Nord Stream gas leak--courtesy Danish Defence.
It’s getting harder every day for science fiction writers to stay ahead of events in the real world. Predicting the future is a tricky business when climate change, swift advances in technology, pandemics, constant war and societal upheaval have become a part of our daily lives.
Right now, for example, our friends in Florida are suffering through a devastating hurricane, the worst to hit the western coast of the state in over a hundred years, while our friends in the western part of the U.S. contend with an epic drought. Both disasters have been exacerbated by climate change, which in turn has been caused by human action over time.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a different kind of environmental disaster is unfolding, almost certainly caused by direct human action on a much quicker time scale. Four leaks have been discovered in the Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea that carries fuel to Europe. The leaks are spewing natural gas, releasing over half a million metric tons of methane into the ocean. Methane makes up the largest part of natural gas, and though the leaks will likely have minimal effect on local wildlife, the amount of methane released into the atmosphere is equivalent to the annual emissions of two million cars, according to Andrew Baxter, a methane expert at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Experts think the leaks are the result of sabotage of the pipeline, though they have no proof, and as yet can identify no culprit. Certainly Russia would have no motive; Putin and company have every incentive to keep the gas flowing to ensure income to support the war in Ukraine. It’s highly doubtful the Ukrainians would do it, either. They have neither the time nor the resources to mount such a mission. So far, then, it’s a mystery.
But to return to my original point, this story is eerily similar to the plot of a Norwegian science fiction/disaster film I saw a few weeks back on Hulu, titled THE BURNING SEA (2021). In this film, from the creative team behind THE QUAKE (2018) and THE WAVE (2015), and directed by John Andreas Andersen, drilling for oil in the North Sea opens fissures in the seabed, leading to disaster. Oil rigs explode! People are killed and trapped! Oil spreads over the sea, threatening coastlines from Scandinavia to Europe and Britain! The only solution is to set the oil on fire before it fouls the entire North Sea basin.
Since I love a good disaster film, no matter what its country of origin, I enjoyed THE BURNING SEA. The writing was decent, the effects were great, and the acting was more than competent. I thought the plot pretty far-fetched, of course, but now I’m wondering if it really was that far out. Yes, the current Nord Stream disaster is the result of deliberate sabotage, not an uncontrollable cracking of the seabed. And the leaks from the pipeline are of far more manageable natural gas, not oil. Still, you have to think, what if . . .?
On the other hand, we really do have more than enough to worry about. Ian is on the way north as we speak. So, excuse me while I go to batten down the hatches.
*Information for today’s post provided by: “As fourth Nord Stream leak is discovered, here’s what scientists are saying about the environment impact,” by Anviksha Patel, Marketwatch, msn.com, September 29, 2022. https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/as-fourth-nord-stream-leak-is-discovered-here-s-what-scientists-are-saying-about-the-environment-impact/ar-AA12niL1?ocid=BHEA000&cvid=08b7cc2bb5d34df7b088fc480efed81a
“Russian Gas Leak Could Be Environmental Disaster,” by Avi Salzman, Barron’s, September 27, 2022. https://www.marketwatch.com/articles/russia-gas-leak-environment-51664314465?mod=article_inline