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Game of Thrones a metaphor for climate change? Here's how


Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Friday, June 5, 2015, 1:14 PM -

If you’re a fan of the popular television series Game of Thrones and the George R.R. Martin novels, you may be unaware of a hidden message behind the fantasy world.

Game of Thrones is secretly about climate change, according to political scientists Charli Carpenter.

Essentially, the plot is about several noble families fighting for control of the mythical land of Westeros.


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The tension between the houses Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Targaryen and a few other remaining houses leads to full-scale war. Amid battle and political mix-up, a very ancient evil awakens in the farthest north. An enormous zombie army, referred to as the ‘White Walkers,’ are north of ‘The Wall’, the only thing that stands between the realms of men and the icy terrors.

White Walkers feast on people of all nations and noble houses. Yet instead of uniting in combat, the houses waste time fighting over political power.

Switch climate change for white walkers and countries for noble houses, and Game of Thrones starts to sound a lot like what is happening to planet Earth.

In the fantasy world, no one house can fight the White Walkers on its own and just like climate change, no one country can prevent the effects of catastrophic global warming.

“Environmental disaster, meanwhile, threatens all even as it is ignored by most. Far from being an allegory for immigration reform, the story of the Northern Wall and the forces it holds at bay is about the mistaken belief that industrial civilization can stand against the changing forces of nature,” Carpenter claims in a Foreign Affairs article. ”The slogan ‘Winter is coming’ is meant literally as well as metaphorically: planetary forces are moving slowly but inexorably toward climatic catastrophe as the infighting among kings and queens distracts them from the bigger picture.”

The answer will eventually come from alliances formed between the houses, who are basically the ones who first fell victim to environmental change, Carpenter explains. 

“With these alliances will come dramatic trade-offs in political culture, as newcomers bring with them distinct ideas about politics, society, and religion. The argument seems clear: if existing governance structures cannot manage emerging global threats, expect them to evolve or fall by the wayside.”

The theory is further explained in the video above, published by Vox. 

Source: Foreign Affairs | YouTube | Vox 

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