Climate Change, What if we are too late?

               Right now, most scientists predict that 2030 is close to the point of no return, where by then the damage to our polar ice caps and glaciers will be irreversible. The amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and the more damaging methane) are at the highest parts per million in recorded history – though we know Earth had more carbon in earlier stages of development. For an excellent explanation of the effects of greenhouse gasses, here is a paraphrased example from Cosmos. Imagine on a scale of 1-6, the lower number being no greenhouse gases, the planet would be an ice world. At the highest number, Earth would resemble Venus. Either case, life as we know it would not flourish on the world we call home. Right now, Earth was about a 3 on this scale, but we are slowly increasing upwards, a slight increase is probably manageable, but turn the notch up to a 4, 4.5, or 5, who knows dire the effects will really be.

               Currently, there is a good framework offered by the Paris Climate Agreement in cutting back greenhouse gas emissions and generating energy from renewable sources. Under the leadership of one of the most uninformed and curiosity-challenged executives, the United States withdrew from the agreement because it is allegedly hurting America. The argument it is hurting America is bullshit, because climate change will hurt America, it will destabilize other parts of the globe, which will in turn threaten American interests and strain current humanitarian aid, and possibly draw us into more armed conflicts. The point of this writing though isn’t to argue how misguided withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement is, it is to ask the question: What if we are too late in in acting to mitigate the direst effects of climate change?

               If we are too late, it doesn’t mean we should cease efforts to further mitigate climate change. If the sea level rises only ten feet, it is better than twenty feet. If sea levels dramatically rise, the coastlines of all the continents will be altered, some greater than others. Asia will suffer the worse, with tens of millions in low-lying areas, especially in Bangladesh. More islands, some have already disappeared, will be claimed by the sea. There is no telling how many humans may lose their lives – and what kind of economic impact it will have on their nations and the world. Highly populated areas tend to have a higher means of production, and the loss of these areas would be devastating. A lot of clothes Americans wear are manufactured in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Taiwan, which would be greatly devastated by rising sea levels.

               Millions may die and tens of millions being relocated, especially in a short timeframe, would be devastating to areas not directly impacted by rising sea levels. The infrastructure like accommodations, food, drinking water, electricity demands, healthcare, etc. are something that takes a lot of planning to pull off successfully, and on a short notice there will be dire consequences. The mass relocation of people, without proper planning, will cause further strain on systems which are already under strain, and potentially a catastrophe of epic proportions. There is no guarantee that even a disaster of this scale, caused by climate change, will make the numerous deniers change their thinking or ways. Change is not easy but in terms of grappling with climate change, it will be necessary.

               But what if nothing is done, and we cross the threshold, the point of no return. What will need to be done to save our species? What changes will we have to make to ensure Earth remains the primary home of the human species? What about animals, insects, etc.?

               This is something I’ve thought a lot about, because I wrote close to fifty pages of a backstory exploring the world which led up to my novel’s premise 200 years in the future. In Within the Grasp of Ordinary (the book), the events of the backstory are referenced several times to its main character, David Ross, and the actions he took as In the Night They Came. It is best to describe the events as:

               The many nations of the world have strived to meet their greenhouse gas reductions goals, reduction in pollutants, and renewable energy targets, the polar ice caps, and Greenland ice sheet continue to melt, and sea levels rise. Businessman David Ross, a billionaire (really a secret trillionaire), along with a group of like-minded partners have come up with a plan to save the human species from itself. In remote facilities they begin fabrications of humanities new homes, and the implementation of the world’s biggest migration project. After working their way into the halls of power in the world’s most industrious and mighty nations, David Ross and his group launch the world-wide coup.

Slowly reports begin to air on major television news of the murders of prominent climate change deniers. Then an entire broadcast is dedicated to the construction of massive new structures, reaching a mile or higher into the air, called “Sky Cities”. Most of the parts of these structures have been pre-fabricated and then are erected within three months, and have areas dedicated to businesses, schools, hospitals, homes, gardens, etc. These structures, on top of being durable, are constructed with material which acts like a solar panel and has wind turbines. At first, people voluntarily move into these new Sky Cities which are constructed in metropolitan areas.

Soon though, people from smaller cities, towns, and villages are forcibly relocated into the expanding number of skyscrapers. A second revolution begins, as the smaller population areas are relocated, the old places of human habitation are demolished. In some cases, Mother Nature is allowed to reclaim the land. In other cases, the massive hydroponic farms are created to feed the population with fresh produce. In labs, genetically-modified animal fats have been used to create “meat” which tastes, smells, and cooks like meat from an animal. Our dependence on massive number of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, etc., which only help exacerbate our greenhouse gases problems (mostly by methane emissions), is eliminated.

The third step in David Ross’s plan is the final relocation of the world’s big cities. Over a twenty-year period, billions of people are relocated from millions of villages, towns, cities, into 200 metropolitans consisting entirely of Sky Cities. There is space between each structure, the ground level serving as areas for recreation, open space, etc. The need for cars has been eliminated with public transportation available from structure to structure and from one metropolitan area to the next. A drastic change in the way humanity lives has occurred, and it wouldn’t be our first. Initially we were all hunter-gathers, slowly coalescing into villages with the development of agriculture. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we have formed denser and highly populated cities, most of the world’s population now lives in areas urban areas. David Ross’s vision is fiction but one which while science fiction, may someday become science fact.

The plan I imagined is fictional and I am aware of the very high cost it asks of people, uprooting their lives, often at gun point. Several characters in the story, Within the Grasp of Ordinary, and the in the works sequel, reference the enormous costs and tragic consequences. In this fictional universe, the defenders of Ross’s actions argue the end (humanity saving itself from climate change) justifies the means (brutal relocation, planetary exiles, etc.). In the real world, the result rarely justifies the means and I think we need to act now to prevent the worst possibilities of climate change. The Green New Deal, and Paris Climate Accord may not be enough, but it is better to aim for the stars than not to even try at all.

The Entitled Rich

               It is still a long way away before the General Election on November 3rd, 2020 and with the large amount of people expressing interest in forming exploratory committees or already running for President, it begs the question, should everybody run for President? And does everybody deserve to be President? There are very few requirements to be President:

               One must be a natural born citizen (at least one parent must be an American citizen).

               One must be at least 35 years of age.

               One must be a resident for 14 years (an exception was given to General Eisenhower because had been fighting World War 2).

               There are no other legal requirements to be President, however to consider running for President or other federally elected offices like Senator or Representative, having recognition and financial wealth (either your own or supporters) are essential. There is no other requirement to be President and so far, every person who has been the President, has had other political office at the federal, state, or local level, except one. I believe it is time to change this. There needs to be a stricter requirement before you can run for public office.

               What kind of requirement should be necessary? One which doesn’t inhibit a person’s right to run for public office. I know, initially this kind of question then answer sounds counter-productive but, hear me out. The American public is severely lacking in knowledge on what exactly the three branches of government does, and I believe many of the elected officials are ignorant in the positions they are elected to, along with the responsibilities and duties of other officials. By tackling the issue of requiring beefed up civic courses on the responsibilities of the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches, we can help the people understand what happens in the American government. A more detailed series of courses would be offered to those seeking public office.

               A properly educated electorate (and officials) should be capable then of making better informed decisions, but it is just part of the problem in our current political climate. The lack of a political education has hampered our system of government, but so has the belief that every multi-millionaire and billionaire should run to become President. You may be successful as a business tycoon who lends his name out to any property or make overpriced coffee which tastes like burnt beans on a good day, but it doesn’t mean you will even be a mediocre commander and chief.

               Everybody deserves their fair shot at being elected to public office, and how to improve the situation and success rate of the non-wealthy, into office, is a subject for another day. Improving the quality of civic education is paramount because good majority of the politicians are either ignorant towards their responsibilities or blindly faithful to their party that they don’t care about the crimes and misdemeanors being committed. The Legislative Branch is an equal part of government, it is not subordinate to the Executive or Judicial Branches.

               Is requiring a better understanding of the American political system enough? It may be to help the electorate make better informed decisions on who to vote for, but it won’t end the entitlement certain people feel about running for President. It has become accepted that presumed and actual billionaires have a right to run for President. Outside of being an alleged billionaire, the current occupant only had the legal requirements to fill the office. He lacked political knowledge, has a history of scorning policy, and not knowing diddly squat about anything, except how tooting his own ego.

               Recently, Howard Schultz announced he was seeking to run for President in 2020, outside of making overpriced burnt coffee a supposed luxury, he has nothing but the legal requirements to hold the office. In recent days, Howard Schultz has proven himself beyond clueless on how the average American citizen and family struggles with every day issues like food, healthcare, rent, and student loans. I think everybody has the right to run for office, however, I think the higher up the socioeconomic ladder you are, the less relatable you are to the electorate. The majority of Americans live paycheck to pay check, and a large percentage of them cannot afford an emergency expense of $500. How does a billionaire relate to us? They don’t.

               There is nothing wrong with a rich person holding office, and there are a lot of rich people who genuinely care about the less well off, and donate their time and money, and advocate for legislation which is favorable to the lower and middle-class citizens. However, most politicians who are well off do have skin in the game, they are not affected by the same issues as the working people. They do not understand the difficulty in affording healthcare, car payments, rent or mortgage, student loan payments, the cost of food, let alone the cost of trying to have a vacation. I’m not saying rich people shouldn’t be able to run for office, but I believe if the Representatives, Senators, and Presidents were more like the electorate, this country would probably be in a lot better of a place than it is now.