For the past couple of years, I have created a theory that Game of Thrones is an allegory for the Climate Change problem that our world must face, and that each of the characters (or group of characters) have real-life representatives. I’ve talked about my theory with close friends, but I never expected to talk about it in public. I dismissed my theory as a buzz-kill that lets my fascination with Climate Change and how people react to it (or not) overtake my ability to simply have fun with an escapism television show.
So last week, I was surprised to see that Vanity Fair published an article about how many people have noticed the parallels between Game of Thrones and our Climate Change problem, and then the author proceeded to name which real-life person in our Climate Change reality matched up with Game of Thrones characters. I feel so validated.
But beyond the satisfaction of validation, I disagree with most of the matchups in the article. Furthermore, with only a handful of exceptions, I see many of the individual characters as representatives of groups of people in the Climate Change story, not necessarily individuals. I don’t have a perfect Game of Thrones/Climate Change matchup for every character (and I am no Game of Thrones expert; I watched the show once and never read the books), but this connection between fiction and real-life is a beautiful, unintentional phenomenon resulting from George R. R. Martin’s masterful storytelling skills. I believe in the power of story to change minds and hearts, and I am grateful to witness it happening in one of my favorite tales.
So allow me to explain how I interpret the Game of Thrones characters, and the connections I make between them and their real-life representatives that are involved in humanity’s challenge to survive Climate Change (whether they are aware of it or not).
Housekeeping: In each header, I provide links to the Game of Thrones character Fandom page and the Real-Life representative Wikipedia page (or other website if it doesn’t exist on Wikipedia). Thanks to both sites for refreshing my memory as I wrote this article.
The White Walkers are a group of zombie-like supernatural beings who kill everything in their path, and their victims turn into more White Walkers, which multiplies their strength. White Walkers show no mercy and can only be killed by dragonglass or Valyrian steel, which are rare. White Walkers are the real threat to humanity, but they are currently located out of sight north of The Wall (although this is changing as time goes on because “winter is coming” and spreading south, bringing the White Walkers with it).
Most characters are not thinking about or do not believe in the impending devastation that White Walkers will inflict on their own lives because they are concerned with staking a claim to the Iron Throne, seeking revenge on their enemies, increasing their power, or simply surviving. These minor fights and plots, even when magnified into all-out war battles, are meaningless in the face of the White Walkers. Everyone should be cooperating and preparing for the impending White Walker disaster, but most are distracted by the day-to-day challenges of being ego-centric humans instead.
Although many people have not experienced the full force of Climate Change firsthand, and some do not believe that it exists at all, Climate Change is real and causing devastation throughout the world right now. As time goes on, its power will increase and its effects will spread to more places, increasing devastation and the resulting political and economic chaos, especially on those who have not taken it seriously and are not prepared.
Responding to Climate Change in an effective way requires drastically changing individual lifestyles, re-working economic and energy systems, and cooperation between groups who are historic enemies. These actions are not happening fast enough for many reasons, one of which is that currently, Climate Change is not causing extreme devastation in the places where people with power and money actually live, so they go about their lives concerned with their daily existence instead.
Many people have still not woken up to the fact that the world is rapidly changing, the past is not a blueprint for the future, and Climate Change is a bigger problem than anything we have encountered before. Being victorious over Climate Change (i.e. avoiding a massive die-off of human beings and other life) requires putting ego aside, making lifestyle changes, forgiving one another, letting go of past conflicts, and planning for a future of survival that can only exist if we work together, now.
The Free Folk (people in the Seven Kingdoms call them Wildlings) are the people who live in the lands north of The Wall and are divided into clans. They traditionally recognize no political authority figure, although they have occasionally teamed up under a leader to fight a common enemy for their collective survival. The people of the Seven Kingdoms originally built The Wall 8,000 years ago to keep out White Walkers, effectively cutting off the Free Folk from the rest of Westeros and leaving them to fend for themselves. The White Walkers have not shown up for over 8,000 years, so over time, the Night’s Watch, guards located at Castle Black on The Wall, began to believe that their main duty was to keep Free Folk from going south of The Wall and into the Seven Kingdoms.
The division between the Free Folk and the Seven Kingdoms has led to much distrust and violence between the two groups. But now that the White Walkers are on the rise, the Free Folk are experiencing the devastation of the White Walkers firsthand. Many Free Folk have been killed and many who are still alive realize that they must join with others, even Southerners, if there is any hope of survival against the White Walkers. This is not to say that forming an alliance with Southerners has been easy of the Free Folk – most of them remain distrustful of Southerners and have been reluctant to join forces. Jon Snow has been instrumental in forming an alliance with the Free Folk and has earned their trust by putting his own life on the line, challenging his fellow Brothers of the Night’s Watch, and arguing that everyone must work together if there is any hope of survival.
Even though the truly devastating effects of Climate Change have not emerged in the highly developed, industrial parts of the world at this point, there are many places where Climate Change is already causing life-altering, deadly disasters on a regular basis, and Indigenous Peoples often suffer the most.
Climate Change is currently threatening Indigenous Peoples’ access to traditional foods such as fish and game, as well as wild and cultivated crops. Medicinal and food plants are becoming increasingly difficult to find in their historical ranges, which is particularly challenging because Native Peoples in the United States have specific plots of land to live on, and they cannot move with the plants and animals. Changes in precipitation, which effect water quantity and quality, are difficult for Indigenous Peoples to adapt to, especially in the more isolated communities. Declining sea ice and increased winds in the Arctic are becoming a safety issue for Indigenous Peoples who can no longer hunt or fish safely, leading to additional food insecurity. Permafrost thaw in the Arctic is forcing many Native villages in Alaska to relocate. Indigenous Peoples located on the coastlines are also being forced to relocate due to erosion, sea level rise, and an increase in storm events. And while all of this is happening, fossil fuel companies are getting permits from the U.S. government to drill for fossil fuels and build pipelines on their land.
Despite their current difficulties, Indigenous Peoples are not letting Climate Change destroy them without a fight. As the incredible display of water protection and solidarity at Standing Rock showed the world, Indigenous Peoples are communicating with one another, gathering together, and doing what they can to prevent the fossil fuel industry and corporate greed from destroying the natural world and their lives, which are so deeply interconnected. It is important to emphasize that much like the Free Folk, Indigenous Peoples cannot be lumped into one group and many are not participating in any sort of Climate Change fight, but many are, and some are willing to join forces with the non-Indigenous people who are descended from the colonizers who took their land and destroyed their former way of life.
Jon Snow is a leader who truly understands how important it is to form unconventional alliances if there is any hope of surviving the White Walkers as they spread with winter throughout Westeros. Although he took an oath to defend The Wall as a Brother of the Night’s Watch until death, Jon Snow understands that tradition and rules only go so far in the face of impending doom. He is willing to make alliances with the Free Folk, who have been the enemies of the Night’s Watch and the Seven Kingdoms for 8,000 years. Although Jon Snow is loved by many of his Brothers of the Night’s Watch and is voted to be their Commander, there is a significant group of Brothers who disagree with him joining forces with the Free Folk, and for that they kill him.
Jon Snow’s willingness to put his life on the line and form nontraditional alliances for the greater good is what makes him my favorite hero in Game of Thrones. Jon Snow embodies the characteristics that I believe are most needed for humanity to survive Climate Change.
Jon Snow represents anyone who is willing to break with traditional tribal thinking and join forces with those who understand the seriousness of Climate Change and are doing something about it, even if they must break tradition, repair trust, and cooperate with former enemies. I see the character of Jon Snow best represented by Environmental Justice Activists, who understand how environmental problems (Climate Change in particular) disproportionately impact Indigenous Peoples, poorer communities, and communities of color. Regardless of their age, sex, race, and past experiences with those different from themselves, Environmental Justice Activists bring together everyone who has skin in the game to address civil rights, human rights, and environmental rights for all.
A great example of an Environmental Justice Activist with Jon Snow qualities is Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice, and Community Revitalization at Hip Hop Caucus. This is a new position for Ali because he recently resigned from his post as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Associate Administrator for Environmental Justice and Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization. During his 24 years with EPA, Ali worked across federal agencies to strengthen environmental justice policies and was a founding member of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. His own government, in the form of the Trump Administration and new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, made it impossible for him to continue his work at EPA, but he continues to raise up vulnerable communities in the face of Climate Change through Hip Hop Caucus.
Another example of Jon-Snow-in-real-life are the veterans who organized two deployments to Standing Rock, North Dakota and put their bodies between the Native American protesters and the privatized military forces that were assaulting them with water, rubber bullets, and teargas in the middle of winter. During the veterans’ first deployment to Standing Rock, where 4,000 veterans stood in solidarity with the Indigenous Protesters, forgiveness ceremonies took place and veterans apologized to the Standing Rock Sioux elders for their ancestors’ past history of disrespect, destruction, and hurt to Indigenous Peoples.
Jon Snow Supporters in the Night’s Watch – Climate Activists
Jon Snow Supporters in the Night’s Watch
Jon Snow is a strong leader and many of his fellow Night’s Watch Brothers have chosen to follow him, join forces with the Free Folk, and fight to prevent White Walker devastation in Westeros. These Jon Snow Supporters are willing to go with him into battle and trust that he is doing the right thing to ensure the safety of humanity. They believe that the White Walkers are the real and the true threat to humanity, and will do what it takes to stop their spread of death and destruction.
In the real-life fight to survive Climate Change, Jon Snow Supporters are the Climate Activists who recognize the problem and are willing to step up, alter their lives, make sacrifices, and take meaningful action to make the world a better place. Climate Activists include climate scientists, government workers, progressive environmental attorneys, renewable energy developers, and engaged citizens who are all committed to reducing the devastation of Climate Change and planning for the difficult days ahead. They live their lives differently because they know that Climate Change is real and it requires everyone to step up and take responsibility for their role in addressing the crisis.
Jon Snow Enemies in the Night’s Watch – Climate Deniers
Jon Snow Enemies in the Night’s Watch
Jon Snow has made enemies of some of his Brothers of the Night’s Watch because they simply can’t let go of “the way things have always been,” and they let their prejudices get the best of them. The idea that their Commander would become allies with their sworn enemies, the Free Folk/Wildlings, is completely horrific to them. Some of these men have lost family members at the hands of the Free Folk, and others are simply conditioned to be distrustful and “other” a group of people that they know nothing about. But either way, they cannot accept that Jon Snow is joining forces with their enemy, no matter how serious the White Walker situation happens to be. In the end, they execute a plot to kill Jon Snow, because they simply cannot accept a new way of being Brothers of the Night’s Watch.
In the face of Climate Change, the Climate Deniers are a serious threat to our survival. Accepting that Climate Change is real and then doing something about it (living more simply, changing to renewable energy sources, re-working our electric grid and economy, eating a plant-based diet, changing to more responsible agricultural practices, etc.) requires a change in world-view that is unacceptable and incomprehensible to Climate Deniers. For Climate Deniers, it is easier to deny that Climate Change exists rather than change their lifestyle, overcome their prejudices, and form alliances with groups of people they do not know and have never trusted.
Aemon was a maester at Castle Black and advisor to Commanders of the Night’s Watch, including Jon Snow. He was a wise man who valued the tradition of the Night’s Watch, but he also understood that the White Walkers posed the real threat to humanity. Aemon offered counsel to Jon Snow and encouraged him to “kill the boy, and let the man be born,” which meant make mature decisions to save lives (fight alongside the Free Folk to defeat the White Walkers), rather than immature decisions to get people to like him.
Although I am not a Catholic and have spent very little time thinking about Popes, Pope Francis grabbed my attention in 2015 when he published Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, which is a letter to the entire World (not just Catholics). Laudato Si’ explains the threats of Climate Change and equates how we treat the Earth to how we treat the poor, which ultimately impacts our spiritual growth.
Maybe Aemon is not the perfect allegory for Pope Francis, but I wanted to name someone who is a wise, tradition-bound person who really cares about what happens to humanity. Pope Francis is a critical player in our quest to survive Climate Change and I am grateful that he has shared his wisdom, which leaps off the page so beautifully in Laudato Si’, with all of humanity.
Melisandre is a priestess of the Lord of Light religion. She has absolute faith in the Lord of Light to solve all problems, and convinces Stannis Baratheon to follow her insane and horrific advice so he can take the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms. Melisandre even burns Stannis’s young daughter at the stake as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light to help Stannis’s army take Winterfell (the plan fails).
Sometimes, however, Melisandre does perform miracles. She herself is over 400 years old, and she is the one the brings Jon Snow back from the dead after he is killed by his own Brothers of the Night’s Watch.
Science is an amazing tool for making new discoveries and helping humanity overcome great obstacles, but taken to the extreme, the dogmatic belief that science and technology will save humanity from Climate Change turns a tool for rational problem-solving into a blind faith and unethical religion. In humanity’s quest to survive Climate Change, there are Technologists who believe that science and technology will save us, and we can “geoengineer” our way out of the climate crisis. For example, some Technologists want to inject the atmosphere with sulfate aerosols in order to block out the Sun’s rays and reduce the Earth’s temperature. This would pour acid rain on the Earth, which would ruin water supplies, hurt plant and animal life, and dissolve buildings. For Technologists, this is the price we must pay to avert a Climate Change catastrophe.
Yes technology is an important piece of the Climate Change puzzle and it has the ability to save many lives, but addressing Climate Change in an equitable and humane way involves innovation, cooperation, and lifestyle changes on the part of literally billions of people. Faith in technology to the extreme without changing unsustainable lifestyles puts too much life at risk.
Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Jojen Reed, and Hodor – Environmentalists
Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Jojen Reed, and Hodor
Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Jojen Reed, and Hodor are on a quest to find the three-eyed raven and help defeat the White Walkers. Bran is paralyzed from a childhood fall and cannot walk, but he is able to see through the eyes of animals and even control their actions. Meera believes in the Old Gods of the Forest, is committed to getting Bran to the three-eyed raven, and is a skillful fighter. Meera’s brother, Jojen, has visions, helps Bran navigate through his powers, and ultimately loses his life on their quest. Hodor is a mentally disabled servant of House Stark who is only able to repeat one word, “Hodor,” although he understands instructions and gives his life to save Bran and Meera from the White Walkers. This group is not capable of defeating the White Walkers on their own because they are physically vulnerable, need assistance from others, and are not exactly sure what they are doing or where they are going, but they play a critical role in fighting the White Walkers and will never give up.
Traditional Environmentalists have been trying to solve the Climate Change crisis for decades, and their repeated cries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and respect the Earth have increased in volume and frequency over the past number of years. It is often difficult to engage with Environmentalists because they seem to repeat the same things over and over, but their hearts are in the right place and they truly understand that Climate Change is going to bring increasing devastation to humanity over time. Environmentalists are often connected to the outdoors, nature, and animals, and they have a lot of respect for the other living things that we share this planet with. They are very knowledgeable about Climate Change and their assistance will be vital in the years ahead. Although Environmentalists are on a quest to save the world, they are never going to succeed without the help and leadership of many other groups and people.
House Lannister – Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else
House Lannister is the family that currently sits on the Iron Throne and rules King’s Landing. Their extreme family loyalty, greed, and lust for power destroys many lives around them (including their own), and brings them much misery. Cecei and Jamie Lannister, brother and sister, are so obsessed with their family’s power and distrustful of outsiders that they fall in love and have three children together, none of whom survive past their teenage years (with Joffrey being the epitome of evil). The Lannisters know about the White Walkers, but view them as a problem for the North and therefore spend their time increasing their power and protecting their claim to the Iron Throne.
Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else
Although it is possible to run an ethical business (and critical for humanity’s survival), the Lannister-like Companies that I am talking about here Value Profits Over Everything Else. The leaders of these Companies are willing to create businesses that over-extract natural resources, pollute the environment, and destroy the lives of other people (as well as their own children), all in the name of making more money. Maybe these Companies are aware that they are contributing to Climate Change and causing current and future devastation, but they simply dismiss it as someone else’s problem and continue to do whatever it takes to increase their power and make more money.
I was considering naming fossil fuel companies as the Lannister representative in this article, but it doesn’t take the concept far enough. Yes, fossil fuel companies fall into the category of Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else, but chemical companies, big agriculture companies, large “food” manufacturers, mining companies, cheap clothing companies, wasteful technology companies, and many others are just as much like the Lannisters as fossil fuel companies are. All are a problem, and all must change their ways or be destroyed if we are to survive the impending Climate Change devastation.
Tyrion Lannister is a cunning, adventurous man who has been mistreated by his family, killed his father, and is now across the world teaming up with Daenerys in her quest to take the Iron Throne. Tyrion has been to Castle Black and he has some understanding of the White Walker problem, but he has been too busy dealing with his evil family and surviving his escape from King’s Landing to be much help with the War Against the White Walkers at this point.
Although not a perfect match, I chose Leonardo DiCaprio as Tyrion Lannister because he is an unconventional, world-renowned celebrity and movie star who uses his elevated status to fight Climate Change. Leonardo DiCaprio gives much of his time and wealth to environmental initiatives, promotion of renewable energy, and production of documentaries about Climate Change and what to do about it. He also used his 2016 Oscars acceptance speech to tell the world that “Climate Change is real, [and] it is happening right now. . . .”
DiCaprio does the best he can to use his status and wealth for the greater good and I admire him greatly, but he can only do so much. As a wealthy celebrity, he must deal with the trappings of his fame and vocation. For example, being an actor relies on expensive, wasteful movie production sets and countless international flights. If you examine the resources that it takes to make a movie in Hollywood and live a celebrity lifestyle, you realize that the film industry is closely connected to many of the Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else.
Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, is a goddess. Although she was born into royalty, the fact that she is female forced her to yield to her violent father and brother for many years and they treated her as a pawn in their failed quest for power. But Daenerys survived them both and married a powerful leader of a powerful tribe. Although Daenerys’ husband died, she survived and came out of the ashes as a queen with three baby dragons.
Daenerys is determined to rule as a just queen – one who liberates slaves, destroys slave masters, and ultimately takes her rightful place on the Iron Throne. Daenerys inspires people to follow her by breaking chains, creating powerful symbolism (a woman riding fire-breathing dragons), and implementing a just leadership style. People are tripping over themselves to give their lives for her, and she relishes being their queen. Daenerys frequently faces and is victorious over overzealous, chauvinistic men and their plots to destroy her.
It is important to note, however, that at the moment, Daenerys is still intent on taking the Iron Throne and is not using her power to address the White Walker crisis. It appears that she doesn’t even know that the White Walkers are an impending threat to humanity’s survival. But what good is freeing slaves and sitting on the Iron Throne if everyone will be killed by and turned into White Walkers?
Beyoncé is a larger-than-life, superhuman feminist icon. Like Daenerys, Beyoncé is a goddess. Beyoncé adores motherhood, fans lovingly call her a queen, she is incredibly hard working, and she cultivates her own power in the form of respect, money, and beautiful strength. Beyoncé works hard to help others in need – she is a vocal advocate for racial justice and she is a powerhouse feminist, raising up black women in particular. Her creative work is breathtaking and beautiful and full of symbolism, especially her latest visual album Lemonade, which earned her a Peabody Award. If you need more evidence that Beyoncé is the epitome of hard work, glorified motherhood, and incredible symbolism, check out her 2017 Grammys performance.
But much like Daenerys’ lack of focus on the White Walkers, Beyoncé has only done minimal work in the Climate Change realm. I truly believe that adding her gifts and power to the Climate Change cause in a substantial way would make a meaningful impact.
House Stark of Winterfell is one of the Great Houses of Westeros and full of honorable family members, but it is constantly taking blows from traitors, bad luck, poor alliances, and heartbreaking setbacks. House Stark is one of the oldest lines of Westeros nobility and in Season 1, Lord Ned Stark becomes Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon (husband to Queen Cersei Lannister) and moves to King’s Landing along with his two daughters. Nothing good comes of that situation; after the King dies, Ned Stark publicly declares that Joffrey is the product of incest between Jamie and Cersei Lannister, and he is subsequently beheaded for treason. Ned Stark’s daughters, Sansa and Arya, are left to fend for themselves and endure many terrible people and struggles.
In Season 3, the Red Wedding happens, which is the massacre of King Robb Stark, his pregnant wife Queen Talisa, and his mother, Catelyn Stark (widow of Ned Stark). The Red Wedding massacre was secretly orchestrated by Tywin Lannister and involved other Houses that are a part of the Iron Throne drama.
House Stark does have family members that are involved in fighting the White Walkers, however. Ned Stark’s bastard son, Jon Snow, is the most important leader in making alliances to fight the White Walkers. Bran Stark has the ability to see through the eyes and control the actions of animals, and he is on a quest that will be important for any victory against the White Walkers in the future. Sansa Stark and Arya Stark have been busy surviving and have not had much time to think about White Walkers, but they are still alive and will likely be a part of this White Walker War in the future.
The Democratic Party is the one of the two major political parties in the United States, and it is also the oldest, formally founded in 1828. Since Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal Coalition in the 1930’s, the Democratic Party has promoted a social-liberal platform that has evolved into supporting progressive ideals such as social justice, racial justice, environmental protection, universal health care, labor union support, and consumer protection. Despite having honorable ideals and containing many respectable politicians, the Democratic Party has been outplayed and suffered terrible political losses in the recent past. Although Democratic President Barack Obama served honorably throughout his eight-year term, his political opponents made life difficult for him at every turn. The Democratic Party has many enemies, especially Companies that Value Profits Over Everything Else, which it has entangled itself with in its quest for political power.
The Democratic Party suffered its own version of the Red Wedding during the 2016 Election, where Republican Candidate Donald Trump won the Presidency through the Electoral College (not the popular vote), and Democrats lost seats in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. As a continuation of the Red Wedding (and bringing it back to Climate Change), President Trump removed the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, which destroyed President Obama’s work to have the United States participate in unprecedented international cooperation and lead the world towards a renewable energy future that meaningfully addresses Climate Change. Thankfully there are smaller factions of Democrats working to help humanity survive Climate Change, but the strong leadership of the Democratic Party is currently destroyed.
Sansa Stark – Women
Sansa Stark begins the Game of Thrones story as a naive, self-absorbed teenage girl, but her continuous strokes of bad luck and dealings with horrific men break down her fantasy world. By the end of Season 6, Sansa is still alive and has joined forces with Jon Snow to take back Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton, Sansa’s sadistic and rapey husband who she managed to escape from in the previous season. Sansa warns Jon that Ramsay is evil and they do not have enough men to win a battle against him, but Jon does not follow her advice and proceeds anyway. Luckily Sansa has the foresight to take matters into her own hands and had summoned the help of Peter Baelish and House Arryn, who arrive in time to win the battle and take back Winterfell.
Sansa has been busy surviving and has not been a part of the White Walker War at this point, but now that she is back with Jon Snow and they have taken back Winterfell, maybe there is a chance for her to use her intellect and experience during the battles ahead.
Despite the fantasies that modern Women will meet the man of their dreams, get married, be amazing mothers, and kick ass in a successful career, the reality of adulthood often brings about unexpected challenging and sobering obstacles to face. Cultural expectations on Women stifle their freedom and creativity (be perfect, do everything right, be nice, smile, be attractive, put others before yourself, etc.). Many Women suffer significant physical and/or emotional abuse at some point in their lives, which prevents them from being effective warriors for a more just world. Women expecting that their childhood fantasies will be their reality often get into serious trouble as adults. But the Women who survive their trials have the opportunity to heal, learn from their mistakes, and transform their suffering into wisdom and strength, which is what I see in many Women today.
The 2017 Women’s March that occurred one day after the inauguration of U.S. President Trump turned into a worldwide display of feminine power and solidarity in the face of a new administration that has been openly hostile to Women, as well as many other disenfranchised groups and progressive ideals. Women are angry, Women are tired of being silenced and pushed aside when they have good ideas and leadership skills, and Women want to take action and help make the world a better place. It is estimated that over 4,000,000 protesters marched in the United States on that day, and over 5,000,000 protesters marched worldwide.
I hope that more Women can overcome the often treacherous obstacles that are put before them in order to have the capacity to help us all survive the trials of Climate Change. We cannot overcome these monumental challenges without the full participation and guidance of Women.
Arya Stark – Youth
Arya Stark is a young girl who can easily slip through the cracks of society unnoticed, but she is not to be messed with. Arya is brave, smart, and determined to seek revenge on all who have wronged her and her family in the past, when she was not old or strong enough to effectively fight herself. Because Arya is a small girl, few adults take her seriously or respect her (if they notice her at all), but she is patient and will wait for the day to take her revenge. She understands the difference between good and evil and although she can be a bit impulsive and naive at times, she learns over time and is a great fighter. At the moment, she is not aware of the White Walkers, but she is working towards finding her family and seeking justice, and will hopefully be a part of the White Walker action soon.
Although it appears to be human nature for adults to dismiss Youth as self-absorbed, immature, and not paying attention, that is often not the case. Youth are paying attention, suffering themselves, and noticing the myriad problems facing the world, including Climate Change. When Youth make the connection between how adults have created their world and the consequences that they as young people will suffer in their lifetime at the hands of Climate Change, many get angry and take action. For example, 21 Youth are suing the Federal government for failing to take effective Climate Change action in the past, and they are demanding that the government uphold its responsibility to protect their Constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property now and into the future.
Direwolves are a large and intelligent species of wolf. In Season 1, the six Stark children adopted six orphaned Direwolves that their father found near Winterfell. The Stark Direwolves are loyal to their masters and will attack anyone who threatens them. Ghost, Jon Snow’s Direwolf, has been by his side while he fights the White Walkers and will do so until he dies.
We are not the only species on this planet and there are other life forms that are suffering the devastation of Climate Change right along with us. The Animal Kingdom can be our ally as we try to reduce the impacts of Climate Change and prepare for the inevitable challenges of the future. Elephants can remove individual trees from forests instead of machines. Colonies of bats can devour tons of insects in a single night in the place of insecticides. Insects can provide us with a more sustainable form of protein, if we can ever get over our gag reflex (I promise I’ll try). Chickens can provide us with eggs, eat bugs out of our garden, and fertilize our plants. And even if a particular species does not serve humans in a direct way, their presence is an indicator that the surrounding environment is healthier than an environment where they are absent. The Animal Kingdom is always communicating with us, and we can learn something new and helpful if we take the time to pay attention.
What Happens Next?
Season 7 of Game of Thrones premiers this weekend, and there is still a lot of ground to cover in the quest for the Iron Throne and the upcoming war against the White Walkers. I know that George R. R. Martin did not write Game of Thrones as an allegory for Climate Change, and I have no expectations of what will happen with the characters this season and how it fits into my theory.
But no matter what happens to the Game of Thrones’ plotline, the attributes of the characters that I root for are the same characteristics that I want to see more of in real-life. The characters who are concerned about the White Walkers, form unconventional alliances, and make significant personal sacrifices to overcome seemingly impossible odds possess the attributes needed to face Climate Change and create a more promising future for all of us living here on Earth.