“Game of Thrones” fans know “winter is coming,” but could “winter” really be a metaphor for the climate change apocalypse?
Many, including Vox, have postulated that in spite of the power struggle for the Iron Throne, the biggest threat to Westeros is climate change. Zombie ice monsters known as the White Walkers embody that threat against humanity.
In the interview, Martin acknowledges the similarities between today’s fight against climate change and the fight in Westeros.
“There’s a certain parallel there,” Martin explained. “The people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. And those are so distracting them that they’re ignoring the threat of ‘winter is coming,’ which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world.”
Today, Martin said, “we’re fighting over issues, important issues, mind you — foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice.”
On the HBO show, most leaders from the Seven Kingdoms are too preoccupied with their quest for the Iron Throne to recognize the White Walkers as legitimate threats.
But while we’re tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community. And it really has the potential to destroy our world. And we’re ignoring that while we worry about the next election and issues that people are concerned about, like jobs. Jobs are a very important issue, of course. All of these things are important issues. But none of them are important if, like, we’re dead and our cities are under the ocean. So really, climate change should be the number one priority for any politician who is capable of looking past the next election. But unfortunately, there are only a handful of those. We spend 10 times as much energy and thought and debate in the media discussing whether or not N.F.L. players should stand for the national anthem than this threat that’s going to destroy our world.
Martin’s comments come on the heels of a foreboding UN report that found the world is running out of time to stem the catastrophic effects of climate change. Even a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would result in irreversible consequences, including flooding, drought, and animal extinction, the report said.
Despite the alarm bells, some seem unfazed.
President Donald Trump, who has denied that humans are the main cause of global warming, dismissed the report by saying some reports are “fabulous” and some “aren’t so good.” (He also announced that the U.S., one of the planet’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement meant to reduce global emissions).
“Saturday Night Live” captured the apathy best when “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost joked that no one cared that “scientists basically published an obituary for the Earth this week.”
Notably, many characters in “Game of Thrones” did not believe the White Walkers were real until they were forced to confront them.
The HBO show returns for its final season in 2019.
Read Martin’s full interview in The New York Times.