate change. I want to show in vivid details how the Earth and people could be impacted. My writing is speculation (speculative fiction), however, it’s based in truth and facts. I’m researching how climate change has already been wreaking havoc on our world, using articles to inspire my fiction. There’s increasing desertification in China, glacial melt, a record number of wildfires in the Western U.S.

All throughout my life, the chants of “global warming” and then later “climate change” have been intensifying. I was 14 when Hurricane Katrina plowed ashore and ravaged New Orleans. I tried my hardest to read and learn about the botched reconstruction and FEMA contracts in the aftermath. I was 15 when “An Inconvenient Truth” was released. Global warming was weaved through the fabric of my high school experience.

Over a decade later, three major hurricanes caused mass destruction in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in 2017. “An Inconvenient Sequel” was released. A group of U.S. scientists released a report stating that climate change is real and humans are to blame. Their conclusions are at odds with President Donald Trump’s policies.

I can no longer ignore these chants and the realities I’m living. So I’m doing what I do best, reading and writing about it. I hope you’ll continue to learn more with me.