The Bottleneck Years by H. E. Taylor - Chapter 42

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor
Chapter 41 Table of Contents Chapter 43

Chapter 42

The Daily Battle, July 7, 2056

Things were not looking good.

In the Arctic, there was no sign of the methane abating. In some places the water was milky, churning with the gases. Lightning triggered explosions were not unusual. The Group 6 cloud makers had some 150 ships sailing there. Precipitation patterns had changed, but there was no appreciable cooling. Anxiety levels were rising.

In the Antarctic the breakup of the Ronne ice sheet was continuing apace. A few more islands disappeared.

In Europe the last fishing trawler was scuttled by her captain. After he rowed to shore, he was arrested by the police. As he was being hauled away, he turned to a watching newseye and said, "It's the end. There's nothing out there but jellyfish."

In Asia, the glaciers of the Himalayas were shrinking rapidly and, like those of the Andes which had disappeared decades before, caused the rivers to run dry. Farm fields became dust fields. After the chaos of the thirties, China had multiple problems with drought, hunger and persistent industrial pollution. People rebelled, rioted and died, whether from starvation or the army. Governments everywhere were ruthless.

In North America, the fire season was in full swing. All across the southern and western states, huge wild fires were a hazard. I turned on the radio one morning to hear a storm system had swept across the midwest spawning tornadoes and wildfires from lightning strikes. It finished with this report:

"A seventy year old man stood on the roof of his house all day today putting out falling embers with buckets of water his aging wife passed up to him.

"The sound of the fire was fearsome. The earth shook. The sky was black. Falling embers landed on your clothes, on your face. Nothing was safe.

"And still the old man fought. For 12 long hours he fought. It was not until the wind died down, that he was able to look around and see what had become of his town, his neighbours. Everything was gone. Consumed by the fire. The grass, the trees, his neighbour's houses --- everything but his own house was gone.

"'I never want to do that again,' was all he said to this reporter and it is not likely he will ever have to. The town has been erased. Unknown numbers of people are dead. Across the state, numerous other wildfires burn. More people will be leaving to make the long trek north."

I couldn't eat after hearing that. I put my spoon down. Edie and I locked eyes across the table. She reached over and squeezed my hand.

"You'll figure out a way, if anybody can," she whispered.

I didn't answer. I felt overwhelmed --- buried in impossibilities.

Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified May 28, 2013

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