October 04, 2019
Our prompt was to write about climate change, from the view of some activists. Fifty years from now. I'd had a possible 'solution' in mind for a while, so thought I'd try it out in a story. Not sure where this is going. I think 1000 words is a little short to contain the idea, but it's a start. Mine is 992 words.
Fifty years ago, the Climate Change marches had been amazing. Dan and his young friends had protested, signed petitions, pestered politicians, and voted for real change, not just hope and promises. He′d even joined the NDP-Green coalition, and eventually became an MP. Now, it all seemed like a waste. Most of Canada had made some real changes, but Alberta and Saskatchewan remained firmly pro-oil. They opposed anything that hurt business, especially the oil industry, including the export restrictions on it. The countries of the world had changed, to varying degrees, but the main holdout was the US, still ruled by the Trump dynasty. They had put up tight barriers to control trading as well as immigration, but their borders didn′t stop pollution.
His wife had noticed his recent pessimism. ″Dan, you seem down lately. Why don't you drive up tomorrow and see our old friends at the farm. You haven't been there for years, and it will do you good to rehash our days together on the picket lines. Sarah and Joan would love to see you."
"But Gail, my work . . . "
"Come on, it′s the weekend, and you have perfectly competent staff. They have a spare room up there, so stay overnight. I′m sure there will be much reminiscing and drinking. I′ll book an afternoon at the spa and meet some friends for dinner. Just go, you'll love it. Give them my love."
Maybe she was right. "Okay, hun, I'll tell the office they are on their own. "
He left early the next morning. Although traffic was heavy in the city, with almost all vehicles electric or low pollution, and solar panels and wind turbines everywhere, the air was pleasantly clean. Except when the winds blew some of the perpetual smog across from the US.
Once he left the city, he could feel the tension melt away. By the time he turned up the farm driveway and waved to Sarah, he was smiling.
"Dan, I got your text. So glad you could make it. Joan′s not here, she′s over at the next town at a fall fair for the weekend. She left with a truck full of our honeys and preserves and is expecting to empty it by Sunday night."
"That's too bad," he said. "I was looking forward to her boundless optimism.″
″Sorry, she's in charge of that, usually over one of her big farm breakfasts. Me, I need a coffee or two first. But come on in and dump your stuff. She left me a chores list so we can work and talk.″
Joan had always been the more positive of the couple. She′d inherited her parent′s farm, so the back to the earth movement was a natural thing for her. Sarah had made a killing as a bio-engineer in the early days of the Climate Change revolution, taken an early retirement, and invested in all the technology to get the farm off the grid.
"I like her enthusiasm too," said Sarah. "I don′t know how she keeps it up, with all the obvious signs of backsliding in the world. Things sure have changed."
Dan sighed. Maybe it wouldn't be such an uplifting weekend after all.
There was in fact a long chores list, but it felt good to be working with his hands again, even if it meant using a manure shovel. And Sarah still had the same energy as when she was a teenager.
″So Dan, you′re still convinced your political approach is working?″
″Well, I′m still an MP, aren′t I. At least until the next election.″
″But you′ve slid from an overwhelming majority to a minority government. I see you making compromises all the time, just to get them to pass a butchered version of your party′s legislation. Where′s the support gone? Where are the revolutionaries?″
He leaned on his shovel. ″I don′t know. My kids and their friends seem disillusioned, not even wanting to vote, never mind join a protest. Saying no to fossil fuel lost the country a lot of revenue, and alternate technologies cost us a lot to develop. We had to make a lot of cutbacks everywhere to pay for that, including education and healthcare. "
″Dan, it′s been fifty years. The world made some big changes, but is losing steam and will go back to business as usual I fear. The US is worse than ever, with China not far behind. Next election the Conservative People′s Party will get in and open up the oil sands for business. And cut the alternate technology subsidies.″
″Well, what else is there to do?″
″Stop the oil,″ she said.
″How? There are huge reserves?″
″I have something,″ she said. ″When I was in research, I developed a bacteria to eat crude oil, to clean up oil spills. But we decided it was too dangerous to use.″
Dan nodded. ″Obviously. If it got out of control it would—wait, are you proposing we . . . ?″
She smiled. ″A drastic measure, but I′ve looked at where the world is so far. It is airborne, so would spread in a matter of weeks, infecting all the oil. In the ground and tanks. Theer's be enough time to adjust I think. There would be some hardship, but we are far enough along we could cope and adjust. We would be a good neighbour to the US, and China would move quickly to change. I have some of the bacteria here, sealed away, ready to use.″
They argued through supper and into the evening, but eventually she convinced him.
″Why tell me?″ he asked. ″Just open it here.″
″There′s an oil lobby group visiting your government next week. Meet with them, dump the stuff in a couple of briefcases – it′s undetectable. They′ll bring it home to spread. It's our only way to force the issue.″
″This could ruin me,″ he said.
She grinned. ″Both of us. But ′vive la resistance′, as they say."
This is scary. While solutions are necessary, I think Sarah's solution is perhaps a bit heavy-handed. 'Dump the stuff in a couple of briefcases...', let people carry it back to their particular areas, and the stuff's airborne, so let it fly? Wow. I would hope before Dan actually goes along with this that he does a bit of investigating into exactly what he is 'dumping' into briefcases. I believe Infection is the perfect title for this one, but hopefully, the oil is the only thing that gets infected!
Posted by: Joyce Juzwik | October 11, 2019 at 07:44 PM