A Few Things Ill Considered

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor

Chapter 77 Table of Contents Chapter 79

Chapter 78

EcoCops, November 13, 2059

The next day the ecocops arrived. Edie and I were having breakfast, when they pulled up in the lane right below our window. Anna, as she liked to say, was “doing lady things” in the bathroom. There were three of them. They were polite. They apologized to Edie, but they wanted to talk to me — alone.

For the interview they took me downtown to the MacDonald building. We entered through an underground parking lot I hadn’t even known existed. They took me up to a seventh floor office and fed me coffee and croissants. Their politeness threw me at first. They were almost too polite. I kept expecting to see the iron hand, but I never did. As far as I could tell, it was just their way of doing business, their ‘security culture’ so to speak.

With Carman, I always had the feeling he knew more of whatever he was asking me about than I did, but these guys…appeared to be clueless. It was like they really didn’t know what was up. At first, it made me ultra cautious.

As for what they wanted to know. That was strange. They asked about verifying my identity, which was natural. Then they asked about my visiting Jon, but they seemed to know all about that. They were more interested in Rhamaposa and Suzanne. Who was Suzanne? When was the first time I met her? Did I know she was American? Had I ever had dealings with some agency I had never heard of, ARP-N? What was the nature of my relationship with Peter? Did I have an undeclared business relationship? Why did I meet him at the Ottawa airport? Did Peter have any business relationship with Carillon? Did anybody in Group 7 have a business relationship with Carillon?

They went on in this vein, and I started talking about solar radiation management and how it fit into the overall scheme of climate control. Their eyes slowly glazed over. We talked for perhaps three hours, then they let me go.

When I left them I felt significantly more perplexed and less anxious than when they arrived. On my way to the university, I called Edie to reassure her and let her know I was carrying on with my Thursday afternoon class as usual.

It was genetics. As we were nearing end-of-term, the students had questions about exams, but I managed to slip in an overview of the lichen eF1. Most of that talk covered material in the followup paper George Collins and I had published — “An examination of the growth rates of the lichen eF1 in the Arctic from Churchill to Tuktoyuktuk.” This lead naturally to the engineering of the algae, but rather than focus on what we knew about photosynthesis in blue green algae, I turned their thoughts to what we did not know: the mysteries of symbiosis, the dance of chemicals supporting chlorophyll — the challenges and puzzles which remained. The number of perplexed and thoughtful faces in that class when I finished was deeply gratifying.

I went to my office and there, sitting in a plastic cube on my desk, were two of Matt’s sunbugs. What could I do to make sure they were widely deployed?

I sat staring at the sunbugs for some time. On a practical level, the question reduced to who had access to one of those very expensive chemical synthesizers. Immediately I thought of Makeba in Kinshassa. I began composing an FYI note to her which didn’t give away any of the particulars.

When I got home that night, Edie met me at the door with the news that Jon had been charged and arrested.


Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

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A Gentle Introduction.

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Last modified February 4, 2014