Glasgow’s under water and the airport has gone – only a story?


Crime writer Peter May envisions a Glasgow ravaged by climate change in his latest thriller.

The book – A Winter Grave – was inspired by his frustration over what he saw as a lack of action at the COP26 summit.

Set 30 years in the future, the novel is based in a Scotland left unrecognisable by sub-zero temperatures and flooding.

“We all sit and watch this happening – politicians doing nothing, our home, our planet going to the dogs, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” he told STV’s Scotland Tonight.

“That’s why I felt really frustrated. What can I do?”

May, a writer with more than four decades’ experience in journalism, literature and TV, was startled by a UN report on climate change predicting a 1.5C increase in global temperatures over the next 20 years.

“Its predictions were grim for the future unless drastic action was taken this decade,” he said. “So I had high hopes something would happen at COP26, but it was a cop-out.”

In May’s new novel, most of Pacific Quay – the home of STV, the Hydro and BBC Scotland – lies under water with artificial walls along the River Clyde all that protects the rest of Glasgow.

The author drew upon real-life estimates of how the city may be affected by climate change in 30 years’ time.

“Glasgow Airport’s gone,” he said. “Large parts of the Clyde estuary are underwater. A lot of the south side is flooded – that was a startling picture I wanted to paint.”

As well as severe flooding, May’s Scotland experiences a bitterly cold climate as it’s hit by snow and ice storms.

He said: “Scotland is on the same latitude as the Alaskan panhandle, so, by rights, our temperature should be at least 10C cooler.”

The novel has been categorised as ‘cli-fi’, a term for literature that deals with climate change, but the Glaswegian author isn’t so keen on the description.

“I don’t know that I like it very much as a genre,” he said. “I’m a crime writer – it’s a thriller, it just happens to have a climate theme to it.”

In A Winter Grave, Scotland is an independent country and has re-joined the European Union.

“It seemed to me it would be fun to look at the political situation,” May said. “What has happened, has Scotland become independent?

“And I would have thought there’s quite a strong chance that within the next 30 years it would.”

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