continued from previous
“Are you sure?” – said Ben
“It is one of our working hypotheses at the moment” said Olivia. “It is possible that hurricanes and other storms, combined with tropical temperatures, act almost like a shaking incubator environment: they increase gas exchange at the sea surface, therefore providing more CO2 for the phytoplankton – while at the same time stirring up nutrients from below. We’ve noticed division rates among the mutants go up dramatically during storm events and in our lab simulations. This means faster metabolism and more CO2 absorption. This may well explain the CO2 dips you’ve been observing. These variants were made to thrive in a Hurricane Earth.”
There was a pause in the conference call as Olivia’s last sentence echoed in peoples’ heads for a few seconds: “These variants were made to thrive in a Hurricane Earth”. For a group of scientists who had spent their life studying the inner workings of a planet, the realisation that the system itself that they had been studying may have changed so dramatically, was unnerving. All that education now wasted. Were they already studying an alien planet? What is the atmosphere like on a Hurricane Earth? What is the biology of a Hurricane Earth? And how does it feel to a human scientist to be studying a planet for which their species is not naturally adapted anymore?
John watched the instructional video carefully for the third time, before carefully attaching the final straps and hinges to his harness. The rescue copter was waiting outside, ready to pull him out of his tiny kitchen. The bed sheet that he had hanged outside his window, with the word “HELP” clumsily written using paprika and turmeric, had done its job.
He began to climb on the ledge, as the unmanned drone’s thermal imaging camera picked up his silhouette. He looked back into the studio flat for a second, some glass fragments still left on the floor. He wasn’t sure if and when he would come back. And his fear of heights was already making him wish that he was dead, rather than having to balance himself 16 floors above ground. Lifting one arm in the air like a salute, he signalled to the rescue robot. Off he went, flying above the flooded city. He was being taken to one of the civilian shelters.
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth)
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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