Tag Archives: future

Head for the Hills

As citizens of planet Earth, we will experience a transition as climate change sets in over the next couple decades. The local effect of climate change will vary significantly depending where we live on the planet. What will come after the transition depends a lot on what happens during the transition, especially politically. What could an aware person wisely do, knowing global governments avoid the problem and that the 2 degrees Celsius danger line has been determined by science? What should one do, knowing scientists have also evaluated a 4 degree world? While many global citizens deny any problem exists.

The place we live on the planet may or may not be where we want to situate in the near future. Many sources speak of climate change refugees, and planned moves have always been wiser than chaotic relocation. Maps roughly estimate near future local climatic conditions, determining where people could live well or at least better in a climate changed world. The scientific geography of a 4 degree world could be referenced for decision making. Macro changes such as expanding deserts, rising sea levels on ocean fronts and hurricane allies might be avoided, while more local choices would be trickier. A move towards future rains may be wise. Out into less populated mountains or closer to the poles as ecosystems shift might make sense. One might assume local food, housing and community as high priority and desirable, while more distant government programs become less influential.

A back door option might be the card to hold. The choice may simply be city or countryside. As most of us now live urban, a second place in the country or a village may be well worth the effort. To have a planned and practiced route travelling there would be wise. Of course, having family spread over ideally optional places would be optimal. Otherwise, anyone living a middle class lifestyle should have enough resource available to maintain a second place—many already have. We can own a vacant lot, or a piece of undeveloped land, ideally with good soil availing a garden crop— and we could even keep that garden productive as a hobby or as a summer food supply. Also, then, a backup food source during the transition. A building on that property may be worthwhile if the transition results in that place being the place to go live.

Another outlook would be to sit tight in a city based on the rational that many city people will have a strong interest in maintaining civil order. But if the city falls into disarray, staying away from as many people as possible might be better. With the urban rural contrast in mind, having two places available might be best, even three if possible and ideally associated with family. With a quick manner of relocating from one to the other. The best time to travel to an emergency get away would be before the emergency happens, the trick being to anticipate that emergency, and to plan well in advance.

Some count on installing underground bunkers. A safe option perhaps, but this outlook suggests a future of people in conflict over resources. For an idealist or one looking for a friendly future we may want to avoid creating that world. If a person chooses the bunker route, it would still be wise to do so in conjunction with community of sorts. Good neighbours holds high importance in a lasting community.

People are social creatures with great potential—they can and do help neighbours and even more so a family based community. Small towns, usually friendly places, also have issues. Lack of individual privacy exists along with difficulty in regulating unwanted factors without leadership. A strong elected local council would be optimal. Young inactive men may be a challenge in a regulated society. Also, big men, or ambitious men who tend to dominate. With chaos unappealing, organization and community structure hold high levels of importance.

During transition, with a globally changing climate, we can assume the human transition to also be global. People of the planet will either learn to cooperatively assist each other through the transition, or they will choose a world of conflict, with endless struggles to control diminishing resources. These two possibilities always there among people will likely be the primary deciding factor on life after transition. People will either mature, or revert to more adolescent divisive behaviour and attitudes.

Ideally chaos will not come about, but rather people will chose a cooperative ending to the story. However, based on history, it may be wise to hedge bets against some chaos. That second home may be a good option towards waiting out the potential chaos. One can strategize survival, or even a thriving lifestyle during the time of change by remaining unnoticed. One could hide out on the sidelines as others expend their energy fighting out their differences. It would be a reasonable assumption that chaos will end—wars always do wind down—and one could anticipate the rebuilding aftermath.

An ambitious or inspired person or group may wish to develop an alternate community model, one that would hold on to or even improve the civilized cultural model. This model may then be held up as an example both during and after the transition. The internet may be the most important tool to keep functional in a global transition as the carbon based economy shifts. One outlook that could be taken is that climate change has come about as a gift, and as an opportunity for the people of the planet to learn to cooperate. This option may be the best of all, the one most desired by most people.

If people do let things fall into a more chaotic world, even an alternate community model would be wise to consider defense in its survive-the-transition strategy. A country like Switzerland was able to maintain neutrality throughout WWII—a nation that sits isolated by mountains. A country like Costa Rica has insulated itself from Central American conflict for many decades with most living in a central valley surrounded by mountain ranges. A mountain valley may be an optimal location to select for a transition community. A democratically elected council would likely be the primary centre of the community with some sort of social agreement enforcing adherence to council decisions. Strategic thinking and planning towards what seems likely on the near future horizon would be a wise move for any global citizen with choice.

Watch for short story Blown Bridge Valley coming out soon.

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Our near future – fact or fiction

A cold grey cloud cover dims the light, and sets a somber morning mood. I know about moods. They call me a moody person, and I have been so ever since I was a child. All feels empty and surreal. I am an author now—I write non-fiction and fiction—and moods are good for writing fiction. But what am I writing at the moment? Well, it should be fiction, it has all the setting characteristics of some good solid tragic drama, but it’s not a story. It’s real.

This May 2014 long weekend we were chatting about heading out to our place in BC. One thing led to another, but the turning point was the weatherman’s prediction of rain. And not just here in Calgary from where we can at times escape to that alternate climate zone in beautiful British Columbia. Rainy also out in the BC interior valley. We instead decided Friday, the best weather day, we would go to the mountains. Every outdoors person in Calgary knows about the mountains just to the west. I would never life in the semi-arid city without those mountains near where you can escape the city for a refreshing breath of nature. Then sometime that day my wife started speaking of a flood. Back home – she immigrated from Eastern Europe years ago. We postponed our travel ideas.

Instead of a weekend out at the cabin, like I was used to as a kid in Saskatchewan, we watched the news. My wife dug right into the local news written online in Serbian, and she talked on the phone to her mother and her sister. Nothing new, she does that almost every day. But something was not normal. Her mother had never cried on the phone before. Ever. My wife and daughter had just flown back from six weeks there in Lacarak on the first of May. They had made the one hour trip into Belgrade to visit relatives. My daughter played in the streets and on the latest digital device screens with her two cousins. But the Sava River was rising now, and flooding was happening in Bosnia. The rain was coming down at an unprecedented rate and not stopping. The chatter was about evacuation. This had never happened before. And where to? I recalled Fuska Gora, those hills where I had been to monasteries not far away. My wife cried.

Saturday she shows me online photos. The people are standing around the riverbank in Sremska Mitrovica. I recognized the place, the walking bridge across the Sava. The city had been there forever, once the fourth largest in the Roman Empire with a horse track arena. Meaning the Emperor would come to stay at times. She yells at them, why are they only standing around? That’s what they did last year in Calgary’s flood I tell her. Lots of people went for a walk down by the Bow River to watch our 2013 flood. Later that day—we are eight hours behind here in Calgary—the people of Serbia—my wife’s family—have been scrambling. My wife’s sister, my daughter’s two cousins and another family mother with children have found a relative with a big house up Fuska Gora. The men and my wife’s mother too stay in Lacarak, waiting for emergency evacuation news at the last moment. They have a car, the one we bought to drive to Italy four years ago when I attended a sustainability conference. The locals have stacked sand bags along the Sava berm all through Sremska and machinery has been raising the berm along the corn fields behind Lacarak. I walked along that berm two springs back many times, a peaceful hike along a hill of earth build for regular spring high water. This spring is not regular.

Sunday. Water has peeked in Sremska. Yes, the crisis is over! I spend the day with my daughter at her elementary school playground. We laugh and play and ride our bicycles down the park trail there and return on the street. She doesn’t like riding uphill. I watch the sky for rain and we just beat it on our way home after many great games. My wife is in a panic again. The river, no not the Sava, the Drina, no it is the Sava has breeched in Croatia. At Brcko, no that’s the Bosnian side of the Sava. Neither Bosnia nor Croatia but a tidbit left over from the complicated history of ex-Yugoslavia. The waters are rushing through the forest now, wild animals scattering out ahead. Truly this must be fiction. When does a river ever flood through a forest? But it is real, and the water is coming around the back way towards Lacarak and Sremska. She shows me a local facebook posting. The provincial crisis manager there has made a decision. They have to create an emergency berm to hold back this new flood through the forest.

I was there at Kuzmin. Just a few kilometers west of Lacarak. We drove through that village on our way back from Italy. The heavy equipment was to build an emergency berm using the road itself as the structure base. If the water comes past that, my wife has talked of the railroad tracks almost two meters high. That will be the last resort, then the water will be in the Lacarak streets. In the houses where I have stayed, in the streets where I have played with the children. My wife’s sister, my wife’s parents right across the street. To become another washed through Serbian village with hidden corpses. Like the news says has already happened in other Serbian and Bosnian towns and cities.

Is this weather or climate. My one university class in Climatology taught climate is a running 30 year average of weather. There’s a lot of latent heat energy up there in the sky. I’ve been researching sustainability for eight years now, and a lot of the non-fiction books I have gone through read like fiction. I have double checked many times, to confirm I was not reading a science fiction story. And most books about sustainability say we have crossed over the line, many lines and our aspired for lifestyles are no longer sustainable. They always mention climate change. Climate change has predicted new normal weather, and the extreme weather events as they are called bring floods.

So I must write, here, about how I envision and what I can predict of our near future. We are going through a transition, not in a science fiction story, but in reality. Not for on the screen entertainment, but as a new normal part of our everyday lives. And not just in my town, not just where I live but globally in every corner of our planet. Our life support system that we have taken for granted, that we have gone forth upon to multiply and conquer. Everything will be different now, the hopes of going back to the way things were are dismal. The optimists say cheer up, people have always solved their problems. The deniers scream, whine and cry that their oilfield jobs need be on the block. I have to face the news this morning of whether the water came through.

Yes, the water did not make it to town. The people in Lacarak speculate the politicians have been casting roles for themselves, vying for political points. The body count will not be released yet, until the hardest hit Serbian city of Obrenovac has been clean up completely. We go to the mountains the next weekend, but its rainy, and we talk about who got trapped by the Calgary flood last year.

This will be our new normal going forward. Our near future has arrived.