The Bottleneck Years by H. E. Taylor - Chapter 31

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor
Chapter 30 Table of Contents Chapter 32

Chapter 31

A Convention of Idiots, December 12, 2055

Reality landed right on my shoulders with a thump that evening. I was at home in the library categorizing and prioritizing the Ecology 550 students' geoengineering ideas, when the phone rang. It was from Sri Lanka.

"I'll get it!" I called out.


"Yes. Hello Peter. What's up?" I turned the lights down and sat back in the half light of the video to talk.

"I'm just trying to get a handle on the big picture. I don't know what to think anymore."

He slurred the 'anymore' and I realized he had been drinking. "What do you mean?"

"Earlier tonight I found myself saying, 'Things that can't go on, don't' over and over like a mantra. After hubris comes nemesis."

He took a drink from a flask, then stopped suddenly and looked at me earnestly. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't carry on like that. I just feel so frustrated, so angry."

"What has happened Peter?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing! That's the trouble. Everything is status quo. We're going right to hell in a handbasket and there's not a damn thing I can do about it."

He drank from the flask again and exhaled loudly as if the liquor had burnt his throat.

"The thing about capitalism is that it enables the individual. If you have some advantage, a good idea, a good location and you are willing to work hard, you can be a success. It generates innovation from the bottom, which makes it adaptive."

He paused for a second and carried on. "The trouble with capitalism is monopoly and established wealth. Those rich useless bastards accumulate incompetence along with power and that brings in corruption. Do you know what that convention of idiots has done?"


The Ecological Mandate, and above it, the Security Council."

"No. What have they done?"

"The Mandate in its infinite wisdom has given the go-ahead to Group 2 before I even had a chance to present it with other options."

I stared at him in shock. I couldn't believe it. How could the UN be so high handed?

"I told them there was a chance that sulphur injections would cause problems, but no, they want to be seen to be doing something right away. The truth is that Corella Corp. has a lock on the sulphur market right now, so full speed ahead. Ready, shoot, aim."

"Does that mean the other groups are disbanding?"

"No. Stratospheric injections are only a short term solution at best. The other Groups, and Group 7 in particular, are going to be needed to generate long term solutions. Think in the 100 to 1,000 year range."

I let out a sigh of relief and he gave me a look of sudden understanding.

"You and I both know that humans have to develop a long term sustainable economy for the planet. I don't see how it is going to happen. Those rapacious bastards are not going to restrict themselves."

I didn't answer, but only nodded and somehow that brought the conversation to an abrupt end. Maybe he thought I was humouring him. I'm not sure.

Anyway, he finished up saying, "Thanks for listening to me Luc. I'll be sober tomorrow. I promise, but the situation will still be the same."

He cleared the line and I sat in the dark thinking. It crossed my mind that if I were Matt, I would be buying Corella stock. If I were Jon, I would be arguing political theory. But I was just me. So I turned to the computer and continued sorting through the geoengineering ideas.

Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified March 12, 2013

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Okay, I'm probably going to sound naive on this but, I can't find this on Amazon and I'd like to read it from Chapter 1?
Also, have you heard of "The End of the Dream" by Philip Wylie? This story reminds of yours and it's as prophetic now as it was in the 70's.

By KnightBiologist (not verified) on 27 Mar 2013 #permalink

Oh, NOW I read the Gentle Introduction, thanks ;-P

By KnightBiologist (not verified) on 27 Mar 2013 #permalink