Archive for climate change

Salmon Rush Die

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by javedbabar

Salmo swam around listlessly.

He had enjoyed the party. It was always good to see old friends, especially those that had been with him every inch of the way. This was the last time they would see each other; he should make the most of it.

The party didn’t feel right though.

Salmo was part confused and part angry. Here they were, having this great celebration, feasting on smaller fish, shrimp and squid, and plankton for those so inclined, racing and chasing, smooching and shaking, and having good times, before everyone going on his or her own way in the morning. It was their great separation and return.

So what was his issue? Why was he creating a vortex while everyone else was dancing in rings? Was it because he was the only one not completing the cycle of life ordained to his kind?

Salmon must return to their natal streams. They must use their powers of heart and mind, and all six senses, to seek out their source. Why didn’t he want to do it?

Someone brushed past him. He felt a slick glide and a playful flick, and knew it was Salma. “What’s up,” she said, “not enjoying the grad party?”

He said, “I’ve told you before. I don’t feel the call. I’ve lived in the open ocean for many years, and don’t want to return to a little river.”

“But don’t you want to go home?”

Salmo slowed down. He often did this when thinking. Good job he didn’t need to think when killer whales were around; his manoeuvres then were purely driven by instinct.

He said, “But home – is that here or there? I can sense the river but don’t remember it; my knowledge of it is purely physical. My body transformed there, preparing me for a life in salt water; there was a period of adjustment, yes, in brackish water, but…”

“I remember that period too,” said Salma. “Older ones taught me to regulate fluid pressure. Sometimes it became too concentrated, and I felt fat and heavy, and sometimes it was too dilute, and all I could do was float. But it was a conscious process, don’t you remember, really?”

Salmo swam to the right and Salma followed him. They had both sensed dolphins ahead. Better steer away from them sooner rather than later.

Salmo said, “My chemistry changed. My body changed. My spirit changed. I became a sea creature. I had no reason to hold on to my past little life. It felt like something to leave behind.”

“But that’s our life’s purpose – to return.”

“I know that Salma. But don’t you think it’s strange that our bodies start to deteriorate as soon as we enter fresh water again? By heading to the place we call home, we’re killing ourselves. Why become salmon rushing to die? Instead of going back, I would rather go further on, somewhere new.”

“But that’s not our place, Salmo.”

“That’s the issue, sister. What is our place? I fear that my place doesn’t exist anymore. I sense the two-leggeds have stopped the great rivers, poisoned the waters of rivers that still flow, and destroyed the wetlands. If I’m making the last great journey of my life, I want to go somewhere worth going.”

He sensed there was also a positive effect to the two-legged’s dabbling. Global warming caused icecaps to melt, creating new currents and rivers. He could swim with these waters to many new places, and if he found a place of hope, he could yet complete his life cycle.


Apple Express

Posted in Alternative Energy, Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Organic Farming with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by javedbabar

“Bloody apples!” shouted Farmer John. “Falling everywhere! There must be an orchard in the sky.” He was standing in the middle of a field. Where had they come from? He stamped his right foot and held the top of his head with both hands, as blood seeped from a gash beneath his fingers. They really were bloody apples.

Apples had been falling for almost a month now. They were infrequent to begin with, and quite unripe; small, green sour balls. They had become a daily occurrence of late, now bigger and riper, almost ready to eat.

There was a daily hot wind coming up the Valley, ten degrees warmer than the air in Lucerne. It was a strange, localized occurrence. No one minded the temperature, but its power was a problem: it had blown away old barn roofs, caused tall trees to topple, and excessive wear on Lucerne’s wind turbines. It blew hot up the Valley at noon, and returned cold from the glaciers at dusk – and it seemed to be carrying apples.

Farmer John said in the pub one day, “That fruity wind, it should be called the Apple Express, like the one from Hawaii is called the Pineapple Express.” Other people had thought the same, but he was the first person to say it. He was acknowledged to have coined the term. “It’s causing problems. Those apples are landing square on my spuds; almost like they’re aiming for them. Potato plants are bearing apples – or that’s what it looks like when I walk down the rows.”

“How will you harvest them?” said Farmer Tom. “Apples will be mixed in with your spuds.”

“They will be,” said Farmer John. “They will be. What can we do?” No one wanted to think of the extra labour needed to remove the apples. They considered letting them all rot there, fertilizing the ground. But there was no way to avoid some slipping in with spuds. The apples’ moisture would rot the spuds. They’d have to pick the apples out, before or after harvesting – either way it was a massive task.

Walking along the rows one day, Farmer John picked up an apple and examined it closely. It had been transformed by its warm, windy journey. The apple’s skin was gleaming as if it had spent an hour in a bowling ball polisher, and its cheeks were as rosy as a ruddy farmer’s. He took a big bite. “By God!” he exclaimed, syrup pouring out of the corners of his mouth and over his chin. “That’s the juiciest apple I’ve ever eaten.” He felt a warm tingling in his belly like the fire of a light rum shot. “And it’s full of cider!” He ate many more apples, and went to the pub merry already.

Lucerne Valley farmers were happy, they had an extra crop. Gorgeous apples fell on their fields daily. Farmer John called them Mt. Alba Apples, as they seemed somehow linked to Lucerne’s mountain guardian. Holding an apple high in his hand, it seemed a new sun above the mountain, shining blessings down. They sold really well at grocery stores and farmers markets, and were popular with local kids not yet nineteen.

Beyond the City, the 4,800 acre Glaser Valley Farm’s (GVF) owners were not impressed. The Apple Express had become fierce of late, tearing along the Glaser Valley, over mountain passes and across lakes, through to the Lucerne Valley – carrying their best apples. These delicate apples – grown for export to Japan – had very weak stems. Just before they fell, many were picked up by the Apple Express and carried off to Lucerne. GVF was losing a quarter of its crop this way. They initiated legal proceedings against Lucerne Valley farmers, claiming financial compensation for lost revenues, and punitive damages for theft. It was a very short hearing though.

“This case is unprecedented,” said the judge. “And frankly inexplicable. So we will need to discuss it from first principles. I will consult my most learned friends and establish a philosophical framework, based on agricultural ethics and tort law. Please explain the essence of your case in simple terms. Our sponsors require this for our television audience.”

GVF’s attorney said, “My clients are hard working toilers of the earth. They have a decade of agricultural achievement behind them…”

“Objection!” shouted the Lucerne Valley farmer’s attorney. “Seven years is not a decade.” The judge agreed and changed the record to say “many years”.

GVF’s attorney continued, “They invest much time, effort, and money in growing the best apples for export across the world, to improve our nation’s trading balance. The fruits of their labours are being stolen by others. We demand fair-minded justice.”

The Lucerne Valley farmers’ attorney had a bright idea. He suggested that Farmer John make their statement. “My family’s been growing potatoes for a hundred years,” he said, “and it’s…”

“Objection!” shouted GVF’s attorney. “He’s making that up.”

Farmer John provided the names of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, all farmers in the Lucerne Valley. The judge overruled the objection. Farmer John continued. “And now we’ve got fields full of apples. We never asked for them to drop out of the sky. But we know the earth’s cycles. We believe that our brother farmer’s jumbo jet-fuls of exports are directly related to their problem. Climate change is controversial, but here we see it in action. And we are wondering whether to include the two deaths in our community caused by falling apples within the scope of this case, or to file a separate one.”

Glaser Valley Farmers withdrew their case. Despite their 25% annual attrition, they continued to make big profits selling the remainder to Japan. Farmer John continued to have his annual crop of apples for twelve years, but less fell each year. By the time the Apple Express stopped blowing, apple seeds were well established in Lucerne. Mt. Alba Apples became an invaluable companion crop to spuds.

Always Sunshine

Posted in Alternative Energy, World Myths with tags , , , , on February 26, 2012 by javedbabar

Safra preferred the children’s sections of waiting rooms. They were often orange or yellow, had funny seating, and a range of wooden and cuddly toys. The adult sections were always so boring – full of old chairs, old magazines, and old people – and if you were visiting a medical professional, they generally made you feel worse. It had been a year since he’d last visited a doctor, and it was never something he looked forward to. But at least he was seeing Dr. Bungawalla – healer of his family for fifty years. Safra sat in the adult section, enviously watching the children playing.

As a boy he’d loved the sun and wished that there was “always sunshine”. You should be careful what you wish for! The world was now four degrees warmer, and there was lots more sunshine – most would say too much. Climate change had caused global upheavals, but for the owner of GPS: Gaia Power Systems, that hadn’t been a bad thing.

“Mr Safra?” the fake blonde receptionist called out. He walked over to the desk. “Would you please complete this form before seeing the doctor? It’s just lifestyle information for our metrics.”

“Is that you?” he said. “On the poster behind? What’s it for?”

“Oh, it’s a sponsored walk I do every year. We raise money for children’s charities, mainly for skin cancer.”

“That’s very good of you,” said Safra. “When’s the next one?”

“Next month we’re walking from Mt. Alba to Mt. Negra; that’s 100 km.”

“Wow! Put me down for a dollar-a-kilometre. Make sure you’re wearing plenty of sunscreen though. That will be a pretty hot haul.”

“Thank you Mr. Safra. That’s very kind of you. Now, if you wouldn’t mind completing the form, the doctor will see you shortly.”

Safra filled in the personal data and then began the travel section. There was never enough space. His work as an alternative energy specialist took him all over the world. He spent weeks on end in deserts during installation, and his larger projects required annual checks. This year he had already visited solar farms in Texas, Morocco, Arabia, and Tibet; places where there was “always sunshine”.

Someday he’d like to visit the Southern Wind Belt – joints like Congo, Brazil, and Indonesia – but with all their crazy storms – a hurricane here and tornado there – you were putting your life at risk. Those were adventures for men younger and braver than he.

There was always the option to explore the Northern Wind Belt – American East Coast, Central Europe, and Upper China – but what would he do there? Their populations had shifted, their monuments were crumbling, and infrastructure destroyed.

There were no opportunities in the Wind Belts for energy production; the elements were just too fierce. Maybe there would be stronger materials soon, and more robust systems, but for now GPS would stick with solar power in central deserts, and wind power in polar seas. Leave the hair-raising stuff to the kids, he thought.

He returned the completed form to the receptionist. “My, we are a world traveller,” she said. “We’re lucky to have you in Lucerne.”

“Well, even a salmon returns to its river once in its lifetime,” he said. “This is home.”

“I’ve been here for two years, Mr. Safra. I’ve never seen you before. You must be an extraordinarily healthy man. Good for you!”

“If I had seen you before,” he said. “I would also have remembered.” She blushed as he said this. “Miss…?”

Mrs.” She emphasized, and looked at him in a mock-stern manner. “Mrs. Bungawalla.”

“Mrs. Bungawalla! So Dr. Bungawalla is your…?”

`           “Dr. Bungawalla is my husband.”

Boy he’d kept that quiet, the old rascal. He was in his seventies, and she was in her – forties? Fifty, tops. Wasn’t this the fifth wife in as many decades? What was his secret? “How is the good Doctor?” he said to fill the silence.

“You can ask him yourself. He’s expecting you now.”

Safra felt foolish hitting on the doctor’s wife/receptionist. He wondered if she would tell her husband. He knocked on the door marked “Dr. A.K. Bungawalla” and entered upon hearing a muffled hailing. Dr. Bungawalla was a small, dark man with luminous skin, which absorbed and reflected all light in the room. Despite having treated Safra since boyhood, he maintained his professional air. “How can I help you, Mr. Safra?”

“I’ve got these strange blotches on my skin. I’m concerned it could be skin cancer. Can you please take a look at them?”

Dr. Bungawalla examined the blotches and said, “Nothing of concern.”

“My eyes have been hurting on the insides. I wonder if my retinas are burned.”

Dr. Bungawalla pulled Safra’s eyelids and peered in with a small torch. He said, “All quite normal.”

“Also I’m feeling feverish. Do men have menopause? I didn’t think so.”

Dr. Bungawalla said, “Well not quite, but tell me more.”

Safra told him about the hot flushes and panic attacks; the temper tantrums; the insomnia and self-loathing.

“Mr. Safra, it’s good that you came to see me about this. I am not able to help you personally, but can recommend a good psychotherapist. It’s a common complaint these days called “Oedipal Overheating”. As the world’s temperature continues to rise, people feel guilty about humanity’s part in climate change. They feel that they have caused their Mother, Earth, so much pain that they must punish themselves continuously. A few sessions of Alternative Therapy – to match your Alternative Energy; how’s that going by the way? – should do the trick.”

Safra told Dr. Bungawalla about GPS, then prepared to go.

“Wait! I have some good advice for you,” said Dr. Bungawalla. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

“That’s very good. Is it yours?”

“If you were a lady, Mr. Safra, I’d say yes. But I will admit to you that those words are Mr. Whitman’s.”