Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Global Cooling
By Bruce MacKinnon
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For the first time in a generation, since the peak of the “great global warming,” Walt could stand outside the cave without his asbestos suit. He was gratified to see the rock was not shimmering with heat at this time of the morning.
Few people in his camp dared come near the entrance to the cave; much less venture outside once the sun began to rise. Walt however had been watching the temperatures come down a degree at a time, then 10, then 25, to this point today, where he dared the sunlight as it rounded the mountain crest.
The scientists were right again, more than 50 years after “global warming” became the new world religion. The entire media and most of the population of the early 21st century had latched onto the hope that their individual efforts would change the course of history and science.
Of course it was all proved to be nonsense, when astronomers showed that the orbit of Earth had changed again, as it had in previous ice ages, preceded by a short period of global warming as the planet neared the sun. It had nothing to do with carbon emissions.
Half a century of education and science only proved, after the fact, that man could be so wrong about so many things – in spite of the facts in front of him.
Walt looked down the mountain to camp 28 and the surrounding plateau. No one was visible. The ground temperature there was now 140 F, 15 minutes into the sunlight. But up here at camp 16, 1,200 feet above them, the air was a tolerable 100 F.
He looked above to Camp 6, another 1,200 feet above him and there were hundreds of people still out on the terraces and common areas in the sunlight. He went over to the habitat-complex monitors near the cave mouth.
Walt couldn’t contain his outburst. “Praise God Almighty,” which brought dirty looks from his fellow cavemen nearby. “The temperatures above us are all below 80 F.” That instantly drew a crowd. “Camp 1 at the 18,000 feet-above-former-sea-level is showing only 60 F in direct sunlight.”
Anger from the religious GWT spread through the camp as the news of cooling traveled. Communication lines were jammed as excited cave dwellers considered what their future might hold now. Walt retreated to his nook, number 317, in tunnel 25, drift 15, and praised God.
With the population of Earth now hovering around 20 million again, this was good news indeed. It meant the blistering heat was abating, and none too soon. People were dying off at a rate of 10 per cent per camp per year, just on Whitney Mountain alone.
The mountain’s scientists had endured a lot of grief a year ago when they had predicted the great cooling would begin almost immediately. Some had been beaten by the leaders of the Global Warming Taliban (GWT), who demanded that they continue to toe the party line about continued warming.
Indeed, when the first scientist announced the planet’s orbit had passed its perigee, closest to the sun, and that it was going to begin to cool off to the other extreme of another ice age, he was brought before the tribal court, convicted of spreading lies and shoved off the nearest terrace.
Walt felt a growing sense of peace that God had been leading and talking to him since he had given his heart to Jesus 11 years after going underground. He was convinced of His mercy now.
“But if your God is so caring and great, why doesn’t he save us now,” the others had mocked him at first as he drilled for water beside them. “Some God, letting billions of people die in the heat.”
That troubled Walt for some time. The above-ground masses had died horribly of dehydration in the 170-degree heat. Almost all of the Christians had stepped aside to allow their spots to be taken by the unbelievers. Some called it mercy, others said it was suicide. Cannibalism was renamed humane efficiency in the name of survival. It continued on in the caves. When one died, 10 people ate well.
As celebrations and protests started in the tunnels around him, Walt asked God quietly, “What do we do now Lord, how do we survive the coming cold?” The answer was instant in his mind. “Seek me first and I will provide what you need to survive and save others.”
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