The Story Begins

Where does the story of the present climate crisis begin? The Industrial Revolution? The 1960s and 1970s? Well, first of all, we need to distinguish between ‘natural’ and ‘human-caused’ climate change. For more than 800,000 years, the Earth’s climate has changed naturally as ice ages have been replaced by warmer interglacial periods. For the last 10,000 years, we have lived in the Holocene, a stable interglacial period.

Katja, my protagonist, lives in our world – a world that has left the Holocene and entered the Anthropocene, a period steered by human impact and characterised by climate catastrophe and mass extinctions. Katja and her friends know that the world they are growing up in and where they will build families faces enormous challenges. How can they help others to understand this? They put on a dance show, construct a computer game, present at an international conference, produce exhibitions, and take part in demonstrations. They struggle to make their message clear without being over dramatic. But who’s listening?

Katja and her friends have no special powers but Katja does have the support of Jo, her great grandfather, a ghost from the fourth dimension. Jo is Katja’s protector, adviser, and friend. At the same time, he must test her: is she worthy of becoming a guardian of the planet?

Katja is nineteen years old at the beginning of the story. As a university student, she faces intellectual challenges. But also, personal ones: why is she the leader of the group of six? Can she have a normal life, a boyfriend, a future? What price must she pay to be a guardian of the planet?

Katja gradually learns to trust herself, to listen to Jo, and not to fear. But there is a price to be paid for this new life style. Can she pay it? Does she want to pay it?

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