Alienated from “Home”: Connecting The Man in the High Castle and Climate Change
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Everyone is born and raised somewhere. Not everyone, however, has the ability to return back to that place or that image of home.
A sense of place, a grounding of roots in a culture and an upbringing, is an important foundation upon which a person’s life can sprout and grow. When that is robbed from someone, there’s a sense of hollowness, an incompletion that leaves one adrift not just from themselves, but from generations before them.
The Man in the High Castle, an Amazon original series in its second season, paints a dark picture of what could have been, an alternate reality when the outcome was reversed in World War II. After dropping an atomic bomb on Washington, D.C., the Nazis and Japanese split the occupation of the defeated United States, subjugating the American people and replacing their culture with that of the conquerors.
Many of the main characters, among the conquerors and the conquered both, struggle to reconnect with their home, wherever that is for each of them. Those in the Resistance fight for freedom for their former United States, a return to the American culture denigrated and destroyed in the aftermath of the war. Obergruppenführer Smith keeps the tension between his homeland (the United States) and the Fatherland (the Nazi Reich) out of sight. Trade Minister Tagomi struggles with the memory of his wife and yearns for his simpler pre-war life in Japan.
For those separated from their home, either by force or by duty, it’s always a place to which they want to spiritually and/or physically return.
While we know that the reality of The Man in the High Castle isn’t our reality, there is another existential crisis which we are all facing. It comes not with bombs and occupying boots, but with rising waves and extreme drought. And it will similarly threaten many homes around the world.
Although, given the innumerable variables and uncertainty in accurately predicting the effects of climate change, many papers and experts estimate that 200 million people around the world will become refugees, forced to leave their homelands after environmental or violent conflict or in search of more food supplies, by 2050. Depending on the course of mitigation and adaptation efforts over the coming decades, that estimate might be too high — or too low.
No country will be spared from climate-incurred mass migration, not even the United States. Scores of people around the world, individuals with families, customs, traditions, and memories, are already being pushed from their homes, unable to ever return. The 350,000 residents of the Maldives are presciently facing the drowning of their entire archipelago as the sea continues to rise and swallow the land forever.
Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed in an underwater cabinet meeting in 2009 to highlight the impending threat posed by climate change to the country. [The Guardian]
Just as Juliana Crain, Frank Frink, Joe Blake, and the other characters in The Man in the High Castle attempt to hold onto the image of their homeland or, for some, to deal with its absolute destruction, many of us in this reality will face similar threats to our homeland.
Unless we decide to defend them from ourselves.