This page will be regularly updated as the project progresses.
- Sustainability and Climate Experts
- For Writers
- Existing Stories
- Stories to be written
- Climate Solutions Needing Stories
- Vision for Anthology
- Draft Timetable
The Green Stories Project in association with Herculean Climate Solutions, the Climate Fiction Writers League and Change Agents UK are preparing an anthology of short stories to be made available at no cost to the thousands of delegates and attendees of COP27. We want to present the top climate solutions wrapped up in engaging stories to hook the reader. Each solution will be rated (Top Trumps) style on cost, location, risk, climate mitigation and adaption score.
Between now and November 2022 we will be bringing together sustainability experts and experienced writers to put together the anthology. If you can help in this exciting project as a writer, sustainability expert, publisher, or graphic arts (for the illustrations), funding etc. then please get in touch: D.A.Baden@soton.ac.uk
Sustainability and Climate Experts
The team of experts currently includes the following:
University of Southampton
Dr. Lindsay Marie Armstrong: Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Chair of the Clean Carbon University Strategic Research Group, Director of Student Recruitment, School of Engineering, University of Southampton.
Dr. Ken Collins: Emeritus Fellow within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.
Dr. John Copley: Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration and Public Engagement (part-time) within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton
Herculean Climate Solutions
Steve Willis: Director at Herculean Climate Solutions and chemical engineer
Jerry Joynson: Director Herculean Climate Solutions and Cquestr8 Ltd.
Climate Fiction Writer’s League
Lauren James: Founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors.
Change Agents UK
Stephen Martin is offering £400 to solicit story briefs/stories for the competition from their alumni of sustainability experts.
Help us Choose
We are keen for climate and sustainability experts and relevant scientists to share with us what they think are the optimum top climate solutions we should be promoting to COP27 delegates. Also, we’d love feedback on the solutions we have already suggested as suitable for inclusion. How would you rate them?
Link to survey for feedback (this survey is being updated regularly as we put together information so feel free to revisit) or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms for writers:
We are seeking funds for this exciting project and if we succeed we can offer a fee to writers of stories we include/adapt (expect between £200-£400) and a free manuscript appraisal from the Literary Consultancy to get the story in the best shape possible. If we don’t, we can still offer feedback from editors and sustainability experts on your story. If we manage to source a publisher there is potential for a publishing deal. If not, we will publish the anthology independently, so your story will get exposure if it is chosen by our team to be included.
We prefer most stories to be <3000 words but will allow longer stories if necessary. Flash fiction also accepted – if you can capture a climate solution in an engaging tale < 1000 words so much the better! As this is for free distribution, writers will have credit for their work, but will not be eligible for royalties. They will retain rights to publish elsewhere, and if a publisher is secured for wider release then new contracts will be drawn up (with potential for royalties).
Advice for writers
We are looking for stories set anywhere on earth and set in the present, near future or recent past. The exception might be a story set in the past that clearly showcases a climate solution we can adopt today. Please check out the story briefs below for which we need writers. Some already have a clear brief in terms of the story and/or technical aspects, but others are still quite open and you can use your imagination, and contact the relevant experts to help you write an engaging story that sells the solution to readers while keeping them entertained. We are looking for stories set across the globe and with a clear call to action for the targeted readers: COP 27 delegates. We should know if we have funds by 8th July so that is a good deadline to aim for to submit, but we’d welcome stories sent in as soon as you have them, even if in draft form, so we can offer feedback as needed. We suggest writers to check their stories before submitting using Prowritingaid. They have free and paid versions and are the best writing software we know to help improve grammar, spelling and readability. Please email stories to email@example.com via story template below:
Story briefs are being added/updated regularly over the next few weeks.
The following stories have been written already. Many are finalists/winners of previous Green Stories short story competitions, and we hope to adapt them on the basis of additional input from relevant experts in the field and fit the structure of the anthology.
Citizen Juries and Personal Carbon Allowances (written)
This story by D.A. Baden highlights the role of policy making and who makes the decisions. It uses a citizen jury to explore sustainable policies such as sharing economy/libraries of things; demand led buses, carbon offsetting and personal carbon allowances. Personal carbon allowances are explored in particular detail as a more effective extension to carbon offsetting.
Action for researcher: provide up to date research on citizen juries and best governance for sustainable decision making. Please feedback via Q9 in survey
Feedback from experts: The new Peter Gelderloos book, The Solutions Are Already here, gives examples of autonomous decision making. Highly recommend! https://www.changeagents.org.uk/citizens-assembly. This sounds excellent- I would recommend the work of Vandana Shiva and ecofeminism (treating this work critically of course rather than just accepting everything about it). https://globalassembly.org/ & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq2z_2TsHbU&t=1s
Mangrove Terraces (complete)
This story combines potential of mangrove terraces as sea wall protection and the huge potential of biochar for carbon capture.
Action for expert team: What evidence is there on the climate solutions proposed? How effective are mangrove terraces as sea wall protection and climate mitigation/adaptation? How much potential does bio char have as a carbon capture solution and where can it be used? Provide information for writers to access and readers to follow up on. Any other pros or cons of such a project the writer can include? For example crops such as quinoa can are robust and may tolerate growing in salty conditions. Please feedback via Q5 in survey
Feedback so far: see https://seawatersolutions.org/ Popular among experts. Algal farms also mentioned.
Female empowerment/reduce consumption/sharing economy (complete)
‘The Award Ceremony’ by D.A.Baden highlights:
- Female empowerment (plays role in reducing over population, also evidence that women make more sustainable decisions.
- Switching to re-use, second hand, swapping, sharing over buy use dispose.
- Switching from GDP to a Happy Planet Index
- These were rated the most impactful climate change solutions by ‘39 ways to save the planet’.
Action for researcher: What can reader do to advance these solutions in terms of policy, investment etc.?
Glaciology chapter from Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
Story on sustainable agriculture/farming (1st draft complete)
Action for writer: If you want to broaden the global reach of the relevance of your story then this episode from 39 ways to save the planet gives suggestions on how we can access wisdom for indigenous people to manage our land. But we’d also be looking for this story to cover some of the key sustainable farming practices such as no dig, biodiversity management, reducing emissions from cattle. 39 ways to save the planet also talk about how circular economy processes from sewage can produce sustainable fertilisers to improve land. Biochar especially is another solution that can capture carbon and improve soil yield.
Action for expert team: provide expert up to date information for writers and readers related to sustainable farming practices. Please feedback via Q3 in survey
Feedback so far: Potential for very large impact https://kissthegroundmovie.com/ looks good in theory https://www.indigoag.com/carbon/for-farmers a leading start-up in this field, a frighteningly long way to go. I would want to see localised farming to ensure that local farmers are able to meet the needs of a local context. Again, keep an eye on who has the power and whether particular ways of farming are being incentivised for profit, rather than for what makes sense locally. The issue is always one of scale? Dimbleby’s proposed national food strategy has some interesting stuff on this. Farming is central, from both a carbon and biodiversity POV. Useful resources:
https://climatechampions.unfccc.int/category/agriculture/ https://www.farmingthefuture.uk/ Forget methane masks for cows – they won’t work. Tthere are some interesting research projects and startups trying to address the sustainability of fertiliser production and used. These approaches are aimed at local and timely production of fertiliser to reduce the impacts on soil quality (due to over-fertilisation) and to reduce the safety hazards of fertiliser storage.
More information can be found in the following report in section 5: https://www.energy-x.eu/research-needs-report/. See also https://theconversation.com/how-filling-the-uks-unused-land-with-fruit-and-veg-could-help-make-us-and-our-environment-healthier-and-help-fight-inequality-182990
Story about Solar Shade (may not use)
Idea is to place giant cool shades, like solar panels in space/sky, to block out the sun. These can be adjusted to let more or less light in as needed to address over-heating in hot countries. The energy it gathers from the sun would power an engine to move it so it can move across the sky to where the sun is. We will find out how feasible it is and about unintended consequences before including.
Action for expert team: feedback from engineers if this is possible or has been trialed anywhere. Please feedback via Q2 in survey
Feedback so far: one person doubtful, another links to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_sunshade It could be done as a trial by a non-mainstream space agency – perhaps low orbit with a pile of old DVDs or tin foil… to measure how reflective it might be. This kind of geoengineering approach could have unintended consequences – the sun is what ecosystems depend on for their survival. And it leaves all the other drivers of ecological destruction – biodiversity loss, resource depletion, chemical contamination, ocean acidication etc. Ideally avoid geoengineering. Response to this is that we need both – situation is so serious that some unintended consequences need to be accepted due to serious nature of problem.
This is a highly location dependent question, and the feasibility is dependent on different aspects:
The motion of the panels: If we are thinking of shading urban areas for parts of the day, the idea of moving giant shades in densely populated areas seems tricky. If we are thinking about installing in less populated areas, there would likely be no benefit of the shade (since the atmosphere has warmed up already, contributing to the global climate change problem). To solve the urban heating effect it has been proposed to use rooftop solar panel and garden solutions together that may be more practical: https://spectrum.ieee.org/rooftop-solar-panels-double-as-cooling-agents. The efficiency of energy conversion: There are likely to be big losses of energy in the conversion of solar energy to electrical energy to mechanical energy. Best observed solar cell efficiencies (at research stage) are around 45% efficient, with further conversion to mechanical energy there will be further losses (the exact nature of which depends on the geometry and weight of the panels)so it may not be feasible to use energy in this way. However, this idea does remind me of a popular scientific paper on the feasibility of using small spacecrafts to block out part of the solar radiation: https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.0608163103. The idea is part of the broader approach of “geoengineering” which is controversial because it is essentially aimed at changing the earth’s climate(which we are doing already by emitting CO2 emissions) and can have effects beyond just heating/cooling.
The Pitch (to be adapted)
‘The Pitch’ is an extract from chapter 2 of the eco-themed rom-com Habitat Man written by D.A.Baden about an accountant trying to pitch a new Costing for Nature accounting software tool to his bosses. It can be adapted as needed based on research into potential of triple bottom line accounting or switching from GDP to a more nature based metric of success. It can also be set in a business or governmental setting as appropriate. In a later story (see personal carbon allowances) the pros and cons of voluntary approaches are covered.
Action for researcher: research needed into the potential of triple bottom line decision making and costing for nature accounting. Find experts in this field we can contact for more information or examples of how it has been used to make a difference and pros and cons? The cons of too much focus on profit rather than people and planet are well known – any suggestions how to address this? May tie into story about well-being index to replace GDP or carbon offsetting/carbon credits. Please feedback via Q4 in survey
Wildlife gardening/composting toilets/anti-consumption (to be adapted)
‘The Composting Toilet’ is being adapted from chapter 25 of the eco-themed rom-com Habitat Man written by D.A.Baden about a green garden consultant who advises people how to make their gardens wildlife friendly. It highlights:
- Wildlife gardening and biodiversity.
- Composting toilets and benefits to water pollution, water use and soil replenishment.
- Challenges consumer values and promotes upcycling.
Action for researcher: What countries/settings can composting toilets have most benefits? Where can they make the most difference?
Seagrass planting, coral planting, plastic clearing, sustainable travel (being written)
Action for writer: We already have a lovely story about coral planting, but see other ideas.
Action for expert team: Would climate solution of planting seagrass etc. be enough to offset carbon footprint of flights? Find links to information to help writers e.g. experts in seagrass/coral planting and potential as a climate change solutions. Are there projects already happening such as clearing plastic from nets etc? I think there’s one covered in Positive News in Indonesia or Thailand. May also need expert in turtles or similar. Please feedback via Q6 in survey
Greening the desert (first draft complete)
Carbon capture (complete)
We have two complete stories under this theme
The first is a beautifully written short story by Nancy Lord called ‘Come Help Me’ about the potential of whales for carbon capture.
The second is an extract from the book Our Shared Storm (fordhampress.com) by Andrew D Hudson.
The Ocean as a Nation (being written)
Lots of Ocean info here
Action for writers: We already have a lovely first draft of a story for this idea of the potential of giving nation status to the ocean. Just as America only became great after it declared independence from the colonial power, the idea is that the Ocean can only resolve its problems and become sustainable by declaring independence from the surrounding countries which currently use/take its resources for free.
Action for expert team: We need resources/examples the writer may find useful in developing the story and for readers to access to follow up on ideas. Please feedback via Q7 in survey
Feedback so far: I had a look a year ago for similar ideas, and found nothing. But of all the ideas raised, I think this is the one that has the biggest disruptive potential. Maybe the coast lines could be the responsibility of people local to that area, rather than governments (who collude with multinational companies) that control the seas…? There is loads of interesting work on this. Earliest one I can remember is ‘Should Trees Have Standing? Law, Morality, and the Environment; Christopher Stone. Also check out where the Ecuadorean government has got to with this (‘Rights of Nature in Ecuador’ https://theecologist.org/2020/nov/06/rights-nature-ecuador). Worth looking at the Ecocide Law: https://ecocidelaw.com/ and efforts to grant legal personhood to nature, e.g. https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200319-the-new-zealand-river-that-became-a-legal-person also: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/01/its-only-natural-the-push-to-give-rivers-mountains-and-forests-legal-rights ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_personhood
Stories to be written (with a story brief)
These story ideas already have a brief which you can base your story on. Consider the story brief below when writing your story.
Nature versus Technology
Floating solar panels
Radio 4’s 39 Ways to Save the Planet makes a great case for floating solar panels, which they say may work well especially in areas such as Bangladesh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_sunshade A project in the Netherlands are trialling solar panels on sea with great potential
Action for expert team: We need resources/examples the writer may find useful in developing the story and for readers to access to follow up on ideas. Please feedback via Q11 in survey
Carbon offsetting app and/or carbon footprint calculator
Action for writers: Write a story about a carbon offsetting app/carbon footprint calculator. This can be used as an opportunity to showcase many of the other solutions such as mangrove terraces, sustainable holidays etc. It can follow on from the failure of ‘the pitch’ – see story earlier.
Info for writers: Carbon offsetting provides a means by which vast amounts of money can be funnelled into projects that capture carbon. Despite this, it has critics. For example, Jennifer Morgan from Greenpeace shares her cynicism regarding its effectiveness and the opportunities it presents for green washing in the Outrage and Optimism Podcast (Episode 134 Dec 2021). Listen from 34 minutes in to 45 mins. Nonetheless stories about a carbon offsetting app or carbon footprint calculators provide opportunities to showcase other climate solutions. It can also set the stage for a more rigorous climate solution – Personal Carbon Allowances.
Action for expert team: source more information on pros and cons, and any apps currently available or in development for writers. How are they audited? What are the most effective carbon offsetting projects in their opinion and how do they measure this? Who can writers talk to for information on carbon credits? Please feedback via Q8 in survey
Feedback so far: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-09-29-oxford-launches-new-principles-credible-carbon-offsetting Most of the carbon credits available are of embarrassingly short longevity, down to a year or 2 in some cases. There are hardly any long life credits Puro does some https://puro.earth/. BeZero Carbon are doing interesting work: https://bezerocarbon.com/ This is old but useful: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/12/11/10-myths-net-zero-targets-carbon-offsetting-busted/?utm_source=pocket_mylist Also see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/26/carbon-offsetting-environmental-collapse-carbon-land-grab Risks of impacting indigenous rights/ability to provide solutions: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jul/03/world-bank-un-redd-genocide-land-carbon-grab-sengwer-kenya?utm_source=pocket_mylist Separate targets for reductions and offsets are now being considered by the UN’s Race To Zero campaign https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fclim.2019.00004/full?utm_source=pocket_mylist. I am aware of Nori Carbon Removal (nori.com) and a good person to reach out to/follow would be co-founder Alexandra Guerra who shares a lot of information on the subject through her twitter (twitter.com/cleanenergygrl) and other media accounts.
Radio 4’s 39 Ways to Save the Planet talks about greener building blocks that capture carbon, home insulation and wood as an alternative building material. You can also explore green cement. Or perhaps the issue is how to incentivise builders to build green – is it a case for regulation or training or incentivise by making it difficult to sell houses with a low EPC? Either way – the challenge is to capture solutions within an engaging story targeted at COP27 delegates, inspiring them to action.
Action for expert team: We need resources/examples the writer may find useful in developing the story and for readers to access to follow up on ideas. Please feedback via Q13 in survey
Feedback so far: All good, although the priority should be insulating existing housing stock that’s rated D, E or F since that can save a huge amount of carbon and provide social benefits as opposed to a small improvement in new build specifications. Builders will spend as little as regulation requires so it needs regulation from government: ensure that every new house (etc) is built to exacting low-carbon standards with solar pv, electric car charging points, and heat pumps as standard (with requisite high insulation levels). Builders will squeal but then get on with it. This is particularly important in high latitude countries including the UK. Construction is a really energy and carbon intensive industry so it is worth including. There are a few approaches that are being trialled for making green cement (i.e using alternative starting materials and hydrogen fuel) and these can be incentivised through carbon tax and regulation. For expert advice I can point to the following project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4rZuLE2fXU
Putting out coal seam fires by using fracking pumps to pump in water.
Coal seam fires release 400 million tonnes of co2 every year – solution: drill these wells from the side into the bottom of the seams, store up a load of water, and then big fracking pumps pump in masses of water to flood the bottom of the seam. This will make a load of steam which will gradually cool down the coal, push out the air and help it go out. Once it is cool enough, add high mineral foam to suppress future fire. For tough Wells liquid nitrogen can be added if necessary.
Action for writers: convert draft story brief into a short story to engage and inspire readers
Action for expert team: We need resources/examples the writer may find useful in developing the story and for readers to access to follow up on ideas. Please feedback via Q14 in survey
Climate solutions needing stories
Feel free to write stories on other climate solutions.
We will judge ideas against 4 questions:
1. Will it work?
2. Will it do a million tonnes? (of capture, avoidance, sequestration, abatement or removal – or a broad equivalent)
3. Is it a genuine negative emission (this wipes out a lot of the alternative fuel project like hydrogen, unfortunately)?
4. It is still worth doing in a runaway global warming world?
We prefer to focus on projects that fulfil these requirements, at single sites or as assemblages of many thousands. Projects that improve efficiency on luxury items don’t cut it.
There are 3 big tasks to do
1. Roll out renewables for everything, electrify everything, no more fossil fuels
2. Drawdown the CO2 in the atmosphere – really big nature based solutions, plus the big machine systems
3. Refreeze the arctic.
We’d like to concentrate on 2 & 3 as renewables are more of a done deal. They are harder and we need to start. If we only do 1, it is not enough.
Project Drawdown has plenty of ideas to work with
IPCC has plenty of resources. For example Figure SPM.6 (p46) of the report shows what demand side factors will reduce emissions. Figure SPM.7 (p50) of the report provides an overview of mitigation options and estimated ranges of costs and potential.
XPRIZE: Elon Musk provided $100 million for carbon dioxide removal projects. A set of stories about a selection of these 15 milestone winners might be a good start.
Climate Tech VC provide news on cutting edge businesses in their newsletter
Stripe cover carbon dioxide removal projects. There are some detailed project descriptions in this collection, some of which have been funded
Climaccelerator: is an EU programme to encourage a very wide range of start-ups in the carbon removal space
Some of the winners and finalists of the Earthshot prize are interesting
https://climatelaunchpad.org/ have churned out thousands of seedling enterprises and a few quite good projects
Lots of Ocean info here
Carbon plan is a good reference site
There are some great videos here, and a few technologies that might make the cut.
The radio 4 programme and associated book 39 Ways to Save the Planet has some great climate solutions. One with great potential are floating solar panels. Others include: switching to metrics of success that include planetary health such as switching from GDP to a well-being or happy planet index; sea-grass as a nature based carbon capture solution; and empowering women. They also have lots of solutions relating to eco-buildings.
Radio 4’s Positive Thinking also presents climate solutions that are assessed by experts such as on-demand buses or how to ensure longer term thinking and better governance, e.g. through more equitable leadership
Vision for Anthology
The aim is to compile an anthology of short stories that showcase real and potential solutions to the climate crisis. We are in contact with organisations who are in position to distribute a free downloadable eBook to the thousands of delegates attending COP27 in November 2022. This UN climate change conference is a follow up to COP26 and takes place in Egypt. The aspiration is that delegates and attendees can read the story & think, ‘yes, I can imagine something like that happening in my country’.
We hope to source a publisher, but if we don’t manage to do this in time for November 2022 we will publish via the imprint Habitat Press which was set up by Denise Baden as means to independently publish fiction that falls under the Green Stories project. However, we may still publish an updated version at a later date to the wider public if we secure a publisher’s interest. With the networking and interest this project has already received, we are sure there will be many media opportunities to help market such an important work.
The expert team will build on their research expertise and networks to devise around twelve climate solutions and create a story brief for writers to embed into an engaging narrative, with appealing characters and story arc. As a way to engage readers, each climate solution will be rated using a graphic similar to ‘Top Trumps’ using factors such as CLIMATE ADAPTATION; CLIMATE MITIGATION (amount of carbon captured/avoided); SPEED; COST; RISK; LOCATION (have map); SOCIAL JUSTICE (based on equality, diversity and inclusion). The score card could indicate who/what is required for it to happen with clear symbols. If it’s money/investment then have $; if regulation is required, have government building symbol; if it’s just a conversation, symbol can be a couple of heads talking; if it’s research, a mortarboard hat etc. As this is an eBook the reader can click on the graphic to get more information on each symbol.
We will include a distribution of different types of projects to reach a range of personality types and values. Ideas can be categorised e.g. QUICK WIN, GAME CHANGER and AUDACITY (high risk, high cost, high gain projects). As well as the eBook, we also hope to produce associated ‘Top Trumps’ cards to hand out to attendees and delegates at COP27.
Having a game like this (COP Trumps?) would provide an entertaining means to engage a wider audience in green solutions. We’d love to hear from any educational establishments or organisations interested in communicating climate solutions in innovative ways to partner with us to take this idea forward. Please email D.A.Baden@soton.ac.uk if you can help.
- We will establish suitable contracts for individual writers.
- The expert team decide on key climate solutions and prepare the story briefs.
- We will liaise with writers to allocate writers to story briefs and writers will commence writing the stories.
- We will employ a researcher as a resource for writers to call on to source more technical information where required. Funds available from July for the researcher, but in the meantime we will provide expert contacts for writers to make an early start.
- In June, Denise Baden will host a virtual workshop sharing tips on how to write for a cause (without being preachy). This is also an opportunity for writers to share their drafts and get feedback on their stories.
Once each story is complete in first draft, the relevant member of the expert team will assess the story for technical accuracy, assign ratings for the graphic and suggested changes to the writer if necessary.
We hope to partner with a literary consultancy who can offer manuscript appraisals and critical feedback to help writers to polish their stories.
Source supplier for ‘Top Trumps’ cards.
July – September 2022
Once stories have been amended to improve literary value, engagingness to readers and technical accuracy, we will ask our expert team to assign ‘Top Trumps’ rating to each story and employ a graphic artist to work on the graphics to accompany each story.
The graphic artist will also work on the cover design.
Our researcher and expert team will prepare a webpage for each solution where readers can follow up technical information and find out how to progress the ideas that take their interest. The researcher will add QR codes to stories and cards that link to relevant website pages.
September – October 2022
Assess resulting anthology and decide upon final stories, order and structure.
Edit, proofread, and typeset anthology and prepare for publication and distribution.
EBook will be distributed to COP 27 delegates.
November 2022 onwards
Team will track visits to websites to report back on impact.
We will follow up publication and media opportunities.