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Arctic Rising

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Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell is the story of Anika Duncan's fight to save what is left of a climate changed world. With the Arctic sea ice mostly melted, and many world economies crippled by instability and corruption, terrorist groups have been able to fill the void and wreak havoc on the new, more delicate Earth. Anika Duncan's job is to protect the newly opened northeast passage from drug runners and toxic waste dumpers as human activity ramps up in the north. The novel starts with Anika on a routine mission to check out a potentially radioactive ship that may be hauling toxic waste which it will dump into the frigid waters of the north. Upon her approach (in an air ship), she is shot down and left for dead. As the narrative continues, Anika discovers that the ship wasn't carrying toxic waste, but in fact it components for a solar shield that could be converted into a super weapon that would be used to terraform the Earth. As the story comes to a climactic close, our hero has to decide whether it is best to leave a super weapon in the hands of an evil CEO bent on killing millions to save the Earth, or destroying the solar shield that has kept the earth from succumbing to a complete climate apocalypse.

Who should read this book?

Arctic Rising is an adult novel and should not be assigned to students below a certain age. My best estimation is that this book would be best suited for upperclassmen in high school or college aged students due to frequent profanity and adult themes.

This novel tells the story of a world after climate change and describes many of the issues that we will be facing if we do not address this issue. For example, in a description of elderly citizens of Greenland, Buckell writes, "And eight hundred miles farther south on Baffin island the older folks shook their heads when they talked about how things were. they had vegetable gardens, now. And farms! They only remembered ice." In another instance a character recounts the damaging effects that rising seas had on his home nation in the Virgin Islands. These types of discussions are sprinkled throughout the novel and the real climate discussion takes place in the final few chapters. This book does a pretty good job of addressing the issues of climate change and would be a good resource for generation a discussion of the issue.

Ideas for teaching

This book provides many topics that would be useful for a class to discuss about climate change. Although there are climate related themes in this novel, they are sprinkled throughout and do not prevail in specific sections or chapters of the novel. The best way to read this book may be to assign chapters to read from various sections of the book (the chapters are short) to get the overall gist of the story. Students will be exposed to these themes:

1. Climate Terrorism
2. Corporate and Governmental interests
3. Melting sea ice/Rising ocean levels
4. Displaced populations/references to climate related instability

In a lot of ways these topics can be easily related to current issues we are facing today and are most likely Buckell's inspiration for writing the novel. To teach this material, it would be best to relate the fictional events unfolding in the sections assigned to the very real issues that we are facing today as it relates to climate change. Natural phenomena as well as economic and political happenings are directly shaping the climate change narrative today and plenty of supplemental information can be found on these issues.

Useful Links

Many resources exist around the web that would be useful for learning about climate change with Tobias Buckell's book-
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Climate Terrorism:


Corporate Involvement:

Rising ocean levels:

Climate refugees:

Each link contains vital information regarding each category that it fits into and many links are full of hyperlinks to other information regarding the topic discussed. Also, below is a link to Tobias Buckell's personal website where he provides his thoughts on current climate related news:


Created by Blair LaCross