(continued from previous) The ship’s engine was the only sound for miles, barely breaking through the infinite wall of silence one comes across when traversing a calm, but desolate open ocean. The experience becomes even more surreal when one considers all the life underneath – all that moves, grows, lives and dies, all that’s hidden under the surface. All the heart beats, fin flaps, claw crunches – some of them small, some big. Some swift, others gracefully slow. They are all concealed by a thin, fragile but very effective mirror at the surface. It is a boundary between two irreconcilable phases: two parallel worlds that often pretend to be unaware of each other’s existence, each other’s glories and tragedies.
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 any more waves. The more the temperature climbed to a new all-time record 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, earlier on in the year, had made days like this now a normal occurrence, interrupted of course by equally unseasonable and bizarre extreme events at the other end of the turbulence scale.
The Earth’s climate system was playing with the system settings, experimenting on its way to try and find a new balance: between too much, and too little weather. With the central thermostat broken, there was no guidance anymore. Earth’s climate had lost its ‘’intelligence” – both metaphorically, and literally. All those ancient ocean currents, moving hot to cold and cold to hot, moist to arid and arid to moist, were now gone forever. The world’s temperature and moisture conveyor belt system had broken down – meaning that equally ancient deserts, rivers and lakes, and all the lifeforms built around them, were now in the wrong place, at the wrong time. They all belonged to a different Earth: the one that had just elapsed.
Meteorology, the study and prediction of weather, had of course become a ‘’crystal ball’’ science almost overnight, reduced down to mere guesswork. With hundreds of years of weather data now completely useless, meteorologists increasingly played a political role, rather than a scientific one: “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 only having the Old Earth’s data to play with, predictive weather analytics was impossible given the planet was exploring “what this and that button does”.
People increasingly began to subscribe to psychic weather networks like Nostradamus Weather who, perhaps unsurprisingly, often got it more right than the scientists. Perhaps they had one up on the Johns Hopkins Climate Science graduates: they at least saw Earth as a Being: as a complex and unpredictable, yet self-regulating system, rather than as a dumb machine composed of bolts, screws, levers and gears that produced nothing but ‘’weather data”. The psychic weather ‘’quacks’’ believed that Earth can ‘’think’’ for itself, and sometimes it is known to throw the manual in the fire and start all over again. Well, you can say that 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