Vignette - New Jersey, July, 2153

It’s cold today. The kind of cold that reminds you what winter is actually like. Not the kinda winter we usually get, the colder than autumn. This is gloves and hat weather, even for me. The older I get the more I don’t like the cold, but the more I appreciate it.

Yet it wasn’t winter. As a matter of fact it was July. July 16, 2153. One hundred years since the North Atlantic conveyor stopped. All heat transfer in the northern hemisphere ground to a slow halt. At first it wasn’t a big deal. Climate change had made the summers so hot, and the winters so mild that no one really minded it not regularly getting to 100 degrees in April anymore. It was nice to have spring actually be spring again. Slowly though, that began to change, and by 2098, the “year without a summer” that we really understood what was happening. Despite carbon dioxide hitting 470ppm, that spring barely woke up from winter. A freak snowstorm hit New York City in June. The snowpack did not recede from the land. It was at that point that it all changed.

Crops, at least in Europe and Eastern North America, started failing and that just pushed society over the edge. It’s amazing that that little bit of adversity caused a worldwide panic and dozens of regional conflicts that still have no resolution. Of course the industrialized nations did well, they had the money and resources to get a strangle hold on the productive areas of the planet. Also the labor that came form millions of displaced persons in the developing world. A new order of sorts had arisen, the way someone accepts the realization that they screwed up, and no amount of cajoling or blaming someone else was going to change that. It was their world now, and the ones that would survive had to be the ones that knew how to exploit it best. The largest irony of the new century is that the “Panic of 2100” actually led to the first reduction of atmospheric CO2 since records had been kept. It had fallen to 470 and has been on a decline ever since.

Eventually the earth with right itself, and the world will be back to normal. Only at that point, no one will be alive who remembers it that way.

So here I am. It’s July. New Jersey. I’m on the beach freezing my ass off. Of course I ignored all of my friends and didn’t move to Florida. It was still getting hammered by hurricanes. At least once a month. All thirty million moved to the spine of the state. It was like New York, minus the style, class, or sophistication. The state that got hit the hardest by climate change took it in stride. They did what all Floridians do: ignored it, went to the beach when it wasn’t raining, and hoped a sinkhole didn’t open under their high rise. There is something to be said about that kind of blasé determination. Just another day in paradise. I’d rather be cold.

Photo by Sapan Patel

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