We dream of drowning cities. Popular culture is overflowing with depressing yet strangely romantic images of our future waterworld—from books like The Drowned World to films like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. We’re drawn to works that dramatize the effects of climate change, perhaps because we take some glee in seeing how bad it can get.
This morbid fascination with environmental catastrophe has invaded the zeitgeist for good reason. Ice caps are melting faster than ever, while hurricanes and tsunamis seem to strike with growing frequency and severity. The sea level is rising at an increasingly rapid rate, promising to dramatically reshape our continents, and the lives of the millions of people who live along the coasts. In short, science fiction is threatening to become science fact.