Wealthy — a climate vision

A few years ago, I grew alarmed (and continue to be alarmed) about the increasing risks we face due to climate change disruption. In response, I called for short stories describing how we might (not) adapt to climate disruption. I released 60+ of these CliFi stories in two volumes of Life Plus 2 Meters (free to download).

This year, I asked my environmental economics students to write their own CliFi visions. They did a great job, and I asked if they wanted their stories “published.” Here’s the first, from Jacinta.


Wealthy

It’s only 4 am; I dread midday… Summer is unforgiving. I feel the sweat catch as it pools along the strap of my mask – I’ve let it dangle round my neck; risky, I know. But I’m in the depths of the forest. The air might not be clean but it’s the closest I’ll get. Each day I reckon; it’s worth the risk. To feel the unconstrained movement of my face. The gentle breeze that caresses my cheek. The touch of my calloused fingers against my weathering lips… Ah yes, the lower half of my face is becoming increasingly lifeless. A fleeting feeling of anxiety sweeps through my body, but I don’t latch on to it. Even the concerns of my mind can’t take away from this moment; here in my mansion of peace.

I’m acutely aware of the time. 30 more minutes before the Early Walkers swarm this place; I’m not the only genius to find daily refuge amongst the trees. Though they make it redundant, in their masses this place becomes as suffocating as the outside. I need to relish every second I have. Here my breath is free, and with it; me.

Navigating the crowd, I grudgingly fasten my mask back on my face. It’s always a bitter-sweet moment. I know I’m fortunate; my mask is light yet robust, with strong filters and is one of the best on the market. I could never have afforded it. I won it in a card game against a Roldie. I cheated, but he doesn’t need to know that. 145 years old and none the wiser. Unsurprising, since he sees nothing beyond himself.

Past me might have felt guilty, but there’s no room in my new world for feelings like that. Plus, a Roldie doesn’t need it. He could easily afford another. Not to mention, he lives basically mask free; shielded in his fortress, with air so filtered I’m surprised there’s any oxygen left.

A feeling of fury flows through me, as I contemplate the unjustness of it all.

I exhale and let it pass; holding on to it gains me nothing. The Roldies might live in luxury, medicated to absurd ages, but I’ve never meet one that was filled with happiness. They are so obsessed with staying alive, they forgot what it means to live. Maybe that’s why they come and play cards, to experience the occasional thrill of not having control.

I let them win regularly enough to not grow suspicious. Sure, even if they do (my morning flashes in my mind’s eye) it would make little difference, since I’m on my way out soon. Maybe I’ll make it to 40, surpass the average age. Who knows? All I do know; my death doesn’t scare me. Death has always been too present to shy away from. From the famines and droughts, to diseases and WWIII. To find peace and happiness in this world I long ago realised; even life isn’t something I can afford to feel attached to.

Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

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