The Greenhouse, by Rich Paschall
It was another hot February day in the nation’s capital. Many people had flooded the city’s cooling centers to get away from the unusual heat, as well as the “rolling black-outs.” Even some of these air-conditioned locations would go without power for a few hours a day. It was unavoidable. Just a few structures, as well as most government buildings, were exempt from the power outages. There were a variety of factors straining the power supply in many regions of the country. Heat seemed to be the main one.
When the 21st Century was coming to a close, the President at that time had to admit the impact on the earth that was caused by human factors. When elected, he continued to insist that climate change was a hoax, just as many Presidents had done before him. The 45th President eliminated the Environmental Protection Agency The 46th left the United Nations in order to stop hearing worldwide complaints about the nation’s lack of action. The 47th President demanded that the space agency stop commenting on the climate and stop posting pictures of the earth that were taken from space. Despite all of these actions, it became inevitable that the nation should face the truth. Everyone was living in a greenhouse and the heat was on the rise.
The average temperature of the earth had risen ten degrees in the 100 years leading up to the overheated dawn of the 22nd Century. Some areas of the world had seen an even higher increase and were suffering greatly from it. This caused a great migration away from the center of the earth and toward cooler climates. This crowding of certain cities and towns lead to a crisis of jobs, housing, education and electrical power. The final president of the century had no answers. He had spent too many years denying the problem. Now his best advice to the nation was to “Conserve and Optimize 2 preserve energy.” The slogan resonated with no one.
Campaign 2100 brought a demand by the people for action on all the problems caused by the weather. A rise in sea levels had flooded many coastal cities and one city on the Gulf was declared a complete loss. Former President Tower had seen his beach front home disappear, which many thought was poetic justice. Much of the southwest was completely unlivable due to heat. Severe storms and tornadoes had destroyed much of the middle section of the country. And while heat had dried up some areas, increased rainfall flooded others.
A weary populace seemed to turn against traditional candidates while giving hope to independents and other parties. The Green Party candidate, Arthur Klima, gathered the most interest in 2100. The former chief scientist for the space agency had been fired by a previous administration for his comments on global warming. His supporters counted on that very fact to propel him forward in the race for President.
Klima had little political experience and had never run for office. Green Party officials convinced the scientist that the nation not only was ready for a drastic change, but needed a climate change expert in charge. So off Arthur went on the long campaign that was ironically well-funded by billionaires hurt by the climate and entertainment luminaries sick of “politics as usual.”
Arthur started in the southeast to explain how the melting of the polar ice caps so far away brought flooding to them. Then it was to the southwest where he stood in 110 degree temperatures to review how greenhouse gases radiated the heat of the sun back down to the earth, rather than escape the atmosphere. In the middle of the country, he told the followers how heating the planet caused a rise in water vapor, which meant more clouds and more storms. In the far north, Arthur was dressed in a short sleeve shirt and summer time shorts when he told the crowd they should all be wearing winter wear at that time of year. The wildlife they loved, he explained to deathly quiet crowds, were surely going to die off due to loss of habitat.
Klima won Campaign 2100 by what many would consider a landslide. The favored topics of the main party candidates were of little interest to those without power or water. Now the people were going to rely on a scientist rather than a politician to bring them answers. There was only one problem with that. While Klima could define the problem for them, he did not know how to solve it at this late stage in the earth’s life.
At 30 days into his administration, Klima was preparing to address the nation with an action plan as he had promised throughout the campaign. It was just a few hours before he was to go live from the Presidential office when Vice President Colton was reading the final draft. She was a lifelong politician and she knew a smokescreen when she saw one. She decided to tell Klima as much.
“What is this?” she asked in their private meeting. “You call for increased use of wind power and solar energy, with less reliance on fossil fuels. Decreased emission from cars and factories! These are minor improvements and will have minimal impact. It will take years for this to mean anything.”
“Yes, I know,” Arthur said quietly. “We should have been doing these things over 100 years ago. The reports and studies we have reviewed in the past month show we may not be able to save the planet after all.”
“Then what are you saying to the people with this speech about water vapor and nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane gases. What are you offering with more solar panels in the southwest?”
“Hope,” Arthur replied. “It is the only thing we can offer.”
Arid – Where There’s Not Enough Rain