the sky is falling
famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter rants about the flooded
New York Subways, global warming,
SuperStorm Sandy, the Doomsday
Theme in Science Fiction, 1981, and human nature.
Wake up people. The planet that
we all know as home, that is already
70% covered with ocean, is melting. That's right.
Global warming is melting glaciers,
Greenland, and the poles. And like it or not, our world
is fast becoming more of a water world. With that increase in
available water comes an uptick in the energy that makes weather.
Our world may not be transforming, and may never transform as
radically as depicted in Kevin Costner's
film Waterworld, 1995;
or snap so radically in the other direction into an ice
world as in The Day After Tomorrow,
2004; but our weather is changing for the worse. That
much is certain. And unless we adapt, we die. Oh, I'm not crying,
"The sky is falling. The sky
is falling," like that alarmist
Henny-penny from a children's folk tale with an origin
that goes back twenty-five centuries. But how many signs does
it take for Cocky-locky to
pay attention? That's you, by the way.
When we were children, we were
taught the Three Little Pigs.
That fairy tale was passed down, in the
verbal tradition, from a time before books, until its
eventual publication in The nursery
rhymes of England,1886. But it is more than mere
fairy tale. It is sage advice told simply and memorably within
a tale that was meant to be passed down from generation to generation
in a time of adversity before books. See
Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1960. And it
was meant to be understood by adults. But the advice, although
a sage warning to build our dwellings well to weather the storm,
needs to be updated.
A Canticle for Leibowitz
by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
First Edition, 1959
cover by George Sottung
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Strong is no longer enough, although
some people have not even heeded that advice. Bricks beats sticks
beats straw is no contest when pitted against the damaging force
of water. What we need to do in our coastal communities and communities
built along rivers and upon flood plains is to move. Were we
stupid to start with by building there? Yes. But times were calmer.
So, it's understandable. But the times they are a changing and
so must we. And if you are adamant about staying, about
hunkering down, as so many Americans are fond of saying,
then you have to retrofit your house or quite possibly to build
a new one in that location. If your dwelling has already been
knocked down because of the weather, this is a golden opportunity
to build something better.
My suggestion is to build with
steel. Pound those piles. Build high. Build the external shell
of your house out of welded steel atop steel piles. Decorate
it as you wish. But you have to build up. But even building forty
feet up may not be enough. Do you realize how many storys that
is? In some places, the storm surge from
SuperStorm Sandy was already that high. Ouch. And with
Greenland melting as we speak,
the ocean levels are only getting higher. See
Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, 2006. And, of
course, the average American family can ill afford the expense
of building let alone of building high and with steel. Can they?
A more practical solution is
to get out of Dodge. Simply
move to higher ground. Duh? If you think it can't be done, look
at what the Chinese did with the Three
Gorges Dam project. They moved whole communities out
the projected flood region behind the dam before construction
began. It can be done and should be done. The only thing required
is the determination of our politicians to commit to the project
and to see it through. Our communities are old and the infrastructure
is bleeding anyway.
Detroit as an example, the entire city is leaking from
an old and unkempt water system that resembles arteriosclerosis.
The electrical grid is defunct and resembles neuropathy. And
anyone who has ever driven down Gratiot
would be the first to admit that the roads are beyond
repair and if that doesn't remind me of arthritis I don't know
what does. Isn't it time for a new beginning somewhere else?
When I wrote my Master's thesis
so long ago, I talked about the necessity to leave the planet
in the face of a Cosmopoetic
source of doom like the sun going nova, if we were going
to survive. This scenario is now referred to as an
"ELE" or "Extinction
Level Event" as mentioned in
Deep Impact, 1998; and, as also seen in
Armageddon, 1998; Knowing, 2009; 2012, 2009;
Melancholia, 2011, and in the novel
Hephzibah of Heaven, 2007, where the Earth is
destroyed by a massive meteor that hits so hard that it turns
our planet inside out. The privileged few get to leave the planet
and survive. Most can't and don't. And good bye human race.
But rising sea levels, floods, and
SuperStorms like Sandy
represent another source of doom mentioned in my paper. They
are Geopoetic. And they
are survivable if we act. My vote is to do something about it.
I vote to survive. What about you?
Many years ago, when the climate
changed and a region became inhospitable, people left. There
was a mass exodus. Nowadays, we seem to have lost our common
sense. As Voltaire wrote in
Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764:
"Common sense is not too common." Or perhaps
our hubris has become too
large, particularly in our big cities where the residents think
that the city itself makes them impervious to the disasters that
inflict the rest of the planet. Live and learn
New York. We have to take this climate change seriously.
So, contact your politicians and get them doing something about
If you have the ability to do
something for yourself, be a trend setter. Relocate to someplace
smart. Avoid coastal regions and flood plains. Look at a map.
Look at the topographical
lines indicating elevation. Choose higher elevations. If the
nearby rivers meander, the
area is too flat and you don't want to live there. Yesterday's
thousand year storm and even hundred year storm is fast becoming
today's ten year storm and perhaps even
multi-year storm. Act before devastation hits once more.
Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell,
the founder and Chief Scout
of the Scout Movement, coined
the motto: Be Prepared. And
it's sage advice for us all. One of the first things that also
happens when disaster strikes is the power goes out. So, I would
also recommend energy self-reliance. Nowadays, each household
should have a solar cell system and/or a household windmill.
They do in Germany. What do
they know that we haven't caught onto? But there are also electrical
technologies going back to the late
Victorian era that each of us should tap into.
Helder, a Ph.D. candidate
recently defended her dissertation showing that electricity could
be generated from marsh land, Wageningen
University and Research Centre. "Electricity from the marshes."
ScienceDaily, 23 Nov. 2012. But her idea is a
rip off, as far as I'm concerned, of a patent for a
"Ground Generator of Electricity" registered
on April 18,1893 by
Michael Emme. Nicola Tesla also patented a means to extract
electricity from the air. But it's not in use because the people
who make money selling us electricity saw it as a threat to their
earning potential. And so, we string wires on poles that come
down in storms rather than generate electricity ourselves in
our own homes. Duh? Does that make sense? But why listen to
Tesla? Who's Tesla?
For those of you who don't yet know who he is, he was a man before
his time. And oh, that alternating current that you tap into
every day to run everything was invented by
Tesla. The generators at Niagara
Falls bear his name and are testimony to his genius.
Patented M. Emme, April 18, 1893
So, don't stick your head in
the sand. Don't deny that the weather is becoming more severe.
It is. And don't wait to see what other people will do. You are
responsible for your family, not them. And whether you and yours
survives may be up to the decision you make in the bright light
of a clear day with blue skies. Make a decision and take action
before the skies turn dark and death comes knocking at your door.
That's all fine and good and
theoretical. But it isn't practical. Few of us can just up, quit
our jobs, relocate, and search for new employment, not in these
hard economic times with threats of a
fiscal cliff looming in the new year. Also, we are joined
at the hip with our communities. We are the community, in many
cases born and bred going back generations. Tell the people of
the Jersey Shores to up and
move to Oregon and see what
they think. We are the land. We are where we live for good or
bad. It is our home. And so, despite the devastation from
Sandy in Breezy Point,
the Rockaways, and the
Jersey Shores, among so many locales, we are doomed to
remain in harm's way until the next disaster hits. We are caught
between a rock and a hard place
hoping for the best.
sky is falling. The sky is falling." Yes,
Virginia. The sky is falling indeed. I know what you're
thinking. You're thinking that Sandy
was a fluke. But consider this: the weather experts are
We remember the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, 2005, and
the 1,836 bloated bodies of
souls lost in that weather bomb.
We honor the memory of the Japan tsunami
of 2011 and the
19,000 dead or missing. But here's a question: a whole
sub-culture lived in the bowels of the
New York City Subway system.
Sandy flooded the tunnels up to street level. What of
them? These homeless souls must surely be gone too. But the news
agencies have not reported their passing. Why? Is it because
these homeless people were not pretty? Is it because they smelled
bad, talked to themselves, and were unwashed? Is it because our
so-called civilization of
body beautifuls refused to
think of these unfortunate persons as human beings? And so, the
passing of these subterranean dwellers can easily be overlooked.
From me to you, drowning like a rat is an awful way to die no
matter who you are and whatever your station in life. And from
me to them: Requiescat in Pace.