On October 11, 2018 Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at Columbia University and NASA, published a fairy tale in Scientific American titled “Slaying the Climate Dragon.” The fairy tale is a warning about climate change “whose ending, still unwritten, is by no means guaranteed to be happy.” The tale describes a magic elixir responsible for “the source of all the kingdom’s power and wealth” that also has a dangerous side-effect of waking slumbering dragons. When dragons awake, readers witness a metaphorical political turmoil evocative of the current climate crisis play out in a few lines. The dragons are first ignored, then recognized but said to be harmless. Dragon-fire consumes more of the villages, but the King and his counselors decide “the high walls of their castle could withstand any dragon attack, and if a few peasants were eaten or incinerated, what was it to them?” The fairy tale concludes with three possible endings, some better than others, but all are plausible and may yet be written.
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