(continued from previous)
The ship’s engine cut through the morbid quiet of the sea, echoing as its raucous was rejected by the surface of the water. It was like the ocean had taken a vow of silence for the past thousand years, never to be touched by sound until this moment. The brutal noise was at a loss for how to behave in such a peaceful, vast space: it was a bull in a china shop. Diffusing in all directions it tumbled across the water, sometimes getting lost, sometimes fumbling back from another direction as a ghost echo. The peace had been disturbed forever.
The same could be said about the surface of the water. The ship was nothing but a murderous dagger, slashing through the shiny flesh of the sea, revealing that it wasn’t a hard, solid mirror after all, but a soft, delicate living creature. One which, in the absence of external disturbances, could have lived peacefully for millennia, never knowing what a ripple, a wave or an engine is. As the v-shaped ripple that the boat left behind expanded into space, it was evident that it was too late.
But the surface of the water is only just the ceiling of another world altogether, a calm mirror that cleverly conceals all the wonders that live underneath: all that moves, grows, lives and dies. All the hearts that beat, the fins that flap, the claws that pinch, the jaws that snap – some of them smaller than the eye can see, others big enough to lose sleep over. They are all concealed by a thin, fragile but very effective mirror at the surface, a boundary between two irreconcilable phases: two parallel worlds that often pretend to be unaware of each other’s existence.
It had been like this for days on end: not a wave in sight, as if the ocean had run out of energy to produce waves. The more the temperature ascended into terrifying new record highs for an early March scorcher, the more the sea seemed to give up. The collapse of Jet Stream patterns following the Blue Ocean Event in the Arctic had made periods like this a normal occurrence. Abnormally long periods of clear weather would only be interrupted by sudden, equally extreme, and unseasonable storms that challenged the imagination, pushing the limits of what is considered “extreme” each year. The Earth’s climate system was in fact no longer a “system”. It wasn’t behaving as a “balanced whole”, but rather as a collection of vicious, factious, individualistic forces which, rather than moderating and controlling each other they preferred to exploit every opportunity thrown at them to explode out of control and gain ground. The climate forces were beginning to behave like Humans.
In this playground where the planet’s thermostat once assumed the pacifying role of the parent guardian, spiteful children now fought with each other vindictively until they gave each other bloody noses. And all those ancient ocean currents that moved hot to cold and cold to hot, moist to arid and arid to moist, were now gone forever or completely re-routed. It was like switching around the veins and arteries on a human being. All the organs, in this case the rivers, mountains, lakes, deserts and forests, were now in the wrong places. And all the lifeforms that lived in them were now both in the wrong place and the wrong time. They, including humans, all belonged to a different Earth: the one that had just elapsed.
Meteorology, the study and prediction of weather, was increasingly based on guesswork rather than science. With hundreds of years of weather data now completely useless, meteorologists had to become politicians: more often than not preoccupied with saving face, as opposed to coming out with the truth:
“It may rain, at times quite hard, but then it is also possible it may not rain at all. The temperature will be stable over the next week unless a cold air mass suddenly moves in from the north.”
With AI supercomputers limited to the Old Earth’s data, predictive weather analytics was now impossible. This opened the field of meteorology to many other “experts” who came in to fill this knowledge gap and did not necessarily come armed with degrees in “classical” meteorology from accredited institutions. They didn’t bother using scientific tools, which they regarded as “limiting”. Instead, they relied on a mishmash of folklore which included anything and everything: from reading the stars to reading tarot cards. Weather forecasts were usually “brainstormed” quickly over a cup of coffee in the break room before going live on TV, by tapping into whichever psychic force the meteorologist of the day felt was “blowing” that morning. It was quite creative, I guess.
People were increasingly drawn to these colorful alternatives, tuning into psychic weather networks like Nostradamus Weather who, perhaps unsurprisingly, often got it righter than the scientists. Perhaps they had one up on the Johns Hopkins Climate Science graduates: rather than trying to make sense of an Earth that had gone berserk, they at least saw the planet as a scared, confused, mentally sick little soul: a complex, moody and unpredictable system, as opposed to a perfectly regulated machine composed of bolts, screws, levers and gears that produced ‘’weather data”. The psychic weather ‘’quacks’’ recognized that sometimes the planet decides to re-write its own rules: throwing the manual in the fire and starting all over again.
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books