In the beginning there were seven. The North, The Iron Islands, The Vale, The Westerlands, The Stormlands, The Reach, and Dorne, all fiercely protecting their corner of Westeros and all pedalling a claim to the Iron Throne in a game that has become renowned on television sets world-wide.
It is a synopsis that has become widely linked to political happenings in the real world since it first aired in 2011. The divisions between the proud north and the governing south were notable from the start, and power grabs, treachery and political manoeuvring have frequently found literal acquaintance at almost every turn.
But it wasn’t until season seven that its gravest prediction became apparent. An army of living dead north of the wall gathered force by the day with the potential of not just toppling one kingdom but them all. With the various thrones still at loggerheads the latest season (spoiler alert) documents fruitless attempts of unification in response to a threat that threatens to take down them all. It is once again oh so familiar to the current political climate, and we’d do well to heed warnings of its devastating effect.
Nation State vs Climate Change
Climate change, like the White Walkers, is an all-encompassing threat that has no interest in petty bilateral disputes.
As the Centre for Climate Change & Security noted in its recent report Climate Change, the Erosion of State Sovereignty, and World Order the whole concept of a nation-state may be undermined by climate change, given that nation-states started during a period of climate stability and we currently do not have that luxury.
A major refugee crises caused by untenably arid conditions in parts of the world is just one example of how a concerted response is required to meet the challenges of a documented and proven threat, but one senses that is just the tip of the iceberg as the earth continues to heat up at an alarming rate.
For a start, heat waves are happening everywhere. Studies suggests that “super” events such as the El Niño could double in the future due to climate change, bringing droughts and difficult farming conditions to all four corners of the world. The loss of sea ice and accelerated sea level rises will also have an effect on all parts of the earth, and they are unlikely have consequences that can be dealt with alone.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted, “taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time”. That means world-wide, temperatures will continue to rise, the length of the frost-free season will grow, precipitation patterns will carry on changing and heat waves will grow as cold waves become less intense.
But as the global threat grows, international divisions are becoming more pronounced. Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords in his first year in office, Britain is currently withdrawing from a European bloc that had made great strides in tackling climate change and several other nations (notably Italy) threaten to follow suit.
So called “new-nationalism” is running rife in the global economy as countries exchange tit-for-tat trade punches, and it is threatening to overspill elsewhere. The response to the recent migrant crisis was so pathetic because nations are not willing to cooperate. Even the staunchly pro-EU Emanuel Macron declared Schengen – one of the greatest pieces of cross-country legislation in a generation – to be “over” in response to the free movement of migrants across the continent.
As nations bicker the threat from the north grows stronger, with a huge part of the Arctic ocean about to shift to an Atlantic climate. Summer is coming, it would seem, but with the seven kingdoms at war nobody is listening.