I am writing the final book in a trilogy, taking characters from Book 1: Redemption and Book 2: Trailing Sky Six Feathers and placing them on a new planet in the near future. The adventure allows me to look back on the factors that compromised life on Earth. Here is an extract from Chapter Two.
“Ten years earlier Dr. Tom Hagen gave a speech at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Gathered before him were political and corporate leaders from around the world. He was an astrophysicist, engineer and prolific author. He wrote searing plays about human fragility and books for children to inspire them to care for the earth. These endeavors did not turn the tide of willful ignorance concerning drastic climate change despite his creation of detailed plans and scenarios to adapt the Industrial Growth Civilization that imperiled life on Earth. He was also the chef-de-mission of the International Space Agency’s PRIME 3 project to locate a suitable planet, as habitation on Earth was seriously compromised. The entire project was outlined in Space Agency folders that each member of the audience had before them. Dr. Tom Hagen was standing quietly at the UN podium in Geneva, readying to speak. He had both good and bad news for his powerful and wealthy audience, deeply hoping that some of them would finance this late opportunity for survival of the human species.
Tom looked at his carefully researched notes then put them to one side. This speech, the most significant of his life, had to come directly from his insight and heart. He composed himself, standing still and silent at the podium He was six foot three inches of intense focus, dignified and alert. He took his glasses off and placed them on top of his notes. Sian, his wife, sitting off to one side of the podium smiled in relief. She knew what was coming. Tom paused and looked around at his audience, one he did not particularly like, but one he had to convince. He breathed deeply, waiting until he felt that icy steel of reason and vision within him, then he began to speak.
“In this very moment what is left of the population in Australia is being evacuated. The sand storms and volcanic eruptions in the interior and successive coastal tsunamis have brought an end to human occupation there. The inundation of Bangladesh, the Netherlands and coastal regions round the world are a direct consequence of the collapse of the Polar Ice Sheets, which increased sea levels by seven meters. Such cryogenic events have dislocated half the global population and ushered in plagues and pestilence that have eliminated ninety per cent of other species and directly threaten human survival. These are facts that cannot be refuted.”
Tom paused for several silent moments and made eye contact with the few individuals there who would support him. He breathed in and out slowly, gathering his steel and his wits. He saw that the facts he had just delivered registered with some and set the tone for what was to come. He slowly took a drink of water from the glass in front of him.
“In the early part of the twenty first century it was possible to make the leap to a zero-net-carbon world. Yet the opposite trajectory was chosen with a rapid increase in greenhouse gases as wealthy nations and economic enterprises doubled their production of fossil fuels. Did you not notice that food crops were destroyed by horrendous heat waves? Did you not realize that food riots and world panic trace back to one cause – the economic agenda of fossil fuel extraction? I do know you are clear about where your collective power was invested. It was in political, social and economic structures that centered on the fossil fuel complex, but did you discern that this collective agenda was destabilizing world order? I think not.”
There was another pregnant pause, as Tom allowed the indignation to arise from his audience then fade away.
“Do you remember the famous one liner from Bill Clinton that won him the presidential election, ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ You surely must, as you have put it whole heartedly into practice. That was the wrong direction. Your brand was, and is, a dysfunctional global financial system lurching from one disaster to another throughout the century. May I remind you of the obvious. The economy is a mere sub-set of the mother lode of ecology and you have successfully destroyed that base source. On your watch not only did financial collapses signal dangerous global watersheds, the world food system crashed as a consequence along with the chaos brought in by climate change. Nobody moved to ask different questions and find different answers. The usual suspects were hardly reined in. A few were assassinated, some rotted away in prison, while others died shallow deaths in gated communities. The anger of the populace has turned on their more powerful masters of capital and politics. At the extreme end of the spectrum of violence this anger has boiled over into lynching and murder of corporate and political leaders held responsible by eco-militias. The heinous actions of these black clad anarchists are certainly an extreme response to your control, lies and doublespeak. Nevertheless it is a response that makes none of you safe.
Look back over this century and you can see why such violence has emerged. Thousands of millions of people have died from thirst, starvation and disease. Death arrived from every pestilence available, some of it created in your counter-intelligence labs. The countless millions who have died do not include the many wars waged over scarce resources, particularly water. The reason for such wars lies with your greed for money, control and power leading directly to the cascade of disintegrating eco-systems essential for the support of life. Government, industry, banks and financiers grew wealthy while they permitted a systematic breakdown of failing ecosystems on Planet Earth. Your collective and willful ignorance of warnings since 1950 served to discredit climate change scientists and oceanographers screaming that ocean eco-systems were disintegrating. You silenced and jailed citizens with the integrity to save the Earth. But it was never about the unanimity of scientists or free speech. It was about the brand of economics favored by your fossil fuel complex – a collective cabal of extraordinary power. You do know who you are, as you single mindedly created a powerful culture of denial about climate change and how it has impacted the cryosphere to such deadly effect.
Social order broke down in mid-century ushering in the overthrow of governments, the establishment of martial law and Nazism – all of which increased the desperation of populations worldwide who took to the streets in mass riots. In the vacuum of social order vicious warlords and militias took over many parts of the world. You have all suffered from the violence of so called eco-militias, which hunt down and string up in the streets those politicians and corporate leaders they hold responsible for the collapse of Earth’s eco-systems. Let me be clear – these eco-militias do not serve the Earth. They are pathological criminals on the loose, yet in many parts of the world they constitute an ever present danger. You and I have lost many friends and colleagues to the murders they have carried out. They are extreme, just as you are extreme. Somehow you inherited the Nero gene – fiddling with indifference while Rome burned. The entire planet has been allowed to burn on your watch. Perhaps at this late stage you can learn something from Rumi, the Sufi saint. He said, ‘Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.’ Your policies and brand of economics have forced humanity off the edge of the roof and you can now see the consequences worldwide.
In Canada, Big Oil and government ran an incredible campaign to promote the Alberta Tar Sands. They produced images of reforestation, utmost safety, deep concern for wildlife, populations and clean water. This played to a receptive audience throughout the country. Decades later the northern rivers and lakes of Canada became a wasteland. Oil derivatives swiftly poured through interconnected waterways. Aboriginal populations that augmented their households with fish and game are no more. They either relocated or died. This format, however, provided an example that was quickly adopted by other governments and effectively torpedoed any form of transition to a sustainable, renewable economy.
The billionaires amongst you have well equipped and tightly defended underground bunkers to escape to – but I have bad news for you. The deep core drilling for oil and gas all over the world, particularly in fragile ocean beds, have compromised the tectonic plates at the center of the Earth. The tectonic plates are now moving faster and rising closer to the outer crust of Earth. Where they collide precipitates world-wide volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that will first of all destroy your underground bunkers. It is estimated that billions will die from the volcanic explosions and many of those surviving will likely die from poisonous gases and the inevitable tsunamis in every ocean. Fifty years ago seismologists provided the critical evidence that deep core drilling is directly associated with the rapid increase in global earthquake and volcanic epicenters. Tectonic plates ride on a fluid like core, known as the asthenosphere, and the tectonic plates that are now colliding trigger massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Repeated warnings from scientists to ban deep core drilling were ignored, bringing the unspeakable into reality.”
Tom paused and took a deep breath before looking around the audience, connecting with all his heart to each person.
“I ask you at this late stage to do one last noble thing. Support the PRIME 3 space project to the tune of five billion dollars. That is what it will cost to build a new spaceship and create a viable outpost at Jupiter Station One. The very future of our species is at grave risk and presently lies in your hands. PRIME 3 is the last Hail Mary to begin anew without replicating the structures and policies that have led to the inevitable demise of Planet Earth.”
Tom stopped talking. There was no applause. No-one acknowledged him. He walked steadily to the side of the stage where Sian was standing with a look of sheer admiration at his bravery. She embraced him lightly and sweetly. She held his hand as they walked up the center of the UN forum. No-one would meet his eye. He strode purposefully as the rich, powerful and greedy studiously ignored him, or so he thought. Still, Sian sent a smile to everyone who appeared to be in some kind of shock, stasis or agreement. They passed through the security of the UN building and started to walk down the steps, glancing at Lac Geneva in the distance.”