Worth Fighting For


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    War Sucks

    And yet the number of times people go to war over small things…

    I swear there must be something intoxicating to people (who are typically not uniformed officers) who command others to fight for them.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Huh, if some global warming calamity befell that was bad enough to wipe out the east and west coasts of North America then the rest of the world wouldn’t be egging on any civil war in America; they’d be trying not to vanish off the face of the planet. Most especially the Middle East.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    this map leads me to believe the Mexican Nuevo País Norte would have Southern Colorado, but would skip over Utah.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      With the exception of Texas, the Utah aspect of the Mexican seizure gets the most attention. A few characters are Mormon expatriates.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I could see a Great Basin Mormonstan seeking a relationship as an autonomous oblast within the Imperio Mexicano. Or whoever would give them such a deal in return for protection from other continental powers that seek incoporation and assimilation without compromise.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      When was the last time a much poorer country annexed a rich part of another country? California’s GDP alone is more than twice Mexico’s, and any climate change severe enough to crash California is going to play holy hell with Mexico as well. Annexing the Southwest doesn’t seem worth doing unless you get the rich cities, in working order.

      There is a Facebook page for the República de México del Norte, consisting of the tier of Mexican states along the US border. Given all the problems the federal government is facing in Mexico, I wonder if it’s possible? Seems doubtful. Maybe they could ask to be a US protectorate.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This is one of those things where I wonder whether the author did a road trip first.

    In most of the gaming out of Civil Wars that I’ve seen, it’s the coasts vs. the middle and the middle is generally only bound together because of how much they’re irritated by the coasts and would split off into 6 or 7 “tri-state area”s if left to their own devices.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I suspect that novelists toying with the idea are affected by two big factors: (1) they’re already interested in writing a Civil War do-over, so need a North-South split; and (2) they look at a population dot map like this one and a shaded relief map like this one. After looking at the maps, they promptly decide that they need some way to write the entire West out of the story.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        If you want to write the entire West out of the story, use an EMP.

        Of course that pretty much limits the impact of the cannibal tribes in NYC, Chicago, LA…Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Building a scenario for a US partition that is self-consistent is hard work :^)Report

  6. Avatar LTL FTC says:

    One wonders how Mexico comes out of this with enough of a comparative advantage to take a quarter of their neighbor’s land.

    1) They’re the sixth-largest oil producer in the world. Losing that has to hurt.

    2) They have a ton of coastline with less in the middle. What’s in the middle is susceptible to desertification and all the other bad things that come with climate change.

    3) The Mexican government has intermittent problems projecting sovereignty on their own land. How they get their house sufficiently for a massive invasion seems like a book in and of itself.

    4) Good luck living in the American southwest without the Colorado River Compact doling out all that water to downstream interests.

    Maybe everyone was busy trying to keep Georgia and its massive oil deposits from seceding (seriously, WTF?) so they just snuck up and planted a flag at LA City Hall without anyone noticing. Perhaps the Chinese wanted to use a proxy army to overrun a major market for their goods, plunging urban populations into unemployment.

    What this all boils down to is how this hemisphere actually works. It’s been said in the past that if the US economy gets a cold, Mexico (or Canada in some tellings) gets the flu. It all seems very flimsy.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Interestingly, my non-secular club gathered this Sunday to debate #CalExit. I took the lead role in the “con” side of the debate. Frankly, I’d anticipated an about even split of opinion, but as it turned out, something like less than 10% of the group were in favor, and only about 10% were undecided at the outset. Anyway, that got me thinking about resources and the economic and ecological viability of particular areas of land.

      I presume that in El Akkad’s world, California is no longer either as ecologically nor economically viable with its coastal cities having flooded due to climate change. As you point out, the same sorts of things that would hurt California in such a world would also hurt Mexico. In mitigation, a large amount of Mexico’s industrial capacity is inland, in cities like the capital, Gruadalajara, and Monterrey. But to my knowledge, loss of coastal areas would very significantly impact the country’s agricultural capacity, so it would be looking at a significant diminishment of population.

      I could imagine, I suppose, that the pressure from loss of the coasts forces a dramatic change in government there, perhaps resulting in a military dictatorship? That’s about the only plausible way I see Mexico even wanting to project its power in an imperial fashion to the north. And the objective in such a projection would be arable land to support its own population, or maybe mineral like oil fields in Texas and California? In any event, it would only make sense if the military dictatorship needed to control something in that section of the former United States to keep power.Report

      • Avatar LTL FTC says:

        You’d think that the big winner from climate change would be Canada, with its water, hydropower and longer growing seasons. If the US were to break up, I’d imagine coastal Cascadia in a confederation with Canada before I can picture the Mexican border running through Reno.

        Alternately, the whole southwest could become a sparsely populated wasteland of little value. A (not so) Inland Empire without water access, Phoenix too expensive to air condition, etc., dry and empty. A future dictatorial Mexican government could be playing on past glories by taking back land lost in the 19th Century, however worthless it might be.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          Well, if we’re going to pick on the science, the map at the top of the post corresponds pretty closely to a 50 meter sea-level rise by 2075*. Roughly a meter/yr from now forward, and requires that a bit over 75% of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melt. IIRC, the most recent IPCC’s probable range of increase tops out just under a meter by 2100. Longer predictions have more spread, but seem to top out at around 11 meters by 2500.

          * There are some inconsistencies; to lose that much of Florida means a lot more of the lower Mississippi River valley ought to be under water. That would explain why Louisiana isn’t in the southern states — there’s not much of LA left. There’s an interactive map to play with here.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Canada doesn’t get that much in the way of mention, but it’s pretty clear in the post-war environment Alaska is in relatively good shape vis-a-vis the rest of the country. They basically erect walls to keep people out.

          (Notably, my sister-in-law is a staunch environmentalist and lives in Alaska. She is very non-sanguine about Alaska’s prospects with climate change. Despite being raised in a place that, in El-Akkad’s map, is under water.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            How much of Alaskan settlement is built on permafrost? A lot of AGW and that stuff all sinks into the swamp. Now, you can build again on the swamp, but that does require building again, or relocating.

            Weirdly, that otherwise extremely-cool flood map tool @michael-cain offered doesn’t seem to work in Alaska. Assuming a 50 meter flood, nearly all of what are today Anchorage, Juneau, and Nome would be wiped out.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Minnesota too, my Mother calls the state “little Canada” and there’s actually a community here called that (no I don’t live there).Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        my non-secular club

        Now I’m curious?Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Yeah as others pointed out, global climate change is, well, global.
    And the majority of the great cities of the world are located on rivers or coastlines so rising seas will have a disproportionate impact on centers of power.
    Also, as was noted about other dystopian stories, ignoring the importance of ethnic tribalism seems tonedeaf.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I meant to mention in the OP that I could actually totally see why he went the direction he did with race (which is to say no direction at all). Basically, to make it a little bit about race would have made it almost entirely about race. That, in turn would have changed the dynamic to one that the author would have had a hard time disentangling from Good and Evil.

      If there is one thing more tone-deaf than ignoring race, it’s saying “Yes, one half of this war was driven in good part by wicked-racism but that doesn’t mean that there were good guys and bad guys in this struggle…”

      All of which, in my opinion, points back to “North vs South” being a bad dividing line here. It would have been easier to imagine a softer race angle with east/west.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Also, frankly, the poorer the continent the harder AGW hits it. IIRC setting aside that consideration North America is a pretty resilient continent global warming wise. It’s not very low lying, has an enormous amount of arable land and a huge northern exposure (all vitally important if climate change causes growing region shifting). Also it’s not physically connected to very many other continents which is highly relevant if global warming disasters send millions fleeing.Report