Hot, Repressive and Locked in an Internet War: A Grim Vision of America’s and the World’s Future
My wife and I live on a 2.3-acre plot of forested land in a pre-Revolutionary house with a run-down old barn. When we first moved here, there was a rather large set of grassy areas, one in front of the house, another behind the kitchen, a large field in the back, behind the barn, a smaller lawn in front of the barn, and a hidden glen, as well as an island of grass in the middle of a circular gravel driveway.
It used to take me all day to mow all that grass, but over the years, because of my workload -- particularly several books that were very time-consuming both to write and to promote -- and the challenge of raising two kids, I allowed nature to reclaim much of it. Now I can mow what’s left in two hours. The glen is filled with brush, and the other lawns have shrunken dramatically as the forest has encroached in on them from all directions.
Now suddenly, I have to at least temporarily push back this march of nature, because my daughter’s getting married and she and her boyfriend have decided they’d like to have their secular jewish/hindu wedding at our place. This means that besides making the place look less derelect, I need to enlarge the big lawn out back to a size that could hold a large tent, in the event of rain, capable of accomodating 80-plus guests.
I have been struck as I set to work today by the astonishing amount of new growth that there has been this year already. Leaves on plants like the ubiquitous poison ivy and chokeberries are huge, and the asiatic bittersweet is growing so fast you can actually see its tendrils advancing out into the air as you watch them in the sun. Something frightening is clearly happening. Plants didn’t grow at this prodigious pace when we first moved here. That something, of course, is the increased CO₂ in the atmosphere, now approaching 400 ppm, a level not seen on earth in nearly a million years (and that is 14% higher than it was back in 1988, when it was at just 350 ppm).
Now, I’m not normally a guy given to apocalyptic visions, but as I was hacking away at the jungle-like growth that has overtaken the remaining open spaces on our property, I can see clearly that the greed of our capitalist elite, the subservient inaction of our political class, and the shortsightedness and wilfull ignorance of the general population have pushed this planet of ours past its abilty to recover. We are now entering an era of runaway heating of the planet and these plants are the harbingers of what is to come. There will be rapid growth of plant life for a time, but before too long, the seas will rise high enough to make a reef of my stone house, despite its being twenty miles from Chesapeake Bay, and searing heat and drought conditions will destroy most of the new greenery that isn't either drowned or killed off by salt water infiltrating the aquifer.