I wrote this several years ago, in 2005, about the time I began to worry about climate change. It was meant to be an invitation to literary visionaries, to write stories of the world this preface described. It could still be that, the beginning of an anthology of the times during, after, and long after the world we live in has irretrievably changed.
We saved what we could.
We could not save them from the catastrophe they were blithely running at, arms wide, mad with the heat of their day in the sun…
In the end, we could only look out for ourselves.
In the gathering twilight, in the plunging cold, on the shrinking land, we all did what we could, which was to deal with the problems within our scope.
Human nature, political greed and simple brute stupidity– we never had a chance against that. Well, no, we ‘d had plenty of chances to keep them away from the controls, but we ‘d blown every one until there were none left. We’d sat back and let others do the work, we’d driven to the corner store in our air-conditioned cars, left the lights on and the heat up in the chill of autumn, we’d put up with voting for the losers, sure next time it would be different… Until there was nothing left we could do but work our asses off to develop counter-measures before the curtain came down. Most of us just didn’t notice until it was halfway to the floor.
So we moved to higher ground and pulled our investments out of the shore cities doomed to drown, like a kid pulling his feet back from a cold swimming hole, or running from wave advancing up onto the beach. We set our minds to learning how to fake a nice day: to manage the climate in small ways and confined spaces. From basic home airconditioning, we expanded the meaning of “home” to cover house and yard and crops under one roof. And we shrank the meaning of “the world” to what we could still live in.
Engineers, reveling in fantastical dreams, built them. Botanists and zoologists and geneticists, farmers and back-yard gardeners filled them with life, and nurtured the new world. We saved what we could of the old, all of us, and wept over what we had to leave out in the cold, and then we hunkered down quietly in the dim, to outlast the short-sighted lunatics who swore to us that what we could see happening all along was not, in fact, happening at all.
They weren’t evil, not in a mean, deliberate sense. They had their own dream, and an unfaltering conviction that to say a thing made the thing true. That to get enough people believing a thing was enough to make it as good as real.
To be entirely fair, they were idealists, though dangerously half-educated, ideologically blinkered and appallingly, catastrophically self-righteous, which saved them the sweat of listening and learning, actually getting the Big Picture. And they thought– were quite certain– that we were the crazy ones, the mob of deluded, twisted idealists.
But we never tried to drag everyone with us into our vision. We offered the opportunity and let folk choose for themselves.
Give them their due, and forget them. But never forget the power of obstinate, ill-informed, righteous sincerity. Or it will happen again.
Enough said, they are gone, the damage is done, and real enough that the rest of our lifetimes, our children’s, and generations down the centuries, will pay for the folly of all: the lunatics, to be sure, but our own, too, for ever letting them get and hold the power, while we sat back and waited for times to change.
Now, we can only work hard and hope that times will, in fact, change, and that our world will be a garden again.