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Monday, March 09, 2009

FAR Future, Episode 76: Before the Deluge

Maybe we jump the gun, but things could get bad enough this century.

And a hat tip to Odin’s Raven for guessing right…

Monday, September 10, 2035
Before the Deluge

Now let the music keep our spirits high,
Let the buildings keep our children dry,
Let Creation reveal its secrets, by and by…

When the government called for people to take in refugees from the coast, we all looked at each other… then answered the call. It’s not like there’s no time; they estimate it will be several months before the East Coast starts flooding, but we offered to take in two families with kids. This host/guest database they put up is pretty clever. We entered a list of characteristics — families with kids, an interest in gardening, carpentry skills, some familiarity with rural life in general — and it found five exact matches. Unfortunately, we only have room for two. We picked at random.

They sent us some recycled materials (and promised some labor) to convert the detached garage to a duplex. The delivery truck seemed huge, but it certainly wasn’t as big as the trucks they used to haul freight back when. The clattering diesel reminded me of the ambulance that came for Mrs. Fetched a few years ago — sometimes I feel like it came for her last week and other times an eternity ago. She told me to remind them “no extraordinary measures,” although it was too late even for that. She died right where she wanted to, in her own bed in her own house, before the medics got here.

But I’m rambling again. There’s no telling when the labor will arrive. Rene, Serena, and Bobby are doing some of the initial stuff; we cleaned out the garage and they’ve put up some of the framing. Guillermo and I have done a little bit when they’re not looking; they think we shouldn’t be doing anything but we’re just old, not dead, dagnabbit. With any luck, things will be ready when our new guests arrive. The house is pretty well full, which is why we’re converting the garage: Guillermo and Maria are still with us and still working, although they deserve to retire many times over, and Rene and Serena (and Bobby) have the upstairs rooms. The studio is for Daughter Dearest and her family when they move back this month — with the school system facilitating volunteer schooling, rather than trying to get enough fuel to bus the kids into town, they can bring the neighbor kids into the community center and do remote hookups as needed. The Boy would have been welcome here too, but he’s gone again… he’ll come back about the time I decide he’s opted-out, he always does. Kim tells me they’re renovating some abandoned high-rises in Atlanta to take in refugees, and they’re already booked. Things will get a little crowded when they come to visit, but we’ll manage somehow. Maybe we’ll put up a straw-bale house where the cows won’t eat it.

General Freakout seems to have taken charge since that big chunk of ice in Greenland let go. Some of the more delusional types think we can build seawalls all along the coasts (hunh?), and they’re already at it on Manhattan — the game of chicken between the government and private citizens ended pretty quickly, perhaps in time to actually make it work. The running joke, outside of NYC anyway, is that piling up all their garbage along the shoreline would be enough to keep the entire metro area dry. Just about the entire world is jamming the phone lines to the Netherlands, looking for help and advice — but they’re busy trying (and only partly succeeding) to hold back the surge themselves. At this point, a middling storm would flood them out. They should be OK by spring, if they make it that long; the surge is supposed to start receding as the flood works its way around the world. After a couple years, things should settle out with sea levels up around 3 meters.

The loudest outcry for the government to “do something,” not surprisingly, comes from the general direction of private beaches. The rest of us tell them, “it’s ‘your’ beach, it’s your responsibility,” and they just don’t understand why we’re not falling all over ourselves to preserve the property they don’t want us anywhere near. As if we could, given the Restoration-era laws against providing public aid to “fenced” property. They should have gotten a clue when Hurricane Tricia wiped out Daytona Beach back in 2028, and there wasn’t a big government rush to rebuild the rich people’s exclusive playground. Some of that got rebuilt privately, but it will all be under water again pretty soon. A rather rude joke I heard is that Floridians will soon be the new Okies; instead of dust, they’ll be escaping water and wandering the nation. On the Gulf, they’re just abandoning New Orleans to the coming flood. There’s some talk about either moving the Pascagoula shipyard or surrounding it with levees, but if they’re doing to do more than watch it go under they’ll have to get started chop-chop.

The water coming in will be colder than usual — an ice cube that big is going to make a difference even in an ocean — and they’re already predicting a chilly winter. We may even get a significant (1cm) accumulation of snow here, something we haven’t seen since [looking it up] January 2025. Beyond that, ask ten climatologists what the long-term effects are going to be and get 20 different answers. I’m hoping for the “cool and rainy” scenario, since that would fix a lot of problems much of the world has been having with climate change. One of the more troubling scenarios disrupts the Gulf Stream, bringing colder weather to much of Europe, but even that isn’t all bad… that scenario also involves a partial rebuilding of the Alpine glaciers and the Arctic ice cap. I don’t suppose we’ll have much choice in the matter, though. As the kids used to say before things changed, “it is what it is.” One thing’s probably a certainty… hurricane season will be really quiet next year.



  1. I predict that your new guests will show up about two hours after you finish building them a condo in the garage. Their excuse will be "Sorry we're late but we had a flat tire."

    The weather changes but nothing else does.

  2. Hey Far! 26 years from now, eh? I don't like the part were Ms. Fetched, kicks the bucket...But I suppose that's life, hope I go nice and quick, eh?

    Then again, it probably won't be so quick for an estimated 200 million "excess deaths" to occur every year around that time either...

    Really, for me anyway, I'd be at a loss for words decribing such a scenario at that point...

    Thanks, yooper

  3. LOL Jimmy! Good point… but they're about two more episodes from arriving. The people coming to help, I think, are the descendants of cable guys.

    Yooper, I didn't want to write that part either, so I just let it happen in the 12-year gap. You might remember where I wrote about my own funeral… now that was difficult! It'll be interesting to see how many people catch on to other things that happened during that 12 years.

  4. I'm assuming that Mrs.Fetched isn't reading these posts, given her demise.

    Far, you're going to need to put up a highrise to house all the new residents of Far manor. Will these individuals be revealed in the next installment?

  5. Hi Boran! Mrs. Fetched read the story I linked to in the comment to Yooper above, and said, "I doubt you'll go before I do." But no, she's not reading it (at least I don't think she is.

    Serena says: "The (3-stall) detached garage is what we're converting. You'll meet the new guests in the episode after next."

    Seriously… there's a *lot* of space. If privacy wasn't an issue, and we converted the outbuildings like in this episode, we could probably house 20 people here.

  6. Yup Far, I went back and reread the third scenario of Far Manor 2058. I can remember reading it back in 2007 and was thinking this one as being the more realistic than the other two...

    I'm going to reread the other two again and comment. I'm likely to take a couple of jabs at some of your notions in this vision...

    As much of my former education (if you can call it that) comes back in bits and pieces, this recently has been brought back up at the fore thought. I think it was while in the 7th grade, there was this little assumption put forth. Even if China could form a line of it's people that lead going into the ocean at a walks pace, they would continue being the most populated country in the world..........

  7. Heh, yeah, I figured you'd like that one best. ;-)

    I remember hearing that thing about the Chinese too. I wondered at the time how they would manage to reproduce while marching single file…

  8. Finally read the whole thing. Good work. I think that you are too optimistic about Americans not being able to fire upon other Americans though. You've given me alot to think about!

  9. Hi Irrational! Thanks for sticking with it… it's approaching the size of an average novel and there's more to come.

    I wondered about Americans firing on Americans, to be honest with you — there's a precedent for it (Kent State). But I wasn't getting the "this doesn't ring true" vibe, so I let it stand. There have been several things that *did* trigger that alarm, and they didn't see the light of blog.


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