As most of my friends/readers know, I love Game of Thrones. I’ve read every book and seen every episode. And now that it’s back, I finally have a reason to live from each Sunday to the next! (I’m kidding, Mom). Even better, my favorite character is still alive. (It’s Sansa, because I relate to her the most, and I love her, and she is fierce and could kill you, but is also a cinnamon roll who deserves love and affection.) And I swear on my favorite calculus textbook, if George R. R. Martin (or whoever is even in charge of this anymore) decides that Sansa is going to be evil like Cersei (see this article about foreshadowing costume choices), I’ll have to pull an Arya Stark and start saying their name every night before I go to sleep so I can remember to give them the fate they deserve for ruining this perfect cinnamon roll.
One thing I like about the series is that it uses mythology and medieval lore to shed light on a lot of issues in our modern day times. For instance, I was kind of disturbed during a scene in the season 3 finale: after Daenerys frees the slaves of Yunkai from their brutal, aristocratic government, all the members of the previously oppressed society lift her into the air chanting “Mhysa”, which means “mother” in their native language. It was supposed to be this great moment where all these people are celebrating their freedom, but all I could see was a nation of people of color raising up the only white person in the entire city. It was a classic example of the “white savior complex“, where white people go to different countries and try to “save” the people the encounter, but really are trying to fulfill some moral obligation or other personal agenda. Not to say that Daenerys should have just left them to suffer – but it did seem strikingly close to the idea of Americans going to “save” people in middle eastern countries (I just read a beautiful novel about the wars in Afghanistan, and it’s full of discussions through the eyes of a young girl on how the Americans are coming to save them, but then she begins to have doubts about their true intents).
The political aspects of Game of Thrones also is incredibly relatable. As Trump campaigned and eventually entered the oval office, the divide between Democrats and Republicans was at an all time high. I’m no political scientist, but I do believe that our country would run a lot more smoothly if parties tried to understand the other side and work together (and George Washington would agree). Similarly, Westeros would see much, much more peace if certain power–hungry individuals would stop killing each other and start working together. Honestly, one of the biggest draws of this show is probably that the political drama gives a pretty accurate portrayal of how turmoil caused by the powerful few can have devastating results on an entire nation. Thankfully, no foreign minister has ever managed to hatch a dragon egg. Yet.
Aside from the thought of anyone hatching a dragon egg (and using their new pet to take over the country), the aspect of the show I find most terrifying (and accurate) is the threat of the White Walkers. Nobody believes that the white walkers exist… except the Night’s Watch, who are literally bound to protect Westeros from threats beyond the wall, a.k.a. the white walkers. We have a bunch of people who know what they are talking about trying to tell the people in power, people who could actually make a difference, that there exists a HUGE threat to all civilization, and it is of the utmost importance to create a solution and act fast. However, the people in power don’t listen. Sound familiar? It’s climate change, people.
That’s right – the white walkers and the Night King are a big fat metaphor for global warming. I really do believe that climate change is the single most dangerous threat to our planet. The way things are going now, especially with our recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreements, we have to act pretty damn fast if we’re going to slow down rising temperatures. Part of me says it’s super privileged to even be able to think about this. I had a conversation with my friend once about how, amidst family and financial turmoil, she only was ever thinking about survival – getting meals, etc. She never thought about recycling. (Although, no amount of recycling can counteract the damage done by big businesses). I really appreciated hearing her story, because it opened my eyes to an aspect of my privilege I had never considered before. However, I also know that it’s a huge privilege of mine, and of President Trump’s, that we haven’t had to worry about it yet. People are already suffering because of climate change, even in our own country, but the most devastating affects are all overseas. Similarly, the white walkers are descending from beyond the wall to the north, and would have affected the Wildlings before Westeros, if they hadn’t been taken in as refugees. Southern regions such as the Riverlands, the Reach, and King’s Landing aren’t paying any attention to the white walkers because they don’t need to – yet. But what’s the point of fighting over the iron throne with an impending attack from huge army of bloodthirsty zombies?
Our planet’s temperature is the highest it has ever been, period. A week ago, an iceberg the size of Delaware broke from Antarctica’s coast. And this isn’t just about the devastating effects on wildlife. It’s not improbable that water sources could be the next huge debate; it could even lead to another war. Rising temperatures have already began to displace people from their homes due to drought. Diarrhea related diseases are expected to increase significantly as clean water becomes less and less available. Even the United States is experiencing these negative effects in the form of increased wildfires and flooding. In a hundred years, residents of Miami are expected to become climate change refugees.
Climate change doesn’t care about who is in charge. It doesn’t care if you’re a member of the EU, if your president has good Christian morals, or whatever. Just like the white walkers don’t care who sits on the Iron Throne, or which gods are held sacred by those in power. Am I being dramatic? I don’t think so. The older I’ve gotten, the more afraid I’ve become of climate change. I always thought of global warming as a future problem – but it’s happening right now. But again then, even if the effects would only harm future generations, how can I, an aspiring soccer mom, justify bringing life into a world? If climate change is a problem for our children, is it then selfish to have children and force this onto them? I don’t know the answer to this. My only hope is that the people in charge will get their shit together (@trump) and create a viable solution to the problem before it’s too late, because if I can’t experience the joys of watching my kids’ soccer games, going on family vacations, or even just reading out loud to them like my mom did to me, then I’ll be WAY more pissed (and dead) than if Sansa becomes a villain.