NOTE The following is an adaptation from the soon to be released book ‘Letters From 2030’. To register interest on its release, or to order a copy email Bob Williamson via this link.
He stood looking down on the once busy city streets.
The sky is dull even though long ago the pollution for the coal fired power stations that pumped electricity to the dependant urban population have ceased to emit their deadly carbon dioxide. He remembered the promises of the pro-coal lobby and the politicians back in the first decade of the 21st century. ‘We can continue with business as usual – we are investing in clean coal technology and carbon capture and storage’
He researched this in depth back in those days and tried to alert people to the absurdity of their claims.
The streets below are now deserted, long since flooded by rising sea levels. The assurances of the science community that the risks of sea level rises of several inches by 2100 now in 2030 seemed like a science and political conspiracy. As they waited during those years to present their peer reviewed verifiable reports to policy makers based on observed outcomes of climate change; climate change didn’t wait with the same patience.
He has only distant memories of streets bustling with people all mindlessly going about their commercial activities. Working day in and day out to earn more money to buy more and more consumer goods they couldn’t afford and didn’t need.
Many resources had become extinct during the second decade of the 21st century. Resources just like the fragile natural environment that most had just taken for granted. Use once and then throw away, had been the normal practice of modern day life with no one hearing the message of conservation. The bubble of consumerism without consideration of overshoot had to bust. The population by 2010 had grown to needing 2 – 3 planets to support it.
He remembered when in 2006 he read the example of the carrying capacity and the outcome for St Mathew Island in the Bering Sea when stocked with twenty-nine reindeer in 1944. Specialists had calculated that the island could support 13 to 18 reindeer per square mile, or a total population between 1,600 and 2,300 animals. By 1957, the population was 1,350; but by 1963 with no natural controls or predators, the population had exploded to 6,000. The original calculations had been correct; this number vastly exceeded carrying capacity and was soon decimated by disease and starvation by 1966 there were only 42 reindeer alive of these last 42, save one very sick male, were all female.
Like other past civilizations the overshoot of their business as usual and living as usual habits had now caught up with the global population of man. By 2050 in a mere 20 years time projections suggested a mere 200,000 would remain in isolated pockets of human inhabitation around the planet.
He looked around him at the room in which he spent most of his time. The bank of power cells he had collected took constant care in order that the solar power he collected from the roof on the high rise he now called home would not let him down when he needed supply. No power was wasted as had been in the days long since passed into history.
He walked to the hydroponic garden room and plucked a leaf from one of the lettuces he grew. He had been careful to collect the seeds each time they had gone to flower, painstakingly pollinating them by hand. Mother natures bees had long since gone. The day for their end of birth long since passed.
In the second decade of the 21st century there had been much genetic engineering of crops by multinational corporations like Monsanto. They like the coal lobby had green washed the public and the politicians of the day with their assurances that seed modification genetically modified not to produce viable seed for future crops, was in the interests of feeding a swelling global population. Their tampering with nature had only one outcome.
So now at least in this isolated desolate city the only green remaining was in that room.
It was approaching the time of day he looked forward to the most. His daily receipt of hologramletters.
The previous day it had been New Years day January 1st 2030. He had sent out a call to all he was still connected to. His hologramletter had read:-
Well it’s now January 1st 2030.
Thanks to all of you for your daily hologramletters, I look forward to them every day.
There seems more time in the day these last few years to put my thoughts down and to keep in touch with the few of you that are left. Sadly many of my friends and yours have fallen by the wayside. Their homes swallowed up by advancing deserts or inundated with rising sea levels. Some have sarcome to starvation and lack of clean drinking water and many to disease. I know a few must have survived by moving to the remaining isolated areas that can still support life, but many have lost contact and I fear we will never hear from them again.
As I sit down this New Years day to write this letter to you my friends, I look back on the last few years since the publishing of my book ZERO Greenhouse Emissions -The Day the Lights Went Out – Our Future World and ponder what more I could have done to change the future, with a sense of sadness. Then I was only 56 now I am a 77. I have reached what they once called three score years and ten and passed it by seven long years. But what a time it has been.
Years have passed since the hope for our planet hinged on this or that politician being elected to make a change but none did.
I remember in 2009 when the first African American President was elected to the United States. President Obama just like my hopes and dreams has now passed into history. They say the mistake he made was to focus efforts on trying to save an economic system that was inevitably destined for demise. A system that relied not only in preserving the way of life of the American population that could not be saved under the way that they had lived, but missed the point that these issues were transitory, but the climate crisis was not.
I look back now with sadness that all were listening to today’s problems but ignoring those that would strike tomorrow. We had the chance back then but failed. I thought if enough woke up – bought my book and realised the truth then, we would become the army of concern for a safe future that would change our future to one that was not finite. As I sit here now I’m saddened that we missed that opportunity.
We will more than likely be described by those that survive this time in the short history of man, as those that could have made a change, but could not be bothered. Those that could have made a difference, but just didn’t care about others.
Those that could have saved humanity, but just kept on consuming.
Those that could have secured a safe future, but just kept bickering about who should be first.
Those that could have saved humanity, but preferred to go shopping.
I don’t know what more I could have done. Even now; looking back on the last 21 years, I don’t know what more; I could have done.
In 2008 when I wrote the book, I thought I could make a difference. I pushed for every mother of every child, every father of every child, to read it to understand how we were putting their children – not just theirs, but mine and yours in peril. They were deaf to the pleas. I, as with many others worked tirelessly to wake them up. Wake them up from the illogical sleepwalk they were on. They slept on. Many of these other crusaders for change have now gone. I still lament the passing of James Lovelock, Al Gore amongst others. I miss their wisdom and their passion.
So here we are in 2030 with the outcome of our global sleepwalk and that of our political masters back in those days. Here we are in world of irreversible of climate change. Here we are in a world of atmospheric concentration of CO2-e of 1,000ppm at the level of 55 million years ago. At the level as we are seeing now where all ecosystems have failed and only a few of us still survive. They say there may be as few as 200,000 of the 7 billion of the worlds population in 2010 left by 2050. I know I won’t be one of them.
It is amazing looking back that we fell for the claims from Industry and from world politicians that we could go on as we had and there would be no outcome to our lives or the planet. I know many at the time believed these messages and went on as they always had. Sad isn’t it that so many have died because of this ignorance and complacency?
I remember in the first decade of the 21st century when they saw the Polar Regions heating up at three times the global average and they just said that further evidence was needed before verifiable scientific reports could be presented. Then the West Antarctic ice shelves collapsed and they said well we thought they might. Millions then perished.
I remember at the same time they were telling us that the permafrost in the Arctic was melting and would release billions of tonnes of methane into the already overburdened carbon pool in the atmosphere, but no one listened. I remember at that time when we were at 390ppm that the world had been a very different place to when levels had been that high before. We knew that at 390ppm in 2008 the concentrations of CO2 were almost identical to those in the Pliocene atmosphere 3 million years ago and that global temperatures then were 3 degrees higher than the average in that first decade of the 21st century, but we just went shopping.
So we let emissions keep rising. We allowed the polluters of our fragile planet to keep polluting, we allowed ourselves to keep going on as we had. And then it hit. We didn’t think it would; but then as they say Shit Happens.
I’ll write tomorrow. Stay safe – stay indoors. Much hope to you all.